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UK Government in Brexit meltdown ?

Is the UK Government in a Brexit meltdown? Following the meeting of the full cabinet at Chequers, which came up with an “agreed” plan for the future relationship between the UK and EU following Brexit. It appears, however, that perhaps everyone is not actually in agreement with initial skirmishes from Brexit supporting MPs considering it to be a bad “deal”.

David Davis resigns from his position as Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union and chief Brexit negotiator for the UK saying he could no longer support the government’s Brexit policy announced at Chequers last week.

He said it was “not tenable” for him to stay in post and try to persuade Tory MPs to back the policy when he did not think it was “workable”.

“The best person to do this is someone who really believes in it, not me.”

He was closely followed by his No 2 at the Department for Exiting the EU, Steve Baker.

Number 10 has announced Dominic Raab, a Brexit-supporting minister, to replace David Davis as Brexit secretary.

Raab was previously housing minister and replaces Davis, who resigned late on Sunday night saying he could no longer support the government’s Brexit policy announced at Chequers last week.

Jacob Rees-Mogg, the Conservative backbencher and chair of the pro-Brexit European Research Group, has said that the fact that No 10 is briefing Labour MPs on Theresa May’s Brexit policy suggests that May thinks she will have to rely on “socialist votes” to get her plan through Parliament.

Boris Johnson resigns as Foreign Secretary shortly before Theresa May makes a statement in Parliament.

In his resignation letter Johnson said

“The Brexit dream is dying”

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has been named as the new Foreign Secretary. In his initial comments he said

He would be standing “four square” behind the prime minister “so that we can get through an agreement with the European Union based on what was agreed by the Cabinet last week at Chequers.

(assuming, of course, that the EU negotiation team want to play ball!)

Parliamentary private secretary Chris Green, has also resigned saying in his resignation letter,

“The direction the negotiations had been taking have suggested that we would not really leave the EU and the conclusion and statements following the Chequers summit confirmed my fears.”

It seems that Theresa May has managed to head off a possible leadership challenge, at least for the time being, following a meeting with the 1922 Committee of Tory MPs. Under Conservative party rules it is necessary for 48 MPs (15% of MPs) to write a letter to Graham Brady, chair of the 1933 Committee requesting a leadership challenge.

With the addition of Jeremy Hunt as Foreign Secretary, the most powerful positions in the cabinet PM, Chancellor, Foreign Secretary and Home Secretary (referred to as the Great Offices of State) are now held by MPS who wanted to Remain in the EU. Looks like Theresa is setting out her intention to Remain after all.

Michael Gove has urged Tory MPs to back a compromise Brexit plan as the best chance of a “proper” exit from the EU. He told the BBC it was not all he hoped for, but said he was a “realist” and dismissed claims it would leave the UK as a “vassal state”. But he warned the EU had to be more generous or the UK would have no option than to walk away without a deal.

An option from the Chequers meeting, which is being somewhat overlooked by the mainstream media, refers to increasing preparations for a no-deal scenario resulting from negotiations with the EU. In this case, the UK would trade with the EU on World Trade Organisation terms. Preparation for this possibility should have started 2 years ago, after Article 50 was invoked, but better late than never – this could possibly strengthen the UKs negotiating position with the EU who have proved somewhat intransigent in negotiations thus far with few if any concessions being made on their side (negotiations in “Good Faith” pah).

Alarmed at the threat of a no-deal Brexit, the Netherlands is recruiting 930 customs officers and 100 veterinary officials, following a recommendation from Pieter Omtzigt, a Dutch centre-right MP and two fellow MPs.

“The way Britain has waited so long has imposed real costs even if it is solved.”

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-britain-eu-netherlands/dutch-cabinet-drafting-playbook-for-chaotic-brexit-parliament-idUSKBN1JZ278

The European commission are being guarded in their response to the Chequers meeting, preferring to wait until it sees the British white paper, which is expected on Thursday.

In a tweet, perhaps still thinking the UK will remain in the EU, Donald Tusk said:

“Politicians come and go but the problems they have created for people remain. I can only regret that the idea of #Brexit has not left with Davis and Johnson. But…who knows?”

Michel Barnier tweeted:

#Chequers discussion on future to be welcomed. I look forward to White Paper. We will assess proposals to see if they are workable & realistic in view of #EUCO guidelines. Next negotiations w/ #UK on WP, & Withdrawal Agreement, w/c 16 July #Brexit

Other interesting articles/reports/comments

Tony Connelly: The Chequers die is cast

EU diplomats remain guarded over May’s Brexit compromise

David Davis Resignation

by Politicker 0 Comments

48 hours following the meeting of the cabinet at Chequers, David Davis resigns as Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union saying that he was no longer the best person to deliver the PM’s Brexit plan as he did not “believe” in it.

Here’s the resignation letter from David Davis and the response from Theresa May.

8th July 2018

Dear Prime Minister

As you know there have been a significant number of occasions in the last year or so on which I have disagreed with the Number 10 policy line, ranging from accepting the Commission’s sequencing of negotiations through to the language on Northern Ireland in the December Joint Report. At each stage I have accepted collective responsibility because it is part of my task to find workable compromises, and because I considered it was still possible to deliver on the mandate of the referendum, and on our manifesto commitment to leave the Customs Union and the Single Market.

I am afraid that I think the current trend of policy and tactics is making that look less and less likely. Whether it is the progressive dilution of what I thought was a firm Chequers agreement In February on right to diverge, or the unnecessary delays of the start of the White Paper, or the presentation of a backstop proposal that omitted the strict conditions that I requested and believed that we had agreed, the general direction of policy will leave us in at best a weak negotiating position, and possibly an inescapable one.

The Cabinet decision on Friday crystallised this problem. In my view the inevitable consequence of the proposed policies will be to make the supposed control by Parliament illusory rather than real.
As I said at Cabinet, the “common rule book” policy hands control of large swathes of our economy to the EU and is certainly not returning control of our laws in any real sense.

I am also unpersuaded that our negotiating approach will not just lead to further demands for concessions.

Of course this is a complex area of judgement and it is possible that you are right and I am wrong. However, even in that event it seems to me that the national interest requires a Secretary of State in my Department that is an enthusiastic believer in your approach, and not merely a reluctant conscript. While I have been grateful to you for the opportunity to serve, it is with great regret that I tender my resignation from the Cabinet with immediate effect.

Yours ever

David Davis

Here’s the response from Theresa May

Dear David

Thank you for your letter explaining your decision to resign as Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union.

I am sorry that you have chosen to leave the Government when we have already made so much progress towards delivering a smooth and successful Brexit, and when we are only eight months from the date set in law when the United Kingdom will leave the European Union.

At Chequers on Friday, we as the Cabinet agreed a comprehensive and detailed proposal which provides a precise, responsible, and credible basis for progressing our negotiations towards a new relationship between the UK and the EU after we leave in March. We set out how we will deliver on the result of the referendum and the commitments we made in our manifesto for the 2017 general election:

1. Leaving the EU on 29 March 2019.

2. Ending free movement and taking back control of our borders.

3. No more sending vast sums of money each year to the EU.

4. A new business-friendly customs model with freedom to strike new trade deals around the world.

5. A UK-EU free trade area with a common rulebook for industrial goods and agricultural products which will be good for jobs.

6. A commitment to maintain high standards on consumer and employment rights and the environment.

7. A Parliamentary lock on all new rules and regulations.

8. Leaving the Common Agricultural Policy and the Common Fisheries Policy.

9. Restoring the supremacy of British courts by ending the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice in the UK.

10. No hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland, or between Northern Ireland and Great Britain.

11. Continued, close co-operation on security to keep our people safe.

12. An independent foreign and defence policy, working closely with the EU and other allies.

This is consistent with the mandate of the referendum and with the commitments we laid out in our general election manifesto: leaving the single market and the customs union but seeking a deep and special partnership including a comprehensive free trade and customs agreement; ending the vast annual contributions to the EU; and pursuing fair, orderly negotiations, minimising disruption and giving as much certainty as possible so both sides benefit.

As we said in our manifesto, we believe it is necessary to agree the terms of our future partnership alongside our withdrawal, reaching agreement on both within the two years allowed by Article 50.

I have always agreed with you that these two must go alongside one another, but if we are to get sufficient detail about our future partnership, we need to act now. We have made a significant move: it is for the EU now to respond in the same spirit.

I do not agree with your characterisation of the policy we agreed at Cabinet on Friday.

Parliament will decide whether or not to back the deal the Government negotiates, but that deal will undoubtedly mean the returning of powers from Brussels to the United Kingdom.

The direct effect of EU law will end when we leave the EU. Where the UK chooses to apply a common rulebook, each rule will have to be agreed by Parliament.

Choosing not to sign up to certain rules would lead to consequences for market access, security co-operation or the frictionless border, but that decision will rest with our sovereign Parliament, which will have a lock on whether to incorporate those rules into the UK legal order.

I am sorry that the Government will not have the benefit of your continued expertise and counsel as we secure this deal and complete the process of leaving the EU, but I would like to thank you warmly for everything you have done over the past two years as Secretary of State to shape our departure from the EU, and the new role the UK will forge on the world stage as an independent, self-governing nation once again.

You returned to Government after nineteen years to lead an entirely new Department responsible for a vital, complex, and unprecedented task.

You have helped to steer through Parliament some of the most important legislation for generations, including the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Act 2017 and the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018, which received Royal Assent last week.

These landmark Acts, and what they will do, stand as testament to your work and our commitment to honouring the result of the referendum.

Yours sincerely,

Theresa May

David Davis’ speech on the future security partnership June 6 2018

David Davis speech on the future security partnership between the UK and the EU at the Royal United Services Institute library in London.

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/david-davis-speech-on-the-future-security-partnership

Thank you Deputy Director General for that kind introduction. As you alluded to it’s a pleasure to be speaking here, in this grand library in the Royal United Services Institute. This think-tank has, for centuries, hosted debates about matters of defence and security. And it’s this security I want to talk about today, in the context of the overarching, new partnership we want with the European Union after we leave. One that recognises the history that we share — history that fills the hundreds of books in this magnificent room. And builds on it as we start a new chapter in our relationship with the European Union.

We have five main aims for the new partnership. They were laid out by the Prime Minister in detail in her Mansion House speech. But there’s one aim I want to particularly concentrate on today – and it’s the need for this new partnership to stand the test of time. Because while we can get bogged down in the day-to-day grumblings — we must not lose sight of that goal during these negotiations. That’s why we have deliberately avoided ‘tit-for-tat’ briefings out of the talks — because we’ve seen how it has damaged other European negotiations.

And we don’t want to undermine efforts to build a lasting, positive relationship with the United Kingdom’s closest neighbours and allies in the EU. A stable relationship, built on trust. That doesn’t need to be re-visited or re-negotiated. One that is not so unacceptable to either side, that in a few years’ time it fails completely. And one that provides the benefits of our collective power to all our citizens for generations to come.

David Davis Statement – 19 March 2018

David Davis released a statement on EU-UK Article 50 negotiations in Brussels, Monday 19 March 2018

Thank you Michel, both for your words and for your kind words about our team.

In December we reached an important milestone by achieving agreement on the first phase of negotiations. And today, we’ve taken another significant step by reaching agreement on the next phase. Which I am confident will be welcomed by the European Council when it meets later this week.

Our teams have worked hard and at pace to secure the terms of a time-limited implementation period that gives the certainty demanded by businesses and citizens across the European Union and United Kingdom. And at this point I’d like to join Michel in commending both our negotiating teams for their skill, their commitment and from time to time their ability to go without sleep.

In my speech in Teesport in January, I set out a framework for delivering a bridge to the future. One that sees the UK formally leave the European Union on the 29th of March. Which gives everyone time they need to prepare for the future, by ensuring our access to each other’s markets continues on current terms. The deal we’ve reached today does just that. As Michel outlined we’ve taken a decisive step by translating much of December’s Joint Report into the legal text of the Withdrawal Agreement. In only a few weeks we have managed to finalise the chapters on the financial settlement and citizens’ rights — delivering on our commitment to provide certainty to citizens.

So let me take each point in turn, starting with the implementation period.

David Davis Speech in Vienna 20 February 2018

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David Davis gave a speech on delivering our Future Economic Partnership (with the EU) in Vienna on 20 February 2018.

Good morning.

It’s a pleasure to be here in Vienna. A city which, like Paris, Berlin, Amsterdam and of course London, has earned its status as one of Europe’s truly global cities. These are places which shape the nations in which they are situated.

And the ideas and values of those of us who are proud to call ourselves Europeans — as well as being Austrian, French, German, Dutch or indeed British.

I suspect that nowhere is that more true than Vienna, which has a long history as a capital of ideas. Indeed, I suspect that when the Vienna Circle gathered in the Cafe Central in this city, they produced more challenging ideas in a day than many universities do in a decade. Ideas that form the intellectual basis of modern politics. These global cities bring us together.

This week alone, in London’s great universities, students from across Europe will be taught the ideas of the Austrian School of Economics. While your incredible Vienna State Opera will see a leading English soprano star in work by Handel, a Londoner born in Germany. And just this morning tens of thousands of Austrians will go to work to earn a living from companies which are owned or headquartered in the United Kingdom. These are the current, lived, shared experiences, and they point the way to a shared future which will continue after Brexit.

Now I know that since our Referendum much thought, throughout Europe, has gone into what Britain’s relationship with the European Union really means. Whether a close partnership is really possible with a nation that, by the decision of its people, is leaving the structures designed to produce such a relationship.

And whether Britain is going to be the same country it has been in the past. Dependable, Open, Fair,

A bastion of Parliamentary democracy, And a defender of liberty, and the rule of law. Well, to cut to the chase — we are.

We were before we joined the European Union, we are while we are members, and we will be after we have left.

And I’m here to explain not just why we must continue to work together as the closest of partners and friends, but also how we should go about doing it. We are currently negotiating the Implementation Period, a crucial bridge to our new partnership. And next month we will start detailed discussions on exactly how our new relationship will look, which is why this tour of Europe is happening today. But before we begin that process I believe there are two important principles which can help us point in the right direction.

The first is Britains determination to lead a race to the top in global standards. The second is the principle of fair competition, which underpins the best elements of the European economy, and which we must work hard to spread.

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