Draft Political Declaration setting out the Framework for the Future Relationship between the EU and the UK (European Council press release)
European Council President Donald Tusk today sent the EU27 Member States the draft Political Declaration setting out the Framework for the Future Relationship between the EU and the UK that has been agreed at negotiators’ level and agreed in principle at political level, subject to the endorsement of the Leaders.
Coreper (Art. 50) met today to assess the document. Friday morning, the EU27 Sherpas will meet to finalise preparations for the special European Council (Art. 50) on Sunday.
The political novel “Brexit XXL” will be hosted by several blogs in the coming days. Please check out the dates in the enclosed picture.
Withdrawal Agreement explainer and Technical Explanatory note on Articles 6-8 on the Northern Ireland Protocol (UK Government Policy Paper)
Published 14 November 2018
From: Department for Exiting the European Union
Explainer to support understanding of the draft Withdrawal Agreement from the European Union.
Click on below links to open the pdf documents:
14_November_Technical_Explanatory_Note_Arts_6-8_Northern_Ireland_Protocol. PDF, 64.1KB, 2 pages
The draft Withdrawal Agreement sets out the provisional terms of the UK’s smooth and orderly exit from the European Union. It reflects agreement in principle between the UK and EU negotiating teams on the full legal text. This document has been produced to support understanding of the legal text.
The Northern Ireland technical note reflects commonly agreed principles between the UK and the EU as to how Articles 6 to 8 of the Northern Ireland Protocol included in the Withdrawal Agreement would operate in any scenario in which the provisions came into effect. These provisions relate to the single customs territory, movement of goods and protection of the UK’s internal market.
The draft Withdrawal Agreement, outline Political Declaration and Joint Statement on the future relationship are available here.
EU chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, holds the draft withdrawal agreement on Wednesday. Photograph: Virginia Mayo/AP
Jon Henley European affairs correspondent
Wed 14 Nov 2018 22.08 GMT
Brexiters will find many contentious clauses difficult to stomach within the 585-page draft document
The 585-page draft withdrawal agreement negotiated between the European Union and the United Kingdom contains several highly contentious points that supporters of Brexit in particular will find hard to stomach. Here are some of the points that may cause problems for the prime minister, Theresa May, in parliament:
Irish border backstop
The draft Brexit agreement says both parties will “use their best endeavours” to have a future trade agreement concluded six months before the end of the transition period in December 2020, but that if this is not the case the EU and the UK could “jointly extend the transition period” for an unspecified period.
Otherwise the backstop solution for Ireland and Northern Ireland aimed at preventing a hard border would come into force. The backstop, consisting of “a single customs territory between the Union and the United Kingdom”, will apply from the end of the transition period “unless and until … a subsequent agreement becomes applicable”.
The single customs territory would cover all goods except fishery products, the agreement says, and will “include the corresponding level playing field commitments and appropriate enforcement mechanisms to ensure fair competition between the EU27 and the UK”.
There would necessarily be extra non-customs checks on some types of goods passing between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK, which will not please the Democratic Unionist party who have consistently opposed any kind of differential treatment for Northern Ireland.
On exiting the backstop, the agreement says that if “either side considers the the backstop is no longer necessary, it can notify the other” setting out its reasons. A joint committee must then meet within six months, and both sides must agree jointly to end the backstop.
This part of the agreement would be difficult for Brexiters to swallow. They have consistently argued that Britain must be able to exit any all-UK customs union as and when it wants to be able to pursue free-trade deals around the world.
Level playing field
The agreement says that under the backstop arrangement the UK must observe “level playing field” commitments on competition and state aid, as well as employment and environment standards and tax. These measures are intended to ensure that UK businesses are not able to undercut EU industry.
Brussels has demanded “dynamic alignment”, which would oblige the UK parliament to simply cut and paste EU regulations as they are issued after Brexit. Britain must also transfer three EU tax directives into law – on the exchange of tax information, reporting on investment firms and the EU’s code of conduct on taxation.
“Non-regression clauses” will also prevent the UK from bringing in lower standards on social, environmental and labour regulations such as working hours.
Many of these requirements would also be anathema to Conservative Brexiters, for whom leaving the EU represented an opportunity to head towards a low-tax, light-regulation economy such as that seen in Singapore.
Theresa May said after a five-hour cabinet meeting yesterday that she believed her draft deal to withdraw from the EU was the best that could be negotiated
Francis Elliott, Political Editor | Sam Coates | Oliver Wright | Bruno Waterfield, Brussels
November 14 2018, 8:30pm
Theresa May confronted her mutinous party with the threat of “no Brexit at all” after she forced her draft deal with the EU through a divided cabinet.
Esther McVey, the welfare secretary, was believed to be on the verge of quitting last night after clashes at the end of a marathon five-hour meeting. She was shouted down by the chief whip and cabinet secretary after she demanded a vote by ministers on the deal.
Although Ms McVey was one of nine senior ministers to criticise the deal, Mrs May emerged claiming to have secured cabinet backing for a “decisive step” towards finalising Brexit at a special summit on November 25.
The prime minister admitted, however, that she faced “difficult days ahead” as Jacob Rees-Mogg, leader of the Brexiteer Tory backbenchers, rejected the draft agreement, saying that it would make Britain “a permanent rule-taker” and warned that it could trigger a vote of no confidence.
Mrs May will face a hostile reception from Tory Brexiteers when she makes a Commons statement today as they decide whether to trigger a leadership contest. If she wins, she cannot be challenged as leader for another year.
By Tim Ross , Jess Shankleman , Robert Hutton , and Kitty Donaldson
November 13, 2018, 9:02 PM GMT+3 Updated on November 13, 2018, 10:37 PM GMT+3
- Negotiators have reached an agreement on the divorce treaty
- May has to get it past critics in her Cabinet and Parliament
The U.K. and the European Union have agreed on a draft divorce deal. Now Prime Minister Theresa May puts it to her Cabinet, who have to decide whether to back it or resign.
Negotiators have settled on a text after working through the night this week in Brussels, according to three people familiar with the situation. May’s ministers have started filing into her office to read it and are due to meet Wednesday at 2 p.m. to sign off.
EU officials cautioned that the deal isn’t done until it gets political sign-off in London.
While the pound rose on this breakthrough — talks had been at impasse for months — there are more obstacles ahead. Cabinet is the first hurdle, but her hardest task will be to force it through the House of Commons, where the arithmetic is looking increasingly challenging. Her critics in Parliament — whose votes she will need — were quick to criticize the deal on Tuesday.
May’s Cabinet has been long divided on what Brexit should mean. Many have reservations that she’s given away too much and that the U.K. won’t be able to escape the EU’s orbit for years, in a betrayal of the referendum in 2016.
She’s survived the loss of some of key figures in her Cabinet — former Brexit Secretary David Davis and Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson. If more high profile figures quit, her life becomes complicated again. Even if they don’t, getting it through Parliament remains a struggle.
Representatives of EU governments are expecting to be briefed on Wednesday on the deal — which includes the draft separation agreement and also an outline of what the future relationship should be. That part isn’t binding and is expected to include more warm words than detailed decisions. They will meet at the same time as the Cabinet.
If all goes well, and it still might not, then a summit could be called toward the end of November — officials said Nov. 25 was a likely date.
Theresa May’s plan for avoiding a hard border with Ireland has been rejected by the EU
JOHN THYS/ AFP/GETTY
Brussels rejects her key compromise as four ‘remain’ ministers on verge of quitting
Caroline Wheeler, Deputy Political Editor
November 11 2018, 12:01am
Theresa May has been plunged into a deeper crisis after Brussels rejected her key Brexit proposal, which was intended to avoid the UK being trapped in an indefinite customs union.
The prime minister had hoped to unite her cabinet and overcome the final hurdle in negotiations with the EU by offering to create an “independent mechanism” to oversee how the UK might leave a temporary customs arrangement if Brexit talks collapsed.
But this weekend senior EU officials sent shockwaves through No 10 by rejecting May’s plan, sparking fears that negotiations have broken down days before “no-deal” preparations costing billions need to be implemented.
The mechanism was seen by key members of the cabinet, including the attorney-general, Geoffrey Cox, as crucial to preventing the so-called Northern Irish “backstop” being used to force the UK into being a “never-ending rule-taker from Brussels”.
A Whitehall source described the plan as the government’s “life-support machine”, adding: “By rejecting the proposal, the EU has just turned off the oxygen.” A senior cabinet minister said: “This is the moment she has to face down Brussels and make it clear to them that they need to compromise, or we will leave without a deal.”
Theresa May Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg
By Robert Hutton
November 9, 2018, 8:00 AM GMT+3
U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May is edging closer to a Brexit deal. But before anyone cracks open the English sparkling wine, she has to get it past Parliament, where she doesn’t have a majority and her Conservative Party is split. So how will she cobble together the votes?
There are 650 members of Parliament in the House of Commons, known as MPs. Of these, the Speaker and his three deputies don’t vote. The seven members of Sinn Fein don’t take their seats. That leaves 639 MPs, so if everyone votes, 320 are needed for a majority.
Voting With May
- Conservative Payroll Vote: around 150
These are the 95 Conservative MPs who have some kind of paid government job, and then around 50 more who work unpaid as a ministerial assistant. They would have to resign from this job to vote against her.
- Conservative Loyalists: around 85
These are the MPs who don’t care very much about Brexit, or want to move the national conversation on to other things, or hope to further their careers, or who are just loyal. May should be able to count on them.
That’s 235. May needs another 85. Now things get hard.
We’re tackling problems like poor productivity thanks to our imminent departure from the EU.
November 9 2018, 12:01am, The Times
Why does Brexit make so many people so cross? The more you think about it, the odder it is. Leaving the EU is not Iraq or Vietnam. Nobody will be killed by Brexit, except perhaps those who are bored to death by it.
For all the adjectives you could use to describe Brexit — confounding, frustrating, momentous and historic — it is, above all, desperately boring. I’m talking not just about the endless soap opera of negotiations, though that’s up there with the collected works of Thomas Hardy in the boredom stakes. Brexit is boring because it turns out the European Union itself is mostly boring.
Consider the powers that will be returned to Westminster after we finally leave: to negotiate trade deals with other countries; to impose tariffs; to introduce new regulations on employment and product standards; to set quotas for migration and visas. For the past four decades the EU has functioned in large part as a legislative black hole into which we have outsourced some of the more tedious levers of the state.
Yes this stuff matters, in much the same boring but worthy way that it matters what diameter of sewage pipes we use. In some sectors, such as agriculture, Brexit has the potential for exciting innovations. But consider the most important powers at the government’s disposal: defence of the realm, fixing levels of tax and public spending, managing the welfare state and deciding interest rate policy. Set against this it is hard not to find the powers returned from Brussels rather piffling.
True: you can make the case that big constitutional decisions should be taken at home. You can argue that throwing sand into the wheels of trade between Britain and Europe will only make both of us poorer. You can point to the possibility that Britain leaves without a deal, something that would not be boring in the slightest, at least for a few months. Except that the likelihood of it happening is far smaller than you might assume. It suits everyone concerned, for all sorts of reasons, to ramp up the drama.
No-deal plan ‘will include new border in Irish Sea’. DUP accuses May after leaked letter from No 10. (The Times)
A letter from Theresa May has led DUP leaders to fear she will renege on a promise to prevent any division between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK
JACK TAYLOR/GETTY IMAGES
Sam Coates, Deputy Political Editor
November 8 2018, 10:00pm
The five-page letter, leaked to The Times, was sent on Tuesday from Mrs May to Arlene Foster, the DUP leader, and Nigel Dodds, her deputy.
In it, the prime minister says that the EU is still pushing for the “backstop to the backstop” but insists that she would never allow a divide between Ulster and Great Britain to “come into force”.
A Brussels plan to put a customs border in the Irish Sea if there is no Brexit agreement will be included in a divorce deal, a leaked letter from Theresa May suggests.
The prime minister was accused last night of breaking her promise to the Democratic Unionist Party that she would never sign up to a deal that could allow Northern Ireland to be divided from the rest of the United Kingdom.
The European plan, known as the “backstop to the backstop”, would leave Northern Ireland tied to the single market and customs union if Brexit talks collapse. Brussels wants this insurance policy to avoid a hard border in Ireland. Mrs May has previously said that no UK prime minister could ever agree to such a plan.
This wording has been interpreted by the DUP to mean that the clause will nevertheless be inserted into the legally binding agreement.
Mrs Foster said: “The prime minister’s letter raises alarm bells for those who value the integrity of our precious Union and for those who want a proper Brexit for the whole of the UK. It appears the prime minister is wedded to the idea of a border down the Irish Sea with Northern Ireland in the EU single market regulatory regime.”
The letter also says that the government does “not expect regulations to diverge between Great Britain and Northern Ireland” during the backstop, meaning the whole of the UK will be tied closely to European rules.
The PM’s preparations for a final deal are believed to be far more advanced than previously disclosed
Tim Shipman, Political Editor
November 4 2018, 12:01am,
The Sunday Times
Breakthrough on Irish border as PM woos Tory rebels
Theresa May’s secret plan to secure a Brexit deal and win the backing of parliament can be revealed today.
Senior sources say the prime minister has secured private concessions from Brussels that will allow her to keep the whole of Britain in a customs union, avoiding a hard border in Northern Ireland. They expect this to placate remainer Tories and win over some Labour MPs.
And in a move that will appeal to Eurosceptics, May is also said to be on course to secure a political deal on a “future economic partnership” (FEP) with the European Union that will allow Britain to keep open the prospect of a free trade deal resembling that enjoyed by Canada.
The Sunday Times has been told that preparations for a final deal are far more advanced than previously disclosed and will lead to a document of 50 pages or more when it is published — not the vague, five-page plan many expect.
Cabinet sources say parts of it “could have been written by Jacob Rees-Mogg”, the leader of the hardline Eurosceptics.
A close aide of Michel Barnier, the EU negotiator, revealed a major concession on the Irish border during a private meeting in London last week. The EU now accepts that regulatory checks on goods can take place “in the market” by British officials, meaning they can be conducted at factories and shops rather than at the border.
Downing Street officials are desperate to see enough progress this week for the EU to announce a special summit later in November to agree the final details. May will discuss the proposals with her cabinet on Tuesday.
By Nikos Chrysoloras and Silla Brush
October 30, 2018, 11:25 AM GMT+3 Updated on October 30, 2018, 5:03 PM GMT+3
The European Union said it won’t allow a no-deal Brexit to cut the bloc’s banks off from London’s crucial financial infrastructure, which would put trillions of dollars of derivatives contracts at risk.
The European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, will ensure that financial firms don’t lose access to clearinghouses such as LCH Ltd., a unit of London Stock Exchange Group Plc, even if political negotiations break down and Britain quits the bloc abruptly next March, a commission spokesman said. Banks and U.K. regulators have been warning for months that EU action is needed to avert turmoil in financial markets.
The Brussels-based commission would only ensure clearing access on a temporary basis to “address financial stability risks arising from an exit without a deal,” commission spokesman Johannes Bahrke said by email on Tuesday. Any short-term fix would be based on the EU’s so-called equivalence rules, which can allow firms outside the bloc to provide services to the single market, he said.
Banks welcomed the commission’s commitment to maintain the cross-Channel clearing link. But acknowledging the potential threat isn’t enough, according to Simon Lewis, head of the Association for Financial Markets in Europe, a trade group whose members include BNP Paribas SA and Deutsche Bank AG.
A protester outside parliament makes his feelings on Brexit quite plain
A disorderly no-deal Brexit would plunge the UK into recession, cost a million Britons their jobs and leave households an average of £2,700 a year out of pocket, according to a leading global credit rating agency.
Standard & Poor’s said that the UK’s AA sovereign rating, the third highest grade, would be cut if Theresa May failed to secure a deal.
It forecast that this would shrink the economy by 1.2 per cent next year and 1.5 per cent in 2020. The resulting recession would push debt as a share of GDP close to 100 per cent by 2021 as borrowing soared, compared with its baseline forecast of 85 per cent, S&P said.
It forecast a jump in unemployment from 4 per cent to 7 per cent, equivalent to one million additional people out of work, and a drop in house prices of 10 per cent, while inflation would hit 4.7 per cent by mid-2019.
Mrs May claims that an agreement on leaving the EU is almost complete, but the Northern Ireland border issue remains unresolved. She has rejected calls from Michel Barnier, the EU’s negotiator, for a backstop that would keep the Irish border open to trade by creating a border in the Irish Sea — an option that is unpalatable to her allies in the DUP.
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Johnny Mercer, right, is one of the PM’s most vocal critics
DYLAN MARTINEZ/PRESS ASSOCIATION
Tories tell PM she has 72 hours to save her job
A Tory rising star today issues a call to arms for MPs to oust Theresa May, saying Britain cannot be led by someone guilty of an “abject failure to govern” at such a defining moment in our history.
Writing in The Sunday Times, Johnny Mercer says he “cannot continue to support an administration that cannot function” on issues from Brexit to the Grenfell Tower disaster and the Windrush scandal.
He spoke out as numerous Tory MPs said May was on course to face a vote of no confidence this week as all wings of the party united against her.
An ally of David Davis, the former Brexit secretary who is tipped as an interim leader, said May was entering “the killing zone”. One who hopes to succeed added: “Assassination is in the air.”
The prime minister has been summoned to plead for her job before the back-bench 1922 committee on Wednesday — a process dubbed “a show trial” by one Tory.
She is now under attack from her MPs on five fronts as it was claimed that:
● Up to 46 MPs have sent a letter demanding a contest, two short of the number needed
● A “handful” of cabinet members would vote against May in a secret ballot
● Organisers of the People’s Vote march are talking to 50 Tories, including five frontbenchers, who might back a second referendum
● Allies of Davis are encouraging the coup and have sounded out Boris Johnson’s friends to see if the former foreign secretary would stand aside
● Brexit secretary Dominic Raab is expected to use a BBC interview today to insist that May cannot sign up to membership of a customs union without an end date.
‘A historic moment’: 670,000 march to demand Final Say on Brexit at second biggest demo in a century (The Independent)
‘We were the few, and now we are the many,’ activists told as huge crowds urge Theresa May to change course.
Lizzy Buchan, Political Correspondent
The crowds stretched so far back that plenty of people never even made it to the rally.
Masses overflowed through the streets of London for more than a mile, from Hyde Park Corner to Parliament Square, as an estimated 670,000 protesters took their demand for a fresh Brexit referendum right to Theresa May’s doorstep.
They came from every corner of the UK, in what is believed to be the largest demonstration since the Iraq War march in 2003, when more than a million people turned out in the capital to oppose the conflict.
Amid the swathes of EU flags and banners, there was also a growing sense that campaigners, MPs and activists were realising, perhaps for the first time, that this was a battle that could be won.
“We were the few, and now we are the many,” Tory MP Anna Soubry told the crowds crammed into Parliament Square.
“We are winning the argument and we are winning the argument most importantly against those who voted Leave.”
She said: “We will not walk away. We will take responsibility and sort out this mess with a people’s vote.”
Speaking to The Independent beforehand, she said many Tory MPs were privately supportive of a second referendum amid bitter divisions in the party.
Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran said the sheer scale of the event showed that “confidence is growing” in the fight for a fresh vote.
To huge cheers, London mayor Sadiq Khan said the march marked a “historic moment in our democracy”.
He told protestors: “We’ve heard some complain that a public vote would be undemocratic and unpatriotic. But the opposite is true.
“There’s nothing more democratic – nothing more British – than trusting the people to have the final say on our future.”