BREXIT LIVE: 'Powerful forces' trying to KEEP UK tied to Brussels – ex-minister warns May

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Posted on Oct 9 2018 - 12:35pm by admin

Steve Baker, who was a minister in the Brexit department until July, suggested that “powerful forces” in Government were seeking to keep the UK in arrangements similar to the single market and customs union.

He called instead for an “advanced free-trade agreement” with “practical arrangements” on the border between Northern Ireland and Ireland.

In a video message, Mr Baker, who quit as a minister in response to Theresa May’s Chequers plan, said: “It may be that powerful forces within the Government are determined to have a high-alignment Brexit, something like the EEA plus something like the customs union.

“That might be because they are badly advised about the cost of customs and the potential for new non-tariff barriers.

“It might be because they do not want to leave the European Union and wish to create the conditions to rejoin it later, with all that would mean, no rebate, adopting the euro and so on.

“It might be because of secret guarantees wrongly given to the car industry that nothing would change as we left the EU.”

Business Secretary Greg Clark made a series of promises to car giants including Nissan after they raised concerns about the impact of Brexit on their factories and supply chains.

Mr Baker said there was “some evidence” for each of the three possible reasons for the push for a soft Brexit “but what is for sure is that the Government’s Chequers plan does not deliver a meaningful Brexit and the EU says it does not work”.

He said the UK should be “unafraid” of leaving

Keep up to date with all of today’s Brexit news with Express.co.uk’s live blog below:

10.40pm update: UK demands PRECISE terms on post-Brexit trade as Downing Street PLAYS DOWN deal hopes

Theresa May has played down hopes of a Brexit deal being sealed this month and instead demanded the EU agree to a “precise framework” on the future trading relationship between the two sides.

Senior EU figures including Jean-Claude Juncker and Donald Tusk had signalled a breakthrough in the stalled talks could be close, possibly paving the way for an agreement by the end of the year.

But Downing Street said Brussels will need to shift its position on “big issues” if a deal is to be done at all.

And the Prime Minister’s official spokesman also suggested British negotiators are preparing to dig in their heels and insist on a detailed outline of what a post-Brexit trade deal will look like before agreeing to divorce terms.

The UK and EU were scheduled to publish a joint declaration on the future trading relationship by October 10.

9.20pm update: Hillary Clinton blames RUSSIA for Brexit and ‘assault on Democracy’

Hillary Clinton has said democracy is “under siege” and that she cannot understand why the press, public and political establishment are “so reluctant to call out what the Russians have been doing”.

The former US first lady, who lost the race for the White House to Donald Trump in 2016, also said it is “troubling” to her that history has been, in her view, either obscured or lost.

The former US secretary of state said on Monday evening: “As we learn more about the role that (Vladimir) Putin, oligarchs around him, the Russian government particularly, the intelligence forces have played, we see that it’s not just what they did in our election in the United States.

“They have been actively supporting right wing political parties and politicians.”

Mrs Clinton added: “I don’t understand why the press, the political establishment and the public are so reluctant to call out what the Russians have been doing.

“What they did in Brexit, what they did in the United States.”

8.25pm update: Theresa May demands Brussels make concessions as EU claims Brexit deal close

The Prime Minister is refusing to budge in her demand for Brexit concessions from the EU despite speculation that a deal between Britain and the bloc is close to being finalised.

Mrs May’s officials insisted there were still “big issues” to resolve and warned that “movement” was required from Brussels to break the current deadlock in the negotiations.

Whitehall insiders also sought to dampen hopes of an imminent deal, accusing the EU of trying to build up expectations in an attempt to put pressure on the British negotiating team.

Monday’s caution from Downing Street followed a series of optimistic remarks from senior figures in the bloc in recent days.

Rumours about an imminent Brexit deal have been circulating in Brussels ahead of a summit in the city next week where Britain’s departure from the bloc will be a key item on the agenda.

Mrs May’s official spokesman said: “We have always said that we are working hard for a deal this autumn and that continues at pace.

“It’s worth pointing out that there is a difference between people talking optimistically about a deal and deal including both a withdrawal agreement and a future framework actually being agreed.

“There remain big issues to work through, and as the Prime Minister has said this will require movement on the EU’s side.

“There can be no withdrawal agreement without a precise future framework.”

7.00pm update: ‘Sterling to be STRONGER’ as CRUNCH Brexit talks near say financial experts

The pound will end the year “stronger” according to two financial experts as a crucial breakthrough in Brexit negotiations is expected to emerge this week.

Sterling (GBP) has risen to a three and a half month high over the euro after holding its gains over the weekend.

Top financial experts from JP Morgan and Bank of America Merril Lynch have said that they expect the pound to end the year strongly as the European Union prepares to release it’s final Brexit draft in crunch talks on Wednesday – but caution that there could still be volatility for the pound ahead.

Speaking to Bloomberg Markets, Nick Gartside from JP Morgan Asset Management said: “Sterling will be stronger by year-end, although what I would caution with that it’s all going a little too perfect though.”

6.15pm update: DUP leader warns of ‘CATASTROPHIC’ impact of Brexit barrier

DUP leader Arlene Foster has warned it would be “catastrophic” to create a barrier between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, as she travelled to Brussels for talks.

Mrs Foster will meet the European Union’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier on Tuesday to set out her red line on the issue, warning against any attempt to “annex” Northern Ireland.

She said: “We want the June 2016 referendum result to be respected and implemented.

“A majority of people throughout the United Kingdom voted to take back control of their money, laws and borders. Whilst many in Brussels may not agree with the referendum outcome, the result must be respected.

“As we leave the EU, we should do so as one nation.

“The United Kingdom single market must be protected with no new borders between Northern Ireland and Great Britain being created. From day one this has been the DUP’s only red line.

“This red line is recognising that Great Britain is Northern Ireland’s biggest market.

“Over 70 percent of all goods leaving Belfast port are destined for Great Britain. To create a barrier to that trade would be catastrophic.”

Northern Ireland must retain “unfettered access” to the British market and also be able to fully benefit from any new trade deals struck by the UK after Brexit, she said.

Mrs Foster added: “Our red line also respects and protects Northern Ireland’s constitutional place in the United Kingdom.

“Many who claim to respect the Belfast Agreement fail to respect the principle of consent which was part of that agreement. Indeed, they would happily redraw the border and annex Northern Ireland away from the rest of the UK.”

5.34pm update: Remain ‘consistently AHEAD of Leave’ in polls

Most voters now want the UK to stay in the European Union, analysis of a series of polls has found.

Remain has had an average four-point lead during 2018, a reversal of the gap in the 2016 referendum.

Analysis of 149 polls found Remain is now consistently ahead of Leave.

The research, carried out by YouGov for the London Evening Standard, found Leave was ahead by an average of two points after the referendum, dropping to one point in the first six months of 2017.

Remain gained a two-point lead over the last six months of 2017, according to the study.

Anthony Wells, director of political research at YouGov, told the Evening Standard: “The weight of evidence means that we can be as good as certain that, at least as far as the polls are concerned, Remain is now ahead of Leave.

“Between them the four trackers have asked the question 61 times this year, and 57 of them were Remain.”

Some 2,741 adults in England, 2,016 in Wales, 1,502 in Scotland and 1,089 in Northern Ireland were surveyed at different periods between May 30 and July 2.

5.04pm update: Nicola Sturgeon branded ‘HYPOCRITE’ over ‘people’s vote’ pledge

Nicola Sturgeon has been accused of “rank hypocrisy” after insisting a People’s Vote on Brexit would not set a precedent for Scotland.

The Conservatives hit out after the First Minister said her party’s MPs would vote to give the public a say on the final terms of the UK’s exit deal from the European Union.

But Ms Sturgeon said that did not mean there would have to be a similar follow-up vote in the event of Scottish independence.

The SNP leader argued the lack of detail from Brexiteers on the UK’s future relationship with Europe was critical in the case for a second ballot.

Ms Sturgeon said: “There was the lie on the side of the bus and nothing more.

“There was no detail then, there is no detail now and it looks increasingly likely that when the UK leaves the EU at the end of March next year, there will still be no detail about the future relationship, and that makes these two situations, in my view, very different.”

Conservative MSP Annie Wells said: “Surely even Nicola Sturgeon can see the rank hypocrisy here.

“Her position is that, if she loses a referendum, then it must be re-run – but if she wins one, we have to accept her say-so forever.

“We may be Leave or Remain, Yes or No, but we should all be democrats first and foremost. That means respecting our decision to stay in the UK, and respecting our decision to leave the EU.

“Nicola Sturgeon’s failure to do either speaks volumes about her failure to listen. With an attitude like this, no wonder the SNP lost 21 seats under her leadership last year.”

4.20pm update: Mr Juncker’s spokesman insists EU chief has “great respect” for Mrs May

Margaritis Schinas said on Twitter that Mr Juncker’s dance moves were “not directed at anyone” but were an “improvisation on the moment as the music kept playing before he could start his speech”.

He said the commission president’s respect for the Prime Minister was “repeatedly stated in public and demonstrated in practice”.

Quoting from Abba’s Thank You For The Music, Mr Schinas quipped: “Without a song or a dance what would our life be?”

3.20pm update: EU Chief Jean-Claude Juncker ‘MOCKS Theresa May’ by dancing on stage

European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker appeared to mock Theresa May when he performed a little dance while preparing to give a speech in Brussels.

Mrs May surprised delegates at last week’s Conservative Party conference Birmingham when she shimmied on stage for her big keynote speech to the tune of Abba’s Dancing Queen.

And a grinning Mr Juncker won laughter and applause from his audience when he appeared to mimic her dance steps as he came to the lectern for a speech to the EU Week of Regions and Cities.

The Commission president took a swipe at Britain by telling his audience that he preferred to make his speech in French or Luxembourgish, his native tongue, spoken by fewer than half a million people, rather than English.

And he denounced “stupid” populists who were challenging the existence of the European Union.

Matt Drake taking over reporting from Laura Mowat

2:40pm update: Businesses feeling the most Brexit anxiety since the referendum

UK businesses are the most anxious they have been about Brexit since the 2016 referendum, according to a study.

Deloitte accountancy group has warned that concern over the long-term impact of Brexit are increasing.

Chief economist at Deloitte said: “Chief Finacial Officers s have become more pessimistic about the long-term effect of the UK’s departure from the EU,” Ian Stewart, the chief economist at Deloitte, said.

“Large corporates are pulling in their horns, with just 12% of CFOs saying now is a good time to take a risk and 44% expecting their own capital spending to be lower over the next three years.”

1:40pm update:  Brexit could have a “catastrophic” impact on UK cancer research and could trigger a crisis

A study by the Queen’s University in Belfast showed that restrictions on free movement envisaged after the EU split risks undermining care based on science.

Professor Mark Lawler, from the Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology at Queen’s, said: “Nearly 20 per cent of our research staff are non-UK born.

“The Brexit effect on our research reputation could be catastrophic, and given that high quality research underpins better cancer outcomes, we risk undermining the cancer care of our patients.”

The Brexit divorce had already stopped a heart drug study due to concerns over how new medicines will be approved after Brexit.

1:30pm update: Nicola Sturgeon has said that Scotland should have its own version of the Brexit “backstop” plan

The EU and the UK are trying to agree on how to solve the Ireland border issues.

Asked if a version of the Irish backstop should apply to Scotland, the First Minister of Scotland said: “That would be my position.”

12:30pm update: Downing Street has warned of ‘big issues’ surrounding Brexit

Despite talk of a deal being close, Theresa May’s spokesman said further concessions were needed from the EU side.

The comments contradict speculation that the UK is close to making a deal with the EU.

Downing Street has said that the UK is working for an autumns deal with issues such as the Irish border still needing to be resolved.

The Prime Minister’s spokesman told a Westminster media briefing: “We have always said that we are working hard for a deal this autumn and that continues at pace.

“It’s worth me pointing out that there is a difference between people talking optimistically about a deal and a deal, including both a withdrawal agreement and a future framework, actually being agreed.

“There remain big issues to work through and, as the PM has said, this will require movement on the EU side.

“There can be no withdrawal agreement without a precise future framework.”

12pm update: A Brexit deal could EVENTUALLY be on the horizon

The EU member states’ leaders believe that Brussels is moving closer to a deal with Brexit.

Much of the progress set to be made surrounds the Irish border question, which has left talks at a standstill for months.

Theresa May has softened her approach by accepting various regulatory checks between Northern Ireland and Great Britain.

11:40am update: The UK can’t agree a withdrawal deal with the EU without securing a detailed framework for its future relationship

Prime Minister Theresa May’s spokesman said there was a difference between optimistic talk about a deal being done and getting an agreement.

A spokesman for Mrs May said: “It’s worth me pointing out that there’s a difference between people talking optimistically about a deal, and a deal including both the withdrawal agreement and the future framework, actually being agreed.

“There remains big issues to work through.”

11am update: Government urged to give the North control over the post-Brexit cash pot in bid to boost jobs

A cross-party group of local political leaders and businesses have demanded that post – Breit funding for some of the UK’s poorest regions should be controlled by the areas that receive it.

Andy Burnham, Steve Rotheram and Dan Jarvis, Labour mayors in Greater Manchester and the Liverpool and Sheffield city regions, joined forces with the Tory mayor of the Tees Valley, Ben Houchen, to demand control of a pot of cash they say is worth £2.4 billion a year.

They have said that the Brexit idea for the UK to “take back control” must mean “substantial devolution of power and resources out of Westminster to the English regions”.

10:30am update:  SNP Westminster leader tells conference that Scotland ‘is sick of’ Tory Government

Ian Blackford claims that the “democratic outrage” of Brexit has encouraged Scottish independence and only the SNP offers an alternative to the Tories.

Mr Blackford said: “The people of Scotland didn’t vote for this Tory government, they didn’t vote to have a referendum on leaving the EU, they didn’t vote for Brexit, they didn’t vote for a hard Brexit and they certainly didn’t vote to come crashing out of the EU with no deal.

“Time and time again, the SNP and others have fought to ensure that Scotland’s remain vote is respected in the EU negotiations, but the Tory Cabinet is completely in thrall to the hardline Brexiteers who could not care less about jobs, living standards and public services in Scotland.

“People in Scotland are sick of the Tory government telling them what to do.

“The democratic outrage of Brexit is crystallising the case for Scotland having the full control over its own affairs – no wonder that polls are showing support for independence at record high levels.”

Mr Blackford also said that this was one of the darkest periods of UK politics due to the “uncertainty and the instability that engulfs politics in Westminster”. 

The SNP MP warned that his party would not go along with a Brexit that his party did not agree with.

He said: “Let those in Westminster hear this – if contempt continues to be shown to the people of Scotland and our Parliament – SNP MPs will not hesitate in causing maximum disruption to this Tory Government’s agenda when and where Scotland needs us to.”

10am update: Theresa May has nine days to get support of Cabinet behind Chequers

Ministers have said that they will demand a plan B if Brussels does not accept her plan.

European Council President Donald Tusk has said that the UK still has a chance to negotiate the terms of the UK’s departure from the EU and avoid a “no-deal” scenario

The next round of negotiations are due to take place on October 16.

9am update: UK is welcome to join the Pacific trade pact after Brexit

Japan’s prime minister, Shinzō Abe, has said Britain would be welcomed into the Pacific free trade pact “with open arms” after it leaves the European Union.

Mr Abe said that the UK would lose its role as a gateway to Europe after Brexit, but would still be “equipped with global strength”.

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