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Saturday, December 24, 2016

Starting to get a bit…. Messy.

Brexit: British expats sue EU's Juncker over talks.

British expats living in the EU are suing European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker over his order to prevent informal Brexit discussions. Mr Juncker insists there can be no negotiations until the UK triggers Article 50 - the withdrawal process. The expat group wants immediate talks about the implications of Brexit for Britons living in other EU countries. UK Prime Minister Theresa May has pledged to trigger Article 50 by the end of March. But she also called for "preparatory work" with EU governments - before the official negotiations - to help smooth the process of UK withdrawal. The non-profit association Fair Deal for Expats has issued a legal challenge against Mr Juncker at the European Court of Justice (ECJ). The group alleges that his "presidential order" concerning Brexit discussions is an "unlawful gagging order" which "must be annulled immediately". Croft Solicitors, representing the expats in the case, told the BBC that "there is no such thing as a presidential order" in the European Commission. Mr Juncker and some other European politicians have warned against an "a la carte" deal for the UK which might encourage other EU members to cherry-pick EU policies, unravelling the rulebook.

Business leaders plead against 'hard' Brexit.

A group of major business lobby groups have written an open letter urging the government to preserve barrier free trade with Europe. The letter is signed by leaders of the CBI and manufacturers' body the EEF. It says the way in which the UK leaves the EU and on what terms is critical for jobs and investment in the UK. It says defaulting to trading by World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules would leave 90% of UK goods trade with the EU subject to new tariffs. The letter says that would mean 20% in extra costs for the UK's food and drink industry and 10% for car producers. These significant costs would affect British exporters and importers, as well as those in their supply chains, it adds. "We respect the result of the referendum, but the government must make sure that the terms of the deal to leave ensure stability, prosperity and improved living standards," the groups write. "Every credible study that has been conducted has shown that [the] WTO option would do serious and lasting damage to the UK economy and those of our trading partners." The letter calls for the government to "give certainty to business by immediately ruling this option out under any circumstances".

Brexit: MPs should vote on talks, says Labour's Starmer.

MPs should vote on the terms of Brexit negotiations, Labour's shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer has said. Sir Keir told the BBC the referendum result "has to be accepted" but accused the PM of trying to "manoeuvre without any scrutiny" on how to achieve it. It follows reports of a cross-party move including Labour's Ed Miliband and Lib Dem Nick Clegg to seek a stronger role for the Commons on Brexit. The government intends to trigger Article 50 by the end of March 2017. Article 50 is the official process for exiting the EU and could take up to two years. At the Conservative Party conference, Prime Minister Theresa May said the government would strike a deal with the EU as a "sovereign, independent" UK but her speech has raised concerns among some that the UK is headed for a "hard Brexit" - without unfettered access to the single market. Sir Keir, who returned to Labour's front bench last week in a reshuffle following Jeremy Corbyn's re-election as Labour leader, told BBC One's Andrew Marr Show: "The referendum is clear and has to be accepted and we can't have a re-run of the question that was put to the country earlier this year. But, and it's a big but, there has to be democratic grip of the process and at the moment what the prime minister's trying to do is to manoeuvre without any scrutiny in Parliament and that's why the terms on which we're going to negotiate absolutely have to be put to a vote in the House. Because if we can't get the opening terms right we'll never get the right result," Sir Keir said.

Government has 'no plans' for royal yacht for Brexit trade talks.

There are "no plans" to commission a royal yacht to spearhead the UK's post-Brexit trade talks, a minister says. Mark Garnier said he would welcome a costed business proposal but it was "very unlikely" taxpayers' money would be spent investigating the scheme. Several Tory MPs have called for a new, publicly-owned yacht or for the last one, Britannia, to be brought back. Mr Garnier ruled out recommissioning Britannia, which was taken out of service in 1997. "Clearly it's well past its active life," he said. The old yacht, used to transport the royal family and to promote UK trade and industry, was turned into a floating tourist attraction in Leith, Edinburgh. Conservative MP Jake Berry, who has led the royal yacht campaign in Parliament, secured a debate on his plan in Westminster Hall. "I believe if Brexit is going to mean successful Brexit, it should also mean the return of our royal yacht," he said.

Pound falls further against the euro and the dollar.

The pound has extended its losses against both the dollar and the euro in late trading on Tuesday. Against the dollar it has fallen more than 2%, at one point dropping below $1.21, while against the euro it fell below €1.10. Sterling has now fallen about 19% against the dollar since the UK's vote to leave the European Union, to lows not seen since 1985. One analyst said it was "trading like an emerging market currency". At one point the pound hit $1.2088 against the dollar on Tuesday evening and against the euro it touched €1.0939. The pound is at its lowest level since Friday's flash crash, when it tumbled to around $1.18 before recovering. Neil Wilson from ETX Capital said the mood around the pound had been extremely negative in recent days and that it was "now trading like an emerging market currency." He also said comments by a senior Bank of England official had not helped. Michael Saunders, a member of the Bank's interest rate-setting committee, said earlier that the pound could still "fall further", but that the recent sharp drop was not an immediate cause for concern. Earlier in the day, some traders had said sterling came under pressure from reports that US banks Citi and Morgan Stanley could move staff out of London, adding to worries about foreign investment leaving the UK. "It really isn't terribly complicated. If we are outside the EU and we don't have what would be a stable and long-term commitment to access the single market then a lot of the things we do today in London, we'd have to do inside the EU 27," said Rob Rooney, chief executive of Morgan Stanley International. Traders also pointed to leaked documents, warning that a withdrawal from the EU single market could cost the Treasury more than £66bn a year, as a reason for the drop.

All details above from BBC News website.

[Well, the PM Teresa May has called for unity in the country post-Brexit in her Christmas address. In other words, you lost, we won, deal with it. To which my response is the tried and tested two finger salute. I may be forced to accept the decision of the Referendum (stupid as it was) but I won’t accept that it’s a good decision (which it blatantly isn’t) and I’ll continue to argue against it even after Article 50 is enacted next Spring. Oh, and I’m looking forward to the repeated use of ‘I told you so’ after every economic fuck up caused by the decision to leave the largest internal market we have (or had) privileged access to.]

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