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I have a burning need to know stuff and I love asking awkward questions.

Monday, January 23, 2017

I Predict a Problem (or two)

Brexit stance may not be 'crystallised' before Article 50 triggered, says minister.

A Brexit minister has suggested the government's aims in negotiations with the European Union may not be finalised by the time Article 50 is triggered. David Jones told a House of Lords committee the UK's negotiating position may not be "totally crystallised" by next spring. Mr Jones said the government was at an early stage of the process and that thinking was "developing". Theresa May has said Article 50 will be triggered by the end of March 2017. This will put in process formal talks with the EU, which will last for up to two years before Brexit happens. Mr Jones, a minister at the Department for Exiting the European Union, was appearing before the EU Home Affairs sub-committee, which is investigating the security implications of Brexit. He was questioned on what government departments hoped to get out of any eventual agreement with the EU.

Theresa May: We'll still work closely with EU after Brexit.

Theresa May has pledged to continue to "work closely" with the EU after Brexit, as she arrived for her first Brussels summit as prime minister. She said it was important to have a "united European stance" against "Russian aggression" that included "sickening" violence in Syria. European Council President Donald Tusk called the summit a "nest of doves". But French President Francois Hollande warned that if Mrs May pursued a "hard Brexit" negotiations would be hard too. The prime minister was keen to emphasise this when she arrived in Brussels, saying: "I'm here with a clear message. The UK is leaving the EU, but we will continue to play a full role until we leave and we will be a strong and dependable partner after we have left. "It's in the interests of both the UK and the EU that we continue to work closely together, including at this summit." She added: "We must continue that robust and united European stance in the face of Russian aggression." It was "vital" to "put pressure on Russia to stop its appalling atrocities, its sickening atrocities, in Syria", the prime minister said.

David Davis 'in cloud cuckoo land' over EU negotiating stance.

David Davis is in "cloud cuckoo land" if he believes Brexit talks are heavily weighted in favour of the UK, a former Treasury civil servant told the BBC. The Brexit Secretary and other minister should "rein back" "hard and unconstructive" talk, former Treasury civil servant Sir Brian Unwin said. The UK has said it will begin formal talks about exiting the EU by the end of March 2017. But Conservative MP John Redwood said the UK was in a "very strong position". Mr Redwood, who advised Margaret Thatcher on European issues as head of her policy unit, said Sir Brian's comments were a "great pity" as "I'm sure he wishes our country well". Mr Davis told the House of Commons on 10 October: "One of the things that I have discovered in the past few months is that in many areas - not just the City, and not just as regards cars - the balance of negotiating advantage is incredibly heavily stacked our way." Sir Brian, who was a senior civil servant under Labour and Conservative governments - including Margaret Thatcher's, when he helped negotiated the UK's budget rebate - said he felt ministers and civil servants had a "horrific" job ahead. He told BBC Radio 4's World at One: "I saw that Mr Davis the other day was reported to have said that the negotiating odds are unbelievably weighted on our side. Well I think that is utter rubbish, I mean, it really is cloud cuckoo land." He said opinion was "hardening" towards the UK among EU countries: "They do not want the integrity and the future of the European Union to be put at risk by Brexit and in particular they do not want the United Kingdom to emerge with advantages which might encourage other member states to think of leaving." He predicted Theresa May, who is in Brussels for her first EU summit as prime minister, might not get a "terribly cosy" reception from her fellow leaders adding: "I really do think the language which the present government is using needs to be tempered if they are to have a successful negotiation." Sir Brian, who was president of the European Investment Bank, also said he felt it would be "suicidal" were Britain to leave the EIB - which is owned by the 28 EU member states, as its funding had been "enormously important" to UK infrastructure.

Ceta: EU 'not capable' of signing deal says Canadian minister.

A trade deal between the EU and Canada is on the brink of collapse because a Belgian region with a population of just 3.6 million opposes it. An emotional Canadian Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland left the talks in Brussels, saying the EU was "not capable" of signing a trade agreement. Belgium, the only country blocking accord, needed consent from the regional parliament of Wallonia. The wide-ranging deal, seven years in the making, was to be signed next week. Speaking outside the seat of the Walloon government, Ms Freeland told reporters: "It seems evident for me and for Canada that the European Union is not now capable of having an international accord even with a country that has values as European as Canada. "She added: "Canada is disappointed, but I think it is impossible." It was unclear whether the EU would keep negotiating with Wallonia in coming days to solve the impasse.

Theresa May 'optimistic' she can get right Brexit deal for UK.

Theresa May has predicted "difficult moments" ahead in Brexit negotiations but said she is optimistic she can get a deal "that is right for the UK". Speaking at a summit in Brussels, she said she felt it could be achieved, despite the continuing deadlock over a landmark EU-Canada trade deal. Mrs May said she had played an active role in discussions and was not "backwards in coming forwards". It is her first EU summit since she became PM following the Brexit vote. At a news conference before meeting European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker for a working lunch, Mrs May said Britain would be "a confident, outward-looking country". She said she aimed to "cement Britain as a close partner of the EU once we have left", with the country able to control its immigration but trade freely with the EU. She said she would seek a "mature co-operative relationship" with the EU.

All details above from BBC News website.

[It seems like the news regarding Brexit is circling overhead like vultures – lots of promises, lots of warnings and a fair few threats which surprised me a bit since we’re the ones actually leaving the party. Play nice after we leave, or as we leave, or there will be trouble….. That definitely sounds like a government very worried about the reactions of the rest of Europe as we negotiate our way to a very personal economic suicide. I’m guessing that the Supreme Court decision [tomorrow I understand] has already been double guessed by the government – they know they’re going to lose – so they’re going to say that they always had a vote in mind! Where it goes after that… Well, watch this space!]

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