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

Saturday, January 07, 2017

It’s all going to be fine (they tell us).

Boris Johnson: Brexit doom-mongers are wrong.

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has promised that those who "prophesied doom" over Brexit will be proved wrong. He predicted that the UK would get a trade deal "of greater value" with the European Union than it has currently as part of the single market. Mr Johnson told the Foreign Affairs Committee that Commonwealth countries were "stepping up" to reach agreements. But European Council President Donald Tusk said the "only real alternative to a 'hard Brexit' is 'no Brexit'" He said that talk of "soft" Brexit - retaining some form of membership of the single market in exchange for some conceding of control over immigration - and "hard Brexit" - leaving the single market but having fuller control over migration - was purely "theoretical". In a speech in Brussels, he warned that the process would be "painful for Britons" but added: "The brutal truth is that Brexit will be a loss for all of us."

There would be some "sturm und drang" (German for "storm and stress"), he predicted, but added that "we did the right thing and we can make it work". Mr Johnson said: "I think the term 'single market' is increasingly useless. We are going to get a deal which is of huge value and possibly of greater value ... We are going to get the best possible deal for trade in goods and services." Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron seized on Mr Johnson's comments, accusing him of a "bungling performance", adding that it was "clear the only thing which is becoming 'increasingly useless' is Boris Johnson himself". The remaining 27 EU states had "a huge interest" in agreeing a deal which would allow the UK to continue to trade its goods and services, and it was "complete nonsense" to suggest that trade links were dependent on allowing free movement of people. Brexit meant "restoring our democracy and control of our borders and our lives and a fair bit of cash", said the foreign secretary. "But Brexit is not any sort of mandate for this country to turn in on itself and haul up the drawbridge or to detach itself from the international community."

Tesco and Unilever end price dispute.

Issues surrounding the supply of leading brands including Marmite to Tesco have now been resolved, Unilever has said. The supermarket giant and the UK's largest food manufacturer had been locked in a battle over wholesale prices. Unilever had wanted to raise its prices by about 10% to compensate for the steep drop in the value of the pound. But Unilever had to give some ground, the BBC understands. Brands including Hellmann's Mayonnaise had been removed from Tesco's website. "Unilever is pleased to confirm that the supply situation with Tesco in the UK and Ireland has now been successfully resolved," Unilever said. "We have been working together closely to reach this resolution and ensure our much-loved brands are once again fully available. For all those that missed us, thanks for all the love." A Tesco spokesman said: "We always put our customers first and we're pleased this situation has been resolved to our satisfaction." Tesco had earlier on Thursday halted online sales of top-selling goods produced by Unilever such as Persil washing powder, Ben & Jerry's ice cream and Marmite yeast extract spread. The BBC understands that those products should be available on the Tesco website again in the coming days.

'Hard Brexit' or 'no Brexit' for Britain – Tusk.

Britain's only real alternative to a "hard Brexit" is "no Brexit", European Council President Donald Tusk has said. Speaking in Brussels, he warned that the EU would not compromise on its insistence that freedom of movement will be a condition for Britain's access to the single market. Mr Tusk will chair meetings of EU leaders negotiating Britain's exit from the 28-member bloc. In his speech, Mr Tusk mocked a Brexit campaign promise that Britons could "have the EU cake and eat it too" - the idea that the UK might manage to keep trade benefits of EU membership while barring European immigrants and rejecting EU courts' authority. "To all who believe in it, I propose a simple experiment. Buy a cake, eat it, and see if it is still there on the plate. The brutal truth is that Brexit will be a loss for all of us. There will be no cakes on the table. For anyone. There will be only salt and vinegar." Mr Tusk also suggested that Britain might ultimately decide not to leave the EU "even if today hardly anyone believes in such a possibility". The BBC's Damian Grammaticas in Brussels says this was Donald Tusk raising the alarm. He appears to be deeply concerned about the direction any Brexit talks could be headed, our correspondent adds. However, Mr Tusk again stressed that the choice would be the UK's alone to make whether Brexit "is really in their interest". British officials have so far made no public comments on Mr Tusk's latest statements.

Brexit: Nissan boss meets PM over Sunderland plant fears.

The boss of Japanese car giant Nissan says he is "confident" the government will keep the UK a competitive place to do business after it leaves the EU. Chief executive Carlos Ghosn met Prime Minister Theresa May earlier amid fears over the future of its production plant in Sunderland. He has hinted investment at Sunderland could cease unless compensation is paid for any adverse impact after Brexit. The Sunderland plant, which opened in 1986, employs almost 7,000 people. Mr Ghosn arrived at Downing Street in a black Qashqai, a model made in Sunderland. After the meeting, which lasted about an hour, Mr Ghosn said: "We want to ensure that this high-performing, high-employment factory remains competitive globally and continues to deliver for our business and for Britain. Following our productive meeting, I am confident the government will continue to ensure the UK remains a competitive place to do business. I look forward to continued positive collaboration between Nissan and the UK Government." Mrs May added: "This government is committed to creating and supporting the right conditions for the automotive industry to go from strength to strength in the UK, now and into the future." The Sunderland factory, opened by then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, produces about 500,000 Juke, Qashqai and Leaf vehicles a year - a third of the UK's total car manufacturing.

All details above from BBC News website.

[Brexit news has slowed to a trickle lately as, presumably, everyone holds their collective breath before the Supreme Court decision due soon. In other news a top Tory political donor says he will withdraw funding if we leave the EU Single Market – which he says will be catastrophic. Don’t you love it when the rich and (maybe not that) shameless agree with you?]

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