A Work in Progress?
David Davis on Brexit: UK's plan still being worked on.
The government's plan for Brexit negotiations will not be published until February  at the earliest. Brexit Secretary David Davis told MPs there was a lot of research and policy work to be done before it was ready. Mr Davis said he wanted to be "as open as we can be" without undermining the UK's negotiating position. The minister also said if no agreement was reached with the EU a transitional Brexit deal could be struck "if it is necessary and only if it is necessary". The government has said it will notify the EU of its intention to leave - beginning the two year process of talks on its exit - by the end of March at the latest. In response to pressure from Labour and some Tory MPs, ministers agreed last week to give more detail of their negotiating aims before starting the exit negotiations. Appearing before the Commons Select Brexit committee for the first time, Mr Davis said the "broad outline" of the UK's objectives were known but the detail had to be filled in. Asked by its chair, Labour MP Hilary Benn, when the plan would be released, Mr Davis would not be drawn on a specific date but ruled out it happening in January.
Call for 'unilateral' Brexit guarantee for EU citizens.
The UK has a "moral" duty to guarantee the status of EU nationals living in the country ahead of negotiations over its exit, a group of peers has said. A Lords EU committee has called for an immediate "unilateral undertaking" that EU nationals can continue to live, work and study in the UK after Brexit. It said failure to do this would have a severe impact on migrants' rights. Ministers say they expect this to happen but need equivalent guarantees for UK citizens on the Continent. The question of what will happen to the estimated 2.9 million citizens of other EU countries who have made their home in the UK in recent years is one of the most controversial arising from the UK's vote to leave the EU in June's referendum. The government has said it expects an early resolution of the issue once official talks on the terms of the UK's separation from the EU begin next spring. But it has refrained from giving any guarantees on their future status - saying this is impossible without similar safeguards for the estimated 1.2 million Britons living in Spain, France, Italy and other EU countries. But the Lords EU Justice sub-committee said the UK should not wait to hear from other EU countries and that making a binding commitment now was "morally the right thing to do".
Brexit trade deal could take 10 years, says UK's ambassador.
A post-Brexit UK-EU trade deal might take 10 years to finalise and still fail, the UK's top diplomat in Brussels has privately told the government. The BBC understands Sir Ivan Rogers warned ministers that the European consensus was that a deal might not be done until the early to mid-2020s. He also cautioned that an agreement could be rejected ultimately by other EU members' national parliaments. PM Theresa May said she wanted Brexit to be "smooth and orderly". In October, Sir Ivan, who conducted David Cameron's negotiation over the UK's relationship with the EU, advised ministers that the view of the 27 other countries was that a free trade agreement could take as long as a decade. He said that even once concluded, the deal might not survive the process of ratification, which involves every country having to approve the deal in its own parliament. It is also understood he suggested that the expectation among European leaders was that a free trade deal, rather than continued membership of the single market, was the likely option for the UK after Brexit. Sir Ivan's private advice contrasts with ministers publicly insisting a deal can be done in the two years allowed by the triggering of Article 50 - the formal start of the process of leaving the EU. Downing Street said he was relaying other EU members' views, rather than his own or the British government's. A spokesman said: "It is wrong to suggest this was advice from our ambassador to the EU. Like all ambassadors, part of his role is to report the views of others."
Brexit: Warning firms could leave City over uncertainty.
Financial services firms could quit the City unless a transitional Brexit deal is secured, ministers have been warned. A cross-party group of peers said Britain's financial sector must be offered a Brexit "bridge" to prevent firms moving to rival locations such as New York, Dublin, Frankfurt or Paris. It urged the government to act to stop business tumbling off a "cliff edge". It comes as Prime Minister Theresa May prepares to meet other EU leaders at a summit meeting in Brussels. Mrs May will take part in EU-wide discussions on defence, foreign affairs, migration and the economy as well as holding bilateral meetings with the leaders of Latvia and Lithuania and the president of the European Parliament. However, she will not be present for a dinner on Thursday evening - at which the EU's remaining 27 leaders are expected to discuss their approach to Brexit.
In other Brexit developments:
The Lib Dems say the UK's promise to leave the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice would endanger vital cooperation against crime
The European Parliament could start parallel negotiations with the UK unless it is given more of a say by EU leaders, a leading MEP says
The Foreign Affairs Committee urges ministers to reconsider their reluctance to share their thinking on the risks of no deal being reached
The UK is expected to begin official negotiations on the terms of its exit this Spring following the Leave vote in June's referendum. Businesses are pushing for an interim arrangement to safeguard the interests of companies, investors and customers during the period between the UK's departure and when post-Brexit trading and regulatory arrangements are settled. In the latest of a series of Lords Committee reports on Brexit, its EU financial affairs sub-committee said firms could decide to remove their operations from London because of uncertainty about what kind of agreement would be negotiated for cross-border trade.
All details above from BBC News website.
[According to Teresa May’s Easter address to the huddled masses she detects a ‘sense of people coming together’ over Brexit. That’s certainly news to me. The people I talk to – on both sides of the divide – haven’t, as far as I can tell, changed their opinion in the least. Personally I still think this is the worst (and most stupid) decision this country has made in at least the last century – and believe me we’ve made some pretty stupid decisions in the last 100 years – unless I’m provided with some seriously convincing evidence to the contrary. Watch this space!]