No Easy Options, No Easy Exit. (Still Catching Up!)
Jean-Claude Juncker: UK faces hefty Brexit bill.
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has warned the UK it faces a "very hefty" bill for Brexit. He promised two years of "tough negotiation", when discussions on leaving terms get under way between the government and the European Union. Exit will not come "at a discount or at zero cost", he said in a speech to the Belgian Federal Parliament. Reports suggest the UK could have to pay the EU up to 60 billion euros (£51bn) after Brexit talks start. Mr Juncker's comments came as the House of Lords held a second day of discussion of the government's European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill, which, if passed into law, will allow Prime Minister Theresa May to trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, allowing formal talks with the EU to start. Discussions are taking place in Brussels on the size of the bill to be presented to Mrs May when she launches the talks. The amount will cover the UK's share of the cost of projects and programmes it signed up to as a member, as well as pensions for EU officials. In his speech, Mr Juncker, a former prime minister of Luxembourg, said: "It will be a tough negotiation which will take two years to agree on the exit terms. And to agree on the future architecture of relations between the United Kingdom and the European Union we will need years. The British people have to know, they know already, that it will not be at a discount or at zero cost. The British must respect commitments they were involved in making. So the bill will be, to put it a bit crudely, very hefty."
Come to France post-Brexit, banks urged.
French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron has said he would like UK banks and workers to relocate to his country, following discussions with Theresa May. Speaking in Downing Street, the centrist politician called his own country "a very attractive space". Mr Macron called for a "fair execution" of Brexit. The French government has been wooing London-based financial companies, but the UK government has promised to fight to maintain the City's position. HSBC said last month that it was preparing to move 1,000 jobs to Paris. Speaking after talks with Mrs May, Mr Macron was keen to emphasise his enthusiasm for such developments, telling reporters: "I was very happy to see that some academics and researchers in the UK, because of the Brexit, would consider to come to France precisely to work." Asked if he wanted banks to move to Paris after Brexit, he said: "I want banks, talents, researchers, academics and so on. I think that France and the EU are a very attractive space." Mr Macron, who appeared alone in Downing Street after his meeting, said there was a "series of initiatives" aimed at getting "talented people… working here to come to France". The former economy minister and investment banker added that despite the UK leaving the EU, there should be "further co-operation in terms of defence" between it and France.
Brexit: Heseltine vows to rebel in Lords bill debate.
Senior Tory Lord Heseltine has said he will rebel against the government when peers debate the bill giving Theresa May the authority to trigger Brexit. He said he would support an opposition amendment in the House of Lords demanding MPs get a meaningful vote on the deal reached with the EU. Writing in the Mail on Sunday, he denied this would be a "confrontation". But Home Secretary Amber Rudd told ITV's Peston on Sunday programme: "I hope he will reconsider." Last week peers gave an unopposed second reading to the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill, following a two-day debate involving more than 180 speakers. MPs have already backed the proposed law, authorising Prime Minister Theresa May to inform the EU of the UK's intention to leave. Opposition peers want to amend the bill at a later date to guarantee the rights of EU citizens in Britain and the role of Parliament in scrutinising the process. As the government does not have a majority in the Lords, it is vulnerable to being outvoted if opposition peers - including Labour's 202 and the 102 Lib Dems - join forces. Lord Heseltine wrote in the Mail on Sunday: "The fightback starts here. My opponents will argue that the people have spoken, the [Brexit] mandate secured and the future cast. My experience stands against this argument." He also wrote: "This is not a confrontation with the government. It is to ensure the Commons can exercise its authority over the defining issue of our time."
Government defeated on Brexit bill.
The government has been defeated after the House of Lords said ministers should guarantee EU nationals' right to stay in the UK after Brexit. The vote, by 358 to 256, is the first Parliamentary defeat for the government's Brexit bill. However, MPs will be able to remove their changes when the bill returns to the House of Commons. Ministers say the issue is a priority but must be part of a deal protecting UK expats overseas. The bill will give Theresa May the authority to trigger Brexit under Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty and begin official negotiations. The amendment backed by the Lords requires the government to introduce proposals within three months of Article 50 to ensure EU citizens in the UK have the same residence rights after Brexit. But it could be overturned when MPs, who have already backed the Brexit bill without amendments, vote on it again. The government is expected to attempt to overturn the defeat when the legislation returns to the Commons. The Department for Exiting the EU said: "We are disappointed the Lords have chosen to amend a bill that the Commons passed without amendment.
Brexit: UK has 'moral responsibility' to Gibraltar, peers say.
The government has a "moral responsibility" to protect the interests of Gibraltar during Brexit negotiations, a Lords committee says. The EU committee said the single market and cross-border travel were vital to the territory's economy, and warned the UK government not to let Spain use trade talks to claim sovereignty. Gibraltar voted overwhelmingly for Remain in June's referendum. The government says it will ensure the territory's priorities are understood. Gibraltar has been a British territory since 1713, but Spain continues to claim sovereignty over the enclave, and the government in Madrid called for joint sovereignty in the aftermath of the Brexit vote. The vote of 95.9% in favour of staying in the EU made Gibraltar by far the strongest pro-Remain area taking part in the referendum. Peers said 40% of its workforce crossed the border from Spain every day, and its economy was "underpinned" by the single market. The committee said it "strongly endorses" the UK government's promise never to enter into sovereignty discussions with Spain against the will of the Gibraltarian people, and called on ministers to engage "positively and pragmatically with Spain, emphasising the mutual importance of the economic relationship between the UK and Spain".
All details above from BBC News website.
[The messages coming out of the Tory cabinet over the past week have been mixed – or confused – to say the least. First we have the idea of a 2 year transition period after we officially leave the EU to allow things to settle down. This included, apparently, the continued free movement of people. Now we’re being told that the free movement ends the day we leave. No compromise. No discussion. Out means out. I do wonder this though: In the next 18 months will the Tories have one voice for more than 2 minutes on the subject? Personally I doubt it.]