Brexit briefing: Weekly news roundup

Unite Brexit Check’s weekly news briefing on the UK’s exit from the EU.

Check back every Friday for an overview of the week’s Brexit-related political, industrial and economic developments.

Brexit negotiations

David Davis has suggested Britain’s EU divorce deal will “favour” remaining member states as he signalled ministers are ready to accept demands to enshrine the Brexit agreement in law.

Revealing the sixth round of formal negotiations will begin next week, the Brexit Secretary said the Government viewed Britain’s withdrawal agreement and a deal on the future UK-EU relationship as “inseparable”.

But, speaking to the House of Lords EU Committee, Mr Davis hinted Britain might have to pay a price in the divorce agreement as he looks to strike a long-term trade deal (Sky News).

The European Union’s chief Brexit negotiator said he’s ready to intensify the pace of talks with the U.K, as the window of opportunity to begin trade talks this year is closing.

“I’m ready to speed up negotiations,” Michel Barnier told reporters in the Slovak capital Bratislava on Tuesday.

“We have proposed three dates, three weeks of new rounds of negotiations. In the next few hours or days, we’re working with the British delegation to find the right dates” (Bloomberg).

Economy

The Bank of England has issued a fresh set of warnings about the economic implications of Brexit, reiterating that the UK’s split from the European Union will probably hamper productivity and slow growth.

In its regular Inflation Report, published after announcing its first interest rate rise in over a decade, the central bank struck a cautious tone and said its future decisions would largely depend on the trade terms of the UK’s departure from the EU (Independent).

A top Bank of England official also warned that around 10,000 jobs in the UK are at risk on “day one” of Brexit.

Sam Woods, chief executive of the Bank’s Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA), said it was “plausible” that as many as 75,000 financial roles could be lost if no trade deal was struck with the European Union (Telegraph).

The UK faces serious health implications if the government fails to agree a Brexitdeal, finds a report that says of 35 portions of fruit and vegetables, a figure relating to the five-a-day recommendation for individuals, just one “portion” is grown in the UK and picked by British or non-EU workers.

The report, to mark the launch of a new RSA commission examining the impact of Brexit on food and farming, found that the five-a-day health target – which adds up to the 35 portions of fruit and vegetables a week – was overwhelmingly met by food grown in the EU or harvested by EU workers in the UK (Guardian).

Politics

The government has said it will release information from Brexit impact studies, after Labour won a vote effectively forcing their hand.

Ministers had argued that releasing the economic impact studies would undermine their Brexit negotiating position.

However, Commons Leader Andrea Leadsom agreed that Wednesday’s vote was “binding” and told MPs: “The information will be forthcoming.”

Brexit Secretary David Davis said ministers would be “as open as we can” (BBC).

But there were immediate concerns that Mr Davis would drag his feet on disclosure – and insist upon lengthy redactions before any information is released.

In a strongly-worded letter, Hilary Benn, the chairman of the all-party Brexit Committee, said it should jointly decide what parts of the studies are too sensitive to make public.

And he insisted ministers’ timetable for responding to Commons defeats on other issues – 12 week – would be completely unacceptable (Independent).

Preparations to leave the EU have already cost the government half a billion pounds and will lead the headcount in Whitehall to balloon by at least 8,000 workers by the end of next year, the government has admitted.

The Brexit secretary, David Davis, told the cabinet there had been a “significant acceleration” in work to get Britain ready for its EU departure, with 300 programmes under way across the government.(Guardian).

In depth

As Theresa May’s minority government appears to diminish in strength with each passing week, so the power of the U.K. parliament appears to be on the ascent.

Wednesday was a bumper day for that most revealing of parliamentary events — the select committee hearing, when backbench MPs get their chance to grill ministers, experts and officials (Politico).