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

Theresa May has sparked a new clash with Brussels by saying that EU citizens who arrive during the post-Brexit transition period must not have the same rights as those who came before.

The prime minister’s remarks set her on course for a major skirmish with officials in Brussels, who have offered a “status quo” transition period until December 2020, including free movement and citizens’ rights for those who settle in the UK during that period.

Rules for new EU migrants could include mandatory work permits, requirements to register on arrival and restrictions on access to benefits, which would not apply to EU citizens who moved to the UK before Brexit. (Guardian)

Further negotiation difficulties were highlighted after European Commission officials rejected the City of London’s proposal to strike a post-Brexit free trade deal on financial services, a major blow to Britain’s hopes of keeping full access to EU markets for one of the world’s top two financial centres.

The decision increases the likelihood that the City will trade with Europe under less favourable terms and could accelerate corporate contingency plans to move more operations to the continent from London. (Reuters)

Economy

Carwyn Jones has warned that the Welsh steel industry would be “wiped out” if Britain left the European single market and signed a free trade agreement with China, and claimed a fresh deal with New Zealand including agriculture could badly hit its farmers.

The first minister of Wales made the comments as his government launched a trade paper claiming that hard Brexit would have a severe, negative impact on the country’s economy.

The report, which is supported by an economic impact analysis from Cardiff Business School, claims that crashing out of the EU on to World Trade Organization rules would cause the Welsh economy to shrink by between 8 and 10%, equivalent to £1,500-£2,000 per person in Wales. (Guardian)

Meanwhile more than 21,000 Scots could lose their jobs by next year due to the ongoing financial uncertainty caused by Brexit, the nation’s Chief Economist has warned.

In a report on the state of the economy, Dr Gary Gillespie says the UK’s forthcoming departure from the EU could also cost Scotland £1bn of business investment by 2019.

Another impact could be reduced GDP growth over this year and next, equivalent to every household in the country losing £200, his report states. (Inews)

Politics

Remain-backing Tory MPs have set out plans to force the Government to deliver a soft Brexit as Liam Fox ruled out the possibility of Britain staying in any form of customs union with the EU.

Anna Soubry and Ken Clarke have tabled amendments to two key pieces of Brexit legislation which, if agreed by MPs, would keep the UK in the customs union after withdrawal.

The move has the backing of a handful of Labour MPs and with speculation mounting that Jeremy Corbyn’s party is “shifting” to a softer stance on Brexit, Remainers believe it has a “serious prospect” of success if a dozen or so Tories rebel. (Telegraph)

In another sign of Theresa May’s vulnerability, MPs will be shown the secret Brexit impact assessment predicting major economic harm from Brexit as a “matter of urgency”, after the Government caved in over the controversy.

The document – concluding all three mooted exit options would leave Britain poorer – will be shown to the select committee scrutinizing withdrawal and all other MPs will be able to view it in “a confidential reading room”.

John Bercow, the Commons Speaker, declined to set a strict deadline for release, while ordering ministers that the study must be “made available as a matter of urgency”. (Independent)

In depth

With no majority in the Commons, the government is vulnerable on any issue, and Brexit above all. The power of rival factions is magnified. The danger to Mrs May should Brexit unravel, or the party suffer some unforeseen crisis, is real. The pressure for May to “give a lead” is easy to understand and will likely increase.

The painful reality confronting the prime minister as she contemplates those demands, and considers how to respond to them and keep hold of her job, is that on the issue of Brexit her party may have become unleadable. (BBC)

Brexit briefing: Weekly news roundup

16 February 2018

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...