PM May ‘Confident’ of Reaching Agreement With EU: Brexit UpdateBy , , and
Theresa May addressed Parliament on Monday about the U.K.’s plans for Brexit, having secured a temporary reprieve from the infighting that’s dogged her premiership with a keynote speech last week.
That truce was put to the test by pro- and anti-European Union lawmakers before the bloc publishes its own strategy for negotiations on Tuesday, and though the questions were at times awkward, it -- at least in her own party -- appeared to hold. May was firm ruling out a second referendum, and said she was seeking far more from the EU than the bloc’s trade agreement with Canada (though she surprisingly referred to Canada’s border with the U.S. in the context of a potential solution for Northern Ireland.)
Chancellor Philip Hammond gave evidence to Parliament’s Brexit scrutiny committee, with the City of London and financial services taking center stage.
We will be following developments here in real time. Time stamps are for London.
Hammond Says Fair EU Deal Must Include Services (5:47 p.m.)
Perhaps a taster to his speech on Wednesday, Hammond says a fair and attractive deal for the U.K. must include access to services, and that breaking up the U.K.’s financial services industry would have profound effects.
“The critical mass that we have in several key areas simply can’t be relocated or replicated. It’s a very complicated ecosystem, it’s grown up rather than been created,” he said.
Trump’s Tariffs Mean Tricky Questions for May (5:26 p.m.)
This is a theme that keeps coming up in lawmakers’ questions -- how May plans to negotiate a trade deal with the U.S. when Donald Trump is signaling a shift toward protectionism with tariffs on imported steel and aluminum. Her office said earlier that the U.K. is still waiting to see U.S. policy in full before reacting. May repeats a line in the Commons about commodity dumping: “The right way to deal with this issue is on a multilateral basis.” It’s a tricky argument to make when the U.K. is negotiating to leave the EU.
For more on this issue: Trump ‘Trade Wars’ Tweet Awkward for May Outlining Brexit Vision
Aspects of Immigration Policy to Be Negotiated (5:07 p.m.)
Taking back control of immigration policy was a key theme of the campaign to leave the EU before the 2016 referendum, but May’s office suggests some aspects of future policy will need to be negotiated with the EU.
While the prime minister continued answering questions in the Commons, her official spokesman, James Slack, briefed reporters on the issue. He insisted that the U.K. “will be deciding on who gets to enter the country” after Brexit.
A new system of reciprocal arrangements for people who want to go to visit, live and work in the EU will have to be agreed in talks, Slack said. “Clearly in terms of future immigration systems, they also will have consequences for U.K. citizens who wish to go to Europe and you’d expect that to come up in any negotiation.”
Hammond Agrees With May, Rules Out Another Vote (4:53 p.m.)
“The referendum decision has been made and we now have to as a Parliament take it forward and deliver it,” Hammond tells Parliament’s Brexit scrutiny committee.
Hammond also says that any Treasury analysis on the economic impact of Brexit should be kept private to prevent it getting into the hands of EU negotiators.
Canada Analogy Only Goes So Far... (4:50 p.m.)
May reiterates that she’s seeking something far more ambitious from the EU than the bloc’s trade agreement with Canada.
She’s been questioned repeatedly about the economic cost of Brexit -- that’s in response to her line from Friday that Brexit will involve “hard choices.” Today, she says that a different relationship with the EU “does not mean that this is a country whose economy can’t go from strength to strength.”
She also has a punchy line ruling out a second vote: “No second referendum, no exit from Brexit.”
Looking at U.S.-Canada Model for N. Ireland Border (4:28 p.m.)
Asked about possible solutions for the Northern Ireland border, May says the government is looking at examples around the world, including the U.S.-Canada border.
It’s a significant comment, not least because Ireland’s Prime Minister Leo Varadkar has already rejected it. He told the Irish Times in 2017 that the crossing was “highly efficient,” but he also said: “Make no mistake -- it’s a hard border... There are armed guards, dogs, flags and checkpoints.”
“It was a very interesting visit, but it certainly left me in little doubt that the U.S.-Canada model would not be desirable on the island of Ireland,” Varadkar said after a visit to Queenstown-Lewistown.
Signs Brexiters’ Support Is Holding (4:08 p.m.)
Leading Brexit campaigner Iain Duncan Smith, a former Tory leader, congratulates May on her speech, calling it “clear and determined and giving the European Union a very clear sense of direction.” He also gives May some advice on what to tell the EU: “Cake exists to be eaten and cherries exist to be picked.”
Boris Johnson is also nodding often -- he’s sitting next to the prime minister in the chamber. Johnson couldn’t be at her speech on Friday as he was stuck trying to get back from Hungary. His endorsement is important, as he is the Cabinet’s most vocal Brexit campaigner.
May: ‘Confident We Can Reach Agreement’ (3:47 p.m.)
So far, this is going over Friday’s speech. But it’s interesting that, as last week, May appears less willing to threaten to walk away without agreement. Her “no deal is better than a bad deal” did come out on Friday, but only when questioned on it directly by a journalist -- it wasn’t part of her speech.
And today, she repeated she wouldn’t be “buffeted” by calls to walk out of talks. Notably, the pound rose against the dollar as May spoke.
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