Strong possibility Britain will not reach a trade deal with the European Union – Prime Minister said
There is a strong possibility that Britain does not reach a trade deal with the European Union, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said, but pledged to do whatever he could to get one.
This is what he told reporters this evening:
“I do think that we need to be very, very clear there’s now a strong possibility, strong possibility that we will have a solution that’s much more like an Australian relationship with the EU, than a Canadian relationship with the EU,” Johnson said. “It doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing.”
“What I’ve said to our negotiators is that we’ve got to keep going, and we’ll go the extra mile … and I will go to Brussels, I will go to Paris or go to Berlin or wherever, to try to get this home and get to a deal,” he said. “But there’s always the possibility, the prospect of coming out on Australian terms.”
“The UK has been incredibly flexible and actually last night in Brussels, I really want you to know that we tried very hard to make progress on all sorts of things but what’s really made things difficult is just in the last few weeks, … this concept of equivalence … keeping the, the UK locked in as I say into the, the EU’s regulatory orbit. That’s something that’s appeared recently, we don’t know quite why it’s appeared in that way. And that’s really the thing that’s made things much more difficult.”
“The UK will continue to do everything we possibly can and as I say I stand ready to talk to anybody our friends and partners in the EU, whenever they want. At the moment I have to tell you, in all candour, the treaty’s not there yet and that was the strong view of our cabinet as well.”
Markets continue waiting game for Brexit plans
A no-deal Brexit continued to spook traders on Thursday with the pound falling once again on fears that a trade deal will not be agreed ahead of Sunday’s newly-set deadline.
As markets across Europe closed, the pound fell 0.82% against the dollar at 1.329 and down 1.18% against the euro at 1.097.
But the falls helped the FTSE 100 to outperform its peers, with the “cheaper” looking pound benefitting internationally-focused businesses which make up the majority of the blue-chip index.
The FTSE 100 closed up 35.47 points, or 0.54%, at 6599.76.
EU attempt to maintain fishing status quo ‘completely unrealistic’
It is “completely unrealistic” for the EU to expect the same share of UK fish stocks after Brexit, a fishing leader has said.
Fisheries are one of the main sticking points over a deal, with the UK determined to operate control over its waters under international law, with access for foreign vessels – but at a lower level than in the past.
Barrie Deas, chief executive of the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations, said a no-deal situation would have an impact on some vessels but he did not see the UK conceding on the point.
“I think it would be uncomfortable for everybody, but it will be more uncomfortable for the EU.
“It’s much better to arrive at an agreement, and there is a deal on the table which is access.
“But it’s completely unrealistic to think given the new legal status that the UK has as an independent coastal state, that the EU can hold on to the privileges and advantages it has held over the UK for 40 years,” he said.
The EU has published contingency plans for a no-deal Brexit with mutual access to fishing grounds continuing in 2021, but Mr Deas said he did not think that there were any circumstances under which the UK could accept that.
Queen’s weekly audience with PM postponed due to Brexit talks
The Queen’s weekly audience with the Prime Minister was postponed this week to allow Boris Johnson to focus on the race against the clock to secure a post-Brexit trade agreement.
Mr Johnson usually telephones the monarch each Wednesday evening to update her on Government matters, but there is no record of this week’s audience in the Court Circular.
Buckingham Palace said the Queen will speak with the PM next week.
Sir Bob Neill, who chairs the justice committee, welcomed the removal of clauses from the Bill
He told MPs: “I welcome the fact that the Government have accepted it was unwise, if I can put it charitably, to have certain clauses in this Bill which might have impugned our international reputation for supporting the rule of law.
“I welcome the minister’s approach to this and that of his colleague Lord True in the other place and the Bill is better off without those clauses.
“I had sought to at the very least ensure that there was a parliamentary lock should such clauses ever be needed but I hope that with the agreement that has been achieved in the joint committee thanks to the work of (Michael Gove), that they’re not needed at all.”
Liberal Democrat MP Wendy Chamberlain (North East Fife) said: “Because of the international law-breaking clauses, I believe insufficient attention has been given to how this Bill affects the devolution settlements and that’s a matter of great regret.”
SNP business spokesman Drew Hendry said that the Bill is “unwanted” and undermines devolution
Earlier he told MPs: “This shabby, shambolic, pernicious Bill should never have seen the light of day. It’s already been delivered an historic defeat in the Lords, they rightly tore it apart, yet this Government has overturned all of their amendments and sent them back to them.
“And yet no sooner had they done that than there came the press release, as ever bypassing this House, to say they would be retreating from breaking international law – clauses that should never have been in there in the first place and have only served further to diminish this Government and the UK’s already tattered international reputation.”
Mr Hendry added: “This Bill is unwanted, unwarranted and it unashamedly undermines devolution. It’s an attack on the democratically elected Scottish Parliament and the vast, vast majority of the Scottish public who value it.
“Since 2014, promises to them have been routinely broken in this place. Their votes and their views have been ignored over Brexit and now Scotland will be the only country not to get what it voted for in that referendum.”
Conservative chairman of the European Scrutiny Committee calls for notwithstanding clauses to be put back in the Bill
Sir Bill said: “I believe that we need to retain these clauses, not just as a safety net or as belt and braces, but also because it may well turn out to be necessary to avoid, for example, either the House of Lords or the courts in extremis taking action the effect of which would be to undermine the Brexit process.
“That is the key issue, it is about sovereignty, which the British people have made clear is what they want.
“The same applies for the Red Wall seats as well as the Labour Party know only too well.
“And the bottom line therefore is that as far as I’m concerned I want an assurance from the minister that such measures will be taken in legislation, in primary legislation, to restore those notwithstanding clauses.
“I’ve discussed this with our team in the whips office today and all I’d say is I do hope that the minister will simply say ‘yes we will take note of what the honourable member has said’ and indeed, will give effect to it if we find that at the end of this weekend it is necessary to return those clauses into the Taxation (Post-Transition Period) Bill and also, if necessary, into this Bill – but without prejudicing the safety that the UK Internal Market Bill in its entirety as it stands at the moment.”
MPs vote to remove several Lords amendments
MPs voted 357 to 259, majority 98, to remove several Lords amendments and replace them with a Government proposal to seek consent of Scottish ministers, Welsh ministers and Northern Ireland’s economy department before making regulations under a section of the Bill.
Latest Commons votes on devolved administrations role in future operation of UK internal market is in:
MPs voted 356 to 259, majority 97, to disagree with three Lords amendments linked to calls to give the devolved administrations a key role in the future operation of the UK internal market post-Brexit.
This was related to so-called common frameworks which manage the extent of divergence across policy areas.
Will European Health Insurance Cards still exist after Brexit?
Britain’s membership of the European Union has meant that people travelling with an insurance card have had access to state-provided healthcare in Europe.