Morning briefing: Fox's no-deal blame game - French failures - sorry time for services
The Brexiter blame game is in full flow. The chances of a no-deal Brexit have risen to “60-40”, said trade secretary and ardent Brexiter Liam Fox over the weekend, squarely blaming the “intransigence” of the European Commission, in an interview with the Sunday Times.
Former Brexit secretary David Davis also piled in, saying the EU risked a “no deal by accident” by making the “massive miscalculation” that the UK was unwilling to walk away without a deal.
But the Brexiters have no one but themselves to blame for the Brexit meltdown looming on the horizon. It was they who pushed hard for Brexit without facing up to the consequences. It was they who pressured Theresa May to trigger Article 50 without a plan. It was they who then propped May up as she squandered precious time with one unworkable Brexit proposal after another.
Fox slammed the “theological obsession of the unelected” in Brussels taking “priority over the economic wellbeing of the people of Europe”. That’s a bit rich coming from a man blindly pursuing Brexit despite the evidence that all of his proposals will be a disaster, serving in a government which failed to secure a majority at the last general election.
Downing Street insists it doesn’t share the trade secretary’s fears of no deal. Perhaps because the EU officials are showing exactly the flexibility Fox accuses them of being incapable of. They are prepared to soften their proposal for an Irish border “backstop” to make it more politically palatable to the UK, according to the FT. With Northern Ireland currently the major outstanding disagreement in Withdrawal Agreement negotiations, a fudge here could mean muddling through to a vague deal by the autumn.
But that’s bad news in itself. It risks a “blind Brexit” where May manages to scrape a hazy vision of our future relationship with the EU through Parliament. We then leave in March, none the wiser about what we’re leaving for. Brexiters think that once we’ve left, they can let the talks run into the ground, ditch the Irish backstop and crash out of the EU with no deal at the end of the transition period. All that does is push the chaos of a no-deal Brexit a couple of years down the line. It would be a catastrophe for the UK.
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The French disconnection
Philip Hammond has warned finance chiefs in the City of a French-led EU plan to bind London’s financial services sector in red tape after Brexit, reports the FT. The chancellor’s comments come hot on the heels of Theresa May’s damp squib of a visit to see the French president on his holiday island fortress.
It looks like the government has failed to win over France to its Brexit cause, as former David Cameron adviser Camilla Cavendish explained yesterday in the Sunday Times. The French press portrayed May’s visit as a desperate attempt to persuade Emmanuel Macron to soften the EU response to her white paper. But he didn’t even grant May a post-visit press conference, displaying his determination not to undermine Michel Barnier’s negotiating team in Brussels. The government’s key Brexit strategy of divide-and-rule between the EU institutions and the 27 EU members has fallen fully flat.
Video of the day
WATCH this from OFOC: Leaving the EU without a deal is NOT the 'will of the people'.
Because all the pro-Brexit politicians and newspapers promised us a BETTER deal.
Sorry times for services sector
It’s more bad news for the UK economy as the services sector, which makes up 80% of our economy, went into reverse for the first time in eight years, reports The Times. The BDO Output Index recorded a drop of more than two points in services output in July, pushing the survey into negative territory for the first time since early 2010.
But Brexit hasn’t even happened yet. Under May’s current plan, services will be left out of any future deal to keep us close to the EU’s single market. This vital part of our economy is looking very vulnerable.
EU will NOT be worse off in no-deal
The Express front page this morning declares: “Brexit no deal worse for EU”. This is utter nonsense. The source of the story, which emerged over the weekend, is a new report by pro-Brexit economist Patrick Minford. You know Minford? Dismissed and disregarded by the overwhelming majority of his fellow economists, darling of the hard-Brexit tabloids and disproportionately deployed as contributor on the BBC as that organisation attempts to “balance” the economic arguments for and against Brexit.
In fact, as recent analysis by the IMF shows, the UK will be hit far harder by no-deal Brexit than the other 27 EU countries - with a 4% cut in UK GDP compared to 1.5% to the EU. Other studies have given similar results. Brexit is a bad deal for everyone - but most of all for us.
Video of the day 2
WATCH: Andrew voted leave in the EU referendum but wants a People's Vote on the final Brexit deal now that we have a better idea of what Brexit might look like.
More Brexit news…
Quote of the day
“Cameron was really anti-Gove. He was saying he was a lunatic. He had not realised quite how mad Michael Gove was until that whole incident. He was saying he feels even more cross with Gove than Boris.”
Unnamed sources over the weekend revealed that David Cameron was preparing to go in for the kill on his former friend Michael Gove, whom he blames most of all for his referendum defeat.
Top Brexit comment
Camilla Cavendish: Theresa May’s Brexit battle plan falls at the gates of Fort Macron (Sunday Times £)
Christopher Booker: All hail Theresa May for finding something both Brexiteers and Eurocrats agree on (Telegraph £)
Manuel Cortes: Brexit is set to betray working people, which is why our union backs The Independent's campaign for a Final Say (Independent)
Today, Monday 6 August
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Tomorrow, Tuesday 7 August
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