Morning briefing: No 'a la carte' Brexit - paying for messy divorce - load of scallops
After weeks of speculation about crashing out disastrously with "no deal", markets seized on what some thought was a change of tone from Michel Barnier yesterday when he said the EU is "prepared to offer a partnership with Britain such as has never been with any other third country". The pound rallied (with the stock market falling in response), but in reality there was no change in the substance of the EU chief negotiator's position, as he reiterated his opposition to a “single market a la carte”, adding that “single market means single market”.
What this means is that when Barnier and his opposite number Dominic Raab sit down for more talks tomorrow, they will still be a long way apart. In particular, no progress has been made on how to avoid border controls in Ireland.
It’s no surprise, therefore, that more and more people say the talks may slip from their current official deadline of mid-October. Not only have Raab and Barnier spoken about a potential short delay; the FT reports that some UK ministers are now shooting for a December conclusion and EU officials think the talks may drag on until the New Year.
Those wanting a deal may be comforted by a separate unsourced story in The Times saying Emmanuel Macron wants the EU to offer the UK a deal based on “concentric circles”, with the EU and the euro at its core and Britain in a second ring. But the French president’s plans depend on us first achieving an amicable divorce (which requires solving that Irish border question) and then persuading the other EU countries to buy into his vision (which they don’t yet).
It’s also worth remembering that if the prime minister is going to get a deal remotely on the lines of Chequers, she will have to make more humiliating concessions. As Nick Timothy, her former chief of staff, writes in the Telegraph: “We know what will come next. The EU will say that Britain must make further concessions, including accepting free movement rules, significant annual payments to Brussels, and, perhaps, EU rules for services.”
No one voted for the miserable deal May is trying to negotiate or the crash-out scenario the hardline Brexiters are pushing for. All the more reason for a People’s Vote at the end of the talks.
HAVE YOU SIGNED THE PETITION FOR A PEOPLE'S VOTE?
Quote of the day
“I think it is important as we enter the final phase of the negotiations in the lead-up to the October council – and the possibility that it may creep beyond that.”
Brexit Minister Dominic Raab lets slip that the October deadline might not be so final
Video of the day
WATCH: Theresa May yet again refused to commit to back Brexit in a referendum. If she's keeping an open mind on how she would vote in a People's Vote, why shouldn't the British public?
Will we pay divorce bill if there’s no deal?
The Daily Mail thinks the Brexit secretary told peers yesterday that the government would still pay its £39 billion divorce bill even if there’s no deal. The Times, by contrast, thinks Dominic Raab said there will be no divorce bill without a trade deal. His exact words - “It could not be safely assumed that the financial settlement would be paid in precisely the same shape, or speed, or rate” - look deliberately ambiguous. A more straightforward answer was given earlier this year by the head of the National Audit Office when he said “the payments would fall to be paid no matter what, under international law” even if there was no deal. Why can’t ministers also give straight answers to straight questions?
Tweet of the day
Popular YouTuber 'Dodie' has announced her support for a People's vote.
A load of scallops
There's trouble on the high seas, as British and French fishermen clash over the rights to scallop fishing. While the British cannot dredge for scallops in French territorial waters, they are at perfect liberty to do so in international waters. As their French counterparts are banned by domestic legislation from doing so outside of an October-May window, this is causing friction.
What this incident has shown is that arguments about fishing rights will likely prove problematic post-Brexit. It has also demonstrated the benefit of the EU as peacemaker between member states, even in matters over which it has no direct responsibility, with the Commission urging the UK and France to find an “amicable” solution.
Car industry slump
Car production in the UK fell 11% year on year last month. The automotive industry is particularly vulnerable to Brexit-based disruption, with investment and jobs at risk. Earlier this year the industry lobby group SMMT blamed uncertainty over Brexit for a 50% fall in investment in the industry. The same lobby group have been quick to note that while the industry is suffering from Brexit, monthly numbers will fluctuate. The bigger picture is that output is down across the year; no Brexit dividend here.
Video of the day 2
WATCH: David voted Leave but is now demanding a People's Vote on the final Brexit deal and is calling for young people to stand up, get organised and register to vote
More Brexit news…
Revealed: Paul Dacre’s fond farewell (Spectator)
Top Brexit comment
Rosie McKenna: A People’s Vote is a fight for disability rights (InFacts)
Nick Timothy: Chequers has proved intolerable to everyone, May must set her sights on a Canada-plus deal with the EU (Telegraph £)
Annabelle Dickson: What the 8 Tory Brexit tribes want (Politico)
Today, Thursday 30 August
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|-||Theresa May in Kenya|
Tomorrow, Friday 31 August
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|-||Dominic Raab meeting Michel Barnier in Brussels|
|-||ONS annual survey of goods and services|