POLITICS

Brexit Briefing: Schadenfreude Edition

All you need to know from the world of Brexit

23/11/2017 17:33 GMT
HuffPost UK

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1) Philip Hammond Only Had To Shell Out £3bn To Make Brexiteers Like Him

PA Wire/PA Images

He’s the poster boy for Brexiteer anger, but Philip Hammond’s Budget prompted anti-EU MPs to raise a glass to him on Wednesday night – and it only cost him £3billion.

The Chancellor, who had previously balked at the suggestion of spending money preparing for a Hard Brexit, announced the windfall just weeks before the crunch summit in Brussels which will decide if trade talks can begin.

One Brexit-backing Tory was jubilant with the £3billion war-chest, telling me: “We now have a Plan B. Along with the £3billion we’ve got the £20billion already set aside. We can say to Barnier and the rest of the EU we’re not scared of No Deal because we’ve got the money to make it work.”

That £20billion is a reference to the money effectively set out by Theresa May in her Florence as part of the divorce bill, which Brexiteers would like to see used to prepare for World Trade Organisation terms of trade with the EU.

2) The Money Is Going Up But The Patience Is Going Down

PA Wire/PA Images

Of course, it may be more than £20billion which the Treasury has left to play with to prepare for a no deal.

At a meeting of the EU subcommittee in Downing Street on Monday, which includes Boris Johnson and Michael Gove, it was agreed to increase the amount offered to Brussels as part of the divorce payment.

The Guardian reported that no specific figure was discussed, but the FT was among numerous outlets to point to around €40billion being offered.

However, Brexiteers are only prepared for the PM to write that cheque if the EU agrees to begin discussions on a transition period as soon as possible, and a trade deal is wrapped up by next year.

If those conditions aren’t met, the pressure will grow on May to walk away from the talks entirely – something which would please some of the more dyed-in-the-wool eurosceptics.

At a conference of Brexiteers in Westminster on Tuesday, former Dexeu Minister David Jones was positively buzzing at the idea of leaving without a deal. He told the audience of MPs, MEPs, and other eurosceptics the idea of trading on WTO rules is “quite exciting” and the UK should walk away from the talks if the EU don’t agree to move to trade talks next month.

According to the FT, the UK is to put the new financial proposal to Brussels on December 8th, just a week before the EU summit begins.

It’s not just the financial settlement which is holding up the talks. The EU still wants more clarity on which body would uphold citizens’ rights in the UK after Brexit. Appearing before the Home Affairs Select Committee on Tuesday, Immigration Minister Brandon Lewis suggested the role of the European Court of Justice was “part of the negotiations and this has not concluded yet”

Downing Street were quick to say the ECJ would not have a jurisdiction in the UK once the two-year implementation period was over.

3) If Only There Was A German Word For How Theresa May Must Be Feeling When She Looks At Angela Merkel Right Now...

ADAM BERRY via Getty Images

Theresa May’s grip on power might be a little tighter after her Chancellor’s relatively gaffe-free Budget, but her opposite number in Germany is in an even more precarious position.

Angela Merkel’s attempts at forming a ‘Jamaica coalition’ – based on the colours of the parties involved echoing the island’s flag – collapsed this week after two months of talks.

Germany – a country proud of its record for political stability since the fall of the Berlin Wall – could be forced to hold fresh elections if Merkel’s former coalition partners, the SDP, holds firm on its refusal to sign up to another power-sharing deal.

What does this mean for Brexit?

Tory Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg believes the chaos in Germany is good news for the UK, telling the Daily Mail: “The political weakness of the strongest EU state makes our negotiating position stronger.”

It’s not clear how the UK could exploit the position though. With Merkel distracted by domestic matters, she is more likely, not less, to take her cues on the Brexit process from Michel Barnier and others in Brussels. She is unlikely to start going against the advice of European leaders just at a time when she needs to completely focus on politics at home.

In reality, the UK’s departure from the EU is relatively low down the list of political issues registering in Germany. It barely got a mention during the recent election campaign.

4) Relocation, Relocation, Relocation: Because Of Brexit Edition 

Empics Entertainment

The UK might not have paid the divorce bill yet, but the divvying up of the furniture has begun. This week it was revealed two prestigious European Union agencies that provided more than 1,000 high-quality jobs will leave the country.

London lost the European Medicines Agency (EMA) to Amsterdam, and hours later it was announced the European Banking Authority (EBA) will be relocated from the UK capital to Paris as a result of the UK quitting the EU.

Critics seized on the decision by the European Commission as the first evidence of the destructive impact of Brexit. Former Labour Cabinet minister Lord Adonis labelled the re-locations as “national self-mutilation”.

It was also pointed out that Brexit Secretary David Davis had signalled in April that the UK could still keep the two agencies.

The Dutch capital won the right to host the EMA in a crunch vote that ended in a tie against Milan. Similarly, Paris won in a lucky dip over Dublin for the EBA.

The European Commission said in a statement after the vote: “The relocation of these two Agencies is a direct consequence – and the first visible result – of the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the European Union.”

5) Who Needs Culture When You’ve Got Blue Passports?

PeterJamesSampson via Getty Images
Nottingham - no longer cultural enough for the EU

In more ‘because of Brexit’ news, the EU Commission has ruled no UK city is eligible for the European Capital of Culture award in 2023.

Five UK cities - Dundee, Nottingham, Leeds, Milton Keynes and Belfast/Derry – had put in bids for the honour, but the Commission announced that as a “direct consequence” of Brexit they would now be excluded from the competition.

This decision prompted outrage from the usual suspects, with Leave.EU describing it a “pathetically childish act we’ve all come to expect from the sad old men in Brussels.”

Many Twitter users pointed out that non-EU countries of Turkey, Iceland and Norway had previously played host to the European Capital of Culture.

Yet in a daring feat of research which involved actually reading the rules of the competition, HuffPost UK’s Chris York discovered why these countries were eligible. “Cities in EFTA/EEA countries, candidate countries and potential candidates for EU membership” can all apply. According to Government policy, by 2023, the UK will hit none of that criteria.

Don’t Get Angry, Get Blogging…

At HuffPost we love a good blog, and here are the finest Brexit-penned entries from this week. Have a read, and if any of them provoke an urge in you to speak your brain, send a blog to ukblogteam@huffingtonpost.com and you could find yourself in this very newsletter.

Open Britain’s James McGrory on “more money being found for Brexit than the NHS”

Yvette Cooper on how towns hit by Brexit and austerity are being overlooked 

Former ambassador Lord Ricketts on why the EU are putting other priorities before Brexit negotiations

Tamsin Summers on what she learned filming a documentary about Eastern European workers after Brexit