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1) Nigel Farage Is Not The Hero Remainers Deserve, But The One They Need
There is a school of thought that Tony Blair has no more influence in British politics, and his calls for a second EU referendum are falling on deaf ears. How wrong that is.
One person who has clearly been paying close attention to the former Prime Minister is Nigel Farage.
The former Ukip leader today decided he hadn’t been in the headlines for a while, and called for another vote on the UK’s membership of the EU.
Appearing on Channel 5, the MEP said: “What is for certain is that the Cleggs, the Blairs, the Adonises will never ever ever give up - they will go on whinging and whining and moaning all the way through this process.
“So maybe, just maybe, I am reaching the point of thinking that we should have a second referendum on EU membership.”
Nick Clegg took to Twitter to agree with his old adversary, tweeting: “I agree with Nigel.”
Could this actually happen? Could the dream team of Blair, Clegg and Farage actually achieve a second referendum?
I wouldn’t bet your holiday euros on it. The Tories aren’t going to call it; a Corbyn-led Labour government isn’t going to call it; and the Lib Dems aren’t going to win an election.
Even Ukip don’t support it, with new leader Henry Bolton taking time away from his hectic personal life to issue a statement opposing Farage.
2) No No Deal Brexit Minister But There Is A Minister Who Supports No Deal
Theresa May reshuffled her Government this week, but despite reports in the Telegraph, there was no Minister for No Deal. Instead, the Brexit Department got given a new minister, Suella Fernandes.
The former barrister was chairman of the influential anti-EU European Research Group before her elevation to ministerial level, and has been seen as a rising star in the party.
Indeed, HuffPost UK picked her out as one to watch after she was elected in 2015, and in an interview she praised Labour’s Stella Creasy for her “campaigning zeal”.
Since then, she has made a name for herself as a hard-core Brexiteer who believes “no deal” is “great as well for us”.
One quote which could come back to her haunt her is from her appearance on BBC Question Time in April 2017, when she said this about the UK paying a ‘divorce bill.’
“It doesn’t seem likely that there will be such a bill for £50billion – it’s part of Project Fear. Health warning: don’t believe it.”
Theresa May revealed in December the UK would hand over up to £39billion as it leaves the EU, but that’s probably just more Project Fear from a former Remainer campaigner, right Suella?
3) ‘Come Help Us With Brexit! No Experience Necessary!’
It’s not just Fernandes who is joining the Brexit Department, with a glut of new staff being hired by the Government.
DExEU wants to recruit a team of policy advisers, a senior internal communications officer and an executive assistant.
Also advertised is a deputy director position within the EU Exit section of the Government Digital Service, a branch of the Cabinet Office.
According to the job descriptions, hopefuls do not need any previous experience or knowledge of the EU or to speak other languages - but the department says it would “welcome applications from candidates with a background in management consultancy”.
According to a report released late last year, civil servants are quitting DExEU four times faster than the average rate and are the most over-worked in government.
As of December, 140 key roles remained unfilled as the UK prepared to enter crucial second-stage negotiations with EU chiefs.
4) The ‘Cake And Eat It Sitcom’ Sounds Brilliant
Away from the ‘excitement’ of the reshuffle, Brexit Secretary David Davis and Chancellor Philip Hammond travelled to Germany on a charm offensive on Wednesday.
In a joint article for the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper, the pair urge the Germans to support a trade deal which covers financial services – something that represents the ‘plus’ in the ‘Canada-plus’ model.
Such an agreement with the EU would be unprecedented, and the bloc’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier said in December: “There is not a single trade agreement that is open to financial services. It doesn’t exist.”
Davis and Hammond’s article came a day after the Telegraph reported German officials are opposed to the UK’s “three baskets” approach to Brexit. Those baskets would show where the UK wants to stay close to the EU, where it will differ, and a regulated middle.
“The ‘three baskets’ sounds like the latest episode in the ‘cake and eat it’ sitcom series,” a senior official working on preparations for the next round of EU negotiations told the Telegraph, adding such an arrangement represents a “serious risk to the integrity of the EU and its single market”.
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org and you could find yourself in this very newsletter.
Tony Blair on why 2018 will be the year that decides the fate of Brexit
Miriam Gonzalez Durantez on why Britain must demonstrate “competence and emotional intelligence” to negotiate with the EU
Patricia Hewitt on why, however you feel about Brexit, it’s vital we improve our trade performance
Eloise Todd on why accepting Brexit at any cost would be “the ultimate coup of democracy”