Brexit Chickens are coming home to roost

dMedia Bias

ww-westminsterOne of the advantages that assists the Wicked Witch of Westminster and her Brexit Clowns is that many UK newspapers are pro Brexit.   The Torygraph Telegraph is bad enough, but the Sun and the Mail are mass circulation titles and  are firmly in the Brexiteer camp.  Therefore, one expects that the Torygraph Telegraph, the Express, the Sun and the Mail will all run jingoistic pro-Brexit stories whenever possible.

Certainly, one is obliged to have regard to the Torygraph Telegraph because it has unrivalled access to  the thinking in Downing Street, just as one looks at the Guardian for its access to Labour and Liberal party thinking.   The Financial Times is possibly the best source for assessment of the financial impact of Brexit on the economy and the Independent often has useful reporting.

But it is worth remembering that different newspapers have different circulations.  The Press Gazette has the January 2017 circulation figures:  “National newspaper print ABCs for Jan 2017: Times and Observer both boost print sales year on year“.  Public opinion is more likely to be influenced by tabloids like the Sun (1,616,715) or the Mail (1, 511,317) than by the Financial Times (188,924)  or the Guardian (156,756).

It follows that the Brexiters had during the Referendum, and now continue to have during the Brexit negotiations, an inbuilt popular advantage.

Brexit and the Tory Right  

The day before yesterday the Financial Times had this: “May urged to assess impact of leaving EU without deal – MPs say claim that ‘no deal is better than bad deal’ is ‘unsubstantiated’”.  Among other things the report discussed an 11-6 split in the Committee vote with the Eurosceptics  in the minority.

The posted reader comments on the article were worth reading – among them this:-

If one tries to think logically – very logically – about it, to have said “no deal is better than a bad deal” is foolish and nonsensical, at least from the perspective of trade and economics.  It has all along been clear to the dullest of minds that “no deal” means WTO rules and 10% tariffs on autos, 25% tariffs on agriculture and loss of the passport for financial services. Maybe not Armageddon but still something of a car crash.  What only makes sense is “bad deal” being code for having to compromise on either free movement, jurisdiction of the ECJ or continuing to follow EU regulation, or any combination of these ethereal and largely illusory “take back control” sentiments that most Brexiters value – irrationally in my view – over economic prosperity.”

Yesterday, the Financial Times had this: “The ‘Brexit betrayal’ poses a hazard for Theresa May – Some MPs do not want a deal with the EU and will try to force her hand.”  This story is about the 80 or so Conservative MP’s who are in a cabal known as “The European Research Group” discussed in this Torygraph-Telegraph article from November last Year: “Heavyweight Brexiteers among 60 Tory MPs to demand clean break from the EU“.

The point is that this “total withdrawal” faction within the Conservative Party might scupper any post Brexit deal.  Names mentioned in the Torygraph-Telegraph include the likes of failures like Ian Duncan-Smith (thankfully only briefly a leader of the Party) and the obnoxious Michel Gove who wanted to stand against the Prime Minister in the post Referendum contest for the leadership of the Conservative Party but did not make it.

timesbrexitclownsBloomberg Politics had this two days ago: “Hammond Says Some on British Side Don’t Even Want a Brexit Deal” and the Indpendent had this: “Philip Hammond accuses Tory Eurosceptics of plotting to torpedo any chance of a Brexit deal – He predicted ‘tensions’ in the party as the Prime Minister pushes for a Brexit deal“.

James Blitz, writing in the Financial Times yesterday: “Theresa May’s bad news for Brexiters – PM has given 2 indications she is willing to compromise on previously hard position“.  Mr Blitz’s conclusion was this:-

The question now is whether Mrs May can see off the Tory right. She courted them willingly in the first phase of Brexit as she pursued the Article 50 process through the Commons. If she is serious about striking a deal with the EU, she will now have to disappoint them — and this could be dangerous.”

Brexit EU Negotiations

Yesterday’s  Torygraph Telegraph has this:  “EU negotiator says Brexit is ‘a Tory catfight that got out of hand’ and predicts next generation will return to bloc – as MEPs approve ‘red lines‘” which is a blow by blow account of a debate in the European Parliament on the negotiating terms.  One hopes that history will one day show that Guy Verhofstadt is right and that the UK (or what’s left of it by then) will rejoin the European Community.

In the event the European Parliament approved the negotiating stance proposed.

The Financial Times has this in its regular Brexit briefing: “Theresa May’s bad news for Brexiters – PM has given 2 indications she is willing to compromise on previously hard position” and a further more detailed article:  “Theresa May softens stance on Brexit roadblocks – UK PM accepts possible extension of EU rules after 2019“.

James Moore wrote in the Independent yesterday: “Theresa May has finally admitted we can’t immediately close our borders after Brexit – the fantasy is unravelling – Hot on the heels of that imaginary £350m for the NHS, another Brexit lie is crashing in to the white cliffs of Dover

Meanwhile, there is the continuing drip drip of business worries.

This is one:  “Ryanair ‘will have to suspend UK flights’ without early Brexit aviation deal – Falling back on WTO rules without a bilateral arrangement would be ‘disastrous’, says airline’s finance chief

Here is another: “Standard Life considers making Dublin its EU hub because of Brexit – Barring ‘something miraculous’ happening, the Edinburgh-based money manager will no longer be able to service its 500,000 Austrian, German and Irish clients from the UK, chairman Gerry Grimstone says“.

And here’s another: “Brexit: UK faces up to 100,00 job losses under new proposal to strip UK of euro business – Mr Weber, who heads the European People’s Party, the largest group in the European Parliament, said that it was not conceivable that euro-denominated business could remain in London“.

And finally today, this from the Independent: “Brexit: European bankers in UK sick of location limbo and are volunteering to leave – Staff at Citigroup, Goldman Sachs and HSBC have asked to return to their native countries inside the EU“.

The article is doubtless accurate – and, regrettably, the inane comments posted by many on-line readers are only what we have come to expect.

As an andidote, it is worth reading a Grant Thornton paper on the Impact of Brexit on the Financial Services Sector  which can be summarised by the key figures showing the worth of the Financial Services Sector:-

  • 2 MILLION+ jobs in the UK, of which two thirds are employed outside London
  • UK’S LARGEST TAX PAYING SECTOR paying £66bn in 2015/16
  • UK’S BIGGEST EXPORTING INDUSTRY with a £67bn contribution to the balance of trade
  • In 2014, exports of FINANCIAL SERVICES to the EU generated an £18.5bn trade surplus

This is only one sector of the economy where a hard Brexit will come at a considerable price.

Article 50 Skirmishing

The EU Stance on Brexit Negotiations

ww-westminsterThe Wicked Witch of Westminster  was hoping to conclude a Free Trade Deal with the EU in parallel with the Brexit negotiations.   It looks as though that was wishful thinking.  The Financial Times has this: “EU draws up tough stance on Brexit transition deal – Initial Brussels guidelines prioritise withdrawal terms over future relations.”

The Financial Times has the Council’s Negotiation Guidance here: “The EU’s Brexit negotiation guidance decoded – The full text of the European Council’s guidance for handling Britain’s withdrawal“.  Clicking on the highlighted parts of the text reveals the view of the FT specialists on the significance of particular passages.  For example, there is a passage about Gibraltar which relates to the 300 year old dispute with Spain about Gibraltar.

In that regard see this Financial Times article: “Gibraltar poses threat to post-Brexit aviation access – Spain signals it would block EU air access deal unless terms exclude Gibraltar airport

See also this report in the Gibraltar Chronicle: “Gibraltar border ‘won’t change too much’ post Brexit, Dastis says“.   Most Gibraltarians  would read this as meaning “there is trouble ahead“.

The Torygraph Telegraph had this:  “Outrage as Spain given ‘effective veto over future of Gibraltar’ under EU plans “.

The Independent has this: – “UK will ‘stand up for Gibraltar’ says Boris Johnson – Gibraltar’s Chief Minister said Spain’s lobbying of the EU over the territory’s future had been ‘unacceptable“.

One wonders how many Conservative members of The All-Party Parliamentary Group for Gibraltar voted for Brexit:  Andrew Rossindale MP, Vice Chair of the Group,  who is mentioned in the Torygraph Telegraph article did.  So did Jack Lopresti MP, who is Chair of the Group.  So did Robert Neill MP who is Secretary of the Group.

Did the Tory Brexit loons in the All Parliamentary Group not understand why Membership of the EU was important for Gibraltar?   Surely they would have read about the Gibraltar Referendum result in the Torygraph Telegraph: “Gibraltar votes overwhelming to remain“.

Why did 96% of the population of Gibraltar vote (19,322 to 823)  to Remain?  Simple:   Because it is membership of the EU which  has made Gibraltar’s relationship with Spain bearable.

timesbrexitclownsBoris Johnson is one of the Wicked Witch’s three Clowns responsible for the Brexit negotiations.  As Foreign Secretary, Clown Boris had  access all the Foreign Office archives on Spain-Gibraltar issues going back to the Treaty of Utrecht. Surely he would have been amply briefed on what Spain’s likely approach would be and could have anticipated this in the  Article 50 notice.

Country before Party ?

The Independent has this: “Theresa May is in retreat over Brexit. She’s finally remembered to put her country before her party – Hardline Conservative Eurosceptics will attack the Prime Minister’s desire to reach a mutual agreement with the EU, but they need the cold shower of realism that is coming“.

The Guardian has this: “Brexit sticking points: thorny issues diplomats must address – From debt haggling to May’s push for an ‘ambitious’ free trade deal, negotiators are gearing up for two years of tense talks“.

Ms Anna Soubry, MP – the Conservative Member for Broxtowe – writes in the Financial Times:  “The single market offers the UK a way to regain balance – Membership would protect our constitution from accidental damage.

Ms Soubry’s proposition makes a lot of sense but it is worth reading this on the Conservative Home blog: “If Britain needs a new party, we’ll only find out after Brexit“.

One doubts Ms Soubry’s proposition could be sold to Torygraph Telegraph readers and therefore it is not likely that the Wicked Witch of Westminster and her Brexit Clowns will give it much attention.