‘No-deal’ Brexit would complicate driving, data and roaming, UK says

But if there really is a general realisation among the EU27 that a no-deal Brexit on March 29 is possible – 50/50 or even 60/40 – and that this would be very bad for everyone, then the suddenly-important Salzburg summit next Thursday might yield hope for Theresa May.

© Reuters. Pro-EU demonstrators protest outside parliament in Westminster London
© Reuters. Pro-EU demonstrators protest outside parliament in Westminster Londo
By Andy Bruce and Kylie MacLellan

LONDON (Reuters) – Leaving the European Union without a divorce deal could increase Britons’ mobile phone roaming charges, upset data sharing and force motorists to get an international licence to drive in Europe, the government said on Thursday.

Recent signals from Brussels have buoyed hopes that the United Kingdom and the EU can agree and approve a proper divorce agreement before the UK leaves on March 29, though the sides are still divided on about one fifth of the detail of a deal.

But many business chiefs and investors fear politics could scupper an agreement, thrusting the world’s fifth largest economy into a “no-deal” Brexit that they say would weaken the West, spook financial markets and silt up the arteries of trade.

Britain has stepped up planning for the effects of such a departure and on Thursday published 28 technical notices covering the impact on areas ranging from environmental standards to certification for manufacturers.2018-09-14 (4)

A “no-deal” Brexit, the government cautioned, would make life for UK citizens and businesses more complicated, more expensive and more bureaucratic.

British businesses, for example, would have to rush to ensure they could still receive personal data about European customers, while many manufacturers would need to have their exported products retested by EU safety regulators.

Brexit minister Dominic Raab said a no-deal Brexit was unlikely, but that the United Kingdom would manage the challenges and eventually flourish.

Still, the notices offer a glimpse of just how complicated the government believes the divorce could become after 46 years inside the European club.

The notices, often a few pages per sector, also covered the implications for space programmes, trading in drug precursors and reporting CO2 emissions for new cars.

“YET ANOTHER WAIT”

The British Chambers of Commerce welcomed the notices as providing more clarity but said businesses needed more precision from government in order to plan for a no-deal Brexit.

“Businesses now face the frustration of yet another wait for further answers,” BCC Director General Adam Marshall said.2018-09-14 (3).png

“Many companies tell us they are deeply concerned by the impression that key information they need in order to prepare for change is being held back due to political sensitivities.”

For the public, Thursday’s notices covered more mundane issues; the government said British drivers might need to obtain an international driving permit to drive in the EU.

And it said surcharge-free roaming for mobile users could no longer be guaranteed after a no-deal Brexit, meaning consumers could be hit with higher charges to make calls, send texts and use mobile data when travelling in the European Union.

At a ministerial meeting to discuss the preparations, Bank of England Governor Mark Carney warned that British house prices would fall by 35 percent over three years in the event of a chaotic no-deal Brexit, The Times newspaper reported.

Carney said he would not be able to cut interest rates in such a scenario whilst finance minister Philip Hammond warned that he would not be able to use tax cuts to boost the economy due to the hit to the public finances, the paper said.

The BOE declined to comment.

Both sides need a broad overall agreement to keep trade flowing between the world’s biggest trading bloc and the United Kingdom, home to one of the world’s top two financial capitals.

A senior EU diplomat told reporters that EU leaders will discuss next week whether to hold a special summit on Brexit in November to give extra time to negotiate the deal with Britain.

He also said, when asked, that the EU was continuing contingency preparations for the event there was no deal.

Raab said the government would pay “substantially” less than the roughly 39-billion pound ($51 billion) Brexit bill if there was no agreement but that getting a deal was “still by far and away the most likely outcome.”2018-09-14 (5).png

But Moody’s Investor Service said the probability of a “no-deal” had risen and such a scenario would damage the economy, especially the automotive, aerospace, airline and chemical sectors.

The other 27 members of the EU combined have about five times the economic might of Britain. They also have a strong incentive to deny the UK a deal so attractive it might encourage others to follow the British example.

DEAL OR NO DEAL?

As May tries to clinch a deal with Brussels, she is facing rebels in her Conservative Party who say they will vote down any deal that fails to deliver a sharp break with the EU.

Raab told BBC radio he did not believe May’s government would lose a vote in parliament on the deal.

Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator, said on Monday that a Brexit deal was possible “within six or eight weeks” if negotiators were realistic in their demands.

Last month, the government published 25 technical papers out of a total of more than 80, which detailed how tariffs, financial services, state aid and pharmaceuticals would operate if Britain departs without a divorce deal.

Ever since the shock 2016 Brexit vote, major companies have been planning for Brexit, but chief executives say the scale of disruption from a disorderly Brexit is such that it is hard to prepare for.

Profit at Britain’s biggest department stores group, John Lewis Partnership, was wiped out in the first half as it was forced to match discounting by its struggling rivals on a fiercely competitive high street.

“With the level of uncertainty facing consumers and the economy, in part due to ongoing Brexit negotiations, forecasting is particularly difficult,” John Lewis said.

Brexiteers accept there is likely to be some short-term economic pain but say Britain will thrive in the longer term if cut loose from what they see as a doomed experiment in German-dominated unity and excessive debt-funded welfare spending.

Opponents of Brexit fear that leaving the bloc will weaken what remains of Britain’s global influence, further undermine its reputation as a haven for investment and hurt the economy for years to come.

Exchange Rate ($1 = 0.7629 pounds)

UNITED KINGDOM – Britons would vote to stay in EU: Poll

Pro and anti Brexit demonstrators face off outside the Houses of Parliament in central London on September 5, 2018. (AFP photo)
Pro and anti Brexit demonstrators face off outside the Houses of Parliament in central London on September 5, 2018. (AFP photo)

bY CRIMSON TAZVINZWA//Most Britons would choose to stay in the European Union if given the option again, according to a new opinion poll. 

The poll, released on Wednesday, showed 59 percent of voters would now vote to remain in the EU bloc, versus 41 percent who would opt to leave. The findings were published in an academic-led report by research bodies NatCen and the UK in a Changing Europe.

This latest poll showed a six-point swing away from Brexit, and the highest support for EU membership in any survey conducted since the Brexit referendum was held in 2016. That poll resulted in 52% of Britons voting to leave and 48% voting to stay.

However, despite the new poll, the country remains deeply divided over the issue.

Deborah Cairns, the Chair of the Enfield and Haringey pro-Brexit United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP), told Press TV: “I believe, in fact, that it is very much the other way around, people having seen the high-handed tactics of the EU. This poll was skewed and included people that didn’t even vote in the original 2016 referendum.”

No country has ever left the EU bloc since its inception, so the effects Brexit will have on the UK’s economy and society are open to debate.

Even those who want to leave the EU are divided between those who favour a “hard-Brexit,” which would see the UK leave without having any formal legal relationship with Europe, while Theresa May’s government is veering towards a “soft Brexit”, which would see the UK maintain ties to the EU economic bloc.

Opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn made his views clear on Wednesday, telling Prime Minister Theresa May that her Brexit negotiation plan was “dead, already ripped apart by her own MPs.”

Opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn

Meanwhile, former UK Foreign Secretary turned Conservative backbencher, Boris Johnson, also attacked May’s plan, claiming Britain is waving a “white flag” with the EU and that talks with Brussels are a “fix.”

The UK’s Brexit negotiator, Dominic Raab, has been engaged in lengthy talks with EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier since last week hoping to reach an agreement before the deadline in March 2019.

Raab will hold further talks on Thursday following comments made by Barnier over the weekend that he “strongly opposes the British proposal,” raising further doubts over May’s strategy.

Cabinet ministers ‘draw up secret plan’ in case Brexit talks collapse without a deal

A secret plan aimed at securing a last-ditch Brexit deal has been drawn up by ministers in case the EU formally rejects the Chequers agreement, it has been reported.
EU and UK flags
Ministers have drawn up a secret plan to break the Brexit deadlockCredit: 
PA Images

According to the Telegraph, the document is based on existing free trade deals struck by Brussels with countries around the world.

The legal text was originally commissioned by former Brexit Secretary David Davis and would be presented to the EU as a way of avoiding a no deal Brexit.

Mr Davis quit the Cabinet in proteMichel Barnierst at Theresa May’s Brexit vision, which would see the UK maintain close economic ties with the EU in the future.

In a major blow to the Prime Minister, EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier this week rejected the central plank of her plan, which would see Britain collect tariffs on behalf of Brussels.

Mr Davis told the Telegraph: “When we get to October if we have got no resolution we have got a real-time problem. If there exists an off-the-shelf and fully written-up treaty – a complete legal text – we can then go round to the European states and say this is much better than no deal.

“I called it the reserve parachute. It’s ready to go. It would be attractive to European countries wanting to avoid no deal and losing the £39 billion Brexit divorce bill.”

Meanwhile, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz has publicly warned Theresa May to avoid a hard Brexit.

Speaking after holding talks with the Prime Minister in Salzburg, Mr Kurz said he viewed the UK’s decision to leave the EU ” very negatively”.

He said: “Of course, it has been taken by the British people so now we have to find a way to deal with it, and from our point of view it is important to avoid a hard Brexit.”

Mrs May hailed the strength of the UK-Austria relationship, adding: “We are delivering on a vote of the British people, they chose to leave the EU and we will deliver that.”

She went on to hold talks with Czech PM Andrej Babis before heading off for her summer holiday.

EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier: We are not so far from the final [Brexit Deal] agreement, 20 per cent

a man wearing a suit and tie© Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited

The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator has said a deal is 80 per cent agreed, in an apparent softening of tone as Theresa May faces down Tory rebels over the direction Britain should take in talks.

Speaking on a visit to the United States Michel Barnier said he was determined to negotiate the remaining 20 per cent of the deal, with the Brussels deadline for an agreement now just around three months away.

“After 12 months of negotiations we have agreed on 80 per cent of the negotiations,” he told an audience at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York.

“We are not so far from the final agreement, 20 per cent. I don’t want to put myself in the situation where we fail. But to be clear, we are prepared on the European side [for] many options, including the no deal.”

The EU official added that “time is short” to close a deal and declined to comment on the resignations, saying he did not “want to make any comment on domestic and national policy in the UK”.

The approach is in contrast to Mr Barnier’s boss, European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker, who on Monday responded sarcastically to the idea that Ms May’s Cabinet may have finally reached a position unity.

But speaking at the think-tank Mr Barnier reiterated his early warnings that Britain could not secure a better deal than EU membership, stating: “It will be clear, crystal clear at the end of this negotiation that the best situation, the best relationship with the EU, will be to remain a member.”