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Britain’s new chief trade negotiator writes on the security benefits of free trade

‘For the first time in over 40 years we will be able to shape the UK’s own trade policy and take advantage of the forecast 90 per cent of global trade that will be conducted outside of the EU over the next 20 years. And it’s precisely why my role was created at the department. As the chief trade negotiation adviser, it will be my job to develop a world-class trade negotiation team that will bolster our expertise and work with ministers to negotiate trade agreements that benefit the whole of the UK. But it is not just about the economic value that will come from constructing such trade arrangements. There is a powerful political and security element to getting this right. History is littered with instances of the destructive political consequences of closed markets. This was a lesson well understood at the end of last century’s global conflicts. It was at the core of the post-war global order – of which the UK was one of the chief architects.’ – Crawford Falconer, Daily Telegraph

Gove and Hammond clash over fishing rights

‘A fresh Cabinet Brexit split has emerged after Michael Gove and Philip Hammond clashed over whether to use fishing rights as a negotiating pawn. The UK will take back full control over who can fish in thousands of miles of its territorial waters on our EU exit in March 2019. But a major division has opened up between the Chancellor and the new Environment Secretary over what to do with them, The Sun can reveal. The two Tory big beasts had an embarrassing clash over the issue during a recent Cabinet Brexit committee. During the confrontation, Mr Hammond said the government should pool the new power with the EU as a powerful card in exchange for big concessions on a trade deal with Brussels. But the government’s farming and fishing boss Mr Gove is adamant that Britain must retain full control of who get permits to fish in UK waters, as it was a totemic issue for Brexit voters in the referendum campaign last year.’ – The Sun

  • Umunna attacks Labour’s Brexit position – The Guardian

Davis explores options for resolving post-Brexit disputes

‘Britain will this week propose a “new and unique” dispute resolution mechanism to oversee post-Brexit relations between the UK and the EU, as Theresa May’s government tries to force the pace of exit talks. David Davis, Brexit secretary, will examine the precedent set by the European Free Trade Association court, which deals with Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway in their relations with the EU single market. A government source on Sunday night said that Mr Davis would not this week propose a new court or tribunal to resolve UK-EU disputes, but the option had not been excluded. Mr Davis’s Brexit paper on “enforcement and dispute resolution” is a key moment as Britain sets out options for the first time on the judicial regime it wants for its proposed “deep” future UK-EU relationship, including trade, security and citizens’ rights.’ – FT

Just 533 voters stood between May and a majority

‘Theresa May would have won a majority in the House of Commons at the general election in June if the Conservatives had picked up a mere 533 extra votes in the nine most marginal constituencies, a study has found. The Electoral Reform Society, the group responsible for the report, said its findings highlighted the shortcomings of the first-past-the-post voting system used in general elections. “The system has thrown up electoral injustices,” said the ERS, which campaigns for a more proportional way of voting. “By placing electoral outcomes in the hands of a small number of voters in a few select places, the electoral system is creating an ever more unpredictable electoral environment.” First-past-the-post has sometimes delivered unrepresentative election results. Most notoriously, at the 1983 election Labour won 209 seats with a 27.6 per cent share of the vote, while an alliance between the then Liberal and Social Democratic parties secured only 23 constituencies on 25.4 per cent.’ – FT

  • Switching and tactical voting boomed – The Sun
  • The Prime Minister woos MPs with prosecco and canapés at Chequers – The Times

>Today: ToryDiary: One isn’t enough

Davidson: Bad news, Nicola, your nationalism is no better than anyone else’s

‘The failure to recognise that “my nationalism is better than yours” is the cry of every nationalist, everywhere, for all time, is a stunning oversight. But this has been a fractious summer for Scotland’s leading nationalist party. After losing 21 of their 56 seats in the snap general election there is a sudden, dawning realisation that independence is not inevitable, that “one more heave” while failures in governance and public services are airily dismissed simply won’t cut it. This destabilisation has led to an increase in the already well-developed sense of grievance and victimhood. During the recent demonstrations in Charlottesville, Virginia, the BBC’s North America Correspondent, James Cook, referred to the protesters in one report as “white nationalists”. The opprobrium was swift and unrelenting. Cook, a Scot himself, and former Scotland correspondent, was attacked for supposedly using his report on Charlottesville to make a political point back home.’ – Ruth Davidson, Daily Telegraph

Decline of local newspapers ‘undermines democracy’

‘The decline of local newspapers is undermining democracy and is being quickened by some councils producing their own “news” publications, the London Assembly said.  While the number of publications in the capital was relatively “resilient”, this masked a marked decline in quality as falling readership and ad revenues force publishers to cut resources, the London Assembly economy committee said in a report to be published on Monday. The woes afflicting local papers come at the same time as the government hands more powers to local councils through plans to give them more control over £25bn a year in business rates revenue. While national politics is covered by several broadcasters, almost a dozen national papers and websites such as BuzzFeed News, this is not the case for local politics. “We are at risk of losing one of our most important democratic functions [at local level],” said Fiona Twycross, chair of the committee. “You start getting quite broad-brush coverage. The investigations into things that might have been going on in council committees and decision making is something that a lot of newspapers can’t do any more.”’ – FT

  • ‘Old boys’ club’ puts women off becoming councillors – The Times

Pound plans solemn observance of Big Ben’s last bong (for now)

‘As Big Ben is silenced for up to four years today, MPs are set to gather outside Parliament with ‘heads bowed’. Crowds are expected on Parliament Square at midday to hear the bells sound for the last time before repair work begins. And Labour MP Stephen Pound said yesterday he hoped at least 20 ‘like-minded traditionalists’ from the Commons would join them…If it is silenced for four years, it will be the longest period Big Ben has remained quiet after 157 years of almost unbroken service. Mr Pound said: ‘We’re going to be gathering outside the members’ entrance, gazing up at this noble, glorious edifice, listening to the sounds rolling across Westminster, summoning true democrats to the Palace of Westminster. We’ll be stood down there with heads bowed but hope in our hearts.’’ – Daily Mail

>Today: Nicholas Mazzei on Comment: Who cares if Big Ben’s bongs don’t bang out to celebrate Brexit?

More than 80 per cent of British Jews think Labor is too soft on anti-semitism

‘More than four in five British Jews believe Labour is too tolerant of anti-Semitism, a poll has found. It follows criticism of the party’s response to anti-Semitism among members and supporters. The YouGov poll of 2,025 British Jews, for the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, found that 83 per cent thought Labour was too tolerant of anti-Semitic behaviour – compared with 19 per cent for the Tories and 36 per cent for the Liberal Democrats. It also found that 52 per cent thought the Crown Prosecution Service could do more to protect British Jews. Former minister Sir Eric Pickles, of Conservative Friends of Israel, said: ‘Modern anti-Semitism has been allowed to flourish in the Left of British politics, unchallenged by the Labour leadership. This report is a wake-up call.’ Labour said the party condemned anti-Semitic abuse and had carried out ‘far-reaching changes’ to its practices since the inquiry by Baroness Chakrabarti into anti-Semitism.’ – Daily Mail

Trump battles to keep economic adviser

‘President Trump was last night battling to prevent another key adviser from leaving the White House in what would represent a stinging blow to the administration’s credibility on Wall Street. Gary Cohn, a former executive at Goldman Sachs who is the White House chief economic adviser, is said to have been deeply dismayed by the president’s response to neo-Nazi and white nationalist rallies in Virginia. Friends have urged him to step aside and Mr Cohn, who is Jewish, was said to be considering his position after a week in which a series of business leaders stepped down from White House business advisory councils. He was said to have reached “a real inflection point”, according to Vanity Fair, which cited sources close to Mr Cohn, but claimed he had clung on in the hope of being appointed head of the Federal Reserve. Confidence on Wall Street that Mr Trump, surrounded by New York financiers, would implement a pro-business agenda with significant tax reforms has foundered in recent months.’ – The Times

>Today: Nadhim Zahawi’s column: Trump. Shocking at home, but successful abroad – so far

Spanish police investigate possible link to Brussels attacks

‘The imam suspected of masterminding the Barcelona terrorist attacks often travelled to Belgium and was in the country in the three months before the Brussels bombings last year. Police are investigating whether Abdelbaki Es Satty, who is thought to have radicalised the younger members of the cell that attacked Las Ramblas and Cambrils, was involved in the Islamic State assaults on Brussels airport and a Metro station that killed 32 people on March 22, 2016. The discovery raises the possibility of a connection between the Spanish terrorist cell and the jihadists who carried out the Brussels attacks, and who were also behind the November 2015 atrocities in Paris. It emerged that the Audi A3 used in the Cambrils attack was caught speeding in Paris a week ago.’ – The Times

  • Imam had links to Madrid bomber – Daily Telegraph
  • Fears that Barcelona van suspect might have walked into France – Daily Mail
  • Armed soldiers in plain clothes to be deployed to Bank Holiday festivals – The Times
  • Italy instals concrete barriers at landmarks – The Times
  • British paramedic stabbed while aiding the wounded in Finland denies he is a hero – The Times

Tens of thousands protest jailing of Hong Kong democracy activists

‘Tens of thousands of people have marched through the streets of Hong Kong in protest at the jailing of three pro-democracy activists. Joshua Wong, Nathan Law and Alex Chow were initially given non-custodial sentences for their involvement in mass protests in 2014. But last Thursday the court of appeal gave the activists jail terms of between six and eight months. Their supporters say the process was politically motivated. However, the justice department has dismissed such claims as “groundless” and insisted that Hong Kong’s judicial independence is beyond question.’ – BBC News

  • China is breaking its promises – FT Leader

Fears grow that Bank of England lending is fuelling a debt bubble

‘Fears are growing that the Bank of England is fuelling a dangerous bubble in consumer debt through cheap loans to banks. UK banks have now borrowed £78bn from a special low-rate fund set up by the central bank to help keep spending levels up after Brexit. In turn over the past year the high street has lent rapidly – with car loans, credit card balances and personal loans increasing by 10pc, far faster than incomes. The rise in consumer debt led the Bank of England’s financial stability director Alex Brazier to warn last month that Britain could be heading for another major financial crisis. But as high street lenders ramp up their use of the central bank’s fund, there are concerns it is helping to create the problem it is warning against. Earlier this month the Bank even increased the fund by £15bn because demand is expected to overshoot the £100bn planned last August.’ – Daily Mail

News in Brief

  • Jerry Lewis has died – Daily Mail
  • Secrecy over supermarket which sold infected sausages – The Sun
  • Left-leaning National Trust boss admits they may have alienated some members – Daily Telegraph
  • Children exposed to gambling adverts – The Times
  • Another American Destroyer suffers a collision with a tanker – Daily Mail
  • Mass disturbance in Cromer – The Sun
  • Royal Navy seizes £400m of drugs – Daily Telegraph
  • Pop music is slowing down – The Times
  • Campaign for Sir Bruce Forsyth to get a Westminster Abbey memorial service – Daily Mail
  • Clashes at far right march in Grantham – The Times
  • Day of Moaning declared in the North – The Guardian

4 comments for: Newslinks for Monday 21st August 2017

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