Brexit 1) If the British people don’t like the new arrangements they can elect a Government to change them says Gove

“The British people will be in control. By the time of the next election, EU law and any new treaty with the EU will cease to have primacy or direct effect in UK law. If the British people dislike the arrangement that we have negotiated with the EU, the agreement will allow a future government to diverge. In securing this deal, the Prime Minister has demonstrated that together the UK and EU can overcome what others have described as insurmountable obstacles. She has put Britain on a hopeful path towards a better future. We can secure a full and comprehensive free trade agreement with the EU, while also forging new trade relationships with other countries, driving economic growth across the world.” – Michael Gove, Daily Telegraph

  • Why no stamp to celebrate Brexit Day? – Daily Mail



Brexit 2) EU will offer a two year transition deal next week

“The European Union will formally offer Theresa May a two-year standstill Brexit transition deal next week as reward for yesterday’s divorce settlement. In return for Britain paying £35-£40 billion in EU liabilities over many years, the other 27 EU member states will sign off on the next stage of Brexit at a summit on Thursday. The plan, which both sides believe can be agreed by the end of January, will give business a two-year cushion to make preparations for a full EU exit. Ministers hope that the transition plan, a key trade-off in the settlement, will be enough to steady industry nerves and prevent significant relocations in the run-up to March 2019, when the UK withdraws from the EU.” – The Times

  • Labour MPs hope deal signals a softer Brexit – The Guardian

Brexit 3) Merkel pushed EU to agree a deal to secure British funds

“The EU’s Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier has vowed the UK will prop up the Brussels budget into 2020, in what appears to be a concession to Germany. Mr Barnier, the European Commission’s top Brexit negotiator, promised Brexit would not mean members would need to increase their contributions to the EU’s budget, which topped £136 billion last year. The EU was facing pressure from Germany which feared it would be left to them, the EU’s biggest contributor, to pick up the tab. Already calculations from Germany’s Federal Court of Auditors estimated Berlin would have to boost its funding by about one third – from €15 billion in 2015 to around €20 billion once the UK leaves.” – Daily Express

Brexit 4) Cabinet splits remain

“Theresa May’s “hard won” deal with Brussels to widen the Brexit negotiations was publicly praised by all sides of her divided party, but the EU warned that ongoing splits in the cabinet could still delay serious talks about trade until deep into 2018. While May was lauded by her ministers for striking an agreement in the early hours of Friday morning to move the Brexit talks on to the future relationship, a statement was being drafted in Brussels for agreement by EU leaders next week in which they will call on the UK to offer urgent clarity over their vision for the future.” – The Guardian

Brexit 5) DUP kept in the loop this times

“Julian Smith, the chief whip, set up shop with Nigel Dodds, the DUP’s Westminster leader, and Jeffrey Donaldson, its chief whip in the cabinet office. Mrs Foster was consulted by phone from her home in Enniskillen. Boris Johnson, who had piled pressure on Mrs May not to give further ground, turned up in Downing Street for a briefing in the afternoon.” – The Times

  • Countdown to the deal – Daily Mail
  • Olly Robbins: the Brexit sherpa hardened by the Brown-Blair piques – The Guardian
  • DUP influence “brought to bear” – Daily Mail
  • Varadkar welcomes “cast iron” commitment to no hard border – Financial Times

Brexit 6) Sturgeon welcomes “step forward”

“Scotland’s first minister has described the last-minute deal on Brexit between the UK and EU as a “welcome step forward in the negotiations”. But Nicola Sturgeon warned the next stage of the talks, which will focus on trade arrangements after Brexit, will be “significantly tougher”. She called for the UK to stay in the single market and customs union. And she said any special arrangements for Northern Ireland must also be available to the other UK nations.” – BBC

Brexit 7) Fox heads to WTO Conference to back cutting red tape

“Trade Secretary Liam Fox attacked claims Britain couldn’t go it alone yesterday as he jetted to Argentina for trade talks with ministers from the Commonwealth countries, the US, Australia and Africa. Dr Fox will meet his international trade counterparts at the World Trade Organisation’s biennial summit next week – as British negotiators move on to trade discussions with the EU. The Cabinet minister will push for cuts to red tape to make it easier for businesses to export digital services without custom duties and making domestic regulations more transparent, lowering costs for firms.” – The Sun

  • Britain can make the case for free trade on the global stage – Liam Fox, The Sun
  • EU deal with Japan offers template for Britain – The Times

Brexit 8) Dodds: It’s a win for Northern Ireland

“We are now satisfied that Northern Ireland will leave the single market and the customs union along with the rest of the United Kingdom and that there will be no customs or trade border down the Irish Sea. Northern Ireland will not be separated constitutionally, politically, economically or regulatory from the rest of the United Kingdom. The joint UK-EU report makes clear that in all circumstances the United Kingdom will continue to ensure the same unfettered access for Northern Ireland’s businesses to the whole of the UK internal market. No agreement is perfect. After a negotiation people often ask who won. In this case it is a win for all the people of Northern Ireland.” – Nigel Dodds, Daily Telegraph

Brexit 9) Kavanagh warns that Leave MPs are still wary of backsliding

“Michael Gove was on the BBC within minutes, rallying Tory support for the PM and hailing a breakthrough which opens the door to proper talks on trade. Significantly, former Conservative Party leader Iain Duncan Smith and outspoken Leaver Jacob Rees-Mogg also gave their backing…..However much the Prime Minister is pushed by the Remainers, she is ultimately answerable to her own party. The Brexiteers stayed silent yesterday — but only because they are keeping their powder dry. And one more thing. ­Too-casual-by-half Brexit supremo David Davis needs to up his game.” – Trevor Kavanagh, The Sun

Brexit 10) Forsyth asks: What does “alignment” mean?

“So where does the Prime Minister stand? To date, she has deliberately not shown her hand. As one member of the committee remarks: “She has done very well at fudging things.” But there are signs she is leaning towards divergence. I understand both Boris Johnson and Michael Gove were assured “alignment” would still allow the UK to do things its own way and be compatible with taking back control. But there are Brexiteers who fear Mrs May, Boris and Gove are being led up the garden path on this point by officials who will turn round in a few months and tell them alignment commits the UK to following EU rules.” – James Forsyth, The Sun

  • EU taking legal action against Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic for refusing to accept their massive migrant quotas – Daily Express

Brexit 11) Parris:Not a cliff-edge, more a wearisome bog

“A cliff-edge this is not, praise be, but more of a wearisome bog. So here are the three things you need to know about a “Canada-style” agreement. First, it all but excludes Britain’s strongest suit, financial services; second, it doesn’t eliminate non-tariff barriers; and third, it took years and years to negotiate. When ministers speak gallantly of “Canada-plus” the plus means, more than anything, financial services. If the trade talks do get stuck, this will be the sticking point. Will an EU shorn of Britain open up its market to our financial services industry? Without us, the financial services sectors of France and Germany stand to do rather well.” – Matthew Parris, The Times

Brexit 12) Oborne: May is back from the dead

“For the first time in a year, Mrs May is in control of political events. However, she must seize the chance because the moment won’t last. I don’t want to overdo the optimism. Theresa May has made some major concessions to Brussels in order to advance to the next stage of the negotiating process. There is a danger, too, that Britain could end up subject to Brussels rules and regulations without having any say in how they are created.  Since we remain subject to the European Court of Justice rulings for several years after Brexit, European laws will apply even though Britain no longer has a say in how they are made. But such questions are for another day. Lazarus-like, Theresa May is back from the dead. Still more importantly, her vision of a sensible, pragmatic Brexit is back on course.” – Peter Oborne, Daily Mail

Brexit 13) We are conceding too much says Moore

“In Florence in September, Theresa May, made the EU an offer. It did not accept it. She then broke a basic rule of negotiating, and made a better offer without having gained anything in return for her first one. In two months, she doubled the money she waved in front of the EU. She compromised the future independence of our courts. She half-accepted that Northern Ireland must dance to the tune of the Irish Republic. The Commission intended this sequence. Mr Juncker and Mr Barnier can now confidently declare that Mrs May has made “sufficient progress” to move on to trade talks, because they have got her more or less where they want her.” – Charles Moore, Daily Telegraph

Other comment

We are in a new “cool war declares Williamson

“Vladimir Putin is ‘fighting a war’ against Britain on multiple fronts and playing by a different set of rules, the Defence Secretary warned last night. Gavin Williamson accused Russia of ‘trying to damage British interests’ amid concern that relations with the Kremlin have reached an all-time low. He said we were in a ‘cool war’ with Moscow – and claimed that UK troops could do more to take on Russian Twitter trolls and dispel their lies as they tried to damage the British economy.” – Daily Mail

Johnson to call for prisoner release during Iran visit

“Boris Johnson will urge Iran to free British-Iranian woman Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe from jail when he visits Tehran. The foreign secretary is expected to travel to Iran in the next few days. Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been in prison since April 2016 after being accused of spying. She denies the claim. Supporters of the 38-year-old from London say that she recently had a health assessment to see if she was fit enough to remain in prison. Mr Johnson’s Tehran trip will see him raising the cases of other dual nationals being held in Iran.” – BBC

Prince tells woman not to put her feet on a seat

“A senior Conservative councillor apologised yesterday after becoming embroiled in a row with a woman he accused of putting her feet on his train seat. Keith Prince, chairman of the London Assembly transport committee, was filmed by another passenger as he became involved in the dispute on the rush-hour service. Mr Prince laughed off the woman’s insults, which included a threat to slap him. It culminated in her calling him a “white idiot”. Yesterday he apologised to his fellow commuters for the “disturbance”. He said that the two had resolved their differences by the time the 8.30am service from Dartford to London Bridge on Thursday reached its destination.” – The Times

Government must act to secure more women MPs says Miller

“The government’s rejection of a plan to increase the number of women MPs is “startling”, the chair of the women and equalities committee has said. Maria Miller – a former Conservative cabinet minister – was speaking during a Westminster Hall debate on the issue. Her committee put forward six recommendations for government interventions – all were rejected. The government said political parties have “primary responsibility” for improving representation.” – BBC

Scottish businesses warn SNP against tax increases

“Scotland’s business leaders have told Nicola Sturgeon that her plan to announce income tax increases next week risked inflicting major damage to the economy that “could take years to repair.” The First Minister was warned at Thursday night’s Scottish Chambers of Commerce (SCC) annual dinner in Glasgow that “a competitive Scotland cannot afford to be associated with higher taxes than elsewhere in the UK”. Tim Allan, the organisation’s president, used his keynote speech to warn her against careering towards tax rises at a time of “sluggish” growth without carrying out independent assessments of the potential impact.” – Daily Telegraph

Israel strikes Hamas targets in Gaza

“Israel says it has targeted a number of sites belonging to militant group Hamas in retaliation for rocket strikes. The Israeli military says it hit a weapons manufacturing site and an ammunition store early on Saturday. Three rockets were fired from Gaza to Israel in the past day, with one hitting the southern city of Sderot. Tensions between Israelis and Palestinians have increased since US President Donald Trump recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Wednesday’s decision reversed decades of US neutrality on the matter.” – BBC

News in brief

  • Bring back beavers – Michael Gove, Huffington Post
  • Trump and Jerusalem – a brave and moral move – Karen Harradine, Conservative Woman
  • Finally a Brexit divorce agreement. But now what? – Andrew Lilico, Cap X
  • Theresa May must now choose between the two factions in her Brexit Cabinet – James Forsyth, Coffee House
  • Why are we making an ex gratia contribution to the EU when there’s no legal liability? – John Redwood