A no deal outcome is best for everybody. Why can't they see this? Free trade is the best outcome for everybody. It assures price and quality competition.
LONDON (Reuters) - Two of the biggest donors to the Brexit campaign say they now believe the project they championed will eventually be abandoned by the government and that the United Kingdom will stay in the European Union.
Peter Hargreaves, the billionaire who was the second biggest donor to the 2016 leave campaign, and veteran hedge fund manager Crispin Odey told Reuters they expect Britain to stay in the EU despite their campaign victory in the 2016 referendum.
As a result, Odey, who runs his hedge fund Odey Asset Management, said he is now positioning for the pound to strengthen after his flagship fund previously reaped the benefit of betting against UK assets amid wider market fears about the impact of Brexit.
The donors’ pessimism comes amid deadlock in Britain’s parliament over the exit deal that Prime Minister Theresa May has struck with the EU, which has cast significant uncertainty over how, or even if, Brexit will happen.
“I have totally given up. I am totally in despair, I don’t think Brexit will happen at all,” said Hargreaves, 72, who is one of Britain’s wealthiest men and donated 3.2 million pounds ($4.08 million) to the leave campaign.
“They (pro-Europeans) are banking on the fact that people are so fed up with it that will just say ‘sod it we will stay’. I do see that attitude. The problem is when something doesn’t happen for so long you feel less angry about it.”
If an important decision is to be made, they discuss the question when they are drunk, and the following day the master of the house where the discussion was held submits their decision for reconsideration when they are sober. If they still approve it, it is adopted; if not, it is abandoned. Conversely, any decision they make when they are sober is reconsidered afterwards when they are drunk.
LONDON — U.K. police are advising retailers to consider hiring extra security guards in the event of a no-deal Brexit, amid fears that public concern about potential shortages of food and other goods could lead to crowd control issues at shops.
Contingency planners are concerned supermarkets and other retailers may have to deal with a rush of customers if fears of shortages leads to panic-buying. However, in a statement, a spokesperson for London’s Metropolitan Police said they have no information to suggest that looting is a likely outcome of a no-deal Brexit.
“In line with similar advice given at a national level to the retail industry, we are suggesting to retailers that they may wish to consider planning for additional security in the event that concerns about shortages of goods leads to a significant increase in customers,” a Met spokesperson said.
“We are having these conversations in order to minimize the demands on policing from any resulting large crowds or queues at shops and as part of our regular civil contingency engagement with businesses and partners.”
Shortages caused by potential disruption at ports are one of the main concerns for contingency planners preparing for the prospect of the U.K. leaving the EU without a deal on March 29.
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Key complications are:
- how long an extension Britain may seek to its two-year exit deadline under Article 50 of the EU treaty — notably whether it leaves before or after the current EU legislature lapses on July 1
- whether an extension might end up cancelling Brexit altogether
- whether a need for Britons to vote for new EU representatives could be delayed beyond May
- whether the new EU chamber will need to ratify the Brexit terms.
Besides, it really would give (will give?) huge problems regarding the Irish border situation.
Military to assist government departments set to take brunt of no-deal chaos or backlog
Military planners have been deployed to the Department for Transport, the Home Office and the Foreign Office as officials desperately try to avoid backlogs and chaos at the border in the event of a no-deal Brexit, the Observer can disclose.
Details released under the Freedom of Information Act reveal that 14 military planners have been dispatched by the Ministry of Defence to key ministries, which also include the Cabinet Office, the hub of the government’s Brexit planning, in a sign of concerns inside Whitehall at the prospect of Britain crashing out of the EU with no agreement in place.
In a ramping up of no-deal preparations in recent weeks, one planner is in place at Chris Grayling’s beleaguered DfT, which has already been criticised for awarding a £14m contract to run ferries in the event of a no-deal Brexit to a company that does not have any ships.
The transport secretary has also been criticised for a live rehearsal of emergency traffic measures that will be put in place to prevent logjams around Dover in such a scenario.
Some drivers taking part in the event described it as a waste of time, while haulage campaigners said it was “too little, too late”.
Four planners have been posted in the Border Force, which is facing the challenge of keeping passengers and goods flowing to and from Britain should no EU agreement be signed. Three are operating in the Foreign Office, while six are working from the Cabinet Office.
The departments involved refused to comment on why they had requested a military planner, or what projects they were assisting. A Defence ministry spokesman said: “The MoD routinely works with other government departments on planning for a range of contingency scenarios.”
Insiders said some departments had asked for assistance on no-deal planning, “recognising the unique skills and operational planning experience the military can offer”.
Exercise planning and overall “command and control” advice are understood to be their main duties.
Cabinet ministers were in open disagreement last week over the consequences of leaving the bloc with no deal in place, with business secretary Greg Clark saying such an outcome would be disastrous, but defence secretary Gavin Williamson insisting that Britain could succeed under any Brexit scenario.
Contingency no-deal preparation has been taking place under the codename Operation Yellowhammer, with plans being drawn up on the assumption that critical trade between Calais and Dover will face disruption.
It has been suggested that Michael Gove, the environment secretary, was preparing to request the help of a military planner to help ensure food supplies were not disrupted. However, details passed to the Observer suggest he has not yet done so.
Speaking in the Commons last week, Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable said he had been told by civil servants of contingency plans to slaughter a third of all British sheep in the event of no deal.
World Trade Organisation tariffs would hit exports so hard that there would be too many sheep, causing domestic prices to plummet, he said.
“We have the problem that if we leave the European Union with no deal, on WTO terms, the European Union’s tariffs on dairy products, lamb and various other items, which are quite high, immediately kick in,” Cable said.
“The problem with that, as we discovered when we had the foot and mouth epidemic, is that if we cannot export, prices crash. The only logical response from the farming industry, in order to maintain the value of the stock, is to slaughter large herds. This will happen.
“We know there is a paper at the moment in the agriculture department – the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs – setting out a plan for slaughtering a third of all British sheep in order to maintain the integrity of the market. That is an inevitable consequence of a high tariff obstructing British exports.”
But a Defra spokesman played down the suggestions that a mass slaughter was on the cards in the event of a no-deal.
“As the environment secretary has made very clear, a widespread cull of sheep, as has been suggested by some, is not something that government anticipates or is planning for.”
Government sources said “significant work” was under way to ensure UK exporters could maintain access to EU markets after 29 March. “As part of this we are in close contact with the sheep sector,” one said.
Fraught no-deal planning is also taking place in the corporate world, with wildly different problems facing different sectors. Brexit consultants said the food and textile sectors would face the highest increase in potential customs duty. Several companies are said to be looking at potentially paying tens of millions extra in duties and administrative costs each year.
Meanwhile industry sources said supermarkets are building up a couple of months’ stock, locking up several hundred million pounds. Big pharmaceutical companies are generally spending in the range of £5m to £20m on preparation, with banks spending even more.
Some companies are being warned that they are stockpiling too much and that they may be better off ensuring they have cash in the bank to deal with an unpredictable market.
James Stewart, head of Brexit at the accountancy firm KPMG, said: “Confidence is thinning and we continue to see heavy client activity on no-deal planning. We think everyone should be looking at contracts, supply chain security and workforce planning. Even at this stage we are still seeing massive variations in preparedness.
“Companies who sell in sterling and buy in dollars could be in real trouble if they haven’t hedged correctly. A raft of businesses in automotive, retail and hospitality remain very exposed.”
A failure to deliver Brexit would be "a catastrophic and unforgivable breach of trust in our democracy", Prime Minister Theresa May has warned.
Writing in the Sunday Express, Mrs May pleaded with MPs to back her Brexit deal in Tuesday's crunch Commons vote.
Not doing so risks the UK leaving the EU with no deal or Brexit not happening at all, she said.
Meanwhile, No 10 is said to be alarmed at the prospect of MPs taking control of Brexit if Tuesday's vote is lost.
Writing in the Sunday Express, Mrs May said the Commons vote on her Brexit withdrawal deal would be the "biggest and most important decision that any MP of our generation will be asked to make".
The PM is widely expected to lose the vote on the withdrawal agreement she reached with the European Union, something some ministers have said will lead to Brexit "paralysis".
Mrs May said: "When you turned out to vote in the referendum, you did so because you wanted your voice to be heard.
"Some of you put your trust in the political process for the first time in decades. We cannot - and must not - let you down.
"Doing so would be a catastrophic and unforgivable breach of trust in our democracy.
"So my message to Parliament this weekend is simple: It is time to forget the games and do what is right for our country."
Mrs May's warning came as Downing Street was reported to be concerned about efforts by a cross-party group of MPs to change Commons rules to enable backbench motions to take precedence over government business if Mrs May's deal falls.
Under the rebels' plan, reported in the Sunday Times, the government could lose control of parliamentary business, which could threaten Brexit legislation and its ability to govern.
BBC political correspondent Chris Mason said one possibility was that backbenchers could legally compel the government to delay Brexit beyond the set departure date - a proposal some MPs have already called for.
It was previously thought only ministers could extend the two-year Article 50 process which, which governs how a member state leaves the EU.
The UK is due to leave the EU on 29 March 2019 automatically, whether the deal is passed by MPs or not.
Brussels expecting UK request to extend 29 March deadline, with May’s deal on brink
The EU is preparing to delay Brexit until at least July after concluding that Theresa May is doomed to fail in getting her deal through parliament.
The country’s 29 March deadline for exiting the EU is now regarded by Brussels as highly unlikely to be met given the domestic opposition facing the prime minister and it is expecting a request from London to extend article 50 in the coming weeks.
A special leaders’ summit to push back Brexit day is expected to be convened by the European council president, Donald Tusk, once a UK request is received. EU officials said the length of the prolongation of the negotiating period allowed under article 50 would be determined based on the reason put forward by May for the delay.
A “technical” extension until July is a probable first step to give May extra time to revise and ratify the current deal once Downing Street has a clear idea as to what will command a majority in the Commons.
An EU official said: “Should the prime minister survive and inform us that she needs more time to win round parliament to a deal, a technical extension up to July will be offered.”
Senior EU sources said that a further, lengthier extension could be offered at a later date should a general election or second referendum be called although the upcoming May elections for the European parliament would create complications.
One EU diplomat said: “The first session of the parliament is in July. You would need UK MEPs there if the country is still a member state. But things are not black and white in the European Union.”
The European commission will publish a letter on Monday giving fresh assurances on the temporary status of the Irish backstop in a hope to win over some MPs to the deal but EU officials are downplaying expectations.
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The EU has issued a letter this morning to the British government spelling out a series of reassurances on the Irish backstop.
The letter, issued jointly by the presidents of the European Council and Commission, stresses that the backstop is not the EU’s preferred solution to avoiding a hard border, that it does not undermine the Good Friday Agreement, nor is it part of any covert attempt by the EU to "annex" Northern Ireland.
However, the letter insists that there can be no renegotiation of the backstop.
RTÉ News understands the EU has also resisted a request from the British government to agree that the backstop would only take effect for one year.
Downing Street also released a letter from Theresa May to the EU chiefs as part of a choreographed exchange, requesting further assurances on the backstop.
Mrs May wrote: "The clarifications and undertakings proposed in this letter are consistent with the letter and spirit of the deal we have reached, but would be further reassurance that the fears that some hold on both sides are misplaced."
The EU letter has been carefully drafted following a request by the British Prime Minister ahead of tomorrow’s vote in the House of Commons on the Withdrawal Agreement.
Mrs May has sought further reassurances and clarifications on the backstop in a frantic bid to convince Conservative MPs to back the treaty.
However, RTÉ News understands that there remains some distance between Brussels and London as to how best to deal with the backstop issue, to which the DUP and large parts of the Conservative Party remain bitterly opposed.
EU letter to Theresa May in full
UK more likely to stay in EU than crash out with no deal - May
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Generally speaking, according to well-placed sources, the UK side has concentrated on dates by which the future relationship would supersede the backstop, whereas the EU side has pressed London instead on the quality of that relationship, and how it would specifically deal with the issues – such as customs and regulatory alignment – that would arise when trying to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland.
It is understood that Jean Claude Juncker will spell out that the European Commission – which will be mandated to carry out the future trade negotiations with the UK on behalf of member states – will do its utmost to make sure the talks run quickly and smoothly.
However, it was made clear the EU cannot guarantee what the outcome of those trade negotiations will be in terms of substance.
In general, the letter from the EU side sets out in considerable length what the backstop is for, and how the EU will do its best to avoid it coming into effect.
It reaffirms that the backstop is not a "trap" to keep the UK in a permanent customs union and that it will not undermine the Good Friday Agreement.
However, the text largely re-emphasises what was already agreed by the EU27 leaders at a summit in December.
Mrs May is to make a statement to the House of Commons at 3.30pm before MPs continue their debate on her deal, Sky News has reported.
Her statement is expected to focus on new assurances from the EU about the backstop.
It is understood that the British letter will fall short of an EU demand that London spell out exactly how the future trade relationship would specifically avoid the conditions that would give rise to a hard border on the island of Ireland.
Instead, the letter is expected to emphasise that Britain is determined to avoid the backstop and that it is committed to finding alternative solutions so that the backstop does not ever have to come into effect.
During December’s summit Mrs May sought a Joint Interpretative Statement from the EU on the terms under which the backstop would apply.
It is understood she sought a promise that both sides would commit to sharing an "absolute determination" to concluding a trade agreement by the end of 2020, or 2021 at the latest, as a way of avoiding the need for a backstop.
However, at the time EU leaders rejected the idea of a Joint Interpretative Statement, which was seen as an inappropriate legal instrument.
It is understood that the phrase "absolute determination" will not be included in the EU’s letter to London.
The exchange letters will be seen by observers as falling well short of what Mrs May needs in order to convince enough party members to support the Withdrawal Agreement in tomorrow's eagerly awaited meaningful vote in the House of Commons.
Theresa May has urged MPs to back her Brexit deal "for the country's sake" as Tuesday's Commons vote looms closer.
She warned of "paralysis in Parliament" if the deal is rejected and said trust in politics would suffer "catastrophic harm" if the UK did not leave the EU.
The PM welcomed new EU assurances over the impact of the deal on Northern Ireland, saying they had "legal force".
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