Brexit. Why do Brits want Out of the EU?

Walter Hinteler
Reply Fri 26 Jun, 2020 11:20 pm
@Walter Hinteler,
Do not assume US still aspires to be a world leader, Merkel, the German chancellor, warns, and the UK must live with consequences of weaker ties to EU.

The UK will have to “live with the consequences” of Boris Johnson ditching Theresa May’s plan to maintain close economic ties with the EU after Brexit, Angela Merkel has said, hardening her tone over the prospect of a no-deal scenario at the end of the year.

After more than three years in which the German chancellor repeatedly emphasised her openness to a deal that would maintain the UK’s current flows of trade with the bloc, she suggested the door leading to such a compromise had now closed.

As the rotating presidency of the EU council passes to Germany on 1 July, the country’s chancellor, Angela Merkel, sat down for an interview with the Guardian and five other European newspapers – Germany’s Süddeutsche Zeitung, France’s Le Monde, Spain’s La Vanguardia, Italy’s La Stampa and Poland’s Polityka – to talk about Europe’s economic response to the coronavirus pandemic, her stance on the Brexit negotiations, and global challenges posed by the US, Russia and China.

'For Europe to survive, its economy needs to survive': Angela Merkel interview in full
Walter Hinteler
Reply Sat 27 Jun, 2020 07:52 am
@Walter Hinteler,
Boris Johnson to go ahead with no-deal Brexit if negotiations fail to produce agreement on future trade with EU
Speaking by phone to Polish prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki, Mr Johnson promised the UK would negotiate “constructively” in face to face talks due to resume on Monday.

But he repeated his position that the UK was ready to leave on what he referred to as “Australia terms”, meaning without a trade deal.

Australia currently has no free trade agreement with the EU, but its government opened negotiations in 2018 to try to secure an “ambitious and comprehensive FTA”, which it believes would be better for the country than the current arrangements.

Detailing Mr Johnson’s discussion with Mr Morawiecki, A Downing Street spokesperson said: “On the UK’s future relationship with the EU, the Prime Minister welcomed the agreement on both sides to an intensified process of negotiations in July.

“He said the UK would negotiate constructively but equally would be ready to leave the transition period on Australia terms if agreement could not be reached.”
Walter Hinteler
Reply Mon 29 Jun, 2020 07:52 am
@Walter Hinteler,
Today, No 10 signals end of September as deadline for trade talks with EU - live updates - Boris Johnson previously suggested July as a cutoff.
Walter Hinteler
Reply Tue 30 Jun, 2020 11:48 pm
@Walter Hinteler,
Britain and Brussels turn on each other for prolonging City's uncertainty
Deadline to agree regulatory equivalence for financial services and allow business after Brexit likely to be missed

Britain and Brussels have each accused the other of holding up a decision on the City of London’s ability to do business in EU markets from next year, prolonging the financial services’ state of uncertainty about the future.

Both parties had agreed to complete assessments of the other’s regulatory regimes for financial services by Tuesday 30 June, with the expectation that they would deemed “equivalent”, allowing business to continue in the new year.

With the deadline for an equivalence decision likely to be missed, the financial sectors on both sides have been left in the dark about the future terms of business, and the European commission and the UK government have blamed each other for the delay.

The UK is currently still in the single market and customs union, but that transition period, following the country’s exit from the EU, ends on 31 December.

Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator, told the Eurofi financial regulation thinktank that the UK had answered only four of 28 questionnaires Brussels had sent seeking information about the regulation of financial services.

“So we are not there yet,” he said. “We will only grant equivalences in those areas where it is clearly in the interest of the EU; of our financial stability; our investors and our consumers.”

He reiterated a warning that equivalence could not legally be given to providers of insurance, commercial bank lending or deposit-taking.

In response, a Treasury spokesman compared the commission’s slow work with Whitehall’s efficiency in examining the level of equivalence of the two regulatory systems.

The spokesman said: “Both sides committed to completing equivalence assessments ahead of the summer. As the UK and EU start from a position of having similar financial services regulation, this should be a straightforward process.

“The UK has been able to complete our own assessments on time and we are now ready to reach comprehensive findings of equivalence as soon as the EU is able to clarify its own position.”

There are concerns in the British government that the EU wants to delay a decision until there is clarity over the ongoing negotiations over a trade and security deal.

It is understood that the government received 1,000-plus pages of questions in April and May, with the last 248 pages arriving on 25 May.

British officials are understood to be frustrated that the questions posed are fara broader in range than necessary for an equivalence decision to be reached.

If Brussels decides that the UK’s regulatory regime is equivalent to its own, market access to British companies is expected to follow. But Barnier, in his appearance via video message at the thinktank event, appeared to confirm Britain’s fears over the EU’s motivation by suggesting that Brussels wanted to be able to take into account the wider picture.

“These assessments are particularly challenging,” Barnier said. “Firstly, because they have to be forward-looking, given the UK’s publicly stated intention to diverge from EU rules after 1 January 2021. Last week, the UK published a paper on its future regulatory framework for financial services. This is a useful document. We are now analysing it in detail to gain clarity on how UK rules will evolve.

He added: “But let us have no illusions: the UK will progressively start diverging from the EU framework. This is even one of the main purposes of Brexit.”

The row broke out as the UK’s chief negotiator, David Frost, and Barnier resumed talks over a comprehensive free trade deal, their first face-to-face meeting in Brussels since February.

The equivalence decision is outside the negotiation, but the two teams are seeking to agree on a form of cooperation on regulation of the financial services sector.

Barnier said he could not accept the UK proposals, which he described as seeking “the benefits of the single market without the obligations”. He accused the UK of trying to limit the EU’s ability to unilaterally withdraw “equivalence” in the future – a claim British officials denied, saying they were merely looking for ample warning and assurances of equitable treatment.

Barnier also said the UK government was trying to “make it easy to continue to run EU businesses from London, with minimal operations and staff on the continent”.
Walter Hinteler
Reply Thu 2 Jul, 2020 01:03 am
@Walter Hinteler,
HMRC document shows firms in Great Britain will be obliged to complete three types of electronic paperwork
First details emerge of system for checks on goods crossing Irish Sea
The first details of the controversial Brexit checks Boris Johnson insisted would not apply to trade across the Irish Sea have emerged, with mandatory paperwork for businesses in Great Britain supplying goods to Northern Ireland from January.

An HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) document marked “sensitive”, seen by the Guardian, reveals that firms in Great Britain will be obliged to complete three rounds of customs, security and transit forms on all goods.

The electronic documents will need to be completed whether there is a Brexit trade deal or not and will apply to all suppliers.

An 11-page slide presentation from HMRC, outlining the new system, states: “To achieve customs control, we need to ensure that all goods are presented and declared to customs.”

HMRC finally reveals plans for Brexit checks on goods going to Northern Ireland. Photograph: Leaked HMRC presentation

Under a new “Goods Vehicle Movement Service” (GVMS) system, hauliers or the owners of the freight will be obliged to pre-lodge three types of electronic paperwork before getting on a ferry from British ports such as Liverpool or Cairnryan in Scotland to Northern Ireland.

The first paperwork applying to suppliers is an import declaration form setting out the customs code or codes for all the goods being transported to Northern Ireland.

Second, the supplier will have to complete a safety and security declaration, paperwork that is currently waived on all goods being sold within the EU’s single market.

HMRC finally reveals plans for Brexit checks on goods going to Northern Ireland. Photograph: Leaked presentation

Suppliers will then have to provide their truckers with a transit accompanying document (TAD) which must remain with the vehicle at all times so the EU can be guaranteed that the load that departs Great Britain is the same as the one arrives.

While the goods going from GB to Northern Ireland remain in the UK market, they are being treated as exports and require this paperwork because of the unique arrangements made in the withdrawal agreement to avoid a border on the island of Ireland.

... ... ...

Walter Hinteler
Reply Thu 2 Jul, 2020 09:13 am
@Walter Hinteler,
EU-UK trade talks break up early over 'serious' disagreements
EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier complained of lack of respect and engagement by UK

The latest negotiations in Brussels on an EU-UK trade and security deal have broken up early, with the EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, complaining of a lack of respect and engagement by the British government.

The two sides ended the week’s talks – the first held in person since February – a day ahead of the jointly agreed schedule amid evident frustration at the lack of progress in bridging what both Barnier and his UK counterpart, David Frost, described as “serious” disagreements.

“Our goal was to get negotiations successfully and quickly on a trajectory to reach an agreement,” Barnier said in a statement. “However, after four days of discussions, serious divergences remain.”

The former French minister said Brussels had “listened carefully” to Boris Johnson when he had told the EU’s institutional leaders two weeks ago during a videoconference he wanted “political agreement” over the summer on the terms of a deal.

Barnier added that the EU recognised the British red lines of “no role for the European court of justice in the UK; no obligation for the UK to continue to be bound by EU law; and an agreement on fisheries that shows Brexit makes a real difference”.

But he suggested the EU’s willingness to be flexible on its initial demands in light of the British positions had not been met with similar understanding from Downing Street over Brussels’ red lines.

The EU has hinted at a willingness to drop its initial asks of EU state aid being incorporated into domestic UK legislation, non-regression from the bloc’s environmental, social and labour regulations and the effective continuation of the common fisheries policy.

But the EU negotiator said Downing Street needed to reciprocate with new proposals, adding there would be no deal without “level playing field” conditions in any potential treaty including on state aid.

Barnier has previously insisted that in order to find compromise, the British government should at least publish its plans for how the UK’s domestic subsidy regime will work from the end of the year when the transition period ends.

He further said in his statement there needed to be a “sustainable and long-term solution” on fisheries, taking into account the needs of European fishermen for certainty over their livelihoods and an effective all-encompassing dispute settlement mechanism to ensure both sides stick to their obligations.

“And we will continue to insist on parallel progress on all areas,” Barnier said. “The EU expects, in turn, its positions to be better understood and respected in order to reach an agreement. We need an equivalent engagement by the United Kingdom.”

The talks in Brussels, joined by smaller teams than in the past due to social distancing requirements, had been scheduled to continue through Thursday afternoon and into Friday with a final wrap up meeting between Frost and Barnier.

But the two sides issued statements early on Thursday afternoon calling an end to the talks, as British officials led by Frost returned to London.

“We have completed our discussion of the full range of issues in the negotiation in just over three days,” Frost said. “Our talks were face-to-face for the first time since March and this has given extra depth and flexibility to our discussions.

“The negotiations have been comprehensive and useful. But they have also underlined the significant differences that still remain between us on a number of important issues.”

Frost said the British side still wanted “an early understanding on the principles underlying an agreement” secured by the end of July. The two sides are due to resume talks next week in London.

Meanwhile, a row continues over the failure of both sides to provide “equivalence” judgements by the end of June to allow financial service operators to continue to work across the UK and the EU. Last year, it had been agreed that decisions on the equivalence of the two sides’ regulatory regimes should be completed by 1 July.

Earlier this week Barnier suggested the British government had been late in providing the necessary information to allow a decision to be made.

John Glen, the economic secretary to the Treasury, told a Lords committee he was “slightly surprised” the EU had sent a thousand pages of questions, with almost 250 of them arriving “as late as the end of May”.
Walter Hinteler
Reply Fri 3 Jul, 2020 07:21 am
@Walter Hinteler,
Boris Johnson says no-deal with EU 'very good option'
'Obviously if we can’t then we will have the very good option also of an Australian-style arrangement,' says PM

Boris Johnson has suggested the prospect of a failing to reach a trade deal before the end the Brexit transition period would be a “very good option” for the UK.

The prime minister’s remarks come after the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, warned the EU must prepare for the possible failure of the Brexit trade talks, saying progress in the negotiations had been “to put it mildly, minimal”.

Attempting to strike a more upbeat tone, Mr Johnson told LBC radio: “We now need to make sure we get a good deal. I think actually – I’ve had some very good conversations – with friends and colleagues around the EU. I’m a bit more optimistic than Michel [Barnier] is there.

He added: “I just think there’s a good agreement to be reached, but obviously if we can’t then we will have the very good option also of an Australian-style arrangement.”

However, Australia does not have a free trade agreement with the EU, and the UK government has consistently used the term “Australian-style arrangement” as a euphemism for leaving the bloc without a deal at the end of the 11-month transition period.

Earlier this year, Phil Hogan, the European Commissioner for trade, outlined that the EU does “not have an agreement with Australia” and said of the UK seeking an “Australian-style” deal with the bloc: “I think that’s code for no deal.”
Walter Hinteler
Reply Sat 4 Jul, 2020 08:27 am
@Walter Hinteler,
UK ponders joining EU's coronavirus vaccine scheme
Ministers said to be weighing benefits against broader desire to cut ties with Brussels

The UK is assessing whether to join an EU programme to help secure a potential coronavirus vaccine in what could mark a bellwether for post-Brexit cooperation.

In what the Daily Express described as a “Brexit backtrack”, UK officials are thought to be considering the advantages of being part of the EU plan because the bloc would have greater purchasing power to strike deals with multinational drug companies.

The UK is assessing whether to join an EU programme to help secure a potential coronavirus vaccine in what could mark a bellwether for post-Brexit cooperation.

In what the Daily Express described as a “Brexit backtrack”, UK officials are thought to be considering the advantages of being part of the EU plan because the bloc would have greater purchasing power to strike deals with multinational drug companies.

“We have reached out to the UK, inviting it to express its interest if it wants to participate in the joint EU approach established by the vaccine strategy,” the European commission said. “Discussions are now ongoing with the UK.”

A spokesperson for the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said: “Work is ongoing to determine whether and how the UK participates in the EU vaccine strategy.”

Global competition for effective coronavirus vaccines and treatments is growing. The US has bought up the had bought up the world’s supply of remdesivir, a medicine produced by the US pharmaceutical group Gilead initially to treat Ebola. The EU is in talks with US company Johnson & Johnson.

The European commission says its scheme is designed to drive “efficiency and solidarity”, ensure swift access to vaccines for member states and their populations, and make them available for everyone in the world.

According to a senior Whitehall official quoted in the Financial Times, there has been some “back and forth” on the issue within Whitehall. “The EU has set an ‘end of the week’ deadline for about the last three weeks, but it keeps coming and going,” the official told the paper. “Ultimately, the decision will get made in No 10.”
Walter Hinteler
Reply Mon 6 Jul, 2020 11:30 pm
@Walter Hinteler,
EU commission rejects Raab's claims in medical procurement row
The European commission has dismissed claims from Dominic Raab that the UK did not receive an invitation to join EU procurement schemes for medical kit to combat coronavirus because Brussels used an obsolete email address.

A commission official said the UK was not included on the original email list because it had already left the EU, but added there had been “ample opportunity” for the British government to join four schemes to bulk-buy medical supplies launched earlier this year.

The UK has since decided to join an EU procurement scheme to obtain intensive care medicines, such as antibiotics and anaesthetics, the Guardian has learned.

The government is also in talks to join the EU’s coronavirus vaccine plan, and is seeking access to the EU’s pandemic warning system throughout the post-Brexit talks.

The row was reignited after the British foreign secretary wrote to the chair of the House of Commons foreign affairs committee, Tom Tugendhat, in response to questions about the government’s response to EU procurement schemes.

Raab said “we understand from the commission” that EU officials had used out-of-date email addresses to send an invitation. “Unfortunately those email addresses no longer existed, given changes in departmental structures (eg DH becoming DHSC) and the government IT network (end of gsi addresses) since 2016.”

The EU official responded: “The UK was informed – as all other countries – of the joint procurement processes at the health security committee.”

British officials attended four meetings of the EU’s health security committee (HSC), on 31 January, 4 February, 2 March and 13 March, where the first wave of procurement schemes were discussed, according to official minutes seen by the Guardian.

After it emerged the UK had missed deadlines to join four EU procurement schemes, the UK increased its attendance at the EU’s HSC meetings.

In his letter to Tugendhat, which was published last week, Raab said there had been “no explicit discussion at these [HSC] meetings of whether the UK would be eligible to participate”. He also said ministers had not been briefed ahead of the schemes being launched.

The Foreign Office’s most senior official, Sir Simon McDonald, said the UK had taken a political decision not to join and that “the UK missions in Brussels briefed ministers about what was available” – but later retracted his testimony. McDonald was subsequently asked to stand down “at the request” of Boris Johnson, following the prime minister’s decision to merge the Department for International Development with the FCO.

EU procurement schemes are intended to help governments get better prices for medical equipment, but deliveries have lagged behind the health crisis peak. Some member states, such as Latvia and Luxembourg, have received supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE), but others are still waiting, for instance Bulgaria, which expects to receive 55 ventilators by the end of this month.
Walter Hinteler
Reply Tue 7 Jul, 2020 06:30 am
@Walter Hinteler,
A famous billionaire Brexit backer may ditch the plan to build heir to Land Rover Defender at Bridgend, putting jobs at risk and instead produce the cars in France in a (former) Smart (Mecedes) plant.

New Welsh factory at risk as Jim Ratcliffe's Ineos looks to make cars in France
The Brexit-backing owner of Ineos has reportedly stalled work on the plants where the chemicals giant had planned to launch its car-making ambitions by building an heir to the Land Rover Defender, and may decide to scrap plans for the twin sites within weeks.

Ineos had planned to develop a car plant in Portugal to begin making body parts for the “rugged, uncompromised off-roader” by the end of next year, and had planned to run a new factory at Bridgend in South Wales to assemble the final vehicle.

The company was aiming to build up to 25,000 of its new Grenadier vehicles at the Bridgend plant every year before expanding its family of vehicles to include other models.

The plans have been cast in serious doubt after Ineos confirmed it has paused work on the construction of the plants while it is in talks with Mercedes-Benz about buying an existing facility in France.

Mercedes-Benz announced plans on Friday to sell the Hambach plant, which employs about 1,600 staff and is responsible for making Smart brand cars. Ineos had initially dismissed the plant as too small, but has resumed talks with Mercedes following a £445m upgrade in 2018.

Mark Tennant, the commercial director of Ineos Automotive, told the Financial Times that the Mercedes plant is “a serious business consideration” and that talks would take “weeks rather than anything longer”.
Walter Hinteler
Reply Thu 9 Jul, 2020 11:35 pm
@Walter Hinteler,
About half of all food consumed from restaurants or shops comes from the EU, with 30% of produce in supermarkets from the bloc.


No-deal Brexit will raise cost of UK household staples, say retailers

In a report on the prospect of a no-deal Brexit, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) said the public should be aware that no deal will mean a hike in the prices of not just luxury goods but “ordinary household goods that every consumer has to buy and replenish”.

“It’s not foie gras that we’re talking about, it’s mince, it’s cheese, it’s oranges, you know,” said Aodhán Connolly, the director of the Northern Ireland Retail Consortium in a Brexit press briefing.

“It doesn’t matter whether it’s Great Britain, or it’s Northern Ireland, the people who will suffer most because of these cost rises will be those people who are most economically vulnerable.”

The BRC has calculated that beef, which is imported in huge quantities from the Republic of Ireland, will go up in price by 48%, with cheddar cheese, another staple imported from across the Irish Sea, expected to cost 57% more.

Oranges from Spain will cost 12% more, while the price of cucumbers will rise by 16%. Trousers imported from Italy will have a 12% levy slapped on them , porcelain kitchenware will also go up by 12% and drinking glasses made in Poland up 10%.
Walter Hinteler
Reply Fri 10 Jul, 2020 04:27 am
@Walter Hinteler,
Michel Barnier mocks Mark Francois' moan about EU trade 'demands', pointing out he voted for them
Michel Barnier has mocked a Tory MP’s protests about the EU’s aims for a post-Brexit trade deal – pointing out he voted for the measures himself.

Mark Francois, head of the hardline European Research Group, wrote to the EU’s chief negotiator last month, insisting he must drop his “unreasonable demands”.

In a scathing response, Mr Barnier sets out how those “demands” – on adherence to EU rules and the role of the European Court of Justice – were both “agreed” by Boris Johnson, in the Brexit deal.

It was then “voted for by the House of Commons, including yourself, as part of the withdrawal agreement ratification,” he points out.

In a letter dripping in sarcasm, Mr Barnier adds: “All we are asking of the UK is to honour its commitments in the political declaration.”
Walter Hinteler
Reply Fri 10 Jul, 2020 10:48 pm
@Walter Hinteler,
Vast Brexit customs clearance centre to be built in Kent
Exclusive: council given only hours’ notice of emergency purchase of 1.2m sq ft ‘Mojo’ site

The government has secretly purchased 11 hectares (27 acres) of land 20 miles from Dover to site a vast new Brexit customs clearance centre for the 10,000 lorries that come through the Kent port from Calais every day.

It will be the first customs post erected in the UK to deal with goods coming from the EU for 27 years.

Work will begin on fencing off the vast 1.2m square foot “Mojo” site on the outskirts of Ashford on Monday. The local council were given only a few hours’ notice that the land was now in public ownership.

After being informed on Friday afternoon, the council leader has been forced to rush out hand-delivered letters to local residents to warn them of the disruption, Paul Bartlett, a Conservative councillor, told the Guardian.
The emergency purchase of the site is expected to be unveiled on Sunday by Michael Gove, who is to tour TV studios publicising the government’s multi-million-pound Get Ready for Brexit campaign. Businesses are bracing themselves for the publication of the first official details of the new border operating model and immigration system on Monday.

The government has been forced to introduce customs controls because of the decision to leave the EU’s single market and the customs union on 1 January.

When the single market came into being in January 1993, trade barriers across the bloc disappeared along with tariffs that many will remember as marking the end of duty-free alcohol and cigarettes. But from 1 January, the UK will revert to a system whereby importers will have to make customs declarations.
... ... ...
Walter Hinteler
Reply Fri 10 Jul, 2020 11:44 pm
@Walter Hinteler,
Government launches new 'Get Ready for Brexit' campaign
Businesses will discover details of customs regime after Brexit on Monday

The government is set to launch a multi-million pound “Get Ready for Brexit” campaign on Monday, as businesses awaited details of the complex customs regime they will face.

More information about the campaign, which will be partly aimed at Britons living in the EU, will be confirmed by Michael Gove in TV interviews scheduled for Sunday. The controversial Brexit border plans – which were criticised this week by the international trade secretary, Liz Truss – will be published on Monday along with fresh detail on post-Brexit immigration.

A 90-page draft of the new border arrangements, “The Border with the European Union, Importing and Exporting Goods”, seen by the Guardian, lays bare the complicated new paperwork facing all businesses from 1 January, whether there is a deal or not.

Sources say a later draft runs to more than 100 pages and will give businesses the first confirmed details of the scale of the challenge they face in less than six months’ time.

The draft version features flow charts and “process maps” instructing businesses on the steps they will need to take in future and needs a three-page glossary to explain some terms relating to importing and exporting.


It notes that from January, all businesses trading with the EU need to prepare for customs declarations, which have not been required since 1993, when the single market brought down trade barriers.

A series of new inland customs clearance centres and border control posts are expected be built to alleviate congestion in ports including Dover, Portsmouth and Holyhead. New VAT and excise duty arrangements will also apply, with checks to confirm the ID of the driver and that the cargo matches the paperwork provided.

Hauliers will be warned that if they bring in goods for personal use such as alcohol and cigarettes, they will have to be checked even if their cargo is cleared by customs. “When traders return to the UK, if they bring goods back in their baggage, they should go through the red channel at customs,” it says.

Under a phased-in approach lasting six months, the government will hope to get tens of thousands of businesses familiar with the new system, but some fear the IT needed for the so-called “Goods Movement Vehicle Services” will not be ready in time.

It will be trialled in Northern Ireland in November, according to an 11-page HM Revenue and Customs document seen by the Guardian.

Last year, the government launched its first “Get ready for Brexit” campaign ahead of Britain’s planned departure on 31 October, urging businesses and individuals to prepare. It was halted three days before the UK was supposed to leave, as the EU granted another extension.

It is believed that there will need to be a further campaign by the government if no trade deal is agreed with the EU. From 1 January an extra system would be in place involving tariffs on food, clothing and components in addition to the customs, VAT, security and health checks on animal and plant products.

Checks will be phased in over six months, starting in January, a decision that led to conflict in the party, with Truss writing to Gove and the chancellor, Rishi Sunak, to warn that this could leave the UK “vulnerable” to smuggling and to a legal challenge by the World Trade Organization.

While most of the communications will be aimed at businesses, the Foreign Office will also be launching a new advertising campaign on Monday to reach as many as possible of the estimated 1m Britons living in Europe to remind them of Brexit-related changes that will affect them.

A government spokesperson said: “We are planning a comprehensive communication campaign from mid-July, to make sure people and businesses know what they need to prepare for the end of the transition period.”
Walter Hinteler
Reply Mon 13 Jul, 2020 03:50 am
@Walter Hinteler,
Three in four UK firms unprepared for Brexit, study shows
IoD says half of companies questioned cannot fully plan for end of transition period due to lack of clarity on rules

Only one in four companies are prepared for Britain’s full departure from the European Union in five months time, company directors have warned.

Manufacturing firms in particular are unlikely to be ready for the end of the transition period with a lack of clarity on rule changes a bigger impediment to Brexit preparation than the need to focus on the coronavirus pandemic, according to research from the Institute of Directors.
The IoD argued that time to prepare was essential, regardless of the outcome of trade talks between Britain and the EU, and called for a phased implementation of any new regime.

Jonathan Geldart, director-general of the IoD, said: “With so much going on, many directors feel that preparing for Brexit proper is like trying to hit a moving target. Jumping immediately into whatever comes next would be a nightmare for many businesses.
Walter Hinteler
Reply Mon 13 Jul, 2020 10:46 am
@Walter Hinteler,
Up to 12 post-Brexit customs centres like Kent lorry park to be built to deal with EU exit
Businesses face 400 million extra customs declarations a year at a cost up as much as £20 billion under government plans

Up to a dozen inland customs centres similar to the controversial planned lorry park in Ashford, Kent, are to be built to deal with the expected additional bureaucracy at ports caused by Brexit, it has been revealed.

The plans emerged as it was confirmed that the UK government expects businesses to complete an additional 400 million import and export customs declarations as a result of Brexit, at a cost previously estimated by HM Revenue and Customs at anything up to £20 billion a year.

Long-awaited details of the new operating processes for the UK’s borders were finally released by the Cabinet Office less than six months before they are due to come into force at the end of the year, amid warnings from business that many firms will not be able to prepare for them in time.

The Brexit bureaucracy burden will be imposed whether or not Boris Johnson succeeds in reaching a free trade agreement (FTA) with Brussels by the end of 2020 - though if he crashes the country out without a deal there will be additional costs from tariffs on European goods and checks on the origin of UK exports.

The CBI said that securing an FTA remains “paramount” as the majority of firms are “less prepared than ever” for a trading cliff-edge at a time when many are struggling to keep from going under due to the cost of the coronavirus crisis.

Up to a dozen inland customs centres similar to the controversial planned lorry park in Ashford, Kent, are to be built to deal with the expected additional bureaucracy at ports caused by Brexit, it has been revealed.

The plans emerged as it was confirmed that the UK government expects businesses to complete an additional 400 million import and export customs declarations as a result of Brexit, at a cost previously estimated by HM Revenue and Customs at anything up to £20 billion a year.

Long-awaited details of the new operating processes for the UK’s borders were finally released by the Cabinet Office less than six months before they are due to come into force at the end of the year, amid warnings from business that many firms will not be able to prepare for them in time.

The Brexit bureaucracy burden will be imposed whether or not Boris Johnson succeeds in reaching a free trade agreement (FTA) with Brussels by the end of 2020 - though if he crashes the country out without a deal there will be additional costs from tariffs on European goods and checks on the origin of UK exports.

The CBI said that securing an FTA remains “paramount” as the majority of firms are “less prepared than ever” for a trading cliff-edge at a time when many are struggling to keep from going under due to the cost of the coronavirus crisis.

“So progress towards an ambitious deal is paramount at a time when every job and every pound of investment is precious. As negotiators focus on the detail of a new deal, compromise and common sense is required from both sides to get an outcome which minimises disruption and protects livelihoods during this precarious time.”

And Conservative former cabinet minister Stephen Dorrell, now chair of the European Movement, said: “Last November Boris Johnson said that there would be ‘no forms, no checks, no barriers of any kind’. Today, the grim reality is laid bare.

“When the prime minister said ‘no forms’ he meant to say ‘400 million additional forms each year’. That is to say 400 million additional costs. 400 million barriers to trade. 400 million reasons why Britain will be less competitive in its primary overseas market. 400 million reasons why British unemployment will rise further than necessary next year. The government’s new slogan is ‘let’s get going’; it should be ‘let’s start filling in the forms’.”

HMRC has previously estimated the cost of each of the 400m customs declarations at £15-£56, depending on the complexity of the consignment, meaning that the overall cost for this item of paperwork alone is likely to outstrip the UK’s annual contribution to EU budgets as a member.

Officials did not identify the locations for the new inland sites, which will deal with the overspill of form-filling and checks from ports which have insufficient space.

It is understood that no contracts have yet been completed for any of the 10-12 centres - including the 27-acre site earmarked for a processing park for 10,000 lorries at Ashford - but a number are expected to be located in Kent and others near to roll-on/roll-off ferry ports elsewhere in the country.

Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove set out the new “border operating model” in a statement to the House of Commons, in which he said he aimed to have a “fully operational border” by the end of the Brexit transition period on 31 December and “the world’s most effective and secure border in the world” by 2025.

However, his announcement did not cover Northern Ireland, where the UK government has been trying to back out of the agreement for a customs border in the Irish Sea which Mr Johnson signed up to last year.

And his Labour shadow Rachel Reeves said the government was "wrapping businesses in red tape and sending them to a super-sized lorry park in Dover".

A survey by the Institute of Directors found that only a quarter of UK business leaders believe their companies are fully prepared for the end of the Brexit transition, when the UK will cease to be a member of the EU’s customs union and single market.

The government believes that around 70 per cent of large companies and 30 per cent of small and medium-sized enterprises have made preparations, such as taking on a customs agent to deal with paperwork, arranging direct debits for customs charges and applying for international driving permits and export registration numbers.

A drive is being launched to contact 12,000 companies which export only to the EU and are not familiar with bureaucratic procedures which previously applied only to the rest of the world but will now be required for imports and exports with the UK’s closest neighbours.

But the IoD's head of Europe and Trade Policy, Allie Renison, said: “Business leaders are doing their utmost just to keep their organisations afloat at present. While we appreciate the government committing to help traders get ready, there are still many unanswered questions and the timing is far from ideal.

"With a significant proportion of businesses struggling to prepare amid the coronavirus crisis, the government should put more resource into helping firms access the specialist advice they need to prepare across a range of impact areas, just as other countries have done."

Industry figures estimate that an extra 50,000 private-sector customs agents will be needed to process Brexit paperwork, and the government has already spent more than £80 million on training them.

Mr Gove yesterday announced the government was spending more than £700 million on new infrastructure, technology and border officials to deal with the additional bureaucracy generated at ports by Brexit.

Under today’s border operating model, traders importing controlled goods, like alcohol and tobacco, will be required from January to complete full customs declarations and there will be physical checks on high-risk live animals and plants. From April, all products of animal origin and all regulated plants and plant products will require pre-notification and health documentation.

In a bid to minimise disruption at the borders on Brexit transition day, the UK has agreed to defer full customs declarations and tariffs for most imported goods until July next year.

The chief executive of the British Ports Association, Richard Ballantyne, said: “The publication of the border operating model really brings homes the breadth of new processes that goods being transported between the UK and EU will be subject to.

“Borders infrastructure of course means there will be some impact on freight and potentially flows of traffic. We are therefore pressing for the pragmatic enforcement of such processes so that trucks and cargo are not held up at our ports.

“Of course there is still a huge amount to prepare for and operators across the freight and logistics sectors will need to understand what will be required and what this will mean for their businesses.”

Best for Britain chief executive Naomi Smith said: "Communication on how the UK's borders will operate in the New Year is welcome, if extremely late.

"With guidance having been published with less than six months from the transition period ending, there's a risk that firms rush these vital changes and find themselves unable to trade into their largest market.

"At a time when British businesses are experiencing severe cashflow problems, it's unclear how these struggling firms will front the cost of operational changes so soon, let alone survive the loss of income from incorrectly completing exporter forms.”

Liberal Democrat leadership contender Layla Moran said: “These rules will mean additional time and financial burdens for firms and the new arrangements are likely to pose major headaches for companies.

“Every family and company are worrying about coronavirus and this is just added worry, added pressure and added concern right at the time we just don’t need it.”

Mr Gove said: “The publication of the Border Operating Model is an important step which gives business the certainty and direction they need to prepare for the end of the transition period when the UK becomes an independent trading nation for the first time in nearly 50 years.

“We are committed to working closely with businesses and the border industry to help deliver not just a fully operational border at the end of the transition period, but also the world’s most effective and secure border in the world by 2025.”
Walter Hinteler
Reply Mon 13 Jul, 2020 11:30 pm
@Walter Hinteler,
Northern Ireland businesses ‘must get Brexit compensation’
Northern Irish businesses must be compensated for the millions of pounds in extra costs they are expected to face to trade with firms in Great Britain after Brexit is completed, a group of MPs have said.

As part of Boris Johnson’s deal to avoid a border on the island of Ireland, businesses in Northern Ireland face checks and controls on all goods coming from the rest of the UK from January and are threatened with some checks going in the other direction.

Business leaders have warned some firms could collapse under the weight of the costs, which will not be incurred by their counterparts in Scotland, Wales or England.
Walter Hinteler
Reply Sat 18 Jul, 2020 09:09 am
@Walter Hinteler,
Coronavirus leaves UK firms unprepared for no-deal Brexit
A third of companies are in a worse position on facing the post-EU economy than in 2019, says thinktank

Many companies are now less prepared for a no-deal Brexit than they were a year ago and have yet to make any preparations for such an outcome, ministers are being warned.

As a result of the coronavirus crisis, stockpiles have been wound down, Brexit-related staff redeployed and cashflows seriously depleted. Yet a potential no-deal outcome is now less than six months away.

The latest warning comes from the Institute for Government thinktank, which also cites official data suggesting that 61% of businesses have made no preparations at all for the end of the Brexit transition period on 31 December.

It also warns that last-minute preparations will be extremely difficult for many sectors, as coronavirus-related government support is wound down and potential for stockpiling is diminished as warehouses fill up ahead of Christmas.

“The coronavirus crisis has not only held up progress on Brexit preparations but, in some areas, has actually set businesses back,” it warns in a new report.

“Firms reeling from the economic consequences of coronavirus are poorly placed to prepare for Brexit: in many cases, they’re in a worse position than in the months leading up to the potential no-deal in October 2019. As the government’s own data shows, the majority of firms have not even begun to prepare.

“Many businesses and public bodies have run down stockpiles built up ahead of a potential no-deal Brexit last year, either because it was not economically viable to maintain excess supplies or to mitigate the disruption caused by gaps and delays in supply chains caused by the coronavirus. Many firms have eaten into ‘rainy day’ cash reserves just to stay afloat – money that could otherwise have been used to prepare for Brexit.”

Ministers recently conceded that many checks for goods coming into Britain would not be enforced when the transition period comes to an end, despite a previous insistence that controls would be in place. However, ministers have continued to stress that there will be no extension of the transition period.

There are now mounting calls for sector-specific help ahead of the end of the transition period. The cost of extra customs declarations could be as much as £7bn a year, according to some estimates.

Mike Hawes, chief executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), warned: “The automotive industry has not the resources, the time or the clarity to prepare for a hard Brexit on top of the devastating impact of Covid-19. Negotiations need to be accelerated to secure a tariff-free and quota-free comprehensive [free trade agreement] with the EU.

“With such a deal, a strong recovery is possible, safeguarding the industry and our reputation as an attractive destination for foreign investment. In the meantime, we urgently need the government to introduce sector-specific measures to support cashflow, such as business rate holidays, tax cuts and policies to boost consumer confidence.”

Industry groups have also been urging members to make preparations where they can, especially among exporting companies. Dominic Goudie, head of international trade at the Food and Drink Federation, said: “There are many things that businesses can and should be doing to prepare, and we are helping ensure our industry has the very best chance of being ready as further clarity emerges from the government about what will be required.

“Many producers have been seriously affected by the closure of the hospitality sector, while staff have been redeployed from Brexit preparations to focus on the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Businesses have seen their cashflow badly impacted, and this risks further reducing their limited capacity to stockpile short shelf-life ingredients and finished products.”
Walter Hinteler
Reply Mon 20 Jul, 2020 02:45 am
@Walter Hinteler,
Warning of cross-Channel permits for only 2,088 businesses from January without a trade deal – a huge fall from 8,348

Food shortage fears as three quarters of UK hauliers face being locked out of EU
Three quarters of UK hauliers face being shut of the EU if there is no Brexit trade deal, sparking fresh fears about shortages of food and other goods.

Permits would be made available for only 2,088 businesses from January, a trade group is warning – a massive drop on the 8,348 that were registered for journeys last year.

The Freight Transport Association (FTA), said companies, already under financial strain because of coronavirus, needed a solution to be found within weeks, as it prepares for its “Christmas peak”.

But the Brexit talks remain deadlocked, with little chance of an agreement by the end of October deadline without a breakthrough when they resume this week.

The UK would then be forced to rely on a fixed number of permits through the European Conference of Ministers of Transport (ECMT) scheme – and would receive only 2,088.

Sarah Laouadi, the FTA’s European policy manager, said the situation emphasised the vital task of “securing a free trade agreement with the EU”.

“If you learn whether you have the right to continue operating as a company on Dec 28 and the only fallback plan is the ECMT system, which requires applications and allocations for permits, it will be too late,” she warned.

The Department for Transport (DfT) said it was “optimistic that an agreement can be reached”, but referred to protecting only “the substantial flow of international haulage”.

Lorry companies will lose the right to provide transport services when the UK leaves the single market and customs union at the end of 2020, when the transition period concludes.

Ministers have announced £705m for carrying out post-Brexit trade checks, including building 12 lorry parks – five in Kent alone – to hold vehicles delayed at Dover and other ports.

But they have been accused of downplaying previously-acknowledged dangers from a no-deal Brexit, including food, fuel and medicine shortages.

Now the ECMT scheme is poised to add to those headaches, with the DfT charged with allocating the permits after a total is decided at EU level.

When a no-deal Brexit loomed last year, the hauliers who made the most cross-Channel journeys were prioritised, which downgraded trade between Britain and the Republic of Ireland.

If the same model is used, businesses crossing the Irish Sea might need to reroute, disrupting supply chains, the FTA warned.

Without a trade deal, bilateral agreements might have to be struck with individual member states, but Ms Laouadi warned this would be slow and that “a patchwork of rules would be a nightmare to navigate”.

It would be especially cumbersome for UK businesses operating in more than one EU state after crossing the Channel, she added.

Alternatively, the EU could grant temporary market access to UK hauliers for nine months, but this was “not a sustainable, long-term solution”, Ms Laouadi said.
Walter Hinteler
Reply Tue 21 Jul, 2020 05:15 am
@Walter Hinteler,
A report on Russian interference in British politics, published today after being stopped by PM Johson for nine months, concluded that the Kremlin tried to influence the outcome of the 2016 Brexit referendum and the government's ignorance of potential meddling was "astonishing."

The body conducting the investigation, The Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC), demanded a government inquiry as a result of its findings.(Full document at the Guardian ["SCIBD"])

The body conducting the investigation, The Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC), demanded a government inquiry as a result of its findings

The Government, however, rejects ISC's call for inquiry into Russian interference in Brexit referendum.
Dominic Raab, the foreign secretary, has published the government’s response to the ISC report. It runs to 20 pages and it’s >here (pdf)<

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