The Government is facing new calls to release confidential studies drawn up by officials looking at the potential impact of Brexit on the economy. Twenty-five Labour MPs have written to Chancellor Philip Hammond calling on him to release research carried out by the Treasury. Mr Hammond disclosed the work was being carried out during a recent session of the Commons Treasury Committee. He told the hearing earlier this month that officials had “modelled and analysed a wide range of potential alternative structures between the European Union and the United Kingdom”. Labour MPs say it is essential the Chancellor now releases the information so Parliament can hold the Government to account effectively. “Without access to the latest taxpayer-funded analysis and research, parliament will be hamstrung in its ability to scrutinise the government’s approach and to present the facts to our constituents,” they said. “It is vital that light is shed on the … [Read more...] about Labour MPs call on government to publish new secret Brexit files
A HUMBLE address is an ancient and rarely used parliamentary procedure.It was deployed by the Labour Party in November 2017 to force the government to publish potentially embarrassing studies on Brexit — but how?A humble address is a direct call from the House of Commons to the Sovereign, in this case the Queen, to request the government produce documents.According Parliamentary Practice, a rulebook published in the 19th Century, the humble address is more binding than a simple opposition motion.That is because it is an appeal to the head of state, rather than to the government who could otherwise choose to ignore it.Speaker of the House John Bercow said such motions were “traditionally regarded as binding or effective”.It has rarely been used in the last 200 years.On 1 November 2017, Labour defeated the government over the publication of 58 studies into the economic impact of Brexit.The studies had been commissioned for ministers who had fiercely opposed them being … [Read more...] about What is the humble address and why has Labour used the parliamentary procedure to force Brexit files publication?
So far, Brexit negoatiations have produced no appreciable results – at least according to Michel Barnier, the chief negotiator or the European Union. His British counterpart David Davis claims the opposite. And Theresa May also spoke of progress being made in her keynote speech on Brexit in Florence on Friday. So is somebody deliberately lying, or are these just negotiation tactics? May's Florence speech was certainly intended to bring fresh momentum to the talks, enabling the opposing parties to move swiftly on from the divorce arrangements to discussing their future relationship. The Europeans listened with amiable reserve as the British prime minister made her offer. Real progress must be made at the negotiating table, between Barnier and Davis. Interpreting body language "There are a lot of charlatans around when it comes to interpreting body language," says Professor Alain Verbeke from the University of Leuven. It's not that easy to tell whether someone is lying or … [Read more...] about Brexit diary 11: Brexit body language
The remaining 27 EU countries adopted Brexit negotiating guidelines in a show of unity ahead of talks with Britain, European Council President Donald Tusk said on Saturday. "Guidelines adopted unanimously. EU27 firm and fair political mandate for the #Brexit talks is ready," Tusk tweeted as leaders met in Brussels. The guidelines call for a "phased approach," noting that progress must first be made on the issues of citizens' rights and a financial settlement before negotiations on a possible post-Brexit trade agreement can begin. "We are ready," said the EU's chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier. "We are together." The joint announcement came as the 27 EU nations met in Brussels without British Prime Minister Theresa May, one month after she triggered two years of exit talks on March 29. 'Unity in action' European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker hailed the summit's agreement, noting in a tweet that it took under 15 minutes for leaders to approve. He said … [Read more...] about EU leaders adopt Brexit guidelines at Brussels summit
Britain's decision to leave the European Union is being felt by more than 860,000 British holidaymakers - more than a hundred thousand of them stuck abroad - after the collapse of Monarch Airlines on Monday, in what is billed as the largest failure of a UK airline. The budget carrier was forced to appoint accountancy firm KPMG as liquidators after Britain's air regulator refused to renew Monarch's license to sell holidays that offer advanced consumer protection in the event of the bankruptcy of any tourism provider. Aviation analysts said a 20 percent fall in the value of the British pound since the June 2016 Brexit vote had left the budget airline with an extra bill of 50 million pounds (€56.6 million, $66.5 million) for aviation fuel and the cost of leasing aircraft, which is paid for in dollars. Passengers fell by a quarter Commentators said the currency's weakness compounded the airline's troubles after it saw a 19 percent fall in passengers carried in 2015 at 5.7 … [Read more...] about Brexit, terrorism blamed for collapse of Monarch Airlines
Following crisis talks in Berlin with French president Francois Hollande and Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said that "there will be no informal or formal talks on the exit of Britain until an application has been filed to leave the European Union." European leaders are in uncharted waters following British voters' decision to leave the EU last week, and even leaders in the UK are scrambling to determine what to do next. British Prime Minister David Cameron, who announced on Friday that he would resign, has said he would leave to his successor the decision to trigger Article 50, which would set in motion an up to two year process of negotiations to leave the bloc. On Monday, Cameron told lawmakers that Britain would not implement Article 50 "at this time" as the country must first "determine the kind of relationship we want with the EU." It could take until September or October until for Cameron's replacement to be chosen, leaving several … [Read more...] about Germany, France, Italy: no Brexit talks until formal leave application filed
After the United Kingdom withdrew from the European Commission after the Brexit referendum result on June 24, the UK government then changed its mind. Now, it wants to be back in the commission - the European Union's executive branch. And according to EU sources, the UK wants its new commissioner to be put in charge of EU environment policy. This has raised a howl of protest from members of the European Parliament's environment committee, which would hold confirmation hearings for the nominee. They say such a move could grind EU environmental legislation to a halt during the potentially long and difficult Brexit negotiations, expected to last at least two years. And some distrust the UK's motivations for wanting to be put in charge of EU environment policy during this time. "Given the UK government's obstructionism on a number of key environment policy files, it is hard to imagine positive reasons why it would want its incoming commissioner to take over the portfolio," Bas Eickhout, a … [Read more...] about Will EU toss environment to a lame-duck Brexit bureaucrat?
Monday's annual July 11 bonfires had a new addition this year: alongside the Irish Tricolours and election placards for republican and socialist parties, some of the vast piles of wood and tyres sported the starry standard of the European Union and pro-Brexit signs. Last month, 56 percent of voters in Northern Ireland chose to remain in the EU, but many working-class Protestants supported leaving. "I voted out. Our health and education services are at an all-time low. I'm a big believer in looking after yourself first," says Alfie McCrory, chairman of the Twaddell and Woodvale Residents Association, in North Belfast. His brother, Sammy agrees, citing the decline of Belfast's once buoyant shipyards. Sammy McCrory is a member of the local branch of Protestant fraternity the Orange Order. Every year on "the Glorious Twelfth" thousands of Orangemen draped in sashes take to streets across the country to remember the victory of the Protestant King William over the Catholic King James. … [Read more...] about Orangemen march against Brexit backdrop
Over the past decade, the United Kingdom has been one of Europe's most progressive forces in tackling climate change. But all that appeared to change this week. Theresa May, the post-Brexit prime minister who took charge on Wednesday (13.07.2016) after the resignation of David Cameron, has decided to eliminate the UK's Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC). Serving under a dedicated minister, the department has since 2008 been one of the most active in Europe pushing for carbon dioxide emissions reduction. May is dismantling the department and folding the responsibility for these two areas into a "Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy" department which will be led by Conservative MP Greg Clarke. Criticism of the move has been fast and furious. Ed Milliband, the former leader of the opposition Labour Party who himself served as the first Energy and Climate Change Secretary in 2008, said the move was "just plain stupid." Caroline Lucas, the leading MP in the UK's Green Party, … [Read more...] about After Brexit, Europe faces uncertain climate future
"The ball is in their court," Theresa May tells her parliament in London while pointing accusatorily across the English Channel, beyond which lies the European continent. And where EU Commission speaker Margartisi Schina raises his eyebrow expressively and insists that, on the contrary, "The ball is entirely in the UK court." Like in the World Cup qualifiers, possession of the ball has somehow started playing a role in Brexit negotiations. But, as we all know, only goals count in the end. But are the teams even playing on the same field? Or is the whole thing actually a table tennis tournament? Perhaps a round of poker where the EU holds all the cards? Since her coughing fit at the Tory's party conference, May has been fighting to show she's alive. Of course, she could act decisively if she wanted to. She could, for example, fire Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson. Just theoretically. Maybe she will throw him out after the EU summit in two weeks. But … [Read more...] about Brexit Diaries 13: Whose ball is it anyway?