Brexit: UK to leave single market, says Prime Minister Theresa May

Brexit: UK to leave single market, says May

  • January 17, 2017 – BBC News –From the section UK Politics
Prime Minister Theresa May

Prime Minister Theresa May

Theresa May has said the UK “cannot possibly” remain within the European single market, as staying in it would mean “not leaving the EU at all”.

But the prime minister promised to push for the “greatest possible” access to the single market following Brexit.   In a long-awaited speech, she also announced Parliament would get a vote on the final deal agreed between the UK and the European Union.    

And Mrs May promised an end to the UK’s “vast contributions” to the EU.

The prime minister used the speech to announce the UK’s 12 priorities for Brexit negotiations including:  [Read more]

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  • Clyde Duncan  On January 19, 2017 at 11:43 pm

    Opinion
    If the UK thinks Brussels is tough, wait until corporate America writes the rules

    Nick Dearden | The Guardian UK

    The ‘brave new world of free trade’ envisaged by Liam Fox could undermine our legal system, add to the NHS’s woes and set back City regulation for years.

    Liam Fox announced today that Britain is “embracing the brave new world of free trade”. Donald Trump has put us somewhere vaguely near the front of the queue for a British-American trade deal – if his comments to Michael Gove are to believed.

    MPs brag about how much easier it will be for us to finalise British trade deals than when we have to deal with those dysfunctional Europeans. It seems like we have a bright trading future ahead of us.

    But even if all of this comes to pass, and it’s a massive “if”, we should hold back on the celebrations because these new trade deals could make the toxic transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership look positively progressive by comparison.

    If you thought the European Union was undemocratic, you’ll be truly shocked by the lack of power Westminster has to scrutinise trade deals. This week I took part in a one-hour briefing of parliament’s international trade committee about the controversial EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, which could partially come into force in Britain in the next few months.

    This deal will affect our public services, our ability to fight climate change and how our laws are made. The British government has given fulsome support, but my one-hour session was the only time MPs have ever discussed it. In all likelihood, it will come into effect without a single debate in parliament.

    Even when parliament does discuss trade deals, MPs have no power to amend them. All they can do, if they’re lucky, is say yes or no at the end. Most get waved through. Given this gaping democratic deficit, trade deals could well be swiftly concluded but what on earth will they contain? Trump has already made very clear that the USA has been too generous to trading partners in previous deals. So, what might he have in store for us?

    First, the hated Investor-State Dispute Settlement, which allows foreign corporations to sue governments for passing regulations that damage corporate profits, will almost certainly be included. Even the European commission’s tame amendments to this anti-democratic system (such as, for instance, giving countries the right to appeal and holding sessions in public) are too much for the USA.

    In the likely event that a USA-UK trade deal includes the most extreme version of this “corporate court” system, corporations will suddenly be able to sue Britain for doing almost anything they don’t like – environmental protection, regulating finance, renationalising public services, anti-smoking policies – you name it.

    And what would USA business want out of a trade deal with Britain? Its massive private healthcare industry positively drools over the thought of getting its hands on the NHS. Any trade deal we did would be pushed by these healthcare interests trying to lock in further liberalisation of our health service.

    Modern trade agreements are increasingly not about tariffs – we have low tariffs with the USA anyway – but making sure laws and regulations don’t obstruct the free flow of capital.

    The USA government has always been clear that our food and farming regulations, which prevent the sort of high-intensity, high-chemical, low-animal welfare farming common in the USA, are a “trade barrier”.

    Any deal will likely look at stripping away regulations on genetic modification, antibiotics and hormone use in farming. In turn, this will open up our small farmers to devastating competition with USA agribusiness.

    The USA is extremely hot on intellectual property rules, and will push to protect the privilege of pharmaceutical copyright – at a cost to the NHS – and harsher copyright laws in general. It has been particularly interested in overturning laws that force foreign companies to keep data on local servers. That means allowing the Silicon Valley industries to move your data to the USA, where they don’t have to abide by European laws on data privacy.

    Trump is hardly an environmentalist and could well push for rules, already proposed in other deals, that makes discriminating between different sorts of fuels impossible. In other words, supporting renewable technologies when fossil fuels could do the job, could become the basis for a trade dispute.

    And while, traditionally, the US has been more progressive on financial regulation than the UK, Trump has already promised to sweep away Barack Obama’s post-crash financial laws. That will be welcomed by the City of London, which will want to use a trade agreement to lock in financial deregulation – making proposals to break up big banks or impose a financial transactions tax extremely difficult.

    Finally, let’s remember that outside the EU, we are both less valuable to the USA (and other countries) and less able to fight for our own interests. That means we will inevitably have to make more concessions to a particularly aggressive USA government.

    If you were worried about the EU’s constraint of our sovereignty, you’ve seen nothing yet.

  • Clyde Duncan  On January 21, 2017 at 9:37 am

    Gerry Adams: Brexit will destroy the Good Friday Agreement

    Michael Mc Hugh | Independent UK

    Taking Northern Ireland out of the EU will “destroy” the Good Friday Agreement peace deal, Gerry Adams has said.

    Speaking at a conference in Dublin on achieving a united Ireland, he claimed fundamental human rights enshrined in the 1998 accord to end violence could be undermined. However, the top legal adviser to Stormont ministers has said NOT one word in the Agreement would be affected.

    The Sinn Fein president said Northern Ireland should enjoy special status within the union of 27 states after Brexit and claimed it would not affect the constitutional settlement which secures Northern Ireland’s status as part of the UK. He said: “Taking the North out of the EU will. It will destroy the Good Friday Agreement.”

    Mr Adams added: “The British Government’s intention to take the North out of the EU, despite the wish of the people there to remain, is a hostile action.

    “Not just because of the implications of a hard border on this island but also because of its negative impact on the Good Friday Agreement.

    “The British Prime Minister repeated her intention to bring an end to the jurisdiction of the European Court. Along with her commitment to remove Britain from the European Convention on Human Rights; this stand threatens to undermine the fundamental human rights elements of the Good Friday Agreement.”

    He claimed ending partition between Northern Ireland and the Republic had taken on a new importance. “As the dire economic implications of Brexit take shape there is an opportunity to promote a new agreed Ireland,” he said.

    Northern Ireland voted to remain in the EU referendum by a majority of 56 per cent to 44 per cent.

    Mr Adams added: “The speech by Theresa May will have reinforced this. The dangers of a hard Brexit are now more obvious than before. The North needs a special designated status within the EU. The Irish government needs to adopt this as a strategic objective in its negotiations within the EU 27 as they negotiate with the British Prime Minister.”

    He claimed there was, alarmingly, no strategic plan from Dublin ministers. The Irish Government has already convened an all-Ireland forum on Brexit and agreed with the Prime Minister that there should be no return to the borders of the past for Northern Ireland. Its priorities remain its economic and trading arrangements, the peace process and border issues as well as the common travel area.

    Mr Adams added: “The British position also fails to take account of the fact that citizens in the North, under the Agreement, have a right to Irish citizenship and therefore EU citizenship.”

  • Clyde Duncan  On January 21, 2017 at 10:01 am

    I have been keeping my fingers away from the keyboard on the subject of BREXIT.

    It seems to me that Donald Trump is giving the British some gumption to initiate a “hard exit” and sign a trade agreement with Uncle Sam.

    Perhaps, it is apropos to remind ye dat the USA was born out of the revulsion of being labelled a “British subject” [slave] of one of the colonies – and at some point, during negotiations, America Incorporated will assert itself and display their superiority over the former Kingdom.

    By then it may be too late for the British:

    I suspect the Irish are saying save yourself – I’m no martyr – as they rightly hook up with Dublin.

  • Clyde Duncan  On January 30, 2017 at 2:56 pm

    Theresa May’s ‘Global Britain’ Is Baloney

    Roger Cohen | Opinion: New York Times

    So, Theresa May, the British prime minister who was not elected to her post, wants to create something called “Global Britain.”

    She thought about alternative branding — “Parochial Britain” — but was advised it was unsexy.

    She wants to achieve this by taking Britain out of the European Union, out of a single market of a half-billion people and into a new “embrace” of the world — excluding, of course, Spaniards, the French, Germans, Italians, Swedes and their ilk.

    The prime minister is so keen on the idea that she used the word “global” 17 times in her speech on Tuesday setting out her Brexit plans.

    Madam, thou doth protest too much.

    The Onion’s headline was: “May to European Union: Drop Dead. May to World: We Love You.” Actually, that was not in The Onion but should have been.

    I wonder if May, who studied geography at Oxford University, has ever taken a stroll round London, that inward-looking city where you never hear a foreign tongue. After 43 years in what is now called the European Union, the British capital has become insufferably insular. Its cuisine lacks variety. Its financial institutions have no international heft. Its skyline speaks of stunted ambition. Its culture is provincial, its theater hidebound and its worldview small-minded.

    No wonder May felt she had to take London global.

    And Britain as a whole! For 43 years, the country has been a member of an introverted, stifling little entity called the European Union that has just concluded a free trade deal with Canada, has dozens of multilateral and bilateral trade agreements, boasts the United States of America as its top trading partner, takes some 44 percent of British exports, and accounts for 22 percent of world economic output.

    How could Britain possibly be global within this straitjacket?

    No, it had to get out of Europe to go global (and make sure its citizens could no longer work in Europe)!

    The June 23 referendum, May insisted, was “the moment we chose to build a truly global Britain.”

    I know this is a political moment when black equals white, no means yes, two plus two equals five, and post-truth [and “alternative facts”] is the phrase du jour.

    Still, this was a Trump-size whopper from May. She had obviously been steeped in Orwell before her oration.

    The vote for Brexit was in fact the moment Britain turned its back on the world, succumbing to pettiness, anti-immigrant bigotry, lying politicians, self-delusion and vapid promises of restored glory.

    “Global Britain” is a specious branding effort designed to mask an expensive mistake, opposed by 48 percent of voters.

    Now, a memory stirs. May at the Conservative Party Conference last October saying this: “But if you believe you’re a citizen of the world, you’re a citizen of nowhere. You don’t understand what the very word ‘citizenship’ means.”

    So much for May and her global baloney: She doesn’t like people who move from country to country, who may feel allegiance to more than one, and who have concluded that the most useful form of citizenship these days is one dedicated not only to the well-being of a Berkshire parish, say, but to the planet.

    Global Britain without global citizens, please!

    There was at least one honest sentence in her speech: “Brexit must mean control of the number of people who come to Britain from Europe.” That, you see, is what it was all about: too many Poles and Romanians doing jobs nobody else wants.

    May rambled. She does not want the single market (because it entails free movement of E.U. citizens).

    But, oh, maybe she wants bits of it. Like for the export of cars or freedom to provide financial services across borders. May has already had to make promises to Nissan to stop the Japanese automaker from getting out of Sunderland. She’s terrified financial institutions will quit the City en masse.

    Her comeuppance awaits in the form of Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, who knows global baloney when she sees it. You don’t have your cake and eat it in negotiations with Merkel.

    May seems to see Trump as her global ace in the hole, her counterweight to the European Union. She has been making nice to him. Her government has voiced extraordinary public criticism of Secretary of State John Kerry’s speech on Israel-Palestine, and largely shunned a Middle East conference in Paris the Trump team opposed.

    In her speech, May pointedly remarked that Britain was not “at the back of the queue” for a trade deal with the United States of America, as President Obama warned, but at the front in the hour of Trump.

    Global Britain! Make America Great Again! Russia for Russians!

    As Orwell observed, “In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”

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