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Yesterday a UK minister said that we would be handing over the £39 billion so-called Brexit divorce bill before a trade deal agreement was reached – but she was slapped down by the PM.
Yesterday I went over the story that Suella Braverman, a UK Brexit minister, had told Parliament's Brexit committee that the UK would be forking out the £39 billion Brexit divorce bill dosh and in return only getting a promise from the EU that a trade deal would be pursued.
But now the Independent is reporting that:
"Downing Street has slapped down a minister who admitted the UK will be legally bound to pay its Brexit 'divorce bill' regardless of whether the EU agrees to a beneficial future trade deal."
And a spokesman for the Prime Minister also later said that:
"We have been absolutely clear that nothing is agreed until everything is agreed. We are clear of our intent to agree the future framework at the same time as the withdrawal agreement.
"Article 50 sets out that the withdrawal agreement should take account of the parting member state's future relationship with the EU.
"This means Parliament will vote on the withdrawal agreement at the same time as the terms of our future relationship with the EU."
But now we learn from the Times that the PM is reportedly going to ask for a second transition phase to kick in when the first one ends on 31st December 2020, this would then take us into 2023 and possibly beyond – just endless transition, or is that just existing as an eternal EU vassal state!
"The transitional deal already agreed will last from next March to the end of 2020. Britain will ask for a customs and regulatory alignment implementation period from 2021 to at least 2023 to avoid the need for infrastructure or checks on the border." Says the Times.
This is not going to go down well with Brexiteers. I await developments.
To change tack slightly, there is one event coming down the line that could well hit the City hard according to commentators – and that is the restructuring of Deutsche Bank.
This will mean the loss of over 7,000 jobs to take head count down below 90,000.
And the Times says that "Most of the cuts will happen in the US, but London will see the axe too."
The bank had reported a loss for 2017 of £436 million and there are questions about the recent high turnover of management and supervisory staff. It employs about 8,500 people in the UK and CityAM said:
"The German lender intends to slash the number of full-time positions from just over 97,000 to "well below" 90,000 as part of wider work within the company to cut costs and return to profit."
So, there are threats to the City and they are not all to do with Brexit.
Now, here's little snippet on the Lib Dem response to the saga over the Galileo satellite system.
It seems that the former leader of the Lib Dems Menzies Campbell is a bit disturbed that the UK is being forced out of the programme.
"It makes no sense for the security of Europe that Britain should be shut out of the project of Galileo." He said.
"Of all the issues that have arisen due to Brexit, none are more significant than the need for a close, collaborative and productive relationship over security.
"As previous events have displayed all too clearly, threats to European security are not confined to the UK alone but to every other member of the European Union."
What I want to know is who is this aimed at? – The UK has said it would continue as a partner, but it is the dogmatic EU that says no you can't.
But of course being a Lib Dem he can't possibly aim any criticism at all directly at the EU, can he?
The rest of us can see quite clearly though, that the EU is very prepared to endanger security in the pursuit of a greater EU – and that's why the UK needs to leave as quickly as possible and sort its own defence and security out, including launching its own satellite system.
So it's great to see that the UK is now starting to find its feet and play hard-ball with the EU over this, by not only making preparations for our own system, but also as the BBC reports today, by demanding the EU pay us back £1 billion for our input into Galileo!
But then I read that the person we sent over to Brussels to negotiate for us on this matter was Theresa May's pro-EU negotiator, one Olly Robbins of customs partnership fame – I smell a huge compromise weighted heavily in favour of the EU coming down the tracks, don't you?
Now it also won't surprise you to also learn that the Lib Dems have just happily announced that one of their MPs Tom Brake, has tabled the first amendment to the EU Withdrawal Bill on its return to the House of Commons after suffering from 15 amendments at the hands of the unelected upper house.
This amendment, says the Lib Dems demands that the people of the UK be given the final say on any Brexit deal.
Message to the Lib Dems, we had a final say and it was OUT! And a second referendum was not on the 2016 referendum ballot paper. But the promise to abide by the wishes of the majority was a firm government commitment as stated on its £9 million leaflet, backed up by subsequent votes in both houses that led to the triggering of Article 50 and in the latest general election where over 80% of voters selected a party that stood on a Brexit backing manifesto. Glad we've sorted that one out!
Finally, for those that have missed it, Channel 4 has come out with a new series of three films called 'Carry on Brussels'. The first went out last night.
There are four trailers to the series to give you a flavour of what MEPs get up to – and a link to an article I wrote where you can watch those trailers can be found in the description box below.