Video commentary on Jeremy Corbyn’s speech to the Labour Party Scottish Conference, US steel and aluminium tariffs being imposed by Donald Trump and the call to establish free ports in the UK.
The Labour Leader, Jeremy Corbyn, told his party's Scottish conference that any Brexit deal must be compatible with his hard left agenda. And therefore the idea of full single market membership must be dropped.
Speaking at the conference in Dundee, Jeremy Corbyn said that for Labour to be able to follow through on such radical plans as nationalising the railways and putting a stop to employers importing cheap workers, then the party would have to reject full EU single market membership.
Unsurprisingly this has not been received well by pro-single market members who claim that there is no left-wing case for leaving the single market, that membership would not prevent state run utilities and railways and also that it was the Labour Party's job to challenge anti-immigrant sentiment.
The Telegraph quotes Mr Corbyn as saying:
“The European Union is set to make changes of its own in the coming period, especially in relation to the rules governing Eurozone economies and the rights of temporary migrant workers. It would therefore be wrong to sign up to a single market deal without agreement that our final relationship with the EU would be fully compatible with our radical plans to change Britain's economy.”
And Politico reports:
"A Labour government would pursue a Brexit deal without single market rules and directives pushing privatisation, Jeremy Corbyn said Friday.
"The Labour leader said he would not sign up to an agreement with Brussels that stifles Labour’s economic intervention plans, which include the re-nationalisation of railways and the postal service."
The problem for the Labour Party is that it needs Jeremy Corbyn at the helm (for now), but does not like his anti-EU stance. How much longer can this go on before the cracks not only show, but cause major ructions within the party?
Also bear in mind that they are going to need to articulate their Brexit policies in the next Labour Party manifesto.
Now on to the US, Donald Trump and steel tariffs.
Now this one has got the EU Commission in a bit of a tail-spin.
The US president wants to impose 25% tariffs on steel imports and 10% on aluminium in order to protect the US economy domestic metal industry. The EU wants a special exclusion from this, but the UK Trade Secretary, Liam Fox, said that he would use a Washington trip next week to try and get a UK exemption from the tariffs.
"Fox will travel to Washington next week and 'will be making the case on behalf of the U.K. and on behalf of British industry,' May’s spokesman Max Blain told reporters in London on Friday. 'It would be a matter for the U.S. to decide on exemptions'." Reports Bloomberg.
But this has of course angered the EU Commission, which has warned the UK to toe the EU line in any resulting EU/US trade war – or face the consequences of heavy daily fines.
You have to wonder what the EU is most upset about, the UK speed of response, or the danger that the UK might pull off something it can't – and if that happens it would put US recognition of the EU in doubt, now that would have ramifications.
The EU will also be alarmed at the plans being drawn up for a tariff free manufacturing hub the size of Heathrow in Teesside.
"Cabinet Ministers are lobbying the Chancellor to approve unprecedented plans for a 4,500 acre “freeport” on the banks of the River Tees near Redcar." Reports the Sun.
The freeport – or free trade zone – would sit outside the UK for customs purposes and this would allow companies to import raw materials and components free of tariffs then re-export them.
According to a paper written by the Conservative MP for Richmond, Rishi Sunak, for the Centre for Policy Exchange in 2016, called ‘The Free Ports Opportunity', a Free Port is:
"An area inside the UK geographically, but legally outside of the UK customs territory. Goods can be imported, manufactured or re-exported inside the Free Trade Zone without incurring domestic customs duties or taxes. These are only paid (often at reduced rates) on goods entering the domestic economy."
The paper goes on to say that there are about 3.500 free trade zones around the world, employing 66 million people in 135 countries.
"The United States is home to over 250 Free Trade Zones, which employ 420,000 people and handle $750bn of merchandise. They have played a major role in retaining, re-shoring and growing domestic manufacturing activity and boosting trade." it says.
And further the paper says that:
"EU regulations would make it difficult to create US-style Free Trade Zones in the UK. The United Nations has concluded that: 'Free Trade Zones as originally conceived do not exist anymore in the EU'."
Here we have a huge opportunity given the number and size of our ports in the UK.
But it seems that the Chancellor is a bit reticent to put his full weight behind this at the moment due to the ongoing Brexit negotiations.
I say, come on man! Don’t leave it all to Liam Fox when needling the EU! Get behind the United Kingdom and let's get this post-Brexit UK on the real road prosperity!