10 Downing Street (OGL)



Politicians, economists and business-people have urged the Prime Minister to get tough with Brussels and threaten to walk out on the Brexit negotiations.

Theresa May was sent sent a strong letter from 60 prominent economists, politicians and business-people on the second anniversary of the EU referendum, calling on her to take an assertive position at next Thursday's meeting in Brussels and to press home that 'no deal is better than a bad deal' as well as ensuring that the EU knows we are prepared to walk away and take the so-called £39 billion Brexit divorce bill money with us – unless we get a proper free trade deal.

And Iain Duncan Smith has told the PM to take control and just hand over her business card saying call me when you want to talk, I'm off! – Sounds to me like someone's been reading the Donald Trump play book of business, but that's what it'll probably take to shake a deal out of the tree, especially when you consider the stonewalling that the EU has been engaged in over the whole negotiating period.

Anyway, let's just hope that Theresa is in listening mode. Or is she once again going to only hear the whispers of compromise in her little shell-like?

But in the background the Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, and the Trade Secretary Liam Fox, have a difference of opinion on transition periods.

Liam Fox says he would not be bothered, if it was extended a few months and he had a bit of a go at Boris, who had said that we should not allow a protracted process by quipping:

"We don’t want some bog roll Brexit – soft, yielding and seemingly infinitely long."

Now, it's being claimed that the real reason for the Tory Brexit rebels standing aside to let the EU Withdrawal Bill go through last week, was the threat of deselection.

"In a series of bruising secret meetings, Chief Whip Julian Smith said there would be ‘severe consequences’ if they humiliated the Prime Minister." Says the Mail.

Which is being seen by some as a threat to deselect, however, the chief Tory whip, Julian Smith, said it was a reference to repercussions for everyone if the government lost the vote.

And the Mail quotes an unnamed anti-Brexit MP as saying:

"We knew we would be accused of bottling out. But with the Government and the party inches from collapse, we had to act in the interest of the country.

"All the PM has done is bought more time: unless she shows more leadership there will be another seismic crisis further down the road."

All I will say is, that if they're going to do the same again further down the road, why didn't they stick to their guns last week and get it over and done with?

Now here's a bit more on the Airbus situation.

The Conservative MP for Filton and Bradley Stoke, Jack Lopresti, made a statement on Friday in his blog regarding Airbus. Filton is the home to one Airbus site where the core activities are the design, engineering and support for Airbus wings, fuel systems and landing gear.

In the statement he says that he had a meeting the day before, Thursday, at the Airbus office in Filton, where he met with the Airbus senior vice president Katherine Bennett, as well as other Airbus senior managers along with fellow MP Richard Harrington who is the minister for business and industry. He also says that other aerospace companies such as Rolls Royce and GKN were there.

And if you remember Katherine Bennett said that the China branch of Airbus was keen to get the UK wing-making work.

But Lopresti says that:

"Airbus, who made a profit reported to be approaching £4bn last year, were requesting further taxpayer funded support from Government. They have also invited the Prime Minister to open their new ‘Wing of the Future’ facility in Filton. At no point was Brexit mentioned by Airbus. Airbus seem to be in a state of confusion about their position."

And he went on to say that:

"One could be forgiven for thinking that some EU member state governments were using Airbus to try and influence the UK Government into giving them what they want in any future Brexit deal."

And he also said that Airbus had done this sort of thing before over the euro as well as during the referendum and had recently been trying to interfere in the recent take-over bid by Melrose for GKN.

He will be meeting with the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Greg Clark, tomorrow to talk about this Airbus statement and ends by saying:

"… I am struggling to believe this sabre rattling from Airbus is helpful or credible."

And the Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, has called the comments from Airbus 'completely inappropriate' and that the government should ignore such 'siren voices'.

And the Trade Secretary, Liam Fox, echoed this by stating that the people who make these comments undermine the government and put the UK at a disadvantage.

Given what Mr Lopresti says, we should just ignore the threats from the likes of Airbus and BMW and press on.

And finally, for those that missed it, the french president, Emmanuel Macron, has called the rise of anti-EU sentiment across the bloc as 'like leprosy'.

So in reply the UKIP leader, Gerard Batten, said:

"In a medical and scientific first, the part of the European body politic that is dropping off is the healthy part, whilst the remainder remains sick to its core.

"The UK is and will be a happier and wealthier place once we finally leave, and if Brexit leads to a contagion of nation-state democracy across the continent this must be a very good thing for all the people's of Europe."

And I couldn't agree more!

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