A Whitehall watchdog warns that the Brexit Divorce Bill could cost far more than predicted.
Before I start I'd just like to say Happy Birthday to Her Majesty the Queen!
Now, the press is full of warnings that the final exit of the UK from the EU could cost us far more than the £35 to £39 billion initially estimated.
"The cost of the Brexit divorce bill for the UK could be billions higher." Says the Guardian.
"The National Audit Office (NAO) has warned that the so-called ‘divorce bill’ the government has promised to pay the EU could be billions of pounds higher than estimated." Says Breitbart.
Now, both sides do have an interest in hyping this up, one side to get people to reject Brexit, the other to force a hard Brexit.
But there is yet another side to this. The report actually concluded that the bill could go up or down.
And writing in CapX George Trefgarne says that we should rejoice because the Brexit divorce bill is shrinking.
"Great news!" he writes "The EU divorce bill of £35-£39bn has gone down already and might be lower still. That is what the National Audit Office has found."
And he goes on to say that the eventual cost will be driven by such things as exchange rates and economic growth differentials between the EU and UK.
As an example, he points out that the deal was struck when the pound was weaker than it is now and he says:
"As a rule of thumb, for every euro cent the pound rises, the Brexit bill goes down by £330m."
So a stronger pound against the euro is good news!
But that would be offset should the UK economy grow more strongly than the EU economy under a complex set of relative economic growth rules.
The truth is it could eventually be higher or lower that the £35 to £39 billion we were told about. But there are swings and roundabouts involved that mean it may differ from the original estimate, but within an acceptable ballpark.
Moving on. Should the UK remain inside some sort of customs union with the EU, an arrangement that would preclude us from sorting out trade with other countries without the EU's say so, it would not only endanger our potential deals with the likes of Australia it could lead to Theresa May being ousted from Number Ten.
The Australian Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop, has said that her government sees "enormous opportunities for more trade and investment" with the UK but also that, should Theresa may shackle us into a customs union with the EU, then "the opportunity for us to enter a free trade agreement with the UK standing alone would not be achievable."
And the PM could well find her leadership challenged, if she agreed to keep the UK in a customs union with the EU.
"Brexiteers warned Theresa May that she could face a leadership challenge if she conceded that Britain should stay in a customs union with Europe." Reports The Times.
It seems that many Brexiteers have had enough and that any indication that Theresa may might keep us in thrall to the EU and the ECJ would push them to send more letters of no-confidence to the Chairman of the backbench Conservative 1922 Committee, Sir Graham Brady. If he receives such 48 letters, that would trigger a leadership election.
There is talk that Sir Graham Brady already has a sizeable number of these letters tucked away in his safe from Brexiteers unhappy about the PM's soft approach to Brexit.
But, remember that any such leadership challenge would cause further Brexit disruption, which is just what Remainers would want!
So, how many letters do you think he might have received from Remain Tory MPs keen to derail Brexit, ether by seeing Theresa May replaced by a staunch Remainer, or even prepared to see the Tory government fall in order to keep the UK in the EU?
On a party front, because of the number of Tory Remainer MPs versus the number of Tory Leave MPs in parliament, do you really think that a full-blooded Brexiteer would get any where near the top in a leadership race?
On a side note, the Conservative peer, Baroness McGregor-Smith, is one of the 24 that voted in the House of Lords against the government. And the Sun reports that:
"Baroness McGregor-Smith sparked uproar after voting with Labour to keep Britain tied to Brussels customs and tariff rules, despite being hired by the Trade department to bang the drum for the UK."
So even those we put in place to support the UK would rather we were ruled remotely – maybe she didn't think she was up to the job?
Now for some more Brexit Doom and Gloom.
The Bank of England deputy governor told the Exiting the EU Select Committee that there had been a slight downward drift in his estimates of jobs leaving the City due to Brexit says The Times.
The deputy governor also said that the number of jobs created in the EU would be probably towards the lower end of a spectrum from 5,000 50 10,000 with about 20 per cent being new jobs.
What happened to the mass banking Brexodus we were told about?
Singapore has signalled that the UK could be included in any EU/Singapore trade deal, says Relocate Magazine.
Singapore's foreign minister, Vivian Balakrishnan, said that the arrangement would have to be approved by Brussels and talking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programmes he said:
“If we can get it ratified and into force next year then, when Britain leaves or invokes the Brexit clause, we will make what we call ‘continuity arrangements’ which will allow us to port the provisions of the EU-Singapore FTA to Britain.”
“Britain and Singapore have a special relationship. We are both free traders, we believe in integration, we believe in economic interdependence and we are keen to help Britain get across this transition with minimal disruption.
“In due time, we can subsequently look to upgrade, modify, improve the agreement but it is very important that in this transition period not to have a hard stop.”
And you know what? I'm fed up of this 'UK faces disorderly Brexit' nonsense – the real truth is that EU businesses face bankruptcy inducing disorderly exit from the extremely lucrative UK internal market! Let's get the right perspective here!