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LONDON, August 18, 2018 (News Wires) - Former UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage says he is joining up with a pro-Brexit pressure group to oppose British Prime Minister Theresa May's plan for future ties with the European Union.

Farage was a key figure in getting Britain to hold a referendum in 2016 on EU membership, and helped lead the successful "leave" campaign.

Britain is due to leave the EU on March 29, but divorce negotiations have faltered.

May's proposal to retain close economic ties has been received coolly by the EU. And it has infuriated hardcore Brexit-backers in Britain, who say it will leave the UK tethered to the bloc.

Farage wrote in Saturday's Daily Telegraph newspaper that he would join a campaigning bus tour by the group Leave Means Leave to oppose May's "cowardly sell-out."



LONDON, August 18, 2018 (News Wires) - Britain may have to rethink the decision to leave the European Union if the Government is unable to strike a Brexit deal with Brussels, a former head of the Civil Service has warned.

Lord Kerslake said the consequences of a “no-deal” break would be so serious, Parliament would have consider whether it could allow it to go ahead.

The peer, who has advised Labour on preparing for government, said that at the least there would have to be a “pause” in the Article 50 process under which the UK is set to leave the bloc on March 29 next year.

In those circumstances, he said, the European Commission would almost certainly insist on some “re-examination” of the original 2016 referendum decision to leave.

His comments came as the Government prepares to publish a series of technical notes on preparations for a no-deal Brexit across dozens of areas of British life, from farming to financial services.

Lord Kerslake said the measures were “too little, too late” and that the Government had not allowed itself enough time to prepare for such an outcome.

He told the the BBC Radio 4 Today programme: “The consequences of a no deal would be so serious as I think Parliament would have to seriously consider whether it could contemplate this.

“The question people need ask themselves is: is this a risk that they think we should be taking?

“If the Government can negotiate a good deal, then so be it. But if they can’t and we end up in this position, then we have to reopen the question of whether we go forward with Brexit at all. It is not too late to do that.


LONDON, August 10, 2018 (News Wires) - Uncertainty over Brexit is depressing economic growth in Britain, finance minister Philip Hammond said on Friday after official data showed lacklustre year-on-year expansion.

"Clearly that uncertainty is having a depressing effect on economic growth," Hammond told broadcasters during a trip to central England to announce 780 million pounds ($996 million) of public investment in high-tech industry.

Brexit proposals set out last month by Prime Minister Theresa May should lead to economic growth broadly the same as if Britain were to stay in the EU, he added.

Hammond said that in the long run he wanted to see growth rates faster than the year-on-year expansion of 1.3 per cent recorded in the second quarter of 2018.


LONDON, August 5, 2018 (News Wires) - Britain is now likely leave the European Union without a deal due to the "intransigence" of the European Union, International Trade Secretary Liam Fox told the Sunday Times.

The pro-Brexit minister said that the chances of a no-deal Brexit were now "60-40", laying the blame on EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier.

"I think the intransigence of the commission is pushing us towards no deal," he said in an interview with the Sunday Times.

"If the EU decides that the theological obsession of the unelected is to take priority over the economic wellbeing of the people of Europe then it's a bureaucrats' Brexit -- not a people's Brexit -- then there is only going to be one outcome."

He said that Barnier had rejected Prime Minister Theresa May's latest plan, agreed by her cabinet, on the grounds that "we have never done it before".

It was therefore up to the EU to "show us one that they can suggest that would be acceptable to us," said Fox.

"It's up to the EU27 to determine whether they want the EU Commission's ideological purity to be maintained at the expense of their real economies."

May met with French President Emmanuel Macron on the Mediterranean coast on Friday to lobby for her Brexit plan, which has divided her government and so far failed to win over EU negotiators.

The prime minister has just a few months before an agreement on Britain's divorce from the European Union -- set for March 29, 2019 -- must be forged in principle ahead of a EU summit in mid-October.

LONDON, August 3, 2018 (News Wires) - The value of the pound has plunged after Bank of England governor Mark Carney said the risk of Britain leaving the European Union without a deal is "uncomfortably high."

Divorce talks between Britain and the EU have stalled amid feuding within Prime Minister Theresa May's government about how close an economic relationship to seek with the bloc after Brexit. Officials say there is a growing chance no deal will be struck before the UK leaves in March.

Carney said Friday that "the possibility of a 'no deal' is uncomfortably high at this point." He told the BBC that a no-deal Brexit would mean disrupted trade and higher prices and was "highly undesirable."

The pound fell about 0.2 per cent to below $1.30 just after the comments.

LONDON, July 31, 2018 (News Wires) - Britain's exports of financial services to the European Union hit a record high last year, highlighting the need for the City to preserve access to the bloc after Brexit, industry officials said on Tuesday.

Exports rose 3.6 billion pounds ($4.73 billion) to 59.6 billion pounds in 2017, the Office for National Statistics said on Tuesday. Exports to the EU rose by over 1.7 billion pounds to reach a record 25.9 billion pounds.

"The UK and the EU have a shared interest in maintaining as much of this cross-border flow of financial services as possible," said Stephen Jones, chief executive of UK Finance, an industry body.

Britain has proposed EU market access based on a more accommodative version of the bloc's trade regime known as equivalence.

Equivalence is used by Japan and the United States, to grant access if Brussels deems that a foreign country's rules are aligned with to its own.

Britain says this would force it to track EU rules, and that access could be withdrawn at short notice. Earlier this month it called for a more predictable version after Brexit, with a shared dispute mechanism.

Brussels wants to keep full control of equivalence.

After a meeting with Britain's Brexit minister Dominic Raab last week, EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said any future financial market access will be governed by "autonomous" decisions on both sides.

"We recognised the need for this autonomy, not only at the time of granting equivalence decisions, but also at the time of withdrawing such decisions," Barnier said.

Final trading terms could take years and in the meantime banks and insurers are opening hubs in the EU by next March to avoid any disruption to customers.

The government is asking the sector to come up with ideas for widening the scope of financial services that could be covered by equivalence and making the regime more predictable.

"Given the complexities surrounding Brexit it's only natural that HM Treasury would consult with the sector on the EU's third country regimes," a spokeswoman for the City of London financial district said.

"The sector is clear that the current form of EU equivalence is not an appropriate basis for the UK´s financial and professional services sector to continue trading with the EU, so any 'enhancements' to these regimes would have to be substantial."

The finance ministry had no immediate comment.

The financial sector had wanted future trade with the EU based on mutual recognition or Britain and the bloc's accpeting each other's rules and cooperating closely on supervision.

Brussels dismissed it as trying to keep the benefits of the single market without the costs, forcing Britain to seek a less ambitious enhanced equivalence deal.

"Reforming equivalence is as big an ask as mutual recognition, but we have to play the game," one senior banker said. "The language of enhancing equivalence is hilarious. For Britain it means expanding access, but for France it means less market access."

($1 = 0.7618 pounds)

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