DUBLIN, Sept 25, 2018 (News Wires) - Brexit negotiators should not assume that any agreement they strike on the terms of Britain's withdrawal from the European Union will be ratified by parliaments on both sides, Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said on Tuesday.
"While we may assume that because something is agreed at European Council with the UK that it will go through both parliaments, we shouldn't actually assume it. Of course there is a possibility we may find that it runs into ratification problems in Westminster or the European Parliament," he said.
"We're just going to have to manage that and see how it develops," he told Ireland's parliament, adding that he thought negotiators would "get there" in November and agree a withdrawl agreement despite the talks entering uncharted territory.
LONDON, Sept 24, 2018 (News Wires) - British Prime Minister Theresa May will eventually decide to abandon her strategy for maintaining close trade ties with the European Union because it lacks support, a leading eurosceptic lawmaker in her Conservative Party said on Monday.
Jacob Rees-Mogg, chairman of the European Research Group of anti-EU lawmakers in May's ruling Conservative party, said the so-called Chequers plan is opposed by European politicians and large parts of the British public.
"The prime minister is a lady of singular wisdom and therefore is likely to recognize the reality that Chequers does not have much support either in this country or abroad," Rees-Mogg said.
Last week, EU leaders rejected May's proposal to seek a free trade area for goods with the EU and some rebels in May's party have threatened to vote down a deal if she clinches one.
LONDON, England, September 23, 2018 (News Wires) - Prime Minister Theresa May said Britain would not flinch in an impasse with the European Union about its departure from the bloc, as French and German ministers suggested the next move in the negotiations should come from London.
British Prime Minister Theresa May on Friday demanded new proposals and respect from European Union leaders, saying after a summit in Austria that talks had hit an impasse and, in a prominent eurosceptic Sunday newspaper, she stuck to her guns.
"This is the moment to do what is right for Britain," May said in the Sunday Express. "Now is the time for cool heads. And it is a time to hold our nerve."
The Sunday Times reported that her aides had begun contingency planning for a November snap election to help save the Brexit talks and her job.
May won plaudits in her party and from the press for standing up to the European Union, ahead of her Conservative party's annual conference, which starts at the end of the month.
Foreign Minister Jeremy Hunt had told BBC radio on Saturday that if EU leaders expected the UK to capitulate, then they had "profoundly misjudged the British people", even if that meant leaving the bloc next March without a deal.
"We may be polite, but we have a bottom line," he said. "And so they need to engage with us now in seriousness."
PARIS, Sept 22, 2018 (News Wires) - France still believes that a good deal on Brexit is possible but the country must prepare for the possibility of Britain and the European Union failing to reach an agreement on its divorce from the bloc, a minister said on Saturday.
British Prime Minister Theresa May said that Brexit talks with the EU had hit an impasse, defiantly challenging the bloc to come up with its own plans a day after EU leaders savaged her proposals.
“The British people decided to leave in a (2016) referendum, we respect that. But this choice cannot lead to the EU going bust, unravelling,” Nathalie Loiseau, minister for European affairs, told France Info radio.
“That’s the message we have tried to send for several months now to our British counterparts, who may have thought we were going to say ‘yes’ to whatever deal they came up with.”
Loiseau said May’s so-called Chequers proposals, whereby British goods would enter the EU’s single market freely, were “too negative” and would have led to “unfair competition for European companies”.
She said she still believed a good deal with Britain was possible, but that France should get ready for the possibility of a “no deal” and would introduce legislation in November to that effect.
“We are working on reaching a good deal, that’s where we spend most of our energy. It’s still possible, I believe it is, all the 27 (EU member states) believe it is. But I can’t rule out that we don’t reach an agreement in the end.”
“Let’s imagine we don’t reach an agreement. What we say is we must prepare for that,” she added.
May has said her proposals for future trade with the EU were the only way forward. EU leaders in Salzburg repeated their view that the plans would undermine their cherished single market.
LONDON, Sept 21, 2018 (News Wires) - As negotiations become fraught before Britain's exit from the European Union in March, tensions of a different kind are surfacing on the currency markets -- derivatives activity is rising sharply as investors bet on a weaker sterling.
Hopes of progress on a Brexit deal between London and Brussels have fuelled a sterling rebound to nine-week highs; yet the view broadly remains that talks will go down to the wire, setting British assets up for a volatile few months.
EU leaders' rejection this week of Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit plan already knocked the pound on Friday, and many investors warn against banking too much on a positive outcome.
Collateral damage to the British economy could be enough to warrant holding a short sterling position even as negotiations get more intense, some investors believe.
"We are happy to hold our short pound position against the euro through currency forwards as we think there are a lot of red lines that the EU and the UK have to cross before a deal can be signed," said Kaspar Hense, a portfolio manager at BlueBay Asset Management, which runs $60 billion in funds.
The International Monetary Fund warned this week that the Britain's economy would shrink if it departed the EU without a Brexit deal but damage was inevitable no matter what terms it leaves on.
UBS calculates the economy would lose 6.9 per cent of output in the event of a "soft" Brexit, rising to a 10 per cent hit should the exit be "hard", without a trade deal in place.
Most investors, even those without a firm conviction on the final Brexit outcome or the economic outlook, say they prefer trading sterling via derivatives rather than on the spot foreign exchange market.
That's because outstanding short positions on the pound in the futures market are more than $5 billion. Such a large bet makes trading the spot pound very vulnerable to any positive headlines on Brexit negotiations because that could force speculators to exit short bets.
Indeed, sterling has rallied by 5 per cent from more than one-year lows hit in mid-August to nearly $1.33 and not far away from a 2018 high of above $1.43 hit in April.
SALZBURG, Austria, September 20, 2018 (Reuters) - EU leaders lined up on Thursday to tell Theresa May she needs to give guarantees on the Irish border before they will grant her the Brexit deal the prime minister wants to avoid Britain crashing out of the bloc.
Arriving for a second day of summitry in Austria, May’s European Union peers rammed home their message on her plea for them to ease up on a “backstop” plan dealing with the border between the British province of Northern Ireland and EU member state Ireland.
The backstop would keep Northern Ireland under EU economic oversight if London and Brussels cannot agree a trade pact to keep UK-EU borders open, an idea that May and a small party in the province that props up her minority government oppose.
“We have very clear principles regarding the integrity of the single market and regarding precisely the Irish border,” French President Emmanuel Macron told reporters at the summit in Salzburg. “We need a UK proposal precisely preserving this backstop in the framework of a withdrawal agreement.”
Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar had his own early morning meeting with May, after she had asked the summit over dinner the previous night not to ask her effectively to divide the United Kingdom. But Varadkar warned that Dublin was gearing up for the talks to collapse without a deal if London refuses to budge.
“We’re ready for that eventuality, should it occur. But I think we need to double our efforts over the next couple of weeks to make sure that we have a deal,” he said.
Leaders had listened politely to May for a few minutes around the summit dinner table, laid in the Salzburg theater used in the finale of the “The Sound of Music” film. EU chief executive Jean-Claude Juncker said: “It was interesting, it was polite, it was not aggressive.
After dining on Wiener Schnitzel and wrangling for four hours over Europe’s migrant problem, May was given the floor and tried to win over her 27 peers by asking them what they would do if they were asked to agree a “legal separation” of their countries.
She maintains that the backstop would divide Northern Ireland from the rest of the United Kingdom in terms of customs after Brexit day in March.
Maintaining a united front that refuses to let May bypass the talks run by EU negotiator Michel Barnier, the 27 leaders did not respond to her. They will discuss the issue among themselves over lunch on Thursday, setting what Barnier hopes can be a path to a final deal in two months.
“I believe that I have put forward serious and workable proposals,” May told the summit, according to a senior British government source. “We will of course not agree on every detail, but I hope that you will respond in kind.
“The onus is now on all of us to get this deal done.”
For now, however, May faces criticism of her “soft Brexit” approach at her Conservative Party conference in 10 days and there as little sign of either side giving way.
One of her party allies called her “Chequers” proposal for a close trade relationship with the EU that would ease the problem of the Irish border “delusional” and “dead as a dodo”.
“At this stage, it’s a standstill. There is no progress,” Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite told Reuters.
A senior EU diplomat said May seemed to be edging towards compromise, offering new proposals on how to avoid differing economic regulations disrupting trade and speaking of a “middle way”.
With barely six months until Britain leaves the EU, there is pressure on both sides as any failure to strike a deal to tie up legal loose ends brings the risk of serious disruption. “You can hear very clearly the clock ticking in the room,” said the diplomat. “And that’s starting to have a psychological effect.”
EU officials again said Britain had to move its own position over how to avoid erecting border posts on the Irish border, which will become Britain’s only land frontier with the EU, as well as on future economic co-operation after Brexit day.
A government source suggested Britain would come up with other proposals on Northern Ireland “in due course”, but May has so far been reluctant to move from her Chequers plan, hashed out at her official country home in July.