Weekly news roundup – Brexit date goes into law as May concedes on 2nd handout

Today marks 500 days until Brexit as Theresa May announces we will leave the European Union (in name) on March 29, 2019 at 11 PM. She is tabling an amendment to the EU withdrawal Bill that will enshrine the exit date in law.

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Lord Kerr, the architect of the EU’s fiendish exit procedures, asserts that the UK can revoke its withdrawal notice at any point between now and then. Just as well the Prime Minister has set about locking Parliament into fulfilling the people’s will, although the prospect of a treasonous transition deal continues to obstruct the road to independence.

The front pages have been dominated by yet more scandals this week, side-lining Brexit, although there’s no coincidence that the two ministers who were in the firing line are both champions of withdrawal from the EU. Boris Johnson survived the week, but Priti Patel did not. She has been replaced at the free-spending Department for International Development by another strong-willed Eurosceptic in the form of Royal Navy reservist, Penny Mordaunt.

But with Patel’s fall now well behind us, the great capitulation over the EU’s outrageous financial demands have finally taken centre stage as it has emerged the Prime Minister believes she is close to amassing enough support from Brexiteer backbenchers to dive into the national kitty for Brussels’ benefit a second time. As if the £20bn frittered away in an instant at her Florence speech almost two months ago wasn’t generous enough.

Here’s a thought, how about we spend that money on the NHS, which again this week attracted attention for its funding shortfalls?

The EU is dangling the transition deal in front of the Prime Minister, refusing to agree to it until a pledge for yet more cash is issued in writing. And it doesn’t stop there. Michel Barnier piled on the pressure at his press conference with David Davis today with a two-week ultimatum to hand over the cash and break the deadlock.

Earlier in the week, Brussels threatened to force big business out of the UK and yesterday leaked a document backed by the Irish Government consisting of misleading claims that Northern Ireland cannot have a free border with the Republic without staying in the single market and the customs union. The DUP insist heavy border restrictions not be put in place between the North and the South, supposedly putting the beleaguered Tory Government in a pickle.

To all that we say: ignore the EU’s ultimatum. Big business knows better, and so should governments in Dublin, Belfast and London who have all been advised by Norwegian and Swiss customs officials that their efficient models can easily be replicated in Ireland.

Nevertheless, as the December EU Council summit looms into view, the Prime Minister will soon be getting the chequebook out and signing away one of our biggest bargaining chips before the trade negotiations have even begun. Madness.

As we look ahead to phase two of the Article 50 negotiations, there are also parallel discussions on European military integration to consider. On his radio show yesterday, Nigel Farage sounded the alarm of the EU’s steady ramping up of its common defence policy.

Earlier this week a new general was appointed with the task of succeeding where NATO has failed in getting Member States to meeting their 2% of GDP defence spending commitments. Next Tuesday, EU Member States, including Germany and France will formalise the EU’s new defence structure known as PESCO. France is known to be pushing for a very ambitious joint military operations platform. All eyes are on the UK to fill the inevitable gaps between EU ambition and capability.

Mrs May is eager to use British military might as leverage to make headway in the trade discussions but she would be wise not to. Third countries under PESCO (the ‘C’ misleadingly stands for cooperation) have no say on how their forces are deployed and it is not in Britain’s interest to see NATO undermined by an EU substitute, as poor an imitation as that might be.

While that may all sound very dispiriting, proof emerged this week that Britons are a jolly content bunch indeed. According to the Office for National Statistics we are all a great deal happier than we were before the referendum. Perhaps, we gratified Leavers should pay a visit to Fleet Street and dispel the gloom being dished out every day in the national papers.

And we should be very pleased. The economy continues to roar while Brexit galvanizes old alliances. On Monday, US Commerce Secretary, Wilbur Ross re-affirmed the commitment of the world’s biggest economy and the UK’s biggest export partner to a trade deal with the Britain, throwing in some friendly advice. “While the EU talks a lot of free-trade rhetoric, it is really quite protectionist,” he told the Telegraph, pointing to prohibitive tariffs and regulations.

Secretary Ross warned that a sovereignty-sapping trade deal with the EU would limit the scope of one with the US. Read Leave.EU’s take on the EU protectionism vs. US competitiveness debate here.

Leave.EU Chairman, Arron Banks dealt a scathing blow yesterday to the Electoral Commission, which last week launched its second investigation in a year.

Banks delivered a comprehensive and strongly worded letter to the CEO of the Electoral Commission, Claire Bassett. It includes supporting documentation illustrating how previous accusers of a Kremlin connection have been obliged to eat humble pie. Banks also offered a damning dissection of the Electoral Commission itself.

“[The Electoral Commission] is a swamp creature created by New Labour and packed full of the flotsam of British Politics: ex-MPs from all parties, former diplomats and political placemen from local government, including a former CEO of a Labour-run council”, he wrote.

On the Continent: Brussels was shaken by elections in Sicily on Sunday where the first and second placed parties – Silvio Berlusconi’s Northern League and the Five Star Movement respectively – consumed 75% of the votes. Both parties are deeply Eurosceptic – check out Westmonster’s write-up.

Berlusconi’s party are looking into innovative ways of breaking out of the EU’s main instrument of entrapment, the Euro, by re-introducing the Lira alongside it. The concept is an advanced successor to the electronic currency Greece’s Syriza Government threatened to use if the EU did not slacken the punishing terms of its 2015 bailout.

How to leave the Euro as well as the EU unscathed was the great challenge Marine Le Pen was unable to overcome in her bid for the French presidency. If Silvio succeeds where Marine failed, the EU will be in real trouble.

And they know it. On Monday, the European Parliament is expected to sign off on a scandalous EU-wide propaganda campaign intended to marginalise Eurosceptic parties at the 2019 European elections – perish the thought that these parties be in the ascendant because the European project is rotten to the core.

A draft copy of the campaign’s objectives states: “It is no exaggeration to say that the EU is at stake…the campaign should not just aim to bring voters to the polls, but also convince them to support the European project”.

Anti-EU MEPs, led by Nigel Farage, make up a significant minority – 150 out of 751 – but they will not be able to vote down the program. The EU’s democratic deficit just got a lot deeper.

By the high standards of drama that is Catalonia’s quest for independence, this was a below-par week. Since handing himself into Belgian authorities late last week, the deposed President Puigdemont awaits a court hearing. On Wednesday, a massive protest-cum-strike in support of Mr Puigdemont brought the region to a standstill. Leave.EU has a poll on the homepage. Tell us if you think the separatists’ actions are vindicated.

Jean-Claude Juncker certainly does not. He told an audience in Salamanca that nationalist causes like the Catalan one are a “threat hovering over the Union”.

They are a “poison which prevents Europe from working together to influence the world” he added. If that’s the case, more of the same please.

In economic news: the UK’s global trade ambitions were given a boost this week as the American commerce secretary pointed ahead to a rapid deal between the UK and the world’s largest economy, as British trade with China boomed; new data from the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales showed British business flourishing; and starting salaries were shown to be on the rise while the Bank of England predicted a further surge for wages in 2018.

Kind regards,
The Leave.EU Team