EU's Barnier blows a hole in PM's plan for customs after pullout

Saul Bowman
July 27, 2018

Brussels had good reasons to distrust United Kingdom tax collection capacity.

Appearing alongside new Brexit secretary Dominic Raab in Brussels yesterday, Mr Barnier echoed the prime minister when he said the European Union needed to maintain control of "our money, law and borders".

Civil servants working on the negotiations will be brought together in the Cabinet Office Europe Unit headed by Olly Robbins - who reports direct to the Prime Minister - while Mr Raab's Department for Exiting the European Union will focus on preparations for life after Brexit.

Mr Raab appeared alongside the Prime Minister' Europe adviser Olly Robbins in front of MPs amid increasing Brexiteer concerns about the influence of the senior civil servant.

It is the so-called backstop that is causing the biggest risk of a no-deal Brexit, with the problem apparently intractable.

Part of the Government's planning for a "no-deal Brexit" involves securing supplies of food and medicines.

He said the government would also be setting out "contingency plans" for people booking holidays in European Union countries who might need medical insurance in the event of a no deal scenario.

"We think that a hard Brexit and no transition agreement could easily take GBP/USD down towards 1.10", says Kamal Sharma, European head of G10 currency strategy at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, in a recent note.

"Around 700,000 diagnostic tests every year in the NHS require medical radioisotopes but these have very short shelf-lives, they can't be stockpiled and they aren't manufactured here".

In a statement released following the EU27 ministerial meeting, Barnier noted that there are "several elements [of the white paper] that open the way for a constructive discussion", adding his support for the proposal for a free trade agreement that would be at the "core of our future economic relationship".

The Brexit secretary told Mr Barnier: "Michel, we've got work to do".

As I head to Brussels today for more Brexit talks, I have the words of many Mail readers ringing in my ears: 'Let's get on with it'.

Mr Hancock said: "We are working right across government to ensure that the health sector and the industry are prepared and that people's health will be safeguarded in the event of a no-deal Brexit". Such "frictionless trade" is essential for pan-European value chains - from food supply logistics to auto manufacturing - as well as the desire to avoid a "hard border" in Ireland.

They wrote: "The Commission has made a major error in only taking advice on Irish matters from Dublin".

The DUP has warned it will never accept a border between Northern Ireland and the British mainland, and could potentially walk out of the "supply and confidence" deal it has with May's Conservatives, leading to the collapse of the government and fresh elections.

Speaking outside Parliament in London after the British Irish Intergovernmental Conference, the Tanaiste said a no-deal Brexit is not in British or Irish best interests, but he remains confident a deal will be reached. Brexit is being negotiated in two phases - first the divorce agreement and then the final trade deal after Britain has left.

I know that civil servants have been preparing for a full range of eventualities and the Treasury has kept funds in reserve in case they are needed.

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