May’s Brexit speech – as it happened

May delivers Brexit speech in Grimsby, a town in which the majority voted leave.

May begins by stating that Brexit “belongs to the whole country.”

The PM states that the Brexit deal will allow us to “build stronger communities” and will mean growth is not focussed in London and the South-East.

May then goes on to talk about foreign affairs and “taking back control”. She insists Brexit would not be a “race to the bottom” in terms of workers right and that Britain after Brexit will still be able to safeguard them.

May then goes on to note how well her government are managing the economy, stating: “the employment rate is at a record high, unemployment rate is at a 40-year low, borrowing this year is at a 17 year low and debt is falling.”

She says that businesses would begin to invest and money spent on a no-deal exit could be put to better use. There would be a giant “open for business sign” in Britain.

May talks about the failure to get her deal through parliament back in January and claims Corbyn “opposed it because he wanted a general election,” meanwhile other MPs opposed it because they didn’t want Brexit to happen altogether.

Speaking to the EU, May says “now is the time for us to act” and calls for “one more push” to get Brexit over the line.

She says that MPs also need to think hard about rejecting the deal and that more talking isn’t going to solve anything. She continued, saying that the EU might start imposing conditions which could result in a form of Brexit that looks different to what people voted for. A second referendum would “take Britain back to square one”, she claims.

May is ramping up the pressure, saying ‘Let’s get it done’.

She needs the support of those who voted remain but accept the result – and those who voted Leave but accept some compromise is necessary.

The Prime Minister now takes questions from journalists.

When asked how much responsibility she takes for the uncertainty, May says she negotiated a deal and MPs were the ones who rejected it. Now is the moment to get this done, she says.

Workers rights and the energy deal will be good for Grimsby (where she is holding the speech), she adds.

She then takes her leave.

 

Reaction

To find out more about this weeks Brexit goings on, click here.

Review: This week in Brexit

David Paul gives us a round-up of a few big Brexit topics this week:

If you would like to see more news surrounding Brexit, visit our Brexit section here.

Universities express concern over student visa plans

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The University of Edinburgh (Credit: Kim Trainer)

Scottish universities are demanding urgent changes to student visa plans in the event of a no deal Brexit.

The Home Office has said it will offer EU students temporary leave to remain in Britain for up to three years, which has come under fire from the University of Glasgow.

University Principal, Professor Sir Anton Muscatelli said the plan was “crass” as Scottish degrees can take four years to complete.

Scottish universities are already worried regarding Brexit, as it may make it harder for them to attract European students, staff and funding. Student recruitment may be hampered if there is a no deal departure due to the three year plan.

Sir Anton said: “I think it could be really serious. I think for a lot of students it could put them off.”

Roughly nine percent of Scottish university students are from EU countries, with more than 4,000 enrolled through UCAS.

In a statement, the Home Office said: “We recognise there are a number of students on courses longer than three years, including at some Scottish universities. For these students, in the event of a no deal there are options available to enable them to remain in the UK for the entirety of their studies.”

Whilst visiting Glasgow University, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said: “The Home Secretary is looking at that very closely and we want to make sure that our immigration policy works with the Scottish education system, as it does for the rest of the UK.

Stay tuned for EN4News reporter David Paul’s Brexit round up coming later today.

This week in Brexit news

David Paul gives us a quick look at some of the big Brexit news this week:

Government to pay Eurotunnel £33m over Brexit ferry lawsuit

The government have agreed to pay £33m to Eurotunnel to settle a lawsuit over increased ferry services in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

In December, the Department for Transport awarded three contracts to suppliers to provide additional ferry services.

Eurotunnel previously argued that the contracts were handed out in a ‘secretive’ way and wrote to Transport Secretary Chris Grayling in January to complain that it had not been considered for a contract.

Eurotunnel argued that they should have been approached by the government, as they’d previously run a successful cross-Channel ferry service.

In a statement accompanying the agreement, Mr Grayling said: “While it is disappointing that Eurotunnel chose to take legal action on contracts in place to ensure the smooth supply of vital medicines, I am pleased that this agreement will ensure the Channel Tunnel is ready for a post-Brexit world.”

No-deal could be detrimental to Scottish businesses

As Britain prepares to leave the EU, figures published by the Confederation of British Industry claim the fall-out of Brexit could cost Scotland £14 billion. 

While politicians across the country try to negotiate ways to leave the EU with a solid trade deal, recent analytics predicting the effect of Brexit on Scotland’s businesses paint a bleak picture.

On January 15, the Prime Minister suffered a historic defeat after 232 politicians voted against her current deal. After escaping a no-confidence vote on January 16, May has vowed to continue with “what the British people voted for” and finalise negotiations.

However, on January 23, First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon criticised Theresa May of being more concerned with “winning support of the DUP”, than trying to compromise with fellow cabinet members on a better deal.

“The future effects of Brexit on Scottish business and trade are largely unknown, mainly because the terms of the deal itself are still fluid. What we do know, however, is that Brexit will be bad for the economy, with businesses fleeing to other countries and trade becoming far more regulated.

“In recent polling among Scottish businesses, only 8% felt fully ready for Brexit, and 18% reported that they did not feel ready for it at all. These figures are deeply concerning with only two months remaining to a no-deal Brexit,” SNP MSP, Colin Beattie told EN4 News.

Despite the prime minister’s reassurance that Scotland’s welfare is being acknowledged, researchers are already predicting increased food and beverage prices, higher tariffs and business owners leaving the UK to avoid ‘outside’ EU regulations and taxes.

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Infographic by Jade du Preez for EN4News

In their annual year-on report, CBI anticipated an 8.1% decrease in Real Gross Value, amounting to £14 billion in Scotland, by 2032. This echoes earlier figures released by the Scottish Government which estimated Brexit would cost £8 billion by 2030.

The damning figures came after May previously assured the public in November 2018, that Brexit would be “good for Scotland” and would provide a “free-trade area with no tariffs” while on a tour to visit farmers in Renfrewshire.

Similarly, a Scottish Licensed Trade Association survey found that out of 500 outlets, 17% believed they were already experiencing issues related to Brexit, with a further 40% anticipating the loss of staff from European countries.

With conflicting reports on trade deals, there appears to be growing concern from businesses such as the Scottish Whisky Association, who stated on their website that leaving the EU could have a “fundamental impact on our industry.”

The owner of Greek restaurant Ola Kala in Edinburgh also shares similar concerns on the impact of a no-deal Brexit.

“We’re going to be affected obviously because most of our products are imported from Greece, so if there’s going to be borders, taxes or delays we’re definitely going to be affected, but I don’t think I’m the only one.

“The bad thing is, if there’s a Brexit with no rules it will be pretty serious. If there’s an organised Brexit, like we all hope, then I think things will be smooth, but if there’s going to be a crash Brexit, then things will definitely be difficult.”

 

 

 

 

 

Could there be another Brexit referendum?

This last week has been one of the most tumultuous for British politics since the Brexit referendum on June 23, 2016. EN4News spoke with Mark Lazarowicz, the chair of the European Movement in Scotland, about whether another referendum would break the parliamentary deadlock.

Interview by Ailean Beaton for EN4News.

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Credits to Euromovescotland.org.uk

Nicola Sturgeon rally for IndyRef2 amid Brexit turmoil

First Minister and SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon announced she is working on plans for a second independence referendum, which will be released “in the coming weeks.”

Sturgeon is waiting for the Brexit chaos seen in the last week to dissipate before making a move on independence. She said she would forward with the plans even if the March 29th Brexit deadline was to be extended.

Fears of leaving the EU had been a common reason for voters to back the No campaign in 2014. Scottish voters had then backed the Remain campaign by 62% in 2015. Despite the support, it mattered little when the UK voted for Leave. This didn’t sit well with Scottish voters and sparked renewed interest in another independence referendum.

In an online post, Sturgeon said: “Scotland cannot be left at the mercy of a dysfunctional Westminster government.”

She added that “the interests of Scotland haven’t even been an afterthought” for the Government during the Brexit negotiations.

The SNP had called on May to extend the March 29th deadline for Brexit to no avail.

Sturgeon said the loss to Scotland neglecting independence has “never been clearer.”

Theresa May begins five day debate

Theresa May will desperately bid to push through her Brexit deal this week

Theresa May has begun five days of debate over her Brexit deal in an attempt to sell it to MPs in Westminster in what is being called the ‘meaningful vote’.

The prime minister will spend eight hours per day fielding questions arguing that her Brexit deal delivers on her commitments to end free movement and the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice. MPs are set to cast their final votes next Tuesday evening.

The Importance of the Deal

The future for Theresa May and the UK government are resting of the outcome of the vote. If MPs reject the deal, it is likely that there will be a vote of no confidence in the Prime Minister and the current government. With 100 conservatives saying they intend to vote against the deal, the odds are currently stacked against Theresa May.
Opposition MPs have said that they would also trigger a second EU referendum if the deal collapses.

Dr Marc Geddes, lecturer in British politics from the University of Edinburgh, said that the majority of MPs are unsatisfied with the way that May is handling the deal: “the Brexit vote, we have been repeatedly told, was all about ‘taking back control’ and returning sovereignty to Parliament. For the government to then ignore the will of Parliament is why so many MPs are angry.”

Potential outcome

The outcome of the next few days of debate is uncertain. It is unlikely that Theresa May will gain the majority vote, but where will that leave parliament? Geddes believes that “it partly depends by how much May loses.

If it is a significant chunk of the House of Commons, then there are question marks over her authority as prime minister – though I think it is unlikely that she will either resign or be pushed out by losing the [majority vote] motion.” There are other possibilities, however. Article 50 could be extended, or perhaps there will be another Brexit referendum. There could also be a no-confidence vote in Theresa May or even a confidence vote in HM Government.

What will happen next?

At this stage, what will happen after the next five days of Theresa May’s debate and after the vote is cast next week is uncertain, but updates will come throughout today and we will keep you updated with the latest.

Click here to see news on the Brexit deal as it happens.

Brexit bill powers curbed by MSPs at Holyrood

In a series of meetings held by the Finance Committee at the Scottish Parliament, MSPs have been debating amendments to the Westminster EU Withdrawal Bill amongst dispute over devolved powers in a post-Brexit political landscape.

There is potential that First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Prime Minister Theresa May could come to an agreement over powers between the two governments.

The finance committee will meet again at Holyrood tonight. Credit: Wikipedia.

Both the Scottish and Welsh governments are both currently considering measures in case they do not give their consent to the EU Withdrawal Bill. Both find themselves in disagreement with the UK Government over how powers will be divided after Brexit.

The issue is that UK ministers wish to have the final say in 24 key areas of power, whilst the devolved governments want a detailed consultation over such changes.

Holyrood has put forward it’s own alternative to the Westminster Bill in order to avoid concerns of a ‘power grab’ by the UK Government.

Scottish Brexit minister Mike Russell said the bill “can be improved”, and said he would “consider all suggestions”.

Around 230 possible amendments are being considered, with a majority of them having been rejected so far. It is known that 20 amendments have been voted through, with potentially more this evening as the Finance Committee will meet again tonight at Holyrood.

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