From The Independent: DUP leader Arlene Foster has said the Good Friday Agreement is not “sacrosanct”, insisting the landmark peace treaty could be altered to accommodate a Brexit deal.
From The Guardian: Northern Ireland faces blackouts and drastic electricity price rises in the event of a no-deal Brexit, leaked government documents reveal.
The country would likely be cut off from electricity supplies from the Republic of Ireland and unable to use its sole electricity link to the UK mainland, according to an internal briefing.
Officials have been warning for months that Northern Ireland’s electricity market could collapse, triggering “unprecedented consequences” and forcing authorities to prepare to take energy infrastructure into public ownership to keep the lights on.
The government documents, shared widely across Whitehall and seen by the Guardian, show that in the event of a no-deal Brexit:
- Householders in Northern Ireland could see electricity bills rise by up to £200.
- Energy companies could collapse.
- Diesel generators would be needed to keep power supplies running.
- The UK government has not yet talked to power station operators in Northern Ireland.
From Daily Mirror: A damning leaked warning has revealed NHS chiefs fear running out of drugs in a chaotic No Deal Brexit.
From Daily Mirror: Theresa May’s “disastrous” handling of Brexit poses a deadly threat to the NHS, the SNP’s Westminster health spokesperson Dr Philipa Whitford has warned.
From Financial Times: A supermarket chief has said the Tory government’s position on food stockpiling was “ridiculous” and demonstrated “complete naivety” about the way the sector worked.
Brexit secretary admits government must ensure ‘there is adequate food supply’ if UK leaves EU with no deal
From The Independent: The new Brexit secretary Dominic Raab has finally confirmed the Tory government is making extraordinary plans to stockpile food, for if the UK crashes out of the EU without a deal.
From The Independent: Dominic Raab, Theresa May’s new Brexit secretary, previously called for Britain to use negotiations with the EU to scrap workers’ rights.
From The Guardian: A middle-ranking Tory minister stopped on his way to a meeting in the House of Commons and offered the following observations about the government in which he serves. “There is no discipline at all. Everyone thinks they can say just what they want. It is not good for anyone or good for the country.” Crucial decisions on Brexit had to be made within days, and time was running out, he said. But within the cabinet, disagreements were widening as the moment of truth approached. Ministers were briefing against one another in public, giving an impression that the ship of state was heading for the rocks just when the national interest required those steering it to pull together.
“She has to lead,” the minister added. “The can has been kicked into the corner on Brexit. It can’t be kicked any farther.” He then headed off, turning back for a second, to sum it all up as “midsummer madness”.
Normally ministers and senior MPs will show some caution when having private conversations with journalists at Westminster. They will at least make efforts not to be overheard. But these days they brief without fear on every corner, in every cloister. Soon after the minister departed, a former cabinet minister who has worked for the Conservative party for several decades strolled by and was happy to talk. The atmosphere was dreadful, he said, and Theresa May’s position was becoming more perilous by the day.
From Daily Telegraph: Boris Johnson was embroiled in a diplomatic row with Brussels on Friday night after he was accused of using a four-letter F-word to dismiss an ambassador’s question about the post-Brexit needs of British business.
From The Guardian: The United Nations has warned the government that Britain’s reputation is at risk over plans that would significantly weaken protections for the environment after Brexit.
In a stern intervention, Erik Solheim, executive director of the UN’s environment programme, called on the environment secretary Michael Gove to honour his promise to deliver a “green Brexit”, ensuring the environment would not suffer from Britain’s EU departure.
The warning comes after proposals to protect the climate after Brexit were dismissed as “toothless” by green campaigners. Under the plans, the new post-Brexit watchdog would not have the power to take the government to court over breaches of environmental standards. At the moment, the government is answerable at the European Court of Justice (ECJ), which often forces ministers to act.
Campaigners have warned that the current plans would leave Britain with a weaker system for enforcing environmental safeguards than those maintained in the United States by Donald Trump.
From Unearthed: Liam Fox’s department for international trade has signed agreements with the US which will make it much more difficult to find out what is being discussed in early-stage US-UK trade talks.
Liam Fox’s department last week quietly released an exchange of letters between the UK and the office of the US trade representative agreeing to mark exchanged information, papers and discussions as either “sensitive” or “confidential”, with both sides also agreeing to keep the information “held in confidence” for four years after the conclusion of the talks.
This has led to concerns from politicians and campaign groups that the talks could pave the way for the UK to accept lower US standards on issues including animal welfare, chemical and pesticide usage, and other practices.
From The Guardian: David Davis’s claim that the UK’s concessions in an agreement to move on the Brexit negotiations were merely a statement of intent has damaged trust and will see a hardening of positions in Brussels, the European parliament’s coordinator, Guy Verhofstadt, has said.
The former Belgian prime minister claimed the Brexit secretary’s comments over the weekend were “unacceptable”, and undermined confidence in the British government’s trustworthiness.
The member states will now agree a tougher wording in their guidelines about the next stage of the talks, due to be signed off at a summit of leaders on Friday, Verhofstadt said.
From The Guardian: Theresa May’s political weakness was brutally exposed to Brussels on Monday, as an agreement struck between Britain and the EU to solve the problem of the Irish border and move to the next phase of Brexit talks was torpedoed by a last-minute telephone call with the leader of the DUP.
Confidence early on Monday that an agreement was within reach came to nothing when, during a working lunch with the European commission president, Jean-Claude Juncker, May was forced to pause discussions to take a call from Arlene Foster.
The unionist leader, whose party currently provides the Tories with a working majority in the Commons, told the British prime minister that she could not support Downing Street’s planned commitment to keep Northern Ireland aligned with EU laws.
From The Guardian: Tory trade secretary Liam Fox sees no problem with chicken being washed in chlorine before being sold to the public. He supports post-Brexit food standards being lowered to facilitate a trade deal with the US.
The practice has been banned in the EU, which believes it encourages farmers to relax overall hygiene standards and pursue industrial rearing practices such as battery farms that are bad for animal welfare.
“Some US abattoirs and processing plants rely heavily on chlorination because their other hygiene standards are so poor that they would be illegal in Europe,” said Simon Dawson, a lecturer in food safety at Cardiff Metropolitan University.
From Pride’s Purge: “David Davis, the man who is supposed to be in charge of Britain’s disastrous Brexit negotiations, is so incompetent he hasn’t noticed Czechoslovakia has not existed since 1993: ‘We’ve got a pretty good idea of what the economic interests are of every single member state. Germany, Austria, Holland and Czechoslovakia are all without governments at the moment.’
“To make matters worse, the embarrassing error came while bungling Davis was boasting about how he and his team ‘have a good knowledge of what European countries want’ from Brexit.
“And yes – the Czechs, Slovaks and other European countries have noticed what a blundering idiot our chief negotiator is – and they are openly laughing at us.”
Government passes controversial ‘power grab’ motion allowing it to pass Brexit laws without Parliament
From The Independent: A controversial motion granting the Tory government the power to scrutinise Brexit legislation without wider parliamentary input has been passed.
From The Independent: The Tory government has omitted any mention of climate change in its latest post-Brexit foreign policy paper, sparking concerns among experts that it may be following America’s lead.
From The Guardian: Liam Fox, the trade secretary, has accused the media of being obsessed with safety concerns about chlorine-washed chicken being sold in Britain as part of a potential trade deal with the US after Brexit.
The controversy overshadowed the first day of Liam Fox’s trip to Washington, amid worries that a trade deal with America could lead to imports of food with lower safety standards. Read more
From The Independent: Britain can slash Brussels regulations on clinical trials for new drugs and on building near protected wildlife habitats now that it is leaving the European Union, Michael Gove has said.
From The Japan Times: British Prime Minister Theresa May is leading the United Kingdom toward a very “hard” Brexit in 2019 — and potentially off a cliff, if the U.K. leaves the European Union without an exit or trade deal. In her Jan. 17 speech, May outlined her objectives for negotiating with the EU, and made it clear that she will prioritize hard-line Brexiteers’ demands over the country’s economic interests.
It isn’t surprising that May would choose a Brexit variant whereby Britain leaves both the EU’s single market and its customs union: She knows little, and cares even less, about economics. Her ultimate objective is to survive as prime minister, and she believes that controlling immigration will endear her to “leave” voters, and that ending the European Court of Justice’s jurisdiction in Britain will pacify the nationalists in her Conservative Party.