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UK government sees need for phased Brexit - finance minister

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UK government sees need for phased Brexit - finance minister

By Kylie MacLellan

 

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Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond leaves Downing Street in London, Britain June 28, 2017. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth

 

LONDON (Reuters) - Senior members of the government are becoming convinced of the need for a phased British departure from the European Union to help protect the economy, finance minister Philip Hammond said on Sunday.

 

Brexit minister David Davis heads to Brussels on Monday for a first full round of talks, with EU officials hoping the British government, yet to set out detailed proposals on several major issues, begins to show more urgency about doing a deal before Britain leaves the bloc in 2019.

 

Hammond, who supported remaining in the EU at last year's referendum, is seen as the voice of a so-called 'soft Brexit' within Prime Minister Theresa May's cabinet, favouring prioritising trade ties with the EU over curbing immigration.

 

With May weakened by a failed election gamble last month which saw her Conservatives lose their parliamentary majority, Britain's weekend papers were full of stories of infighting as cabinet colleagues reportedly vie for her job.

 

Hammond, regarded as one potential successor to May, has repeatedly talked about the need for a transitional deal, saying such an arrangement would see Britain replicate as much as possible the existing arrangements in order to minimise the impact on business.

 

Hammond said the majority of his colleagues now recognised this was "the right and sensible way to go".

 

"Five weeks ago the idea of a transition period was quite a new concept, I think now you would find that pretty much everybody around the cabinet table accepts that there will be some kind of transition," Hammond told BBC TV.

 

"I think you'll find the cabinet rallying around a position that maximises our negotiating leverage and gets the best possible deal for Britain."

 

Trade minister Liam Fox, who favours making a cleaner break with the bloc, said he did not have a problem with a transition period as long as it was for a limited duration and gave Britain the freedom to negotiate its own trade deals.

 

Hammond said the government needed to provide as much clarity as possible, as soon as possible, to restore business and consumer confidence and keep the economy moving.

 

"It is absolutely clear that businesses, where they have discretion over investment, where they can hold off, are doing so ... they are waiting for more clarity about what the future relationship with Europe will look like," he said.

 

The length of any transition would depend on how long is needed to get new systems in place in areas such as customs and immigration, but it should be a defined period and was likely to need to be "a couple of years," Hammond added.

 

SQUABBLING MINISTERS

 

Hammond himself was the subject of a number of damaging newspaper stories over the weekend, including one which said he had called public sector workers "overpaid". The finance minister said he was being attacked for his Brexit views.

 

"Some of the noise is generated by people who are not happy with the agenda that I have ... tried to advance of ensuring that we achieve a Brexit which is focused on protecting our economy, protecting our jobs and making sure that we can have continued rising living standards in the future," he said.

 

Former party leader Ian Duncan Smith told the BBC that there was no appetite among Conservative lawmakers for a leadership contest and said his colleagues should "shut up" and "let everyone else get on with the business of governing".

 

Gus O'Donnell, Britain's former top public official, told the Observer newspaper that the chances of a smooth Brexit were at risk of being derailed by squabbling ministers.

 

"It appears that cabinet members haven't yet finished negotiating with each other, never mind the EU," he said, adding that there was "no chance" all the details of Brexit could be hammered out before the March 2019 deadline.

 

"We will need a long transition phase and the time needed does not diminish by pretending that this phase is just about 'implementing' agreed policies as they will not all be agreed."

 

(Additional reporting by William Schomberg; Editing by Keith Weir)

 
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-- © Copyright Reuters 2017-07-17

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Any attempt to call a 2nd Referendum will result in a constitutional crisis and probable civil disobedience.

 

We pay our politicians to solve problems. Successful companies and organisations have a Can Do culture. Sadly, too many of our politicians live in a Can't Do bubble at Westminster.

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2 minutes ago, terryw said:

Any attempt to call a 2nd Referendum will result in a constitutional crisis and probable civil disobedience.

 

We pay our politicians to solve problems. Successful companies and organisations have a Can Do culture. Sadly, too many of our politicians live in a Can't Do bubble at Westminster.

I think we are in agreement: the UK is ruled by a parliamentary democracy - not by referendi - it should never have been held in the 1st place but as it was it seems only reasonable to complete the process and have a 2nd one once the final terms and conditions of brexit are actually realised.

Why would a 2nd referendum create a constitutional crisis? Civil disobedience isn't actually against the law so bring it on - the UK isn't yet under a military junta!

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3 hours ago, Krataiboy said:

Otherwise,   we might as well stop pretending we are a democracy!

I think the election this time showed that we do live in a democracy and the people showed their disgust with the current administration.  As for a second referendum it is only quite recently that I have changed my mind and think it would be a good thing.  The reason for that is because it has become more and more obvious that this Brexit is going to be an unmitigated disaster.  Although I voted remain, after the result I accepted that we were going to leave and hoped that the negotiators could get a positive result.  Now I, and most other people, can see that we are all going to be considerably worse off and that it will probably drag on with years of disruption and uncertainty.

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Sorry to keep on posting about all this but this is the biggest single event to happen in the UK since the second world war and we need to get the least painful result that we can.

 

I really want to know what the Brexiteers think they are going to gain from this divorce.  Immigration isn't going to change much if any at all.  The government want to copy and paste the EU laws into British law so no change there.  The government have conceded that they will pay a divorce settlement figure triggering an extended transitional period to pay it.  The government have also agreed that they will continue to pay into the EU to get access to the market there (not the single market though).  This will mean we keep paying in but have no seat at the table and therefore no say.  It is also accepted that we cannot agree any other trade deals with other countries until after we have left completely.  Given that they are talking about this "transition period" that could be at least another two years from now.

 

And all this is accepted before we start the hard negotiations today.  Still think it is a great idea?

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DUNROAMING SAID:

 

 "The British public was so disillusioned by her ill advised manifesto and Brexit handling that they gave her a bloody nose and took away her majority in the house".

 

However, the British electorate were NOT  "so disillusioned" as to vote the Tories out and the Labour party in.   In all the self-inflicted chaos that you describe, the Tories and Mrs May still won the election, admittedly with a reduced majority, but where exactly was the "victory" that so many of the opposition parties seem to be claiming? 

 

Not much is being said about the SNP's  much larger losses in Scotland, whereas I am sure that Nicola Sturgeon would have welcomed the kind of "bloody nose" that Theresa May endured.   

 

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10 minutes ago, dunroaming said:

Sorry to keep on posting about all this but this is the biggest single event to happen in the UK since the second world war and we need to get the least painful result that we can.

 

I really want to know what the Brexiteers think they are going to gain from this divorce.  Immigration isn't going to change much if any at all.  The government want to copy and paste the EU laws into British law so no change there.  The government have conceded that they will pay a divorce settlement figure triggering an extended transitional period to pay it.  The government have also agreed that they will continue to pay into the EU to get access to the market there (not the single market though).  This will mean we keep paying in but have no seat at the table and therefore no say.  It is also accepted that we cannot agree any other trade deals with other countries until after we have left completely.  Given that they are talking about this "transition period" that could be at least another two years from now.

 

And all this is accepted before we start the hard negotiations today.  Still think it is a great idea?

Yes!

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ID: 13   Posted (edited)

42 minutes ago, Retiredandhappyhere said:

However, the British electorate were NOT  "so disillusioned" as to vote the Tories out and the Labour party in.   In all the self-inflicted chaos that you describe, the Tories and Mrs May still won the election, admittedly with a reduced majority, but where exactly was the "victory" that so many of the opposition parties seem to be claiming? 

The reason that May called the election was to strengthen her position and gain more seats from the other parties.  She didn't gain any seats and actually lost some.  Is that a win?  Of course the people wouldn't vote specifically for Labour in any considerable numbers but this was protest voting against May.

 

As you say she "won" the election but lost her majority and had to go cap in hand to the DUP to prop her up.  Now cannot push through her ill conceived hard brexit.  She is much weakened and unlikely to survive as the knives get sharpened.  It is not a victory for any other party.  It is simply a failure of the current one.

 

I guess if I were "retired and happy in Thailand" then I might be far more sanguine about Brexit, apart from the state of the pound.  As it is we moved to the UK from Thailand to raise our teenage son and much of my anger is because he will be denied the opportunities that he should have.

Edited by dunroaming
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1 hour ago, Retiredandhappyhere said:

Yes!

I like a man who doesn't sit on the fence!  Fancy saying why you think it is a good idea?  It might help me understand as I genuinely cannot see the attraction and I would welcome anything that might ease the anger I feel about it.

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2 hours ago, dunroaming said:

I like a man who doesn't sit on the fence!  Fancy saying why you think it is a good idea?  It might help me understand as I genuinely cannot see the attraction and I would welcome anything that might ease the anger I feel about it.

As always that question seems to be ignored by the Brexiteers.  Depressing as I guess they can't come up with anything positive about Brexit either.  Not just on here though, it is the same wherever you ask it these days.

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