With another couple of weeks since Concrete gave you your last update on Britain’s exit from the European Union (Brexit), scheduled for 29 March 2019, it’s time to give you a summary of all the latest news.
The EU’s summit in Salzburg, Austria, has appeared to drive a wedge between the UK and the EU. Despite indications before the summit of a softening of the EU’s stance towards UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s proposals for the future EU-UK relationship, dubbed her Chequers plan, EU leaders released a joint statement at the conference rejecting her proposal, accusing it of undermining the single market.
The tension at Salzburg began to mount as European Council President, Donald Tusk, posted a photo of Mrs May “cherry-picking” from a selection of cakes. Mrs May reacted strongly, accusing negotiations of reaching an “impasse” and suggesting that the EU should treat the UK with more “respect”. In what could be seen as a retaliatory move, the Cabinet released a statement declaring that EU migrants will not have increased rights of access post Brexit. Mr Tusk has since said that a compromise could be possible but with “reworking” of the UK’s stance.
In Liverpool, Brexit was top of the agenda at the Labour Party conference. Labour Leader, Jeremy Corbyn, has said that Labour will back the government on a Brexit deal if it meets six key tests, but will not support Mrs May’s Chequers proposals. After a poll of Labour Party members, Mr Corbyn has not ruled out the possibility of supporting a second referendum on Brexit, which could include an option to remain in the EU. Post-conference, he met with EU chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, to present Labour’s view for Brexit which led to, in Mr Corbyn’s words, an “interesting, useful discussion”.
Strong calls from politicians and businesses alike have been published about the risk of exiting the EU with no-deal, a so-called hard Brexit. Toyota announced that production at its plant would be temporarily halted in a no-deal scenario. Ex-Prime Minister, John Major, is among those calling for a second referendum to avoid a hard Brexit.
Also included in the headlines was the news that prominent Leave supporter ex-Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has presented his own vision for Brexit, advocating a UK-EU free trade deal modelled on the EU-Canada deal.