Politics update: Chief negotiator lets slip May’s Brexit strategy in bar, as businesses demand answers on post-Brexit trade

Politics update 13.02.2019 Olly Robbins

Good morning. Here’s your daily Politics Update:

Business leader give May 20 questions on trade

Theresa May Sajid Javid

UK Business leaders have demanded that Theresa May provide them answers to 20 key questions on trade post-Brexit, seeking assurances that firms will avoid the pitfalls of a no-deal Brexit.

The British Chamber of Commerce (BCC), the UK leading trade body, has asked the prime minister for greater clarity over the country’s future trading relationship with the EU, including import/export tariffs, border controls and customs arrangements.

The BCC said that the prime minister risked British business facing a shock to their current trade terms if these questions were not answered. Adam Marshall, the BCC’s director general, said that businesses should be given “the information and clarity they need to navigate their forward course”.

Speaking on Tuesday, Marshall said: “There is a very real risk that a lack of clear, actionable information from government will leave firms, their people and their communities hung out to dry,”

“Even those companies trying their hardest to get ready are still in the dark on important matters from contracts through to customs. Many others, who took the decision to wait for the political process to conclude before acting, would face sudden and costly adjustments if a deal is not reached.”

May’s future Brexit strategy overheard in Brussels bar

Politics update 13.02.2019 Olly Robbins

The UK’s Chief Brexit negotiator Olly Robbins has reportedly let slip the government’s future negotiating strategy, after being overheard in Brussels bar, saying that MPs will face the choice of Theresa May’s deal and a lengthy delay to Brexit.

Robbins, the most senior civil servant involved in the Brexit process, was overheard by an ITV reporter in a bar in Brussels, saying that the prime minister would wait until March before giving MPs the choice between accepting her Brexit deal, or a significant extension to Article 50.

The reports come after Theresa May asked MPs to “hold their nerve” on Tuesday, asking for two more weeks to secure changes to the Irish border backstop, the most controversial part of her Brexit deal.

The ITV reporter claims that Robbins said May had “got to make them believe that the week beginning end of March … extension is possible, but if they don’t vote for the deal then the extension is a long one.”

“The issue is whether Brussels is clear on the terms of extension,” Robbins said, adding that “in the end they will probably just give us an extension.”

Cross-party group aims to tie May’s hands on Brexit

Yvette Cooper Brexit

Labour’s Yvette Cooper.

A cross-party group of senior backbenchers has tabled a motion attempting to stop Theresa May running down the clock on Brexit, giving parliament more control of the Brexit negotiations in the growing possibility of a no-deal exit.

The group, which includes Labour’s Yvette Cooper and Hilary Benn and former Tory ministers Sir Oliver Letwin, Nick Boles and Dominic Grieve, said they plan to table legislation which would give MPs a choice in mid-March to either allow no-deal or instruct Theresa May to go back to Brussels and request an extension to Article 50.

The group said this week that they intend to pursue their plan if no deal is in place by 26 February.

Meanwhile, Labour has put forward a separate plan that aims to force the PM to either call a fresh Brexit referendum, or admit that there was no longer a viable deal on the table.

Get the essential stories delivered to your inbox, before most people have their morning coffee. Leave your email below and get the free Politics Update every weekday.


Share this


No Majesty