Brexit Britain from Abroad: Struggling UK Exasperates EU
EU Tired of UK Reversals
With the political crisis that is shaking Italy or the threat of trade war between the EU and the United States, we almost forget the Brexit negotiations. Yet she is not going very well either. And less than ten months from the day of divorce, the Europeans are alarmed, as the discussion with London has shifted these last weeks to the dialogue of the deaf.
British plans for the future relationship with the Union or to avoid the return of a border with the Republic of Ireland, a condition sine qua non of the divorce agreement? "They are fanciful," sent out, with patience, a European official late last week, after three days of discussions with the British, obviously useless. Nor have the negotiators made progress on such crucial issues as future cooperation on defense, security, justice or data exchange.
Banks Warns Brexiters Over Growth
A day after the Bank of England’s governor warned about the damaging consequences of a “disorderly” Brexit, official figures Friday confirmed that the British economy barely grew in the first three months of the year.
The Office for National Statistics said the economy expanded by a quarterly rate of just 0.1 percent amid weak household spending and business investment. Both have been held by factors directly related to the country’s vote to leave the European Union.
Household spending, which rose just 0.2 percent in the first quarter, has been held back by the inflation stoked by the pound’s sharp fall in the aftermath of the Brexit vote, which led to a rise in the cost of imports.
Meanwhile, business investment fell by 0.2 percent, with executives seemingly cautious amid uncertainty over Britain’s future relationship with the EU, its biggest trading partner. With firms’ balance sheets healthier than they have been for years and with the global economy — in particular Europe — doing better than expected, business investment should be rising.
For those wishing to blame the low growth on late winter weather, the statistics agency noted that the impact was fairly minimal. It said bad weather had some impact on the economy, particularly in construction and retail, but that its overall effect was limited.
The low growth was one of two main reasons why the Bank of England did not raise its main interest rate by a quarter-point this month to 0.75 percent, as it had earlier signaled it would. The other was that inflation had come down more sharply than anticipated.
The latest growth figures come a day after Bank of England Governor Mark Carney warned that a “disorderly” Brexit could push the bank into the same sort of exceptional stimulus it unleashed after the country voted to leave the EU two years ago. Then, the bank’s Monetary Policy Committee cut its main rate to a record low of 0.25 percent and enacted some further stimulus measures to shore up confidence.
Britain’s Threat on Galileo
Britain has threatened to develop its own separate satellite navigation system if it loses access to the European Union's €10 billion ($11.7 billion) Galileo project, the country's finance minister warned on Friday.
Philip Hammond's comments follow the EU's refusal to let the UK remain part of the planned satellite navigation system after it leaves the bloc next year, despite Britain having investing millions of euros in the project.
"The plan has always been to work as a core member of the Galileo project, contributing financially and technically to the project," Hammond told reporters before a meeting of EU finance ministers in Brussels.
If it proves impossible to remain in the project, Britain could either build its own rival satellite network, or work with other partners outside Europe and the US, he said.
"For national security strategic reasons we need access to a system and we'll ensure that we get it," Hammond added.
The European Commission has said non-member states cannot be trusted with sensitive data that will run on the highly encrypted part of the program, used by EU governments and militaries.
Northern Ireland REeUnification In Question
The Irish border puzzle after Brexit, still unresolved, has boosted support for EU membership in Northern Ireland and reopens the question of reunification between the British province and the neighboring Republic of Ireland .
In the June 2016 referendum on the United Kingdom's membership of the European Union, Northern Ireland voted 56% in favor of keeping it in the European fold - but at national level, Brexit was out winner with 52% of the votes.
This support has grown considerably since, according to a study conducted by Queen's University Belfast, which surveyed more than 1000 Northern-Irish: 69% of them now think that their country should remain in the EU.
"It is becoming increasingly clear that support for the upkeep is rising and rising in Northern Ireland," said Colin Harvey of Queen's University at a conference in London organized by the think tank "The UK in a Changing Europe ". "I think it would be extremely dangerous and dangerous to take away all that support," he added.
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