Brexit Britain from Abroad: Suspicion in Brussels, Chaos at Home

Ministers Mull Anti-Brexit Party

James Chapman, who formerly worked as chief of staff to Brexit minister David Davis, and before that as an aide to then-finance minister George Osborne, said May's Brexit plans would sink the British economy.

After calling for a new political movement to keep Britain in the European Union, Chapman said senior politicians from both the Conservative and Labour parties had contacted him.

"Two people in the cabinet now, and a number of people who have been in Conservative cabinets before now, better cabinets I might say than the current one, and a number of shadow cabinet ministers have also been in touch," he told BBC radio.

"They are not saying they are going to quit their parties, but they are saying they understand that there is an enormous gap in the center now of British politics. Look, the two main parties have been captured by their fringes," he said.

Chapman did not name the politicians who had contacted him.

Britain has less than two years to negotiate the terms of the divorce and the outlines of the future relationship before it is due to leave the EU in March 2019.

Guy Faulconbridge, NY Daily News

Suspicion and Distrust

For weeks now, EU and British officials have been warning that already complex talks on Britain's exit from the European Union are being hampered by deep-rooted mistrust.

British lawmakers accuse their erstwhile European partners of wanting to extract revenge for last year’s referendum; their European counterparts and officials say the British must agree to a divorce bill of upwards of $50 billion before Brussels will negotiate on a possible trade deal for post-Brexit Britain.

In an interview this week with a British newspaper, former European Commission president Roman Prodi warned that talks between Britain’s Brexit minister, David Davis and Michel Barnier, the EU chief negotiator, had started badly with “blood on the floor.”

He urged both sides to make compromises — especially over Britain’s future trade arrangements with Europe — saying there was an imprecise grasp of the real economic consequences of Brexit. “The weight of damage is probably heavier on the UK side, but there is damage on both sides,” said Prodi.

And a former top British diplomat, Simon Fraser, says the formal talks, which began only two months ago, hadn't started well. Speaking on BBC Radio, Fraser, who campaigned in the run-up to last year’s Brexit referendum for the country to retain EU membership, said, “I don't think they have begun particularly promisingly, frankly, on the British side.”

“We haven't put forward a lot because, as we know, there are differences within the [British] Cabinet about the sort of Brexit that we are heading for and until those differences are further resolved, I think it's very difficult for us to have a clear position.”

Jamie Dettmer, Voice of America

Irish Issues to Take Centre Stage in Next Negotiations

The Common Travel Area and north/south and east/west cooperation under the Good Friday Agreement will be looked at in detail in the next round of Brexit negotiations, Brexit Secretary David Davis has said.

The next round is due to take place in the last week of the month.

But "cross border economic cooperation" will not take place until talks move on to the UK's future relationship with the EU, he added, in a letter the House of Lords.

Providing an update on the negotiations to date, Mr Davis said the main focus so far was on citizens' rights but discussions also took place on the financial settlement, Northern Ireland/Ireland, and "various separation issues".

"The negotiation team explored a number of Northern Ireland/Ireland issues, including the operation of both the Belfast ('Good Friday') Agreement and the Common Travel Area and associated rights on the basis of UK expert presentations," Mr Davis said.

"More detailed discussions are planned for the next round of negotiations, including in relation to the Common Travel Area and North-South and East-West cooperation under the Belfast Agreement. Of course the key issues in relation to cross-border economic cooperation and energy will need to form an integral part of discussions on the UK's future relationship with the EU."

Colm Kelpie, The Irish Independent

Brexit Hurting UK Businesses and Families

British firms are keeping a lid on pay and automating more production while some shoppers, faced with rising prices, are switching to cheaper products, the Bank of England says.

The findings came in a report from around the country that showed Brexit is hurting households, mainly though the weaker pound.

Businesses serving British consumers are suffering compared with export-focused manufacturers, as the weaker exchange rate and higher inflation following last year's vote to leave the European Union feeds through the economy.

Last week, BoE Governor Mark Carney said Britain's economy was suffering from uncertainty and higher prices caused by the referendum decision in June 2016, and the central bank cut its forecasts for future growth and wages.

Wednesday's report by the BoE's regional staff -- which fed into last week's forecasts -- showed businesses planned to offer pay awards of between two and three per cent, despite growing recruitment difficulties.

"Overall employment intentions remained modest," the BoE said. "Growth in manufacturing (employment) intentions was stable and was dampened by a stronger focus on productivity improvements and automation over job creation," it added.

The BoE forecasts that economic growth would slow to 1.7 per cent this year and 1.6 per cent in 2018, while wages are seen rising by two per cent and then three per cent.

After unexpectedly outperforming other big advanced economies last year, in 2017 Britain had its slowest first half of the year since 2012.

David Milliken, The Australian

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