Davis braced to fail
Britain will be ready if the talks on leaving the EU fail, as a lack of preparation would be a dereliction of duty, according to Brexit “bulldog” David Davis.
The UK’s chief negotiator told the Conservative Party conference that there was “cause for optimism” that a deal would be agreed but the government would be braced for the possibility of no agreement being reached.
“If the outcome of the negotiation falls short of the deal that Britain needs, we will be ready for the alternative,” Davis said.
“So there is a determined exercise under way in Whitehall devoted to contingency arrangements so that we are ready for any outcome.”
Davis said the public understood it would not be “easy or straightforward” but he was driven by the “one-off, time-limited, extraordinary opportunity” to leave the European Union that motivated 51.9 per cent of voters who took part in last year’s referendum.
The bloc’s refusal to discuss a trade pact until its satisfied with the terms of the divorce deal, the Irish border and the status of EU citizens living in the UK is building anxiety that time will run out, according to unnamed London officials.
Sources told Bloomberg that they had no idea how “sufficient progress” was to be defined.
Two other pro-Brexit ministers, Liam Fox and Boris Johnson, focused their conferences speeches on urging people to be more positive about Brexit.
But Standard & Poor’s has warned that Britain’s economy may not be strong enough to support an interest rate hike, especially with Brexit looming.
Its latest report said the Bank of England had been talking up the idea of rate rises soon, to shore up the pound.
S&P said: “We remain a bit sceptical as to how justified such a hike would be in the near term.
“Overall, we believe the Bank and [its governor] Mark Carney’s recent statements are primarily aimed at propping up sterling to reduce imported inflation pressures.
“This strategy may include an actual 25 basis point hike in November, thus bringing the policy rate back to where it was before the Brexit referendum. Additional moves in 2018 do not appear warranted on the back of a slowing economy.”
S&P said there was a high risk of a disruptive Brexit, referring to the “tangible lack of progress” in talks with EU and “infighting within the UK political establishment”.
Anti-Brexit protesters in Manchester for the Conservative Party conference. Picture credit: Eurasia Times