Viv is feeling a little better but will be taking the weekend off from her Brexit Daily news.
She’ll be back at her keyboard on Monday.

 

WTO

We need not fear leaving the EU without a deal, says Westmonster.

There is “a huge reservoir of goodwill for the UK” from within the World Trade Organisation, according to the WTO’s Chief Spokesman Keith Rockwell.
With a No Deal Brexit looking increasingly likely as 29th March approaches and Brussels refuse to renegotiate, the UK is getting ready to take control with a WTO Brexit that would include the UK preparing a set of tariffs for global trade.
Rockwell described the UK’s EU exit as “without any precedent at all in this organisation”.
And he told Sky News earlier this week: “Everyone is being pragmatic and wants to see trade to move as freely as it can as we get through this rather tricky stretch that might await us.
“We’ve never had a member, let alone a founding member, be in this position before, of having to renegotiate their position.
“When you examine this, it becomes devilishly complicated. Nobody expects this to be without complication.
“Let’s wait and see – there is a huge reservoir of goodwill for the UK within this organisation.”

Brexit

The PM could be on the verge of going soft on Brexit, says the Sun.

THERESA May could be preparing to soften her Brexit stance and drop demands to re-open the withdrawal deal.
After the PM suffered yet another damning defeat on her plans last night it was reported that Steve Barclay has suggested to Brussels that ministers would not press ahead with changes to the text of the deal.
The Sun understands UK negotiators have indicated they will accept surgical tweaks to the Withdrawal Agreement rather than a full reopening of it.

There’s not much point in negotiating further, reports the Express.

BREXIT Secretary Steve Barclay held “completely useless” talks with EU ambassadors on Friday, it is claimed.
The Conservative Cabinet member met with EU 27 officials ahead of crunch talks on Monday with Brussels’ chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier. But the meeting did not go well, according to a BuzzFeed News source.
Meanwhile, Donald Trump has vowed US trade with the UK will be “substantially increased” after Brexit.

Ireland

Has Brussels blinked?  The Telegraph reports the EU may have found a solution.

The leaks from Brussels have begun. Unnamed EU “diplomats and officials” have floated the subject of a temporary opt-out for Ireland in a no-deal Brexit.
Dublin will not have to erect customs infrastructure or police the outer limits of the single market immediately. There will be a transition.
Officials told Reuters that Ireland will ultimately face checks on its own exports to Europe or face being kicked out of the EU customs union if it refuses to put up a trade border against Northern Ireland in the event of a no-deal.

The Times reports some European countries are set to offer a solution.

France and other EU countries are ready to provide assurances over the Irish backstop so that the attorney-general can change his legal advice and say it is a temporary measure.
President Macron has softened his line in recent weeks to assist a last-ditch attempt by the EU to help to get the withdrawal agreement across the line.
Senior European diplomats said that the British government would be given enough in the way of legal assurances to persuade Geoffrey Cox, the attorney-general, to change his advice that the backstop could be used to trap the country in a customs union.

As long as these assurance have legal status, they could be accepted, says Westmonster.

Britain could accept legally-binding assurances on the disputed Irish border backstop that would not require reopening of the EU-UK Brexit deal, diplomatic sources said, signalling a possible shift from Prime Minister Theresa May’s official line.
EU and British diplomatic sources told Reuters after talks earlier this week between Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay and the bloc’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier, however, that London was still seeking changes to the backstop that the EU has already ruled out.

The Express reports the Brexit secretary’s comments could anger Brexiteers.

BREXIT secretary Stephen Barclay has told Brussels the UK doesn’t need to renegotiate Theresa May’s deal to solve the Irish backstop issue – a compromise which risks drawing down the wrath of Brexiteers.
Mr Barclay suggested to the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier that the government is willing to accept legal guarantees instead of reopening negotiations, according to a source who spoke to The Times. The Brexit Secretary put the option on the table during a private meeting on Monday with Mr Barnier, who described the discussions as “constructive” but reiterated the bloc’s refusal to rewrite the withdrawal agreement.

The Irish prime minister is talking tough, reports Sky News.

Those who believe the EU’s solidarity towards Ireland will falter over the Brexit backstop are “in for a nasty surprise”, the Irish prime minister has warned.
Leo Varadkar said Dublin’s “concerns have become the European Union’s concerns” during the UK’s exit from the bloc.
He told the All-Island Civic Dialogue on Brexit at Dublin Castle: “One of the most striking things about what has unfolded since the UK’s decision to leave has been the remarkable solidarity from the EU.
“Despite many attempts to bilateralise issues or to divide the 27, the solidarity has been strong and resolute and those who think it will break at the last moment are in for a nasty surprise.”

And Euro-Guido reports the Irish are getting very worried about their future.

The Irish political class is getting increasingly nervous about the EU throwing them under the bus, with the Irish Independent coming out with a searing editorial today aimed at the EU after a “senior EU diplomat” reportedly said that the EU would force Ireland to “choose between setting up a physical Border with Northern Ireland and de facto leaving the single market” in the event of no deal. Ireland’s leaders slowly waking up to the realisation that the EU will happily toss them to one side once they stop being useful as a stick to beat the British with…

Security

Despite suggestions to the contrary, we’ll not be left high and dry on the security front, reports Reuters.

Britain’s exit from the European Union will not affect security cooperation with its NATO allies France and Germany, given the growing external threats to the continent’s stability, the intelligence chiefs of the three countries said on Friday.
“The chiefs … said that all three services would continue to be close allies in jointly protecting Europe from threats such as Islamism, terrorism, organised crime or cyber-attacks,” the heads of Germany’s BND, France’s DGSE and Britain’s MI6 said in a rare joint statement.
“This would also hold true… in view of Brexit,” they said after meeting at the Munich Security Conference.

EU

The Guardian reports it’s the PM’s fault.

Theresa May will face a wall of resistance when she returns to Brussels next week as the EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, declared her Brexit strategy had “failed” after another parliamentary defeat inflicted by hardline Eurosceptics.
May will insist to EU chiefs that her defeat in parliament on Thursday does not change her belief that her Brexit deal can still achieve a majority – as long as there are changes to the backstop.
The mood hardened in Brussels on Friday amid doubts that the prime minister could ever forge any consensus in her warring party, with Barnier telling diplomats from member states that her strategy could not work.

The Independent claims Mrs May will ask for more time to negotiate.

EU ministers said Theresa May‘s latest Commons defeat makes Brexit even more difficult, after MPs refused to support her plan.
Greece’s foreign minister said the vote on Theresa May’s plea for more time, which resulted in the prime minister suffering her eighth defeat on Brexit, “complicates the situation even further”.
Tory MPs remain split over the possibility of a no-deal Brexit.

The Sun reports the prospect of no deal is very high.

BRUSSELS fears the chances of a no deal Brexit are now as high as 90 per cent after Theresa May’s latest calamitous Commons defeat.
EU diplomats warned the PM she is on her “last chance” to salvage a Brexit deal – but warned that privately the mood is “black”.
While Michel Barnier told EU ambassadors that Thursday night’s defeat showed the PM’s bid to get a deal through with Tory support had “failed”, according to a source.
He told a breakfast meeting of member states the ERG’s decision to abstain showed there was no majority within the party for any deal.

Conservative Party

Grassroots Tories are getting ready to deselect their Remainer MPs says the Telegraph.

Remainer Tory MPs are facing an ambush by pro-Brexit activists at annual local association meetings which have to be held before the end of next month.
At least two Conservative MPs – Dominic Grieve and Heidi Allen – are facing having no-confidence at local party annual meetings over the next six weeks.
The news emerged after another Remain-supporting Tory, Anna Soubry, warned of Eurosceptic “purple momentum” activists taking over MPs’ associations.

And UKIP could be part of the reason, claims the Mail.

Pro-remain Tory MPs said last night the party was being taken over by former Ukip members amid fresh infighting over Brexit.
Former ministers Nick Boles and Anna Soubry said a ‘purple Momentum’ was gaining control of some local Conservative associations and leaving their sitting MPs facing the threat of deselection.
It came as Theresa May was warned that a dozen ministers will resign by the end of the month unless she agrees to postpone Brexit to prevent a No Deal scenario.

The Sun claims there’ll be a war within government.

SENIOR TORY ‘Remainers’ are ready to force Theresa May to sack them over a crunch No Deal vote.
Sources claim a growing number of Ministerial aides and junior Ministers believe they shouldn’t have to resign to defy the Government and block a No Deal in the crunch Commons vote on February 27.
It was claimed up to 12 Ministers were prepared to defy the PM to sack them in a fortnight’s time.

Yet another new party

Remainer Tories may be planning to join up with remainers from the Labour Party, says the Guardian.

Intense discussions are taking place at Westminster that could lead to the emergence of a new centrist party consisting of six or more disaffected anti-Brexit Labour MPs along with the involvement of some Conservatives and the backing of the Liberal Democrats.
Labour MPs reported that some of those involved had lobbied backbench colleagues they thought were sympathetic as to how they could “make the shift” away from a tribal loyalty to the party.

‘Project Fear’

What will they think of next!?  The Express reports the prospect of mass deaths from ‘no deal’.

A STUDY has claimed 12,400 people could die as a result of Britain leaving the European Union without a deal.
The official health forum of German pharmacists has reported a study by Imperial College London’s Faculty of Medicine which has analysed a series of Brexit outcomes and the health effects on the British population. In part of the study, the analysts looked into how Britain’s withdrawal on the European Union would force the price of fruit and vegetables up and in turn cause consumption to plummet.

And threats of companies quitting the City are also confounded, says Euro-Guido.

The narrative of a mass exodus of City jobs has already been consigned to the Project Fear dustbin of history, with just 2,000 jobs now expected to move in the event of no-deal, compared to wild predictions of over 230,000 before the referendum. Now the FT of all places is reporting that EU asset managers are actually considering moving to the UK because of Brexit. That wasn’t in the script…
EU fund managers are up in arms over EU rules which would force them to trade dual-listed shares on uncompetitive EU exchanges after Brexit if the Commission refuse to give them access to London after Brexit.

ID voting

Showing identification when you vote might be a good idea but it may not go ahead, reports the Mail.

Ministers’ plans to introduce voter ID nationwide in elections are “falling apart” as three councils set to be involved in a major pilot have pulled out of the scheme, The Independent can reveal.
Citing time pressures and the “volume of work” involved in participating in the trials, the decision of the councils will raise questions over the feasibility of voter ID – already the subject of a legal challenge in the High Court.
Labour said the decision of the three out of 11 councils set to participate in the pilot at May’s local elections demonstrated the “shambolic” handling of the “undemocratic” proposals.

Health

The NHS is failing patients needing emergency treatment, says the Times.

Heart attack and stroke victims are among hundreds of thousands of patients made to wait up to an hour for an ambulance because the NHS has never met key targets.
Critically ill patients are waiting too long because new rules for dispatching ambulances struggle to pick out life-or-death situations, experts fear. Meanwhile, patients with non-life-threatening injuries routinely wait more than three hours for an ambulance, analysis of official data by The Times shows.

Economics

Our economy grew faster than Eurozone countries’, reports the Telegraph.

Britain’s economy grew faster than Germany’s and Italy’s in the final quarter of last year, in a striking reversal which highlighted the increasing weakness at the heart of the eurozone.
Germany escaped recession “by the skin of its teeth” at the end of last year, official figures confirmed on Thursday, with zero growth after a contraction of 0.2pc the previous quarter.
Italy contracted by 0.1pc, tipping it into its third recession this decade. The eurozone as a whole grew by 0.2pc, the same as the UK, figures from Eurostat showed.

Breitbart also has the story.

The British economy is matching or outpacing growth in the Eurozone’s leading countries as Brexit approaches, with inflation falling and real wages rising.
New Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures show inflation down to a two-year low of 1.8 percent, and quarterly growth is running at 0.2 percent — outpacing Angela Merkel’s Germany, which is supposed to be the economic powerhouse of Europe, and appearing to give the lie to claims by EU loyalists that Britain has become “the sick man of Europe” since the 2016 vote to Leave the European Union.

And the economic position of the EU could put the bloc at risk, reports the Telegraph.

The future of the entire EU project is at risk because of the deep, sustained crises in the southern eurozone economies, Christine Lagarde has warned.
While northern and western countries have prospered, those in the south have suffered, with average real wages falling from 2008 to 2017, the head of the International Monetary Fund said.
It is crucial to spread economic growth more broadly to “help restore faith in the European project”, she said in a speech in Munich.

Trade

Good trade deals are likely post-Brexit, reports the Times.

U.S. trade with Britain will rise ‘very substantially’ after Brexit, President Donald Trump has said.
Speaking at the White House today Trump signalled Washington welcomed a new trade agreement with Britain and said ‘we are agreeing to move forward’.
His comments will be seen as a boost for Brexiteer hopes that Britain’s departure from the EU will enable successful free trade deals around the world.

The Independent reports strong trade links between the UK and the US.

Donald Trump has welcomed an agreement between the UK and the US that he said would help boost trade between the two countries “very, very substantially” after Brexit.
The US president said trade links had been “strengthened” by the signing of the deal, which will see the terms of a similar agreement between the EU and the US continue to apply to the UK after Brexit.
He described the UK and US as having a “very good trading relationship”, despite having previously warned that Theresa May‘s Brexit deal could harm business links.

The Express says the US president’s comments give the UK a boost.

DONALD Trump last night gave Britain a massive boost by declaring that trade between the UK and the US will be “very substantially increased” after Brexit.
The US President announced that the special relationship will be “strengthened further” following a new mutual trade arrangement agreed by both countries worth at least at least £12.8billion a year for trans-Atlantic trade. He also significantly raised hopes of a wide-ranging free trade deal between the UK and US by insisting he wanted to see Trans-Atlantic business significantly increased.

HS2

There’ll be no standing on HS2 trains, reports the Times.

Passengers will be required to reserve a seat to travel on HS2 trains under plans to prevent standing travellers from clogging up aisles and doorways.
The Times has learnt that passenger numbers will be limited according to the availability of seats to improve journey comfort, eradicate overcrowding and ensure travellers know exactly where to board HS2’s huge trains.
However, a passenger group warned that the move represented a “huge cultural shift” that could frustrate the travelling public, particularly if the booking system is not user-friendly enough.

Climate change

Thousands of schoolchildren took a day off school yesterday to protest.  But was it worth it? The Telegraph reports.

Theresa May has said that the thousands of young people who protested against climate change on Friday increased teachers’ workloads and wasted lesson time.
The prime minister said it was good that pupils are politically “engaged” but argued that they need to be in school to become the future professionals who can help solve climate change.
The comments created an immediate dividing line with Jeremy Corbyn, whose name some pupils could be heard chanting, with the Labour leader saying it was “inspiring to see them making their voice heard”.

The Mirror also reports Downing Street’s words.

Theresa May has slammed thousands of young people for staging a mass walk-out from school as part of a global youth action over climate change.
While Downing Street said it was important for young people to engage with the issue, the disruption to planned time was damaging to pupils an increased teachers’ workloads.
A Downing Street spokesperson said: “Everybody wants young people to be engaged in the issues that affect them most so that we can build a brighter future for all of us.

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