Cameron goes home; EU leaders discuss vote

Dan Griffin Wed, Jun 29
LIVE: Brexit

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  • 08:59

    Five days since the Brexit result was announced and where are we now? David Cameron last night told EU leaders that immigration was the main reason British voters said no to the union.

    But EU leaders have said that no country can enjoy the benefits of EU membership without the obligations that come with it. If you want access to the single market, they said, then you must accept the free movement of people within the union.

    The vote last Thursday has sparked fears of contagion in a number of other EU countries, among them France: who will seriously seek an exit next?

    And at home, in Ireland, are we prepared for the months and years ahead, does Enda Kenny have what it takes to handle Brexit?

    Well today Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon travels to Brussels to see if she can engineer a way for Scotland to remain in the EU while Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers travels to Belfast where she will meet her Irish counterpart Charlie Flanagan.

    David Cameron has travelled home from Brussels, leaving the other 27 EU leaders to discuss Brexit among themselves. Back in Britain his party will today start the process of selecting a new leader with nominations for the position opening up.

    And that's to say nothing of the Labour party. The MPs have mutinied against Jeremy Corbyn but the leader is refusing to go. Now a leadership contest is in the offing with Angela Eagle looking to unseat the socialist whose experiment, the Guardian says, has ended.  


  • 09:13
    In Britain, referendum innocents aware that even crisp advertising campaigns are governed by a vigilant standards authority, assumed blatant lying about issues that would determine their country’s future would carry even harsher strictures. The awakening is painful to watch, writes Kathy Sheridan this morning.
  • 09:29

    Boris Johnson has reportedly emerged as favourite to win the Tory leadership challenge after 100 MPs pledged their support to the prominent Leave campaigner.

    The Sun this morning reported that senior Tory ministers backed Boris to thwart a plot by remain campaigner to back "Anyone but Bojo".

    Also in the running is (quiet) Remain campaigner and home secretary Theresa May. Stephen Crabb has also announced his intention to seek the leadership, running on a joint ticket with Sajid David in a sort of sideways pincer movement.

  • 09:39
  • 09:50
    The UK leaving the European Union could be a boon to the Cumberland sausage imitators. The BBC reports that in 2011 the sausage won protected status putting it in the same league as champagne and Parma Ham. EU legislation placed strict rules on what could be called a Cumberland Sausage: it had to be made in Cumbria and contain at least 80 per cent meat. Now the Cumberland Sausage Association has called for a new law to replace the EU legislation protecting the product's status.
  • 10:06
    The website puts Theresa May just ahead of Boris Johnson for the Tory leadership contest.
  • 10:17
    Article 50 - 250 words in five obscure paragraphs in a European treaty - has jumped to prominence in the wake of Britain’s referendum vote to leave the EU. What is it? Find out here.
  • 10:20
    President Michael D Higgins is also in Scotland today. He will address members of the Scottish assembly early this afternoon.
  • 10:22

    But Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon is in Brussels.

    Suzanne Lynch is also there and writes:

    British Prime Minister David Cameron may have left Brussels following his farewell dinner with EU leaders, but another senior British politician is in town today.

    Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is here for talks as part of her quest to keep Scotland in the European Union.

    This morning the head of the Scottish National Party is in the European Parliament for meetings with European Parliament president Martin Schulz. She is due to meet Jean-Claude Juncker, head of the European commission this afternoon.

    Following a meeting of the Scottish cabinet on Saturday, the First Minister announced that the cabinet would begin “immediate discussions” with the EU institutions and other member states to explore options to protect Scotland’s place in the EU.

    Speaking in the House of Commons   on Monday, Angus Robertson, the leader of the SNP in Westminster, said that his party had “no intention whatsoever of seeing Scotland taken out of Europe.”

    After UKIP Nigel Farage leader had addressed the European Parliament to boos and hisses yesterday, Scottish MEP Alyn Smyth received a standing ovation as he set out the case for Scotland’s continued membership of the EU. “Scotland, did not let you down,” he said to cheers. "Please, I beg you, chers collègues, do not let Scotland down now."
  • 10:36
  • 10:45

    According to Buzzfeed news, the EU leader meeting today without David Cameron will release a statement saying any agreement which will be concluded with the UK as a third country, will have to be based on a balance of rights and obligations.

    According to a draft statement seen by the site's reporter, the leaders will say that they hope the UK remains a close partner of the EU in the future. They also accept that the UK needs some time to install a new prime minister but say that they expect this prime minister to trigger article 50 shortly after assuming office.

  • 10:51
  • 10:54
    Cliff Taylor writes:   The EU leaders meet today against a relatively calm markets backdrop, though no one has any idea how long that will continue. Sterling and shares have both gained a bit in the last couple of days, but the mood remains fragile.  In the past many tense EU meetings have been held against a backdrop of market turmoil. This time, however, it is the markets which are looking to the politicians for direction.
  • 11:04

    "We all need to wake up and smell the coffee and the coffee will be discussions on our future."

    Some robust, full bodied rhetoric there from Lithuanian president Dalia Grybauskaite on her way into a breakfast meeting of EU leaders this morning.

  • 11:15
    Stephen Crabb, Tory leadership hopeful speaking in central London now, says the UK needs to be unified before article 50 is invoked. Jean-Claude Juncker won't like that.
  • 11:19
    Crabb: "The thing that mattered most for the people of this country is getting back control of immigration". He says the challenge now is agreeing a new deal with the EU that closely resembles the current arrangement while giving the UK more control over its borders.
  • 11:27
    So, with that, work and pensions secretary Stehpen Crabb becomes the first Tory to officially declare his candidacy for the party leadership. Liam Fox should follow later with Boris Johson and Theresa May expected to declare tomorrow.
  • 11:28
    Cliff Taylor writes: Taoiseach Enda Kenny goes into this morning’s EU talks as Irish ten year bond interest rates hit an all time low of just under 0.6 per cent. The Financial Times website is rather strangely linking this to fears about the Brexit hit on economic growth here. If we controlled our own interest rates, this might be a reasonable argument. But we don’t. So gains in our bond market surely reflect fears of slower euro zone growth and a period of super-low ECB interest rates.  If there were fears about the Irish outlook and the Brexit impact on our budget, then you would expect the opposite the what is happening today -  selling of our bonds and higher interest rates.
  • 11:35
    Labour MP Pat Glass, appointed shadow education secretary two days ago, has stepped down.
  • 11:42
    Many media outlets have lamented the British voters' decision to leave the European Union, none more so perhaps than The Economist, which today carries an article headlined "Post-Brexit Britain looks like a return to the bad old days of the 1970s" under a strapline reading: "Anarchy in the UK".
  • 11:49
    Emma Lewell-Buck is also resigning as shadow communities minister. Former Labour deputy leader Harriet Harman adds her voice to those calling for Corbyn to go.
  • 12:01
    David Cameron and Jeremy Corbyn squaring up against each other for PMQs in the commons now.
  • 12:06
    Most of the exchanges have been about commemorations of the Somme so far.
  • 12:08

    Now Corbyn asks Cameron what meetings he has had to assure major multi-national companies of their future in Britain after the EU vote.

    We are in a strong position but the consequences will be difficult, says Cameron. He says that the government will meet with businesses and give reassurances about stability.

  • 12:13
    Cameron says racist attacks following the EU vote are "appalling". Cameron adds that a new action plan on tackling hate crime will shortly be published and that he assured the leaders of countries such as Poland and Romania that racism would not be tolerated.
  • 12:17

    Cameron has a dig a Corbyn over his performance for Remain, saying everyone needs to reflect on how well they campaigned.  "I know the honourable gentleman says he put his back into it. All I'll say is I'd hate to see him when he's not trying."

    And he adds: "It might be in my party's interest for him to sit there but it's not in the national interest. And I would say to him: for heaven's sake man, go!."

  • 12:19

    Now the SNP's Angus Roberston, asking what the UK government will do to protect Scotland's place in Europe.

    Cameron: The UK should agree a deal with the EU and that deal would be best for Scotland... The best way to secure Scotland's future in the single market is for the UK tpo secure the best agreement with the EU.

  • 12:27

    Ukip MP Douglas Carswell being jeered from across the house now. He asks, does the prime minister agree the the house should come together to secure the best deal from Europe.

    Cameron says the government now needs to set out different blueprints--the Norway model, Canada model--and cost them and see which one would be the best option for the UK.

  • 12:30

    Cameron asked whether he agrees that London needs to remain in the single market and receive greater devolved powers.

    London should have it's voice heard. This is a UK decision but we should listed to the nations of the United Kingdom and to its cities and regions as well, Cameron says.

  • 12:38
    Cameron again says EU citizens living in the UK are currently protected and will be for as long as the UK remains part of the EU. Their rights need to be protected as part of any EU/UK negotiations, Cameron adds.
  • 12:41
    Cameron now making a statement on the European Council. There was no Labour walkout on Corbyn, which some had said might happen.
  • 12:42
  • 12:47

    Cameron said the tone of the European Council meeting yesterday was one of sadness and regret but there was an agreement that the decision of the British people should be respected.

    There was a lot of reassurance that until Britain leaves we are a full member, he says.

    He adds that there was big concerns in Britain about the free movement of people. He says it was made clear that Britain can't have the benefits of EU membership without the costs.

    Cameron tells parliament that on the whole there wasn't an immediate clamour to trigger article 50. He said the EU leaders accept that invoking article 50 will be a job for the next prime minister.

  • 12:57
    Now, to Belfast, and some wire copy from PA:  

    Scotland and Northern Ireland will not be able to attain special EU status in the wake of Brexit, Theresa  Villiers has insisted.

    The Northern Ireland Secretary dismissed the suggestion that regions that backed a Remain vote could have a relationship with the EU distinct from England and Wales, where majorities favoured a UK exit.

    “EU rules are very clear, membership is at member state level,” she said. “It’s a national question, it’s not possible within EU rules to have a part of a country being part of the European Union.

    “So this decision has been made, the people of the United Kingdom have voted to leave the European Union — that decision is going to be respected, that’s what the Government will take forward.”

    The Conservative MP again moved to allay fears expressed by communities on both sides of the Irish border that free movement of goods and people will be curtailed after Brexit. “I believe we can keep a border which is as open and free-flowing as it is today,” she said.

  • 14:09

    Suzanne Lynch writes: The second day of the EU summit has finished. In a joint communiqué issued at the end of the meeting, EU leaders have said that any future relationship with Britain must be based on “rights and obligations” but expressed hope that the UK will remain “a close partner.”

    Press conferences by Jean-Claude Juncker and Council head Donald Tusk are expected shortly.
  • 14:10

    Suzanne Lynch writes:

    European Council President Donald Tusk has said there will be “No single market a la carte” for Britain following the first meeting between Britain’s EU partners in the wake of the referendum result.

    Speaking to journalists in Brussels, the head of the Council appeared to rule out granting Britain concessions on free movement.

    His comments were echoed by Jean-Claude Juncker: “Those wanting access to our single market must implement the four freedoms without exceptions and without nuances,” he said.

    Mr Tusk said that the discussion at the meeting – the first without Britain in the room - had been “calm and serious”.

    “Leaders are absolutely determined to remain united and to work together as 27,” he said, confirming plans for a summit in Bratislava on September 16th to discuss the fallout from the British referendum result.

  • 14:14

    Our Berlin correspondent Derek Scally, currently in Brussels, is just out of Chancellor Angela Merkel's briefing:

    She warned the future EU of 27 member states, minus Britain, to concentrate on political measures that improve citizens' lives rather than tie itself up in technocratic treaty talks.

    At their first Brussels meeting without Britain, Dr Merkel said the way out of the EU's latest crisis was to deliver results rather than waste time arguing over whether they were best delivered at EU or national level.

    "We have to convince people through what we do," she said, saying that the existing Lisbon Treaty, less than a decade old, was "a very good basis" for this.

    "We would do the wrong thing if we started a treaty discussion," she said -- pushing back against calls from central European countries for a far-reaching post-Brexit discussion about the balance of power between member states and Brussels.

    The German leader insisted her resistance to treaty change was not about avoiding another Brexit-style popular revolt.

    "This isn't about a fear of referenda but what can be done quickly and efficiently," she said.

    The German leader also ramped up her refusal to consider British access to the single market from outside the EU if it insists on having a means to limit inward migration from the EU.

    Some British officials have suggested access to the EU single market could be secured by joining the EEA, alongside non-EU member Norway. The EEA Treaty, in article 112, allows contract parties to trigger unilateral "appropriate measures" if "serious economic, societal or environamel difficulties of a sectorial or regional nature" arise.

    On Tuesday, Dr Merkel said in the Bundestag she would not permit "cherry-picking" of EU fundamental rights, including freedom on movement. In Brussels on Wednesday, she doubted the EEA treaty's Article 112 offered a face-saving migration emergency brake for Britain, while allowing the EU insist London would meet all treaty obligations in exchange for free market access.

    "I cannot imagine that this emergency brake can be a principled thing," she said. "We are still waiting to see what the British side tells us. In such a serious situation I warn urgently not to ignore the sequence of events. I will not have a deeper discussion about anything before I have the exit application of Britain on the table."
  • 14:40
  • 14:43
    Nicola Sturgeon might have a tough job on her hands, attempting to come up with a way of Scotland staying in the EU. From PA:  Speaking ahead of his meeting with Ms Sturgeon, Mr Juncker told a Brussels press conference: “I will listen carefully to what the First Minister will tell me, but we don’t have the intention — neither Donald nor myself — to interfere in the British process. That is not our duty and not my job.”
  • 14:56

    Former prime minister Gordon Brown has warned people not to “rush to judgement” on how best to secure Scotland’s place in Europe, as Nicola Sturgeon begins her diplomatic mission in Brussels.
    he First Minister has said a second independence referendum is now “highly likely” in order to protect Scotland’s relationship with Europe. But Mr Brown said all options must be examined as he advocated the “Norway option” to secure the UK’s place in the European Single Market.

  • 15:11
    Taoiseach Enda Kenny speaking after the EU summit: “We have an interest in having an outward looking strong and prosperous United Kingdom. The closer the relationship the UK is going to have with the European Union the better for us. But it is clear from the conclusions of the meeting that access to the single market is tied to the fundamental acceptance of the four freedoms which include freedom of movement of people.”
  • 15:17
    Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy is not pleased to see Nicola Sturgeon going around Brussels sounding out high ranking officials about Scotland's prospects of remaining in the EU. Anything that looks like a regional independence movement would not be viewed favourably by the Spanish premier, who is clinging to power following an inconclusive recent election.
  • 15:37
  • 15:45
  • 16:06

    Britain's decision to leave the European Union may have a knock-on effect for the rest of the EU and long-term uncertainty over
    Brexit poses a threat to the entire region's economy, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said on Wednesday. The EU's leaders held their first meeting without Britain on Wednesday, as they face years of uncertainty while they negotiate the British withdrawal after last week's vote. Asked about the danger of a domino effect, Schaeuble said, "it is certainly not to be dismissed". He added that Britain did not have unlimited time to decide on its application to leave. "It would be fair if they were to decide in the foreseeable future," he said. Under the EU's Lisbon Treaty, a country that wants to quit the EU must invoke Article 50 of the treaty, after which it has two years to work out the terms of its departure.

  • 16:11
    A statement from the "big four" trade unions in the UK, Unite, Unison, the GMB and the CWU, is imminent. It should reiterate support for Jeremy Corbyn but at the same time mention a leadership contest.
  • 16:11
  • 16:17
    And that's where we'll leave it for today. Thanks for reading. Two leadership contests, an independent Scottish campaign to remain in the EU, a firm message from the Council: no access to the single market without freedom of movement. And another summit in mid-September. This will run and run until then and well beyond. What a week it's been.