• Customs row punctures ‘have-cake-and-eat-it’ Brexit fantasy: Focus on customs has cast doubt on Theresa May’s compromise approach to EU exit. Amid fierce cabinet squabbling over the minutiae of customs policy, it is easy to lose sight of the big picture: a battle to decide what kind of country the UK will be after Brexit. On the face of it, Wednesday’s Brexit sub-committee meeting promises little in the way of enlightenment. Downing Street sources have been playing down the prospect of any decision over which of two customs proposals the UK will take into the next phase of negotiations with the EU. Even if the cabinet does decide between the hi-tech “maximum facilitation” model or the highly integrated new customs partnership (NCP) approach, the EU remains deeply sceptical that either will prove satisfactory. (The Guardian)
  • EU unveils plans to boost post-Brexit budget to €1.25tn: The European Commission has unveiled plans to boost the size of its first post-Brexit common budget to €1.25tn, calling on governments to boost their contributions and find new tools to generate EU-level cash. Presenting the Commission’s long-awaited budget blueprint on Wednesday, Jean-Claude Juncker said the new long-term spending plan covering 2021-2027, was a “pragmatic plan for how to do more with less”. Brussels is facing a Brexit budget black hole of over €100bn over the next seven years and wants its 27 member states to pay in 1.11 per cent of their national wealth to help fill the gap. But the Commission is facing resistance from net paying countries like the Netherlands and the Nordics which want to tighten EU spending after the UK’s departure and shift cash from traditional areas like farmer subsidies to digital policy and protection of borders. (Financial Times)
  • Still no Scots-UK deal after Brexit powers talks: Talks between Scottish and UK ministers have once again ended without a deal on the use of devolved powers post-Brexit. The two governments are at odds over how powers currently exercised from Brussels will be built into UK-wide frameworks after the UK leaves the EU. Welsh ministers have agreed a deal with UK counterparts, but no settlement with Scottish ministers has yet been found. Both sides say they can still come to an agreement, but they have only a few weeks left to do so. An agreed text issued following the meeting said ministers had “noted the need for continued engagement”, with further talks to be held in a bid to break the deadlock. The dispute centres on the EU Withdrawal Bill, the primary piece of Brexit legislation at Westminster, and what it says about devolved powers. (BBC News)