• Brexit will not undermine Anglo-French relations, says Jeremy Hunt – The UK foreign secretary has set out to reassure Britain’s European partners that the country is not “trying to have our cake and eat it” in Brexit negotiations as he urged them to “redouble our efforts to reach an agreement.” “I know there are concerns that a deal which allows the UK to have the advantages of membership without the obligations, could lead to unfair competition and ultimately to the unravelling of the EU,” said Jeremy Hunt, speaking in French at the UK embassy in Paris on Thursday morning. He added: “We have heard those concerns . . . The only way to address them is for an ambitious agreement that provides the kind of guarantees necessary.” The visit by Mr Hunt, days before the Armistice Day centenary, marked an effort by the UK to show that its friendship with France is far bigger than Brexit. It came at a crucial moment in the proceedings after prime minister Theresa May gave cabinet colleagues their first sight of the “95 per cent completed” withdrawal treaty that will take Britain out of the EU next March. France’s reaction to this was to make clear that the EU must not allow the UK to cherry-pick the four freedoms (free movement of goods, services, capital and people) that form the pillars of the single market, because it would given an incentive to other members to do the same — a move that France’s finance minister Bruno Le Maire declared would spell “the end of Europe”. (FT)
  • Irish deputy PM urges caution over ‘imminent Brexit deal’ speculation – Ireland’s deputy prime minister has urged caution in Westminster over speculation that a Brexit deal could be struck in the next few days. Simon Coveney, the tánaiste, spoke amid concern in Brussels and Dublin that the Conservative party was again “negotiating with themselves” over Brexit and mistakenly considering a cabinet decision as “end of story”. Sources say the British government has yet to share any wording of the contentious backstop proposal to keep the Irish border open in the event of no deal and that this alone will take days to scrutinise before agreement can be reached. “Can I just say this in relation to commentary today, particularly in British media: I would urge caution; an imminent breakthrough is not necessarily to be taken for granted, not by a long shot,” the tánaiste said in Dublin on Thursday, after a speech to the Canada Business Association. (The Guardian)
  • Liam Fox: UK must be able to end backstop arrangement after Brexit – Liam Fox, International Trade Secretary, has said a “sovereign British government” must have the ability to end any post-Brexit backstop arrangement as part of the Article 50 divorce treaty between Britain and the EU. Mr Fox said Britain could not “subcontract” to others the decision over how to avoid a hard border dividing the island of Ireland, after indications that Brussels is seeking a joint UK-EU mechanism for ending any backstop arrangement. “It has to be a mechanism where ultimately that decision lies with the sovereign British government,” Mr Fox told reporters in Whitehall as he prepared to view the latest draft of the UK’s Brexit negotiating position. The EU has made it clear Britain cannot have the right to walk away unilaterally from treaty commitments on the Irish border and is insisting on a joint review mechanism to assess whether the temporary customs deal should come to an end. (FT)
  • David Davis: MPs will ‘probably’ vote against Brexit deal – Theresa May will probably lose a Commons vote on her Brexit deal, former Brexit Secretary David Davis has said. But Mr Davis – who quit his cabinet role over the Brexit plan in July – said he believed defeat would prompt the UK and EU to agree a “better deal”. He also said the UK had hundreds of plans ready in case the country leaves the EU without any agreed Brexit deal. If a Brexit deal is agreed between the UK and the EU, it then has to be approved by the House of Commons and the 27 remaining EU member states. Mr Davis told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that defeat in the Commons for the current plan was “looking like a probability”, especially if MPs were not shown the full legal advice on the Irish border backstop plan. (BBC)
  • Brexit scam warning issued by UK regulator – The UK’s financial watchdog has warned consumers to be on the look-out for scams as fraudsters take advantage of confusion stemming from Brexit. The Financial Conduct Authority said on Thursday that it is expecting more scams “during this period of uncertainty”, and warned consumers not to give over their personal bank details in phone calls or emails purportedly from their lender. The warning was part of an FCA update to consumers over how they will be affected by Brexit. UK banking customers should be largely unaffected because retail operations – even of European lenders – have their own subsidiaries in the UK that have local capital, liquidity and senior managers, all overseen by UK regulators. However, the FCA warned expats in the rest of the EU that they may suffer disruption of their services if they bank with a UK lender. (FT)