Please see below for the today’s key Brexit news items.

  • Britain is exploring the possibility of joining a trans-Pacific trade bloc after Brexit in a bid to find alternative markets for exports that currently go to Europe, it has emerged. Ministers believe that membership of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) could be part of the process of forging new trade deals when Britain leaves the EU. The unusual move – all 11 of the group’s current members have borders on the Pacific Ocean or South China Sea – could be an alternative to signing separate, bilateral agreements with TPP countries (The Independent).
  • Keir Starmer has torn into the government’s “woefully inadequate” analysis of how the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights will be covered by British law after Brexit, warning that essential protections will be lost. The shadow Brexit secretary said Labour would force a vote on the issue this month at the next stage of the EU withdrawal bill, as the government was still refusing to transpose the charter into UK law (The Guardian).
  • Liam Fox has made 35 overseas trips since he was made UK international trade secretary in the summer of 2016, but critics have accused him of prioritising the wrong countries. His criss-crossing of the globe has involved three visits to the US, six to the Middle East, and on Tuesday he flew to China – highlighting his efforts to forge agreements with fast growing emerging markets. However, critics query whether the UK will be able to replicate trade agreements the EU has with 65 key countries around the world after March 2019, most notably South Korea and Switzerland (The Financial Times).
  • Whitehall is braced for another immensely challenging year as it seeks to implement Brexit. Nowhere is the pressure likely to be higher than in the ministry at the heart of the Brexit process: the Department of Exiting the EU. The 600 civil servants led by David Davis face a huge task. Dexeu needs to push the EU withdrawal bill through parliament. It has to co-ordinate implementation and contingency planning for a variety of Brexit outcomes across Whitehall and there are queries over David Davis’s stability in Theresa May’s forthcoming cabinet reshuffle (The Financial Times).
  • Fast-growing countries, including Malaysia and Bangladesh, could prove increasingly attractive export markets for the UK after Brexit, as the UK’s current close trading partners – such as Japan and South Korea – experience population declines, an analysis by the Financial Times showed (The Financial Times).