THE LOTUS WEEKLY BREXIT ROUND-UP
Return to duty-free shopping in the case of a no-deal
Sajid Javid has pledged that duty-free shopping on cigarettes and alcohol will return for UK holidaymakers travelling to Europe in the event of a no deal.
The Chancellor said UK excise duty and VAT would be immediately scrapped on alcohol and cigarettes bought by those leaving the UK to head to the EU if a no-deal Brexit goes ahead at the end of next month.
Duty-free sales within the EU were axed two decades ago, with consumers paying full levies on any goods bought while bound for European countries.
The change will not apply to return journeys from EU countries, which also have limits on the amount of duty-free items travellers can bring in to ensure they are for personal use.
The Treasury said the move would mean that a bottle of wine purchased at Heathrow airport duty free on the way to the EU could be up to £2.23 cheaper than normal.
The plans are estimated to cost the Treasury between £150m and £200m a year, and a new option allowing returning holidaymakers to purchase limited amounts of products at duty-free shops in Europe will also be introduced.
Duty-free shopping is already permitted for those travelling to non-EU countries.
The return of duty-free will only apply immediately if Britain leaves the EU without a deal, as the current withdrawal agreement will see Britain stay in the EU's single market and customs union during a transition period.
CNN reports no-deal Brexit will be catastrophe for travellers to UK
Following the official release of the details of Operation Yellowhammer, US news outlet CNN has reported that travellers flying into UK are concerned about the impacts of a no-deal Brexit on travel plans.
ETOA’s Chief Executive Tom Jenkins said that the ‘reasonable worse case scenarios’ look ‘surprisingly optimistic’ and that in the event of a no-deal, travellers crossing between the UK and the EU could be waiting in border queues for days on end.
They will no longer be able to use fast-track lanes for EU citizens, and will be diverted into the lanes currently used by other nationalities, incurring more thorough checks. Passports will be inspected to see where else they have traveled, and they will be quizzed on the duration and purpose of their stay, and whether they have enough money to subsist.
"The implication is that everyone will be held up by at least 60 seconds, and due to the sheer volume of UK travelers to Europe, this will render all these processes difficult to deliver," said Jenkins.
US Travel Week: UK market to US expected to be ‘flat’ in 2019
The market between the UK and the US is expected to be flat year-on-year, according to America’s brand marketing organisation.
Travel Weekly reported that Brand USA’s chief executive Chris Thompson, who was speaking at the inaugural Brand USA Travel Week in London, said he was anticipating overall numbers to be in-line with last year but said that would still be an achievement with 2018’s 4.7 million figure representing a 4% increase on 2017.
Thompson pointed to ongoing uncertainty around Brexit and currency as two of the barriers to booking, but said he was confident that intent to travel to the US remained undimmed.
“When particular places face challenges it doesn’t really affect intent but it does have an effect on (the immediate performance of) the market and Brexit is clearly occupying people’s minds,” he said.
US Travel Week: Bookings resilient
ABTA’s chief executive Mark Tanzer, who spoke at US Travel Week said bookings ahead of the end of October Brexit deadline as resilient. While describing bookings in 2019 as stop start, with consumers clearly holding off before 29 March, he believed that a similar drop off in autumn is materialising to the same extent. The summer season has reportedly ended strongly and Tanzer said:
“Given the uncertainty that’s been out there, UK customers have been quite resilient in the face of all the news.”
Bookings resilient: Travel Weekly
Travel Weekly’s own round up of sentiment within the trade has also provided a largely positive booking outlook with agents continuing to hit sales targets. Travel consortium The Travel Network Group members had seen an uplift in lates and winter bookings and strong sales for next summer in the last week, adding that 2020 was “better than this time last year”, although a ‘senior’ tour operator admitted that the ongoing political situation was not good consumer confidence.
Brittany Ferries issues reassurance in the face of a no-deal
The French ferry company, which operates western channel crossings to five destinations in northern France and two in northern Spain issued a statement of reassurance saying that “these routes will continue to operate as normal post October 31,” following the official release of documents from Operation Yellowhammer – the government’s ‘reasonable worst case planning assumptions’ scenarios, which focused on potential cross-border problems on short sea routes such as Dover to Calais.
Brittany Ferries said it “understands that some of its passengers may be concerned about their travel plans too” for western channel routes out of Portsmouth, Poole and Plymouth.
A spokesman said: “The reality is that we have had plenty of practice preparing for a no-deal scenario.
“We have been working through local resilience forums in our ports and closely with our port partners to mitigate risks.
“While we cannot say for certain that there will be no disruption, we can reassure customers that comprehensive steps have been taken.”
Monday 9 September
a) Speaker resigns
The controversial Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow, announced that he would stand down on 31 October. Famous for his bellowing cries of ‘Order’ during debates, he will quit on the same day as Britain is due to leave the EU.
Throughout the three years since Britain voted to leave the EU, Bercow has angered the government by repeatedly allowing lawmakers to seize control of parliament’s agenda. Furthering his own agenda to prevent a no-deal Brexit. The speaker’s role is meant to be impartial. He said he was simply fulfilling his role of letting parliament have its say.
b) Parliament votes against a snap election
MPs again voted to reject government calls for a snap election. MPs will not get another chance to vote for an early election, or indeed any until after then, meaning a poll would not be possible until late November at the earliest, unless Government calls a no-confidence motion in itself or Johnson resigns.
c) Prorogation begins
There were chaotic scenes as the prorogation formalities began at the end of Monday’s parliamentary session (in the early hours of Tuesday). John Bercow, expressed his anger at the suspension of proceedings, saying it was “not a normal prorogation. It is not typical. It is not standard.”
A group of opposition MPs, carrying signs saying “silenced” tried to prevent the Speaker John Bercow from exiting his chair to go to the House of Lords to complete prorogation proceedings. As Conservatives left the chamber with the Speaker to attend the House of Lords, Labour MPs chanted “Shame on you!” at them, while they remained in parliament singing Red Flag, Calon Lân (in Welsh), and Scots Wha Hae.
Tuesday 10 September
Labour announced their policy on Brexit, which included negotiating a new deal with the EU and then a fresh referendum in which it would campaign for Remain.
Wednesday 11 September
Judges in Scotland’s highest civil court rule that the suspension of the UK Parliament is unlawful.
Thursday 12 September
The Government officially releases the Operation Yellowhammer, a document that the Government says represents a "reasonable worst case scenario" of a no-deal Brexit.document.
Friday 13 September
Guernsey is continuing to work with UK ports to protect against potential disruption to supply in the event of a no-deal Brexit, according to a senior politician.
New Northern Ireland Border thoughts
There were reports that the DUP would do a u-turn on the Irish backstop. With the Prime Minister publicly saying that he is committed to getting rid of the backstop, the UK government has floated the idea of a single zone of on the island of Ireland for food standards. However, publicly the DUP has denied any breakthroughs.
Saturday 14 September
Cameron puts the boot in
Former Prime Minister David Cameron released exclusive extracts from his memoirs to The Times and accused Boris Johnson and Michael Gove of leaving "the truth at home" on Brexit.
Liberal Democrat Party Conference
The Liberal Democrats have voted not to hold a second referendum if a general election votes in a LibDem government. The party believes that the election will provide enough of an indication of what the country wants.
Sam Gyimah joins the Liberal Democrats
Conservative MP Sam Gyimah was heralded as a new Lib Dem recruit at the party conference. Six MPs have defected to the party in recent weeks, including former Tory MP Philip Lee, and ex-Labour MPs Luciana Berger and Chuka Umunna.
Mr Gyimah was one of the 21 Tories who had the Conservative whip removed after rebelling against Boris Johnson in a bid to prevent a no-deal Brexit.
Sunday 15 September
Boris Johnson compares himself to the Incredible Hulk in an interview for the Mail on Sunday. In it Johnson says: “Hulk "always escaped, no matter how tightly bound in he seemed to be. The madder Hulk gets, the stronger Hulk gets." In the interview, Boris Johnson had said he was willing to ignore the vote in the House of Commons which ordered him to delay the UK's departure from the EU.
Monday 16 September
UK will reject any delay offer, PM to tell Juncker
Boris Johnson is due to meet Jean-Claude Junker today and is expected to say that he will not delay Brexit. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said the PM would stress he wanted a deal by 18 October, but there had to be "some finality" to it.