Philip Hammond holds Brexit talks with Northern Ireland’s DUP (FT): The Westminster leader of the Northern Irish unionist party holding out against Theresa May’s Brexit agreement said he wanted to strike a deal, after talks with senior UK government figures including Chancellor Philip Hammond. The talks came before a third House of Commons vote on Mrs May’s Brexit deal next week — probably on Tuesday. Downing Street believes that, if it can persuade the DUP leadership to back the deal, that would convince rebel Tory backbenchers to finally fall into line next week. The chancellor’s participation in Friday’s discussions is a possible sign the government may be preparing a more generous financial offer to the DUP to continue the party’s agreement to prop up Mrs May’s minority administration when the current agreement expires this year. While Conservative Eurosceptics loathe the backstop because it could leave Britain in a customs union with the EU, the DUP opposes the measure’s differing treatment of Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.
The UK‘s plan to drop tariffs on most imports into the UK in the event of a no-deal Brexit has been criticised by EU commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Phil Hogan (BBC). Under a temporary scheme 87% of imports by value would be eligible for zero-tariff access. At the moment 80% of imports are tariff free. Mr Hogan said the plan was “a political stunt” and would likely breach World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules. “I think the timing of it was unfortunate and it was a deliberate attempt to put Ireland more on the agenda, as if it wasn’t on the agenda already,” he said.
UK credit-rating rules are up to EU standards, ESMA says (MLex): UK-issued credit ratings can apply in the EU in the event of a no-deal Brexit, after the European Securities and Markets Authority said that the proposed UK legal framework met EU standards. Endorsements of individual ratings — used to assess how much capital insurers and banks must hold against exposures — is a matter for national authorities, and ratings can only be issued outside the EU if they are for non-EU companies, ESMA said.
Japanese-UK data flow mechanism to stay after Brexit (MLex): Japan’s Personal Information Protection Commission said today that a data transfer mechanism based on Japan’s mutual adequacy agreement with the European Union will be maintained with the UK after its departure from the EU. The data flow deal will stay in place, even in an event of a no-deal Brexit, an official told reporters today. The commission made the decision yesterday. Japan will designate the UK as a nation with a similar level of data protection to Japan under Japanese privacy law.
UK, US sign post-Brexit aviation safety agreement (MLex): The UK and US have signed a post-Brexit aviation safety agreement, maintaining current mutual recognition of standards in the event of a no-deal Brexit. The agreement replicates arrangements between the US Federal Aviation Administration and the European Aviation Safety Agency.
Lidington insists cabinet united despite some voting against Brexit delay (Guardian): Conservative MPs were given a free vote on the government’s motion on Thursday, reflecting deep divisions over the best way forward, with just a fortnight to go before the planned exit day. May will also come under pressure to offer up a timetable for her departure, as a way of convincing Eurosceptics in her party they could replace her, before the crucial next stage of Brexit negotiations. David Lidington has insisted Theresa May’s cabinet will continue to work together “very constructively”, despite eight senior ministers, including the Brexit secretary, voting against an extension to article 50. Steve Barclay voted against a motion tabled by the government, even though he had spoken in favour of it at the dispatch box just minutes earlier. Others who rejected the idea of an extension were Penny Mordaunt, Liam Fox and Chris Grayling.