State aid

The biggest obstacle to a Brexit deal

Downing Street now thinks that the chances of a Brexit deal are down to 30 or 40 per cent, I say in The Times today. The sticking point is, rather surprisingly, state aid. Since Margaret Thatcher’s election in 1979, the UK has been sniffy about the idea of government ‘picking winners’. It doesn’t use much state aid (less than half the EU average, according to the Commission’s figures), but the Johnson government doesn’t want to commit itself to something similar to the EU’s regime – it wants to use the power of the state to develop what it sees as the industries of the future. One figure with intimate knowledge of the

Britain should demand a level playing field from the EU

It will receive €9 billion (£8 billion) in free money from the government. It will be protected from any threat of a takeover. And, with a restored balance sheet, it will be free to make predatory acquisitions across the continent. It is of course Lufthansa, the German airline, which has just been given a massive package of financial support by its government. But hold on. Isn’t there meant to be a level playing field across Europe? Over the course of the negotiations on a trade deal with the European Union, we have had a series of high-handed lectures from Michel Barnier demanding the UK sign up to EU oversight of