Brexit: UK businessman discusses move to EU to avoid disruption
The Prime Minister has warned he is ready to override elements of the Brexit divorce settlement relating to Northern Ireland to prevent a trade barrier developing in the Irish Sea. He made the comments during PMQs this afternoon.
During PMQs, Mr Johnson suggested that he could respond in kind if there was no resolution to the issue of goods moving from Great Britain to Northern Ireland.
He said: “We will do everything we need to do, whether legislatively or indeed by triggering Article 16 of the protocol, to ensure that there is no barrier down the Irish Sea.”
It comes after the EU invoked Article 16, the Northern Ireland Protocal last week.
The provision governs the country’s trading arrangements with the EU and the rest of the UK after Brexit.
Boris Johnson has warned he is ready to override elements of the Brexit divorce settlement
Brussels temporarily triggered the article to limit vaccine exports to the UK.
But the EU promptly reversed its decision after condemnation from London, Dublin and Belfast.
Boris Johnson told European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen he had “grave concerns”, and also called Irish counterpart Micheal Martin
Northern Ireland’s first minister Arlene Foster described the move as an “incredible act of hostility”.
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10.30pm update: DUP calls for permanent solutions to Northern Ireland protocol
The DUP has said permanent solutions are needed to the contentious Northern Ireland Protocol to ensure the region has “unfettered access” to the UK market.
Jeffrey Donaldson said the protocol was damaging the relationship between Britain and Northern Ireland.
He made the comments following crunch talks on the protocol between Northern Ireland’s leaders and the UK and EU.
Mr Donaldson described the trade difficulties as not just short term, but long term.
He told RTE News: “That’s why we need not just a short-term fix or tinkering around the edges of this or kicking the can down the road.
“We need a permanent solution that will ensure that we continue to have unfettered access to the UK market and that the EU is able to protect its market, and we need that accommodation reached as soon as possible.”
The European Union has agreed to work “intensively” to ease border tensions in Northern Ireland.
It comes after Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged the bloc to swiftly climb down after it threatened to put the peace process at risk.
New customs checks on goods arriving from the British mainland were suspending earlier this week over fears for the safety of port staff.
And Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove and European Commission vice-president Maros Sefcovic were tonight locked in crisis talks to find a solution.
They agreed to hold further discussions in London later this week to find a solution to deescalate the situation after Brussels inflamed tensions when it made a failed attempt to impose a hard Irish border.
9pm update: EU states Northern Ireland protocol could be resolved
The EU Commission vice president said if all aspects of the Northern Ireland Protocol were put into practice he believed the issues raised at the meeting could be resolved.
Speaking on RTE News Maros Sefcovic said: “I really think if all that flexibilities we put on the table and into the protocol would be used to the maximum that all of the issues that we’re discussing today would be really resolved.
“We should really study how things would look like if the UK would really use and put in practice the flexibilities we agreed upon on the 17th of December.”
Rejoiners have whinged about the new British passport with one claiming she will hate it “until the day it expires”.
Following the UK’s vote to leave the European Union, new passports – which are based on the country’s traditional pre-EU passports – begun to arrive through people’s letterboxes. But a former civil servant has expressed disgust with her “black passport”.
Siobhan Benita, a former civil servant and a Rejoin the EU campaigner, tweeted a picture of her new passport and wrote: “My new black passport has just arrived.
“I will hate this document until the day it expires #BrexitShambles.”
Another Rejoiner tweeted: “I am about to receive one. I am thinking of spray painting it burgundy just to make a point.”
Emmanuel Macron ally Clement Beaune’s bid to discredit the vaccine developed by Oxford University in conjunction with AstraZeneca is motivated by “sour grapes”, a former Brexit Party MEP has said.
Dr David Bull, who is a qualified medical doctor, took aim at France’s Minister for Europe in response to comments made on French television in which he questioned why the UK United Kingdom had not limited AstraZeneca’s Covid vaccine to those aged under the age of 65, as was the case in France.
Specifically, Mr Beaune suggested Britain had taken “huge risks” in comparison with his country – but Dr Bull was quick to dismiss his claims.
He told Express.co.uk: “For me this exemplifies a sort of sour grapes attitude. What is shows to me is just how bungling and bureaucratic and monolithic the European Union is.
“The problem was that they did not want member states to buy vaccines themselves and they kept wanting to say ‘we will do it, we are this overarching umbrella organisation and we will procure these drugs and we know best. Well quite frankly they have made an absolute royal mess of it.”
Keir Starmer has backed down in his dispute with the Prime Minister and claims he “misheard” Boris Johnson during their PMQs spat this afternoon.
The Labour leader said he thought Mr Johnson was discussing the “false” claims Sir Keir wanted the UK to be part of the EU’s vaccine scheme.
But the party leader now admits he had previously expressed support for the EMA.
A spokesman for Keir Starmer said: “On a number of occasions the Prime Minister has wrongly claimed that Labour wanted to join the EU’s vaccine programme. That is inaccurate and the claim has been found to be untrue.
“This afternoon during Prime Minister’s Questions, Keir misheard the Prime Minister and assumed he was making the same false accusation again.
“Keir accepts that, on this occasion, the Prime Minister was referring to old comments about the European Medicines Agency and Keir admits he was wrong and made a mistake in his response.
“It’s not Labour policy to join either the European Medicines Agency or the EU vaccine programme. We have never called for the UK to be in the EU vaccine programme. We remain committed to working with the Government to ensure we can be the first in the world to roll out the vaccine.”
Boris Johnson answering Brexit questions during PMQ’s
Michael Gove said the bloc’s plan to blockade vaccines headed for Britain was in breach of the Northern Ireland border pact.
In a letter to European Commission vice-president Maros Sefcovic, he said Brussels had sparked a “an overwhelming reaction” with its “grave error”. “I had expected a strong response, but the reaction was even more negative than I had anticipated,” Mr Gove wrote.
He was referring to the EU’s triggering of Article 16 of the Northern Ireland Protocol essentially threatening the introduction of customs controls with Ireland.
The measure was referenced in the European Commission’s plans to prevent the export of coronavirus vaccines outside the bloc.
Commission president Ursula von der Leyen last week reversed the regulation after it sparked anger in Dublin, Belfast and London.
Ireland’s Foreign Minister Simon Coveney has broken cover to admit there are “serious issues” with the Northern Ireland protocol within the Brexit agreement.
Mr Coveney warned the EU Commission to act quickly to resolve the issues, which burst into the spotlight due to trade chaos at Northern Irish ports this week.
Officials in Stormont have also called for the Northern Ireland protocol to be scrapped and replaced due to the impact on trade in the country.
Calling on Ursula von der Leyen to act, Mr Coveney said resolutions must be made in order to restore trade in Northern Ireland.
Speaking to the BBC, he said: “I recognise that there are serious issues that need to be resolved, we need to work on that with the commission today and with leaders in Northern Ireland.”
Emily Ferguson has taken over live reporting from Richard Percival
2:45pm update: Wartime style response needed to cover from Brexit and COVID, says business chief
The scale of the shocks facing the UK, including Brexit and the coronavirus crisis, demand a “dramatic” moment of unity and foresight, a business leader has said.
CBI director-general Tony Danker said the country’s economic response needs to be more like in the aftermath of the Second World War than after the financial crash a decade ago.
Michael Gove has held talks with EU counterpart
Belgium has advised against giving the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine to over-55s because of a lack of data about its efficacy.
Health minister Frank Vandenbroucke said the country’s advisory health council, had suggested the doses of the Oxford-produced vaccine should only be administered to people younger than 55.
1.45pm update: Boris Johnson claims there will be ‘no border’ in Irish Sea
Prime Minister Boris Johnson told the Commons he will “do everything we need to do whether legislatively or indeed by invoking Article 16 of the Protocol to ensure that there is no barrier down the Irish Sea”.
Mr Johnson told the Commons: “I utterly share the frustration of the honourable gentleman about the way the EU, in particular, the EU Commission, temporarily seemed to call to use the Protocol in such a way as to impose a border contrary to the spirit of the Good Friday Agreement, and contrary to the letter of the Good Friday Agreement, and we will do everything we need to do whether legislatively or indeed by invoking Article 16 of the Protocol to ensure that there is no barrier down the Irish Sea.”
1:15pm update: Two-year extension of post-Brexit checks for goods in Northern Ireland
The Government has called for the extension of post-Brexit grace periods in Northern Ireland until 2023.
In a letter to European Commission vice president Maros Sefcovic, Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove wrote: “The arrangements that currently apply to supermarkets and their suppliers must be extended until at least January 1 2023.”
Jersey External Relations Minister Ian Gorst
12:45pm update: ‘Good flow’ of lorries between Dover and Calais
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has said there is a “good flow” of lorries between Dover and Calais.
There were fears of long queues when the Brexit transition period ended on December 31, but the Cabinet minister told the HOC Transport Select Committee there was “no evidence” of major hold-ups.
12pm update: Boris Johnson urges EU to take urgent action on NI
Boris Johnson told Arlene Foster that “urgent action” from the European Union was needed to resolve issues with the Northern Ireland Protocol.
A Downing Street spokesman said: “The Prime Minister spoke to Northern Ireland First Minister Arlene Foster this morning.
“They spoke about the EU’s actions from Friday and their shared concern that the processes set out in the Protocol were ignored.”
Ursula von der Leyen’s bid to block imports of coronavirus vaccine into Northern Ireland has badly damaged the EU’s credibility, and underlined why more EU27 countries should follow the UK’s example by quitting the bloc, a Finnish MEP has said.
Laura Huhtasaari, a member of the right-wing Finns party, made her remarks in the wake of European Commission’s decision to trigger Article 16 of the Northern Irish Protocol, prevented vaccines from crossing the border.
The decision was reversed after furious protests from London and Dublin, with Ireland’s Taoiseach Micheal Martin admitting he had received no prior warning of what Brussels was planning.
Fisheries remained a key sticking point of Brexit trade talks
10:30am update: New funding for Scottish fishing industries
Money for the seafood and fishing industry has been allocated to help the sector deal with the impact of coronavirus and Brexit.
A new £7.75 million funding package will offer support to fishermen, seafood businesses, ports and harbours, the Scottish Government has announced.
The UK will hold crisis talks with the European Union after the bloc threatened the future of the Irish border plan.
Boris Johnson has called on urgent action from Brussels to resolve implementation issues of the Northern Ireland Protocol.
In a warning to the EU, the Prime Minister insisted that the region’s place within the UK will be “protected and strengthened”. His comments come after the post-Brexit border plan was called into question last week by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.
9:30am update: Coveney lashes out at DUP plot on Northern Ireland Protocol
Ireland’s foreign affairs minister, Simon Coveney, said the DUP’s attempt to undermine the Northern Ireland Protocol poses “real difficulties”.
Mr Coveney said the threat by the European Commission to suspend part of the protocol has made the implementation of the mechanism more difficult.
French PM Jean Castex has slated Jersey over the fishing stance
Independence would hit the Scottish economy harder than Brexit, and rejoining the EU would make little difference, a team of academics has said.
The economic damage from leaving both unions would be the equivalent of an income loss of between £2,000 and £2,800 per person, according to an analysis of trade by the London School of Economics (LSE).
8.30am update: Sinn Finn lashes out at Northern Ireland Protocol
The Sinn Fein president has described the DUP’s attempts to undermine the Northern Ireland Protocol as “reckless”.
Mary Lou McDonald said the DUP was not driven by the best interests of the people of Northern Ireland and that it was critical the protocol was not “unpicked and undermined” after five weeks in operation.
Her comments come in response to the DUP announcing it will launch a co-ordinated bid to undermine the Northern Ireland Protocol in Belfast and London.
8am update: New post-Brexit state aid system announced for businesses
A new subsidy system to provide support for businesses will “propel the UK to the forefront of innovation and help create the jobs of the future”, the Business Secretary has said.
Kwasi Kwarteng announced plans for a long-term replacement to the European Union’s state aid regime, signalling a break away from Brussels’ rules post-Brexit.
It is hoped the new scheme will allow the UK to be more dynamic in helping businesses, and that it will encourage job creation and growth.
— to www.express.co.uk