Attempt to trigger Article 16 was ‘mistake’, says EU vice president
Significant backlash has forced Northern Ireland’s ruling DUP into backtracking on measures intended to ease agri-food trade disruption in NI caused by Brexit.
Under post-Brexit customs rules, checks are required on animal-based products entering the UK from the EU, and subsequently on goods moving between Great Britain and NI too.
It was decided that a ‘Swiss-style’ trading arrangement with the bloc would ease such regulations, therefore mitigating trade disruption, but the DUP’s economy minister Diane Dodds on Tuesday ruled out such an arrangement – because it would require the UK to “slavishly” follow EU rules “in every respect”.
Meanwhile, Wales’ former Labour first minister accused Boris Johnson’s “anti-Scottish” outlook of driving support for Scottish independence. Carwyn Jones told the Constitutionally Unsound podcast that Downing Street was playing into the hands of the SNP.
“If you keep on saying ‘no’ to democrats you give succour to people who are far more extreme,” he said, referring to Mr Johnson’s repeated refusal to allow an indyref2 vote to go ahead. “How do you say in the long term ‘no, no, no’ when people in Scotland keep voting yes, yes, yes? That’s a fundamental problem that can only end badly.”
National Theatre abandons EU tours due to ‘Brexit uncertainty’
The National Theatre has announced it is “shelving” plans to tour the EU due to uncertainty over obtaining visas and work permits in mainland Europe.
“We are currently not able to confirm any touring commitments in Europe as a result of Brexit legislation,” the company said on Wednesday.
Under post-Brexit legislation, actors, musicians and crews from inside the UK can no longer work freely across the EU.
Despite government pledges on Tuesday that it would open negotiations with individual bloc members to help British artists tour, culture minister Caroline Dinenage admitted there were “a lot of obstacles to overcome”.
As a result, plans to take productions such as the hugely popular Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time to Europe have been abandoned, a National spokeswoman told the BBC News earlier.
It comes after more than 100 members of the performers’ Equity union, including Sir Ian McKellen and Dame Julie Walters, penned an open letter to the government urging Boris Johnson to negotiate new terms with the EU that would allow “creative practitioners” like themselves “to travel to the EU visa-free for work”.
Sam Hancock17 February 2021 13:00
PM’s ‘anti-Scottish’ government driving indyref2 support
Despite the PM’s best efforts to quash the movement, it seems Boris Johnson’s government is driving support for Scottish independence (also know as indyref2) because of its “anti-Scottish” outlook, according to the former Labour first minister of Wales.
Carwyn Jones said No 10’s strategy was playing into the hands of the SNP, suggesting it would not be wise to block a second referendum on independence in Scotland.
“Boris Johnson is head of a government that is very English nationalist in its outlook,” MrJones told the Constitutionally Unsound podcast. “How do you say in the long term ‘no, no, no’ when people in Scotland keep voting yes, yes, yes? That’s a fundamental problem that can only end badly.”
Sam Hancock17 February 2021 12:19
DUP u-turns on move to reduce Irish Sea border disruption
A cross-party backlash has forced the DUP into backtracking on measures that would ease agri-food trade disruption in Northern Ireland because of Brexit.
Post-Brexit rules mean checks are required on animal-based products entering the UK from the EU. And because NI continues to follow EU customs rules, the regulations also apply to goods moving between Great Britain and NI.
A new ‘Swiss-style’ trading arrangement would see some checks on animal-based products loosened, therefore mitigating trade disruption.
My colleague Matt Mathers reports:
Sam Hancock17 February 2021 12:17
Pubs and restaurants will come out of lockdown last, PM hints
Boris Johnson has hinted that pubs and restaurants will be the last part of the economy to reopen in the gradual lifting of the third national lockdown.
On a visit to a mass vaccination centre in Cwmbran, south Wales, he suggested the return of the hospitality sector would come after other sectors.
However, he refused to give any specific details about when restrictions would be eased.
Rory Sullivan17 February 2021 11:57
Children’s commissioner highlights danger of not extending universal credit increase
The outgoing children’s commissioner Anne Longfield will tell the government on Wednesday that it must do more to protect to vulnerable children.
She will highlight the damage done to children if ministers do not extend the £20 increase in universal credit, which is due to end in April.
“If the government is really focused on educational catch-up, it wouldn’t even countenance pushing 800,000 children into the type of devastating poverty which can have a much bigger impact on their life chances than the school they go to or the catch-up tuition they get,” she will say.
My colleague Zoe Tidman reports:
Rory Sullivan17 February 2021 11:37
UK says footage of detained UAE princess ‘very distressing’
The UK is “concerned” by footage showing the ruler of Dubai’s daughter allegedly being held “hostage” by her father, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.
In video messages to her friends, Princess Latifa said the villa where she is detained “has been converted into a jail”, with the windows barred shut. She has reportedly been held against her will after trying to escape the emirate in 2018.
“Every day I am worried about my safety and my life, I don’t really know if I’m going to survive this situation,” she says in the clip.
Speaking on Wednesday morning, foreign secretary Dominic Raab told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I have watched the Panorama footage – it is troubling, it is obviously very distressing to see that footage.”
He said the UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights will follow up on the case with the UAE.
Rory Sullivan17 February 2021 11:07
Piers Morgan blasts Dominic Raab for being ‘extraordinarily arrogant’
Journalist Piers Morgan has described the foreign secretary Dominic Raab as “extraordinarily arrogant”, after the minister clashed with one of his ITV colleagues.
The foreign minister reacted with anger on Wednesday when the Good Morning Britain host Kate Garraway interrupted him to clarify a question she had on the government’s hotel quarantine scheme.
“I think people get fed up with the media not allowing us to give honest answers,” he fired off.
In response, Mr Morgan tweeted that “Dominic Raab is extraordinarily arrogant for someone with so little to be arrogant about”.
Rory Sullivan17 February 2021 10:45
PM to bring back mass testing plans – after failed ‘moonshot’ scheme
Boris Johnson will reportedly re-announce plans for mass coronavirus testing next week, as he lays out the country’s route out of lockdown.
It is thought that the scheme will involve 400,000 lateral flow tests being sent out in the post each day.
This comes after the failure of the government’s “moonshot” testing initiative, which had aimed to carry out millions of daily tests by February 2021.
Our policy correspondent Jon Stone has more:
Rory Sullivan17 February 2021 10:22
Green policies should be at core of economic recovery, say MPs
The government should put nature and climate at the core of economic recovery, MPs have said in a report.
The Commons’ environmental audit committee (EAC) urged ministers to cut VAT on green homes upgrades and also called for electric cars to be made more affordable.
Tory MP Philip Dunne, who chairs the committee, said that coronavirus crisis is a “symptom of a growing ecological emergency” and should serve as a “wake-up call”.
He added: “The economic recovery will shape our national economy for decades to come and it is crucial that tackling climate change and restoring nature is at its core.
“A tax system fit for net-zero Britain is key. It will encourage innovation, give confidence to the sector and support companies to make the low-carbon transition.”
Rory Sullivan17 February 2021 10:01
Chancellor should quadruple pandemic recovery spending, says think tank
The chancellor should quadruple coronavirus crisis spending to £190 billion to kickstart the economy, the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) has suggested.
In a report titled “Boost it like Biden”, the think tank said that without further support from Rishi Sunak, the UK economy risks falling into a “stagnation trap”.
“At this March’s Budget, the chancellor should look to his transatlantic counterparts and pass support measures commensurate to the size of the economic peril the UK is in,” the IPPR said.
Its proposal of £190 billion works out as 8.6 per cent of GDP.
Rory Sullivan17 February 2021 09:38