Brexit news – latest: Boris Johnson hails ‘wonderful’ new customs forms, as exit countdown begins

PM says his Brexit deal achieves ‘having his cake and eating it’

Boris Johnson has said the UK’s destiny “now resides firmly in our hands” after his Brexit trade deal cleared parliament and entered into law. It was royal assent overnight, as Britain prepares to leave the single market and customs union at 11pm on Thursday.

The prime minister also claimed the mountain of new red tape faced by British exporters is “a wonderful thing”, arguing: “They’ll now have the advantage that they’ll only have one set of forms they have to fill out for export to around the whole world.”

Yet logistics still have concerns that the “a mountain of paperwork” will cause delays for freight when the transition period ends tonight. One leading haulage firm has suspended services to EU, and will wait to see whether the first couple of weeks in January are “disastrous”.


Thatcher ‘rejoicing in heaven’, claims Tory MP

Triumphant at Britain’s imminent exit from the EU, the Conservative MP Sir David Amess has shared a photo of his cardboard cut-out of Margaret Thatcher – claiming the former PM is “rejoicing in heaven”.

Both Leavers and Remainers have tried to claim Thatcher for the anti and pro-EU cause in the four and a half years since the Brexit referendum.

Adam Forrest31 December 2020 09:24


No national lockdown ahead, claims Gavin Williamson

There will not be another national lockdown despite rocketing Covid-19 cases across the UK, the education secretary has said.

Gavin Williamson was “confident” the tier system would remain in place in England, describing it as “robust” and preferable to nation-wide measures.

As millions more people moved into the highest tier 4 level overnight, the cabinet minister argued that it was important to give local areas the ability to loosen measures depending on their control of the virus.

“I’m confident that we won’t be moving into a national lockdown situation because the tiering structure is the right place to be,” he told Sky News.

Adam Forrest31 December 2020 09:07


Angela Eagle gets damehood

The long-time Labour MP for Wallasey in Merseyside Angela Eagle was made a dame at the new year honours.

Known for her work promoting women’s and LGBT+ rights, the 59-year-old said it was “lovely” to be recognised, adding that her “greatest honour is being able to represent people in parliament”.

Adam Forrest31 December 2020 09:04


Geoffrey Cox gets knighthood – despite prorogation row

Former attorney general Geoffrey Cox QC has received a knighthood in the new year honours. The gong comes despite the Tory MP’s prominent role in last year’s controversial shutdown of parliament.

Mr Cox advised Boris Johnson’s government that it was legal to prorogue parliament for five weeks in autumn 2019, only for the move to be ruled unlawful by the Supreme Court.

Mr Cox famously branded parliament a “disgrace” during the debacle – but he gets a knighthood for his “parliamentary and political service”.

Adam Forrest31 December 2020 09:00


UK haulage firm suspends European services

One British haulage firm has already planned to temporarily suspend its European services in the new year to judge whether they will become “mission impossible” after the transition period ends tonight.

Essex-based Youngs Transportation and Logistics will pause operations to the EU from January 4 to 11 due to the uncertainty over the impact of new customs rules. Rob Hollyman, director at Youngs, said the company had decided to “let things settle” for the first week in January.

Hollyman explained: “The biggest concern is just how long the export customs clearance will take when we are leaving the EU with cargo on board and equally how long the UK customs clearance will take when we arrive in the UK and if there’s any divergence involved in either of those two processes.”

Asked if the Youngs temporary suspension of EU services could go on longer, Mr Hollyman replied: “If it’s a disastrous first week, and looks like it’s going to continue disastrously into the second, potentially yes.”

From January 1 lorry drivers will also require a permit to access channel crossings in Kent as part of plans to stop the county’s roads being clogged up by potential delays.

Lorry drivers were stuck at Dover over Christmas


Adam Forrest31 December 2020 08:56


Hauliers warn of ‘massive burden’ ahead

Hauliers still have concerns that customs checks will cause delays for freight when the Brexit transition period ends tonight at 11pm, a trade body has said.

Martin Reid, the Road Haulage Association (RHA) director for Scotland, said “There’s still a long way to go and there’s uncertainty about the details.

“There’s going to be confusion and mistakes on January 1, but there will be a bedding-in period. Customs requirements will have to take place. That’s a massive administrative burden on the industry.”

Lorries queue on M20 in Kent


Adam Forrest31 December 2020 08:51


Customs forms ‘wonderful’, says PM – as deal signed into law

It’s almost over. Four and a half years after the referendum, Brexit finally becomes real at 11pm tonight. Boris Johnson may have to keep his celebrations muted this evening, but he is clearly feeling triumphant.

Asked if his deal was a case of having your cake and eating it, the PM told the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg: “You said it … this is a cake-ist treaty.” Johnson also claimed it was “wonderful” for British exporters – despite the new customs declarations they’ll be filling out from tomorrow.

“They’ll now have the advantage that they’ll only have one set of forms they have to fill out for export to around the whole world … I think it’s a wonderful thing.”

The deal was signed into law after MPs backed it by 521 to 73 votes. Labour leader Keir Starmer made sure to criticise the “thin” agreement – warning of the “avalanche of checks, bureaucracy and red tape” – but 37 of his MPs still rebelled against his order to back the deal.

Adam Forrest31 December 2020 08:50


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