Brexit news – live: Amazon halts alcohol sales to Northern Ireland, amid more red tape turmoil

Today’s daily politics briefing

Amazon has halted sales of wines, beers and spirits in Northern Ireland due to complex new excise rules. The company is reportedly ready to pull more products from the province – including over-the-counter medicines – over changes brought in by the Brexit deal.

The online retailer is said to be concerned that excise duty will now have to be paid twice on shipments which are sent from the British mainland across the Irish Sea following Boris Johnson’s trade agreement.

It comes as the Lib Dems branded a plan to charge EU students coming to the UK over £1,000 to use the NHS a “pointless red tape nightmare”. Meanwhile, home secretary Priti Patel is set to announce a hotel quarantine plan for arrivals from the highest-risk parts of the world.


EU citizens ‘asked to show evidence of status in UK’

Some EU citizens who live in the UK have reportedly been questioned at the border and asked to show some evidence about where they live and whether or not they have settled status.

Politico has reported on cases involving at least four EU nationals – from Finland, Romania and Malta – who were stopped on their return home to the UK and asked questions about their residence. “It was more like the border control feeling you get in the US,” said one.

EU diplomats told the website border officials could be in breach of the law with their questions.

“The Border Force officials have the authority to try to determine who you are and even to ask you for details of your residence, but they cannot ask you for proof of your settled or pre-settled status,” one said.

EU citizens questioned upon return

EU citizens questioned upon return

(Simon Calder)

Adam Forrest27 January 2021 10:21


Brexit losses ‘disappointing’, says City leader

The UK’s loss of financial business to the EU due to Brexit has been “disappointing”, a leading figure in the City of London has said.

London has seen major asset and job losses over the past year and the sector was largely during the divorce deal negotiations, cutting off the City from its biggest single customer.

“It’s disappointing to lose business but it’s not at all catastrophic,” said Catherine McGuinness, who is the political leader of the financial district’s ruling body.

“We are very confident in London’s basic strengths and that we will make up business elsewhere,” said told Reuters. “No matter what happens, London will continue to thrive.”

Canary Wharf in London

(Getty Images)

Adam Forrest27 January 2021 10:06


Johnson not up to the job, says Labour

Labour’s shadow health secretary Jon Ashworth said Boris Johnson had “shown he’s not up to the job” during his handling of the Covid crisis – but he stopped short of calling for his resignation. “Please learn – don’t make these mistakes again.”

Piers Morgan challenged the Labour frontbencher whether he wanted the PM to step down after a poll of Good Morning Britain viewers found 64 per cent wanted Johnson to go.

Adam Forrest27 January 2021 09:58


Majority of Calais refugees think ‘Brexit will make asylum easier’

Priti Patel won’t like this one. Refugees living in Calais believe Brexit has made it easier to secure asylum in the UK, a new poll has found.

About 1,000 people are staying in makeshift camps along the French coast. A survey of migrants in Calais carried out by Humanitarian charity Care4Calais revealed that more than half (55 per cent) think they have a better chance of getting asylum in the UK after Brexit. Only 18 per cent thinking they had a worse chance.

If nothing else, the results show hope springs eternal among the most desperate.

Migrants in Calais after shelter camp dismantled


Adam Forrest27 January 2021 09:50


Extending support to self-employed needn’t cost much, says IFS

More than one million self-employed workers locked out of government coronavirus support could be helped by payments which would cost a tiny fraction of the current furlough scheme, a respected think tank has calculated.  

The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) said small changes could save many from severe financial hardship. The group argues that the government could help the 1.3 million people who receive less than 50 per cent of their income through self-employment.

Our Whitehall editor Kate Devlin has more details:

Adam Forrest27 January 2021 09:40


‘Nobody has worked harder than the prime minister’

Communities secretary Robert Jenrick has defended Boris Johnson’s handling of the Covid crisis, as the government comes in for heavy criticism in the wake of the death toll surpassing 100,000.

Sky News host Niall Paterson suggested Johnson had waffled and failed to admit to costly mistakes, saying “it feels like the prime minister is gaslighting the entire nation at the moment”.

Jenrick replied: “No, I think that’s extremely unfair … Nobody has worked harder than the prime minister. The prime minister himself was particularly ill as a result of Covid. He’s worked extremely hard to guide the country through this period. There were no easy answers.”

Adam Forrest27 January 2021 09:34


Labour’s condemns government delay over border measures

Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth has criticised the government for failing to impose strict measures at the borders sooner. “We should have had comprehensive border controls in for the past year,” he told BBC Breakfast.

Referring to last spring, he added: “Priti Patel and Boris Johnson, they tell us they want to take control of their borders, but the one time it actually mattered, and they needed to take control of our borders to protect us, they failed.

“I would urge the government to look at a comprehensive policy, not just the hotspots.”

Labour leader Kier Starmer has said the imminent quarantine plan should apply to all arrivals. “It’s very clear that we need to have quarantine comprehensively in hotels for everybody coming into the country – we need much stronger defences at our borders.”

Adam Forrest27 January 2021 09:25


EU students will have to pay over £1,000 to use NHS

Students from EU countries who come to study in the UK will reportedly be asked to pay more than £1,000 for access to the NHS.  

Although European students are entitled to have the sum refunded – so long as they have a European Health Insurance Cards (Ehic) – they won’t be able to claim it back as a refund for over a year or more, according to the i newspaper.

Lib Dem MP Daisy Cooper – who has written to home secretary Priti Patel about the issue – branded it a “pointless red tape nightmare”. She added: “It just means extra paperwork and costs for both students and the Home Office.”

Brexit will mean changes for students coming to UK


Adam Forrest27 January 2021 09:06


AstraZeneca boss speaks out, as PM appeals to EU

Boris Johnson appealed for the world to avoid restrictions to vaccine movements across borders, as an escalating row between the EU and drugs giant AstraZeneca threatens supplies of the Covid jab.

The latest developments has seen AstraZeneca’s chief executive Pascal Soriot confirm that the UK would have first claim on vaccines produced by the company in Britain – telling Italian newspaper La Repubblica that glitches in EU supply were the result of Brussels taking three months longer than London to seal a deal.

It comes as Germany presses the European Commission to give member states new powers to block exports of vaccines outside of the bloc, according to the FT.

Adam Forrest27 January 2021 08:57


Labour wants all arrivals placed in quarantine hotels

Home secretary Priti Patel is all set to announce a hotel quarantine plan for arrivals from the highest-risk parts of the world in the Commons today.

It is expected to be limited to the 30 countries currently covered by the strictest travel restrictions – but Kenya, Nigeria, Ethiopia and the United Arab Emirates could also be added because of the risk from the new variant, according to The Telegraph.

Labour wants hotel quarantines to apply to all arrivals. “We need much stronger defences at our borders,” said Keir Starmer.

Ironically, Patel is thought to share the same view – but apparently she didn’t get her way at last night’s Covid-O meeting.

Adam Forrest27 January 2021 08:50


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