Boris Johnson’s government and EU officials have resumed crucial talks in London aimed at forging a post-Brexit trade deal, in what has been billed as the last “major” opportunity to avoid a no-deal crash-out at the end of December.
EU negotiator Michel Barnier is said to be offering to give the UK back 15 to 18 per cent of the quota European fleets currently take from British waters, but No 10 is thought to want 80 per cent returned to the UK – and reportedly views Brussels’ position as “wholly unacceptable”.
It comes as Germany’s chancellor chancellor Angela Merkel said time was now running very short to reach a deal, and some EU member states are growing impatient. “A deal is in everyone’s interest,” she added.
England could go ‘round and round in circles’ under Boris Johnson’s new tiered system, Keir Starmer warns
England could be left going “round and round in circles” under Boris Johnson’s new tiered system for tackling coronavirus after the national lockdown, Sir Keir Starmer has warned.
Ahead of a crucial vote in the Commons on the measures on Tuesday, the Labour leader said his party would act in the “national interest”, but held back from committing to support the prime minister amid concern over economic support for areas in the north.
Political correspondent Ashley Cowburn reports:
Samuel Osborne30 November 2020 16:07
Sturgeon sends message of unity to EU
Nicola Sturgeon has sent a message of unity to countries in the European Union as Brexit looms.
The UK is scheduled to leave the EU at the end of next month, following the end of the transition period.
In her conference address to SNP members on Monday, the first minister told the EU: “You are – and always will be – part of who we are. You are not distant to us.
“To those of you who have come from other countries to live here in ours, thank you – please stay.
“To the other countries of the EU, Scotland wants to return. And we hope to do so soon, as an independent member state.”
Samuel Osborne30 November 2020 15:41
Lib Dems prepared not to back government’s plans for tiered restrictions
Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey has said the party’s MPs are prepared to not back the Government’s plans for a tiered system of coronavirus restrictions to replace England’s national lockdown.
Increasing pressure amid a potentially large Tory rebellion, Sir Ed wrote to Boris Johnson to say the 11 Lib Dem MPs would withhold their support unless a series of demands were met, including the government publishing the scientific evidence underpinning the plans, detailing a clearer exit strategy and providing extra financial support for pubs.
In a statement, the MP added: “As it stands, we cannot in all conscience vote for this unsafe plan. The government has failed once again to put together a plan to bring the virus under control and keep people safe.
“The new tier system is arbitrary, confused and chaotic, and the government has failed yet again to deliver the test, trace and isolate strategy to beat this virus and end this pandemic.”
Samuel Osborne30 November 2020 15:23
Brexiteer ‘fury’ at post-Brexit travel rules
Weekend stories about Brits losing out on year-round access to second homes in Europe after the Brexit transition period are still prompting a lot of discussion on Twitter.
The Mail and others claim Brexiteers are “furious” at travel rules limiting them to 90 days, but as expert in EU law Prof Steve Peers points out: “These aren’t new EU rules. They are existing rules for non-EU citizens if their country has not signed up to free movement.” A predictable consequence of Brexit, as many have noted.
Adam Forrest30 November 2020 14:48
No 10: Rita Ora And Laurence Fox should follow rules
Boris Johnson’s official spokesman said it was “clear” that everyone in the country had to follow the Covid lockdown restrictions – “including celebrities”.
Singer Rita Ora reportedly breached the rules by holding a birthday party for 30 people at a restaurant in west London (and has since apologised), while the actor Laurence Fox boasted about having a “large group” over for lunch.
The No 10 spokesman “it’s up to police to decide what action to take” if rules had been broken.
Adam Forrest30 November 2020 14:25
EU getting impatient for Brexit deal, says Merkel
With time running very short to reach a deal on Britain’s future relationship with the European Union, some member states are growing impatient, German chancellor Angela Merkel has said.
She named governance, a competitive level playing field, Britain’s desire for access to the EU energy market and the EU’s desire for continued access to fishing grounds as key sticking points.
“We hope that the negotiations will have a good end,” she said. “We don’t need a deal at any price and we have made this clear … A deal is in everyone’s interest.”
Adam Forrest30 November 2020 13:56
EU offer on fishing quotas ‘wholly unacceptable’, say UK sources
No 10 continues to see the EU’s demands on fishing rights “wholly unacceptable”, a government sources have told ITV’s Robert Peston.
The host says Downing Street can now see “a political solution to the impasse” on stuff relating to level playing field conditions, state aid and enforcement mechanism. Peston also notes that EU sources say the opposite – that fisheries looks “sortable” but the other stuff is blocked.
Adam Forrest30 November 2020 13:40
Drakeford issues new curfew on pubs and restaurants in Wales
Pubs, cafes and restaurants in Wales will close at 6pm from Friday and will be banned from serving alcohol, under unexpected new hardline measures.
First minister Mark Drakeford said indoor entertainment venues – including cinemas, bingo halls, skating rinks and casinos – will also be ordered to shut. He said coronavirus was “accelerating across Wales” again after gains achieved during the country’s 17-day lockdown which ended on 9 November.
Adam Forrest30 November 2020 13:22
UK won’t change negotiating position, says No 10
Downing Street said the UK’s negotiating position would not be changed despite calls for a compromise in Brexit trade talks.
Boris Johnson’s official spokesman said: “We want to try and reach a free-trade agreement as soon as possible. But we have been clear that we won’t change our negotiating position and we have been clear what that position is.”
The government is “confident” there will be time to get legislation implementing any deal through parliament before the transition period expires at the end of the year, the spokesman added.
Adam Forrest30 November 2020 13:10
No Tory pay freeze for Scottish public-sector workers, says SNP
Scotland’s finance secretary Kate Forbes has told public-sector workers north of the border she will not impose a “Tory pay freeze” on them.
She made the pledge at the SNP conference as she attacked the UK government over austerity and for leaving her to prepare the Scottish budget “blindfolded”. In his spending review last week, chancellor Rishi Sunak said he was unable to give pay rises to all those working in the public sector in England.
It comes as party leader Nicola Sturgeon is set to announce a £100m winter fund to help low-income households in Scotland through the next few months of the pandemic – including a direct £100 payment for families with children receiving free school meals.
Adam Forrest30 November 2020 12:42