Rishi Sunak claims Brexit deal ‘unifying moment’
It comes Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove warned businesses of “disruption” ahead, despite the deal. He also urged UK citizens to take out comprehensive travel insurance to cover health costs and check their mobile roaming to avoid charges if they are travelling to the EU.
Conservative grandee Lord Heseltine urged MPs and peers to abstain when voting on Boris Johnson’s trade deal, warning it will inflict “lasting damage” on the UK. Meanwhile, trade secretary Liz Truss is rushing to sign a continuity trade agreement with Turkey in the next few days.
Gibraltar faces border chaos without agreement, Spain warns
Spain is warning of disruption ahead for workers, tourists and businesses if no new, seperate deal is agreed over Gibraltar’s border before the Brexit transition period ends later this week.
Gibraltar was not included in the Brexit trade deal announced on Christmas Eve, and Spanish foreign minister Arancha Gonzalez Laya said she fears that the long lines of stranded lorry drivers seen at the English Channel could be repeated if an agreement is not reached.
Gonzalez Laya told Spanish state broadcaster RTVE: “We do not have much time, and the scenes of chaos from the UK must remind us that we need to keep working to reach a deal on Gibraltar. Spaniards want one, the people of Gibraltar want one, now the UK needs to desire one as well. Political will is needed.”
Gibraltar chief minister Fabian Picardo said the post-Brexit trade deal “is a huge relief”, but added that his territory is still at risk. Picardo said: “The clock is still ticking. We continue to work, hand in glove with the United Kingdom, to finalise negotiation with Spain of agreement for a proposed treaty between the EU and the UK in relation to Gibraltar.”
Adam Forrest28 December 2020 08:48
Barnier has Brexit book out next year
The EU’s chief negotiator Michael Barnier has said he will have a book about crucial role in the Brexit process out in the spring. Something to look forward to.
Barnier has given an interview with Le Figaro newspaper in which he suggested future legal disputes with the UK under the deal were “obviously a risk”. The deal outlines 19 specialised committees and four working groups set up to implement the deal and prevent problems from escalating.
Asked if he was happy with the deal he helped forge just before Christmas, Barnier said: “Yes and no. Can you be happy with a divorce?”
Adam Forrest28 December 2020 08:37
Staggered return of schools from 4 January, says Gove
Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove has said the government hopes the staggered reopening of schools in England will go ahead from 4 January, with primary schools set to re-open then.
“With secondary schools, it will be the case that next week only children in year 11 and year 13 … those [children] will go back,” he told Sky News. “And also children of key workers and children who are vulnerable. Other children won’t go back for a week after that.”
Gove also said GCSE and A-Level exams will “absolutely” go ahead in the summer of 2021.
Michael Gove confirms which groups of children will go back to school on 4th January
Adam Forrest28 December 2020 08:26
Johnson ‘will hold Zoom call with backbenchers’
So will the prime minister be able to minimise any rebellion over the Brexit trade deal? Boris Boris Johnson is reportedly set to hold a Zoom call with backbenchers in a bid to persuade any waverers – ahead on the big debate and vote on Wednesday.
The hardliners in the European Research Group (ERG) will take another day to consider the details with their lawyers – before announcing on Tuesday whether they back the agreement.
“If there had been something ghastly in the text it probably would have been spotted by now,” one Tory MP told Politico.
The ERG has been moaning about something, however. The group wants MPs to get the chance to speak in the Commons in person on Wednesday, after the Speaker advised them to stay at home. One ERG figure told The Telegraph: “On what would be an historic occasion, it would be disappointing if MPs cannot participate in situ.”
Adam Forrest28 December 2020 08:13
Tory grandee urges MPs not to back ‘damaging’ deal
Conservative grandee Lord Heseltine urged MPs and peers to abstain when voting on Boris Johnson’s trade deal, warning it will inflict “lasting damage” on the UK.
The former Tory deputy PM said he will “in no way share the endorsement of the legislation”, but that he will not vote against it because the consequences of a no-deal would be even graver.
But it is still likely to pass through both Houses, since Labour leader Keir Starmer has ordered his MPs to vote for the “thin” treaty because the only other option is a chaotic departure without a trade deal.
Reports this morning suggest Starmer faces a rebellion from dozens of his MPs, who would rather abstain or voter against the deal. A couple of junior shadow ministers are said to be wavering on the issue.
Adam Forrest28 December 2020 08:03
Boris Johnson ‘betrayed’ us, says fishing boss
Fishermen will be “absolutely worse off” as a result of the Brexit trade deal, the chairman of the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations has said. Andrew Locker said the industry had been “betrayed” by Boris Johnson.
“I am angry, disappointed and betrayed. Boris Johnson promised us the rights to all the fish that swim in our exclusive economic zone and we have got a fraction of that,” he told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.
“We are absolutely worse off. When we were within the EU we used to trade fish with the EU. We used to swap things we didn’t use with fish that they didn’t use and that enabled us to put together an annual fishing plan.
“What we have got now is a fraction of what we were promised through Brexit. We are going to really, really struggle this year.”
Adam Forrest28 December 2020 07:56
Gove warns of ‘disruption’ in January
Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove has urging UK citizens to take out comprehensive travel insurance to cover health costs – and check their mobile roaming policies to avoid charges if they are travelling to the EU.
He also warned businesses that the time is “very short” to make the final preparations before the UK begins trading with its biggest trading partner and minimise what he said would amount to “some disruption” from 1 January.
“In just three days’ time the Brexit transition period will end and we will have finally regained our independence,” he added.
A reminder the border disruption seen prior to Christmas is still not over. Around 200 lorry drivers are still waiting to travel to France following a week of chaos at the English Channel border.
Adam Forrest28 December 2020 07:48
Truss rushes to sign continuity trade deal with Turkey
Boris Johnson’s international trade secretary Liz Truss said she expects to sign a continuity trade agreement with Turkey in the next few days – a move that was not possible until the deal with the EU was struck because Ankara is in a customs union with the bloc.
“We now look forward to working with Turkey towards an ambitious tailor-made UK-Turkey trade agreement in the near future, as we aim to open new global markets for great British businesses, drive economic growth and improve people’s lives across both countries,” Truss said.
Adam Forrest28 December 2020 07:44
Barnier to sell MEPs on merits of deal
European ambassadors will begin the process of approving the post-Brexit trade deal in Brussels when they meet around 11.30am on Monday.
The ambassadors will “take the decision to provisionally apply the EU-UK agreement by written procedure” and begin the process of approving the deal when they meet in Brussels, one diplomat said.
Their unusual, provisional approval is expected ahead of the European Parliament’s formal ratification in the new year. Reports suggest the approval of MEPs may not happen until February.
The EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier will meet MEPs in the Brexit steering group at 8.30am (Brussels time) to persuade them of the merits of the deal.
Adam Forrest28 December 2020 07:42