Brexit news – live: Ireland predicts deal in weeks, as ministers told migrants deaths must be ‘wake-up call’

Ireland’s foreign minister Simon Coveney has claimed that a Brexit trade deal is now likely in the next two weeks, but warned that “it won’t be easy”. He also warned that major trade disruption would be the “new reality” from 1 January, even if a UK-EU deal is struck.

It comes as Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove meets with UK retailers today to discuss potential transport problems. Those group building post-Brexit freight software – supposed to help companies submit paperwork digitally – said it’s unlikely to be ready for 1 January.  

Meanwhile, charities said the deaths of four people trying to cross the English Channel should serve as a “wake-up call” for UK and French leaders. However, environment secretary George Eustice said he “didn’t accept” current policy had failed, blaming “callous gangs” for the deaths.


Exclusive: Heathrow boss attacks No10 over ‘lack of support for airports’

The chief executive of Heathrow airport has a blunt message for No 10: “Wake up and smell the French roast.”

John Holland-Kaye has spent the morning conceding in broadcast interviews that his airport, previously the busiest in Europe, has been overtaken by Paris Charles de Gaulle.

“The French understand just how important aviation is to a thriving economy,” he told The Independent. “I don’t think the UK government does.

Jon Sharman28 October 2020 12:47


Opinion: Boris Johnson doesn’t have a clue about how poor people really feel

I’m at a total loss to understand why the government is digging in its heels by refusing to meet the cost of providing meals for schoolchildren during holiday periods, writes Lord Griffiths of Burry Port.

When they made their U-turn on this very matter in the summer, they must surely have sensed what a popular decision it was. It gave them political kudos, as well ensuring that the basic needs of disadvantaged and vulnerable children were met.

Jon Sharman28 October 2020 12:30


No more survivors of Channel boat sinking, France says

French emergency services say there is no chance of finding more survivors from a boat carrying migrants which sank while trying to cross the Channel to England.

The search was called off on Tuesday night because of darkness and bad weather and did not begin again on Wednesday, an official from the French maritime agency for the Channel and North Sea region said.

If you want to catch up on this awful story, you can read on below for the latest from this morning:

Jon Sharman28 October 2020 12:28


Boris Johnson ‘hid’ from IDS, claims new book

Boris Johnson allegedly “hid in his bedroom” to avoid questions from Iain Duncan Smith about Brexit in the days before he became PM last year. Ex-Tory adviser Peter Cardwell made the claim in his new book The Secret Life of Special Advisers.

The book states: “With IDS en route, Boris quickly ordered his entire team to race up the stairs to the first floor of the house and, well, hide from their alleged campaign chairman as he rapped on the door of the building.

“Eventually, IDS gave up knocking on the door and ringing the bell, and the Johnson team gingerly made their way downstairs again to their makeshift offices to resume their work.”

A senior Tory source told The Sun it was a “work of fiction”.  

Boris Johnson outside No 10

Adam Forrest28 October 2020 12:09


Government backtracks over claim soy sauce will be ‘cheaper’ after Brexit

The government has been forced to backtrack for its “naughty” claim that its trade policies will cut the price of soy sauce after Brexit.

The Department for International Trade (DIT) twitter account posted that the ingredient “will be made cheaper thanks to our trade deal with Japan”.

But trade experts pointed out that the agreement in fact would only prevent the salty condiment from getting more expensive under a no-deal Brexit.

Sam Lowe of Centre for European Reform, described the claim as “naughty”, while opposition politicians said the government’s trade claims were increasingly characterised by “exaggerations and mis-truths”.

Adam Forrest28 October 2020 11:39


George Eustice clashes with Kay Burley over school meals

If you missed it earlier, environment secretary George Eustice was given a tough time over the government’s refusal to extend free school meal vouchers over the holidays as he did the morning media round on behalf of the government.  

Sky News anchor Kay Burley asked the Tory MP: “You’re saying you’ll feed children in term time, but they’ll have to go hungry when it’s not term time. Can you appreciate how ridiculous that sounds?”

When Eustice replied: “I don’t understand the point you’re making,” the host said: “Kids are going hungry when they’re not at school – I can’t make it any simpler.”

Adam Forrest28 October 2020 11:25


Matt Hancock impressed by Covid-detecting dogs

The Duchess of Cornwall has said health secretary Matt Hancock was “impressed” by a demonstration of Covid-19 detecting dogs trained by a charity she supports.

Hancock said: “These dogs can detect coronavirus in the same way that they could detect drugs, or you can detect other things – and I’ve seen it for myself, absolutely brilliant.”

It is hoped in the coming months the animals could be deployed at airports, train stations and sporting venues to assist with the rapid screening of people.

Matt Hancock hails Covid-sniffing dogs

Adam Forrest28 October 2020 11:11


Michael Gove to meet retailers to sort out Brexit software mess

Those building the vital post-Brexit freight software – supposed to help transport companies submit paperwork digitally – say it’s unlikely to be ready on time for 1 January.  

The Association of Freight Software Suppliers (AFSS) said its members couldn’t be sure of delivery because government officials had failed to give enough direction for the project.

Cabinet ministers Michael Gove and Brandon Lewis will meet with major UK retailers today to discuss the urgent problem – which could thwart efforts to get products onto the shelves.  

It comes as the current round of trade deal talks finish up in London today before moving to Brussels. Ireland’s foreign minister Simon Coveney has said deal is now “likely” in the next two weeks, but he also warned that major trade disruption would be the “new reality” from 1 January even if a UK-EU deal is struck.

Michael Gove has played up the benefits of Brexit


Adam Forrest28 October 2020 10:48


Economy in ‘suspended animation’ over Brexit, says CBI

The UK economy has been left in “suspended animation” while the government leaves striking a deal to the last minute, the head of the nation’s leading busines group has said.

CBI boss Dame Carolyn Fairbairn said: “The economy has gone into suspended animation while we resolve this seismic issue. I hope we can have a resolution so we can move on … The thing that’s painful is that it has taken so long to get to a resolution. I think we will get a deal.”

She also rejected government suggestions that the UK would prosper under a no-deal, stating that an agreement would be “hugely better” than no deal.

Adam Forrest28 October 2020 10:35


Minister ‘doesn’t accept’ failure of migrant policy – as charities say deaths ‘wake-up call’

Environment secretary George Eustice has rejected the idea current government policy for dealing with migrant crossings had failed. “I don’t accept that,” he said – before blaming people traffickers for the tragedy.  

The minister added: “There is no reason for [migrants] to make this crossing – they’re in safe countries, they’re in the EU, they’re in France … There’s no reason to make this crossing and they’re being encouraged to do so by gangs that are taking their money.”

The refugee crisis charity Care4Calais called for the incident to act as a “wake-up call” for those in power in both the UK and France. 

Adam Forrest28 October 2020 10:31


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