Brexit news – live: Joe Biden victory won’t stop UK-US trade deal, claims ambassador to Britain

Robert “Woody” Johnson, the US ambassador to the UK, has claimed that a post-Brexit, transatlantic deal will happen regardless of whether Donald Trump or Joe Biden wins the presidency. “I’m confident our countries can get this done no matter what happens today.”

It comes as Germany’s central bank claims the country is the most popular destination for banks quitting London because of Brexit. Bundesbank said they expected the UK’s exit would mean institutions moving £610bn in assets and create 2,500 jobs in Germany.

Elsewhere, Brexit trade negotiators Michel Barnier and David Frost have reportedly failed to reach agreement on any of three big issues – fisheries, level playing field issues and a mechanism for settling disputes. EU sources said the two sides were remain “stuck” over fishing quotas.


Will Scotland get furlough support? ‘Of course’ says No 10

No 10 has said the UK government would “of course” provide economic support should Scotland require its own lockdown after 2 December.  

The PM’s official spokesman said “furlough has always been a UK-wide scheme, and, as the PM has said, the government will always be there to provide support to all parts of the United Kingdom”  

Pressed on whether this ruled out a Wales or Scotland-only furlough scheme, the spokesman said: “As the PM said, if other parts of the UK decide to go into measures which require direct economic support, of course we will make that available to them as we have done throughout the pandemic.”

Communities minister Robert Jenrick appeared hesititant when asked if support would be there beyond the end of England’s lockdown on 2 December.

Boris Johnson outside No 10

Boris Johnson outside No 10

(AFP via Getty Images)

Adam Forrest3 November 2020 13:16


Brexit talks ‘stuck’ on fishing quotas – and other blockages

Brexit trade talks have so far failed to agree on any of three persistent disagreements – fisheries, level playing field issues and a mechanism for settling disputes – sources have said.

EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier and his UK counterpart David Frost are still locked in discussions in Brussels, but a breakthrough does not appear to be imminent. Sources from both sides told Reuters there was no agreements on the big issues.

An EU diplomat said disagreement persisted over the divvying up of fish stocks, including Britain’s demand for annual quota negotiations. “That’s where we are stuck. They haven’t moved beyond these items on fisheries.”

Barnier may brief the 27 national envoys on the progress (or lack of it) on Wednesday afternoon.

EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier


Adam Forrest3 November 2020 12:47


No 10 hopes for ‘satisfactory outcome’ on legal row

An update now on the passing of EU Commission’s deadline for Boris Johnson to explain why he is planning to break international law with his Internal Market Bill.

Asked why UK hadn’t responded to the EU’s formal letter, a government spokesperson said: “We are committed to working through the Joint Committee process to find a satisfactory outcome for both sides.

“That is our overriding priority. We will respond to the next stages of this process in due course, as required.”

Meanwhile, a European Commission spokesman said on Tuesday that Britain had failed to reply and that the Commission would therefore now consider the next step in the legal dispute which is a reasoned opinion.

Our correspondent Jon Stone has more on the brewing row:

Adam Forrest3 November 2020 12:25


Patel set to ban protests of ‘more than two’ during lockdown

Demonstrations of more than two people could be banned during the month-long lockdown in England – with ministers set to remove an exemption that has allowed protests to take place in recent months.

Priti Patel is reported to have briefed chief constables over plans for tougher enforcement measures.

Human rights barrister Adam Wagner described the development as “worrying” on Twitter, adding: “Obviously there is a balance to be struck between preventing the virus and basic right – but with the government using unprecedented executive powers to impose restrictions, protest is hugely important.”

Adam Forrest3 November 2020 11:56


Police scramble to rescue files of suspected criminals amid Brexit fears

Police are scrambling to save the vital details of suspected criminals and missing people in case a vital database is “switched off” by a no-deal Brexit.

Thousands of names are being hurriedly “double keyed” into the Interpol system, amid fears the UK will lose all access to the Schengen Information System (SIS II) if there’s no agreement with the EU by the end of 2020.

Richard Martin, the deputy assistant commissioner at the Met in charge of Brexit preparations, warned of the “massive impact” on policing of a no-deal.

And, on SIS II, he revealed: “We are either not in it not in it, for want of a better word –there is no sort of halfway house.”

“We’re putting the most important alerts that we have on SIS also onto the Interpol system, so that – if it is literally switched off at 2300 hours on the 31st – then policing will still have access to those alerts that we consider to be the most important,” he has just told a parliamentary inquiry.

Adam Forrest3 November 2020 11:43


UK ‘fails to reply to EU legal letter’

The UK not yet responded European Commission’s formal letter threatening legal action over the Internal Market Bill, which breaches key parts of the existing withdrawal agreement, according to the latest report.  

The deadline came and went on Monday without reply, EU sources have told RTE’s Tony Connelly.

France’s Europe minister Clément Beaune told Andrew Marr on Sunday that EU could still “go further” – mentioning the “possibility” of a lawsuit. Could the row flare up again and disrupt the trade talks in Brussels?

Adam Forrest3 November 2020 11:22


Government will respond to petition demanding one-year Brexit extension

Brexiteers may not like, but the government will have to respond to a petition demanding a one-year extension to the transition period and another referendum – after it gained more than 10,000 signatures.

Petitioner Bob Downie said it was time for Downing Street to “take a step back from the Brexit negotiations and take a breather”.

Adam Forrest3 November 2020 11:13


Sadiq Khan moves City Hall

London mayor Sadiq Khan has confirmed he is moving the Greater London Authority out of its Thamesside City Hall home to a new HQ in the capital’s Royal Docks as part of an effort to plug a £500m financial black hole caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Khan this morning told staff that the move to the Crystal Building, which is already owned by the GLA, will save £61m over the next five years in rent and other bills.

“Given our huge budget shortfall, and without the support we should be getting from the government, I simply cannot justify remaining at our current expensive office when I could be investing that money into public transport, the Met Police and the London Fire Brigade,” said the mayor.  

London mayor Sadiq Khan

(Getty Images)

Adam Forrest3 November 2020 10:54


Gove apologises for getting tennis and golf rules wrong

Michael Gove has apologised for getting his own lockdown rules wrong by claiming tennis and golf will escape a ban. The Cabinet Office minister suggested the sports could be allowed with one other person.

“You’ll probably be able to play singles tennis,” he told constituents on Facebook, adding: “If people are properly socially-distanced, they can take exercise with one other person.

“We are looking at allowing people to play on golf courses with one other appropriately distanced. The same would apply to tennis, if you are playing tennis out of doors.”

But Gove later issued a correction. “My apologies, I got this wrong.”

Michael Gove

(BBC/Handout via Reuters)

Adam Forrest3 November 2020 10:31


Biden victory wouldn’t stop UK-US trade deal, claims ambassador

As voting begins across America today, the current US Ambassador Robert “Woody” Johnson has claimed that a transatlantic trade deal would happen regardless of the election result.  

“President Trump prioritised a free trade agreement with the UK because it is the fastest way to increase prosperity for both our countries. Post-Covid, this will be even more critical,” he told The Daily Express.

“Restoring economic growth will have to be the number one priority after we control the virus. If ever there was a time to remove barriers for businesses, it is now.”

He added: “We still have a few things to iron out, as is always the case with major agreements like this one, but I’m confident our countries can get this done no matter what happens today.”

Many commentators have suggested a Trump victory makes a deal more likely. Biden is thought to be keen to re-orientate towards Germany and France, so Britain is no longer the “centre of gravity” for the US in Europe.

Robert “Woody” Johnson, US ambassador to the UK


Adam Forrest3 November 2020 10:05


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