Displaying items by tag: Brexit
The UK has accused France of the ‘offensive’ remark that Northern Ireland is not part of the UK. Since 2016 the two sides have been trying to work out how to deal with post-Brexit trade and Northern Ireland’s land border with the EU. The latest spat is centered on sausages. When Boris Johnson met Emmanuel Macron at the G7 summit, he asked him to imagine if Toulouse sausages were barred from sale in Paris, which left Macron ‘astonished’. He told him Toulouse is part of the same territory, and inaccurately said, ‘Northern Ireland was not part of the United Kingdom’. Johnson furiously replied, ‘Northern Ireland and Britain are part of the same country.’ After the testy exchange Johnson told the media, ‘Some of our friends seem to misunderstand that the UK is a single country and a single territory. I think they need to get that into their heads.’
UK exports to the EU fell 40.7% in January, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), while imports tumbled 28.8% and the economy shrank by 2.9% amid the third lockdown. The figures, the first since new trading rules between the UK and the EU came into force, show the biggest drop since records began. The ONS said temporary factors were likely to be behind many of the falls. KPMG Accountancy said Brexit caused the plunge in trade between the UK and the EU. In contrast, the UK's trade with non-EU countries grew by 1.7% in January.
Days after a ‘mutant’ coronavirus strain ruined Christmas plans of holidaymakers on both sides of the Channel, red tape and confusion have raised hurdles for Britons attempting to return to their homes in several European countries. They are now regarded as ‘third-country nationals’, and some were barred from boarding flights bound for the countries where they live. Others have complained of difficulties accessing the social benefits to which they are entitled. Most complaints involved flights to Spain, home to the largest number of registered Britons in Europe, though the Spanish authorities claimed that the issue had been resolved by mid-Sunday. Italy, Germany, Sweden, and the Netherlands all experienced travel problems for UK residents trying to return home, and there were reports of violations of the withdrawal agreement guaranteeing their rights.
Stripping away the spin in both the UK and EU, the prospects of a deal feel very slim at present. In the next few weeks everything rests on intense negotiations behind the scenes. The process is unlikely to be straightforward as this is all uncharted territory. Please continue to pray for God to direct every conversation around this challenging situation. Pray for everyone to be creative and able to keep the basis of negotiations on level ground. Political observers say that if they wanted to, the EU and the UK could, in theory, come up with an agreement outside EU law. Meanwhile the UK and USA are in talks over a mini trade deal to reduce tariffs. Pray for the success of post-Brexit deals with Washington. Pray for God to pave the way for excellent future communications between US trade representative Robert Lighthizer and the UK international trade secretary Liz Truss. See
After months of talks, the UK’s vision of the future does not appear to be compatible with the EU’s viewpoint. For the first time in a world of highly moveable deadlines, Boris Johnson and EU president Ursula von der Leyen announced that a final decision must be taken by 13 December. There is a chance still that a couple of frantic days could result in a change. Please continue to pray for God to be at the core of all the negotiations between Lord Frost and Michel Barnier. Meanwhile, the EU has published contingency plans - should talks collapse. The plans will aim to ensure basic UK-EU air and road connectivity, as well as allowing the possibility of fishing access to each other's waters. See also
Michel Barnier has warned Brexit trade talks could be plunged into ‘crisis’ if Boris Johnson puts forward more legislation that calls into question last year's divorce deal. The Brussels diplomat is worried that the Finance Bill will contain clauses that breach the terms of the Northern Ireland protocol. He was infuriated when No 10 tabled legislation that handed ministers the powers to rip up sections of the Withdrawal Agreement relating to Northern Ireland. Mr Barnier made the warning during a video call with EU27 ambassadors. At the time of writing the future UK-EU relationship is still deadlocked because of disagreements over post-Brexit fishing rights and common standards, and Downing Street has yet to decide on a timetable for publishing the Finance Bill. Talks went on late into the evening on 2 December at the business department in central London. See
Ursula von der Leyen said the EU is willing to be ‘creative’ to get a deal with the UK and that European interests will best be served by leaders backing any compromise that emerges. There is concern among member states that the UK might successfully push the commission into making concessions which will give British businesses an advantage in the marketplace over the decades to come. Ms von der Leyen said she trusted Michel Barnier’s ‘skilful steer’. The EU’s chief negotiator is expected to go to London on 27 November in a last-ditch push for an agreement. ‘These are decisive days for negotiations with the United Kingdom’, von der Leyen said; ‘I cannot tell you today if in the end, there will be a deal.’ She said the commission’s negotiating team was open-minded as to how to bridge the gaps between the two sides, but that they were holding firm on key principles.
Britain's chief Brexit negotiator Lord Frost told Boris Johnson to expect a Brussels trade deal around 24 November. However, talks could still collapse over fishing and red tape, with both sides urging the other to ‘get real’. A diplomatic source said, ‘You can expect some strong words from leaders that the EU will be operating in a no-deal scenario within days and the Commission has been tasked to activate contingency planning’. (see) There is a sense of desperation to get a deal sorted. Robin Walker, junior minister for Northern Ireland, told Parliament, ‘There remain important outstanding issues to be resolved’ The justice minister has urged that a Brexit deal be agreed, warning of a potential ‘organised crime bonanza’. There are huge uncertainties for justice agencies with just weeks to go until the end of the transition period. It is not just the future security partnership that affects policing and justice in Northern Ireland, it is also the economic decisions that are made.
The ‘Haulier Handbook’ (to prevent Brexit border meltdown) is a guide to the mountain of new red tape required to transport goods across borders. It was promised in early September but will now not be fully available until 7 December, three weeks before it is needed. Logistics UK, representing freight groups, warned that time is running out to prevent ‘lorry queues at Dover and empty shelves in Northern Ireland’ when the transition period ends in 50 days’ time. ‘With the economy still reeling from handling the impact of Covid-19, the last thing UK plc needs is another major shock of our own making,’ said the Logistics director of policy. Construction of border inspection posts for checks on animal products crossing the Irish Sea has not yet started, and will take up to six months to complete.
Negotiations for a post-Brexit trade deal between the UK and EU are expected to continue next week as the deadline draws nearer. The two sides resumed talks in London this week, with a UK government source saying they were in the ‘final stage’. But big gaps still remain, and the UK described the EU’s position on fishing access as ‘wholly unrealistic’. Boris Johnson is prepared to move forward without a deal. If nothing is agreed, the UK will trade with the bloc on World Trade Organisation rules - leading to tariffs on many imports and exports, which could push up costs for businesses and consumers. Both sides say they want to avoid this outcome, but the EU will not do a deal ‘at any price’. Mr Johnson said the UK will prosper either way.