Brexit news: EU pleads to ‘talk seriously’ to Boris after refusing to rubber stamp deal | Politics | News
Brexit: EU ‘used Irish border as bargaining tool’ says Jenkins
Britain and the EU signed the Trade and Co-operation Agreement (TCA) on Christmas Eve following nearly a year of intense negotiations, which set out trading arrangements that came into place from January 1. MEPs on the European Parliament’s trade and foreign affairs committees gave their consent to the deal on Thursday, raising hope of a possible improvement in strained relations between the two sides over Northern Ireland. But after weeks of delays, the TCA has still not been formally ratified, with group leaders in the European Parliament refusing to set a date for a final vote.
(This blog is now finished. Click here for the latest updates)
The provisional application for the deal is due to expire at the end of April, and the UK has repeatedly warned it expects the EU to complete its ratification process by then.
This latest twist came just hours before Brexit minister Lord Frost held talks with European Commission vice-president Maros Sefcovic in the Belgian capital over issues around the Northern Ireland Protocol and the country’s post-Brexit trade arrangements.
The protocol is designed to prevent a hard border with Ireland and after Brexit has seen the North remain part of the single market for goods, resulting in products arriving from Britain being subject to EU import regulations.
London has already infuriated Brussels by unilaterally deciding to extend grace periods to help retailers in Northern Ireland struggling with supplies, meaning the checks meant to be in place after Brexit are not yet in place.
Brexit news: Tensions are rising between the UK and EU over the Northern Ireland Protocol
Ireland’s foreign minister told Irish broadcaster RTE: “We need to talk seriously about how the protocol is being managed, how it can be implemented in a way that listens to the concerns many in Northern Ireland have and what flexibilities are possible.”
Andreas Schieder, who led the European Parliament foreign affairs committee’s work on the UK-EU deal, warned: “Brexit is a historic mistake, but now we need to establish a strong fundament for future relations.”
He also warned, “all progress could be lost, if the UK continues to unilaterally breach the Withdrawal Agreement and the Protocol on Northern Ireland”.
Brexit news: Lord Frost met EU counterpart Maros Sefcovic in Brussels for crunch talks
7.56am update: This blog is now finished. Click here for the latest updates
5.05am update: EU used Northern Ireland to ‘leverage position’ – Brexit ‘political football’, says MP
Northern Ireland was used as “political football” during Brexit negotiations – and by the EU as “leverage”, a Tory MP has claimed.
The remarks came as recent violence partially blamed on the Northern Ireland Protocol has rocked the nation.
Speaking on BBC Question Time, Tory MP Bernard Jenkin argued the EU commission should have given equal notice to the hard and soft borders with Ireland.
He said: “The Republic of Ireland and the EU Commission were absolutely obsessed with this border and we now see they should have given equal concern to the other border they’ve created down the Irish Sea.”
3.40am update: EU put to shame by UK fishermen as British fleets outperforming bloc’s super trawlers
The EU has been put to shame by UK fishermen attempting to become more sustainable in the face of destructive European super trawlers.
Climate activist George Monbiot, and Terri Portmann, co-founder of Call for Fish, appeared on Sky News to discuss the impact the UK’s fishing fleets had on the environment in the wake of Seaspiracy.
It was here that Ms Portmann – whose organisation aims to get more people eating British-sourced fish – outlined the ways in which UK fleets had tried to become sustainable despite the questionable practices of their European neighbours.
1.15am update: SNP savaged over desperate plot to ‘waste money’ on European trade hubs to counter Brexit
The SNP has come under fierce attack online following reports the party will open new “European trade hubs” if it wins next May’s Scottish parliament elections.
These are designed to counter “isolationist Brexit Britain” but Scots online have decried them as a “waste of money” funded by “the SNP’s magic money tree”.
According to nationalist publication The National, the Scottish Government is looking to create two new trade and investment hubs, one in each of Scandinavia and the Baltic region.
These would add to teams it already has in place in London, Brussels, Dublin, Paris and Berlin.
12.05am update: EU deploying same old negotiating tactics as Britain pushes to put an end to border row
British officials are worried they may not find a deal to resolve the Brexit row over Northern Ireland if Brussels reverts back to its same old negotiating techniques.
It is feared eurocrats are insisting the UK bows down to their demands before wrangling over the 2019 Brexit deal’s protocol, to avoid a hard border, can move forward.
The tactic was often deployed by former chief negotiator Michel Barnier, who insisted that his terms should be met before talks could move forward.
The Frenchman would describe the process as “parallelism”.
Friday 16 April
11.00pm update: EU shamed after urging member states to block Brexit Britain from accord
The European Commission has been shamed after Brussels urged member states to block the UK from the Lugano Convention despite Britain applying for membership last year.
In April last year, the UK submitted an application to rejoin the Lugano Convention during Brexit negotiations.
In order to rejoin, Britain needs the unanimous consent of all other contracting parties including the EU, Denmark and the EFTA states.
Now, the European Commission is understood to have drawn up plans to try and convince capitals to block Britain’s bid to join the Convention.
Manon Dark takes over from Luke Hawker
9.30pm update: Boris Johnson urged to punish EU if Brussels miss trade deal deadline – ‘Enough is enough’
The EU has still not ratified the post-Brexit trade deal agreed with the UK as MEPs refuse to name a date for a vote to take place before the April 30 deadline set by Downing Street.
And Boris Johnson has been urged to punish the bloc if they miss the deadline.
In an Express.co.uk poll – which ran 10.30am to 8.30pm today – asked: “Should Boris Johnson punish EU if Brussels misses trade deal deadline?”
Out of 5,380 votes, 98 percent of people urged the Prime Minister to punish the EU if the deadline if missed.
7.40pm update: Eurostar fury: Boris Johnson told to bail out company to avoid ‘dire consequences’ for UK
Eurostar needs to be helped by the UK to avoid “dire consequences”, Prime Minister Boris Johnson was warned.
Eurostar is on the brink of collapse after the pandemic left the service in financial turmoil.
It is believed Eurostar has already faced a 95 percent fall in demand as the pandemic continues to make travel restrictions necessary.
The company’s annual revenues collapsed from £1billion (€1.1bn) in 2019 to about £180milllion (€208m) in 2020. On top of this, Eurostar has already borrowed £400million (€460m) and received a cash injection of £170million (€197m) from its owners.
Five key moments that led to Brexit
6.00pm update: BBC presenter shuns impartiality warning to launch furious rant on Nigel Farage coverage
A BBC presenter is under fire after saying she was “haunted” by suggestions the broadcaster’s coverage of Nigel Farage had bolstered Ukip support.
Samira Ahmed also criticised current Conservative ministers for failing to resign over issues “you might have expected them to”.
Her remarks were made during a live recording of her podcast “How I Found My Voice”, which she records outside of her BBC employment.
5.10pm update: We can do without EU! German finance website admits ‘strong’ UK winning outside Brussels
Brexit Britain has proven it can go it alone without the EU as the UK economy reopens, a European commentator has admitted.
Although much scepticism was placed on the UK’s new future, 100 days since Brexit, the pound has surged while the stock market has also shown signs of life, Martin Blumel has claimed.
While EU states are now experiencing a third wave of the virus, Mr Blumel commented on how the vaccination programme has provided a valuable lifeline to UK plc.
Figures in Brussels predicted the economy would tank after Brexit but as Mr Blumel states, Britain did not “go under” after leaving the EU.
Brexit: Deborah Meaden discusses deal in 2020
4.35pm update: Dragons’ Den: Deborah Meaden admitted ‘some good will come out of Brexit’ before EU swipe
Dragons’ Den star Deborah Meaden admitted “some good will come out of Brexit” before delivering a blunt swipe about the changes to the EU.
The business tycoon, 62, is considered among Britain’s most respected investment minds after more than 40 years in the industry.
She returns to screens on BBC’s Dragons’ Den, ready to grill more hopeful entrepreneurs.
Away from the cameras, Meaden is known for her frank opinions and for rarely holding back on issues related to the business world.
4.00pm update: Brexit fury: Ireland condemned Frost in angry swipe as UK reputation ‘damaged’
Brexit tensions boiled over as David Frost and co were condemned for damaging the reputation of the UK by furious officials from Ireland.
The UK and EU agreed a trade deal in December as Brexit talks eventually produced a compromise.
However, it is yet to be fully ratified – and this week the European Parliament’s foreign affairs and trade committees approved the agreement, a step closer to full ratification.
But this comes amid the fallout over the implementation of the Northern Ireland Protocol, as the EU has fumed at the UK for extending a waiver on checks on some goods entering Belfast from Great Britain.
Brussels has argued that this move is in contradiction to international law.
3.15pm update: You will back down! Macron ally taunts Boris on fishing – issues Brexit deal ultimatum
Emmanuel Macron allies have joined forces to send Brexit Britain an ultimatum on sticking to its commitments on fisheries and Northern Ireland in the deal signed with the EU.
French MEP Nathalie Loiseau said: “The deal with the UK is a good deal, which limits the negative consequences of a bad decision, Brexit.
“But the UK must keep its commitments, both on Northern Ireland and on fisheries.
“We’ll make sure they do.”
1.54pm update: ‘Who on earth would trust EU?’ Britons furious as MEPs refuse to rubber-stamp Brexit deal
Britons have launched a furious attack against the European Union after MEPs in Brussels again refused to ratify the trade deal agreed between the two sides because of the explosive row around trade arrangements in Northern Ireland.
European Parliament foreign affairs and international trade committee chiefs endorsed the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement on Thursday.
But German MEP Bernd Lange, the institution’s trade chief, warned: “At the moment there is a lot of discussion about mistrust towards the British Government, specifically regarding the unwillingness to implement the necessary steps in the Northern Ireland Protocol.”
He added: “This is a historic vote in our committee today, but it’s totally clear that at the moment there is no date fixed for voting.
“There’s a reason behind that. We want to see clear commitments for the fulfilment of the protocol.”
The provisional application for the deal is due to expire at the end of April, and the UK has repeatedly warned it expects the EU to complete its ratification process by then.
Now Britons have launched a furious attack against the EU, warning that it is in fact Brussels who can’t be trusted.
Brexit news: The EU has come under furious attack from Express.co.uk readers
1.30pm update: Out of touch! Bitter EU blasted for ‘blackmailing’ UK on trade – Boris urged to walk away
The EU has proved yet again how “out of touch” it is with its attempt to “blackmail” the UK over Northern Ireland, a pro-Brexit campaigner has said.
Jayne Adye, director of Get Britain Out, has warned Brexit Minister Lord David Frost any further compromises risk “killing off Brexit entirely” – instead urging Boris Johnson to pull the plug and “walk away”.
Ms Adye said: “The past two weeks have once again shown just how out of touch the European Union is when it comes to the reasons people voted to leave the EU.
“After nearly five years of negotiations, you would think they would understand our clear red lines by now, but apparently not.
“In response to the growing unrest in Northern Ireland and in an attempt to reduce the number of checks needed on goods moving between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the EU has now had the temerity to suggest the UK permanently signs up to EU laws on food products and animal welfare.
“In other words, abandon being independent from the EU.
“However, even for this princely sum, the EU will only drop the majority of checks – but not all of them. This is attempted blackmail – plain and simple.”
1.07pm update: Boris Johnson plans £50billion Brexit trade deal with India – pact to be done in 12 months
Boris Johnson is hoping to double trade with India by 2030 as part of plans to negotiate an ambitious free trade deal.
The Prime Minister is understood to be eager to secure an interim agreement in less than 12 months as the UK looks to bolster its trading relationships across the globe.
The UK has already secured trade deals or rolled over agreements Britain was covered by when in the EU, with over 70 countries.
Mr Johnson has set his sights on agreeing deals with India, the US, Australia and New Zealand in the near future.
Later this month Mr Johnson will travel to New Delhi to meet with his Indian counterpart.
A leaked Government memo shows the Prime Minister will use the visit to announce a target of £50billion of trade by the end of the decade.
In 2020 the UK’s trade with India was worth £18.3billion.
Brexit news: Boris Johnson is hoping to double trade with India by 2030 as part of plans to negotiate an ambitious free trade deal
12.31pm update: Brexit POLL: Should Boris Johnson punish EU if Brussels misses trade deal deadline? VOTE
The European Union has still not ratified the post-Brexit trade deal agreed with the UK as MEPs refuse to name a date for a vote to take place before the April 30 deadline set by Downing Street.
Should Boris Johnson punish the EU if Brussels fails to meet that deadline?
12.18pm update: Clement Beaune promises Brexit bust-up as French fishermen locked out of UK waters
France has promised a dust-up with Downing Street because large swathes of its fishing fleet still do not have permission to operate in Britain’s coastal waters.
Hardline European affairs minister Clement Beaune vowed to continue battling to ensure French trawlermen have the right to use the UK’s fishing grounds.
It comes after reports that up to 80 percent of boats working out of the northern port of Boulogne-sur-mer have not been granted licences to fish in our waters.
Mr Beaune, a close ally of President Emmanuel Macron, said he was striving to ensure the post-Brexit fisheries pact is upheld.
The minister said: “What is important now is full application of the agreement as stated and we have not got to that point yet.
“We’ve been fighting since January 1 so that the licences are given to our fishermen, so their rights to access the fishing zones are guaranteed.”
Brexit news: Should Boris Johnson punish the EU if Brussels misses the trade deal deadline?
11.15am update: Michel Barnier issues brutal Frexit warning to Emmanuel Macron: ‘Act before it’s too late’
France could vote to quit the European Union unless the bloc learns lessons from Brexit, Michel Barnier has warned.
Brussels’ former chief negotiator said eurocrats must heed warnings from disgruntled citizens before it’s too late to avoid a catastrophic break-up of the project.
He said leaders would soon face “social unrest” if they refuse to listen to the genuine concerns expressed by voters.
Mr Barnier said: “We could draw some lessons from Brexit for ourselves. It’s now too late for the UK but not for us.
“Let us ask ourselves why, this figure of 52 percent at the referendum… 52 percent of citizens voted against Brussels, against the EU, so much so that they actually ended up leaving the Union.”
The Frenchman claimed to have already witnessed similar levels of contempt in the EU in his own country.
He said concerns about migration and the bloc’s external borders were concerns that needed to be addressed.
Brexit news: Maros Sefcovic issued another warning to the UK following talks with Lord Frost
9.50am update: EU used Northern Ireland border issue as ‘bargaining tool’ during Brexit talks, says MP
The EU used the Northern Ireland border issued as a “bargaining tool” during Brexit negotiations, a Tory MP has said.
Speaking on last night’s BBC Question Time, Chair of Commons Liaison Committee Sir Bernard Jenkins claimed that the bloc has created unreasonable demands at border checks.
Presenter Fiona Bruce asked Sir Bernard: “You said in 2018 ‘why has the Northern Ireland border been allowed to hijack the whole negotiation?’ Do you think that a bit more attention should have been paid to it now?”
The Tory MP replied: “We were proposing alternative means of dealing with that border and those alternative means of dealing with that border become more and more available as technology develops.
“Nevertheless, the Republic of Ireland, the European Commission were absolutely obsessed with this border and we now see they should have given equal concern to the other border they have created down the Irish sea.”
He continued: “I do think the European Union used it as a bargaining tool. But the point is it’s not Brexit that’s causing the problem.
“First of all let’s just remember nothing justifies the violence we’re seeing and everybody should condemn the violence.
“But there’s no doubt there is a grievance about the border down the Irish Sea which is much more intensive.
“You know there are five times more checks on the trade crossing between GB and Northern Ireland than there is on all the trade that crosses into the European Union.”
8.50am update: UK Government warns “difficult issues” still need to be resolved with Brussels over Protocol
Downing Street has warned “difficult issues” still need to be resolved with the EU over the implementation of the Northern Ireland Protocol.
Following talks between Lord Frost and Maros Sefcovic in Brussels on Thursday evening, a spokesman for the Government said they had agreed there should be further “intensified contacts” in the coming week.
The spokesman said: “Lord Frost said that the intensive discussions between the co-chairs of the Specialised Committee on the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland in recent weeks had begun to clarify the outstanding issues, and some positive momentum had been established.
“But a number of difficult issues remained and it was important to continue to discuss them. He agreed there should be intensified contacts at all levels in the coming weeks.”
Brexit news: The key moments that led to the UK’s departure from the EU
8.45am update: EU to continue legal action against UK as bloc issues new warning over Northern Ireland trade
The EU has vowed to continue its legal action against Britain over the latter’s unilateral decision to extend grace periods to help retailers in Northern Ireland struggling with supplies, warning only jointly agreed solutions to trading issues are acceptable.
European Commission vice-president Maros Sefcovic hosted Brexit negotiator Lord Frost for talks in Brussels on Thursday evening.
The European Commission said in a statement: “The vice-president insisted on mutually agreed paths towards full compliance with the Protocol, which includes clear end-points, deadlines, milestones and the means to measure progress.”
The statement added legal action against Britain would “be continued as long as necessary”.
8.30am update: City of London hit worse than expected after Brexit, study warns
More than 400 financial firms in the UK have moved activities, staff and a combined £1trillion in assets to hubs in the EU following Brexit, and it will only get worse, a new study has warned.
The research from the New Financial think tank revealed around 7,400 jobs have moved from Britain or been created at new hubs in the EU.
The total of 440 relocations is higher than previously estimated and well above the 269 in the think tank’s survey in 2019. New Financial believes the real number is well over 500.
Dublin leads the way with 135 relocations, followed by Paris with 102, Luxembourg 95, Frankfurt 63, and Amsterdam 48.
The UK has been offered little leeway to the EU in terms of direct market access for financial services, which was not part of the post-Brexit trade deal between the two sides.
The study warned: “We think it is an underestimate and we expect the numbers to increase over time: we are only at the end of the beginning of Brexit.”
8am update: Frost leaves Brussels after crunch talks over Brexit row – ‘significant differences’
Lord Frost was last night standing firm to protect Northern Ireland’s place within the UK.
He travelled to Brussels for diplomatic talks with European Commission counterpart Maros Sefcovic in a bid to end the row over border checks and defuse tensions in the region.
Over dinner at the EU’s Berlaymont HQ, the pair discussed plans to implement the post-Brexit border deal to minimise the risk of future flare-ups of violent disruptions.
Sources on both sides said they were keen to find a way to cool tensions in Northern Ireland after rioting broke out over the long Easter weekend.
The Northern Ireland Protocol has been blamed as one of the factors behind the recent violence amid concerns from Unionists it undermines their place in the UK.
UK and EU officials have been locked in intensive talks for several weeks over possible solutions to minimise the number of customs checks on goods being shipped to the region from mainland Britain.
Lord Frost and Mr Sefcovic’s intervention was said to be to inject a “political steer” into future wrangling over plans to avoid a hard border.
The pair also discussed the EU’s ongoing legal action against Downing Street amid accusations of breaching the terms of the protocol.
(Additional reporting by Paul Withers)