PM promises British fishing fleets ‘Eldorado’ after Brexit
Boris Johnson has dismissed post-Brexit red tape problems in the fishing industry, promising British fleets they can expect “El Dorado” in the years ahead – referring to the mythical land of endless riches.
It comes as farmers warned that reductions in EU food imports may force the UK to accept sub-standard supplies from other parts of the world just to feed the population. The National Farmers Union said post-Brexit supply problems “are going to get bigger”.
Elsewhere, Mr Johnson said he was looking forward to working “hand in hand” with incoming US president Joe Biden, as No 10 scrambles to reach out to the new administration. Labour’s shadow foreign secretary Lisa Nandy called Mr Biden a “woke guy”.
Trouble sending goods from UK to Northern Ireland presents ‘stark’ picture
This month’s trouble sending goods from the rest of the UK to Northern Ireland presented a “stark” picture, the shadow Cabinet Office minister Rachel Reeves has said.
Hosting a meeting with hauliers on problems with the Irish Sea trade border, she said: “These are British businesses, British citizens being caught up in this psycho-drama.”
Louise Haigh, shadow Northern Ireland secretary, said she wanted to put workable solutions to the government.
She said customs declarations were taking 12 hours, when promised to take 30 seconds.
She said staffing numbers were insufficient.
Lorries were returning empty to NI from GB and suppliers opting out of services to Northern Ireland.
She said: “It is incumbent on all of us in the UK and indeed in the EU to minimise that.”
Haulier Chris Slowey said: “We are paying for this and we did not vote for Brexit.
“We need our customers to realise that Northern Ireland is still open for business.”
Samuel Osborne20 January 2021 17:20
Sturgeon offers ‘warm congratulations and best wishes’ to Biden and Harris
Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s first minister, has offered her “warm congratulations and best wishes” to the newly inaugurated US president, Joe Biden, and his vice president, Kamala Harris.
Ms Sturgeon tweeted: “Warm congratulations and best wishes to President Biden and Vice President Harris. Scotland and the USA share long-standing bonds of friendship and co-operation.
“We look forward to building on these in the years ahead.”
Samuel Osborne20 January 2021 17:00
Johnson congratulations Biden as he is sworn in as 46th US president
Boris Johnson has congratulated Joe Biden on being sworn in as the 46th president of the United States and said he looks forward to working with the Democratic successor to Donald Trump.
The prime minister tweeted: “Congratulations to JoeBiden on being sworn in as President of the United States and to KamalaHarris on her historic inauguration.
“America’s leadership is vital on the issues that matter to us all, from climate change to COVID, and I look forward to working with President Biden.”
Samuel Osborne20 January 2021 16:54
Protocol operation has been ‘unmitigated disaster’ as haulage companies ‘haemorrhaging’ £100,000 a week, Paisley says
DUP MP Ian Paisley told has told the Northern Ireland secretary Brandon Lewis the protocol operation had been an “unmitigated disaster” and said he was aware of haulage companies “haemorrhaging” £100,000 a week and having to lay off staff because they are unable to move produce due to the new red tape.
“Secretary of State, there’s a de facto border – administrative, red tape blockade between trade in Northern Ireland and GB and your government promised that there would be unfettered movement,” said the North Antrim representative.
“The first 20 days of January has been an unmitigated disaster for trade, haven’t they?”
Mr Lewis said the government was working through issues that had emerged.
He said progress on problems associated with “groupage” would be announced in the coming days.
With groupage, some traders have struggled to adapt to problems with multiple consignments travelling in one lorry, meaning loads have to be resealed and certified by officials several times.
Mr Paisley called on the government to invoke Article 16 of the Protocol to halt its operation to resolve issues that are causing economic harm.
“The Secretary of State just can’t keep telling us this is going to be great when it all works out,” he said. “A lot of these companies will not be left standing by the end of this this month, they’re laying people off today. They can’t wait for three months for you to see how bad this is. This is awful. Please fix it.”
Samuel Osborne20 January 2021 16:49
UK reports record Covid death toll for second day running
The government has said a further 1,820 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 – the highest number of UK deaths reported on a single day since the outbreak began.
Samuel Osborne20 January 2021 16:32
Covid lockdown cannot be eased while NHS looks like ‘war zone’, warns chief scientific adviser
Parts of the NHS are such “a war zone” that the UK cannot afford to relax its lockdown, the government’s’ chief scientific adviser has warned, political editor Andrew Woodcock reports.
Despite the vaccination of more than 4 million people against coronavirus, Sir Patrick Vallance warned that the country remains in “a difficult, dangerous situation”.
Samuel Osborne20 January 2021 16:23
No grace period extensions with EU, Northern Ireland secretary says
The Northern Ireland Secretary has said he does not envisage any extensions of grace periods agreed with the EU that limit red tape associated with new Irish Sea trading arrangements.
A number of grace periods are currently in operation before the Northern Ireland Protocol, which governs GB to NI trade post-Brexit, comes into full force.
For the first three months, the number of veterinary health certificates required on animal-based food products is significantly reduced.
There is also a six-month grace period on the continued import of products from Great Britain that are ultimately due to be banned altogether under the protocol – this includes sausages and other chilled meats.
Brandon Lewis told the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee the UK and EU was working to address the issues related to protocol but he said he did not expect the grace periods to be further extended past their current end dates.
“We’re not at the moment in a position where we want to be looking at extending the grace periods,” he said.
“The whole point of the grace periods is there are certain issues that at the end of having secured the protocol we recognise there are still issues where we want to make sure you’ve got that good free flow of products such as the great British banger, as the prime minister outlined.
“The idea of grace periods, from our point of view, is to find a solution that means that that can continue to flow, to do that working with the industry, working with our partners in the EU as well.”
Samuel Osborne20 January 2021 16:08
Government claims for rejecting EU offer to save visa-free tours rubbished by musicians’ group
A musicians’ organisation has demolished the government’s claims for rejecting EU proposals to save visa-free tours, further fuelling the controversy, deputy political editor Rob Merrick reports.
Caroline Dinenage, the culture minister, is under fire for a string of disputed assertions when she faced angry MPs in the Commons – and insisted post-Brexit control of borders must come first.
Samuel Osborne20 January 2021 15:56
‘New sense of hope’ in America as Joe Biden enters White House, Lib Dem leader says
Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey has said “millions of people” worldwide have a “new sense of hope” as Joe Biden becomes the US president.
Sir Ed celebrated Mr Biden’s promise to reverse Donald Trump’s climate policies and take the US back into the Paris Agreement.
Sir Ed tweeted: “Millions of people in America and around the world have a new sense of hope today as Joe Biden enters the White House.
“Perhaps the most important news is that Biden will reverse Donald Trump’s disastrous climate policies and bring the US back into the Paris Agreement.
“I look forward to the Biden Administration bringing America back to this global struggle, where Trump had failed to do so.
“I have called on the prime minister to invite President Biden for a state visit so we can work together to end the climate emergency.
“Today is an opportunity for us all to take the divisiveness, hate and intolerance out of politics, and work together to end the Covid, climate and economic crises.”
Samuel Osborne20 January 2021 15:36
Prime minister yet to speak to Welsh Tory leader allegedly caught drinking in Senedd
Boris Johnson is yet to speak with the Welsh Tory leader, Paul Davies, about a drinks party he allegedly attended in the Senedd, his press secretary has said, but she added that the prime minister expects people to go “above and beyond” in following coronavirus rules.
Welsh Conservatives leader Mr Davies, chief whip Darren Millar and the party’s chief of staff Paul Smith are alleged to have been drinking along with Labour’s Alun Davies on 8 December – four days after a ban on the sale, supply and consumption of alcohol on licensed premises came into force, although off-licences were allowed to sell alcohol until 10pm.
The prime minister’s press secretary, Allegra Stratton, said as far as she knew Mr Johnson had not spoken to Mr Davies.
But she added: “The prime minister expects everybody, no matter their standing, no matter their status, to be sticking to the rules as well as they are able.”
Asked if the prime minister believed Mr Davies should keep his job, Ms Stratton said: “I haven’t had a conversation with him about that.
“But I would just say more broadly – and we will come back to this again and again – the prime minister needs everybody, no matter their status, no matter their position in life, to be going above and beyond in following the rules on Covid.”
Samuel Osborne20 January 2021 15:24