Boris Johnson will proceed with his controversial Brexit bill despite president-elect Joe Biden’s previous warnings against the international law-breaking legislation. The Democrat has made clear he thinks the Internal Market Bill undermines the Good Friday Agreement.
It comes as Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer urged the PM to listen to Mr Biden’s concerns about the peace process and “drop” the offending clauses. Peers are due to vote today on the bill, which overrides key parts of the withdrawal agreement relating to Northern Ireland.
It comes as EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier and his UK counterpart Lord Frost meet again in London as they resume trade talks on Monday. On Sunday, the PM sounded upbeat on an agreement: “I think there is a deal to be done, if they want to do it.”
Think tank challenges Farage’s new party name
Nigel Farage’s plan to rebrand the Brexit Party as the anti-lockdown Reform UK has hit a snag. The Reform think tank has written to the Electoral Commission to complain – arguing it could lead to “voter confusion”.
The think tank – which argues for public service reform – has also written to Farage asking him to reconsider. “We are determinedly independent … this independence is absolutely core to our reputation and work, and therefore the longstanding goodwill in our name.”
Will Farage be reasonable and come up with another name voluntarily? What do you think?
Adam Forrest9 November 2020 10:26
Biden brings ‘clarity’ to Brexit process, says Starmer
Keir Starmer has been talking about Joe Biden on his regular LBC phone-in. Asked how easy it would be to stand alongside the Democrat on the world stage, the Labour leader said: “I think it will be easy …. the values we share as a country with America are embodied in Biden.”
“I think he brings a degree of clarity on Brexit, actually – he’s very strong on the Good Friday Agreement, and as we go into the final few days of the negotiation a bit of focus on that might actually help both sides … The fact we know exactly where he stands on that might help the process.”
Starmer has called on Boris Johnson to listen to Biden and “drop” the parts of the Internal Market Bill which break the withdrawal agreement around the Northern Ireland Protocol.
Adam Forrest9 November 2020 10:16
Does Joe Biden genuinely dislike Boris Johnson?
There’s been a lot of chatter about how far the personal enmity among Joe Biden and his team towards the PM goes. A source in the president-elect’s camp told The Sunday Times: “There will be no special relationship with Boris Johnson.”
Meanwhile ex-Obama official Tommy Vietor called Johnson a “shapeshifting creep”, adding: “We will never forget your racist comments about Obama and slavish devotion to Trump.”
However, senator Chris Coons, Biden’s possible secretary of state, told Andrew Marr the new administration would be entirely practical. “He has struck me as someone who is more agile, engaging, educated and forward-looking than perhaps the caricature of him in the American press would have suggested,” Coons said of Johnson.
Former UK ambassador to the US Sir Nigel Sheinwald said this morning: “There will be an awkward period while relationships get established.
“I don’t think one should be unrealistic. I don’t think there’s a sense the relationship between Biden and Johnson will be made in heaven – they’re different people.”
Adam Forrest9 November 2020 10:03
Government challenged to hike living wage
More than 250,000 workers at living wage employers are expected to get a pay rise after the independently-calculated figure for the “real living wage” was increased to £9.50 an hour and £10.85 in London.
Although not compulsory on employers, the 2.1 per cent increase in the rate set by the Living Wage Foundation will put pressure on government to raise the mandatory minimum pay level of £8.72 for over-25s.
More than 7,000 companies have signed up to pay the real living wage – calculated to reflect what it actually costs to live in the UK. The Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell urged others to “do the morally right thing and follow this recognition”.
Adam Forrest9 November 2020 09:42
No 10 claims for Brexit bill ‘obvious nonsense’, says Labour
Labour’s shadow attorney general Charlie Falconer – doing the morning media round for the opposition – has insisted No 10’s Brexit bill and the Northern Ireland Protocol are incompatible.
He told Sky News that Boris Johnson’s claim that protecting the Northern Irish peace process was the whole point of the Internal Market Bill was “such utter and obvious nonsense”. Falconer added: “The British government is putting the peace process at risk.”
The Labour frontbencher has said the government will pay a “terrible price” if it doesn’t drop the offending clauses from the legislation.
Adam Forrest9 November 2020 09:38
Biden ‘determined’ Good Friday Agreement not upset, says Brown
Gordon Brown has been waxing lyrical about Joe Biden. “What you see with Joe, is what you get – he’s open, he’s friendly, he’s very respectful, he’s very generous with people,” said the former Labour PM.
“Ronald Reagan was called the greatest communicator, he [Biden] is the greatest conciliator. I think he will be the person that brings America together … I think he’s the person who will bring the world community together because we’ve being lacking in global leadership.”
Brown added: “He is determined that the Good Friday Agreement is not upset, but he’ll want to work with Britain on key issues.”
Adam Forrest9 November 2020 09:25
Minister hints at compromises on fishing rights
Environment secretary George Eustice indicated a possible compromise on fisheries in post-Brexit trade negotiations with the EU, during his morning media round on behalf of the government.
The minister told Sky News: “On fisheries, we’ve always been open to doing a sensible approach looking particularly at agreements that might span a couple, three years for instance.”
He added: “We’re going to be sensible in how we approach this but making sure that we have control of our own waters again and controlled access to our waters has always been a red line for us in these negotiations.”
Eustice also talked up a possible US-UK trade deal on BBC Breakfast, but admitted: “It remains to be seen how much of a priority a Biden administration will place on trade, more generally.”
Adam Forrest9 November 2020 09:16
Biden ‘makes difference’ to Brexit process, says Irish foreign minister
Joe Biden’s election victory may have an impact on a crucial week of UK-EU trade talks after the president elect’s recent intervention in support of Ireland’s position, Irish foreign Minister Simon Coveney said on Monday.
“I think perhaps it does (make a difference). Joe Biden is a real friend of Ireland, he is somebody who in the middle of this campaign has taken the time to make a very clear statement on the need to prevent a hard (Irish) border at any point in the future linked to Brexit policy,” Coveney told Ireland’s RTE.
“The relationship between Donald Trump and Boris Johnson was a close one and there was a lot of talk about a US-UK trade deal happening quickly. Now that Joe Biden is going to be the next president, I certainly think that will be a cause for a pause for thought in No 10 to ensure Irish issues are prioritised as we try to close out this phase.”
Adam Forrest9 November 2020 09:12
‘No need for hard border in Ireland’, minister assures Biden
Environment secretary George Eustice has attempted to assure president-elect Joe Biden that there will be no need for a hard border within the island of Ireland.
“We are putting in place the facilities that will be needed to check agri-food goods as they enter and we’re developing the customs procedures that will be needed for goods at risk of entering the EU,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today. “All of that work is being done … there will be no need for checks on the Northern Ireland border.”
He also insisted the UK is “committed to the spirit of the withdrawal agreement” – yet he insisted the government would not back down on its Internal Market Bill. Eustice told Sky News the government would seek to reinstate any controversial clauses stripped out of the UK Internal Market Bill by the Lords today.
Eustice also said it could be possible to pick up on US trade negotiations with Biden’s administration where they were left with Donald Trump.
Asked about whether talks had to start from scratch, Eustice said: “It doesn’t if the new administration is happy to pick up where the previous one did … it’s just too early to tell really.”
Adam Forrest9 November 2020 09:05
Biden will make feelings clear on Brexit bill during call with Johnson
Joe Biden is expected to make a point of speaking to Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel before he speaks with Boris Johnson. When he finally gets around to his call with the PM, the president-elect will make his views on the Brexit bill – and the risks to the Good Friday Agreement, according to the FT.
Could Johnson be swayed by the clear opposition of the next president? According to the BBC, the PM is now considering whether to bow to pressure over his Internal Market Bill, due to be amended in the Lords this afternoon.
Some Tories told Newsnight’s Nicholas Watt that they believe Biden’s victory means No 10 will accept peers’ changes and “lay matter to rest”.
Adam Forrest9 November 2020 08:54