Brexit news – live: EU firms refuse UK deliveries as Boris Johnson’s India trade trip scrapped

Regretful Brexiteer says ‘be careful what you wish for’

A growing number of retailers in the EU have decided they won’t deliver to Britain because of the new costs involved in sending packages after Brexit. Companies have said they are unwilling to register for VAT in the UK, with one Dutch firm calling the red tape “ludicrous”.

It comes as Brexit disruption means Sainsbury’s has reportedly lost around 700 product lines in Northern Ireland – where it has been forced to stock goods from Spar. And Marks & Spencer said new trading rules in place since Britain left the EU were delaying deliveries of food to its stores in France – where branches had empty shelves on Tuesday.

Meanwhile a former Ukip MP has been criticised for quitting the UK to accept a job in the US after helping to spearhead the Brexit movement. Douglas Carswell, who in 2014 became the first elected MP for the UK Independence Party, will move to the US to head up Mississippi’s Centre for Public Policy later this year.  

Boris Johnson has been forced to scrap a high-profile trip to India due to coronavirus, his first overseas visit since the EU exit. Brexit supporters earmarked India as among the major new trade deals they hoped to secure this year.


That’s it from us on the blog tonight – thanks for following along. Check back first thing in the morning for the latest updates. 

Sam Hancock5 January 2021 22:27


GCSE and A-level exams to be scrapped in 2021, DfE says

School pupils will not be asked to sit GCSE and A-level exams this summer, the government has confirmed.

On Monday evening, the Department for Education (DfE) said: “There is recognition that this is an anxious time for students who have been working hard towards their exams.

“The government position is that we will not be asking students to sit GCSE and A-levels.”

My colleague Zoe Tidman reports:

Sam Hancock5 January 2021 22:05


UK firms urge ministers to give them more support

British businesses have urged the government to offer more support to help businesses survive until the spring, with many across the country warning that Rishi Sunak’s offer of grants of up to £9,000 is not enough to prevent mass closures.

Many pubs, bars and restaurants are already on the brink of collapse, having burned through cash and taken on debt to keep going. 

Ben Chapman wonders if the government’s allocated relief will be enough:

Sam Hancock5 January 2021 21:53


Former Ukip MP berated for quitting UK after fighting for Brexit

A former MP has been criticised for accepting a job in the US after previously quitting his role to help spearhead the Brexit movement. 

Douglas Carswell, who in 2014 became the first elected MP for the UK Independence Party, is set to move to the US to head up Mississippi’s Centre for Public Policy. 

A cross party group for pro-Europe citizens of Slough tweeted the announcement, saying: “Imagine arguing for years for Brexit, quitting your party to try & enable it, then when it finally comes to fruition, you leave the country to take a job in the US, rather than staying to enjoy seeing your efforts become reality.”

Mr Carswell said in a statement that he believes in American exceptionalism, saying that “the US is the greatest republic the world has ever known, because she is the most successful experiment in freedom that there has ever been”.

Sam Hancock5 January 2021 21:35


Analysis: ‘Businesses are paying for the government’s mistakes’

Businesses and households are paying the price for the government’s shortcomings throughout the pandemic, hindered by Brexit chaos. 

Particular blame falls at the feet of so-called lockdown sceptics, chief among them the man charged with steering the UK economy through this crisis, Rishi Sunak.  

Acting too late made a third lockdown inevitable. What might it bring for UK businesses, households and the wider economy?

My colleague Ben Chapman analyses the state of the UK, and what’s to come for businesses:

Sam Hancock5 January 2021 21:10


Gove: Third lockdown will last until March

Following Boris Johnson’s new floral-themed timeline, here’s Michael Gove’s outlook on restriction deadlines from earlier today:

Sam Hancock5 January 2021 20:50


Lockdown to be relaxed ‘before end of daffodil season,’ PM says

Boris Johnson, at tonight’s 1922 committee meeting, reportedly used flower seasons to give MPs a timeline of lockdown restrictions being eased.

Telling colleagues that he hoped to ease lockdown by spring, the PM allegedly then said measures would be relaxed “before the end of the tulip season, before the end of the daffodil season even,” the Sun’s Westminster correspondent Kate Ferguson reports. 

People were quick to react – and disparage – on Twitter, with one man saying the PM’s answer was “a bit flowery”. Another pointed to the fact daffodils are in season until the end of May, in a concerning extension to deadlines already given by the government. 

Sam Hancock5 January 2021 20:25


Sketch: ‘The end is in sight’ says Boris, though he’s got no idea when

Our political sketch writer Tom Peck gives his verdict on this evening’s press conference by the prime minister:

“The end is in sight. This is the final stretch. When will it end? Probably never. And will children be back in school before the summer? Not sure on that one either, I’m afraid.

These were the key messages to take from yet another self-satirising Boris Johnson 5pm briefing, which are now firmly back in our daily routines with the same metronomic certainty as the old early evening Neighbours screening, except that every single episode is the one where Toadfish accidentally drives his wife off a cliff on their own wedding day.”

Read the full piece here:

Sam Hancock5 January 2021 20:05


More Britons unable to board flights out of UK

Another UK resident has been barred from boarding a flight to somewhere in the EU, this time due to confusion over coronavirus protocol.

Peter North said he was denied access to a Ryanair flight to Sweden just before boarding at London Stansted airport because airline staff said they could not accept as proof a negative coronavirus test from the NHS.

Mr North, 60, who was trying to chaperone his eight-year-old granddaughter Eija on her way to Sweden, where her mother lives, was told he needed to book a private test.

He now faces spending more than £150, five times the price of the plane tickets which were around £30 each, for a private test before he and Eija can take a new flight together.

“I was very upset about it, my grand-daughter was just looking forward to going back and seeing her mum and her friends,” Mr North, from Hornchurch, Essex, told the PA news agency.

“When I asked the Ryanair staff why this happened, they had no real answers … I’ve been back and searched the internet for it and could not find anything about NHS tests not being allowed on their website.

“Their attitude was terrible, both at the gate and then when I went to customer service. It’s absolutely disgusting to treat people like that.”

It comes after a swathe of Britons, who live in Spain, were refused access to flights scheduled to take them home after the Christmas break.

The Iberia airline flight to Spain, taking off from Heathrow Airport, told passengers they did not have the correct proof of residency.

Both incidents have caused widespread panic that ongoing, changing coronavirus restrictions as well as Brexit unpreparedness are going to cause travel chaos for Britons throughout 2021. 

Sam Hancock5 January 2021 19:44


Trump denies Scotland trip after Sturgeon tells him to stay away

The White House has said Donald Trump does not have plans to travel to Scotland amid reports the US president was planning on travelling to Turnberry to escape Joe Biden’s inauguration later this month.

It comes after Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon said that Mr Trump would be unable to make the trip due to local coronavirus restrictions.

“Coming to play golf is not what I would consider to be an essential purpose,” Ms Sturgeon said on Tuesday.

Graeme Massie, from our US team, reports:

Sam Hancock5 January 2021 19:24


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