Lord Frost accuses EU of using Northern Ireland to try to reverse referendum result
European leaders are nearing the limits of what they will accept when it comes to changes to the Northern Ireland protocol, a Brussels source has told The Independent.
Speaking ahead of the announcement by Maros Sefcovic of new proposals to address British complaints over the deal, the source said: “We have gone to the outer limits of what member states, particularly France, will wear.”
Maros Sefcovic, the European Commission’s vice president, has promised “very far-reaching” changes to address the movement of goods across the Irish Sea. Reports suggest he will offer to lift half of customs checks on goods and more than half of checks on meat and plant products.
However, Ireland’s Leo Varadkar warned Brussels not to make any agreements with the UK until “confident that they keep their promises” – following a claim by Dominic Cummings, Boris Johnson’s ex-adviser, that No 10 had always intended to “ditch” parts of the deal.
The row comes the day after Lord Frost accused Brussels of being “disrespectful” to the UK by enforcing the deal he and the PM negotiated.
European Court of Justice (ECJ) was a key issue in NI Protocol agreement, Lord Frost says
Lord Frost has said the main issue with the protocol is the presence of the European Court of Justice arbitrating disputes between the UK and EU over Northern Ireland.
He told broadcasters: “The problem with the protocol at the moment is that EU law, with the ECJ as the enforcer of it, is applied in Northern Ireland without any sort of democratic process.
“So that, I think, has to change if we’re to find governance arrangements that people can live with.”
Thomas Kingsley13 October 2021 15:17
NHS Covid pass app suffers outage
The NHS Covid pass app is currently down, NHS Digital has confirmed.
The app, which is used to show a person’s vaccine status has been down this afternoon has had access issues NHS Digital has confirmed.
An hour ago, NHS Digital wrote on Twitter: “There are currently issues with accessing the Covid Pass on the NHS App and website. We are investigating the issue and will update as soon as we can.”
Thomas Kingsley13 October 2021 15:00
Government ‘mixed signaling’ on NI Protocol ‘worrying’, ex Brexit secretary warns
The former permanent secretary at the Department for Exiting the European Union, Philip Rycroft said the government knew what it was getting into when it agreed to the protocol.
The senior civil servant, who held the Brexit post from 2017 to 2019, told BBC Radio 4’s World At One programme: “It is possible that there will be some shift on governance without removing the European Court entirely from the picture, you could put in some mechanisms to try and resolve issues before it gets to that level, but does the UK Government want the protocol to work? I have to say I’m just not sure what the answer to that is right now, but if the answer is no, what is the alternative?…
“Nobody wants a hard border on the island of Ireland, so some form of protocol is absolutely essential.”
Thomas Kingsley13 October 2021 14:45
EU proposal ‘really generous,’ Irish TD says
Neale Richmond, Fine Gael’s spokesman on European affairs, described the European Commission’s proposals as “really generous”.
He told BBC Radio 4’s World at One programme: “Unfortunately we are in a situation once again and these Brexit – they’re not even talks – the Brexit merry go round that we’re on, whereby the European Commission has spent months preparing a really generous set of proposals to address the actual everyday concerns of people in Northern Ireland.
“Prior to that, 24 hours prior to that, the British Government send their minister out to completely – to call for a complete renegotiation of the protocol without ever considering the impact or indeed engaging with the Irish Government, the European Commission or political leaders in Northern Ireland, it’s a very worrying state of affairs.”
Mr Richmond added that Brexit was a “mistake in the first place,” but insisted that the new protocol will provide generous proposals within the existing terms.
Thomas Kingsley13 October 2021 14:31
Government set to miss 2025 fuel poverty targets amid “unacceptable” failure, say advisers
Boris Johnson’s government is set to missed its 2020 fuel poverty target and is now at “high risk” of missing its goals for 2025, its own group of advisers has said.
The government introduced the fuel poverty target in 2014 to address poor energy efficiency across the UK leaving some of the nation’s poorest unable to adequately heat their homes.
The Committee on Fuel Poverty condemned the “unacceptable” failure of government to achieve its aim of making sure all fuel-poor homes had an energy efficiency rating of E or higher by last year.
In a scathing report published on Wednesday, the committee of experts said the government had failed “despite schemes and sufficient funding being able to meet it”.
Our politics correspondent Adam Forrest has the full story below:
Thomas Kingsley13 October 2021 14:18
EU to hold firm on European judges
European Commission vice-president Maros Sefcovic will unveil the EU’s proposal for the new Northern Ireland Protocol, and while he expected to slash red tape on Irish Sea trade, the EU will remain firm in their position to keep European judges.
Lord Frost had demanded that the European Court of Justice be removed from its role of governing future disputes between the UK and EU on the protocol.
It is anticipated that the EU proposals, along with a wish list of reforms outlined by the Government in July, will form the basis of a new round of negotiations between Brussels and London in the weeks ahead.
Irish premier Micheal Martin on Wednesday gave his backing to the EU’s proposals.
Additional reporting by PA
Thomas Kingsley13 October 2021 13:59
Downing Street always intended to “ditch” parts of the Brexit deal, Dominic Cummings claims
Dominic Cummings claimed that Downing Street always intended to “ditch” parts of the Brexit deal and that Boris Johnson “never had a scoobydoo” what the agreement actually meant.
In his latest attack against Boris Johnson, the former government adviser said the Prime Minister did not understand what leaving the Customs Union meant until the eleventh-hour of trade deal negotiations in November 2020.
Our political reporter Andy Gregory has the full story below:
Thomas Kingsley13 October 2021 13:43
UK economy posts modest gain as supply crisis holds back growth
The British economy posted modest growth in August, the first full month without Covid-19 restrictions and before the impact of September’s fuel crisis is laid bare, writes Anna Isaac.
The recovery from the pandemic has lost momentum in recent months, and statisticians now believe activity shrank slightly in July. Output has still not recovered to reach its pre-pandemic peak and it will fall short of growth predictions laid out by the Bank of England (BoE).
Activity grew 0.4 per cent in August, below some economists’ expectations and as data has been revised to show that July’s ‘pingdemic’ pushed the economy into a slight contraction of 0.1 per cent compared to June.
Jon Sharman13 October 2021 13:26
PM tells Raab and Truss to share access to Chevening country house after tussle between ministers
Dominic Raab and Liz Truss have been told by Boris Johnson to share access to the 15-bedroom Chevening house after a tussle between the cabinet colleagues, writes Ashley Cowburn.
It comes after the prime minister dismissed the squabble between the foreign secretary and deputy prime minister over the 17th-century Kent manor, saying “frippery” would not distract him from his policy priorities.
The row was reported to have emerged when Mr Raab — demoted at the reshuffle last month —argued that his new title of deputy prime minister entitled him to hold onto it.
Jon Sharman13 October 2021 13:07
Opinion: According to Dominic Cummings, the prime minister is either stupid or dishonest
The more Dominic Cummings calls Boris Johnson stupid, the clearer it becomes who has outwitted whom, writes John Rentoul.
The prime minister’s former chief adviser had another go at telling the world how useless his former boss is on Twitter last night. This predictably sent much of the website into meltdown, because the one person very online Remainers hate more than Johnson is Cummings.
Yet Cummings attacks the prime minister with such extravagant venom, and from a position of such insider authority, that they cannot help but thrill to the takedown.
Jon Sharman13 October 2021 12:48