Brexit latest news LIVE – 'Disaster' as food exports to EU plunge 50% with industry blasting customs border check chaos

Britain and the EU have reiterated their commitment to resolve issues around Northern Ireland Protocol in the wake of the vaccine fiasco.

Cabinet minister Michael Gove and European Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic met in the wake of anger about the EU’s attempt to block exports of Covid vaccine to Northern Ireland.

But the pair said they had “a frank but constructive discussion” and would “spare no effort” to implement solutions mutually agreed on December 17 last year. 

There is also mounting frustration about Brussels’ refusal to water down border checks, which some have accused of damaging Northern Ireland’s economy.

There have calls to rip up the Brexit agreement, designed to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland.

Follow our live blog below for the very latest on Brexit and the EU...

  • Alice Peacock

    DERIVATIVE TRADES FLEES LONDON FOR NEW YORK

    Trade in a euro-denominated derivatives market worth hundreds of billions has shifted from London to New York.

    The European derivatives market, which had typically been dominated by London, has seen a huge shift – the latest evidence of the blow dealt by Brexit to the UK financial centre.

    Trading of euro-dominated swaps in London dropped nearly 40 per cent of the market last July, to 10 per cent in January, the Financial Times reported.

    The derivatives are often used by investors to hedge against moves in interest rates and currencies.

  • Alice Peacock

    TRADE FRICTION 'NOT A TEETHING PROBLEM'

    A Welsh minister says increased friction in trade and travel with the EU is a result of "political choices".

    Amid a raft of new barriers and complexities, Jeremy Miles MS has dubbed it "irresponsible" to claim changes were "unexpected" or were "teething problems", the BBC reported.

    Miles said the issues were consequences that came from putting "sovereignty" above the "wellbeing" of people.

    He claimed it was "downright irresponsible" for the UK Government to claim the changes were not expected.

  • Tariq Tahir

    UK-EU TALKS 'CONSTRUCTIVE'

    Britain and the EU reiterated their commitment to resolve issues around Northern Ireland Protocol in the wake of the vaccine fiasco.

    After a meeting between senior British minister Michael Gove and European Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovicreleased a joint statement saying they had had "a frank but constructive discussion".

    They said they would "spare no effort" to implement solutions mutually agreed on December 17. 

  • Tariq Tahir

    DOWNING STREET ‘DISAPPOINTED’ OVER VACCINE FIASCO

    Number 10 has expressed “disappointment” the European Commission hasn’t acknowledged anger felt in Northern Ireland over the Covid vaccines fiasco.

    Brussels attempted to invoke Article 16 of the Northern Ireland Protocol to block exports of vaccines to the UK by the backdoor.

    Article 16 is meant to be used in an emergency and although the EU quickly backtracked following fierce criticism, the threatened move has intensified opposition to the new regulations.

    "It is disappointing that the commission has failed to acknowledge the shock and anger felt across the community in Northern Ireland" about that abortive decision, a Downing Street spokesperson said.

  • Tariq Tahir

    EU URGES UK COMPROMISE ON NI PROTOCOL

    The EU urged the UK to compromise to iron out "teething" problems gripping Northern Ireland.

    EU Commission vice-president Maros Sefcovic said Brussels remained fully behind special Brexit arrangements agreed for the troubled territory despite some calls in the UK to water them down, or even abandon them altogether.

    The EU "will do its utmost to protect the peace in Northern Ireland", he told reporters ahead of his evening meeting in London with senior UK minister Michael Gove.

    "And therefore I would like to underline that the EU is absolutely committed to make the (Northern Ireland) protocol work."

  • Tariq Tahir

    PROTOCOL WON’T WORK SAYS FOSTER

    More rigorous implementation of the Northern Ireland Protocol is not going to work, Stormont's First Minister Arlene Foster said.

    The DUP leader is campaigning to scrap the post-Brexit trade agreement and said the consensus necessary to secure progress is lacking.

    She said Northern Ireland should not be used as a political football, and added the Prime Minister "needs to step up" to deal with the problems arising for the country.

    "I think that is not going to work," she said of the Protocol

  • Alice Peacock

    UK DIDN'T 'CORRECTLY EXPLAIN' CONSEQUENCES OF BREXIT

    Michel Barnier has hit out at the UK for not 'correctly explaining' the consequences of Brexit to suffering Irish businesses.

    Barnier has insisted the withdrawal terms it sought, rather than the checks introduced on Irish Sea trade, were to blame for empty shelves in supermarkets, the Independent reported.

    Michel's comments came ahead of crisis talks between the two sides in London.

    In the impending discussions, Brussels was expected to rule out reworking the protocol and would accuse the UK of failing to meet existing obligations.

    "The difficulties on the island of Ireland are caused by Brexit, not by the Protocol”, Michel said, adding “the Protocol is the solution".

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    EU WATCHDOG SEES SHIFT IN SHARE TRADING FROM LONDON AS 'PERMANENT CHANGE'

    The European Union's securities watchdog suspects a post-Brexit shift in share trading to the bloc from Britain represents a permanent change after Amsterdam displaced London as Europe's biggest share trading centre on Thursday.

    "I would suspect that this is going to be a permanent change in terms of movement of trading from the UK to the EU…We have seen that most of the trading has gone to Amsterdam," Steven Maijoor, chair of the European Securities and Markets Authority, told an online conference.

    "The numbers are quite significant, at the same time we should realise that some of this trading is done by subsidiaries of UK market infrastructures but we have also seen increased trading in Europe not linked to London trading venues."

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    CONTINUED

    Nevertheless, he said the company has had to deal with "25,000 extra bits of paperwork" as a result of the country's exit from the EU.

    The group said Brexit has added some initial cost, as the company also takes on additional cost pressures from the pandemic and challenging farming conditions.

    Costs for its farmers have jumped on the back of a poor harvest last year and very wet weather, which is impacting the current growing season.

    It said this had resulted in less grass and cereals for cows to eat over the winter when they are indoors, with an estimated 6% increase in production costs as a result.

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    ARLA BOSSES SAY 'NO EMPTY DAIRY SHELVES' AMID BREXIT TEETHING ISSUES

    Bosses at Arla said empty dairy shelves have been avoided despite the company tackling "teething issues" following Brexit.

    The dairy giant told PA that it has seen cost rises and an increase in paperwork since the start of the year but has been able to avoid major disruption amid the trade agreement with the EU.

    Ash Amirahmadi, managing director of Arla UK, told the PA news agency that the trade deal helped the company avoid major tariff impacts, although it is "too early" to work out the full cost impact of Brexit.

    "We are very positive that a deal was done and that provided a level of stability," he said.

    "We are now looking past the deal and are happy to see how things are progressing, other than a few teething issues.

    "Customers will see that we've been able to keep supply really strong and makes sure we don't have empty dairy shelves."

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    FORCED-OUT FOREIGN OFFICE CHIEF TAKES SEAT ON RED BENCHES IN HOUSE OF LORDS

    Former head of the Foreign Office and Diplomatic Service Sir Simon McDonald has taken his seat in the House of Lords.

    The top civil servant was told to step down as permanent secretary last year ahead of the controversial merger with the Department for International Development (DfID).

    He had previously been forced to U-turn after telling MPs the UK took a "political decision" not to join the European Union's procurement scheme to source medical equipment during the coronavirus crisis.

    Amid reports that he had been "leaned on" by Downing Street, the senior mandarin later declared he had been "incorrect".

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    EUROPEAN COMMISSION FAILED TO ACKNOWLEDGE THE SHOCK OVER TRIGGERING ATL 16, SAYS DOWNING STREET

    Downing Street said it is "disappointing" that the European Commission has "failed to acknowledge the shock and anger felt across the community in Northern Ireland from its decision to trigger Article 16".

    The Prime Minister's official spokesman told a Westminster briefing: "We have set out the issues that we want to see addressed and that is the purpose of the meeting later.

    "It is disappointing that the Commission has failed to acknowledge the shock and anger felt across the community in Northern Ireland from its decision to trigger Article 16 and the need to take urgent steps to restore confidence as a result.

    "We have set out in our letter from CDL (Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Michael Gove) to the vice president the issues that we want to see resolved, that's our focus and that's why the meeting will take place later today."

  • Alice Peacock

    RISHI 'MUST DO MORE' TO PROTECT CITY POST-BREXIT

    Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer says Rishi Sunak "needs to make good" on his promise to protect the City following Brexit.

    Speaking to reporters during a visit to Heathrow Airport yesterday, Starmer told reporters he was "very worried" when he saw the Brexit deal had almost no provision for financial services.

    “So what I want is to see progress here," he said.

    "The chancellor said that he would look after the City of London on financial services, he needs to make good on that promise because we absolutely need to protect our financial services.”

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    CALLS FOR COMMONS BREAKFAST DEBATE AS REES-MOGG REJECTS BAKED BEANS ON WEETABIX

    Jacob Rees-Mogg has dismissed serving baked beans on Weetabix for breakfast, amid calls for a debate in the House of Commons.

    Weetabix sparked a backlash on Twitter after posting an image of "Beanz on bix", a combination rubbished by the US embassy in the UK, among others.

    Commons Leader Mr Rees-Mogg disclosed he prefers his Weetabix with hot milk and brown sugar and quoted a "desperately politically incorrect" Heinz Baked Beans advertising slogan that his family had modified.

    Conservative MP Philip Hollobone, whose Kettering constituency is home to Weetabix, raised the issue in the Commons, telling MPs: "One of the debates that has been dividing the nation this week, perhaps even more divisive than Brexit, is whether having Weetabix with baked beans is an attractive serving suggestion for a healthy meal."

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    UK TO TAKE MUCH BIGGER GDP HIT FROM BREXIT THAN EU SAYS COMMISSION

    Britain's exit from the European Union will cost the bloc around 0.5% of economic growth over the next 24 months, but Brexit will be more than four times more painful for the UK, the European Commission said on Thursday.

    Britain left the EU at the end of January last year, but kept its full access to the 27-nation bloc's single market until the end of 2020, when it was replaced by a trade agreement.

    "For the EU on average, the exit of the UK from the European Union on Free Trade Agreement terms is estimated to generate an output loss of around 0.5% of GDP by the end of 2022, and some 2.25% point for the UK," the Commission said.

    The EU-UK trade deal covers goods, services, investment, competition, subsidies, tax transparency, air and road transport, energy and sustainability, fisheries, data protection, and social security coordination.

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    CONTINUED

    "Now, whether it's Elton John, Ronan Keating, Brian Cox, they contain an all-star line-up of some of our biggest exports, emphasising the importance of touring for musicians at all stages of their careers.

    "How does the minister feel about the prospect of making acts decide that they need to base themselves abroad as our parochial laws don't allow the movement needed to compete on the global stage?"

    Ms Mordaunt replied: "It is not our parochial laws. During the negotiations, the EU tabled text regarding paid activities which can be conducted without a visa. These proposals would not have addressed our sector's concerns.

    "It didn't deal with work permits at all and it would not have allowed support staff to tour with artists. The only way we're going to get movement on this is to get the EU to agree to our very reasonable proposals.

    "And I'd urge everyone – whether they are politicians, whether they are from the cultural sector – to work with us to persuade our counterparts of our common sense approach."

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    SECURE VISA-FREE UK-EU TRAVEL OR FACE TALENT MOVING OVERSEAS, MINISTERS TOLD

    UK performers could base themselves overseas if visa-free travel with the EU is not secured, ministers have been warned.

    Cabinet Office minister Penny Mordaunt denied "parochial laws" in the UK were to blame and accused Brussels of rejecting proposals to allow musicians and support staff to travel and work in the EU without requiring work permits.

    But opposition MPs pressed Westminster to resolve the deadlock in order to aid the UK's creative sector.

    Post-Brexit travel rules that came into force at the beginning of the year do not guarantee visa-free travel for UK musicians in the EU.

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    EU NOT LISTENING TO PROTOCOL CONCERNS – DUP

    Unionists have accused the EU of not listening to those flagging up concerns about post-Brexit Irish Sea trading arrangements.

    The DUP's Westminster leader, Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, criticised the European Commission after it called on the UK Government to take urgent action to fully and faithfully implement the contentious Northern Ireland Protocol.

    Commission vice president Maros Sefcovic was responding to a request from Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove to extend grace periods that currently limit the bureaucracy associated with the protocol.

    Mr Sefcovic's written reply to Mr Gove was published ahead of a meeting between the two senior politicians on Thursday to discuss problems with the protocol, which requires regulatory and customs checks processes on goods moving from Great Britain to Northern Ireland.

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    GOVERNMENT ANNOUNCES £20M BREXIT SUPPORT FUND FORSMALL AND MEDIUM BUSINESSES

    The Government has announced a new £20m Brexit support fund for small and medium-sized businesses.

    Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove told the Commons: "The nature of our new relationship with the EU outside the single market means that are practical and procedural changes to which businesses and citizens must adjust.

    "So I can announce today the Government is launching a £20m SME Brexit support fund to help small businesses adjust to new customs rules of origin and VAT rules when trading with the EU."

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    UK SEEKING 'LIGHT TOUCH' BORDER PROCESSES FOR NORTHERN IRELANND TRADE

    Britain is seeking to ensure 'light tough' border processes for trade with Northern Ireland, senior minister Michael Gove said on Thursday ahead of a meeting with the European Union to try to iron out post-Brexit disruption to trading with the province.

    "Those processes should be as light touch as possible and that's the aim of the conversations that I'm having with (European Commission) Vice President Sefcovic," Gove told parliament.

    The two are due to meet later on Thursday.

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    'BUREAUCRATIC OBSTACLES' NEED TO BE NEGOTIATED OVER FISH EXPORTS SAYS GOVE

    Michael Gove said there are still some "bureaucratic obstacles" that need to be negotiated over exports of fish.

    Conservative MP Lia Nici told the Commons: "Grimsby fish exporters are reporting to me that despite the EU agreement for free trade, French ports are introducing additional paperwork and extra costs. They're even insisting that we hire EU nationals to do that additional work.

    "Will (Mr Gove) take this matter up so that we can make sure the people of the EU continue to enjoy the highest quality seafood in Europe processed in Great Grimsby?"

    Mr Gove responded: "Well, is absolutely right, the highest quality seafood in the whole of Europe is produced in Great Grimsby, indeed I remember my dad when he ran a fish processing business sending some of the fish that he bought at Aberdeen fish market to Grimsby for subsequent processing and it was enjoyed on tables across Europe.

    "And she's absolutely right that there are still some bureaucratic obstacles that we need to negotiate and navigate. We have set up a specific seafood exports working group which meets twice weekly and we're also engaging with our friends in France in order to make sure they can continue to enjoy Great Grimsby fish."

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    CONTINUED

    Michael Gove said the UK reserves its rights to do "whatever is required" to ensure fishermen are "backed up every step of the way" over post-Brexit arrangements.

    Conservative MP Sheryll Murray told the Commons: "Fishing exporters in my constituency are having problems exporting to the EU. We signed a deal that said we could export to the EU.

    "What action is (Mr Gove) taking to ensure these exports happen without hindrance and will he start boarding EU vessels in retaliation if we still see this obstructive action on the part of the European Union?"

    Mr Gove responded: "What we do need to do is make sure that any bureaucratic obstructions which individual EU member states may still be applying are lifted and of course as I mentioned… we will reserve our rights as an independent coastal state to do whatever is required in order to make sure that our fishermen are backed up every step of the way."

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    UK WORKING TO SOLVE POST BREXIT SEAFOOD AND SHIPPING PROBLEMS SAYS GOVE

    Britain is working to overcome post-Brexit difficulties complicating seafood exports and other shipments to the European Union, senior minister Michael Gove said on Thursday.

    "There are still some bureaucratic obstacles that we need to negotiate and navigate. We have set up a specific seafoods export working group which meets twice weekly, and we're also engaging with our friends in France," Gove said.

    He also said the government was working with courier companies on the paperwork required to send goods abroad.

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    CONTINUED

    It comes amid tensions after the brief triggering by the bloc of Article 16, with particular ire among unionists in Northern Ireland who are calling for it to be ditched.

    The protocol was designed to prevent a hard border with Ireland but has resulted in additional checks for goods crossing from Great Britain to Northern Ireland.

    Article 16 overrides part of the protocol which prevents a hard border on the island of Ireland, and was intended as an emergency measure only.

    A UK government spokesperson said it was "disappointing that the Commission has failed to acknowledge the shock and anger felt right across the community in Northern Ireland from its decision to trigger Article 16, and the need to take urgent steps to restore confidence as a result".

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    MICHAEL GOVE AND MAROS SEFCOVIC TO MEET OVER NI PROTOCOL

    The European Commission's vice president will meet with Michael Gove later over the Northern Ireland Protocol.

    Maros Sefcovic is travelling to London for the meeting after making it clear the bloc regards the protocol as the only way forward.

    He expressed concerns over "teething problems" in the implementation of the protocol but said it was now "our mutually agreed legal obligation".

    The commission's vice president made the remarks in a letter to the Cabinet Office Minister on Wednesday.

Source: Read Full Article