Brexit LIVE: Boris gears up to launch trade war over shellfish ban – PM to confront Macron

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Brexit ‘solely responsible’ for fishing issues says Karleskind
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As part of retaliatory measures, the granting of new licences for boats looking to fish in the UK’s 6-12 mile nautical zone could be significantly hampered, according to a report in The Daily Telegraph. While the UK has already granted licences for distances beyond 12 miles, applications for those within that range are still being processed, in what would be a major blow to the EU and in particular French fishermen.

Brexit: UK and EU ‘must work together’ says Thomas Byrne
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Downing Street has been keen to play down any retaliatory measures, but The Telegraph has reported other early proposals could include UK fishermen receiving funds from a £100million post-Brexit cash pot that would see their boats become more eco-friendly, or ensuring they have certain types of equipment.

Brexit: Radio caller reveals daughter can’t receive wheelchair
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The post-Brexit trade deal between the UK and EU states Britain cannot discriminate against the bloc’s fishermen, but as a condition around access to waters, new rules could be introduced requiring foreign boats to adhere to the same higher standards as UK vessels.

A Whitehall insider told The Telegraph: “There are things we could do to make their life difficult,” although a Downing Street source said they did not recognise the proposal.

Last week, Brussels told British fishermen they could be banned indefinitely from exporting live mussels, oysters, clams, cockles and scallops from large areas of UK waters.

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The row centres around countries not meeting the EU’s standards who then have to purify their catch domestically before exporting, a process which adds significant costs and delays.

But the UK Government has hit back, arguing the move from the EU contradicts previous assurances that the temporary measure would end in April, with Environment Secretary George Eustice insisting there is nothing in the regulations that would see trade stopped.

EU-UK relations have been ‘bumpy’ since Brexit says Frost
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Pierre Karleskind, a French MEP who chairs the EU Parliament’s fisheries committee, appeared to back the UK stance when he said: “The fact is the UK waters didn’t become dirty on December 31 at midnight, so this really doesn’t make any sense.”

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4.10am update: New Brexit rules could affect English football league managers

Premier League football teams could be affected by Brexit rules which tighten restrictions on managers being allowed to work in the country.

According to the Daily Mail, the new rules, which were agreed last month, would have prevented managers such as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Marcelo Bielsa from working in the country.

Managers now need something called a Governing Body Endorsement (GBE) to work in England, which requires them to have worked for a certain amount of time in certain ‘Top Leagues’.

The Daily Mail also claims the rules could affect the Championship more, where turnover between managers is higher.

2.10am update: Researchers say Brexit and lockdown scepticism are not linked

Researchers have said they did not find a definitive link between Brexiteers and lockdown sceptics, according to a King’s College London study.

The study involved a survey of 2,000 people who were put against a ‘psychological model of 10 basic human values’.

Professor Bobby Duffy, director of the Policy Institute at KCL, said: “Our analysis shows that lockdown scepticism is not another front in the UK’s supposed ‘culture wars’, where people’s views on a given issue are increasingly tied up with their political identity, such as whether they’re Leave or Remain.

“The values that have so divided the UK over Brexit are not also dividing us over Covid – if anything, they are uniting the country in the fight against the virus.”

KCL added the study suggested Nigel Farage’s Reform UK party “is unlikely to find an easy coalition of support” because the values of lockdown sceptics “are at odds with the values that drove support for Brexit”.

Edward Browne takes over live reporting from Bill McLoughlin

10.35pm update: Ben Habib erupts in furious Brexit clash with arch Remainer Femi over Northern Ireland

Brexiteer Ben Habib has erupted in outrage at political commentator Femi Oluwole as the former MEP called for the Northern Ireland protocol to be scrapped.

In a furious Twitter spat, the former Brexit Party MEP reminded the political commentator of the difference between Brexit and the withdrawal agreement.

In response to comments made by former Labour MP Kate Hoey, concerning Northern Ireland, Femi claimed Brexiteers were lied to and did not fully understand the UK’s exit.

In response, Mr Habib said: “There is a difference between Brexit and the Withdrawal Agreement. They are not synonymous.”

10pm update: Arlene Foster attacks Sefcovic over Northern Ireland

DUP leader, Arlene Foster has hit back at EU Commission vice-President Maros Sefcovic, for claiming no changes can be made to the Northern Ireland protocol.

She said: “I wasn’t surprised because I sat in on the meeting between Michael Gove and Maros Sefcovic last week and it really was an occasion of putting his head in the sand and his fingers in his ears.

“There was complete as if nothing had happened the Friday before in terms of the Article 16 triggering by the European Commission and that we should just all move along and pretend that it hadn’t happened.

“But worse than that in his response actually to Michael Gove this evening he is actually asking for more protocols.

“So the answer to the difficulties with the protocol and the fact that we have this real problem for trade between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, in other words internally in the UK single market, is actually more protocol – we need to be tighter on the protocol – and I think that that is an incredible state of affairs.”

9.16pm update: Fishing boom ‘huge for Britain’ as Boris told to use Brexit freedom to exploit bluefin tuna

Fishing post-Brexit be “huge for Britain” according to one skipper who explained the money that could be going into the UK if bluefin tuna was exploited.

Chris Gill from the Cornish Handline Association told Nigel Farage that bluefin tuna is now 200kg each which could mean “huge numbers” for Britain.

Speaking to Nigel Farage for his YouTube channel, Mr Gill said: “Defra need to decide on where they’re going to use this very small quota that we’ve got. I believe it’s around 50 tonnes.

“If that’s put into the recreational grounds for us to fish with a live release fishery that’s a massive number of fish.

“They estimate there’s a five percent mortality to these fish. Five in every 100 fish would probably die, those should be brought in and sold on the market so they’re not let go to the bottom of the sea for the crabs to eat.”

© PA Sefcovic

8.25pm update: Maros Sefcovic responds to Michael Gove’s letter

In response to Michael Gove’s request to alter elements of the Northern Ireland protocol, his counterpart has claimed no alterations can now be made.

He said in response that the only way to protect the peace process is to utilise the protocol adequately.

He said: “The United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the Union, its single market and its customs union presents unique and significant challenges for the island of Ireland.

“The protocol is the solution agreed by the UK and the EU to these challenges: it is the only way to protect the Good Friday (Belfast) Agreement, preserving peace and stability and avoiding a hard border on the island of Ireland.

“It is designed to ensure clarity and predictability for people and businesses, while minimising the disruption inevitably caused by the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union.

“It is a balanced outcome after years of difficult negotiations and is now our mutually agreed legal obligation.

“I therefore agree that our shared objective is to work tirelessly in order to make the protocol work. It requires full and faithful implementation by both parties.

“The Union’s commitment to the objectives of the protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland, as a cornerstone of both the Withdrawal Agreement and the relationship between the European Union and the United Kingdom, is unwavering.”

6.47pm update: SNP accused Westminster of cover-up over Brexit

The SNP has accused the Government of a cover-up after refusing to set a date of when it may publish an impact assessment.

The SNP’s Shadow International Trade Secretary, Drew Hendry said: “The Tory Government’s Brexit deal has already inflicted hardship upon businesses, people’s livelihoods and the economy. Refusing to publish the impact assessment of its trade deal with the EU is only an admission that the Tories have signed up to a deeply damaging deal.

“Dodging scrutiny and accountability have become the hallmark of Boris Johnson’s Government.

“Despite publishing similar reviews of other trade deals it has signed, its refusal to do so here is unacceptable and a desperate attempt to cover up the devastating damage being done by the Tories’ failing right-wing isolationist project.

“We know fine well that Brexit will leave us poorer and worse off.

“It’s clear that the only way to properly protect our interests, economy and businesses is to become an independent country and to regain the benefits of EU membership.”

6.18pm update: Bank of England Governor lashes out at EU after demanding too much from UK in finance feud

More from the Bank of England chief in his speech to the City of London.

He added today: “The EU has argued it must better understand how the UK intends to amend or alter the rules going forwards.

“This is a standard that the EU holds no other country to and would, I suspect, not agree to be held to itself.

“We have an opportunity to move forward and rebuild our economies, post-COVID, supported by our financial systems.

“Now is not the time to have a regional argument.”

© GETTY Andrew Bailey

5.56pm update: EU’s ‘hardball’ facade to crumble as Kate Hoey demands NI released from Brussels’ clutches

Brexiteer Kate Hoey argued the EU needed to stop playing “hardball” and allow Northern Ireland to be treated like the rest of the UK.

Baroness Hoey argued it was unacceptable that Northern Ireland was being treated differently than the rest of the UK post-Brexit.

While speaking on Sky News with Niall Paterson, she added forecast Irish citizens will start to argue against the bloc should the ongoing border struggles persist.

Ms Hoey said: “It is just not acceptable for the United Kingdom to be divided like this. That is why the move towards getting the Northern Ireland protocol changed will have to happen.

5.35pm update: UK must be allowed to change rules independently

Speaking today the Governor of the Bank of England Andrew Bailey said the UK must be allowed to change rules independently.

He also claimed following EU rules would be unacceptable post-Brexit.

He said: “It is not acceptable when UK rules govern a system 10 times the size of the UK GDP and is not the test up to now to assess equivalence.”

4.45pm update: von der Leyen admits mistakes over Article 16

Following the fallout from the threat to invoke Article 16, EU Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen, has admitted mistakes were made by the bloc.

She told the EU Parliament today: “The bottom line is that mistakes were made in the process leading up to the decision.

“And I deeply regret that. But in the end we got it right.”

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4.20pm update: Brexit blunder as UK agreed to law behind ‘shellfish ban’ in 2008

Boris Johnson refused to rule out a trade war with Brussels if it didn’t back down on its live shellfish ban – but it appears Britain voted for the law behind these restrictions in 2008.

Last week, the EU told British fishermen they face being indefinitely banned from exporting live mussels, oysters, clams, cockles and scallops from UK waters because it is now a third country.

Countries which don’t meet the EU’s standards have to purify their catch domestically before exporting.

The process adds significant costs and delays and is particularly impacting fishermen in Wales and the south-west of England.

It appears, though, that Britain was fully aware of the restrictions, having voted for them in 2008.

Lib Dem North Somerset Councillor for Blagdon and Churchill Patrick Keating wrote on Twitter: “The ‘ban’ on the import of live molluscs is not specifically targeted at the UK as some sort of ‘Brexit revenge’.

“The reality is that these restrictions apply to the import of aquaculture products from every non-EU country, as per Reg. No 1251/2008.

“This particular piece of legislation dates from 2008 – when the UK was a member state, and had votes in Council and Parliament.”

© GETTY/PA Michael Gove

4.15pm update: Official return to Belfast’s ports

After being forced to leave due to safety concerns, staff from Northern Ireland’s Agriculture Department returned to conduct trade checks today.

They were forced to leave after graffiti voicing concern over the Sea Border was found outside the Belfast and Larne ports.

Police have also been stationed at the ports.

3.23pm update: No10 hopes UK and EU will resolve issues over Northern Ireland

Speaking today, Downing Street spokesperson expressed the hope the issues surrounding Northern Ireland will be resolved tomorrow.

Ahead of Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove’s meeting with European Commission’s Maros Sefcovic tomorrow, pressure is mounting on the EU to extend the grace period on goods moving between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

They said: “We have said it is important we look urgently to resolve these issues.

“It is of course our hope that the meeting tomorrow will take that work forward and ensure that we can find solutions to these issues as quickly as possible.”

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3.03pm update: EU FARCE: Outrage as bloc demands nations issue ‘cigarette-style’ warnings on alcohol

Reports the European Union is planning to require “cigarette-style” health warnings for bottles of alcohol have provoked a furious reaction.

According to German newspaper Die Welt the European Commission is planning a campaign to target “harmful alcohol consumption”.

This will see photographs of the harmful effects of drinking put on bottles of wine, beer and spirits as is already widely done for cigarettes.

Die Welt also reports the EU Commission aims to cut the proportion of smokers across the bloc from 25 percent to five percent by 2040.

To achieve this an aggressive scheme of tax rises on cigarettes are being considered.

Bill McLoughlin takes over from Paul Withers.

2pm update: Brexit deal DELAY: EU set to push back date before agreement fully in force

Brussels is set to propose delaying its plan to rubber-stamp the Brexit trade deal until the end of April, it has emerged.

The European Commission will ask the Government for extra time to allow member states and MEPs longer to scrutinise the 1,246-page Trade and Cooperation Agreement.

Sources say Commission vice-president Maros Sefcovic could make an official request to Michael Gove as early as tomorrow when they meet in London for a session of the Brexit Joint Committee.

The top eurocrat was said to be pondering to delay the ratification process until April 30, according to insiders.

The Brexit trade treaty is currently provisionally applied to allow the European Parliament time to examine the agreement before taking a final vote to approve it.

Brussels had previously said the process would be complete by February 28, a date agreed with Westminster.

12.52pm update: Ireland Brexit FURY: MEP blasts von der Leyen for blindsiding Dublin: ‘Pick up the phone!’

Irish MEP Chris MacManus today demanded that Brussels never again threaten to destabilise the Northern Ireland peace process.

He branded Ursula von der Leyen’s move to impose customs controls on the island of Ireland “unacceptable”.

He asked for guarantees from the European Commission President that the EU never move to trigger Article 16 of the Brexit treaty that effectively would impose a hard border.

Mr MacManus told the European Parliament: “It is unacceptable that the commission didn’t see the potential of destabilising the withdrawal treaty and Good Friday agreement by proposing the use of Article 16.

“Now we must ensure the fiasco isn’t repeated. Part of that is picking up the phone to Dublin and Belfast.”

11.50am update: Pound rises but expert warns ‘Brexit is still casting a shadow’

Sterling has increased against the US dollar, breaking above $1.38 and touching its highest level in almost three years.

The British currency had risen 0.2 percent to $1.3846 against the dollar as of 10.52am, just short of its April 2018 high of $1.3855 hit in earlier London trade.

The pound was also up 0.2 percent against the euro at 87.57 pence.

Jane Foley, head of FX strategy at Rabobank said: “GBP bulls have been flexing their muscles since the start of the year based on relief about the EU/UK trade deal and on hopes that the relatively rapid vaccine roll-out programme will lead to a fairly fast economic recovery this year.”

However, she also warned: “The bumpy relationship between the UK and the EU, issues with the Northern Ireland protocol and border issues suggest that Brexit is still casting a shadow.”

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11.30am update: Should Boris Johnson retaliate against EU over live shellfish ban? VOTE HERE

10.48am update: Turnover slumps at key retail distributors across Irish Sea

AM Nextday has reported a 12 percent drop in turnover for the period from January 2020 to January this year.

The company has blamed uncertainty among firms based in Britain following the introduction of the Northern Ireland Protocol and the end of the Brexit transition period on New Year’s Eve.

Business development manager Sarah Hards told the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee of MPs AM Nextday had employed more staff but incurred additional costs to manage the increased post-Brexit checks and paperwork.

She added: “There does not seem to be enough rewards for us really here.”

10.02am update: EU ‘open’ to extension of Brexit grace period but demands UK compromise

The EU would be open to extending the Brexit grace period for Northern Ireland in order to remove some red tape for Britain.

Irish Minister for European Affairs Thomas Byrne insisted that the relationship between the UK, Northern Ireland and Ireland is off to a rocky start.

While speaking on BBC’s Newsnight with Emily Maitlis, he argued the EU has attempted to make the Northern Ireland Protocol as fair as possible.

However, Mr Byrne added the EU would be open to extending the period at which Northern Ireland is tied to the single market to solve the teething problems if Brexit Britain is willing to compromise.

He said that everything in Northern Ireland is about compromise and both the UK and EU need to find a solution that works for all citizens, both in Northern Ireland and Ireland.

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9.10am update: VDL admits ‘deep regret’ over Brexit deal ultimatum – EU chief in grovelling climbdown

EU chief Ursula von der Leyen today apologised for threatening the Northern Ireland peace process by attempting to blockade vaccine exports.

The European Commission President said she “deeply regrets” her plans to essentially impose a hard border to prevent drug makers from shipping doses of Covid jabs to Britain via the backdoor. Speaking in the European Parliament, she said: “The bottom line is that mistakes were made in the process leading up to the decision. And I deeply regret that.

“But in the end we got it right and I can reassure you that my Commission will do its utmost to protect the peace on Northern Ireland, just as it has done throughout the entire Brexit process.”

The Commission was forced to scrap plans for a full-blown export ban on vaccines made in Europe after it threatened a hard border on the island of Ireland.

Eurocrats had drawn up plans to stop Covid jabs moving into the UK via its only land border with the bloc.

The hasty strategy was deployed amid growing anger over the bloc’s sluggish roll-out of Covid jabs.

8.17am update: Nigel Farage orders Boris to seize control of UK fishing: ‘Ban super trawlers NOW

Nigel Farage has urged Boris Johnson to ban “foreign-owned super trawlers” from the English Channel to allow a renaissance of British recreational fishing

The former Brexit Party leader reports each vessel can catch “up to 250 tonnes of fish every day”. Mr Johnson’s Brexit deal caused outrage in many fishing communities, with much of the catch from UK waters left in European hands until 2026.

Additional border controls have also made it harder for British fishermen to export to the EU, with some produce like shellfish going rotten due to the bureaucratic delays.

Writing for the Daily Telegraph Mr Farage celebrated the return of bluefish tuna to UK waters and argued controlled recreational fishing of the ocean beast could help kickstart the economies of British coastal communities.

He said: “Bluefin tuna is back in British waters in huge numbers and, if managed correctly, this could bring a significant boost to fishing businesses.

“Their presence could also heighten the tourist trade in many parts of the country.

“I am certain that a well-regulated catch-and-release fishery would see anglers from all over the world flocking to the West Country, Wales and northwest Scotland to enjoy it.”

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8.10am update: VDL set for humiliating apology TODAY after ‘s**t hit fan’ with Brexit deal threat

Ursula von der Leyen is bracing for a humiliating day in the European Parliament today, with MEPs set to grill the Commission President over her vaccine strategy mistakes.

Mrs von der Leyen is expected to once again apologise for moving to trigger Article 16 of the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement last month in a bid to ban vaccine exports from the EU to Northern Ireland. The Commission chief was also criticised for engaging in a bitter row with vaccine producer AstraZeneca, resulting in the EU institution being forced to publish its contract with the jab provider.

Peter Liese, the European People’s Party’s health spokesperson in the European Parliament, said Mrs von der Leyen will most likely see most of the attacks today coming from German MEPs in the Brussels chamber.

He said: “A lot of people in Germany are frustrated.”

Mr Liese argued that while a lot of issues are still to be discussed, a lot of the criticism will be focused on party politics, adding: “it could be destroying Europe’s credibility in Germany.”

7.50am update: They still don’t get it! EU struggling to accept UK is now independent says Lord Frost

The EU is still struggling to accept the UK is now an independent sovereign nation, Lord David Frost has said.

Britain’s chief negotiator of the EU trade deal has told peers Brussels is still learning to adapt to the new relationship with the UK. He said relations had been “more than bumpy” and said a different approach from the EU was required.

He told the Lords European Union Committee: “We said last year during the negotiations that we wanted friendly cooperation between sovereign equals as our vision of the future and that’s still what we want.

“I don’t think that’s been quite the experience of the last few weeks if we’re honest about it.

“I think the EU is still adjusting somewhat, as we thought they might, to the existence of a genuinely independent actor in their neighbourhood and obviously there’s been a certain amount of disagreement over the vaccine issues which in many ways have created political difficulties on the EU side.”

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