MP Bob Seely apologises after going to a barbecue during lockdown

Bob Seely apologised for attending the barbecue along with his girlfriend on the Isle of Wight which was hosted by the Spectator's deputy editor Freddy Gray.

CBI says firms want to get on with leaving the EU even if it means no trade deal

Dame Carolyn Fairbairn, director-general of the CBI, said the body will not support further delays to the Brexit process. The CBI opposed Brexit and previously voiced support for a longer transition.

UK could accept tariffs on some goods traded with the EU after Brexit

The move could be used to break the deadlock between London and Brussels - but appears to be a departure from what Boris Johnson said six months ago

Fears of no-deal in Brexit trade talks rise as another round of negotiations ends in acrimony

Business groups and unions warn disruption in December could be worse than coronavirus

The latest futile Brexit negotiations are a throwback to a simpler time

After the pain of coronavirus has passed through the economy, even the most damaging of all Brexits will be like the placenta after childbirth

Brexit: Barnier hints in talks of EU concessions on state aid rules

Downing Street welcomes lastest move after week of stuttering trade negotiations

Michel Barnier has signalled that he is ready to drop the EU’s most contentious demand that its rules limiting government subsidies to businesses are inserted into British law after another week of stuttering negotiations over a future trade and security deal.

In a move immediately welcomed in Downing Street, the bloc’s chief negotiator declined to publicly back the EU’s opening demand that the UK incorporate Brussels’ state aid rules into its domestic legislation.

Continue reading...

Bentley to cut nearly a quarter of its workforce

Carmaker hopes to cut 1,000 jobs through voluntary redundancies but warns no-deal Brexit will deepen coronavirus impact

Bentley has confirmed it is seeking to make 1,000 job cuts through a voluntary redundancy scheme, shrinking its workforce by almost a quarter as it responds to the coronavirus pandemic.

The luxury carmaker warned that it could not rule out future compulsory redundancies, as the pandemic cuts demand for cars.

Continue reading...

'Good weekend reading': Barnier says UK backtracking on Brexit declaration – video

The EU’s chief negotiator says little progress has been made on reaching a post-Brexit agreement, as ‘the UK continues to backtrack’ on commitments agreed to in a political declaration that sets out the framework for the future relationship between the bloc and Britain.

Michael Barnier held up the document calling it ‘good weekend reading’ in what appeared to be frustration at a lack of progress in negotiations

Continue reading...

Boris Johnson is trying to hide his Brexit disaster inside a catastrophe

While you are distracted, the government is going full-throttle for the worst possible Brexit

Brexit trade talks in angry deadlock as EU fumes 'we can't go on like this'

The EU's chief negotiator Michel Barnier accused Boris Johnson of 'backtracking' on pledge after pledge - while the UK admitted progress had been 'limited' weeks before a crucial deadline

'Disorderly' no-deal Brexit will strain food supply chain even more than coronavirus, MPs warned

'The focus of retailers now is 100 per cent on what's going to happen on 1 January'

Brexit: Michel Barnier says EU 'cannot go on like this forever' and accuses Boris Johnson of backtracking on promises

The EU's chief trade negotiator has accused Boris Johnson of "backtracking" on commitments he made during the Brexit process and cast doubt on the future of talks.

Brexit: Little sign of progress in latest EU/UK trade talks

Latest EU-UK negotiations come to a close, as deadline for extending transition period nears.

Business leaders demand delay to Irish Sea border checks

Six months needed to prepare for Brexit border checks, warn Northern Ireland business groups

Northern Ireland business groups are calling for a six month delay to Brexit checks in the Irish Sea saying that Boris Johnson’s late admission that he is legally obliged to implement them has left them no time to prepare for the December cliff edge.

They have also hit out at Downing Street secrecy, saying they are refusing to discuss the plans with the very people that needed to implement them.

Continue reading...

China says UK interference in Hong Kong could stop trade deal

A Chinese state-run newspaper has warned that Britain is risking losing a trade deal with China after Downing Street challenged Beijing over a new security law for Hong Kong.

Paul Routledge: The unseen tragedy of the low-paid self-employed

Boris Johnson pledged: “We’ll put our arms round every single worker.” Come Halloween, we’ll find out if that’s just another hollow promise.

Ministers plot to allow chlorinated chicken and other poor-quality US imports in to UK supermarkets

The scheme would see little or no import duties placed on food and produce that meets current high UK quality and ethics standards, but slap hefty tolls on other poor quality items.

EU leaders will intervene in Brexit talks in autumn, says German official

Michael Clauss says talks will be a focus from September and UK needs more realistic approach

Britain must give away some sovereignty to secure free trade with the EU but Europe’s leaders will intervene in the negotiations in the autumn with the aim of sealing a compromise deal at a summit on 15 October, Germany’s ambassador in Brussels has said.

Michael Clauss, whose country will take over the rolling presidency of the EU for the second half of the year, said there had been “no real progress” in the talks so far but predicted they would become the EU’s main political focus in September and October.

Continue reading...

Nissan warns it could shut UK plant in case of no-deal Brexit

Car manufacturer Nissan has warned its Sunderland plant, which employs 7,000 people, could shut if the UK drops out of the EU without a deal and trade tariffs increase

Britons applying for German citizenship up 2,300% last year

Since Britain voted to leave the EU in 2016, 31,600 Britons have acquired German citizenship

The number of Britons applying for a German citizenship last year was up by approximately 2,300% compared with the year before the Brexit referendum, driving up the number of naturalisations in the country to a 16-year high.

According to data released by the federal statistical office on Wednesday, the total number of citizenship applications granted in 2019 increased by 15% year on year to 128,900, with 14,600 granted applications from British citizens accounting for almost half the increase.

Continue reading...

Single market holds key to unlocking Brexit impasse

The economic devastation caused by Covid-19 ought to be motivation enough for a deal

Nissan says its car plant in Sunderland will be at risk if it has to pay tariffs on vehicles exported from the UK to the EU. The governor of the Bank of England, Andrew Bailey, has told banks they need to prepare for the possibility that there will be no deal. It is something of an understatement to say that the talks between London and Brussels are not going well.

Whether things are as bad as they look remains to be seen. Threadneedle Street has repeatedly told banks they should prepare for all outcomes, including no deal. It would be a bit rum – and a much bigger story – if Bailey’s message was “don’t worry, everything’s going to be all right”.

Continue reading...

Johnson’s desire to move on from Covid-19 is dangerous – both medically and politically | Martin Kettle

Keen to show he has a grip, the prime minister is gambling with people’s health as he tries to get back to Brexit

News that Boris Johnson is to take “direct control” of the government’s handling of the coronavirus crisis raises more questions than it answers. What exactly has the prime minister been doing until now? Were we not also told, when he returned to work in April after his brush with death in St Thomas’ hospital, that he was resuming control then as well? Taking back control seems to be rather harder than it sounds. Maybe he should have grasped that a bit sooner. 

Trying to get a grip goes with the job. Prime ministers dream of being able to make an announcement, issue an order and then pull a lever or press a button so that things will happen. It almost never works, which is why prime ministers react by doing what Johnson has just done. They shake up Downing Street. They bring in new people. They form new committees. Then they try again. Sometimes the problem is the prime minister. More often the problem is the state machine. In Johnson’s case it is both, which is a bad combination.

Continue reading...

Theresa May attacks Boris Johnson over Brexit and Covid quarantine plans

Former PM warns of security implications of no deal and threat to trade from travel restrictions

Theresa May has launched a double attack on Boris Johnson’s government, speaking in the Commons to first warn about the security implications of a final no-deal Brexit, and then against the coronavirus quarantine plans.

May, who has largely kept a low profile since returning to the backbenches, used prime minister’s questions to express worry at a lack of possible lack of intelligence and data sharing if the Brexit transition period ends without a formal agreement.

Continue reading...

Petition calls for ban on low-quality food imports in post-Brexit deals

Hundreds of thousands back farmers’ demands for law to protect food standards

More than a quarter of a million people have signed a petition calling for a ban on cheaply produced low-quality food imports in post-Brexit trade deals.

The National Farmers Union (NFU) is lobbying government to ensure that imports from countries such as the US, produced to lower standards than expected of UK farmers, should not be allowed.

Continue reading...

Brexit transition extension 'essential' to protect Scottish economy

Analysis by the Scottish government finds Scottish GDP could be up to 1.1% lower without a delay.

Brexit: Bank of England tells lenders to ramp up preparations for no-deal

Andrew Bailey reminds banks of the need to have contingencies in case talks between UK and EU leaders do not result in a deal by 31 December

Bank of England tells banks to 'prepare' for no deal Brexit

The Bank of England said UK lenders - including Lloyds, HSBC and Barclays - should get ready for the possibility of a no-deal Brexit at the end of 2020

Bank of England urges lenders to bolster no-deal Brexit plans

Governor tells banks to prepare for risk of UK failing to reach a deal by 2020 deadline

The Bank of England governor has told banks to bolster their preparations for a no-deal Brexit.

Andrew Bailey held a conference call on Tuesday with Britain’s biggest lenders in which he emphasised that they needed to step up their plans for Britain failing to secure a post-Brexit trade deal with the EU before a deadline at the end of 2020, Sky News reported.

Continue reading...

Brexit: NI Assembly votes to extend transition period

The transition is due to end on 1 January and a new "trade border" will operate between NI and rest of UK.

Nissan warns Sunderland factory 'unsustainable' after Brexit without EU trade deal

If no trade deal is reached, cars made in the UK and exported to the EU would be subject to a 10 per cent tariff

Bank of England 'warns City to brace for Brexit trade talks to FAIL'

Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey (pictured) is said to have warned over the prospects of Brexit trade talks failing in a call with City chiefs this week.

UK coronavirus live: Keir Starmer accuses Boris Johnson of 'winging it' over lockdown easing

Labour leader says prime minister has made ‘difficult situation 10 times worse’ in Guardian interview ahead of PMQs

Good morning. I’m Andrew Sparrow, joining the blog for the day.

It is PMQs later, and the Daily Telegraph has this morning helpfully been writing Sir Keir Starmer’s script for the exchanges.

EXCLUSIVE: Boris Johnson is to take "direct control" of the Government's handling of the coronavirus crisis https://t.co/j7Wcuu97Sl

A new strategy committee – dubbed “CS” – will be chaired by Mr Johnson, while the Cabinet Office minister, Michael Gove, will chair the new operations committee, known in Whitehall as “CO”. Both will meet on a regular basis.

The new approach echoes the government’s Brexit planning last year which was led by an “XS” strategic and “XO” operational committee.

A senior Tory MP said Mr Johnson’s shake-up was intended “to bring some order” to the decision-making process after a difficult two months. The MP said: “Boris has decided that Cummings is there, but he is going to take more direct control.”

The prime minister is the head of this government. The prime minister has always been in charge.

Nick Robinson, the BBC Radio 4 Today presenter, had a rather fruitless exchange with the health minister Edward Argar about the government’s plans for a quarantine.

Robinson repeatedly asked Argar to name a European country with a higher infection rate than the UK, given that there is only a risk of “reimporting” the virus if the UK allows unfettered access from a nation with a worse infection rate.

Continue reading...

Nissan's Sunderland plant at risk if UK leaves EU without deal

No-deal Brexit tariffs would make manufacturing in Britain unviable, says carmaker

Nissan has warned that its Sunderland manufacturing plant is still under threat if the UK leaves the EU without a trade deal.

Last week Nissan said that the UK’s largest car manufacturing plant would stay open as it announced plans to cut £2.3bn in costs worldwide. However, the carmaker has said it would need to “improve efficiency” at the factory in the north-east of England, which employs 6,700 staff.

Continue reading...

The pandemic is being used as cover for a no-deal Brexit | Mujtaba Rahman

The Vote Leavers at the heart of government think the coronavirus crash will disguise the pain caused by a rupture with the EU

Most of us who have followed Brexit closely believed coronavirus would soften the government’s stance in trade talks with Europe. The economic shock triggered by the pandemic, and the fact Whitehall is so overwhelmed managing it, made it more likely the government would extend the transition period, due to expire at the end of this year, or strike a deal. It turns out that the opposite is true. Rather than encouraging a more flexible and pragmatic approach, Covid-19 has instead reinforced the case for no deal at the very top of government.

Perhaps the most important driver is the belief among ministers that the UK economy will be permanently reshaped by the crisis, as companies create new supply chains and reshore production to provide greater resilience in the future, not least in case of another pandemic. The government wants a free hand to facilitate this change, one that it believes would be constrained by the EU’s demand that the UK remain tied to its labour and environmental standards and state aid rules.

Continue reading...

Nissan: UK factory still under threat from no-deal Brexit

Britain's largest car plant is "unsustainable" without a trade deal, the Japanese company says.

Brexit: Northern Ireland Assembly passes motion calling for transition period extension

'The NI Assembly's vote is a clear indication that Boris Johnson must rethink and do the right thing for those across the UK'

Stormont backs calling for extension to Brexit transition period

Assembly says complex border checks cannot be imposed while UK occupied with Covid-19 crisis

The Northern Ireland assembly has unexpectedly voted in favour of calling for an extension to the Brexit transition period, arguing that the UK government cannot impose complex border checks down the Irish Sea while Britain is occupied with the coronavirus crisis. 

In a surprise development, nationalist, green and social democratic parties held sway in Stormont, saying business cannot prepare for a no-deal Brexit in the middle of a pandemic. 

Continue reading...

Where's the catch in the Brexit fishing talks?

As the UK and EU resume negotiations over quotas, many snags remain to be unpicked

European Union and British negotiators will face each other screen-to-screen as the latest round of Brexit talks get under way on Tuesday. During this four-day round, the most time has been allocated to one of the toughest issues: fishing rights.

Continue reading...

STEPHEN GLOVER: Brussels is using Covid-19 as an excuse to put off Brexit

STEPHEN GLOVER: Britain may have left the EU, but its crucial future trading relations with the bloc are still being discussed, and in an unproductive and acrimonious way.

EU has no legal duty to give UK trade privileges, document says

European parliament paper concludes EU does not have to offer privileges given to other countries in previous trade deals

The European Union has no legal duty to grant the UK privileges offered to other countries in trade deals, an internal European parliament paper has concluded ahead of a crucial round of Brexit talks this week.

The document, drawn up by officials for the parliament’s UK co-ordination group, is a short analysis of arguments made by the UK’s chief negotiator, David Frost, in a letter to his counterpart Michel Barnier. Frost accused the EU of treating the UK as an “unworthy” negotiating partner by denying the UK “the kind of well-precedented arrangements commonplace in modern FTAs”.

Continue reading...

Sadiq Khan breaks Labour ranks to call for Brexit transition extension after coronavirus disruption

Mayor of London says coronavirus means talks need more time

Brexit talks 'must end by the autumn': UK tells EU negotiations cannot go on for ever

Britain has warned the EU that negotiations must end by autumn ahead of Brexit talks next week. This comes as Michel Barnier issued an ultimatum, saying there would not be an 'agreement at any cost'.

Northern Ireland faces 'potent threat' from Brexit and Covid-19

Lords committee warns uncertainty over trading rules may add to economic damage of crisis

Northern Ireland faces a “potent threat” to its prosperity and stability if reduced business confidence due to uncertainty over post-Brexit trading rules compounds the economic damage from coronavirus, a Lords committee has warned.

A fourth round of talks between the UK and EU over a permanent deal begins this week, with little apparent progress made, and the looming deadline of 1 July for the UK to seek an extension to the transition period beyond this year.

Continue reading...

Brexit: UK's smallest firms divert £10bn in exports away from EU

Companies are ‘jumping before they are pushed’ as fears mount over collapse in trade talks

Britain’s smallest companies are “jumping before they are pushed” by diverting £10bn in exports away from the EU as concerns mount over a possible collapse in Brexit trade talks, according to a report.

The research from academics at Aston University, which comes before the latest round of Brexit negotiations this week, showed small British firms were ramping up sales to countries in South America and east Asia.

Continue reading...

A week of hypocrisy and spite in which the liberal elite proved they STILL won't accept Brexit

MAIL ON SUNDAY COMMENT: Britain's smooth and complacent Left-wing elite are so completely convinced of their goodness that they think they are licensed to behave like louts.

I am a committed Leaver. But I believe Dominic Cummings should resign

This is not political. The adviser’s behaviour created a moral issue, says a prominent Conservative MP

Let me first lay to rest some of the more ridiculous accusations that have been laid at the door of those of us who have called for Dominic Cummings to resign. These include: that this is a Remainer conspiracy to help reverse Brexit, that it is a leftwing campaign to destabilise the government, or that it is a coded attack on Boris Johnson.

Most of your readers will heartily disagree with my position on Brexit. I am a committed and determined Leaver. I have fought for us to leave the EU throughout my political career, and I am always alert to campaigns to derail this most important project to restore our national sovereignty. So, why, if this is a Remain coup, would I be supporting it?

Continue reading...

Michel Barnier warns Boris Johnson to stick to promises or face no deal

The EU's chief Brexit negotiator has warned that there will not be an "agreement at any cost" and said that the coronavirus crisis makes the prospect of no deal worse