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Brexit latest news – UK scores fishing win but could be 'overwhelmed' by Brexit and Coronavirus

BREXIT negotiations look to have almost stalled although efforts to reach an agreement will continue.

Michel Barnier said "very serious divergencies remain" between the EU and UK negotiators.

The problematic areas are still fishing and state aid.

In an update to MEPs, Mr Barnier said: "Despite EU efforts to find solutions, very serious divergences remain in level playing field, governance and fisheries.

"These are essential conditions for any economic partnership."

Lord Frost said progress had been made during two weeks of intensive talks but "wide divergences remain on some core issues".

"We continue to work to find solutions that fully respect UK sovereignty," he said.

Follow our Brexit live blog for all the latest news and updates…

  • Jon Rogers

    PM URGED TO GRANT 6-MONTH GRACE PERIOD FOR FOOD SECTOR WHEN TRANSITION ENDS

    Scotland's food and drink industry has pleaded with the Prime Minister to grant a six-month “grace period” for new rules coming into effect when the UK's Brexit transition period ends on December 31.

    Business leaders said in a letter to Boris Johnson that after the damage done by coronavirus they are now facing a “perilous situation” at the end of the year.

    With no deal on future trading terms yet agreed between the UK and EU, the group warned Mr Johnson the “fallout from a no-deal would be catastrophic”.

    Scotland's food and drink industry is worth £15 billion a year, employing 120,000 people across the country.

    Industry leaders said the impact of Covid-19 has been “devastating”, with the sector fearing losses in revenue of £3 billion.

    Now with the end of the Brexit transition period looming in less than two months, the group said it wants a six-month relaxation of the rules that will require those selling products to Europe to produce export health certificates and other certificates.

  • Jon Rogers

    LORD ADONIS CLAIMS BREXIT WILL BE REVERSED

    Labour peer Lord Adonis has claimed that Joe Biden will win the US presidential election indicating the end of Republican Donald Trump and the demise of right-wing politics.

    He also indicated it was the end of Brexit which would eventually be reversed.

    In a number of Twitter messages he said Democrat Joe Biden would take the White House and later wrote: “This is the beginning of the end of Johnson too – and Brexit, though that will take longer to reverse.”

  • Jon Rogers

    EU CHIEF WARNS OF 'DANGER' OTHER STATES COULD FOLLOW BREXIT BRITAIN

    AN EU boss has warned about the “danger” of other members following Britain's lead and move to leave the bloc.

    Vice-President of the European Economic and Social Committee (ESSC), Cilian Lohan, has warned a no deal outcome would create “enormous difficulties”.

    The ongoing talks between the two sides have effectively stalled as they try to thrash out a deal but the stumbling blocks of fishing and state aid have yet to be sorted out.

  • Jon Rogers

    BORDER POST TO BE BUILT AT LARNE HARBOUR

    Northern Ireland will see a Border Control Post (BCP) built at Larne harbour, the BBC has said.

    It is a facility for inspecting food and live animals when they arrive from other parts of the UK.

    It includes designated areas for pets and horses.

    BCPs will also be built in Belfast and Warrenpoint.

  • Jon Rogers

    BREXIT DEAL 'FAR FROM CERTAIN' SAYS IRISH MINISTER

    Irish Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney responded to Michel Barnier's comments by tweeting: “A reminder that a brexit trade deal is far from certain.”

    He added: “We must continue to prepare as a country for all outcomes.

    “A deal remains doable but very difficult.

    “Time is short. Thank u @MichelBarnier for your calm and consistent approach.”

  • Jon Rogers

    EU PREPARED FOR 'ALL SCENARIOS'

    European Union negotiator Michel Barnier has said the bloc is ready for “all scenarios” in the trade talks with the UK.

    Despite the failure to achieve a breakthrough, it is expected that the two sides will remain in contact by videoconference calls, with further talks next week in London.

    The EU believes a deal needs to be done by the middle of November if it is to be ratified by the time the UK leaves the single market and customs union when the post-Brexit transition period expires at the end of the year.

    He said: “Despite EU efforts to find solutions, very serious divergences remain in level playing field, governance and fisheries.

    “These are essential conditions for any economic partnership.”

  • Jon Rogers

    GOVT UNDER FIRE OVER BORDER SECURITY CHECKS AFTER BREXIT

    Kevin Foster, the minister for future borders and immigration, and department officials faced questions from the Commons Home Affairs Committee on Wednesday on how border checks and immigration rules will change at the end of the Brexit transition period.

    Concerns were reignited that the same level of checks for foreign criminals will no longer be carried out at the border if the UK loses access to the European security database known as SIS II (Schengen Information System).

    Mr Foster said Brexit negotiations were ongoing and UK databases could be used instead.

    But committee chairwoman Yvette Cooper asked: “Where is the system in place?

    “This is really just a matter of weeks, a small number of months, until we may need to have a new system at the border and currently, as the minister responsible, you don't seem to even know what work is being done to keep our borders safe.

    “You don't seem to be able to describe the scale of the challenge in terms of losing this crucial information about people who may be involved in serious organised crime, people who may be sex offenders, people who may be involved in extremism and you can't describe to us any new alternative database that might have this information on it so that Border Force can take these crucial decisions.

  • Jon Rogers

    'VERY SERIOUS' GAPS REMAIN BETWEEN UK AND EU IN TRADE TALKS

    Michel Barnier has said “very serious divergences” remain between the European Union and UK as efforts continue to strike a post-Brexit trade deal.

    The EU's chief negotiator said the main stumbling blocks remained the “level playing field” aimed at preventing unfair competition on areas including state subsidies, fisheries policy and the governance of any deal.

    Mr Barnier updated MEPs and EU diplomats on the status of the negotiations with his UK counterpart Lord Frost, which have been taking place in Brussels.

    He said: “Despite EU efforts to find solutions, very serious divergences remain in level playing field, governance and fisheries.

    “These are essential conditions for any economic partnership.”

    Lord Frost said progress had been made during two weeks of intensive talks but “wide divergences remain on some core issues”.

    “We continue to work to find solutions that fully respect UK sovereignty,” he said.

  • Jon Rogers

    EU DIPLOMAT SAYS NO-DEAL BREXIT CAN'T BE RULED OUT

    AN EU diplomat has said a No-deal Brexit cannot be ruled out even though “some progress” has been made, reports say.

    The unnamed source is believed to have told Sky News: “The UK does not seem to be engaging sufficiently on key issues like level playing field, governance and fisheries.

    “Given this situation a no-deal outcome still can’t be excluded.”

  • Ed Southgate

    ONLY SMALL PROGRESS IN BREXIT TALKS

    Intensified Brexit negotiations with Britain in recent days have yielded only small progress towards a trade deal and differences remain on key issues, the European Union's negotiator told EU envoys today.

    One senior diplomat said the negotiator, Michel Barnier, gave no timeline for an agreement or even any certainty that a trade deal between the 27-nation EU and Britain would be clinched by a mid-November deadline.

    “He gave no timeline and he was rather uncertain about a deal,” the diplomat said.

    Britain left the EU in January and the estranged allies have since been locked in complex negotiations on a free trade deal for when a status-quo transition period ends on Dec. 31.

    Barnier told the ambassadors that there was still no agreement on so-called “level playing field” guarantees to avoid unfair competition, the question of fishing rights and how to settle potential future disputes, two diplomats said.

    He said that vigorous talks would continue next week, a second senior diplomat said.

    A senior official said the envoys were told there had been “mild progress” in the negotiations.

    “There is no discussion of mood and predictions on Barnier's side, just a clear drive to get a deal,” the official said. “It is pure pragmatism.”

  • Ed Southgate

    TRADE TALKS STILL FACE TOO MANY CHALLENGES, BARNIER SAYS

    The European Union's chief negotiator said that trade talks still faced too many challenges.

    “At this stage, there are still too many difficulties remaining on important topics,” EU negotiator Michel Barnier said as he was on his way to brief the envoys of the 27 member states on Wednesday.

    It dampens hope of progress on issues such as fisheries rights, one of three remaining major topics that need a compromise solution if a deal is to be found before Jan. 1.

    Barnier insisted though that the bloc wasn't ready to give up.

    “We are working intensively and will continue working to find solutions,” he said.

    The lack of progress on fisheries and on the need to have common regulatory standards and fair competition to make sure Britain won't undercut EU businesses has befuddled the negotiating teams for months, as both sides have been trying to strike a trade deal since the U.K. left the EU on Jan. 31.

    They must do so within weeks if an agreement is to be ratified by the end of the year, when a post-Brexit transition period ends.

  • Ed Southgate

    MICHEL BARNIER ARRIVES MASKED UP TO ADDRESS THE EU PARLIAMENT

    He will update members on the UK-EU trade talks.

    Credit: Reuters

  • Ed Southgate

    HOW COULD THE US ELECTION IMPACT BREXIT?

    The US Presidential race could have dramatic impacts for Brexit.

    Donald Trump has previously referred to himself as “Mr Brexit” and is generally more supportive of the project than his opponent Joe Biden.

    Mr Biden was Vice-President for Obama, who famously told Brits they would be at the “back of the queue” for a US-UK trade deal.

    And he has also warned against anything that could damage peace in Northern Ireland.

    But former Foreign Secretaries have told how a trade deal will be challenging no matter who wins.

    Sir Malcom Rifkind, who served under Margaret Thatcher and John Major, told the BBC: “The Americans will not give anything unless they get anything in return.

    “We are not going to get any specific deals just because Trump likes Boris.”

  • Ed Southgate

    NEGOTIATIONS SET TO RUN FOR ANOTHER FORTNIGHT

    Post-Brexit trade talks could run for another fortnight.

    EU and UK negotiators Michel Barnier and David Frost are expected to announce that, despite progress, disagreements remain that must be ironed out.

    It has been two weeks since talks resumed after coming close to a breakdown.

    Mr Barnier will address the European parliament today will an update.

  • Ed Southgate

    BREXIT COULD TRIGGER NORTHERN IRELAND PROTESTS, MPS TOLD

    Protests are expected to sweep Northern Ireland after Brexit, police warned.

    Parts of the loyalist community could see new checks on goods as a threat to the union and descend on ports.

    The warning came from Simon Byrne, chief constable of the police service of Northern Ireland (PSNI).

    Mr Byrne told MPs: “Largely, we'd assess at the moment, by the loyalist community: if they see that what the port boundary represents is any sort of threat of their perceptions of the union.”

  • Ed Southgate

    BARNIER TO UPDATE EU PARLIAMENT ON POST-BREXIT TRADE DEAL

    The European Union's chief negotiator Michel Barnier will update the Brussels parliament on the progress made after intensive efforts to secure a post-Brexit trade deal.

    Mr Barnier is engaged in face-to-face talks with his UK counterpart Lord Frost in the Belgian capital in a bid to bridge the gap on outstanding areas as they look to strike a deal before the transition period ends on December 31.

    Commission spokesman Daniel Ferrie told a Brussels press briefing on Wednesday that the EU negotiator would update the European Parliament this afternoon.

    German MEP David McAllister tweeted: “This afternoon Michel Barnier will give the UK Coordination Group an update after intensive days in London and Brussels.

    “I am looking forward to this important exchange at this crucial moment in the negotiations.”

    The update comes after EU and UK talks got back on track following Prime Minister Boris Johnson's decision to pause the negotiations last month after European leaders called for Britain to make concessions.

  • Ed Southgate

    PM TOLD TO KEEP DOVER CLEAR FROM BREXIT TRAFFIC GRIDLOCK

    Conservative MP for Dover Natalie Elphickeasked Boris Johnson to confirm that Dover will be kept clear from traffic gridlock as the Brexit transition period ends.

    She said: “In a few short weeks, we end the transition period with the European Union. May I ask the Prime Minister to confirm that the transition team will endeavour to keep Dover clear from traffic gridlock and that work will continue at pace on the proposed upgrade to the A2 between Whitfield and Dover's eastern docks?”

    Mr Johnson responded: “I can tell [Ms Elphicke] that Highways England is now, I think thanks to her lobbying, developing plans to improve Brenley Corner Junction and access into Dover along the remaining single carriageway sections of the A2 from Lydden.”

  • Ed Southgate

    HEALTH IN DANGER WITHOUT EU TRADE DEAL, MP WARNS

    Failing to agree a trade deal with the EU would be “downright dangerous for people's health”, an MP warned.

    SDLP MP Claire Hanna (Belfast South) told the Commons: “The disruptive end of the transition, right in the middle of this battle with the pandemic and winter pressures is bad enough, and leaving without a deal would be downright dangerous for people's health.”

    Northern Ireland minister Robin Walker responded: “It is important that Northern Ireland's position and the supply of goods are protected by the Protocol and that unfettered access is delivered both in terms of north/south movements and in terms of access to the rest of the United Kingdom that provides crucial support to Northern Ireland.”

    Labour's shadow Northern Ireland minister Karin Smyth said the Government had been a “monumental failure” in its preparations for post-Brexit trade in Northern Ireland.

    She said: “This is a monumental failure of preparation but it's not the fault of business, it is the fault of this Government.”

  • Ed Southgate

    PM DEFENDS INTERNAL MARKET BILL

    Boris Johnson defended the controversial Internal Market Bill as being vital for the country.

    The Prime Minister said: “The UK Internal Market bill which hascross party support is a vital part of the armature for the skeletal structure of the whole UK economy as we leave the European Union. It ensures that goods placed on the market services are available throughout the UK on the same terms. It is absolutely vital for our country.”

    He was responding to a question at today's PMQs urging him to scrap clauses that presidential candidate Joe Biden said would be damaging to the Good Friday Agreement.

  • Ed Southgate

    EU LEADERS 'QUIETLY HOPE FOR BIDEN VICTORY'

    EU leaders are quietly hopeful for a Biden victory, it is reported.

    But the union is preparing for a period of political instability whoever gets elected as even Biden would prioritise domestic concerns, the BBC's Katya Adler said.

    The BBC Europe Editor tweeted: “Germany‘s Economy Minister and France‘s Europe Minister separately observe that Europe cant wait for its fate to be decided by politics in US. Saying that 4 years of Trump presidency have shown Europe it needs to determine own path when comes to economy, climate, tech and more clearly they know Europe stronger with US by its side eg on China, Iran, climate.”

    She added: “Although the tone from Washington would likely be different, the EU thinks the content of clashes over trade, tech taxes, surveillance and more could well continue (though to a lesser degree esp on trade) under Biden.”

  • Ed Southgate

    IMPORTANCE OF US-UK TRADE DEAL 'CANNOT BE OVERSTATED', BREXIT EXPERT SAYS

    The importance of a US-UK trade deal cannot be overstated, a Brexit expert said.

    Mujtaba Rahman, managing director for Europe with Eurasia Group, emphasised it has symbolic importance as Britain looks to expand trade around the world.

    Rahman said: “The entire legitimacy and credibility of Brexit on some level hangs on the government’s ability to land an agreement with the US.”

    He also said the prospect of a Biden presidency has already been key in “forcing a change of position in Downing Street vis-a-vis the EU in those talks”.

    He said: “Downing Street has found dealing with Trump a nightmare. He’s unpredictable, difficult to work with, has made the government’s life on a whole swath of multilateral issues very difficult to navigate.”

  • Ed Southgate

    CROSS-BORDER CO-OPERATION
    Police Service of Northern Ireland Chief Constable Simon Byrne with PSNI Assistant Chief Constable Mark McEwan, giving evidence via videolink on the subject of cross-border co-operation on policing, security and criminal justice after Brexit to the Northern Ireland Affairs Select Committee

    Credit: PA

  • Ed Southgate

    FORMER FOREIGN SEC INSISTS BRITAIN WILL GET NO FAVOURS IN AMERICAN TRADE DEAL

    A FORMER Foreign Secretary insisted Britain would get “no favours” in an American trade deal whoever is the President.

    Sir Malcolm Rifkind said the Americans would only give Britain something if they got something in return.

    He told the BBC: “I would love to be enthusiastic about these trade negations whoever is President of the United States or Prime Minister of the UK.

    “But I have been around long enough to know that in trade negotiations with the United States, you do not get any favours whether you are Boris Johnson, Theresa May or Margaret Thatcher.

    “That will be trust with Biden or Trump. The Americans will not give anything unless they get anything in return.

    “We are not going to get any specific deals just because Trump likes Boris.”

    He served under Prime Ministers Margaret Thatcher and John Major.

  • Ed Southgate

    MICHEL BARNIER TO URGE FOR BREXIT DEAL TODAY

    Michel Barnier is to call for more Brexit trade talks when he addresses the EU today.

    The chief negotiator for the EU is locked in talks with David Frost in a bid to agree access to Britain’s fishing waters, future common standards and policing the final deal.

    A European Commission spokesman said: “Negotiations are continuing this week in Brussels. They're very intensive negotiations working towards an agreement.

    “There's a lot of work still to be done. Negotiations are ongoing on all topics, on all fronts.

    “We're not there yet. A lot more work remains to be done.”

  • Ed Southgate

    HARD LEFT UNPREPARED TO ACCEPT ELECTORAL RESULTS, FARAGE SAID

    Nigel Farage said the hard left in the US is unprepared to accept another term of President Trump just as the UK's hard left was unprepared to accept Brexit.

    He told TalkRadio: “DC is bordered up – not in case Biden wins but in case Trump wins. With Brexit and Trump in 2016, we have a hard Globalist Left prepared to resort to violence to get their own ends.

    “That is something we are going to have to fight hard.”

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