The UK government is demanding that the EU brings “fresh thinking” to Brexit negotiations, as the face-to-face talks derailed by coronavirus infection resume with effectively just days left to secure a trade deal before the transition period ends.
With fishing rights among the key sticking points, a government source derided an offer to reduce EU fleets’ quotas in British waters by 15 to 18 per cent as “risible”, adding: “They must understand that we are not going to sell out our sovereignty.”
Arriving in London on Friday night, the bloc’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier said he would continue to work with “patience and determination” to reach an agreement, but warned that the “same significant divergences persist”.
Unemployment rise the ‘missing story’ in Brexit negotiations
Also pointing to the Office for Budget Responsibility’s somewhat damning assessment of the cost a no-deal Brexit this week, former FT editor Lionel Barber suggested unemployment is the “missing story” in discussions over the negotiations.
Andy Gregory29 November 2020 11:42
As negotiators battle it out in London to seek a smoother post-Brexit transition, those speaking at the SNP’s virtual conference appear to be struggling with some transitions of their own.
Andy Gregory29 November 2020 11:20
Brexit’s economic impact will be worse than pandemic’s, former Tory minister says
David Gauke, who was Lord Chancellor until 2019 and was among 21 Tory MPs expelled from the party over their bid to block a no-deal Brexit, has warned that to leave without a deal “would be an act of unforgivable recklessness”.
Writing in the FT, he pointed to analysis by the Office for Budget Responsibility which suggests that the longlasting economic fallout from coronavirus will be significantly less than that of a no-deal Brexit.
Andy Gregory29 November 2020 11:16
Analysis: Scotland’s bid to leave the union is about national pride
As the SNP annual conference hosts increasing calls for IndyRef2, with polls showing the highest level of sustained support for Scottish independence to date, our chief political commentator looks at the results of focus group research by unionist group These Islands.
With the need to fight for the union “becoming urgent”, John Rentoul says the findings suggest that Westminster must make the Scottish people feel more valued within the UK.
Andy Gregory29 November 2020 10:59
Tory rebels call for ‘good evidence’ for tier system
Conservative rebels have warned Boris Johnson he must provide “good evidence” for his controversial new Covid-19 tiers or face a backbench revolt this week, despite an eleventh hour climb-down.
In a dramatic about turn, Mr Johnson told MPs the new system could last just nine weeks and offered them another vote on the restrictions at the start of February.
But Tory MPs warned the shift has yet to quell the rebellion
Our Whitehall editor Kate Devlin reports:
Andy Gregory29 November 2020 10:50
MPs rebelling against coronavirus tiers should try ‘carrying bodies to the mortuary’, says Liverpool mayor
Our northern correspondent Colin Drury has this in-depth interview with Liverpool’s mayor Joe Anderson, whose city is the only one so far to have hauled itself from the toughest level of coronavirus restrictions.
And he has sharp words for Tories – led by Steve Baker – who oppose the system:
“When I hear this fella arguing we should let Covid rip, this little pipsqueak,” he says, “I say to him, you come up here and work as a porter in the Royal Liverpool Hospital and you see the people that are dying and then tell us we should just allow this to continue and not have a tier structure. You have a shift carrying the bodies up to the mortuary …
“Come up here and talk to the doctors, and nurses like the one who had to ring me at quarter to ten on a Friday night to tell me my brother had died. You do a shift with them, Steve Baker.”
Andy Gregory29 November 2020 10:33
EU talks ‘down to two basic issues’, Raab says
“We’re down to really two basic issues, but I think in particular the issue around fisheries, and we need the EU to accept the point of principle that as we come through the transition period it’s a fact of leaving the EU that we take back sovereignty and control – as a coastal state – over our own waters and fisheries,” the foreign secretary told the BBC.
“If the EU understand that point of principle and we have some pragmatism, we can get there, given that there is actually, along the spectrum of issues, a fairly narrow-ish set of issues that we need to resolve.
“I think the mutual interest in a deal is very strong.”
Andy Gregory29 November 2020 10:11
PM seeks to woo Tory rebels and salve battered livelihoods with power of metaphor
Boris Johnson has sought to quell Tory rebellion and mounting public indignation over his new coronavirus tier system with some of his best metaphors.
Writing in the Mail on Sunday, the prime minister declared that “the armies of science are coming to our aid with all the morale-boosting, bugle-blasting excitement of Wellington’s Prussian allies coming through the woods on the afternoon of Waterloo”.
He also invoked a mythical vision of quintessential England rarely seen in such vivid terms since the run-up to the Brexit referendum.
“We are so nearly out of our captivity. We can see the sunlit upland pastures ahead. But if we try to jump the fence now, we will simply tangle ourselves in the last barbed wire, with disastrous consequences for the NHS,” Mr Johnson wrote.
Andy Gregory29 November 2020 10:04
‘The EU do shift the goalposts’: Raab says Brexit talks entering final days
Here’s the footage of Dominic Raab concurring that we are entering the final few days of “substantive” Brexit trade talks.
Dominic Raab says he thinks this is the crunch week for post-Brexit trade talks
Andy Gregory29 November 2020 09:35
Senior Scottish Labour advisor backs independence referendum ‘as soon as possible’
Duncan MacLennan, a professor of public policy at Glasgow University who was a key advisor to of Scotland’s Labour first ministers, has come out in favour of independence.
It is “fundamentally important” that a second referendum is held “as soon as possible”, the former unionist and proponent of devolution wrote in The Sunday Times, arguing that Scotland has been steadily disconnected from Whitehall policy debates and the civil service, while inter-governmental communication has worsened – with Brexit only threatening to make things worse.
“Brexit means fair trade, strong global connection and openness that welcomes people from overseas are being frustrated for Scots and Scotland and foreclosed against our wishes,” he wrote.
“Rather than facing the changing global connections in our lives through stronger local and community actions, elitism, incompetence and unelected arrogance have become the hallmarks of the British government. It seems unlikely that a well-managed Britain will be a safe haven for Scots over the next 30 years.”
Andy Gregory29 November 2020 09:33