Brexit: Simon Coveney shut down by host on UK-US trade deal
The trading Protocol protects the Good Friday Agreement, agreed in 1998, to ensure peace and prosperity in Northern Ireland after the Troubles. President Biden and his administration officials are monitoring the political situation in Northern Ireland closely over the post-Brexit trading arrangements.
The US President, who is proud of his Irish heritage, has explicitly expressed US support for the Protocol and wants a practical solution agreed.
But Brexit minister Lord Frost outlined a strategy that seeks to eliminate most checks on goods travelling between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, a move which could inflame tensions between London and Brussels.
A White House source said: “We are very much aware that there have been challenges over its [the Protocol’s] implementation.
“This is something that the UK and the EU need to resolve.
The Biden administration has warned the UK to uphold the Belfast Agreement
“We believe the most effective way forward is a pragmatic one that provides political stability and economic prosperity for all of the people in Northern Ireland.
“President Biden is certainly interested in having strong relations with both the UK and the EU and we hope that they’re able to find ways to work well together in the interest of the people of Northern Ireland.”
The Protocol was negotiated as part of Britain’s divorce from Brussels to avoid a hard border with Ireland, by effectively keeping Northern Ireland in the EU’s single market for goods.
But the introduction of checks on goods crossing the Irish Sea has angered Unionists, who have protested against it in recent months, arguing the Brexit terms have weakened Northern Ireland’s links with the rest of the UK.
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Andrew Adonis, a prominent Remainer, has called on Lord Frost to make the Brexit trade deal work as the UK seeks to renegotiate the Northern Ireland Protocol.
Earlier on Wednesday, Lord Frost insisted the UK and the EU “cannot go on as we are” with the current Northern Ireland Protocol arrangements.
Baron Adonis, Labour member of the House of Lords, blasted his peer’s calls to shake up the Protocol and has called for the Brexit deal to be renegotiated.
Ben Habib said Lord Frost would be “as guilty as Boris Johnson in the partitioning of the UK”
Melanie Kaidan takes over live reporting from Laura O’Callaghan.
Boris Johnson has been attacked for delaying trade progress with the EU due to constant confrontation.
Mr Farry said: “I will point out that you have New Zealand, Switzerland, Mexico and other countries around the world that have the same sovereignty as the UK but have made these types of agreements. It is a sovereign choice the UK can make.
“At times, Brexit purity is coming first and foremost ahead of the needs of not just Northern Ireland but all of the UK.”
The EU has started a war against bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies but the bloc is set to miserably fail, a political commentator has recently claimed.
Companies that transfer bitcoin or other crypto assets must collect details of senders and recipients to help authorities crack down on dirty money, EU policymakers said on Tuesday in the latest efforts to impose regulation on the sector.
The law proposed by the European Commission would apply what is known as the travel rule to crypto transactions to make them traceable.
The rule, which is one of the recommendations of the inter-governmental watchdog, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), already applies to wire transfers.
The Commission said in a statement: “Today’s amendments will ensure full traceability of crypto-asset transfers, such as bitcoin, and will allow for prevention and detection of their possible use for money laundering or terrorism financing.”
Britain can no longer justify its ongoing refusal to trigger Article 16 in respect of the Northern Ireland Protocol, a Brexiteer has said, asking: “If not now, when?”
Ben Habib, a former Brexit Party MEP, was responding after Lord David Frost urged the EU to agree to a renegotiation of the Protocol, which is the mechanism for preventing a hard border on the island of Ireland, which unionist critics has simply resulted in a border down the Irish Sea instead.
Significantly, however, Lord Frost, stopped short of invoking Article 16, which would suspend the controversial rules.
Mr Habib, who last month saw his attempt to have the Protocol ruled illegal rejected by the High Court of Northern Ireland, warned Lord Frost unless he recognised the need to ditch Protocol completely, he would be “as guilty as Boris Johnson in the partitioning of the United Kingdom”.
Speaking within minutes of Lord Frost’s statement in the House of Lords, Mr Habib said: “On 19 July, the EU released a statement in which it admitted its aim is to use the time afforded by grace periods in the Protocol to ‘allow stakeholders, in particular supermarkets in Northern Ireland, to complete the adjustment of their supply chains’.”
The Protocol therefore set the legal framework for the “capture of Northern Ireland” Mr Habib said, with the shifting supply lines is its practical application.
Joe Biden pictured at the White House today
Britain effectively covered the cost of Poland’s EU membership with the £11.1billion it paid into to Brussels last year despite having quit the bloc, a new investigation has demonstrated.
And pro-Brexit think tank Facts4EU has said its probe offers an eloquent illustration of the way in which British and German taxpayers continue to foot the bill for the European Union’s ambitions – as well as a pointed reminder to other member states about where the cash actually comes from.
Facts4EU’s analysts studied the European Commission’s figures from 2020, published last month – and discovered that the UK’s net contribution to the EU’s bank account – £11.1billion (€12.4billion) more than covered the £10.7billion (€12.9billion) paid to Poland.
During his report, Facts4EU’s editor-in-chief Leigh Evans explained he had selected Poland because it is the member of the EU27 which is the largest single recipient of “EU funds”.
6.49pm update: Business leaders say UK and EU must reach ‘urgent agreement’
Business and retail leaders have said there is an “urgent need” for an agreed solution between the UK and the EU over the Northern Ireland Protocol.
On Wednesday, the UK’s Brexit Minister Lord Frost called for “significant” changes to Northern Ireland’s post-Brexit trading arrangements, but has held back from tearing up parts of the deal.
But Brussels quickly hit back, warning the UK it will not renegotiate the deal.
Aodhan Connolly, director of the Northern Ireland Retail Consortium, said the two sides needed to reach agreement.
He added: “While it is good to see that the UK Government has listened to the problems facing retailers, any solution that is not agreed by both sides cannot provide the certainty and stability that retailers and NI consumers need.
“Any solution needs to be agreed with EU, as without this, there can be no stability.
“This could also have severe consequences for consumers across the UK, if sanctions, such as tariffs, are brought in under the provisions of the Trade and Co-operation Agreement.”
Figures include Joe Biden and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken want a pratical solution found
Guy Verhofstadt has been torn apart over a tweet following the bombshell interview between Dominic Cummings and Laura Kuenssberg after attempting to “put in a good word for the EU’s civil servants”.
The Prime Minister’s former chief adviser, who was previously director of the Vote Leave campaign in the lead-up to the Brexit referendum in June 2016, was grilled by BBC News Political Editor Ms Kuenssberg.
He dramatically left that role last November amid reports of a major spat with the Prime Minister.
Prior to the interview, the BBC tweeted a short clip from the exchange, in which Mr Cummings claimed after the general election in December 2019, he held talks about removing Mr Johnson from 10 Downing Street.
Belgian MEP Mr Verhofstadt – a fierce critic of the UK and Brexit – retweeted this clip, and wrote: “Let’s put in a good word for the EU’s civil servants.
“They are not elected but they DO believe their work is right for Europeans, they actually have plans to make it work, & they would never ever behave towards elected politicians with the disdain Cummings shows in every sentence.”
Brussels chief Maros Sefcovic has risked stoking further tensions by demanding that Britain fully implements EU-ordered trade checks in Northern Ireland.
The European Commission vice-president rejected Lord Frost’s calls to negotiate the Brexit deal’s protocol to avoid a hard border. Instead, the EU’s negotiator said he was willing to explore “flexible, practical solutions” within the confines of the post-Brexit border fix to relieve the burden of the measures on people in the region.
Mr Sefcovic said: “The Protocol on Ireland / Northern Ireland is the joint solution that the EU found with Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Lord David Frost – and was ratified by the UK Parliament – to address the unique challenges that Brexit, and the type of Brexit chosen by the British government, poses for the island of Ireland.
“Its aim is to protect the Good Friday (Belfast) Agreement in all its parts, maintain peace and stability in Northern Ireland, avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland, while preserving the integrity of the EU Single Market.
“In order for these objectives to be achieved, the Protocol must be implemented. Respecting international legal obligations is of paramount importance.”
3.27pm update: Sevfovic ends hope of EU renegotiating protocol
The European Commission will seek “creative solutions” to difficulties in trade between Britain and Northern Ireland caused by Brexit, but will not renegotiate the Brexit deal on Northern Ireland, Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic said.
Britain on Wednesday demanded a new deal from the European Union to govern post-Brexit trade with Northern Ireland, saying it already had cause to step away from parts of the deal that it struck with Brussels only last year.
In a statement, Mr Sefcovic said: “We will continue to engage with the UK, also on the suggestions made today.
“We are ready to continue to seek creative solutions, within the framework of the Protocol, in the interest of all communities in Northern Ireland.
“However, we will not agree to a renegotiation of the Protocol.”
The Northern Ireland protocol, backed by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, was part of the settlement that finally sealed Britain’s sometimes bitter divorce from the bloc, four years after Britons voted to leave in a referendum.
The EU Parliament’s Brexit point man has rejected Britain’s plans to renegotiate the post-Brexit trade rules for Northern Ireland.
German MEP David McAllister insisted the Brexit divorce deal’s protocol to avoid a hard border would not be renegotiated.
It comes after Brexit minister Lord Frost stopped short of ripping up the agreement but said it needed “significant changes”.
Mr McAllister said: “Instead of putting the Protocol into question, it is about finding solutions for the outstanding issues.
“The implementation of the protocol relies on joint action. It should not be undermined by unilateral measures.
“Permanent flexibilities are not acceptable. The Protocol was painstakingly negotiated under high political pressure, ensuring to minimise disruption and top help local communities and businesses.
“It cannot be renegotiated – it is part of the solution of a problem that is Brexit.”
Ireland remains concerned at the UK’s approach to tackling the Protocol
2pm update: Aussie-UK trade deal poses “huge opportunities” for Scotland, says Truss
Scotland will see “huge opportunities” as a result of the UK’s trade deal with Australia, a leading member of Boris Johnson’s Cabinet said as she dismissed calls from Nicola Sturgeon for the agreement to be put to a vote at Westminster and Holyrood.
UK Trade Secretary Liz Truss said the deal – announced last month by the Prime Minister – will benefit a host of industries north of the border, as she stressed there will be “proper parliamentary scrutiny” of it.
Scottish First Minister Ms Sturgeon has repeatedly raised concerns about the impact of the new agreement, claiming it risks cheaper imports from Australia undermining Scottish farmers and food producers.
Brexit minister Lord Frost said the UK is seeking a “standstill period” where existing grace periods on Northern Ireland are maintained.
He told peers: “At the same time (as discussions) we must provide certainty and stability for businesses as we do so.
“So we believe that we and the EU should also quickly agree a standstill period, as it were, including maintaining the operation of grace periods in force and a freeze on existing legal actions and processes.
“This is to ensure there is room to negotiate and provide a genuine signal of good intent to find ways forward.”
Lord Frost will outline the strategy today
12pm update: Boris Johnson says “practical steps can be taken” on Protocol
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said there were practical steps the United Kingdom could take to sort out the issues with the Northern Ireland protocol of the Brexit deal.
Mr Johnson added in the Commons today: “As we’ll be setting out today, we want to sort out the issues in the protocol. We think there are practical steps we can do to do that.”
11am update: Cummings says Vote Leave £350M slogan “drove Remainers crazy”
The Brexit campaign promise to give the NHS an extra £350 million per week if the UK left the European Union “drove everyone crazy” because it was true, according to Dominic Cummings.
The former Vote Leave mastermind admitted the figure, which was emblazoned on campaign buses used by key Brexiteers such as Boris Johnson, was used as a “trap” for the Remain side as it exposed the “true balance sheet” of EU membership.
Critics have argued the figure was misleading as it did not take into account the rebate the UK received from Brussels.
But in an interview with the BBC, Mr Cummings said: “The reason why that figure worked and the reason why it drove everyone crazy and the reason why people are still talking about it now is that we were using true figures.”
10:15am update: “Sustainable way forward” needed on Protocol, say Labour
Shadow Cabinet Office minister Baroness Chapman of Darlington said a “sustainable way forward” was urgently needed to resolve the issues around the Northern Ireland Protocol.
Speaking ahead of the debate, he said: “The Prime Minister negotiated this deal just months ago and yet today communities and businesses in Northern Ireland are being subjected to another round of brinkmanship.”
“The Government and the EU must urgently find a sustainable way forward to reassure everyone affected by this political stalemate.”
The European trade landscape post-Brexit
9:30am update: Northern Ireland First Minister holds talks with Lord Frost
Northern Ireland First Minister Paul Givan spoke to Lord Frost and Secretary of State Brandon Lewis about the plans ahead of their statements in Parliament.
He added: “Evidence is clear the Protocol has failed and is damaging the economy of Northern Ireland, destabilising societal cohesion and lacks democratic accountability.”
The EU is preparing plans if the UK fails to cooperatively engage with Brussels on resolving the Northern Ireland protocol.
It comes as Lord Frost is preparing to outline proposals to Parliament for solving the “serious challenges” caused by the post-Brexit trading arrangements.
The Express understands the EU’s contingency plan would be a “strict no messing around” policy on dealing with the Protocol.
Marks & Spencer’s chairman warned some products will be excluded from Northern Ireland’s shelves this Christmas due to problems with the post-Brexit agreement on the region.
Archie Norman, who has requested a meeting with Brexit minister Lord Frost, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme the Northern Ireland Protocol will cause “gaps on the shelves”.
“This Christmas, I can tell you already, we’re having to make decisions to delist product for Northern Ireland because it’s simply not worth the risk of trying to get it through,” the former Tory MP said.