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Brexit Blog: Crucial Times Ahead – Will the Gap Narrow Between the Sides as Negotiations Continue – Government, Public Sector – Ireland – Mondaq News…

In Irish mythology, the salmon was a symbol of wisdom andknowledge. In early Christianity, the fish was a symbol used byChristians to identify themselves to fellow Christians. In thecurrent phase of Brexit negotiations, the fish is emerging as asymbol of the differences between the UK and the EU in terms ofstrategy, perspective and approach.

This week, what is only the second substantive round ofdiscussions between the EU and UK taskforces on Brexit, areunderway. While little clarity has thus far emerged on how thesides are likely to resolve their differences, it appearsincreasingly clear that an extension of negotiations beyond the 31December deadline using the mechanism agreed in the WithdrawalAgreement is highly unlikely. Speaking to the House of CommonsBrexit Committee, UK Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove spoke ofdeadlines concentrating minds. The deadline of 31 December seemsset to remain.

During the Brexit debate, there were many nostalgic referencesto the days when Britain's fleet opened and supported new traderoutes from the UK. In the emerging tactical battleground of thecurrent negotiations, the positioning by the UK of the fishingfleet suggests that preparations are well underway for a period ofbrinkmanship, with enormous potential consequences. While none ofthe UK position papers submitted to the EU to date have beenpublished, it is clear that no paper has been submitted onfisheries. The UK wants to be treated, in Michael Gove's words,"as an independent coastal state, like Norway,Icelandandthe Faroes". In short, the UK favourslimiting access to UK waters for EU vessels and agreeing theavailable quota of fish on an annual basis. The EU fundamentallywants continuance of the Common Fisheries Policy, arguing that anannual negotiation of the quota is impractical.

Those in the UK arguing for a reduction in the level of accessto UK waters granted to EU vessels point to the fact that vesselsfrom other EU member states land many times more fish from UKwaters than UK vessels land from EU waters. Those arguing for moreopen access note that some studies suggest that the UK imports mostof the fish it eats and exports most of the fish it lands. Thisdifference of perspective over fish mirrors the differingperspectives on many of the other outstanding issues between thesides. Many in the UK would argue that its position on how muchcertainty can be granted on fish quotas is akin to the EU'sposition on financial services equivalence. Politically andsymbolically, how and when agreement is reached on the issue offishing rights is important. It will speak to how and when progresson other matters is likely to be achieved.

Three countries, Canada, Australia and Ukraine, are alsoemerging as code words for the gap in perspective between the EUand the UK. The UK wants a Canadian or an Australian style tradedeal. It wants to use existing agreements the EU has with thosethird countries as the basis for agreement. In Mr Gove's wordsby relying on precedent "we can cut and paste in order toensure that we can reach agreement.". The UK regards issueslike fisheries as being issues which can be agreed on a case bycase basis rather than as part of one comprehensive agreement.

The EU wants a comprehensive agreement which upholds EUstandards on social, environmental, climate, tax and state aidmatters for the future. Michel Barnier's mandate is to reach anagreement which provides for continued reciprocal access tomarkets, and to waters, with stable quota shares. "The more wewill have common standards, the higher-quality access the EU willbe able to offer to its market" was Mr Barnier'ssummation.

The UK's reaction to the EU approach is that it is beingtreated more like a state seeking accession to the EU, likeUkraine, than one which is leaving the EU. The EU has equaldifficulty in accepting the comparison to Canada or Australia,because the UK is geographically closer and a much larger tradingpartner than Australia or Canada, sending 40% of its exports to theEU. Distance imposes natural quotas of its own.

There is at least agreement on what Michael Gove characterisedas the major obstacles to agreement so far. These are the levelplaying field, fisheries, governance and criminal justice. I willreturn to each of these in future blogs. The critical point,however, is that the EU is determined that the integrity of thesingle market is protected, and that future divergence in standardsor laws is not a backdoor for unfair competition whichdisadvantages the EU27.

Many in the UK argue that they are not interested in a 'raceto the bottom' on standards, that decades of EU membershipmeans that they are already aligned with the EU on those standardsand that UK law transposes many of those standards to UKlegislation. In a webinar which Matheson hosted with the BritishIrish Chamber of Commerce last week, Hilary Benn, the Chair of theHouse of Commons Committee on the Future Relationship with theEuropean Union suggested that the focus for some was on theprinciple of independence, as opposed to a desire to immediatelydiverge from the EU standards in many areas. Michael Gove expressedit as a "broad set of non-regression principles, as there arein all free trade agreements" but not the type of levelplaying field provisions that the EU is requesting of the UK. Onesuspects that the EU's appetite to rely on non-binding anddifficult to measure assurances on these issues will no doubt beinfluenced by its perception of the conduct of the negotiations todate.

The scale of the philosophical differences between the sides,the impact of COVID-19 on progress and the absence so far of anyreal sectoral negotiations prompted many to assume an extension tothe transition period was likely. What seems more likely now, isthat there will neither be the time nor political capacity tofulfil the EU negotiating mandate as set out in February by 31December.

In this game of brinkmanship, the UK is seeking to make time itssecretary. In telescoping negotiations into the second half of theyear, it appears to want to create an inevitable outcome where onlya few areas can be agreed. Others must be left for futureconsideration if a no-deal, hard Brexit is to be avoided. Thisseems to be the emerging tactical plan, in pursuit of what areclear strategic goals. It wants sectoral arrangements, not anoverarching arrangement, aligned with EU rules and arbitrated by EUinstitutions. The choice facing the EU next autumn will be one withfundamental consequences. Keep fishing and land what they'vecaught by 31 December, or prepare to raise anchor and sail awayinto the gathering storm.

The content of this article is intended to provide a generalguide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be soughtabout your specific circumstances.

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Brexit Blog: Crucial Times Ahead - Will the Gap Narrow Between the Sides as Negotiations Continue - Government, Public Sector - Ireland - Mondaq News...

Theresa May humiliation: Ex-PM’s grovelling plea to union bosses amid Brexit vote exposed – Express

Over a year ago, Ms May, then Prime Minister, announced she would resign and not take Britain forward in the next phase of Brexit negotiations. It came after she suffered a string of Brexit deal defeats in the House of Commons, effectively locking the UK in a bind.

A combination of pressure within her own party and the fact she was not a democratically elected Prime Minister resulted in her being held in poor regard in politics and public.

Eventually calling an election in 2017 after refusing to do so for nine months, Ms May was forced to broker a deal with Northern Irelands Democratic Unionist Party after a hung Parliament ensued.

In April 2019, it was announced that leaders of 70 Conservative Associations had signed a petition calling for a vote of no confidence in Ms May.

Just one month later, Ms May confirmed that she would be resigning as leader in the following month of June.

It was nothing short of a calamitous period as Prime Minister, achieving little.

During his Oxford Union address in February, Len McCluskey, General Secretary of Unite the Union, said just as much, revealing how Ms May had met so many dead ends she turned to the trade unions in hope of support from somewhere.

It was the first time since Margaret Thatcher, who led the UK from 1979 to 1990, that a Conservative Prime Minister had engaged with a trade union.

Mr McCluskey said: The first Tory Prime Minister I spoke to since Thatcher decreed that no Conservative Prime Minister should talk to the unions - was Theresa May.

JUST IN:Len McCluskeys Brexit swipe at Keir Starmer exposed

It has been rejected by the House of Commons three times. Its demise is testament to the Prime Ministers failure to act as a national rather than a Party leader.

Her efforts to reach out beyond the ranks of the Tory hard right have been too little and too late.

Shortly after during his Oxford Union address, Mr McCluskey revealed how he thought the Labour Party should have stayed in line with its initial Brexit strategy - that it would take the Uk out of the EU.

He said:That Labour slide into being a perceived Remain party gave us some real problems in our northern and midlands heartlands.

There was a feeling of betrayal over Brexit.

Ive been trying for over a year to stop the Labour leadership from allowing the party to be pushed to abandon our 2017 election pledges.

Wed gone then to the electorate on the basis of respecting the 2016 referendum and pledging to take us out of the European Union if wed won.

We shouldve stuck with that while setting up about winning over Remainers.

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Theresa May humiliation: Ex-PM's grovelling plea to union bosses amid Brexit vote exposed - Express

Brexit: don’t extend the transition period – TheArticle

Just because Michael Gove says it, it does not follow that it is necessarily preposterous. Reporting to the Future Relationship Select Committee on last week, the Cabinet Office Minister acknowledged that there remain serious differences between the EU and the UK perspectives on the shape of any Future Trade Agreement. Mr Gove suggested that these differences flow from a fundamental difference in philosophy.

On a superficial reading of philosophy, he is quite correct: the UK sees itself as a sovereign state; the EU sees us as a supplicant. And it sees us like that for two reasons. The first is that what can fairly be called our lackey status, for the period of transition, is precisely what is implied for us by the Johnson-May Withdrawal Agreement, with its mechanisms of continuing membership. Secondly, the Covid-19 crisis has shown that the concept of national sovereignty is not really part of the EU worldview. For M. Barnier we are being impertinent to argue on the basis of national self-interest; for his counterpart, David Frost, it ought to be unthinkable to proceed on any other basis.

On a deeper reading of what counts as a philosophy, Mr Goves observation is also one worth making. The two parties to this negotiation have vastly different conceptions of what the process is about, because they operate within incommensurable metaphysical frameworks.

This is best illustrated by the very different views about the nature of law, which on the European model is something which is formulated and handed down. In the Anglo-Saxon model, it arises when real people settle real differences and thereby establish precedents. There is no fact of the matter that can establish which of these models is the correct one; and they are irreconcilable. You might just as well stipulate that pro-lifers and advocates of right to choose are given a time-limited opportunity for negotiation in which to settle once and for all the abortion issue. You notice, by the way, how important it is in that debate to control the language of the discussion. Likewise, with the ongoing EU-UK negotiation where, for example, the insistence that the other side be prepared to put on a metaphorical straitjacket is described as a request for a level playing field.

But the EU project is based not so much on a philosophy as on a theology. It sees itself as the engine of a historically inevitable redistribution of power from the nation state to a centralised managerial elite. If sometimes, as part of this process, it is helpful to pose as a facilitator of economic improvement, then so be it. If at other times it is theologically necessary to impoverish the citizenry then that is OK too. The EU appropriates the language and symbols of nationhood for itself, while at the same time crafting the dissolution of the idea of the sovereign nation state. It demands forms of allegiance to which it is not entitled those which are owed to family and country. It is, in short, an attempt to grow a country out of a set of political institutions, which is sort of the wrong way around.

The incoherence at the heart of the EU project has been illuminated by the Covid-19 pandemic. Its constituent member states have rediscovered their national identities as the best means of responding to the crisis. They have responded at the level of the nation while the EU nomenklatura have looked on, uselessly, like the bewildered priest who cannot understand why the parishioners have given up on Mass just because something more urgent is happening outside the church.

Of course, everything is being recontextualised by the pandemic. But those who advocate that Covid-19 requires an extension to our transition period need to accept that the burden of proof is on them. They need to explain how it can be right for us to remain de facto members of a set of institutions we have de jure left, when those institutions are facing an existential crisis of their own making one which has only been amplified, not created, by the C-19 catastrophe.

The problems that are being thrown up by the transition negotiations are indeed philosophical. That is why they cannot be resolved without one of the parties abandoning its default assumptions. This will not happen even if we extend the process by ten years. And why, in any case, should either side be required to do that?

Mr Goves intervention was timely, appropriate and welcome. Now he must, like any philosopher, embrace the logic of his position. The grounds for leaving on December 31st are only strengthened, not weakened, by the current philosophical differences.

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Brexit: don't extend the transition period - TheArticle

Paul Routledge: Tories want us to forget Brexit and crash out – Mirror Online

Blustering Boris doesnt like talking about the trick that swept him into power.

His officials even banned the word Brexit from official communications. The job is done, he thinks.

Oh no, it isnt. Its only half-done, if that.

Legally and constitutionally we have left the European Union, but we are a very long way from charting a new relationship with our biggest trading partner.

While were still in transition and accepting EU rules, negotiations are under way.

They are due to conclude by the end of the year, and in Prime Ministers Questions, Johnson ruled out any extension of the deadline.

But the talks are stalled over UK strategy standing firm or intransigence, depending on your point of view.

Our government insists that we are now an independent, sovereign state, free to do whatever we like.

The EU of 27 nations demands that we must closely align with their way of doing things if we want zero-tariff trading. Brussels chief Michel Barnier will today brief the European Parliament on the stalemate.

This fight is coming down to Boris versus Barnier, the irresistible farce meeting the immovable object.

And Downing Street has floated a new hurdle: fear that extending negotiations would embroil us in EU legislation to counteract the coronavirus.

This manufactured threat is yet another fig-leaf behind which to hide the Tory Brexiteers true intention leaving Europe without an agreement, whatever the cost to jobs and businesses.

Thats the goal of the Eurohaters, led by Mr Rentagob, Iain Duncan Smith.

Hundreds of civil servants are engaged in virtual talks across the Channel, with only weeks before a draft deal should be in place.

Our ministers have yet to get off their ample backsides, so theres zero prospect of meeting the timetable for agreement.

Whether you think thats a good thing or a bad thing, at least the politicians should be straight with us.

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Paul Routledge: Tories want us to forget Brexit and crash out - Mirror Online

It’s crazy for UK to go ahead with Brexit given pandemic crisis – Yorkshire Post

NewsOpinionLettersFrom: John Cole, Oakroyd Terrace, Baildon, Shipley.

Thursday, 14th May 2020, 11:50 am

IN 2017 I had operations for a hip and two knee replacements. This was elective surgery in that, between us, the NHS and I chose to do it. My conditions were not life-threatening,

If I had been suffering from acute appendicitis with the threat of peritonitis, the NHS would have given me emergency surgery. Not a matter of choice.

The Covid-19 pandemic is the worlds most severe crisis since the Second World War. Dealing with this has to be the top priority. Brexit is an elective issue we can choose to go ahead with it or we can choose, under changed circumstances, to give up on it.

It is absolutely crazy for the UK to go ahead with Brexit in current circumstances.

To wish to proceed, you would need to be a swivel-eyed ideologue or a self-promoting narcissist.

Editors note: first and foremost - and rarely have I written down these words with more sincerity - I hope this finds you well.

Almost certainly you are here because you value the quality and the integrity of the journalism produced by The Yorkshire Posts journalists - almost all of which live alongside you in Yorkshire, spending the wages they earn with Yorkshire businesses - who last year took this title to the industry watchdogs Most Trusted Newspaper in Britain accolade.

And that is why I must make an urgent request of you: as advertising revenue declines, your support becomes evermore crucial to the maintenance of the journalistic standards expected of The Yorkshire Post. If you can, safely, please buy a paper or take up a subscription. We want to continue to make you proud of Yorkshires National Newspaper but we are going to need your help.

Postal subscription copies can be ordered by calling 0330 4030066 or by emailing subscriptions@jpimedia.co.uk. Vouchers, to be exchanged at retail sales outlets - our newsagents need you, too - can be subscribed to by contacting subscriptions on 0330 1235950 or by visiting http://www.localsubsplus.co.uk where you should select The Yorkshire Post from the list of titles available.

If you want to help right now, download our tablet app from the App / Play Stores. Every contribution you make helps to provide this county with the best regional journalism in the country.

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It's crazy for UK to go ahead with Brexit given pandemic crisis - Yorkshire Post

It’s 10 years since the Lib Dem-Tory austerity coalition birthed Brexit and our brutal tribalism – Nation.Cymru

David Cameron and Nick Clegg (CC BY 3.0)

Mike Parker

Last weekend, in a sterling attempt to keep the political nerds out from under everyone elses feet, the BBC Parliament channel kindly laid on a repeat of their coverage of the 2010 general election. The whole thing: from exit poll to exhausted speculation about the mathematics necessary to forge a coalition, in what transpired to be the first hung parliament since 1974. It was only ten years ago this month, yet had the sheen of antiquity you generally associate with Boxing Day movies: It Could Have Been a Wonderful Life perhaps.

No surprise, Ifan Morgan Jones (of this parish) was watching too. Once the bulk of the results were in, and daylight had broken over the hollow-eyed pundits in the studio, he tweeted: theyve begun discussing coalitions and Im yelling no, dont do it! at the LibDems as if they were a teenage couple sneaking into a haunted house in a horror movie.

Ah, the LibDems. Remember them? They were huge news ten years ago. After the first-ever leaders debate in British election history, I agree with Nick Cleggs party soared in the polls, topping a few. On the weekend after that debate, the Sunday Times declared that according to their polling, Clegg was the most popular British political leader since Churchill (the prime minister that is, not the nodding dog; that was to come much later at Facebook).

The election night coverage was all about the LibDems. When the exit poll was published as the clocks struck ten, the only talking point was that no-one believed its prediction of the party actually losing seats. How the pundits, normally so right about almost nothing, scoffed at that one. But it was true: for all the heady Cleggmania, they slipped back, even managing to lose Montgomeryshire, a seat that theyd held continuously (bar four years) since 1880.

Despite the setback, they were still the focus of discussion for days, as the Tories and Labour both wooed them furiously. Nick Clegg fluttered like a heroine in a Victorian melodrama, before spurning Gordon Heathcliff Brown, and caving in to the wily charms of David Flashman Cameron. After professing undying love in the number 10 rose garden, Flashman took Clegg home and inflicted years of psychological torture on him, and on us all. He was always careful to leave no visible scars.

Was this when the die was cast for the horrible mess that is our politics today? There is a case to be made, I think. Of course, there would still be a pandemic regardless of who was in government, and populism, that slithery codeword for assorted shades of actual fascism, would still have risen all over the globe. But 2010 marked a watershed, and its one thats worth unpicking.

Monster

Firstly, it did for the LibDems. In some ways, they deserved it, for their utter hubris: that they could buck two hundred years of history and somehow tame the Tory party, the most ruthless political machine in western Europe; that they were fobbed off so easily with nonsense like the AV referendum; that many of them so clearly loved the baubles of power way more than its judicious application.

Trouble is though, they took down with them (at least in the short term) the flame of liberalism, one needed so much right now, but which is sputtering badly in these harsh winds. They gave Cameron an easy run and six clear years to demonise and then decimate the public sector, the effects of which we are so painfully grappling with in the current emergency. The coalition gave Farage and his fellow travellers all the oxygen they could handle and more; it birthed Brexit and the brutal tribalism that went with it.

In Wales, the 2010 election inadvertently acted as a catalyst for another key ingredient in the unpalatable political diet of the past decade, the endlessly circular blame game. A new Conservative-LibDem coalition at Westminster coincided with the final year of a Labour-Plaid coalition in Cardiff Bay; suddenly, everyone and no-one was in power. It was a perfect storm for scapegoating, and through the middle sailed the wreckers. They couldnt believe their luck.

Yet those were the nice guys, and the good old days! Since 2016 the Tories have shape-shifted into an even freakier monster. Theyve eaten UKIP and the Brexit party alive, their full banquet of fruitcakes and racists included, made ever more explicit their fundamental dislike of devolution, booted out anyone with experience or a bit of a conscience, sold what was left of their soul to the darkest operatives in the game, and in December, filled parliament with people so grim, any contact will have you wanting to scrub your hands for hours. On that at least perhaps, they seemed to know what was coming.

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It's 10 years since the Lib Dem-Tory austerity coalition birthed Brexit and our brutal tribalism - Nation.Cymru

WATCH: Gina Miller meets online troll who sent hateful, racist and threatening messages over Brexit – The New European

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PUBLISHED: 13:27 14 May 2020 | UPDATED: 16:17 14 May 2020

Gina Miller meets a pro-Brexit internet troll as part of a BBC documentary. Photograph: BBC.

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Miller met with Alan before the coronavirus outbreak for the BBC as part of a documentary into internet trolls.

The man, who simply gave his name as Alan, had left comments calling for the businesswoman to be deported.

One deluded fat ****, go away now you lost, Johnsons got the majority, all you can do is **** and moan, said another message.

The single father, who works as a concierge, explained his comments were literally because of Brexit.

He said after the vote he felt there was no point in sitting back and being passive as he explained why he had trolled politicians.

People who are disenfranchised are people like myself, white single fathers. If you want disenfranchised in the world... I get nothing from nobody, he told her.

Everybody else can get seemingly what they like. So it got to the point where I thought Im going to stand up and say something.

But Miller explained the impact that the attacks had on her life - which escalated to verbal attacks in real life, and her needing security around her 24 hours a day.

She said: In the beginning I thought it was just words, just on social media. But I was out with my daughter recently, standing outside on a road to cross to my car.

And this car stopped, window rolled down, shouting You know black ****, you should be hung, traitor. You know, dying is too good for you.

She added: What I find really frustrating is that people think they know me because of whats in the media. I often read it and think, who is this woman?

Miller said that the comments about Brexit had stopped - but she has said now its about being a woman of colour, that I look like an ape.

She added: I actually get told worse things now than I was before.

In the segment, to be broadcast on television, the pair found some mutual understanding over their tougher experiences, and having sons of similar ages.

Miller was forced to flee from her second husband, who she claimed was a drinker who beat her badly, forcing her to sleep in her little blue car in a multistorey car park.

Alan said: Sleeping in a car, I did that for two years, because they couldnt house me. So I know exactly how it feels to be sleeping in the front of a car. I get that.

Now Ive met you and heard where youre at, its a wrong thing for me to do.

I never knew at the time, it was just angering. It was who do these people think they are? Youre all f****** rich and elite. What do they know about my life?

She hopes that Alan will become a messenger to other internet trolls.

She said: All I worry about is my son and your son. I dont want them to be in a country full of hate.

Almost four years after its creation The New European goes from strength to strength across print and online, offering a pro-European perspective on Brexit and reporting on the political response to the coronavirus outbreak, climate change and international politics. But we can only rebalance the right wing extremes of much of the UK national press with your support. If you value what we are doing, you can help us by making a contribution to the cost of our journalism.

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WATCH: Gina Miller meets online troll who sent hateful, racist and threatening messages over Brexit - The New European

Row over EU office in Belfast threatens to derail Brexit talks – The Guardian

The Irish border question threatens to derail Brexit talks again as the depth of the row over the EUs desire to have an office in Belfast is revealed.

The UKs paymaster general, Penny Mordaunt, has written to the EU to firmly reject a repeated request for an office in Northern Ireland: The UK cannot agree to the permanent EU presence based in Belfast, she wrote.

Mordaunt was responding to a second request this year from the EU for permission to open an office in Belfast on the grounds it was needed to oversee the implementation of new customs and regulatory checks that will apply to trade between Great Britain and Northern Ireland from next year.

According to the Irish national broadcaster, RT, the secretary general of the EUs external action service, Helga Schmid, wrote in February that there were very particular capabilities and competences required on the ground, distinctive from the more traditional competences of any other EU delegation.

She hoped the office would be up and running by June in order to bed down the new processes for traders, the detail of which has been the cause of major political rows. Boris Johnson has insisted there will be no checks and no new paperwork for traders operating across the Irish sea.

The permanent undersecretary at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Sir Simon McDonald, refused Schmids request in March, but she argued in a follow-up letter on 25 March that an office would be necessary.

At least during the initial phase of the application of the protocol, the EU will want to avail of these rights on an ongoing basis. To do so effectively, an office in Belfast staffed by technical experts is indispensable, she wrote.

Mordaunt rejected her argument, saying such a presence would be divisive in political and community terms.

The government said in a statement on Saturday: There is no reason why the commission should require a permanent presence in Belfast to monitor the implementation of the protocol.

The row over the office in Belfast has been simmering for months with no sign of a resolution.

Theresa Mays former Brexit adviser Raoul Ruparel tweeted on Saturday:

He rejected reports that the UK had agreed to an EU office in February 2019 and was now backtracking.

As Mays adviser at the time, he said no such agreement had been signed off on a political level. He pointed out that it would have been anathema to the Democratic Unionist party, which May was trying to keep onside ahead of a meaningful vote on the withdrawal agreement.

Even if the UK had agreed to an office last year, it would have had different functions, because Mays Irish border solution was a UK-wide arrangement that would not have involved customs and tariffs on goods entering Northern Ireland from Great Britain, he said.

The row illustrates the EUs concerns that the UK will try to row back on the deal signed in January and not implement customs and regulatory checks on animals and food entering the island of Ireland.

This would cause a major international headache because it would force checks back to the Irish border, something many have said could jeopardise peace.

Continued here:

Row over EU office in Belfast threatens to derail Brexit talks - The Guardian

Brexit trade deal WILL be struck this year say UK negotiators – but only after EU tantrum – Express

British officials expect a lot of noise between the two sides before Brussels eventually drops its hardline negotiating position. Talks between the UK and European Commission continued last week but ended with the bloc accusing Britain of refusing to engage on its plans for a regulatory level playing field and upholding existing fisheries access. But sources close to the UK negotiating team said a deal can be completed before the post-Brexit transition period expires at the end of the year.

Officials have suggested the row over the two sides redlines must first escalate before they can reach a compromise.

A source said: Im quite positive. I do believe in the core areas of this theres a good understanding between negotiators.

Im confident we will get over the disagreements. Probably a bit more noise has to happen before we get to that point.

Another round of online trade negotiations is scheduled for May 11.

Downing Street is expected to push for more one to one talks between Michel Barnier and David Frost, the EU and UKs chief negotiators, in an attempt to break the deadlock.

No10 wants senior Government officials to be able to open new channels of communications alongside the formal negotiations.

But the source said the UK would not budge on its approach to the talks and would reject the EUs continued access to Britains waters and attempts to lock the country into the blocs rulebook.

The source said: "What is slowing us up is the EU's insistence on extra provision, notably the level playing field area, aspects of governance, and of course there is no meeting of minds on fisheries.

"If they continue to insist on their position on a so-called level playing field and on continuing the Common Fisheries Policy, for example, we are never going to accept that. Draw your own conclusion from that, but I hope they will move on."

"There are some fundamentals that we are not going to move on because, not so much that they are negotiation positions, as they are what an independent state does, they added.

It is understood that British and EU negotiators hope virtual bonding sessions could help build the camaraderie needed to strike a deal.

MUST READ:Brexit snub: UK rejects Brussels' attempts to open embassy in Belfast

British officials remain confident that a deal can be struck despite the COVID-19 outbreak hindering the process.

I don't think the crisis makes any difference, the source said.

"It is a big and horrible thing to affect us but I sense that European Union chief negotiator Michel Barnier himself would like to get a deal and I sensed that before the crisis started."

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Brexit trade deal WILL be struck this year say UK negotiators - but only after EU tantrum - Express

Coronavirus: We are all paying the price for the Tory government’s preoccupation with Brexit | Latest Brexit news and top stories – The New European

Opinion

PUBLISHED: 14:24 01 May 2020 | UPDATED: 14:24 01 May 2020

The New European

Prime Minister Boris Johnson stands outside 10 Downing Street as he joins in the applause to salute local heroes during Thursday's nationwide Clap for Carers. Photograph: Aaron Chown/PA Wire.

Government negligence over coronavirus comes as a result of Tory preoccupation with Brexit, and we are all paying the price.

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Thousands of deaths in the Covid-19 pandemic is a tragic if inevitable statistic. Dozens of deaths of NHS frontline staff and care workers, however, represents negligence of stupefying dimensions. Now that a leaked Department of Health and Social Care report has confirmed the May and Johnson governments total failure to act on the conclusions of the 2017 Exercise Cygnus report, responsibility for the deaths of so many health workers lies firmly on the heads of the 2017-2019 government and its successor.

The prime minister now refers to the NHS as the beating heart of the nation but he leads a Conservative government and served in the cabinet of its predecessor, both of which have gone some way to starving this beating heart of the oxygen it needs to function properly.

Even Leavers cannot in all honesty deny that the preoccupation with Brexit has contributed to the governments negligence in failing to make adequate preparations for the current pandemic. It is an appalling tragedy that many NHS staff and care workers have paid the ultimate price for these shortcomings.

Anthony West

Kent

While Priti Patels statement hailing the drop in shoplifting has elicited quite a bit of ridicule, it has also done something much worse.

It has deflected attention from the fact that 20,000 people in the UK have died in hospital from coronavirus. That is one of the worst performances in the world and is a damning indictment of this governments tried-and-tested approach of using egregious nonsense to distract people.

People are dying because this government made bad decisions and wasted time while Italy and Spain struggled. They condemned and ridiculed those countries and did nothing to protect the people here.

Do not let them gaslight you into believing that they have achieved anything of merit by seeing a drop in shoplifting or that it would be very unreasonable to hold them accountable for thousands of deaths.

Audrey Christophory

Covid-19 is another one of those epochal moments when immense change happens in a short period of time. The Tories dont have the noddle to see this because it is the (now) utter irrelevance of Brexit that they think is the real story of our time.

Keir Starmer (Starmers battle on three fronts, TNE #191) should be setting up a task force to prepare for the post-Covid-19 and post-Brexit country Labour will surely inherit. The UK cant get left behind again like it did after the Second World War.

Will Goble

Rayleigh

Boris Johnsons experiences in ICU will have had a profound effect on him psychologically. Are we sure he is fit to return to lead a government 18 days later?

In rugby or football where a player on the pitch has suffered a head injury, the rules are that for the safety of the player and the wellbeing of the team, the victim cannot self-declare his own fitness to return to the field of play.

What process is there to safeguard the nation from a situation where an unfit prime minister returns to the head of government?

This is not just a medical question,

this is a constitutional question. Where are the checks and balances in the system?

John Edwards

Shoreham-by-Sea

Have your say by emailing letters@theneweuropean.co.uk

Almost four years after its creation The New European goes from strength to strength across print and online, offering a pro-European perspective on Brexit and reporting on the political response to the coronavirus outbreak, climate change and international politics. But we can only rebalance the right wing extremes of much of the UK national press with your support. If you value what we are doing, you can help us by making a contribution to the cost of our journalism.

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Coronavirus: We are all paying the price for the Tory government's preoccupation with Brexit | Latest Brexit news and top stories - The New European

British lawyer sues EU over her removal from its court due to Brexit – The Guardian

The UKs last judicial member of the European court of justice is suing the council of the European Union and the EU court over her removal from office because of Brexit.

Eleanor Sharpston QC, advocate general to the court in Luxembourg, has lodged two claims challenging her replacement by a Greek lawyer before her term in office was scheduled to end next year.

Her departure will not necessarily end direct British involvement with the ECJ. A claim has been submitted by a team of London-based lawyers arguing that even though the UK as a nation is leaving the EU, its citizens cannot be deprived of EU citizenship without their consent.

Sharpston, whose mandate was due to end in October 2021, has submitted two claims against the council of the European Union, which represents the remaining 27 EU states, and against the ECJ itself.

At the start of the year, Brussels issued a statement saying the mandates of all UK-related members of EU institutions would automatically end on 31 January. Sharpston was the exception to the rule and was told that she would stay on until a successor could take over.

A Greek replacement for her has now been found. The number of advocates general, who advise the courts judges, is fixed at 11.

A fellow of Kings College, Cambridge and a former joint head of chambers in London, Sharpston has been at the ECJ since 2006. Earlier this year, contemplating the possibility of legal action, she told the Law Gazette: It may be that the very last service I can render to my court is to see whether there is something I can do to push back against the member states intruding into the courts autonomy and independence.

She is understood to be arguing that she should be be allowed to stay in office until her current six-year term expires and that her removal undermines the judicial independence of the court. Court rules, it is said, ensure that judges and advocate generals can only be removed when they reach the end of their mandate or reach the obligatory retirement age.

The ECJ told the Guardian it could not confirm the identity of claimants in the two cases submitted. The courts last British judge, Christopher Vajda, lost his seat in February despite the UK remaining within the single market and customs union until the end of 2020. There are 27 judges sitting on the ECJ one for every member state.

A separate action legal action has been lodged at the ECJ this month by lawyers acting for Prof Joshua Silver, a physicist at Oxford University. The claim is being led by Prof Takis Tridimas of Matrix Chambers and lawyers from the London firm DAC Beachcroft.

They argue that while the withdrawal agreement between the UK government and the EU has resulted in the UK as a nation leaving the EU, the fundamental status and rights of the British citizens of the European Union cannot be removed without their consent.

Stephen Hocking, a partner at DAC Beachcroft, said: In the withdrawal agreement, the EU council purported to remove fundamental individual rights from a group of citizens of the European Union, namely UK nationals, without any due process and without any reference to them. In doing so it acted unlawfully.

EU citizenship is a citizenship like any other, and it confers individual rights on citizens that cannot be taken away by an agreement between governments.

If he is successful, UK citizens would retain their rights as EU citizens, for example the right to live and work in EU member states.

This week Guy Verhofstadt, the former Brexit coordinator for the European parliament, tweeted in support of the legal action: People received European citizenship with the treaty of Maastricht. Will be interesting to see, if a government decides to leave, its citizens automatically lose their European citizenship. They shouldnt do!

The case, for which more than 67,000 has already been raised, is being supported by crowdfunding through the website Crowdfunder.

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British lawyer sues EU over her removal from its court due to Brexit - The Guardian

Tory MP David Davis urges government capitalise on coronavirus outbreak to seal a Brexit deal | Latest Brexit news and top stories – The New European

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PUBLISHED: 11:34 01 May 2020 | UPDATED: 12:16 01 May 2020

Adrian Zorzut

David Davis listens in the House of Commons, London. Photograph: PA.

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Davis made the claim on LBC radio with Nick Ferrari, arguing the EU were lunatics if they did not accept British demands for a no-tariff, no-quotas-style trade deal.

He said: What the European Union should do, if it has any sense at all, is to go for the option we are talking about of which is no tariffs and no quotas.

Youd have to be a lunatic to put tariffs and quotas on under the current economic circumstances so now is the time to do it. That is what we should do.

He said prolonging negotiations would create more uncertainty for UK businesses: The one time, apart from whats happening now, that we had an economic downturn since the [2017] election was when we delayed departure.

The uncertainty made all the businesses, even though claiming they didnt want to leave, suffer. You dont want to change that. You dont want to have another level of uncertainty.

The UK has ruled out seeking an extension to Brexit transition period, which ends on December 31. Recent talks in April failed to reach a breakthrough, causing the EU to ramp up preparations for a no-deal Brexit.

Almost four years after its creation The New European goes from strength to strength across print and online, offering a pro-European perspective on Brexit and reporting on the political response to the coronavirus outbreak, climate change and international politics. But we can only rebalance the right wing extremes of much of the UK national press with your support. If you value what we are doing, you can help us by making a contribution to the cost of our journalism.

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Tory MP David Davis urges government capitalise on coronavirus outbreak to seal a Brexit deal | Latest Brexit news and top stories - The New European

UK will need to extend Brexit transition, Merkel ally warns Britain – The Guardian

Boris Johnson must extend the UKs transition out of the EU for up to two years to avoid compounding the economic damage of the coronavirus pandemic with a hugely disruptive and disorderly Brexit, according to a close ally of Angela Merkel.

In an interview with the Observer, Norbert Rttgen, chair of the Bundestags foreign affairs committee, said it was now impossible to see how the UK and other EU countries could agree even a minimal outline free trade agreement this year because the talks were so behind schedule.

The transition period is due to end on 31 December unless the UK asks for a prolongation by 30 June. The maximum extension would be two years, under the terms of the withdrawal agreement. Rttgen said he could not see any sensible option other than for the UK to apply for the extension to avoid even more damage to the British and European economies. On Friday, Michel Barnier said there had been limited progress in the initial stages of virtual negotiations, which he said was disappointing.

Rttgen, a member of Merkels Christian Democratic Union party, said: Before the current coronavirus crisis, I think it would have been possible to have a minimum agreement with the UK on the broad outlines to avoid a crash [the UK crashing out with no deal], with more detailed negotiations then taking place afterwards.

I cant imagine now that this is possible, given the fact that all the EU countries, Brussels and London are so absorbed by the pandemic and this will go on. Given this situation, I dont believe that there is a realistic possibility any longer to even achieve the necessary minimum. So you have to extend.

But he said it would be up to Boris Johnson to realise the consequences of a disorderly exit amid this pandemic.

The pandemic will cause more economic damage than we can now imagine. To think that you could then add to this extraordinary situation a very disorderly exit, to me is not imaginable. I think everyone will say that this is not in the British interest or in the interest of any of us.

The Brexit transition began when the UK left the EU on 31 January. The arrangement under which the UK is outside the EU but continues to be subject to its rules and a member of the single market and customs union was negotiated by both sides to smooth the UKs exit.

The transition was also designed to allow the UK to continue much of its previous relationship with the EU while the fine details of a future trading relationship and security co-operation were negotiated.

Barnier cited an alarming lack of progress in four of the most crucial areas of the talks. Sources said he was greatly frustrated that the UK did not appear ready either to discuss detail or make compromises.

The four areas of difference were the so-called level playing field (the extent to which the UK would adopt EU standards to have access to the single market); fisheries, particularly EU access to UK waters; security co-operation and governance issues.

The German MEP David McAllister, who chairs the UK co-ordination in the European Parliament (correct) said both sides were now under enormous time pressure to organise a half-way orderly exit of the UK from the single market and the customs union.

It had been hoped that an outline deal could be concluded over the coming months, in time for it to be signed off over the summer by EU leaders. But talks between the UK and EU sides are well behind schedule, although the second set of discussions, effected by video link, ended last week.

I think there is a recognition by some of the UK side that they will have to extend but no one knows how to do it

EU officials have said that concluding deals on such complex issues already a lengthy and tortuous process is far more difficult without face-to-face meetings. One high-level EU source said: You can get so far but what you cant do is go away into small groups of six or eight people in a dark room and hammer out the final, vital details. That is not possible in a virtual meeting.

The UK is also understood to have redeployed some of its staff who were posted to the EU trade talks to coronavirus duties since the Covid-19 pandemic developed.

The issue of whether to apply for an extension is now emerging as a huge additional problem for Johnson, who prides himself on having got Brexit done. Until now, Downing Street has said it will not contemplate asking the EU for an extension under any circumstances.

To do so, Johnson would have to reverse legislation that, in effect, bars him from seeking an extension, and he would have to agree additional financial contributions to the EU to pay for that extension.

Another senior EU politician involved in the talks said there were signs of division appearing on the UK side, with some civil servants and Tory MPs believing the UK had to find a way to abandon its opposition to extending the transition: I think there is a recognition by some on the UK side that they have to extend but no one knows how to do it. The question is what Johnson will decide when he returns to Downing Street after his illness. It is a big political problem for them.

The terms of the withdrawal agreement allow a UKEU joint committee to extend the transition period by up to two years, but it must sign off on the length of any extension before 1 July. EU lawyers say that once that window is missed, EU law makes it very difficult to agree to any extension.

Charles Grant, director of the Centre for European Reform, who is regularly in touch with diplomats in EU capitals, said: It will be very hard for both sides to reach the outlines of a free trade agreement by autumn, or indeed by June, which is when the PM wants to take a decision on whether it is worth pursuing a free trade agreement.

Last week should have been the fifth round of negotiations, but it was the second. The bottom line is that on both sides the top politicians attention is focused on coronavirus, not Brexit, which makes a deal in the short term highly unlikely.

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UK will need to extend Brexit transition, Merkel ally warns Britain - The Guardian

Boris gives green light for Brexit Britain to start formal US trade talks NEXT WEEK – Express

Downing Street has reportedly agreed for negotiations to kick off on Wednesday despite the coronavirus crisis. Donald Trump is said to be desperate to reach a deal ahead of the US presidential election in November.

A source told The Sun: No10 gave the green light late this week for the talks to start.

The process has been significantly speeded up.

The talks will be carried out remotely while coronavirus travel restrictions are in place.

The first round, which will last two weeks, will be held between International Trade Secretary Liz Truss and US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.

Boris Johnson is said to have put off trade talks with the US until now due to ongoing negotiations with the EU.

The UK is in a transition period with Brussels until the end of 2020 as the two sides thrash out a free trade agreement.

READ MORE:UK/EU fishing plan on table 'in weeks' - but Barnier MUST give ground

The Prime Minister has repeatedly insisted he will not push back the deadline despite claims the timeframe is too tight.

Mr Trump promised to strike a massive trade deal with the UK after Mr Johnsons general election victory in December.

The US President said the agreement could be far bigger and more lucrative that any deal with the EU.

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He tweeted: Congratulations to Boris Johnson on his great WIN!

Britain and the United States will now be free to strike a massive new Trade Deal after BREXIT.

This deal has the potential to be far bigger and more lucrative than any deal that could be made with the E.U. Celebrate Boris!

Stumbling blocks in a trade deal between the UK and the US could include food standards and the NHS.

Mr Trump sparked a backlash during his state visit last year when he suggested the health service could be on the table in an agreement.

But the US President later rowed back on the comments.

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Boris gives green light for Brexit Britain to start formal US trade talks NEXT WEEK - Express

UK seeks access to EU health cooperation in light of coronavirus – The Guardian

The British government is quietly seeking access to the European Unions pandemic warning system, despite early reluctance to cooperate on health after Brexit, the Guardian has learned.

The UK is seeking something akin to membership of the EUs early warning and response system (EWRS), which has played a critical role in coordinating Europes response to the coronavirus, as well as to earlier pandemics such as bird flu. According to an EU source, this would be pretty much the same as membership of the system.

The governments enthusiasm in the privacy of the negotiating room contrasts with noncommittal public statements. Detailed negotiating objectives published in February merely stated that the UK was open to exploring cooperation between the UK and EU in other specific and narrowly defined areas where this is in the interest of both sides, for example on matters of health security.

Health was not even mentioned in the governments written statement to Parliament, aside from a reference to pharmaceuticals. Meanwhile, the Daily Telegraph reported on 1 March that No 10 had blocked the Department of Healths request to be part of the EWRS.

A government spokesperson did not respond to a question about whether the UK was seeking a form of membership or participation in the EWRS, but referred back to the February negotiating objectives.

In private, the coronavirus, which had claimed at least 26,771 lives in the UK by Thursday, appears to have altered government thinking.

There was not much appetite from the UK at the beginning, said the EU source, referring to cooperation on health. Thats been corrected. They are keen and they are keen to be seen to be keen. Both sides want close cooperation.

However, the EU is not prepared to offer the UK full membership of the EWRS, an online platform set up in 1998 where public authorities share information about health emergencies.

Instead, EU officials propose to plug the UK into the system when a pandemic emerges, similar to arrangements for other non-EU countries.

Health security does not feature in the UK negotiating text sent in private to the EUs chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, although EU officials have received a non-paper outlining government aims on health.

In another sign of rising British interest in European cooperation, the Guardian has established that the UK attended all five of the EUs health security committee meetings on the coronavirus pandemic in April, a perfect attendance record, compared with a 70% British presence between 17 January and 30 March.

During the April meetings, officials discussed lockdown exit strategies and launching a joint procurement scheme on therapeutics in intensive care. No decision has been taken to launch this bulk-buying programme.

The Guardian first reported in March that the UK was not taking part in any of the EUs four procurement schemes, missing bulk-buying efforts on personal protective equipment for medical workers, ventilators and testing kit despite having attended relevant meetings.

Meanwhile, among NHS senior managers there is anxiety that Brexit talks risk significant elements of health being forgotten about, said Layla McCay, the international director of the NHS Confederation.

NHS organisations have been stood up and stood down and stood up again for potentially a no-deal Brexit, she said. If a quite thorough future relationship for health matters is not on track come June, then the NHS is going to have to start to prepare for specific disruption next year as a result of Brexit, and it will have to do so while also facing both winter and coronavirus challenges. It will be a significant extra ask.

British membership of the EWRS and broader EU health network strengthen our ability to respond as effectively as possible to health emergencies, McCay added.

The UK government spokesperson said: The safety and security of our citizens is a top priority. The UK is ready to discuss how our citizens can be kept safe and benefit from continued international cooperation on health security following the end of the transition period, where it is in our mutual interest.

Any such arrangements must align with the fundamental principles of respecting the UKs political and economic independence, recognition of the UK and EUs status as sovereign equals, and ensuring the UK has control over its own laws.

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UK seeks access to EU health cooperation in light of coronavirus - The Guardian

Campaigners file case that argues EU citizenship is permanent regardless of Brexit | Latest Brexit news and top stories – The New European

PUBLISHED: 10:37 28 April 2020 | UPDATED: 10:45 28 April 2020

Anti-Brexit demonstrators wave European Union and Union flags outside the Houses of Parliament in London. Credit: Yui Mok/PA

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A group of campaigners have filed a court case with the General Court of the European Union that argues EU citizenship is permanent status regardless of Brexit.

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The pro-EU activists believe legally all 66 million continue to hold the status, even when the transition period ends, allowing them to freely move and work in all 27 countries of the bloc.

As The New European reported last month, the legal case acknowledges that not all rights will applicable to UK residents - such as the right to vote or stand in European elections - but believe freedom of movement rights can still be preserved.

The campaigners argue that such status cannot be removed without their consent.

If successful it would allow UK citizens to remain EU citizens.

Dr Alexandra von Westernhagen, one of the lawyers behind the case, explained to The London Economic: Our case is formally an action partially to annul the decision of the EU Council of Ministers of 30 January 2020 which approved the UK/EU Withdrawal Agreement, insofar as it deprives the applicants, without their consent and without due process, of their status as EU citizens and their rights resulting from that status.

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The case asks what is the nature of the EU itself: is it a Union for its member states only? Or is it also a Union for and between the people of Europe? This is a fundamental question for all 515 million EU citizens and everybody else who believes in the idea of an international, value-based citizenship.

The European Commission denied to comment further, but said: We take note of the intention to begin legal proceedings.

Remain campaigners had hoped associate EU citizenship would allow those that did not support Brexit to retain links with the EU after the end of the transition period at the end of the year.

Almost four years after its creation The New European goes from strength to strength across print and online, offering a pro-European perspective on Brexit and reporting on the political response to the coronavirus outbreak, climate change and international politics. But we can only rebalance the right wing extremes of much of the UK national press with your support. If you value what we are doing, you can help us by making a contribution to the cost of our journalism.

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Campaigners file case that argues EU citizenship is permanent regardless of Brexit | Latest Brexit news and top stories - The New European

SNP warn of ‘chilling prospect’ of no-deal Brexit as UK Gov won’t extend talks – The Scotsman

NewsPoliticsThe UK faces the "chilling prospect" of a no-deal Brexit and a double blow to the economy because of the Government's refusal to extend the transition period, Ian Blackford has warned.

Saturday, 2nd May 2020, 12:55 pm

The SNP leader at Westminster accused the Conservative Government of behaving with the "height of irresponsibility" by not extending talks with the EU in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

But Tory MP David Duguid argued that keeping the "hardline target" would "focus efforts", despite the disruption and economic damage being caused by the global lockdown.

He also suggested that to push back the leaving date would affect any companies' plans they had devised before the coronavirus lockdown, as well as causing uncertainty for business.

With the withdrawal framework needing to be agreed by June, Mr Blackford said the country is heading towards a no-deal Brexit, describing the situation as a "very chilling prospect".

Calling for the Government to accept the EU's offer of an extension to the Brexit process, he said: "On the back of the health crisis, quite rightly we've had to take measures to protect people and that's meant that we've crashed the economy.

"Many people were talking about the UK economy shrinking by 35% as a consequence of that."I have to say to the Government it's the height of irresponsibility to then threaten this second blow to the economy if we're daft enough to go down the road of a no-deal Brexit."Speaking on BBC Good Morning Scotland, Mr Blackford suggested the Government was pushing ahead with the original Brexit deadlines so they can "blame any economic impact" on the coronavirus crisis, rather than as a result of leaving the European Union.Mr Duguid said that all Conservative MPs signed a pledge before the 2019 election that the UK would leave the UK no later than December 2020 and said not doing so would hinder our ability to negotiate new trade deals.While acknowledging the coronavirus will have a "huge effect on the economy", the Banff and Buchan MP suggested that would be made worse by "kicking the can down the road" and extending the negotiations with the EU."We need to keep that hardline target, that deadline, which will focus efforts," Mr Duguid said.

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SNP warn of 'chilling prospect' of no-deal Brexit as UK Gov won't extend talks - The Scotsman

Boris Johnson must extend Brexit talks for another YEAR, major Tory Party donor demands – Express

Boris Johnson has repeatedly refused to extend Brexit any further as the Prime Minister has vowed to get trade talks done by December 31, 2020. But Mr Johnson is facing calls to delay following the coronavirus pandemic which have made trade negotiations challenging. The Conservative Party's leading donor, Alexander Temerko, has said to extend for at least one year.

Speaking to Sky News, Mr Temerko said: "We need a lift. It might be very slowly but very bravely.

"We definitely need to open businesses, maybe restaurants and hotels and return business to construction.

"That is very important today.

"On May 7, we need to start lifting the lockdown."

READ MORE:Labour crisis: Starmers brutal Brexit snub to Corbyn exposed

He added: "Michael Gove, Boris and Alok Sharma totally agree that we need to use our national business to create new capacity for fighting this virus."

Mr Temerko went on to give his advice on Brexit.

He said: "We don't know what kind of rule will be when we leave Europe.

"If we leave Europe, the situation will be tougher.

"My advice is to extend for one year. It's not to continue the Remain idea, I think it would be better for the economy."

Zoom drinks and informal chats could be the way of breaking the post-Brexit trade deadlock, according to insiders.

The first two rounds of trade negotiations between the UK and European Union teams have so far been conducted online via video-conferencing due to the coronavirus pandemic.

But insiders said that while there were efficiency benefits to online working, the ability to "take people off for a coffee and talk stuff through" had been lost without face-to-face contact.

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And with social distancing measures likely to be in place until a COVID-19 vaccine is discovered, both sides are said to want to find "new ways" of establishing informal conversations in a bid to break the current deadlock.

Briefing reporters on Thursday about the progress of the virtual talks, a source close to the UK negotiating team said: "The downside is you can't take people off for a coffee and talk stuff through and have the informal discussions.

"We'll have to find ways of replicating that. We'll have to do it by video-conference, by phone and by other ways and we're going to have to be tolerant of each other.

"Obviously it is still possible to have the conversations, what's more difficult to replicate is the atmospherics.

"But that doesn't mean you can't do it and we will aim to do it over the next couple of months."

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Boris Johnson must extend Brexit talks for another YEAR, major Tory Party donor demands - Express

DAVID EDGERTON: Where Brexit and Covid-19 collide | Latest Brexit news and top stories – The New European

PUBLISHED: 12:46 30 April 2020 | UPDATED: 12:46 30 April 2020

David Edgerton

Workers in the assembly area of an aircraft factory in the Midlands, building spitfires. (Photo by Hudson/Fox Photos/Getty Images)

Archant

Historian DAVID EDGERTON on the cynical fantasies about innovation and exceptionalism providing a common strand.

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The governments response to Covid-19 and Brexit are intimately connected. Recognising this is vital to understanding the politics of both. Indeed as the trade expert David Henig has noted, we will know that the UK is really serious about Covid-19 at the moment in which is prepared to say that a Brexit extension is needed. That moment has not yet come, indeed it has been ruled out.

On the face of it there is a very great difference between the two policies. In the case of Brexit the government has consistently rejected the advice of economists, including its own.

In the case of Covid-19 it constantly reiterates that it is following the science. But there is an underlying connection which is important. Brexiteer arguments are centred on fantasies about British scientific and inventive genius. The government has sought to address Covid-19 at least in part on this deluded basis.

At the beginning, Boris Johnson stood behind the science to justify a UK-only policy of delay of the Covid-19 virus. This involved minimal intervention in what Johnson took to reminding us are the freedom-loving proclivities of the British people. Too late, what looked like a cunning plan to exemplify the virtues of the British way collapsed utterly.

The UK is now, broadly-speaking, following Europe and much of the rest of the world. Following the science now sounds like a way of not answering legitimate questions.

But when it comes to ventilators, a Brexiteer innovation-fixated logic applies. The current crisis has been an opportunity to illustrate the argument that the UK was a powerful innovation nation that could do very well without the EU.

The government launched a programme, the details of which are still murky, to create new emergency ventilators. First off the blocks in the PR blitz was the Brexiteer Sir James Dyson, who was teaming up with another Brexiteer capitalist, Lord Bamford of JCB, to make many thousands of the devices.

This, it turned out was just one of many projects to design new ventilators, and to modify others for mass production. There were lots of allusions to the Second World War, as if Spitfires had been conjured out of thin air in the heat generated by patriotic enthusiasm.

It is telling too that the government decided not to take part in the EU ventilator procurement programme. This had to be a British programme for PR purposes, even though many of the companies making the components in the UK are European, like Siemens, Airbus, Thales

That wartime analogy was deeply misleading the UK was a world leader in aircraft before the Battle of Britain. It had been making Spitfires since the late 1930s, and had huge long-planned specialist factories making them.

What is clear is that we are not in 1940. The UK is not a world leader in ventilator manufacture, far from it. Furthermore, the NHS (and this is a scandal) has been under-supplied with them. The high-end ventilators the NHS now needs will and are coming from abroad.

It looks as if the British emergency ventilators will generally be low-end ones, and one at least has already been rejected. The ones that seem to be going into production are based on simple machines long in production in the UK.

Indeed, there may be a wartime analogy which could become pertinent. Churchill did attempt to conjure up new weapons in a hurry in the face of expert advice. They included anti-aircraft rockets, spigot mortars, and indeed a trench-cutting machine. They were universally late, did not work well or at all, and represented a huge waste of resources.

We should not be fooled into believing that there is a coherent industrial strategy emerging out of the epidemic, a determined move to national self-supply.

For if there were the government would not be throwing manufacturing in Britain to the winds, as its Brexit plans certainly would. For they involve the breaking up of the regulatory and customs market in which they exist, and furthermore, would open the British market not only to European producers, but those from all over the world. That is what being a global champion of free trade means.

What we need to understand is the centrality of a mythical picture of British innovation to Brexit. Brexiteer arguments for a hard Brexit hinge on the UKs supposed leadership in creativity and innovation, which was just waiting to be unleashed.

Dominic Cummings got his 800 million in the budget for a UK version of the US Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA). The wonderful thing about invoking science is that it suggests action, drive, modernity.

Yet what Johnson and other Brexiteers have rediscovered was a great British liberal tradition of making a lot of noise about science in order to cover up deliberate inaction, in the face of demands for a national and imperial strategy for agriculture and industry.

Before the Great War, faced with calls from the Tories for tariffs on imports, not least food, which he vehemently opposed, David Lloyd George funded agricultural research to help farmers instead.

Of course any help they might receive would be years in the future and trivial by comparison with tariffs. Similarly, in the 1920s, the government resisted protection and imperial preference by creating an Empire Marketing Board, one of whose major functions was research. It had minor impact, as intended, and was wound up the moment tariffs came in the 1930s.

The strategy has been in action for a while. After 2008 there was much talk about the march of the makers, and the northern powerhouse. One of the very few initiatives was the support, with 50m, of the Graphene Institute. Graphene, made by two Manchester University scientists, was seen as a wonder material, which would transform the fortunes of the university, its region and the whole country. It was trumpeted the key to a vibrant new future. It has not arrived. Sums like 50m can buy a lot of media coverage; they cannot buy you a real industrial strategy. Innovation capacity in batteries has been a favourite for some years. Yet there is no significant British battery industry, nor the prospect of one. Electric cars, and batteries for them, are very much more advanced in Europe, in China and in Japan. One cannot magic an industry out of thin air, whether high-end ventilators or batteries, but by referencing innovation one can pretend, for a while.

And that is where the politics of Covid-19, and Brexit, are stuck, in cynical fantasies about innovation.

David Edgerton teaches at Kings College London, where he is Hans Rausing professor of the history of science and technology and professor of modern British history; this article also appears at his blog, http://www.davidedgerton.org

Almost four years after its creation The New European goes from strength to strength across print and online, offering a pro-European perspective on Brexit and reporting on the political response to the coronavirus outbreak, climate change and international politics. But we can only rebalance the right wing extremes of much of the UK national press with your support. If you value what we are doing, you can help us by making a contribution to the cost of our journalism.

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DAVID EDGERTON: Where Brexit and Covid-19 collide | Latest Brexit news and top stories - The New European

EU free trade deal with Mexico (started at same time as Brexit) is AGREED – Express.co.uk

Politicians, scientists, environmentalist and campaigners say the deal struck between EU Trade Commissioner Phil Hogan and the Mexican Minister for Economic Affairs Graciela Mrquez Coln yesterday will trigger human rights abuses and crimes against the environment. A collective of so-called civil society European organisations which took part in the so-called Toxi Tour in Mexico demand the trade deal is scrapped. The group undertook a high-profile so-called Toxi Tour of Mexico just before Christmas touring some of the nations most polluted areas to raise awareness about environmental problems and denounce companies they blamed for causing them.

On paper the deal includes measures to fight corruption and money laundering as well as investment protection, sustainable development in line with the Paris climate accord and simpler customs rules to boost exports.

But Latin-America news site Amerika21 said though the trade agreement was supposed to cover areas of human rights and the environment it actually gave more power to big business to side-step government regulations.

They added the civic society group also felt all political energies in Mexico should be focused on fighting the coronavirus pandemic.

The paper wrote: The updated trade agreement could lay the foundation for further human rights violations by European companies in Mexico.

Although it fundamentally includes the protection of human rights, while the protection of investments is characterised by the application of binding standards, the EU has always pursued a non-binding "soft law" policy with regard to human rights.

Civil society organisations believe that changing this approach is long overdue.

The new trade agreement between the European Union and Mexico should not be ratified or signed. In doing so, they are joining the global demand that the only commercial priority at the moment must be to remove obstacles to access to medical care and other resources, to strengthen public health systems and other social measures to deal with the current crisis.

But Mr Hogan said: While most of our efforts have been focused lately on tackling the coronavirus crisis, we have also been working to advance our open and fair trade agenda, which continues to be very important.

Openness, partnerships and co-operation will be even more essential as we rebuild our economies after this pandemic. I am very pleased, therefore, that together with our Mexican partners, we share similar views and that our continued work could now come to fruition.

"Todays agreement is clear evidence of our shared commitment to advance our agenda of partnership and co-operation. This agreement once in force will help both the EU and Mexico to support our respective economies and boost employment.

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The free trade contract will also trigger the interest of Brexiteers as the contract is intended to enable duty-free trade of goods between the EU and Mexico and is part of the global agreement that entered into force in 2000. In addition to political cooperation, development cooperation and human rights are also covered.

Some commentators have pointed out this is largely what Britain is asking for in the Brexit deal.

The biggest complaint from the Toxi Tour critics is it would be the first trade agreement between the EU and a Latin American country to include investment protection clauses.

Amerika21 wrote: This would strengthen the ability of transnational corporations to assert themselves against governments in both Europe and Mexico.2

The Toxi tour through Mexican industrial areas in December 2019 showed the downside of the increase in the number of multinational companies based in Mexico due to free trade agreements.

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EU free trade deal with Mexico (started at same time as Brexit) is AGREED - Express.co.uk


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