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Category Archives: Brexit

Brexit talks back on between EU and UK ahead of June summit – Euronews

Posted: May 11, 2020 at 11:50 am

London and Brussels resume post-Brexit talks on Monday, with both sides far apart on key issues but under pressure to make progress ahead of an EU-UK summit next month.

Negotiations have been slowed amid the coronavirus pandemic, but Boris Johnson's government has been clear on its refusal to seek an extension to the transition period which runs out at the end of the year. A decision on this would have to be taken by June 30.

The UK is hoping to up the pace towards a free trade agreement, as well as striking deals on various matters including air transport, energy and law enforcement. The EU insists that all key areas are treated in parallel.

British negotiators led by David Frost only envisage an early framework accord on fishing, leaving the detail for later, whereas the EU says access to UK fishing waters must be part of a trade agreement.

The head of the UK team said on Twitter at the weekend that Britain had shared a "full set of draft agreements" covering the "full round of the negotiations".

Brussels is concerned that the UK is taking a cavalier approach to the Political Declaration, the non-binding part of the divorce deal struck last year that deals with the future relationship. It stipulates that there must be a "level playing field" in areas such as employment, competition standards and the environment.

After the last round of talks in April, chief negotiator Michel Barnier accused the British side of failing to engage on crucial topics, saying no progress had been made in some key areas.

There is also concern in EU circles that the UK is failing to take adequate steps to implement the binding divorce deal arrangements concerning Northern Ireland. These envisage a customs filter in the Irish Sea, agreed by both sides in order to avoid a hard land border with the Republic of Ireland.

The UK is charged with carrying out checks on goods entering Northern Ireland from Britain, to avoid the risk of smuggling across the land border.

The British government says it will comply with its legal obligations, but points out that under the divorce deal, Northern Ireland remains part of the UK's customs territory.

Reaching agreement in just a few months was seen as a tall order even before the coronavirus pandemic completely absorbed the attention of governments.

The latest talks are only the third round of discussions which began in March, but were quickly stalled amid the COVID-19 outbreak. They have since taken place by video conference rather than face-to-face.

The tight deadline - exacerbated by the pandemic - as well as the British stance have raised fears that the autumn could bring another no-deal "cliff-edge" scenario.

Under the terms of the transition period, arrangements are largely as they were during the UK's EU membership, but will abruptly cease to apply after December 31, when the UK will leave the EU's single market and customs union.

The next round of talks is scheduled for June 1. The United Kingdom left the European Union on January 31, following repeated delays.

Last week the UK began negotiations with the United States on a post-Brexit trade agreement, with both sides promising to work "at an accelerated pace" to strike a deal.

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Brexit talks back on between EU and UK ahead of June summit - Euronews

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Ireland says Brexit trade talks timeline ‘virtually impossible’ – Reuters

Posted: at 11:49 am

DUBLIN (Reuters) - The coronavirus pandemic has made an already difficult timeline for a British-European Union trade deal virtually impossible, Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said, cautioning that he did not wish to raise expectations of London seeking more time.

FILE PHOTO: Irish Tanaiste (Deputy Prime Minister) Simon Coveney holds a reception for Britain's Prince William and his wife Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, in Dublin, Ireland March 4, 2020. REUTERS/Phil Noble/Pool

Tortuous Brexit talks, now focused on setting new trading terms from 2021 when Londons status-quo transition period after Brexit ends, quickly hit an impasse when they resumed last month, according to EU diplomats and officials.

Coveney, who played a key role in Britains EU withdrawal talks due to the border Ireland shares with British-run Northern Ireland, said progress so far this year has been much slower than the EU had hoped before the resumption of talks next week.

Given the complexity of what were trying to deal with here and the added complications, and there are many, as a result COVID-19, it surely makes sense for us to seek a bit more time, Coveney told an online conference on Friday.

I think anybody looking at this from the outside could only conclude it makes sense to look for more time, but the British government has decided thats not what they want. I wouldnt be raising expectations around the British government agreeing to seeking more time.

Coveney said if the EU are to have any of chance of changing British minds, they have to be careful as to how they do that. Any request would recognise that COVID-19 has made what is already a very, very difficult timeline to get agreement virtually impossible, he added.

While the EU says only a relatively modest free trade agreement is possible before the end of the year, it attaches conditions to it - including rigid guarantees of fair competition - that have been rejected by Britain.

Coveney said the two rounds of talks to date have really gotten nowhere because of those differences. At a bare minimum, he said, the EU needs an agreement and understanding around the so-called level playing field issues or whatever we decide to call them politically.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who presided over Britains exit from the EU on Jan. 31, has ruled out seeking an extension of the transition period beyond Dec. 31. Until then, Britain remains part of the EUs single market and customs union.

Talking about the UK being fully autonomous, protecting sovereignty, I get that language, that is what has driven Brexit in many ways. Breaking free from the European Union, not being a rule taker, thats fine from a political narrative perspective, he said.

But you cant have quota-free, tariff-free trade unless there is a level playing field. The EU can just never facilitate that and why would they...This is essentially the crux of the issue and if we cant resolve it, there isnt going to be a deal.

(This was corrected to insert dropped word not in first paragraph.)

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Ireland says Brexit trade talks timeline 'virtually impossible' - Reuters

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Has Brexit affected the way Britons think about immigrants? The recent ‘national mood’ on immigration – British Politics and Policy at LSE

Posted: at 11:49 am

Did Brexit cause an increase in anti-immigrant hostility? Patrick English collates various survey results to answer this question in the negative. He also finds that Brexit itself does not seem to have caused opinions to become more positive either.

Back in 2018, I wrote a piece showing how British public opinion on immigration had changed since the 1980s by analysing responses across waves of repeated, high-quality research surveys carried out in Britain. Then, the research showed that British opinions toward immigrants and immigration had been softening dramatically over the last decade since a peak in public hostility around 2010.

Recently I was able to update this information with a plethora of new results from the British Election Study (BES), the British Social Attitudes (BSA) survey, and the European Social Survey (ESS) which were fielded over the past two years. Figure 1 below shows what has changed since then, and how the new information has impacted the models estimation of the national mood about immigration.

The line represents the proportion of survey respondents in each year answering negatively when faced with questions regarding their views on immigrants and immigration. The grey line running through the middle of the plot cuts the y-axis at 50% half of the population having negative feelings toward immigration, with the other 50% holding a more positive perspective. The aggregation is carried out using Jim Stimsons dyad-ratios calculator, which is able to standardise different survey measurements on the same topic. From this, individual survey items can be blended together into a single series, such as above. (The code to run Stimsons calculator in R can be found on my GitHub repository).

What the updated data shows is that the dramatic decline in anti-immigrant sentiments, which had reached a peak (in the study) around 2010, has continued up to the conclusion of the decade. According to the data analysed in this study, a majority of the British public now have positive views toward immigrants and immigration.

When I posted these results on Twitter, they became the subject of quite some discussion among various Brexit tribes (bot supporting and against), with much conversation surrounding the impact that Brexit (and specifically, the campaign) may or may not have had on feelings toward immigrants in this country. It is toward this debate that I wish to turn the rest of the article namely, did Brexit cause an increase in anti-immigrant hostility in Britain?

Firstly, the evidence is quite clear that neither the Brexit campaign nor Brexit itself has caused any increase in negativity or hostility toward immigrants or immigration in the aggregate sense. There is nothing in the public opinion data, presented here or indeed elsewhere, that I have seen which would support the hypothesis that Brexit has unleashed some kind of wave of anti-immigrant hostility when we look at the nation as a whole.

However, the emphasis above is intended and important. There is nothing to say that just because aggregate levels of hostility toward immigration among the British public have declined, that there could not have been a simultaneous hardening or strengthening of negativity since Brexit among those with deep-rooted, very hostile opinions about foreigners in Britain. Both of these things could be true. Similarly, this measurement is not one of racism, or individual experiences/incidents of racism or indeed discrimination on the grounds of immigrant (origin) status.

Finally, Brexit might not have caused a rise in aggregate anti-immigrant hostility, but there is also little evidence to suggest that it caused this drop. For one, attitudes have been softening since 2010, and Brexit comes right in the middle of this near-linear decline. That said, the rate of decline has clearly accelerated since 2016, so perhaps there is some merit in the suggestion the Brexit vote may have released some frustration regarding policy/control over matters of immigration among the population.

Inspecting the quarterly data also gives us some further, more nuanced insight into what the various narratives around Brexit might have done to attitudes surrounding immigrants and immigration. Figure 2 shows a more detailed snapshot of Figure 1, with 100 survey items analysed from 2009 to 2019.

Here we see in greater detail the average decline in negativity from the turn of the last decade, with the peak around 2010 followed by something more resembling a jagged mountain face than a cliff edge. The sharp, short-term peaks in anti-immigrant mood as we travel down the ten-year slope are seemingly clustered around important electoral events surrounding Brexit: the 2014 European Elections won by UKIP, the build-up to the referendum itself in 2016, the General Election in 2017 where Theresa May sought a parliamentary majority for her Brexit plan, and then the 2019 election campaign featuring Boris Johnsons pledge to get Brexit done.

Are these moments of intense scrutiny and pressure on Brexit producing these little sparks of negativity among the British public? It seems reasonable to think so around these moments, media coverage and political commentary around immigration (specifically in relation to the EU) intensifies, parties actively campaign against the current immigration regime, and voters may be connecting immigration closer to their voting intention than they otherwise might, and respond to survey questions accordingly.

Whatever the case, what is certain is that these moments of upturn in the data do not last long. Once the moment passes, the decline in negativity continues and even arguably picks up pace. Furthermore, given that margins of error apply to these aggregated figures just as much as they do to individual polls, the various quarterly spikes within the last ten years could just be statistical noise.

So, did Brexit cause an increase in anti-immigrant hostility in Britain? There is little evidence in the public opinion data analysed here to suggest that it did particularly in the medium term. Did it, on the other hand, cause a big increase in positivity? Again, I would argue that it did not. Brexit has coincided with a plummet in British negativity about immigration, the start of which proceeded Boris Johnsons successful attempt to pass a Brexit deal through the Commons, the referendum itself, and Nigel Farages electoral successes in the early 2010s.

In short, I would say that Brexit has not much at all to do with what Britons think about immigration.

____________________

About the Author

Patrick English is Associate Lecturer in Data Analysis at the Exeter Q-Step Centre, University of Exeter.

All articles posted on this blog give the views of the author(s), and not the position of LSE British Politics and Policy, nor of the London School of Economics and Political Science. Featured image credit: byFred MoononUnsplash

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Has Brexit affected the way Britons think about immigrants? The recent 'national mood' on immigration - British Politics and Policy at LSE

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Brexit shambles: How desperate Remainers tried to claim William Shakespeare in EU debate – Express

Posted: at 11:49 am

Britons decisively voted Leave in the 2016 EU referendum in a move that clearly upset the status quo. Ever since, various attempts to thwart Britains exit from Brussels have materialised most notably with calls for a so-called Peoples Vote but also in the 2019 general election when the Liberal Democrats campaigned to revoke Article 50. After the referendum, both major parties campaigned on a Leave platform in the 2017 general election and earned over 80 percent of the popular vote.

Then, in the 2019 European Parliament election, Nigel Farages newly-formed Brexit Party won convincingly with 29 seats and 30.5 percent of the vote as the electorate grew increasingly frustrated at the lack of progress being made in Britains withdrawal.

Finally, after Mr Farages success triggered Prime Minister Theresa Mays resignation and Boris Johnson replaced her as Conservative Party leader, the 2019 general election was clearly hinged almost entirely on Brexit.

Mr Johnson won a historic 80-seat majority while Labours Brexit fudge under Jeremy Corbyn reduced the party to its worst electoral performance since 1935.

Yet, still, even after Britains exit from the EU on January 31, some on the Remain side are struggling to accept reality.

Rather than a strict Leave vs Remain argument, the old battle lines have manifested themselves into extension vs no extension as Downing Street grapples with the prospect of leaving the transition arrangement without a deal by the end of 2020.

One example of this apparent failure to accept not just an era-defining referendum but also four years of electoral precedent, is the suggestion found in pro-EU publication The New European that Shakespeare would certainly have been a Remainer.

Writing in April, author Charlie Connelly claimed the world-famous Bard would overtly back the politics of Remain today.

READ MORE:Britain could have followed Norway's path and protected its waters

The companies of the day earned as much of their corn touring abroad as they did treading the boards at home.

There are frustratingly large gaps in what we know of Shakespeares life, long periods in which we have no idea where he was or what he was doing.

Its likely that, certainly in his younger days, he spent chunks of that time trundling around the continent with a bunch of other actors in a cart loaded with props, costumes and bits of scenery.

He also dwelled on how Europe inspired Shakespeare as he pointed out that one of his most famous works, Hamlet, was partly inspired by Denmarks Kronborg Castle.

Mr Connelly added: The roster of Hamlets reminds us of better times, of European integration and the ability we take for granted to wander across continents.

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The Brextremists plot their revenge on the House of Lords | Latest Brexit news and top stories – The New European

Posted: at 11:49 am

PUBLISHED: 18:59 10 May 2020 | UPDATED: 18:59 10 May 2020

Tim Walker

Peers take their seats in the House of Lords before the State Opening Of Parliament at Houses of Parliament. Photograph: Carl Court - WPA Pool/Getty Images.

2017 Getty Images

TIM WALKER reports on the Tories revenge on peers for their Brexit defeats, and the unlikely bond between Sir Frederick and a former Strictly Come Dancing judge.

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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 continue to grow with your support.

Its undoubtedly convenient for officials in Boris Johnsons government to say that the coronavirus is making it impractical for the House of Lords where the average age is 70 to meet in full until sometime next year. The Brextremists have neither forgotten nor forgiven the Lords any more than the judges of the Supreme Court for asserting their independence at various points over the past few years.

Theres ominous talk, too, of wider reforms not to mention booting them all off to York once things settle down, but pleasingly theres resistance, not least from the women of the Upper House. Baroness Hussein-Ece, a sprightly 64 with a life story that defies every media stereotype about the Lords, points out that Matt Hancock has said there should be no blanket ban on the over-70s working. Take away the checks and balances we have in our constitution and we become a dictatorship, she warns.

THE TELEGRAPHS TEN FROM LEN

As his dispiriting legal battle with his twin brother Sir David resumed online in the High Court this week, Sir Frederick Barclay, the co-owner of the Daily Telegraph, can take solace in at least one enduring, if unlikely, bond in his life. Cha-cha-cha forward, Len Goodman, of Strictly Come Dancing fame.

When Len started dancing at the age of 19, after a short time as an apprentice welder for Harland and Wolff, Fred bought him his first ballroom dancing suit and it was magnificent, a friend of Sir Frederick tells Mandrake. Len never forgot that and they have been going to ballroom dancing events together ever since. Fred has two great pleasures in life his ballroom dancing and his daily cigar.

Sir David has cultivated friendships with newspapermen such as Geordie Greig, Paul Dacre and David Leigh, but his twin has never fretted about his public image and a lot less is known about him. There were rumours a few years ago that Sir Frederick, 85, was gravely ill, but these were unfounded. In addition to Goodman, the Queen and the Prince of Wales regular patrons of the Ritz are understood to have a soft spot for the old boy.

The privacy case that Sir Frederick and his daughter Amanda are bringing against Sir David and his sons Alistair, Aidan and Howard as well as Aidans son Andrew involves allegations of their conversations being bugged in the conservatory of the Ritz. Sir David participated in this weeks online proceedings from the familys castle on Brecqhou, whereas Sir Frederick did so from his somewhat less ostentatious London residence.

The dispute is proving problematical for the establishment with Boris Johnson having to go out of his way to show hes not siding with either twin, given the newspaper they jointly own had, until he became prime minister, being paying him 270,000 a year. A peerage that had been rumoured to be in the offing for Aidan Barclay Sir Davids son, who presides over the newspaper is said to be on hold until the case is decided. Proceedings are expected to resume in the High Court in November.

BABY TALK

The abuse that greets David Camerons tweets mean that he now says very little on the social networking website. When he got around to congratulating Boris Johnson and Carrie Symonds on the birth of their baby Wilfred last week, he apologised for not leaving behind the cot in the Downing Street flat. Im surprised you didnt leave the kid, one funster riposted.

SPEECHLESS

Theresa May has found a way to make money out of public speaking without actually speaking. This may well come as a relief to anyone who remembers her performance at the 2017 Tory conference.

The former PM has just disclosed that J P Morgan paid her 160,000 for two speaking engagements that had to be cancelled last month as a result of lockdown. If there are any gluttons for punishment, May has assured the bank shes still willing to make her speeches when its safe to do so. Shes managed to make more than 1 million since being ousted from Downing Street, which is good news for her employees and favoured charities.

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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Foster: Talk of extension to Brexit transition period a distraction – Belfast Telegraph

Posted: at 11:49 am

Northern Irelands First Minister Arlene Foster has said the British Government should not be distracted by talks of extending the Brexit transition period.

he UK Government has insisted the transition period will not be extended beyond 2020, despite officials in London and Brussels admitting there has been little progress in the two rounds of formal talks held so far.

December 31 is the deadline for the end of the transition period unless the UK agrees by June to extend it.

Speaking to Skys Sophy Ridge on Sunday, Mrs Foster said: At the moment we are talking to the Government about Brexit. We have a very particular issue around the Ireland/Northern Ireland protocol. We have been engaging with the Paymaster and Michael Gove around that issue.

It is important that we get clarity for our businesses in Northern Ireland.

We should not be distracted by talk of lengthening the transition or anything like that. We need to make sure that we are focused and that we get started for the sake of our businesses in Northern Ireland.

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Irish Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney briefs the media on the latest measures government departments have introduced in response to Covid-19 (Leon Farrell Photocall Ireland/PA)

PA

On Friday, Deputy Irish Premier Simon Coveney said the Covid-19 pandemic has made the timeline for a UK-EU trade deal virtually impossible.

Covid-19 has made what is already a very, very difficult timeline to get agreement virtually impossible, he said.

Given the added complications of Covid-19, it surely makes sense to seek a bit more time to navigate our way through these very difficult waters in the months ahead so that we can get a good outcome for the UK and EU.

PA

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Foster: Talk of extension to Brexit transition period a distraction - Belfast Telegraph

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Keir Starmer refuses to back Brexit transition extension – The Independent

Posted: at 11:49 am

Keir Starmer has rejected calls for the Brexit transition period to be extended, saying he would rather the negotiations were completed as quickly as possible.

The deadline for agreeing a further extension to the transition period is next month, and some opposition parties, including the SNP and Lib Dems, have called for the government to request one in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

If no extension is agreed then the UK will leave the single market at the end of the year with or without a deal potentially taking significant economic damage.

Sharing the full story, not just the headlines

The Labour leader said he didnt think it was practical to agree a deal by December but that he nevertheless wanted to see how we get on in talks.

Asked whether he would support an extension with the deadline looming in June, Sir Keir told LBC Radio: The government says its going to get negotiations and a deal done by the end of the year.

Ive always thought thats tight and pretty unlikely, but were going to hold them to that and see how they get on. They say theyre going to do it.

Pushed again to clarify his position on the issue, he said: I would seek to ensure that the negotiations were completed as quickly as possible. Ive not called for a pause because the government says its going to get it done by the end of the year. So lets see how they get on.

I dont think its practical but were a long way from December so well see how we get on. But the government has said we can do it within the 12 months, so lets see.

Boris Johnson has said he will not supportan extension under any circumstances, despite negotiating a mechanism to call for one into the withdrawal agreement. The European Commission has said it would be happy to agree an extension in light of the pandemic and pressures on negotiations.

If no free trade agreement is agreed before the UK leaves the transition period during which is is treated like an EU member state the economic damage from the sharp break with Europe is expected to be significant.

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Talks so far have got off to a slow start, with two rounds being cancelled due to the pandemic. Negotiations have resumed via videoconferencing, but both sides are still far apart on issues such as fishing, human rights, state aid, and the role of the EUs court.

EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier has said Brussels is open to a further extension (EPA)

Polling suggests strong public support for extending the transition period in the context of the coronavirus pandemic.

Sir Keir was also asked about Labours policy to help renters during the Covid-19 lockdown, which some critics have said favours landlords over tenants.

A referendum is held on Britain's membership of the European Union. Fifty-two per cent of the country votes in favour of leaving

AFP via Getty

David Cameron resigns on the morning of the result after leading the campaign for Britain to remain in the EU

Getty

Theresa May becomes leader of the Conservative party and prime minister, winning the leadership contest unopposed after Andrea Leadsom drops out

Getty

The High Court rules that parliament must vote on triggering Article 50, which would begin the Brexit process

The prime minister triggers Article 50 after parliament endorses the result of the referendum

Getty

Seeking a mandate for her Brexit plan, May goes to the country

Getty

After a disastrous campaign, Theresa May loses her majority in the commons and turns to the DUP for support. Jeremy Corbyn's Labour party makes gains after being predicted to lose heavily

AFP/Getty

David Davis and Michel Barnier, chief negotiators for the UK and EU respectively, hold a press conference on the first day of Brexit negotiations. Soon after the beginning of negotiations, it becomes clear that the issue of the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic will prove a major sticking point

AFP/Getty

The government suffers a defeat in parliament over the EU withdrawal agreement, guaranteeing that MPs are given a 'meaningful vote' on the deal

Following a summit at Chequers where the prime minister claimed to have gained cabinet support for her deal, Boris Johnson resigns as foreign secretary along with David Davis, the Brexit secretary

Reuters

The draft withdrawal agreement settles Britain's divorce bill, secures the rights of EU citizens living in the UK and vice versa and includes a political declaration commiting both parties to frictionless trade in goods and cooperation on security matters. The deal also includes the backstop, which is anathema to many brexiteers and Dominic Raab and Esther McVey resign from the cabinet in protest

Getty

After several failed attempts to pass her withdrawal agreement through the commons, Theresa May resigns

Reuters

Boris Johnson is elected leader of the Conservative party in a landslide victory. He later heads to Buckingham Palace where the Queen invites him to form a government

Getty

Boris Johnson prorogues parliament for five weeks in the lead up to the UK's agreed departure date of 31 October.

Stephen Morgan MP

The High Court rules that Johnson's prorogation of parliament is 'unlawful' after a legal challenge brought by businesswoman Gina Miller

Getty

Following a summit in Merseyside, Johnson agrees a compromise to the backstop with Irish prime minister Leo Varadkar - making the withdrawal agreement more palatable to Brexiteers

Getty

As parliament passes the Letwin amendment requiring the prime minister to request a further delay to Brexit, protesters take to the streets in the final show of force for a Final Say referendum

Getty

The Conservatives win the December election in a landslide, granting Boris Johnson a large majority to pass through his brexit deal and pursue his domestic agenda

Getty

The withdrawal agreement passes through the commons with a majority of 124

Getty

Members of the European parliament overwhelmingly back the ratification of Britain's departure, clearing the way for Brexit two days later on 31 January. Following the vote, members join hands and sing Auld Lang Syne

AFP/Getty

A referendum is held on Britain's membership of the European Union. Fifty-two per cent of the country votes in favour of leaving

AFP via Getty

David Cameron resigns on the morning of the result after leading the campaign for Britain to remain in the EU

Getty

Theresa May becomes leader of the Conservative party and prime minister, winning the leadership contest unopposed after Andrea Leadsom drops out

Getty

The High Court rules that parliament must vote on triggering Article 50, which would begin the Brexit process

The prime minister triggers Article 50 after parliament endorses the result of the referendum

Getty

Seeking a mandate for her Brexit plan, May goes to the country

Getty

After a disastrous campaign, Theresa May loses her majority in the commons and turns to the DUP for support. Jeremy Corbyn's Labour party makes gains after being predicted to lose heavily

AFP/Getty

David Davis and Michel Barnier, chief negotiators for the UK and EU respectively, hold a press conference on the first day of Brexit negotiations. Soon after the beginning of negotiations, it becomes clear that the issue of the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic will prove a major sticking point

AFP/Getty

The government suffers a defeat in parliament over the EU withdrawal agreement, guaranteeing that MPs are given a 'meaningful vote' on the deal

Following a summit at Chequers where the prime minister claimed to have gained cabinet support for her deal, Boris Johnson resigns as foreign secretary along with David Davis, the Brexit secretary

Reuters

The draft withdrawal agreement settles Britain's divorce bill, secures the rights of EU citizens living in the UK and vice versa and includes a political declaration commiting both parties to frictionless trade in goods and cooperation on security matters. The deal also includes the backstop, which is anathema to many brexiteers and Dominic Raab and Esther McVey resign from the cabinet in protest

Getty

After several failed attempts to pass her withdrawal agreement through the commons, Theresa May resigns

Reuters

Boris Johnson is elected leader of the Conservative party in a landslide victory. He later heads to Buckingham Palace where the Queen invites him to form a government

Getty

Boris Johnson prorogues parliament for five weeks in the lead up to the UK's agreed departure date of 31 October.

Stephen Morgan MP

The High Court rules that Johnson's prorogation of parliament is 'unlawful' after a legal challenge brought by businesswoman Gina Miller

Getty

Following a summit in Merseyside, Johnson agrees a compromise to the backstop with Irish prime minister Leo Varadkar - making the withdrawal agreement more palatable to Brexiteers

Getty

As parliament passes the Letwin amendment requiring the prime minister to request a further delay to Brexit, protesters take to the streets in the final show of force for a Final Say referendum

Getty

The Conservatives win the December election in a landslide, granting Boris Johnson a large majority to pass through his brexit deal and pursue his domestic agenda

Getty

The withdrawal agreement passes through the commons with a majority of 124

Getty

Members of the European parliament overwhelmingly back the ratification of Britain's departure, clearing the way for Brexit two days later on 31 January. Following the vote, members join hands and sing Auld Lang Syne

AFP/Getty

He defended not calling for a rent holiday, telling a caller: If all rents are suspended full stop, then the government will have to pay to compensate landlords, theres no question about that. Therefore public money will be paid to landlords to compensate for the fact they havent got rent, even when people dont lose their jobs.

Under Labours plan, renters would be given two years to pay back any arrears they have accrued but critics have said this would amount to a rent rise during a recession. The Labour leader said that he also believed the benefit system should be paying the rent at a better rate for people who lose their jobs.

On a separate question of employees going back to work, Sir Keir was asked whether he would support a trade union with safety concerns urging workers to stay off the job. The Labour leader said wed have to look at it but added I do think everybodys entitled to a safe place at work.

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Keir Starmer refuses to back Brexit transition extension - The Independent

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Brexit ultimatum: MEPs demand access to crunch Brexit conference as VDL issued warning – Express.co.uk

Posted: at 11:49 am

Mr Sassoli has written to Mrs von der Leyen, who as president of the European Commission is the EU's highest-ranking official, stressed the importance of allowing MEPs to be directly involved in the event, which will focus on progress with the implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement, the Northern Ireland Protocol and also citizens rights. The move is a likely indication of the urgency of with which Mr Sassoli and his colleagues are regarding the situation.

Italian MEP Mr Sassoli, described the Parliament is a key player in talks on international agreements, stressing its consent was a precondition for any final trade deal.

Including the Parliament would be a demonstration of "unity and support for any deal, he said

With talks due to resume next week, the coronavirus pandemic has injected added urgency into the negotiations, the penultimate round of discussions prior to the July 1 deadline by which the EU and UK must decide whether to extend the Brexit transition period past December 31.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has insisted he will not delay the process any longer - but several senior figures, most recently Ireland's Simon Coveney, have suggested the timetable is unrealistic in the midst of the ongoing health crisis.

The UK seems to be sticking to its guns, with a statement issued after a meeting of the Ireland/Northern Ireland Specialised Committee last month in which it said: UK officials reaffirmed our commitment to complying with our legal obligations under the Northern Ireland Protocol, just as we expect the EU to comply with theirs.

The UK was clear that our approach at all times will be focused on protecting the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement and gains of the peace process, and on preserving Northern Irelands place in the UK.

The UK has also ruled out EU plans for a Belfast office of the EU in Northern Ireland.

Speaking last week, David Collins Professor of International Economic Law at The City Law School, told Express.co.uk there was no chance of the transition period being extended beyond December 31, with UK negotiator David Frost likely to walk away rather than let that happen.

He said: "I believe very much that the June deadline holds true and that the UK should not, nor will they, seek an extension.

"Frost will likely walk away only at the very last moment in December when a path forward becomes impossible because with the EU they always seem to be willing to give ground and become more reasonable at the eleventh hour."

As an example of a situation whereby Mr Frost would deem to pointless to carry on talking, Prof Collins said: "The UK would rightly walk away if the EU insisted on any one of: regulatory alignment, continued oversight of the ECJ, free movement or ongoing monetary contributions.

"These are the same red-lines that Theresa May outlined all those years ago in the Mansion House speech and they still apply."

Asked during today's coronavirus briefing about the possibility of a delay, Environment Secretary George Eustice was unequivocal.

He said: "We're still going ahead with it.

"Brexit, in fact, is something that has already happened.

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Letter: It’s time for politicians to respect the Brexit referendum – East London and West Essex Guardian Series

Posted: at 11:49 am

Your correspondent Chris Sumner can challenge Brexit as much as he likes but it is already the law in Britain and in the EU: we have left, we are a former member state. Compliance with EU regulations will end this year when we may have agreements for future trade and cooperation. Unfortunately, after spending the referendum campaign in 2016 and the nearly four years since then pushing out scare stories, the EU seems unprepared and unable to come to the table with effective proposals.

The fear stories Mr Sumner seeks to resurrect were considered and rejected by the majority that voted for Brexit but his anti-Americanism is more brazen than his fellow Remainers usually let slip and it is unattractive. It seems the cooperation with other nations which Mr Sumner favours does not extend beyond the EU and then only as a subordinate member state.

Covid-19 is an unexpected and unwelcome disruption and we will need maximum flexibility and enterprise to recover our economy and rebuild social organisations; we do not need instructions and restrictions from the EU which was struggling to avoid recession even before the virus appeared.

The voters chose Brexit and the current government was elected on a promise to deliver. After almost four years of distraction and deceit it is time for politicians to respect the referendum result.

Andrew Smith

Hemnall Street, Epping

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Letter: It's time for politicians to respect the Brexit referendum - East London and West Essex Guardian Series

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Brexit fishing outrage: How UK could have followed Norway’s path and protected its waters – Express

Posted: at 11:49 am

Before the negotiations on a future trade deal between the UK and Brussels started, the French government made it clear to the EUs chief negotiator Michel Barnier that he had to push for stronger commitments on regulatory alignments and access to UK fishing waters in return for maintaining free trade. Ever since the 2016 EU referendum, French President Emmanuel Macron has been championing the blocs fisheries demands. In 2018, he suggested that if the UK was unwilling to compromise in negotiations on fishing, then talks on a wider trade deal would have been slow.

And in February, the Frenchman claimed he was willing to put up a fight over the issue.

Despite Mr Macron's hardline stance, the UK insists any fishing agreement must be separate from the trade deal with access negotiated annually in a similar fashion to Norways agreement with the bloc.

Norway is an independent coastal state, with the rights and responsibilities under international law associated with that status. Stocks shared with the EU are managed through annual bilateral negotiations. Each autumn these talks set total allowable catches on the basis of scientific advice.

Quota shares are then agreed to reflect the resources within each others respective zones, rather than historic catch patterns. Likewise, access to fish in each others waters is not an automatic right but is part of the annual negotiations. Quota exchanges of mutual benefit can also take place.

Above all, the agreement is reciprocal and balanced, meaning that both parties benefit more or less equally.

This contrasts starkly with the current position of the UK fishing industry within the EUs Common Fisheries Policy.

Britain's desire to adopt Norway's model could be seen as ironic, though, as in the early Seventies, London could have struck an agreement similar to the one it is now asking for.

In a report for the Brexit think tank 'Red Cell' titled 'Putting The Fisheries Negotiations Into Context' and published in March, former Grimsby MP and Brexit campaigner Austin Mitchell recalled how the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) was cobbled together as Britain and Norway began negotiations to enter the Common Market in 1969.

He wrote: "The intention behind it was to get access to British and Norwegian waters.

"Norway rejected the proposal, but Ted Heath agreed to it in his desperation to get into the Market, assuming that British waters werent important because most of our catch then came from Iceland."

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