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

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

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

The problematic areas are still fishing and state aid.

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

"These are essential conditions for any economic partnership."

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

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

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

  • Joseph Gamp

    BANK OF ENGLAND FORECASTS HIT TO ECONOMY IN EARLY 2021 AS BREXIT TRANSITION ENDS

    The Bank of England has forecast a 1% hit to the economy in early 2021 as a result of the end of the Brexit transition period – even if there is a deal with the European Union.

    With the clock running down before the UK leaves the single market and customs union at the end of the year, significant gaps remain between the two sides in post-Brexit trade negotiations.

    Downing Street was forced to deny that the extension to the coronavirus furlough scheme, which will now run until the end of March, was partly motivated by fears about the economic disruption that will occur on January 1.

    The Bank's Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) based its assessment on the UK striking a Canada-style free trade deal, the Prime Minister's preferred outcome in the talks with the EU.

    The report raised concerns about smaller firms being ready for the increased bureaucracy that would be involved in exporting to the EU outside the single market and customs union.

  • Hana Carter

    BREXIT DEAL 'FAR FROM CERTAIN' SAYS IRISH MINISTER

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

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

    “A deal remains doable but very difficult.

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

  • Hana Carter

    'LEVEL PLAYING FIELD IS MOST FUNDAMENTAL POINT'

    The European Union's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier has briefed representatives from all 27 member states yesterday afternoon.

    According to Sky News, Mr Barnier told the meeting that the most important sticking point was the 'level playing field', which would ensure the UK sticks to the same rules as the EU when it comes to labour law and state aid.

    The level playing field (LPF) is highly important for the EU over fears the UK might undercut European laws.

    These may include reducing costs and attracting foreign investment.

    Mr Barnier told the meeting that LPF was “the most fundamental point where we still have major differences”.

  • Joseph Gamp

    NO-DEAL BREXIT PLANS BRANDED 'BONKERS' BY ROAD HAULAGE ASSOCIATION

    Plans for movement of HGVs across borders after a no-deal Brexit are “bonkers” and “a shambles”, according to a director of the Road Haulage Association (RHA).

    Rod McKenzie said part of the issue is a lack of permits that may be needed to allow drivers to transport goods internationally.

    He also raised concerns about “unpleasant” conditions in proposed lorry parks, where hauliers would have to stay in the event of customs delays.

    Mr McKenzie, the RHA's policy director, told a Scottish Parliament committee on Thursday that the industry is not prepared for the disruption caused in the event of a no-deal Brexit on January 1.

  • Joseph Gamp

    BARNIER SAYS EU PREPARED FOR 'ALL SCENARIOS'

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

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

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

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

    “These are essential conditions for any economic partnership.”

  • Joseph Gamp

    CONCERNS RAISED OVER BORDER SECURITY CHECKS AFTER BREXIT

    A Home Office minister has come under fire over how security checks at the border will be carried out after freedom of movement ends.

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

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

    MPs heard around 140 million people come into the country in a normal year and the UK checks SIS II around 600 million times a year, with a “significant” proportion of those thought to be related to border checks.

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

  • Joseph Gamp

    COVENEY RESPONDS TO BARNIER

    Irish Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney responded to Mr Barnier's comments that there were “very serious gaps in negotiations.

    Me Coveney tweeted: “A reminder that a brexit trade deal is far from certain.”

    He added: “We must continue to prepare as a country for all outcomes. A deal remains doable but very difficult.

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

  • Joseph Gamp

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

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

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

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

    He said: “Despite EU efforts to find solutions, very serious divergences remain in level playing field, governance and fisheries. These are essential conditions for any economic partnership.”

  • Joseph Gamp

    WHAT IS A NO DEAL BREXIT?

    BRITAIN left the EU at the beginning of 2020 – more than three years after the nation narrowly voted to leave the union.

    Negotiations continue, but the EU and UK still disagree over future arrangements for areas such as fisheries, state aid and financial services.

    Read our explainer here

  • Joseph Gamp

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Ben Hill

    BANK STIMULUS

    The Bank of England is set Thursday to boost its cash stimulus to fight financial fallout from the coronavirus, as England enters a second lockdown.

    Concluding a regular meeting, the BoE is also likely to revise down central bank forecasts for UK economic growth amid deadlock over Britain's post-Brexit trade agreement with the European Union.

    The BoE is widely predicted to pump out an extra £100 billion under its long-running quantitative easing programme, bringing the total to £845 billion.

    Analysts expect its key interest rate to stay at a record low 0.1 percent as the bank refrains for now from taking borrowing costs into negative territory for the first time.

  • Jon Rogers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Jon Rogers

    LORD ADONIS CLAIMS BREXIT WILL BE REVERSED

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

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

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

  • Jon Rogers

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

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

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

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

  • Jon Rogers

    BORDER POST TO BE BUILT AT LARNE HARBOUR

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

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

    It includes designated areas for pets and horses.

    BCPs will also be built in Belfast and Warrenpoint.

  • Jon Rogers

    BREXIT DEAL 'FAR FROM CERTAIN' SAYS IRISH MINISTER

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

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

    “A deal remains doable but very difficult.

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

  • Jon Rogers

    EU PREPARED FOR 'ALL SCENARIOS'

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

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

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

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

    “These are essential conditions for any economic partnership.”

  • Jon Rogers

    GOVT UNDER FIRE OVER BORDER SECURITY CHECKS AFTER BREXIT

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Jon Rogers

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

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

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

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

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

    “These are essential conditions for any economic partnership.”

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

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

  • Jon Rogers

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

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

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

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

  • Ed Southgate

    ONLY SMALL PROGRESS IN BREXIT TALKS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Ed Southgate

    TRADE TALKS STILL FACE TOO MANY CHALLENGES, BARNIER SAYS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Ed Southgate

    MICHEL BARNIER ARRIVES MASKED UP TO ADDRESS THE EU PARLIAMENT

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

    Credit: Reuters

  • Ed Southgate

    HOW COULD THE US ELECTION IMPACT BREXIT?

    The US Presidential race could have dramatic impacts for Brexit.

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Ed Southgate

    NEGOTIATIONS SET TO RUN FOR ANOTHER FORTNIGHT

    Post-Brexit trade talks could run for another fortnight.

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

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

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

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