Boris Johnson last night bullishly signalled that he is ready to quit Brexit talks within 48 hours unless the EU drops ‘ludicrous’ demands that would curb UK independence. The PM, who infamously vowed to get Brexit done ‘do or die’, has now told his chief envoy Lord Frost that he will not sign any deal that binds Britain to future Brussels laws. Cabinet ministers had yesterday rallied behind Mr Johnson, insisting that he was not afraid to crash out of the EU Single Market and Customs Union without an arrangement in place by January 1. But a leaked 34-page dossier, marked ‘official secret’ and written in September, revealed that No10 is drawing up a list of ‘worst-case’ crises that could overwhelm the nation in the event of a No Deal Brexit. These include a medicine supply shortage and a fuel shortage, rising food prices, public disorder and increased risk of terrorism, clashes with EU trawlers and border disputes and tariffs.
BORIS Johnson will today tell the EU he is not for turning as he vows to stand firm against 11th-hour Brexit demands from France. Both sides will spend a final day in talks at Brussels aimed at breaking the deadlock. But No 10 said the PM will call time if the EU refuses to budge from its “outrageous” demands. Mr Johnson could then announce Britain is pushing ahead with a No Deal that means a clean break from Brussels. He could address the nation to that effect as early as tomorrow evening. After four years, five months and 14 days of negotiations, a source close to the PM said: “It really is end game stuff now. If by close of play Monday there is no movement there’ll at least be a question about whether it’s worth carrying on. “We’re not going to give in to EU demands preventing us taking back control of the rules Britons live under. It’s as simple as that.”
Talks between the UK and EU are due to resume later in a final bid to agree a post-Brexit trade deal. After a weekend of tense negotiations, EU sources told the BBC an agreement on fishing was close – but this was disputed by Downing Street. The UK’s chief Brexit negotiator, Lord Frost, will continue talks with his EU counterpart, Michel Barnier. And PM Boris Johnson will speak later to European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen. Trade talks were paused on Friday, with both sides saying “significant divergences” remained. But following a phone call on Saturday, Mr Johnson and Mrs von der Leyen decided to resume negotiations, despite “significant differences” remaining over three “critical issues”.
BORIS Johnson has warned the European Union to decide between a no-deal Brexit or accepting Britain as sovereign country. Lord Frost, the Prime Minister’s lead negotiator, has told EU Brexit chief Michel Barnier he’ll only remain at the negotiating table while the Frenchman is willing to compromise. Mr Barnier was last week ordered by French President Emmanuel Macron to table a series of “eleventh hour” proposals that left the negotiations on the brink of collapse. The pair are set to hold late-night discussions as they attempt to break the deadlock in the wrangling over a future EU-UK trade and security agreement. A UK source close to the talks said: “There won’t be any agreement if the EU doesn’t recognise political reality.
BORIS JOHNSON has sent a warning signal to Emmanuel Macron following the French President’s last-minute fishing demands, as George Eustice announced that Royal Navy fisheries protection fleet has been increased to police British waters after Brexit. Boris Johnson has sent a warning to his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron after France threw the Brexit talks into chaos by hardening the EU’s fishing demands at the last minute. In response, Environment Secretary George Eustice announced that the capacity of the Royal Navy fisheries protection fleet has been increased to police British waters. He said that this increase will “stop EU boats coming in to fish” amid in case an agreement is not reached with the EU.
The EU backed down over post-Brexit fishing arrangements on Sunday night – but the chances of a trade deal remained “on a knife edge”, with other key issues unresolved. Sources in Brussels said talks on fish were “closing in” on a political agreement, but there were warnings that no progress had been made on the far bigger problem of the “level playing field”, meaning the two sides could still end the talks without a deal as early as Monday night. On Monday evening, Boris Johnson will speak to Ursula von der Leyen, the European Commission president, for the second time in 48 hours to decide whether to allow negotiations to continue into Tuesday or – if there is no prospect of agreement – to walk away for good. On Sunday night Michael Martin, the Irish prime minister, put the chances of a deal at 50-50, saying: “Things are on a knife edge.” The EU had demanded unfettered access to Britain’s waters for 10 years when the British team was ambushed with a set of last-minute demands last Thursday.
THE UK has shot down claims that there has been a “major breakthrough” with fishing agreements which would see a transition period for phasing in changes lasting between five and seven years. The EU and the UK have spent today resuming trade negotiations after Prime Minister Boris Johnson and European Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen pushed for one last chance to reach a deal. It was claimed this evening the two sides have all but finalised terms on the level of access for EU boats to fish within the UK’s 200-mile exclusive economic zone. However, Express.co.uk sources have rubbished this. EU sources claimed the plan would see a phasing in of new rules over a five to seven year period.
France yesterday renewed its threat to veto any Brexit deal that fails to meet its demands over fishing and competition. The priority of fishing was made clear by Clément Beaune, the Europe minister, when he said that France was ready to scupper the agreement if it did not grant enough continued access to British waters. “On the first of January, the face of Brexit will be the face of the fisherman,” he told Le Journal du Dimanche. President Macron is keen to show that he is standing up for the rights of fishermen, with whom the French feel a traditional bond akin to the one that ties them to the land and its farmers.
A major breakthrough has been made in Brexit negotiations on the rights of European fleets to fish in UK waters, EU sources said last night, leaving a Franco-German demand that Britain follow EU laws as the final hurdle to a historic trade and security deal. Sources in Brussels said the two sides had all but finalised terms on the level of access for EU boats to seas within the UK’s 200-mile exclusive economic zone, with a transition period for phasing in changes understood to be between five and seven years. The talks are now going to the wire on the so-called “ratchet clause” under which the UK government would have to follow EU environmental, social and labour standards as they develop over time or face tariffs on British exports.
BREXIT threatens devastating consequences for French fishermen as they warn of “certain death” without UK waters. The EU demanded yesterday the UK offer 10 years of unfettered access to British fishing waters in an attempt to secure a deal. The Government responded with frustration as the deadlock shows no sign of breaking. The UK replied to the demand yesterday, with a senior Government source telling the Telegraph: “Their new offer was frankly laughable. They know we can’t possibly accept it. It’s ridiculous. If they think we will just cave in, they have made a massive miscalculation.”
Angela Merkel and President Macron closed ranks yesterday to confront Boris Johnson with a final offer on Brexit trade talks. The French and German leaders agreed to weaken European Union demands for a so-called level playing field, a Brussels diplomatic source said. Although more “conciliatory” than past positions taken by France, the new joint stance comes with a renewed warning that Mr Macron is ready to abandon talks to concentrate on preparing for a no-deal. Mr Johnson and Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, will speak today after another two days of negotiations that both sides had billed as a final push.
THE outline of a Brexit trade deal could emerge as early as Tuesday after a member of Ursula Von der Leyen’s team gave the UK “too much” in talks. UK dealmaker Lord Frost arrived in the Belgian capital for “one last throw of the dice” with EU Brexit chief Michel Barnier. Arriving from London, the peer today said: “We’re going to be working very hard to get a deal. We’re going to see what happens in negotiations today and will be looking forward to meeting our European colleagues later this afternoon.” Senior Brussels sources were optimistic there is finally light at the end of the tunnel in the bitter wrangling over post-Brexit fishing rights and common standards.
Internal Market Bill
Boris Johnson will on Monday press ahead with new laws that will breach the terms of the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement because Britain needs a “safety net” if trade talks fail. The Internal Market Bill, which ministers have admitted will breach international law in a “specific and limited way”, will be back before MPs after the Lords removed the offending clauses. Mr Johnson will re-insert the clauses, but will make it clear that “safety nets can be removed” if they are no longer needed. The EU has begun legal action against Britain over the Bill, having said it could not go ahead with a trade deal unless the controversial sections were removed. However, Mr Johnson will also publish new legislation that rips up part of the Withdrawal Agreement as early as Tuesday if a deal is not reached.
Boris Johnson’s controversial Internal Market Bill, that may breach international law, will come back to MPs today after the House of Lords rejected it. Clauses pertaining to Northern Ireland that will breach the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement, and therefore international law, if there is no post-Brexit UK-EU trade deal were taken out of the bill by peers last month. However, the government has said it will reinsert them when the piece of legislation is brought back to the House of Commons later today. Downing Street has said the bill is essential to protect the flow of trade between Great Britain and Northern Ireland if the UK leaves the EU’s customs union without a deal on 31 December.
NICOLA STURGEON has been shamed after claiming independence is needed to rebuild after the coronavirus pandemic. The Scottish First Minister is demanding a second independence vote next year after support for a new referendum has increased during the pandemic. But opposition parties have claimed she is focused on independence rather than dealing with the pandemic. The Scottish Conservative party leader, Douglas Ross, said: “I think throughout this pandemic, we’ve seen communities coming together to support each other and that’s been one of the few positives out of Covid-19 is how we’ve all worked together, how we’ve put aside differences for the greater good. “And the SNP wants to throw all that in the bin, get rid of all that and divide our country, our workplaces, our families again over a constitutional argument when the priority should absolutely be on getting on top of this virus, rebuilding our economy post-Covid.
Judges’ ability to block deportations of foreign criminals could be restricted under a review of the Human Rights Act announced by Robert Buckland. The Justice Secretary said the first review of the Act in 20 years will examine whether there should be new limits on how judges interpret European human rights case law and intervene in Government policy. The move, pledged in Boris Johnson’s election manifesto, comes amid a series of clashes between Government and the courts including last week’s failed deportation of 23 “dangerous” criminals to Jamaica after last-minute legal challenges by human rights lawyers. Writing in The Telegraph, Mr Buckland said he had appointed an independent panel, headed by former Court of Appeal judge Sir Peter Gross, to come up with “options” for changes.
Judges’ powers to block deportations of serious criminals could be limited as Justice Secretary Robert Buckland announces a review of the Human Rights Act. Mr Buckland said the review would look at several key areas – including whether judges have been ‘unduly drawn’ into Government policy and law. Another area of the review will establish whether judges’ interpretations of past legal decisions in European case law should be limited when looking at current cases. Critics have claimed focusing on old cases can lead to ‘gold-plating’ the country’s current human rights duties. A separate review of asylum will look at reducing the number of people using Article 3 of the Human Rights act – freedom from torture and inhuman or degrading treatment.
The UK government has offered the first glimpse at the vaccination card that will be given to patients who receive the jab. Britain is poised to lead the world in rolling out the first Covid-19 vaccine to the public within the next 48 hours. Hundreds of thousands of doses arrived in Britain on Friday. They were taken to specialist refrigeration facilities and then were shipped to the 50 hospitals launching the first leg of the mass vaccination programme. New pictures released tonight chart the progress of the long-awaited jab, and include snaps of the NHS card that will be issued to patients who receive their shots. While there are no official plans for so-called ‘immunity passports,’ several countries are rolling out vaccine proof cards.
THIS incredibly detailed ID card will be handed to every Brit after they get their Covid jab — starting from tomorrow. The first of 50 UK hubs received the vaccine yesterday as an NHS boss declared it was “the beginning of the end” of coronavirus. Information on the credit card-sized ID items will include the type of vaccine, its batch number and date it was administered. A bolded-up message reminds patients to note the date of their crucial follow-up dose. The details plus the patient’s personal information will then be registered on an NHS database. It is not clear if the new Covid cards will be mandatory or if they will be used as a kind of “immunity passport.” Welsh health minister Vaughan Gething said the “credit-card sized” token will simply be used to remind people to get a second dose of the jab.
The UK’s medicines regulator is prepared for the prospect of a no-deal Brexit and is determined it will not affect Covid vaccine distribution, according to its chief. Dr June Raine, chief executive at the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), said the regulator was “prepared for any possible outcome”. Fears that the UK will leave the EU’s single market and customs union with no trade deal on 31 December are rising as talks struggle to make progress. Chief UK negotiator Lord David Frost and his EU counterpart are in Brussels today to restart talks face-to-face.
Britain will receive up to four million doses of the Pfizer vaccine before the end of the year, NHS leaders promised amid fears that many people would miss out in the first wave of vaccination because of short supplies. Last week, NHS Providers, which represents hospitals, said it only had confirmation of 800,000 doses and did not know when further jabs would be available. The shortage led to a hasty reappraisal of who would get the vaccine first, with care home residents and staff, and the over-80s, now prioritised over NHS workers. But on Sunday, Saffron Cordery, the deputy CEO of NHS Providers, said it was now assured far more doses and told Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday: “We know that the first batch of 800,000 is making its way to the country now.
Health chiefs yesterday revealed that the UK will receive up to four million doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine before the end of the year as hospital hubs around the country start receiving doses. Fears that people would miss out in the first wave of immunisation because of short supplies were raised last week after the Government announced just 800,000 doses of the Pfizer jab had been sent to the UK. But NHS bosses looked to quash concerns yesterday, with Saffron Cordery, the deputy CEO of NHS Providers, assuring the public that the country was expecting ‘up to four million doses’ by the end of December. She told Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday: ‘We know that the first batch of 800,000 is making its way to the country now.
Over one-third of the British public say they are unlikely to take the Chinese coronavirus vaccine, a poll from Opinium has found. The poll found that 35 per cent of respondents are unlikely to take the jab once it becomes available, with 48 per cent reporting concerns about the safety of the rushed vaccine and 55 per cent fearful that it may have adverse side effects. A further 47 per cent of those polled expressed doubts over whether the treatment will actually be effective in preventing coronavirus infections, the left-wing Guardian reported. The poll also found that the Labour Party has taken a two-point lead over Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party.
A crowd of hundreds gathered for an anti-lockdown protest in Manchester. The demonstration that began in Piccadilly Gardens spilled over into a march through the city centre. Protesters held placards and banners with a variety of messages – including ‘Your Voice Your Choice’ and ‘Boris Loves Satan’ – the group gathered for the ‘Rise Up Manchester’ event at around 1pm today. But Manchester City Councillor Pat Karney has slammed those who marched down Market Street as ‘totally dangerous and irresponsible’ and said their actions were “two fingers up” to medics and those who have died of the virus. During the event, which lasted over two hours, a number of people spoke through a megaphone about their reasons for gathering, reports Manchester Evening News.