A new row has broken out over the future of the Northern Ireland border after Brexit . There’s huge disagreement about a hard border, trade, a customs union and more. All this is so technical, it’s easy for the argument to seem a bit obscure – even boring. But it’s vital to millions of people’s livelihoods. And if Theresa May doesn’t resolve it, her bid to move on to trade talks with the EU will be scuppered. So how has this latest row started, and what does it all mean? Here’s a quick explainer. Theresa May wants to avoid a “hard border” between Northern Ireland, which is leaving the EU, and the Republic of Ireland, which isn’t. At the moment the border is “frictionless”, and she wants this to continue.
There can be no final decisions on the future of the Irish border until the UK and the EU have reached a trade agreement, Liam Fox has said. The UK’s international trade secretary also blamed the EU for Brexit delays. The comments came after the Irish Republic’s EU commissioner said Dublin could veto Brexit trade talks. The EU has said “sufficient progress” has to be made on the Irish border before negotiations on a future relationship can begin. Downing Street has said the whole of the UK will leave both the customs union and the single market when it leaves the EU in 2019. “We don’t want there to be a hard border but the UK is going to be leaving the customs union and the single market,” Mr Fox told Sky News.
BRITAIN faces a new Brexit deadlock over Northern Ireland today after a furious row deepened about what will happen to the border after we leave. Liam Fox insisted today that we won’t know what will happen until the end of the talks – and lashed out at the EU for holding up the talks. The Trade Secretary told Sky News that “no decision” could be made yet “until we get an idea of the end state”. “The quicker we can do that the better,” he added. The news came after Ireland’s European Commissioner sparked fresh outrage by urging Theresa May to let Northern Ireland STAY in the Single Market, breaking it up from the rest of the United Kingdom.
Britain will not meet the European Union’s 10-day deadline to resolve the Irish border issue, Liam Fox has signalled, as a former Tory Cabinet minister accused Ireland of “blackmail” by trying to force Northern Ireland to stay outside the UK after Brexit. The International Trade Secretary said a final position on Ireland could not be reached until it was known what the “end state” of the UK-EU relationship after Brexit would be. It came as Dublin put fresh pressure on the Government last night and called on Theresa May to accept a solution which would see either the whole of the UK or just Northern Ireland remain in the single market and customs union.
Theresa May is facing fresh pressure to change course over plans for the Northern Irish border after Brexit as Ireland’s EU commissioner stepped up threats to veto trade talks. Rows over the prospect of a hard border on the island of Ireland are threatening to derail negotiations as the EU has said “sufficient progress” must be made before talks can begin on a UK-EU trade deal after Britain leaves the bloc. Commissioner Phil Hogan called for the UK to remain in the customs union and single market – or allow Northern Ireland to do so – but the Prime Minister’s DUP allies have vowed they will not tolerate any attempts to keep Northern Ireland within the trade agreements. It comes as leaked papers seen by The Independent revealed fresh challenges for Ms May as EU negotiators are already laying the groundwork to hit the UK with demands that will be unacceptable to members of her Cabinet.
Theresa May has faced warnings that a Brexit deal which involves a hard border in Ireland would be unacceptable from both the Irish Republic and her allies in the Northern Irish DUP. Ireland’s European Commissioner Phil Hogan urged the Prime Minister to change course from a hard Brexit that would see the country leave the single market and customs union. The country has threatened to use its veto to hold the start of trade talks with the EU if Mrs May cannot find a solution. It came hours after the DUP leader Arlene Foster said the party would not tolerate any attempt to put barriers between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK after Brexit.
A final decision on the Northern Irish border cannot be made until a UK-EU trade deal has been agreed, Liam Fox has said, despite warnings from Brussels that trade talks cannot proceed unless an agreement is reached within days. Ireland is seen as the key obstacle to proceeding to negotiations about a future trade relationship with the EU at a December summit, with the Irish government dissatisfied with the options offered so far to prevent a hard border with Northern Ireland. Leo Varadkar, the Irish prime minister, has said he wants a written guarantee that there will be no hard border, which Dublin believes can be achieved only by keeping the region within the single market and customs union. Fox said that option was out of the question. “We don’t want there to be a hard border, but the UK is going to be leaving the customs union and the single market,” he told Sky News’s Sunday with Niall Paterson.
Discussions about the post-Brexit border with Ireland will be “very difficult” until the EU opens talks on the future trading relationship with the UK, Liam Fox said yesterday. The international trade secretary’s comments inflamed tensions with Dublin. Leo Varadkar, the Irish prime minister, has called for a written guarantee that there will be no return to a “hard border” between Northern Ireland and the Republic as a condition of allowing trade talks to start between the EU and UK. Ireland’s European Commission member, Phil Hogan, raised the stakes yesterday, telling The Observer that he was amazed at the “blind faith that some in London place in theoretical future free-trade agreements”.
No deal can be secured on the Irish border after Brexit until trade negotiations are settled with the EU, Liam Fox has said. The International Trade Secretary raised further uncertainty over Northern Ireland as rows over a potential hard border threaten to derail Brexit talks. Ireland’s EU Commissioner Phil Hogan was the latest voice from Dublin to call for the UK to remain in the customs union and single market – or allow Northern Ireland to do so – as the Republic has threatened to veto moves to trade negotiations without further reassurances there will not be a hard border. However the Prime Minister’s DUP allies, who are keeping her in Downing Street after she lost her parliamentary majority, have vowed they will not tolerate any attempts to keep Northern Ireland within the EU trade agreements.
NIGEL Farage has lashed out at the possible EU demands the bloc is expected to call for over agreeing a transitional deal, after papers were leaked. The EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier wants to make giving the UK a good transition deal conditional on Britain’s “automatic” acceptance of new Brussels regulations during the likely two-year period after March 2019, leaked documents show. This would mean Britain had no say over rules made during the transition period but would have to accept them. The MEP and former leader of Ukip, Nigel Farage, told Express.co.uk: “Here is another set of unreasonable demands from Barnier making no deal seem more attractive. “The European Commission are clearly not interested in genuine negotiations. “It’s would better for us to walk away and save a lot of time.”
Director General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Roberto Azevedo has poured cold water on Remainer scaremongering about the consequences of Britain leaving the European Union without a trade agreement, remarking it wouldn’t be “the end of the world”. While British negotiators and the prime minister Theresa May are apparently working to get a trade deal with the European Union before Brexit becomes fact at any cost, bowing to EU demands over the so-called Brexit bill and even keeping Britain in the EU longer through a ‘transition period’, the senior diplomat told Britain’s Daily Telegraph that leaving without a deal wouldn’t be a problem. “About half of the UK’s trade is already on WTO terms – with the US, China and several large emerging nations where the EU doesn’t have trade agreements… So it’s not the end of the world if the UK trades under WTO rules with the EU”, he told the paper.
Britain will be absolutely fine if it leaves the EU with no deal and trades under WTO rules, according to the Director General of the World Trade Organisation. Roberto Azevedo said: “About half of the UK’s trade is already on WTO terms – with the US, China and several large emerging nations where the EU doesn’t have trade agreements. “So it’s not the end of the world if the UK trades under WTO rules with the EU. If you don’t have a fully functioning FTA with the EU, there could be rigidities and costs – but it’s not like trade between the UK and EU is going to stop. There will be an impact, but I suppose it is perfectly manageable.” “I think Britain has an opportunity, a chance to contribute in a way that is consistent with the quality of your professionals and the size and importance of your economy.”
Leading global health firms gave the UK economy a vote of confidence last night by pledging to create almost 2,000 jobs in Brexit Britain. US pharmaceutical giant Merck will set up a hi-tech hub with 950 new posts, and Dutch diagnostics firm Qiagen is to expand its operations in Manchester, creating up to 800 skilled jobs. The announcements come on the day the Government launches its latest industrial strategy to turn around Britain’s low productivity, and commit the country to becoming a world leader in artificial intelligence and driverless cars. The agreements with Merck and Qiagen come just days after the Office for Budget Responsibility unveiled gloomy forecasts for the prospects for growth. But Merck, which is also known as MSD, said Britain was a ‘unique bioscience centre of excellence’.
AMERICAN medicines and vaccine giant MSD will make a major investment in the UK by building a “world-leading” research facility here, the Government announced last night. The investment is believed to be worth hundreds of millions of pounds and will be the first non-US major “hub” for the global pharmaceutical company, which is known in America as Merck and Co. It will be hailed as proof the UK can maintain and grow its reputation as a world-leading science centre despite claims that Brexit would trigger a massive “brain drain” and exodus of research funding. The announcement came as the Government prepares today to publish its wider Industrial Strategy. Ministers will paint MSD’s plans as a vote of confidence in their long-term plan to build Britain’s strengths and embrace technological change.
The government’s plan to boost UK industry ahead of the country leaving the EU is due to be launched later. The industrial strategy is aimed at lifting growth, which official forecasts suggest will slow due to the UK’s poor productivity performance. Business Secretary Greg Clark said the UK’s decision to leave the EU meant the strategy was “even more important”. A deal with US healthcare giant MSD to open a UK research centre has been announced as part of the strategy. The investment by MSD, known as Merck in the US, is worth up to £1bn and is expected to create 950 jobs. The government said the announcement was “a huge vote of confidence” in its plans to boost the post-Brexit UK economy.
Plans for a “drastic reduction” in the number of immigrants to the UK have been submitted to ministers and won backing from former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith. The proposals for a new system after Brexit would aim to cut net migration to the levels seen in the mid-1990s, when between 55,000 and 77,000 more people came to the UK than left. Under the plan, put forward by pro-Brexit campaigners Leave Means Leave, there would be a moratorium on migration from the European Union for low-skilled work and a work permit system for graduate-level jobs. Tourists and students from the EU would be able to come to the UK on holiday or to study without a visa, while up to 25,000 agricultural workers would be able to apply for a six-month permit. Net long-term international migration was running at an estimated 246,000 in the year ending March 2017 and the plan to slash that figure to mid-1990s levels would represent a dramatic policy shift.
The NHS is to spend £20 million on a central cybersecurity unit that will use “ethical hackers” to probe for weakness in health service defences. Health chiefs say they will monitor the internet for emerging threats with a beefed-up data security team to help hospitals in danger of being hacked, rather than wait for services to be hit. The unit will be part of efforts to avoid a repeat of the Wannacry attack that disrupted a third of England’s hospitals in May and led to criticism of a disjointed NHS response. NHS Digital, the health service computing agency, is tendering a £20 million contract for IT consultants to create a “security operations centre”.
Hitting targets on waiting times for routine surgery will swallow all the money promised to the NHS in the budget for the next two years, according to internal health service calculations that will provoke a battle with ministers over how to spend it. Officials have placed a £2.5 billion price tag on reducing how long patients wait for operations such as hip and knee replacements to the legally guaranteed time. Such a sum would leave no extra money for other areas of care and would not go down well at the Treasury, which has demanded that the health service bring down waiting lists and hit A&E targets next year in return for a budget bailout.
The Armed Forces will not receive any extra funding as a result of a major national security review, the Ministry of Defence has been told. Ministers had hoped to avoid potentially damaging cuts to the military if the review recommended a boost in MoD resources to fight terrorism. But The Telegraph has learned that Mark Sedwill, the national security adviser, believed it was more important to increase funding to fight cyber-attacks than bolster the Armed Forces. Amid growing public anger among Tory MPs and former senior officers at the scale of the possible cuts, Gavin Williamson, the new Defence Secretary, was set to have a showdown meeting this week with Philip Hammond. Mr Williamson, who is due to make his first appearance at the dispatch box since replacing Sir Michael Fallon three weeks ago, wants an extra £2 billion a year to prevent a fresh round of potentially devastating cuts.
The Government is preparing to compromise over potential cuts to army numbers to curb a growing revolt on the Tory benches, a cabinet minister has suggested. Former defence secretary Liam Fox admitted tensions were running high within Conservative ranks over plans to slash the army’s full-time strength, which have already drawn backbench anger and a threat of resignation from Defence Minister Tobias Ellwood. Ex-soldier Mr Ellwood, who was hailed a hero for trying to save the life of PC Keith Palmer during the Westminster terror attack, is understood to be “deeply concerned” by the proposals to cut manpower by 12,000 to 70,000. His calls have been backed by an increasingly influential group of former servicemen within the Tory party, including ex army officers Tom Tugendhat and Jonny Mercer, both of whom have pledged to fight any cuts to the armed forces.
Thousands of children and teenagers are being used by criminal gangs as drug runners in a grooming scandal with echoes of Rotherham and Rochdale, it can be revealed. Modern slavery laws are to be employed for the first time to tackle exploitation of the children, some as young as 12 and in care, as the scale of criminal activity becomes clear. The National Crime Agency (NCA) believes that the “county lines” drug trade, in which urban gangs move Class A drugs and cash between inner-city hubs and out-of-town locations, is out of control. Officers have identified more than 700 of the operations, which are named after the telephone lines used by gangs to control drug markets around the country.
Nathan was 15 when he was locked in a crack den in Margate and beaten up for daring to poach customers. The addicts in the seaside town in Kent, which they call Dreamland after its amusement arcade, are, like addicts elsewhere, a prized commodity for the grooming gangs turning children as young as 12 to drug dealing. The police call the phenomenon “county lines”, because the trade from city to countryside and coastal areas is centred on phone lines that the addicts are told to call. “I got punched up in the trap one day for like a whole day cos I took some [customers’] numbers off the line,” Nathan, whose name has been changed, said.
Soaring numbers of children are seeking help over concerns they are being sexually exploited, a new report says. Figures show the number of boys and girls calling Childline to discuss their fears of grooming rose sharply in the last year. A shocking 3,122 youngsters contacted the NSPCC’s round-the-clock helpline for counselling in 2016-17 – a rate of eight every single day. That was a rise of a third – 33 per cent – compared to 2,340 calls in the previous year. The charity warned that warped adults were using devious tactics to coerce and control young people into sexual behaviour. Predatory adults lure young people into sexual activity in exchange for gifts, money or affection. It can include grooming, trafficking, sexual harassment and engaging in online sexually explicit activities or images.