Brexit

Express
BORIS JOHNSON exploded at “absurd” EU rules which have sparked fresh shortages on the shelves of Northern Ireland supermarkets. Boris Johnson has said there are “teething problems” regarding trade between Britain and Northern Ireland in the wake of exiting the Brexit transition period. However, the Prime Minister told the Commons Liaison Committee that things were running “smoothly”. Former Labour minister Hilary Benn questioned Mr Johnson on whether he would extend the three-month grace period for Export Health Certificates for trade between Britain and Northern Ireland.  In the Liaison Committee, Mr Benn asked: “Can you guarantee that the in supermarkets in both Ireland and Northern Ireland that the grace period will be extended after the end of March?” Mr Johnson replied: “What I can certainly guarantee is if there are serious problems in supplying supermarkets in Northern Ireland because of some piece of bureaucracy that’s misapplied then we will simply exercise Article 16 of the protocol.

Mail
For a true reading of the prevailing European Union post-Brexit attitude towards the UK, don’t bother wading through impenetrable blurb from Brussels. Just look at a seven-second news clip of ‘Martijn’, a customs officer at the Hoek van Holland ferry port. The Dutch border official this week became famous worldwide after being filmed confiscating a cheese and ham sandwich from a lorry driver who has just arrived from the UK. The footage shows Martijn and his team of hi-viz honchos poking through the trucker’s snack box and announcing that the sandwich must be destroyed because it contains undeclared British foodstuffs.

Express
BORIS JOHNSON has said he will have “no hesitation” in ripping up checks on goods to Northern Ireland if problems in trade continue. Supermarkets in the province have experienced shortages in fresh foods in some areas due to checks on goods travelling from Britain. While the issues have largely been overcome now, British Retail Consortium director Andrew Opie has warned issues are likely to re-emerge in April when a grace period on trade ends. “If we do not find a workable solution for retailers in the next couple of months we do face significant disruption in Northern Ireland,” he said. This afternoon the Prime Minister said he believed the issues facing British traders were “teething problems”. He said the Government was working with businesses in “smoothing” blockages.

Fisheries

Telegraph
The fisheries minister has raised eyebrows by disclosing she was busy organising a nativity trail on Christmas Eve when the Brexit deal was agreed, and didn’t read its fine print on fish. Victoria Prentis insisted that the agreement was beneficial for UK boats when she appeared before the Lords EU Environment Sub-Committee on Wednesday, but conceded some quarters of the fishing industry had been hard done by. The admission she had not filleted the details of the deal straight away was extracted when asked by Lord Teverson, the Lib Dem chairman of the committee: “Did your jaw drop as well when you saw this agreement that had been delivered in fisheries, when really this is such an iconic subject?” Ms Prentis replied: “No, the agreement came when we were all very busy on Christmas Eve; in my case organising the local nativity trail.

Guardian
Downing Street has said Boris Johnson maintains confidence in the fisheries minister after she admitted not reading the post-Brexit trade deal with Brussels when it was agreed because she was busy organising a nativity trail. Victoria Prentis faced calls for her to quit after the comments, but the prime minister is standing by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) minister. Asked if her jaw had dropped when she saw the deal with the EU on Christmas Eve, Prentis told the Lords EU environment subcommittee: “No, the agreement came when we were all very busy on Christmas Eve, in my case organising the local nativity trail. “We had been waiting and waiting, it looked like it was coming for probably four days before it actually arrived.

Express
A HUGE new fishing row has erupted between Scottish fishermen and the UK Government, with BBC News Political Editor Laura Kuenssberg warning: “This could get messy.” Earlier today, Boris Johnson suggested some fishing businesses in Scotland would receive compensation as he defended the post-Brexit trade deal he struck with the European Union. When asked why some of the Scottish fishing fleet was tied up, rather than out fishing, Mr Johnson told the Commons Liaison Committee: “I understand very much the frustrations of… the fishing community and fishermen and women who are facing what I believe are temporary frustrations. In so far as there are delays caused by a variety of problems, we will compensate those fishing businesses.

EU

Telegraph
Italy has been plunged into political crisis after former prime minister Matteo Renzi withdrew his support from the government in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic and an acute economic collapse. After weeks of threats, Mr Renzi announced that his centrist Italia Viva party would no longer be part of the coalition, with the party’s two ministers tendering their resignations. The move, which was denounced as highly irresponsible by coalition MPs, analysts and much of the Italian press, could precipitate the resignation of the prime minister, Giuseppe Conte. The political crisis came as Italy’s death toll from Covid-19 reached 80,000. The country remains in the grip of the pandemic, with another 16,000 new cases and 507 deaths reported on Wednesday.

Express
GREEDY Germany and France are set to pocket two of the largest payouts from the European Union’s £4.5 billion Brexit fund. The bloc’s two largest economies will trouser £780 million between them this year to help adjust to the impact of the new trading relationship with Britain. Only Ireland, arguably the state hardest-hit by Brexit, is set to receive more – £935 million – than the two wealthy capitals. The European Council unveiled its Brexit Adjustment Reserve to help EU countries adjust to the new realities of the bloc’s relationship with Britain in the coming years.  Around £3.7 billion will be dished out to states this year with a further £978 million to be distributed in 2022.

Breitbart
The European Union will not require the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to ban the use of forced labour before ratifying the proposed €120 billion investment pact with the authoritarian regime, France’s junior minister for trade said on Tuesday. The deal was brokered hastily before the start of the incoming Biden administration in the United States and has been characterised by the European Commission as “most ambitious agreement that China has ever concluded with a third country”. The European Union has drawn considerable backlash over the deal, with many pointing to the failure to secure meaningful concessions from the communist regime on issues of human rights, as the deal merely states that China will “work towards” the implementation of International Labour Organization conventions which would prohibit slave labour.

Telegraph
Germany is facing a coronavirus vaccine shortage and may not be able to secure sufficient stocks until July, Angela Merkel privately told MPs this week. The admission comes amid a shaky start to the vaccine roll-out across much of the continent after the European Commission failed to order enough doses. The German government has publicly insisted it will be able to make up the shortfall, but it has emerged Mrs Merkel this week told MPs from her Christian Democrat party (CDU) that may not be possible until the summer. “The question is: do we have enough vaccine at the moment?” Mrs Merkel said on a conference call, according to details leaked to Bild newspaper. “Quarters one and two will be critical. From the third quarter we will be more likely to have a surplus than a need.”

Express
GUY VERHOFSTADT has admitted Brussels is facing a crisis and warned the bloc risks “losing the public” in the post-Brexit era. The Belgian politician, along with other MEPs, has warned Europe needs to have an “open debate” on what happens after a “transformative year”. Mr Verhofstadt tweeted a link to a letter jointly-written by nine MEPs saying “MEPs are clear”.  He wrote: “MEPs are clear: After a transformative year, Europe needs an open debate on how to reform, or we risk losing the public.” The letter was penned by MEPs Gabriele Bischoff (S&D), Damian Boeselager (Greens), Pascal Durand (Renew), Daniel Freund (Greens), Danuta Huebner (EPP), Domenec Ruiz Devesa (S&D), Paulo Rangel (EPP), Helmut Scholz (GUE/NGL) and Guy Verhofstadt (Renew).

Labour Party

Mail
Jeremy Corbyn will take the first step towards a High Court battle against Labour next week over his suspension from the parliamentary party. The former opposition leader will have a pre-action disclosure application heard in London on Monday afternoon, court officials have said. Lawyers for Mr Corbyn are expected to ask a judge for disclosure of documents ahead of a possible legal challenge over his suspension. The case is expected to relate to the Islington North MP’s original suspension and the negotiation with the Leader of the Opposition’s office over the terms of his reinstatement. It has previously been reported that they will seek evidence proving there was a deal with Sir Keir Starmer’s office to readmit him to the party.

Vaccine

Telegraph
Boris Johnson has said he will “accelerate” the delivery of the Covid vaccine after it emerged that, under the current plan, the programme will not significantly ramp up again until March. A plan published by the Scottish government showed that approximately 50 per cent more people will be vaccinated per week between March and May than during the current phase of the rollout. The Government has said repeatedly that the period between now and February 15 is vital to ensuring that the most vulnerable are vaccinated and lockdown restrictions can be lifted. But on Wednesday ministers were forced to defend the seemingly slow rollout. Despite a target of two million jabs a week by the end of January having been set, only around three million have been administered in total since the programme began five weeks ago.

Air travel

Mail
Arrivals will be allowed into the UK without a negative Covid test this weekend after passenger panic forced ministers to delay their plan for tighter border controls. The Government was preparing to enforce a stricter regime requiring tests 72 hours pre-departure from 4am on Friday, but this has now been pushed back to Monday.  The delay came after passengers booked on long-haul flights scrabbled to find tests in time and feared they would incur £500 fines if unable to access one. Airlines also hit out at the Government for a lack of clarity over which types of tests would be accepted.

ITV News
New rules requiring travellers arriving in England to have a negative coronavirus test have been delayed “to give international arrivals time to prepare”. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps last week announced passengers arriving in England by boat, train or plane – including UK nationals – will have to test negative for Covid up to 72 hours before leaving the country of departure. The restrictions were due to come into force at 4am on Friday, but have been moved to the same time on Monday.

Care homes

Telegraph
Coronavirus hospital patients can be discharged into care homes without being tested under draft Government guidelines leaked to the The Telegraph. Care providers have said they are “deeply worried” about the latest proposed rules, which advise clinicians to release patients without requiring them to have a test 48 hours before discharge if they have no new virus symptoms  and have isolated in hospital. For the first time, the Government appears to acknowledge that people could test positive for Covid but not be infectious, suggesting “it will be appropriate for them to move directly to a care home from hospital… because we now know they do not pose an infection risk to other residents in a care home”. It describes this sub-group as “immunocompetent and with no new symptoms” even if they are within 90 days of their initial symptoms or positive test result.

Scotland

Mail
The Scottish government spent more than £50,000 on preparing civil servants to give evidence about the investigation into former First Minister Alex Salmond, it has emerged. Top officials are reported to have spent hours preparing for the sessions, where they then suffered a ‘collective memory loss’ on key details. This has led to accusations of ‘coaching’ answers so that they do not necessarily provide the information being asked for. According to a Freedom of Information request filed by the Daily Telegraph, £54,378 was spent on the external assistance, although it is known who or what organisation was hired for the work. The hearings’ committee is looking at how Mr Salmond successfully challenged the fairness and legality of a Scottish Government investigation into sexual harassment complaints against him in court.

Trump

Telegraph
Donald Trump has become the first US president in history to be impeached twice, with a single article for “incitement of insurrection” passing the US House of Representatives on Wednesday. Ten Republicans joined Democrats in voting for impeachment over Mr Trump’s role riling up a mob of supporters who stormed the US Capitol last week, leaving five dead. The article was carried by 232 votes to 197, a result achieved with remarkable speed just a week before the president is due to leave office. The Republican support is a marked difference from Mr Trump’s first impeachment in December 2019, when not a single member of his party in the House voted for the measure. The second step will be a trial in the US Senate, where a vote from two thirds of the 100 senators would be needed for Mr Trump to be convicted.  Mitch McConnell, the Republican Senate leader, released a statement moments after the vote passed calling for the trial to be held after Joe Biden’s inauguration on January 20.

Express
DONALD TRUMP has become the first ever US President to be impeached twice after the chaos seen in Washington last week. The House of Representatives has impeached President Donald Trump for “incitement of insurrection” at last week’s Capitol riot. He is the first President in US history to be twice impeached – to be charged with crimes by Congress. The Republican will now face a trial in the Senate, where if convicted he could face being barred from ever holding office again.  The House of Representatives formally charged Mr Trump with inciting an insurrection, in a vote held a week after a violent mob of his supporters besieged the Capitol.

Times
President Trump issued an appeal against further violence yesterday as his place in history was sealed when he became the first US leader to be impeached twice. Only 10 out of 211 Republicans joined the vote to impeach Mr Trump for incitement of insurrection in a rushed process that dispensed with witnesses or scrutiny of evidence but was fuelled by raw anger at his role in the storming of the US Capitol last week. Despite the minimal Republican involvement, it was the most bipartisan impeachment in history.

ITV News
Donald Trump has been impeached for a historic second time after he was charged with “incitement of insurrection” over the deadly siege of Capitol. Members of the House of Representatives, including at least 10 Republicans, voted to pass the article of impeachment on Wednesday. Trump has shattered his credibility as President since urging his supporters to march on the US Capitol last week, resulting in violent clashes which left five dead. Thousands of National Guardsmen have been brought in to help protect Congress, a week after the riots unleashed on the historic US building. There are currently more than 6,000 National Guard troops in Washington which is more troops than are currently deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan. Trump was first impeached by the House in 2019 over his dealings with Ukraine, but the Senate voted in 2020 to acquit.

Sun
DONALD Trump has been IMPEACHED in the House for a SECOND time as ten Republicans turned on the president following the Capitol riots. The House voted 232 to 197 to impeach Trump today after he was charged with inciting insurrection for telling rally-goers in Washington DC to march to Congress and “fight like hell” on January 6. The 45th president’s second impeachment came as he urged calm and called for “no violent protests or vandalism” – a week after five were killed in the Capitol siege. Trump’s impeachment will now head to the Senate, where members of Congress will again vote on whether or Trump will be convicted on the charge.

Mirror
The House of Representatives on Wednesday impeached Donald Trump for inciting a violent insurrection against the government of the United States a week after he encouraged a mob of his supporters to storm the US Capitol, a historic condemnation that makes him the only American president to be charged twice with committing high crimes and misdemeanors. After an emotional day-long debate in the chamber where lawmakers cowered last week as rioters vandalized the Capitol, nearly a dozen House Republicans joined Democrats to embrace the constitution’s gravest remedy after vowing to hold Trump to account before he leaves office next week.

Mail
President Donald Trump delivered another taped video address to the nation Wednesday following his impeachment in the House over ‘incitement of insurrection’ – where he repeatedly denounced violence following the MAGA riot in the Capitol. His pre-taped comment came after Democrats repeatedly accused him of causing the riot that left six dead and the Capitol vandalized but did not mention that he had been impeached again, an unprecedented rebuke of a president.  Ten House Republicans joined Democrats in voting 232-197 for a House impeachment article – setting up a Senate trial even after Trump leaves office – something he only belatedly acknowledged he would do. Trump spoke straight to the camera, as he did in a previous video where he acknowledged last week for the first time that there would be a transition in power the day after his supporters invaded the Capitol and clashed with Capitol Police, leaving one officer dead.

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