Single market/Customs union

Boris Johnson has said that the UK could stay in the customs union and single market for another two years, as he appeared to suggest what a Brexit deal struck by his Government could look like. The Prime Minister described the chance of a no-deal Brexit as “vanishingly small” as he visited farmers in Wales on his tour of the UK. However, he stressed that the cost of no-deal preparations – such as building new customs facilities – will not be a “wasted effort” even if the UK manages to agree a deal with the European Union. He said: “Some of the changes and adjustments necessary in the run-up to October 31, and a lot of which we have already done, will be crucial anyway if we are going to come out of the customs union, come out of the single market as we must in the next couple of years.” Mr Johnson was describing a scenario in which the UK manages to strike a new deal before Hallowe’en, which would see Britain then enter a transition period before a free trade agreement is reached. Under the putative plan, the existing one-year “transition period” in the Withdrawal Agreement would be extended by up to a year to allow a free trade deal to be negotiated, but there would be no backstop after this period. This could involve an additional payment to Brussels. However, he emphasised it was the EU’s “call” if they wanted to strike a deal.

BORIS JOHNSON has claimed the UK may remain in the customs union and single market until 2021 as the Prime Minister discussed what his revised withdrawal agreement might look like. Mr Johnson  said the chances of a no deal exit were “vanishingly small” as he visited Wales. He described a scenario where Britain would ever a transition period prior to reaching a free trade agreement. The former Foreign Secretary said: “Some of the changes and adjustments necessary in the run-up to October 31, and a lot of which we have already done, will be crucial anyway if we are going to come out of the customs union, come out of the single market as we must in the next couple of years.” The current transition period in the Theresa May withdrawal agreement is only a year long, but The Daily Telegraph report under the new plan, the backstop would not be part of the deal and an additional payment to Brussels might be paid.

Britain could remain in the customs union and single market for another two years after BrexitBoris Johnson said yesterday – as he suggested a negotiated deal with Brussels was still possible. The PM had earlier clashed with Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar over his demand to ‘abolish’ the controversial backstop. But later, on a visit to Wales, he indicated that other elements of Theresa May‘s withdrawal deal could be revived – including a transition period designed to soften the impact on business of leaving the EU.


BBC News
The prime minister has said it is “up to the EU, this is their call” if the UK leaves the EU without a deal. Boris Johnson made his first visit to Wales as PM on Tuesday, seeking support from farmers for his Brexit plans. He held talks with Wales’ First Minister Mark Drakeford, who said there was a “deeply concerning lack of detail” from the new prime minister. Mr Johnson said: “We’re not aiming for a no-deal Brexit, we don’t think that’s where we’ll end up.” “This is very much up to our friends and partners across the channel,” he added.

Boris Johnson has said it is up to the EU to compromise to avoid a no-deal Brexit, after his demands for the backstop to be scrapped were met with a flat refusal from the Irish taoiseach, Leo Varadkar. In comments that showed he is preparing to blame the EU if the UK ends up leaving without a deal, Johnson said he was not aiming for a no-deal Brexit but the situation was “very much up to our friends and partners across the Channel”. “They know that three times the House of Commons has thrown out that backstop, there’s no way that we can get it through, we have to have that backstop out of the deal, we cannot go on with the withdrawal agreement as it currently is,” he said. “If they understand that then I think we are going to be at the races. If they can’t compromise, if they really can’t do it, then clearly we have to get ready for a no-deal exit.”

The European Research Group’s deputy chairman Mark Francois has said that Boris Johnson’s leadership and hardline approach to Brussels has “fundamentally changed” the dynamic between the EU and UK. The Rayleigh and Wickford MP told talkRADIO’s Julia Hartley-Brewer on Tuesday that because Mr Johnson’s predecessor Theresa May voted Remain and “never really believed in Brexit”, it put the country “on the back foot” in negotiations “from the word go, and the EU were all over us”. “What’s different now is you have a prime minister who campaigned to leave, who voted to leave, who wants to leave and is not a soft touch,” Mr Francois continued. “Boris is the one person all of those politicians on the continent have ever been frightened of, why do you think I voted for him?” he added.

Irish backstop

Boris Johnson clashed with his Irish counterpart Leo Varadkar yesterday before the prime minister makes his first visit to Northern Ireland today. Downing Street said that in a testy call between the two men Mr Johnson had repeated his public pledge to take Britain out of the EU on October 31, “no matter what”. The spokesman added that Mr Johnson had made clear to Mr Varadkar that any deal must abolish the backstop. However, Mr Varadkar’s spokesman said that the Irish prime minister had told Mr Johnson that the backstop was necessary as a consequence of the UK’s decisions.

Sky News
Boris Johnson will use his first visit to Northern Ireland as prime minister to call for the restoration of devolved government. He is scheduled to meet representatives from the five parties attempting to reach agreement on power-sharing at Stormont. The trip is the final leg of Mr Johnson’s whirlwind tour of the UK, having spent Monday in Scotland and Tuesday in Wales. He has been booed by protesters on his two trips so far.

Boris Johnson told his Irish counterpart Leo Varadkar that the UK would ‘never’ erect a permanent border with Ireland today as they finally spoke nearly a week after the UK Prime Minister entered Downing Street.  Mr Johnson told the Taoiseach the UK would be leaving ‘come what may’ on October in a phone call this morning – echoing language used with Scots First Minister Nicola Sturgeon yesterday. The conversation came after claims that Mr Johnson had been ‘snubbing’ Mr Varadkar as he takes a hard line against the EU. Mr Johnson has demanded Brussels drops the hated Irish border backstop from the divorce deal altogether, warning negotiations will not happen unless the bloc is willing to revisit the issue.  The premier has solemnly vowed to take the UK out of the EU by the end of October, with or without a deal.

BORIS Johnson told Irish leader Leo Varadkar to “abolish the backstop” yesterday as he warned that a No Deal Brexit would be the EU’s fault. Dramatically stepping up his game of chicken with Brussels, the new PM said the Irish border insurance plan had to go if a Brexit agreement was to be struck by October 31. In a 15-minute phone call that revealed the huge shift in approach from No10, he insisted that Britain would be leaving in three months “no matter what”. Mr Varadkar countered there was no way the EU would change its stance. But the PM piled on the pressure by saying there was “no way” the backstop would get through the House of Commons. He said: “If the EU understands that, I think we are going to be at the races. “If they can’t compromise, then clearly we have to get ready for a No Deal exit.

BBC News
Boris Johnson has arrived in Northern Ireland for his first time as prime minister, promising to do “everything in my power” to help efforts to restore the power-sharing government. On Tuesday night, Mr Johnson held a private meeting with DUP leader Arlene Foster, whose party he relies on for support in key votes in Parliament. The PM will meet the five main Stormont parties for more talks on Wednesday. Brexit is also certain to be on the agenda for the day’s talks. The issue over what will happen at the land border on the island of Ireland after Brexit – and the proposed Irish backstop – has caused deep divisions between the parties at Stormont. Mr Johnson’s trip is the last in his three-day tour around the UK’s devolved nations, after visiting Scotland and Wales. Northern Ireland has been without a government since 2017, when the power-sharing parties split in a bitter row.

Boris Johnson has been given a dressing-down by his Irish counterpart, who warned that his plan to abolish the Northern Ireland backstop from the Brexit deal cannot be met because it risks jeopardising the fragile peace process. In their first telephone call since Mr Johnson became Prime Minister, Leo Varadkar gave his opposite number a lecture on the Good Friday Agreement, telling him the UK Government was obliged to “exercise power with rigorous impartiality on behalf of all the people” of Northern Ireland. Mr Johnson will make his first visit as PM to Northern Ireland, when he will meet the leaders of all five political parties in a bid to kickstart restoring the devolved institutions.

Boris Johnson’s efforts to renegotiate Theresa May’s failed EU withdrawal agreement appear to be running into the sand, after Irish premier Leo Varadkar delivered a firm rebuff to his demand to ditch the controversial backstop. The taoiseach became the latest in a string of EU leaders to resist the new PM’s efforts to secure the removal of the arrangement – designed to keep the Irish border open until alternative technological controls are in place – as the price of a deal on the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. Mr Varadkar said opponents of the backstop had failed to identify a viable alternative and told the PM that the remaining 27 EU states were “united” in their position that the withdrawal agreement reached last November cannot be reopened.


Telegraph (by Nigel Farage)
On the day Boris Johnson became Prime Minister, I was speaking at a conference in Washington DC. There, I met with President Trump, who told me that in his opinion Johnson brings much-needed energy to the job. After the last three years, in which Theresa May’s government almost seemed to actively enjoy wading through treacle, the president is absolutely right: it has been an impressive first few days for Johnson. He has made well-crafted speeches, given an excellent performance in the Commons, and announced several eye-catching new initiatives. It is important to point out, however, that much of what has been said has come straight from the Brexit Party European election playbook. On that basis, I am delighted that after three wasted years, the International Trade Secretary, Liz Truss, will go to America to begin talks on a new US trade deal.

ITV News
The Conservative Party will be “annihilated” at a general election if it fails to deliver Brexit by October 31, Nigel Farage has said, adding that he was currently against forming an alliance with the Tories. Mr Farage praised the Prime Minister’s performance since being installed in Downing Street, but warned that voters should remain sceptical about Mr Johnson’s ability to deliver a no-deal Brexit. Mr Johnson did not intend to depart the EU by Halloween but was seeking to improve Britain’s negotiating position over the Withdrawal Agreement, Mr Farage wrote in The Daily Telegraph.

The economy

Households remain defiantly optimistic about their financial situation despite worries about the economy. A key confidence measure, used by the Bank of England and the Treasury to gauge the economic outlook, showed that consumers shook off concerns about Brexit to feel happier about their finances this month. The improvement came after a sustained rise in real wages, which have grown at an annual rate of about 1.5 per cent for seven months. Better pay has ended the squeeze on living standards and the lowest unemployment rate since 1974 has made people feel more secure in their jobs. Consumer confidence is a key economic measure because it anticipates household spending, which accounts for two thirds of GDP growth.


All schools in areas at risk of serious youth violence should have a dedicated police officer as part of a drive to tackle murders and knife crime, according to a report that has given a damning assessment of the government’s response to county lines drugs crime. Under the plan, officers would be expected to build links with children and offer advice on how to resolve issues without resorting to violence. The home affairs select committee report, published yesterday, said that a “perfect storm” of increased school exclusions and cuts to youth services and police budgets has fuelled a “social emergency” in England and Wales.


Pensioners should not stop taking statins just because they feel healthy, scientists have warned after finding that doing so may boost the risk of heart attack by nearly half. The first major study to assess what happens when older people with no history of heart disease discontinue the drugs found a substantial increase in the risk of life-threatening events. The cholesterol-lowering drugs, used by around seven to eight million people in the UK, are well known to benefit patients who have already survived major scares such as a heart attack or stroke. But until now it has not been clear how effective they are at preventing such problems in the first place.

Continuing to use statins after the age of 75 nearly halves the risk of a heart attack, research has suggested. Taking the drugs into old age could also reduce the risk of a stroke by a quarter, according to the first study to focus on what happens when people aged above 75 stop using statins. Scientists have debated whether healthy older people with no history of heart-related conditions should take statins, with some arguing that there is no evidence of any benefit. Researchers found that stopping the drugs after the age of 75 was associated with a 46 per cent higher risk of a heart attack and a 26 per cent increased chance of suffering a stroke.

Elderly fraud

Fraudsters are scamming one in 12 elderly people – duping them out of millions of pounds, a charity reveals. The number of victims has more than doubled in just two years, from 348,000 in 2015-16 to 803,000 in 2017-18. Age UK studied the Crime Survey for England and Wales, which interviews about 35,000 people.  The most common crimes were identity theft, inflated or fake fees for services and online shopping scams.  But over-65s have also fallen victim to doorstep and postal scams, bogus charities, investment fraud, fake competitions, dating scams, health frauds and false claims for debts. Age UK said that as well as financial losses, being defrauded can also seriously affect a person’s quality of life and wellbeing.


Britain’s ten hottest years have all occurred since 2002, according to a report that reveals how rapidly the country is warming. A Met Office analysis of temperatures dating back to 1884 was published two days after the national weather service confirmed that a record for Britain’s highest temperature was set last week. The 38.7C in Cambridge University Botanic Garden last Thursday beat the 38.5C recorded in Kent in 2003. In addition the ten coldest years all predate 1964 and half were in the 19th century, the Met Office said.

Britain’s ten hottest years have all occurred since 2002, it has been revealed.   For the first time, the Met Office looked at temperature records dating back as far as 1884, rather than 1910, but it found no new contenders for the warmest years.  But the ‘new’ coldest years were found, meaning none of the ten coldest years have been since 1963 – showing how the climate is warming.  Dr Michael Byrne from the University of St Andrews said: ‘The science of climate change is now clear.’  The records now show 1892 as the coldest year, with an average of just over 7C, while the warmest was 2014, with an average nearing 10C.

Britain’s 10 hottest years on record have all occurred since 2002, the Met Office has revealed. Analysts also confirmed that none of the 10 coldest years have occurred since 1963, showing how the country is getting warmer and warmer. The Met Office’s latest annual state of the climate report measure temperatures going back to the 19th century. Dr Mark McCarthy, head of the Met Office’s national climate information centre, said: “Looking back further into the UK’s weather reveals a very interesting timeline, with the top ten warmest years at the most recent end, since 2002. “Extending the record back by 26 years from 1910 to 1884 didn’t bring in any new warm years, but it did bring in a number of new cold years, including several that are now within the top ten coldest years.”

A melt of Greenland’s ice sheet is pushing up sea levels as glaciers recede in Iceland and fires rage in Alaska and Siberia. Scientists have said that the melt levels are what they originally predicted for the middle or end of the century. Europe’s heatwave has passed through Scandinavia and is expected to cause a “remarkable warming episode” in Greenland over the next few days, the French national meteorological service said. Temperatures reached 0.4C at an altitude of 3,000 metres on the ice sheet yesterday. The World Meteorological Organisation said that the heatwave was caused by warm air coming up from Africa and Spain, and “the atmospheric flow will transport the heat towards Greenland, resulting in high temperatures and consequently enhanced melting”.

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