BREXIT Minister Lord David Frost and Maros Sefcovic, the European commissioner who is his opposite number when it comes to UK/EU relations, are poised for crunch talks on the subject of the Northern Ireland Protocol.
Tensions are once again ramping up with Ireland becoming increasingly desperate for the European Union to agree a new deal around trade with the UK as Lord Frost increases the pressure. And Mr Frost and Mr Sefcovic will stage talks later this week in a bid to break the deadlock. Mr Sefcovic is also planning to visit Northern Ireland on Thursday and Friday, during which time he will meet political, business and civic leaders.
On Monday, the UK’s Brexit minister said Britain plans to extend post-Brexit grace periods on some goods imports to Northern Ireland in a move to provide London and Brussels with more time to find a long-term resolution on trade with the province.
A trade deal between the two sides came into force on December 31, 2020, and saw the Britain agree to leave some European Union rules in place in Northern Ireland and accept checks on goods arriving there from elsewhere in the UK.
But a bitter war of words has broken out, particularly around the implementation of the Northern Ireland Protocol – the UK insists the arrangement isn’t viable and wants it changed, while the EU is rejecting any hope of the treaty being renegotiated. 


BORIS Johnson has his battle lines drawn after Nicola Sturgeon said the SNP-led Scottish Government would bring forward a separation blueprint for a second independence referendum.
Just hours after Ms Sturgeon ordered civil servants to get back to work on a white paper that will help to bring forward a second vote, the UK Prime Minister called for a summit with the SNP leader and other devolved government leaders. In a letter to the Scottish First Minister, Mr Johnson said he hopes a meeting can take place face to face next month.
Mr Johnson, whose close officials tonight made clear he was “opposed” to a second referendum after Ms Sturgeon’s pledge, called for all four nations to work closely together.
In a signal the UK Prime Minister was committed to maintaining the Union, Mr Johnson said by 2024-25 Scotland would benefit from an additional £1,1billion in Barnett funding and UK-wide spending from the UK Government. 

This story is also covered in the Guardian, Telegraph, Independent 


BRUSSELS’ hardline strategy over Northern Ireland is part of a deliberate “attack” aimed at splitting up the United Kingdom, a Brexiteer economist has warned.
Dr Timothy Bradshaw even drew a comparison with Kosovo, which split from Serbia after the war of 2008 – claiming Northern Ireland could go the same way. Dr Bradshaw, a theological lecturer and Anglican clergyman, was speaking in the week Brexit Minister Lord David Frost was preparing for fresh talks with EU counterpart Maros Sefcovic later this week.
Discussions will once again centre on the Northern Ireland Protocol, the controversial mechanism for preventing a hard border on the island of Ireland – but there is little hope of a breakthrough.
Dr Bradshaw outlined his concerns in a blog published on the Conservative Woman website last month entitled This war on the UK (helped by Whitehall saboteurs).
Speaking this week, he told “Biden’s chaotic self made rout in Afghanistan made me ponder the UK Northern Ireland in the big picture of geopolitics. 

THE future of the EU could be in danger after it emerged Italy is plotting to “attack” a key rule which has kept the creaking bloc’s currency alive.
Mario Draghi’s government wants to abolish “moderate borrowing” so that debt-plagued countries like Italy can once again get their hands on exorbitant amounts of cash “on tick”. The so-called Stability Pact limits the budget deficit of the eurozone countries to three percent of economic output and the total debt to 60 percent.
It was introduced to control government spending – especially in countries that have a history of ropey public finances.
In order to better cope with the consequences of the pandemic, these rules are suspended until the end of the next year.
However, Brussels is planning to reintroduce them in full from 2023.
Italy and several other EU states have lobbied against the rules for years – arguing that they unfairly target smaller economies in the bloc looking to develop quickly. 


NHS bosses were given a £30billion handout yesterday as Boris Johnson clobbered Britons with their highest tax burden since the Second World War – and immediately told the PM: ‘It’s not enough.’
The Health Service will receive the vast majority of the £36billion raised by yesterday’s National Insurance hike over the next three years, with social care receiving a £5.3billion slice.
But health bosses said the settlement leaves a ‘significant shortfall’ and warned millions of patients will still face long delays.
The NHS Confederation and NHS Providers, which represents hospitals and health organisations, claimed it would still leave a funding gap of around £3.5billion a year for frontline services in England.
They had wanted £10billion a year just to clear the patient backlog and additional costs arising from the pandemic.
They also warned that hospitals would be forced into ‘impossible choices’ about which patients will receive treatment. Ministers had vowed the billions in extra NHS funding would clear the Covid backlog by 2025.
But tax experts warned pouring the money into the bottomless pit of the NHS was likely to just lead to more demands for money in the future.
John O’Connell, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said yesterday’s news was just ‘laying the groundwork for more demands for cash’.
Sarah Coles, personal finance analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: ‘This announcement clobbers workers and investors, and is unlikely to be the end of the bad news.
‘We don’t yet know what it has up its sleeve, but we do know the tax environment for savers and investors is unlikely to get more generous in the near future.’ 

Most of the media cover this subject including the Guardian, Independent, Times, ITV News, BBC News, Order-order 


Exams next summer could be cancelled if the virus surges, the schools minister has said.
Nick Gibb revealed the Government has already drawn up a ‘contingency plan’ to scrap exams for the third year in a row.
This could mean A-level and GCSE pupils will be assessed by teachers again. A consultation on the details is being planned.
Mr Gibb told the Commons education committee that he had to prepare for the worst but youngsters should assume exams were going ahead. 
He said: ‘We don’t want to cancel exams. 
‘But we do know that teachers and the school sector do want details of the contingency because they want to know what data they might or might not need to collect.’
His comments came as it was revealed that only 41 schools out of 21,600 are due to receive carbon dioxide monitors this week despite the devices being a key Covid-prevention measure. 

The Guardian also has the story. 

Illegal immigrants 

France hit back at the Home Secretary last night over her threat to withhold £54million promised to help end a surge in migrant Channel crossings.
The Ministry of the Interior told Priti Patel that going back on the pledge would seriously damage efforts to limit the illegal trips.
And it warned that attempting to send would-be refugees straight back to France would be dangerous and break international law, after Tory MPs urged her to take the dramatic step to discourage others from taking the same route.
Minister of the Interior Gerald Darmanin is travelling to London today and is set to have a showdown with Miss Patel about how best to tackle the record number of illegal crossings. More than 13,000 have arrived in the UK by boat this year.
As smuggling gangs took advantage of fair weather at sea, an estimated 785 people made it to English beaches on Monday, close to the daily high of 828 set last month.
In response, Miss Patel briefed Conservative backbenchers that unless France started intercepting three in four attempted crossings then she would go back on an agreement signed in July to hand the country another £54million to double coastal police patrols and improve aerial surveillance.
‘We’ve not given them a penny of the money so far and France is going to have to get its act together if it wants to see the cash. It’s payment by results and we’ve not yet seen those results,’ she told the MPs. But yesterday the Ministry of the Interior insisted there had been no conditions attached to the deal. 

More details can be found in ITV NewsTelegraph, Times, BBC News 


The government has given polluters the green light to dump risky sewage that has not been properly cleaned into rivers and the sea as Brexit and Covid disrupt normal water treatment.
In recent weeks some businesses have found it more difficult to get hold of water treatment chemicals because of supply chain disruption at ports blamed primarily on Britain’s departure from the EU.
The Environment Agency this week said companies struggling to get hold of the required chemicals would be allowed to “discharge effluent without meeting the conditions” of their permits, which normally require water to be treated by a multi-step process.
Rolling shortages have hit different parts of the UK economy since the government took the country out of EU’s customs union and single market – imposing new border bureaucracy on importers and exporters.
The ending of free movement and the creation of new red tape on doing business with Britain’s largest trading partner has also exacerbated a shortage of lorry drivers, with the logistical nightmare compounded by coronavirus.
Water treatment is the latest sector to be hit, following concerns last week about a blood tube shortage hitting the NHS and reports of intermittent shortages in supermarkets across the country.
In a statement released on Monday, the Environment Agency said: “Normally, you need a permit under the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2016 to discharge treated effluent from a waste water treatment works (WwTW) to surface water or groundwater. Permits contain conditions that control the quality of the effluent you can discharge. 


Beijing has told Britain that it will not yield to international pressure for bigger improvements to its climate change commitments at the Cop26 conference in Glasgow.
Beijing’s warning came after Alok Sharma, the UK senior climate change representative, arrived for pre-summit talks with the intention of persuading China to “enhance” its carbon emissions reduction targets.
An official Chinese pledge that carbon emissions will peak by 2030 has resulted in the commissioning by provincial governments of a flurry of new coal-fired power stations in recent months, critics said.
Sharma arrived in the northern city of Tianjin on Sunday for talks with his Chinese counterpart, Xie Zhenhua, China’s special climate envoy, on “how we work together” to ensure the November summit is successful.  


BREXIT BRITAIN has secured a major victory today with the nation’s science and technology leaders receiving a £113million cash injection to stimulate the economy and bring their inventions to market.
Science Minister Amanda Solloway announced on Wednesday the bold initiative that will highlight the best of British innovation after Brexit. Among the 97 beneficiaries of the cash boost are pioneering projects that will support British farmers, tackle chronic illnesses and help the UK recover from the Covid pandemic. The goal is to bring the innovations from lab to market through UK Research and Innovation’s (UKRI) flagship Future Leaders Fellowships scheme.
Ms Solloway said: “We are putting science and innovation at the heart of our efforts to build back better from the pandemic, empowering our scientific leaders of tomorrow to drive forward game-changing research that could improve all our lives and boost the UK economy.
“Supported by £113million, the Future Leaders Fellowships will equip our most inventive scientists and researchers across the country with the tools to develop and bring their innovations to market quickly – all while helping to secure the UK’s status as a global science superpower.”
One of the most exciting projects supported by the scheme is the RoboHike team at University College London.
Led by Dr Dimitrios Kanoulas, RoboHike aims to develop four-legged robots designed to navigate rough terrain. 

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