Today’s daily politics briefing
Britain’s port chiefs have warned Boris Johnson’s government that new border infrastructure needed to manage post-Brexit bureaucracy is still not up to scratch because of inadequate funding.
It comes as the leading financial analysts at Moody’s said the UK economy is set to become “significantly smaller” because of the Brexit trade deal – pointing to “significant negative consequences” ahead because of all the new barriers to trade.
Meanwhile, Conservative MP David Jones said it was “childish and spiteful” for the EU to threaten to tighten rules on exports of Covid vaccines produced in the bloc. It follows a row with the UK-based firm AstraZeneca over a slowdown in vaccine supplies.
Children prescribed medical cannabis given reprieve after Brexit import block
More than 40 children with severe epilepsy whose imports of medical cannabis had been halted due to Brexit will be able to access their prescriptions again, for the next six months at least.
The Department of Health and Social Care said the Dutch government has confirmed it will allow the continued supply of Bedrocan oil from the Netherlands to existing UK patients until 1 July this year.
A letter from the government sent to Hannah Deacon, whose nine-year-old son Alfie uses the oil to prevent seizures, said a “permanent solution” to the situation is being sought.
Ms Deacon welcomed the news then called upon the government to “end the suffering of the families forced to raise huge sums of money for their private prescriptions,” amid reports some families are having to spend up to £2,500 a month to cover costs of prescriptions.
Liam James26 January 2021 14:14
Boris Johnson hosting press conference later
The prime minister will lead a Downing Street press conference at 5pm alongside Professor Chris Whitty and NHS England boss Sir Simon Stevens, No 10 has announced.
Liam James26 January 2021 13:53
Tory MP warns Rishi Sunak of ‘looming bloodbath’ over tenant evictions
Mel Stride, chair of the Treasury Select Committee and Tory MP, asked the chancellor about the “acute danger” facing many private renters, warning: “There’s a looming bloodbath for many businesses at the end of March when the moratorium on commercial landlords taking action against tenants in arrears comes to an end.
“Does my right honourable friend recognise this acute danger and what action might my right honourable friend consider taking to avoid it?”
The chancellor referred Ms Stride to the work of housing secretary Robert Jenrick in his answer, who he said had been working to “encourage good and constructive dialogue between landlords and tenants”.
No word on support for tenants if such dialogue were to break down. Plenty of anxiety among renters at the moment, Shelter has warned almost 445,000 adults who rent privately in England have either fallen into rent arrears or received some kind of eviction notice from their landlord or letting agent in the past month.
Our Money Editor Kate Hughes has more on this:
Liam James26 January 2021 13:32
‘Where are the green gilts?’
Labour’s Bridget Phillipson, the shadow treasury minister, asked Rishi Sunak why the government has not yet launched its promised “green gilts”, or government bonds which will promote environmentally-friendly investment.
She asked: “Green gilts will be a vital part of the transition to a clean economy. Last year, the chancellor promised to launch the first ones this year. Can he tell us when and why not yet?”
Mr Sunak replied that the government was doing the “technical work” behind the launch of the green bonds, adding he hopes to provide an update at budget.
Liam James26 January 2021 13:14
Mind-boggling bureaucracy will oversee Brexit deal implementation
The complexities of Britain’s new relationship with Europe are such that a tangling web of committees and working groups will be formed in a scramble to implement the terms of the Brexit deal, along with the Northern Ireland Protocol and the rest of the Withdrawal Agreement.
No fewer than 19 committees and four working groups will be formed to iron out the details of specific issues — there is a committee on fisheries, for instance — as a result of what one official called the “bats*** ‘House of Cards’ bureaucracy” the terms of departure demand.
Much of the work of the separate bodies will intertwine before facing political scrutiny from both sides at the Joint Partnership Council, which is due to meet once a year. Cabinet office minister Michael Gove has been tipped as the UK’s likely representative on the council, according to Politico.
Liam James26 January 2021 12:51
Why can’t Boris Johnson stop overpromising and underdelivering?
“Boris Johnson – the swami of boosterism, the patron saint of looking on the bright side, the yogi of “get it done” – seems to genuinely believe that tough choices are there to be avoided or, better still, abolished.”
Not so far from a year after Boris Johnson declared the coronavirus would be “sent packing” in 12 weeks, Sean O’Grady explains the prime minister’s penchant for overpromising:
Liam James26 January 2021 12:17
Trade from GB to Ireland ‘half the level of 2020’
Trade from Great Britain to the Republic of Ireland remains at about half of the level seen at the same time last year, almost a month after Brexit, officials have revealed.
Irish customs officials say they are “concerned” about the low levels of goods coming into the country, as hauliers and importers grapple with new customs red tape.
Eddie Burke, from Ireland’s Department of Transport, acknowledged that many businesses, large and small, were experiencing “severe difficulty” adapting to the new customs procedures.
Adam Forrest26 January 2021 11:48
UK economy will get ‘significantly smaller’ after Brexit, say analysts
Britain’s economy is set to become “significantly smaller” because of Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal, according to the leading financial analysts at Moody’s.
In a scathing report, Moody’s said the agreement was “skewed in favour of the EU, with the UK willing to accept significant new barriers to trade in areas in which it has a competitive advantage”.
It adds: “The new arrangements … will entail significant negative macroeconomic consequences for the UK that are structural in nature.”
Analyst Benedicte Andries said: “While the Brexit agreement avoids a no-deal scenario, it largely lacks substance in areas vital to the UK economy, such as services. The UK economy will thus be significantly smaller over the longer term.”
Adam Forrest26 January 2021 11:01
Firm blames ‘idiot activity’ at No 10 for end of exports
British company Trees Online has blamed No 10 for the fact it will no longer be exporting any plants to Northern Ireland or the EU.
The firm stated on its website: “Due to long term idiot activity concluding at No 10, we can no longer send any plants to Northern Ireland or the EU. As compensation for naked gardens you can have Sovereignty!”
Adam Forrest26 January 2021 10:50
Delay to environment bill ‘deeply troubling’
Campaigners have criticised new delays to flagship environmental legislation on pollution, wildlife protection and cutting waste.
The Environment Bill seeks to write environmental principles in UK law for the first time, following Brexit – but the government has delayed the passage of the bill, so it is not expected to become law until the autumn.
The Wildlife Trusts’ chief executive Craig Bennett said news the Bill would suffer more delays was “deeply troubling”, while the National Trust Harry Bowell’s added: “Now we are outside the EU, we urgently need our own laws to protect and restore our environment – not delays.”
Greenpeace UK’s head of politics, Rebecca Newsom, said: “We should be raising our environmental standards and setting an example for others to follow, rather than allowing the nature crisis to continue to spiral.”
Adam Forrest26 January 2021 10:45