Michael Gove: Northern Ireland protocol needs looking at
Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove has insisted that the UK will not break up as a result of Brexit, while admitting that the Northern Ireland protocol “is not working” and needs “redefining”.
Speaking on Monday to the European Scrutiny Committee, Mr Gove said that “constitutional, territorial, political integrity” of the UK was “unaffected”, despite trade problems between Great Britain and Northern Ireland UK.
Meanwhile, the environment secretary George Eustice admitted on Monday that the EU’s ban on the import of live British shellfish because of new Brexit rules is a “devastating blow” for the industry, which was valued at £393m in 2019.
The government had hoped that current bureaucracy – requiring seafood to be purified and accompanied by health certificates – would be lifted from April.
Mr Eustice said ministers disagreed with the EU’s approach and advised exporters that their “consignments may very well not be accepted at EU ports for now”.
Threat of chemical attacks on the rise, warns defence minister
Defence secretary Ben Wallace has said that a breakdown in the international order has lead to an increased possibility of chemical or biological attacks around the world.
Speaking to The Times, he said: “Globally, I think there is a growing threat of chemical or biological (attack).”
“It is unfortunately what happens in a sort of breakdown of world order where you see countries like Syria use it on its own people,” he added.
Here’s our policy correspondent Jon Stone with more details:
Rory Sullivan9 February 2021 09:52
No legal barrier to shellfish trade between UK and EU, says Eustice
Environment secretary George Eustice has reiterated his claim that the EU’s ban on live shellfish imports from the UK has no legal basis.
His comment comes after the EU said the ban, which the British government hoped would be lifted in the spring, will continue after April.
On Monday, the environment secretary called the ban “devastating” for UK shellfish exporters.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Tuesday, Mr Eustice said: “The truth is there is no legal barrier to this trade continuing, both on animal health grounds and on public health grounds – there is legal provision within existing EU regulations to allow such trade to continue from the UK”.
He accused the EU of changing its position “just last week”, saying that before this “they had been clear that this was a trade that could continue”.
Rory Sullivan9 February 2021 09:34
Both UK and EU ‘have got to do better’, says leading Brexit analyst
Relations between the UK and the EU continue to be strained, particularly over the situation in Northern Ireland.
Things soured when the EU threatened to override the Northern Ireland protocol in a row over Covid-19 vaccine supplies, before hastily backtracking last month.
Seeking to capitalise on the bloc’s mistake, Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove described it on Monday as “a moment when trust was eroded, when damage was done, and where movement is required in order to ensure that we have an appropriate reset”.
Respected Brexit analyst Mutjaba Rahman says both sides “have got to do better”, after “defaulting into a horribly predictable, acrimonious dynamic, characterised by mutual mistrust”.
Rory Sullivan9 February 2021 09:14
Here with our daily politics round-up, Adam Forrest has the latest on the EU’s likely rejection of the UK’s call for a two-year extension of the post-Brexit grace periods.
Rory Sullivan9 February 2021 08:54
Millions risk financial cliff edge after lockdown, Red Cross warns
Millions of people in the UK could be left extremely vulnerable by the withdrawal of financial support once lockdown is lifted, the British Red Cross has warned.
The warning comes as a new report published by the Red Cross reveals that support for the most vulnerable declined at the end of the second lockdown in December.
The organisation has called on the government to provide £250 million in emergency grant funding so that people do not have to go without food, clothing or heating this time around.
Our political editor Andrew Woodcock reports:
Rory Sullivan9 February 2021 08:38
Ban on EU shellfish imports a ‘devastating blow’ for industry, says Eustice
Environment secretary George Eustice has said that the EU’s decision not to lift a post-Brexit ban on live shellfish imports is a “devastating blow” for the UK’s food industry.
Currently, seafood exporters are required to have their catch purified and an export health certificate issued before it leaves the UK.
Ministers had hoped these restrictions would be lifted from April, but the EU has said they will stay in place.
One shellfish exporter in Yorkshire told the Guardian that the government had lied to the industry.
“All we have had is b******t from the government, promises that haven’t been kept. I am winding up the business while I still have enough to pay redundancy to my staff,” he said.
Rory Sullivan9 February 2021 08:23
Gove says UK will not break up
Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove has said that the UK will not break up as a result of Brexit, while admitting that the Northern Ireland protocol is currently “not working”.
Mr Gove was asked by Brexiteer Richard Drax, a Conservative MP, whether post-Brexit trade disruption between Great Britain and Northern Ireland posed a threat to the future of the UK.
In response, he said: “I think it is the case that the United Kingdom – its constitutional, territorial, political integrity – is unaffected.
“I think it is the case that the that Northern Ireland remains firmly – and the protocol underlines this – within the customs territory of the UK.”
He added that the issues over Northern Ireland could be resolved within the protocol, but acknowledged that “we are very far from resolving all those problems” with the EU.
Rory Sullivan9 February 2021 08:07
Morning, and welcome to The Independent’s rolling UK politics coverage.
Rory Sullivan9 February 2021 08:00