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Brexit news - live: Boris Johnson tries to sabotage NI breakthrough as MPs pave way for Stormont return

Former PM – who has repeatedly criticised Mr Sunak since he was kicked out of No 10 – called on his successor to have the ‘courage’ to ditch more Brussels regulations

Matt Mathers
Friday 02 February 2024 05:50 GMT
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Stormont powersharing set to return after DUP executive backs deal

Boris Johnson has attacked Rishi Sunak’s new Brexit deal with the DUP – warning that it could tie the UK to EU trade rules in future.

Mr Sunak’s government revealed new arrangements to remove routine checks on goods moving from Great Britain to Northern Ireland in a bid to restore power-sharing at Stormont.

Checks required under the previous so-called “green lane” will be further reduced – a tweak aimed at fixing some of the unresolved mess left by Mr Johnson’s Brexit deal.

The former PM – who has repeatedly criticised Mr Sunak since he was kicked out of No 10 – called on his successor to have the “courage” to ditch more Brussels regulations.

“We must retain the appetite and the courage to diverge from the low-growth high-regulation European model,” said Mr Johnson on X, formerly Twitter.

Last night Jeffrey Donaldson, the DUP leader, said his party was not split on the new deal and that support for it was “absolutely decisive”.

Later, MPs will pass statutory instruments that pave the way for Stormont to finally get a functioning government after nearly two years of impasse over the post-Brexit arrangements.

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ICYMI: Tory Brexiteer dismisses cost of new food checks as ‘price you pay’ for Brexit

Conservative minister Andrea Leadsom has dismissed the concerns of business chiefs over the costly new checks imposed on imports from the EU as the “price you pay” for Brexit.

The leading Brexiteer defended the “friction” in the new system for physical checks at the border – describing it as “the costs of doing business”.

Full report:

Tory Brexiteer dismisses cost of new food checks as ‘price you pay’ for Brexit

Expense of fresh red tape on EU imports is simply ‘cost of doing business’, says Tory minister Andrea Leadsom

Matt Mathers1 February 2024 22:00
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ICYMI: Tory MP hits out at ‘overzealous French officials’ over export issues

A Tory MP has hit out at “overzealous French officials” and called for an improved arbitration process to challenge “ridiculous” export issues.

Conservative MP Anthony Mangnall said one of his Totnes constituents found himself in a “completely ridiculous situation” when his shipment was seized after he missed out one word on a certificate.

Environment secretary Steve Barclay said a “proportionate approach” should be taken on these issues.

Speaking in the Commons, Mr Mangnall said: “A constituent of mine had his entire shipment seized in France for missing a single word on the export health certificate by overzealous French officials.

“Can the secretary of state please reassure me that we are going to find arbitration methods to actually speed up the process to challenge these completely ridiculous situations?”

Mr Barclay said the MP had raised the issue with the farming minister (Mark Spencer) who he said is “actively engaged”, adding: “Of course, a proportionate approach should always be taken on these issues.”

Anthony Mangnal (PA)

Matt Mathers1 February 2024 21:00
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Sinn Fein’s windy talk of a united Ireland must not wreck the new Ulster deal

Editorial: Two years on from collapsing the government, the DUP has reached an agreement that will restore the Northern Ireland Executive. The deal is proof that, even in an age of deep political fissures, a cross-party consensus can still prevail

Read the full editorial here:

Editorial: Sinn Fein’s windy talk of a united Ireland must not wreck Ulster deal

Editorial: Two years on from collapsing the government, the DUP has reached an agreement that will restore the Northern Ireland Executive. The deal is proof that, even in an age of deep political fissures, a cross-party consensus can still prevail

Matt Mathers1 February 2024 20:00
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ICYMI: No 10 says new £3bn Brexit deal with DUP doesn’t need EU approval

No 10 has said the agreement struck with the DUP to change post-Brexit checks for Northern Ireland will not need Rishi Sunak to reopen his Windsor Framework deal with the EU.

DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson has claimed the new agreement – which has won the backing of his unionist party – will involve “substantive” changes to trade arrangements.

Full report:

No 10 says new £3bn Brexit deal with DUP doesn’t need EU approval

DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson claims agreement will mean ‘zero checks’ on GB-NI trade

Matt Mathers1 February 2024 19:00
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ICYMI: New Brexit border regime could pose ‘serious biosecurity risks’

Concerns have been expressed before new post-Brexit rules come into force.

The long-delayed new rules, coming into force on Wednesday, are part of the UK government’s introduction of a series of checks this year.

Full report:

New Brexit border regime could pose ‘serious biosecurity risks’

The long-delayed new rules, coming into force on Wednesday, are part of the UK Government’s introduction of a series of checks this year.

Matt Mathers1 February 2024 18:00
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Recap: What's in the deal that has broken Northern Ireland's political deadlock?

The UK government on Wednesday published the details of a deal that has broken Northern Ireland’s political deadlock and should — barring a major upset — restore the regional government in Belfast after almost two years on ice.

Unveiled on the fourth anniversary of the U.K.’s departure from the European Union, the agreement eases some of the border checks imposed because of Brexit that unsettled Northern Ireland’s delicate political balance and sparked a political crisis.

Full report:

What's in the deal that has broken Northern Ireland's political deadlock?

The U.K. government has published the details of a deal that has broken Northern Ireland’s political deadlock

Matt Mathers1 February 2024 17:00
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Donaldson: We’ve secured ‘real changes'

DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson told the Commons his party has secured “real changes” on the new Brexit deal.

He told the Commons Northern Ireland had been “placed in a situation where we were separated from the rest of the United Kingdom in key elements of the benefits that ought to have flown from Brexit”, and said his task had been to “repair the damage”.

He said: “It is work in progress. I do not stand here this afternoon and pretend that we have completed the task. I recognise that there are ongoing concerns about how these new arrangements will work in practice. And it will be our task to hold the Government to account on its commitments.”

He said his “detractors” have been “very vocal”, adding: “My challenge back to them is clear and simple… When they are in a position to set out clearly for the people of Northern Ireland what they have achieved… the changes they have secured to safeguard our place in the union, I will consider discussing with them.

“But what I will not do, what I will not accept, is their criticism of what we have achieved in terms of safeguarding the union. Real achievements, real changes. Changes that my party has long sought.”

“We have restored Northern Ireland’s place within the United Kingdom’s internal market,” he said, adding: “There is no need for a so-called green lane. There is only a need for one lane, and that is the lane that deals with goods flowing through our Northern Ireland ports and onwards to the European Union or are deemed at risk of entering the European Union.”

Northern Ireland secretary Chris Heaton-Harris and DUP leader Jeffery Donaldson during a joint press conference (PA Wire)
Matt Mathers1 February 2024 16:39
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New deal will safeguard NI’s place in the union - cabinet minister

Northern Ireland secretary Chris Heaton-Harris told the Commons: “This package will safeguard and durably strengthen Northern Ireland’s integral place in the Union and the UK’s internal market, and do so by placing commitments in that package into law.”

He later told MPs: “This legislation will also change so that new regulatory borders between Great Britain and Northern Ireland cannot emerge from future agreements with the European Union.

“This is an important new safeguard to future-proof Northern Ireland’s constitutional status.

“No government in the future can agree to another protocol, nor can the UK internal market be salami-sliced by any future agreement with the European Union.”

Heaton-Harris at a press conference in Erskine House, Belfast (PA)
Matt Mathers1 February 2024 16:00
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MPs approve new Brexit legislation

MPs have approved the second piece of legislation that gives effect to commitments made in the UK government’s Safeguarding The Union command paper.

The motion was approved unopposed.

The regulations will need to be approved by the House of Lords before they can become law. This is expected to take place on 13 February.

The first piece of legislation was approved earlier.

Matt Mathers1 February 2024 15:36
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Cold-pressed vegetable juice-maker warns it may have to hike prices due to checks

A company making cold-pressed vegetable juice has warned that it may have to increase its prices due to the extra costs associated with post-Brexit checks.

Alex Auger, founder of the Juice Executive said his company had already noticed a “significant reduction” in the quality of fresh produce coming in from the EU.

“Growers and suppliers are looking to fill up trucks to reduce the costs associated with the checks, and we anticipate this to get even worse,” he told The Independent.

“The combined result is higher prices, and worse quality which is not good for anyone.”

File photo: Vehicles queue for ferries at the Port of Dover, Kent (PA)

Matt Mathers1 February 2024 14:57

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