Stay up to date with notifications from The Independent

Notifications can be managed in browser preferences.

As it happenedended1611101723

Brexit news – live: UK’s biggest fish market left ‘like ghost town’, as Eurostar under threat

Follow all the latest developments

Adam Forrest,Samuel Osborne
Wednesday 20 January 2021 00:15 GMT
Boris Johnson blames seafood exporters ‘not filling in the right forms’ for post-Brexit sales crash

Boris Johnson’s government has been warned that meat worth hundreds of thousands of pounds is going to waste at EU ports, as British exporters continue to get caught up in post-Brexit red tape problems.

It comes as photos emerged showing UK’s largest fish market in Peterhead largely deserted, as the industry struggles with an export slump caused by customs delays. “What a sad sight – like a ghost town,” said the Scotland Food and Drink group.

Meanwhile, Northern Ireland secretary Brandon Lewis claimed that empty shelves in Northern Ireland were due to coronavirus “challenges” – and not because of Brexit. And the head of Eurostar has sounded alarm over the future of the rail company, saying the situation was “critical”. 


Brexit ‘carnage’ spreads to meat industry

Britain’s meat exporters have joined fishermen in raising alarm over sales lost because of customs red tape. Hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of rotting produce has reportedly been impounded because of customs problems.

The British Meat Processors Association told The Times the new systems were both “convoluted” and “badly implemented”. One exporter has five containers’ worth of pork going rotten in Rotterdam due to an incorrect veterinary certificate.  

It follows police fines for 15 Scottish seafood workers who took part in Monday’s protest in Westminster – as trucks with slogans like “Brexit Carnage” parked around Downing Street.

Boris Johnson said there would be a £23m compensation fund to help fishermen who had lost buyers for their fish. So is No 10 accepting blame for their woes? No way, said Johnson. He suggested seafood exporters were partly to blame for their own sales crash, claiming they were “not filling in the right forms”. The PM also blamed the pandemic for causing a dip in demand.

Trucks descended on Westminster in protest (AFP via Getty Images)
Adam Forrest19 January 2021 08:35

Government blames empty supermarket shelves on Covid

Northern Ireland secretary Brandon Lewis has claimed that empty shelves in Northern Ireland are due to coronavirus issues – and not because of Brexit.

“The flow of food and goods linked to the EU and the Northern Ireland Protocol has been good actually,” he told Sky News.

“Where we’ve seen some images of empty shelves in Northern Ireland – although let’s be clear we’ve seen them across the UK recently – has been linked to Covid and some of the challenges we’ve had at Dover due to Covid just before Christmas and the flow through the supply line of that rather than through the protocol.

“Supermarkets we’ve been talking to regularly have good flows of supply and that’s important to Northern Ireland, being an integral part of the United Kingdom.”

Adam Forrest19 January 2021 08:38

PM will be ‘relieved’ to see Trump gone, says ex-cabinet secretary

Boris Johnson’s former cabinet secretary Mark Sedwill has weighed in on the changing of the guard in Washington. He said the PM – and other western leaders – would be “relieved” to see the back of Donald Trump.  

Writing in The Mail, the ex-civil service chief said those who suggested Johnson would have preferred Trump to win were “mistaken”.

He added: “There is relief in Western capitals that normal diplomatic relationships will be restored once Joe Biden is inaugurated as the 46th president tomorrow.”

Johnson and Trump (AFP via Getty Images)
Adam Forrest19 January 2021 08:49

Tory MPs rebel over universal credit cut

The Commons voted in 278-0 in favour of Labour’s non-binding motion to extend the £20-a-week universal credit uplift on Monday evening. Although most Conservatives followed government orders to abstain – six rebel Tory MPs sided with the opposition on the issue.

Stephen Crabb, the former work and pensions secretary, Robert Halfon, the chair of the education committee, and backbench MPs Peter Aldous, Jason McCartney, Anne Marie Morris and Matthew Offord all rebelled.

Keir Starmer called Boris Johnson “pathetic” for telling Tories not to vote on the motion – while the government accused Labour of a “political stunt” by holding the symbolic vote.

MPs pass motion urging Boris Johnson not to cut universal credit for millions

Non-binding motion was passed  by 278-0 votes after PM ordered Conservatives to abstain

Adam Forrest19 January 2021 08:50

PM likes 30-minute power naps, aides reveal

No 10 aides have revealed that Boris Johnson likes to take a 30-minute snooze whenever his diary allows – described by insiders as a “power executive” nap.

“It would not be entirely uncommon in the diary for him to shut the door and have a kip for half an hour or so – a power executive business nap to get him ready for the rest of the day,” one official told The Times.

Aides also revealed the PM is usually 10 minutes late for his first morning meeting. “He keeps his own time,” said one.

Boris Johnson at No 10 press conference (Getty)
Adam Forrest19 January 2021 08:56

EU urged to move financial services out of London

The largest political group in the European parliament has urged EU chiefs to come up with a “master plan” to move crucial financial services out of London after Brexit.

The European People’s Party (EPP) doesn’t want Brussels dependent on “third countries” like the UK – and said a stronger financial system would help the bloc play in the geopolitical “Champions’ League”.

Markus Ferber, a German MEP and vice-chair of the parliament’s committee on economic affair, said: “We need a clear step-by-step master plan that helps key financial sector businesses move from the United Kingdom to the European Union. If the EU wants to play in the geopolitical Champions’ League we need a financial system to match it.”

Adam Forrest19 January 2021 09:09

No 10 must consider human rights when doing trade deals, says Labour

Labour’s shadow trade secretary Emily Thornberry expressed her concerned No 10 wasn’t considering ethics when it came to drumming up trade.

“The government needs to, before signing up to a trade deal, consider the human rights record of the country involved,” she told Sky News.

Adam Forrest19 January 2021 09:13

‘Too early’ to say whether benefit payments will be cut, says minister

Cabinet minister Brandon Lewis said it is “too early” to say whether the £20 weekly increase to universal credit will be extended past the end of March.

“This uplift was to deal with the virus, we don’t yet know quite where we will be with the virus as we get towards March,” the Northern Ireland secretary told BBC Breakfast.

Asked if chancellor Rishi Sunak is considering a one-off payment, a temporary extension, or a gradual reduction, Lewis said: “I wouldn’t want to predict where we might be. It’s too early to start predicting what may or may not happen.”

Adam Forrest19 January 2021 09:28

Matt Hancock self-isolating at home

Health secretary Matt Hancock said he is self-isolating after receiving an alert through the NHS Covid-19 app. In a video posted on Twitter, he said: “Last night I was pinged by the NHS coronavirus app, so that means I’ll be self-isolating at home, not leaving the house at all until Sunday.”

Adam Forrest19 January 2021 09:41

Tax rises may not be needed, says Treasury minister

Treasury minister Jesse Norman has said “it is not absolutely obvious” that taxes will need to be raised in the UK, providing the economy recovers from the Covid pandemic.  

Speaking before the Treasury Select Committee, Norman said he had been “struck by remarks” made by “experts” presuming tax hikes lie head.

It comes as a senior Whitehall source told The Times chancellor Rishi Sunak saw corporation tax as the most reasonable way to raise revenues because only UK businesses who have made profits would be hit.  

Tax rises may not be needed to pay for Covid crisis, says Treasury minister

Rishi Sunak looking for other ways to grow UK economy but has not totally ruled out ‘increasing corporation tax,’ Jesse Norman tells MPs

Adam Forrest19 January 2021 09:51

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in