Brexit news: EU getting ‘impatient’ over negotiations says Merkel, as talks enter crunch week

All the latest developments in UK politics

Chris Baynes,Adam Forrest,Samuel Osborne
Monday 30 November 2020 22:51
Brexit: Trade deal negotiations enter what could be final week

Boris Johnson’s government and EU officials have resumed crucial talks in London aimed at forging a post-Brexit trade deal, in what has been billed as the last “major” opportunity to avoid a no-deal crash-out at the end of December.

EU negotiator Michel Barnier is said to be offering to give the UK back 15 to 18 per cent of the quota European fleets currently take from British waters.

However, No 10 is thought to want 80 per cent returned to the UK – and reportedly views Brussels’ position as “wholly unacceptable”.

It comes as Germany’s chancellor chancellor Angela Merkel said time was now running very short to reach a deal, and some EU member states are growing impatient.

“A deal is in everyone’s interest,” she added.


Labour to abstain on Covid tiers vote ‘in the national interest’

Labour will abstain in a key vote on Boris Johnson's new coronavirus tiers on Tuesday, the party has said, policy correspondent  Jon Stone reports.

Speaking on Monday night Keir Starmer said his party was acting "in the national interest" by not opposing the regulations, but said he had reservations about them.

The prime minister is expected to face a rebellion from Tory backbenchers over the plans, which will see many parts of the country effectively stay in a lighter form of lockdown until Christmas.

Labour to abstain on Covid tiers vote ‘in the national interest’

Opposition will not vote with government on Covid-19 rules for the first time as rebellion looms

Samuel Osborne30 November 2020 22:27

West recalibrating view on China over pandemic conduct, Defence Committee chair says

Conservative MP Tobias Ellwood, who chairs the Defence Committee, said the west is recalibrating its view on China over its conduct during the coronavirus pandemic.

He told the Commons: "Unless we in the UK and collectively in the west address China's conduct, there will be a geopolitical clash with the west. This is inevitable and will slide us towards another Cold War.

"Now, the UK has huge respect for the Chinese people, we should make that clear. Our histories are actually very much intertwined, perhaps more than many of us appreciate.

"But for those in China, it actually influences their thinking and their attitude towards the west today. But today, the west itself is recalibrating its view on China because its conduct in the pandemic, as we've mentioned, from initial efforts to hide the outbreak, to rejecting any independent investigation has exposed a dangerous agenda that we can no longer ignore.

"During China's incredible economic ascent, western policy focused on deepening engagement in the hope that China would evolve into a responsible global citizen that would embrace hard fought principles of liberty, democracy and open trade.

"It's clear the Chinese Communist Party has something very different in mind. With increasing its economic power, Beijing has deliberately shunned international accountability and rules."

Samuel Osborne30 November 2020 21:54

Influential chairman of bench bench 1922 Committee almost certain to vote against government on coronavirus regulations

Sir Graham Brady, the influential chairman of the Tory backbench 1922 Committee, said he was almost certain to vote against the government unless the regulations were amended.

"I am pretty certain to vote against the government. My concerns about the impact on civil liberties and fundamental human rights are there regardless," he told an online event organised by the free market Institute of Economic Affairs.

"The fact is that my own constituency (Altrincham and Sale West) has been put inside the wrong tier without good justification - unless that were to change, it makes it inevitable that I would vote against."

Samuel Osborne30 November 2020 21:37

Government accuses Starmer of ‘playing politics’ in middle of pandemic

The government has accused Sir Keir Starmer of "playing politics" in the midst of the pandemic after he said Labour will abstain in tomorrow’s Commons vote on new tiered restrictions for England.

"This pandemic is one of the biggest challenges facing the country in decades and Labour have decided to abstain on it," a No 10 spokesman said.

"While Keir Starmer claims he offers new leadership, it's clear to all that he actually offers no leadership at all.

"Keir Starmer is playing politics in the middle of a global pandemic instead of working with the government to find a way through this difficult time for the British people."

Samuel Osborne30 November 2020 21:14

Labour to abstain in Commons vote on new Covid-19 restrictions

Labour will abstain in Tuesday’s Commons vote on the coronavirus restrictions, the party’s leader Keir Starmer has said.

“Coronavirus remains a serious threat to the public’s health and that’s why Labour accept the need for continued restrictions,” he said.

“We will always act in the national interest, so we will not vote against these restrictions in Parliament tomorrow.

“However, I remain deeply concerned that Boris Johnson’s Government has failed to use this latest lockdown to put a credible health and economic plan in place.

“We still don’t have a functioning testing system, public health messaging is confused, and businesses across the country are crying out for more effective economic support to get them through the winter months,” added Starmer.

“It is short-term Government incompetence that is causing long-term damage to the British economy.

“It is imperative that the Government gets control of the virus so that our NHS can be protected and our economy recovers faster.” 

Kate Ng30 November 2020 20:43

Government’s telecoms reforms will be ‘one of the toughest’ security regimes in world

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden has said that the Government’s telecommunications reforms will “create one of the toughest telecoms security regimes in the world”.

Speaking at the start of the Commons second reading debate of the Telecommunications (Security) Bill, he said: “This Bill puts a robust security framework in place guaranteeing the protection of our networks.

“This Bill will create one of the toughest telecoms security regimes in the world. One that will protect our networks even as technologies grow and evolve, shielding our critical national infrastructure both now and for the future.”

The Bill will give the Government “unprecedented new national security powers to identify and tackle high-risk vendors”.

This includes the removal of Huawei equipment in all UK networks. The government today said telecoms providers must stop installing Huawei equipment in the UK’s 5G networks from next September.

However, Mr Dowden acknowledged that blackouts could occur on the UK’s 5G network if telecoms providers were forced to get rid of Huawei faster than they can do so.

Kate Ng30 November 2020 20:37

Government paper offers no assessment of economic impact of restrictions on areas in different tiers

A government assessment of the economic impact of new coronavirus restrictions has failed to win over backbenchers opposed to the tiered system Boris Johnson plans to put in place after the current lockdown ends on 2 December.

MPs in Westminster said the document did not answer the demand of the Covid Recovery Group for a full cost-benefit analysis of the three-tier system’s effect on businesses and jobs in each region.

Our Political Editor Andrew Woodcock reports:

Government paper offers no assessment of economic impact of Covid restrictions on areas in different tiers

Uncertainties of pandemic means estimate of economic impact of restrictions would not be 'meaningful’

Kate Ng30 November 2020 20:12

NHS nurse responds to Laurence Fox urging people to meet and hug friends to ‘protect their rights’

An NHS nurse has responded to actor Laurence Fox’s tweet bragging about having a “large group” of friends over for lunch at his house with a photo of the impression PPE left on her face after she “held a person’s hand as they died alone” at work, Kate Ng reports.

Joanna Louise, a cardiothoracic intensive care nurse, posted the photo of herself after Fox tweeted that he had hugged his friends, urging people to ignore social distancing rules and “protect your rights”.

She wrote: “Just held a person’s hand as they died alone, without their family or loved ones by their side. Glad you enjoyed your meal.”

NHS nurse gives moving response after Laurence Fox urges people to meet and hug friends

Fox faces backlash for tweet boasting he met and hugged friends amid pandemic

Samuel Osborne30 November 2020 19:44

Telecommunications reforms will ‘create one of the toughest telecoms security regimes in the world’, government says

The government's telecommunications reforms will "create one of the toughest telecomms security regimes in the world", culture secretary Oliver Dowden has said.

According to the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), he said the past two years had seen "malicious cyber activity from Russia and China as well as North Korea and Iranian actors".

Speaking at the start of the Commons second reading debate of the Telecommunications (Security) Bill, Mr Dowden said: "This Bill puts a robust security framework in place guaranteeing the protection of our networks.

"This Bill will create one of the toughest telecomms security regimes in the world. One that will protect our networks even as technologies grow and evolve, shielding our critical national infrastructure both now and for the future."

He added: "It establishes a tough new security framework for all the UK's public telecomms providers, this will be overseen by Ofcom and the Government, and they will have a legal duty to design and manage their networks securely.

"Rigorous new security requirements will be set out in secondary legislation and codes of practice will set technical guidance on how providers should meet the law and where providers are found wanting, Ofcom will have the power to impose steep fines."

Samuel Osborne30 November 2020 19:08

Government’s impact assessment on new restrictions criticised for offering little new information

Mel Stride, the Conservative chairman of the Commons Treasury Committee, said the Government's impact assessment on the effect of the new restrictions contained little new information.

"With little over 24 hours until MPs vote on the new tiered system, this rehashed document offers very little further in economic terms other than that which the OBR published last week," he said in a statement.

"It's frustrating that there is little here that sets out how the different tiers might impact on the specific sectors and regions across the country.

"Those looking for additional economic analysis of the new tiered system will struggle to find it in this document."

Samuel Osborne30 November 2020 18:52

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