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Lord Frost warns that the Northern Ireland Protocol “is not working”…

“Lord Frost has warned Brussels that it would be making a “historic misjudgment” if it failed to agree to British demands to reform the Northern Ireland protocol. In a strident defence of the government’s stance, the Brexit minister said that a revised deal would be acceptable only if the EU removed Northern Ireland from the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice. The European Commission is due to publish its proposals today to reform the protocol and ease certain restrictions on goods crossing between mainland Britain and Northern Ireland. These are expected to include relaxations that would allow supermarket chains to continue to supply Northern Ireland without detailed checks” – The Times

 Explainer:

  • Everything you need to know about the Northern Ireland protocol – The Times

Comment:

… as the EC prepares to hold a press conference this afternoon

“Brussels will offer Britain a new Brexit deal on Northern Ireland on Wednesday, but is set to reject demands to strip European judges of their role in the province. The European Commission will hold a press conference on Wednesday afternoon to launch proposals to resolve the dispute over the Northern Ireland Protocol once the plans are approved at a meeting of the College of Commissioners. EU officials are expected to say they can significantly cut the number of checks on British goods exported to Northern Ireland if they are given real-time access to UK trade databases in order to police which products cross into the Republic of Ireland.” – Daily Telegraph

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Barnier accuses the UK of holding French fishermen ‘hostage’ as row over access to waters escalates

“Britain was last night accused of ‘taking French fishermen hostage’ by the EU’s former Brexit negotiator. Michel Barnier demanded the UK stick to its promises made under the agreement the Frenchman drew up with Lord Frost. In a thinly-veiled reference to the logistical woes gripping the UK, Mr Barnier said: ‘Taking hostage the fishing rights of a few small boats in the Channel will not solve Britain’s Brexit problems.’ Britain was last night accused of ‘taking French fishermen hostage’ by the EU’s former Brexit negotiator. Michel Barnier demanded the UK stick to its promises made under the agreement the Frenchman drew up with Lord Frost. In a thinly-veiled reference to the logistical woes gripping the UK, Mr Barnier said: ‘Taking hostage the fishing rights of a few small boats in the Channel will not solve Britain’s Brexit problems.’” – Daily Mail

Sunak opposed bailouts to stop firms nationalising their losses

“Rishi Sunak’s public feud with Kwasi Kwarteng erupted because he feels he was “bounced” into supporting CO2 producers and does not want to “nationalise” more businesses’ losses, the chancellor’s allies say. Downing Street has sided with Kwarteng, the business secretary, in a row about whether the government should intervene to support chemical, steel and other energy-intensive industries, with Boris Johnson set to back a multimillion-pound bailout within days. After Kwarteng suggested on Sunday he was in talks with Sunak about support, the Treasury issued an unusual and swift rebuke, accusing the business secretary of making things up.” – The Times

  • Four more energy companies ‘could go bust this week’ – leaving hundreds of thousands of families facing higher energy bills – Daily Mail
  • Inflation worries after job vacancies rise to record high – The Times

Comment:

  • Sunak and his officials are right to be sceptical… Bailing out business is just building an economy on the sand, Alex Brummer – Daily Mail

Iain Duncan Smith: Britain’s energy vulnerability plays straight into China’s hands

“In the mid 2000s, Britain went from being a net energy exporter to being a net importer. And that has remained the case ever since.  There are plenty of reasons for this unedifying reversal of fortunes, but most importantly, in their rush to decarbonise, our leaders have failed to anticipate the continuing need for fossil fuel reserves. Why, for example, has this Government only granted one licence for development of the Jackdaw field (a gas/condensate development in the North Sea) since 2016? Worse, why has the The Offshore Petroleum Regulator for Environment and Decommissioning (OPRED) reportedly refused to approve that licence? Why do we import so much when it seems clear that the UK still has sufficient known gas reserves for at least the next twenty years, and when we have the opportunity to pursue low cost shale gas exploration?” – Daily Telegraph

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Containers of Christmas gifts turned away as Felixstowe port hits capacity

“Ministers are being warned that Britain faces gaps on the shelves at Christmas as shipping containers carrying toys and electrical goods were diverted from the country’s biggest port yesterday because it is full. Shipping companies are directing vessels away from Felixstowe after it ran out of storage capacity. The port, on the Suffolk coast, normally handles about 36 per cent of Britain’s container imports and exports, much of it toys and furniture. The problem was described yesterday as a “perfect storm” caused by a shortage of lorry drivers to move the containers, restrictions at ports because of Covid, and a surge in imports. One shipping boss said: “I don’t want to sound like a Grinch but there are going to be gaps on shelves this Christmas.” – The Times

Coronavirus 1) UK worst in western Europe for Covid infections and deaths

“The UK has the highest rate of coronavirus cases and reported deaths in western Europe, as the wave that began over the summer continues to surge. Whereas France, Germany, Spain and Italy have successfully suppressed the wave caused by the Delta variant, almost 40,000 new cases were reported in Britain yesterday. Sir Patrick Vallance, the government’s chief scientific adviser, said that the success of vaccines meant that the country was able to maintain normality. He warned, however, that the UK was still in a precarious position, calling it a “balancing act”. According to the latest data there are 1.7 daily Covid-19 deaths per million people in the UK, more than twice the rate in France and Germany and five times that of the Netherlands.” – The Times

  • Hunt is in no position to point finger over Covid disaster, says Skidmore – The Times
  • Pandemic pushes cost of comfortable retirement to £50,000 a year – The Times

Comment:

  • Demands for herd immunity, a prediction of 500,000 Covid deaths during the pandemic… with blunders like these, how could the experts advising the Government be called Sage? Ross Clark – Daily Mail

Coronavirus 2) Hancock to advise Africa on pandemic recovery

“Matt Hancock has made a step towards political rehabilitation, taking a job advising Africa on its economic recovery from the pandemic. The former health secretary was praised for his “success on the United Kingdom’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic” by the UN agency for which he will be an unpaid adviser. The appointment is likely to raise eyebrows, coming on the day that an official report criticised the “big mistakes” of the government’s response to the coronavirus, saying that the initial response was one of the “worst public health failures” the country has seen. However, the report by MPs also praised the development and deployment of vaccines as one of the most effective programmes in British history.” – The Times

Coronavirus 3) Javid will tear up social distancing in surgeries to finally give thousands more patients face-to-face appointments with their doctor

“Family doctors will be told to tear up Covid rules to allow them to see more patients in person. The move is part of a package from Health Secretary Sajid Javid to address the crisis in GP access highlighted by the Daily Mail. To be published in the coming days, it will focus on cutting bureaucracy, giving doctors more time to see patients face to face. GP surgeries will be given new Covid guidance, including scrapping the two-metre social distancing rule which ended months ago elsewhere. Onerous ‘enhanced cleaning’ regimes will also be relaxed in the shake-up. A Whitehall source said the ‘small minority’ of GPs resisting a return to face-to-face appointments would be ‘held to account’.” – Daily Mail

Rejected asylum seekers could stay in Britain after court ruling

“Hundreds of rejected asylum seekers could be allowed to stay in the UK after a Vietnamese woman won a High Court case against the government’s immigration policy. The woman took legal action against Priti Patel, the home secretary, after losing her battle to claim asylum. She claimed she was a victim of modern slavery after being trafficked to Britain and forced to work as a prostitute. The claimant said that the government’s powers, which give the home secretary discretion to decide on whether a modern slavery victim has leave to remain in the UK, were contrary to a Council of Europe convention. A High Court judge ruled in her favour yesterday, meaning Patel could be forced to overhaul asylum laws.” – The Times

Step up, Sharma tells Cop26 laggards

“China, Russia, Australia and other G20 countries were urged to “step up” efforts to tackle climate change before the Cop26 conference. Alok Sharma, chairman of the meeting in Glasgow, said that leaders of the world’s biggest economies must not treat it as a “photo op or a talking shop” and should instead fulfil promises they made in July to set out ambitious emissions reduction targets for 2030. The Prince of Wales joined the diplomatic effort yesterday by launching a charm offensive to persuade some of China’s biggest companies to join his environmental initiatives and take stronger action on climate change. Sharma said the efforts of G20 nations to reduce emissions would “make or break” the main goal of Cop26, which is limiting global warming to a rise of 1.5C.” – The Times

  • Environment chief warns of catastrophic flooding threat – The Times
  • Discount on buying electric cars could be cut with Cop26 on horizon – Daily Telegraph

Judge to probe ‘government by WhatsApp’: Ministers face review over use of private messaging service to conduct official business

“Ministers and Whitehall officials are to face a full judicial review over their use of WhatsApp to conduct official government business. A High Court judge yesterday gave the green light to transparency campaigners to prove the Cabinet Office had acted unlawfully in doing so. In the first case of its kind, they will argue that crucial policy decisions are being decided on the messaging service – but are then deleted. Boris Johnson has previously been accused of overseeing ‘Government by WhatsApp’, with claims the ‘entire’ pandemic response was conducted over the encrypted messaging service – prompting the Information Commissioner to launch a probe into the use of private correspondence channels in Westminster.” – Daily Mail

New Gov.uk app will let people access 300 services at the blink of an eye

“The public will be able to use dozens of online government services from changing their driving licence to getting benefits via a new app, ministers have announced as part of plans to replace a failed £175 million scheme. Stephen Barclay, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, will on Wednesday unveil proposals for a new Gov.uk app that will allow users to verify their identity using features already on their smartphones, such as facial recognition or fingerprint scanning. The Cabinet Office says that the new app will merge 191 different ways people can currently create Gov.uk accounts into one simple log-in process. The announcement comes after ministers scrapped their previous project to create a single login system for Gov.uk, called Verify.” – Daily Telegraph

Universities union backs trans rights over threatened Sussex professor Kathleen Stock

“An academic abused by students who accuse her of transphobia says that a union has effectively “ended her career” at Sussex University. The University and College Union did not criticise attacks on Kathleen Stock, a philosophy professor, who has had to teach remotely because of fears for her safety. Yesterday it published a statement of support for trans and non-binary communities and condemned the university’s vice-chancellor for not having done the same. The UCU’s Sussex branch said that Professor Adam Tickell, the head of the university, had not upheld the dignity and respect of trans students and staff last week when he issued a statement supporting Stock and defending freedom of speech.” – The Times

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