Boris Johnson accused of ‘mis-selling’ Brexit deal
Boris Johnson insisted that the UK would not regress on workers’ rights or environmental standards in 2021, as Tory MPs in the European Research Group (ERG) pour over the details of his Brexit trade deal with the EU.
The PM admitted “the devil is in the detail” of the deal but insisted the deal contains commitments not to regress on standards. “All that’s really saying is the UK won’t immediately send children up chimneys or pour raw sewage all over its beaches,” he said.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak is doing a “big exercise” on changes to business taxes and regulation contained in the deal, ahead of a one-day debate in parliament on 30 December. One ERG figure said the group had yet to find any “absolute horrors” in the agreement.
PM ‘bottled it’ on fish, says trade industry
How much will the ERG and other Tory backbenchers care about fishing quotas? The head of the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisation (NFFO), accused Mr Johnson of having “bottled it” on quotas, securing only “a fraction of what the UK has a right to under international law”.
“Lacking legal, moral or political negotiating leverage on fish, the EU made the whole trade deal contingent on a UK surrender on fisheries,” Barrie Deas said on Sunday.
The share of fish in British waters that the UK can catch will rise from about half now to less than two-thirds by the end of a five-and-a-half-year transition.
A senior member of the UK negotiating team defended the fishing compromise as a transition to a point of “full control over our waters” – but acknowledged that No 10 wanted the process to happen “faster”.
Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon accused the Conservatives of having “sold out Scottish fishing all over again”, adding: “Promises they knew couldn’t be delivered, duly broken.”
Adam Forrest27 December 2020 09:31
‘I’m astonished how thin the deal is’
Many key aspects of the UK’s future relationship with the EU are still up in the air, experts have warned – leaving numerous questions unanswered about professional qualifications, asylum rights, financial services and other issues, they said.
The text contains no fewer than 244 references to “arbitration tribunals” and a further 170 to a “partnership council” – the bodies that will decide the details and settle future disputes, suggesting further negotiations in 2021.
Some 19 specialised committees and four working groups would hold at least 21 meetings each year – excluding aspects affecting Northern Ireland.
“I’m astonished how thin the deal is,” said Brexit expert Anton Spisak, adding: “This falls even below the standard of some recent EU FTAs [free trade agreements].”
Georgina Wright, associate at the Institute for Government, said: “There is still a lot of information that’s a little bit vague. The text is so legally dense and businesses want to know practical measures.”
Adam Forrest27 December 2020 09:21
Sunak ‘doing exercise’ on tax and regulatory possibilities within Brexit deal
Boris Johnson said chancellor Rishi Sunak is “doing a big exercise” on changes to business taxes and regulation contained in the 1,246-page Brexit trade deal.
The PM claimed the deal would give the government “legislative and regulatory freedoms to deliver for people who felt left behind”.
Sunak, meanwhile, said next year would begin a “new era” for the nation as he pledged to invest in the nation to “build opportunity for everyone” in investing in infrastructure and “rewarding risk-takers and entrepreneurs”.
“I want next year to be the start of something much more meaningful for all of us. A moment to look afresh at the world and the opportunities it presents, and to consider how to take advantage of them,” the chancellor wrote in the Mail on Sunday.
Adam Forrest27 December 2020 09:15
Brexit deal ‘won’t see children sent up chimneys’, says PM
Boris Johnson has touted post-Brexit changes to business taxes and regulation next year as Conservative Eurosceptics pored over the details of his trade agreement with the EU.
The PM said that, although he accepts that “the devil is in the detail” of the deal, he believes that it will stand up to inspection from the European Research Group (ERG) of Brexiteers – after the 1,246-page document was officially published on Boxing Day.
In an interview with the Sunday Telegraph, the PM listed animal welfare regulations, data and chemicals alongside existing plans to establish low tax freeports. The deal also contains commitments not to regress on standards for workers’ rights and environmental standards.
However, Johnson said: “All that’s really saying is the UK won’t immediately send children up chimneys or pour raw sewage all over its beaches. We’re not going to regress, and you’d expect that.”
The PM also claimed the deal would offer legislative and regulatory freedoms to “deliver for people who felt left behind”.
Adam Forrest27 December 2020 09:00
ERG checking if deal passes ‘sovereignty’ test
Senior Conservative backbencher Sir Bill Cash said “sovereignty is the key issue” as the European Research Group (ERG) analyse the small print of the 1,246-page Brexit trade deal.
Reports suggest the senior Brexit hardliners are preparing to support the deal. One ERG figure told The Sunday Times the group had yet to find any “absolute horrors” in the agreement. But are angered by the little time they have to debate it – accusing the PM of showing “contempt” by holding only a one-day debate
Sir Iain Duncan Smith, the former Tory leader, claimed the ERG’s “star chamber” lawyers were “far better than anything the government has got”.
Peter Bone MP added: “It is exactly like a budget. Most of us think this looks good, but let’s just have time to check back and establish that it is what it appears to be.”
Adam Forrest27 December 2020 08:57