Great Britain

Brexit LIVE: Hurry up! Boris to MISS lucrative US trade deal deadline as Biden drags feet

Joe Biden: Expert discusses relationship with UK and Brexit

Westminster officials have been scrambling to agree a deal in time to qualify for Washington's Fast Track Trade Promotion Authority and begin the legislative process in the Capitol. The legislative procedure expires in July and once past that point, any free trade agreement can be bogged down in Congress as lawmakers are able to make amendments to the deal. Mr Biden still has to appoint a US Trade Representative before UK negotiators can even start working ahead of the tight schedule.  Away from the deal with the US, Brexit Britain could soon surpass the EU with a mammoth free trade deal in the African market, which is estimated at £2trillion.

Now free from the EU's control, Tory peer Lord Dolar Popat has identified Africa as the next key area for the UK to build trade ties and kickstart Mr Johnson's post-Brexit plans.

Due to the fast-growing population of the continent, the collective GDP of the continent is worth nearly £5trillion.

Next year the Africa Free Trade Agreement will come into force and will provide a market worth £2trillion, offering a vital opportunity for the UK to build its trade portfolio, the Tory peer argued. 

Amid these incredible opportunities for the Prime Minister's post-Brexit plans, Lord Popat insisted: "It is not too late to harness Africa’s abundant opportunities."

Writing for Politics Home, he added: "I urge policymakers to consider a free trade agreement with the continent.

Boris Johnson and Ursula von der Leyen

Brexit news: Boris Johnson has been urged to invest in Africa (Image: GETTY)

"The Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement is coming into force next year, creating the largest free trade area in the world by number of countries, with a market size of over £2trillion.

"This is the perfect opportunity for a one-stop shop FTA with the whole African continent to open up African markets which currently seem to be out of reach for many UK businesses.

"We are devoting the rest of our days to ensuring the UK harnesses Africa’s potential. 

"In the next few decades, it is my sincere hope that we return to being Africa’s most important partner of choice."

As of 2019, Africa accounted for 2.4 percent of the UK's total trade. 

However, in order to boost those trade figures Mr Johnson established the UK-Africa Investment Summit last year and has expanded the Trade Envoy programme to cover more African countries. 


12.00am update:  UK Government in diplomatic spat with EU over ambassador’s status

Boris Johnson’s Government has become embroiled in a diplomatic spat with the European Union over the status of the bloc’s ambassador.

Joao Vale de Almeida has not been given the same status as ambassadors sent by national governments.

Senior Tories questioned the Government’s approach, with one ex-minister warning it could set a “bad precedent” that nations with poor human rights records might follow in an attempt to silence EU diplomats.

10.58pm update: Boris urged to punish EU if France plunders UK's financial services – 'We must retaliate!'

France has begun to gloat that Brexit has already started to drive thousands of jobs and billions of pounds in assets away from the UK. In response, asked its readers whether they thought Boris Johnson should consider taking action against the EU, in response to France taking the UK's financial services crown.

The poll, carried out from 10.30am-7pm on Thursday January 21, asked: "Should Boris punish EU if France plunders UK's financial services?"

Out of the 6,044 respondents, the overwhelming majority voted "yes", with 96 percent (5,820 people).

Just four percent (185 people) said "no", while less than one percent (39 people) opted for "don't know".

8.36pm update: UK fishermen to secure THOUSANDS of tonnes of fish from coastal rivals - major deal nears

A post Brexit fishing agreement with Norway was not agreed before the start of the year. Fisheries were therefore required to stop catching cod and haddock in Norwegian waters and have been forced to remain in port.

However, a breakthrough on the issue is now imminent according to Mr Eustice, who said an agreement could be reached within a fortnight.

Speaking in the House of Commons today, he said: "It's not unusual for fishing negotiations in the annual negotiations to go into January.

"This year there's obviously been the very special circumstance that the Withdrawal Agreement came late but in 2014 access was suspended while negotiations with Norway continued through January.

"We would anticipate that these negotiations would conclude within the next couple of weeks and then access for Arctic cod, should that be agreed in the agreement, could be resumed."

A fishing deal with Norway is close, George Eustice said

A fishing deal with Norway is close, George Eustice said (Image: PARLIAMENT TV/GETTY)

7.39pm update: Irish vaccine farce: Brussels BLOCKS Dublin bid to buy Oxford jab in Brexit payback

The pioneering vaccine has yet to be given the green light by the EU, despite having been given the thumbs-up in the UK, as efforts are stepped up to vaccinate as many people as possible with the NHS under increasing pressure.

However, Ray Bassett, Ireland’s former ambassador to Canada, Jamaica and the Bahamas, told “Our Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly, has just been rebuffed publicly when he suggested that Ireland should bring in some supplies of the AstraZeneca/Oxford COVID vaccine in anticipation of its approval by the European Medicines Agency.

“The Irish Government was sharply told by the Commission that this would not be permitted.

“It is hard to see how any democratic Government should allow itself to be overruled by an unelected body like the Commission especially when the health of its citizens is involved in a pandemic.”

5.56pm update: 'Boycott Brussels!' Britons say they've stopped buying EU goods over Brussels' 'pettiness'

Dutch customs officers have been filmed laughing at British drivers as they confiscated ham sandwiches at the border. One member of staff at the Hook of Holland seaport mocked the trucker, saying: “Welcome to Brexit, sir.” Dutch TV also broadcast footage of the officials wearing hi-vis jackets taking tin foil-wrapped food away from drivers that had arrived by ferry.

When one driver was asked whether it was acceptable to keep just the bread, they were told: "Everything will be confiscated.”

EU rules ban meat, meat products, milk and dairy products being brought in from outside the bloc for “personal consumption”.

Earlier this week, a senior diplomat suggested EU countries could reconsider the meat and cheese ban and bring an end to customs officials confiscating packed lunches from British truckers.

The source admitted negotiations would have to begin soon because cross-Channel business is still being heavily disrupted.

In response to the original story, one reader wrote: "They have lost more business through being petty over a drivers lunch.

"Boycott EU goods! Keep it up. Unforgivable!"

A second reader commented: "I do hope that the UK is prepared to ensure OUR rules are being met by inspecting every single thing that the EU export to the UK.

Brexit: Fishing industry receiving '£23 million boost' says Rees-Mogg

4.57pm update: Spain angrily accuses Boris Johnson of 'pettiness' over decision to quit EU scheme

Spanish foreign minister Arancha Gonzalez Laya said the move to not participate in the bloc’s Erasmus programme was to the detriment of British and European students.

Boris Johnson refused to sign up to the scheme despite holding intensive talks about joining it during the wrangling over the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement.

Insiders say the Prime Minister shunned rejoining Erasmus because it favours middle class children and does not represent his “levelling up” agenda.

Of the decision, Ms Gonzalez Laya said: “Cooperation will regrettably not extend to the Erasmus program due to the express decision of the United Kingdom, something that I frankly consider a little pettiness toward British and European students.”

The Irish government has announced it will fund students from Northern Ireland to continue participating in Erasmus.

But Downing Street has said it will spend more than £100 million on a post-Brexit alternative that will promote global Britain.

3.55pm update: Government confirms goods are flowing effectively between Great Britain and Northern Ireland

The end of the transition period has produced deep-seated structural problems which will not be quick to resolve, the Road Haulage Association (RHA) has said.

The Government must intervene with extra cash before jobs are lost at freight companies, the industry warned.

A UK Government spokesperson said: "Goods are flowing effectively between Great Britain and Northern Ireland and there is no disruption at Northern Ireland ports.

"The grace periods for businesses moving goods between GB and NI are in operation and working well.

"To ensure that traders have the support they need to adapt to the new practicalities, we have set up the £200m trader support service which provides free advice and support to businesses of all sizes.

"We are committed to working with industry and the Northern Ireland Executive to address any issues that arise."

3.10pm update: We're in charge! Spain boasts of new control over Gibraltar and warns of 'plan for future'

Foreign minister Arancha Gonzalez Laya boasted the Rock’s post-Brexit deal hands Madrid significant influence over the territory.

She told the Spanish parliament the government would be able to prevent the “uncontrolled” development of international relationships between Gibraltar and its foreign partners.

The UK has recently reached a deal with Madrid to secure the Rock’s post-Brexit future after the overseas territory was excluded from trade and security deal with the EU.

Downing Street and Brussels are still yet to strike up a formal agreement for the region, which was ceded to Britain after the War of Spanish Succession in 1713 under the Treaty of Utrecht.

Under the plan, Gibraltar will likely join the EU’s Schengen free movement zone to protect cross-border business with Spain.

Madrid, which constantly has used Brexit in its bid to reclaim sovereignty of the Rock, has claimed this will mean it will be placed in charge of managing the bloc’s external frontier on behalf of Brussels.

2.45pm update: EU ultimatum: Boris told to scrap lucrative 'Singapore-on-Thames' plan or face trade hell

Brussels has issued a stern ultimatum to Boris Johnson threatening the Prime Minister with continuous post-Brexit border chaos unless he drops his plans to transform the UK into the "Singapore of Europe".

Ministers are said to be drawing up plans to turn the UK into the "Singapore of Europe" by slashing taxes and restrictive EU imposed regulations post-Brexit.

Boris Johnson hinted at the prospect of tax cuts for entrepreneurs just last month.

During an online Facebook event with business leaders, Mr Johnson said that his government would examine the tax and regulation environment and would do everything "to encourage and support business".

But now Brussels is threatening the UK with relentless post-Brexit chaos unless the Prime Minister abandons his vision.

A senior EU diplomat told The Times: "Of course we can in future discuss how to have less friction."

But he added: "Discussing further facilitation or ways to reduce friction would depend on what the UK is doing and where they want to go.

"Initiating that conversation and negotiation will not be made easier if the other side of the table is talking up deregulation or Singapore on the Thames."

Brexit: Farage warns UK may have 'missed the boat' for US deal

1.48pm update: Boris facing US trade deal nightmare 

Amid Liz Truss' aim to agree a trade deal this year, Westminster officials are rushing to put in place multiple elements of the trade agreement. 

By doing so, they hope to qualify for Washington's Fast Track Trade Promotion Authority by April - as lawmakers must be given 30 days notice of any deal - and push a deal through Congress before the procedure expires in July and therefore further delay any deal. 

The mechanism is beneficial as it allows for any deal to be pushed through the Capitol without major alterations being made by lawmakers. 

However, many insiders believe this to be unlikely due to the change in administration following Donald Trump's departure. 

If a deal is not agreed, it would be a major blow to Mr Johnson due to the size of trade with the US. 

In a further sign that a deal will not be struck in time, Mr Biden is yet to appoint a Trade Representative and even when they are in place, the trade team must establish its objectives. 

Following the creation of the UK Internal Market Bill which threatened the peace process in Ireland, there is also an element of mistrust of Mr Johnson's Government. 

Due to the domestic unrest and coronavirus pandemic, it is also thought Mr Biden will have less appetite to agree a deal. 

Joe Biden

Brexit news: The UK is under pressure to agree a deal with the US (Image: GETTY)

1.36pm update: 'What a silly comment!' Lord Adonis shamed after rushing to EU's defence in row with UK

Lord Adonis has accused Boris Johnson of "insulting" the European Union in a furious outburst amid a diplomatic row over the status of the bloc's ambassador to the UK.

The arch-Remainer took to Twitter to fume at the Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab over the refusal to grant full diplomatic status to the EU's ambassador to the UK.

Lord Adonis warned the move was "very unwise" as he quoted Italian philosopher Niccolo Machiavelli.

The Labour peer tweeted: "Johnson & Raab have decided not just to leave the EU but to insult it - denying full diplomatic status to the EU ambassador being the latest insult

"Very unwise. Machiavelli: ‘People should either be caressed or crushed. If you do them minor damage they will get their revenge’."

12.07pm update: UK Government insists no disruption to trade

The Government has claimed good are flowing correctly between Great Britain and Northern Ireland. 

This comes amid concerns from some traders over disruption to trade following Brexit. 

A UK Government spokesperson said: "Goods are flowing effectively between Great Britain and Northern Ireland and there is no disruption at Northern Ireland ports.

"The grace periods for businesses moving goods between GB and NI are in operation and working well. "

11.25am update: Gloating Michel Barnier mocks Brexit Britain as he issues warning not to quit EU bloc

Michel Barnier mocked Britain and issued a warning to the remaining European Union states that Brexit has demonstrated the danger of quitting the trading bloc.

The European Union's Chief Brexit Negotiator was speaking at the European Movement Ireland Group's European of the Year Award ceremony.

Michel Barnier stated that Brexit did not trigger the end of the European Union as some people predicted but instead strengthen the unity within the trading bloc.

Mr Barnier said: "Contrary to what many predicted at the time of the 2016 Brexit referendum, Brexit did not trigger the end of the European Union but the strengthening of its unity.

"Today Brexit has exposed the consequences of leaving the EU for all to see."

Boris Johnson

Brexit news: Boris Johnson hopes the G7 summit will illustrate the UK's global standing (Image: No10 Flickr)

10.50am update: Forget divided US, Britain is world's best hope for freedom and democracy - BERNARD INGHAM

Prime Minister: First the good news.Whatever Theresa May thinks about your moral compass, Britain is in remarkably good heart after nearly a year of lockdowns.

Of course, everybody is grumbling. It is in the tradition of the Tommies in the trenches on the Somme in 1916.

It’s being so cheerful as keeps us going, to paraphrase Mona Lott. It is true that the energetic young and the irresponsible are kicking over the traces.

Read more from Sir Bernard here.

10.02am update: Brexit rebellion: Boris faces calls for new bailout as UK meat products rot in EU ports

Boris Johnson has been told to pay compensation to the UK meat industry as tons of food rots in EU ports.

Mr Johnson has already handed over £23m to the fishing industry as compensation for chaos caused by "eye-watering" red tape.

Now, meat exporters to the EU have been hit with lengthy customs and health checks as part of more stringent rules, with customers cancelling orders and costly meat destroyed before reaching the continent as it's no longer fresh.

Earlier this week, British Meat Processors Association (BMPA) chief executive Nick Allen warned EU customers will abandon British businesses and look elsewhere for meat imports if the chaotic problems at the UK-EU border are not solved.

Joe Biden: Expert discusses relationship with UK and Brexit

9.27am update: Guy Verhofstadt attacks EU in ferocious rant - exposes three major weaknesses in Brussels

Guy Verhofstadt has launched a ferocious attack on the EU and admitted three major weaknesses in Brussels.

The Belgian MEP outlined migration, geopolitical unity and the rule of law as huge flaws in the bloc.

The MEP tweeted: "The EU's weaknesses need to be addressed: We need solid migration management, geopolitical unity, stronger rule of law.

"Time for the Conference on the Future of Europe to start. My intervention in Parliament today."

8.58am update: Ed Balls talks down UK-US trade deal chances 'I’d be very surprised'

Ed Balls has belittled the UK's chances of reaching a post-Brexit traded deal with the US, saying he would be "very surprised" if one was agreed within the next couple of years.

The former Labour politician said that Liz Truss, the UK's International Trade Secretary, would struggle to broker a post-Brexit trade agreement with the new White House as securing one is not a top priority for President Joe Biden.

Ms Truss had previously indicated her intent to sign a trade deal with the US this year but Mr Balls made clear in his view such a pact would not be forthcoming, especially in the early years of the Biden presidency.

On a potential free trade deal with the US, he told ITV's Robert Peston: "I'd be very surprised if Liz Truss has any chance of negotiating a free trade agreement with America in the next couple of years.

"It's not going to be a priority for the Joe Biden presidency… For exactly these complicated bilateral issues."

Brexit endgame

Brexit news: Five key moments which led to the UK's departure from the EU (Image: Express)

8.51am update: No extension to grace period over Northern Ireland ports 

The Government does not expect to extend the grace period which limits red tape associated with trade between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Brandow Lewis has said. 

For the first three months of the year, several exemptions have been placed on documents such as health certificates on goods entering Northern Ireland. 

The Secretary of State claimed both the EU and UK are working to resolve any outstanding issues but will not extend the amnesty. 

He said: "The whole point of the grace periods is there are certain issues that at the end of having secured the protocol we recognise there are still issues where we want to make sure you've got that good free flow of products such as the great British banger, as the Prime Minister outlined.

"The idea of grace periods, from our point of view, is to find a solution that means that that can continue to flow, to do that working with the industry, working with our partners in the EU as well."

7.59am update: Wales would vote to rejoin the EU - poll

In a poll commissioned by ITV, 44 percent of those asked stated they would vote to rejoin the EU. 

In contrast, 38 percent said 'no' while 19 per cent were not sure. 

In 2016, Wales voted to 52 percent to 48 to leave the EU. 

Brexit timeline

Brexit news: A timeline of events from the UK's departure form the EU (Image: Express)

7.30am update: Boris urged to invest in Africa 

Tory peer, Lord Dolar Popat, has urged the Prime Minister to increase trade ties with the continent which is expected to house a quarter of the world's population by 2050.

Next year, The Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement will come into force and will create a market worth £2trillion. 

With the UK free from the EU's shackles, the Tory peer has urged Mr Johnson to create greater ties with the continent to kickstart Britain's post-Brexit future. 

Writing for Politics Home, he said: "I urge policymakers to consider a free trade agreement with the continent.

"The Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement is coming into force next year, creating the largest free trade area in the world by number of countries, with a market size of over £2trillion.

"This is the perfect opportunity for a one-stop shop FTA with the whole African continent to open up African markets which currently seem to be out of reach for many UK businesses.

"We are devoting the rest of our days to ensuring the UK harnesses Africa’s potential.

"In the next few decades, it is my sincere hope that we return to being Africa’s most important partner of choice."

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