THE EU has threatened to pull out of post-Brexit trade deal talks unless the UK agrees to compromise.
The EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier warned his UK counterpart David Frost that without a major negotiating shift by Downing Street within the next 48 hours he will abandon Brexit talks in London this weekend.
Such a move would be the biggest setback yet for hopes of a UK-EU trade deal with just 36 days to go before the end of the Brexit transition period.
The news comes as Brexit border control tests sparked three-hour lorry queues along the M20 motorway in Kent.
French authorities yesterday trialled a new system at the Channel Tunnel, conducting checks on the British side of the border rather than in France - a move that forms part of the new border checks that will take place after the Brexit transition period ends on December 31.
As a result, lorries were left queuing in three miles of gridlock, forcing entry and exit slip roads to close due to the number of HGVs parked on the hard shoulder - although the chaos cleared by mid-afternoon.
Follow our Brexit live blog for all the latest news and updates…
CAR PRODUCTION FALLS AGAIN AMID SUBDUED DEMAND IN UK AND OVERSEAS
he number of cars built in the UK fell by almost a fifth last month compared to a year ago, new figures reveal.
Just over 110,000 models left factories, down by 24,490, or 18.2%, on October 2019, said the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).
The impact of coronavirus and fresh lockdowns in the UK and overseas subdued demand for new cars in many key markets, said the trade body.
October's decline was driven largely by falling exports, particularly to the EU and United States.
Shipments to the US fell by 26% and to the EU by 25.7%, said the SMMT.
Major Asian markets fared better, with exports to Japan and China up 57.1% and 9.7% respectively, reflecting less stringent lockdown measures, but this was not enough to offset losses elsewhere.
A BREXIT DEAL IS 'IMPERATIVE FOR EVERYONE', URGES IRISH TD
An Irish TD has said it is "imperative" for everyone that a Brexit deal between the UK and the EU is secured.
As negotiations continue, Fine Gael representative Neale Richmond said the Irish Government's last two budgets were "framed on the basis that a no-deal Brexit was, unfortunately, the likely scenario".
He said, as a result, expansion work is underway at Dublin and Rosslare ports as more customs and veterinary officials are hired.
Mr Richmond was speaking during a virtual meeting between Stormont's Executive Committee and the Joint Oireachtas Committee on European Affairs.
"We absolutely hope in the coming days that a deal can be secured," he said.
IRISH TAOISEACH SAYS 'GOOD RESULT' STILL POSSIBLE IN BREXIT TALKS
Ireland's prime minister said on Wednesday there was still time for a "good result" in trade talks between Britain and the European Union and that he saw a landing zone for agreement on so-called "level playing-field" trade rules.
"Sometimes you can get a good result in extra time," Micheal Martin told euronews television in an interview when asked if time was running out for an agreement.
"I do believe there is a landing zone on the level playing-field, that then leads into a dispute resolution mechanism that would enable both sides to react if one was undermining the agreement and in breach of the agreement," Martin added.
FRANCE ACCUSES UK OF DRAGGING ITS FEET IN BREXIT TALKS
France's foreign minister accused Britain on Wednesday of "dragging its feet" in last-ditch Brexit negotiations and said Paris would not yield on the issue of fisheries, one of three key issues blocking a deal.
Britain and the EU are in a last-ditch effort to agree terms to keep trade flowing without tariffs or quotas from the start of 2021, after London's current standstill transition out of the 27-nation bloc ends.
"The outcome is uncertain. British overtures remain insufficient on the most sensitive matters," Jean-Yves Le Drian told a parliamentary hearing.
"At this time, Britain is dragging its feet on secondary matters and is playing with the calendar. I say this to our British friends, we won't let the calendar take priority over the content of the accord."
He said the two sides remained far apart on fishing rights, a totemic issue for both Britain and France. Britain, with rich fishing waters, favours annual catch negotiations but the EU is seeking a longer-term perspective for its fishing industry.
NO-DEAL BREXIT WOULD WIPE 2% OFF CORONAVIRUS-HIT UK ECONOMY IN 2021 - OBR
A no-deal Brexit is forecast to wipe 2% off the economy next year and lead to a long-term decline in gross domestic product (GDP), according to the latest analysis.
Trade talks between the UK and the European Union continue to be deadlocked as the December 31 cut-off date looms closer.
If there is no agreement by the end of the year then the UK is set to revert to World Trade Organisation terms with its largest trading partner, a move the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) has forecast could "reduce real GDP by a further 2% in 2021", on top of the havoc wreaked by coronavirus.
The economic shock of the "various temporary disruptions to cross-border trade and the knock-on impacts" would continue for years to come, it predicted.
In its analysis, published to coincide with Wednesday's Spending Review, the OBR said: "As these abate, the longer-term effects of lower trade intensity continue to build such that output is 1.5% lower than our central forecast after five years, and 2% lower in the long run."
BRITAIN EYES 'QUICK WIN' POST-BREXIT INSURANCE REFORM, SAYS BOE OFFICIAL
Britain is considering a "quick win" reform of capital rules for insurers after the Brexit transition period ends, a senior Bank of England official said on Wednesday.
The rules were inherited from the bloc and Brexit gives Britain a free hand to amend them, with lawmakers saying changes are needed to keep insurers competitive.
BoE regulators will look to rejig so-called Solvency II regulations in Britain as quickly as it can, Victoria Saporta, executive director of prudential policy at the BoE, told the Reuters Events Future of Insurance Europe conference.
The central bank has a long list of items for potential reform, she said.
"If we see that there are certain quick wins, and there could well be some quick wins in regulatory reporting for instance, then we might be able to deliver them," Saporta said.
Areas of focus include tweaking risk margins, regulatory reporting and rules around Libor, Saporta said, adding that regulators would need to work with the Treasury and Parliament, meaning some changes will take longer due to the need for changes in the law.
"And also, we really really do need to look at the evidence and provide a sort of very careful assessment."
GRIM OFFICIAL FORECASTS PREDICT HIGHEST PEACETIME BORROWING AND 11% GDP PLUNGE
Britain's economy will suffer the biggest plunge in output for more than 300 years and government borrowing will balloon to a peacetime high of £394 billion, the fiscal watchdog has warned.
The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) said £218 billion of government support to help the economy through the pandemic will see borrowing soar to the equivalent of 19% of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2020-21.
The borrowing marks the highest level in Britain's peacetime history and a significant hike on the £372.2 billion forecast by the OBR only three months ago.
It will leave UK public sector debt at 105% of GDP - the highest level since 1959-60.
In a grim set of forecasts, the OBR warned the economy is not expected to return to pre-pandemic levels until the end of 2022, while unemployment will peak at 2.6 million after furlough support ends next spring.
GDP is predicted to plummet by 11.3% in 2020 - the largest annual fall since 1709, the year of the Great Frost.
NO DEAL BREXIT TO WIPE 2% OFF UK OUTPUT INITIALLY, OBR SAYS
A failure by Britain to agree a free trade deal with the European Union would wipe an additional 2% off the country's economic output initially, the Office for Budget Responsibility said on Wednesday.
The OBR had already forecast that output would fall by 4% in the long run, compared to the country remaining in the European Union, if Britain secures a free trade agreement with the bloc.
It said it had now given a forecast for a no-deal exit given the continued uncertainty over the outcome of the negotiations, with Britain due to leave a status-quo transition period after Brexit on Dec. 31 and the two sides yet to agree new trade terms.
"This would further reduce output by 2% initially and 1.5% at the forecast horizon," it said.
BRITONS HAVE LIMITED UNDERSTANDING OF BROAD ECONOMIC CONCEPTS SAYS REPORT
British people have little understanding of economic concepts such as the budget deficit and GDP and mistrust some data, research shows, potentially hindering the government's messages to the public as it looks towards eventually fixing the public finances.
While people surveyed were fairly well informed about economic measures that affect them directly, such as inflation and interest rates, they had limited knowledge of national issues such as gross domestic product and the deficit.
Britain is on course for a record economic crash this year - the Bank of England forecasts an 11% slump - driven by the pandemic. It also faces further challenges from Brexit.
ALL SCENARIOS BEING CONSIDERED AHEAD OF BREXIT TRANSITION DEADLINE SAYS MINISTER
All scenarios are being extensively considered as the deadline for sealing a Brexit transition deal looms, the UK Government has said.
Contingencies around Northern Ireland have been given a lot of thought but the priority is securing a deal with the EU by the end of the year, Northern Ireland Office (NIO) minister Robin Walker said.
Cross-border co-operation with the Republic of Ireland on policing, security and criminal justice is a major factor for the authorities.
Mr Walker said: "We are thinking about contingencies, we are thinking about what might be necessary in the event that we have not been able to achieve the preferred outcome from the negotiations.
"Our focus should be on achieving that mutually beneficial outcome.
"A lot of thought has been given to what we will need to do in all scenarios."
He said: "It's really important there's very strong engagement to look at the means by which this issue can be resolved."
Under EU food safety rules chilled meat products can't be imported from outside the bloc, although frozen goods are allowed.
A trade deal won't solve the problem, meaning the only fix is for the Commission to waive the regulations citing exceptional circumstances.
Former Brexit minister David Jones said a meat blockade would be unacceptable to Britain and "cast the Irish to the wolves".
He told The Sun: "This is going to cause as much consternation in Dublin as in London. This will be devastating to Ireland.
"We can't have a state of affairs where UK supermarkets can't supply their own branches in Northern Ireland with their own processed meat.
"That's not something we can countenance. The EU has got to understand the relationship between the UK and Ireland is different.
"If they've got any respect for the people of Ireland, both north and south, they should find a means of resolving this problem."
AIRLINES EXPECT TO AVOID BREXIT DISRUPTION AS TRANSITION ENDS
Airlines are hopeful that Brexit-related disruption can be avoided, as Britain and the European Union continue negotiations on their future relationship after the Dec. 31 end of the transition period, the sector's main global body said.
"We see positive trends in terms of an agreement," said Rafael Schvartzman, vice-president for Europe at the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
"In principle we're not seeing a situation (where) there will be lost connectivity."
GOOD PIE-DAY AGREEMENT
Brussels is threatening to block British bangers made on the mainland from being sold in Northern Ireland.
Eurocrats are insisting imports of chilled meat products from the UK will be banned after Brexit because of EU red tape.
The devastating diktat, also covering burgers and mince, would include Northern Ireland under the terms of last year's divorce deal.
Boris Johnson is vowing to retaliate by stopping the same Irish goods from entering our market, which would hammer the country's farmers.
Dublin is now pleading with the EU Commission to show some common sense before it's too late.
Agriculture minister Charlie McConalogue insisted the row is "not brinkmanship" and called the threat of a ban "concerning".
He discussed Brexit with the British PM earlier this month during one of his first phone calls to other world leaders as president-elect.
Back then he warned his British counterpart that Brexit must not jeopardize the Northern Ireland peace process.
Biden also touched upon the 1998 Good Friday agreement during his presidential campaign.
He tweeted in September: "We can't allow the Good Friday Agreement that brought peace to Northern Ireland to become a casualty of Brexit.
"Any trade deal between the US and UK must be contingent upon respect for the Agreement and preventing the return of a hard border. Period."
KEEP THE PEACE
JOE Biden has fired a Brexit warning shot at Boris Johnson by declaring he does not want to see a so-called hard Irish border.
The US President-elect spoke out as he revealed he had already discussed the tricky issue with the British PM and other European leaders.
"We do not want a guarded border," he told reporters last night. "We want to make sure we work hard to get Ireland worked out.
"I've talked with the British prime minister; I've talked with the Taoiseach; I've talked with others and I've talked with the French.
"The idea of having the border north and south once again being closed, it's just not right. We've just got to keep the border open."
UK TO UNVEIL SPENDING PLANS IN FACE OF SURGING DEBT
Britain's government on Wednesday announces its spending plans for the next year amid soaring debt to support the virus-ravaged economy and as the nation embarks on its post-Brexit future.
Finance minister Rishi Sunak will address parliament from around 1230 GMT, with one week to go until England ends a second lockdown aimed at curbing a fresh wave of coronavirus infections.
Sunak will outline departments' budgets for 2021/2022, with Britain yet to strike a post-Brexit trade deal with the European Union ahead of a transition period ending December 31.
Speculation is growing that with UK debt soaring, Prime Minister Boris Johnson's Conservative government will either cut or suspend Britain's commitment to spend 0.7 per cent of national income on foreign aid.
EU COMMISSION CHIEF SEES 'GENUINE PROGRESS' IN BREXIT TALKS, NO-DEAL OUTCOME STILL POSSIBLE
he head of the European Union's executive on Wednesday reported "genuine progress" in Brexit talks but said the risk of Britain leaving the EU without a deal on Dec. 31 remained, an outcome she said the bloc was prepared for.
Britain and the EU are in a last-ditch effort to agree terms to keep trade flowing without tariffs or quotas from the start of 2021, after London's current standstill transition out of the 27-nation bloc ends.
"The next days are going to be decisive," European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen told the European Parliament. "The European Union is well prepared for a no-deal-scenario, but of course we prefer to have an agreement."
"With very little time ahead of us, we will do all in our power to reach an agreement. We are ready to be creative. But we are not ready to put into question the integrity of our single market," she said.
Negotiators have agreed the outline of a new partnership treaty on goods and services, as well as on transport, she said.
Approval for any deal will be needed by the end of December for it to kick in on January 1, when Britain finally severs ties with the EU.
Officially Labour said tonight that “no decision has been taken about whipping or on votes”.
But Sir Keir ally Rachel Reeves is said to have told Labour MPs that he is leaning towards backing the plan.
KEIR BREX PLAN
SIR Keir Starmer will order Labour MPs to back a Brexit deal to try to win back the North, his allies claim.
Shadow Cabinet sources say the party will support “almost any trade deal” that PM Boris Johnson forges with Brussels.
They hope that doing so will “put the issue to bed for good” and win back the trust of “Red Wall” voters lost to the Tories in last year’s election.
Strategists also say Labour’s support will give the PM wiggle room to compromise and still have the votes to get an agreement through the Commons even with objections from those in his own party.
Trade talks between the EU and UK are reaching an endgame, with negotiators “working around the clock to get a deal”, according to Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove.
STERLING WEAKER AS TRADERS AWAIT BREXIT RESULTS, SUNAK'S SPENDING REVIEW
Sterling was slightly weaker on Wednesday as the euro rose and traders waited to see whether Britain will be able to clinch a post-Brexit trade deal with the European Union during this week's negotiations.
Also on Wednesday, Chancellor Rishi Sunak will present the details of the Spending Review, which will coincide with the Office of Budget Responsibility releasing its latest projections for the British economy.
Most in the market expect a post-Brexit trade deal to be agreed, even if it is a bare bones one, with some talks continuing into the next year.
Meanwhile, EU banks will have to use platforms inside the EU to trade derivatives from January, the bloc's securities watchdog said on Wednesday, a move that could cut off the City of London, the world's biggest derivatives trading hub.
DECISIVE DAYS FOR UK TRADE PACT, EU PREPARES FOR NO DEAL BREXIT SAYS CHIEF EXECUTIVE
The European Commission cannot guarantee there will be a trade pact with Britain after its departure from the European Union and the coming days will be crucial, the EU's chief executive said on Wednesday, adding the bloc was prepared for a no-deal.
"The next days are going to be decisive. The European Union is well prepared for a no-deal scenario," European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told the European Parliament.
"With very little time ahead of us, we will do all in our power to reach an agreement. We are ready to be creative", she said.
SWISS ALLOCATE 3,500 WORK PERMITS FOR BRITONS POST-BREXIT
The Swiss government on Wednesday allocated up to 3,500 work permits for Britons next year to let employers recruit staff from the United Kingdom, which will no longer be covered by Swiss free-movement accords with the European Union.
"This ensures the required flexibility for Swiss business," the government said.
The UK permit contingent initially applies for one year and will be released to Swiss cantons quarterly.
Bern maintained at 8,500 the number of permits for specialists and skilled workers from other countries outside the EU and European Free Trade Association members Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein who want to work in Switzerland temporarily.
EU WILLING TO BE 'CREATIVE' TO GET A BREXIT TRADE DEAL
The European Union on Wednesday committed to be creative" in the final stages of the Brexit trade negotiations but warned that whatever deal emerges, the United Kingdom will be reduced to just a valued partner" far removed from its former membership status.
EU Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said genuine progress" had been made on several issues with an outline of a final text," little more than a month before Britain's transition period as a former EU member runs out.
And she said that on the divisive issues of fisheries, governance of any deal and the standards the U.K. must meet to export into the EU, the bloc is ready to be creative, but we are not ready to put into question the integrity of the single market, the main safeguard for European prosperity and wealth."
As first revealed in The Sun, the report was marked as “official and sensitive” and warned of the problems back in September.
It is understood to detail the government plans for a “worst case” scenario across 20 different areas affected by the last stages of Brexit.
Boris Johnson’s Cabinet has warned all departments to prepare for a “no deal” departure as the deadline draws closer.
The paper summaries Whitehall's views on the current state of the UK - a country struggling to overcome the current crisis but bracing itself for more problems, says The Guardian.
It warns of a "systematic economic crisis" in which British and global food supply chains will be disrupted by “circumstances occurring concurrently at the end of the year".
THE UK is facing a perfect storm of a no deal Brexit, pandemic flu, floods and strikes, leaked Government papers warn.
A report warns that there is a “notable risk” that the country could be hit by a series of disasters including battling Covid.
The UK is currently locked in negotiations with the EU for a trade deal before the Brexit transition period comes to an end on January 1.
A confidential Cabinet Office briefing states: “Winter 2020 could see a combination of severe flooding, pandemic influenza, a novel emerging infectious disease and coordinated industrial action, against a backdrop of the end of the [Brexit] transition period.”