Brexit news – live: EU pushed to ‘outer limits’ on Northern Ireland protocol as new plans to be revealed

Lord Frost accuses EU of using Northern Ireland to try to reverse referendum result

European leaders are nearing the limits of what they will accept when it comes to changes to the Northern Ireland protocol, a Brussels source has told The Independent.

Speaking ahead of the announcement by Maros Sefcovic of new proposals to address British complaints over the deal, the source said: “We have gone to the outer limits of what member states, particularly France, will wear.”

Maros Sefcovic, the European Commission’s vice president, has promised “very far-reaching” changes to address the movement of goods across the Irish Sea. Reports suggest he will offer to lift half of customs checks on goods and more than half of checks on meat and plant products.

However, Ireland’s Leo Varadkar warned Brussels not to make any agreements with the UK until “confident that they keep their promises” – following a claim by Dominic Cummings, Boris Johnson’s ex-adviser, that No 10 had always intended to “ditch” parts of the deal.

The row comes the day after Lord Frost accused Brussels of being “disrespectful” to the UK by enforcing the deal he and the PM negotiated.


Opinion: According to Dominic Cummings, the prime minister is either stupid or dishonest

The more Dominic Cummings calls Boris Johnson stupid, the clearer it becomes who has outwitted whom, writes John Rentoul.

The prime minister’s former chief adviser had another go at telling the world how useless his former boss is on Twitter last night. This predictably sent much of the website into meltdown, because the one person very online Remainers hate more than Johnson is Cummings.

Yet Cummings attacks the prime minister with such extravagant venom, and from a position of such insider authority, that they cannot help but thrill to the takedown.

Jon Sharman13 October 2021 12:48


EU countries ‘at outer limits’ of what they will accept on NI protocol

European Union member states are nearing the limits of what they will accept when it comes to changes to the Northern Ireland protocol, a Brussels source has told The Independent.

They added: “These proposals are a sensible basis for further discussion, not a take-it-or-leave offer.”

This revelation is brought to you by our political columnist Andrew Grice, whose full piece you can read below:

Jon Sharman13 October 2021 12:25


Rail freight operators forced to dump electric trains for diesel due to Britain’s energy crisis

Rail freight operators are having to mothball their electric locomotives and switch back to more polluting and slower diesel trains because of the unfolding energy crisis, writes Jon Stone.

The logistics firms say a surge in wholesale energy prices and an increase in the track access charges they pay has made the low-carbon trains uneconomic to operate.

The startling revelation comes just two weeks before the UK hosts the COP26 climate summit and is bad news for decarbonisation plans – which rely on electrification.

Jon Sharman13 October 2021 12:20


Only 20 foreign lorry driver visas have been processed, government admits

Only around 20 applications for temporary visas from foreign lorry drivers have been processed during Britain’s supply chain crisis, a senior government figure has revealed.

Conservative Party co-chair Oliver Dowden admitted that the UK had been able to attract a “relatively limited” number of heavy goods vehicle (HGV) drivers from overseas, writes Adam Forrest.

The minister said the government had received around 300 applications from foreign drivers, but just over 20 hauliers have been processed and are now “on the roads”.

Jon Sharman13 October 2021 12:01


PM didn’t understand own Brexit deal, Cummings claims

Boris Johnson never understood what his Withdrawal Agreement with the EU really meant, his former chief adviser has claimed.

During the election campaign, Mr Johnson repeatedly boasted that the “divorce” settlement he had negotiated with Brussels – including the Northern Ireland protocol – was a “great” deal that was “oven ready” to be signed.

But Dominic Cummings tweeted on Wednesday: “He never had a scoobydoo what the deal he signed meant. He never understood what leaving customs union meant until November 2020.”

Mr Cummings also claimed in the provocative series of tweets that he had always intended to persuade the PM to “ditch the bits [of the deal] we didn’t like” after beating Labour in the 2019 general election.

His claim prompted Leo Varadkar, the Irish deputy premier, to warn Brussels the UK might act “in bad faith” in upcoming negotiations on the NI protocol.

In response, Mr Cummings tweeted that “of course” there was no good faith involved in earlier talks, adding: “NEWSFLASH: cheating foreigners is a core part of the job.”

Jon Sharman13 October 2021 11:42


Ministers were told to delete instant messages, legal challenge reveals

Court documents have revealed that ministers and government officials have been told to delete instant messaging conversations automatically, Adam Forrest reports.

Transparency campaigners claim the routine use of WhatApp and Signal, which have options to make messages disappear, have been used to avoid scrutiny of decisions made during the Covid crisis.

A High Court granted a judicial review into the rules, and revealed new details of the Cabinet Office’s “information and records retention and destruction policy” for ministers and civil servants.

Andy Gregory13 October 2021 11:07


‘Of course there wasn’t good faith’: Dominic Cummings weighs in further on Brexit negotiations

Dominic Cummings has weighed in whether the UK acted in “bad faith” during the Brexit negotiations, after his claim to have always planned to “ditch” parts of the Brexit deal led Irish deputy Leo Varadkar to issue a warning to other nations striking deals with that the government “doesn’t necessarily keep its word”.

The prime minister’s former chief advisor referred to “babble of student politics from SW1 insiders infantilised by EU membership”.

Andy Gregory13 October 2021 10:57


Boris Johnson told to ‘get off sun lounger’ and tell truth about scale of climate crisis

Labour is set to warn that Boris Johnson must “get off the sun lounger and start being a statesman” to prevent the crucial Cop26 climate talks turning into a failure, my colleague Adam Forrest reports.

Andy Gregory13 October 2021 10:29


Supply crisis: Maersk diverts big cargo ships from UK as Felixstowe port fills up due to HGV container backlog

Supermarkets are searching for alternative ways to bring food into Britain as ships are diverted from the UK’s main port due to congestion.

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) said “further disruption” to supply chains may be “unavoidable” after Maersk, the world’s largest container shipping company, said that it was directing big vessels away because main UK ports are chock-a-block.

The congestion is down to a lack of HGV drivers available to move the unloaded containers to free up space – sparked by a combination of Brexit and coronavirus.

Andy Gregory13 October 2021 10:20


Don’t enter agreements with UK until confident they will honour them, Varadkar says

Ireland’s deputy premier has warned political leaders not to enter any agreements with the British Government until they are confident they will keep to their promises, after Dominic Cummings appeared to claim the government had always intended to “ditch” parts of the Brexit deal.

“I saw those comments; I hope Dominic Cummings is speaking for himself and not for the British Government,” Leo Varadkar told RTE Morning Ireland.

“But those comments are very alarming because that would indicate that this is a government, an administration, that acted in bad faith and that message needs to be heard around the world.

“If the British Government doesn’t honour its agreements, it doesn’t adhere to treaties it signs, that must apply to everyone else too.

“At the moment they’re going around the world, they’re trying to negotiate new trade agreements… Surely the message must go out to all countries around the world that this is a British Government that doesn’t necessarily keep its word and doesn’t necessarily honour the agreements it makes.

“And you shouldn’t make any agreements with them until such time as you’re confident that they keep their promises, and honour things, for example, like the protocol.”

Andy Gregory13 October 2021 10:04


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