Natalie Bennett offers her initial response to the news that a deal has been agreed with the EU. A deal that overlooks services, which represents 80 percent of our economy. A deal that highlights so much that we have lost.
Stella Perrott was a civil servant from 1996 to 2007 and has undertaken a number of inquiries and reviews following public sector failures. Here she assesses what we already know from previous inquiries into serious incidents, and what these lessons should be telling us about the lack of Brexit planning.
Andy Brown asks, is Boris Johnson on the way out? The PM’s irresponsible behaviour over the past year has led to an erosion of trust, which may well be irreparable. Now, having put parliament in an impossible situation, and taken the country to the brink of no deal – in order to negotiate a very bad deal – will he lose his job as prime minister?
Compare the European parliament with the UK parliament. The EU parliament has 705 members, all directly elected by the citizens of 27 European countries. The UK parliament, however, has two chambers – one with 650 elected members, and the other now with 837 unelected members.
We have surrendered our sovereign control of football – a sport we invented – to UEFA and FIFA, foreigners imposing their diktats on us. It has always been a problem that matches are overseen by unelected referees, whom we can’t remove (even if the public clearly wants to), but things are going from bad to worse.
Jane Thomas reviews the impact of the French blockade on UK ports, following the UK’s warning of a more virulent strain of Covid-19 now out of control in London and the South East.
As the clock ticks ominously down, the EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier has updated EU ambassadors on progress in the trade talks. He told them the latest UK offer on fish is unacceptable. It is a growing sign that Downing Street is making the final concessions needed for a deal.
For Brexiters the trade talks have always been about achieving a victory over the hated EU. The final high stakes game will be played out in Brussels with both sides intent on not breaching any red lines. But there can only be one winner, as Johnson will soon discover.
The Lords environment sub-committee yesterday heard concerns about the increased paperwork, the lack of vets to sign off health certificates, and the impact on foodstuff with likely delays at the ports. Jane Thomas summarises what was said.
The government spin machine is cranking into gear to sell the UK-EU trade deal to Tory Eurosceptics who are suspicious of anything European, many of who prefer no deal at all. It threatens to be an impossible job.
Jane Thomas looks ahead to Operation Capstone, a dry run for a no deal Brexit, and the problems facing the government. Already companies are bracing for a potential no deal, and Operation Capstone may well reveal significant gaps in the current preparations.
The pivotal role of chief negotiator Lord Frost is coming under scrutiny as the trade talks limp towards the abyss. Johnson is not a details man and there are concerns Frost has not always conveyed a true picture of EU red lines to the PM.
The last big sticking points between the EU and the UK are ideological and the most problematic as a result. It’s the different outlook between British consumer society and European producer society.
This is a political dilemma striking much deeper than the details of fish, governance or a level playing field, and deeply rooted in the incoherent nature of the referendum mandate. Brexit was spawned by the internal politics of the Conservative Party. Its forthcoming temporary denouement will inevitably be dictated by these same internal politics as well.
Outsiders attempting to gain a cost advantage on the back of workers, consumers or the environment, or getting unfair subsidies, will get short shrift. Former MEP Richard Corbett explains why the EU’s position has remained unchanged throughout the Brexit process. It is the same position is takes with all potential trading partners.
Even before Brexit hits, there is growing chaos being reported with containers of food products destined for UK clients held in Dutch ports due to problems at Felixstowe. Importers are unable to rearrange transport and meanwhile products are stuck.
Throughout this whole final saga of real Brexit negotiations we have only been able to be sure of one thing: whatever Boris Johnson does, will be in the best interest of Boris Johnson this week. That isn’t remotely the same thing as what is in the best interest of the British people. Either this week or for the next generation. Whichever faction of the Conservative Party gives Johnson the best chance of staying in power has been the true test of what policies he has championed.
We are entering the Brexit endgame. Johnson is under enormous pressure to accept compromises to avoid the catastrophe of a no deal Brexit while under the watchful eyes of hardline Brexiteers in the ERG who are suspicious of the prime minister’s record of betrayal.
With just about 14 working days to go to the end of the transition, a food trade organisation boss attacks the “chaos and confusion” surrounding the NI protocol and the lack of preparedness for new trading arrangements starting in January, saying “If you are still trying to negotiate a deal 14 working days before it actually is supposed to come into effect, even the most brilliant communication is not going to work … You would need a Vulcan mind-melt to make it work, if it’s going to work in time”.
Dr Stella Perrott reveals the lack of planning undertaken by both her own county council and by national government to secure food and medicine supplies in January. Having submitted a number of Freedom of Information requests and letters, she found a complete lack of preparation and little concern for the potential disruption.
Nicholas Jones surveys the ways in which Boris Johnson has squandered the support he enjoyed from the Tory press. Detailing the blunders made by the government, Jones demonstrates how Johnson’s honeymoon with the press was ended abruptly by the prime minister’s own mistakes.
Andy Brown questions the desire to get ‘back to normal’, looking at how this normal was leading the human race to catastrophe. Looking at our economic and environmental failures before the pandemic and our lack of collaboration and empathy during it, he shows how returning to normal simply isn’t good enough.
The prime minister’s pledge of unfettered access for trade between Great Britain and Northern Ireland is proving as worthless as his many other pledges.
Sue Wilson follows up on her last open letter to the prime minister. “I also want to congratulate you on still being prime minister. I wasn’t sure that you would last this long when I last wrote, but I stand corrected. I’m very happy about this, as I really think that the Brexit to come – whether a hard deal or no deal – should have your name all over it. You deserve nothing less, especially as I know how you like to take all the credit.”
The battered Brexit can took another kicking down the road last night as Johnson and von der Leyen, instead of making decisions, agreed to order their negotiators to carry on talking. Unless Downing Street gets real and very soon, we could get a no deal Brexit by default.
How fitting – and worrying for the ERG – that after almost five years of truth twisting and obfuscation the final concessions on the UK’s red lines are to be made by the slippery charlatan who bears most responsibility for the unholy mess that we find ourselves in.
The government’s shambolic preparations for the UK’s post-Brexit borders after the transition period will lead to disruption and food shortages that could last for weeks or even months, say industry bosses.
Brexit, not coronavirus, may be about to dent many people’s holiday season. By choosing to leave the single market and the customs union, we are making huge structural changes to the transportation of our goods because of the new customs arrangements now necessary at the border. For just-in-time produce such as food that is perishable, or medicines, or manufacturing components (where timing is everything) the delays could be catastrophic.
With just four weeks to go to the end of the transition, the famously vacillating prime minister is apparently yet to decide whether to accept a deal or not. But he may not survive either choice.
Andy Brown argues that Boris Johnson is right to maintain covid restrictions – there’s a first time for everything. But having got this right, he’s being undermined by his own backbenchers who claim it will damage the economy. These are the same MPs who are happy to do serious damage to the economy by sticking to their arbitrary Brexit deadlines.