Brexit news latest – UK-EU trade deal getting 'CLOSER AND CLOSER' after Germany admits needing deal more than ever

A BREXIT trade deal is getting "closer and closer", EU insiders have admitted.

EU officials are understood to be gearing up to negotiate until mid-November in order to secure a plan after Germany admitted an agreement was needed "now more than ever.

Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said there is "more at stake today than a year ago" as the trade negotiations enter a decisive fortnight.

The EU's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier is desperate to get a free trade agreement over the line by the December 31 deadline and is banking on the German Chancellor to help secure it.

Follow our Brexit live blog for all the latest news and updates…

  • Samantha Lock

    'TUNNEL' TALKS

    The 27 national leaders are due to meet in Brussels on Oct.15-16 to assess progress.

    If they decide a deal is in the making, they would authorise a final stretch of extremely secretive, make-or-break negotiations known as the “tunnel”.

    The EU has so far said a deal must be finalised by the two sides' negotiators – Michel Barnier and David Frost – by the end of October so that it leaves time for ratification by the European Parliament and some national parliaments in the bloc.

    A new, mid-November target suggests hectic weeks ahead that would rattle financial markets if an eleventh-hour-deal is to be reached.

  • Samantha Lock

    RECIPROCAL SOCIAL SECURITY RIGHTS

    Britain and the EU are close to agreement on reciprocal social security rights for their citizens after Brexit, two diplomatic sources said.

    The European Union diplomats said Brussels was now gearing up to negotiate until as late as mid-November – rather than cutting talks off at the start of next month – to avoid a damaging “no-deal” scenario when Britain's standstill transition with the bloc ends on Dec. 31.

    There was no breakthrough at last week's negotiating round on the three most contentious issues – fishing rights, fair competition guarantees and ways to settle disputes in the future – but the prospects of an overall accord looked much brighter.

    “We seem to be getting closer and closer to a deal, even though the no-deal rhetoric in public might suggest the opposite,” said one of the two sources, both of whom were briefed in detail by the executive European Commission, which is negotiating with Britain on behalf of the 27-nation EU.

  • Samantha Lock

    EU CAPITALS WANT PM TO STEP IN TO BREXIT TALKS

    European capitals want Boris Johnson to take personal charge of the Brexit talks before they will step in to salvage a last-minute deal.

    Member States are warning No 10 the trade negotiations are set to drag into December and risk total failure if he doesn't get a grip on them now.

    Senior figures in Brussels have complained the PM is completely detached from the talks, meaning it's impossible for capitals to get involved in a high-level political compromise.

    A senior EU diplomat said: “If things stay as they are, what can we do other than tell Michel Barnier good luck, carry on, we hope you get there.

    “The chances of there being a deal are becoming less and less by the day, that's clear. It's time for EU leaders to step in.

    “But one reason why our leaders can't do much is because Boris Johnson hasn't been engaging.

    “What does it say to 27 leaders when an issue as important as this is only dealt with by David Frost?

    “It's about time higher up in the hierarchy people start involving themselves if they want to achieve something.”

  • Samantha Lock

    GREEN-COLLAR JOBS

    Boris Johnson told Brits today he would build a nation built on clean wind energy so that “your kettle, your washing machine, your cooker, your heating, your plug-in electric vehicle – the whole lot of them will get their juice cleanly and without guilt from the breezes that blow around these islands.”

    He upped the UK's target of 30gigawatts of clean energy by 2030 to 40gigawatts and Britain would become to wind energy what Saudi Arabia is for oil.

    The boost in investment would be a double whammy to get the UK to carbon natural by 2050 and create 60,000 “green-collar jobs” in wind, in solar, in nuclear, in hydrogen and in carbon capture and storage.

    “As Saudi Arabia is to oil, the UK is to wind – a place of almost limitless resource, but in the case of wind without the carbon emissions, without the damage to the environment.”

  • Samantha Lock

    PLANS TO 'REBUILD BRITAIN'

    Boris Johnson has vowed to rebuild Britain better with a housing transformation, a social care plan and wind revolution.

    Mr Johnson said today that 2020 “has not been the year we imagined” but that the coronavirus crisis must act as a “trigger for an acceleration of social and economic change.”

    He vowed to tear up the status-quo of housing, and make sure young people, forced off the housing ladder, and “paying through the nose” on rent, get the opportunity to have a place to call home.

    The coronavirus crisis had exposed the millions of young Brits forced to use “ironing boards as desks” while working from home in “cramped” flats, Mr Johnson said.

    The cornerstone of the promise will be bringing in a long-term fixed rate mortgage of up to 95 per cent of the value of a home so cash-strapped young Brits don't have to cobble together such exorbitant sums for deposits.

  • Samantha Lock

    BOJO'S MOJO A NOJO

    Boris Johnson insisted claims his mojo had become nojo was part of a wider plot by anti-Brexiteers and nothing to do with the after effects of contracting coronavirus.

    He said: “And of course this is self-evident drivel, the kind of seditious propaganda that you would expect from people who don't want this Government to succeed, who wanted to stop us delivering Brexit and all our other manifesto pledges.”

  • Samantha Lock

    PM'S PROMISES ‘NOTHING MORE THAN HOT AIR’: GMB

    GMB, Britain’s general union, has responded to the Prime Minister's speech at Conservative Party Conference today. 

    Jude Brimble, GMB National Secretary, said:  “The Prime Minister loves to promise the grass is greener in the sunlit uplands – without any kind of proper plan. It’s not going to wash anymore. 

    “The UK desperately needs huge investment in green energy infrastructure and the millions of jobs that would create. But previous promises of green jobs have seen yards in Britain mothballed and manufacturing contracts outsourced overseas. 

    “The Prime Minister is relying on powers the UK may or may not have post-Brexit. Once again his promises look like nothing more than hot air.” 

  • Samantha Lock

    100 FISHING VESSELS REGISTER AS 'FOOD BUSINESSES'

    Nearly 100 fishing vessel owners in the Outer Hebrides have registered as ‘food businesses’ because of Brexit, says the local council.

    They will also have to have their vessel inspected by Comhairle nan Eilean Siar (Western Isles Council) to enable its catch to be exported, either directly or indirectly, to Europe after Britain leaves the EU.

    Owners of islands' registered boats are being urged to contact the council's environmental health team to register their vessels and make arrangements for it to be inspected.

    “This is a legal requirement for those vessels who intend to export their catch, either directly or indirectly, to any EU Member State after the end of the ‘transition period’ on 31 December 2020,” said the council.

    “Exemptions apply if your catch is intended either for personal consumption, or it does not exceed 25kg and is for direct sale from the quayside.

    “Vessel owners are responsible for this registration process, and failure to do so may mean that their catches cannot be exported to EU member states at the end of the transition period.”

  • Patrick Knox

    BOJO: BREXITEERS PUSHING PROPAGANDA COVID-19 HAS STOLEN MY MOJO

    Boris Johnson said speculation that he was still suffering from the effects of coronavirus was “drivel” pushed by his Brexit opponents.

    “I've heard a lot of nonsense recently about how my own bout of COVID has somehow robbed me of my mojo,” Johnson said in a speech to his Conservative Party today

    “And of course this is self-evident drivel, the kind of seditious propaganda that you'd expect from people who don't want this government to succeed, who wanted to stop us delivering Brexit and all our other manifesto pledges.”

  • Samantha Lock

    AGRICULTURAL BILL AMENDMENT TO ENSURE IMPORTS OF UK STANDARD

    On Monday 12th October, MPs can support an amendment to the Agriculture Bill that would ensure future food imports comply with UK standards – guaranteeing banned products and processes like chlorine washes and hormone treatments remain off the menu as the government negotiates trade deals with the United States and other countries.

    So far, the government has resisted calls for legislation to protect food standards, as it claims there is pre-existing law banning the import of food produced to a lower standard.

    However, it has yet to respond to Which’s cross-party letter asking for assurance that this ban will not be removed from the statute books, prompting fears that current law is not strong enough and could be easily changed through secondary legislation.

  • Samantha Lock

    CALL FOR QUALITY FOOD STANDARDS

    An overwhelming majority of Britons are calling for a government commitment to ensure UK food standards are not compromised by imports in the race to secure trade deals, according to a new consumer watchdog report.

    In the latest Which? survey of 2,000 Britons, 94 per cent of UK consumers said it is important existing standards are maintained, while three-quarters (7 per cent) said it was very important.

    Around three quarters (77 per cent) said they would be uncomfortable eating chlorinated chicken, while eight in 10 (81 per cent) said they’d be uncomfortable eating beef and consuming milk where cows had been given growth hormones used to increase production.

  • Samantha Lock

    BRITAIN 'LESS TRUSTWORTHY'

    European Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic said Britain's recent actions have made it less trustworthy and called the plans “a heavy blow to the British signature and reliability. Respecting agreements is first a matter of law, but also of trust and in good faith.”

    He said the plans left the EU with no choice but to launch legal action against Britain.

    If passed into law, the Internal Market Bill would undermine the EUs previously agreed oversight of trade to and from Northern Ireland, which is part of the U.K and shares a border with EU member Ireland.

    The bloc is furious that Britain plans to breach portions of the withdrawal treaty that were put in place to maintain an open Irish border, which has underpinned peace since Northern Irelands 1998 Good Friday accord.

  • Samantha Lock

    'CLIFF EDGE RUPTURE'

    A top European Union official dealing with the UK said today that a cliff-edge rupture between the two without even a basic trade deal by the end of the year is becoming more likely by the day.

    European Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic told the European Parliament that time is short” to reach a deal before a Brexit divorce transition period ends by year's end, effectively giving negotiators less than four weeks to broker a deal which must subsequently go through a lengthy approval process.

    And he pointed his finger at British Prime Minister Boris Johnson for making things even more difficult when he decided last month to introduce a bill that breaches the legally binding Withdrawal Agreement it struck with the bloc to make sure it could leave on Jan. 31.

  • Samantha Lock

    VOTE FOR STRONGER DEMOCRATIC SAFEGUARDS

    EU lawmakers will vote to demand stronger democratic safeguards across bloc.

    In order to target autocratic and illiberal tendencies as well as corruption, disinformation and state capture in EU countries, Parliament will vote on a legislative initiative that envisages a permanent EU mechanism applying equally and fairly to all member states, to protect and strengthen democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights.

  • Samantha Lock

    BUY THE POUND, GOLDMAN SAYS

    Goldman Sachs has advised clients to buy the pound amid growing confidence in the City that Britain and the European Union will agree a post-Brexit trade deal.

    The American investment bank said that sterling was being held back by a perceived level of uncertainty that was “no longer warranted”.

    While its analysts are braced for volatility through the final phase of negotiations and believe that any agreement will be relatively thin, they expect the accord to convince investors to reassess the pound.

    Sterling rose by 0.3 per cent against the dollar to $1.296 yesterday, but fell by 0.3 per cent against the euro to €1.101.

    Goldman said the “latest smoke signals” indicated that both sides were preparing the ground for a deal. It estimates that Britain and the EU will reach agreement in early November and will formally ratify their deal by the end of December.

  • Samantha Lock

    CARMAKERS WANT COMPENSATION FOR NO-DEAL BREXIT

    Toyota and Nissan, two of Britain's biggest carmakers, are preparing to ask ministers to compensate them for any losses they suffer from a no-deal Brexit, it has been claimed.

    They are said to be planning to hold the government to account for private assurances that both companies received shortly after the referendum result in 2016.

  • Samantha Lock

    WE CAN MERK IT OUT

    Germany confessed there was “more at stake today than a year ago”.

    Foreign minister Heiko Maas said both sides would be totally irresponsible to let No Deal happen after the pandemic.

    He added: “The coronavirus pandemic made the discussions even more difficult in every respect, but it also made an agreement even more urgent.

    “There are a lot of open questions and, if we want to make it to the finish line, we must make quick progress in all these open questions.

    “Our door remains open for a close and ambitious partnership with Great Britain. That is and remains our goal.”

  • Samantha Lock

    GREENHOUSE GAS CUT

    A proposal being voted on in the European Parliament today to cut the EU bloc's greenhouse gases emissions by 60 per cent over 1990 levels by 2030, will be discussed within the German coalition government's cabinet, Germany's economy minister said.

    “I won't judge it,” Peter Altmaier said in response to a question ahead of an EU energy ministers' meeting.

    “It also needs input from the environment minister,” he said, referring to Svenja Schulze, his colleague in the Berlin ruling coalition government which currently holds the EU presidency.

    The EU is in the process of setting a new, more ambitious 2030 emissions target, a step in its long-term plan to become climate neutral by 2050.

    But member states and the EP, who together need to strike a deal on the target, are split over how ambitious it should be.

  • Samantha Lock

    TIME RUNNING OUT, EU VP SAYS

    The European Union wants a trade deal with Britain, but, as time is running out to reach one, the bloc cannot exclude that it will be impossible to reach agreement before the end of the year, European Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic said.

    Speaking to the European Parliament Sefcovic said the EU's chief negotiator Michel Barnier and his team had the EU's full support.

    “In case we reach an agreement, which is our objective, both parties will have to ensure ratification in time for an entry in to force by Jan 1, 2021. This will need some time,” he said.

    “If this is not the case, we will be in the no-deal territory. Given that we are less than 100 days away from this day we cannot exclude this scenario,” he said.

  • Samantha Lock

    POUND STRENGTHENS

    Goldman Sachs saw the pound strengthening to 87 pence against the euro and said “investors with a stronger conviction that risk conditions will improve into year-end should consider expressing the view in cable (sterling/dollar) to also benefit from likely dollar depreciation.”

    Goldman Sachs analysts wrote in a note to clients: “While we have frequently cautioned that the more uncertain global backdrop has made it harder to express views on the Brexit process in the currency this year, we are encouraged by the pounds increasingly idiosyncratic price action as the negotiation deadlines draw near”.

    The derivatives market showed that traders have bought more protection against future pound volatility. The cost for one-month options — which encompass the timing of a possible Brexit deal — in sterling/dollar are around their highest level in the last six months.

    Three-month option costs, however, have fallen, suggesting investors were less concerned about pound volatility at the end of the year, when the Brexit transition period ends.

    Sterling has risen 3.4 per cent versus the dollar in the past three months. Against the euro, the gains were marginal.

  • Samantha Lock

    'MORE REALISM' NEEDED

    The EU must show “more realism” if it wants to bridge differences with Britain on fisheries, a spokesman for Boris Johnson said on Monday.

    Johnson does not want the Brexit transition to end without a new trade deal in place, he said on Sunday, but he believes Britain could live with such an outcome.

    The PM and the head of the EU's executive, Ursula von der Leyen, agreed in a phone call on Saturday to step up Brexit talks to close “significant gaps” barring a new trade partnership.

    Both sides said they have made some progress but not yielded a breakthrough.

  • Ben Hill

    RECESS MEANS NO BREXIT CHALLENGES

    MPs have approved a week-long autumn recess for the House of Commons.

    The chamber will adjourn after business has concluded on Friday October 23 and return on Monday November 2.

    The motion detailing the recess was supported unopposed.

    MPs will be unable to challenge ministers in the Commons chamber during this period over coronavirus restrictions, the Brexit process – which is entering a key phase as the end of the transition period nears – or other matters of importance.

    With party conferences cancelled, the Commons continued sitting throughout September rather than rising for three weeks.

    The House usually rises for a three-day recess in November but this has been replaced with the longer recess starting this month.

  • Ben Hill

    IMMIGRATION LEGISLATION SUFFERS HEAVY DEFEATS IN LORDS

    A string of heavy defeats have been inflicted by peers against the Government's flagship immigration legislation that will end EU freedom-of-movement rules in the UK.

    The House of Lords has demanded a series of changes to the Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill, including to ensure continued help for unaccompanied child refugees.

    The Government setbacks in the upper chamber raises the prospect of a legislative tussle with the elected Commons known as parliamentary ping pong, where a bill is passed between the two Houses.

    Peers backed by 304 votes to 224, majority 80, a Labour-led demand for an independent review into the impact of ending free movement on social care amid warnings it could fuel staff shortages and deepen the crisis facing the sector, already wrestling with Covid-19.

    The Lords also voted by 312 votes to 223, majority 89, to block the imposition of financial restrictions on Britons returning to the UK with their EU families from March 2022.

  • Ben Hill

    NHS 'DRUG SHORTAGES'

    Hospitals could face shortages of Covid drugs during the second coronavirus wave as those stockpiled ahead of Brexit have already been used, NHS bosses have warned.

    NHS Providers, which represents hospitals in England, said problems associated with Brexit could cause a “perfect storm” of problems.

    They said this could include flu, bad weather, workforce shortages, a second wave and staff burnout.

    Deputy chief executive Saffron Cordery said: “All of the issues we feared about Brexit remain. None of those have gone away because we are in a pandemic. It’s important to remember drug supplies could be compromised.

    “What we were relying upon in Brexit was a supplies stockpile. I would suggest we have eaten into that stockpile because of Covid. We need to think about what the stockpiles are looking like.”

  • Chiara Fiorillo

    DEADLINE APPROACHING

    Boris Johnson has set a deadline of mid-October to reach an agreement – to give the country enough time to fully prepare for a no deal outcome at the end of the transition period in December.

    Speaking to the BBC's Andrew Marr Show, Mr Johnson said: “I think it's there to be done. Alas, there are some difficult issues that need to be fixed.

    “There is no question that the EU needs to understand that we're utterly serious about needing to control our own laws and our own regulations.”

    He added: “I don't want the Australian-WTO type outcome, particularly, but we can more than live with it.”

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