Brexit news LIVE – John Major brands Britain a second rate global power and says we 'always will be' after Brexit

JOHN Major has branded Britain a second rate global power after Brexit.

At a speech in London last night, the former Prime Minister said: "We are no longer a great power. We will never be so again.

"We are a top second-rank power but, over the next half century – however well we perform – our small size and population makes it likely we will be passed by the growth of other, far larger, countries," he added.

Major also gave a damning verdict of Brexit, warning that any trade deal will be a "a flimsy, barebones deal or no deal at all", which he described as a "'wretched betrayal of what our electors were led to believe".

The former Tory leader claimed that the result of Brexit trade talks will be "a flimsy, barebones deal or no deal at all", which he described as a "wretched betrayal of what our electors were led to believe".

Last night PM Boris Johnson suffered two major defeats over his controversial Brexit legislation, the controversial Internal Market Bill.

Peers stripped out powers that would enable ministers to break international law but, the Government immediately responded by insisting it would not back down.

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

  • Joseph Gamp

    UK COMMITS NOT TO ‘RECKLESSLY’ DIVERGE FROM EU ON FINANCIAL SERVICE REGULATION

    Britain will not “needlessly, ideologically or recklessly” move away from EU law on regulating financial services, a Treasury minister has said.

    John Glen made the commitment as MPs considered post-Brexit legislation that seeks to maintain the UK’s regulatory standards and ensures it remains open to international markets after leaving the EU.

    The Financial Services Bill amends existing laws in 17 areas, including on banking rules and benchmarks.

    It also includes changes to help people struggling with problem debt and an extension of the maximum criminal sentence for market abuse from seven years imprisonment to 10 years.

  • Joseph Gamp

    NORTHERN IRELAND LEADERS WARN EU OVER THREAT TO FOOD SUPPLIES

    Northern Ireland’s first and deputy first ministers have written to the EU about growing fears of food shortages in the event of an Irish Sea border.

    From 1 January, Northern Ireland will stay in the EU single market for goods but the rest of the UK will leave – meaning some food products arriving in Northern Ireland from Great Britain will need to be checked.

    The EU has strict rules on products of animal origin: meat, milk, fish and eggs. – meaning there is a a “real threat” to food supplies unless solutions are found.

    In their letter to the European Commission, Arlene Foster and Michelle O’Neill said: “It is hard to imagine a more fundamental aspect of everyday life than the purchase of daily food supplies.

    “Hence we would ask you to recognise how important it is that the current consideration of the detail of how the protocol will be applied takes our unique context into account.”

  • Joseph Gamp

    GOVERNMENT INSISTS IT WILL NOT BACK DOWN OVER ‘IMMORAL’ BREXIT BILL

    The Lords voted 433 to 165 against the law-breaking powers, with former Conservative chancellor Ken Clarke describing the Internal Market Bill as “immoral” and “intrinsically ridiculous”.

    Peers moved to strip controversial clauses from the bill on Monday night.

    “We are disappointed that the House of Lords has voted to remove clauses from the UK Internal Market Bill, which was backed in the House of Commons by 340 votes to 256 and delivers on a clear Conservative manifesto commitment,” a government spokesperson said.

    “We will re-table these clauses when the Bill returns to the Commons. We’ve been consistently clear that the clauses represent a legal safety net to protect the integrity of the UK’s internal market and the huge gains of the peace process.

    “We expect the House of Lords to recognise that we have an obligation to the people of Northern Ireland to make sure they continue to have unfettered access to the UK under all circumstances.”

  • Joseph Gamp

    CABINET SECRETARY RESPONDS TO HOUSE OF LORDS VOTE

    Cabinet Secretary for the Constitution, Europe and External Affairs Michael Russell said:

    “This vote is further confirmation that the UK Government must drop its deeply flawed Internal Market Bill. Not only is the Bill a flagrant breach of international law it also fundamentally undermines devolution.

    “The EU has made it clear the clauses which flout the Withdrawal Agreement are unacceptable. If the UK Government insists on reinstating them they face condemning Scotland and the UK to a No Deal Brexit.

    “But we should not forget that the Internal Market Bill is also an unprecedented threat to the Scottish Parliament’s powers and the UK’s constitutional rules and it should be rejected on those grounds as well.

    “The UK Government must start listening to the growing clamour of dissent opposition and change course immediately given the fundamental damage the Bill is doing.”

  • Joseph Gamp

    AUTO INDUSTRY ‘HAS SPENT £735M ON BREXIT PREPARATIONS’

    UK automotive firms have spent more than £735 million on Brexit preparations, according to an industry body.

    In excess of £235 million has been spent in 2020 alone, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said.

    It published the figures as it issued a “last-chance plea” for a zero-tariff, zero-quota trade deal between the UK and the EU.

    The SMMT insisted the sector is doing “everything in its control” to prepare for when the Brexit transition period ends on December 31, but warned that efforts are being hampered by a lack of clarity on future trading arrangements.

    A no-deal scenario or failure to achieve a “workable deal” for the automotive industry would mean a £47 billion hit over the next five years, the trade body stated.

  • Joseph Gamp

    GOVERNMENT VOWS TO PRESS ON WITH BREXIT BILL DESPITE LORDS DEFEAT

    Key parts of Boris Johnson’s controversial Brexit legislation have been rejected by the Lords.

    The Lords voted 433 to 165, majority 268, to reject law-breaking powers after fierce criticism by Tory former leader Michael Howard and Tory ex-chancellor Ken Clarke.

    The Government immediately responded by insisting it would not back down, saying “We are disappointed that the House of Lords has voted to remove clauses from the UK Internal Market Bill, which was backed in the House of Commons by 340 votes to 256 and delivers on a clear Conservative manifesto commitment.

    “We will re-table these clauses when the Bill returns to the Commons. We’ve been consistently clear that the clauses represent a legal safety net to protect the integrity of the UK’s internal market and the huge gains of the peace process.

    “We expect the House of Lords to recognise that we have an obligation to the people of Northern Ireland to make sure they continue to have unfettered access to the UK under all circumstances.”

  • Debbie White

    GOVERNMENT VOWS TO PRESS ON WITH BREXIT BILL DESPITE LORDS DEFEAT

    A government spokesman said the Internal Market Bill’s removed clauses would be reintroduced when it goes back to the House of Commons, where PM Boris Johnson has a comfortable majority.

    Although Monday saw him suffer two major defeats over his controversial Brexit legislation in the House of Lords, they won’t be in effect for long.

    The British government suffered a fresh Brexit setback over controversial legislation that would have allowed it to override parts of the country’s EU divorce treaty.

    Members of the unelected upper chamber House of Lords rejected key provisions of the Internal Market Bill, which is designed to regulate trade between all four UK nations.

    A Government spokesperson said: “We are disappointed that the House of Lords has voted to remove clauses from the UK Internal Market Bill, which was backed in the House of Commons by 340 votes to 256 and delivers on a clear Conservative manifesto commitment.

    “We will re-table these clauses when the Bill returns to the Commons.

    “We’ve been consistently clear that the clauses represent a legal safety net to protect the integrity of the UK’s internal market and the huge gains of the peace process.

    “We expect the House of Lords to recognise that we have an obligation to the people of Northern Ireland to make sure they continue to have unfettered access to the UK under all circumstances.”

  • Debbie White

    INTERNAL MARKET BILL ‘SERIOUS CONSEQUENCE FOR PEACE’

    The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, raised concerns in the House of Lords that the Internal Market Bill “fails to take into account the sensitivities and complexities of Northern Ireland.

    He warned it “could have unintended and serious consequences for peace and reconciliation”.

    Tory Lord Cormack said the law-breaking clauses in the Bill must go and threatened to vote against them “again and again” if necessary.

    But party colleague Baroness Noakes argued the Bill was a “responsible approach by the Government to protect the interests of the UK but particularly the interests of Northern Ireland”.

    The Bill will undergo further scrutiny in the Lords before it returns to the Commons, where the Government has said it plans to re-table the clauses removed by peers.

  • Debbie White

    GOVERNMENT SUFFERS HEAVY DEFEAT OVER CONTROVERSIAL ‘LAW-BREAKING’ BREXIT POWERS

    Boris Johnson has suffered a major defeat over his controversial Brexit legislation, the Internal Market Bill.

    Peers in the House of Lords staged votes to strip out powers that would enable ministers to break international law.

    Conservative former leader Lord Howard of Lympne warned that the Government is using the language of “law breakers” everywhere.

    Cross-party amendments were tabled to strike out clauses linked to the most contentious part of the Bill, namely part five, which gives ministers the power to breach the Brexit divorce deal – known as the Withdrawal Agreement – brokered with Brussels last year.

    The House of Lords voted 433 to 165, majority 268, to remove section 42 – one of the disputed clauses – and section 43 was removed without a vote.

    Baroness Angela Smith, Labour’s leader in the House of Lords, said: “I am sure some in Government will initially react with bravado and try to dismiss tonight’s historic votes in the Lords.

    “To do so, however, would underestimate the genuine and serious concerns across the UK and beyond about ministers putting themselves above and beyond the rule of law.

    “The Government should see sense, accept the removal of these offending clauses, and start to rebuild our international reputation.”

  • Debbie White

    JOE BIDEN WILL WANT TO COOPERATE – GORDON BROWN

    Sir Keir Starmer’s hope for a US-UK trade deal has been backed by Gordon Brown, despite fears that the UK may not be top of the incoming administration’s priorities.

    “Joe Biden has always been a great friend of Great Britain,” he said.

    However, he warned that a deal might not be done “immediately” as he wanted to see a trade deal struck between the EU and the UK first.

    Mr Brown told the Today programme: “[Biden] is not going to allow a trade deal with Britain to happen if we in some way breach the Good Friday Agreement.

    “That is why I think he is already speeding up the [post-Brexit trade] talks on Europe [between the UK and the EU] and we may reach a conclusion so that that triggering of the Internal Market Bill won’t happen and relations with Ireland will not be affected.

    “But he generally wants to cooperate.”

  • Debbie White

    BOOST FOR US-UK TRADE DEAL – SIR KEIR

    Hopes for a bumper trade deal with the US were given a huge boost – as even Sir Keir Starmer backed one under the soon-to-be President Joe Biden.

    The upbeat Labour boss told LBC Radio on Monday: “Joe Biden is a friend of Britain.

    “He’s worked with Britain in the past as Vice-President and I’m sure that he will want to do a trade deal with us.

    “We all want to get a good trade with America and with the many other countries around the world.”

  • Debbie White

    RISHI TRIES TO REASSURE UK FIRMS OVER NO-DEAL

    Treasury chief Rishi Sunak has sought to reassure the UK’s huge financial sector that European businesses and institutions would continue to have access to local financial markets, even if there is no deal.

    Sunak told the House of Commons that the government is working to ensure UK financial rules remain aligned with those of the EU, to ensure markets remain open and well regulated.

    “Of course, we’re ready to continue the conversation (with the EU) where we haven’t yet been able to take decisions.

    “But in the absence of clarity from the EU, we’re acting unilaterally to provide certainty to firms both here and in Europe.” Sunak said.

  • Debbie White

    EU FEARS UK WILL BECOME LOW-REGULATION RIVAL

    Although Boris Johnson said on Sunday that a trade deal is there to be done, EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier and British counterpart, David Frost, have both warned that serious divergences remain.

    The bloc accuses Britain of wanting to have its cake and eat it – retaining access to the EU’s lucrative markets without agreeing to follow its rules.

    It fears Britain will slash social and environmental standards and pump state money into UK industries, becoming a low-regulation economic rival on its doorstep.

    But the UK says the EU is making unreasonable demands and is failing to treat it as an independent, sovereign state.

  • Debbie White

    ‘NO CHECKS NEEDED FOR NI BORDER’

    The government says its contentious Internal Market Bill is needed as a vital safety net to ensure smooth trade among all parts of the UK no matter what happens to UK-EU trade after Brexit.

    Environment Secretary George Eustice said fears the bill could lead to border checks between Northern Ireland and EU member Ireland -something that could undermine NI peace – were unfounded.

    “There will be no need for checks on the Northern Ireland border”, he told the BBC.

  • Debbie White

    GOVERNMENT VOWS TO RESTORE CONTENTIOUS BILL MEASURES

    Charlie Falconer, who served as justice minister in a previous Labour government, said the Internal Market Bill was making the UK an international pariah.

    “The House of Lords is doing the government a favour by seeking to take out these lawbreaking provisions now,” he told Sky News.

    The government says it will restore the contentious measures when the bill returns to the House of Commons in the coming weeks.

  • Debbie White

    MICHAEL HOWARD SLAMS INTERNAL MARKET BILL

    Members of the House of Lords have today slated the controversial Internal Market Bill.

    The criticism comes ahead of a vote that is likely to remove the law-breaking clauses from the legislation.

    Michael Howard, a former Tory leader, said: “I voted and campaigned for Brexit, and I do not for one moment regret or resile from that vote.

    “But I want the independent sovereign state that I voted for to be a country that holds its head up high in the world, that keeps its word, that upholds the rule of law and that honours its treaty obligations.”

  • Debbie White

    UK, EU ONE MORE PUSH FOR ELUSIVE TRADE DEAL

    Negotiators from Britain and the European Union met on Monday to make a breakthrough in gridlocked trade talks.

    There are just days from a deadline to strike a post-Brexit deal.

    As EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier met his British counterpart, David Frost, in London, the House of Lords was trying to rip up a contentious Brexit bill that threatens to derail negotiations.

    The Internal Market Bill gives the UK power to override sections of the agreement dealing with Northern Ireland trade.

    The UK acknowledges that the bill breaches international law, and the legislation has been condemned by the EU, US President-elect Joe Biden and scores of British lawmakers, including many from the Tory party, says the Associated Press.

  • Debbie White

    IMPORTED FOOD WON’T MEET/EXCEED UK STANDARDS

    The Liberal Democrats failed to get support to beef up the Agriculture Bill.

    Their amendment to ensure imported food must meet or exceed UK standards was defeated by 290 votes to 130 – Government majority 160.

    This brought to an end the legislative tussle known as parliamentary “ping pong”, where legislation is passed between the two Houses.

    The Bill, which introduces a new farm support system after leaving the EU, now stands ready to become law.

  • Debbie White

    NO COMPROMISE ON STANDARDS IN BILL

    The Trade and Agriculture Commission, which represents UK farmers, retailers and consumers, will be put on a statutory footing following Government concessions over food standards post-Brexit, in the Agriculture Bill.

    The body will also produce a report on the impact on animal welfare and agriculture of each free trade deal the Government signs.

    Environment minister Lord Gardiner of Kimble said the Government had listened to the strong representations made by peers and met its manifesto commitment not to compromise on standards.

  • Debbie White

    CRITICS WELCOME CONCESSIONS

    Critics on all sides of the House have welcomed the Government’s concessions after concerns over chlorinated chicken or hormone-treated beef entering the UK market from the US.

    For Labour, Lord Grantchester said ministers had recognised the public’s concerns about standards of imported foods and boosted confidence with its compromises.

    Baroness Bakewell of Hardington Mandeville, for the Liberal Democrats, welcomed the tweaks but said the Government had not gone quite far enough to meet her party’s concerns.

    She said the amendments suggested it may be able to “permit imports of products that do not meet our stringent standards when they merely report to Parliament that it has done so”.

  • Debbie White

    MINISTER SAYS GOVERNMENT INTENDS TO REINSTATE POWERS AS LORDS TO VOTE ON INTERNAL MARKET BILL

    The House of Lords is expected to vote on the UK Internal Market Bill on Monday, with the Government facing a potential defeat at the hands of peers outraged by its powers.

    Environment secretary George Eustice, asked if the Government would reinstate them, told Sky News: “We Will.

    “The UK Internal Market Bill is not about undermining the Belfast Agreement, it’s about standing behind it, making sure that it works and looking after the interests of Northern Ireland, making sure the peace and stability that’s been hard won there can carry on.”

    Peers will vote on an amendment calling for the removal of measures that the Government has admitted would give it powers to break international law in a “very specific and limited way”.

    GOVERNMENT CONCESSIONS ON FOOD STANDARDS

    Labour has dropped its opposition to key aspects of the Agriculture Bill after Government concessions over food standards post-Brexit.

    Peers had twice defeated the Government in a drive to prevent British farmers being undermined.

    But the elected Commons overturned the defeats and inserted their own amendments in a bid to meet the Lords’ concerns.

    Under these changes there will be increased parliamentary scrutiny of free trade agreements to ensure consistency of standards on human health, animal welfare and the environment.

  • Joseph Gamp

    CHANCELLOR: GOV WANTS TO ‘RENEW’ UK POSITION AS WORLD’S ‘PRE-EMINENT FINANCIAL CENTRE’ POST BREXIT

    The Government wants to “renew the UK’s position as the world’s pre-eminent financial centre” following Brexit, chancellor Rishi Sunak has said.

    Making a statement in the Commons, Mr Sunak said financial services “will be essential to our economic recovery from coronavirus, creating jobs and growth right across our country”.

    He said: “As we leave the EU and start a new chapter in the history of financial services in this country, we want to renew the UK’s position as the world’s preeminent financial centre.”

    Mr Sunak said he was setting out plans “to make this country more open, more technologically advanced and a world leader in the use of green finance”.

  • Joseph Gamp

    LORD KILCLOONEY ACCUSED OF RACISM OVER TWEET ABOUT KAMALA HARRIS

    Lord Kilclooney has been accused of racism for describing US vice president-elect Kamala Harris solely as “the Indian”.

    The former Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) deputy leader was ordered to apologise and retract his tweet about Ms Harris, who is the first black and Asian-American person to be elected to the role.

    The crossbench peer, who previously deleted a tweet describing then-Irish taoiseach Leo Varadkar as a “typical Indian”, insisted there was “nothing racist” in his latest message.

    Ms Harris, a senator from California, this weekend made history as the first woman to be elected vice president when voters chose her and Joe Biden to replace Donald Trump in the White House.

    On Monday, Lord Kilclooney tweeted: “What happens if Biden moves on and the Indian becomes President. Who then becomes Vice President?”

  • Joseph Gamp

    TORY MP TELLS JOE BIDEN UK HAS ‘NO PLAN’ OF IMPOSING HARD BORDER WITH IRELAND

    Amid concerns about the impact of the Internal Market Bill on the Good Friday Agreement (GFA), Tory MP John Redwood told President-elect Joe Biden that any fear over the Irish border was down to the EU.

    In an open letter to Mr Biden, the MP stressed the UK had no plans to impose a hard border with the Republic of Ireland – stressing the UK “upholds” the GFA in Northern Ireland.

    “It is the EU which seems to be planning new border controls on their side of the border which you may like to take up with them,” he wrote.

    “I must stress that the UK does uphold the GFA in Northern Ireland.

    “As we leave the EU we have no plans to impose a hard border between the UK and the Republic of Ireland, contrary to false EU rumours.”

    John Redwood said plans to impose a hard border to Ireland were “EU rumours”
  • Joseph Gamp

    NO 10 HIGHLIGHTS ‘SIGNIFICANT GAPS’ IN UK-EU POSITIONS

    Number 10 again highlighted the “significant gaps” that remain between the UK and EU positions in the negotiations.

    The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “The PM would like us to do a deal, and that’s what we have been working to achieve, and we will carry on working to find solutions that fully respect the UK’s sovereignty.

    “But, equally, people should get ready for January 1 with arrangements which are more like Australia’s.”

    Australia does not have a comprehensive trade deal with the European Union and trading with bloc under such terms would involve the imposition of tariffs.

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