Brexit news live: Latest updates as EU firms refuse UK deliveries

Regretful Brexiteer says ‘be careful what you wish for’

A growing number of retailers in the EU have decided they won’t deliver to Britain because of the new costs involved in sending packages after Brexit. Companies have said they are unwilling to register for VAT in the UK, with one Dutch firm calling the red tape “ludicrous”.

It comes as Brexit disruption means Sainsbury’s has reportedly lost around 700 product lines in Northern Ireland – where it has been forced to stock goods from Spar. And Marks & Spencer said new trading rules in place since Britain left the EU were delaying deliveries of food to its stores in France – where branches had empty shelves on Tuesday.

Meanwhile the coronavirus crisis has forced Boris Johnson to scrap a high-profile trip to India, his first overseas visit since the EU exit. Brexit supporters earmarked India as among the major new trade deals they hoped to secure this year.

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‘Time to look to the future’ after Brexit, ambassador says

Ed Llewellyn, the British ambassador to France, gave an interview to monthly newspaper The Connexion today in which he said he was “pleased” an agreement had been made and that, he believed, it would “help ‘the UK and France’s] strong relationship to continue”.

Responding to a question about people feeling aggrieved to lose EU citizenship and rights that went with it including voting and free movement, Mr Llewellyn said he “understand those who hold that view” but that he urged people to now “look to the future”. 

“We have a good basis for the EU-UK relationship now and that will be in part the framework for the relationship between Britain and France,” he told the newspaper. 

He said the French government had “made absolutely clear that it wants British citizens to carry on living here – just as the British government has made it clear to French citizens living in the UK that they are welcome to stay”.

“I think we should focus on the future and all the great opportunities that – once we’re through this pandemic – I hope will be there,” Mr Llewellyn added.

Sam Hancock5 January 2021 18:14

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Brexit sees EU discount UK-qualified architects

Architects with qualifications gained in the UK will not automatically be able to practice in many European countries following Brexit. 

While the UK was part of the EU, the so-called Mutual Recognition of Professional Qualifications Directive stated which European qualifications were recognised in the UK and vice versa. But since the post-Brexit transition period ended on 31 December 2020, this no longer applies to the UK.

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA)’s CEO, Alan Vallance, has expressed disappointment with the move, saying: “Since the referendum, the RIBA has strongly called for the mutual recognition of professional qualifications, and it’s therefore disappointing to see this has not been agreed.”

Architects from the EU who already have their qualifications recognised in the UK by the Architects Registration Board (ARB) will be able to continue practising as will architects with UK qualifications already recognised by national registration boards in Europe.

As a temporary measure, the ARB has introduced an interim arrangement that will allow architects with qualifications gained in the EU to be recognised in the UK – it will recognise all architects with qualifications listed within the latest version of the Mutual Recognition of Professional Qualifications Directive was published in February 2020, reports architecture magazine Dezeen.

A reciprocal agreement from the EU to recognise UK qualifications has not been agreed upon.

Sam Hancock5 January 2021 17:35

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Watch Boris Johnson’s presser live

Sam Hancock5 January 2021 17:05

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Covid cases at all-time high as PM set to hold press conference

UK coronavirus cases have reached another record daily high with 60,916 new infections in the past 24 hours, as well as 830 deaths, according to the latest government figures. 

It marks the eighth consecutive day that there have been more than 50,000 new cases in a 24-hour period across Britain.  

Boris Johnson is expected to hold a No 10 press conference with England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty and the government’s chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance at 5pm on Tuesday.  

My colleague Chiara Giordano reports:

Sam Hancock5 January 2021 16:51

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Labour MP apologises for ‘wrongly’ accusing minister of copping vaccine

The Labour MP for Tooting, in London, has apologised and deleted a tweet claiming a government minister and his family had received the coronavirus vaccine ahead of the projected timeline.

Dr Rosena Allin-Khan’s tweet said: “I have heard rumours that [Nadhim Zahawi] got him and his family vaccinated in Wandsworth.”

She later deleted the tweet, calling it “inappropriate and wrong” and containing “unsubstantiated claims” after Mr Zahawi denied the claims outright.

Bethany Dawson has the story for more details:

Sam Hancock5 January 2021 16:38

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eBay extends UK seller protections due to Brexit

eBay has told its UK sellers that in light of “ongoing disruptions on logistic routes between the UK and Europe or rest of world, we want to inform you that seller protections for cross-border transactions are extended until 20 January 2021”. 

It means the online marketplace will automatically remove late delivery counts as well as any related negative or neutral feedback received on these kinds of transactions between 7 December and 20 January 2021.

The benefits of the move are:

– A seller’s Item Not Received (INR) count will be automatically removed if the seller uploaded valid tracking before the delivery was scanned for cross border transactions between 7 December and 20 January 2021.

– If a seller has to cancel a cross-border transaction, eBay will remove those defects from the seller’s performance evaluation and any related Negative or Neutral feedback received.

– Removals of negative or neutral feedback will be removed as quickly as possible, but there may be a short period of time when this information appears in a seller’s account.

The announcement comes amid growing concerns that Brexit may permanently damage the ease with which UK residents can order goods from the EU.

Sam Hancock5 January 2021 15:52

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Wales and Scotland to lose MPs in UK boundary shake-up

England is set to gain 10 MPs, while Wales will lose eight and Scotland is set to lose two, under plans to shake-up the UK’s electoral map.  

The review’s aim – to be completed in 2023 – is to make voter populations in each constituency more equal, which could see England come out with 543 MPs, Wales 32 and Scotland 57.

Northern Ireland will continue to have 18 MPs sitting in the House of Commons but some of the current boundaries could shift as part of the plans, according to the region’s boundary commission.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) on Tuesday published the latest voter data on which the review will be based on, with 47.5 million voters to be divided into 650 constituencies of between 69,724 and 77,062 people in size.

Some island constituencies, such as the Isle of Wight and the Isle of Anglesey, have been granted special dispensation to be outside the population remit.

The new constituency boundaries will come into force in 2023 and will be used at the next general election a year later.

Tim Bowden, secretary to the Boundary Commission for England, said: “Today marks the start of our work to review the constituency boundaries in England.

“Parliament has set strict rules on greater equality of electorate size between the new constituencies — these rules and the increase in total number of constituencies in England mean that there is likely to be a large degree of change across the country.”

The ONS population results mean regions in England will see shifts in the number of MPs representing them.

London is scheduled to gain two MPs, increasing to 75 in total, while the northwest and northeast – two areas where Boris Johnson saw gains at Labour’s expense in 2019 – will both see their representation reduced by two, in a move that could prove damaging to the PM’s self-titled “blue wall”. 

The reduction in seats in Wales could also hurt Mr Johnson’s Commons majority.

The southeast and southwest, however – two regions where the Conservatives traditionally poll well – will both have new seats created.

Sam Hancock5 January 2021 15:28

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UK has ‘lost’ European share business, say financiers

Almost €6bn (£5.4bn) of EU share dealing moved out of the City of London to financial centres in Europe on Monday, according to the FT.

“It’s been an extraordinary day. Shifting liquidity is one of the hardest things to do. It’s not ‘Big Bang’ – it’s ‘Bang and It’s Gone’. The City has lost its European share business,” said the chief executive of Aquis Exchange, Alasdair Haynes, chief.

The Best for Britain group said: “This is a hugely worrying loss of business, all the more because … it is likely permanent.”  

Adam Forrest5 January 2021 15:03

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Government finally brings in mandatory Covid tests for arrivals

Nine months after the aviation industry called for testing to reduce the spread of the Covid, the government is set to make a negative test result compulsory for travellers coming to the UK.

But The Independent understands that polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests taken no more than 72 hours before departure to the UK may be mandatory only for foreigners – some government figures are pressing for British nationals and those resident in the UK to be exempt.

Our travel correspondent Simon Calder has all the details:

Adam Forrest5 January 2021 14:34

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Trump won’t be allowed into Scotland to escape Biden inauguration, says Sturgeon

First minister Nicola Sturgeon said she would not allow Donald Trump into Scotland to escape Joe Biden’s inauguration later this month (there has been some speculation the outgoing president will head for Turnberry).

“We are not allowing people to come into Scotland … and that would apply to him as well as anybody,” she said. “Coming to play golf is not what I would call an essential purpose.”

The SNP leader joked that she expects Trump’s “immediate travel plan is to exit the White House” – adding that she had “no doubt dug several deep holes for myself”.

Sturgeon says Trump coming to play golf in Scotland is ‘not essential travel’

Adam Forrest5 January 2021 14:26

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