Brexit news latest LIVE – Petty EU 'red tape' makes it easier for Europe to import lamb from New Zealand than from UK

RED tape has made it easier for the EU to important lamb from New Zealand than get it from the UK, producers have fumed.

Vast amounts of paperwork, petty bureaucracy and additional veterinary inspections required by the EU post-Brexit after driving up the cost and hassle of shipping iconic Welsh lamb on to the continent.

Pete Robertson, chief of the Food and Drink Federation in Wales said “Deliveries have been stopped because it's blue ink not black ink, export health certificates don't have stamps in the right place have been halted."

“We’ve heard of one particular exporter of meat who sent a whole lot of meat carcasses over to France and one of the carcasses had fallen off the hook… the entire load – £100,000 worth of meat – was scrapped," he added.

Making matters worse, the EU has a much more streamlined relationship with New Zealand, creating the bizarre situation where it is easier for European nations to get their lamb from halfway around the world.

Follow our live blog below for the very latest on Brexit and the EU…

  • Ben Hill

    WHEEL CLAMPS

    Dozy truckers waiting to board cross-Channel ferries are in for a shock.

    Kent County Council is going to bring in special powers to wheel-clamp them as they sleep in their cabs.

    The council says truckers parking up overnight in lay-bys approaching and leaving the Channel ports risk waking up to find their vehicle has been immobilised.

    Fed up with the sound of snoring shaking the rooks from their treetop nests, the council will make sleepy drivers pay a £150 release fee and a £35 penalty charge before they can move on.

  • Ben Hill

    NOT SO HAPPY VALENTINES

    THE cost of buying your lockdown beau a beautiful bouquet of roses for Valentines Day has shot up – due to Brexit.

    Most of the flowers are grown in Ecuador and Colombia.

    But the bloc has slapped an eight per cent tariff on them.

    This is regardless of whether that country has a trade agreement with Britain, insiders said.

    It is bad news for romantics ahead of Valentine’s Day this Sunday

  • Ben Hill

    BREXIT RED TAPE CONTINUED…

    Keating added: "The arts have been hit suddenly, massively over the last 12 months…

    "My band, my crew, they haven't had any support whatsoever, so they've been really struggling.

    "So, to get back to work and the live performances are incredibly important."

    Radiohead bassist Colin Greenwood told Sky News: "For bands like us, we're fortunate, we have accounting, legal services to cover the new red tape…

    "But what about bands that are coming up, to be future Radioheads… over the next decade? That's the big worry."

  • Ben Hill

    BREXIT RED TAPE

    Ronan Keating has warned that post-Brexit red tape is "devastating" for the live music industry.

    New UK travel rules came into force at the beginning of the year and do not guarantee visa-free travel for musicians in the EU.

    Boyzone star Keating said the current situation is "ridiculous".

    He told BBC Breakfast: "We're talking about grassroots, upcoming artists…

    "It's not so much about larger artists who already have back catalogues and careers. There's no money in record sales, the way that they (bands) make money is actually touring."

  • Ben Hill

    'IN NO ONE'S POCKET'

    Northern Ireland's chief constable denied being in anyone's pocket as he expressed concern police were being used as a shock absorber in intensifying political clashes.

    Simon Byrne also rejected claims commanders had scapegoated two inexperienced officers sanctioned after a controversial operation that saw a Troubles survivor arrested at a memorial event for victims of a loyalist atrocity.

    In an interview with the PA news agency, Mr Byrne dismissed allegations levelled from both sides of Northern Ireland's traditional political divide that the police adopt different approaches for different communities.

    "We have been bashed frankly by recent events and it just seems sometimes that we can't seem to win," he said.

  • Ben Hill

    SAFETY CONCERNS

    Inspections on animal-based food produce arriving at Belfast and Larne ports were suspended last Monday amid concerns over the safety of staff.

    That came after separate graffiti threatening port staff appeared last month.

    Officials from Mid and East Antrim Council, Stormont's Department of Agriculture and the EU Commission all stopped working at the facilities, which carry out checks required as part of Brexit's controversial Northern Ireland Protocol.

    Environmental health staff from Mid and East Antrim Council returned to their duties at Larne port on Friday.

  • Ben Hill

    TWO CHARGED OVER GRAFFITI

    Two men have been charged with painting graffiti condemning Irish Sea border checks in a Northern Ireland port town.

    The pair, aged 21 and 25, were arrested in Larne on Saturday evening.

    Both have been charged with eight counts of criminal damage and with possessing an article with intent to damage property.

    They are due to appear at Coleraine Magistrates' Court on Monday.

    Slogans were painted at various locations in the town on Saturday, one stating "Larne says no to Irish Sea Border".

  • Ben Hill

    WHISKEY DOWN

    Scotch whisky producers lost £1billion in exports last year caused by the double blow of Covid and punitive US tariffs.

    Bosses warn thousands of jobs will be at risk unless an urgent trade deal is struck with new President Joe Biden.

    Transatlantic sales have slumped since a 25 per cent levy was slapped on British whisky, salmon and cashmere after a US row with the EU. Yesterday distillers urged Trade Secretary Liz Truss to get the tariffs removed fast.

    Ms Truss has vowed to "jump on a plane" as soon as she can, to get them lifted in a new post-Brexit trade deal.

  • Ben Hill

    'NIMBLE SPEEDBOAT'

    Britain is a nimble speedboat racing ahead on vaccines compared to the cumbersome EU oil tanker, Brussels' boss has admitted.

    Even chief eurocrat Ursula von der Leyen acknowledged how Brexit has helped the UK way outpace the rest of Europe with its jabs rollout.

    In contrast she accepted the bloc has made big mistakes in its own shambolic scheme that would have held the UK back.

    And she finally took personal responsibility for the blunder that saw Brussels almost trigger a vaccine border in Northern Ireland.

  • Ben Hill

    BREXIT POSITIVE

    Britain's departure from the European Union is more likely to be positive for London than negative, the boss of Barclays has claimed.

    Jes Staley said that London should be aiming to compete with New York and Singapore rather than Frankfurt and Paris.

    However, he suggested that Boris Johnson's desire to slash red tape to turn London into a "Singapore-on-Thames" was misguided.

    The upbeat comments about the City's prospects from the leader of one of Britain's largest banks go against the received wisdom that London's financial services industry will suffer after Brexit.

  • Ben Hill

    PORT CHECKS

    Trade unions have denied raising concerns about suspicious activity at port checks ahead of a council's decision to withdraw staff from the inspection posts.

    Mid and East Antrim Council withdrew environmental health workers from facilities at Larne Port on Monday night.

    It came after threatening graffiti directed at those carrying out new checks on goods arriving from Great Britain.

    The inspections are required under the contentious Northern Ireland Protocol, governing GB-NI trade post-Brexit.

    Announcing the decision on Monday, DUP mayor Peter Johnson cited "serious concerns" raised by trade unions over "increasing suspicious activity" including the recording of number plate details of staff members.

  • Ben Hill

    FISHING 'ISSUES'

    A new group set up by the UK Government in a bid to resolve the export "issues" Scotland's fishing and seafood sectors have faced in the wake of Brexit will meet for the first time this week.

    Scotland Office minister David Duguid said the taskforce would aim to "work collaboratively across UK and Scottish governments".

    It is due to meet fortnightly, with the first talks coming after industry leaders accused the UK Government of being "in denial" about the scale of the problem fishermen face exporting their catch to the European Union.

    James Withers, chief executive at Scottish Food and Drink, told MPs on the Scottish Affairs Committee it had been a "dreadful first few weeks" due to problems with paperwork and IT systems crashing.

  • Ben Hill

    POWERSHARING THREAT

    Powersharing in Northern Ireland could be threatened if unionists continue to agitate for the "unrealistic" scrapping of new Irish Sea trading arrangements, the SDLP has warned.

    Colum Eastwood's warning came as the Irish Government said it would be open to "modest extensions" of current grace periods that limit the bureaucracy associated with the contentious Northern Ireland Protocol.

    Mr Eastwood urged the DUP to end talk of political boycotts and dial down the rhetoric, and instead join with other Stormont parties to find workable solutions to issues linked to the new regulatory and customs processes on Irish Sea shipments.

    Calls from the DUP and other unionist parties in the region to ditch or suspend the protocol have intensified in recent weeks amid evidence of some disruption to trade arriving in the region from Great Britain.

  • Ben Hill

    OPEN TO WAIVERS

    Ireland is open to "modest" extensions of waivers on the movement of certain goods from Britain into Northern Ireland after the British government asked the European Union to tweak post-Brexit rules, Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said.

    Coveney was speaking ahead of talks on the issue next week in London between British Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove and European Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic, both of whom Coveney said he was in regular contact with.

    "I would be open to advocating for modest extensions of grace periods," Coveney told Ireland's RTE Radio, but he said there was no question of scrapping the Northern Ireland Protocol of Britain's EU divorce deal. 

  • Ben Hill

    EXPORTS DOWN SINCE BREXIT

    A survey of international hauliers has found the volume of exports travelling from British ports to the EU fell 68 per cent last month compared with the same period last year.

    The research by the Road Haulage Association prompted it to write to Cabinet minister Michael Gove to call for assistance, particularly with increasing the number of customs agents from 10,000 to 50,000 to help firms with extra post-Brexit paperwork.

    Chief executive Richard Burnett told The Observer the RHA had also found 65-75 per cent of vehicles arriving from the EU were returning to the bloc empty due to a lack of goods, hold-ups in the UK and because British companies had halted exports to the Continent.

    A Cabinet Office spokeswoman said they "do not recognise the figure provided on exports".

  • Ben Hill

    TWO ARRESTED

    Two men have been arrested in Larne on suspicion of painting graffiti condemning Irish Sea border checks.

    At around 9.40pm on Saturday, police received a report in relation to two men reportedly spray painting graffiti.

    Slogans were painted at various locations in the town on Saturday, one stating "Larne says no to Irish Sea Border".

    Officers responded to the report and located two men.

    Police searched a vehicle in the area and a number of items were seized and taken away for examination.

  • Alex Winter

    FRANCE AVOIDS THIRD LOCKDOWN – DESPITE EXPERTS' CALLS

    French officials have so far resisted calls from health experts to impose a third nationwide lockdown.

    But since last Sunday, France has banned non-essential travel to and from destinations outside the European Union, as well as to French overseas territories.

    "This is bringing results, with passenger numbers halved compared with the previous week," Jean-Baptiste Djebbari, a junior minister in the French government, told news channel LCI.

    The border measures would remain in force at least until the end of February, he said.

  • Alex Winter

    'DEEP CONCERNS' AFTER RUSSIA TRIP

    More on that last blog post now.

    Mr Borrell's trip, which ended on Saturday, had been a controversial journey.

    France and Germany were among the countries backing dialogue with the Kremlin.

    But other countries backed a harder line after the jailing of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny and a crackdown on pro-Navalny protesters that has seen more than 10,000 people arrested in recent weeks.

    Borrell's trip took a negative turn when Moscow expelled diplomats from Poland, Germany and Sweden just hours after he met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to discuss ties.

    The former Spanish foreign minister described the trip as "very complicated" and said he returned to Brussels "with deep concerns".

  • Alex Winter

    EU EYES RUSSIA SANCTIONS

    The European Union's top diplomat said yesterday that Russia was rejecting constructive dialogue with the EU.

    In a blog post, Josep Borrell said the expulsion of three EU diplomats during his two-day visit to Moscow showed that Russia "did not want to seize this opportunity to have a more constructive dialogue with the EU".

    The bloc "will have to draw the consequences" he wrote, insisting that "it will be for member states to decide the next steps, and yes, these could include sanctions."

  • Joseph Gamp

    BREXIT ‘FEELS LIKE HISTORY ALREADY’ – EXPERT

    “Brexit now feel like ‘history’. No major political party is arguing that the UK rejoin [the EU],” writes Dr Alan Wager, research associate at the UK in a Changing Europe.

    He adds: “It now suits the Labour Party and Keir Starmer – perhaps even more so than it suits the Conservative Party and Boris Johnson – to try and consign the political divisions created by Brexit to the past.”

    “The causes and consequences of Brexit will be constantly rewritten and reinterpreted for years, and decades, to come,” Dr Wager concludes.

  • Joseph Gamp

    EXPORTS TO EU DOWN 68% SINCE BREXIT, SAY HAULIERS

    A survey of international hauliers has found the volume of exports travelling from British ports to the EU fell 68% last month compared with the same period last year.

    The research by the Road Haulage Association (RHA) prompted it to write to Cabinet minister Michael Gove to call for assistance, particularly with increasing the number of customs agents from 10,000 to 50,000 to help firms with extra post-Brexit paperwork.

    Chief executive Richard Burnett told The Observer the RHA had also found 65%-75% of vehicles arriving from the EU were returning to the bloc empty due to a lack of goods, hold-ups in the UK and because British companies had halted exports to the Continent.

    A Cabinet Office spokeswoman said they "do not recognise the figure provided on exports".

    "Thanks to the hard work of hauliers and traders to prepare for change, disruption at the border has so far been minimal and freight movements are now close to normal levels, despite the Covid-19 pandemic," she added.

  • Joseph Gamp

    NEW TASKFORCE TO HELP SCOTS FISHING SECTOR'S BREXIT EXPORT 'ISSUES' TO MEET

    A new group set up by the UK Government in a bid to resolve the export "issues" Scotland's fishing and seafood sectors have faced in the wake of Brexit will meet for the first time this week.

    Scotland Office minister David Duguid said the taskforce would aim to "work collaboratively across UK and Scottish governments".

    It is due to meet fortnightly, with the first talks coming after industry leaders accused the UK Government of being "in denial" about the scale of the problem fishermen face exporting their catch to the European Union.

    James Withers, chief executive at Scottish Food and Drink, told MPs on the Scottish Affairs Committee it had been a "dreadful first few weeks" due to problems with paperwork and IT systems crashing.

    The introduction of new checks and paperwork since the end of the Brexit transition period on December 31 has caused disruption to exports of fresh fish and seafood to the EU.

  • Joseph Gamp

    NI POLICE CHIEF SAYS HE'S 'IN NO ONE'S POCKET'

    Northern Ireland's chief constable denied being in anyone's pocket as he expressed concern police were being used as a shock absorber in intensifying political clashes.

    Simon Byrne also rejected claims commanders had scapegoated two inexperienced officers sanctioned after a controversial operation that saw a Troubles survivor arrested at a memorial event for victims of a loyalist atrocity.

    In an interview with the PA news agency, Mr Byrne dismissed allegations levelled from both sides of Northern Ireland's traditional political divide that the police adopt different approaches for different communities.

    "We have been bashed frankly by recent events and it just seems sometimes that we can't seem to win," he said.

    The police chief again made clear he had no intention of resigning.

  • Joseph Gamp

    UNIONIST TACTICS OVER PROTOCOL COULD THREATEN POWERSHARING – SDLP

    Powersharing in Northern Ireland could be threatened if unionists continue to agitate for the "unrealistic" scrapping of new Irish Sea trading arrangements, the SDLP has warned.

    Colum Eastwood's warning came as the Irish Government said it would be open to "modest extensions" of current grace periods that limit the bureaucracy associated with the contentious Northern Ireland Protocol.

    Mr Eastwood urged the DUP to end talk of political boycotts and dial down the rhetoric, and instead join with other Stormont parties to find workable solutions to issues linked to the new regulatory and customs processes on Irish Sea shipments.

    Calls from the DUP and other unionist parties in the region to ditch or suspend the protocol have intensified in recent weeks amid evidence of some disruption to trade arriving in the region from Great Britain.

    Unionists and loyalists believe Northern Ireland's position within the UK has been undermined by the protocol, which was incorporated into the Withdrawal Agreement to ensure a free-flowing Irish land border post-Brexit.

  • Joseph Gamp

    GOVERNMENT HITS BACK AT CLAIMS BREXIT IS DAMAGING EXPORTS TO THE EU

    The government has defended itself against claims Brexit is having an adverse effect on British product exports to the EU.

    It comes after a survey international freight drivers found the volume of exports travelling from British ports to the EU fell 68% last month.

    “We don’t recognise these figures at all,” said a Cabinet Office spokesperson to The Observer, adding: “We know there are some specific issues and we are working with businesses to resolve them.”

    A government spokesperson said: “Thanks to the hard work put in by hauliers and traders to get ready for the end of the Brexit transition period, there are no queues at the Short Straits, disruption at the border has so far been minimal and freight movements are now close to normal levels, despite the Covid-19 pandemic.

    “As a responsible government, we made extensive preparations for a wide range of scenarios at the border, including the reasonable worst case. However, it appears increasingly unlikely that our reasonable worst case scenario will occur.”

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