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A Zoom call between Boris Johnson and Jacinda Ardern sealed a UK-New Zealand (NZ) trade deal on Wednesday, with Downing Street signaling the so-called agreement-in-principle is a major step towards a full free trade agreement.
Despite the deal having limited immediate economic value due to NZ’s relatively small population, the government stressed the post-Brexit measure will make it “significantly” easier for British businesses to sell services to the Oceanic country.
It is thought the deal will offer similar provisions on areas like business travel to the Australia agreement. In return, the UK has given NZ greater market access to agricultural products such as lamb.
British farmers swiftly rejected it as a result, despite the deal dramatically lifting the tariff-free amount of lamb meat which can be sold to the UK. They say they feel shut out of the detailed engagement in trade policy they were initially promised.
In a tweet this morning, the PM promised the deal would help both countries “build back better from the pandemic”.
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MPs face ‘substantial threat’ to safety after Amess murder – Patel
Priti Patel told the Commons last night the threat facing MPs has been elevated to “substantial” in the wake of the murder of Sir David Amess.
A review by the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre linked to MI5 was launched after the Tory MP for Southend West was stabbed to death on Friday at a constituency surgery.
While it did not find any “specific or imminent threat” to MPs’ safety, the home secretary said the threat level to MPs was “now deemed to be substantial” and counterterror police will ensure the “change is properly reflected in the operational posture”.
Ms Patel told MPs:
“While we do not see any information or intelligence which points to any credible or specific or imminent threat, I must update the House that the threat level facing members of parliament is now deemed to be substantial.
“This is the same level as the current national threat to the United Kingdom as a whole, so I can assure the House that our world-class intelligence and security agencies and counterterror police will now ensure that this change is properly reflected in the operational posture.”
‘Substantial’ means an attack is likely, while the lower level of moderate means an attack is possible, but not likely.
UK borrowing dips to £21.8bn but still ‘highest September since 1993’
Let’s get some news on the economy now. Borrowing in the UK hit £21.8bn in September, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) – down from £28.8bn a year earlier but still the second highest September for borrowing since records began in 1993.
The government’s interest payments bill on the huge debts built up during Covid stood at £4.8bn in September due to rising inflation, the ONS added. The latest figure is the same amount as September last year, despite borrowing levels in the month falling and tax receipts rising year-on-year.
This is due to the Retail Price Index measure of inflation rising – which is linked to government interest payments – as the economy recovers.
Borrowing so far in this financial year has reached £108.1bn since the end of March – £101.2bn less than the same period a year ago, the data shows.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak said:
“Our recovery is well under way – with more employees on payrolls than ever before and the fastest forecast growth in the G7 this year – but the pandemic has had a huge impact on our economy and caused our debt levels to rise.
“At the Budget and Spending Review next week I will set out how we will continue to support public services, businesses and jobs while keeping our public finances fit for the future.”
Parliamentary schedule for Thursday
Here’s a schedule for all sessions set to take place in Westminster today.
House of Commons
9.30am International trade questions
10.30am Urgent questions/statements, including business questions
Backbench business debates on (i) Cop26 and limiting global temperature rises to 1.5C (ii) World Menopause Month
A short debate on Black History Month
1.30pm UK’s climate progress: the Committee on Climate Change’s 2021 progress report
House of Lords
11am Introduction of Lord Sedwill
11.10am Oral questions, including questions to Brexit minister Lord Frost
12.15pm Skills and Post-16 Education Bill – report stage (day 2)
A short debate on government plans to consult on measures to enhance the integrity of electoral processes
Johnson hails NZ trade deal as ‘next chapter in longstanding friendship’
UK secures trade deal with New Zealand
The UK has secured a trade agreement with New Zealand, the government has announced.
Sealed on a Zoom call between Boris Johnson and his Kiwi counterpart Jacinda Ardern on Wednesday, the so-called agreement-in-principle is a major step towards a full free trade agreement.
The deal is expected to offer similar provisions on areas like business travel to the Australia agreement, The Independent understands. Provisions easing travel requirements for contractual services suppliers who want to work in New Zealand’s market are a first for the country in any of its trade deals. In return, the UK has given New Zealand greater market access for agricultural products such as lamb.
Boris Johnson said the deal would cement a “long friendship with New Zealand” and noted that it followed the £9.7 billion in investment announced alongside Tuesday’s Global Investment Summit, reports our economics editor Anna Isaac.
The agreement should make it easier for Brits and Kiwis to travel to one another’s countries for work, the government said
Good morning, and welcome to The Independent’s rolling UK politics coverage. Stay tuned as we bring you reaction to the newly-announced UK-New Zealand trade deal, with international trade secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan set to take questions in the House of Commons at 9.30am.