EU swiftly rejects UK’s demand to rip up Northern Ireland protocol – follow live

EU swiftly rejects UK’s demand to rip up Northern Ireland protocol - follow live
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Watch as Brexit minister David Frost discusses the Northern Ireland protocol

The EU has swiftly rejected the UK government’s proposals to change the controversial Northern Ireland Protocol after ministers announced plans to rewrite the post-Brexit trading arrangements.

European Commission vice-president Maros Sefcovic said the bloc would “continue to engage” with the UK but insisted solutions had to be within the framework of the existing agreement.

Boris Johnson has refused to apologise for a text last autumn in which he suggested that Covid-19 was killing only people over 80, as he took part in Prime Minister’s Questions from self-isolation today.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer labelled the PM “a super-spreader” of confusion on Covid policy following U-turns over self-isolation guidance and vaccine passports.

Sir Keir was later forced into self-isolation himself when one of his children tested positive for the virus.

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Hello and welcome to The Independent’s live coverage of UK politics today.

Conrad Duncan21 July 2021 07:49
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Minister expected to tell EU that UK could override Northern Ireland Protocol

Ministers are set to outline their proposals for solving the “serious challenges” caused by the Northern Ireland Protocol today, with the UK government expected to tell the EU that it is prepared to override the Brexit agreement.

The move follows concerns over the passage of food from Britain to Northern Ireland, with critics warning that the rules have effectively created a new border in the Irish Sea.

Boris Johnson told his Dublin counterpart Micheal Martin on Tuesday that “pragmatism” was needed over the issue, but reports suggest that the UK will put itself on a collision course with the EU over its mooted solutions.

According to the Financial Times, Brexit minister Lord Frost will push for an “honesty box” system to allow companies in Great Britain that declare their goods are only destined for sale and use in Northern Ireland to skip border checks.

The Protocol was negotiated as part of Britain’s divorce from Brussels to avoid a hard border with Ireland, by effectively keeping Northern Ireland in the EU’s single market for goods.

<p>Brexit minister Lord Frost chaired the first EU-UK partnership council in London last month</p>

Brexit minister Lord Frost chaired the first EU-UK partnership council in London last month

Conrad Duncan21 July 2021 08:05
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You can find Brexit minister Lord Frost’s comments on the Northern Ireland Protocol from earlier this week below:

Brexit deal is contradictory and its contents are a ‘matter for debate’, says UK chief negotiator David Frost

Lord Frost personally led the team that negotiated the Northern Ireland protocol but now wants it changed

Conrad Duncan21 July 2021 08:08
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Brexit issues mean some products ‘will be excluded from Northern Ireland’s shelves’

Some products will be excluded from Northern Ireland’s shelves this Christmas due to problems with post-Brexit trading rules, according to the chairman of Marks & Spencer.

Archie Norman, who has requested a meeting with Brexit minister Lord Frost over the problems, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that the Northern Ireland Protocol would cause “gaps on the shelves”.

“This Christmas, I can tell you already, we’re having to make decisions to delist product for Northern Ireland because it’s simply not worth the risk of trying to get it through,” the former Tory MP said.

“We’ve already made that decision. We’re waiting to see how serious it’s going to be but if it’s anything like southern Ireland (the Republic of Ireland), and at the moment it’s set to be, then it’s going to be very, very serious for customers.”

Conrad Duncan21 July 2021 08:22
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Irish minister insists Northern Ireland solution must be found in existing agreement

Ireland’s European affairs minister has insisted that a post-Brexit solution on Northern Ireland must be found within the existing agreement on the region.

When asked about a reported UK proposal for an “honesty box” system for checks, Thomas Byrne told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “We’re going to listen carefully to what the British government have to say.

“We’re willing to discuss any creative solutions within the confines of the protocol but we have to recognise as well that Britain decided itself to leave the single market of the European Union, to apply trade rules, to apply red tape to its goods that are leaving Britain, to goods that are coming into Britain.”

Conrad Duncan21 July 2021 08:34
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UK will threaten to tear up Boris Johnson’s promises on Brexit deal

Boris Johnson’s government is set to unveil plans to change its Brexit deal with the EU, less than one year after it came into effect, due to problems for businesses operating in Northern Ireland.

Brandon Lewis, the Northern Ireland secretary, will make a statement to the House of Commons today spelling out the government’s proposals for the future of the agreement, which was designed to avoid a hard border with the Republic of Ireland.

Our policy correspondent, Jon Stone, has the full story below:

Conrad Duncan21 July 2021 08:41
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Post-Brexit issues in Northern Ireland are ‘constant concern’, US official says

US president Joe Biden’s climate envoy has said that post-Brexit issues surrounding Northern Ireland are a “constant concern” amid reports that the UK will threaten to override its agreement with the EU.

John Kerry told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that the Biden administration was “deeply committed” to making sure that the post-Brexit agreement remains in place and that there is peace on the island of Ireland.

“My principal concern is now climate and it’s not my portfolio but, suffice to say, President Biden is deeply immersed in the issue,” Mr Kerry said.

“He’s been dealing with it for years on the foreign relations committee.”

He added: “Secretary of State Tony Blinken is as knowledgeable and has worked with the president on this for years and they’re both deeply committed in making certain that the agreement holds and there is peace ultimately.”

Conrad Duncan21 July 2021 08:56
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On Tuesday, our chief political commentator John Rentoul answered readers’ questions on the future of the UK/EU’s Brexit agreement amid ongoing problems in Northern Ireland.

You can find his responses in the Q&A session below:

Brexit deal ‘Ask Me Anything’ hosted live by John Rentoul

The UK’s chief negotiator has said the Brexit deal is contradictory, but what does that mean for the UK? The Independent’s chief political commentator John Rentoul will be on hand to answer questions

Conrad Duncan21 July 2021 09:12
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Tory lead over Labour falls to four points, poll shows

The Conservative Party’s lead over Labour has fallen to four points, according to a new poll, amid confusion over the lifting of Covid restrictions this week.

Research by Survation showed that 39 per cent of voters backed the Tories, down by four points, compared to 35 per cent for Labour, up by three points.

The new polling follows confusion after Boris Johnson was forced into self-isolation over the weekend when the health secretary Sajid Javid tested positive for Covid-19.

You can find the full results below:

Conrad Duncan21 July 2021 09:33
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ICYMI: Dominic Cummings says ‘the sooner Johnson goes the better’

Dominic Cummings has said that he thinks Boris Johnson has been “terrible for the country” as prime minister and that the Tory leader should be removed as soon as possible.

When asked in his first major interview whether he was looking to “hasten” Mr Johnson’s departure from government, Mr Cummings told the BBC’s political editor Laura Kuenssberg: “Certainly. The sooner he goes the better, for sure.”

Our political editor, Andrew Woodcock, has the full story below:

Dominic Cummings says ‘the sooner Boris Johnson goes the better’

Former Vote Leave leader feared being forced out by PM’s wife Carrie

Conrad Duncan21 July 2021 09:50

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