Displaying items by tag: Brexit
Ireland’s foreign minister, Simon Coveney, has warned Boris Johnson against any move to change the Northern Ireland protocol. He said, ‘What we can’t do is accept that the British government would act unilaterally, they would pass legislation to effectively breach international law, to set aside elements of a treaty that this prime minister designed and put in place. That would cause more problems than it would solve.’ Foreign minister Liz Truss, announcing a new law to change the post-Brexit trade deal for Northern Ireland, insisted it would be legal under international law. She said the proposed legislation would make changes to the deal - rather than scrapping it - to resolve ‘the grave situation in Northern Ireland’. But in response, the EU said it would ‘need to respond with all measures at its disposal’ if the UK went ahead with the legislation. Pray that all decisions will be according to God’s plans.
The attorney general has been advised that it would be lawful to override parts of the Northern Ireland Protocol, the post-Brexit arrangement which requires some checks on goods between Britain and NI. This angers both Unionists and the EU. There has been no power-sharing executive for several months after the DUP withdrew in protest against the protocol. In the recent election Sinn Féin, whose goal is for NI to become one country with the Republic of Ireland, won the most seats and needs to form a government. It cannot take up the office unless the DUP nominates a deputy first minister. The DUP's leader said his party would respect the election result, but changes needed to be made to the protocol. Boris Johnson has said the most important treaty is the Good Friday Agreement, which established a cross-community power-sharing government to end decades of violence.
Lorries bringing goods from the EU to the UK are stuck in customs controls for days due to new Brexit red tape. Queues of up to eight hours cause delivery delays as firms struggle with Brexit rules which came into force on 1 January. Jordan Freight has had two trucks containing automobile parts stuck at Felixstowe customs controls for four days after arriving in the UK. The driver was allowed to leave the port, but the goods are stuck there. HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) said they were just too busy to deal with it. Customs experts say problems are partly due to the government’s new IT system. All EU imports must now be processed using the Goods Vehicle Movement Service (GVMS) managed by HMRC. Many drivers have been unable to get their reference codes accepted.
Brexit is having both expected and unexpected impacts on trade in agricultural and food products, and is blamed even when other factors may be at play (current fisheries dispute, lorry drivers shortage, increased red tape and costs in trading with the EU). Trade thrives on trust. Honesty and fairness in buying and selling are pleasing to God and make for a good society (Leviticus 19:36). Pray for all seeking to resolve trade disputes and for all affected by them, for peace, truth and equity to prevail in trade negotiations, and for Christians in trade to shine as lights of integrity and reconciliation. The UK's net zero strategy will profoundly impact farming and the countryside. The Lord has promised ‘seed time and harvest while the earth remains’ but holds us responsible for our stewardship of the earth (Genesis 1:28, 2:15; Revelation 11:18). Unlike some of today’s environmentalists, we have a message of hope. Large numbers of Christians are praying and present at COP26.
The UK has accused France of the ‘offensive’ remark that Northern Ireland is not part of the UK. Since 2016 the two sides have been trying to work out how to deal with post-Brexit trade and Northern Ireland’s land border with the EU. The latest spat is centered on sausages. When Boris Johnson met Emmanuel Macron at the G7 summit, he asked him to imagine if Toulouse sausages were barred from sale in Paris, which left Macron ‘astonished’. He told him Toulouse is part of the same territory, and inaccurately said, ‘Northern Ireland was not part of the United Kingdom’. Johnson furiously replied, ‘Northern Ireland and Britain are part of the same country.’ After the testy exchange Johnson told the media, ‘Some of our friends seem to misunderstand that the UK is a single country and a single territory. I think they need to get that into their heads.’
UK exports to the EU fell 40.7% in January, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), while imports tumbled 28.8% and the economy shrank by 2.9% amid the third lockdown. The figures, the first since new trading rules between the UK and the EU came into force, show the biggest drop since records began. The ONS said temporary factors were likely to be behind many of the falls. KPMG Accountancy said Brexit caused the plunge in trade between the UK and the EU. In contrast, the UK's trade with non-EU countries grew by 1.7% in January.
Days after a ‘mutant’ coronavirus strain ruined Christmas plans of holidaymakers on both sides of the Channel, red tape and confusion have raised hurdles for Britons attempting to return to their homes in several European countries. They are now regarded as ‘third-country nationals’, and some were barred from boarding flights bound for the countries where they live. Others have complained of difficulties accessing the social benefits to which they are entitled. Most complaints involved flights to Spain, home to the largest number of registered Britons in Europe, though the Spanish authorities claimed that the issue had been resolved by mid-Sunday. Italy, Germany, Sweden, and the Netherlands all experienced travel problems for UK residents trying to return home, and there were reports of violations of the withdrawal agreement guaranteeing their rights.
Stripping away the spin in both the UK and EU, the prospects of a deal feel very slim at present. In the next few weeks everything rests on intense negotiations behind the scenes. The process is unlikely to be straightforward as this is all uncharted territory. Please continue to pray for God to direct every conversation around this challenging situation. Pray for everyone to be creative and able to keep the basis of negotiations on level ground. Political observers say that if they wanted to, the EU and the UK could, in theory, come up with an agreement outside EU law. Meanwhile the UK and USA are in talks over a mini trade deal to reduce tariffs. Pray for the success of post-Brexit deals with Washington. Pray for God to pave the way for excellent future communications between US trade representative Robert Lighthizer and the UK international trade secretary Liz Truss. See
After months of talks, the UK’s vision of the future does not appear to be compatible with the EU’s viewpoint. For the first time in a world of highly moveable deadlines, Boris Johnson and EU president Ursula von der Leyen announced that a final decision must be taken by 13 December. There is a chance still that a couple of frantic days could result in a change. Please continue to pray for God to be at the core of all the negotiations between Lord Frost and Michel Barnier. Meanwhile, the EU has published contingency plans - should talks collapse. The plans will aim to ensure basic UK-EU air and road connectivity, as well as allowing the possibility of fishing access to each other's waters. See also
Michel Barnier has warned Brexit trade talks could be plunged into ‘crisis’ if Boris Johnson puts forward more legislation that calls into question last year's divorce deal. The Brussels diplomat is worried that the Finance Bill will contain clauses that breach the terms of the Northern Ireland protocol. He was infuriated when No 10 tabled legislation that handed ministers the powers to rip up sections of the Withdrawal Agreement relating to Northern Ireland. Mr Barnier made the warning during a video call with EU27 ambassadors. At the time of writing the future UK-EU relationship is still deadlocked because of disagreements over post-Brexit fishing rights and common standards, and Downing Street has yet to decide on a timetable for publishing the Finance Bill. Talks went on late into the evening on 2 December at the business department in central London. See