Brexit news – live: Trade deal ‘very unstable’, legal expert warns amid ‘cumbersome’ Irish sea checks – The Independent

Arlene Foster on the Irish sea border The Brexit trade deal is “very unstable” and could easily be brought crashing down, a legal expert has warned MPs as importers run into difficulty transporting goods across the Irish sea under new customs checks. Several questions on tariffs and trade go unanswered in the deal, specialist EU legal scholar Professor Catherine Barnard said, warning that companies may be put off investing in the UK.

Prof Barnard’s warning comes as a customs official with 40 years of experience in the field complained that the post-Brexit Irish sea border is “cumbersome” and hugely complex. Warning of a “huge shortage” of customs agents, Robert Hardy, director of one of four companies tasked with handling new customs forms for goods moving between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, said pressure will build at the border as exports begin to ramp up. A small grocer in Northern Ireland has already been forced to close after discovering new customs rules meant he could have to pay double the price for each item imported from Great Britain. 

Jonathan Owens, who runs grocer Causeway Organic, said he suspended trading after learning of “an extra layer of red tape” in imports despite Northern Ireland secretary Brandon Lewis‘s insistence “there is no Irish Sea border”. Meanwhile, UK nationals have been blocked from entering Sweden after Ryanair staff reportedly refused to accept a negative coronavirus test from the NHS. Travellers had already faced trouble attempting to reach Spain and the Netherlands after the end of the Brexit transition period on 31 December.

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Post-Brexit border checks causing ‘worrying’ delays, trade body says

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Tesco confirms stock shortages in Northern Ireland

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Brexit disruption has already forced some supermarkets to desperate measures with Sainsbury’s stocking products bearing the brand of rival grocers Spar. Liam James6 January 2021 15:36

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PM believes Williamson is working to ‘his utmost ability’

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Raab denounces Hong Kong arrests

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“These arrests demonstrate that the Hong Kong and Chinese authorities deliberately misled the world about the true purpose of the National Security Law, which is being used to crush dissent and opposing political views. “The UK will not turn our backs on the people of Hong Kong and will continue to offer BNOs the right to live and work in the UK.” This is far from the first time Mr Raab has spoken out over Beijing’s crackdown on dissenters in the territory.

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Government urged to revive lockdown eviction ban

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Alicia Kennedy, director of Generation Rent said: “During the first lockdown, renters who had received an eviction notice still felt pressure to move out, which is why we’re calling on the government to do all it can to prevent unnecessary house moves by suspending evictions,” adding that landlords should be stopped from issuing eviction notices in the first place. Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, said: “We are now back in the same, if not worse, situation as last March. It is just too dangerous to start evicting people from their homes with Covid case numbers so high.

“You cannot follow the order to stay at home if you are evicted and facing homelessness. It’s not safe for people to attend court, nor is it safe for bailiffs to enter people’s homes and forcibly remove them.  “There aren’t enough genuinely affordable homes for people to move elsewhere, and councils will not be able to cope with an even longer queue of homeless households.”

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Labour accuses Williamson of ‘chronic incompetence’

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“Once again where the Secretary of State goes, chaos and confusion follows and it’s children, families and education staff across the country who pay the price for his incompetence.”  The Labour MP also said that the government had treated young people as an “afterthought” throughout the pandemic.  Rory Sullivan6 January 2021 14:10

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Brexit deal ‘an unmitigated disaster’, DUP says

The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) has said that the Brexit deal has been an “unmitigated disaster” for Northern Ireland.

Speaking on Wednesday, Ian Paisley Jr, the party’s communities spokesperson, said: “They’ve basically told us that the protocol and its workings, on day six, is an unmitigated disaster. “That’s one of the reasons I was against it, because I think a blind man on a galloping horse could have told you it was going to be an unmitigated disaster.” At a committee hearing on Wednesday, Northern Irish MPs were told about the problems hauliers and retailers face as a result of the new trade arrangements. 

The Independent’s policy correspondent Jon Stone reports:  Rory Sullivan6 January 2021 14:03

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School exams to be replaced by teacher-assessed grades

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