Trade talks between the EU and the UK will kick off on Monday, as the two sides attempt to thrash out a deal before the end of the Brexit transition period, that concludes on December 31. Ahead of the talks, Michel Barnier has issued a stern warning to the UK, telling the PM the EU won’t conclude a trade deal “at any price”. He also dashed Boris Johnson’s hopes of securing a Canada-style trade deal, by saying the UK will require a different set of rules.
The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator said: “The UK will be the EU’s third-largest trading partner, almost 10 times bigger then Canada.
“At the same time Canada is some 5,000 kilometers away.
“It is clear that the rules cannot be the same.”
A second sticking point between the two sides is the issue of the level playing field – where the EU insists Britain must adhere to the bloc’s rules and regulations post-Brexit.
Downing Street has said the UK will never accept rule-taking from Brussels and rejected the proposals.
The Prime Minister’s spokesman said: “The EU has respected the autonomy of other countries around the world in trade deals – we just want the same.”
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12.37pm update: Britons can get their hands on the first blue British passports TODAY
Britons applying for new passports can expect to get their hands on the new blue editon – launched as a symbol of post-Brexit Britain.
The new blue passport design will start being issued from March 2020 according to the gov.uk website.
12pm update: PMQs kicks off in the Commons
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11.24am update: EU predicts British economy will grow if transition period extended
The European Commission has predicted the UK economy will grow by 1.2 percent next year if the Brexit transition period was extended.
They also warn: “Even in a scenario where an FTA is concluded the resulting situation will be less beneficial to EU-UK trading relations than when UK was in the Internal Market and Customs Union.”
10.33am update: EU plot to ‘sacrifice British fisheries’ condemned by furious Brexiteers
The European Union’s attempts to force the UK into sacrificing its fishing industry has been condemned as “egregious” by furious Brexiteers.
10am update: Furious chicken row erupts on GMB over US trade deal
Brexiteer activist Tom Harwood brutally dismissed arguments against striking a post-Brexit trade deal with the US over concerns food standards might be compromised.
Remainers have long claimed striking trade deal with countries lacking strong agri-food standards could compromise the quality of UK foods and be harmful to people.
But Mr Harwood was quick to dismiss major concerns as he pointed out scientists from the European Union’s own European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) claimed the consumption of food treated with chlorine would not be harmful.
9.44am update: Brexit will have ‘huge impact’ on social care
An expert has issued a warning to the Goverment that Brexit could have potentially disastrous consequences for people who need support.
Karolina Gerlich, chief executive of the National Association of Care and Support Workers, told the London Assembly that people’s lives are on the line.
She criticised the Government’s proposals to introduce a £25,600 salary threshold for skilled workers entering the UK, as social care workers would not meet the threshold.
She said the approach “seems to confuse academic ability with skills”.
Ms Gerlich said: “It isn’t necessarily something where we can say we’ll give the sector a couple of years to adjust and work things out.
“Because while you’re adjusting and working things out it is people’s lives that are going to be at risk.”
Social care includes a range of jobs supporting older, disabled or mentally ill people, both adults and children – it can be help washing, dressing and taking medicine, as well as more specialist roles.
9.13am update: Eustice says there is ‘room for discussion’ on US trade standards
Enviornment Secretary George Eustice spoke at the NFU conference this morning where he was grilled on food standards on US imports.
He said: “I didn’t say that there was room for compromise [on standards] with the US on a trade deal, I said there was room for discussion.”
Mr Eustice also acknowledged the importance of food standards.
He said: “The entire nation eats the food we produce, so when the NFU speaks up on standards up you are speaking up for everyone.”
8.40am update: Steve Baker resigns as ERG chairman
Steve Baker has stepped down as chairman of the European Research Group (ERG), the right-wing Tory pressure group.
He said that after chairing the group for five years it was time to give way to others on the issue.
Mr Baker said the group had “wielded more power from the backbenches than any others in the long history of our party and country”.
The Wycombe MP said he wanted to spend more time with his constituents and to do his bit to “start bringing the country together now we have left the EU”.
8.10am update: Public ‘fed up’ with repeated warnings from the EU
Tim Martin, the chairman of pub chain Wetherspoons, has said the British public is “fed up” with the EU’s warnings about delays to a Brexit deal.
He warned negotiators that people will not be “fooled” by a deal that fails to achieve what he said would be a real restoration of democracy.
Mr Martin said: “If the public is tricked or cajoled it will have the power to drive imports from France and Germany down to zero, irrespective of any agreement.
“In my opinion the public is fed up with repeated warnings from French President Emmanuel Macron and EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier, in areas such as fishing rights and prospective delays to a deal beyond the end of this year.
“It’s truly pathetic of the EU to imply that a deal can’t be done by December 2020.
“Brussels is a laughing stock in most of the world for its bureaucracy and sclerosis.
“If Macron and Barnier don’t want a deal, or make threats, consumers will simply reject EU goods and will buy from the rest of the world, as Wetherspoon has shown by swapping French brandy and champagne, and German spirits and beers, for UK and new world alternatives.”
8am update: Heathrow boss warns ‘no Global Britain’ without third runaway
The head of Heathrow has warned Boris Johnson if he blocks the airports third runway there will be “no Global Britain”.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme, the CEO of Heathrow Airport Ltd urged Boris Johnson to speed up plans to build a third runway.
CEO John Holland-Kaye argued Brexit Britain could only thrive if the London airport is expanded to allow trading relations with countries outside the EU to flourish.
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