Blog: Brexit news live: Latest Boris Johnson updates as France threatens no-deal – The Independent

UK and France in row over fishing rights as Brexit countdown continues

France is threatening to force a no-deal Brexit unless the UK backs down over an escalating row about fishing rights ahead of this week’s crucial EU Council summit. “Fishermen would rather have no agreement than a bad agreement,” said the French fishing minister.

It comes as Boris Johnson prepares to reveal his new three-tier strategy, with areas across England labelled as medium, high or very high risk. Merseyside is set to face strict Tier 3 curbs – but there is a revolt from northern leaders about pub closures and lack of financial support.

Meanwhile there is anger among MPs at the government’s decision to use an obscure rule to deny parliament a crucial vote aimed at blocking imports of chlorinated chicken and hormone-fed beef after Brexit.

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Government’s ad campaign is ‘crass’, admits minister

Culture secretary Oliver Dowden has admitted a government ad campaign suggesting a ballet dancer could “reboot” their career by moving in to cyber security was “crass”.

The advert, part of the government’s Cyber First campaign, featured a young dancer tying up her ballet pumps alongside the caption: “Fatima’s next job could be in cyber. (she just doesn’t know it yet).”

Shortly after “Fatima” began trending on Twitter, Dowden responded: “To those tweeting … This is not something from DCMS & I agree it was crass. This was a partner campaign encouraging people from all walks of life to think about a career in cyber security.”

Adam Forrest12 October 2020 11:32

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‘Jeremy was wrong’: Starmer criticises Corbyn over dinner party breach

Sir Keir Starmer has criticised former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn for breaking the “rule of six” at a recent dinner party. “Jeremy was wrong. He’s apologised for it but he was wrong,” he told LBC.

He added that the behaviour of Margaret Ferrier, the SNP MP who broke self-isolation rules by travelling across the country with Covid, was “jaw-dropping” – and again called for her to resign.

Starmer, a big Arsenal fan (like Corbyn), also said he was “really worried” about the ‘Project Big Picture’ proposals for the Premier League. The Labour leader said the top division should do more to support small clubs in the lower leagues.

Starmer also said he was pleased Arsenal star Mesut Ozil is going to give up about “15 minutes of his salary” to keep on the club’s mascot Gunnersaurus.

Adam Forrest12 October 2020 10:59

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EU could force no-deal and revive trade talks in 2021, says diplomat

More now on Brexit. EU member states are reportedly “war-gaming” in preparation for a possible no-deal scenario at the end of the transition period.

One option said to be under serious consideration is allowing the UK to crash out onto World Trade Organisation terms at the end of 2020 (if a deal becomes too difficult to forge this autumn) – before reviving trade negotiations in 2021.

“If we need to see how things evolve and how much it hurts before politicians come to their senses then so be it,” one EU diplomat told The Telegraph.  

As we reported earlier, France continues to play hard ball over fishing rights. Annick Girardin, French fishing minister, talked up a no-deal outcome. “Fishermen would rather have no agreement than a bad agreement,” she said.

Meanwhile, the Financial Times reports that French president Emmanuel Macron – digging his heels in over fisheries – will insist on tough enforcement mechanisms for any trade deal agreed with the UK.

It seems Boris Johnson’s big move to rip up parts of the existing withdrawal agreement has created a lot of mistrust.

UK and France in row over fishing rights as Brexit countdown continues
UK and France in row over fishing rights as Brexit countdown continues(AFP via Getty Images)

Adam Forrest12 October 2020 10:46

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Living on two-thirds of wages? ‘Challenging’ admits minister

Employees forced to live on two-thirds of their usual wages due to coronavirus curbs will find it “very challenging”, the culture secretary has admitted.

Last week Rishi Sunak, the chancellor, outlined plans to pay two-thirds the wages of employees in bars and restaurants – but leaders in the north facing pub closures have complained it is not enough.

Oliver Dowden has said this morning: “Of course it is very challenging for people … I acknowledge it’s very challenging for people – of course it’s very challenging, but so many aspects of this terrible disease are very challenging for people.”

Remarks come as PM prepares to update country on new restrictions

Adam Forrest12 October 2020 10:28

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Keir Starmer speaks out against MPs’ £3k pay rise

The Labour leader Keir Starmer isn’t happy that MPs are getting a pay rise of more than £3,300. “We shouldn’t have it,” he told LBC. “This year of all years I think  people would say that’s money that should be spent on key workers.”

Starmer pointed out it was no longer in MPs’ power to vote against the pay increases now set by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA). “I think we need to have a discussion across party because I suspect there’s lots of MPs who feel it just isn’t right.”

Adam Forrest12 October 2020 09:59

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It’s a big day for Boris Johnson. The prime minister is holding an emergency Cobra meeting this morning to sign off on major changes to how coronavirus curbs are to be imposed from now on.

3.30pm: The PM will deliver a statement to the Commons announcing the new system for local restrictions – and how medium, high and very high risk status will be given to different parts in England.

6pm: Boris Johnson will give another one of his TV press conferences alongside chancellor Rishi Sunak and chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty. MPs aren’t get the chance to vote on the new measures until Tuesday, and they should then come in on Wednesday. 

Adam Forrest12 October 2020 09:42

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Manchester wants pubs kept open, Liverpool wants support for pub closures

Manchester City Council leader Sir Richard Leese said local officials are still in discussions with the government as to what restrictions should apply. He said they have made the case that the area should be placed in Tier 2 rather than the stricter Tier 3 – which could mean closing pubs and bars.

“They have not been able to show us any data that connects bars and pubs in Greater Manchester with transmission of the Covid-19 virus. They have not been able to provide any evidence that closing them down will work,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

Steve Rotheram, metro mayor of the Liverpool City Region, seems to have accepted his area will be going into Tier 3 – but said his priority is to secure a support package for businesses affected.

“We were told we were going into Tier 3, no ifs, no buts. We can either expend energy on that or we can try and get a better deal,” he said.

Adam Forrest12 October 2020 09:35

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Coronavirus crisis widening inequality, say business leaders

The pandemic is widening existing socio-economic inequalities across the UK, business leaders have warned the government in a new report.

People in the poorest neighbourhoods are not only at higher risk of dying, but are also suffering more from unemployment and worsening mental health, according to research for the Covid Recovery Commission (set up by the bosses of major firms including Vodafone, Heathrow and Shell UK).

There has been an average of 21 more Covid-19 deaths per 100,000 population in the 20 per cent most deprived neighbourhoods compared with the least deprived areas.

Covid Recovery Commission urges ministers to focus on ‘people as well as places’

Adam Forrest12 October 2020 09:27

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Obscure rule used to deny MPs on chlorinated chicken imported

An obscure rule is to be used by the government to deny MPs a crucial vote aimed at blocking imports of chlorinated chicken and hormone-fed beef – sparking fresh fears about food quality after Brexit.

Ministers are facing fierce criticism over their tactic, amid suspicions that future trade deals, particularly with the US, will water down standards.  

The move to prevent debate on a key amendment has been condemned as “unbelievable” by Lord Curry, the peer who introduced it in the Lords.

And Neil Parish, the Tory chair of the Commons environment committee, told The Independent: “The Commons is wrongly being denied a say on a technicality. The government should allow a vote. These are really important matters for the future of food and farming.”

Exclusive: Ministers attacked for ‘unbelievable’ tactic to thwart expected Tory revolt to protect food standards

Adam Forrest12 October 2020 09:15

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Ministers have ‘not produced evidence’ for pub closures, says Labour

Labour’s shadow business secretary has called on the government to publish evidence to prove hospitality venues are high risk settings for coronavirus transmission.

“Government and scientists still haven’t produced this evidence,” Lucy Powell, who is also MP for Manchester Central.

“The big problem for them is local leaders have all the same data (in fact better data for their areas) and they know hospitality settings make up a very small proportion of infection transmission.”

Adam Forrest12 October 2020 09:02

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