French minister says No Deal Brexit is better than a bad deal

The new French minister for Europe Clement Beaune has said No Deal Brexit is better than a bad deal and France will not be ‘intimidated’ in upcoming talks.  

‘We will not accept a deal at any price,’ he told France Inter radio in his first public comments on Brexit since his appointment on Sunday.

‘Better no deal at all than a bad deal,’ he said while adding that a deal was nevertheless the best outcome for all concerned.  

He said France would be ‘intransigent’ on fishing, and will not be ‘intimidated’ by Britain in the negotiation ‘game’.  

‘Let’s not kid ourselves, if there is no deal, it will be a difficult issue,’ he added. ‘We’ll have to organise a response for sectors like fisheries. Support our fishermen financially. We’re not there yet.’ 

Britain and the European Union clashed last week over the chances of securing a free trade agreement, with Brussels deeming it ‘unlikely’ but London holding out hope one could be reached in September. 

French Junior Minister for European Affairs Clement Beaune speaks during a session of Questions to the government, on July 28, 2020, at the National Assembly in Paris

Boris Johnson was in Orkney earlier this month to support the UK fishing industry

Boris Johnson was in Orkney earlier this month to support the UK fishing industry

France is one of the coastal states that has pushed hardest for EU fishermen to keep the right to fish in British waters after a transition period ends at the end of this year.

Before becoming Europe minister, Beaune served as President Emmanuel Macron’s Europe adviser. A self-described anglophile, he has advised Macron on Brexit negotiations since the 2016 referendum. 

The French negotiator lashed out at representatives from Lithuania and Hungary last week, who said that the coastal fishing issue should not stand in the way of a deal. 

Beaune’s comments yesterday contrast those of EU negotiator Michel Barnier, who has tried to compromise between the UK’s hardline stance on taking back its waters come January 1 and European fishermen being able to continue fishing where they have in the past.  

EU negotiators believe they will be able to strike a deal with the UK. 

‘It’s a big ask for the EU and it’s not such a big give for the UK, because in the end, it’s access to waters for access to markets,’ an EU source told the Telegraph. 

‘You can’t eat fish in the morning, the evening and the night.’ 

One source said member states are worried that the EU may decide to hit the UK with sanctions if it decided to restrict access for European fishing. 

Another added that once Brexit happens, the UK won’t be able to fish its waters as much as it is currently. 

Mr Barnier has set a new date of 31 October for a deal to be prepared for the UK to leave on 1 January.  

Mr Barnier used a press conference earlier this month to warn that the EU would not accept a deal that resulted in the 'partial destruction' of the EU fishing industry, but would continue with talks to 'the last moment'

Mr Barnier used a press conference earlier this month to warn that the EU would not accept a deal that resulted in the ‘partial destruction’ of the EU fishing industry, but would continue with talks to ‘the last moment’

However, earlier this month Barnier blasted the UK as he warned a trade deal is ‘unlikely’ before the end of the year.

He lashed out at Britain over its hardline position on fishing rights in territorial waters after the transition period ends on December 31 as talks ended without breakthrough in London.

Mr Barnier used a press conference to warn that the EU would not accept a deal that resulted in the ‘partial destruction’ of the EU fishing industry, but would continue with talks to ‘the last moment’.

‘By its current refusal to commit to conditions of open and fair competition and to a balanced agreement on fisheries, the UK makes a trade agreement – at this point – unlikely,’ Mr Barnier said.

Speaking after this week’s round of negotiations in London, Barnier said there been no progress at all on the question of ensuring fairness on state aid.

‘The time for answers is quickly running out,’ he told a news conference, referring to the five months left before the end of Britain’s transition period since it formally left the EU at the end of January. ‘If we do not reach an agreement on our future partnership there will be more friction.’

UK negotiator David Frost admitted ‘considerable gaps’ remain between the two sides but help out hope for a deal to be struck after some concession in other areas of conflict.

But he confirmed the two sides remained at loggerheads over fishing rights in UK waters and the ‘level playing field’ on standards. 

‘Europe cannot fail twice on migration’, EU Commission warns


‘Europe cannot fail twice on migration’, EU Commission warns, as it urges countries to ensure there is no repeat of the 2015 crisis when a million exiles entered the continent

  • A huge influx of migrants five years ago caused significant rifts within the EU
  • Proposals for reform of EU migration and asylum policy expected in September 
  • Vice-President Margaritis Schinas said the bloc cannot see a repeat of 2015

Europe cannot ‘fail twice on migration’ and must avoid a repeat of the 2015 crisis, the EU Commission has warned today.

Vice-President Margaritis Schinas said today the bloc cannot have similar scenes to those seen five years ago, when more than a million exiles fleeing wars, persecution or poverty flooded the continent.

The huge influx caused significant political rifts within the European Union with some states in the border-free Schengen area putting up fences and reimposing frontier controls.

Migrants disembark from a vessel after their arrival from the Turkish coast to the northeastern Greek island of Lesbos, in November 2015, when around 5,000 a day were reaching Europe along the so-called Balkan migrant route

‘Europe cannot fail twice on migration,’ Schinas said at a press conference after a meeting of ministers from 18 EU and Western Balkan nations.

‘This is the moment, now,’ Schinas said, referring to a long-awaited and repeatedly postponed proposal for the reform of EU migration and asylum policy, which the European Commission is expected to unveil in September.

Schinas said the fact that the bloc had this week signed off on a giant coronavirus economic recovery plan had cleared the way for progress on other issues.

‘We didn’t want to contaminate the discussions on the recovery plan with another difficult file on migration,’ Schinas said.

However, at the end of the two-day conference held in Vienna it was clear that many aspects of any future deal remain contentious.

Greek representatives had made clear before the meeting that they and other southern European states wanted compulsory distribution of refugees across the EU to be on the agenda.

Countries such as Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia have been vehemently opposed to this.

German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, whose country currently holds the EU’s rotating presidency, stressed the need for tighter procedures to decide at the EU’s external borders who was eligible for refugee status.

Vice-President Margaritis Schinas, pictured in Vienna today, said the bloc cannot have similar scenes to those seen five years ago, when more than a million exiles fleeing fleeing wars, persecution or poverty flooded the continent

Vice-President Margaritis Schinas, pictured in Vienna today, said the bloc cannot have similar scenes to those seen five years ago, when more than a million exiles fleeing fleeing wars, persecution or poverty flooded the continent

Seehofer also underscored higher levels of returns to countries of origin for those who do not get refugee status.

When asked directly whether Germany would rule out a system of compulsory distribution, Seehofer said: ‘Let’s introduce these other measures first.’

‘If we’re able to achieve a lot, then this question of distribution will retreat into the background,’ he said.

Seehofer said Germany was now registering between 300 and 400 arrivals per day of people seeking to stay, the same level as before the novel coronavirus pandemic caused a drop.

The meeting decided to set up a ‘coordination platform’ in Vienna to facilitate the exchange of information between EU states and those in the Western Balkans on migration.

Seehofer said he hoped the new platform would act as a sort of ‘early warning system’ to indicate when additional measures might be required to deal with migration issues.

DOMINIC SANDBROOK: A £1.6 TRILLION EU splurge. I was Remain… but what a relief we’re out!


For as long as I can remember, late night bust-ups have been par for the course at European Union meetings. 

Even so, this week’s Brussels summit to rescue the EU’s pandemic-blighted economy was in a class of its own. 

For more than four days, the leaders of the 27 member states were locked in sweatsodden battle, while reports of table-thumping and shouting matches filtered through to the waiting media. 

At last, just after dawn yesterday, a visibly exhausted Charles Michel, President of the European Council , appeared before the cameras. 

 ‘We did it!’ he declared. ‘Europe is strong! Europe is united!’ Strong? United? 

Well, let’s see. To cut a long story short, on top of signing off on a new €1 trillion sevenyear budget, the EU eventually agreed to hand out an astonishing €390 billion in grants to recession-haunted countries such as Italy and Spain, as well as a further €360 billion in low-interest loans. 

Just after dawn yesterday, a visibly exhausted Charles Michel (pictured with Ursula Von Der Leyen) appeared before the cameras. ‘We did it!’ he declared. ‘Europe is strong! Europe is united!’

Added together, that amounts to a €1.75 trillion (£1.6 trillion) splurge. Right on cue, pro-European commentators stepped forward to hail it as a landmark event, representing a gigantic step towards an integrated United States of Europe. 

One pro-European e­conomist, Anatole Kaletsky, even compared it to the moment in 1790 when the United States of America became a true political federation. 

Nice idea. But not, I think, remotely convincing. 

The real story of the EU summit was not the outcome: a classic fudge in which nobody got what they wanted. 

Nor was it even the agonising sluggishness of the process — such a contrast with Rishi Sunak’s decisive measures to prop up Britain’s economy. 

No, the most striking aspect was the astonishing bitterness with which the EU leaders argued into the small hours, exposing all too clearly the deep chasms beneath the facade of fraternal unity. 

The most obvious schism is between the rich countries of the North, who believe themselves champions of sound money and low debt, and the poorer nations of Mediterranean and Eastern Europe, who have long chafed at what they see as their economic subordination. 

Having suffered grievously during the coronavirus pandemic, Italy, Spain and Portugal asked for grants worth some €500 billion. 

Spain's Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez (L), French President Emmanuel Macron (C) and German Chancellor Angela Merkel peered at documents in Brussels on Monday

Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez (L), French President Emmanuel Macron (C) and German Chancellor Angela Merkel peered at documents in Brussels on Monday

But in their path stood the ‘frugal four’ — Sweden, Denmark, Austria and the Netherlands — who made it clear they were sick of bankrolling their poorer cousins. 

These are old arguments, recalling the furious rows over the bailouts for debt-crippled Greece and Ireland a decade ago. 

But rarely have they raged with such seething intensity. The Dutch prime minister, Mark Rutte, insisted that any rescue package should involve a commitment to the ‘rule of law’, which many commentators saw as a rebuke to Hungary’s authoritarian strongman Viktor Orban. 

Squaring up like a nightclub bouncer, Mr Orban demanded to know ‘the personal reason for the Dutch prime minister to hate me or Hungary’. 

Meanwhile France’s Emmanuel Macron accused Mr Rutte of behaving like a British prime minister, the worst possible insult in the Gallic lexicon. 

Mr Macron was on fighting form, reportedly thumping the table like an overwrought t­eenager. 

At one point he shouted at Austria’s chancellor, Sebastian Kurz, for leaving the room to make a phone call. 

‘You see?’ Mr Macron declared. ‘He doesn’t care!’ 

In fairness, it is easy to see why the French president was so agitated. He sees himself as the guardian of the European soul, yet his fellow leaders are manifestly more devoted to their own national interests. 

The Franco-German axis, on which European affairs have turned for the last half-­century, is in deep trouble. 

Economic stagnation, national populism, anxiety about immigration and the searing impact of the coronavirus pandemic have taken a heavy toll. 

So instead of falling dutifully behind Paris and Berlin, more and more European leaders prefer to line up with their likeminded neighbours, from the sound-money Scandinavians to the begging-bowl southerners. 

Even Italy, the EU’s third most populous country, is no longer a reliable FrancoGerman ally. 

A few weeks ago, Claudio Borghi, economic adviser to the largest Italian party, the populist League, tweeted a World War II poster of a grinning Nazi soldier with the slogan, ‘Germany really is your friend’. ‘Time passes,’ Mr Borghi wrote ominously. ‘But the t­actics are always the same.’ 

So much, then, for burying the hatreds of the past! The irony is that the EU elite have never talked more f­ervently about the virtues of their beloved ‘project’. 

Yesterday, even the shattered Mr Michel claimed that the summit had demonstrated ‘the magic of the European project’. 

What rubbish! To an outsider, as we British now are, it is blindingly obvious that European unity is little more than a pious fantasy. 

In many ways, as callous as it might sound, the coronavirus pandemic was a tremendous opportunity for the EU. 

This was a chance for it to prove its worth at a time of genuine, lifethreatening crisis. It was an opportunity to proclaim the virtues of Continental s­olidarity, and to show that federalism really is the future. 

But, of course, things didn’t turn out that way. 

European Union nations leaders agreed on a budget and a recovery mechanism after meeting face-to-face for a fourth day to discuss plans to respond to the coronavirus pandemic and a new long-term EU budget

European Union nations leaders agreed on a budget and a recovery mechanism after meeting face-to-face for a fourth day to discuss plans to respond to the coronavirus pandemic and a new long-term EU budget

Right from the start, EU citizens looked to their national governments, not to Brussels. 

Each member state raced to adopt its own policies, secure its borders and even get hold of its own personal protective equipment. 

For the hardest-hit countries, such as Italy and Spain, the lack of solidarity was hard to take. 

Feelings ran so high that in April the European Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, even offered a limp apology to the Italians, whose requests to their neighbours to send medical aid had gone unanswered. 

But the lack of solidarity was no fluke. The reality, which the federalist elite refuse to accept, is that most EU citizens still see themselves as members of a nation-state first and as Europeans second. 

At the height of the pandemic, for example, the Danes closed the famous Oresund Bridge to nearby Sweden, while the Danish police literally turned back Swedes trying to cross the straits by ferry. 

If, at a time of crisis, people as self-consciously progressive as the Danes and the Swedes insist on putting their national identity first, then how on earth can you expect, say, the Latvians, the Portuguese, the Hungarians or the Romanians to behave differently?  

All of this, I think, bodes very ill for the EU. The tensions between penny-pinching Dutchmen and bombastic Hungarians, parsimonious Danes and impecunious Greeks aren’t going to disappear. 

And if tempers are fraught now, just imagine the mood once unemployment has rocketed and a new wave of national populism has swept across southern and eastern Europe.

As the decade wears on and the inequalities yawn ever wider, resentment is bound to build, the fragile bonds of Continental unity fraying almost to nothingness. 

And although some commentators argue that the EU is bound to muddle through, it’s perfectly possible to imagine the whole ramshackle edifice falling apart. 

No multinational entity, after all, lasts for ever. 

Will Hungary still be there in ten years’ time? Will Poland? Or will one of the richer northern countries decide that it’s no longer worth it? 

As some readers will remember, I voted Remain four years ago. 

But do I wish our Prime Minister had been there in Brussels, arguing about ­Rotterdam’s customs revenue? 

Do I wish we were joining our Continental friends in their collective borrowing spree? Well, I think you can guess the answer.

Bahamas closes all airports and ports to American visitors


Bahamas closes all airports and ports to American visitors – but tourists from other countries including Britain are still allowed

  • Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis made the announcement in his national address
  • He said  that he will be shutting down all airports and seaports from Wednesday
  • The move comes after the country reported 15 new coronavirus cases on Sunday

The Bahamas is shutting down its borders to visitors from the United States after witnessing a spike in Covid-19 cases.

In a national address, Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis announced that he would be closing all airports and seaports to tourists after the number of new coronavirus cases in the country increased by 15 on Sunday. 

Dr Minnis said that new restrictions would stop all outgoing flights to the U.S. as of Wednesday but visitors from the United Kingdom, Canada or the European Union would still be permitted into the country.

The move comes less than three weeks after the Caribbean country reopened its borders to international visitors amid the coronavirus pandemic on July 1.

The Bahamas will be shutting down all airports and seaports to U.S. tourists after witnessing a spike in the number of Covid-19 cases. Pictured: Passengers leave the Carnival Sunshine cruise ship in Bahamas in March amid the coronavirus pandemic

Bahamian Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis (pictured) has announced that he will be shutting down all borders after the number of new coronavirus cases in the country increased by 15 on Sunday

Bahamian Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis (pictured) has announced that he will be shutting down all borders after the number of new coronavirus cases in the country increased by 15 on Sunday

In his speech Dr Minnis said: ‘So today, I am announcing a number of measures we are reinstating to address the number of new cases we are seeing here at home. My government has consulted heavily with health officials.

‘We are taking these strong actions to save lives. I understand the frustration and the disappointment of many Bahamians and residents that may ensue as we reimplement certain restrictions, but as a country, we have to do what is right and what is necessary.

‘If we do not take these measures now we will pay a higher price and deadlier price at a later date. At the onset, of the Covid-19 pandemic, we acted early to prevent widespread sickness and death. We must do so once again.’

He added: ‘Regrettably, the situation here at home has already deteriorated since we began the reopening of our domestic economy. It has deteriorated at an exponential rate since we reopened our international borders.’  

Under the new restrictions, commercial flights carrying passengers from the U.S will not be permitted to enter the Bahamas from Wednesday midnight.

In his speech Dr Minnis said that while he understood the frustration he was taking these strong actions to save lives

In his speech Dr Minnis said that while he understood the frustration he was taking these strong actions to save lives

Visitors from Canada, the United Kingdom and the European Union will still be permitted to visit as long as they can show proof of a negative RT-PCR Covid-19 test result from an accredited lab.

The test must be taken no later than ten days before the date of travel.

Returning Bahamians will also be required to show the negative test upon arrival into the country and those who cannot will be asked to self-quarantine for 14 days.

Meanwhile those seeking to travel domestically will be required to complete an electronic Health Visa before they depart.

On Sunday, the island nation recorded 15 new cases of coronavirus, bringing the total number of cases in the country to 153. 

Nicola Sturgeon issues Brexit state aid warning to Boris Johnson


Nicola Sturgeon warns Boris Johnson withholding state aid powers after Brexit would be a ‘full scale assault on devolution’ and boost support for Scottish independence

  • The UK currently has to abide by European Union rules on state aid subsidies 
  • After Brexit it will regain control of ability to intervene when industries struggle
  • Downing Street has said it wants to keep all of the powers for UK Government
  • Nicola Sturgeon wants powers to be devolved, setting up potential for major row

Nicola Sturgeon today warned Boris Johnson that withholding post-Brexit state aid powers would represent a ‘full scale assault on devolution’ and increase support for Scottish independence.  

The UK has had to adhere to European Union rules on state aid during its membership of the bloc. 

But once the Brexit transition period finishes at the end of this year Britain will be free to set its own policy on subsidising private companies. 

Regaining the ability to act unilaterally on state aid is viewed by many in the Government as one of the leading benefits of splitting from Brussels. 

Number 10 wants to keep the powers for the UK Government to exercise but the Scottish and Welsh administrations believe they must be devolved. 

The Government is expected to set out its proposed way forward in the coming months, with a major constitutional row now viewed as increasingly likely. 

Nicola Sturgeon has warned Boris Johnson withholding state aid powers after Brexit would represent a ‘full scale assault on devolution’

Ms Sturgeon said if Westminster keeps the powers it would be a 'blatant move to erode the powers of the Scottish Parliament

Ms Sturgeon said if Westminster keeps the powers it would be a ‘blatant move to erode the powers of the Scottish Parliament

Ms Sturgeon warned if decision-making powers over state aid were reserved to Westminster it would be a ‘blatant move to erode the powers of the Scottish Parliament’.

She shared a Financial Times report that suggested the UK Government does want to control state aid policy at the end of the Brexit transition period.

She tweeted: ‘Make no mistake, this would be a full-scale assault on devolution – a blatant move to erode the powers of the Scottish Parliament in key areas.

‘If the Tories want to further boost support for independence, this is the way to do it.’

Ms Sturgeon has called for a referendum on Scottish independence to take place before the end of this year. 

A Panelbase poll published last week put support for a ‘Yes’ vote in an independence referendum at 54 per cent and support for ‘No’ at 46 per cent. 

A Welsh Government spokesman said it would ‘bitterly resist any attempt’ by Westminster to impose a new system. 

The spokesman said: ‘We support having rules across the UK to regulate the level of funding Governments and local authorities can give to business, but these rules must be agreed between the four Governments in the UK, each of which have their own responsibility for economic development and must be independently policed.

‘We have had no recent discussions with the UK Government on these issues and will bitterly resist any attempt by Whitehall to unilaterally impose a system on us.’ 

Downing Street said: ‘We’ve always been clear we consider the regulation of state aid to be a reserved matter.

‘We’ll continue to work with the devolved administrations to look to agree a modern system for supporting British business in a way that benefits all within the U.K.’

Mr Johnson’s Government is expected to bring forward legislation to the House of Commons in the autumn which will detail its approach to state aid.

Current EU rules on state aid are designed to stop member states from subsidising private firms or sectors of the economy in such a way as could give them an unfair advantage over their competitors in other European nations. 

Ms Sturgeon wants a referendum on Scottish independence to be held this year but Mr Johnson has refused to give permission for a second ballot.

Ms Sturgeon wants a referendum on Scottish independence to be held this year but Mr Johnson has refused to give permission for a second ballot. 

Critics argue that the EU rules have restricted the UK’s ability to intervene when important domestic industries have struggled.  

Scotland’s Constitution Secretary Mike Russell has previously said plans to enshrine a UK ‘internal market’ after Brexit would seriously undermine devolution, describing them as a potential ‘power grab’.

In a letter to Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove, Mr Russell said he is concerned about proposals for an external body that would ‘test’ whether a bill in Holyrood affected the UK’s internal market and plans for a ‘mutual recognition regime’, which he said could lower regulatory standards beyond what the Scottish Parliament found acceptable.

In response, Mr Gove accused him of trying to ‘confect’ a political row.

Nicola Sturgeon issues Brexit state aid warning to Boris Johnson


Nicola Sturgeon warns Boris Johnson withholding state aid powers after Brexit would be a ‘full scale assault on devolution’ and boost support for Scottish independence

  • The UK currently has to abide by European Union rules on state aid subsidies 
  • After Brexit it will regain control of ability to intervene when industries struggle
  • Downing Street has said it wants to keep all of the powers for UK Government
  • Nicola Sturgeon wants powers to be devolved, setting up potential for major row

Nicola Sturgeon today warned Boris Johnson that withholding post-Brexit state aid powers would represent a ‘full scale assault on devolution’ and increase support for Scottish independence.  

The UK has had to adhere to European Union rules on state aid during its membership of the bloc. 

But once the Brexit transition period finishes at the end of this year Britain will be free to set its own policy on subsidising private companies. 

Regaining the ability to act unilaterally on state aid is viewed by many in the Government as one of the leading benefits of splitting from Brussels. 

Number 10 wants to keep the powers for the UK Government to exercise but the Scottish and Welsh administrations believe they must be devolved. 

The Government is expected to set out its proposed way forward in the coming months, with a major constitutional row now viewed as increasingly likely. 

Nicola Sturgeon has warned Boris Johnson withholding state aid powers after Brexit would represent a ‘full scale assault on devolution’

Ms Sturgeon said if Westminster keeps the powers it would be a 'blatant move to erode the powers of the Scottish Parliament

Ms Sturgeon said if Westminster keeps the powers it would be a ‘blatant move to erode the powers of the Scottish Parliament

Ms Sturgeon warned if decision-making powers over state aid were reserved to Westminster it would be a ‘blatant move to erode the powers of the Scottish Parliament’.

She shared a Financial Times report that suggested the UK Government does want to control state aid policy at the end of the Brexit transition period.

She tweeted: ‘Make no mistake, this would be a full-scale assault on devolution – a blatant move to erode the powers of the Scottish Parliament in key areas.

‘If the Tories want to further boost support for independence, this is the way to do it.’

Ms Sturgeon has called for a referendum on Scottish independence to take place before the end of this year. 

A Panelbase poll published last week put support for a ‘Yes’ vote in an independence referendum at 54 per cent and support for ‘No’ at 46 per cent. 

Downing Street said: ‘We’ve always been clear we consider the regulation of state aid to be a reserved matter.

‘We’ll continue to work with the devolved administrations to look to agree a modern system for supporting British business in a way that benefits all within the U.K.’

Mr Johnson’s Government is expected to bring forward legislation to the House of Commons in the autumn which will detail its approach to state aid.

Current EU rules on state aid are designed to stop member states from subsidising private firms or sectors of the economy in such a way as could give them an unfair advantage over their competitors in other European nations. 

Ms Sturgeon wants a referendum on Scottish independence to be held this year but Mr Johnson has refused to give permission for a second ballot.

Ms Sturgeon wants a referendum on Scottish independence to be held this year but Mr Johnson has refused to give permission for a second ballot. 

Critics argue that the EU rules have restricted the UK’s ability to intervene when important domestic industries have struggled.  

Scotland’s Constitution Secretary Mike Russell has previously said plans to enshrine a UK ‘internal market’ after Brexit would seriously undermine devolution, describing them as a potential ‘power grab’.

In a letter to Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove, Mr Russell said he is concerned about proposals for an external body that would ‘test’ whether a bill in Holyrood affected the UK’s internal market and plans for a ‘mutual recognition regime’, which he said could lower regulatory standards beyond what the Scottish Parliament found acceptable.

In response, Mr Gove accused him of trying to ‘confect’ a political row.

Bonfire of red tape and taxes planned by Chancellor Rishi Sunak


Chancellor Rishi Sunak is planning to slash red tape and taxes as part of a post-Brexit ‘economic revolution’.

Mr Sunak wants to completely overhaul planning laws and offer wide-ranging tax cuts just a year after the UK becomes fully independent from the European Union in December, as reported by the Sunday Telegraph.   

He is also said to be planning to open bidding for towns, cities and regions to become freeports – where UK taxes and tariffs will not apply – in his autumn Budget.

It is understood the ports will be ‘fully operational’ within 18 months of the UK leaving the customs union and single market at the end of this year.

The bonfire of red tape comes as more than £700 million is to be spent on building new infrastructure, hiring staff and developing technology to ensure Britain’s border systems are fully operational when the UK leaves the EU at the end of the year.

Mr Sunak wants to completely overhaul planning laws and offer wide-ranging tax cuts

Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove said the major investment would ensure traders and the border industry are able to ‘manage the changes and seize the opportunities’ when the transition period ends in December.

The £705 million package includes £235 million for staffing and IT systems, and £470 million for port and inland infrastructure to ensure compliance with new customs procedures and controls.

New border infrastructure will be built inland where there is no space at ports, while ports will get one-off financial support to ensure the right infrastructure is in place.

Of the £235 million for staffing and IT systems:

  • £100 million will be used to develop HMRC systems to reduce the burden on traders £20 million will be spent on new equipment to keep the country safe. 
  •  £15 million will go towards building new data infrastructure to enhance border flow and management. 
  •  £10 million will be used to recruit around 500 more Border Force personnel.

The funding relates only to the implementation of the GB-EU border, and the Government is expected to publish specific guidance and measures for Northern Ireland in the coming weeks.

Mr Gove said: ‘We are taking back control of our borders, and leaving the single market and the customs union at the end of this year bringing both changes and significant opportunities for which we all need to prepare.

Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove said the major investment would ensure traders and the border industry are able to 'manage the changes and seize the opportunities' when the transition period ends in December

Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove said the major investment would ensure traders and the border industry are able to ‘manage the changes and seize the opportunities’ when the transition period ends in December

People walking along a near empty High Street in Winchester in April this year

People walking along a near empty High Street in Winchester in April this year

‘That is why we are announcing this major package of investment today.

‘With or without further agreement with the EU, this £705 million will ensure that the necessary infrastructure, tech and border personnel are in place so that our traders and the border industry are able to manage the changes and seize the opportunities as we lay the foundations for the world’s most effective and secure border.’

The transition period is set to end at the end of December 2020, when the UK will leave the single market and customs union.

The funding package comes ahead of a public information campaign in which guidance will be given to traders and hauliers explaining what they may need to do to prepare for the end of the transition period.

Furthermore, Priti Patel will declare Britain as ‘open for business’ and ready to accept the ‘brightest global talent’ when she unveils more details on the UK’s points-based immigration system.

The Home Secretary is set to release details on Monday about how the new system – which will come into effect on January 1 2021 after freedom of movement ends – will operate.

It is designed to cut the number of low-skilled migrants entering Britain from the beginning of next year, but aims to make it easier for higher-skilled workers to get UK visas.

The Home Secretary is set to release details on Monday about how the new immigration system - which will come into effect on January 1 2021 after freedom of movement ends - will operate.

The Home Secretary is set to release details on Monday about how the new immigration system – which will come into effect on January 1 2021 after freedom of movement ends – will operate.

People who want to live and work in the UK will need to gain 70 points to be eligible to apply for a visa.

Points will be awarded for key requirements like being able to speak English to a certain level, having a job offer from an approved employer, and meeting a minimum salary threshold.

A health and care visa will provide a route for key health professionals to work in the UK, while a graduate route will allow international students to stay in the UK for at least two years after completing their studies.

Ms Patel said: ‘The British people voted to take back control of our borders and introduce a new points-based immigration system.

‘Now we have left the EU, we are free to unleash this country’s full potential and implement the changes we need to restore trust in the immigration system and deliver a new fairer, firmer, skills-led system from 1 January 2021.

‘Britain is open for business and ready to welcome the best and brightest global talent.’

Labour said it would scrutinise the visa proposals carefully.

Shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds said: ‘We will scrutinise the proposals on visas very carefully. The Government has rushed through immigration legislation with very little detail in the middle of a global pandemic.

‘There are real concerns that this will cause major problems for our NHS and our care sector, at a time when we are still waiting for the Government to make good on their promise to scrap the unfair immigration health surcharge for workers who were being charged to access the very services they were keeping going to help others during the toughest of times.’

Bonfire of red tape and taxes planned by Chancellor Rishi Sunak


Chancellor Rishi Sunak is planning to slash red tape and taxes as part of a post-Brexit ‘economic revolution’.

Mr Sunak wants to completely overhaul planning laws and offer wide-ranging tax cuts just a year after the UK becomes fully independent from the European Union in December, as reported by the Sunday Telegraph.   

He is also said to be planning to open bidding for towns, cities and regions to become freeports – where UK taxes and tariffs will not apply – in his autumn Budget.

It is understood the ports will be ‘fully operational’ within 18 months of the UK leaving the customs union and single market at the end of this year.

The bonfire of red tape comes as more than £700 million is to be spent on building new infrastructure, hiring staff and developing technology to ensure Britain’s border systems are fully operational when the UK leaves the EU at the end of the year.

Mr Sunak wants to completely overhaul planning laws and offer wide-ranging tax cuts

Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove said the major investment would ensure traders and the border industry are able to ‘manage the changes and seize the opportunities’ when the transition period ends in December.

The £705 million package includes £235 million for staffing and IT systems, and £470 million for port and inland infrastructure to ensure compliance with new customs procedures and controls.

New border infrastructure will be built inland where there is no space at ports, while ports will get one-off financial support to ensure the right infrastructure is in place.

Of the £235 million for staffing and IT systems:

  • £100 million will be used to develop HMRC systems to reduce the burden on traders £20 million will be spent on new equipment to keep the country safe. 
  •  £15 million will go towards building new data infrastructure to enhance border flow and management. 
  •  £10 million will be used to recruit around 500 more Border Force personnel.

The funding relates only to the implementation of the GB-EU border, and the Government is expected to publish specific guidance and measures for Northern Ireland in the coming weeks.

Mr Gove said: ‘We are taking back control of our borders, and leaving the single market and the customs union at the end of this year bringing both changes and significant opportunities for which we all need to prepare.

Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove said the major investment would ensure traders and the border industry are able to 'manage the changes and seize the opportunities' when the transition period ends in December

Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove said the major investment would ensure traders and the border industry are able to ‘manage the changes and seize the opportunities’ when the transition period ends in December

People walking along a near empty High Street in Winchester in April this year

People walking along a near empty High Street in Winchester in April this year

‘That is why we are announcing this major package of investment today.

‘With or without further agreement with the EU, this £705 million will ensure that the necessary infrastructure, tech and border personnel are in place so that our traders and the border industry are able to manage the changes and seize the opportunities as we lay the foundations for the world’s most effective and secure border.’

The transition period is set to end at the end of December 2020, when the UK will leave the single market and customs union.

The funding package comes ahead of a public information campaign in which guidance will be given to traders and hauliers explaining what they may need to do to prepare for the end of the transition period.

Furthermore, Priti Patel will declare Britain as ‘open for business’ and ready to accept the ‘brightest global talent’ when she unveils more details on the UK’s points-based immigration system.

The Home Secretary is set to release details on Monday about how the new system – which will come into effect on January 1 2021 after freedom of movement ends – will operate.

It is designed to cut the number of low-skilled migrants entering Britain from the beginning of next year, but aims to make it easier for higher-skilled workers to get UK visas.

The Home Secretary is set to release details on Monday about how the new immigration system - which will come into effect on January 1 2021 after freedom of movement ends - will operate.

The Home Secretary is set to release details on Monday about how the new immigration system – which will come into effect on January 1 2021 after freedom of movement ends – will operate.

People who want to live and work in the UK will need to gain 70 points to be eligible to apply for a visa.

Points will be awarded for key requirements like being able to speak English to a certain level, having a job offer from an approved employer, and meeting a minimum salary threshold.

A health and care visa will provide a route for key health professionals to work in the UK, while a graduate route will allow international students to stay in the UK for at least two years after completing their studies.

Ms Patel said: ‘The British people voted to take back control of our borders and introduce a new points-based immigration system.

‘Now we have left the EU, we are free to unleash this country’s full potential and implement the changes we need to restore trust in the immigration system and deliver a new fairer, firmer, skills-led system from 1 January 2021.

‘Britain is open for business and ready to welcome the best and brightest global talent.’

Labour said it would scrutinise the visa proposals carefully.

Shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds said: ‘We will scrutinise the proposals on visas very carefully. The Government has rushed through immigration legislation with very little detail in the middle of a global pandemic.

‘There are real concerns that this will cause major problems for our NHS and our care sector, at a time when we are still waiting for the Government to make good on their promise to scrap the unfair immigration health surcharge for workers who were being charged to access the very services they were keeping going to help others during the toughest of times.’

Coronavirus: UK to opt out of EU vaccine scheme


Britain will opt out EU coronavirus vaccine scheme over fears Brussels would leave us at the ‘back of the queue’ when doling out doses

  • European Commission invited the UK to join the new ‘EU vaccine strategy’
  • Brussels ruled UK would be barred from attending scheme’s steering committee 
  • Were also fears it could delay introduction of a vaccine in the UK by six months

Ministers will today opt out of an EU virus vaccine scheme over fears Brussels could limit the number of doses available to the UK.

The European Commission invited the UK to join the new ‘EU vaccine strategy’, which aims to secure advance agreements with manufacturers to provide tens of millions of doses to member states.

Ministers had been interested in the scheme because of the potential economies of scale. 

But Brussels ruled that because of Brexit, the UK would be barred from attending the scheme’s ‘steering committee’, meaning Britain would have no say in the strategy or in deciding who should get the vaccine first. 

Ministers will opt out of the new ‘EU vaccine strategy’ after Brussels ruled that because of Brexit the UK would be barred from attending the scheme’s ‘steering committee’. Pictured: A volunteer in injected with the experimental Covid-19 vaccine as part of Oxford University’s human trials

There were also fears it could delay the introduction of a vaccine in the UK by six months.

The EU initially demanded that Britain drop its support for vaccine development in this country, which is under way at Oxford University and Imperial College.

Although this demand was later dropped, ministers have decided to reject the offer after officials warned it could delay the provision of a vaccine in the UK by six months. 

With a vaccine seen as key to unlocking the economy, any delay could cost the UK tens of billions of pounds. 

The decision to opt out is likely to prompt accusations of anti-EU sentiment within government. But officials last night insisted this was ‘not a factor’.

Sources said joining the scheme could have meant ‘costly delays’ if Britain found itself ‘at the back of the queue’ for any vaccine the scheme procured. 

The UK would also have been barred from holding discussions with any vaccine developer in talks with the EU.

Ministers decided to reject the offer after officials warned it could delay the provision of a vaccine in the UK by six months. Pictured: German Chancellor Angela Merkel delivers a speech at the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium, on July 8, 2020

Ministers decided to reject the offer after officials warned it could delay the provision of a vaccine in the UK by six months. Pictured: German Chancellor Angela Merkel delivers a speech at the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium, on July 8, 2020

One source said: ‘The EU’s terms were pretty extraordinary. We would have had to agree to give them exclusive rights to negotiate on our behalf, but unlike other members of the scheme, we would have had no say over which companies they negotiated with, what price they agreed, the number of doses or the delivery schedule.

‘They wanted to put a ceiling on the volume supplied to each member state. But without us having a say there was a danger that they would give preferential treatment to member states and leave us at the back of the queue.’

Another added: ‘The terms just weren’t right for us. We have our own plans in place and the EU scheme wouldn’t allow the UK to do anything more than it currently is.’

Oxford began phase one human trials in April while Imperial started last month, putting them among the most advanced research initiatives in the world.

Ministers are also understood to be in advanced negotiations with a major vaccine manufacturer about plans to establish a facility in the UK.

If the UK had joined the EU scheme, the Government would have had to hand over those negotiations to Brussels.

UK officials also said there was little evidence that the EU would be able to negotiate lower prices – and said Britain might be better able to conclude deals acting on its own.

Earlier this year, ministers were accused of anti-Brussels bias when they failed to join an EU procurement scheme to buy ventilators. Downing Street denied the charge.

Latest coronavirus video news, views and expert advice at mailplus.co.uk/coronavirus

Dominic Raab unveils UK’s new human rights abuse sanctions regime


Dominic Raab today warned despots, dictators and their henchmen they will no longer be able to buy property in the UK or ‘siphon dirty money through British banks’ as he unveiled the Government’s new sanctions regime. 

Before Brexit the UK usually acted alongside the European Union or the United Nations when imposing sanctions on individuals accused of human rights abuses. 

But the Government has decided to establish its own system following Britain’s split from Brussels. 

The Foreign Secretary said this afternoon the new sanctions regime will target people responsible for the ‘very worst human rights abuses around the world’. 

It will enable ministers to impose travel bans and to freeze the assets of both state officials and non-state actors.

Mr Raab told MPs the UK’s first sanctions for human rights abuses will cover those involved in the deaths of the Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky and the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the systemic killings of the Rohingya population in Myanmar and the North Korean gulags. 

Russia on Monday threatened to retaliate after Britain sanctioned 25 Russian officials, including Alexander Bastrykin, the head of the powerful Investigative Committee which reports directly to President Vladimir Putin.

Dominic Raab, pictured in the House of Commons this afternoon, has unveiled the UK’s new ‘autonomous’ sanctions regime to target people responsible for human rights abuses

How will the UK’s new sanctions regime work and who will be targeted?

Dominic Raab today set out the UK’s first ‘autonomous’ sanctions regime to target people guilty of international human rights abuses.  

Below are the key points made by the Foreign Secretary as he addressed MPs in the House of Commons this afternoon. 

On who will be targeted: 

‘In 2019, it was in the Conservative Party manifesto as a clear commitment. So, today, I am proud that under this Prime Minister and this Government we make good on that pledge bringing into force the UK’s first autonomous human rights sanctions regime, which gives us the power to impose sanctions on those involved in the very worst of human rights abuses around the world.’

On the powers which can be used: 

‘The Regulations will enable us to impose travel bans and asset freezes against those involved in serious human rights violations.’

On the UK’s message to perpetrators: 

‘Today this Government and this House sends a very clear message on behalf of the British people: that those with blood on their hands, the thugs of despots, or the henchmen of dictators, won’t be free to Waltz into this country to buy up property on the Kings Road, or do their Christmas shopping in Knightsbridge, or frankly to siphon dirty money through British banks or financial institutions.’

On how the regime could be extended:

‘We are already considering how a corruption regime could be added to the armoury of legal weapons that we have.’ 

On how long sanctions could apply: 

‘In practice, those people designated will be able to request that a Minister review the decision. They will be able to challenge the decision in court. And as a matter of due diligence, the Government will review all designations at least once every three years.’ 

The new powers unveiled by Mr Raab will: 

  • Allow ministers to impose travel bans on perpetrators and to freeze any assets they may hold in the UK. 
  • Mr Raab said that will mean the end of dictators and their henchmen being able to ‘Waltz into this country to buy up property on the Kings Road, or do their Christmas shopping in Knightsbridge’.
  • See the UK able to act unilaterally in targeting people guilty of human rights abuses, having previously usually acted alongside the EU or UN. 
  • Fulfil a pledge made by the Conservative Party in its 2019 general election manifesto to take targeted action against ‘human rights violators’. 
  • See all designations reviewed at least once every three years to make sure they should still apply.

Speaking in the House of Commons, Mr Raab said the new measures will ‘hold to account the perpetrators of the worst human rights abuses’ as he described them as a ‘forensic tool… to target perpetrators’.  

‘Today this Government and this House sends a very clear message on behalf of the British people that those with blood on their hands, the thugs of despots, the henchman of dictators, will not be free to Waltz into this country to buy up property on the King’s Road, to do their Christmas shopping in Knightsbridge or frankly to siphon dirty money through British banks or other financial institutions,’ he said. 

He added: ‘We have deliberately focused on the worst crimes so we have the clearest basis to make sure we can operate the new system as effectively as we possibly can.

‘That said we will continue to explore expanding this regime to include other human rights and I can tell the House that we are already considering how a corruption regime could be added to the armoury of legal weapons that we have.’

Mr Raab paid tribute to Sergei Magnitsky and said his family were watching the Commons proceedings from the Foreign Office.

The Russian lawyer uncovered large-scale tax fraud in his home country and died in prison after giving evidence against corrupt officials. He lends his name to the US Magnitsky Act which imposes sanctions on human rights abusers.

Mr Raab told MPs: ‘I hope that today in this House we show our solidarity with the family that Sergei Magnitsky left behind, his wife Natalya, his son Nikita and I can tell the House they will be watching from the Foreign Office in my office as we speak.’

Setting out the first set of designations under the new regime, Mr Raab said: ‘We are imposing sanctions on individuals involved in some of the most notorious human rights violations in recent years.

‘The first designations will cover those individuals involved in the torture and murder of Sergei Magnitsky, the lawyer who disclosed the biggest known tax fraud in Russian history.

‘The designations will also include those responsible for the brutal murder of the writer and journalist Jamal Khashoggi. 

‘They will include those who perpetrated the systemic and brutal violence against the Rohingya population in Myanmar and they also include two organisations bearing responsibility for the enslavement, torture and murder that takes place in North Korea’s wretched gulags in which it is estimated that hundreds of thousands of prisoners have perished over the last 50 years.’ 

But Tom Tugendhat, the Tory chairman of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, said there has been a ‘remarkable silence on human rights violations in China’. 

Mr Tugendhat told MPs: ‘There is no, as yet, announcement on any sanctions of those who are either exploiting or abusing the Uighur minorities in Xinjiang or repressing democracy activists in Hong Kong.

‘And I wonder whether that is merely because this is the first stage of the sanctions and it’s just perhaps that the Foreign Office hasn’t quite yet caught up with that, or whether that is a policy change?’

Britain sanctioned 25 Russian officials, including Alexander Bastrykin, the head of the powerful Investigative Committee which reports directly to President Vladimir Putin

Britain sanctioned 25 Russian officials, including Alexander Bastrykin, the head of the powerful Investigative Committee which reports directly to President Vladimir Putin

Tom Tugendhat, the Tory chairman of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, asked Mr Raab why no action had been taken over human rights violations in China

Tom Tugendhat, the Tory chairman of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, asked Mr Raab why no action had been taken over human rights violations in China

Mr Raab said the Government will consider future sanctions ‘very carefully based on the evidence’ as he declined to ‘pre-empt what the next wave of designations will be’.   

Tobias Ellwood, the Tory chairman of the Commons Defence Select Committee, also pressured Mr Raab on China. 

He asked: ‘Can we have an announcement on China not just on tactical issues to do with human rights, but the wider foreign policy stance given China’s trajectory?’

Mr Raab replied: ‘We have taken these measures. He’s heard what we’ve said on Hong Kong. 

‘He’ll know that Huawei is going through the review in the context of US trade sanctions. 

‘We have got the integrated review coming forward, that will be completed by the autumn. I think that is the right opportunity in parallel with the CSR to make sure we’ve got the right strategy and the resources to back it up.’ 

A Foreign Office spokesman said: ‘The regime will allow the UK to target individuals and organisations around the world unlike conventional geographic sanctions regime, which only target a country.

‘Future targets of the regime may include those who commit unlawful killings perpetrated against journalists and media workers, or activity motivated on the grounds of religion or belief.’