A no-deal Brexit will cause the prices of imported household items to jump as much as 30 percent, said a business group representing hauliers on Sunday. In a letter to the Sunday Times, David Wells, chief executive of Logistics UK, wrote, “Everyday household items we import will become more expensive under World Trade Organisation (WTO) tariffs, some by 30 percent or more; and because of WTO quotas, we could see restrictions on all the products we import.” He added, “the cost of moving goods will increase if new vehicles, parts and tyres are subject to tariffs.” Lorries queue at the entrance of the port of Dover on the south coast of England on March 19, 2018. (Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP/Getty Images) “Without a deal, UK logistics operators will also be restricted by the number of lorry access permits available to enter the EU—a quarter of what we need.” Logistics UK, previously known as the Freight Transport Association, is one of the biggest business groups in the UK. It represents businesses in logistics, including firms in the road, rail, sea, and air industries. Britain left the European Union on Jan. 31, and the Brexit transition period will end on Dec. 31. If no trade deal with the EU is reached by then, Britain would by default need to trade under WTO rules. Union and European Union flags are flown in unison during an anti-Brexit demonstration outside the Houses of Parliament in London, UK, on June 20, 2018. (Niklas Halle’n/AFP/Getty Images) The government launched a “Time is running out” campaign last week to tell businesses to urgently prepare for a no-deal Brexit, warning business leaders “not to get caught out” by new trading regulations. But the necessary preparations will be costly. “Our members are preparing as fast as information becomes available, but the risk to the economy is significant,” said Wells. “Logistics businesses, operating with 2 percent margins, cannot afford to take on these increased costs.” Last week, more than 70 British business groups representing more than 7 million workers issued an urgent call for politicians to revive the stalled Brexit talks, stressing that “securing a quick agreement matters greatly for jobs and livelihoods.” Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson gestures as he speaks during a virtual news conference on the ongoing situation with the CCP virus disease (COVID-19), at Downing Street in London, UK, on Oct. 12, 2020. (Toby Melville/Pool via Reuters) More than three-quarters of UK firms say they need a deal quickly, they said, because UK businesses “face a hat-trick of unprecedented challenges: rebuilding from the first wave of COVID-19, dealing with the second, and uncertainty over the UK’s trading relationship with the EU.” Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Oct. 16 that it was time to prepare for a no-deal Brexit, as the EU had “refused to negotiate seriously.” But Michael Gove, the Cabinet Office minister, said on Oct. 18 that the door remained “ajar” for talks on a post-Brexit trade deal to continue if the EU changed its approach. Talks resumed last week, and the British government said on Friday there had been good progress since the restart. Brandon Lewis, the UK’s secretary for Northern Ireland, told the BBC on Sunday and there was a “good chance” of striking a deal, “but the EU need to understand it is for them to move as well.” Mary Clark and Reuters contributed to this report.
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Michael Gove has praised a “constructive move” by the EU in an about-turn after its chief negotiator agreed to Downing Street’s conditions for the resumption of Brexit talks in pursuit of a deal.Shortly after castigating the EU for its attitude to the talks during an appearance in the House of Commons, Gove had to backtrack as he stood at the dispatch box following a tweet by the bloc’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier.Barnier who spoke to his British counterpart, David Frost, earlier in the day, wrote: “I just spoke to David Frost. As stated by [European commission president] Ursula von der Leyen on Friday, I confirmed that the EU remains available to intensify talks in London this week, on all subjects, and based on legal texts. We now wait for the UK’s reaction.”The statement appeared to meet all the requests No 10 was making as the price of new talks as part of the “fundamental change” demanded by Boris Johnson when he called on the country to prepare for a no-deal outcome last Friday.Gove told MPs: “Even while I have been at the dispatch box it has been reported that there has been a constructive move on part of the EU and I welcome that and obviously we need to work on the basis of the proposed intensification they propose. And I prefer to look forward in optimism than look back in anger.”In response to a further question in the chamber, the chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster added: “If there has been movement and it seems there as been today then no one would welcome it more than me.”Gove’s live volte-face added an extra touch of farce to the government’s suspension of the talks, which were due to start today. It appears they are likely to resume again with just 24 hours lost.There will be questions as to why any time was lost, however, as the British demands had largely already been ceded to on Friday, as referenced by Barnier.Moments before admitting that the outlook looked positive, Gove had claimed a litany of failures of the EU to engage in good faith with the UK in a statement to the Commons.He claimed the “EU was only willing to conduct negotiations on fewer than half the days available” for a deal; that it would “not engage on all of the outstanding issues” and “refused to discuss legal texts”. The final insult was its deletion of the chance of an “intensification” of talks in a statement by the council of EU leaders last Thursday, it was claimed.In short, he said the EU had “refused to negotiate seriously for [the] last month or so” leading to Johnson’s decision to end talks last Friday unless the EU came back with “fundamental challenges”.He said the preparations for no deal were “now intensifying” with reports that he has instructed the special “exit operation” committee to meet five times a week as of Monday.The blunt assessment came hours after a “constructive” meeting of Gove and European commission president, Maroš Šefčovič, at the joint committee charged with implementing January’s withdrawal agreement.The tone had struck a discordant note with that of the lengthy statement by Šefčovič an hour following his meeting with Gove.Šefčovič welcomed the clear political steer and commitment given by Gove outlining progress on key areas.He said that “today’s meeting demonstrated the political will to move at pace on both sides” but warned that “despite some progress, much work remains to be done by the UK” in relation to the Northern Ireland protocol.One EU insider described the progress at the joint committee meeting as “a turning point”, coming just weeks after the UK threatened to blow up the process with the UK internal market bill’s powers to “disapply” the withdrawal agreement.At the meeting the two sides agreed a number of issues including access to EU databases and IT systems by the UK to implement the protocol.RTE also reported that the EU has asked to have 15 border officials present in Northern Ireland in place of a permanent office in Belfast to ensure the EU rules are maintained in relation to customs and veterinary checks.
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Play Video 1:26 The dispute between the UK government and Greater Manchester continued on Sunday after the Cabinet Office minister, Michael Gove, said its mayor, Andy Burnham, was risking lives by opting for 'press conferences and posturing' rather than agreeing to new coronavirus rules. Burnham has accused Boris Johnson of exaggerating the severity of the Covid-19 situation in Greater Manchester Michael Gove accuses Andy Burnham of 'posturing' over Covid lockdown Topics Coronavirus Michael Gove Andy Burnham Manchester Greater Manchester Local government Health policy
Brexit Michael Gove confirms British government’s door to re-engagement with Brussels is ‘ajar’
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More than 70 British business groups representing over 7 million workers have issued an urgent call for politicians to revive the stalled Brexit talks and strike a deal with the European Union. The groups, which included the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), TheCityUK, techUK, the National Farmers’ Union, and the British Retail Consortium, said in a joint statement on Sunday that “securing a quick agreement matters greatly for jobs and livelihoods”. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Friday it was now time to prepare for a no-deal Brexit as the EU had “refused to negotiate seriously”. Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson gestures as he speaks during a virtual news conference on the ongoing situation with the CCP virus disease (COVID-19), at Downing Street, London, on Oct. 12, 2020. (Toby Melville/Pool via Reuters) But Michael Gove, the Cabinet Office minister, said on Sunday that the door remained “ajar” for talks on a post-Brexit trade deal to continue if the EU changed its approach. Britain left the EU on Jan. 31, and the Brexit transition period will end on Dec. 31. If no trade deal with the EU is reached by then, Britain would by default need to trade under the World Trade Organisation rules. In their statement, the British business groups called on leaders on both sides to “find a route through” with “compromise and tenacity”. More than three-quarters of UK firms say they need a deal quickly, the statement said, because they “face a hat-trick of unprecedented challenges: rebuilding from the first wave of COVID-19, dealing with the second, and uncertainty over the UK’s trading relationship with the EU”. Britain’s Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Michael Gove appears on BBC TV’s The Andrew Marr Show in London, on Oct. 18, 2020. (Jeff Overs/BBC/Handout via Reuters) “With each day that passes, business resilience is chipped away. A swift deal is the single most effective way to support recovery in communities across Europe,” the business groups said. “After four years of debate, there must be a resolution. 2021 can then be a year to rebuild, rather than regret.” Leaders in the food and pharmaceuticals industries said in the statement that no deal would cause increased difficulties and uncertainty in their respective sectors. Ian Wright, CEO of the Food and Drink Federation (FDF), which represents 7,500 food and drink manufacturers who employ over 430,000 people, said it was “vital we secure a deal which enables the UK’s food and drink manufacturers to feed the nation and maintain UK food security”. “No deal would cause deep damage to the UK’s largest manufacturing industry and put at risk the choice, quality, and affordability of food and drink available to UK shoppers and consumers,” he said. Terry Jones, director general of the National Farmers’ Union of England and Wales, said it was “critically important that a tariff free, quota free deal is struck as soon as possible”. “The EU, as a single trading bloc, is the most important international market for UK agri-food products, and given its size and proximity will continue to be so in the future,” he said. Richard Torbett, chief executive of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI), said the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus pandemic has exacerbated the harm a no-deal Brexit could do to the medical sector. “The coronavirus pandemic has stretched hospitals and medicine supply chains to their capacity,” he said. “It is absolutely clear that it’s in nobody’s interest—and certainly not patients—to face the future with uncertainty around how medicines will be regulated, tested, and moved throughout Europe and the UK.” Reuters contributed to this report.