Brexit news – latest: Boris Johnson hails ‘wonderful’ new customs forms, as exit countdown begins

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PM says his Brexit deal achieves ‘having his cake and eating it’

Boris Johnson has said the UK’s destiny “now resides firmly in our hands” after his Brexit trade deal cleared parliament and entered into law. It received royal assent overnight, hours before Britain prepares to leave the single market and customs union at 11pm on Thursday.

The prime minister also claimed the mountain of new red tape faced by British exporters is “a wonderful thing”, arguing: “They’ll now have the advantage that they’ll only have one set of forms they have to fill out for export to around the whole world.”

Yet logistics bosses still have concerns that the “a mountain of paperwork” will cause delays for freight when the transition period ends tonight. One leading haulage firm has suspended services to EU, and will wait to see whether the first couple of weeks in January are “disastrous”.

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Opinion: Enough of ‘Remainers’ and ‘Leavers’ – we are all in this together now

I was not selected to speak in the debate in parliament about the very late-in-the-day deal between the UK and the European Union. I was not selected to take part in the debate and so watched, as most did, from home, my vote ready to be cast by one of my colleagues who was present.

It is the first Brexit vote where I have not been in the middle of its beating angry heart, the first time I have not had journalists and cameras shoved in my face as I made my way into parliament to cast my vote, writes Jess Phillips.

Jon Sharman31 December 2020 13:08

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Grace period for parcel shipments to Northern Ireland

Ministers have announced a three-month grace period on new customs processes for parcels shipped into Northern Ireland from England, Wales and Scotland.

It comes after several major retailers, including John Lewis, suspended deliveries into the province amid uncertainty over new Irish Sea trading arrangements.

Under the terms of the Brexit withdrawal deal, Northern Ireland will apply EU customs rules at its ports from 11pm on New Year’s Eve. While the wider free trade deal has ruled out the prospect of tariffs on goods from Great Britain entering Northern Ireland, customs declarations will still be required.

The government said today that until 1 April, declarations will not be required on the majority of parcels sent to Northern Ireland. Parcels requiring declarations will be those containing goods valued at more than £135 sent by GB businesses to NI businesses.

Those businesses will also have three months to submit those declarations. Declarations will also be required for excise goods, such as alcohol, being sent from GB to NI using an express carrier or Royal Mail Group.

Senders will need to provide their selected carrier additional information to enable declarations to be made.

The guidance does not provide any detail on what the customs arrangements will be following 1 April.

Additional reporting by PA

Jon Sharman31 December 2020 12:49

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Stanley Johnson says he is applying for French citizenship and ‘will always be a European’

Boris Johnson’s father is applying for a French passport as his son leads Britain out of the European Union on Thursday, writes Graham Keeley.

“I will always be European,” Stanley Johnson told French radio RTL, speaking in French.

As Britain prepared to leave the European Union at 11pm on Thursday, the 80-year-old former diplomat said he had applied for French citizenship.

Jon Sharman31 December 2020 12:30

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Boris Johnson’s EU trade deal branded worst UK negotiation in at least 40 years

Boris Johnson’s Brexit trade deal with the EU has been branded the worst UK negotiation in at least 40 years by Tony Blair’s former chief of staff and the chief negotiator of the Good Friday Agreement, writes Andrew Woodcock.

Jonathan Powell said that a series of British blunders allowed the EU to get its way “on every major economic point” in the negotiation, while the UK was left with “a few sops” on state aid and the role of the European Court of Justice.

He urged Downing Street to learn from its missteps before embarking on proposed trade talks with countries like the US, as well as the “decades of permanent negotiation” with the EU which Brexit has made inevitable.

Jon Sharman31 December 2020 12:11

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McDonald’s reassures customers after signs in store warned of post-Brexit ingredient shortages

McDonald’s has reassured customers over post-Brexit food supplies, after signs were placed in the fast food restaurant warning items could be unavailable from the new year, writes Sophie Gallagher.

The signs, which were seen by customers in the McDonald’s Penge branch in south London on Wednesday, said that some fresh ingredients, such as salad and tomatoes, could be missing from menu items.

Jon Sharman31 December 2020 11:52

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Which way will the Brexit dice roll for Gibraltar?

Negotiators from Spain and the United Kingdom are in a race against the clock to clinch a deal on the post-Brexit future of Gibraltar a speck of British territory off the southern tip of the Spanish mainland.

In the UK’s 2016 Brexit referendum, 96 per cent of voters in Gibraltar supported remaining in the European Union. But they face the possibility of entering the New Year with tight new controls on what for decades has been an open border with the bloc.

Jon Sharman31 December 2020 11:33

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Exclusive: Government give three conflicting versions of post-Brexit passport rule

On the day the UK leaves the EU, the government is giving prospective British travellers to Europe inaccurate information on passport validity, writes Simon Calder.

Strict regulations come into effect at 11pm GMT. But the government’s website has three different versions of calculating dates of validity – two of them at odds with Europe’s.

With UK airlines set to apply incorrect rules, there are fears that Europe-bound passengers could be wrongly turned away at the airport. Besides the upset to correctly documented travellers, each case of denying boarding will cost the airlines hundreds of pounds in compensation.

Jon Sharman31 December 2020 11:14

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‘I am French’: Stanley Johnson applying for French passport

Boris Johnson’s father Stanley said on Thursday he was in the process of applying for a French passport to maintain his ties with the EU after Brexit.

“If I understand it correctly, I am French,” he told RTL radio he wanted to become a French citizen because of strong family links to France. “My mother was born in France, her mother was totally French as was her grandfather. So for me it is about reclaiming what I already have. And that makes me very happy.”

The Remain voter added: “I will always be a European, that’s for sure. One cannot tell the British people: you are not Europeans. Having a tie with the European Union is important.”

PM’s father Stanley Johnson

(PA)

Adam Forrest31 December 2020 10:55

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Do Remain voters hope we make a success of it?

An interesting exchange between historian Tom Holland and The Times’ Hugo Rifkind. After asking whether Remainers “hope Brexit will prove a success”, Rifkind said it still feels like the process does not have “anything to do with me … Like I’m a passenger in a vehicle going somewhere I’m not interested in going”.

Adam Forrest31 December 2020 10:34

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Lord Adonis likens Brexit deal to Munich Agreement

Brexiteers has responded to Lord Adonis likening the Brexit to the Munich Agreement – the infamous 1938 document by which western allies appeased Hitler.

The anti-Brexit Labour peer said on Wednesday that “we have sustained a total and unmitigated defeat”, adding: “Those were Winston Churchill’s words in the House of Commons on the Munich Agreement 82 years ago. Alas, they apply word for word to the Brexit agreement we are being asked to rubber-stamp today.”

Tory MP Michael Fabricant said: “Lord Adonis has become renowned for an extremism expressed in his own way. Fortunately few now choose to pay any real attention to anything he has to say.”

Former Tory minister David Jones said “nobody likes a bad loser,” while ERG chief Mark Francois added: “I would like to take this opportunity to wish Lord Adonis a very happy New Year in a free and independent country.”

Lord Adonis speaking against Brexit deal in Lords

(Parliament TV)

Adam Forrest31 December 2020 10:19

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