Brexit news live: Latest updates as UK ‘tells Northern Ireland businesses to break international law’


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The UK government has been advising businesses in Northern Ireland to break international law, the European Commission vice-president has said.

Traders working across the new border have been told how not to meet the terms of the Northern Ireland protocol, Maros Sefcovic said days after the EU launched legal action against Britain over its unilateral extension of post-Brexit grace periods for goods.

“They tell them: you do not have to do this, you do not have to do that, you do not have to apply this until at least 1 October and then we will see,” said Mr Sefcovic, who co-chairs the EU-UK joint committee on the Withdrawal Agreement.

He said such guidance in the wake of Britain’s unilateral declaration led traders into a breach of international law.

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The UK’s debt reached a new high as government borrowing hit £19.1bn last month.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said the public sector had borrowed more last month than during any other February since records began in 1993.

The debt owed by public bodies has increased by £333bn since the start of April, bringing the total debt to £2.131 trillion, the ONS said.

Liam James19 March 2021 08:29

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UK government telling NI firms to break law, says EU vice-president

Maros Sefcovic, the European Commission vice-president, said the UK has been advising firms in Northern Ireland to break international law by ignoring the terms of the Northern Ireland protocol.

“We have seen this kind of guidance to trade operators on how not to fulfil the protocol and all the obligations stemming from the withdrawal agreement,” Mr Sefcovic, who chairs the EU-UK Joint Committe on the Brexit agreement, said.

“They tell them: you do not have to do this, you do not have to do that, you do not have to apply this until at least 1 October and then we will see,” he said, adding that such guidance in the wake of Britain’s unilateral extension of post-Brexit grace periods led traders into a breach of international law.

More on the legal row over Britain’s unilateral declaration here:

Liam James19 March 2021 08:13

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Good morning and welcome to The Independent’s rolling coverage of UK politics today.

Liam James19 March 2021 08:04



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