Brexit latest news LIVE – Post-deal UK should focus on Asia and US rather than Europe, top banker says

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6 Feb 2021, 23:32Updated: 6 Feb 2021, 23:32

BREXIT offers the UK the opportunity to focus on Asia and the US while maintaining ties to the EU, says Barclays Bank's boss.

Jes Staley said: "I think Brexit is more than likely on the positive side than on the negative side."

He went on: "What the UK needs and London needs is to make sure the City is one of the best places, whether it be regulation, or law, or language, or talent.

"What London needs to be focused on is not Competition Frankfurt or Paris. It needs to be New York and Singapore."

His comments come as the UK prepares an outline agreement with the EU on how financial services sectors will operate post-Brexit.

Follow our live blog below for the very latest on Brexit and the EU...

CADBURY MOVE IS ‘VOTE OF CONFIDENCE IN UK WORKFORCE’

Trade Unions have welcomed moving chocolate production back to Birmingham, saying it represented a “vote of confidence in the UK workforce”.

Joe Clarke, Unite national officer for food, drink and agriculture said: “The announcement by Cadbury of a new line at the Bournville site to handle 12,000 tonnes per annum of additional chocolate, which equates to 125,000,000 Cadbury Dairy Milk bars, is a vote of confidence in the UK workforce.

“To complete consultations and negotiations to deliver this fantastic investment, even in the midst of the Covid restrictions, is a credit to the trade union representatives, the members and the business.”

A small percentage of Dairy Milk will still be made in Europe.

EU BOSS COMPARES RACE FOR COVID JAB SUPPLIES TO 'COLD WAR' 

Speaking to the student-led Warwick Economics Summit via video-link, Ursula von der Leyen said: “When I was your age, the world was still divided into two blocs. 

“The superpowers were fighting to expand or maintain their sphere of influence. Well, this world is long gone. 

“And yet, the old confrontational mindset has arrived. Think for instance about Covid-19 vaccines. 

“Some countries see the quest for a vaccine as a race amongst global powers, like the space race in the 1960s. 

“This is an illusion. The only race is against the virus, and the virus is spreading faster than ever before.”

FIRST MINISTER JOINS BREXITEERS TO DEMAND NORTHERN IRELAND DEAL IS SCRAPPED

Arlene Foster has joined one of her predecessors Lord Trimble and senior Brexiteers in calling for the controversial agreement with the EU is scrapped.

She was writing for the Sunday Express in a piece co-authored with prominent Brexiteers Ben Habib, Baroness Hoey and DUP MP Sammy Wilson.

They said: “The false notion that a customs border on the island of Ireland would breach the Belfast Agreement is one put about during Brexit negotiations by the EU, Ireland and factions of remain in the UK, including members of our then government in order to frustrate, undermine and damage the British position in those negotiations. 

“They succeeded.”

GERMAN MINISTER ANGRY MORE JABS WEREN’T ORDERED LAST YEAR

Olaf Scholz said today he was angry that more vaccines were not ordered last year, as EU chief executive Ursula von der Leyen renewed her defence of the European Commission's record on rolling them out.

EU countries have so far given first doses to just under 4 per cent of their populations, compared with 14 per cent for the United States and almost 17 per cent for Britain, according to Our World in Data.  

Ms Scholz told BBC radio's Today programme: "I'm angry about some of the decisions that were taken last year. 

"I think there had been the opportunity to order more of the vaccines."

TRADE DEAL STRUCK WITH ALBANIA

Signed today, it will allow British businesses to trade with Albania as they did before the UK left the EU, the Department for International Trade said.

MP Ranil Jayawardena, minister for International Trade, said: “Today’s agreement supports a trading relationship worth £158m in 2019 and provides the foundation for deeper trade and investment ties in the future, benefitting businesses and creating jobs in both our countries.”

EXPORTS TO EU SLASHED BY 68% SINCE BREXIT

The Observer reports a major drop in the volume of traffic carried on ferries and through the Channel tunnel.

The startling fall has been reported to Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove by the Road Haulage Association.

It had surveyed its international members

COPS TO TAKE NO ACTION OVER BOJO’S BREXIT GURU LOCKDOWN BREACHES

Police have decided to take no action against Dominic Cummings for breaching lockdown, after studying a 255-page dossier making the legal case for prosecution over his trip from London to Durham during the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic.

But the former chief prosecutor for northwest England Nazir Afzal said that he will seek further avenues for bringing legal action against Boris Johnson’s ex-adviser.

PRESSURE MOUNTS ON GOV TO AGREE EU TRAVEL TERMS FOR MUSICIANS

A petition demanding paperwork free travel is to be debated in parliament on Monday after attracting more than 280,000 signatures.

Dave Rowntree, the drummer of Blur and now a Labour councillor, warns there is "a real problem brewing for touring musicians".

He told Sky News: "A lot of people who had plans to tour Europe will find they can't. 

“The next generation of bands who are already living hand-to-mouth are going to find that writing and recording and releasing music isn't viable because they can't do enough touring to support it."

More than 100 artists including Sir Elton John, Liam Gallagher and Glastonbury co-organiser Emily Eavis signed a protest letter in January with similar demands.

THE SUN SAYS: BREXIT IS TO THANK FOR RAPID VACCINE ROLLOUT 

OF course Brexit is to thank for the speed of our vaccine rollout. It is deranged for the SNP’s Nicola Sturgeon or other blinkered Europhiles to claim otherwise.

They will tell you we could have done it all within the EU, that we were still in the “transition period” in 2020 anyway.

But the Government decided to go it alone only because it knew we would be fully out on December 31. Previously it would have heeded Brussels’ demands to wait for the other 27 nations.

Instead, Britain did early deals and got our own regulators to approve the drugs — not deferring to the European Medicines Agency Keir Starmer is a fan of.

Yes, EU members could technically have done what we did. But Brussels insisted they act as one and the resultant delay proved lethal.

BRITISH FLAG ON NUMBER PLATES 'WILL SPLIT SCOTS'

Plans to emblazon all new UK number plates with Union flags are provocative to on brand Scots, a pre-eminent historian has claimed

This week Grant Shapps, the UK transport secretary, confirmed that the British flag would feature on new registration plates and driving licences for the first time.

But Sir Tom Devine, the author and historian, predicted that it would prove divisive north of the border where, in the present "frenetic political atmosphere", this kind of symbolism could undermine efforts to preserve the Union.

Why not have both the Union and Saltire flag on them?

BREXIT MORE LIKELY TO BE A POSITIVE FOR THE CITY

Britain's departure from the European Union is more likely to be positive for the City than negative, the boss of Barclays has claimed.

Jes Staley said that London should be aiming to compete with New York and Singapore rather than Frankfurt and Paris. 

But he suggested that Boris Johnson's desire to slash red tape to turn London into a "Singapore-on-Thames" was misguided.

The upbeat comments about the City's prospects from the leader of one of Britain's largest banks go against the received wisdom that London's financial services industry will suffer after Brexit.

TASK FORCE TO HELP SCOTS FISHING SECTOR'S BREXIT 'ISSUES' TO MEET

A new group set up by the UK Government in a bid to resolve the export "issues" Scotland's fishing and seafood sectors have faced in the wake of Brexit will meet for the first time this week.

Scotland Office minister David Duguid said the taskforce would aim to "work collaboratively across UK and Scottish governments".

It is due to meet fortnightly, with the first talks coming after industry leaders accused the UK Government of being "in denial" about the scale of the problem fishermen face exporting their catch to the European Union.

James Withers, chief executive at Scottish Food and Drink, told MPs on the Scottish Affairs Committee it had been a "dreadful first few weeks" due to problems with paperwork and IT systems crashing.

The introduction of new checks and paperwork since the end of the Brexit transition period on December 31 has caused disruption to exports of fresh fish and seafood to the EU.

TRADE UNIONS DENY CONCERS OVER SUSPICIOUS ACTIVITY AT PORTS

Trade unions have denied raising concerns about suspicious activity at port checks ahead of a council's decision to withdraw staff from the inspection posts.

Mid and East Antrim Council withdrew environmental health workers from facilities at Larne Port on Monday night.

It came after threatening graffiti directed at those carrying out new checks on goods arriving from Great Britain.

The inspections are required under the contentious Northern Ireland Protocol, governing GB-NI trade post-Brexit.

SCOTTISH GOV URGED TO HOLD OFF ON 'TOURIST TAX'

The next Scottish government is being urged to pause plans including the “tourist tax” on hotel rooms and the regulation of short-term holiday lets.

CBI Scotland claims policies such as the transient visitor levy could have a “damaging impact on Scotland’s economic recovery” – especially after Brexit.

Tracy Black, CBI Scotland director, said: “After a steady diet of Brexit uncertainty, Covid-19 and decades of weak productivity growth, the Scottish economy is in desperate need of a recipe for success.

“Neither government nor business can deliver that alone – it must be done together.”

CBI Scotland wants ministers to focus on boosting skills, and also on making the 2020s “a decade of delivery towards net-zero emissions”.

BRITAIN SIGNS LUCRATIVE £1.2BN TRADE AGREEMENT WITH GHANA

A joint statement from the two countries said: “Today Ghana and the UK are pleased to announce that they have finalised negotiations on a new Interim Ghana-UK Trade Partnership Agreement. This Agreement will provide for duty-free and quota-free access for Ghana to the UK market and preferential tariff reductions for UK exporters to the Ghanaian market.

“The Agreement will enter into effect following the completion of relevant internal procedures required in both Ghana and the UK.”

It comes after negotiators finalised the outline of a deal on December 31.

NEW TASKFORCE TO RESOLVE SCOTLAND'S FISHING ISSUES

A new group set up by the UK Government in a bid to resolve the export "issues" Scotland's fishing and seafood sectors have faced in the wake of Brexit will meet for the first time this week.

Scotland Office minister David Duguid said the taskforce would aim to "work collaboratively across UK and Scottish governments".

It is due to meet fortnightly, with the first talks coming after industry leaders accused the UK Government of being "in denial" about the scale of the problem fishermen face exporting their catch to the European Union.

SIR PHILIP GREEN UNDER PRESSURE

Sir Philip Green is coming under pressure to plug the estimated £350 million hole in the pension fund of Arcadia.

The sale of parts of his collapsed retail group to Asos and Boohoo, the online retailers, will lead to the closure of 444 shops and the loss of 13,000 high street jobs. 

POST-BREXIT ERASMUS REPLACEMENT FOR UK STUDENTS

Schools, colleges and universities can now access funding rates and eligibility criteria for the post-Brexit replacement of the Erasmus exchange programme to help them prepare bids to join the new scheme.

A website with details on the £110 million Turing scheme, which will support UK students to go on work and study placements abroad from September, has been launched ahead of applications opening in March.

The updated International Education Strategy - focused on supporting the education sector to recover from the impact of the pandemic by boosting global opportunities - will work alongside the scheme.

UK JAB ROLLOUT SUCCESS 'HAS LITTLE TO DO WITH BREXIT'

Nicola Sturgeon has come under fire after insisting that Brexit had nothing to do with the UK’s soaring vaccine rollout.

Despite bungling by Brussels meaning the EU27 are struggling to jab their citizens, the SNP boss - who wants to re-join the bloc - said it was “too simplistic” to suggest leaving the EU has made the UK more nimble.

Quizzed on the issue, Europhile Ms Sturgeon said it was “really good” the UK had managed to get so much vaccine and that “the UK as a whole is getting ahead” .

Questioned on Good Morning Britain about whether Brexit had helped, she said: “Of course you can make that argument but sometimes I think it’s a slightly over-simplistic argument, but we should all be pleased that the vaccination programme is going so well.”

She added: “The issues around Brexit are much wider and more fundamental but even on this narrow point I think if you were to apply really detailed scrutiny it wouldn’t be quite that simple.”

CADBURY TO MOVE PRODUCTION BACK TO UK

Cadbury is moving almost all production of Dairy Milk bars BACK to the UK after a £15million investment in a huge boost to post-Brexit Britain.

It already makes 35,000 tons of the iconic chocolate at its famous Bournville plant, where it was first produced 115 years ago.

But the cash injection to improve the site will allow a further 12,000 tons — 125 million bars — currently made each year in Germany and other European plants to be produced in Birmingham from 2022.

The move by parent firm Mondelez International, which bought Cadbury for £11.5billion in 2010, will also secure 40 full-time, seasonal jobs.

The company, which also makes Oreo and Maynards Bassetts sweets, said £11million of the funding will go towards creating a new production "line of the future".

GOV UNVEILS NEXT PHASE OF POST-BREXIT ERASMUS REPLACEMENT FOR UK STUDENTS

Schools, colleges and universities can now access funding rates and eligibility criteria for the post-Brexit replacement of the Erasmus exchange programme to help them prepare bids to join the new scheme.

A website with details on the £110 million Turing scheme, which will support UK students to go on work and study placements abroad from September, has been launched ahead of applications opening in March.

The updated International Education Strategy – focused on supporting the education sector to recover from the impact of the pandemic by boosting global opportunities – will work alongside the scheme.

ANOTHER BLOW TO MUSICIANS

The music industry has been dished a further blow in the form of new regulations regarding the movement of musicians and their instruments across Europe.

Binker Golding, a jazz saxophonist and Mobo Award winner who regularly tours Europe, told the Financial Times: “I’m angry. It’s bad decision making and I can’t fathom the level of idiocy involved.

"It shows how much disrespect they have for the arts,” he added.

“If you connect the dots from the pandemic to Brexit, we are in a tight spot. Most of my income comes from Europe. I’ve been touring with a quartet — that will [now] be very difficult,” he added.

PORT STAFF RETURNING TO LARNE PORT

Mid and East Antrim Council has said its staff will return to work at Brexit checking facilities at Larne Port on Friday evening having been withdrawn earlier in the week amid safety concerns.

A council spokesman said: “Mid and East Antrim Borough Council staff will return to their inspection duties at Larne Port this evening following the completion of a PSNI threat assessment and subsequent risk assessment by the Council.

“The health and safety of our staff remains our top priority.”

TRADE DEAL WITH ALBANIA

The UK and Albania have signed a new agreement which involves the “strengthening of political, economic, security and cultural ties” between the two countries.

The preferential trading terms, signed today, will allow British businesses to trade with Albania as they did before the UK left the EU, the Department for International Trade said.

MP Ranil Jayawardena, minister for International Trade, said: “Today’s agreement supports a trading relationship worth £158m in 2019 and provides the foundation for deeper trade and investment ties in the future, benefitting businesses and creating jobs in both our countries.”

BRITAIN RACING AHEAD OF EU ON COVID VACCINATIONS

Britain is a nimble speedboat racing ahead on vaccines compared to the cumbersome EU oil tanker, Brussels' boss has admitted.

Even chief eurocrat Ursula von der Leyen acknowledged how Brexit has helped the UK way outpace the rest of Europe with its jabs rollout.

In contrast she accepted the bloc has made big mistakes in its own shambolic scheme that would have held the UK back.

And she finally took personal responsibility for the blunder that saw Brussels almost trigger a vaccine border in Northern Ireland.

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