Brexit news LIVE – Lorry queue chaos in Kent avoided in post-Brexit Britain as freight flows return 'back to normal'

LORRY queue chaos in Kent has been avoided as freight flows return back to normal, say Government officials.

Figures seen by the BBC show outbound lorry traffic for Britain for the month so far at 98% of last February's levels.

Inbound traffic is at 99% of last year's figures, reports show.

Speaking to the BBC, one official said the Government is "pleased that overall flows are back to normal."

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

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    LORRY CHOAS AVOID IN KENT AS FREIGHT FLOWS RETURN 'BACK TO NORMAL'

    Lorry queue chaos in Kent has been avoided as freight flows return back to normal, say Government officials.

    Figures seen by the BBC show outbound lorry traffic for Britain for the month so far at 98% of last February's levels.

    Inbound traffic is at 99% of last year's figures, reports show.

    Speaking to the BBC, one official said the Government is "pleased that overall flows are back to normal."

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    CONTINUED

    Mrs Foster received notice on Friday that the petition will be debated in the House of Commons on February 22.

    "I think it was an indication of how strongly so many people right across the United Kingdom felt about the issue that that petition took off in the way that it did," she said.

    Mrs Foster said there is anger and concern among the unionist community about how the Belfast Agreement is being interpreted in Dublin, Brussels, and "sadly London".

    "I have been saying that as First Minister and DUP leader, my former colleague and friend Peter Robinson said as much again today writing for the News Letter," she said. "I think that is a very good article and people should read what has been in there and the way in which the Belfast Agreement has been misused."

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    DUP CALL TO TRIGGER ARTICLE 16 TO BE DEBATED AT WESTMINSTER

    A call by the DUP to trigger Article 16 of the Northern Ireland Protocol is to be debated at Westminster later this month.

    More than 100,000 people signed a petition calling for the emergency move by the party within 24 hours.

    The UK and EU have reiterated their "full commitment" to the new arrangements governing Great Britain-to-Northern Ireland trade post-Brexit.

    But DUP leader Arlene Foster said there "has to be a recognition in London, Dublin and Brussels that damage has been done by this protocol and therefore we have to deal with it".

    She said there must be unfettered trade and urged the UK Government to step up and protect Northern Ireland with "permanent solutions, not sticking plasters".

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    GERMAN JABS FURY

    Germans are losing faith in the EU thanks to Brussels' botched vaccine rollout, a new poll has revealed.

    Two-thirds say their opinion of the bloc has been damaged by its snail-paced jabs scheme, which is lagging way behind Britain's.

    Half lay the blame for the mess squarely at Ursula von der Leyen's feet, despite her attempts to shift responsibility onto drugs companies.

    And a measly 6% say their view of the EU has been improved by her taking control of buying vaccines from individual states.

  • Chiara Fiorillo

    EUROPEAN COMMISSION FAILED TO ACKNOWLEDGE THE SHOCK OVER TRIGGERING ATL 16, SAYS DOWNING STREET

    Downing Street said it is “disappointing” that the European Commission has “failed to acknowledge the shock and anger felt across the community in Northern Ireland from its decision to trigger Article 16”.

    The Prime Minister’s official spokesman told a Westminster briefing: “We have set out the issues that we want to see addressed and that is the purpose of the meeting later.

    “It is disappointing that the Commission has failed to acknowledge the shock and anger felt across the community in Northern Ireland from its decision to trigger Article 16 and the need to take urgent steps to restore confidence as a result.

    “We have set out in our letter from CDL (Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Michael Gove) to the vice president the issues that we want to see resolved, that’s our focus and that’s why the meeting will take place later today.”

  • Chiara Fiorillo

    GOVERNMENT WORKING TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF NEW EXPORT MARKETS

    Finance Secretary Kate Forbes has also pushed for changes to be announced in the upcoming budget in a letter to Chancellor Rishi Sunak, such as reforms to the alcohol duty system paid on exports.

    A UK Government spokeswoman said: "Scotch whisky is world-renowned, and we are working closely with the industry to help them take advantage of new export markets.

    "The UK Government promotes the Scotch whisky through the Food is Great campaign.

    "Last year, we announced £1 million dedicated to showcasing Scottish food and drink exports around the world.

    "We are confident the sector is well-positioned to benefit from the expansive trade deals that we are now striking."

  • Chiara Fiorillo

    SCOTTISH MINISTERS CALL FOR UK SUPPORT FOR WHISKY INDUSTRY

    Two Scottish ministers have called for more help for the whisky industry from the UK Government.

    Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing has pushed for Brexit-related export issues to be resolved as a matter of urgency in a letter to Rural Affairs Secretary George Eustice.

    The whisky industry has faced disruption due to Covid-19, Brexit and tariffs imposed by the US following a dispute with the EU.

    Mr Ewing said: "It's been a particularly difficult year for Scotland's food and drink sector.

    "A once booming whisky industry has seen overseas exports drop by 23 per cent in the last year alone."

  • Chiara Fiorillo

    GROWING SUPPORT FOR SCOTTISH INDEPENDENCE

  • Chiara Fiorillo

    CHANCELLOR SCRAPS TAMPON TAX

    Since Brexit, Rishi Sunak has already abolished the Tampon Tax.

    This will save the average woman almost £40 over their lifetime – with a tax cut of 7p on a pack of 20 tampons and 5p on a pack of 12 pads.

    He said: "I can also confirm, now we’ve left the EU, that I will abolish the tampon tax.

    "From January next year, there will be no VAT whatsoever on women’s sanitary products."

  • Chiara Fiorillo

    RISHI SUNAK 'OPEN TO IDEAS FROM COLLEAGUES'

    Treasury sources refused to comment on tax policies ahead of the Budget, but stressed that the Chancellor was always open to ideas from colleagues.

    And a Treasury spokesman said: “We’re committed to building back better and greener from the pandemic.”

  • Chiara Fiorillo

    UK DIDN'T 'CORRECTLY EXPLAIN' CONSEQUENCES OF BREXIT

    Michel Barnier has hit out at the UK for not 'correctly explaining' the consequences of Brexit to suffering Irish businesses.

    Barnier has insisted the withdrawal terms it sought, rather than the checks introduced on Irish Sea trade, were to blame for empty shelves in supermarkets, the Independent reported.

    Michel's comments came ahead of crisis talks between the two sides in London.

    In the impending discussions, Brussels was expected to rule out reworking the protocol and would accuse the UK of failing to meet existing obligations.

    "The difficulties on the island of Ireland are caused by Brexit, not by the Protocol”, Michel said, adding “the Protocol is the solution".

    Credit: Getty Images – Getty
  • Chiara Fiorillo

    TED BAKER TAKES HIT OF UP TO £5MIL FROM BREXIT

    Fashion chain Ted Baker has revealed a hit of up to £5 million from Brexit as tumbling festive sales also laid bare the toll taken by the pandemic.

    The group said the Brexit bill comes as it faces extra duty and shipping costs which will only be "partially offset" by new customs warehouse capability.

    Ted Baker reported retail sales nearly halving in its crucial Christmas quarter, plunging 47% in the 13 weeks to January 30.

  • Chiara Fiorillo

    BRIT EXPORTERS STRUGGLING WITH BREXIT ISSUES

    Just under half of British companies that export goods have run into difficulties caused by Brexit, a British Chambers of Commerce survey claimed on Thursday.

    Some 49 per cent of goods exporters said adapting to the changes had caused problems, while one in five services exporters reported issues, the BCC said.

    The findings are in line with other surveys that show British companies struggled with supply chain issues last month.

  • Chiara Fiorillo

    5M REMAINERS!

    More than five million EU citizens have applied to stay in the UK despite us leaving the bloc.

    Home Office stats out today show the number creeping over the landmark — with those with “settled status” given the same rights as Brits.

    Priti Patel will also announce £4.5million cash boost to help vulnerable Europeans living here apply for the scheme.

    The Home Secretary welcomes the massive numbers who had “contributed so much to the UK culturally, economically and socially”.

  • Chiara Fiorillo

    REVIEW OF HOLYROOD COMMITTEES NEEDED POST-BREXIT, EXPERTS SAY

    A review of the Scottish Parliament's committee structure is needed in response to Brexit and the transfer of new powers, according to a panel of experts.

    A group of constitutional, fiscal and economic experts have published a report which states devolution has become more complex due to the addition of recent fiscal powers and the EU exit.

    It recommends a short review which will advise on committee remits for the next parliamentary session after the election.

    The report was commissioned by Holyrood's Constitution Committee and MSPs will consider it next week.

  • Chiara Fiorillo

    'SHIFT THE LEADERSHIP'

    Ms Duffield told HuffPost UK’s Commons People podcast that she wants to “try and shift the leadership” to change its mind.

    The Labour MP said: “Every day groups of Labour MPs and opposition MPs were meeting about People’s Vote and trying to take it to the absolute last minute, those people haven’t gone away.

    "And most people on the frontbench who voted for this deal last week did it with a very heavy heart and they haven’t given up either."

  • Chiara Fiorillo

    MOST LABOUR MPS 'DESPERATE TO RE-JOIN' EU

    Most Labour MPs are “desperate to re-join” the EU, one of the party’s former frontbenchers has admitted.

    Labour MP Rosie Duffield said most of her colleagues are still Remainers “at heart”.

    And they have not “given up” hope of one day tearing up Brexit and rejoining the EU, she said.

    Her explosive comments contradict Sir Keir Starmer’s repeated assertions the Brexit debate is “over” and Labour does not want to unpick the result.

  • Chiara Fiorillo

    'GOOD DAY'S WORK'

    Mr Gove and Mr Sefcovic reiterated their "full commitment" to the Good Friday Agreement, and impacting as "little as possible" on those living in both Ireland and Northern Ireland, according to the joint statement.

    Following the meeting, Irish Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney described it as a "good day's work" and said the focus was now on cooperation between the EU and UK to implement the Protocol.

    "We continue to listen & do what we can to support businesses in NI," he said on Twitter.

  • Chiara Fiorillo

    UK AND EU REITERATE 'FULL COMMITMENT' TO NI PROTOCOL

    Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove and the European Commission's vice president have reiterated their "full commitment" to the contentious Northern Ireland Protocol following talks in London.

    A joint statement said Mr Gove and Maros Sefcovic had a "frank but constructive discussion" on Thursday evening, in which they agreed to "spare no effort" in implementing solutions.

    The two politicians agreed to convene the joint committee tasked with implementation of the protocol no later than February 24 to provide "the necessary political steer".

  • Chiara Fiorillo

    KEIR STARMER URGES SUNAK TO 'PROTECT' UK FINANCIAL SECTOR

    Keir Starmer has urged Rishi Sunak to "protect" the UK financial sector.

    The Labour leader said he is "very worried" that the Brexit deal has almost no provision for financial services – and added he wants to "see progress".

    Credit: PA:Press Association
  • Chiara Fiorillo

    SEAFOOD TASK FORCE MUST NOT BE A 'TALKING SHOP'

    Scotland Fisheries Secretary has urged a new UK-wide seafood export task force to offer urgent solutions to issues facing the sector.

    Ahead of the first meeting of the Scottish Seafood Exports Task Force, Fergus Ewing said the group, set up by the Scotland Office, must not just be a "talking shop" and should work on fixing issues caused by leaving the European Union.

    Announced this week by Scotland Office minister David Duguid, the project is aimed at solving "medium and longer-term export issues", according to the minister.

    The Scottish Government will be represented in meetings at ministerial and official level.

  • Chiara Fiorillo

    UK 'LIKE A SPEEDBOAT' WHILE EU MORE 'LIKE A TANKER'

    Mrs von der Leyen accidentally made the compelling case for Brexit with her remarks.

    She said: "Alone, a country can be a speedboat, while the EU is more like a tanker.

    "Before concluding a contract with a pharmaceutical company, the 27 member states had five full days to say whether they agreed or not.

    "This naturally delays the process. We must constantly pressure ourselves so each step of the decision-making process is as fast and efficient as possible."

    Credit: Getty Images – Getty
  • Chiara Fiorillo

    EU'RE TOO SLOW

    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.

  • Chiara Fiorillo

    THREE PARTS

    Mrs Foster said the Belfast Agreement has three parts, the parties in Northern Ireland, the North/South dimension and the East/West dimension.

    "Once you start damaging one of those strands of the Belfast Agreement, then it does have an impact on the overall operation and I have been saying that for some time," she said.

    "People need to listen to what we're saying, they need to take heed of what is being said by the unionist community and I hope that the message is being heard in London, and in Dublin and Brussels because we need to deal with this issue and deal with it quickly."

  • Chiara Fiorillo

    'ANGER AND CONCERN'

    Mrs Foster said there is anger and concern among the unionist community about how the Belfast Agreement is being interpreted in Dublin, Brussels, and "sadly London".

    "I have been saying that as First Minister and DUP leader, my former colleague and friend Peter Robinson said as much again today writing for the News Letter," she said.

    "I think that is a very good article and people should read what has been in there and the way in which the Belfast Agreement has been misused."

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