Brexit news - live: French to block ports in fish dispute as foreign butchers sought to prevent pig cull

·23-min read
Brexit news - live: French to block ports in fish dispute as foreign butchers sought to prevent pig cull

French fishermen have threatened to block the flow of Christmas goods to Britain from Friday amid a dispute on post-Brexit fishing rights.

The move comes after dozens of French vessels were told last month that they would not be given licences to fish off the coast of Jersey. The EU believes this decision goes against the Brexit deal it signed with the UK.

In response to the development, fishermen have said they could block outward-bound cargo at the ports of Calais and Dunkirk as well as at the Channel Tunnel.

“We are waiting until Friday, and then we’ll start to organise ourselves to attack,” fisherman Laurent Merlin said.

Meanwhile, Brussels has offered to scrap 80 per cent of checks on goods entering Northern Ireland in a bid to solve the Brexit impasse. João Vale de Almeida, the EU’s ambassador to the UK, called the concession “unprecedented”.

Although London has said it will look “seriously and constructively” at the bloc’s package, one likely sticking point is minister Lord Frost’s demand that the European Court of Justice (ECJ)’s jurisdiction be removed from the Brexit deal.

Meanwhile, the government is expected to grant temporary visas to foreign butchers to prevent a cull of about 150,000 pigs.

Tory minister Lord Benyon told the House of Lords said the move would “fill” the deficit in butchers.

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Key Points

  • French fleet set to block ports amid Brexit fishing dispute

  • Brussels ‘preparing for worst’ over Brexit offer

  • DUP says EU’s proposal on NI protocol ‘falls short'

  • Government set to open doors to foreign butchers to prevent pig cull

  • Police commissioner resigns over Sarah Everard comments

  • New living wage rule for firms hired by Scottish government

07:45 , Rory Sullivan

Good morning, and welcome to The Independent’s live politics coverage from Westminster and beyond.

Brussels ‘preparing for worst’ over Brexit offer

07:49 , Rory Sullivan

Brussels believes the UK will reject its offer to scrap 80 per cent of checks on goods entering Northern Ireland from Great Britain.

One European diplomat said the proposed solution to post-Brexit trade friction was “unprecedented”, adding that the bloc could not offer anything more.

However, the UK has signalled that the proposal does not go far enough.

EU prepares for worst as Brexit divide remains

British companies face severe recruitment crisis

08:05 , Rory Sullivan

British firms are suffering a severe post-Brexit recruitment crisis, a new survey has suggested.

More than nine in 10 employers in hospitality and catering are having difficulty finding staff, it found.

Jane Gratton, of the British Chambers of Commerce, urged the government to introduce targeted immigration measures to help companies.

“It’s clear that staff shortages are worsening, impacting on recovery and growth for manufacturers and services businesses alike,” she said.

“If action is not taken to address the mounting problems revealed by these data, then businesses will also face extreme difficulty in meeting demand and consumers will see further reductions in the goods and services available to them as we progress into winter.”

Our reporter Lamiat Sabin has the full story:

Firms facing post-Brexit, post-Covid recruitment crisis ‘across the board’

What has the EU proposed on Northern Ireland?

08:18 , Rory Sullivan

For those who missed it, here’s Jon Stone with an overview of the EU’s latest Brexit proposal:

What are the new EU Brexit proposals on Northern Ireland?

British government’s ‘hardline speeches’ on EU ‘not helpful’, says Drakeford

08:35 , Rory Sullivan

It is “not helpful” when British minister give hardline speeches criticising the Brexit deal their government signed, Mark Drakeford has said.

The first minister of Wales made the comment on Thursday, after meeting Joao Vale de Almeida, the EU ambassador to the United Kingdom, yesterday. He said the bloc’s offer on the Northern Ireland protocol was a “practical” attempt to solve trade friction at the Irish border.

“I don’t think it’s helpful when UK ministers make hardlined speeches drawing red lines criticising the deal that they themselves had signed,” he told Sky News.

“So from a Welsh point of view, what we’ve always asked for is for people to be around the table, for people to be pragmatic, for people to be looking for where they can agree, rather than constantly setting out red lines about where they are not prepared to agree.”

Javid defends decision to publish GPs league table

08:54 , Rory Sullivan

Health secretary Sajid Javid has defended his decision to publish league tables for GPs, insisting that it is in the interests of transparency and does not amount to the “naming and shaming” of family doctors.

“It is important that patients have this information because I want to see a levelling up of healthcare throughout the country,” he told Sky News.

Mr Javid hopes the plan will boost face-to-face GP appointments.

Adam Forrest reports:

Sajid Javid denies GPs will be ‘named and shamed’ in plan to boost appointments

Inside Politics

09:07 , Rory Sullivan

In our daily newsletter, Matt Mathers looks at the UK and the EU’s Brexit impasse and the warnings about potential toy shortages this Christmas.

Inside Politics: EU ‘fears the worst’ and Sunak ‘confident’ on Christmas toy supply

‘More work’ needed to solve Brexit impasse, says Labour

09:29 , Rory Sullivan

Labour has said it is “glad to see” attempts are being made to improve the Brexit deal, while suggesting that “more work” needs to be done.

Shadow international trade secretary Emily Thornberry told Sky News that other issues could be resolved once trade problems with Northern Ireland were sorted.

“I acknowledge that they are doing a good job in terms of continuing to negotiate. Let’s make sure that they do actually agree something so they patch the holes in the agreement that they signed that wasn’t really fit for purpose in the first place,” she added.

Border guards could be given immunity over refugee deaths at sea

09:51 , Rory Sullivan

Border Force officials could be given immunity from conviction if their “push back” tactics result in an asylum seeker downing, it has emerged.

The provision, which appears in the Nationality and Borders Bill, states that an officer is “not liable in any criminal or civil proceedings” for this type of action.

However, immigration barrister Colin Yeo said this clause of the proposed new law was unlikely to provide officers with a legitimate defence.

UK Border Force could be given immunity over refugee deaths under new proposed law

UK industry could ‘shut down’ amid gas crisis, Ineos founder warns

10:10 , Rory Sullivan

UK industry could be forced to “shut down” if supply issue worsen, the founder of manufacturing giant Ineos has said.

Jim Ratcliffe, a vocal Brexiteer, said: “I think it’s quite difficult to predict how long this sort of current situation’s going to last, but you know I suppose if you were a betting man you’d assume it would probably run through at least through the winter because obviously our gas demand increases in the winter.”

He added that it was a “a bit pathetic” that the UK only has 10 days’ worth of gas storage, a far lower amount than countries like France and Germany.

UK industry could ‘shut down’ from gas shortages this winter, government warned

Join John Rentoul for an ‘ask me anything’ on Brexit

10:30 , Rory Sullivan

With Brexit still very much not done, our political commentator John Rentoul will answer readers’ questions on the current dispute between the UK and the EU.

Join him at 1pm on Friday 15 October to learn more:

John Rentoul to host Brexit ‘ask me anything’ as EU prepares for worst

Sefcovic to speak with Stormont leaders

10:50 , Rory Sullivan

The EU Commission’s vice president will speak with Stormont leaders later today.

The meeting between Maros Sefcovic and Northern Irish politicians comes the day after the EU released the details of its proposal to cut post-Brexit red tape in the territory.

The bloc suggested the plan would reduce goods spot checks by 80 per cent and would lower paperwork by 50 per cent.

PM made personal promise to ‘tear up’ protocol, claims DUP politician

11:00 , Rory Sullivan

Boris Johnson allegedly promised a DUP politician in 2019 that the Northern Ireland protocol would be ditched, it has emerged.

Ian Paisley Jr MP made the claim hours after the prime minister’s former adviser Dominic Cummings said No 10’s strategy was to “ditch the bits we didn’t like”.

The DUP politician told BBC’s Newsnight: “Boris Johnson did tell me personally that he would, after agreeing to the protocol, he would sign up to changing that protocol and indeed tearing it up.”

Boris Johnson promised to ‘tear up’ protocol, claims Ian Paisley

‘Good amount’ of Christmas presents will be available, insists Sunak

11:20 , Rory Sullivan

The chancellor has insisted that there will plenty of Christmas presents available this year, amid fears there could be toy shortages this December because of supply chain issues.

Speaking on a trip to Washington DC, Rishi Sunak told the BBC that the government is “doing absolutely everything we can to mitigate some of these challenges”.

“I’m confident there will be a good amount of Christmas presents available for everyone to buy,” he added.

Conservatives extend lead over Labour, YouGov poll finds

11:40 , Rory Sullivan

The Tories’ lead over Labour has grown to ten percentage points, according to the latest YouGov survey.

If an election was held tomorrow, 41 per cent of respondents said they would vote Conservative, up from 39 per cent the previous week.

Labour continue to languish on 31 per cent of the electorate.

Analysis: Britain’s latest Brexit gamble

11:57 , Rory Sullivan

Britain is using the threat of a return to the Troubles as leverage in its post-Brexit discussions with the EU.

It’s a cynical, cruel, dangerous gamble, writes Sean O’Grady, but it might work:

A closer look at Britain’s latest Brexit gamble

Insulate Britain pausing ‘civil resistance’ campaign until 25 October

12:11 , Joe Middleton

Climate group Insulate Britain has announced that it will suspend its “campaign of civil resistance” until October 25.

The activists have written to Boris Johnson urging him to use the Cop26 summit to take action on climate change.

The group urged him to “do the right thing, so we can be secure in the knowledge that our Government did everything it could to protect and defend our country”.

Insulate Britain pausing ‘civil resistance’ campaign until 25 October

Families facing long stays in temporary accommodation, say Scottish Labour

12:35 , Joe Middleton

Families with children are facing “disgraceful” long stays in temporary accommodation before moving into a more permanent home, Scottish Labour have said.

A couple with children now spend almost a year on average in temporary housing, according to the party’s analysis of homelessness data.

Average stays have been increasing each year since 2017, Labour says, with single parents typically waiting an extra 53 days compared to those without children.

Coronavirus measures last year led to a fall in the number of homelessness applications but the number of people in temporary accommodation rose.

Scottish Labour MSP Mark Griffin said: “These ever-growing stays in temporary accommodation are nothing short of disgraceful.

“Any civilised society should be getting children into proper homes as a matter of urgency - but we are falling woefully short.”

Additional reporting by PA

We will look through EU proposals ‘constructively and seriously’ says Rishi Sunak

12:45 , Joe Middleton

Taoiseach Michael Martin: EU ‘open and willing’ to bring resolution to NI Protocol issues

13:03 , Joe Middleton

Irish premier Micheal Martin has praised European Commission vice-president Maros Sefcovic and said the EU has proved it is “open and willing” to bring a resolution to the Northern Ireland Protocol problems.

The Taoiseach said: “Maros Sefcovic has really consulted with people all around. His engagement with the Irish Government to get a sense of things, he went north and spoke to people on the ground in Northern Ireland and business and industry, and politically met with all the parties.

“He has managed to bring through the commission, which is not an easy task in itself because there would be countervailing forces there in terms of some of the advances that have been made in terms of the package that he’s produced.

“There are very significant advances, on SPS (rules) which would reduce checks by about 80%, and also in terms of customs checks and in respect the medicines, and in building stakeholder engagement for people in Northern Ireland.

“It demonstrates that the European Commission is in solution mode.”

Additional reporting by PA

DUP says EU’s proposal on NI protocol ‘falls short'

13:23 , Rory Sullivan

The leader of the DUP has said that the EU’s suggested changes to the Northern Ireland protocol “fall short of what is needed”.

Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, who was recently made head of the party, made the remark after a meeting with the European Commission’s vice president Maros Sefcovic.

The Northern Irish politician said: “We had a useful and honest discussion. I welcomed the change of heart in Brussels with the decision to renegotiate.

“For so long we were told the protocol could not be reopened but the persistent pressing of our case has paid dividends.

“I also explained why the proposals fall short of what is needed.”

He added that a “sustainable solution” rather than “short-term fixes” was required.

French fleet set to block ports amid Brexit fishing dispute

13:41 , Rory Sullivan

French fishermen have threatened to block ports and the Channel Tunnel as early as tomorrow in an ongoing dispute about fishing rights in British waters.

Those who lost their right to fish off the coast of Jersey have said they want to target supplies of Christmas goods to Britain.

“We are waiting until Friday, and then we’ll start to organise ourselves to attack,” fisherman Laurent Merlin said.

French fishermen warn UK blockade could start tomorrow and target Christmas supplies

US climate envoy delivers blow on Cop26 prospects

14:00 , Rory Sullivan

In a blow to Boris Johnson, the US climate envoy John Kerry has predicted that the Cop26 climate summit will not be successful.

He indicated that not every country will sign up to the measures necessary to limit global heating to under 1.5C above pre-industrial levels.

“It would be wonderful if everybody came and everybody hit the 1.5 degrees mark now,” he told the Associated Press. “That would be terrific. But some countries just don’t have the energy mix yet that allows them to do that.”

Cop26 likely to miss target, says US climate envoy John Kerry

Number of universal credit renters in arrears up by 70 per cent, charity warns

14:23 , Rory Sullivan

The number of renters on universal credit in England who have fallen into arrears has increased by 70 per cent, the latest data shows.

The homelessness charity Crisis said there were more than 190,000 low-income renters who were at least two months behind with their payments between April and May this year.

This is up from 114,000 people between November and December last year.

Crisis said the new figures were “far worse than we feared” and said they should serve as a “wake-up call” for the government.

Universal credit renters in arrears increased by 70% in six months, charity warns

Government set to open doors to foreign butchers to prevent pig cull

14:45 , Rory Sullivan

The government is expected to grant temporary visas to foreign butchers to prevent a mass cull of British pigs.

Tory minister Lord Benyon told the House of Lords said the move would “fill” the deficit in butchers.

His remark follows warnings that 150,000 animals could be destroyed due to a shortage of workers in the meat industry.

Zoe Davies, chief executive of the National Pig Association (NPA), told The Independent: “We hoping that something will come out either today or tomorrow, and we hope it will be good. We’ll have to wait and see.”

Government set to let more foreign butchers in to stop pig slaughter

Gap between poorer and richer students attending university widens

15:04 , Rory Sullivan

The gap in the levels of better-off and disadvantaged pupils going to university is at its widest since 2007, figures show.

A total of 26.6 per cent of students on free school meals at 15 went to university in 2019/2020, compared to 45.7 per cent of those who did not receive them.

Responding to the latest data, Geoff Barton, the general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), said: “A much more concerted effort is required to narrow this gap. Money is not the whole answer but it is important nonetheless and there has to be more government investment in early years education, schools and colleges, and in tackling child poverty.”

Hunt says government’s GPs rescue plan will not alleviate ‘unsustainable pressure’

15:20 , Rory Sullivan

Former health minister Jeremy Hunt has said the government’s rescue plan for GPs will not “turn the tide” on the difficulties they face.

As part of the package, Sajid Javid announced a £250 million winter access fund, with the investment set to fund more locum doctors in a bid to ease the strain on the system.

Mr Hunt, however, believes the proposed changes will not succeed in ending “the unsustainable pressure” on GPs.

SNP politician admits attending controversial anti-abortion ‘vigil’

15:45 , Rory Sullivan

A SNP MSP has admitted attending an anti-abortion protest outside a hospital in Glasgow.

John Mason said he was present at an event outside the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital (QEUH), but denied it was a protest. “It was more like a vigil,” he added.

He also expressed his view that abortion is “seldom essential or vital”, suggesting he turned up at the “vigil” to help women realise “they have a choice”.

Lucy Grieve, co-founder and director of Back Off Scotland, a group campaigning for buffer zones around abortion clinics, called the revelation “disturbing”.

“First, the Scottish government abdicate from their responsibility of protecting women accessing abortion services from intimidation and harassment,” she said.

“Now, we have evidence that one of their own MSPs has attended an anti-choice protest at QEUH.”

Police commissioner resigns over Sarah Everard comments

15:58 , Rory Sullivan

A police commissioner has resigned after saying Sarah Everard should have been more “streetwise”.

Philip Allot stepped down from his role as North Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner on Thursday, hours after a unanimous vote of no confidence was taken against him by the North Yorkshire Fire and Crime panel.

In his letter of resignation, he wrote: “I misspoke and I am devastated at the effect that this has had on victims of crime and the groups that support them.”

My colleague Thomas Kingsley has the story:

Police boss who said Sarah Everard should have ‘resisted arrest’ resigns

‘MPs accused of misconduct should be barred from work’ - unions

16:30 , Lamiat Sabin

Unions representing Parliamentary staff in Westminster are calling for MPs being investigated for sexual misconduct to be barred from the Houses of Parliament.

The branches of Unite and GMB – which represent staff of MPs, professionals union Prospect, and civil service union FDA have written to the Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle to say that such MPs could vote on matters remotely or by proxy.

It comes after several cases of MPs involved in sexual misconduct and the news that Wayne Couzens, the police officer who murdered Sarah Everard, worked on the Parliamentary estate for a period of time.

The letter said: “The recent revelation that Sarah Everard’s killer worked, albeit briefly, at Westminster will have added to the anxieties and concern of many members of staff here.

“We hope that your clear statement on the matter, which we welcome, provides some reassurance to them.”

The unions pointed to examples of sexual misconduct in recent years.

This included Delyn MP Rob Roberts, suspended from the Commons for six weeks after harassing a member of staff, and former Dover MP Charlie Elphicke, jailed for two years after being found guilty in 2020 of sexually assaulting two women.

Families in Scotland in temporary housing longer, Labour warns

17:00 , Lamiat Sabin

Families with children are facing increasingly long stays in temporary accommodation before moving to a permanent home, according to Scottish Labour.

A couple with children now spend almost a year on average in temporary housing, according to the party’s analysis of homelessness data.

Average stays have been increasing each year since 2017, Labour says, with single parents typically waiting an extra 53 days compared to those without children.

Coronavirus measures last year led to a fall in the number of homelessness applications but the number of people in temporary accommodation rose.

Scottish Labour MSP Mark Griffin said: “It is particularly unthinkable for children to face months on end in temporary accommodation, but it is a scandal for people of any age to have to endure this.

“These spiralling stays represent a total dereliction of duty from the SNP.”

A spokesman for the Scottish Government said that it is investing £37.5 million so councils can “prioritise settled accommodation for all”, and has a target of making 70 per cent of 110,000 more-affordable new homes by 2032 for social rent.

‘Absolutely right’ PCC resigned over Everard remarks – Labour

17:45 , Lamiat Sabin

Shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds said that it is “absolutely right” that Philip Allott resigned today following his “appalling” remarks about Sarah Everard.

Mr Allott tendered his resignation as North Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner in an open letter to the chief executive of Selby District Council and police area returning officer.

He had been accused of victim blaming after he said on radio that women should be more “streetwise” about powers of arrest.

He also said that Ms Everard, whose family live in York, should not have “submitted” to arrest by kidnapper, rapist, and killer Wayne Couzens, a serving police officer.

Mr Allott said he apologised “unreservedly” for his remarks, adding “they do not reflect my views”.

In response to his stepping-down, Labour’s Mr Thomas-Symonds said: “His awful comments show that misogyny needs tackling, and the community response to them shows it will no longer be tolerated.

“Yet again we’ve seen a total failure of leadership from the Tories. They should have forced him to leave two weeks ago when Keir Starmer called for it.”

New living wage rule for firms hired by Scottish government

18:15 , Lamiat Sabin

Companies looking to win contracts from the Scottish government will now have to pay the current real living wage of £9.50 an hour.

Announcing the move, trade minister Ivan McKee said: “By using procurement powers to ensure bidders pay the real living wage, the Scottish Government is leading by example to help influence employment practices and embed fair work principles.

“We will continue to engage with relevant sectors to encourage others to adopt this change across the public, private and third sector.

“We are firmly focused on creating the right economic conditions and fair work practices to drive a greener, fairer and more sustainable economy.”

The change comes as a result of the SNP and Scottish Green co-operation agreement signed in August, which resulted in a shared policy platform between the two parties and two ministerial positions for the Greens.

Fair work minister Richard Lochhead also said changes will be made next year to the eligibility criteria for government grants.

EU cap on bankers’ bonuses to stay post-Brexit – report

18:45 , Lamiat Sabin

The UK is reportedly keeping the EU cap on bankers’ bonuses.

Even though the UK has left the bloc, the cap will not be scrapped any time soon – Treasury sources have told City AM.

The measure – introduced by the EU after the 2008 financial crash – sees bankers’ bonuses limited to no more than 100 per cent of their fixed pay or double that with shareholder approval.

It comes after Bank of England’s deputy governor Sam Woods said last month that scrapping the cap is not a top priority.

Some City leaders and free marketeers believe that the cap is a big disadvantage when trying to attract the “best global talent”, as described by City AM.

Matthew Lesh, head of research at the free market Adam Smith Institute think tank, told the paper: “We’re repeatedly witnessing a failure of imagination, aspiration and ambition.

“Scrapping the bonus cap would immediately attract thousands of highly paid financial sector workers, boosting our economy and treasury receipts.”

Eustice puts the number of temporary butchers needed at 800

19:15 , Lamiat Sabin

About 800 temporary visas will be issued for foreign butchers to work in the UK, environment minister George Eustice has said.

He also announced support to help abattoirs temporarily store meat.

But he denied that Brexit was the main issue causing labour shortages across supply chains, according to Reuters.

The government is expected to grant temporary visas to foreign butchers to prevent a mass cull of British pigs.

Tory minister Lord Benyon told the House of Lords said the move would “fill” the shortage of an estimated 1,000 butchers.

It has been feared that about 150,000 animals will be culled due to a shortage of workers in the meat industry.

Labour peer accuses government of making regions ‘beg’ for funds

19:45 , Lamiat Sabin

Ministers have been accused of using an Oliver Twist-style strategy to make regions “beg” for more “levelling up” funds.

Speaking during a Lords debate, Labour’s Lord Liddle said that a green new deal prioritising the transformation of the country’s old industrial towns into “exemplars of zero-carbon living” should be at the centre of the approach.

Lord Liddle explained: “It’s London-based civil servants who are recommending what should happen, ministers consult their MPs – especially red wall Conservative MPs – about which splashes of new paint are likely to buy them the most votes.

“Well, I think this is putting the regions in the position of Oliver Twist standing in the workhouse queue begging for whatever doles our London masters are prepared to spare us.”

Conservative former minister Lord Young of Cookham stressed the need for powers to be devolved to regions, and outlined the need to boost funding for local government.

Communities minister Lord Greenhalgh said that the government’s upcoming “levelling up White Paper” will set out further details on its plan to reduce regional inequalities across the UK.

20:16 , Lamiat Sabin

That’s it for today. Thank you for following.

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