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Brexit news – live: UK summons French ambassador and alleges breach of international law as row escalates

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Boris Johnson’s government has summoned the French ambassador over the seizure of a British boat and accused France of breaching international law, as the bitter post-Brexit dispute between the countries over fishing rights escalates.

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said the ambassador Catherine Colonna would be expected to attend the Foreign Office on Friday “to explain the disappointing and disproportionate threats made against the UK and Channel Islands”.

A UK Government spokesman said: “The proposed French actions are unjustified and do not appear to be compatible on the EU’s part with the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) or wider international law”.

Earlier today Clement Beaune, France’s Europe minister said that the UK “understands only the language of force” and said they will be taking “retaliatory measures”.

French maritime minister Annick Girardin added Britain’s “failure to comply” with the Trade and Co-operation Agreement (TCA) was “unacceptable”. She said: “It’s not war, it’s a fight.”

It comes as Cornelis, a British scallop trawler, owned by Scottish firm Macduff Shellfish, continues to be detained by French officials for allegedly operating in France’s waters without a licence.

Follow our live coverage below

Read More

UK vows retaliation if France goes ahead with ‘illegal’ sanctions in Brexit fishing feud

Brexit has worsened UK supply chain crisis, government’s spending watchdog says

Tory councillor gets £86k to send one email a week for five years

Key points

  • UK summons French ambassador over Brexit fishing row

  • France says UK ‘only understand language of force’...

  • ...as government warns French they risk breaking Brexit deal

  • Sunak laughs off question about Brexit damage: ‘It was five years ago’

  • Master of detained British boat interviewed by French authorities

  • EU rules out concessions over ECJ’s role in Protocol – report

  • Brexit ‘worse for UK economy than Covid,’ warns OBR

07:38 , Sam Hancock

Good morning, and welcome to The Independent’s rolling UK politics coverage. Stay tuned as we bring you the latest updates on Brexit and continued reaction to chancellor Rishi Sunak’s Budget.

France detains British trawler in fishing rights row

07:43 , Sam Hancock

France has detained a British trawler and has given a verbal warning to another fishing in waters off its coast, amid an escalating dispute over fishing rights.

Two English ships were fined during checks off Le Havre, a port in France’s Normandy region, the French Maritime Ministry said in a tweet, reports Anuj Pant.

It is the latest incident in a feud between Britain and France over fishing rights and comes after France said on Wednesday it would bar British fishing boats from some French ports starting next week if no deal is reached with the UK.

France detains British trawler amid dispute over fishing rights

French minister tweets British fishing boat ‘handed over to judicial authority’

07:44 , Sam Hancock

Here’s what France’s maritime minister Annick Girardin said on the matter:

ICYMI: UK vows to retaliate if France enforces ‘illegal’ fishing sanctions

07:48 , Sam Hancock

To understand the escalation of the UK-France fishing row, this from last night by Rory Sullivan is good reading.

The UK said it will retaliate in “an appropriate and calibrated” manner if France follows through with its threats to impose sanctions amid a dispute over fishing licences.

Downing Street responded angrily to a warning by the French government that it could ban British seafood imports and could even cut the supply of energy to the Channel Islands.

Lord Frost, the Brexit minister, said it was “disappointing” France had decided to make such threats.

Read the full report here:

UK vows retaliation if France imposes ‘illegal’ sanctions amid Brexit fishing row

Brexit ‘worse for UK economy than Covid,’ warns OBR

07:51 , Sam Hancock

The impact of Brexit on the UK economy will be worse than that caused by the pandemic, according to the chairman of the UK fiscal watchdog.

Richard Hughes said the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) had assumed leaving the EU would “reduce our long run GDP by around 4 per cent”, adding in comments to the BBC: “We think that the effect of the pandemic will reduce that (GDP) output by a further 2 per cent.”

“In the long term it is the case that Brexit has a bigger impact than the pandemic”, Mr Hughes told the broadcaster hours after the OBR responded to Rishi Sunak’s latest Budget by saying it expected inflation to reach 4.4 per cent while warning it could hit “the highest rate seen in the UK for three decades”.

Think-tank: Impact of Brexit on UK economy ‘will be greater than Covid’

07:57 , Sam Hancock

Following my last post, our economics editor Anna Isaac reports the following:

John Springford, deputy director at the Centre for European Reform, told The Independent he is “pretty confident that the impact of Brexit in the long run will be greater than Covid”.

Mr Springford’s modelling of the impact of Brexit on the UK’s trade with the EU was used to help inform the OBR’s analysis

Richard Hughes, chairman of the OBR, said, in response to a question from The Independent, that the UK’s “plain vanilla trade agreement” with the EU compared with “not very significant offsetting effects from trade agreements with other countries, which meant we left the 4 per cent loss of potential output assumption over the medium term in our forecast”.

That compared with the most recent OBR estimate of GDP being 2 per cent smaller as a result of the pandemic, Mr Hughes said. Half the damage of the increased trade barriers with the EU. Imports and exports were down roughly 10-15 per cent with the EU post-Brexit and since the pandemic, compared with a smaller fall of around 7 per cent with the rest of the world.

“We’re less connected to the outside world than we used to before and this is as a result of the fact it’s become harder to trade with our critical trading partner”, he added.

07:58 , Sam Hancock

Here’s Anna Isaac’s full report on the below:

Inflation could soon hit highest level in three decades, spending watchdog warns

Sunak refuses to commit to cutting taxes before next election

08:07 , Sam Hancock

Let’s hear from Rishi Sunak now. The chancellor has been talking to Sky News’ Kay Burley about his 2021 Budget, announced in the Commons yesterday.

Mr Sunak this morning refused to commit to cutting taxes before the next general election. Asked whether he would slash taxes before the next Westminster polling day, which is expected to be held by 2024, Mr Sunak said:

“We started cutting taxes yesterday, our priority being those on the lowest incomes. There is a tax cut for two million families [due to the reduction of the Universal Credit taper rate] and it is not going to come in as normal next April - it is going to come in, in a few weeks time so we can get help to people right now.

“But, as I said very clearly yesterday, my ambition is to lower taxes for people, that is what I would like to do as chancellor.

“We had to take some corrective action as a result of the crisis and the response we took to it, but hopefully that now is done and, as we demonstrated yesterday, our priority is to make sure that work pays, that we reward people’s efforts and I’m delighted we could make a start on that yesterday.”

Pressed on whether there would be income tax cuts before the next election, Mr Sunak replied only: “No, no - let’s talk about this Budget rather than all the other ones.”

Chancellor swerves question on his NI tax contribution

08:28 , Sam Hancock

Rishi Sunak today refused to be drawn on whether his own National Insurance (NI) tax contribution is enough, amid continued complaints it is the people earning far less than people like him who will feel the rise the most.

Sky News’ Kay Burley told the chancellor her team had calculated his NI tax would come to £8,500 this year based on his £148,000 salary, to which Mr Sunak nodded enthusiastically.

“Given that you’re on a good salary, and given that you did very well in the City and you’re very comfortably off, do you think that is enough of a contribution by you?”

Mr Sunak replied, without actually answering the question, that NI was a “progressive way to raise money”.

Ms Burley cut in, after Mr Sunak spoke for some time about why NI tax was a “good thing”, to say he “wasn’t answering the question”. She added: “Do you think if you’re paying £8,500 in NI, and you’ve got a healthy bank balance like yours, that is fair? Is that levelling up?”

The chancellor then went on to give his definition of levelling up, without answering the question.

Sunak defends decision not to cut VAT on home energy bills

08:40 , Sam Hancock

Over to BBC Breakfast now, where Rishi Sunak defended his decision not to cut VAT on home energy bills to counter rising energy prices.

Asked on the programme why he did not make such a move, the chancellor claimed “it is not a particularly well-targeted measure, because people living in very large homes with large energy bills would disproportionately benefit from that”. He also pointed out “many independent experts and think tanks” had already made the same point.

“Actually, where we want to target support is on those who are a bit more vulnerable,” he continued.

“That is why just over a month ago, or around about then, we announced half-a-billion pounds in something called the household support fund, and that will provide £150 for about three million of our most vulnerable households, to help them with some of those higher bills through the winter period.”

Mr Sunak added: “I think that is a more targeted approach to get help to those who really need it, not a very large VAT cut, the bulk of the benefit of which would end up going to people with large homes with big bills who probably don’t need the help.”

Chancellor appears to confuse Bury for Burnley – in interview from Bury

08:42 , Sam Hancock

While speaking to BBC Breakfast today, the chancellor appeared to mix up the name of the Greater Manchester town he was conducting his broadcast interviews in, referring to Bury market as the “world famous Burnley market”.

It came after presenter Ben Thompson told Rishi Sunak he originated from Burnley, in Lancashire.

Mr Sunak, answering a question about the government’s so-called levelling-up agenda, said: “It is not just about being in the north by the way, we’re here in Burnley but if you are growing up in a village in the southwest or even on the south coast, people want to feel opportunity is there for them, wherever they happen to be.”

He continued: “I put it down to two things. One is having pride in the place you call home and a lot of what we announced yesterday, the levelling-up fund - bids like Burnley market, world famous Burnley market, benefiting from £20m of investment.

“That’s going to create jobs. It is about improving the every day infrastructure of our communities.”

Burnley is 20 miles north of Bury.

Is Sunak right to hail ‘trade deals and freeports’ as benefits of Brexit?

08:54 , Sam Hancock

Our deputy political editor Rob Merrick doesn’t think so.

Brexit has worsened UK supply chain crisis, watchdog says

09:00 , Sam Hancock

On that note, here’s some reporting that suggests Brexit hasn’t been entirely beneficial to the UK.

The UK’s divorce from the EU made the shortages hitting Britain’s economy worse compared to the rest of the world, the government’s spending watchdog has said.

Ministers have repeatedly blamed a “global crisis” for empty shelves and depleted petrol stations across the country – confusing international observers who are not facing similar problems at home. But the government was contradicted in dramatic fashion on Wednesday by its own Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR), writes our policy correspondent Jon Stone.

In documents released alongside Rishi Sunak’s budget the fiscal watchdog said: “Supply bottlenecks have been exacerbated by changes in the migration and trading regimes following Brexit. Energy prices have soared, labour shortages have emerged in some occupations, and there have been blockages in some supply chains.”

Brexit has worsened UK supply chain crisis, government’s own spending watchdog says

I don’t have a ‘magic wand' to fix cost of living crisis, says Sunak

09:10 , Sam Hancock

Last bit from Rishi Sunak’s media interviews now. The chancellor said, once again, he does not have a “magic wand” to make cost of living pressures disappear.

Asked on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme about the impact of inflation on price increases, Mr Sunak said he had “addressed inflation yesterday in the Budget speech” but that he wanted to “provide a bit of an explanation and some reassurance on what was going on”.

He said:

“It is largely down to two global forces: one is the impact of rapidly reopening economies putting pressure on global supply chains and the other factor is, of course, energy prices.

“I wish I did but I don’t have a magic wand that can make those global challenges disappear, they are going to be with us for a little while.

“But where the government can make a difference, we are - whether it is the tax cut, whether it is freezing fuel duty, whether it is helping people with energy bills through the winter, where we have put support in place, we are doing what we can.”

Sunak is pictured on a visit to Fourpure Brewery, in London’s Bermondsey, on Wednesday (Getty)
Sunak is pictured on a visit to Fourpure Brewery, in London’s Bermondsey, on Wednesday (Getty)

Watch: Sunak avoids question about personal NI contribution

09:11 , Sam Hancock

Sunak laughs off question about Brexit damage: ‘It was five years ago’

09:23 , Sam Hancock

Rishi Sunak has laughed off warnings from his own budget watchdog that Brexit is damaging the British economy, after bizarrely claiming Britain’s departure from the EU was “five years ago” and said the government was capitalising on benefits of the UK departure – despite evidence to the contrary.

The UK left the EU at the end of January last year, with a transition period keeping the economic situation unchanged until 1 January this year, reports our policy correspondent Jon Stone. As a result the economic effects of the UK’s departure have hit this year.

But, asked during a radio interview about the negative impact of his government’s policy on living standards, Mr Sunak laughed, and said: “I think we’ve had all these debates multiple times, and I think this at this point now is five years ago.”

Rishi Sunak laughs off Brexit damage to UK economy: ‘It was five years ago’

SNP granted urgent Commons question on UK-France fishing row

09:44 , Sam Hancock

Sir Lindsay Hoyle, the House of Commons speaker, has granted an urgent question on the fishing dispute, after France said it had detained a British boat due to it not having the proper license.

The question will be asked by the SNP’s environment, food and rural affairs spokeswoman, Deidre Brock, and is expected from 10.30am.

SNP MP Deidre Brock (Wikimedia Commons)
SNP MP Deidre Brock (Wikimedia Commons)

‘Our fishing activity is entirely legal,’ says director of detained boat’s company

10:10 , Sam Hancock

The director of the company whose boat has been detained by French officials has said his vessel is being used as a “pawn in an ongoing dispute” between the two countries.

Andrew Brown, director of Macduff Shellfish, told Sky News in an interview:

“On 27 October, Macduff’s scallop vessel Cornelis was boarded by the French authorities and ordered into the French port of Le Harve while legally fishing for scallop in French waters.

“Access to French waters for the UK scallop fleet is provided under Brexit Fisheries Agreement. Macduff’s fishing activity is entirely legal.

“It appears our vessel is another pawn in the ongoing dispute between the UK and France on the implementation of the Brexit Fishing Agreement.

“We are looking to the UK government to defend the rights of the UK fishing fleet and ensure that the fishing rights provided under the Brexit Fishing agreement are fully respected by the EU.

“We will vigorously defend ourselves against any vexatious claims.”

France claims it is ‘not at war, but in a fight’ with Britain

10:42 , Sam Hancock

France’s maritime minister has said her country’s dispute with Britain over post-Brexit fishing rights is “not a war, but a fight”.

Speaking to French radio station RTL, Annick Girardin accused the UK of failing to “respect [its] own signature”, referring to the EU Withdrawal Agreement, and branded it “unacceptable”.

RTL asked Ms Girardin if Britain was “not respecting their commitments?”, to which she replied:

“To put it simply, for nine months now ... there have been fishermen who cannot go to British waters, where they had licenses before. The agreement preserved these licenses. We had to give them licenses from the moment they demonstrate that they were present in these waters before the agreement.”

Continuing, she added: “The European Commission must work harder to ensure that the United Kingdom meets its commitments. This is why France has taken a number of steps, with Clément Beaune regularly in Brussels, Luxembourg, and [working] with 11 other fishing countries.”

French minister of the sea Annick Girardin (Wikimedia Commons)
French minister of the sea Annick Girardin (Wikimedia Commons)

Government ‘investigating circumstances’ around detained boat

10:55 , Sam Hancock

The urgent Commons question on the French fishing row is currently taking place, with environment secretary George Eustice kicking off proceedings.

He says he has asked officials to urgently investigate the situation surrounding the Scottish vessel being detained in France, saying it’s “too early” to say precisely what has happened.

Shadow environment secretary Luke Pollard had asked what was being done to establish “the ... very troubling facts”.

The Labour MP also asked if an external waters licence has been issued “to the Scottish scalloper currently detained in Le Havre, as its name does not appear on the MMO website. Is that an oversight?”

Mr Eustice said: “It is too early to be able to identify precisely what happened. But I have seen reports that it was on a list originally and then appeared not to be on a list. But it is something that I’ve asked our officials to urgently investigate.”

France ‘breaking international law’ with threats, says Eustice

10:58 , Sam Hancock

Eustice suggests France’s threats to block British boats from French ports and tighten checks could breach international law.

THe UK would deliver an “appropriate and calibrated response” should France follow through with the measures, he said in the Commons.

MPs heard the UK has licensed 98 per cent of EU vessels that have applied for access post-Brexit, and more are expected to be granted following “constructive” talks with the European Commission.

Mr Eustice said he had told the French and the Commission that the UK’s “door remains ever open”.

But, he added: “In that context it is very disappointing to see the comments that came from France yesterday. We believe these are disappointing and disproportionate, and not what we’d expect from a close ally and partner.”

Environment secretary George Eustice (PA)
Environment secretary George Eustice (PA)

SNP demands ‘more detail on Scottish vessel detained in France’

11:17 , Sam Hancock

SNP environment spokeswoman Deidre Brock is pressing Eustice to offer more details on the Scottish vessel detained by the French authorities, saying: “We have a skipper of a Scottish scalloping vessel due in court, it’s simply not good enough that the secretary of state doesn’t have answers to those questions.”

Eustice responds: “What I’ve been able to establish so far in respect of that vessel is that they were on the list that was provided by the MMO [Marine Management Organisation] initially to the European Union.

“The European Union therefore did grant a licence. We are seeing some reports that for some reason they were subsequently withdrawn from the list, it’s unclear why that might have been at the moment.”

Eustice adds he is awaiting further details from Marine Scotland and is expecting a response in the “next hour or so”.

Patel brands French decision to detain UK boat ‘disappointing'

11:04 , Sam Hancock

Another minister, not currently in the House of Commons, has also described the British ship’s detention as “disappointing”.

When asked if she was concerned about the latest action in the dispute about fishing rights and whether she had spoken with her French counterpart, she said: “It is disappointing, and we as a country fulfilled all our obligations under the TCA.

“But at the same time, discussions across government will continue, both at commission level but also with counterparts within the French administration.”

PM in embarrassing blunder over beer barrel PR stunt

11:14 , Sam Hancock

Let’s step away from fishing now. Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak are receiving flack for a photo opportunity they did on Tuesday, in which they hauled kegs of ale about a London brewery to toast the 3p-a-pint cut in beer duty announced in the Budget.

There was, however, just one slight problem, reports our north of England correspondent Colin Drury: the barrels of booze the PM and chancellor posed with will not actually be eligible for the five per cent tax reduction.

They held the 30-litre containers most commonly used by independent craft breweries across the country – but the tax cut will only apply to beer in 40-litre barrels of draft beer and ciders.

Beer barrels held by PM and Sunak to toast tax cut would not qualify for reduction

Watch live: Protests on second day of Julian Assange hearing

11:14 , Sam Hancock

Patel describes ‘tragedy’ of migrants feared missing at sea

11:22 , Sam Hancock

Some more from Priti Patel now, as the home secretary described the “appalling” incident in which several migrants are feared to be lost at sea after trying to reach Britain by boat as an “absolute tragedy”.

As many as three people could be unaccounted for after trying to cross waters from France to the UK in a dinghy earlier this week.

Two men - both Somali nationals - were rescued off the Essex coast on Monday and searches for any remaining survivors have now been called off.

Ms Patel told PA:

“It is a tragedy. It is an absolute tragedy, it really is. Clearly there are investigations taking place right now so we have to let that investigation process occur.

“But I can give everyone solid, solid assurance that my work with both France and other counterparts as well is very much based on stopping the loss of life.”

Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s husband to meet with Truss after hunger strike

11:34 , Sam Hancock

The husband of jailed British-Iranian aid worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe is due to meet Liz Truss, the foreign secretary, to discuss further strategy around attempts to free his wife.

It follows a hunger strike Richard Ratcliffe has been staging outside No 10 and the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) since Sunday.

Mr Ratcliffe will be joined by his MP, Labour’s Tulip Siddiq. Ahead of the meeting, due to take place today at 12pm, Ms Siddiq tweeted she was “desperate” to find a solution to the issue.

Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe, now 42, was jailed for five years in Tehran back in 2016 after being accused of plotting against the country’s regime. Following her release earlier this year, she was charged and sentenced to another year allegedly for spreading propaganda.

Living standards to fall after decade of austerity knocks 40% off wages

11:50 , Sam Hancock

Living standards for many Britons will continue to fall following Rishi Sunak’s Budget, after a decade of austerity which has seen average wages grow by 40 per cent less than expected before the financial crash, a respected economic think-tank has found.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) said that the chancellor had used Wednesday’s statement to reverse many of the cuts in public spending imposed by successive Conservative-led administrations since 2010, in a package which owed more to Gordon Brown than George Osborne, writes our political editor Andrew Woodcock.

But IFS director Paul Johnson said there will be little in the way of “feelgood factor” for voters, with middle-income households set to see a fall in their disposable income and living standards for others barely rising at all.

Living standards to fall for many after decade of austerity knocks 40% off wages

Donaldson reissues demand for NI Protocol fixes

12:00 , Sam Hancock

Some more Brexit news now. DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson has said negotiations on the Northern Ireland Protocol cannot be “put on the long finger”, and a resolution is needed “very soon”.

Sir Jeffrey said he welcomed comments from Boris Johnson on Wednesday that “rapid progress” was required in the talks between the EU and UK on the Irish Sea trade border.

“We’re very clear you can’t put the Protocol issue on the long finger and I welcomed what the prime minister said yesterday about the need for rapid progress,” he told reporters in Co Tyrone.

Sir Jeffrey previously warned he would pull down powersharing at Stormont if significant changes to the Protocol were not secured by early November.

DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson (PA Wire)
DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson (PA Wire)

British only 'understand the language of force', says French minister

12:19 , Jane Dalton

The British only “understand the language of force”, France’s Europe minister is reported to have said following the seizure of a British fishing boat.

Clement Beaune promised to take a zero-tolerance approach against Britain in the escalating dispute over post-Brexit fishing rights.

“We need to speak the language of force as I’m afraid it is the only thing this British government will understand,” Mr Beaune said, according to the Telegraph. “We will show no tolerance, no indulgence.”

Environment secretary George Eustice said the vessel did have a licence to fish in the area, contrary to French claims.

You risk breaking Brexit deal, UK warns France

12:23 , Jane Dalton

The British government has warned France that it risks breaking the Brexit trade deal, as Emmanuel Macron’s government continues to detain a UK fishing vessel.

French maritime authorities overnight fined one UK vessel and detained another, for allegedly not having the right licence to fish.

Environment secretary George Eustice said today that French threats of further action “do not appear to be compatible with a trading cooperation agreement or wider international law”. Jon Stone reports:

France still holding British fishing boat and risks breaking Brexit deal, says UK

Priti Patel says trawler detention ‘disappointing’

12:43 , Jane Dalton

Home secretary Priti Patel has insisted the government will continue to talk to France even though the UK has done nothing wrong.

Asked whether she had spoken with her French counterpart, Ms Patel said: “It is disappointing, and we as a country fulfilled all our obligations under the Trade and Co-operation Agreement (TCA).

“But at the same time, discussions across government will continue, both at commission level but also with counterparts within the French administration.”

‘World-famous’: Sunak waxes lyrical about Burnley market – while standing in Bury market

12:53 , Jane Dalton

Rishi Sunak has waxed lyrical about being at “world-famous Burnley market” – while standing in Bury market.

The chancellor appeared to confuse the two towns.

Well, they’re both northern, after all, Colin Drury writes:

Rishi Sunak waxes lyrical about ‘world famous’ Burnley Market – whilein Bury Market

Heathrow will be biggest winner of flight tax cut

13:06 , Jane Dalton

The main beneficiary of the chancellor’s cut in domestic air passenger duty will be the UK’s biggest airport, Heathrow, The Independent can reveal.

Simon Calder has analysed Civil Aviation Authority figures for passenger numbers on domestic links in 2019, before the coronavirus pandemic:

Heathrow is the big winner from flight tax cut

Sunak’s ‘meagre’ schools recovery funding falls far short, warns former catch-up tsar

13:15 , Jane Dalton

Funding earmarked towards schools’ recovery in Rishi Sunak’s Budget has been labelled “meagre” by the government’s former education catch-up tsar.

Sir Kevan Collins said the settlement falls “far short” of what is required, as Ashley Cowburn reports:

Sunak’s ‘meagre’ schools’ funding falls ‘far short’, warns former government adviser

We still need to burn fossil fuels, says Rees-Mogg

13:28 , Jane Dalton

Jacob Rees-Mogg said the UK would still need to use fossil fuels ahead of the transition to net zero as he faced calls to explain why the government supported opening the new Cambo oilfield.

He told MPs: “We have to remember that the target of net zero is by 2050. We are going to need to use fossil fuels in the interim. It is fanciful to think otherwise and if we are going to use them, we are going to need to be economic.”

The Commons leader also said: “The vision that this government has is one that is based on improving people’s standards of living. That’s what the Budget was about yesterday and that’s what the green policy is about. It is not about cave-dwelling, it is not hairshirt greenery.”

Shadow Commons leader Thangam Debbonaire had said it was “embarrassing” that chancellor Rishi Sunak had slashed air passenger duty on short-haul domestic flights ahead of Cop26.

She added: “The government, I am afraid to say, working with the SNP Scottish government, seem to be supporting new oilfields in the North Sea.

“Will he ask the Business Secretary to come to the House and explain why the government are saying that we must move beyond fossil fuels but meanwhile opening the new Cambo oilfield?”

Plans for the new oilfield, off Shetland, have met fierce opposition because they will add to fossil-fuel burning.

Ministers ‘monitoring’ fishing boat dispute with France – No 10

13:36 , Sam Hancock

An update on the detained fishing boat now. The UK government is “continuing to monitor” Britain’s dispute with France over licensing fishing boats, No 10 has said.

Boris Johnson’s official spokesman said the UK fully supported the way Jersey and Guernsey were handling the issue, which was “entirely in line” with the provisions of Britain’s trade deal with the EU.

The spokesman said:

“We are monitoring this situation very carefully. We have relayed our concerns to the [European] Commission and the French government.

“We think the threats outlined yesterday evening were disappointing, were disproportionate and were simply not what we expect from a close ally and partner.

“I can’t at this moment set out exactly what our response might be. It will be appropriate, it will be calibrated. We want to have further discussions with French government and the EU. We stand ready to respond appropriately.”

The French Gendarmerie patrol boat Athos and a British trawler Cornelis Gert Jan are seen moored in the port of Le Havre (Reuters)
The French Gendarmerie patrol boat Athos and a British trawler Cornelis Gert Jan are seen moored in the port of Le Havre (Reuters)

Watch: Sunak waxes lyrical about Burnley – while in Bury

13:45 , Sam Hancock

Brexit overtakes Covid as UK public’s biggest concern

14:04 , Sam Hancock

Brexit has overtaken Covid as the number one concern of the British people for the first times since the pandemic began, new polling has found.

The supply chain crisis which has seen labour shortages and empty supermarket shelves has pushed the impact of the UK’s exit from the EU back to the forefront of the public imagination, writes Adam Forrest.

Some 28 per cent of people said Brexit was now the biggest issue facing the nation – a rise of eight per cent since last month, according to the latest Ipsos MORI survey.

Brexit overtakes Covid as the British public’s top concern

Man charged after Angela Rayner receives threats

14:10 , Sam Hancock

A 36-year-old man has been charged with malicious communications and possession of cannabis after deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner received a series of threats.

Greater Manchester Police (GMP) named the man as Benjamin Iliffe, of Slade Way, Chatteris, Cambridgeshire.

In a statement, GMP also said a 52-year-old man arrested in Halifax, West Yorkshire, on Wednesday has been bailed, while a 70-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of malicious communication relating to abusive emails received on 16 October.

Deputy Labour leader’s ‘family affected by abuse too’

14:24 , Sam Hancock

Sky’s Beth Rigby reports the following from a “spokesperson for Angela Rayner”:

Assange should be ‘hailed’ as truthteller and freed – Corbyn

14:35 , Sam Hancock

Crowds gathered at the High Court in London on Thursday as the US continued its fight to extradite WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

The Australian is wanted in the US on allegations of a conspiracy to obtain and disclose national defence information following WikiLeaks’ publication of hundreds of thousands of leaked documents relating to the Afghanistan and Iraq wars.

Speaking ahead of the hearing, former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said Assange should be “hailed” as a truthteller and released from prison, reports Chiara Giordano.

Julian Assange should be ‘hailed’ as whistleblower, says Jeremy Corbyn

Master of detained British boat interviewed by French authorities

14:46 , Sam Hancock

Sky’s Kate McCann has the following update on the British boat being detained in France.

The broadcaster’s political correspondent writes the fishing boat’s master has had an interview with authorities which “went well”.

“He has been released back to the boat, which is still being held,” she adds.

Watch: Sunak refuses to be drawn on personal NI contribution

15:01 , Sam Hancock

UK govt urged to defend British fishermen amid row with France

15:13 , Sam Hancock

Ministers are facing calls to step in and defend British fishermen after a UK boat was detained in a worsening row with France over post-Brexit fishing rights.

The scallop vessel Cornelis was ordered to divert to the port of Le Havre after the French authorities said it was fishing in French waters without a licence.

French authorities said that another British trawler had been fined for obstruction after refusing to allow police to board to carry out checks.

The incidents came amid anger in France after the UK and Jersey turned down applications from dozens of French boats to fish in their waters in what Paris said was a breach of Britain’s post-Brexit trade deal with the EU.

French ministers have warned they will block British boats from some French ports and tighten checks on vessels travelling between France and the UK if the issue is not resolved by Tuesday.

Additional reporting by PA

Macduff: ‘We’re looking to the government to defend our rights’

15:26 , Sam Hancock

Let’s get some commentary from Macduff Shellfish now, the Scottish firm which owns the boat detained in France.

Andrew Brown, director of sustainability and public affairs at Macduff, said:

“It appears our vessel has been caught up in the ongoing dispute between the UK and France on the implementation of the Brexit fishing agreement.

“The Cornelis does have catch aboard. This may be confiscated by the French authorities unless a speedy resolution is achieved.

“We are looking to the UK government to defend the rights of the UK fishing fleet and ensure that the fishing rights provided under the Brexit fishing agreement are fully respected by the EU.”

Tory backbencher condemns ‘unwelcome’ insults about UK govt

15:35 , Sam Hancock

Conservative backbencher Richard Fuller has criticised a French minister for using “very unwelcome language” about the UK government.

It follows Clement Beaune, France’s Europe minister, saying the UK “understands only the language of force” amid tensions over post-Brexit fishing agreements.

Sainsbury’s boss insists there will be ‘plenty of food’ at Christmas

15:45 , Sam Hancock

The boss of Sainsbury’s has reassured customers there “will be plenty of food” this Christmas despite the supply chain crisis.

Retailers have warned recently that disruption to the global supply chain due to Covid-19 and a shortage of lorry drivers is likely to affect Christmas supermarket shelves, reports Ben Chapman.

There is estimated to be a shortfall of around 100,000 lorry drivers in the UK, and soaring energy prices have also added to the cost of food production and logistics.

Sainsbury’s boss insists there will be ‘plenty of food’ on shelves this Christmas

EU rules out concessions over ECJ’s role in Protocol – report

15:48 , Sam Hancock

Bloomsberg’s Jorge Valero reports the following:

Tory MP suggests Labour voters will be thankful for cheaper champagne

16:00 , Sam Hancock

Labour misunderstands what it means to be “aspirational in this country” as not just wealthy people want to drink champagne, a Conservative MP has said.

The MP for Crewe and Nantwich told the Commons:

“It’s classic of Labour, misunderstanding what it means to be aspirational in this country.

“The people that I know that want to go get a bottle of champagne are not wealthy people, actually, are people who maybe have a wedding or a special occasion, an ordinary family who want to enjoy themselves.

“Your disdain to that measure shows you really don’t understand the people who you represent.”

It comes after Rishi Sunak said this morning he would not apologise for cutting alcohol duty on Champagne, prosecco and other sparkling wine in the Budget.

This file photo shows champagne in the exhibition hall during the 2009 Tory party conference (Getty)
This file photo shows champagne in the exhibition hall during the 2009 Tory party conference (Getty)

ICYMI: Sunak waxes lyrical about Burnley Market – while in Bury Market

16:10 , Sam Hancock

UK-French talks continue after British boat detained in Brexit fishing row

16:25 , Joe Middleton

The UK and French authorities are continuing talks after a British boat was detained in the worsening row over post-Brexit fishing rights.

“We are continuing to contact the French authorities,” a No 10 spokesman said.

“Our ambassador is in touch with the French Europe minister, the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is in contact with his French opposite number and we will provide further details as more information becomes available.

“We are still working to understand the details.”

Jeremy Corbyn: Another vote on Scottish independence will happen in a few years

16:44 , Joe Middleton

Former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said today a second vote on Scottish independence will happen “in a few years”.

Mr Corbyn, who stood down as leader in 2019 and has since had the whip removed by the party because of his response to a report on antisemitism within Labour, struggled during his time in charge to settle on a position on the constitutional question in Scotland.

But on Thursday, he told BBC Radio Scotland’s Drivetime programme he feels a referendum is imminent, adding that he does not “believe it’s a good idea to prevent people expressing a point of view”.

“I’m strongly in support of people having their voice, therefore an independence referendum is something that I believe will happen probably within a few years,” he said.

He added: “I think the pressure is there for it, I think it will happen, and I don’t believe it’s a good idea to prevent people expressing a point of view and an opinion and, obviously, that it what democracy has to be about.”

Mr Corbyn’s comments come ahead of a tour of Scotland as part of an “alternative Cop26” next week, run by his Peace and Justice Project, which will include events in Glasgow and Edinburgh focusing on the climate crisis.

A spokesman for Scottish Labour said: “Mr Corbyn is not a sitting Labour MP and private citizens are entitled to their views on a range of issues.”

Additional reporting by PA

It’s been dubbed a Labour Budget – but what would Rachel Reeves really have done differently?

17:03 , Joe Middleton

Rishi Sunak is pursuing New Labour policies the shadow chancellor agrees with, writes John Rentoul.

What would Rachel Reeves really have done differently in the Budget? | John Rentoul

All seven remaining countries removed from red list

17:19 , Joe Middleton

All seven remaining countries will be removed from the UK’s red list from 1 November, the government has announced.

The seven countries moving off the red list are: Colombia, Ecuador, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Panama, Peru and Venezuela, writes The Independent’s Lucy Thackray.

Transport secretary Grant Shapps tweeted: “All seven remaining countries on the red list will be REMOVED from Mon 1 November at 4am.”

All seven remaining countries removed from red list

French embassy highlights PM Jean Castex’s ‘de-escalation’ comments

17:37 , Joe Middleton

The French embassy in the UK highlighted comments by prime minister Jean Castex saying that while Paris would like “de-escalation” it was down to the British Government to keep its word.

“I’d like nothing more than for there to be a de-escalation,” Mr Castex said.

“We are permanently open to discussions, but I want to say to the British Government that we will see to it that our interests are respected and that their word is kept.”

Brexit was all about fish – and fish is the altar upon which the nation has been happily sacrificed

17:54 , Joe Middleton

It is disappointing that a British fishing boat has been, in effect, taken prisoner by French authorities, and there’s nothing we can do about it. No fish, in other words, and no sovereignty either, writes The Independent’s Tom Peck.

Fish is the altar upon which the nation has been happily sacrificed | Tom Peck

Scottish food and drink boss hopes UK and France reach ‘resolution’ over fishing row

18:21 , Joe Middleton

Angela Rayner apologises for ‘scum’ barb directed at Conservatives

18:34 , Joe Middleton

Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner has “unreservedly” apologised for remarks at the party’s annual conference when she described Conservatives as “scum”.

The Independent’s political editor Andrew Woodcock has the details.

Angela Rayner apologises for ‘scum’ barb directed at Conservatives

UK summons French ambassador in Brexit fishing row escalation

18:42 , Joe Middleton

A UK Government Spokesperson said:“Lord Frost chaired a Ministerial meeting earlier today to consider the UK response to the measures set out by France yesterday.

“The proposed French actions are unjustified and do not appear to be compatible on the EU’s part with the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) or wider international law.

“We regret the confrontational language that has been consistently used by the French government on this issue, which makes this situation no easier to resolve.

“We have raised our concerns strongly with both the French and the EU Commission.

“As a next step, the Foreign Secretary has instructed Minister Morton to summon the French Ambassador.

“We repeat that the Government has granted 98% of licence applications from EU vessels to fish in the UK’s waters and, as has consistently been made clear, will consider any further evidence on the remainder.”

UK government summons French ambassador as fishing boat row escalates

Priti Patel: The detention of a British fishing boat is ‘disappointing'

19:34 , Joe Middleton

Lord Frost: I am concerned by the French plans on fisheries

19:54 , Joe Middleton

Brexit minister Lord Frost said: “I remain concerned by French plans on fisheries and beyond.

“We expect to have more to say on this issue tomorrow.”

Jeremy Hunt lends support to Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s husband

20:22 , Joe Middleton

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