Brexit news: Latest updates as Britain raises terror threat to severe

The UK’s terrorism threat level has been raised to severe, meaning that an attack is judged to be highly likely.

The Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre (Jtac) made the assessment following a spate of attacks in France and the shooting rampage by an Isis supporter in Vienna.

Priti Patel, the UK home secretary, said it was a “precautionary measure” that was “not based on a specific threat”.

Meanwhile, Boris Johnson is facing further legal action from the EU after he missed a deadline to explain why he is planning to break international law over Northern Ireland.

Speaking on Tuesday, a European Commission spokesperson said: “We sent a letter of formal notice on 1 October to the UK for breaching its obligations under the withdrawal agreement. As you know it had until the end of the month to submit its observations to that letter.”

They added: “To date I can confirm that the EU has received no reply from the UK, therefore we are considering next steps, including issuing a reasoned opinion [of the European Court of Justice].”

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Tory lockdown rebellion fizzles out

Sir Charles Walker is among the senior MPs livid over the looming lockdown for England. The influential vice-chair of the 1922 Committee of Conservative backbenchers said the country was becoming an “authoritarian, coercive state”.  

Yet Charles told Sky News said rebels may not get any more than 20 votes against the government when parliament comes to vote on the lockdown tomorrow.

Boris Johnson has assured MPs they will get to vote on any extension to lockdown beyond 2 December.  

Unnamed cabinet ministers have voiced fears that the lockdown may have to be extended until 2021. One said: “I think it’ll be after the new year. The rate of transmission is not going to go down enough to justify it. Just look at the graphs. It’s going to be a jobs disaster.”

Charles Walker MP

Charles Walker MP

(House of Commons)

Adam Forrest3 November 2020 08:39

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PM hails ‘rapid result’ testing in Liverpool  

People in Liverpool are to be offered coronavirus tests, whether they have symptoms or not, in the first pilot of the government’s mass testing scheme Operation Moonshot.  

More than 2,000 members of the armed forces will arrive in the city on Thursday to help deliver thousands of what the government describes as “rapid turnaround” tests.

These offer results in just an hour – a system which could be rolled out to millions if successful. “This kind of mass testing has the potential to be a powerful new weapon in our fight,” said Boris Johnson.

Adam Forrest3 November 2020 08:43

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Germany ‘top country for post-Brexit bank relocations’

Germany is the most popular destination for banks quitting London and moving their assets because of Brexit, according to the German central bank.

Bundesbank said they expected the UK’s exit from the EU would result in financial institutions moving 675 billion euros (£610bn) in assets and create 2,500 new banking jobs in Germany.

The central bank also expects lenders to transfer 397 billion euros (£360bn) more than the 278 billion euros (£250bn) it has already moved out of the UK, post-Brexit.

It looks as if much less money will flee the City of London for France. France’s central bank governor has said around 150 billion euros (£135bn) of assets will be moved to France by the end of 2020.

Germany’s deputy finance minister Jorg Kukies has said Berlin will take a “pragmatic” approach towards ties with the UK “no matter what happens” with trade deal talks. He also said chancellor Angela Merkel was worried by the lack of progress in the negotiations. 

Angela Merkel

(Getty Images)

Adam Forrest3 November 2020 08:50

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PM says furlough will be available to Scotland – but SNP wants confirmation

First minister Nicola Sturgeon has admitted she’s struggling with a “dilemma” over whether Scotland should join England in lockdown. Sturgeon said she was still seeking “absolute clarity” from the Treasury as to whether furlough support would be available for Scotland.  

Boris Johnson appeared to confirm as much in the Commons late on Monday. “If other parts of the UK decide to go into measures … then of course it is available to them,” he said.  

But SNP chiefs are not inclined to take Johnson at his word – so the party’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford has written a stern letter to the government demanding confirmation.  He said the PM’s words were “not good enough”.

Adam Forrest3 November 2020 08:56

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Labour goes on attack against Sunak over lockdown support

Labour are set to go on the attack against chancellor Rishi Sunak – still the most popular politician in Britain.

Shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds will use an urgent today to ask the chancellor what measures he will take “during after lockdown” – demanding he sets out a six-month plan for economic support.  

Keir Starmer singled Sunak out for some special criticism during his speech at the annual Confederation of British Industry (CBI) conference on Monday. “Make no mistake, the chancellor’s name is all over this,” said the Labour leader.  

“His decision to block a circuit breaker [in September] … will mean businesses have to close for longer, more people will lose jobs, and the public finances will be worse than needed.”

Keir Starmer speaking to CBI

(Reuters TV)

Adam Forrest3 November 2020 09:03

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Brexit ‘fuelling growing support for Scottish independence’

The pursuit of Brexit is undermining support for Scotland remaining in the UK, new analysis of a public opinion has found.

Of those who would vote Remain in another EU referendum, support for Scottish independence has gone from 44 per cent in 2016 to 57 per cent in the latest survey.

The Scottish Centre for Social Research also found most Scots are pessimistic about the consequences of Brexit. The survey found only 18 per cent believe the UK’s economy would be better off in the wake of Brexit, while 43 per cent feel Scotland’s economy would improve under independence.

“The pursuit of Brexit has weakened many people’s views of the merits of the union,” said Professor Sir John Curtice. “For a significant body of people in Scotland, independence inside the EU has now come to look more attractive than being part of a UK that is outside the EU.”

Adam Forrest3 November 2020 09:10

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Tory minister creates confusion over furlough for Scotland

Communities secretary Robert Jenrick has created new confusion over the extension of furlough payments – and whether the scheme would apply to Scotland if Nicola Sturgeon decided to opt for lockdown there at a later date.

The cabinet minister said that extending the 80 per cent furlough payments to any devolved nations in lockdown after 2 December would be a decision for chancellor Rishi Sunak to take at the time. “Furlough at 80 per cent will be available until 2 December,” he told Sky News.

Sturgeon responded to Jenrick’s interview by saying: “We need clarity on this urgently today.” SNP Westminster chief Ian Blackford said it was “quite extraordinary” that the government had not clarified the issue, adding: “We’re not being treated fairly.”

Adam Forrest3 November 2020 09:38

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Jenrick appears to mix up lockdown meet-up rules

As well as sowing doubt over furlough for Scottish businesses, cabinet minister Robert Jenrick appeared to create confusion about the rules which will apply when England’s second national lockdown begins on Thursday.

The communities secretary suggested that an entire household could meet up with a friend, before then contradicting himself. On the BBC’s Breakfast, Jenrick suggested whole households could go for a walk with one other person, and was questioned on this.

Presenter Louise Minchin said: “I think I heard you say that outside you can be one household, plus one other person, is that what you meant and is that right?” Jenrick replied: “Yes, that’s right.”

Minchin said: “So a family could go for a walk, with, for example, a friend?” He answered: “Yes.”

However, when Minchin pressed him, asking whether this applied to four people and one person, Jenrick said: “Yes, so you can go out in your own household, or with one other person.”

Adam Forrest3 November 2020 09:53

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Biden victory wouldn’t stop UK-US trade deal, claims ambassador

As voting begins across America today, the current US Ambassador Robert “Woody” Johnson has claimed that a transatlantic trade deal would happen regardless of the election result.  

“President Trump prioritised a free trade agreement with the UK because it is the fastest way to increase prosperity for both our countries. Post-Covid, this will be even more critical,” he told The Daily Express.

“Restoring economic growth will have to be the number one priority after we control the virus. If ever there was a time to remove barriers for businesses, it is now.”

He added: “We still have a few things to iron out, as is always the case with major agreements like this one, but I’m confident our countries can get this done no matter what happens today.”

Many commentators have suggested a Trump victory makes a deal more likely. Biden is thought to be keen to re-orientate towards Germany and France, so Britain is no longer the “centre of gravity” for the US in Europe.

Robert “Woody” Johnson, US ambassador to the UK

(PA)

Adam Forrest3 November 2020 10:05

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Gove apologises for getting tennis and golf rules wrong

Michael Gove has apologised for getting his own lockdown rules wrong by claiming tennis and golf will escape a ban. The Cabinet Office minister suggested the sports could be allowed with one other person.

“You’ll probably be able to play singles tennis,” he told constituents on Facebook, adding: “If people are properly socially-distanced, they can take exercise with one other person.

“We are looking at allowing people to play on golf courses with one other appropriately distanced. The same would apply to tennis, if you are playing tennis out of doors.”

But Gove later issued a correction. “My apologies, I got this wrong.”

Michael Gove

(BBC/Handout via Reuters)

Adam Forrest3 November 2020 10:31

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