The prime minister vowed to trigger Article 16 of the Northern Ireland Protocol if it became necessary to stop supermarkets from running out of food – but Tory MP Simon Hoare warned it would do “huge damage” to the Good Friday Agreement and spoil the relationship with the US.
Mr Johnson has backed his fisheries minister Victoria Prentis, after she admitted she did not read the Brexit deal when it was published on Christmas Eve because she was busy with a Nativity trail. She is facing calls to quit – but No 10 said the PM still had confidence in her.
Fisheries minister’s position ‘untenable’, says SNP
So what about fisheries minister Victoria Prentis? How safe is her position after her admission she didn’t read the Brexit deal when it was published? A No 10 spokesperson said the PM had confidence in his minister, the SNP is leading calls for her to resign.
The party’s Brexit spokesperson Philippa Whitford, said: “For the Tory Government’s fisheries minister to then admit that she did not even bother to read the details of the damaging deal because she was too busy is unbelievable and makes her position untenable.”
In case you missed it, here is the strange admission by Prentis she was busy with her local nativity trail.
Protocol damaging Northern Ireland economy, claims DUP MP
DUP MP Sir Jeffrey Donaldson has urged the government to intervene to resolve the issues that have hindered the flow of food products from Great Britain to Northern Ireland in the past two weeks.
Sir Jeffrey told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “The protocol is damaging the Northern Ireland economy and if it damages the Northern Ireland economy it actually undermines the Good Friday agreement.”
He added: “And furthermore, that agreement makes clear that Northern Ireland will remain an integral part of the United Kingdom unless the people of Northern Ireland vote otherwise.
“Therefore, this breaches a fundamental element of the Good Friday Agreement by increasingly separating Northern Ireland from Great Britain in trading terms – our biggest trading partner, our biggest trading market, and that simply doesn’t help anyone in Northern Ireland.”
Stena Line switching freight ferry in ‘Brexit-busting’ move
The Stena Line Group said it would be switching its new freight ferry from the Belfast-Liverpool route to a more direct route from France to Ireland (the Rosslare-Cherbourg route) from today to help it avoid any Brexit delays and maximise capacity.
Flights from Brazil could be banned over Covid variant
Reports suggest the government is getting ready to announce that all direct flights between the UK, Brazil and neighbouring countries in South America will be stopped as a safeguard against the new Covid variant detected in Brazil.
Boris Johnson told a committee of MPs on Wednesday that the government was putting “extra measures” in place to protect the country from the variant – only to be unable to name any measures when grilled by senior Labour backbencher Yvette Cooper.
Michael Gove chairs a meeting of the COVID O group today, where top ministers are expected to agree on a suspension of flights.
Asked why travel from Brazil had not been immediately closed off, Home Office minister Victoria Atkins told Sky News that the UK was monitoring the new variant “very carefully” and that “practical measures” were being worked on.
Fishing industry talks with government could get ‘messy’
The anger of the seafood industry is not likely to go away anytime too soon. Scottish Seafood Association chiefs took Boris Johnson’s promise of compensation to mean “extra” money was coming their way, according to the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg.
But No 10 has had to make clear the PM was referring to the £100m already set aside to help them adjust to post-Brexit problems. The Scottish Seafood Association said it was ready to engage with the government on the “detail” of the package.
There will be an urgent question on the whole business in the House of Commons today.
Seafood boss threatens to dump rotten fish at PM’s doorstep
Fishing industry chiefs remains furious with the government over the Brexit trade deal and the implementation chaos over the past two weeks. Jamie McMillan, the boss of Loch Fyne Seafarms, has threatened to dump rotten shellfish at Boris Johnson’s door.
He is among the mounting number of Scottish seafood exporters who say post-Brexit hold-ups and red tape are leading to lorries full of seafood being rejected by EU customers.
In a video message, he said: “Prime minister and Michael Gove – I can assure you if Scottish exporters can’t get their product to market next week, we will be at the gates of Westminster and we will be dumping our shellfish on your doorstep, rotten.”
Johnson’s judgement on Trump questioned
More criticism this morning for Boris Johnson’s comments at the liaison committee on Wednesday – when the the PM stood by his claim that Donald Trump potentially deserved to win the Nobel Peace Prize.
Asked by MPs on the liaison committee about his over-the-top praise for Trump, Johnson said it vital to have “the best possible relationship with the president of the United States”.
Labour’s shadow justice secretary David Lammy said his remark about the peace prize “tells you all you need to know about our prime minister’s judgement”.
German logistics giant suspends shipments to UK
More Brexit problems. The German logistics giant DB Schenker has suspended shipments from the EU to UK indefinitely – citing “significant problems” with customs red tape.
In a statement the company said it “has been forced to put a temporarily hold on the acceptance of new consignments for shipment” to the UK.
Only around 10 per cent of goods DB Schenker had been asked to ship to the UK since Brexit have been accompanied with accurate customs forms, according to Bloomberg.
PM warned against damaging relations with Biden over NI Protocol
Boris Johnson has been condemned for suggesting he might trigger Article 16 of the Northern Ireland Protocol if it became necessary to stop supermarkets running short of food – as he attacked the “absurd” bureaucracy his own deal had created.
Article 16 allows the EU or the UK to “unilaterally take appropriate safeguard measures” if its application leads to serious economic difficulties.
But Tory MP Simon Hoare warned Joe Biden wouldn’t like it. “It would do huge damage to the Good Friday Agreement … and damage the relationship between our country and the US.”
Fisheries minister admits too ‘busy’ to read Brexit deal
The UK’s fisheries minister admitted she had been too busy with her Christmas plans to bother reading the Brexit fishing deal when it was published last month. Victoria Prentis told a Lords committee she had been “very busy organising the local nativity trail”.
The SNP want Prentis trailing out the door – the party has demanded her resignation. But a No 10 spokesperson said Mr Johnson has confidence in her.