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Brexit negotiations have resumed this week between the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier and the UK’s David Frost. However, tensions have been high among senior Government officials due to controversial legislation which would change the Withdrawal Agreement.
This controversial legislation is due to be published today and would override elements of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal with Brussels and breach international law.
Downing Street had said the changes in the Internal Market Bill were “limited clarifications” to protect the Northern Ireland peace process if a deal was not reached with the EU.
MPs vented their frustration when Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis confirmed on Tuesday the legislation would breach international law in a “very specific and limited way”.
The Bill, which will be tabled on Wednesday afternoon, is intended to ensure Northern Ireland can remain with unrestricted access to markets in the rest of the UK.
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Mr Lewis said the powers the Government were taking would allow ministers to “dis-apply” the EU legal concept of “direct effect” – which needs the enforcement of EU law – in “certain, very tightly defined circumstances”.
The admission saw Conservative former prime minister Theresa May warn the Government was in danger of losing the trust of other countries in regards to its international agreements.
Labour described the admission as “absolutely astonishing”, with opposition leader Sir Keir Starmer urging Mr Johnson not to “reopen old wounds” and to instead “get a deal, move on and concentrate on defeating (coronavirus)”.
The row erupted as the pound plunged against the US dollar amid fears Mr Johnson’s chances of securing a post-Brexit free trade deal with the EU were diminishing.
But what will the border look like post-Brexit?
In July, a £705 million plan was announced to help manage Britain’s borders post-Brexit.
The funding includes up to £470m to build port and inland infrastructure, and £235m will be allocated for IT systems and staffing.
The money for IT and staffing includes:
- £100m to develop HM Revenue and Customs systems to reduce the burden on traders
- £20m on new equipment
- £15m towards building new data infrastructure to improve border flow and management
- £10m to recruit around 500 more Border Force staff
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Mr Gove said in July: “With or without further agreement with the EU, this £705m will ensure that the necessary infrastructure, tech and border personnel are in place so that our traders and the border industry are able to manage the changes and seize the opportunities as we lay the foundations for the world’s most effective and secure border.”
The plans see new border posts created inland in order to manage the extra checks which will be required upon entry to the UK.
The border plan will come into force in three parts which will be implemented across January, April and July.
From January 1, businesses who import “standard goods” will have to fill out customs declarations and pay any necessary tariffs.
Standard goods include items like clothes and electronics.
These traders have six months to fill out customs declarations and tariffs can be deferred until this time.
However, if businesses are importing controlled or excised goods, such as alcohol and tobacco, will have to submit customs declarations and pay tariffs immediately.
From April, any business which imports animal products, like eggs, meat, milk honey, will have to fill out health forms before any such items arrive.
Then, in-person checks will take place at the point of destination.
Finally, from July, entire customs declarations will have to be completed by businesses at “the point of importation” and relevant tariffs paid immediately.
You can continue to travel to the EU as usual during the transition period. This ends on December 31, 2020.
From 1 January 2021 there will be new rules to travel to the EU, or to Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein.
On the day you travel, you’ll need your passport to both:
- have at least six months left
- be less than 10 years old (even if it has six months or more left)
Travellers outside of the UK should get travel insurance, as your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) will be valid up to December 31, 2020.
You may need extra travel documents, an international driving permit or a green card for driving in other countries from January 1, 2021.
To see more, visit the Government’s Brexit transition website here.
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