On Monday, the UK’s Brexit minister said Britain plans to extend post-Brexit grace periods on some goods imports to Northern Ireland in a move to provide London and Brussels with more time to find a long-term resolution on trade with the province. A trade deal between the two sides came into force on December 31, 2020, and saw the Britain agree to leave some EU rules in place in Northern Ireland and accept checks on goods arriving there from elsewhere in the UK. But a bitter war of words has broken out, particularly around the implementation of the Northern Ireland Protocol – the UK insists the arrangement isn’t viable and wants it changed, while the EU is rejecting any hope of the treaty being renegotiated.
Lord Frost said the UK would be extending the current grace periods to “provide space for potential further discussions” with the EU over possible reforms to the Protocol.
But fears are increasing in Ireland, with a senior Government official noting the statement from Lord Frost made no mention of a delay from the British to its own scrutiny of EU imports.
The official told Politico: “It’s our clear understanding that the British intend to delay introduction of some or all checks originally planned to go live at U.K. ports on October 1.
“This could be seen as a quid pro quo for their failure to introduce new measures on GB trade to Northern Ireland by that date.
“We expect to hear something along these lines, officially, in the coming week.”
Britain is crucial to Ireland as it is its top agri-food export market, and trade will almost definitely be impacted once the UK’s port controls on EU imports kick into gear.
The Irish official added: “The reality is that any delay to the introduction of full border regulations on exports to Britain will be overwhelmingly welcomed by businesses here because Britain is such a fundamentally important market for Ireland.”
Earlier in the day, Ireland’s deputy Prime Minister Leo Varadkar had said following talks with UK Cabinet minister Michael Gove, he expects the UK to delay its own imposition of trade barriers on EU imports to Britain as part of its extension to the grace periods.
But a UK Government official hit back: “Our position hasn’t changed on that,” adding they didn’t understand Mr Varadkar “making that link, they’re not really related issues at all”.
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8.05am update: London targets New York with five-year financial plan
London could unseat New York as the world’s top international financial centre within five years if Britain eases taxes on banks and make it easier to hire staff from abroad.
This is according to a strategy paper financial and professional services lobby TheCityUK the country’s key financial hub looks to recoup ground lost following Britain’s departure from the EU.
Britain’s departure from the EU effectively closed London off from its biggest financial services customer, significantly increasing the pressure for it tio catch up.
There are already plans afoot from the UK Government to increase the competitiveness of London’s capital market, and the latest paper from TheCityUK sets a five-year target for the capital to “out-compete its rivals” by amending tax, visa and other rules.
The total tax rate for a London bank is 46.5 percent – 13 percent higher than a bank based in New York.
But as the UK economy bounced back from the Covid pandemic, it may be challenging to convince the Government to cut taxes on finance.
7.50am update: Brexit breakthrough: UK freed from timid EU as new global deal lined up to take on Putin
Brexit Britain is being urged to strengthen its transatlantic alliances and engage in an initiative that will counter the growing influence of Moscow and Beijing in global affairs.
The Three Seas Initiative (3SI) is an economic forum in Eastern Europe that involves 12 EU countries and is designed to promote regional dialogue on shared policy issues.
A new report released this week by Brexiteer and Shrewsbury MP Daniel Kawczynski said 3SI would an “attractive proposition” and a “great opportunity” for the UK to engage with European partners in a post-Brexit world.
The 3SI region covers nearly 30 percent of the EU’s territory which is home to over 112 million people across the 12 participating states which include Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia and Estonia.
Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia are also members.
The report says the 3SI needs “significant political and economic support” from other world leaders with the US currently being a major external partner.
Mr Kawczynski argued engaging with the bloc would “counter the growing influence of Moscow and Beijing in the region in the context of energy security and infrastructure investments.”