Brexit news – live: ‘Unbelievable mayhem’ coming to Dublin port as lorries already turned away at UK border

Brexit Briefing: The end of the transition period Lorries bound for Ireland from the UK have already fallen foul of the news customs arrangements imposed on Britain following its exit from the European Union this week.  Ferry operator Stena Line said on Friday it had turned away six lorries headed for Dublin because drivers did "not have the correct references". 

While traffic remained light around Dover and the Channel Tunnel rail link, president of the Irish Road Haulage Association Eugene Drennan warned over delays inevitably coming to Dublin port. "There will be delays, for sure," Mr Drennan told The Times. "The mayhem that's coming in Dublin port is unbelievable." It comes as Tory grandee Lord Heseltine called on pro-Europeans to "fight back" and launch a political campaign to rejoin the EU.

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Williamson under growing pressure to keep all schools in England closed

Gavin Williamson is coming under intensifying pressure to delay the reopening of all schools in England as one of the country's largest education unions hit out at what they described as ministers' "reckless" strategy. On Saturday, a series of unions issued statements calling for an immediate switch to remote learning - just days before primary schools outside London are set to reopen their doors after the Christmas holidays.

Following an emergency meeting of its executive, the National Education Union said it would inform its members of their legal right not to return to classrooms in "unsafe conditions" amid fears over the new strain of Covid-19. Ashley Cowburn, The Independent's political correspondent, has more:  Tom Embury-Dennis2 January 2021 15:53

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Business minister 'offered to resign' in order to take on climate change post

UK Business Minister Alok Sharma offered to resign from his ministerial position in order to take on a full-time role preparing for the country's chairmanship of United Nations COP26 climate change summit, The Times reported on Saturday.

Alok Sharma, who is also president of this year's climate summit, has told Prime Minister Boris Johnson that he would rather give up his position as business minister than step down from his role in climate change envoy, the newspaper reported. In December, Johnson's office denied a report that he wanted his predecessor David Cameron to take over from Sharma as president of next year's UN COP26 climate change summit. Tom Embury-Dennis2 January 2021 15:24

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Opinion: We are a country going backwards with a leader who can't be trusted

There was a time, not that long ago, when it was considered a positive for a country to have a positive image abroad, writes former New Labour communications chief  Alastair Campbell. 

"Soft power" it is called, an intangible feeling about a place and its people that makes people worldwide want to go there to work and play, study, explore, holiday, invest, do business. The UK has consistently done well in "soft power". The four nations, and their many great cities, all have a role in that.

We are also surely blessed, for such a small country, in the range and scale of wondrous landscape and seascape, never more than a short ride away. Read more: Tom Embury-Dennis2 January 2021 15:07

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France praises nationality bid by British leader's dad

France's government cast a favourable light Friday on a reported bid by the father of prime minister Boris Johnson to take up French nationality, saying it shows how attached Britons are to the European Union that they're no longer part of.

Reports that Stanley Johnson is seeking to keep a foot in Europe by taking up French citizenship made headlines just as his son lead Britain's split Thursday from the EU.  Britain left the European bloc's vast single market for people, goods and services at 11pm London time on New Year's Eve. Read more:

Tom Embury-Dennis2 January 2021 14:47

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Teaching unions bring legal proceedings against government

The NAHT union has said it has brought preliminary steps in legal proceedings against the Department for Education, joined by the Association of School and College Leaders. The process covers a range of issues including the scientific advice the Government is drawing on as well as proposals for testing in schools. Paul Whiteman, general secretary of the NAHT, said: "We have asked the Government to share the evidence justifying distinctions drawn between primary and secondary schools, the geographical distinctions they have made and the evidence justifying the compulsory introduction of mass-testing."

The union said it is now waiting for the Government's response. Tom Embury-Dennis2 January 2021 14:27

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Opinion: What the future holds for politics in 2021

We all have to improvise in these unusual times. That applies to the Peter Mandelson Memorial Dim Sum Supper just as much as to any other venerable institution of the unwritten British constitution, writes John Rentoul. 

One of the great strengths of the constitution is that it can adapt in a crisis, so the participants in the supper were undaunted by the closure of restaurants. The dim sum deliberations proceeded without the dim sum. As with most politics, this year's proceedings took place over Zoom.

Just to preserve the spirit of the occasion, I cooked some duck gyoza from Itsu afterwards (recommended).   Read more: Tom Embury-Dennis2 January 2021 14:07

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Government under increasing pressure to delay reopening schools

The Government is facing increasing pressure from teaching unions to delay the reopening of all schools in England amid fears over the spread of the new strain of Covid-19.

The National Education Union (NEU) said all primary and secondary schools should remain closed for two weeks following the Christmas break, while the NASUWT has written to the Education Secretary calling for an "immediate nationwide move to remote education" for all pupils. On Friday, Gavin Williamson confirmed that all London primary schools will remain shut next week - rather than just those in certain boroughs as set out earlier in the week. But unions say extending that to all schools in England is "the only sensible and credible option".

General secretary of the NEU, Dr Mary Bousted, told BBC Breakfast: "The danger is that by opening schools as levels of infection are rising so high and are already so high amongst pupils, then we're not going to break that chain and our NHS will become overwhelmed so we said all schools should be closed for the first two weeks. "We regret to have to say that, we don't want to have to say the schools will close but our fear is if we don't do something now, they're going to have to be closed for a much longer period later on this month." Tom Embury-Dennis2 January 2021 13:47

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UK and EU agree 12-month grace period on rules of origin paperwork

UK companies exporting into the EU will not have to complete paperwork certifying that their goods are locally made until 2022, reducing the burden of red tape facing many industries.

The UK and EU have agreed the 12-month grace period on so-called rules of origin paperwork to give firms time to adapt to the new regime.   While companies will not have to fill in a mountain of extra forms, they must still abide by rules of origin during the grace period. That means goods must be locally sourced, or for have had sufficient work carried out on them in the UK.

The Independent's business correspondent, Ben Chapman, has more: Tom Embury-Dennis2 January 2021 13:31

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Conservative MP criticises Telegraph newspaper over Covid coverage

Neil O'Brien, Conservative MP for Harborough, Oadby and Wigston, has published a Twitter thread criticising a host of Telegraph articles which attempted to play down the coronavirus pandemic or called for easing of restrictions.  Responding to an opinion piece in the newspaper titled, "Let's admit what we got wrong in 2020, and shake things up in 2021", Mr O'Brien said: "Great idea.  I have some suggestions."

He proceeded to link to a series of articles which, shall we say, have not aged well now the UK is suffering from records numbers of cases and hospitalisations.  David Gauke, a former Conservative minister, later tweeted: "It is brave of a serving Conservative MP to make these points about the Telegraph's COVID coverage. But he's spot on."

Tom Embury-Dennis2 January 2021 13:08

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Johnson to lead public sector recruitment drive

Boris Johnson has said he wants to see a public sector recruitment bonanza in 2021 as the UK battles to see off the coronavirus pandemic. Government figures suggest the number of doctors and nurses rose last year but the Prime Minister said he wanted to go further in the coming 12 months. A Downing Street spokesman said that Mr Johnson is set to call on those looking for a job or a career change to consider frontline public sector roles in 2021.

More than one million jobs are thought to have been lost as a result of restrictions brought in to control the spread of coronavirus. As part of efforts to reach those affected by the jobs downturn, there is set to be a recruitment blitz in the coming months to encourage people to consider taking up frontline posts across the NHS, teaching and prisons. There will also be a specific television advertising drive for police officers, due to start on Tuesday January 5, across England and Wales.

Tom Embury-Dennis2 January 2021 12:52

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