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Brexit news live – Dominic Cummings' dramatic exit from No 10 will NOT affect trade talks, says minister

BREXIT guru Dominic Cummings’ dramatic exit will have no impact on crunch EU trade talks, Environment Secretary George Eustice said.

Speaking to Sky News's Sophy Ridge On Sunday, Mr Eustice said: "The negotiations have been led by David Frost from the beginning. He's got a very talented, experienced team of technical experts around him.

"He's led these negotiations from the start and obviously remains in place and continues to do so.

"So I don't actually think the departure of Dominic Cummings makes any impact on the negotiations, since Lord Frost has been leading those."

Mr Eustice said next week is "a week when things need to move" for the UK and EU to agree to a trade deal.

Follow our Brexit live blog for all the latest news and updates…

 

  • Patrick Knox

    DOWNING STREET DEPARTURES WILL HAVE NO IMPACT ON BREXIT TALKS, SAYS MINISTER

    The dramatic exit of Boris Johnson's senior adviser Dominic Cummings will have no impact on crucial Brexit negotiations, Environment Secretary George Eustice said.

    Speaking to Sky News's Sophy Ridge On Sunday, Eustice said: “The negotiations have been led by David Frost from the beginning. He's got a very talented, experienced team of technical experts around him.

    “He's led these negotiations from the start and obviously remains in place and continues to do so.

    “So I don't actually think the departure of Dominic Cummings makes any impact on the negotiations, since Lord Frost has been leading those.”

    Eustice said next week is “a week when things need to move” for the UK and EU to agree to a trade deal.

  • Patrick Knox

    FORMER UK PM SAYS BIDEN’S ELECTION HAS ‘MADE ALL THE DIFFERENCE’

    Gordon Brown was speaking from his home in Fife to BBC's Andrew Marr.

    Asked how the departure of Dominic Cummings would affect the Brexit talks, he said: “I think the arrival of Joe Biden has made all the difference.

    “I see a trade deal coming pretty soon. The Government simply cannot afford to be at war with America on the one hand and Europe on the other at the start of the new year.”

  • Patrick Knox

    BREXIT TALKS MUST HAVE BREAKTHROUGH THIS WEEK

    There has to be a breakthrough in Brexit talks this week, a top British minister said today ahead of the expiry of Britain's transition deal with the European Union on December 31.

    Britain and the EU are struggling to agree the terms of their future relationship in trade and other areas.

    Without a deal in place, they face the risk of disruption to just under £1 trillion worth of trade from import tariffs and tougher rules.

    British environment secretary George Eustice told Sky News on Sunday: “This needs to be a week when things move, when we break through some of these difficult issues and get a resolution and at least have some sort of headlines, if you like, of an agreement,”

    He added: “Otherwise, it gets quite difficult and we do start to run out of time to implement it.”

  • Patrick Knox

    ‘VERY DIFFICULT, BUT VERY DOABLE’ — IRISH FOREIGN MINISTER

    Irish foreign minister Simon Coveney told Sky News's Sophy Ridge On Sunday: “We really have to try and find a way of coming up with a compromise on fish that both sides can live with.

    “And we need to try and dial down the language on this because it is very easy to become emotive.

    “I think I would sum it up by saying this is very difficult, but, it's also very doable.

    “And I think the consequences of not getting a trade deal and a future relationship deal… before the end of the year, I think is very significant.”

  • Patrick Knox

    DO I NEED TO RENEW MY PASSPORT BEFORE I TRAVEL THIS YEAR?

    The UK is preparing to leave the EU Customs Union and Single Market on December 31, with the transition period of Brexit ending on January 1, 2021.

    Here is everything you need to know about your passport, including whether you will need to renew it.

    Brits do not have to renew their passport before travelling to Europe in 2020, as long as it remains in date.

    Brits are being urged to check their passports, however, with many expected to have expired during lockdown with renewals taking much longer than usual.

  • Patrick Knox

    FEW SMALLER FIRMS BELIEVE BREXIT WILL HELP THEIR RECOVERY, STUDY SUGGESTS

    Only a handful of smaller firms in England believe that leaving the EU will have a positive effect on their economic recovery, new research suggests.

    Just 3 per cent of 400 small to medium-sized manufacturers (SMEs) in England said Brexit will help their business.

    Uncertainty is still holding many management teams back, with half admitting they have no idea how the transition out of the EU will affect their business, according to the study by the South West Manufacturing Advisory Service (SWMAS) and the Manufacturing Growth Programme.

    Almost two-thirds of respondents said they are still trading below pre-pandemic levels, while more than a quarter feel it will take between one and five years to get back to normal.

  • Patrick Knox

    BREXIT PLAYING PART IN HOUSE PRICE DIP

    The average price tag on a home is around £1,500 lower this month than a record high reached in October, according to a website.

    Bruce King, director of Cheffins in Saffron Walden, said: “Political uncertainty, Brexit and the first lockdown period caused many who were considering moving to sit on the fence.”

    But he said the announcement of the stamp duty holiday was the trigger for many of these to bite the bullet and get on with moving house.

  • Patrick Knox

    PM TO SHORE UP SUPPORT OF TORY BACKBENCHERS AFTER BREXIT GURU CUMMINGS’ EXIT

    Boris Johnson will attempt to reassert control over his Government by meeting with concerned Conservatives following a power struggle which saw two of his closest aides leave Downing Street.

    Chief adviser Dominic Cummings exited Number 10 amid claims he had briefed against Mr Johnson and the Prime Minister's fiancee Carrie Symonds.

    His departure followed the resignation of Lee Cain as communications chief earlier this week.

    The Sunday Times reported the PM will “attempt to get his premiership back on track” by establishing a policy board that will appeal to northern working class voters who helped Mr Johnson win last year's general election.

    The paper said the group will be chaired by the MP Neil O'Brien, who helped former chancellor George Osborne devise the northern powerhouse, and added Mr Johnson will meet the Northern Research Group of MPs on Monday to listen to their concerns.

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    CUMMINGS MAY RETALIATE WITH 'EXPLOSIVE STUNT' AFTER PM OUSTED HIM 'OVER UNFLATTERING TEXTS ABOUT CARRIE SYMONDS'

    Dominic Cummings may retaliate with an “explosive stunt” government insiders claimed today – amid reports he was ousted by the PM over unflattering texts about Carrie Symonds.

    The Prime Minister is claimed to have ordered the senior adviser to leave after being made aware of messages that had been sent about his fiancée.

    It was claimed this week by the Telegraph that Cummings' crew of “Brexit Boys” had seen them refer to Ms Symonds as “Princess Nuts Nuts” behind her back.

    And Mr Cummings was last night sent packing after a showdown with the PM – seen again leaving his home in London this morning and refusing to comment.

    But sources today told the Financial Times they did not expect the top adviser to go quietly.

    One told the newspaper: “I won't be surprised if there's an explosive stunt between now and Christmas.”

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    RECAP – BREXTENSION

    Brexit talks will sail past this week's deadline for a deal as negotiators haggle over SIX HUNDRED pages of legal text.

    Trade negotiations with the European look set to go to the wire with both sides unwilling to budge on testy issues of red tape and fishing.

    Both sides privately admit this week’s target for a deal will be missed and talks will have to continue into next week and even beyond.

    But the EU had previously set a date for the end of this week for a breakthrough after Boris Johnson’s deadline demand of last month was also ignored.

    The delay risks legal hell on both sides as both the British and EU Parliaments must ratify any deal in a process that can take weeks – before it comes into force on the 1 January 2021.

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    CONTINUED

    The vicious attacks on Carrie were angrily rebuffed by No 10 as “grossly unfair” yesterday.

    A source said: “She’s a young mother, who has been through the trauma of her partner’s battle for life against Covid and is trying to raise a young son who is barely six months old in the pressure cooker of Downing Street.”

    Team Cummings claims Carrie, 32, rules the roost and calls the PM by phone from the No 10 flat about 20 times a day.

    But this was again fiercely denied by Downing Street.

    For months, Carrie — a former government adviser before becoming Tory communications chief — has been expressing concerns about Mr Cummings’s treatment of young colleagues.

    But she went “absolutely wild” when Boris told her he was considering making Lee Cain — a Cummings loyalist — his chief of staff.

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    'ALL ABOUT CARRIE'

    Carrie Symonds is using her “first lady” role to become a modern-day Princess Diana, allies of Dominic Cummings claimed last night.

    They believe her desire for the public spotlight ignited the row which led to the PM losing his most senior aide.

    Close pals of Cummings accused Boris Johnson’s fiancée of running her own personal fiefdom inside 10 Downing Street.

    One said: “She’s having more and more influence in decision making, as the week has shown. She’s not content with being the power behind the throne, she wants to sit on it.

    “Carrie wants to be a new Princess Di character. She’s already got her own spin doctor and own team of people and seems to think she is the most important person in No 10.

    “It’s all about the court of Carrie. She’s not helping Boris at all. Everything she does is about her and not him.”

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    WHAT WAS DOMINIC CUMMINGS SALARY?

    Special advisers working in the cabinet are usually paid directly by the Government.

    Mr Cummings was considered a civil servant, appointed under Article 3 of the Civil Service Order in Council in 1995.

    The divisive figure's annual salary was £95,000 to £99,999, according to details published in the government’s annual report on special advisers in 2019.

    But he was not the highest paid adviser on the Downing Street payroll.

    Sir Lee Cain, Sir Ed Lister, and Munira Mirza reportedly took a top salary of between £140,000 and £145,000 per year.

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    RECAP – NOT GIVING IN

    Boris Johnson is on track for a Brexit defeat in the House of Lords TODAY over the controversial internal markets bill.

    Peers will vote on the legislation, which ministers have said breaks international law, by overriding critical clauses in the agreement already hashed out between the PM and the EU.

    The House of Lords is expected to vote this evening to scrap parts of the new Brexit laws, which seek to overwrite elements of the Withdrawal Agreement designed to avoid a hard border with Ireland.

    Earlier this year, Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis admitted the new rules break international law in a “very specific and limited way”.

    It means the UK would openly break the rules laid out in the Withdrawal Agreement inked last year.

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    WHO IS DOMINIC CUMMINGS' WIFE MARY WAKEFIELD?

    Mary Wakefield is the commissioning editor of The Spectator magazine as well as the wife of Dominic Cummings, the Prime Minister's most senior adviser.

    Her father is Sir Humphrey Wakefield – a baronet and expert on antiques and architecture who owns Chillingham Castle in Northumberland.

    She met Cummings through her brother Jack Wakefield.

    The couple married in 2011.

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    RECAP – BIDEN BREXIT BOTHER

    Britain risks its first row with Joe Biden by saying he does not understand the bid to ditch the EU divorce deal.

    The Environment Secretary says the US President-elect is wrong to claim the Government’s Internal Market Bill threatens peace in Northern Ireland.

    Peers overwhelmingly backed moves to throw out clauses that would breach international law by disregarding parts of the last year’s Withdrawal Agreement.

    But the PM has vowed to keep the clauses and plough on with the contentious legislation.

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    CONTINUED

    It poses a major challenge to the PM were he to pursue an extension to the current Covid lockdown in England or any further shutdowns.

    And crucially it would mean he would need to pass any future lockdown decision on the back of Labour votes – a move that could be disastrous for his leadership of the Tory party.

    The CRG has experienced politicians leading the group, with former Government chief whip Mark Harper and the Brexit rebel ringleader Steve Baker in charge.

    Writing in the Daily Telegraph, Mr Harper said: “The country is badly in need of a different and enduring strategy for living with the virus that doesn’t require us to keep living under a series of damaging lockdowns and seemingly arbitrary restrictions.

    “Lockdowns and restrictions cause immense economic, social and non-Covid health damage.…At the moment, the cure we’re prescribing runs the very real risk of being worse than the disease, and it’s important that we base all our decisions as a country on informed scientific, economic and health data.”

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    RECAP – LOCK 3 FIGHT

    Dozens of Tory MPs last night launched a new group aimed at blocking a third national lockdown.

    Boris Johnson has insisted England's current lockdown will end on December 2 but has refused to rule out the prospect of extending it or imposing another one at a later date.

    And his medical and scientific advisers on SAGE have suggested rolling lockdowns may be needed throughout the next few months.

    But 50 Tory MPs have signed up to the new anti-lockdown Covid Recovery Group (CRG), according to the Daily Telegraph.

    And a further 45 Tory MPs are said to be considering joining after signing up to a WhatsApp group to coordinate anti-lockdown strategy.

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    CONTINUED

    EU chiefs last night set No 10 a seven day deadline to clinch a deal before the bloc's leaders deliver their final verdict at a “crucial” gathering.

    But there is scepticism in London of that target being hit.

    Ireland's foreign minister Simon Coveney warned there will be “real problems” if an agreement isn't found in time for next Thursday's video summit.

    And he urged Brussels negotiator Michel Barnier to “show some compromise to accommodate many British asks” in the last leg of the talks.

    But in return Mr Coveney said the UK would have to accept strong fair competition rules and a middle-ground solution on fishing.

    Boris Johnson stressed again today that there is a deal there to be done” and “we are keen to do it.”

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    RECAP – BREXIT DEADLINE TO BE MISSED THIS WEEK AS NEGOTIATORS HAGGLE OVER 600 PAGES OF LEGAL TEXT

    Brexit talks will sail past this week's deadline for a deal as negotiators haggle over SIX HUNDRED pages of legal text.

    Trade negotiations with the European look set to go to the wire with both sides unwilling to budge on testy issues of red tape and fishing.

    Both sides privately admit this week’s target for a deal will be missed and talks will have to continue into next week and even beyond.

    But the EU had previously set a date for the end of this week for a breakthrough after Boris Johnson’s deadline demand of last month was also ignored.

    The delay risks legal hell on both sides as both the British and EU Parliaments must ratify any deal in a process that can take weeks – before it comes into force on the 1 January 2021.

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    CHARLES TO URGE UK AND GERMANY TO 'REAFFIRM OUR BOND' IN SPEECH AT BUNDESTAG

    The Prince of Wales will urge nations to confront intolerance and bigotry head-on and make striving for a “better tomorrow” their “common cause” during a ceremony marking Germany's National Day of Mourning.

    In a speech at the Bundestag on Sunday, Charles is also expected to call on Britain and Germany to “reaffirm” their bond as the two nations “begin this new chapter in our long history”.

    The heir to the throne's comments will come as the UK's talks on a post-Brexit trade deal with the EU look set to go to the wire.

    The prince will also say that the global crises of the coronavirus pandemic and climate change “demand” that Britain and Germany “act together”.

    Charles and his wife the Duchess of Cornwall will become the first members of the royal family to attend Germany's remembrance ceremony in Berlin on Sunday – the couple's first joint official overseas visit since the start of the pandemic.

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    CUMMINGS 'WANTED TO LEAVE IMAGE' WITH DOWNING STREET EXIT, SAYS DAVID DAVIS

    Dominic Cummings' exit from Downing Street while holding a large box was “entirely deliberate” as he wanted to “leave an image”, former Brexit secretary David Davis has claimed.

    Conservative MP Mr Davis said the senior adviser could have left Number 10 through less visible exits, but instead chose to walk out in front of the waiting press.

    Images of Prime Minister Boris Johnson's right-hand man leaving Downing Street on Friday have featured heavily across national newspaper front pages.

    Speaking to BBC Breakfast on Saturday, Mr Davis said: “Almost certainly Dominic decided he was going to leave an image. That would have been entirely deliberate.

    “Just so your viewers know, he could have walked out the back door, which is almost sort of underground, not visible, or he could have walked out of the entrance out of Whitehall. Out of the Cabinet Office. Either would have been possible.

    “He chose to leave that image walking out with a box. He could have perfectly well put his coffee mug or whatever else was in it into his rucksack, but he didn't.”

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    TICKING TIME DOM

    Dominic Cummings may retaliate with an “explosive stunt” government insiders claimed today – amid reports he was ousted by the PM over unflattering texts about Carrie Symonds.

    The Prime Minister is claimed to have ordered the senior adviser to leave after being made aware of messages that had been sent about his fiancée.

    It was claimed this week by the Telegraph that Cummings' crew of “Brexit Boys” had seen them refer to Ms Symonds as “Princess Nuts Nuts” behind her back.

    And Mr Cummings was last night sent packing after a showdown with the PM – seen again leaving his home in London this morning and refusing to comment.

    But sources today told the Financial Times they did not expect the top adviser to go quietly.

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    WHAT WERE THE TEXTS ABOUT CARRIE SYMONDS?

    The turf war follows a bitter power struggle between aides and his fiancé Carrie Symonds.

    The Prime Minister is claimed to have ordered the senior adviser to leave after being made aware of messages that had been sent about his fiancée.

    It was claimed this week by the Telegraph that Cummings' crew of “Brexit Boys” had seen them refer to Ms Symonds as “Princess Nuts Nuts” behind her back.

    And Mr Cummings was last night sent packing after a showdown with the PM – seen again leaving his home in London this morning and refusing to comment.

    Yet the PM sensationally banished the guru and his long time spin doctor Lee Cain – a move heralded by senior Tories last night as Boris “taking back control of his premiership”.  

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    WHAT WAS DOMINIC CUMMINGS' SALARY?

    Special advisers working in the cabinet are usually paid directly by the Government.

    Mr Cummings was considered a civil servant, appointed under Article 3 of the Civil Service Order in Council in 1995.

    The divisive figure's annual salary was £95,000 to £99,999, according to details published in the government’s annual report on special advisers in 2019.

    But he was not the highest paid adviser on the Downing Street payroll.

    Sir Lee Cain, Sir Ed Lister, and Munira Mirza reportedly took a top salary of between £140,000 and £145,000 per year.

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