Brexit: Boris Johnson refuses to rule out UK and EU failing to strike trade deal by end of 2020 – live news

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Follow all today’s political developments as they happen

11.25am GMT

A slightly curious feud between No 10 and Good Morning Britain (GMB), ITV’s breakfast programme, has escalated after host Piers Morgan rang Boris Johnson’s head of communications to protest at the PM giving an interview to the BBC rather than them.

The tension dates back to the election, when GMB sent a camera crew to Pudsey in West Yorkshire to ambush Johnson on an early-morning campaign visit to a dairy company after being denied an interview. Johnson escaped into a fridge, although Downing Street aides insisted he was not hiding.

We’ve just found out that you’ve betrayed us and given another interview with Boris to BBC Breakfast, and you’ve also banned all your cabinet from coming on the show. So we’re going to play games with you too. I’m going to ring you live on air every day that I’m here until you stop this pathetic, childish behaviour, and you start honouring your promises. So good morning Lee, have a good day.

11.22am GMT

Before Christmas Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s first minister, formally wrote to Boris Johnson requesting a section 30 order – permission under section 30 of the Scotland Act for Scotland to hold a referendum on independence. She enclosed with her letter a 38-page report (pdf) published by the Scottish government explaining why the Scottish government believes a second referendum is justified.

In his letter Johnson rejects the request – not just for now (which was the line used by Theresa May when she rejected Sturgeon first request for a second independence referendum after the Brexit vote), or until the next Holyrood elections in 2021 (the line used by Jeremy Corbyn in the general election). He rejects it for the foreseeable future, on the grounds that Scotland settled this matter in the 2104 referendum.

You and your predecessor made a personal promise that the 2014 independence referendum was a “once in a generation” vote …

The UK government will continue to uphold the democratic decision of the Scottish people and the promise that you made to them. For that reason, I cannot agree to any request for a transfer of power that would lead to further independence referendums.

Today I have written to Nicola Sturgeon. The Scottish people voted decisively to keep our United Kingdom together, a result which both the Scottish and UK Governments committed to respect.

Let’s make 2020 a year of growth and opportunity for the whole of the UK

11.00am GMT

These are from my colleague Lisa O’Carroll on Boris Johnson’s interview, and what he said about Brexit. (See 10.03am.)

Re Boris Johnson i/v- there is a technical reason why a ‘comprehensive’ deal epically unlikely by end of year. If it’s a “mixed agreement” which involves EU and national law member states have to ratify the deal, not just Commission. If its within EC “competency” they don’t.

The political declaration suggests a mixed agreement is the aspiration. Here’s the Institute for Government’s comments on this pt in report (see screen grab below) and wider story from yesterday.

10.56am GMT

John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, has said that it would be a mistake for the government to cut air passenger duty to help the regional airline Flybe. This option is being considered. But McDonnell said in a statement:

Bailing out a company through a tax cut across the industry is not the way forward. Working with the company and unions, the government should look at targeted assistance to support routes judged on economic, environmental and social grounds.

10.03am GMT

That was Boris Johnson’s first interview of 2020, and his first extensive broadcast interview since the general election. It wasn’t one for the history books, it wasn’t over-forensic, and perhaps the main takeaway is that Johnson has just as prone to using bluster, evasion and hyperbole when faced with difficult questions as he was before he went on his New Year holiday. Still, he was not untruthful in the way that he was yesterday, when talking about post-Brexit GB/NI trade in his press conference in Northern Ireland, and he covered quite a lot of ground, giving sometimes interesting answers.

Here are the main points.

I want to see crime come down. I want to see the county lines drugs gangs wound up, rolled up. They are reducing the quality of life for people across our country, they are killing young kids. I want to see that thing totally wound up.

It is one of my least favourite subjects, because we need to move on.

I think it’s very likely. I’m not going to give you a percentage.

Enormously likely, how about that? Epically likely … Obviously you always have to budget for a complete failure of common sense. That goes without saying. But I am very, very, very confident – three verys there – that we will get [a deal].

Well, it’s not for government to step in and save companies that simply run into trouble. But be in no doubt that we see the importance of Flybe in delivering connectivity across the whole United Kingdom. It’s very important, for instance, where I was yesterday in Northern Ireland.

I can’t go into commercially confident discussions … We’re working very hard to do what we can. But obviously people will understand that there are limits commercially to what a government can do to rescue any particular firm.

But what we will do is ensure that we have the regional connectivity that this country needs, and that is part of our agenda of uniting and levelling up.

The British public deserve to have access to the best possible technology. I’ve talked about infrastructure and technology. We want to put in gigabit broadband for everybody.

Now if people oppose one brand or another, then they have to tell us what’s the alternative.

I happen to have to read it, and I think that after all that awful clamour in the election campaign people are going to be disappointed. But, anyway, it will appear.

We will bring forward a plan this year and we will get it done within this parliament. This is a big, big thing. I mean, this is a potentially massive change in the way we fund social care, and we’ve got to get it right.

We have got to think very carefully about how we do it because there are lots of quite important moral and social issues contained in it.

I think that it’s right that we made the appeal for extradition … I think the chances of America actually responding by sending Anne Sacoolas to this country are very low. That’s not what they do.

I was not in this country but I worked very hard, as you can imagine, in making sure there was a European response.

I’m glad the Iranians have accepted responsibility and identified it as an appalling mistake and it does appear that it was a mistake.

It is very important that the bodies are repatriated in a dignified way and that the families are allowed to grieve and to have closure.

If we are going to get rid of it then we need a replacement.

The problem with the JCPOA – this is the crucial thing, it’s why there is this tension – the problem with the agreement is that from the American perspective it’s a flawed agreement, it expires, plus it was negotiated by President Obama. From their point of view it has many, many faults.

In terms of the submarine, the submarine is crashing through the ice flows … the conning tower is emerging through the ice floes right now. Here I am talking to you. I gave two press conferences yesterday. I want to be as available as I possibly can.

But I do believe in cabinet government. I do believe in the strength of our cabinet, they’re a fantastically able bunch of people. I want them to be leading … I want people who who are excited about their work and want to deliver for the people of this country.

My view on this is very straightforward: I am a massive fan, like most of our viewers, of the Queen and the royal family as a fantastic asset for our country. I’m absolutely confident that they are going to sort this out.

But they are going to sort it out much more easily without a running commentary from politicians.

The bongs cost £500,000 but we’re working up a plan so people can bung a bob for a Big Ben bong because there are some people who want to.

Because Big Ben is being refurbished, they seem to have taken the clapper away, so we need to restore the clapper in order to bong Big Ben on Brexit night.

8.34am GMT

There were various news lines in that interview, but perhaps the most surprising line came when Johnson announced that he wanted to end county lines drug dealing. No one will question the merits of his ambition, but he is making a promise that will be very hard to deliver.

This is what he said on the topic.

I want to see crime come down. I want to see the county lines drugs gangs wound up, rolled up. They are reducing the quality of life for people across our county, they are killing young kids. I want to see that thing totally wound up.

8.29am GMT

Q: Will Ann Secoulas, the US diplomat accused of killing Harry Dunn in a road accident, face justice?

Johnson says the US are unlikely to send her back to the UK. That is not what they do.

8.25am GMT

Q: Will you save Flybe?

Johnson says it is not for government to save companies that run into trouble.

8.24am GMT

Johnson says the national living wage has been increased.

8.24am GMT

Q: After the election you said you would work around the clock to retain the trust of people who voted Tory, especially in the north. What are you doing?

Johnson says there will be dramatic change in investment in the NHS.

8.22am GMT

Q: When you became PM, you said you had a plan for social care. Where is it?

Johnson says he is working on it.

8.20am GMT

Q: When will people see a difference to the NHS?

Johnson says this is his number one priority.

8.18am GMT

Q: There were stories in the papers at the weekend about you being a submarine PM – not hogging the limelight all the time.

Johnson dismisses the stories.

8.17am GMT

Q: Do you think Big Ben should bong for Brexit?

Johnson says that would cost £500,000.

8.16am GMT

Walker turns to Brexit.

Johnson says that is one of his least favourite subjects.

8.14am GMT

Q: Is there an issue with media intrusion in this country?

Johnson reverts to his answer about not wanting to interfer in the Harry/Meghan story.

8.13am GMT

Good morning. I’m Andrew Sparrow, taking over from Ben Quinn.

Boris Johnson is being interviewed now on BBC Breakfast by Dan Walker.

8.07am GMT

Good morning. British political life in 2020 continues to pick up a new pace today, starting later this morning with the first sit-down interview by the prime minister since the general election.

Fresh from his appearance in Northern Ireland where he basked in the feel-good moment of generated by deal paving the way for the resumption of power sharing at Storming, Boris Johnson will take questions from the BBC at Downing Street in a short while.

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Link : Brexit: Boris Johnson refuses to rule out UK and EU failing to strike trade deal by end of 2020 – live news



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