Finish line in sight
David Frost, the UK’s Chief Brexit Negotiator, said he was aiming to have a deal with the European Union by the end of September. He will be going into a seventh round of negotiations with his EU counterpart Michel Barnier next week, with issues such as fisheries, law enforcement and trade all on the agenda.
Mr Frost said on Twitter, “As we keep saying, we are not looking for a special or unique agreement. We want a deal with, at its core, an FTA like those the EU has agreed with other friendly countries, like Canada.”
UK in recession
The UK is officially in recession for the first time in over a decade it was announced on Wednesday. The economy shrunk 20.4% between April and June, the worst slump out of all the major European economies and the deepest UK recession on record.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak insisted that despite the situation being “unprecedented”, his office was committed to “keep doing everything we can to protect people’s jobs at what is a very difficult and uncertain time.”
Others were less optimistic, with former MP Vince Cable writing that uncertainty around coronavirus and Brexit meant “there could be worse to come.”
Ben, Jerry Boris and Priti walk into an ice cream shop
The Home Secretary was drawn into a row this week when ice cream giant Ben and Jerry’s tweeted to criticise her response to refugees entering the UK. After Ms Patel called on the Navy to take action in the Channel against people attempting the crossing from France, the Ben and Jerry’s UK Twitter account tweeted: “Hey @PritiPatel we think the real crisis is our lack of humanity for people fleeing war, climate change and torture.”
Increased media coverage around asylum seekers in the Channel prompted Prime Minister Boris Johnson to say he was considering changes to the law after leaving the EU. As it stands Britain is bound by EU legislation, including the so-called Dublin regulation whereby a person’s asylum claim can be transferred to the first EU member state they entered but only within a certain time limit. A spokesperson for the Prime Minister claimed these time limits were often abused to prevent refugees from being returned. He said Mr Johnson wanted to put new rules in place after the transition period ends in December.
Simply not cricket
New Zealand’s Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters expressed his frustration at the lack of progress in post-Brexit trade talks, calling the UK “not match-fit” for negotiations. He went on to elaborate, “They’ve never had a test, so to speak. It’s like coming into an Ashes contest when you haven’t played for 30 years.” Mr Peters asserted that New Zealand as a nation had always, “had to look offshore”, while the UK’s 47-year membership of the European Union meant they had never been required to do so.
A spokesperson for the British Department of International Trade described the first round of talks in July as “positive and productive”. A second round of discussions is scheduled to take place in October.
Stalling over stilton
Trade talks between the UK and Japan stalled earlier in the week due to an unlikely offender, Stilton. International Trade Secretary Liz Truss is reportedly seeking a better deal for British blue cheese, although the push is likely to be symbolic as sales to Japan were only worth £102,000 last year.
The two countries are trying to agree on what a post-Brexit trade deal between them will look like and have said they aim to finish discussions by the end of August. While the final agreement is likely to look similar to the existing EU–Tokyo accord, Japan has insisted that Britain cannot be as ambitious given that the country is a smaller market.
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