Brexit 5: Carrie, Cummings, Canada, Covid and Corbyn

Friday 13th, unlucky for some

Chief advisor to the Prime Minister and former director of the campaign to leave the European Union Dominic Cummings confirmed he would be leaving his role before Christmas before abruptly changing that to today, Friday 13th of November.  Former Chancellor Sajid Javid has reportedly been proposed as Boris Johnson’s new chief-of-staff. 

The news broke amid reports of infighting at No. 10, with senior advisor Lee Cain resigning after allegedly being blocked from the job of chief of staff by Boris Johnson’s fiancee Carrie Symonds and others in the PM’s inner circle. Ms Symonds was also rumoured to have been involved in Cummings swift exit.  

Leaders in the EU parliament blamed delays in the Brexit negotiations on the disruption, an allegation which Downing Street has denied, calling it a “chaotic situation”. The discussions are stalled on two issuesUK fishing waters and ensuring neither party has a competitive advantage in trade. 

A vaccine in the arm is worth two in the channel 

Hopes were raised that the year of COVID-19 may soon be coming to an end with pharmaceutical giants Pfizer and BioNTech announcing their vaccine trials for the virus had been 90% effective.  

While the news was welcomed across the government, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps was forced to deny that imports of the vaccine from Europe would not be affected by Brexit with Health Secretary Matt Hancock suggesting the doses could be flown in insteadThe UK’s transition period ends on the 1st of January and the government has ordered millions of doses of the vaccine, including some from Belgium.  

There has already been concern about long lorry queues at the border following the UK’s exit and the vaccine, which needs to be kept at minus 70 degrees Celsiusand cannot survive for long in normal fridges.  

A not so special relationship 

The announcement of Joe Biden as the next President of the United States was welcome news for many around the world but a possible thorn in the side of post-Brexit trade negotiations for UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson.  

The President-elect last year was reported to have called Mr Johnson the “physical and emotional clone of Donald Trump”, comments which, given Mr Biden’s history with Mr Trump, it is fair to assume were not meant as a compliment. 

President Trump was also a vocal supporter of Brexit, while President-elect Biden has criticised the UK’s handling of issues such as the Irish border saying: “Any trade deal between the U.S. and U.K. must be contingent upon respect for the [Good Friday] Agreement and preventing the return of a hard border.” 

Is it too late now to say sorry? 

Members of former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s shadow cabinet have called on Labour to issue a “full throated apology” for the party’s stance on Brexit during the last election. 

The suggestion was made in a report by former party chairman Ian Lavery and former elections chief Jon Trickett. They said backing a second referendum had negatively impacted Labour’s reputation with both Remain and Leave voters.  

The current Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer was also a strong advocate of a second referendum.

We’ll always have Ottawa…or not 

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Thursday that a post-Brexit trade deal between Canada and the UK should be finished before Christmas, claiming it was “easy” 

On the other hand, he went on to say that finalising the deal before January 1st might be a struggle as Britain did not “have the bandwith” to handle trade negotiations. 

Either way, Canada is the largest of 15 “EU deals” which need to be agreed post-Brexit and not doing so could risk expensive tariffs for the UK.  

The Whitehouse team are experts in the potential impact of Brexit, providing political consultancy and public affairs advice to a wide range of clients across the Member States of the European Union and the United Kingdom. More information about our Brexit experience can be found here, or, if you have any questions, please contact our Chair, Chris Whitehouse, at