Yesterday’s losses triggered outrage from Brexiteers who called for the abolition of the Upper Chamber – with one even accusing peers of “taking orders” from Guy Verhofstadt, the European Parliament’s Brexit representative, who visited the UK earlier this week. Politico’s Playbook bulletin said: “Today’s votes will include proposed amendments on the rights of refugee children and parliament’s involvement in Phase 2 of the Brexit talks. It follows three crashing defeats for the government last night on EU citizens’ rights and the independence of the courts. “It’s pretty clear, however, that No 10 is not going to back down on any of these issues – so expect all the Lords amendments to be overturned by the Commons later this week.”
Boris Johnson is facing further defeats in the Lords today
Mr Johnson’s legislation, which has already been ratified by the House of Commons, is now passing through the House of Lords, which is seeking a number of amendments.
Lords voted by 270 to 229 in favour of a change put forward by the Liberal Democrats to offer eligible EU citizens in Britain an automatic right to stay after Brexit, rather than having to apply to the government to do so.
They then voted, by 241 to 205, to delete powers allowing lower courts the power to overturn rulings of the European Court of Justice.
Finally, Lords passed an amendment which would permit cases to be referred to the Supreme Court to adjudicate on whether to depart from EU case law.
After the first loss, Laura Kuenssberg, the BBC’s political editor, tweeted: “There’s a moment – first defeat for Johnson’s govt – in the Lords over giving EU citizens physical documents to prove they have the right to live here after Brexit.”
Twitter user Jed responded: “Remove the House of Lords. 17.4 million people don’t want them.”
Express.co.uk reader Frederick later highlighted Mr Verhofstadt’s recent trip to London, during which he appeared on Radio 4’s flagship news programme Today.
He commented: “I was just thinking it was a big coincidence that he visits the UK and all of the sudden the Lords changes the bill exactly as he demanded.
“Looks like he was over here giving them their orders.”
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Sajid Javid is the last UK minister to attend a European Council meeting in Brussels
2.45pm update: Johnson pledges “regular” invitations for African leaders
Boris Johnson has vowed to invite African leaders to the UK “regularly” following the investment summit in London this week.
The Prime Minister made the pledge in a bilateral meeting with Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta at Downing Street, and said “a lot of progress” had been made during the talks.
Opening the UK-Africa Investment Summit in the Capital’s Docklands on Monday, Mr Johnson set out his post-Brexit trade pitch to African leaders with his vision to put “people before passports” as part of incoming plans for an Australian-style points-based immigration system.
The Conservative Party leader tempted premiers from across the continent with the UK’s financial and education systems, and took time to meet with the leaders of Rwanda, Ghana and Nigeria at the event.
In a continuation of bilateral meetings, the PM told Mr Kenyatta he wanted to hold the gathering of African leaders more often.
In their opening exchanges at Number 10, Mr Kenyatta said the conference had been “great”, adding: “That’s the first time in a very long time we have had, as Africans, this kind of exchange with the United Kingdom.”
The PM replied: “It is about time. We are going to do them regularly.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson with Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta at Downing Street
2.20pm update: Farage touts for cash to fund “Brexit celebration” on January 31
Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage has launched a fundraising drive ahead of his planned “Brexit Celebration” in Parliament Square on January 31, the day the UK will leave the EU.
In an email circulated to supporters, he said: “This will be a huge opportunity for the public to commemorate Brexit beside the building which is the centre of our sovereign, independent, democratic system. We’ve had loads of requests for music, light shows, mementos and more, and we’re trying to deliver.
“In fact, so many of you have indicated that you will attend that we’re looking into getting more screens!
“We want to put on the best show for you, but we can only do it with your support.
“So please consider donating – our recommended minimum of £10 or more if you can. We want to put on a fantastic show befitting our great nation.”
The House of Lords’ attempt to amend Boris Johnson’s Brexit legislation has triggered a furious reaction from Express.co.uk readers, who have branded the Upper House a “shambles” and a “travesty of democracy”, with many arguing it should be abolished.
And their calls have been backed by Brexiteer MP Daniel Kawczynski, who said the Lords needed to replaced by a legislature of elected senators – much like the United States – as well as pointing the finger at former Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg.
Despite last month’s emphatic general election victory, and the Withdrawal Agreement Bill’s safe passage through the House of Commons, Mr Johnson is still racing against the clock to deliver Brexit by January 31, and suffered three defeats in the Lords last night – with more losses anticipated today as peers seek to tack on further amendments.
The Lords backed a Liberal Democrat amendment offering eligible EU citizens in Britain an automatic right to stay after Brexit, rather than having to apply to the government to do so, by 270 to 229.
Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage
1.48pm update: Fourth defeat looms for Government
Ministers are bracing themselves for a fourth possible defeat in the Lords over Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal.
Peers inflicted three defeats on the Government on Monday night when debating the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill.
And the mauling looked set to continue later on Tuesday with a vote on Lord Dubs’ bid to restore the right of unaccompanied child refugees to be reunited with their families in the UK after Brexit.
The Labour peer, who fled the Nazis as a child on the Kindertransport, urged ministers not to use the small number of children involved as “bargaining chips” in negotiations.
He said the Government was seeking to delete earlier protections for child refugees in the EU (Withdrawal) Act 2018 but it was a simple matter of humanity to retain them.
1.37pm update: Britain wants EU relationship based on “friendly cooperation”, says PM’s spokesman
Britain wants a future relationship with the European Union to be based on friendly cooperation, the prime minister’s spokesman said on Tuesday when asked about a report suggesting London could be fined if it breaks the terms of a trade deal.
Earlier, the Financial Times said plans presented by the European Commission on Monday suggested that Britain could be fined or lose preferential access to the European market if it violated the terms of a future relationship deal.
1.05pm update: Retired Scottish doctor launches desperate last-ditch bid to block Brexit
A retired Scottish doctor has started the formal process of seeking Judicial Review of Brexit on January 31.
Dr Andrew Watt has sent Letters Before Claim dated January 7 and January 16 to the Treasury Solicitor and the Advocate General for Scotland.
In his Letters Before Claim, Dr Watt claims the United Kingdom cannot leave the European Union until at least January 2021, on the basis that the UK Government has failed to give notice under Article 127 of the European Economic Area Agreement.
Dr. Watt said: “The UK cannot lawfully leave the European Union on 31st January 2020.
“The UK Government has made a basic but far-reaching mistake.
“Before the United Kingdom can lawfully leave the European Union it must give notice of ‘at least 12 months’ as required by Article 127 of the European Economic Area Agreement.”
“Any attempt by the UK to leave the EU on 31st January 2020 will cause legal uncertainty and chaos which I call ‘Mayhem Brexit’.”
12.25pm update: Devolved administrations “must have input into negotiations”, says Lords
Peers have urged the Government to ensure the devolved administrations have an input into negotiations on the UK’s future relationship with the EU.
Ministers were told that guaranteeing their involvement and seeking consensus would strengthen the Union.
The call came as the House of Lords continued its scrutiny of Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal on which peers have already inflicted three defeats.
Speaking at report stage of the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill, which enables the UK to leave the EU on January 31, former Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd warned that measures were needed “otherwise the Union will be imperilled”.
After years of predicting Brexit doom and gloom the so-called economics experts at the International Monetary Fund have made a humbling U-turn and admitted post Brexit Britain will leave the rest of Europe in its wake.
The comprehensive reversal is doubly embarrassing as the wholly incorrect Project Fear-style catastrophe prediction was made by Christine Lagarde who is the new boss of the European Central Bank.
Ms Lagarde was IMF managing director when she made the cringingly bad prediction in 2016 on the eve of Brexit.
Her former colleagues at the IMF now admit she got it massively wrong and predict post Brexit Britain will leave the rest of Europe in its economic wake.
The embarrassing change in tone from predicting economic catastrophe in 2016 to predicting a booming economy today was brilliantly highlighted by Sheffield businessman Steve Winstone who tweeted links to two stories published on ITV’s website, with the comment: “Consistency eh?”
11.35pm update: Scottish Greens unveil plans for Brexit Day
The Scottish Greens will use the day the UK formally leaves the EU to launch a new campaign for independence.
The party is planning to mark “Brexit Day” with a rally in Glasgow, where it will relaunch its campaign for independence and also make clear a separate Scotland should be part of the EU.
Ska Keller, the president of the Greens in the European Parliament, will join Scottish Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie for the event on Friday January 31.
Mr Harvie said it was “outrageous and undemocratic” that Scots were being denied a second independence referendum at a time when they were being taken out of Europe against their wishes.
Calls for a fresh ballot on Scotland’s place in the UK have been mounting since the UK voted for Brexit in 2016 – with almost two-thirds of voters north of the border supporting Remain in the referendum.
11.07am update: More defeats looming for the Government in the Lords
Boris Johnson is likely to suffer further defeats in the House of Lords tonight as peers seek to make further amendments to his Brexit legislation – but the Government is unlikely to take them lying down.
Politico’s Playbook bulletin said: “Today’s votes will include proposed amendments on the rights of refugee children and parliament’s involvement in Phase 2 of the Brexit talks. It follows three crashing defeats for the government last night on EU citizens’ rights and the independence of the courts.
“It’s pretty clear, however, that No 10 is not going to back down on any of these issues – so expect all the Lords amendments to be overturned by the Commons later this week.”
Financial firms from the European Union are now applying to set up operations in the City of London post-Brexit, and the number of these companies has now exceeded one thousand.
Unrestricted two-way business regulations between the UK and EU come to an end in December 2020. Over 1,441 EU based firms had applied to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) for temporary permissions to operate in the UK after Brexit.
For most of these businesses, it will be the first time they have had an office in the UK.
The figures were obtained via a Freedom of Information request from regulatory consultancy Bovill.
9.52am update: “UK economy will go from strength to strength”
Mr Javid addedL “We’re working closely with businesses back home and also abroad as we work on that FTA, that’s going to be very important for us, but also as we work on other FTAs with many other partners.
“We look forward with confidence as we look forward and strike that new deal with our European friends and strike new FTAs across the world.
“It will be a very important time for British business and I can see a British economy that goes from strength to strength.”
9.48am update: “We won’t be ruletakers,” says Javid
Sajid Javid has arrived at a meeting of the European Council in Brussels – the last UK minister who will do so – and took the opportunity to tell Brussels Britain would no longer be “rule-takers”.
Mr Javid, said: “While in the meeting today I will be expressing my appreciation for all the things we have achieved together, but also a reassurance that we will remain close partners and friends and as we look ahead Britain will be leaving the EU with confidence and thinking about all the exciting opportunities that lie ahead.”
Questioned on the subject of trade alignment, he added: “As we leave the EU we will not be in the single market, we will not be in the customs union and we will not be ruletakers. At the same time of course we want a deep, comprehensive FTA and that’s what we’re working on.”
Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator
9.39am update: Mixed bag for retailers this Christmas
Britain’s retailers reported mixed results for the critical Christmas period, with major supermarkets suffering their slowest festive season in years and retailers varied in their performance.
British shoppers cut back on spending in late 2019, rounding off the worst year since at least the mid-1990s for retail sales as measured by an industry group amid uncertainty about Brexit and last month’s election.
That followed relatively subdued updates from the high street following “Black Friday” sales at the end of November.
9.15am update: Food and drink sector shrugs off Brexit worries
Britain’s food and drink companies are increasing sales and employment despite the uncertain political and economic climate, a new study suggests.
The sector is forging head at home and abroad, according to research by Make UK, the manufacturers’ organisation, and Santander.
According to the report, the sector is worth 15.9 percent of the value of manufacturing goods, with sales in 2018 of £85.6 billion, an increase of 7.6 percent from 2016.
Food and drink firms are a major employer across the UK with around 440,000 employees, up 5.3 percent since 2016 and at the highest level for 15 years, said the report
Much of the growth is coming overseas with sales abroad up by just under one quarter in the last two years, it was found.
The EU remains the biggest total market accounting for just under two thirds of exports, worth £13.9 billion, with Ireland the largest single destination, followed by the Netherlands, France, the US and Germany.
Make UK chief economist Seamus Nevin said: “The food and drink sector continues to benefit from the British public’s insatiable desire to eat and drink.”
9.05am update: Brexit threat to Scotland “on the horizon”, claims MP
The threat of Brexit to the future of Scotland “is on the horizon”, according to one SNP MP, with 10 days to go until Britain leaves the European Union.
Philippa Whitford made the warning as Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal suffered a defeat in the House of Lords over the rights of EU citizens lawfully residing in the UK after January 31.
Peers backed a cross-party amendment allowing physical proof of their status, meaning the Bill will go back to the Commons.
Despite that, Dr Whitford criticised the “damaging consequences” of the Brexit deal “which will threaten the livelihoods of EU nationals who contribute massively to our society”.
The shadow secretary of state for exiting the EU also lamented the “light show” proposed for Downing Street counting down to 11pm a week on Friday.
She said: “With just 10 days to go till Brexit day, the threat to Scotland’s economy, society and future is on the horizon.
Boris Johnson is set to outline Britain’s post-Brexit vision within the next few weeks as the Prime Minister looks to conclude fast-track trade talks with the US and European Union.
In his first major speech after the UK exits the bloc, the Prime Minister is set to confirm Britain will negotiate simultaneously with US President Donald Trump and Brussels in order to strike a free-trade deal before the December 31 deadline, the Financial Times reports.
Robert Lighthizer, the US trade representative, has already held talks with International Trade Secretary Liz Truss last Thursday.
It is understood the US trade official suggested a deal could be reached by the summer and Washington was “prepared to move heaven and earth” to get an agreement over the line.
One US official said: “He suggested he was prepared to move heaven and earth to get something tied up by the summer.”
8.49am update: Pro-EU banner raises £11,000 in three days
A crowdfunding campaign for a massive pro-EU flag to be displayed over the White Cliffs of Dover ahead of Brexit has raised £11,000 in three days.
Set up by South East England MEP Antony Hook on Friday, the campaign’s target was just £5,500 to fund the 150sq m banner, and it made the sum in 24 hours.
The message will read: “We still love EU.”
Mr Hook said: “The phenomenal success of this appeal demonstrates how passionately people in this country feel about sending a positive message to the EU.”
He added: “This banner is much bigger than leave or remain. It is about communicating our appreciation for our nearest neighbours and our hope that we will continue to have the best possible relationship with them in the future.”
Anthony Hook’s tweet about his crowdfunding drive
8.41am update: “Clarity is crucial”
Allie Renison, head of Europe and trade policy at the IoD, said just 35 percent of businesses believe the withdrawal agreement gives their organisation the “certainty needed to make planning and investment decisions”, compared with 55 percent who agreed they “will only be able to make planning and investment decisions with certainty when we understand our future relationship with the EU”.
She added: “To give businesses any chance of being ready for the new relationship by the end of 2020, the Government needs to be as clear as possible about what its intended destination is.
“With directors clear that negotiations with the EU are the priority right now, clarity is crucial for so many companies.
“Just calling it a free trade agreement gives no indication of the balance between alignment and divergence, which is essential for firms to do any kind of advance planning. Directors need to know what the Government’s priorities for market access are for the EU.”
8.39am update: Businesses believe Government’s post-Brexit vision lacks detail, survey suggests
A majority of British businesses believe the Government’s vision for a post-Brexit relationship with the EU does not provide enough detail for them to plan and invest with certainty, a new survey has found.
The Institute of Directors (IoD), which conducted the research, also found that directors are three times more likely to view negotiations with the EU as a priority, versus signing up to new trade deals in other parts of the world.
Details emerged as Chancellor Sajid Javid laid out his vision for the UK’s trading relationship with the EU in an interview from a sandwich bar near Westminster with the Financial Times newspaper on Saturday.
It included the warning that there will not be future alignment with EU rules, although which sectors are expected to diverge has not been disclosed.
8.32am update: No independent passport-free travel for Gibraltar, says Government
Gibraltar will not be able to negotiate an independent, passport-free travel deal with the EU after Brexit, the UK has said, despite comments by the British Overseas Territory’s Chief Minister Fabian Picardo.
Speaking last Friday, Mr Picardo said joining a common travel area to deal the EU’s Schengen zone could benefit the Rock.
In total, 22 EU member states participate in the Schengen area, whereby citizens are able to travel passport-free across borders in the EU.
A UK government spokesperson said Gibraltar’s arrangements would be included in UK-EU talks on future relations, with a Government spokesman adding: “The UK, including Gibraltar, is not part of the borderless Schengen zone.”
Brussels is plotting to block UK access to EU markets or impose crippling fines if Boris Johnson breaks the terms of any post-Brexit trade deal, diplomats have warned.
Michel Barnier’s negotiating team told EU capitals Brussels is planning a stringent enforcement mechanism to ensure the UK respects the terms of the free-trade agreement.
Diplomats were briefed on the negotiation strategy, which demands the future relationship is governed by “efficient and effective arrangements for management, supervision, implementation and review” mechanisms.
The bloc hopes that the “over-arching” governance structure will underpin the so-called level playing field that it hopes to include in any future trade deal.