Boris Johnson warned of Brexit ‘border chaos’

Boris Johnson returns to Downing Street(AP)

Boris Johnson‘s government has been warned of “border chaos” at the end of the Brexit transition period, as a leaked government document revealed that attempts to get the UK’s ready for trade for 1 January 2021 are “unmanageable”. Eight major groups from the logistics industry are now demanding an urgent meeting with senior cabinet ministers – warning that the UK’s supply chain faces “severe disruption” if border infrastructure and IT systems are not fixed. It comes as senior Tory MPs join calls for airport testing to replace the 14-day quarantine rule, and Sir Ian McKellen joins LGBT+ campaigners urging the government not to appoint former Australian PM Tony Abbott to the Board of Trade.

Key Points

  • Haulage bosses demand crisis meeting with ministers
  • Dozens more lorry parks to be built across England
  • Celebrities call Tony Abbott ‘unfit’ to represent UK
  • Tory MPs rebel over 14-day blanket quarantine

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How does Dom Cummings’ Nasa-style command centre work?

Some of No 10’s top advisers have packed up and moved to a new office at 70 Whitehall – part of senior advisor Dominic Cummings new, “NASA-style” mission control centre. So what happens there? Downing Street historian Jack Brown has taken a closer look.

Adam Forrest4 September 2020 10:28

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Calls for Home Office to re-open resettlement scheme Ministers are coming under mounting pressure to reopen the UK’s refugee resettlement schemes as charities warn vulnerable refugees are being left to “languish in unsafe situations” while these routes remained closed. The programmes, which are the only safe and legal way to Britain for most refugees, were closed on 12 March because of coronavirus.

No refugees have been settled since then. The Independent understands that when resettlement was paused in March, there had been plans for more than 600 refugees to arrive who were subsequently blocked. Louise Calvey, head of resettlement at charity Refugee Action, said “there can be no significant reason why we cannot plan for the safe arrival of refugees”.

Our social affairs correspondent May Bulman has the details: Adam Forrest4 September 2020 10:11

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Mass testing at airports not a ‘silver bullet’ solution, says Shapps The transport secretary has acknowledged that varying advice for quarantining when arriving in different UK nations from abroad “creates confusion”, amid calls for clarity.

Grant Shapps defended the decision not to impose restrictions on people entering England from Greece and Portugal – despite the Scotland and Wales ordering periods of isolation to slow the spread of coronavirus. “I do realise it creates confusion for people not to have a single rule, but we do have this devolved approach throughout the United Kingdom and I can only be responsible for the English part of that,” he told Sky News. The cabinet minister also said testing at airports is not a “silver bullet solution” to end quarantining and the “vast majority” of asymptomatic cases would not be detected by one test alone.

Shapps also described airport testing as “not totally pointless”. Speaking to Times Radio, he said: “It’s not the way out of it, which is the absolute key point. If it were, I would be absolutely doing it today, no doubt about it at all.”

Adam Forrest4 September 2020 09:45

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A drink with Tony Abbott? Shapps would have to ‘check the record’ Grant Shapps said he would want to “check the record for myself” if former Australian PM Tony Abbott asked him for a drink.

The transport secretary told Sky News host Kay Burley hadn’t “had time” to check Abbott’s history of remarks on women and homosexuality. Shapps stressed that Abbott had not been handed a senior trade role amid pressure to drop the plan due to allegations of homophobia and misogyny. He told Sky News: “I hate to bring us back to reality but he hasn’t been appointed to anything and as far as I know there haven’t been any appointments made.

“There are lots of people with whom their comments I vehemently disagree but I’m not into defending people who are not actually carrying out any role for the British government.” He committed to return to the show to discuss Abbott’s record “if” he is appointed. More Tory awkwardness over Abbott?

Or a sign the government is getting cold feet? Adam Forrest4 September 2020 09:38

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Hancock accused of ‘nauseating’ hypocrisy Labour MPs Chris Bryant and Wes Streeting, who are both gay, accused Matt Hancock of hypocrisy after the health secretary tweeted about the “fantastic” new LGBT-inclusive relationships and sex education introduced in schools.

Bryant responded: “So why on earth would you countenance Tony Abbott as a trade envoy?” Streeting tweeted: “Matt, We know you’re a social liberal with a decent voting record on LGBT equality. That’s why your defence of Tony Abbott was even more nauseating.”

Adam Forrest4 September 2020 09:29

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Haulage bosses demand crisis meeting with cabinet ministers Haulage bosses have called for an “urgent” meeting with Cabinet ministers amid growing concerns there are “significant gaps” in the UK’s Brexit border preparations. Eight logistics organisations, including the Road Haulage Association (RHA), have written to Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove to highlight fears the UK-EU supply chain “will be severely disrupted” next year if issues are not resolved before Brexit.

The group seeks a roundtable meeting with Gove, chancellor Rishi Sunak and transport secretary Grant Shapps to discuss areas including IT systems and physical border infrastructure. The letter states: “As key participants in the supply chain who will be required to deliver a functional operating border for GB and EU traders next year, we have visibility of the current state of preparedness which as it stands has significant gaps. “If these issues are not addressed disruption to UK business and the supply chain that we all rely so heavily on will be severely disrupted.”

Adam Forrest4 September 2020 08:57

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Dozens more lorry parks to be built across England Up to a further 29 lorry parks will be built across England to cope with border trading chaos after Brexit, under emergency government powers. Local residents will have no say over the construction of the sites – needed because of growing fears that truck drivers will face long delays to enter the EU, or be turned away altogether.

Some are in inland areas – Leicestershire, Warwickshire and Solihull – as well as in coastal trading hotspots including Kent, Essex, Yorkshire and Lincolnshire. Haulage bosses – including the Road Haulage Association – have demanded an urgent meeting with ministers over a blizzard of new IT systems and a lack of training for promised customs agents. Adam Forrest4 September 2020 08:51

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Raab calls for international probe into ‘deplorable’ Navalny poisoning

Foreign secretary Dominic Raab has called on overseas allies to work together to support an investigation into the “utterly deplorable” alleged Novichok poisoning of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny. Raab held talks on Thursday with German foreign minister Heiko Maas during which the pair agreed the need for Russia to explain what happened. It comes after Downing Street warned there would be “severe consequences” for the people behind the attack – and did not rule out sanctions or the fresh expulsions of diplomats.

Raab said on Twitter that the poisoning of Navalny was “utterly deplorable and a violation of international law”. The PM’s official spokesman, pressed on whether sanctions could be imposed on Russia or diplomats expelled, did not explicitly blame Moscow and said he would not “pre-empt what might happen next”. He said the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons would play a key role in investigating what he described as an “attempted murder” and said the UK had offered support to the German investigation.

Adam Forrest4 September 2020 08:48

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Sir Ian McKellen asks No 10 not to appoint Tony Abbott The actor Sir Ian McKellen and Doctor Who screenwriter Russell T Davies are among the celebrities and LGBT+ campaigners to have written to the government to ask that Tony Abbott is not chosen to represent the UK on the Board of Trade. Highlighting the former Australian PM’s record of campaigning against same-sex marriage, the group stated: “This man is not fit to be representing the UK as out trade envoy.”

Adam Forrest4 September 2020 08:45

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Tory MPs rebel over quarantine Portugal and Greece will not be added to England’s quarantine list, at least for now. Grant Shapps told us it would be kept under “constant review”.

There’s a clear split across the UK to keep track of now, with Wales adding Portugal and six Greek islands to its quarantine list from 4am on Friday, while Portugal and French Polynesia will be added to Scotland’s list from 4am on Saturday. Jeremy Hunt and Chris Grayling joined calls for airport testing to replace the 14-day quarantine rule – part of a group of backbench Tory MPs who have forced a debate on the issue in parliament next week.  Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the 1922 committee of Tory MPs, said: “Other countries have been able to get a testing regime in place months ago and have been able to have a market for travel as a result of it.

We ought to join them as quickly as possible.” Henry Smith, Tory chair of the cross-party future of aviation group, added: “Countries like Germany and France are testing inbound passengers. That puts the UK at a competitive disadvantage in terms of economic recovery.”

Adam Forrest4 September 2020 08:39

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