Brandon Lewis says he gave the correct answer when he said last week that HMG's plan for Northern Ireland would break international law

This is after Lord Keen said yday that Lewis answered the wrong question and Priti Patel said it wouldn't break international law

All clear?
Simon Hoare puts to Brandon Lewis the not unreasonable point that given the "magnitude and sensitivity of the issues," shouldn't the government have put in the Internal Market Bill a commitment to exhausting joint committee talks and arbitration before breaking international law
Hoare tells Lewis that the "heat, steam, anxiety, fear" created by the plan to break int law was totally unnecessary

He says HMG should have made clear that this would be the last resort following JC talks and arbitration

It was "rather clumsy," he says

Many Tory MPs agree
Gloves are off now

Brandon Lewis refused to confirm that the UK would abide by any arbitration ruling re the NI protocol

Hoare says "the seriousness of the damage" being done to the UK's international reputation is "not yet quite properly understood" throughout the government
Hoare tells Lewis that the obvious answer was that the UK would follow the ruling of any international arbitration

"The UK will always abide by international arbitration, end of. Hypothetically or otherwise," he says

"And it's worrying that that answer can't be given"
Now the SDLP's Claire Hanna asks Lewis & Colin Perry of the NI Office to point to NI biz groups who support what HMG is doing on the IMB

Perry says "there has been a positive reaction" to the commitment to unfettered trade

"I must've missed those public statements," Hanna says
An unimpressed Stephen Farry: "Every answer you've given today is that everything's going swimmingly and that with good faith and trust everything will be fine. Whenever we hear what the EU are saying in reaction to what government announced last week, there is a disconnect..."

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More from @adampayne26

27 Feb
A perfect storm potentially awaits in a few months time when the UK begins checks on EU imports

The new paperwork will come in from April to July as restaurants & pubs reopen

Delays will affect veg, meat, cheese & wine when demand is expected to rocket… Image
"There would've been a full-blown crisis in NI in January had restaurants been open... same sort of thinking could play out for EU-UK flows," said @ColdChainShane

importers are set to face the same issues as exporters: overnight trade becoming 4/5 days… Image
What could that mean in practice?

Food suppliers being unable to meet a big increase in demand when hospitality reopens & the UK wants to celebrate

It threatens to disrupt "all businesses in the UK food industry" this spring/summer, warned @dominicgoudie… Image
Read 7 tweets
9 Feb
Exclusive: The shellfish industry claims that DEFRA admitted it was wrong about shellfish exports

"They now say that they believe on balance that the EU view, that the trade is not legal, is in fact correct," the bombshell email seen by PoliticsHome says…
"They [DEFRA] have now changed this position," the email sent to shellfish exporters says

"This is in complete contrast to everything they have told us so far"

Labour: "are they incompetent or do they simply not care?"

Lib Dems tell Eustice to resign…
Eustice today said the EU stance was "indefensible" and last week said it was "legally wrong"

Yesterday he expressed frustration in a letter to the Commission

However, behind the scenes DEFRA officials say that the UK was wrong, the industry has claimed…
Read 6 tweets
8 Feb
New: Here is the letter George Eustice sent to the European Commission’s Stella Kyriakides this morning about UK shellfish exports to the EU, first reported by PoliticsHome on Friday
Eustice says the UK's live shellfish exports to the EU have "been in place for many years" and the new rules - live shellfish caught in most waters barred EU entry - are of "grave concern" to businesses

The UK has high standards and EU customers trust its business, he argues
Eustice accuses the EU of changing its position on shellfish, citing advice the UK received in September

That's it's "unexpected and difficult news for an industry that relies on trade between the UK & EU"

Reminder: EU says rules apply to all 3rd countries, have done for years
Read 13 tweets
5 Feb
Exclusive: Government is urgently writing to the EU about the shellfish ban amid panic about a market collapse

The letter, which could go as soon as today, comes as UK officials say they were misled by the EU

Brussels says law for 3rd countries is clear…
What started as an esoteric consequence of Brexit has quickly emerged into a big UK-EU row

Angry UK officials insist that the EU has misled them over 3rd country rules for live shellfish

Brussels says it's DEFRA's fault for misunderstanding the law…
Eustice is expected to sign the letter but Gove has also been involved in talks, in a sign of how seriously government is taking the issue

MPs heard yesterday that shellfish markets could be lost "entirely and permanently" without political intervention…
Read 6 tweets
3 Feb
Eustice today said the EU's ban on live shellfish exports was "legally wrong" and "unjustified" and accused Brussels of changing its position twice

DEFRA is preparing to challenge the European Commission on the indefinite ban, which we revealed on Monday…
Fishers who attended a DEFRA meeting yesterday told me that the issue "was barely given 15 minutes before it was moved on"

They said an official suggested trying to export to the EU anyway, despite the ban

"We are shellfish exporters, not smugglers"…
The European Commission position: 1. the ban on live shellfish exports from 3rd countries is clear and has been set out in law for decades 2. the claim that the ban would be lifted on April 21, as government had been advising the industry, was a DEFRA misunderstanding of EU law
Read 4 tweets
2 Feb
Gove: UK will work with the EU “over the coming days to fix the difficulties” that have arisen from the NI Protocol. He says officials will “work calmly” and “at speed” to resolve issues. GB exporters to NI have struggled to cope w/ new paperwork, espec for food & animal goods.
Gove tells @LouHaigh that the looming end to GB-NI grace periods - the 3-month grace period for Export Health Certificates expires just next month - “do need to be addressed” and he will be writing to the EU today with “specific steps” for doing so.
Gove has mentioned Export Health Certificates several times, in an indication of how pressing an issue it is. EHCs need to be check by vets and cost lots of ££. Northern Irish hauliers and businesses have warned that failure to address that problem will unleash more disruption.
Read 9 tweets

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