Adam Payne Profile picture
Brexit and Westminster reporter @politicshome / @TheHouseLive. Formerly @businessinsider. Contact: Adam.Payne@politicshome.com & DMs.
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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 politicshome.com/news/article/s…
"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

politicshome.com/news/article/s…
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
politicshome.com/news/article/s…
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 politicshome.com/news/article/e…
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
politicshome.com/news/article/e…
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

politicshome.com/news/article/e…
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 politicshome.com/news/article/g…
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" politicshome.com/news/article/g…
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
1 Feb
Exclusive: DEFRA has been advising shellfish traders than an EU ban on live exports would end in April

However, the EU has told the industry that the ban is *indefinite*, in an email seen by PoliticsHome

Businesses say the post-Brexit ban will end them
politicshome.com/news/article/e…
Last month I reported that live mussels, cockles, and other shellfish caught in most UK waters were banned from the EU

DEFRA's advice was that this post-Brexit ban would end on April 21

However, a Commission email says it is indefinite, not temporary politicshome.com/news/article/e…
The industry held an emergency meeting to discuss the bombshell, which was "contrary" to government info

I've seen a November email by Victoria Prentis saying the ban was temporary

DEFRA is aware of the EU's stance and will "continue to raise" it w/ them politicshome.com/news/article/e…
Read 8 tweets
22 Jan
There are fishers whose EU exports are not being delayed or cancelled — they are totally banned

Shellfish traders in areas like Cumbria are shut out from their key market

The ban is until late April but industry fears some traders won't last that long politicshome.com/news/article/g…
The ban on shellfish not ready for consumption has resulted in some British cockle, mussel and scallop exports to the EU stopping overnight

A fisherman in Cumbria told me 95% of his family's sales go to France and that without them, "we wouldn't exist"

politicshome.com/news/article/g…
What can be done about it?

DEFRA says the ban lasts until late April but the issue is out of their hands

The industry fears some traders, reeling from Covid, won't last that long

There is also concern that some won't qualify for government compensation politicshome.com/news/article/g…
Read 5 tweets
19 Jan
Pigs heads and other meat exports are rotting in Rotterdam as “eye-watering” post-Brexit paperwork stifles the UK meat industry

120+ lorries are currently believed to be stuck at the Dutch port. One lorry carrying pork has been there for nearly 3 weeks politicshome.com/news/article/p…
Meat exporters are suffering the same problems as fish traders: long delays, cancelled orders, exports destroyed

The new system is "eye-watering" and "fundamentally not designed for short shelf-life food," industry leaders said

politicshome.com/news/article/p…
Pigs heads have been sat waiting to enter Holland for weeks amid confusion over what checks must take place

EU customers import them from the UK to make products like sausages and pâté

Now they're rotting and costing British businesses thousands

politicshome.com/news/article/p…
Read 5 tweets
13 Jan
The @Foodanddrinkfed's Ian Wright tells the Brexit committee: one well-prepared, major company said that a UK to EU export which before January 1 took 3 hrs, took *5 days*

"The enforcers are as clueless of the provisions of the deal as those operating under it," he tells MPs
Wright says UK-EU border disruption "will get worse" because freight traffic is currently so low

Currently around 2,000 lorries are crossing the short straits but usually it's 10,000, he tells the Brexit committee
The 50k customs agents target...

Make UK's Stephen Phipson says the number was around 12k the last time he checked, businesses finding it "extremely difficult" to find them

Wright: the shortage isn't the only issue - those the UK has have never worked at this intensity before
Read 5 tweets
12 Jan
Scottish fish traders say they are losing at least £1 million a day due to Brexit disruption and want compensation from the government

Some boats are landing in Denmark to circumvent chaos in Britain

One exporter told me the situation was a "disgrace"

politicshome.com/news/article/s…
Hauliers are refusing to export and EU customers are cancelling orders due to delays

A 1/3 of Scottish boats are tied up at harbours

Labour's @LukePollard says there's a "strong case" for government compensating fishermen whose livelihoods are at stake

politicshome.com/news/article/s…
UK Gov points the finger of blame at the SNP government in Holyrood:

“The Scottish Government has persistently refused to accept the democratic vote to leave the EU, but that does not allow them to abdicate their responsibilities to Scottish businesses” politicshome.com/news/article/s…
Read 6 tweets
22 Dec 20
The @Foodanddrinkfed's Ian Wright gives government both barrels

He says much of the chaos "should've been avoided" as HMG was "well aware of the power" of its Covid announcement

He says HMG should compensate affected traders "who have lost out from that failure of authority"
Stark from the @RHANews' Duncan Buchanan, who says port chaos is of "a different order of magnitude, and in the context of Brexit and what is coming from January 1, this is the start of a very, very serious supply chain disruption of the like that probably have never experienced"
The RHA's Buchanan says the government's reported plan to test drivers is "a waste of time" and "knee-jerk" policy

He says it is "counterproductive" as it'll just lead to drivers mixing in a field in Kent

The treatment of drivers is "pathetic," he adds

Damning evidence so far
Read 7 tweets
20 Dec 20
This is a crisis for supply chains just 11 days before the shock of Brexit. The French ban applies to inbound freight but many European drivers won’t head to the UK if they can’t immediately make the return trip. The next 48 hrs could be a preview of what’s coming in two weeks.
Ian Wright, @Foodanddrinkfed CEO: “Tonight’s suspension of accompanied freight traffic from the UK to France has the potential to cause serious disruption to UK Christmas fresh food supplies... Truckers will not want to travel here if they have a real fear of getting marooned.”
Statement from @LogisticsUKNews: “Shoppers should not panic buy – retailers will be making every effort to ensure there is stock within the system... We are maintaining close contact with HMG to ensure that supplies of fresh produce are available throughout Xmas & the New Year.” Image
Read 12 tweets
23 Sep 20
Michael Gove reveals some pretty alarming statistics to the the House of Commons

Just 24% of businesses believe they're fully ready for the end of the Brexit transition period

Nearly double — 43% — think the transition period will be extended
Gove reveals the government's worst-case scenario estimates:

- 50% of big businesses and just 20% of SMEs will have the correct paperwork to export to the EU from January

- As few as 30% of HGVs will arrive at border with correct paperwork, while the rest face being sent back
Here are the sections of Michael Gove's House of Commons statement containing those eyebrow-raising statistics

Less than 4 months to go...
Read 6 tweets
23 Sep 20
New: @LogisticsUKNews tells Michael Gove that hauliers are still waiting for the government to provide details on how borders and new systems will work

They say they have "long warned government" about potential chaos at the borders and it is "incumbent" on HMG to give answers
There's anger among hauliers after a few days of the government appearing to shift blame for potential chaos in January

- Gove's letter warned of 7k lorries queuing on the motorway if UK traders aren't ready for changes
- Eustice yday day suggested disruption would be EU's fault
HMG is "making villains" of hauliers, @BIFA said

"Don't start pointing the finger of blame in our direction when you have still to provide all of the tools to do the job," it told @Joe_Mayes

"Give our members all they information they need, and systems that actually work..."
Read 4 tweets
16 Sep 20
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
Read 7 tweets
8 Sep 20
Labour’s @LouHaigh grills Brandon Lewis on HMG’s contentious plans for the protocol:

She says Jones’ exit shows concern “runs to the very top”

Johnson negotiated the WA and campaigned on it, she points out

She says the PM looks like he’s using NI as “a political football”
Ouch! Former PM Theresa May asks Brandon Lewis how the UK government “can reassure future international partners” that it’ll respect agreements it enters into

She says the UK government is “now changing” how the NI protocol operates after singing up to it with the EU
May’s question to Lewis: "How can the government reassure future international partners that the UK can be trusted to abide by the legal obligations of the agreements it signs?"
Read 7 tweets
3 Sep 20
New: Labelling has emerged as another big headache for the UK ahead of the end of Brexit transition

Business groups say the deadline for producing packaging needed to legally export food has already passed

They're still waiting for government guidance businessinsider.com/brexit-food-co…
Whitehall sources & biz figures say labelling is one of the most complex elements of Brexit preparation

GB food exporters still don't know what packaging they'll use from January — both for the EU and Northern Ireland

Gov says it'll publish guidance ASAP businessinsider.com/brexit-food-co…
What could in mean in practice?

On January 1 GB businesses don't have the right labels to legally move food to into the EU and to Northern Ireland

Border disruption, businesses lose lots of £££

There's real concern about potential food shortages in NI
businessinsider.com/brexit-food-co…
Read 5 tweets
2 Sep 20
Johnson dodges Starmer’s #PMQs Q on when he first realised there was a problem with the exam grades algorithm

Starmer: “I want to go back to my question, which the prime minister avoided. He either knew about the problem and did nothing, or didn’t know when he should have”
Starmer in #PMQs quotes Conservative MPs who on record and anonymously have criticised the government’s U-turns

“He’s fooling nobody. Even his own MPs have run out of patience”

Johnson accuses Starmer of being “captain hindsight,” Starmer says the PM is “governing in hindsight”
There’s real venom in these #PMQs exchanges

Johnson refuses to withdraw a remark about Starmer backing Corbyn’s IRA position, the Labour leader says he prosecuted terrorists in his legal career

“Doing the decent thing and this prime minister don’t go together,” Starmer says
Read 4 tweets
27 Aug 20
Ed Davey is the new leader of the Liberal Democrats
Davey - 42,756
Moran - 24,564

A very comfortable victory for Davey in the end after late rumours of a very close contest

A YouGov poll of members in January put him nearly 30% ahead of Moran
Turnout was 57.6%, nearly 15% down on last year's 72.1%

Last month Davey told me:

- his Lib Dems would be centre-left, anti-Tory and never go back into Coalition with them
- the party of social care
- ready to work with Starmer at the next election

businessinsider.com/ed-davey-lib-d…
Read 4 tweets
21 Aug 20
Barnier press conference: "Those who were hoping for negotiations to move swiftly this week will be disappointed...

"I frankly am disappointed, concerned, and surprised as the British prime minister told us in June that he wanted to speed up the process during the summer"
David Frost says "little progress" in this week's talks

"agreement is still possible, and it is still our goal, but it is clear that it will not be easy to achieve"

He says the EU insistence on parallelism is making talks "unnecessarily difficult"

Next formal round w/c Sept 7 Image
Barnier says based on the current state of play, striking a trade deal before the end of transition is "unlikely"

"I simply do not understand why we are wasting valuable time"

He says there was "no progress whatsoever" on fisheries and "still far" from agreement on governance
Read 4 tweets
6 Aug 20
UK government is procuring a £200 mill system to handle customs declarations for Northern Irish importers

The service will complete (some) paperwork for NI businesses from January, effectively picking up the bill

Gove/Lewis in NI on Friday to launch it businessinsider.com/brexit-boris-j…
The firm chosen to deliver the Trader Support Service will carry out customs/safety & security declarations for thousands of NI importers from 2021

Government is also spending £155 million on IT systems underpinning the new service

It does not cover SPS businessinsider.com/brexit-boris-j…
Northern Irish business groups welcome the announcement but stress that there's still lots to do

@MichaelAodhan, @FSB_NI, @ManufacturingNI all raise SPS, export health certificates, VAT, etc

They won't get the full border operating model until the autumn businessinsider.com/brexit-boris-j…
Read 6 tweets