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The UK and the EU are set to thrash out their differences over the implementation of the Northern Ireland Protocol.

Brexit minister Lord Frost and Maros Sefcovic, the European Commission vice president, will meet on Wednesday after the latter suggested the EU is finding it hard to trust the UK following its departure from the bloc

Mr Sefcovic said there have been “numerous and fundamental gaps in the UK’s implementation” of the two sides’ trade deal and that the EU will act “firmly” if the UK does not agree on deadlines for complying with its obligations.

In turn, Environment Secretary George Eustice claimed the Northern Ireland Protocol, in the way the EU wants to implement it, would make it impossible for UK producers to sell British sausages to Northern Ireland.

Sky News has taken a closer look at the issues.

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Many suppliers in Britain ‘have chosen to stop supplying to Northern Ireland’

What is the Northern Ireland Protocol?

It is a crucial part of the Internal Markets Bill, which was drawn up to ensure trade between all four UK nations remains barrier-free after the Brexit transition period ended on 31 December 2020.

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The Northern Ireland Protocol was put in place to avoid the introduction of a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

It states that Northern Ireland will remain part of the UK’s customs territory – so if the UK signs a free trade deal with another country, Northern Irish goods would be included.

However, Northern Ireland will have to stick to some EU rules to allow goods to move freely into the Republic.

Goods moving from the rest of the UK to Northern Ireland will not be subject to a tariff unless they are “at risk” of being moved into the EU afterwards.

Mr Eustice said in 2020 there would need to be “some checks on some goods” and “some customs processes but not customs checks” at the border with the Republic.

Goods coming from Northern Ireland to Great Britain can have “unfettered” access, the Internal Market Bill says. This means goods sold in Northern Ireland will be accepted everywhere else in the UK, but the reverse may not be true.

A sign on a lamppost that reads 'Ulster is British - no internal UK Border - Unionists against NI Protocol', opposite the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) Redlands site. It will be used to inspect animal products travelling from Great Britain into Northern Ireland after the post-Brexit transition period at the end of the year.
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The Northern Ireland Protocol was meant to prevent a physical border on the island of Ireland

What has happened since the Brexit transition period ended?

Products from Great Britain entering Northern Ireland have had to undergo EU import procedures at the ports.

An Irish Sea border has effectively been imposed in an effort to prevent a physical border between Ireland and Northern Ireland.

This has resulted in delays and sometimes sparse supermarket shelves.

A sign is seen with a message against the Brexit border checks in relation to the Northern Ireland protocol at the harbour in Larne, Northern Ireland February 12, 2021. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne
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Checks imposed at the port in Larne, Northern Ireland, have not been popular

What are the UK and EU disagreeing over?

Under the protocol, a ban will come into force if the UK and EU cannot agree on new regulatory standards to cover the sale of some products after a “grace period” allowed under the agreement.

In March, the UK unilaterally extended the grace period for supermarket goods and parcels for another six months, after it was due to finish at the end of that month.

The EU launched legal action against the UK for extending that grace period.

Graffiti on the A2 outside Carrickfergus in Belfast. The DUP has rejected claims it is whipping up tensions over Irish Sea trade in an effort to get Brexit's contentious Northern Ireland Protocol ditched. Physical inspections on goods entering Northern Ireland from Great Britain, which are required under the protocol, have been suspended amid threats and intimidation of staff. Picture date: Wednesday February 3, 2021.
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The UK promised there would be no sea border

It is understood British ministers are now considering a unilateral extension for chilled meats, including sausages and mince, which is due to end on 30 June.

After the grace period, chilled meats produced in Great Britain will not be allowed to be sold in Northern Ireland as they are not from the EU, which has strict restrictions on food products.

Mr Sefcovic said retaliation by the EU would be so extreme it would ensure the UK “abides by its international law obligations”.

Boris Johnson‘s spokesman said there was “no case whatsoever” for blocking the sale of chilled meats.

Sausages on sale at the butchers at Polhill Farm Shop near Sevenoaks 20/3/2020
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British sausages have been the focus of the latest disagreement

Lord Frost claims the EU has been “inflexible” over the protocol, something the EU rejects.

The EU has said the UK could align with its animal health and food safety rules to remove the need for 80% of the current Irish Sea customs checks.

But the UK has rejected this, as it says it will tie Britain’s hands in trade negotiations with other countries.

The UK has also accused the EU of failing to engage with its own proposals, especially with the issues people in Northern Ireland are facing.

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Mark Menzies: MP accused of misusing campaign funds quits Tory Party and won’t stand at next election

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Mark Menzies: MP accused of misusing campaign funds quits Tory Party and won't stand at next election

An MP facing allegations of misusing campaign funds has quit the Conservative Party and says he won’t stand at the next general election.

Claims surfaced earlier this week in The Times that Mark Menzies had used political donations to cover medical expenses and pay off “bad people” who had reportedly locked him in a flat and demanded thousands of pounds for his release.

The backbench MP for Fylde in Lancashire disputed the allegations but was suspended from the Conservative parliamentary party while an investigation took place.

In a statement, Mr Menzies said: “It has been an enormous privilege representing the people of Fylde since 2010, but due to the pressures on myself and my elderly mother, I have decided to resign from the Conservative Party and will not stand at the forthcoming general election.

“This has been a very difficult week for me and I request that my family’s privacy is respected.”

Lancashire Police said it was reviewing “information” about Mr Menzies after Labour asked for an investigation.

Speaking to Sky News’ Electoral Dysfunction podcast, former Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson had called the latest scandal and allegations against Mr Menzies “jaw-dropping”.

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The claims surrounding Mr Menzies came to light after the outgoing MP’s former campaign manager, Katie Fieldhouse, spoke to the Times, prompting the Conservative Party to launch its own internal investigation into whether there had been a misuses of its funds.

She claimed the Conservative Party was aware the allegations about Mr Menzies were potentially criminal, alleging that the party’s chief of staff “told me that when they first took over the investigation [from the Whips’ Office] they had consulted solicitors”.

She added: “He told me on the phone, ‘the solicitor said it is fraud but you are not duty-bound to report it because it’s not Conservative Party money’.”

On Sunday a Conservative Party spokesperson said its investigation was now complete and had found there had not been a misuse of funds – but that it had identified a “pattern of behaviour that falls below the standards expected of MPs”.

“The money in question that was sent to Mark Menzies MP was signed off by the two signatories of Fylde Westminster Group,” the spokesperson said.

“This body sits outside of the remit of both the Conservative Party and Fylde Conservative Association. Therefore we cannot conclude that there has been a misuse of Conservative Party funds.

“However, we do believe that there has been a pattern of behaviour that falls below the standards expected of MPs and individuals looking after donations to local campaign funds which lie outside the direct jurisdiction of the Conservative Party.

“We will therefore be commencing with retraining individuals across the party on how to manage these accounts which fall outside of the remit of the Conservative Party and are introducing a whistleblowing helpline.”

They continued: “Furthermore, whilst outside of the initial scope of this investigation, there has also been a recommendation that the actions of the MP in question have also potentially breached the Nolan principals of public life.”

“This is due to the nature of the allegations made, but also the repetitive nature of these separate allegations. These will be reviewed by the Conservative Party’s member governance team.

“We will of course share any information with the police if they believe it would be helpful to any investigation they decide to undertake.

“Suggestions the party has not been seriously examining this matter are demonstrably false as we have worked to protect the identities of all those involved whilst the facts could be established.”

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Mayor of London has confidence in Met Police chief – after force apologises for officer’s ‘openly Jewish’ comments

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PM 'appalled' at Met Police 'openly Jewish' exchange - but Sadiq Khan has full confidence in commissioner

Sadiq Khan has confidence in Met Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley despite him facing calls to quit over the force’s handling of a recent pro-Palestine protest, Sky News understands.

It comes after Energy Secretary Claire Coutinho told Sky News that the incident in London – in which an officer was captured on video calling a man “openly Jewish” and threatening him with arrest – was “completely wrong” and that “what happens next” with regard to Sir Mark was a “matter for the Labour London mayor”.

Sky News understands that Sir Mark does still retain the confidence of Mr Khan, who as mayor has the power to effectively sack the commissioner – but can only do so with the permission of the home secretary, who can also require the mayor to dismiss the head of the Met.

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A spokesperson for the London mayor said: “Everybody must feel safe going about in London wherever they please. The way the original incident was dealt with by the Met was concerning and the original response put out by them was insensitive and wrong.

“The Met have an extremely difficult job – particularly so when it comes to operational decisions taken while policing marches.

“But in the end the Met must have the confidence of the communities they serve and it is right that they have apologised for the way the incident was handled and their original public response.”

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Coutinho: Met has ‘got it wrong’

Mr Rowley, who replaced Cressida Dick as Met commissioner in 2022, is facing calls to quit following the officer’s interaction with Gideon Falter, the chief executive of the Campaign Against Antisemitism.

In the video, an officer appears to prevent Mr Falter from crossing the road and tells him: “You are quite openly Jewish. This is a pro-Palestinian march. I am not accusing you of anything, but I am worried about the reaction to your presence.”

Mr Falter, who was wearing a yarmulke and said he was simply walking past after attending synagogue, was then threatened with arrest if he did not leave the area.

He told Sky News that Londoners cannot have confidence in the Met under Sir Mark’s leadership and accused the commissioner of “victim blaming” following the incident, for which he has received two apologies.

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New video of ‘openly Jewish’ row

Mr Falter was joined in his call for Sir Mark to go by former home secretary Suella Braverman, who said there had been “failure after failure by the Met” over the last six months.

In an interview with Sunday Morning with Trevor Phillips, Ms Coutinho repeatedly declined to say whether Sir Mark should quit following the incident, but said what happened was “completely wrong”.

“It’s not right that one group of people in society should be told they can’t go around their daily lives because it might be a provocation to someone else,” she said.

“That’s not how equality works in this country.

“So I do think they’ve got it wrong. I think it’s right that they’ve apologised, and ultimately, what happens next is a matter for the Labour London Mayor who has the responsibility to hold the Met to account.”

On Sunday morning, the Board of Deputies of British Jews issued a statement in which it called for an “urgent meeting” with Sir Mark following “a series of high-profile errors” regarding its policing of pro-Palestine marches.

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“The Metropolitan Police has made a series of high-profile errors in their responses to these demonstrations,” the statement read.

“The entirely avoidable mistakes have had a devastating effect on the previously high level of trust held by the UK’s Jewish community in the police.

“We have written to the commissioner to ask for an urgent meeting to reinforce the gravity of the situation and to begin to repair this grievous loss of confidence.”

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Met resignation is ‘not the way forward’

Labour’s shadow justice secretary Shabana Mahmood said the Met had “not covered themselves in glory” over the incident with Mr Falter but that she did not agree with calls for Sir Mark to resign.

“I can understand the strength of feeling and as I say that footage was very concerning, and I can understand where Mr Falter is coming from,” she told Sunday Morning with Trevor Phillips.

“But I don’t think that the resignation of the Met’s commissioner is the way forward.”

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Liz Truss refuses to apologise for sparking mortgage rate rise – but admits one failing as PM

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Liz Truss refuses to apologise for sparking mortgage rate rise - but admits one failing as PM

Liz Truss has acknowledged she and her government lost the confidence of financial markets following the mini-budget of October 2022 – but has refused to apologise to homeowners for higher interest rates.

Talking to Sky News, the former prime minister blamed her downfall on the Bank of England, primarily governor Andrew Bailey. However, she said she did not meet Mr Bailey once during her time in office.

“I actually had a meeting set up – I wanted to meet him,” she said. “But I was advised that would be a bad idea. And perhaps I shouldn’t have taken that advice.

“But that advice came from the cabinet secretary and what I didn’t want to do is further exacerbate the [market] problems.

“In retrospect, yes, I probably should have spoken directly to the governor of the Bank of England at the time.”

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Asked about the aftermath of the mini-budget, at which her chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng announced a series of unfunded tax cuts, without presenting evidence of how he would pay for them, Ms Truss said: “It’s fair to say that the government did not have the confidence of the markets…

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“But if you have organisations within the state, like the Bank of England, like the Office of Budget Responsibility, who are pretty clear to people they don’t support the policies that are being pursued and are essentially undermining those policies, then it is difficult to command the confidence in the markets – because the markets look to the government for that leadership.”

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A look back: Truss’s time as PM

During Ms Truss’s short time in office, the expected path for the Bank’s interest rate a year ahead rose from below 4% to around 6%.

While those rates were increasing before the fiscal event, they shot up dramatically in the wake of the mini-budget, rising even further when, a few days later, Mr Kwarteng promised even more tax cuts.

That sharp increase in interest rates precipitated a short-lived crisis in UK financial markets, which triggered the near collapse of liability-driven investment (LDI) funds which underlie the pension market.

Asked whether she would apologise for the sharp rise in interest rates during her time in office, Ms Truss said: “I question the premise of what you’re asking me, because mortgage rates have gone up across the world.

“The issues that I faced in office, were issues of not being able to deliver the agenda because of a deep resistance within the establishment.”

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Liz Truss beside Kwasi Kwarteng at the mini-budget announcement in September 2022. Pic: UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor/Handout via Reuters
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Liz Truss beside Kwasi Kwarteng at the mini-budget announcement in September 2022. Pic: UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor/Handout via Reuters

She continued: “I think it’s wrong to suggest that I’m responsible for British people paying higher mortgages. That is something that has happened in every country in the free world.

“I’m not saying that I got everything absolutely perfect in the way the policy was communicated. But what I am saying is I faced real resistance and actions by the Bank of England that undermine my policy and created the problems in the market.”

Ms Truss was talking to Sky News in Washington DC on the US leg of her publicity tour for her new book, Ten Years To Save the West.

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Since publication it has emerged that one of the quotes she used in the book, attributed to Mayer Amschel Rothschild, is in fact a fake quote, often used in an antisemitic context.

Ms Truss said: “I’m very sorry about that. It was a complete mistake. It was something I found online and I’ve said I’m very sorry to the British Board of Deputies for that.

“It will be removed from all future editions of the book and removed from the Online Edition.”

Asked whether she feels more at home in the US than in the UK these days, she said: “Well, I do like aspects of American politics. I believe that on economics the US has got it more right than the UK has.

“My heart’s in Britain. But I think you’ve got to be prepared to learn from other countries that have that success.”

You can watch the full interview with the former prime minister on Sky News’s Sunday Morning with Trevor Phillips programme from 8.30am this morning. Trevor is also joined by Energy Security and Net Zero Secretary Claire Coutinho, shadow justice secretary Shabana Mahmood and Reform UK leader Richard Tice.

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