51. Weekly Newsletter

Brexit Talks

Over the weekend, PM Johnson and EC President von der Leyen said it was “responsible at this point to go the extra mile” during Brexit trade talks. Disagreements continue over the EU’s insistence to hold onto their £600m of fish, caught in British waters each year, due to President Macron wanting to gain support from French fishing communities. In the event of a no-deal: the Royal Navy have prepared four patrol ships to protect British fishing waters from EU vessels. However, business leaders have also welcomed the continuation of talks, with the director general of the BCC saying “if a few more hours or days makes the difference, keep going”.

PM Johnson and President von der Leyen have lately been depicted as having more in common than previously appreciated with von der Leyen was described in The Sunday Times as an “Anglophile”. Furthermore, the two even went to the same school in Brussels and similarly run very large families. Despite these positive circumstances: on Friday the UK and EU both suggested that a no-deal Brexit is now the most likely outcome. The British Government have prepared a useful website to prepare for this and extensive preparations for every possible outcome.

UK Food Supplies

The British public have been told not to stockpile food ahead of the new year when the nation stops trading under EU rules. Media coverage over “panic buying”, due to Brexit, has led to a rise in demand for the UK supermarkets which has also been coupled with customers stocking up for Christmas in lockdown too. The Institute for Government estimates that Brexit preparations will have come to a cost of £8.1bn by the end of the year as the Europe’s second largest economy prepares to leave the world’s largest trading bloc.

On the other hand, businesses have also been stockpiling which has led to the ports on both sides of the Channel entering a gridlock. Each year 3.4 million lorries cross the Channel and 85% of these are operated by EU hauliers (typically paid per km rather than per hour) who may now choose to reduce operations on this route. Approximately 26% of all the agri-food consumed in the UK is imported from the EU (worth around £36bn) and, across all sectors, the UK holds an enormous £79bn trade deficit with the trading bloc- despite having a £49bn surplus with non-EU countries.

COVID Update

So far, almost 1.9m people have tested positive and over 64,000 have died due COVID. Plus, schools across London have been closed since Monday (14th January), at the request of the Mayor, due to the city experiencing a spike in cases in the run up to Christmas. Furthermore, this latest surge will likely lead to much of the capital being placed into the strictest form of lockdown (Tier 3) from the 16th of December during the next Government COVID review.

On the 8th of December the UK began vaccinations, in Coventry, with the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID vaccine in what has been dubbed “V Day”. Each patient will require 2 doses 21 days apart with care home residents and staff being the first to receive this. The second person to receive

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