France detains British trawler in post-Brexit fishing row – live

Today’s daily politics briefing

France has detained a British fishing boat and given a verbal warning to another operating in waters off its coast, the French government has said.

The two English ships were fined during checks off Le Havre, a port in France’s Normandy region, the French maritime minister Annick Girardin said in a statement on Twitter this morning. “The first did not comply spontaneously: verbalisation,” she tweeted. “The second did not have a licence to fish in our waters: diverted to the quay and handed over to the judicial authority.”

It comes after France said on Wednesday it would bar the UK’s fishing boats from French waters from next week if no deal is reached with the UK, as tensions mount between the two nations over post-Brexit arrangements.

Meanwhile, the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) has found Britain’s exit from the EU will be more damaging to the economy than the pandemic. John Springford, deputy director at the Centre for European Reform, told The Independent: “I’m pretty confident that the impact of Brexit in the long run will be greater than Covid.”

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Chancellor appears to confuse Bury for Burnley – in interview from Bury

While speaking to BBC Breakfast today, the chancellor appeared to mix up the name of the Greater Manchester town he was conducting his broadcast interviews in, referring to Bury market as the “world famous Burnley market”.

It came after presenter Ben Thompson told Rishi Sunak he originated from Burnley, in Lancashire.

Mr Sunak, answering a question about the government’s so-called levelling-up agenda, said: “It is not just about being in the north by the way, we’re here in Burnley but if you are growing up in a village in the southwest or even on the south coast, people want to feel opportunity is there for them, wherever they happen to be.”

He continued: “I put it down to two things. One is having pride in the place you call home and a lot of what we announced yesterday, the levelling-up fund – bids like Burnley market, world famous Burnley market, benefiting from £20m of investment.

“That’s going to create jobs. It is about improving the every day infrastructure of our communities.”

Burnley is 20 miles north of Bury.

Sam Hancock28 October 2021 08:42


Sunak defends decision not to cut VAT on home energy bills

Over to BBC Breakfast now, where Rishi Sunak defended his decision not to cut VAT on home energy bills to counter rising energy prices.

Asked on the programme why he did not make such a move, the chancellor claimed “it is not a particularly well-targeted measure, because people living in very large homes with large energy bills would disproportionately benefit from that”. He also pointed out “many independent experts and think tanks” had already made the same point.

“Actually, where we want to target support is on those who are a bit more vulnerable,” he continued.

“That is why just over a month ago, or around about then, we announced half-a-billion pounds in something called the household support fund, and that will provide £150 for about three million of our most vulnerable households, to help them with some of those higher bills through the winter period.”

Mr Sunak added: “I think that is a more targeted approach to get help to those who really need it, not a very large VAT cut, the bulk of the benefit of which would end up going to people with large homes with big bills who probably don’t need the help.”

Sam Hancock28 October 2021 08:40


Chancellor swerves question on his NI tax contribution

Rishi Sunak today refused to be drawn on whether his own National Insurance (NI) tax contribution is enough, amid continued complaints it is the people earning far less than people like him who will feel the rise the most.

Sky News’ Kay Burley told the chancellor her team had calculated his NI tax would come to £8,500 this year based on his £148,000 salary, to which Mr Sunak nodded enthusiastically.

“Given that you’re on a good salary, and given that you did very well in the City and you’re very comfortably off, do you think that is enough of a contribution by you?”

Mr Sunak replied, without actually answering the question, that NI was a “progressive way to raise money”.

Ms Burley cut in, after Mr Sunak spoke for some time about why NI tax was a “good thing”, to say he “wasn’t answering the question”. She added: “Do you think if you’re paying £8,500 in NI, and you’ve got a healthy bank balance like yours, that is fair? Is that levelling up?”

The chancellor then went on to give his definition of levelling up, without answering the question.

Sam Hancock28 October 2021 08:28


Sunak refuses to commit to cutting taxes before next election

Let’s hear from Rishi Sunak now. The chancellor has been talking to Sky News’ Kay Burley about his 2021 Budget, announced in the Commons yesterday.

Mr Sunak this morning refused to commit to cutting taxes before the next general election. Asked whether he would slash taxes before the next Westminster polling day, which is expected to be held by 2024, Mr Sunak said:

“We started cutting taxes yesterday, our priority being those on the lowest incomes. There is a tax cut for two million families [due to the reduction of the Universal Credit taper rate] and it is not going to come in as normal next April – it is going to come in, in a few weeks time so we can get help to people right now.

“But, as I said very clearly yesterday, my ambition is to lower taxes for people, that is what I would like to do as chancellor.

“We had to take some corrective action as a result of the crisis and the response we took to it, but hopefully that now is done and, as we demonstrated yesterday, our priority is to make sure that work pays, that we reward people’s efforts and I’m delighted we could make a start on that yesterday.”

Pressed on whether there would be income tax cuts before the next election, Mr Sunak replied only: “No, no – let’s talk about this Budget rather than all the other ones.”

Sam Hancock28 October 2021 08:07


Here’s Anna Isaac’s full report on the below:

Sam Hancock28 October 2021 07:58


Think-tank: Impact of Brexit on UK economy ‘will be greater than Covid’

Following my last post, our economics editor Anna Isaac reports the following:

John Springford, deputy director at the Centre for European Reform, told The Independent he is “pretty confident that the impact of Brexit in the long run will be greater than Covid”.

Mr Springford’s modelling of the impact of Brexit on the UK’s trade with the EU was used to help inform the OBR’s analysis

Richard Hughes, chairman of the OBR, said, in response to a question from The Independent, that the UK’s “plain vanilla trade agreement” with the EU compared with “not very significant offsetting effects from trade agreements with other countries, which meant we left the 4 per cent loss of potential output assumption over the medium term in our forecast”.

That compared with the most recent OBR estimate of GDP being 2 per cent smaller as a result of the pandemic, Mr Hughes said. Half the damage of the increased trade barriers with the EU. Imports and exports were down roughly 10-15 per cent with the EU post-Brexit and since the pandemic, compared with a smaller fall of around 7 per cent with the rest of the world.

“We’re less connected to the outside world than we used to before and this is as a result of the fact it’s become harder to trade with our critical trading partner”, he added.

Sam Hancock28 October 2021 07:57


Brexit ‘worse for UK economy than Covid,’ warns OBR

The impact of Brexit on the UK economy will be worse than that caused by the pandemic, according to the chairman of the UK fiscal watchdog.

Richard Hughes said the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) had assumed leaving the EU would “reduce our long run GDP by around 4 per cent”, adding in comments to the BBC: “We think that the effect of the pandemic will reduce that (GDP) output by a further 2 per cent.”

“In the long term it is the case that Brexit has a bigger impact than the pandemic”, Mr Hughes told the broadcaster hours after the OBR responded to Rishi Sunak’s latest Budget by saying it expected inflation to reach 4.4 per cent while warning it could hit “the highest rate seen in the UK for three decades”.

Sam Hancock28 October 2021 07:51


ICYMI: UK vows to retaliate if France enforces ‘illegal’ fishing sanctions

To understand the escalation of the UK-France fishing row, this from last night by Rory Sullivan is good reading.

The UK said it will retaliate in “an appropriate and calibrated” manner if France follows through with its threats to impose sanctions amid a dispute over fishing licences.

Downing Street responded angrily to a warning by the French government that…

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