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Brexit day was celebrated around the country on January 31, but there is still a lot of talk and negotiation to come. The UK is currently more than halfway through the transition year during which the UK and EU will negotiate their future relationship. The deadline for extending this transition period has not passed, but what is the latest news on Brexit?
The UK formally left the European Union earlier this year bringing an end to Britain’s 47-year membership on January 31.
Although Brexit has been out of the news for several months, dwarfed by coronavirus, it has returned in recent weeks.
This year, the UK will need to agree the terms and conditions for its future relationship with the EU bloc.
These negotiations will need to conclude by December 31, 2020, or the UK will leave with No Deal.
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Where is the UK in these negotiations?
The divorce deal, known as the Withdrawal Agreement, dealt with a number of factors including EU citizens living in Britain, the amount the UK owed the bloc and transition period.
This deal came into effect on January 31.
In the future, the EU and UK will decide their future trading arrangements with both wanting a free trade agreement which would mean no charges or tariffs on goods bought and sold.
Negotiations between the UK and EU have been difficult as both sides have argued strongly on particular points.
Reportedly post-Brexit talks with the EU have turned sour after the UK escalated tensions by accusing Brussels of only offering a “low-quality” trade deal.
There are a number of contentious issues in the trade talks including the level playing field, fishing and the EU’s concerns the UK will not live up to its previously agreed commitments.
The UK has said the EU is asking for too much, while the EU has said the UK is unwilling to compromise and that Britain needs to adhere to EU rules to ensure fair competition, which is called the level playing field.
The EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier accused the UK of attempting to “pick and choose the most attractive elements of the single market without the obligations.”
Fishing is a contentious issue because the UK wishes to sell fish caught by British boats to Europe.
But in return the EU wants its vessels to have access to UK waters.
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Recently, a group of MPs questioned the Government’s ability to meet its promise of “unfettered” trade between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.
The Northern Ireland Affairs Committee has been examining the NI part of the Brexit deal, known as the protocol.
The Committee said unfettered access will need a concession from the EU which has not yet been granted.
The Government, however, has said beginning in January when these new conditions take effect, there will be no new processes for Northern Ireland to UK trade.
In addition, this week MPs defeated an attempt by Tory backbenchers to ensure parliament has a vote on any post-Brexit trade deal.
The amendment to the Trade Bill is currently making its way through the House of Commons and would have given MPs and peers a vote on any new agreement signed by the Government,
Conservative MP Jonathan Djanogly led the rebellion, arguing the US congress would approve this type of deal and therefore parliament should have the same rights.
He accused the government of taking a position of “less scrutiny than we did as a member of the EU”, because EU trade deals are subject to a vote in the European Parliament.
The amendment was rejected by 263 votes to 326, a majority of 63.
MPs setting out the Russia report have told Boris Johnson to order an assessment of “potential” Russian meddling in the Brexit referendum.
The long-awaited Russia report was published this week by the Intelligence and Security Committee, covering a number of areas from allegations of Russian interference in the EU referendum to Russia’s “malicious” cyber activities.
The 42-page report does not come to a final conclusion on the Brexit vote query.
Instead, it cites “open source” studies which pointed to: “pro-Brexit or anti-EU stories on RT and Sputnik, and the use of ‘bots’ and ‘trolls’, as evidence of Russian attempts to influence the process.”
Open source means publicly available information such as Russian news outlets.
Research by Swansea University and the University of California, for example, identified more than 150,000 Russian accounts that tweeted about Brexit ahead of the vote.
The ISC asked the security service whether it had “secret intelligence” to back up open-source studies, but the report said this inquiry was responded to in just six lines of text.
Those six lines were omitted from the published report.
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