UK demand rewrite of Brexit deal for Northern Ireland

Britain and the European Union are at loggerheads over government demands to rewrite the Brexit deal for Northern Ireland and strip EU courts of their right to police the agreement. Read more: UK demand rewrite of Brexit deal for Northern Ireland

UK demand rewrite of Brexit deal for Northern Ireland

Britain and the European Union are at loggerheads over government demands to rewrite the Brexit deal for Northern Ireland and strip EU courts of their right to police the agreement.

In a series of proposals published yesterday ministers said Brussels must allow goods that do not meet European standards to continue to be sold in the province and reduce the number of checks on products being sent across the Irish sea.

Lord Frost, the Brexit minister, also insisted the EU must give up its right to take disputes over the Northern Ireland protocol to the European Court of Justice.

It came as the chairman of Marks & Spencer, Archie Norman, said there would likely be “gaps on shelves” in Northern Ireland once light-touch export rules end in September.

“This Christmas, I can tell you already, we’re having to make decisions to delist product for Northern Ireland because it’s simply not worth the risk of trying to get it through,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. “We’ve already made that decision. We’re waiting to see how serious it’s going to be, but if it’s anything like southern Ireland [the Republic of Ireland], and at the moment it’s set to be, then it’s going to be very, very serious for customers.”

He added: “It risks being incendiary for the public in Northern Ireland because you can’t think of a more visible demonstration of how you’re not a full part of the UK than you can’t get your favourite Christmas products. You can’t buy M&S chicken, free-range eggs, sandwiches.”

Lord Frost stopped short of warning that the UK would trigger Article 16 of the protocol, despite claiming that the conditions to activate it had been met. Under the agreement Article 16 — suspending all or part of the treaty — can be triggered unilaterally if it is causing significant damage to the economy and society.

Frost said the UK preferred to try negotiating changes to the protocol to address the government’s concerns, but he did not rule out using the mechanism if it was needed.

In an article in The Times today he says the “ball is now in the EU’s court” and urges Brussels “to think carefully” about the proposals.

“There is a huge prize on offer here – stability in Northern Ireland and a better relationship between us as Europeans,” he writes. “Moving away from established positions, and being ready to compromise.”

The UK side described its proposals as constructive but privately admitted it would require renegotiating the protocol that was only agreed with the EU 18 months ago. This was rejected by the European Commission’s vice-president, Maros Sefcovic, who said “respecting international legal obligations is of paramount importance”.

“We will continue to engage with the UK (and) are ready to continue to seek creative solutions, within the framework of the protocol, in the interest of all communities in Northern Ireland. However, we will not agree to a renegotiation. Joint action in the joint bodies established by the withdrawal agreement will be of paramount importance over the coming months. We must prioritise stability and predictability in Northern Ireland.”

This was echoed by the Irish premier Micheal Martin, who said: “We’ve made it very clear to the UK government that the mechanisms exist within the withdrawal agreement for issues that need to be resolved within the operation of the protocol.”

Ministers said they wanted to engage in “productive” talks with the EU over the changes. Outlining the proposals in the Lords, Frost said the government was suggesting a standstill in the ongoing disputes over the protocol to give time for the talks to take place. But he warned that, even with the current exemptions, the situation was unsustainable and that Britain would be in its rights to unilaterally terminate elements of the agreement.

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UK demand rewrite of Brexit deal for Northern Ireland

Source : Business Matters More   

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BrewDog hit by £13m loss as bars close due to Covid despite craft beer boom

BrewDog swung into the red last year as booming sales of its craft beers online during Covid-19 pandemic lockdowns failed to offset the impact of bar closures. Read more: BrewDog hit by £13m loss as bars close due to Covid despite craft beer boom

BrewDog hit by £13m loss as bars close due to Covid despite craft beer boom

BrewDog swung into the red last year as booming sales of its craft beers online during Covid-19 pandemic lockdowns failed to offset the impact of bar closures.

The Aberdeenshire-based company sank to a £13.1m pre-tax loss in 2020.

This was despite reporting revenues of £238m for the year, 10% higher than in 2019.

BrewDog’s co-founder James Watt called the revenue increase during the year “the most significant achievement in our short history” for the firm, founded in 2007, and backed by 130,000 small shareholders, with its beer now stocked in bars and supermarkets.

After the pandemic closed hospitality venues around much of the globe, BrewDog switched to selling its beers through its online shop. Thirsty customers pushed its e-commerce revenues up by 900% compared with 2019, as it shipped 750,000 orders in 12 months.

BrewDog called its online shop “one of the most important divisions of our entire global operation” during 2020, and has further rolled out its e-commerce platform to Europe, the US and Australia.

Before the pandemic took hold, the brewer had expected to make 40% of its revenue from more than 100 bars, located around the world, from Sheffield to Shanghai and Berlin to Brisbane.

BrewDog, which employs 1,600 people globally, said the pandemic had not dented its plans to continue opening more venues. It is working on 30 new locations – including bars and hotels – in cities such as Manchester, Mumbai and Milan.

The firm, which switched to making hand sanitiser at its Aberdeenshire distillery in the early weeks of the pandemic, said it had produced 12,000 bottles for the NHS.

Watt called 2020 “without a doubt the toughest year in our 13-year history”. He said the company’s team “galvanised in the fire and adversity of the last nine months, is also stronger than it has ever been”.

That comes only weeks after BrewDog apologised to former employees who accused Watt and the company in an open letter of fostering a “culture of fear” in which workers were bullied and “treated like objects”.

In the open letter, circulated on Twitter, 61 former workers alleged that the Scottish brewer’s dizzyingly rapid growth had involved cutting corners on health and safety, and creating a “toxic” culture that left staff suffering from mental illness.

Watt released an update earlier this month on the company’s response to the claims by the group calling themselves Punks with Purpose. He said the firm has launched an independent review of the culture within BrewDog, has sent out an anonymous staff survey and has committed to creating an employee representative group.

BrewDog said a structural review showed the business was “under-resourced in certain areas” after the growth in beer volumes and is hiring about 100 new staff.

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BrewDog hit by £13m loss as bars close due to Covid despite craft beer boom

Source : Business Matters More   

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