• No-deal Brexit could result in Northern Ireland blackouts, leaks reveal – Northern Ireland faces blackouts and drastic electricity price rises in the event of a no-deal Brexit, leaked government documents reveal. The country would likely be cut off from electricity supplies from the Republic of Ireland and unable to use its sole electricity link to the UK mainland, according to an internal briefing. Officials have been warning for months that Northern Ireland’s electricity market could collapse, triggering “unprecedented consequences” and forcing authorities to prepare to take energy infrastructure into public ownership to keep the lights on. (The Guardian)
  • UK could use Brexit to avoid EU ban on antibiotics overuse in farming – UK farmers could be allowed to use powerful antibiotics in ways soon to be banned by the European Union, after the government was accused of using Brexit to avoid implementing tougher rules on animal health. New rules aimed at curbing overuse of the drugs are being brought in by the European commission, but they will not come into effect before the Brexit cut-off date in March. The Guardian understands that government animal health experts have been advising vets and farmers they will therefore not have to implement the change. A divergence from EU rules could allow farmers and vets in the UK to dose healthy animals through their feed, as well as those diagnosed with illnesses – while EU farmers will be prevented from doing so. Campaigners say this is irresponsible misuse of antibiotics that can lead to resistance and should be stopped in line with European rules. (The Guardian)
  • ‘No deal Brexit’ would damage both sides, warns ex-EU boss – Both sides in the Brexit negotiations face “enormous negative consequences” if they fail to reach a deal, a former EU commissioner has warned. Franz Fischler was EU Commissioner for Agriculture, Rural Development and Fisheries between 1995 and 2004. Mr Fischler told BBC Wales there was a “clear risk” the UK would leave without a deal. “Nobody should argue [that would] only damage the UK,” he said, predicting “huge damage for both sides”. Mr Fischler said he believed Brexit had been a wake-up call for the EU. (BBC)
  • Brussels must show more flexibility in Brexit talks, says German business chief – Brussels risks forcing Theresa May into a ‘no deal’ Brexit scenario unless it offers more flexibility on the Chequers proposal, the head of German Industry UK has warned. Dr Bernd Atenstaedt, whose trade body represents more than 100 UK-based German firms, including Airbus and BMW, said he was “very disappointed” by the EU’s flat rejection of Chequers at a summit in Austria last week. “We were very happy with Chequers as it proposed a common rule book and would permit some free movement of skilled workers. We even issued a statement at the time welcoming it.” Dr Atenstaedt commented. (The Telegraph)
  • Brexiters failed to grasp significance of single market to EU, says Brussels chief – Brexiters have been left “flabbergasted” by the EU’s refusal to back down in divorce talks because the UK has never understood that the single market is seen as vital to the political, as well as economic, stability of the continent, according to the European commission’s vice-president. Frans Timmermans also expressed the hope that the UK might yet change its mind on Brexit now it “has seen the facts”. There had been no intention to humiliate Theresa May at the recent Salzburg summit, he said. But he added that the British prime minister had no reason to be surprised by the EU negotiating stance since “she had been told time and time again” by the chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, that her Chequers proposals were unacceptable. (The Guardian)