• Starmer: Labour would vote down Canada-style Brexit deal: The shadow Brexit secretary, Keir Starmer, has said during a visit to Brussels that Labour would vote against the proposed EU-UK free trade deal that is now being backed by Michel Barnier and David Davis, leaving such an arrangement with scant hope of being passed by parliament. The former cabinet ministers Davis, Boris Johnson and the EU’s chief negotiator have suggested in recent days that a Canada-style deal that avoids tariffs on imports but only minimises checks on imports rather than avoids them is the way forward. But Starmer told the Guardian that while he agreed with the European commission and Tory Eurosceptic MPs including Jacob Rees-Mogg that the Chequers proposals were dead, Labour would not accept the alternative plan. Theresa May’s central proposals of customs facilitation and a common rulebook on goods but not for services “cannot form the basis of a deal”, Starmer said. It was therefore vital, he said, that May moved to support a deal that brought the UK further into the EU’s orbit, by negotiating a new customs union and signing up to EU acquis on both services and goods while accept the jurisdiction of a common court. (The Guardian)
  • Northern UK ports prepare for freight boost after Brexit: Ports in northern England are preparing for an influx of freight as shipping companies seek alternatives to Dover after Brexit as fears mount of lengthy delays at the main sea links with the Continent. Associated British Ports is set to announce a £36m investment in its container terminal at Immingham on the Humber on Thursday after spending £14m at nearby Hull last year. ABP predicted a further 50 per cent increase in traffic by 2020. Nearby Hull is growing by more than 10 per cent annually. Dover and the Channel tunnel in 2017 handled half the freight shipped by container and truck from the so called “short sea market” – an arc from Denmark to Portugal. If new checks are imposed after March, analysts have said that adding another two minutes’ processing time for each truck would lead to a 17-mile queue of traffic outside the port, which handles up to 10,000 freight vehicles daily. It has been calculated that as much as a fifth of container trade from Dover and the Channel tunnel could move to alternative crossings. Around 90 per cent of containers from deep-sea crossings enter the UK through the south, but more than half of that cargo is destined for places north of Birmingham. That is because most comes on huge ships from Asia to megaports in London, Rotterdam and Antwerp. Northern routes are also growing in popularity as companies try to cut carbon emissions and ship direct to their markets. Each mile at sea uses less energy than one on the congested motorway network. (Financial Times)
  • NHS bill for hiring non-UK staff could hit £500m post-Brexit: The NHS could face a bill of almost £500m a year to hire overseas staff as a result of Brexit and the government’s immigration policies, hospital doctors have said. The Royal College of Physicians (RCP) has calculated that the costs of recruiting EU and non-EU staff could more than triple from the current £150m a year if freedom of movement ends as a result of Brexit. The money would be spent on paying for visas to enable staff to work in the UK and also the £200-a-year immigration health surcharge, which even health professionals coming to work from abroad in the understaffed NHS have to pay for themselves and every member of their family. Goddard, the Royal College of Physician`s president said that given the higher costs, the NHS would have to find £105m a year to recruit staff that previously attracted no immigration costs because of freedom of movement. Visa charges would push the total cost of employing them to £150m, he estimated, and the NHS would also face a further potential liability of £225m for visas for their relatives. A third extra cost, for employing health staff from outside the EU, would push the NHS’s total bill up to a potential £490m a year, Goddard calculated. (The Guardian)