London and Brussels have secured a breakthrough in the corrosive dispute over Northern Ireland’s post-Brexit trading relations, clearing the way for a new push to resolve the longstanding issue.
After months of deadlock and acrimony, the UK and EU issued a joint statement yesterday proclaiming a tentative deal that would give Brussels access to the UK’s IT systems for trade across the Irish Sea.
The statement described the talks between James Cleverly, UK foreign secretary, and Maroš Šefčovič, European Commission vice-president, as “cordial and constructive”. An EU official said: “It’s looking good.”
Cleverly and Šefčovič will meet again on January 16, with EU and UK officials hoping the two sides could agree shortly afterwards to enter a final negotiating “tunnel” to resolve significant outstanding issues.
Securing a deal will be complex and fraught with political danger, not least for UK prime minister Rishi Sunak, whose Eurosceptic Tory MPs could turn against him if he is seen to have “sold out” to Brussels.
Five more stories in the news
1. UK weighs supplying Ukraine with tanks Britain is assessing the merits of supplying Ukraine with Challenger 2 tanks to fight Russia’s invasion. If the deal goes through, it would be the first time a western country has provided Kyiv with modern heavy battle tanks.
2. Cornwall satellite fails to gain orbit Britain’s historic attempt to launch the first commercial satellites from western Europe failed yesterday night when Virgin Orbit’s LauncherOne rocket suffered an “anomaly” that prevented it from reaching orbit. The failed mission is a severe blow for the UK, which had hoped to beat rival spaceports in Norway and Sweden.
3. White House under pressure to expel Bolsonaro After violent riots in Brazil by supporters of the country’s ex-president Jair Bolsonaro, Joe Biden is under pressure from Congress to expel him from the US. Bolsonaro, who faces investigations from his time as president including into allegations of spreading election misinformation, has been staying in self-imposed exile in Florida since leaving office.
4. Toyota leasing unit warns of EV challenge A senior executive at a Toyota leasing subsidiary warned that the world’s largest carmaker is confronting an “unprecedented” challenge to revive sales for its first mass-produced all-electric car. The company risks missing its already low target in Japan for the second consecutive year.
5. China’s Tesla owners protest over price cuts Tesla owners in big cities across China are protesting against the carmaker’s price cuts, upset that their vehicles have lost a significant amount of value. The protests come as Tesla grapples with slowing EV sales in China and increasingly fierce competition from domestic rivals.
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The day ahead
Economic data The British Retail Consortium releases its retail sales monitor for December, while the UK Recruitment & Employment Confederation publishes its monthly jobs report. France has industrial production figures for November.
Global Economic Prospects report The World Bank launches the winter edition of its semi-annual global economic forecast.
Bank of England governor to speak Andrew Bailey chairs a panel discussion on central bank independence and potential future risks at an event hosted by Sweden’s Riksbank.
Meloni hosts Kishida in Italy Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni hosts her Japanese counterpart Fumio Kishida in Rome.
Corporate earnings Recruitment consultancy Robert Walters has a fourth-quarter trading update, while UK games maker Games Workshop releases first-half results.
What else we’re reading
Joe Biden’s claim to presidential greatness Like Harry Truman and Lyndon Johnson, Joe Biden is an underestimated former vice-president who is excelling in the Oval Office. Though a second term may seem a stretch, don’t bet against him, writes Gideon Rachman.
How the Murdochs could battle for control The dilemmas of succession, shared control and tangled family loyalties have dogged Rupert Murdoch’s career. Now, they are set to fall heavily on the media dynasty’s next generation. With a $27bn plan in motion to reunite Fox and News Corp, one question looms: will the rest of the family let Murdoch’s eldest son and chosen heir Lachlan run the show?
Xi Jinping’s plan to reset China Amid a chaotic exit from Covid-19 lockdowns, Beijing is looking to reduce its international isolation and boost its growth rate. The motivation behind the reset: a confluence of economic, social and foreign policy stresses that have reached critical levels, say Chinese officials and government advisers.
TikTok undercuts rivals with cheap ads An increasing amount of ad spend is moving away from Twitter and Meta to TikTok, as the social media platform offers lower rates and better engagement than its rivals, advertisers say, setting up a battle for growth amid a slowdown in online spending.
Pakistan secures $9bn to recover from floods International lenders and governments have pledged more than $9bn to help Pakistan rebuild from last year’s catastrophic floods, but analysts say the aid will not alleviate the country’s immediate cash crunch. The government has enforced cost-saving measures such as energy rationing and companies have slashed production.
Take a break from the news
Who is the Peruvian novelist and playwright who won the Nobel Literature Prize in 2010? Give 1-down a try in our crossword puzzle.