FirstFT: UK sets collision course with EU under plans to redraw Brexit treaty

The UK will put itself on a collision course with Brussels today by unveiling a set of demands that would overhaul post-Brexit trading arrangements between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Lord David Frost, Cabinet Office minister, will outline what officials called a “wholesale change of approach” that seeks to eliminate most of the checks on the Irish Sea trade border that came into force in January.

In a warning that Britain could suspend the Northern Ireland protocol if the EU does not give way, Frost will claim the UK is already within its rights to activate the Article 16 override clause in the agreement.

The new UK position is likely to infuriate Brussels. Under the terms of the Northern Ireland protocol agreed by Johnson in 2019 to avoid the return of a hard border in Ireland, all goods shipped from Great Britain to the region must follow the EU’s rules for customs and agrifood products.

Five more stories in the news

1. Jeff Bezos touches space The Amazon founder-turned-private space entrepreneur reached the lower reaches of space early yesterday after a series of long delays. He thanked “every Amazon employee, and every Amazon customer, because you guys paid for all this”. Blue Origin’s successful mission was a moment to savour but Elon Musk’s SpaceX remains streets ahead.

“All polluting industry will move off Earth, and Earth will end up zoned residential.” — Jeff Bezos

Jeff Bezos leaves the capsule of the New Shepard craft after its flight on Tuesday
Jeff Bezos leaves the capsule of the New Shepard craft after its flight yesterday © Blue Origin/AFP via Getty Images

2. Trump ally charged with illegally acting as UAE agent Tom Barrack, former chief executive of Colony Capital who was one of Donald Trump’s earliest supporters in his 2016 presidential campaign, has been arrested and charged with illegally acting as an agent of the United Arab Emirates.

3. UBS launches portfolio for women-led hedge funds The Swiss bank’s asset management arm has launched a portfolio that invests solely in hedge funds led by women in an effort to improve diversity and spot talent in the male-dominated sector. Female representation in hedge funds, at 18.6 per cent, is the second-lowest across seven alternative asset classes.

4. Netflix sheds subscribers The streaming group lost 430,000 subscribers in the US and Canada in the second quarter and issued weaker than expected forecasts, rekindling investor doubts about how the market leader will fare after the economic reopening from the pandemic.

5. US envoy: China must cut emissions Beijing must reduce emissions this decade if the planet is to avoid climate “chaos”, US climate envoy John Kerry told the Financial Times as he issued a stark assessment that the world was falling short on its environmental pledges.

  • Read more: Climate change has arrived in China, with unseasonably high temperatures over 35C contributing to the worst power shortage in a decade.

Coronavirus digest

  • Wall Street clawed back losses yesterday from a global rout a day earlier.

  • Blood sample tests in Italy have revived a debate over whether coronavirus was circulating in Europe as early as October 2019, before Chinese authorities confirmed the first case in Wuhan.

  • China’s commitment to achieving zero Covid cases means most of its citizens will probably remain cut off from the world until the year-end or even into 2022.

  • Myanmar’s cases have more than doubled every week. The situation is particularly lethal because of public mistrust of the military regime.

  • The Delta variant accounts for more than 80 per cent of new cases in the US, health officials said. Republican voters less likely than Democrats to get a jab. Here’s why.

The 1m children who have lost a parent in the pandemic need urgent government support or they face long-term harm, writes Seth Flaxman, a senior lecturer at Imperial College London. Follow our live coronavirus blog and sign up for our Coronavirus Business Update newsletter for more.

The day ahead

Earnings Johnson & Johnson, which is part of a proposed $26bn settlement to resolve claims that it helped fuel the opioid crisis, releases second-quarter results today. The group last month agreed a $230m settlement with New York state to settle similar claims.

  • Also reporting earnings: Coca-Cola, Dutch chip equipment supplier ASML, which recently earned top billing as a climate leader by MSCI, Verizon, software and services provider SAP, United Airlines, Daimler, Harley-Davidson, Novartis and Akzo Nobel.

What else we’re reading

Europe’s expensive chip plan The EU is seeking to launch itself into the global premier league of semiconductor manufacturing, setting a goal of doubling its share of the global chip market by 2030. But will it end up squandering public money chasing geopolitical ambitions that may not be supported by industrial and market logic?

It is time to embrace central bank digital currencies How should central banks respond to digital technology? The answer is partly that they and governments have to get a grip on the wild west of private money. But they must introduce digital currencies of their own, argues Martin Wolf.

How Israel used NSO spyware as diplomatic calling card The Israeli company assailed by rights activists for selling military-grade surveillance software to repressive regimes played a crucial role in its government’s attempts to woo countries such as the UAE, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, revealing the tech unicorn’s close ties with the highest echelons of the Israeli state.

Corporate values must go beyond buzzwords Official statements of corporate values are often a maddening mix of hokum and gibberish. Integrity, innovation, respect, responsibility and sustainability topped the list of popular buzzwords over the past two years. Brooke Masters suspects their popularity lies in the fact that they are extremely hard to measure.

We can no longer say floods are an act of God Western citizens have come to think of the worst floods as happening elsewhere, in the developing world. But the modern city, a fortress of tarmac and concrete, marvel of modern civil engineering, has left us with a false sense of security. That dam might be about to burst, writes Joy Lo Dico.


When it comes to summer suits, creased is the word As with many things, the summer suit is heading for reinvention. Nicholas Foulkes explains how men are embracing the post-lockdown art of casual dressing up.

Matt Damon and Jude Law in ‘The Talented Mr Ripley’ (1999)
Matt Damon, left, and Jude Law in ‘The Talented Mr Ripley’ (1999)

View original post