Brexit wrangling between the UK and EU is still rumbling on as talks over Northern Ireland look set to move into next year. Brexit minister Lord David Frost and EU Vice-President of the European Commission Maroš Šefčovič will meet today to try and find a solution. As part of the trade deal between Brussels and London, both sides agreed to the Northern Ireland protocol, which keeps Northern Ireland in the bloc’s single market. This was done to ensure that the border on the island of Ireland stays open, but this has also led to difficulty moving goods between Northern Ireland and Great Britain.
While many figures in Europe have been critical of Brexit, a German newspaper said in February that it envies the UK.
Bild led with the headline “Britain, we envy you!” after the UK’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout got off to a flying start while EU nations lagged behind.
The article said that Britons “are reacting with overwhelming euphoria” as restrictions were set to be relieved in the summer.
The newspaper added: “While the British are already planning their summer vacation, Germany is stuck in lockdown.”
The American economics professor Tyler Cowen also said at the time that Britain is “grossly underrated”.
Ed Cumming, a writer for the Observer, said in February: “For those of us who like to talk Britain down, all this good news is hard to take.
“The vaccination figures are shocking. Nearly 20 million first doses administered. A forward-thinking procurement plan.
“The leading large nation, far ahead of the US and, more gallingly for us frothing Remoaners, miles ahead of Europe.
“Nothing could be more depressing for the honest self-loathing liberal Brit. You know the type. Recycle assiduously but fly once a fortnight.”
Fast forward to December 2021, the COVID-19 situation has been complicated by the threat of the Omicron variant.
While Europe and the UK both got their vaccine rollouts underway, various governments are now taking precautionary measures to try and stop the spread and prevent further mutations of the virus.
On Brexit, the UK Government has suffered setbacks this week.
Hopes of a US-UK trade deal were dealt another blow as Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s threat to trigger article 16 and suspend parts of the trade deal with the EU has provoked scepticism in Washington.
A communication sent by a US commerce official, seen by the Financial Times, says talks on easing the Donald Trump-era tariffs on steel cannot go ahead because of fears about the UK not abiding by the trade deal.
A former British ambassador to Washington warned the row showed UK trade will be held back until the Government stops “threatening to walk away from an international agreement they negotiated”.
The “troubled” relationship with the US confirmed long-held suspicions that the US will take actions necessary to “protect a peace they helped broker”, said Kim Darroch, now chair of the Best for Britain campaign group.
Brexit voting BBC staff scared into silence warns peer [INSIGHT]
Boris snaps: Macron’s ‘clown’ jibe backfires as UK hits back [ANALYSIS]
Biden snubs Brexit Britain and pushes back trade deal [INSIGHT]
The 25 percent tariff on steel and 10 percent tariff on aluminium were imposed by the Trump administration in a dispute with the EU.
However, the EU eventually reached a deal with the US to end the tariffs, while the UK is still being affected.
Mr Johnson’s spokesman said: “On the steel tariffs, we are working quite closely with the Biden administration.
“It is encouraging that they are taking steps to de-escalate the issue and we are very focused on agreeing a resolution that removes damaging tariffs, which will benefit businesses on both sides of the Atlantic.
“On the protocol, the US shares our deep commitment to the Belfast agreement and the peace process.”
A new poll this week also shows that two in three voters believe Mr Johnson’s Government is failing in its aim to “take back control” of Britain’s borders.
As the number of people crossing the channel on small boats to reach the UK increases, only 27 per cent of voters say the Government has done “well” to take control of the borders, according to a Savanta ComRes survey.