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Brexit news live – Leaders call for calm in ‘febrile’ Northern Ireland amid rising border tensions

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Irish foreign minister Simon Coveney says EU will not respond to threats over Northern Ireland

Politicians have called for calm in Northern Ireland, which has seen growing tension in recent days relating to post-Brexit trade disruption over the Irish Sea. 

Arlene Foster, Northern Ireland’s first minister, encouraged people to channel their frustrations through constitutional means, after the country’s chief constable warned of a “febrile” atmosphere there. 

Simon Byrne, who heads the Police Service of Northern Ireland, said it was a time “for wise words and calm heads”. 

The Irish foreign minister Simon Coveney echoed this sentiment by saying that parties needed to “dial down the rhetoric” on the Northern Ireland Protocol, which unionists want to be scrapped.

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London should compete with New York and Singapore rather than Europe, says Barclays boss

Barclays boss Jes Staley has said London should compete with financial markets in New York and Singapore – rather than with European economic hubs – in the post-Brexit world.

“I think what London needs to be focused on is not Frankfurt or not, Paris – it needs to be focused on New York and Singapore,” he told the BBC.

Chantal Da Silva reports:

Rory Sullivan5 February 2021 09:57

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Independence referendum this year would be ‘wholly irresponsible’, says leader of Scottish Conservatives

Douglas Ross, the leader of the Scottish Conservatives, has said it would be “wholly irresponsible” to hold a referedum on independence this year during the pandemic.

His comments come after the SNP published an 11-point “road map” towards a second vote on the issue.

In response to Mr Ross’ position, a spokesperson for Nicola Sturgeon said the SNP “is absolutely focused on tackling the pandemic”, pointing out that it had stopped work on independence last year because of the Covid crisis, unlike the Tories with Brexit.

They added: “But the question is who the people of Scotland want to be in charge of rebuilding our country and economy – a Scottish Government or a Westminster one led by the likes of Boris Johnson?

“And we are determined to give the people of Scotland that choice in a legal, post-pandemic referendum.”

Rory Sullivan5 February 2021 09:37

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Inside Politics

In our daily politics round-up, Adam Forrest takes a closer look at the Tory backbenchers who want the prime minister to lift lockdown sooner rather than later.

Rory Sullivan5 February 2021 09:11

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Government’s inaction over coal mine ‘mystifying’, say environmental charities

Dozens of environmental charities are demanding a public inquiry into plans to open a coal mine in Cumbria.

Greenpeace and other organisations have written a joint letter to the government expressing their disbelief that it has not intervened to thwart the proposal.

They said it was “mystifying” that ministers had not taken action, risking the country’s credibility as host of the upcoming COP26 climate conference.

This comes after James Hansen, a leading climate change scientist, said the prime minister faced “humiliation” if the mine went ahead.

Rory Sullivan5 February 2021 08:51

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Local elections in England and Wales expected to go ahead despite pandemic

Local elections in England in Wales, which were pushed back a year by the pandemic, are expected to go ahead in May.

An additional £70 million will be made available to ensure that polling stations are Covid-19 secure, according to government sources cited by the BBC.

Here’s our policy correspondent Jon Stone with more details:

Rory Sullivan5 February 2021 08:31

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Labour criticises delay to hotel quarantine programme as ‘beyond comprehension’

Labour has strongly condemned the delayed start of the government’s hotel quarantine scheme, calling the decision to start the scheme on 15 February “beyond comprehension”.

The measure will see arrivals from “red-list” countries self-isolating – at their own expense – in hotel accommodation for 10 days.

Nick Thomas-Symonds, the shadow home secretary, tweeted on Thursday that another 210,000 people will have entered the UK before the programme becomes operational, with Labour warning that the delay will cost lives.

“Even when these measures start they will go nowhere near far enough, putting vaccine progress at risk,” he tweeted.

Labour believes the hotel quarantine policy should go further and should not just be aimed at passengers travelling directly from coronavirus ‘hot spots”.

Rory Sullivan5 February 2021 08:16

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Calls for calm in Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland’s chief constable has called for calm, saying the region should “step back from the brink of violence” amid rising tensions over trade disruptions caused by Brexit.

Simon Byrne described the current atmosphere in the country as “febrile”, while first minister Arlene Foster told people to let out their frustrations through “constitutional politics”.

Our political editor Andrew Woodcock reports:

Rory Sullivan5 February 2021 08:01

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Morning, and welcome to The Independent’s rolling politics coverage.

Rory Sullivan5 February 2021 07:57

The independent


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