UK agrees post-Brexit trade deal with European Union

The announcement comes just a week before the end of the transition period.

Paul Grover via Getty Images

A post-Brexit trade deal has been agreed between the United Kingdom and the European Union.

The Christmas Eve announcement – still to be ratified by MPs and leaders of the EU nations – comes just a week before the end of the transition period.

UK voters opted to leave the EU in a referendum in 2016 by a margin of 51.9% to 49.1%. In Scotland, 62% of the electorate voted to remain.

The deal means businesses in the UK will be able to continue trading with EU countries without paying tariffs, although there will be new barriers such as increased paperwork and checks on imports and exports.

ADVERT

Travellers will soon see new controls as they exit and enter the country and from January 1 will no longer qualify for the European Health Insurance card. A points-based immigration system for people who want to move to the UK will also begin on new year’s day.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson and European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen were in close contact over recent days to help get the deal over the line.

But negotiations led by the EU’s Michel Barnier and the UK’s Lord Frost continued throughout Thursday as final details were hammered out.

Johnson said: “We have taken back control of our laws and our destiny. We have taken back control of every jot and tittle of our regulation in a way that is complete and unfettered.

ADVERT

“From January 1 we are outside the customs union and outside the single market.

“British laws will be made solely by the British parliament interpreted by British judges sitting in UK courts and the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice will come to an end.”

Announcing the agreement at a press conference in Brussels, von der Leyen said a “fair and balanced” deal had been struck after months of talks.

She added: “It was a long and winding road, but we have got a good deal to show for it.

“We are long-standing allies. We share the same values and interests, whether it be the Cop26 [climate] summit in Glasgow, or the upcoming UK G7 and Italian G20 presidencies.

“The EU and the UK will stand shoulder to shoulder to deliver on our common global goals.”

However, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said there was no available deal better than EU membership.

ADVERT

She tweeted: “Before the spin starts, it’s worth remembering that Brexit is happening against Scotland’s will. And there is no deal that will ever make up for what Brexit takes away from us.

“It’s time to chart our own future as an independent, European nation.”

Sturgeon also criticised the UK Government for leaving the student exchange programme Erasmus, describing the move as “cultural vandalism”, however Johnson said it would be replaced by a worldwide scheme named after Bletchley Park code breaker Alan Turing.

David Lonsdale, director of the Scottish Retail Consortium, said a tariff-free agreement was “positive news”, although warned that firms still wanted to see fewer barriers to trade.

“It will protect Scottish consumers from hundreds of millions of pounds of import tariffs on everyday goods, and help retailers to keep down prices at a time when the economy is under enormous pressure.

“Given that four-fifths of food imports come from the EU, this announcement should afford Scots households a collective sigh of relief.

“The UK and EU governments have taken a crucially important step in agreeing a zero-tariff agreement, to the benefit of customers.

“They must now work to implement this new arrangement as soon as possible, and seek to minimise the checks and red tape on imports that are expected from January onwards.”

Douglas Ross, leader of the Scottish Conservatives, said the deal meant jobs in Scotland had been protected and fishing communities would be “far better off”.

Scottish Secretary Alister Jack added: “We have an agreement on fisheries which will ensure that our fishermen, and our coastal communities, will flourish outside of the EU’s unfair Common Fisheries Policy. The UK will once more be a sovereign coastal state.”

However, Seafood Scotland warned that some businesses would struggle to survive if there was more disruption at the border in the coming months.

Chief executive Donna Fordyce said: “We expect it to be a good few months until everything beds in and in the meantime, seafood businesses will try their best to navigate the changes, but some will not survive”

Seed potato farmers in Scotland have also been angered after EU exports of their product was banned, with industry leaders warnings jobs and businesses faced uncertainty.

National Farmers Union Scotland president Andrew McCornick said: “It is good news and a huge relief that a deal has been done.

“The delay in getting agreement has meant that farmers and crofters, who had been forced into making big business decisions for 2021 in a void, now have a degree of certainty that European markets will be accessible next year for most of their products.

“No-deal would have been no good to Scottish farming, food and drink, and the worst-case scenario of crippling tariffs for some sectors, particularly sheep and cereals, has now been averted.

“We will now need to see the detail of what has been agreed and scrutinise it closely.

“On the deeply disappointing news about seed potatoes, NFU Scotland has been highlighting this issue over the course of this year with both UK and Scottish governments. It has been recognised by all as a problem that needs sorted.”

Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard said the Brexit process should have been extended to keep the focus on the coronavirus pandemic.

More on:

Holidaymaker dies in Crete while rescuing grandsons from sea

The UK Foreign Office told STV News it was supporting the family.

PeterEtchells via IStock
It is understood the 61-year-old was on holiday in Crete with family.

A Scottish man has died after rescuing his two grandsons from the sea off the coast of a Greek island.

It is understood the 61-year-old was on holiday in Crete with family when two boys got into trouble in the water near Gouves, a resort east of Heraklion.

The grandfather was able to save the two children before getting into difficulty himself.

STV News

The UK Foreign Office told STV News it was supporting the family of a British man who had died in Crete and was in contact with the Greek authorities.

ADVERT

The Cretapost website reported life jackets were thrown into the water to assist the man.

A local worker said: “We tried to pull him ashore but the currents were very strong and we could not.”

More to follow.


One house demolished as work continues to make Ayr blast scene safe

A family of four were taken to hospital following the blast on Monday evening in Gorse Park, which could be heard for miles around.

Katielee Arrowsmith via SWNS

One house has been demolished as work continues to make an area safe following an explosion which ripped through a property in Ayr.

South Ayrshire Council said 35 homes remain cordoned off in the Kincaidston area and one or two other houses may also need to be demolished.

A family of four were taken to hospital following the blast on Monday evening in Gorse Park, which could be heard for miles around.

The council’s building standards team is carrying out individual inspections of all homes in the affected area to assess them for safety.

ADVERT

As of 11.30am on Thursday, 303 properties in Kincaidston have been inspected and deemed suitable for people to return to.

Katielee Arrowsmith via SWNS
Several properties have been destroyed after an explosion in Ayr.

The council said a “complex exercise” is under way as it works with emergency services to inspect homes and make as many as possible safe.

A 43-year-old woman and a 16-year-old boy were taken to Glasgow Royal Infirmary, a 47-year-old man to the city’s Queen Elizabeth University Hospital and an 11-year-old boy to the Royal Hospital for Children following the explosion.

Inquiries are ongoing to establish the cause of the blast.

ADVERT

South Ayrshire Council said: “There are 35 homes which remain cordoned off following the explosion in Kincaidston. They have been cordoned off because some have been damaged, others have varying degrees of debris on or around the property and some are in close proximity to the site of the explosion, which is currently under the control of the emergency services and the utility companies.

“One of the properties within close proximity of the explosion had to be demolished last night to allow work to progress to make the area safe.

“It is likely that another one or two properties in this area may also need to be demolished. Affected householders have been advised.

“There are properties out-with the cordoned off area which have also been damaged by the blast or by debris and where householders have been displaced.”

The local authority said it is making direct contact with residents who are now permitted to go back to their homes, but urged people not to return unless the council has been in touch to say it is safe to do so.

The gas distribution company SGN said it will continue to work with “expert parties” in the coming days to establish the cause of the explosion.

A temporary above-ground gas pipeline has been installed for homes in Kincaidston.

ADVERT

In a statement on Wednesday, SGN said: “We’d like to reiterate our reassurance to the local community that the gas network across the area remains safe and secure to use.

“Our engineers have carried out full safety checks in the area to ensure the safety of all the homes close to the damaged properties.”

The council said anyone affected by the incident in Kincaidstion who needs information or support should call 0300 123 0900.


Clarkston Disaster: ‘The shops were blown to bits’

50th anniversary of the day 22 people were killed when a gas explosion ripped through a row of shops.

STV News

Engineers were trying to find a gas leak when an explosion ripped through a row of shops at Clarkston Toll shortly before 3pm on October 21, 1971.

Twenty-two people – 20 women and two men – were killed as ten shops were blown out and vehicles plunged into the debris from a rooftop car park.

More than 100 others were hurt, including some who were rescued hours later as emergency workers and good samaritans dug desperately through the rubble.

STV News
Vehicles plunged from the rooftop car park into the shops following the blast.

Most of the victims were customers and shop workers, and even though many of them had already complained that week about a smell of gas, no-one was held responsible for the blast.

ADVERT

The victims of the Clarkston Disaster will be remembered during a 50th anniversary memorial service in the East Renfrewshire town on Thursday afternoon.

‘Shortly after that, it blew up’

Ted Flannigan’s life was saved by chance – he went into a restaurant in Clarkston for something to eat, but changed his mind and left the scene just minutes before the explosion.

“By almost a whim, I saved my own life,” the 75-year-old told STV News as he returned to the scene half a century later.

ADVERT

“I came out of a restaurant and drove up the road a little bit – shortly after that, it blew up.

STV News
Two passengers were killed after getting off this bus just before the explosion.

“The roof had come down, crashed through the shops, the front and back of the shops were blown to bits and poor people who were either shopping or working lost their lives.

“As an engineer, I’ve seen various things in my life, but nothing quite as horrendous as this.

“I spent three nights working there, trying to do anything that I could do. People were all mucking in, everybody was trying to help.”

What happened in Clarkston?

Shopworkers had reported a smell of gas in the six-year-old shopping centre on Busby Road, but engineers were unable to find out where it was coming from.

Unbeknown to them, gas was actually leaking through a crack in a pipe three feet below the road surface into empty, unventilated cellars beneath the shops.

STV News
ADVERT

Engineers were still on the scene when the gas was ignited by a spark, causing an explosion so fierce that it killed two people who had just got off a bus – and injured passengers still in their seats.

A fatal accident inquiry reached its conclusions within just four months of the explosion, a jury deciding that no one was to blame.

STV News
This car was left covered in rubble following the blast.

Remembering the victims

A special 50th anniversary service will take place for victims’ families and survivors on Thursday at the memorial tree in the Clarkston Halls car park.

There will also be a minute’s silence across East Renfrewshire at 2.50pm.

The full story of the Clarkston Disaster was also told in an episode of The People’s History Show, which is available on the STV Player.


Missing man last seen on bike ‘should not be approached’

Police are trying to find 26-year-old Ross Wright, who left Dumbarton on a bike earlier this month.

Police Scotland
Ross Wright: Police have warned he should not be approached.

A missing man “should not be approached” if spotted by a member of the public, police have warned.

Ross Wright, 26, was last seen leaving Dumbarton on a bike on Wednesday, October 13 before visiting Helensburgh, Blantyre and Glasgow city centre, where he was captured on camera three days later.

He is described as white, around 5ft 11in, with short brown hair and could be wearing a red hooded top with grey jogging bottoms.

Inspector Samantha Glasgow said: “We want to trace Ross as quickly as possible and I’d be interested to hear from anyone who has seen or spoken to him since Friday, October 15.

ADVERT

“The public should not approach Ross, but should report any sightings to Police Scotland immediately.”

Anyone with information is asked to contact police on 101, quoting incident number 2010 of the 13/10/2021 or speak to any officer. Alternatively, they can report anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.


Man charged with murdering Conservative MP David Amess

Ali Harbi Ali, 25, has also been charged with preparing terrorist acts, the Crown Prosecution Service said.

UK Parliament via Website
Sir David Amess: A man has been charged with murder.

A man has been charged with murdering the Conservative MP Sir David Amess.

Ali Harbi Ali, 25, has also been charged with preparing terrorist acts, the Crown Prosecution Service said.

He is due to appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Thursday afternoon.

Sir David, the MP for Southend West, was fatally stabbed on Friday during a constituency surgery in Leigh-on-Sea in Essex.

ADVERT

In a statement, Nick Price, of the Crown Prosecution Service, said: “The CPS has authorised charges against Ali Harbi Ali for the murder of MP Sir David Amess on Friday October 15, 2021.

“We will submit to the court that this murder has a terrorist connection, namely that it had both religious and ideological motivations.

“He has also been charged with the preparation of terrorist acts. This follows a review of the evidence gathered by the Metropolitan Police in its investigation.

“The Crown Prosecution Service reminds all concerned that criminal proceedings against Mr Ali are active and that he has a right to a fair trial.”

ADVERT

On Monday, parliament paid tribute to Sir David as it was announced that Southend would be granted city status, in recognition of his decades-long campaign for the seaside town to be given the honour.

Matt Jukes, assistant commissioner for specialist operations at Scotland Yard, said: “Today’s charge is a significant milestone in the case, but the work from my colleagues in the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command will continue apace.”


New Lumo train service linking London and Edinburgh launches

The inaugural London King’s Cross to Edinburgh Waverley Lumo service departed at 10.45am on Thursday.

Jane Barlow via PA Ready
New Anglo-Scottish train service.

A new Anglo-Scottish train service has launched in an attempt to compete with airlines.

The inaugural London King’s Cross to Edinburgh Waverley Lumo service departed at 10.45am on Thursday.

The journey along the East Coast Main Line is scheduled to take around four-and-a-half hours, stopping at Stevenage, Newcastle and Morpeth.

Lumo – owned by FirstGroup – will initially operate four daily services.

ADVERT

This will be increased to ten early next year.

One-way fares were advertised as being available from £14.90 although many of the cheapest tickets are sold out.

The firm is competing with state run train operator London North Eastern Railway and airlines in providing Anglo-Scottish travel.

It is using five new Hitachi AT300 intercity electric trains with no first class section.

ADVERT

Instead, Lumo is pledging to provide all passengers with “good seats” which have “optimised leg room and larger tray tables”.

Managing director Helen Wylde said demand for tickets has been strong, particularly at weekends as people take leisure trips and visit friends and family.

She went on: “The support we have received for Lumo has been fantastic.

“We have always said we intend to reimagine rail travel and we are glad people are giving us a chance.

“Tickets are selling well beyond expectations, and we have had great feedback about our commitment to offering a different kind of rail company.

“However, rest assured we are not complacent and understand we must earn travellers’ trust in the Lumo promise.”

Lumo is an open access train operating company, meaning it does not receive state funding.


Two children among five taken to hospital after car careers off road

The crash occurred on Wednesday afternoon when a red Kia Rio left the A74 near Beattock.

BrianAJackson via IStock
Crash: Five in hospital, including two infants, following one-car crash.

Three adults and two infants have been taken to hospital following a serious road crash in Dumfries and Galloway. 

The incident occurred around 4.45pm on the A74 near Beattock on Wednesday, when a red Kia Rio left the carriageway.

Emergency services attended and the road was closed in both directions for around three hours. 

The 60-year-old female driver of the car was taken to Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow with serious injuries while a 24-year-old woman was taken to Dumfries and Galloway Infirmary with a serious injury.

ADVERT

A 46-year-old man was also taken to Dumfries and Galloway Infirmary for observation and two infants, a boy and a girl, were also taken to the same hospital as a precaution. 

Road Policing sergeant Lloyd Caven said: “We are appealing to anyone with information, particularly if you have dash-cam footage, to get in touch.

“If you can help please call us on 101, quoting incident number 2468 of Wednesday, October 20.”


Vaccines ‘90% effective’ at preventing deaths from Delta variant

The data, released by the University of Edinburgh, was gathered using a Scotland-wide Covid surveillance tool.

Inside Creative House via IStock
The study is the first to show across an entire country how effective vaccines are at preventing death from the Delta variant.

Vaccination is 90% effective at preventing deaths from the Delta variant of Covid-19, according to research.

The data, released by the University of Edinburgh, was gathered using a Scotland-wide Covid surveillance tool.

Figures show the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is 90% effective and the Oxford-AstraZeneca jab 91% effective in preventing deaths in people who have been double vaccinated but who have tested positive for coronavirus in the community.

The study is the first to show across an entire country how effective vaccines are at preventing death from the Delta variant, which is the most dominant form of Covid in the UK.

ADVERT

Researchers defined death from Covid as anyone who died within 28 days of a positive PCR test, or with Covid recorded as a cause of death on their death certificate.

The study analysed data from 5.4 million people in Scotland between April 1 and September 27 this year.

During this period, 115,000 people tested positive for Covid using a PCR test in the community, rather than in hospital, and there were 201 Covid-related deaths recorded.

No deaths have been recorded in those who have been double vaccinated with the Moderna vaccine in Scotland, according to the data.

ADVERT

Researchers said it is therefore not possible to estimate this particular vaccine’s effectiveness in preventing Covid-related deaths.

The research team from the University of Edinburgh, University of Strathclyde and Public Health Scotland analysed the dataset as part of the “EAVE II project” – Early Pandemic Evaluation and Enhanced Surveillance of Covid-19 – which uses anonymised linked patient data to track the pandemic and the vaccine rollout in real time.

Professor Aziz Sheikh, director of the University of Edinburgh’s Usher Institute and EAVE II study lead, said: “With the Delta variant now the dominant strain in many places worldwide and posing a higher risk of hospitalisation than previous variants seen in the UK, it is reassuring to see that vaccination offers such high protection from death very shortly after the second dose.

“If you still have not taken up your offer to be vaccinated, I would encourage you to do so based on the clear benefits it offers.”

Professor Chris Robertson, of the University of Strathclyde and Public Health Scotland, said: “This study shows the value of carrying out analyses of routine healthcare data available in near real-time.

“Our findings are encouraging in showing that the vaccine remains an effective measure in protecting both ourselves and others from death from the most dominant variant of Covid-19. It is very important to validate these early results in other settings and with a longer follow-up study.”

To increase confidence in these early findings, researches said data gathering needs to be repeated in other countries and settings, and with longer follow-up time after full vaccination.

ADVERT

The team behind the study said due to the observational nature of the figures, data about vaccine effectiveness should be interpreted with caution and it is not possible to make a direct comparison between both vaccines.


New houses ‘could wreck hopes of reviving old railway’

Campaigners wants to restore old track through Bridge of Weir.

Den-belitsky via IStock
Bridge of Weir lost its train station in 1983.

A controversial housing development that villagers feel could destroy hopes of reviving a railway through Bridge of Weir has been recommended for approval.

Glasgow-based L&S Homes applied more than two years ago to build 39 houses on the site of Beaton Brothers Coal Merchants in Station Road.

The area used to be home to the village’s train station but this was closed in 1983 amid a major restructure of the railway system.

In recent years, fresh calls to restore the line have come from the likes of councillors, community groups and think tanks.

ADVERT

But many believe the latest proposals for a housing development could end any prospect of that happening.

Renfrewshire planning chiefs have now recommended councillors give the development the green light next week but they will be forced to consider strong objections from a variety of bodies.

L&S Homes plans to erect a mixture of terraced, semi-detached and detached properties with gardens, parking and recreation space.

There would be 95 parking spaces – two at each home and 17 visitor spots – and it is proposed to weave the existing cycle route through the site.

ADVERT

Bridge of Weir Community Council, Inverclyde Council and the Paisley and Gryffe Transport Forum have all opposed the plans for fear they would negate any possibility of a future rail link, which also used to run to Kilmacolm and Elderslie.

The community council has additionally said having the cycle path meandering through a residential development would stop people using it while some members fear inadequate space at nearby schools and the loss of the “valuable” coal merchants.

Many of these concerns are shared in 550 representations that have been submitted to planning officers.

In a report to the planning board, head of economy and development Alasdair Morrison said reopening the rail line would prove challenging.

He added the development would boost the cycle route’s visibility.

“It is considered this site and many others along the line of the previous rail track would be required in order to achieve the re-opening of this route,” said Mr Morrison.

“This would prove challenging in engineering and environmental terms to re-open the line and provide the necessary infrastructure along the length of the
route.

ADVERT

“This route is not protected as a future rail route in the Local Development Plan.

“The incorporation of the cycle path increases the visibility of National Cycle Route (NCR) 75 at this location, linking the site to the wider NCR network.

“The re-aligned route through the development would provide a good surface with views over the open countryside.

“It is considered the proposal would create a quality residential development on a brownfield site on the edge of Bridge of Weir within an area allocated for residential purposes in the Local Development Plan.”

A final call on the blueprint is set to be made by Renfrewshire Council’s planning board on Tuesday, October 26.

Story by local democracy reporter Steph Brawn


You're up to date

You've read today's top stories. Where would you like to go next?