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Premier Taylor-Farrell’s 15-year time-frame for economic independence

Part 01/2020 (Contribution)
January 24, 2020

What can we do to move beyond 60% dependency on the UK for our recurrent budget?

BRADES, Montserrat, January 17, 2020 – In his Monday, January 13th opening remarks for the annual DfID Financial Aid Mission (FAM), Montserrat’s new premier, Hon Mr Easton Taylor-Farrell, announced a policy goal that by 2035 (i.e. in fifteen years), Montserrat should be able to pay its own way. That is, he hopes that by that time our economy will have grown sufficiently strong through tourism, trade and investment that we will no longer need the current 60% UK subsidy to carry our recurrent budget; without, over-burdening our economy through over-taxation.
What would that take?

For one, Government and our economy are largely continuous (never mind what politicians tend to say around election time). So, let’s look at a January 2017 article in this series:
“[I]f we are to soundly rebuild Montserrat’s economy we need to soundly understand what happened to us. This makes the December 15, 2017, Mott-MacDonald Draft Economic Growth Strategy document[1] doubly important. Here, let us look at an adjusted version of one of their tables, with some additional calculations:

[ . . . ]

[Due to the volcano crisis and UK aid under the UN Charter, Article 73, the public sector has more than doubled as a percent of our economy, moving from 19.3% in 1994 to 45.8% in 2016 . . .

As a result, our GDP is not a “natural” one driven by a buoyant private sector, it reflects this annual support to our economy. Such is not sustainable

In simple terms, if we are to return the . . . public sector to being 20% of our economy in 20 years, our economy would have to more than double, from EC$153 million to EC$ 350 million . . . this requires an average growth rate of 4.2%.

So, it is reasonable for Mott-MacDonald to target a 3 – 5% annual GDP growth rate. ECCB would prefer to see 5 – 7%.

However, if Montserrat is to move ahead, we must put in place key infrastructure, build our productive capacity,[4] provide incentives and reassurance that will rebuild investor confidence, and support a wave of enterprises that take advantage of our major opportunities: tourism, geothermal energy, the rising global digital services economy, and the like.[5]”

Of course, to do that in fifteen years instead, we would have to grow even faster, 5.7% on average.

What about tourism (and the digital sector)?

That is a bit complicated. As, while we can see that we are surrounded by several islands with 600,000 and more tourists per year, so there is obvious room for growth, in the longer term, the main-spring of global economic growth is shifting to Asia.

As this series noted on July 5th 2018, “China and India . . . combined will contribute over forty percent of global economic growth this year, 3.3%.  By contrast, the UK contributes only 1.4% and the US only 12.3% to current global growth.  By 2023, the UK may contribute 1.3% and the US, 8.5%.”

Where, “Chinese and Indian tourists will find it far more convenient to go to neighbouring destinations, instead of regularly flying to the Caribbean. So while slow-growth Europe and North America will still be prosperous and will be sources for tourism, the North Atlantic Basin is gradually turning into a low-growth, already-been-there, saw-that, got-the-tee-shirt, mostly cruise-ship visitor driven tourism market. So, it would be a mistake to put all of our economic eggs in the tourism basket. Yes, tourism is indeed Montserrat’s fastest “quick win” driver for growth, but we have to be realistic about setting up our strategic moves beyond tourism.”

That points to the digital sector, and to the significance of the sub-sea, terabit per second class fibre optic cable project, for which the contract was signed by former premier Romeo on October 24th – which is why we just saw a visit by RV Ridley Thomas, which surveyed the proposed route for the cable. We can catch a glimpse into the significance of this by eavesdropping on what St Helena is saying about their own fibre optic cable. As TMR recently reported:
“According to the Government of St Helena, ‘[c]onnecting to Equiano meets SHG’s timing and budgetary requirements for the European Development Fund and supports the Digital ICT Strategy for St Helena.’

According to their Financial Secretary, Mr Dax Richards: ‘[s]ignificant additional economic development on St Helena is conditional on improved connectivity and accessibility, and therefore the delivery of the Fibre Project is crucial to economic growth . . . The delivery of the Fibre Project is a key action in the Sustainable Economic Development Plan – in order to develop the satellite ground stations, financial services, work from home, academia research and conferences, film location and tourism sectors.’”
All of this calls for long-term, consensus based national strategic planning. Such should build on the Mott-McDonald Economic Growth Strategy (EGS) that was recently shepherded through by consultant economist Mr Raja Kadri, on the 2008 – 2020 Sustainable Development Plan, the current 10-year Physical Development Plan, the past two energy policies and other similar initiatives.

Perhaps, it would also be helpful to again look at the SWOT chart for the EGS, as a reminder that a balanced growth framework has been put on the table for over a year now, through a process of national consultation:

Perhaps, then, a very good place to begin building on the foundation that is already in place would be with the successor Sustainable Development Plan, which is technically due this year. (It may be wise to extend the current SDP for a year or so, to give us time to build its successor.)

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Election Reflection

By Claude Gerald

Voters love to hear about Christianity
Thinking that is the end of the story.
And when dem camouflage behind the pulpit
Voters tun choopit,
And shout out this is it
And forget it;
Then joyfully relax and quit.
Only to get a big pool of… got-yah – it is vomit.

If ayuh me a tek de warning
There would be now no bawling
Butt e no too late fuh get d history
So, ask Breedy, ‘Mess Mess’, and Murphy.
And please no forget de Hero.
He could tell you all you want to know
From d start of the show.
And the ladies of the Nursery
Dead or alive they too have a story.
And Sharlotte, Mamzel, Katy, Lucy and Mr. Daley
God bless dem soul whey ever dem be
Dey could complete the heartless history.
And no fuget d deceased Sherolyn Daley!
Her Harris’s soul is pained in childbirth misery.
If you want to know bout Mr. Harry Paddy
Ask the Groves family
Scattered in every nook and cranny.
Dem go tell you who dem be
Not much of a somebady….
So, forget Iceman’s generosity
He must say sorry as he now begin to see…

Dem tink dem smart and got d art
No know that God a go tek awe part.

Living at we expense a dish out nonsense

But still want to pocket every penny
With no empathy or sympathy to neither Tom, Dick or Harry.

But sickness and death a arll awe cooler
As we must confess to we Maker.

Just before the divine BULL BUD start to swing
In a Harry Paddy-Harry Paddy thin pretensive skin.

And blows haffoo roll without cloths
To be finally and comprehensively exposed..

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Recall to find purpose, meaning and understanding

Today we continue with a few leads on items that appeared in The Montserrat Reporter publications in print and online to bring us up to date, as we too often forget some of what we have tried to draw readers’ attention.

We might become concerned enough to want to join in the questions that often go unanswered as our leaders and the authorities under (or above) them completely ignore or simply misunderstand their obligations. As said elsewhere it might even meet the approval of some, who may be in the majority given the demography on the ground.

But does that serve any progress or development to bring us to a state where we can demand the respect of those with the higher responsibility, taking it all the way UP?

Here are a few excertps of the lead stories from January/February and note how not surprisingly, disturbingly familiar they are a year

Weather system causes disruption to Ferry Service

The Access Division, under the portfolio of the Office of the Premier, is informing travelers that a high-pressure system in the region is expected to produce rough sea conditions over the next few days, which is resulting in the cancellation of the ‘Day Tour Service’ and will possibly disrupt other scheduled ferry services from Friday, January 10 to 14.

Jaden Sun would be ‘done with’ without clarity, except oratory it was not economical to keep its service. The story yet to be told

 Bank of Montserrat announces New General Manager.

Former Manager Michael Joseph
New Manager Baldwin Taylor

The Bank of Montserrat is pleased to announce the appointment of its new General Manager, Mr. Baldwin Taylor who took up office on January 2, 2020.

He succeeds Mr. Michael Joseph who retires as General Manager after serving for ten (10) years in the position. During his tenure, the Bank grew exponentially recording growth in assets of 47% moving from $171M in 2009 to $252M in 2018, and Loans growth of over 100% increasing from $46M in 2009 to $94M in 2018. The Bank also reported its best profit in the last five years of $4.3M in 2018.


FS Colin Owen, partially hidden, Adam Pile FCO Director, Premier Farrell, and Governor Pearce

EVENT:    Opening Ceremony for the Financial Aid Mission (FAM)

BACKGROUND:   The FAM is held annually to allow for discussions between the Government of Montserrat and the Department for International Development (DFID) on the budget allocation for Montserrat.   This year’s FAM will be held from Monday, January 13 to 17,  at the   Montserrat Cultural Centre.

Read the full story on this which will enlighten the strangeness of this year’s FAM discussions.

UN agency declares global emergency over virus from China

1 of 15

A doctor attends to a patient in an isolation ward at a hospital in Wuhan in central China’s Hubei Province, Thursday, Jan. 30, 2020. China counted 170 deaths from a new virus Thursday and more countries reported infections, including some spread locally, as foreign evacuees from China’s worst-hit region returned home to medical observation and even isolation. (Chinatopix via AP)

GENEVA (AP) — The World Health Organization declared the outbreak sparked by a new virus in China that has spread to more than a dozen countries as a global emergency Thursday after the number of cases spiked more than tenfold in a week.

The U.N. health agency defines an international emergency as an “extraordinary event” that constitutes a risk to other countries and requires a coordinated international response.

China first informed WHO about cases of the new virus in late December. To date, China has reported more than 7,800 cases including 170 deaths. Eighteen other countries have since reported cases, as scientists race to understand how exactly the virus is spreading and how severe it is.

Paris hospital. Outbreak specialists worry that the spread of new viruses from patients to health workers can signal the virus is becoming adapted to human transmission.

In Japan, a man in his 60s caught the virus after working as a bus driver for two tour groups from Wuhan. In Germany, a man in his 30s was sickened after a Chinese colleague from Shanghai, whose parents had recently visited from Wuhan, came to his office for a business meeting. Four other workers later became infected. The woman had shown no symptoms of the virus until her flight back to China.

The new virus has now infected more people in China than were sickened there during the 2002-2003 outbreak of SARS, or severe acute respiratory syndrome, a cousin of the new virus. Both are from the coronavirus family, which also includes those that can cause the common cold.

Dr. Jeremy Farrar, director of Britain’s Welcome Trust, welcomed WHO’s emergency declaration.

“This virus has spread at unprecedented scale and speed, with cases passing between people in multiple countries across the world,” he said in a statement. “It is also a stark reminder of how vulnerable we are to epidemics of infectious diseases known and unknown.”

virus was identified as the cause of an outbreak of respiratory illness first detected in Wuhan, China

virus which originated from China a “global health emergency.” China, where the coronavirus emerged

Construction workers labor at the site of the Huoshenshan temporary field hospital being built in Wuhan in central China’s Hubei Province, Thursday, Jan. 30, 2020. China counted 170 deaths from a new virus Thursday and more countries reported infections, including some spread locally, as foreign evacuees from China’s worst-hit region returned home to medical observation and even isolation. (AP Photo/Arek Rataj)

coronavirus defense

Zhong Nanshan (a Chinese pulmonologist who discovered the SARS coronavirus in 2003) suggested simple ways to prevent Wuhan pneumonia:

It is recommended that you rinse your throat with light salt water before going to the hospital or other public places (and do the same after you return home). The method is as follows:

a) hold a mouthful of dilute salt water;

b) raise your head; let the salt water stay around your throat area

c) open your mouth slightly and exhale slowly, let air bubbling through the water in your throat and make a “ha” sound

d) spit out the salt water after a few seconds

e) repeat 3-5 times

Because viruses or bacteria lurk in the pharynx through the nasal passage, diluted salt water can kill them on the spot, thereby achieving the purpose of preventing infection. During SARS, I promoted and supervised this method among my students. As a result, none of our students in our class got cold, cough and fever.

This method is simple, effective, easy to do. But requires persevere.

Zhong Nanshan

January 21, 2020

Montserrat Port Development Project enters procurement phase – prequalification of contractors to design and construct the new port

February 7, 2020 GIU, Davy Hill Montserrat– The Montserrat Port Development Project has advanced to the procurement process phase, as contractors are now invited to pre-qualify for the design-build contract for the Phase 1 Development.

Project Manager of the Montserrat Port Development Project, Dion Weekes said the Project has satisfied the conditions set by the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) to advance to a procurement phase and as a result contractors are now invited to pre-qualify for the design and construction of the port facilities.

Contractors interested in pre-qualifying should visit the Government of Montserrat tenders website at and the Caribbean Development Bank website The invitation to prequalify is also published on the United Nations Business Development website.

The deadline date for pre-qualification submissions to be received is March 3, 2020, following which the bidding documents for the design and construction of the port facilities are expected to be issued by the end of March.

The Island’s Long-Awaited Hospital Project Moves to Design Phase

The Government of Montserrat has signed a contract with Article 25 for the preliminary design of the island’s new national hospital. This follows a previous announcement that the Government had successfully concluded a globally competitive procurement process.

Article 25 is an international architectural organisation based in the United Kingdom (UK), with impressive experience in health facility design, amongst a portfolio including more than 90 architectural projects across 34 countries.

The designers, under the supervision of the Ministry of Health and Social Services (MoHSS), will be responsible for reviewing previous design work, and generating new and costed architectural options for a facility with a minimum of 24 beds, with the capacity for expansion to meet peak demands. The consultants will also provide logistical plans for decanting from the current facilities and ensuring continuity of service, whilst demonstrating conformance to the highest clinical design standards for patients and medical staff.

The Head of Programme Management Office, Mr. Martin Parlett, said, “We are delighted to now be in formal contract with Article 25, and to fire the starting pistol on the overall project. Article 25 will begin by mobilizing a multi-disciplinary team, and conducting a review of relevant healthcare data and previous design work. We then expect Article 25 to be ‘on the ground’ in Montserrat in March, to conduct site visits and the first stage of consultation with a broad range of stakeholders. Input from our healthcare professionals, technicians and patient community is critical to ensure that the design responds to Montserrat’s unique contact, whilst enabling improvements to service and experience.”


The Governor and his Office sincerely sympathise with individuals who have been inconvenienced by the adjustments made to the airport operating regime, specifically the “wet runway” closure, since the runway overshoot incident in September last year. 

There has been some good recent discussion on the closure in the media, but also some misunderstandings on some aspects. People may welcome clarifications and information on the way forward. 

Air safety regulation in Montserrat has been wholly designated to the UK organisation, Air Safety and Support International (ASSI). These are experts in what is a critical but highly technical professional field and will be determining the way forward. The Governor does not have a personal responsibility for deciding such matters. It would clearly be wrong and inappropriate for him, or anyone else without the relevant professional experience and qualifications, to do so.

ASSI required that use of our runway in Montserrat in wet conditions be restricted temporarily after the accident last September. That was because they had grounds to believe that the very wet conditions at the time of the incident may have contributed to it.

FAM budget discussions friendly (Jan 2020)

With the concurrence of the other lead players in the recently concluded Financial Aid Mission talks here in Montserrat, (2020) His Excellency Governor Andy Pearce expressed at the joint press conference between the UK Department for International Development/Foreign Commonwealth Office (DFID/FCO) and Government of Montserrat (GoM), that his thoughts as to what would be key to a successful FAM were spot on, to be professional, in a spirit of cooperation an friendship.

He said in his opening remarks, “I just gave a couple of thoughts that the key to a successful FAM in my relatively brief experience here, was firstly professional d0iligence and thoroughness, attention to detail and secondly conducting things in a spirit of cooperation and friendship.”

“I must say from my own experience in this week, I think both have been absolutely hit on the nail,” adding that he would echo the Financial Secretary’s (FS) observation.

The FS had said as he introduced the press conference, “…it’s been an extraordinary week…very busy – it’s been very well attended,” and he said, “thanks to the Premier and the ministers for attending most of the sessions…”

The Governor ended his brief remarks addressing the “public service team in all its parts…really excellent preparation, coming straight after Christmas and with busy day jobs…thank you very much indeed for doing it also carefully; and such a happy spirit indeed. It’s built a really solid understanding between us all and an excellent spirit of cooperation and friendship.”

The Hon Premier Joseph Farrell speaking next, said he wished to join with the others who have extended words of thanks to the many persons who are involved (they said they had one more meeting after the press conference, having just concluded one before) in this week of activities.”

In particular,” he said, “I want to thank the core teams of both DFID and the government and once that Ministry of finance and all others who took part in the discussions.”

“Surely it was a very full experience for us as a new government. My ministers and I certainly enjoyed the exposure that we have had,” repeating the newness, “but we have learnt a lot.”

He confirmed that they had attended “most of the sessions and the only reason why we did that is because we want to be familiar with how it works

New Port stalled

February 2020

Montserrat may not receive the port break water and breathing facility that was advertised by the government of Montserrat. In the first in a series of Facebook live videos, minister of communication and works the honorable doctor Samuel Joseph says upon taking office he has discovered that the cost of constructing the port exceeds the budget that has been allocated.

After we submitted this designs this how we would like our ports, how we would like our break water just try to get an understanding of what it cost. What happen is that the cost of the project came way over the amount of money that’s available. So that created an immediate issue so what has happen is that we had to go back when I say we the technicians etc had to now go back and try to scale down the design of the port, scale down to a smaller version so basically cost less money they are currently in the process of doing that and the question we are going to face as a government and as a people of Montserrat is how small can you go before that project is acceptable.

Now that the real cost of the port has been introduced minister Joseph says the government will now have to scale back its expectations to the public.

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Trump Acquitted – ‘Make America Great Again has only just begun’: Trump defiant after acquittal

Sky News – 13 February 2021

Former US President Donald Trump has been found not guilty in his impeachment trial

Former US President Donald Trump has been found not guilty in his 2nd impeachment trial.

Although the final vote came in as 57 “guilty” and 43 “not guilty”, the Democrats did not reach the two-thirds majority they needed to secure a conviction.

Seven members of Mr. Trump’s own party (Senators Sasse, Romney, Burr, Collins, Murkowski, Toomey, and Cassidy) joined Democrats on the charge of incitement.

In a statement after the trial, Mr. Trump said it was “a sad commentary on our times” that the Democrats had been given a “free pass to transform justice into a tool of political vengeance, and persecute, blacklist, cancel and suppress all people and viewpoints with whom or which they disagree”.

He added: “I always have, and always will be a champion for the unwavering rule of law, the heroes of law enforcement, and the right of Americans to peacefully and honorably debate the issues of the day without malice and without hate.

“No president has ever gone through anything like it, and it continues because our opponents cannot forget the almost 75 million people, the highest number ever for a sitting president, who voted for us just a few short months ago.”

Mr. Trump had been charged with “incitement of insurrection” over last month’s violence when the US Capitol was stormed by his supporters, just as Congress was attempting to ratify the 2020 election result.

Just before the 6 January riots, thousands of his supporters gathered at a “Save America” rally on the National Mall, minutes away from the Capitol.
It had been organised to challenge the election result and Joe Biden’s win.

Mr. Trump’s supporters listened to him speak for 70 minutes, during which at one point the former reality star exhorted them to “fight like hell – or you’re not going to have a country anymore”.

The attack began moments after he took the applause.

At the impeachment hearing, Mr. Trump’s defence team had launched a blistering attack on the Democrats, describing proceedings as an “unjust, unconstitutional witch-hunt”.

Michael van der Veen, Mr. Trump’s lawyer, said: “This whole spectacle has been nothing but the unhinged pursuit of a long-standing political vendetta against Mr. Trump by the opposition party.”

He told the hearing Mr. Trump was not to blame and that he had told his supporters to protest peacefully.

It was argued that his speech at the rally was “ordinary political rhetoric” and was constitutionally protected free speech.

t is the first time in history that a US president has been impeached twice.
The first attempt to convict Mr. Trump in January 2020, for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, saw him acquitted by a majority of 52 votes to 48 for one charge and 53 to 47 for the second.

Only one Republican voted against him on one of the charges.
In his defiant statement after the conclusion of Saturday’s vote, Mr. Trump hinted he may return to the political spotlight.

He said: “Our historic, patriotic and beautiful movement to Make America Great Again has only just begun.

“In the months ahead I have much to share with you, and I look forward to continuing our incredible journey together to achieve American greatness for all of our people.

“There has never been anything like it!”

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The New Yorker

How the Question of Trump’s Behavior During the Capitol Assault Shook Up the Impeachment Trial

The New Yorker

By Amy Davidson Sorkin – February 13, 2021

Former President Donald Trump standing on stage in front of a line of American flags waving in the wind.
The former President’s tweets and reports of his calls to Republican congressmen during the riot became a key part of the case against him. Photograph by Brendan Smialowski / Getty

On Friday afternoon, when senators got their chance to ask questions in Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial, one of the first came from Lisa Murkowski, Republican of Alaska, and Susan Collins, Republican of Maine. Like all of the senators’ questions, this one had been written on a yellow notecard, passed from the gallery to Patrick Leahy, Democrat of Vermont, who was presiding and then read aloud by a clerk. “Exactly when did President Trump learn of the breach of the Capitol, and what specific actions did he take to bring the rioting to an end? And when did he take them?” Murkowski and Collins wanted to know. “Please be as detailed as possible.” The two senators are among the handful of Republicans who are seen as possible votes to convict the former President for inciting an insurrection, and, for that reason alone, their question, which was directed at Trump’s lawyers, was worth taking seriously. But it also got at a central inquiry in the trial: How many people were Trump willing to see get hurt in his effort to hold on to the Presidency?

Michael van der Veen, one of Trump’s lawyers, didn’t really answer. “The House managers have given us absolutely no evidence one way or the other on to that question,” van der Veen, whose professional specialty is personal injury cases, said. This was an odd complaint, given that the question concerned his client’s knowledge and actions. Flipping through some papers, van der Veen offered that there had been “a tweet at 2:38 P.M.” on January 6th—which would have been almost half an hour after a mob seeking to disrupt the Electoral College vote tally had breached the Capitol—and so “it was certainly some time before then” that Trump had learned of the riot. (In the tweet, Trump advised the mob to be peaceful, but failed to tell them to leave the Capitol—perhaps because that was where he wanted them to be.) Van der Veen added, “That’s the problem with this entire proceeding. The House managers did zero investigation! The American people deserve a lot better than coming in here with no evidence. Hearsay on top of hearsay on top of reports that are of hearsay.” Van der Veen muttered something about due process and then, without any further attempt to answer the question, he sat down.

In one respect, his reply is an example of the dismissive, blame-shifting, reality-defying manner in which Trump’s defense has been conducted. Trump’s lawyers may have also recognized that the question of his response on January 6th has become a particularly hazardous area for him—and, indeed, for a few hours on Saturday morning, it seemed to have changed the timeline for the trial, opening the door for witnesses. The question is powerful for more than one reason. First, his reaction spoke of his intent: if he had truly been misunderstood by his supporters, who certainly seemed to believe that they were fulfilling his wishes, he might have quickly expressed shock and condemnation, told them in no uncertain terms to leave the Capitol, and rushed to send reinforcements. He, of course, did none of these things. Despite van der Veen’s claims, and even though much about how, exactly, Trump spent his time is not known, the House managers did document the former President’s inaction. It wasn’t until after 4 P.M. that he told the rioters to go home, but, in the same message, he said, “We love you,” and took the time to complain, again, about the election. As Stacey Plaskett, a House manager and a delegate representing the Virgin Islands, noted, when she got a chance to respond to the Murkowski-Collins query, the reason that the question of what Trump did to help “keeps coming up is because the answer is ‘nothing.’ ”

As Plaskett took her seat, Collins and Senator Mitt Romney, Republican of Utah, sent a question to the chair about the second aspect of Trump’s response: his attitude regarding the danger to Vice-President Mike Pence. In the days leading up to the January 6th assault, Trump had pounded home the message that he expected Pence, who was set to preside over the joint session of Congress that day, to sabotage and disrupt the electoral-vote certification. Under the Constitution, Pence did not have the power to do that, as he and many others explained to Trump. No matter: Trump drew his supporters into his effort to pressure Pence to act lawlessly. At the rally before the assault, Trump built up the expectation that Pence might still come through. “All Vice-President Pence has to do is send it back to the states to recertify, and we become President, and you are the happiest people,” he said, and added, “Mike Pence is going to have to come through for us.” When people in the mob realized that Pence had not done so, they shouted that he was a traitor and chanted, “Hang Mike Pence!” They began searching for him inside the Capitol; at about 2:13 P.M., Secret Service agents took him out of the Senate chamber, to a room where he took shelter with his family, before being moved again.

As Pence hid, the mob heard from Trump. The 2:38 P.M. tweet was not his first since the breach of the Capitol. At 2:24 P.M., Trump posted this: “Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution . . . the USA demands the truth!” Romney and Collins asked whether, when Trump sent that “disparaging tweet,” he was “aware that the Vice-President had been removed from the Senate by the Secret Service for his safety.” Joaquin Castro, one of the House managers, replied that the assault itself was being reported live. People, he said, “couldn’t consume any media or probably take any phone calls or anything else without hearing about this, and also hearing about the Vice-President.” Castro also noted that Senator Tommy Tuberville, Republican of Alabama, had confirmed that he had been on a phone call with Trump, which ended when he told him, “Mr. President, they just took the Vice-President out. I’ve got to go.”

Video From The New Yorker

A Reporter’s Video from Inside the Capitol Siege
In a Taped Call, Trump Pressures a Georgia Official to Overturn the State’s Election Results

It would be good to know more about that call to Tuberville—on Saturday, Mike Lee, whose phone Tuberville had used, said his call log indicated that the call had begun at 2:26 P.M., right after the tweet—but the focus soon shifted to another one, between Trump and Kevin McCarthy, the House Minority Leader. On Friday evening, after the trial had adjourned for the day, CNN reported new details of the “expletive-laced” call between Trump and McCarthy, citing several Republicans who had heard the Minority Leader’s account of it. Trump did not seem interested in ending the violence. According to some who spoke with McCarthy, Trump told him, “Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are,” suggesting that McCarthy could learn from their devotion. (Three weeks later, McCarthy made a pilgrimage to Mar-a-Lago, to reconcile with Trump.) Representative Jaime Herrera Beutler, of Washington—one of only ten House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump—had spoken publicly in January about McCarthy’s account of the call. On Friday, she put out a statement in which she told any “patriots” who had heard Trump’s side of his conversations that day that “if you have something to add here, now would be the time.” In other words, witnesses are welcome. When the trial convened on Saturday morning, Jamie Raskin, the lead House manager, said that he wanted to subpoena Herrera Beutler, offering to depose her via Zoom. Van der Veen responded with an angry tirade, in which he said that any witnesses—he mentioned Vice-President Kamala Harris—would have to come to his Philadelphia office. (That is a fantasy.) The Senate voted 55–45 to allow witnesses—and then, after closed-door negotiations, the lawyers and House managers agreed to enter Herrera Beutler’s statement into the record instead.

Herrera Beutler had also suggested that Mike Pence might have something to say. For example, he might add something to van der Veen’s reply to Romney and Collins’s question. “The answer is no,” van der Veen said. “At no point was the President informed the Vice-President was in any danger.” This is an absurd answer. Even putting aside the particularities of Pence’s situation—that it was the Secret Service, for example, that led him out of the chamber—Trump certainly knew that his Vice-President was in a dangerous setting. If, before sending the tweet, he had bothered to find out whether Pence was safe, he would certainly have been given an even more troubling report. Pence was not safe: the managers’ presentation made clear that the mob had come even closer to him and his family than had previously been understood. At that moment, Trump not only abandoned Pence—he targeted him. To put it another way, the incitement did not end when the first window was broken.

Van der Veen, however, argued that the Pence question wasn’t even “really relevant to the charges for the impeachment in this case.” The House managers had focussed on how Trump’s actions ahead of January 6th had laid the groundwork for the violence; these included his threats to election officials and his summoning of his supporters for a “wild” rally to coincide with the vote certification. Trump’s lawyers seemed to believe that he had to answer only for his precise words at the rally, for which they offered improbable explanations. (Because Trump, early in his speech, had observed that the crowd planned to “peacefully and patriotically” protest, the lawyers brushed aside his subsequent repeated calls for them to act quite differently.) In their telling, it was as if Trump were just someone who had happened to wander onto the stage, with no context, history, or—perhaps most of all—power. But when the President of the United States tells people that they must go to the building he’s pointing at, the Capitol, and fight, or else “you’re not going to have a country anymore”—and when he says that “when you catch somebody in a fraud, you are allowed to go by very different rules”—he is doing something distinct. Trump’s lawyers, throughout their defense, ignored all the ways that Trump used and abused the office of the Presidency to make January 6th unfold as it did. As Raskin had noted, the impeachment process, with its reference to “high crimes and misdemeanors,” has a political character that makes it distinct from the ordinary criminal justice process.

In the course of the defense presentation—which lasted a little more than three hours, less than a quarter of the time that Trump’s lawyers were allotted—they played so many clips of Representative Maxine Waters, Democrat of California, delivering fiery speeches, that one might have thought that she was on trial. There were also videos of other Democratic politicians, including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Kamala Harris, Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi, Karen Bass, Al Green, Ayanna Pressley, Ilhan Omar, and Hillary Clinton—and even ones featuring Madonna, Chris Cuomo, and Johnny Depp. One video, played multiple times, consisted of clips of Democratic senators and House managers using the word “fight” in different contexts. (Judging from the placard set up next to him in one clip, Representative Joe Neguse, one of the impeachment managers, was captured saying, during his first term in Congress, that he’d fight for the Colorado Outdoor Recreation and Economy Act, which, among other things, helps preserve areas for mountain biking and protects the habitat of the greater sage grouse.) Speaking of the people shown in the videos, Plaskett noted, “It is not lost on me that so many of them were people of color. And women—Black women.” As Trump surely knows, that message won’t be lost on his supporters, either.

The underlying message in Trump’s defense, however, was that it was outrageous that his actions were being questioned at all. Bruce Castor, another of his lawyers, told the senators that, by any measure, Trump was “the most pro-police, anti-mob-rule President this country has ever seen.” The senators had already heard from the managers how, for months before the assault, Trump had reveled in acts of political violence, such as when COVID-lockdown protesters attacked state buildings in Lansing, Michigan, or when vehicles driven by his supporters dangerously surrounded a bus of Biden campaign workers on a Texas highway. The senators had also seen evidence of the injuries that his supporters had inflicted on officers with the Capitol Police and Metropolitan D.C. Police. But Castor showed them one of the videos. There was Trump, standing in front of an American flag, saying, “I am your President of law and order.” The scenes changed—to people holding Black Lives Matter signs, to street violence, to Maxine Waters, again—but always returned to Trump with the words “LAW AND ORDER” superimposed on the screen. “We know that the President would never have wanted such a riot to occur, because his long-standing hatred for violent protesters and his love for law and order is on display, worn on his sleeve every single day that he served in the White House,” Castor said. He sounded like he was offering a declaration of faith—against all the evidence of reality—not a legal argument. On Saturday morning, Mitch McConnell, the Senate Minority Leader, reportedly told colleagues that he planned to vote to acquit. The Trumpist credo, it seems, is one that the Republican Party intends to live by.

Read More About the Attack on the Capitol

Amy Davidson Sorkin

has been a staff writer at The New Yorker since 2014. She has been at the magazine since 1995, and, as a senior editor for many years, focusing on national security, international reporting, and features.

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Pandemic schooling at home is not homeschooling – this is why lesson failures are OK

Trying to force parents, children, and teachers to replicate traditional education online in the home is both punishing and pointless

TMR: Right from the beginning, we ask how does this might apply to Montserrat? How is the consultation, or the discussion or the action, not getting it right! How many of our parents and children in little Montserrat are facing this situation. Who thinks about it? What was done when it was discovered that not all had computers at home? What does that say when instead of engaging the media appropriately, with a complete lack of understanding of the important role of proper and beneficial ‘communication’?

by Victoria Bennett – The Independent – 03 February 2021

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Editor’s note: The opinions in this article are the author’s, as published by our content partner, and do not represent the views of MSN or Microsoft.

When the schools closed in 2020, friends said to me, “You’re ok, it’s normal for you”. To some extent this was true. My husband and I work online from home and our 13-year-old son has always been home-educated. What we were experiencing though was not normal, particularly as our child is medically vulnerable.

Our normal home-learning includes trips to museums, meet-ups with friends, swimming, cinema outings, family travel, and more. It’s enriching for all of us. Now, we keep hearing about the “lost generation” and “long-term damage” of being out of school. My son feels angry. He wants to know if that’s how the world sees him, as a home-educated child? He’s furious at having his future written off so casually. Learning at home does not mean your life is ruined and this language reveals a lot about how homeschooling is perceived.

I’ve grown used to children assuming my son can’t read or write because he doesn’t go to school. They’re often surprised to hear that whilst education is compulsory, school is not. I’ve learned to accept the inevitable “What about socialisation? What about GCSEs?” questions. It seems the general perception of regular homeschooling children is that they spend their days locked away, destined for a life of illiterate delinquency. The reality, of course, is far from this. My son is a voracious reader, is interested in subjects from chemistry to engineering to art, plays piano and guitar, and is confident in social situations. As to whether he will do GCSEs? He might choose to, or he might make different choices. His route is not fixed.

Mother working from home with a kid: Quarantine mode

But these are not normal times for any of us and pandemic schooling at home is not the same as homeschooling. Trying to force parents, children, and teachers to replicate traditional education online in the home is both punishing and pointless. Author and educator John Holt said: “What is most important and valuable about the home as a base for children’s growth into the world is not that it is a better school than the schools, but that it isn’t a school at all.”

These are, as we frequently hear, unprecedented times. Why then, is the Department for Education insisting teachers, students, and parents try to replicate school at home? Holt pioneered the term “radical unschooling”, which assumes that all children are curious learners and every experience is an opportunity to learn and grow. This can be challenging to trust but maybe it’s what we need right now?

When my son was seven, we spent a year caring for my mother. It was exhausting and traumatic yet, when nurses asked my son what he was learning, I felt guilty. I wasn’t managing formal lessons. I was a bad mother. The guiltier I felt, the harder I tried. One day, after yet another failed maths lesson (it isn’t my strongest subject) my son and I, sat crying on the floor. This way wasn’t going to work, for either of us. I put away the maths books, got out the paints, and, for the next three hours, we painted the garden shed, path, and ourselves until everything was a mess of colour. We ended the day laughing and the shed, though worn now, still makes people smile.

At the end of that year, my son’s life was not ruined. What did he learn? Playing Minecraft online gave him excellent keyboard skills and a strong sense of digital citizenship. Witnessing end-of-life care gave him the opportunity to learn about resilience and compassion. Being there when my mother died helped him learn how to process loss. Learning that it was okay to listen to his needs helped him articulate his feelings. We both grew, and we never returned to formal lessons.

Right now, our priority is learning how to live through extraordinary times. To do so, we need to be flexible, not rigid. Maybe, instead of worrying about algebra, we need to learn how to slow down and give time to our needs. Instead of testing, maybe we need to reflect on our collective grief and fear as we live through it. In place of Zoom classes, maybe we can develop skills in sustaining joyful human connections in a rapidly changing digital world?

This is a time for simple acts of radical gentleness. In the end, it is about loving ourselves, and each other, enough to get through this in one piece, even if that means playing hooky once in a while. The world won’t end if you do. It will be okay.

Victoria Bennett is a writer, creative producer, and full-time home educating mother to a teenage son

Read : Going back to ‘normal’ will be a process, not an event – we must learn to live with Covid

10 years in prison if you hide trip to ‘red zone’ country, says Hancock Welcome to Hancock Travel – check out early and the next 10 years are free

Travel quarantine policy is now deemed so crucial to containing the spread of coronavirus that breaking the rules is as serious as ABH

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The New Yorker

When Reporting Becomes a Defense for Rioting

John Sullivan claims that he was at the Capitol insurrection as a neutral journalist. Others say he was a riot chaser who urged the mob to “burn this shit down.”

By Andrew Marantz
February 3, 2021

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A photo collage of John Sullivan with a group of protesters on the Capitol.

Sullivan has made a habit of blurring the lines between activism, advocacy journalism, and opposition research. Illustration by Jon Key; Source photographs from John Sullivan / YouTube (portrait 1, 2); Preston Crawley (portrait 3); Tayfun Coskun / Anadolu Agency / Getty (crowd)

John Sullivan, also known as Jayden X, calls himself an activist, a reporter, or an entrepreneur, depending on who’s asking. When I first reached him by phone, he told me that he was “a video journalist, or maybe a documentarian, or whatever you would say—going out there and just live-streaming the events that are transpiring, so that people can see it on the Internet.” He lives near Salt Lake City, but, until recently, he spent most of his time on the road, looking for the next riot: Portland, Seattle, New York. He has tried to associate himself with the Black Lives Matter movement, but many organizers have disavowed him; others have gone further, accusing him of being an “agent provocateur,” a “con artist,” or a “thrill-seeking instigator.” “Riots are meant to bring change, so purge the world with fire,” he tweeted in December. But he has not always been clear about what kind of change he has in mind. “I’m not Antifa,” he told me recently, although he went out of his way to mention that he often wears all black to protests, as many antifascists do. “And I’m not with the Trump supporters,” he continued, although he was among the Trump supporters when a mob of them assaulted the Capitol, on January 6th. Using a Samsung phone mounted on a gimbal, he captured about ninety minutes of raw video—a chilling, near-comprehensive record of the siege. (Reviewing some of the footage, in Artforum, the film critic J. Hoberman called it “cinema as forensic evidence.”) Sullivan has since uploaded his footage to YouTube and provided it to law enforcement; he has also repeatedly tried and largely failed, to explain what he was doing there in the first place.

Sullivan is twenty-six, lean and sharp-featured, and he moves with the lithe precision of a former athlete. He has three younger brothers: James, Peter, and Matthew. “We’re all Black, adopted, and our parents are white,” John told me. “We were raised in a sheltered household and taught to view the world as colorless. Then you grow up and suddenly realize, No, actually, I’m Black, and a lot of the people I grew up around were racist as fuck.” He told me that his father, John Sullivan, Sr., is a retired Army lieutenant colonel who now works in the freight-shipping industry and that his mother, Lisa, is a homemaker. They are conservative—“more conservative than Trump,” Peter told me—and are devout Mormons, although their three eldest sons no longer practice the religion. Growing up, John, Jr., was a nationally ranked speed skater, but he quit in 2018. (On one of his Web sites, he claims that he “competed in the 2018 Olympic Games”; in fact, he only got as far as the Olympic trials.) In 2016, he starred in a slickly produced Uber ad, the conceit of which was that athletes who train at odd hours might want to work part-time in the gig economy. A director’s cut ends with a shot of Sullivan skating to an abrupt stop, followed by the tagline “Find your hustle.”

After graduating from high school, Sullivan said, he thought about joining the Army Reserve and applied to be a police officer in a Salt Lake City suburb. He ended up working in corporate sales instead. Last year, feeling isolated and restless during the pandemic, he decided to start his own business. George Floyd had just been killed, and Sullivan’s social-media feeds filled with rousing images from street protests against police brutality. He went to a local Black Lives Matter protest, wearing a GoPro on his motorcycle helmet, and uploaded his footage to YouTube. After that, he established an L.L.C., called Insurgence USA. Later, on the Web site, he posted a photo of himself raising a clenched fist, with the National Mall in the background, next to the words “John Sullivan is bringing the revolution.” He solicited donations on Patreon and PayPal, offered his services as a motivational speaker, and sold merchandise: black tactical gloves; protective goggles; red baseball caps that looked like Make America Great Again hats, but actually read “Made Ya Look / Black Lives Matter.” He started filling his YouTube channel with footage from street clashes, employing a gonzo-guerrilla aesthetic: balaclavas, billowing clouds of tear gas. “I put my body on the line to bring people the best documentation of history,” Sullivan said. “That’s my thing: When shit’s going down, you follow me and I show you exactly what it’s like.”

More on the Capitol Riot
Ronan Farrow on a Pennsylvania mother’s path to insurrection.

Last June, early in his new career as an activism entrepreneur, Sullivan attended a protest near a police station in Provo, Utah. A pro-police group had organized a “Back the Blue” rally; another group planned an anti-police-brutality demonstration around the same time. (Sullivan’s Insurgence USA organization reportedly promoted the latter event on social media.) The vast majority of Black Lives Matter protests last summer were peaceful—more than ninety-five percent, by some estimates—but, at this one, clashes broke out. According to criminal affidavits later filed in state court, one of Sullivan’s fellow-protesters shot a man who was driving near the protest, and Sullivan kicked a woman’s car and threatened to beat her up. (Sullivan claimed that his confrontation started because the woman was trying to run over the protesters.) Sullivan was charged with criminal mischief and “riot,” which was defined, in part, as assembling “with the purpose of engaging . . . in tumultuous or violent conduct.” Sullivan argued that he had simply attended the event as a journalist—not a credentialled and impartial journalist, perhaps, but a journalist nonetheless.

More than once, his brother Peter, who describes himself as “politically moderate,” asked John why he was drawn to potentially violent street actions. “He would talk about his business, how he wanted to be the best video journalist, and that meant taking risks,” Peter recalled. “He would also tell me, ‘You don’t understand, it’s such a surreal experience.’ In addition to the journalism element, I think that rush is something that he really craves.”

John Sullivan made a habit of blurring the lines between activism, advocacy journalism, and opposition research. He tried to stay abreast of where the next big protest or riot was likely to break out, monitoring activist group chats on Signal and Telegram. “I was able to collaborate with the left in their community to gather information,” Sullivan wrote in an unpublished draft of a memoir. “But I also can connect with the right and successfully be in their presence without them being combative towards me.” When he was surrounded by left-wing activists or right-wing activists, he sometimes gave the impression of being one of them; at other times, he implied that he was working undercover to expose one side or the other. In his recent conversations with me, he emphasized his neutrality. “I want to make sure my First Amendment rights as a journalist are not being forgotten,” he told me.

The First Amendment enshrines, separately, “the freedom of speech” and “of the press.” “If the Speech Clause is the Court’s favorite child, the Press Clause has been the neglected one,” Sonja West, a legal scholar at the University of Georgia, wrote in the Harvard Law Review, in 2014. As a result, West told me, “this remains a fuzzy area of the law.” Can an undercover reporter misrepresent herself in order to get a story? Should a journalist in pursuit of publicly useful information be allowed to do certain things—push past a police barricade, say—that a normal citizen may not? “The Court has indicated that journalists have a special role that deserves protection,” West said. “But it has been very reluctant to say what those protections are.” If a professional reporter follows a crowd of protesters onto private property, the police may refrain from arresting her. If a whistle-blower leaks classified information to a journalist, prosecutors can treat this differently than if the information were leaked to a spy. In West’s Harvard Law Review article, she advocates what she calls “press exceptionalism,” suggesting a kind of checklist—eight “distinct qualities,” including “attention to professional standards” and “a proven ability to reach a broad audience”—that might distinguish the press from “press-like” members of the public. Sullivan checks about half of these boxes, depending on how generously you apply the criteria.

There has never been a clean way to delineate professional journalists from everyone else, and the boundary has only grown blurrier in the selfie-stick era. Defining the press too narrowly risks excluding freelancers and correspondents from nontraditional outlets; defining it too broadly could mean including anyone with a cell phone and a YouTube account. “If everyone has an equal claim to being a reporter, regardless of intent or track record, what it means in practice is that law enforcement won’t be able to tell the difference,” Lucy Dalglish, the dean of the University of Maryland’s journalism school, told me. “Suddenly, you have a situation where anyone can do any crazy thing—like break into the Capitol building, for instance—and then, when the cops show up, they can just take out their phone and say, ‘Hands off, I’m a documentarian.’ ” One of the people who invaded the Capitol on January 6th was Nick Ochs, a Proud Boy from Hawaii, who was later arrested for unlawful entry. “We came here to stop the steal,” Ochs said on a live stream the day of the siege. That night, however, Ochs told CNN that he had entered the Capitol as a professional journalist. He was associated with a far-right new-media collective comprising audio and video talk shows, published on YouTube and other platforms. The name of the collective was Murder the Media.

In July, Sullivan returned to the Provo police station for another demonstration. Standing on a small promontory and holding a megaphone, he gave a short speech. Then, spotting members of the Proud Boys and other far-right groups in the crowd, he improvised a kind of olive-branch gesture. “I want to understand you,” he said. “That’s what we’re about here. Getting to know people . . . because then you love them just like your family.” The megaphone was passed to several far-right activists, including a burly Proud Boy in a camouflage vest. The following month, Sullivan, wearing body armor and carrying a long gun, led a few dozen Second Amendment enthusiasts, including both left-wing activists and members of the Utah Constitutional Militia, on an armed march to the state capitol.

The more prominence he gained in local newspapers and TV-news segments, the more vocally left-wing organizers denounced him. (Lex Scott, a founder of Black Lives Matter Utah, told me, “He’s a thorn in our side. We learned to stay away from him long ago.”) Some wondered whether he was a police informant or a spy for a far-right militia. Among their reasons for suspicion was Sullivan’s brother James, a right-wing activist in Utah who had ties to the Proud Boys. (When asked if he had ever collaborated with James, John said, “I have barely spoken to that man in years.”) James currently runs a right-wing Facebook page called Civilized Awakening, which, in addition to the usual links about Trump and voter fraud, seems to specialize in anti-John Sullivan content—for example, a crudely Photoshopped image of John receiving a creepy neck massage from Joe Biden. Recently, on Facebook, James wrote, “I got into activism for one reason, and that was to take down my brother.” An activist from Portland floated a simpler explanation for John Sullivan’s antics: “He came off as someone that was a bit lost and looking for a family/following anywhere he could find it.”

According to left-wing activists, John Sullivan promoted his work online using a fluctuating assortment of handles: @ActivistX, @BlackFistNews, @FascistFighter, @WatchRiotPorn. Sometimes, he appeared to log in to multiple accounts simultaneously, using one to corroborate another. During one group chat on Signal, an organizer warned, “Activist X is not to be trusted.” Sullivan, who was in the chat, brushed it off. “Lol the fuck?” he wrote, using the display name Activist X. “I’ve known Activist X,” the next comment read. “Sounds like a lot of bullshit to me.” This was supposed to appear under the display name Tiger Wolf, but other activists claimed that they could see that it was actually posted by Sullivan, from another one of his phone numbers. “Why did you respond to yourself?” one asked. Another wrote, “I’m burning this chat lol.” (Sullivan denied using the handle Tiger Wolf and others, saying, “People are trying to hack my accounts and misrepresent me.”)

During the fall and winter, as Black Lives Matter protests fizzled and pro-Trump protests grew, Sullivan followed the momentum, live-streaming from far-right events in Washington, D.C., and at the Oregon state capitol. On Election Day, he witnessed a group of Proud Boys, normally implacable supporters of law enforcement, chanting “Fuck the police.” “That was shocking,” he wrote in a draft of his memoir; in his view, the far right’s turn against the police marked “a paradigm shift.” In December, he started to notice chatter on Parler and Telegram indicating that Trump supporters planned to descend on the Capitol. He booked a trip to D.C. In the memoir draft, he recalled thinking that Trump supporters who were angry about the outcome of the election, especially those who “overcame this barrier of supporting the police,” might “unite with Black Lives Matter. . . . I felt that perhaps they would come and fight together against the government.”

In the first shot of Sullivan’s main video from the Capitol, he is standing outside, underneath a set of bleachers erected for Joe Biden’s Inauguration. He angles his camera to take in the crowd behind him: red MAGA hats, yellow Gadsden flags, a man in a fur pelt. Suddenly, the crowd surges up a flight of stairs and toward a line of police barricades. The officers, most of whom do not have helmets or shields, are vastly outnumbered; they hold the line for a few seconds, but they’re quickly overtaken. “This shit’s ours!” Sullivan shouts as the invaders swarm onto a terrace. “We accomplished this shit. We did this shit together! Fuck, yeah!”

Looking over a balustrade to the lawn below, he sees a roiling crowd of thousands of people. He lets out several wonder-struck cheers, his voice cracking with exertion and emotion. “That’s beautiful shit!” he shouts. “Let’s go!” People are climbing up the walls, and he offers one of them a hand up. “Holy shit, dude, that was awesome,” he says. “Let’s burn this shit down.” A few seconds later, Sullivan rests his camera on a ledge and turns to a woman next to him, who is also filming. “I’m just gonna rely on you for footage from now on, is that chill?” he says. “Or should I just keep recording?” But then he presses forward, still taping, following the group through a broken window.Inside the Capitol, Sullivan wanders from room to room more or less at random, as if playing a first-person video game with no clear objective. He marvels at the palatial digs (“This is surreal”; “I’m shook at this!”; “What is life?”) and fantasizes about their destruction. “We’ve gotta burn this,” he says. “We’ve gotta get this shit burnt.” When he is surrounded by Trump supporters, he provides encouragement or advice. When confronted by police officers who ask him to leave, he says, “I’m just filming,” or “No freedom of the press now?” A few times, he tries to persuade police officers to abandon their posts. “We want you to go home,” he tells an officer. “I don’t want to see you get hurt.”

In the Rotunda, he stops to admire the domed ceiling, watching the afternoon light streaming in from above. “Damn,” he says, relishing the moment. Then, gesturing toward the fresco on the ceiling, he asks the man next to him, “What is this painting?”

“I don’t even know, but I know we in this motherfucker,” the man responds.

“Gang shit, bro,” Sullivan says.

“Make sure you follow me on Instagram,” the man says.

Sullivan continues past Corinthian columns and ruffled red-velvet curtains, into a marble hallway packed with insurrectionists, where the mood turns dark. A woman with a gray ponytail stands inches away from a police officer, vibrating with rage. “Tell fucking Pelosi we’re coming for her!” she shouts. “We’re coming for all of you!” She stops and stares the officer down, as if preparing for battle. “You ready?” she asks.

“I’m ready, bro,” Sullivan says, perhaps to himself. “I’ve been to so many riots.”

Suddenly, the mob pushes past the police and into a small inner corridor. One of the insurrectionists grabs a megaphone and turns to face the others. “We need to remain calm now,” he says. “We’ve made our point. Let’s be peaceful.”

“Fuck that shit,” Sullivan says. “Push!” Several times throughout the video, he can be heard saying, “I got a knife.” (He now claims that he didn’t actually have a knife: “I used that to navigate myself to the front of the crowd.”)

Some of the insurrectionists break away and find another small hallway, leading to a set of wood-and-glass doors. On the other side is a lobby leading to the House chamber. (The mob doesn’t know it, but several members of Congress, staffers, and journalists are still in the process of being evacuated from the chamber.) The insurrectionists use helmets and wooden flag poles to start beating down the door, smashing the glass, and splintering the wood frame. One woman, an Air Force veteran named Ashli Babbitt, starts to approach the door. A plainclothes police officer stands on the other side, wearing a mask and pointing a pistol in the group’s direction. “There’s a gun!” Sullivan says, but Babbitt doesn’t seem to hear. She starts to climb through an opening in the doorway. The officer shoots once and Babbitt falls to the ground, bleeding, eyes open. “She’s dead,” Sullivan says to the man next to him, who identifies himself as a correspondent from the far-right conspiracist network Infowars. “I saw, the light goes out in her eyes.”

“I need that footage, man,” the Infowars correspondent says. “It’s gonna go out to the world.”

“Dude, this shit’s gonna go viral,” Sullivan says.

From his hotel room, Sullivan uploaded his video footage to YouTube. He licensed parts of it to the Washington Post and NBC, and Anderson Cooper interviewed him on CNN. Right away, far-right conspiracy theorists started to use Sullivan for their propaganda efforts. Some tried to suggest that Sullivan was a left-wing plant who had somehow orchestrated the entire insurrection. Rudy Giuliani, President Trump’s lawyer, tweeted a screenshot of what appeared to be a text conversation between himself and James Sullivan, who claimed, baselessly, that there were “226 members of Antifa that instigated the Capitol ‘riot,’ ” and added, “I’m currently working with the FBI to expose and place total blame on John.”

John Sullivan uploaded videos in which he spoke directly to the camera, attempting to justify some of the more incongruous parts of his Capitol footage. “I have emotions, and those moments are crazy,” Sullivan said. In another video, he added, “I was not there to be a participant. I was there to record. But I also have to blend my fucking Black ass into that crowd.” Many of his followers didn’t seem to buy it. When he tweeted, “#TrumpSupporters are making a hit list to take me out,” someone responded, “Stop acting like the victim. . . . You were obviously more involved than what you are playing out.”

“I mean, the FBI doesn’t think so,” Sullivan responded.

A week after the insurrection, James Sullivan says, he sent the F.B.I. tips about his brother. On January 14th, according to John, agents came to his apartment and seized two computers, two cell phones, and his camera equipment. Federal prosecutors announced that Sullivan was being charged with one count of knowingly entering a restricted building, one count of violent entry and disorderly conduct, and one count of interfering with law enforcement. “People are understandably angry and upset, but I’m hoping we don’t respond to mob violence with mob justice,” Mary Corporon, one of Sullivan’s defense attorneys, told me. “It’s going to take a lot of discipline to look at each individual case separately, to give each person a chance to be presumed innocent, but that’s what the Constitution requires.”

A central function of the press is to reveal significant information, including images that the public otherwise would not have seen. “People can say what they want, but nobody else got the footage I got,” Sullivan told me. “That shit was history, and I captured it.” The events leading to Ashli Babbitt’s death are of undeniable import, and we would understand them less well if Sullivan hadn’t documented them. In a dissenting Supreme Court opinion from 1972, Justice Potter Stewart argued that, in order to protect “the full flow of information to the public,” there “must be the right to gather news.” Sullivan and his lawyers may end up arguing that some of his actions on January 6th—shouting support for the mob, for example—were acts of newsgathering, necessary for Sullivan to get as far as he did. This theory would be less helpful, presumably, in explaining away some of Sullivan’s other actions, such as encouraging the invaders to push forward or claiming to have a knife. In Brandenburg v. Ohio, from 1969, the Supreme Court ruled that speech is not protected by the First Amendment if it is “directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action.” This is a high bar, but it’s possible that Sullivan’s speech would clear it.

Sullivan spent the night of January 14th in jail. The next day, he was brought before a judge, who released him on the condition that he wear an ankle monitor and stay in his house except for pre-approved activities. Near the end of the hearing, the prosecutor asked that Sullivan be barred from using the Internet. The defense argued, “It is nearly impossible to find employment in the twenty-first century without some form of Internet access.” In the end, the judge ordered the prosecution and the defense to agree on “a list of social-media sites that you feel would be dangerous for Mr. Sullivan to use.”

Against his lawyers’ advice, Sullivan has called me nearly every day since his release, giving me a Zoom tour of his apartment and sending me a Google Drive of protest footage, snippets from his childhood vlog, and cell-phone recordings from his family’s Thanksgiving. I wondered whether these were acts of defiance or of self-sabotage, but it seemed more likely that he was trying to alleviate his boredom. He showed me his video-editing setup, which includes a ring light, a key light, and a professional microphone with a pop filter—but not his computers, which had been confiscated by the F.B.I. His rhetoric about his trip to D.C. was triumphant—“I think I really accomplished something”—but his body language seemed deflated. He told me that, when he closed his eyes, he still saw images of Babbitt’s shooting. “Even after all the wild stuff I’ve witnessed,” he said, “that was the first time I ever saw anyone die.” Internet sleuths continued to argue about whether he was a far-right plant or an Antifa double agent, but he sounded more like a confused kid who was in over his head.

During one of our conversations, he told me that he hadn’t yet received the list of social-media sites that he would be prohibited from using, but that he had been told to expect a far-ranging ban. “Maybe I’ll be allowed to use LinkedIn, maybe not even that,” he told me. “I’m just watching TV and meditating and trying to steer clear of all of it.” This may have been his goal, but he did spend at least some time lurking on Twitter. I know this because, on January 16th, he followed me. He used one of his old handles, @ActivistJayden. I clicked on the account’s profile and scrolled through its history. It was one of Sullivan’s lesser-used accounts; at the time, it consisted only of a few retweets. There was a live stream of a protest outside a federal prison and a video of a protester playing violin while tear gas spread around him. On New Year’s Eve, @ActivistJayden had retweeted a tweet that read, “Let’s make 2021 the year of political upheaval.” Replying to the tweet from a different account, Sullivan had written, “I’m fucking ready.”

Read More About the Attack on the Capitol

Andrew Marantz is a staff writer at The New Yorker and the author of “Antisocial: Online Extremists, Techno-Utopians, and the Hijacking of the American Conversation.”More:Donald TrumpBlack Lives MatterTrumpismActivistsJournalistsRiotsProtestTrump-Biden Transition

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The Capitol was breached by Trump supporters who had been declaring, at rally after rally, that they would go to violent lengths to keep the President in power. A chronicle of an attack foretold.

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Facebook banned the President from its platform on Thursday, but the move was too little, too late.

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By Megan K. Stack

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‘Small fire’ prompts brief shutdown of Capitol, evacuation of inauguration rehearsal participants

– Reprint (Adapted)

A law enforcement official said the evacuation was prompted by what turned out to be a fire at a homeless encampment.

National Guard members take a staircase toward the U.S. Capitol building on Jan. 18, 2021. Patrick Semansky / AP

By Rebecca Shabad

WASHINGTON — A “small fire” under a nearby bridge prompted the temporary shutdown of the U.S. Capitol complex and the evacuation of the west front of the building, where a rehearsal for Wednesday’s inaugural ceremony was underway Monday.

“Public safety and law enforcement responded to a small fire in the area of 1st and F streets SE, Washington, D.C. that has been extinguished,” the Secret Service tweeted. “Out of an abundance of caution the U.S. Capitol complex was temporarily shutdown. There is no threat to the public.”

President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris were not at the Capitol when the incident occurred. Both are participating in Monday in-service events to mark Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Biden and his wife are helping to distribute goods at Philabundance, Philadelphia’s largest hunger-relief organization, while Harris and her husband are volunteering in D.C.

Yogananda Pittman, acting chief of Capitol Police, acted out of “an abundance of caution following an external security threat under the bridge on I-295 at First and F Streets,” and ordered a shutdown of the Capitol complex, according to a statement from Capitol Police.

West front of Capitol evacuated after ‘external security threat’

Jan. 18, 2021, 02:46

“Members and staff were advised to shelter in place while the incident is being investigated.”

Capitol Police later gave the all-clear, lifting the shelter-in-place advisory.

A law enforcement official told NBC News that the evacuation was prompted by what turned out to be a fire at a homeless encampment.

Congress Twitter suspends GOP Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene
CongressPelosi tasks retired Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré with leading review of Capitol security

Washington, D.C.’s fire department tweeted about an incident that appeared to match that description.

Details of the incident came after an announcement was made across the Capitol that said that there was an external security threat and that people should stay where they are, and to stay away from doors and windows.

A notice sent to House and Senate offices said, “All buildings within the Capitol Complex: Due to an external security threat located under the bridge on I-295 at First and F Streets SE, no entry or exit is permitted at this time. You may move throughout the buildings but stay away from exterior windows and doors. If you are outside, seek cover.”

Washington is on a high state of alert as Biden’s swearing-in approaches after the Jan. 6 events that led to the violent storming of the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob.

Image: Rebecca Shabad

Rebecca Shabad

Rebecca Shabad is a congressional reporter for NBC News, based in Washington.

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UK heading for post-Brexit BOOM after signing 62 new trade deals worth £900 billion


BRITAIN is heading for a post-Brexit boom after securing trade deals worth a staggering £900 billion.

By Martyn Brown, Senior Political Correspondent Tue, Dec 29, 2020

Boris Johnson: Brexit deal is ‘glad tidings of great joy’

The colossal figure comes as Trade Secretary Liz Truss signed off a new £18.6 billion tie-up with Turkey, meaning the UK now has new agreements in place with 62 countries around the world. And there are multi-billion free trade deals with America, Canada, and Australia in the pipeline for 2021. Together they could boost the UK economy by at least £100 billion over the coming decade, according to analysts.


Writing in the Daily Express, former Business Secretary Andrea Leadsom, says that the UK’s ability to secure its own trading agreements, free from EU interference, means that the “sunlit uplands” are on the horizon.

She says Boris Johnson’s “phenomenal” £660 billion trade deal with Brussels is the “catalyst for the UK to redefine our place in the world”.

“Let us seize the opportunities that our new position brings,” she says. Let’s use this as a positive push for our post-COVID recovery. The Roaring Twenties can now truly begin!”

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With just three days to go until the Brexit transition period ends Boris Johnson yesterday (Mon) hailed a “new starting point” for the UK’s relationship with the EU.

 Trade Secretary Liz Truss signed off a new £18.6 billion tie-up with Turkey

Trade Secretary Liz Truss signed off a new £18.6 billion tie-up with Turkey (Image: EXPRESS)

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In a call with European Council president Charles Michel, the Prime Minister welcomed the agreement as a fresh start “between sovereign equals”.

“We looked forward to the formal ratification of the agreement and to working together on shared priorities, such as tackling climate change,” the prime minister added.

It came after ambassadors representing the 27 EU member states unanimously approved the trade deal, which was secured on Christmas Eve just days before the 31 December deadline.

The approval means the trade deal can take effect provisionally, though the European Parliament will formally vote on it in January.

READ MORE: Brexit rebellion: DUP to vote AGAINST Boris trade deal

There are multi-billion free trade deals with America, Canada and Australia in the pipeline for 2021

There are multi-billion free trade deals with America, Canada, and Australia in the pipeline for 2021 (Image: GETTY)

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MPs will be recalled to parliament to vote on the agreement tomorrow (Wed) and currently, only 10 Tories are expected to rebel.

But Tory grandee Lord Heseltine has urged MPs and peers to abstain from the vote, warning the deal would inflict “lasting damage” on the UK. Labour has also criticised what it described as a “thin” deal.

However, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has said his party will support it, meaning it is expected to be approved and come into force on 1 January.

The agreement with Turkey, which will be formally signed later this week, will provide a major boost for the British car industry, manufacturing, and steel industries and lays the groundwork for an enhanced relationship in the future.

‘Sore loser’ Lord Adonis blasted as he calls on UK to get back in EU [VIDEO]

Merkel backs Johnson’s Brexit deal as Germany gloats over EU27 unity [REVEALED]
How UK will have to negotiate with EVERY EU country in 2021 [INSIGHT]

Boris Johnson secured a trade deal with the EU on Christmas Eve

Boris Johnson secured a trade deal with the EU on Christmas Eve (Image: GETTY)

Ms. Truss and her team have now agreed to trade deals with 62 countries, alongside the new EU deal – accounting for around £885 billion of UK trade.

More deals with Albania, Cameroon, and Ghana could be agreed in the coming days.

Announcing the deal the International Trade Secretary said: “We now look forward to working with Turkey towards an ambitious tailor-made trade agreement in the near future, as we aim to open new global markets for great British businesses, drive economic growth and improve people’s lives across both countries.

“It will provide certainty for thousands of jobs across the UK in the manufacturing, automotive and steel industries.”

The deal with the EU came just before the UK's transition period ended

The deal with the EU came just before the UK’s transition period ended (Image: GETTY)

The UK is Turkey’s second-biggest export market but Ankara’s customs union with the EU meant that a free trade agreement could not be finalised until a Brexit deal was in place. That raised fears among Turkish producers of white goods, cars, and textiles that their products could face hefty import tariffs and UK border delays if Britain crashed out of the 27-member bloc.

The deal seeks to replicate the trading terms that currently exist between the UK and Turkey, with tariff-free trade on all non-agricultural goods, according to British officials.

The UK has also agreed to roll over the preferential tariffs that Turkey enjoys on some agricultural products under its customs union with the EU.

It follows hot on the heels of a bumper £17.6 billion tie-up with Singapore that will help Britain become a major tech-hub.

Another £15 billion deal was signed with Japan, paving the way thousands of new jobs

Another £15 billion deal was signed with Japan, paving the way for thousands of new jobs (Image: EXPRESS)

Another £15 billion deal was signed with Japan, paving the way for thousands of new jobs. Crucially it gives Britain a foot in the door to joining a wider 11-nation trade deal, known as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Once fully operational it will account for around 14 percent of global GDP and is worth more than £112 billion.

Boris Johnson has promised Britain will “prosper mightily” outside the EU and Chancellor Rishi Sunak this week said that the new trade deal secured with the EU will usher in a “new era for global Britain”. 

Brexiteer John Redwood, who has indicated he will support the deal in tomorrow’s (Wed) vote, said the opportunities for Britain outside the EU are huge.

The EU had expressed its reluctance to back down to the UK's fishing demands

The EU had expressed its reluctance to back down to the UK’s fishing demands (Image: GETTY)

And he questioned the so-called “economic boost” of being in the bloc, suggesting there was only 1.66 percent per year since 1993.

“If we look at the 28 years 1993 to 2020 when we were in the single market and customs union, total growth was 59 percent. 

“That was an annual growth rate of just 1.66 percent.”

Richard Tice, Chairman of Reform/The Brexit Party, yesterday (Mon) questioned some elements of the UK/EU deal but described it as “a giant leap forward”. 

“We are once again a free, sovereign, independent United Kingdom,” he said.

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MailOnline - news, sport, celebrity, science and health stories

Brexit deal is DONE: Boris Johnson SEALS historic Brexit deal with EU as UK claims to have won TWICE as many concessions as Brussels and von der Leyen laments ‘parting is such sweet sorrow’

MailOnline - news, sport, celebrity, science and health stories

Thursday, Dec 24, 2020 3 P.M.

  • Boris Johnson has finally confirmed that a post-Brexit trade deal has been agreed with the European Union
  • Downing Street insists the pact will ‘take back control of our money, borders, laws, trade and fishing waters’ 
  • The PM and Ursula von der Leyen are understood to have held regular secret phone calls in the last 48 hours
  • Briefing wars about who has won are already ramping up as sides prepare to sell the agreement to their voters

By James Tapsfield, Political Editor For Mailonline and David Wilcock, Whitehall Correspondent

Boris Johnson today declared that a Brexit deal has been done after four years of desperate wrangling – with a furious propaganda war already underway.

The PM has made history by sealing future trade terms to avert a chaotic split when the transition period ends on January 1, after Lord Frost and Michel Barnier thrashed out a 2,000-page text.

Downing Street said the agreement was ‘fantastic news’ – with Mr. Johnson now set to hold a press conference. 

What happens next? 

After a Brexit deal text was finalised, the next step is ratification by both sides – and there is not much time before the end of the transition period on January 1. 

Next week 

MPs will need to pass legislation putting the deal on the statute book 

With Christmas Day tomorrow, this is likely to happen next week. The Commons will be recalled from its festive break and potentially consider all the stages of a Bill in one day.

The package is virtually guaranteed to be approved, as Boris Johnson has an 80-strong majority and Labour has indicated it will at least abstain – if not support the deal. 


Meanwhile, Brussels will short-cut its own processes, with the EU Council of member states expected to grant ‘provisional’ implementation before the deadline, rather than the European Parliament approving it in advance.

This has angered many MEPs, as they will be under massive pressure to sign off the deal if it has already come into effect.

January 1

The new trade terms – or WTO terms if something has gone wrong with the deal – come into effect.  

A senior No10 source said: ‘Everything that the British public was promised during the 2016 referendum and in the general election last year is delivered by this deal.

‘We have taken back control of our money, borders, laws, trade, and our fishing waters.

‘The deal is fantastic news for families and businesses in every part of the UK. We have signed the first free trade agreement based on zero tariffs and zero quotas that have ever been achieved with the EU.’

Ursula von der Leyen told her own briefing in Brussels that the terms were ‘balanced’. ‘We have finally found an agreement. It was a long and winding road but we’ve got a good deal to show for it,’ she said.

She said the EU had protected its single market and achieved ‘five-and-a-half years of predictability for our fishing communities and strong tools to incentivise’ for access to continue afterward. 

Ms von der Leyen said her overriding feeling was relief. ‘Parting is such sweet sorrow,’ she added.

Referencing one of his mantras from the talks, Mr. Barnier said: ‘The clock is no longer ticking.’ 

No10 said the terms meant the UK will not be in the ‘lunar pull of the EU’. ‘We are not bound by EU rules, there is no role for the European Court of Justice and all of our key red lines about returning sovereignty have been achieved,’ the source said. 

‘It means that we will have full political and economic independence on 1st January, 2021.’ 

The confirmation had been repeatedly put back as the sides argue ‘fish by fish’ over the rules, with Ireland warning of a ‘hitch’, even though UK sources insisted there are ‘no major issues’.  

But the battle to sell the package to voters and Tory MPs is in full swing, as Mr. Johnson rings round restive backbenchers.

An internal government assessment insisted that the UK ‘won’ on 43 percent of the major issues in the £660billion package, compared to 17 percent where the EU came out on top. 

There will be zero-tariff, zero-quota access to the EU single market – and Mr. Johnson has maintained the ability to diverge from Brussels standards, with no role for the European Court of Justice. 

The document boasts that concessions were secured on rules of origin for goods, customs streamlining, and ‘trusted trader’ schemes, while the financial services sector has been ‘insulated’.  

A deal will also avoid huge disruption on top of the coronavirus crisis. 

However, the UK looks to have given ground on fishing rights, and secured little succour for the services sector.

For its part, France has started boasting that Mr. Johnson made ‘huge concessions’ on fishing in the last stages as the mutant coronavirus variant underlined the vulnerability of UK borders.     

The challenge the PM faces was underlined as Tory Brexiteers vowed to put together a ‘Star Chamber’ of experts to scrutinize the documents over Christmas.

MailOnline understands that Mr. Johnson was ‘very straightforward’ and did not try to give a ‘hard sell’ in his call with senior MPs.

One MP said subject to seeing the full text the outline was ‘what we hoped’. ‘Maybe it will be a happier Christmas after all,’ they suggested.  

Nigel Farage accused Mr. Johnson of ‘dropping the ball’, although he also stressed that it was ‘progress’ and the Brexit ‘war is over’. There are fears that political ‘landmines’ in the text will inevitably be uncovered. 

The FTSE 100 rose 20 points to 6,516 – 0.3 percent – on opening amid optimism about a deal. The pound had already gained around 0.6 percent against the dollar, and 0.4 percent against the euro overnight.   

Boris Johnson (pictured speaking to Ursula von der Leyen by video link today) said the UK could now take advantages of the benefits of Brexit

Boris Johnson (pictured speaking to Ursula von der Leyen by video link today) said the UK could now take advantages of the benefits of Brexit

Ursula von der Leyen told her own briefing in Brussels (right) that the terms were ‘fair and balanced’

In more evidence that Mr Johnson is bracing to sell a deal to voters, a leaked internal government document claims that the UK 'won' on 43 per cent of the major issues - compared to 17 per cent where the EU came out on top

In more evidence that Mr. Johnson is bracing to sell a deal to voters, a leaked internal government document claims that the UK ‘won’ on 43 percent of the major issues – compared to 17 percent where the EU came out on top

Some experts cast doubt on the assessments in the UK document, pointing out that many of the 'wins' for the EU were in the crucial services sector of the economy. There is no deep provision for financial services from January 1

Some experts cast doubt on the assessments in the UK document, pointing out that many of the ‘wins’ for the EU were in the crucial services sector of the economy. There is no deep provision for financial services from January 1


The UK government assessment said it had 'insulated financial services from cross-retaliation' in disputes about other areas of the agreement

The UK government assessment said it had ‘insulated financial services from cross-retaliation’ in disputes about other areas of the agreement

Nigel Farage was condemning the post-Brexit trade deal before it had even been announced this evening

Nigel Farage was condemning the post-Brexit trade deal before it had even been announced this evening 

more videos


What were the sticking points in Brexit talks? 


The UK insisted throughout that it would take back control of its coastal waters from the end of the transition period.

But the EU was demanding its fleets maintain previous levels of access – with Emmanuel Macron under particular pressure from the French fishing industry.   

Initially, the UK said it wanted to reclaim 80 percent of the EU quotas from January 1.

However, Brussels suggested that only 18 percent should be restored.

The two sides are thought to have found a ‘landing zone’ that includes a figure between those and a transition period.

If reports are right that the UK is reclaiming just 25 percent of the EU’s fishing quota, phased in over five and a half years, that would look to be closer to the EU position.

However, Downing Street will insist that means the UK can be catching two-thirds of fish in our waters by the year 2026.


The EU insisted the UK should commit to ‘level playing field’ provisions, guaranteeing that it will not undercut businesses with lower environmental standards and regulations.

State aid has emerged as a particular issue, especially as coronavirus makes swathes of the economy unviable. 

But the UK said it must regain sovereign powers to decide on rules, even though it has no plans to lower standards or warp competition by subsidising the private sector. 

It appeared this area was close to resolution before France reportedly laid down a series of extra conditions including huge punishments for breaking the rules.

Although the UK is happy with ‘non-regression’ – meaning current standards are accepted as a baseline – it took issue with swingeing unilateral penalties and complained the proposals were ‘asymmetrical’ as the EU would be freer to prop up industries. 


The enforcement of any deal, and who decides whether rules are broken, has been one of the flashpoints from the start.

Breaking free of the European Court of Justice was among the biggest demands of Brexiteers from the referendum. 

But the EU was pushing to keep control of the governance, as well as insisting on tough fines and punitive tariffs for breaches.

The situation was inflamed by the row over the UK’s Internal Market Bill, which gave ministers the power to override the previous Brexit divorce terms to prevent blockages between Britain and Northern Ireland.

The resolution of that spat is thought to have been critical in hammering out a wider trade deal. 

Hopes had been growing all yesterday after it was claimed the difference between Lord Frost and Mr. Barnier had come down to fish worth the equivalent of a Premier League footballer’s transfer fee.

But the final touches required more input from the political leadership of Mr Johnson and Ms von der Leyen. 

As the propaganda war gets underway, an internal UK government document laid out 65 key issues during the talks – and claimed that Lord Frost had won on 28 of them.

By contrast, the EU was said to have come out on top in just 11. 

The remaining 26 were classified as ‘mutual compromises’ – including the critical area of fishing rights. 

Notably, the assessment states that the package delivers ‘on all the objectives set out by Vote Leave’. 

A senior Tory source told MailOnline the document, leaked to the Guido Fawkes blog, was authentic. However, it is understood Cabinet ministers have not been shown it yet.

However, some experts cast doubt on the assessments, pointing out that many of the ‘wins’ for the EU were in the crucial services sector of the economy. There is no deep provision for financial services from January 1.   

JPMorgan said it looked like the EU had secured a deal retaining nearly all of its advantages from trade with the UK, but with the ability to use regulations to ‘cherry-pick’ among sectors where Britain previously had advantages – such as services. 

Irish foreign affairs minister Simon Coveney said there appeared to be ‘some sort of last-minute hitch’ in the talks – although he said he expected it to be overcome.

Mr. Coveney told RTE Radio the delay related to a section of a fisheries agreement.

‘I had hoped to be talking to you this morning in parallel with big announcements happening in both London and Brussels, but we still expect those later on today,’ he said. 

Brexiteers have already been voicing caution about the terms before they are announced.

Although Labour has already indicated it will not block any agreement – meaning it is effectively guaranteed to pass through Parliament – having to rely on Keir Starmer would be hugely damaging for Mr. Johnson. 

The Tory Eurosceptic ERG group chairman Mark Francois and vice-chair David Jones said: ‘Assuming a deal between the UK and the EU is officially confirmed tonight, the ERG will tomorrow reconvene the panel of legal experts, chaired by Sir Bill Cash, to examine the details and legal text.’ 

Senior Tory MP Bernard Jenkin added: ‘Amid the expectation of an EU-UK agreement, ERG MPs will want to wait until we have seen a legal text and we understand what it means if our opinion is to have any credibility.’ 

Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage did not wait for the terms to emerge, accusing the UK side of ‘dropping the ball’.

‘It sounds like the British team has dropped the ball before the line. No wonder they want a Christmas Eve announcement to hide the fisheries sell-out,’ he tweeted. 

But one No10 aide told Politico that the UK had secured a good deal on fishing. ‘Even before the end of the transition period we will take back control of 130,000 tonnes a year, enough to stretch to the South Pole and back,’ they said. 

‘After that, we can fish and eat every damn fish in our waters.’ 

Climate minister Lord Goldsmith – a close ally of Mr. Johnson and strong Eurosceptic – warned that there is a ‘very large constituency of people who are absolutely longing to trash the deal – and will do so irrespective of its merits’. 

Shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds warned that the expected deal would still result in a ‘major negative impact’ on GDP.

She said: ‘Indications a deal is imminent mean many businesses are breathing a sigh of relief.

‘Yet early indications suggest this thin deal will have a major negative impact on GDP.

‘With key industries subject to substantial barriers, these are not the promised ‘exact same benefits’.’

Posting a photo of pizza boxes on Twitter last night, Mr. Mamer said: ‘Pizza has arrived… Is it Frutti di mare? Or Bismarck? Or good old 4 stagione? Suspense…’ 

Downing Street released images of Mr Johnson and Ms von der Leyen giving their final approval for the trade agreement

Downing Street released images of Mr. Johnson and Ms von der Leyen giving their final approval for the trade agreement

The Treasury’s OBR watchdog had warned that No Deal would inflict a further two percent hit on the already struggling economy.  

And Bank of England governor Andrew Bailey suggested the long-term harm to the economy would have been greater than from Covid-19. 

Mr. Johnson conceded that the initial phase of No Deal would be ‘difficult’ – but had insisted the UK would ‘prosper mightily’ whatever happened. 

Chairman of Barclays UK Sir Ian Cheshire said a trade deal with the EU would bring clarity to business.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘This was pure politics. It was always the last minute sort of rabbit from the hat.

‘And I’m very glad that it appears we can carry on with… our most important trading relationship.

‘And business can plan. I think that’s been the overriding issue for businesses over the last two years. They are occasionally accused of not being ready, and the question is – ready for what?

‘At least now we have got clarity and we can get on.’ 

Mr. Johnson’s decision to take personal charge of the negotiations at the weekend is believed to have been critical in breaking the deadlock.

‘He knew where his red lines were because he set them – he was completely across the detail,’ one source told the Mail. ‘When it was all over, von der Leyen asked ‘Do we have a deal?’ He replied simply ‘Yes’.’

A last-minute protest by French president Emmanuel Macron – long seen as the biggest obstacle to an agreement, with his demands on fishing rights – is regarded as the one remaining threat. 

The government assessment listed a series of UK wins - although some experts suggested they were rose-tinted

The government assessment listed a series of UK wins – although some experts suggested they were rose-tinted

Downing Street was bustling today as the world awaited confirmation of a post-Brexit trade agreement

Downing Street was bustling today as the world awaited confirmation of a post-Brexit trade agreement

Boris Johnson joined a virtual call with British Military personnel from around the globe last night to thank them for their services and to wish them a Merry Christmas

Boris Johnson joined a virtual call with British Military personnel from around the globe last night to thank them for their services and to wish them a Merry Christmas

Ms von der Leyen's spokesman posted a picture of his pizza dinner on Twitter, joking about the 'suspense' over whether it might be topped with seafood

Ms von der Leyen’s spokesman posted a picture of his pizza dinner on Twitter, joking about the ‘suspense’ over whether it might be topped with seafood

He then followed up his tweet by recommending Brexit-waters 'grab some sleep', with work continuing throughout the night

He then followed up his tweet by recommending Brexit-waters ‘grab some sleep’, with work continuing throughout the night

Below: A member of the British delegation loads a soup cauldron into a van outside the UK Mission to the EU in Brussels last night – while pizza was delivered to the EU commission building

A member of the British delegation loads a soup cauldron into a van outside the UK Mission to the EU in Brussels tonight
Pizza was delivered to the EU commission building
The Daily Mail
The Times
The Sun
The Mirror

News of the breakthrough was carried on all the front pages today – even though the final haggling is still going on

Shares and pound edge up amid Brexit deal hopes

The London stock market crept up today as investors were buoyed by the UK and European Union being on the threshold of striking a post-Brexit trade deal. 

The FTSE 100 index rose by 0.48 percent or 31 points to 6,527 in early trading this morning, while the pound was up 0.57 percent against the dollar at $1.3584. 

But gains on the markets were tempered by concerns over another new strain of Covid-19, with the UK implementing a travel ban on South Africa and millions more people set to be under the toughest coronavirus restrictions from Boxing Day.   

The pound has strengthened 1.4 percent versus the dollar since 1.30 pm yesterday when Reuters first quoted sources saying that a Brexit deal appeared imminent.

The currency is now heading back towards the two-and-a-half-year high of $1.3625 which was hit last week. Against the euro, the pound was up 0.54 percent at €1.1137. 

Mr. Macron, who faces elections in 2022, has been desperate to keep his powerful fishing industry onside.

His possible challenger in the polls, Marine Le Pen, of the far-Right National Rally, picked up large numbers of votes in 2017.

Tensions rose between London and Paris at the weekend when the French government decided to shut its borders for 48 hours after the emergence of a newer, more infectious strain of coronavirus.

Tory MPs and Downing Street aides speculated that Mr. Macron’s decision was, in part, a means of punishing Britain over its decision to leave the European Union.

But sources close to the French president, a sworn Europhile, angrily denied those suggestions in conversations with the Mail this week.

They said Mr. Johnson’s own dramatic messaging had triggered panic among European governments who simply wanted to stop the spread of the virus.

Diplomats in Brussels said Germany was most concerned about Britain trying to undercut and outcompete European firms after Brexit.

The EU will short-cut its own processes, with the Council of member states granting ‘provisional’ implementation before the deadline, rather than the European Parliament approving it in advance.

But EU leaders have to agree the deal unanimously. 

And the curtailed process has angered many MEPs, as they will be under massive pressure to rubber-stamp the deal if it has already come into effect.  

The agreement covers vast areas of the UK’s relationship with the EU, including trade, security, and travel. 

Despite hopes of confirmation coming last night, the EU and UK teams dug in for a lengthy shift, with pizzas being delivered to the Berlaymont HQ in Brussels. 

Ms von der Leyen’s spokesman Eric Mamer posted a picture of the takeaway on Twitter, joking about the ‘suspense’ over whether it was topped with seafood.   

Ministers hope the news will boost morale in what looks set to be the toughest of winters. The pound rose sharply yesterday on the back of mounting speculation that agreement was near.

The breakthrough came as Health Secretary Matt Hancock warned that a surge of Covid cases would put much of the country under heavy restrictions, probably for months. 

In an emergency statement, he announced that another eight million people would be placed under Tier Four restrictions on Boxing Day. 

That will put the entire South East and much of East Anglia under virtual lockdown.

Mr. Hancock also revealed mounting concern about a new ‘super-strain’ of the virus which has reached the UK from South Africa. 

Government sources said the EU deal would see British fishermen able to land roughly two-thirds of fish in UK waters by the middle of the decade. 

UK gets ‘listed status’ to export animal products to EU – but seed potatoes are out 

Exports of meat, fish, and dairy products to the European Union will be able to continue beyond January 1 after the United Kingdom was granted ‘national listed status’.

The measure means live animals and products of animal origin can be supplied to the EU after Brussels confirmed the UK met health and biosecurity standards.

The EU has also agreed to the exports of many plants and plant products can continue being exported to the bloc and Northern Ireland.

But seed potatoes – an important Scottish export – will be banned, leading Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to condemn the ‘disastrous’ outcome.

UK chief veterinary officer Christine Middlemiss said: ‘Third country listed status demonstrates our very high standards of biosecurity and animal health which we will continue to maintain after the end of the transition period.’

Businesses in the £5 billion animal export market will face some red tape in order to continue exporting, including the need for a health certificate.

While potatoes destined for European dinner plates can continue to be exported, those used as seed crops cannot be.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said it will not be possible to export seed potatoes to the EU or Northern Ireland from January 1 but officials were working with the European Commission on the issue.

Ms Sturgeon said it was a ‘disastrous Brexit outcome for Scottish farmers’ and ‘like all other aspects of Brexit, foisted on Scotland against our will’.

But a senior Tory predicted the agreement would ‘land badly’ with Eurosceptic MPs. It is understood to involve the EU handing back only 25 percent of its share of quota from UK waters, with the cuts phased in over five and a half years.

MPs are set to be recalled to Parliament to vote the deal through in time for the end of the transition on December 31. The agreement came after days of frantic negotiation. 

Sources claim it was almost derailed when the EU proposed measures they say would have crippled Britain’s drive to become a world leader in electric cars.

‘We have got it to a place we are happy with,’ a source said. ‘It upholds all the principles we said we would not compromise on. Yes, we have made compromises in some areas, but we have not compromised on the fundamentals of taking back control.’

Another senior Tory said the deal would ensure ‘zero tariff, zero quota access to European markets’ alongside security co-operation. ‘There will be no European Court of Justice messing us around,’ the source said.

However, the Prime Minister is braced for accusations of betrayal from Eurosceptic Tories, some of whom had urged the PM to walk away rather than compromise.

The last push for a deal revolved around a compromise over the sensitive issue of fishing in UK waters, with reports suggesting that they could be down to catches worth £60million. 

To put that figure into context, it is considerably less than the £89million that took midfielder Paul Pogba from Juventus to Manchester United in 2016, which remains the record transfer for a player moving to the top flight in England. 

Fishing rights were the most intractable part of the negotiations. Boris Johnson made clear that Britain would be an independent coastal state in charge of access to its own waters – with UK fishermen able to catch a far greater proportion of the available fish than their EU competitors.

Brussels had demanded unfettered access to Britain’s waters for a decade. The UK had offered a three-year transition period.

According to reports, the UK has ended up reclaiming 25 percent of the EU’s fishing quota – with changes phased in over five-and-a-half years.

Downing Street insists this will mean UK fleets catching two-thirds of the fish in domestic waters by 2026, but the compromise appears nearer the EU’s starting position.

Tory MP Robert Halfon joked that he would support a Brexit deal if it forced people to eat Christmas pudding every day

Tory MP Robert Halfon joked that he would support a Brexit deal if it forced people to eat Christmas pudding every day 

Angela Merkel is a key powerplayer in the EU
Emmanuel Macron (pictured taking a Cabinet meeting from coronavirus self-isolation) was seen as the biggest obstacle to a deal

Angela Merkel (pictured left) is a key powerplayer in the EU. Emmanuel Macron (pictured right taking a Cabinet meeting from coronavirus self-isolation) was seen as the biggest obstacle to a Brexit trade deal

Who is Ursula von der Leyen, the EU chief who was once tipped as Angela Merkel’s successor?

Ursula von der Leyen took over as President of the European Commission from Jean-Claude Juncker in December 2019. 

Since then, the start of her five-year term in office has been dominated by two issues: Brexit and the coronavirus pandemic. 

The 62-year-old is a staunch defender of the EU project and has previously called for a ‘United States of Europe’ with its own army. 

She previously served as defence secretary in Germany and was once viewed as a potential successor to Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The mother-of-seven has experienced a rapid political rise, only entering politics in her 40s. 

She has a medical degree and studied at the London School of Economics as well as Stanford in the US.

The qualified gynaecologist regularly emerged in opinion polls as one of Germany’s most popular politicians before she made the switch to Brussels. 

She is the daughter of Brussels-born Eurocrat Ernst Albrecht, a senior German politician who worked in the EU Commission in the 1950s. 

She revealed last year that she spent a year in London in the 1970s hiding from notorious German communist terrorists.

She spent 12 months in the ‘seething, international, colourful city’ to avoid the baader-Meinhof Gang, a hard-Left group that carried out a string of bomb attacks and assassinations. 

She came to London after attending university in the German city of Gottingen, with police advising her father, who was PM of Lower Saxony, to move her away. 

Exports of meat, fish, and dairy products to the EU will be able to continue beyond January 1 after the UK was granted ‘national listed status’.

The measure means live animals and products of animal origin can be supplied to the EU after Brussels confirmed the UK met health and biosecurity standards.

The EU has also agreed to the exports of many plants and plant products can continue being exported to the bloc and Northern Ireland.

But seed potatoes – an important Scottish export – will be banned, leading Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to condemn the ‘disastrous’ outcome.

UK chief veterinary officer Christine Middlemiss said: ‘Third country listed status demonstrates our very high standards of biosecurity and animal health which we will continue to maintain after the end of the transition period.’

Businesses in the £5billion animal export market will face some red tape in order to continue exporting, including the need for a health certificate.

While potatoes destined for European dinner plates can continue to be exported, those used as seed crops cannot be.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said it will not be possible to export seed potatoes to the EU or Northern Ireland from January 1 but officials were working with the European Commission on the issue.

Ms. Sturgeon said it was a ‘disastrous Brexit outcome for Scottish farmers’ and ‘like all other aspects of Brexit, foisted on Scotland against our will’.

Crucially for the breakthrough, Ms von der Leyen is said to have established back channels to German Chancellor Angela Merkel – the EU’s powerbroker – and Mr. Macron

Diplomatic sources said Mr. Barnier had not even been aware of the content of secret talks between the Prime Minister and Mrs von der Leyen on Monday night – suggesting he had become increasingly sidelined in the final days of negotiations.

However, Mr. Barnier has insisted it is ‘normal’ that high-level politicians must make the final moves in such a negotiation. 

The Labour chair of the Commons Brexit Committee Hilary Benn said he has ‘no doubt’ Parliament will approve legislation for a deal if one is brokered before January 31.

The Remain-backing MP told BBC Breakfast: ‘The alternative is no-deal and that really doesn’t bear contemplation at all because of the damage it would do to the economy.

‘What any deal is going to do is to make the consequences of Brexit for business less bad than they would otherwise be.

‘Remember this is the first trade deal in history where one party has gone in knowing it will come out with worse arrangements than it went in with.’

He added: ‘I think not just over the next week but over the next few months, as Brexit actually happens… there are going to be big changes anyway from January 1 whether there is an agreement or not and regardless of what’s in the agreement…

‘Over time we will become more aware of what we can’t now do because we’ve taken it for granted.’

As the crunch point neared, French Europe minister Clement Beaune said a no-deal situation would be ‘catastrophic’ for the UK and suggested the EU should hold out.

‘We should not put ourselves, Europeans, under time pressure to finish by this hour or that day. Otherwise, we would be put ourselves in a situation to make bad concessions.’

But Mrs. von der Leyen is said to have leaned on Mr. Macron and the leaders of other coastal states to accept the deal.

Mr. Barnier told MEPs at a briefing earlier this week that a compromise on fishing would have to be decided by political leaders.

‘We haven’t reached an agreement on fisheries, despite the talks,’ he said. ‘There are subjects that I can’t resolve – only a few which are very political and very sensitive matters – but I can’t resolve them at my level.

‘It is normal at this stage that there are subjects that need to be dealt with by President von der Leyen at her level with Boris Johnson.’

The Prime Minister has admitted to allies that he has made significant compromises in recent days, including on fishing. 

But he warned that he would not go further without movement from the EU. 

Differences also needed to be bridged over state subsidies, where the EU was pushing demands which British negotiators describe as ‘unbalanced’. 

Brussels wanted the right to penalise the UK if it uses subsidies to enable British firms to undercut EU rivals. 

Reports claimed that the latest British offer on fishing would involve the EU sacrificing around 25 percent of its share of quota in UK waters over a five-year period.

It is a big compromise on Lord Frost’s original demand that the EU hand back 60 percent over three years. But it is much more than Mr. Barnier’s offer to hand back just 15 percent over ten years.

It would mean the UK keeping two-thirds of fish in its waters, and quotas are expected to be negotiated annually rather than over a longer period as Brussels had wanted. 

So what’s in Boris’s Brexit deal? PM gives ground to Brussels over UK fish but claims victory over competition rules and EU laws, with an agreement to maintain counter-terror and crime-fighting partnerships 

It’s the document the (political) world has been waiting for – and it’s feared to be no fewer than 2,000 pages long.

This morning EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier and his British counterpart Lord Frost were still combing through the Brexit trade deal, line by line.  

Talks in Brussels were focused on the details of fishing rights but both sides have indicated a Christmas Eve deal will be announced, bringing an end to months of wrangling just a week before current trading arrangements expire.

Some feared it would never materialise. But the world could soon finally see the agreement – which will shape every aspect of Britain’s future relationship with the EU.

Analysis of the deal-in waiting by the UK Government suggests it ‘won’ in talks on 43 percent of the ‘key issues’ in the talks. It labels a further 40 percent at compromises for both sides, with just 17 percent down as ‘EU wins’.

Almost a year in the making, the deal has involved hundreds of officials working round the clock to agree its terms. So, what are the key areas – and what will we be signing up to?

EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier (third from left) and his British counterpart Lord Frost were still combing through the Brexit trade deal
EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier (third from left) and his British counterpart Lord Frost were still combing through the Brexit trade deal


Last night it appeared that Britain had given ground on this major sticking point to get a deal done.

Fishing rights have been the most intractable part of the negotiations. Boris Johnson made clear that Britain would be an independent coastal state in charge of access to its own waters – with UK fishermen able to catch a far greater proportion of the available fish than their EU competitors.

Brussels had demanded unfettered access to Britain’s waters for a decade. The UK had offered a three-year transition period.

According to early reports, what we have ended up taking back is 25 percent of the EU’s fishing quota – with changes phased in over five-and-a-half years.

Downing Street says this will mean we are catching two-thirds of the fish in our waters by 2026 – but there is no doubt that this compromise appears nearer the EU’s starting position than ours, at least in the short term.

The Government document, seen by the Guido Fawkes website, insists that the situation is a mutual compromise – the UK gave ground on the size of the quotas, the EU gave ground on how long they have access for.

However, perhaps in a bid to save face, French sources suggested the situation was a win for the EU. A French government source said UK negotiators had made ‘huge concessions’ on fisheries.  

But the sides were still said to be arguing ‘fish by fish’ over the rules this morning, with Ireland warning of a ‘hitch’, even though UK sources insisted there are ‘no major issues’. 


Another bone of contention has been Brussels’ fear that Britain could take advantage of leaving the bloc by lowering standards to make its firms more competitive. 

The EU was also worried that the UK could give more financial help to its own firms. 

As a result, it demanded a ‘level playing field’ to avoid a race to the bottom on issues such as workers’ rights and environmental regulation. 

It also wanted Britain to continue to accept a slew of EU rules.

The UK said this would pose an ‘existential threat’ to its sovereignty. Britain said it would settle for No Deal rather than face being tied to EU rules after Brexit.

Last night it appeared that Britain had given ground on this major sticking point to get a deal done. Pictured: Boris Johnson with the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, on the steps of No10 Downing Street earlier this year
Last night it appeared that Britain had given ground on this major sticking point to get a deal done. Pictured: Boris Johnson with the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, on the steps of No10 Downing Street earlier this year

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In the end, both parties appear to have agreed a common baseline of regulations on some issues, below which neither side will plunge.

However, the EU has also been insisting that if one side raised standards and the other did not, the latter should be penalised if failure to keep up resulted in unfair competition.

Instead, it is likely the two sides have agreed an independent mechanism to resolve matters if one side diverges too far from common standards. This would ultimately make rulings on retaliatory tariffs in the event of a dispute.

The Government claims it ‘won’ five of the eight key sticking points in this part of negotiations, including EU law, the ability of the UK to set its own subsidy rates, competition, and tax rules.


A related– and thorny – issue is that of the European Court of Justice. British sources indicated that the ECJ will have no say in the resolution of any rows.

This had been a key demand from Westminster, to avoid the erosion of British sovereignty.

Brussels conceded that it could not have the unilateral right to impose penalties on Britain – although it did push hard for a strong and independent arbitration system.

The EU had hoped to punish Britain for ‘breaking rules’ in one area by hitting back in another – allowing them to impose tariffs or taxes in an unrelated sector to inflict the most damage possible. 


In the end, Britain and the EU appear to have agreed on a zero-tariff and zero-quota regime – a significant victory for Mr. Johnson. Trade with the EU, accounts for 43 percent of the UK’s exports and 51 percent of its imports.

Another bone of contention has been Brussels’ fear that Britain could take advantage of leaving the bloc by lowering standards to make its firms more competitive. Pictured: European Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier

Another bone of contention has been Brussels’ fear that Britain could take advantage of leaving the bloc by lowering standards to make its firms more competitive.
Pictured: European Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier

The prospect of No Deal – and trading with Brussels on World Trade Organization terms, as Australia does – prompted fears of massive extra costs for businesses, which would have been passed on to the public.

As talks reached the sharp end, ministers accepted that No Deal would lead to many staple food items costing more at the supermarket. 

Farmers warned however that they would still face non-tariff costs on exports.

Farmers’ Union of Wales president Glyn Roberts welcomed the EU’s formal listing of the UK as a ‘third country’ – a move which is essential in terms of allowing Welsh food exports to the EU.

‘However, our access to the EU market, which is the destination for three-quarters of Welsh food and drink exports, will still face significant barriers after December 31, with non-tariff barrier costs expected to rise by 4 percent to 8 percent,’ he said.

Mr. Roberts said the full text of an agreement would have to be scrutinised in order to assess the full impacts and benefits, and a number of concerns existed including in terms of seed potato exports.

‘Nevertheless, the Welsh farming industry, like others the length and breadth of Great Britain, will be celebrating Christmas having breathed a huge sigh of relief that a deal seems close to being agreed,’ he added. 


Sources say there has been some level of agreement on the key issue of security co-operation. 

Britain had wanted to maintain the same access to shared databases that it has now – only for the EU to claim this was not an option for non-members.  

Ultimately, the UK appears to have secured greater access than it would have received in a No Deal Brexit.

The UK Government document says the agreement ‘provides for fast and effective exchange of criminal records data between UK and EUMS through shared technical infrastructure (European Criminal Records Information System (ECRIS)).’

There will also be a ‘fast and effective exchange of national DNA, fingerprint, and vehicle registration data’.

The UK also appears to have been given greater access to Europol than other non-EU countries because of its past contribution to the crime agency. There is also a fast-track agreement on extradition. 


striking a deal means Britons will find it easier to travel to the continent than they would have if talks had failed.

It is also hoped that tourists will have access to hospital treatment when traveling abroad. 

The UK has argued that the European Health Insurance Card, or EHIC, should also continue to be valid after the Brexit transition period ends on December 31 – sparing tourists the ordeal of arranging their own insurance.


Boris Johnson and the European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen have agreed that a ‘firm decision’ about the future of Brexit negotiations should be made by Sunday.

As the clock ticks towards the deadline for agreement on a trade deal, here is a look at the key moments in the saga:

January 23, 2013 – Under intense pressure from many of his own MPs and with the rise of Ukip, prime minister David Cameron promises an in-out referendum on EU membership if the Conservatives win the 2015 general election.

May 7, 2015 – The Tories unexpectedly make sweeping gains over Ed Miliband’s Labour Party and secure a majority in the Commons. Mr. Cameron vows to deliver his manifesto pledge of an EU referendum.

June 23, 2016 – The UK votes to leave the EU in a shock result that sees 52% of the public support Brexit and Mr. Cameron quickly resigns as prime minister.

July 13, 2016 – Theresa May takes over as prime minister. Despite having backed Remain, she promises to ‘rise to the challenge’ of negotiating the UK’s exit.

November 10, 2016 – The High Court rules against the Government and says Parliament must hold a vote to trigger Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union, the mechanism that begins the exit from the EU. Mrs. May says the ruling will not stop her from invoking the legislation by April 2017.

March 29, 2017 – Mrs. May triggers Article 50. European Council President Donald Tusk says it is not a happy occasion, telling a Brussels press conference his message to the UK is: ‘We already miss you. Thank you and goodbye.’

April 18, 2017 – Mrs May announces a snap general election to be held on June 8.

June 8, 2017 – There is humiliation for Mrs .as she loses her Commons majority after her election gamble backfires. She becomes head of a minority Conservative administration propped up by the Democratic Unionist Party.

September 22, 2017 – In a crucial Brexit speech in Florence, Mrs. May sends a message to EU leaders by saying: ‘We want to be your strongest friend and partner as the EU and UK thrive side by side.’ She says she is proposing an ‘implementation period’ of ‘around two years’ after Brexit when existing market access arrangements will apply.

March 19, 2018 – The EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, says he and Brexit secretary David Davis have taken a ‘decisive step’ towards agreeing a joint legal text on the UK’s EU withdrawal but warns there are still outstanding issues relating to the Irish border.

July 6, 2018 – A crunch Cabinet meeting at Chequers agrees with Mrs. May’s new Brexit plans, including the creation of a new UK-EU free trade area for goods. But not all who attend are happy with the compromises.

July 8 and July 9, 2018 – Mr. Davis resigns from the Government in protest while the following day Boris Johnson quits as foreign secretary, claiming the plans mean ‘we are truly headed for the status of colony’ of the EU.

November 14, 2018 – In a statement outside 10 Downing Street after a five-hour Cabinet meeting, Mrs. May says that Cabinet has agreed the draft Brexit Withdrawal Agreement.

November 15, 2018 – Dominic Raab resigns as Brexit secretary, saying he ‘cannot in good conscience support the terms proposed for our deal with the EU’. Other resignations follow.

November 25, 2018 – The 27 EU leaders endorse the Brexit deal.

December 12, 2018 – Mrs May survives an attempt to oust her with a vote of no confidence as Tory MPs vote by 200 to 117 in the secret ballot in Westminster.

January 15, 2019 – MPs reject Mrs. May’s Brexit plans by an emphatic 432 to 202 in an historic vote which throws the future of her administration and the nature of the UK’s EU withdrawal into doubt.

March 20, 2019 – Mrs. May tells the House of Commons that she has written to Mr. Tusk to request an extension to Article 50 Brexit negotiations to June 30.

March 29, 2019 – MPs reject Mrs. May’s Withdrawal Agreement for a third time – by 286 votes to 344 – on the day the UK was due to leave the EU.

April 10, 2019 – The EU agrees a ‘flexible extension’ to Brexit until October 31. Mrs May says the ‘choices we now face are stark and the timetable is clear’.

May 23, 2019 – Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party comes out on top in the European elections, while the pro-EU Liberal Democrats also make gains.

May 24, 2019 – Mrs May announces she is standing down as Tory Party leader on June 7. She says: ‘It is and will always remain a matter of deep regret to me that I have not been able to deliver Brexit.’

July 23, 2019 – Mr Johnson is elected as leader of the Conservative Party and becomes the UK’s new Prime Minister after defeating Jeremy Hunt.

August 20, 2019 – The new Prime Minister is rebuffed by European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker after demanding major changes to Irish border arrangements in a new Brexit deal.

August 28, 2019 – The Queen is dragged into the Brexit row as Mr. Johnson requests the prorogation of Parliament from early September to mid-October.

September 4, 2019 – MPs vote to approve legislation aimed at preventing a no-deal Brexit. Mr. Johnson orders a purge of rebel Tories who opposed the Government including former chancellors Philip Hammond and Sir Kenneth Clarke.

The Prime Minister attempts to trigger an early general election but fails to get the required support of two-thirds of MPs.

September 24, 2019 – The Supreme Court rules that the PM’s advice to the Queen to suspend Parliament until October 14 was unlawful because it had the effect of frustrating Parliament.

October 2, 2019 – Mr Johnson puts forward his formal Brexit plan to the EU, revealing his blueprint to solve the Irish border issue.

October 10, 2019 – Mr Johnson and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar say they can see a ‘pathway to a deal’, in a joint statement after key talks at a luxury hotel in Cheshire.

October 17, 2019 – After intense negotiations, the Prime Minister announces the UK has reached a ‘great deal’ with the EU which ‘takes back control’ and means that ‘the UK can come out of the EU as one United Kingdom – England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, together’.

October 19, 2019 – In the first Saturday sitting of the Commons in 37 years, Mr. Johnson seeks the support of MPs in a ‘meaningful vote’ on his new deal but instead they back an amendment forcing him to seek a delay.

October 22, 2019 – The Prime Minister mounts an attempt to fast-track his Brexit deal through Parliament but puts the plans on ice after MPs vote against his foreshortened timetable.

October 28, 2019 – EU leaders agree to a second Brexit ‘flex tension’ until January 31 unless Parliament ratifies the deal sooner.

October 29, 2019 – Mr. Johnson finally succeeds at the fourth attempt in winning Commons support for a general election on December 12.

December 12, 2019 – Having campaigned on a promise to ‘get Brexit done’, Mr Johnson secures a landslide win at the election and with an 80-seat majority.

January 8, 2020 – New European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen visits No 10 to warn Mr. Johnson the timetable for a post-Brexit trade deal is ‘very, very tight’. The Prime Minister is clear however there will be no extension to the transition period, which expires at the end of 2020.

January 9, 2020 – Mr. Johnson gets his Brexit deal through the Commons as the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill is given a third reading with a majority of 99.

January 31, 2020 – A clock projected on the walls of Downing Street counts down the moments to the UK’s departure from the EU at 11 pm.

March 2, 2020 – Mr. Barnier and Mr. Johnson’s chief EU adviser David Frost open formal talks in Brussels on Britain’s future relationship with the bloc, including a free trade agreement.

March 12, 2020 – The two sides announce they are suspending face-to-face talks due to the coronavirus pandemic and will explore the options for continuing the negotiations by video conferencing.

June 12, 2020 – Cabinet office minister Michael Gove formally tells the EU the UK will not sign up to an extension to the transition period, but he backtracks on plans to immediately introduce full border checks with the bloc on January 1.

September 10, 2020 – The European Commission threatens the UK with legal action after ministers announce plans for legislation enabling them to override provisions in the Withdrawal Agreement relating to Northern Ireland in breach of international law.

October 16, 2020 – Mr. Johnson says he is halting talks on a trade deal accusing EU leaders meeting for a summit in Brussels of seeking to impose ‘unacceptable’ demands.

November 7, 2020 – Mr. Johnson and Mrs von der Leyen agree to ‘redouble’ their efforts to get a deal while acknowledging that significant differences remain over fisheries and the so-called ‘level playing field’ for state aid rules.

December 4, 2020 – Lord Frost and Mr. Barnier announce in a joint statement the conditions for an agreement had still not been met and negotiations will be put on ‘pause’ to allow political leaders to take stock, with Mr. Johnson and Mrs. Von der Leyen to engage in emergency talks.

December 7, 2020 – In a key move to ease tensions, Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove and EU counterpart Maroš Šefčovič settle the row over the Withdrawal Agreement, meaning planned clauses that would have overridden the divorce terms are dropped.    

December 9, 2020 – Mr. Johnson and Mrs. Von der Leyen dine at the European Commission, with talks between the two leaders lasting around three hours.

They warned ‘very large gaps’ remain, but authorised further discussions between the negotiating teams, with a ‘firm decision’ due on Sunday.

December 10, 2020 – Ms von der Leyen pushes the button on the EU’s No Deal contingency plans. Mr. Johnson warns No Deal is now a strong possibility. 

December 11, 2020 – Mr. Johnson says No Deal is ‘very very likely’ and the most probable outcome from the standoff.

December 16, 2020 – At the last PMQs of the year, Mr Johnson insists the UK will ‘prosper mightily’ whatever the result of the talks.

December 17, 2020 – MPs are sent home for Christmas with a warning that they will be recalled if a Brexit deal needs to be passed into law before January 1. 

December 19, 2020 – Mr Johnson announces that a mutant version of coronavirus has been identified in the UK. A host of countries impose travel restrictions, with France saying no freight will be allowed in for 48 hours. It sparks fears over supermarket shortages, although Brexiteers complain it is partly strong arm tactics in the negotiations. 

11 p.m. December 31, 2020 – The Brexit transition period will end and the UK will be under new trade – or WTO – terms. 

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UK and EU ‘are haggling over every fish’ despite deal all-but DONE

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