Brexit talks: Warning for Cabinet over Biden win leading to false confidence

Eamon Ryan expected to update Cabinet on new EU traffic-light system for travel

Simon Coveney: he  will warn Ministers that with only 51 days to go until the last day of the transition period, there are growing fears about UK preparedness. Photograph: Getty Images

Simon Coveney: he will warn Ministers that with only 51 days to go until the last day of the transition period, there are growing fears about UK preparedness. Photograph: Getty Images

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Ministers will be warned on Tuesday that the victory of US president-elect Joe Biden could have a “dampening effect” on Brexit talks.

Despite a belief at senior levels of Government that Mr Biden’s victory will prove beneficial to Ireland’s interests, Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney will warn Cabinet that this could lead to a false confidence that the talks will succeed.

Mr Coveney will also tell his colleagues that any online purchases from the UK above €22 will incur VAT, while any online purchase from the UK above €150 will be subject to excise and customs duty.

Government sources have indicated that Mr Coveney will warn Ministers that with only 51 days to go until the last day of the transition period, there are growing fears about UK preparedness.

There is also growing concern that given Mr Biden’s victory, and positive comments from British prime minister Boris Johnson over the weekend about talks with the EU, some key players who were beginning to fully engage will mistakenly believe that outstanding issues will be easily resolved.

Other areas of concern exist around the UK land bridge and the potential administrative burden and paperwork that companies will be expected to abide by.

Mr Coveney will outline to his colleagues that the next 10 to 14 days will be critical if a deal is to be agreed.

The Minister spoke with EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier over the weekend on issues such as fisheries and also on ensuring a level playing field after the transition period, two of the biggest outstanding issues.

Mr Coveney is set to ask Ministers to significantly increase engagement with the sectors relevant to their brief amid worries about how prepared Irish businesses are for a potential no-deal scenario.

Movements

Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan is also expected to update the Cabinet on the new EU traffic-light system for travel.

Under the new rules travellers from EU “orange” regions will be allowed to come into Ireland without restricting their movements as long as they have proof of a negative PCR test that was done no longer than three days before their arrival.

Travellers from “green” regions will not need to restrict their movements when they arrive in another country.

Passengers who arrive from “red” regions, which accounts for most of Europe at present, must restrict their movement for 14 days.

The Cabinet will discuss an option for those arriving from “red” region countries whereby they could take a PCR test five days after arrival and if negative not have to restrict their movements after that.

Meanwhile the Labour Party will this morning launch a Bill to give workers a right to switch off. The Working from Home (Covid-19) Bill 2020 would require employers to provide a suitable home workstation and flat rate payment to cover the costs now shouldered by workers.

Labour employment affairs spokeswoman Marie Sherlock said the Bill provides a legal right to disconnect from out-of-hours communications.

“Giving workers the right to switch off will stop the blurring of lines between work and home caused by Covid-19.”

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