Brexit LIVE: Fury as loophole ties UK citizens to EU scheme – ‘Sneaky move by Ireland’

Boris Johnson discusses Northern Ireland protocol

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Ireland’s Further and Higher Education Minister said students from Northern Ireland would be given access to the EU-funded scheme by allowing them to temporarily register with Irish Universities and travel to an EU member state. Talks have been way with higher education institutions (HEIs) on both sides of the border on the proposal, which is expected to cost £1.8 million per year.

 

Simon Harris said: “Officials in my department have been engaging with higher education institutions (HEIs), north and south officers about the proposal in the first instance.

“Overall, there is a positive reaction from the NI HEIs to the proposal, with the early indications of student interest to pursue the Erasmus option.”

Erasmus allows degree students to study part of their degree abroad or undertake a work placement in another EU country.

The exchanges usually take place in the second or third year of a course, and can last up to 12 months.

But after the UK left the EU, the UK Government has introduced its own study abroad scheme, the Turing scheme, named after the mathematician Alan Turing, to replace the EU scheme.

Last night, the UK Government questioned the proposals, with a senior Whitehall source telling Express.co.uk: “Turing is beneficial to all students of the UK, Erasmus is bloated and bureaucratic.

“It’s a sneaky move by Dublin, Northern Ireland is part of the UK and students should take part in our truly Post-Brexit replacement.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson stressed the Turing scheme was a “truly global programme” with every country in the world eligible to partner with UK universities, schools and colleges.

NI Government Department of Education figures reveal 649 students and staff from Northern Ireland took part in the Erasmus scheme in the 2019/2020 academic year.

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10:45am update: Boris Johnson launches dig at EU as he lashes out over AstraZeneca vaccine row

Boris Johnson has launched a thinly-veiled dig at the EU’s behaviour in a row over coronavirus vaccines as he hailed Britain’s vaccine rollout.

The might of Global Britain post-Brexit has been demonstrated by the rollout of the Oxford University/AstraZeneca vaccine across the world, the Prime Minister said.

He praised the UK for leading the way after striking a deal that would allow the jab to be distributed at cost.

10am update: Arlene Foster lashes out over EU legal action 

DUP leader Arlene Foster said EU legal action against the UK was proof of the bloc “closing its eyes to the serious problems” the protocol has caused in Northern Ireland.

She said: “Brussels’ failure to recognise the damage the protocol is causing to Northern Ireland has been further demonstrated by this step towards litigation.

“Rather than showing concern for stability in Northern Ireland or respect for the principle of consent, Brussels is foolishly and selfishly focused on protecting its own bloc.”

9.15am update: Ambassador says EU “left with no choice” to take legal action over grace periods

Joao Vale de Almeida, EU ambassador to the UK, said the UK Government had left the EU with no choice but to take legal action over the Northern Ireland Protocol.

When asked on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme if taking the Government to court was the way to solve the problem, he said: “I don’t think the Government left us with any alternative to this to be frank and we regret the situation.

“Looking at the facts, we believe the Government is in breach of substantive provision of the protocol that applies to Northern Ireland, but also to the good faith obligation.”

8.30am update: Extension of NI grace periods will cause “uncertainty”, says Irish PM

Irish premier Micheal Martin has warned that the UK’s decision to extend post-Brexit grace periods “exacerbates uncertainty and instability”.

Mr Martin said the unilateral action on the Brexit divorce agreement corrodes trust.

As tensions continue to escalate, the European Commission on Monday formally took legal action against the UK over the alleged breach of the Northern Ireland Protocol.

8am update: Pledge to deliver Green Brexit has not been delivered, say campaigners

The “green Brexit” promised by the Government has not been delivered, with weaker protections in areas such as nature and air quality, campaigners said.

But there is still a chance to enhance environmental protections, the Greener UK coalition of UK green groups said as it issued its final “report card” in a series of assessments on Brexit.

Greener UK has been tracking progress on the pledge, outlined by then environment secretary Michael Gove in 2017, to deliver a green Brexit, and Government promises to maintain and enhance environmental protections.

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