Monday 14 September 2020
UK’s Future Relationship with the EU
The Government have made a commitment to update Parliament on the progress of our future relationship negotiations with the EU. This statement provides an update on the eighth round of negotiations.
Led by the UK’s chief negotiator, David Frost, negotiators from the UK and the EU held discussions in London on 8 to10 September 2020. There were substantive discussions on almost all issues.
Discussions covered all workstreams including:
Trade in goods: core areas of the goods elements of the FTA, including the UK’s regulatory regime on SPS and proposals for product specific rules of origin.
Trade in services, investment and other FTA issues: including professional qualifications, investment, telecommunications and intellectual property (including geographical indications).
Fisheries: quota-sharing and stock lists.
“Level playing field”: covering subsidies, tax and dispute settlement.
Energy: including civil nuclear co-operation, nuclear safety and electricity trading.
Transport: road haulage standards, aviation security and air traffic management (ATM).
Law enforcement: including mutual legal assistance, Prüm, extradition, and criminal records exchange.
Mobility and social security co-ordination: social security co-ordination arrangements.
Participation in Union programmes: financial management, EGNOS (European geostationary navigation overlay service), EU SST (space surveillance and tracking) and Peace+.
These were useful exchanges. However, a number of challenging areas remain and the divergences on some are still significant. We have been consistently clear from the start of this process about the basis on which agreement is possible between us and these fundamentals remain.
We remain committed to working hard to reach agreement by the middle of October, as the Prime Minister set out in his statement of 7 September. Negotiators have agreed to meet again, as planned in line with the terms of reference, in Brussels this week to continue discussions.
Serious Violence Reduction Orders
Every knife crime is a tragedy, and any victim is one too many. The Government are taking action on every level to cut crime and make our streets safer, but we know there is much more to do to protect the public and end the scourge of serious violence.
The case for urgent action is clear. In the year to March 2020 alone, 256 people were stabbed to death in England and Wales. Recorded knife crime rose to 46,265 in the same period, with a staggering 4,547 weapons offences committed by children last year. Thousands of people are seeking hospital treatment for stab wounds each year, with some offences never reported.
To save lives and prevent injury we must stop serious violence from happening in the first place. Too many people who carry knives and weapons go on to offend time and again, with 29% of offenders in 2019 having previous convictions. Our determination to break this deadly cycle of persistent offending led to our manifesto commitment to introduce serious violence reduction orders (SVROs).
Frontline police have long told us that stop and search is a vital tool to crack down on violent crime; it acts as a deterrent and helps keep knives and weapons off our streets. We have listened to them, and to the recommendation of the Centre for Social Justice, to propose a new court order to bear down on known offenders. These SVROs would give the police personalised powers to target those already convicted of certain knife offences—giving them the automatic right to search those who pose the greatest risk. These searches could take place without suspicion so that these known criminals could be stopped at any time.
The intention is for SVROs to complement existing stop and search powers and to prevent known offenders carrying weapons with impunity. Subject to the outcome of the consultation, a court would have the power to impose them following conviction for any relevant offence. They could then set the length of the order, which would apply from the moment the offender walked free, either while on licence or where there was no immediate jail time. The offender would then be more likely to be stopped by the police and searched to see if they are carrying a knife again. If caught out they would be brought back before the court where they could expect to receive a custodial sentence under the existing “two strikes” legislation brought in by the Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015.
SVROs would empower the police to stop and challenge those who are known to carry knives. They will help to keep communities safer by giving officers a tool to help tackle the most dangerous offenders.
The Government hope that they will also help the police more effectively target their approach. We know that stop and search disproportionally affects black people, with the latest figures showing they are 9.7 times more likely to be stopped than those who were white. We are clear that no one should ever be targeted because of the colour of their skin.
We are consulting on the design of SVROs and welcome views on how we can ensure these important tools are used appropriately. Anyone with an interest in this important issue is invited to contribute, including those involved in law enforcement, victims of knife crime and their families.
This consultation will help inform our next steps in the fight against serious violence. It will run from Monday 14 September to Sunday 8 November, and will be available at:
I will also place a copy of the consultation document in the Libraries of both Houses.