Grace Millane murder: Jesse Kempson guilty of attacking two more women

The man who murdered British backpacker Grace Millane has been convicted of sex attacks on two more women.

Jesse Kempson, 28, can now be named after a court order banning his identification was lifted.

He was jailed for a minimum of 17 years in February for the murder of Miss Millane in his hotel room in Auckland, New Zealand, in December 2018.

In a statement, the Millane family said: “As a family we do not think about him or speak his name.”

In October, Kempson was convicted of eight charges relating to various attacks, including using a knife, against a woman between November 2016 and April 2017.

In November, he was convicted by a separate judge sitting alone of raping another woman in April 2018.

Kempson, who had worked in various sales jobs, met one of the women through the dating app Tinder, as he had Miss Millane.

The 11-year jail term for these nine offences – all committed while he was living in Auckland – will be served after his sentence for Miss Millane’s murder.

On Friday, Kempson’s appeal against his conviction and sentence for Miss Millane’s murder, was dismissed

Now those cases are complete, the Court of Appeal has been able to lift an order banning Kempson from being identified.

Concern had grown for the welfare of Miss Millane, from Wickford, Essex, in December 2018 when she failed to respond to friends and family wishing her a happy 22nd birthday.

Within days of her disappearance, police had identified Kempson as prime suspect and had managed to track his movements by trawling through CCTV.

Miss Millane’s body was discovered in the mountainous Waitākere Ranges. having been stuffed into a suitcase by Kempson and buried.

Her killing prompted New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to apologise to Ms Millane’s parents David and Gillian, saying: “Your daughter should have been safe here; she wasn’t and I’m sorry for that.”

During the murder trial in Auckland in 2019, the 12-person jury was shown footage of Miss Millane and Kempson seemingly enjoying each others’ company around the city on a date.

They were seen on CCTV returning to his hotel, CityLife.

But after she left the lift, she was never seen alive again.

Kempson strangled Miss Millane in his room at the hotel.

In a statement, the Millane family said the suppression of Kempson’s name had “allowed people to remember Grace – a young, vibrant girl who set out to see the world, instead of the man who took her life”.

“To use his name shows we care and gives him the notoriety he seeks,” they added.

“We instead choose to speak Grace’s name.”

For much of his three-week trial for the murder of Grace Millane, Jesse Kempson – as he can now be identified – looked stony-faced, occasionally glancing down at the court papers in the dock and turning a page.

At times, when the evidence was particularly graphic, he would hold his head in his hands.

When the verdict was delivered, Kempson stared straight ahead, before being sent out of the courtroom for a few minutes.

He returned, red-faced and rubbing his eyes as if he had been crying – a rare glimpse of emotion, perhaps.

But part of you could not help feel it was all a performance.

In his police interviews he had reeled off a litany of lies, about not just about his own actions but those of Miss Millane, until he was confronted with evidence to the contrary.

The jury’s verdict was the rejection of his ultimate lie – one he had hoped to get away with.

Covid-19: Call for executive meeting over GB-NI travel ban

Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill says the executive must meet on Monday night to discuss a travel ban from Britain to Northern Ireland.

However, it is understood there is no definitive plan for ministers to meet.

Health Minister Robin Swann took advice from the Attorney General on Monday and it is understood he has set out that in a paper to the executive.

It is believed the document also includes a number of options for ministers to consider.

BBC News NI understands the paper also highlights issues concerning the border between NI and the Republic of Ireland, as well as the potential impact of a travel ban on freight and supply chains.

Earlier the first minister said It is “probable” a variant of coronavirus is already in NI.

Arlene Foster said four cases in NI were being tested to determine if they are the new highly infectious variant.

The executive is already scheduled to meet on Tuesday morning to discuss the end of the EU exit transition period on 31 December.

But it is thought the focus could turn to Covid-19, if ministers do not hold a special meeting on Monday evening.

On Sunday, the executive agreed so-called Christmas bubbles should be limited to one day.

The move followed action in England, Scotland and Wales on Saturday, cutting the previously agreed five days to just one..

Another seven coronavirus-related deaths were reported in Northern Ireland on Monday.

The Department of Health’s death toll is 1,203. There were also a further 555 cases of Covid-19 diagnosed.

There are 446 people with Covid-19 in hospital. Thirty are in intensive care, with 24 on ventilators.

A new six-week lockdown for Northern Ireland comes into force at 00:01 GMT on 26 December.

Ministers met remotely on Sunday night to discuss the impact of the variant on Christmas rules.

The executive said there would be flexibility on which day between 23 and 27 December people come together, to accommodate those working on Christmas Day.

The meeting also focused on travel from Great Britain to Northern Ireland, but nothing was agreed.

The Republic of Ireland is one of a number of European countries that have imposed travel bans on the UK.

Irish Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan said the ban was initially for 48 hours, adding that he did not want to give anyone “false hope that there is likely to be any major change”.

No border controls would be set up on the Irish border, he added.

Mr Ryan said his government would be making concerns about the lack of a NI-GB travel ban known, although it would be up to Stormont to decide what to do.

On Monday, the Irish government said there would be at least two consular flights departing on Tuesday evening to bring Irish residents home.

BBC News NI has asked if this would include people in Northern Ireland who have an Irish passport.

In a statement, the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs said “two specific and limited categories of people” were included.

These are international travellers to Ireland who are transiting through Great Britain and Irish people “currently on short trips to Great Britain” or who have travelled to Great Britain for “emergency medical treatment”.

In the Republic of Ireland, there were 727 new cases reported on Monday.

The number of deaths linked to the virus is unchanged at 2,158.

At Sunday’s executive meeting, Sinn Féin had proposed prohibiting travel from Great Britain into Northern Ireland, and said this should be a priority.

The party wants the health minister to use powers from the 1967 Public Health Act to impose a ban on people entering from Great Britain.

But Mrs Foster said such a blanket ban was not a simple matter, would have “downside consequences” and that the executive would take legal advice from the attorney general on it.

She also said those living in the most infected areas are already prohibited from travelling, although she recognised some would try to “game” the regulations.

“There is a travel ban in place – it covers about 17m people in England, those people can’t come to Northern Ireland,” she told the BBC’s Good Morning Ulster programme.

Mrs Foster said the new bubble rules would be placed in law, but added that she did not expect police to be “knocking on people’s doors on Christmas Day or Boxing Day to check they are abiding by the law”.

She said the four possible cases of the new variant under examination had “different sequencing” from other cases.

Stormont Ministers are divided over whether or not to impose a travel ban on people moving from GB to Northern Ireland amid fears about the spread of a new variant of the coronavirus.

With the new highly infectious variant of the coronavirus now out of control in London and other parts of England, Stormont ministers met to discuss how best to respond to the fresh threat.

Sinn Féin wants the health minister to use powers from the 1967 Public Health Act to impose a ban on people coming in from Great Britain.

But the DUP says those living in infected areas are already prohibited from travelling.

There was agreement among ministers to cut the number of days three households will able to meet over Christmas from five to one, following similar moves in England Scotland and Wales.

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On Sunday, four of the five main Stormont parties asked for an urgent executive meeting.

Sinn Féin, the SDLP and Alliance sent a joint letter to the first and deputy first ministers asking to meet.

In the letter, the parties said they must satisfy themselves that the Christmas restrictions and the six-week lockdown from 26 December were sufficiently robust to safeguard public health.

It is understood health minister and UUP member Robin Swann sent a separate letter with similar concerns.

Covid-19: Tighter restrictions likely, Sir Patrick Vallance warns

Further restrictions are “likely” to be introduced in England to control the new variant of Covid-19, the UK’s chief scientific adviser has said.

Sir Patrick Vallance said measures could “need to be increased in some places, in due course, not reduced”.

London and large swathes of south-east England were placed in the highest tier four restrictions over the weekend.

Sir Patrick also predicted there would be spike in cases after an “inevitable period of mixing” over Christmas.

Speaking at a Downing Street briefing, he said: “The evidence on this virus is that it spreads easily. It’s more transmissible. We absolutely need to make sure we have the right level of restrictions in place.”

But he said there was no reason to think the new variant is more dangerous than the existing strain.

“The transmission is increased, but we can’t say exactly by how much, but it is clearly substantially increased, so it is more transmissible, which is why we see it growing so fast and spreading to so many areas.”

The government scrapped plans to relax rules at Christmas in those areas subject to tier four rules. Some 17 million people in England and Wales are affected are being told to stay at home, while non-essential shops and businesses have to close.

But in other regions of England – in tiers one to three – Christmas mixing is being allowed on 25 December.

Sir Patrick Vallance said the variant of the virus had to be taken “incredibly seriously”.

He said: “Over this period, where in some parts of the country people are mixing with people they haven’t been mixing with as part of Christmas, it’s really important to follow the rules carefully and make an assumption that you could be infectious.

“You could be the person spreading it to somebody else, and [you should] behave accordingly.”

He added: “The doubling time of this infection with a new variant is quite fast, it is more transmissible, it does require more action in order to keep it down and that’s why tier 4 is important.”

The latest figures released on Monday reveal that another 33,364 people in the UK have tested positive for coronavirus.

There were also a further 215 deaths within 28 days of testing positive, bringing the UK total to 67,616.

France has shut its border with the UK for 48 hours, amid concern over the new variant, but Boris Johnson told the briefing both sides wanted to resolve “these problems as fast as possible”.

The PM said he had an “excellent” call with France President Emmanuel Macron and “both understand each other’s positions”.

There is no evidence to suggest this new variant is causing more serious disease or will hamper the effectiveness of the vaccine.

But there is now a high degree of confidence that it is leading to faster transmission.

With hospitals already under huge pressure – the number of patients will soon pass the spring peak on the current trajectory – it seems only a matter of time before more areas will be placed into tier 4, which is essentially a lockdown.

The race to vaccinate the most vulnerable, which will have a huge impact on reducing deaths and relieving pressure on the NHS, just got more pressing.

Around 500,000 people have got their first dose in the past two weeks.

But there are 12 million over 65s. More vaccination centres and approval of the Oxford University vaccine, of which there are already millions of doses in the country ready to go, is essential.

DHL and Royal Mail warn on parcel disruption

Royal Mail has suspended deliveries to Europe, while Germany’s DHL is stopping all parcels and deliveries to the UK.

The moves, just days before Christmas, come amid new transport restrictions and chaos at ports due to fears about a new strain of coronavirus in the UK.

Letters and postcards are unaffected, DHL said. A shortage of storage space means some senders will have their parcels and packages returned, it said.

France has closed its borders to UK freight, creating gridlock at Dover.

“Regrettably, we are forced to completely halt deliveries of packages and letters containing goods to Britain and Ireland from now until further notice,” DHL said.

“Unfortunately, due to a lack of storage capacity, we have to return consignments with goods content and bulky goods to the senders,” it added.

Royal Mail has suspended mail services to mainland Europe according to a statement on its website. Deliveries to Ireland are unaffected it said.

“This is a fast-moving situation and we are monitoring things on an hourly basis,” it said. Parcels it already has will be “held securely” until it can transport them it said.

Haulage firms have also seen growing disruption, forcing supermarkets to try to dampen fears that the chaos will cause food shortages.

Josh Hardie, director-general of the CBI employers’ group, said “no stone should be left unturned” to find a solution to the problem.

“Severe disruption at ports is the last thing Covid-struck and Brexit-weary businesses need.

“Supermarkets are well-stocked for Christmas. But across manufacturing, it’s essential that disruption is as short lived as possible,” he said.

Shares fall as new Covid strain spooks investors

US shares have fallen as concern over the UK’s new Covid-19 variant outweighed relief over a Congressional package of pandemic aid.

At mid-day trade in New York, the S&P 500 and Nasdaq indexes were down roughly 1%, while the Dow Jones was less than 0.5% lower.

London’s FTSE 100 index closed down 1.7% after several EU countries closed their borders to the UK.

The main German market fell 2.8%, while in France the key bourse dropped 2.4%.

The pound fell more than 1% against the euro and dropped 1.6% against the dollar.

Travel curbs hit airline stocks, with British Airways’ owner IAG sinking nearly 8% and EasyJet tumbling 7.2%. Aircraft engine maker Rolls-Royce was also badly hit, falling more than 3%.

The rout was replicated on other European markets. Air France-KLM shares dropped4%, while planemaker Airbus was down roughly 3%.

“Investors’ rosy expectations for 2021 have suddenly vanished,” said Kazuhiko Saito, chief analyst at commodities broker Fujitomi Co.

As well as renewed concern about Covid-19 cases, UK investors were reacting to another missed deadline in trade talks with the EU.

London and Brussels are trying to reach a trade deal before the Brexit transition period ends on 31 December.

The talks are set to continue on Monday between negotiators.

The stalled negotiations have been partly responsible for the pound fluctuating over recent weeks. Optimism that a deal would be struck had triggered a four-day winning streak for sterling, pushing it back up to just under $1.36 before it reversed course again.

Earlier on Monday, the pound fell towards $1.32, with the dollar also being buoyed after a $900bn (£660bn) plan to help the US economy weather the coronavirus pandemic was agreed.

However, the pound later regained some of those losses, rising above $1.33.

“The US got its stimulus package through, but it seems that was largely priced in and investors are more concerned with the new strain of Covid-19,” said Craig Erlam, analyst at Oanda trading group.

European nations have begun to impose travel bans on the UK after it reported a more-infectious and “out of control” coronavirus variant over the weekend.

Ireland, Germany, France, Italy, the Netherlands and Belgium are all halting flights.

On Saturday, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson introduced a new tier four level of restrictions for London and South East England.

“The lockdown news and the stalemate on Brexit is keeping the market nervous,” National Australia Bank’s senior currency strategist Rodrigo Catril told Reuters.

The prime minister will chair a meeting of the government’s emergency committee later after France closed its border with the UK for 48 hours.

One major sticking point in the Brexit talks is access to the UK’s water for fishing. While the fishing industry accounts for just 0.1% of gross domestic product, (GDP) it is of high political significance.

If a trade agreement is not reached by the end of the month, British firms will revert to trading with the EU under rules established by the World Trade Organization (WTO).

This will mean imports and exports to the EU would be subject to WTO-negotiated tariffs, essentially a tax on goods.

Currency experts have warned that the pound could fall to $1.25 by the middle of next year if no trade agreement is agreed.

Sydney selfie hotspot death Briton Madalyn Davis took drugs

A British woman who plunged to her death from a “selfie hotspot” cliff in Australia had been drinking and taking drugs, a coroner said.

Madalyn Davis, 21, died when she fell 262ft (80m) at Diamond Bay, Sydney.

Alcohol and traces of drugs “impaired Ms Davis’ ability to make decisions and balance”, Nottinghamshire assistant coroner Gordon Clow said.

Recording a conclusion of misadventure he said the death of the Lincoln woman in January was “a great tragedy”.

Her body was eventually found 55ft (17m) below the surface of the sea, wedged in a rock shelf, the hearing was told.

Mr Clow reached his decision after considering the police investigations of Ms Davis’s death and an Australian coroner’s report.

She had been to a house party the evening before her death and gone with seven other people from there to Dover Heights to watch the sun rise.

A toxicology report showed she would have had double the UK drink-drive alcohol limit in her blood and there was evidence she had taken amphetamines, cocaine, ketamine and MDMA.

The group had gone to the “a selfie hotspot where people climb over the fencing” to access the cliff tops, Mr Clow said.

Ms Davis had continued to drink vodka and the group were “all seriously affected by drugs and alcohol”.

She was with three men when one of them shouted “she’s gone”, the inquest heard.

Ms Davis had been in Australia for a number of weeks after travelling in Thailand and Bali.

Mr Clow said Ms Davis had “climbed over the fence and fell from the cliff” and her death had been “contributed to by drugs that affected her coordination and balance.”

He added: “There is no safe way to consume alcohol and drugs, her death was at a beauty spot which people seek to enjoy, it will doubtless not be the last.

“It was a very great tragedy of someone trying to live their life to the full”.

Signs warn tourists to stay away from the cliff edge and the height of fences in the area had been increased, according to a local mayor.

Migrants lorry death suspect held as men convicted

A man wanted in Belgium on suspicion of smuggling a number of Vietnamese migrants found dead in a lorry in Essex has been arrested.

The man was located by National Crime Agency officers in the Redditch area of Worcestershire on 15 December.

He is subject to extradition proceedings and has been remanded in custody until a hearing on 12 March.

Four men have been found guilty of their part in a people-smuggling ring that led to the deaths in October 2019.

The arrested man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, is suspected of having been involved in transporting at least 10 of the 39 people found dead in Essex, moving them from a safe house in Anderlecht, Brussels, in taxis to a location near the French/Belgian border before they were put on to the lorry.

After hearing the migrants had died, it is alleged the man fled Belgium and initially went to Germany before moving to the UK.

A European Arrest Warrant was issued by a Belgian investigating judge.

Details of the arrest have been released following the conclusion of the trial at the Old Bailey that found Eamonn Harrison, 24, and Gheorghe Nica, 43, convicted of manslaughter.

Christopher Kennedy, 24, from County Armagh, and Valentin Calota, 38, of Birmingham, were found guilty of conspiring to assist illegal immigration.

Labour and Scotland: Can Keir Starmer save the United Kingdom?

The coronavirus pandemic has put devolution in the spotlight like never before.

In Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, life and death decisions are being made by the devolved governments. Elected mayors across England have seen their public profile rise significantly.

But what does it mean for the future of the UK?

Sir Keir Starmer’s promise to devolve more power out of London – to the most local level – is Labour’s attempt at providing an answer.

The Labour leader announced a constitutional commission to look at what powers should go where – and the former prime minister Gordon Brown, himself long an advocate of a federal system with more power for nations and regions, is going to advise it.

Sir Keir told me he was prepared to make decisions that would be uncomfortable in Westminster and which would result in power being taken out of London to other parts of the UK.

Devolution is pretty straightforward when national and devolved leaders agree. When they don’t, it becomes a lot harder.

Nowhere has that been more obvious than in Scotland – and his speech was Sir Keir’s first major foray into the independence debate.

For years, many believe Labour in Scotland has been in a constitutional no man’s land; stuck between the pro-independence SNP and the strongly unionist Conservatives.

Labour has flirted with different positions – and has taken a hammering at the polls as a result. I’ve written about the dilemma before.

Today’s speech was intended to give more clarity on exactly where Sir Keir stands ahead of May’s Holyrood election. He has adopted a similar position to the UK government on calls for another independence vote; not now, but not quite ruling it out forever.

Labour is open to more powers for Holyrood, presents itself as the party which introduced devolution in the first place, and will oppose what it sees as attacks on devolution from the current UK government.

Not everyone is impressed, however.

Just as Sir Keir finished his speech, a former senior figure in the Labour Party, who has grappled with the issue before, texted me saying: “The whole thing is so dull and tired”.

Why? Well, Labour has been talking about more devolution – or federalism – for some time. It was Jeremy Corbyn’s answer to the independence debate.

Gordon Brown has talked about it for years, including in the 2014 independence referendum. There’s a video on you tube of the former prime minister in Cardiff in 2017 launching… a Labour constitutional convention.

Some may have a bit of a sense of déjà vu today.

It might also sound like a bit of a fudge; Labour is going to look at moving more power away from London without actually promising anything specific.

There are, however, a couple of things the Labour Party under Sir Keir is hoping will change the debate and get Labour back on the pitch.

The first is that it reflects joined-up thinking.

Over the last couple of weeks, we’ve heard a number of elected Labour politicians – Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford, Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard, and a series of directly elected mayors including London’s Sadiq Khan and Manchester’s Andy Burnham calling for considerably more devolution, saying it’s the way to save the union.

Scottish Labour and the UK party now seem to be on the same page, although some in Scottish Labour believe it would be wrong to say no to indyref2 if the SNP wins big in May’s election.

When Jeremy Corbyn was leader, that wasn’t always the case and one of the frustrations you often heard was that the Scottish party felt it was often cleaning up after Mr Corbyn.

Sir Keir’s team hope the party, in its various forms across the UK, can now unite behind this position.

The second is based on polling. Unionists believe one of the reasons support for Scottish independence appears to be going up is because of the contrast between Boris Johnson and Nicola Sturgeon.

The argument goes: Scots might not always be happy with the decisions made by the Scottish Government during the pandemic, but they are happy the first minister is making them and not the prime minister.

Even senior Scottish Tories accept the prime minister is unpopular among voters who could change their mind on the constitutional question.

Although Sir Keir’s leadership is unlikely to mean Labour returns to its previous standing in Scotland, the hope some influential unionist figures have is that the contrast between Ms Sturgeon and Sir Keir won’t be as stark and that could help the unionist cause, if he looks like a potential prime minister.

There’s a lot to this that we will revisit before the Holyrood election.

Some are deeply unimpressed with Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard – it was interesting Sir Keir dodged a question on what Mr Leonard’s biggest achievement was – while some speculate that a more public role for Gordon Brown might be a way of addressing the low profile of Mr Leonard.

The SNP would also point out that while Sir Keir is advocating more devolution – he is not when it comes to Holyrood deciding on another independence vote.

And there are also nuances in Wales and different English regions which can’t all be covered with a catch-all policy.

But Labour is trying to come up with a solution and has tried today to move the debate on. Many in the party believe if things don’t change – the union could be finished.

Coronavirus: Center Parcs shuts UK sites due to restrictions

Center Parcs has temporarily closed its five UK sites due to concerns over the new variant of coronavirus.

The holiday firm said continuing to accept visitors would go against the government’s “strong advice” to stay local and minimise social contact.

It said it regretted disappointing customers, and those who had booked stays could reschedule with a discount or get a full refund.

The five sites will remain shut until at least 7 January, it confirmed.

In a statement the company said: “It is clear that the threat of the virus with the new variant is now at an extremely delicate stage and [the government’s] strong advice is to stay local, minimise social contacts and take care to protect ourselves and others.

“It is therefore with a heavy heart that we have made the decision to close all our UK villages”.

Those with bookings for immediately after 7 January have been told to regularly check both government advice and news directly from Center Parcs.

In March, all the company’s sites were closed after a guest and a member of staff at its village in Sherwood Forest, Nottinghamshire, tested positive.

Subsequently, the resorts have faced several changes depending on national restrictions, with most having only recently reopened at the beginning of December.

Elveden Forest, Longleat Forest and Whinfell Forest

Woburn Forest

Sherwood Forest

Shares fall as fears grow over new Covid strain

US shares have opened lower as concern over the UK’s new Covid-19 variant outweighed relief over a Congressional package of pandemic aid.

In the opening minutes, the S&P 500 fell 1%, while the Dow Jones and the tech-dominated Nasdaq showed similar losses.

London’s FTSE 100 index is still down more than 2% after several EU countries closed their borders to the UK.

The main German and French markets have fallen about 3%.

Sterling fell 1% against the euro and dropped 1.4% against the dollar.

Travel curbs hit airline stocks, with British Airways’ owner IAG down about 8.5% and EasyJet tumbling more than 8%.

Aircraft engine maker Rolls-Royce was also badly hit, falling nearly 5%.

The rout was replicated on other European markets. Air France-KLM shares dropped more than 4%, as did planemaker Airbus.

“Investors’ rosy expectations for 2021 have suddenly vanished,” said Kazuhiko Saito, chief analyst at commodities broker Fujitomi Co.

As well as renewed concern about Covid-19 cases, UK investors were reacting to another missed deadline in trade talks with the EU.

London and Brussels are trying to reach a trade deal before the Brexit transition period ends on 31 December.

The talks are set to continue on Monday between negotiators.

The stalled negotiations have been partly responsible for the pound fluctuating over recent weeks. Optimism that a deal would be struck had triggered a four-day winning streak for sterling, pushing it back up to just under $1.36 before it reversed course again.

Earlier on Monday, the pound fell towards $1.32, with the dollar also being buoyed after a $900bn (£660bn) plan to help the US economy weather the coronavirus pandemic was agreed.

However, the pound later regained some of those losses, rising above $1.33.

European nations have begun to impose travel bans on the UK after it reported a more-infectious and “out of control” coronavirus variant over the weekend.

Ireland, Germany, France, Italy, the Netherlands and Belgium are all halting flights.

On Saturday, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson introduced a new tier four level of restrictions for London and South East England.

“The lockdown news and the stalemate on Brexit is keeping the market nervous,” National Australia Bank’s senior currency strategist Rodrigo Catril told Reuters.

The prime minister will chair a meeting of the government’s emergency committee later after France closed its border with the UK for 48 hours.

One major sticking point in the Brexit talks is access to the UK’s water for fishing. While the fishing industry accounts for just 0.1% of gross domestic product, (GDP) it is of high political significance.

If a trade agreement is not reached by the end of the month, British firms will revert to trading with the EU under rules established by the World Trade Organization (WTO).

This will mean imports and exports to the EU would be subject to WTO-negotiated tariffs, essentially a tax on goods.

Currency experts have warned that the pound could fall to $1.25 by the middle of next year if no trade agreement is agreed.

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