Hall And Oates: How You Make My Dreams became a streaming hit

This might come as a surprise, but Daryl Hall and John Oates are the most commercially successful duo in the history of pop – beating everyone from Simon and Garfunkel to Daft Punk.

Formed in Philadelphia in 1970, the leather jacket aficionados have sold more than 40 million records worldwide; and, in the 1980s, they spent 246 weeks in the US charts, more than even Michael Jackson and Madonna.

They’re best known in the UK for hits like Maneater and I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do) but, in the streaming era, its You Make My Dreams (Come True) that’s become their most recognisable song.

From its syncopated electric piano riff to the soaring chorus, it contains three of pop’s most uplifting minutes. And, although it was never released as a single in the UK, the track has notched up more than one billion streams, thanks in part to its inclusion in cult movies like The Wedding Singer and 500 Days Of Summer.

“It’s a very unique situation,” says Hall. “It wasn’t a number one record, but what has happened to that song, and the way the world has embraced it, is absolutely astounding.”

To celebrate its 40th anniversary, You Make My Dreams is being re-released as a limited edition seven-inch purple vinyl for Record Store Day this weekend.

We caught up with Hall and Oates via Zoom, to discuss the song’s creation, Kermit The Frog’s cover version, and their other viral hit – a bizarre 1970s video that recently resurfaced on YouTube.

But first, here’s a quick refresher on the song itself.

What do you remember about writing You Make My Dreams?

Daryl Hall: There’s other names on the credits, but I pretty much wrote the song. I was by myself, I started playing that riff on a piano and it just felt good to me, so I started writing the song.

The first words that came out of my mouth were: “You make my dreams come true.” I thought: “This is no good. This is such a cliché. I’ve got to think of something a little more provocative.” But after a while, I just went with it.

The simplicity of the chorus is contrasted by the verse, where you get into a pretty deep candle metaphor.

John Oates: I can tell you a very funny story about that. When we played the demo to our manager, his reaction was: “Who the hell do you guys think you are, Wordsworth?'”

Daryl Hall: That was Tommy Mottola, who was not known for his sensitivity.

John Oates: And that was his whole reaction: “You guys are getting too freakin’ artsy and poetic.”

Did the song change much between the demo and the version we all know?

Daryl Hall: Not much, we just went in the studio and worked the background vocals out, which are a really important part of the song. It all sort of fit together like a puzzle. It was a fairly easy song to write.

The call-and-response backing vocals make it a great karaoke song.

Daryl Hall: Yeah, I like that sort of contrapuntal background vocal. It’s a trade-off, back-and-forth, and that’s sort of a trademark of mine. Listen to No Can Do, and it’s the same thing. The backgrounds are working in rhythm against the lead.

That opening piano riff is so distinctive, too. What instrument were you playing?

Daryl Hall: It’s a very unusual edition of a Yamaha called the Yamaha CP30. There were very few of them made and it wasn’t out for very long. Over the years mine got destroyed [and] I cannot duplicate that sound other than with the actual instrument. So I had to search and search until, quite recently, I found one.

Was that expensive?

Daryl Hall: No! Nobody wants one! I think it cost me $400.

The song was never released in the UK, and it was only the fourth single to be taken from your album Visions in the US. Did you not realise how big it would become?

John Oates: Daryl and I never realised anything about our singles. We didn’t really dictate to record companies: “Hey, you should put out Maneater.” We just said: “Here’s the album. Go, figure out how to sell it.” Then they would canvas radio stations and promoters, and the cream would rise to the top – and those are the records we released as singles. But from our point of view, from the actual creative side, we never paid more attention to those records than any other track on our albums.

Daryl Hall: You know, I don’t know why it wasn’t released in the UK. Somebody certainly had a distinct lack of vision, that’s all I can say.

The song doesn’t feature on any of your greatest hits albums in the 80s or 90s – but now it’s your most successful song on Spotify. When did you first notice it was becoming more popular?

John Oates: I really believe it was 500 Days of Summer. I knew the song was being used in the movie but I had no idea how. Then my wife and my son and I were walking around California one day, and there was a movie theatre so I said: “Let’s go in and see it.”

It was the middle of the afternoon, so I remember it was just us and a few teenage girls in the theatre. And as soon as the dance scene began the girls started clapping and cheering. It was a totally spontaneous, emotional response, and I thought: “Wow, this is unusual.” So that was an indication to me that something was happening.

And I have to say, to this day I don’t think I’ve ever seen a better marriage of film and movement and music. Well, I’m sure Gene Kelly would argue with me with Singing In The Rain but, nevertheless, it’s right up there.

Why do you think people have embraced it since then?

Daryl Hall: There’s something very direct and positive about the lyrics, and it never stops. It’s relentless. I think maybe that’s part of its appeal to people.

Joe Biden played it after delivering his victory speech last year. What did that mean to you?

Daryl Hall: I was very very honoured. I’m a gigantic Joe Biden fan, and I was very happy they chose us to be a part of that.

Are there any other uses that stand out to you? Did you hear Kermit singing it?

Daryl Hall: No, which Kermit? Kermit the Frog?! Really?

Yeah, he sang it on the most recent series of The Masked Singer in the US.

Daryl Hall [laughing]: I didn’t know that. I’ll have to check it out.

You’re re-releasing the song for Record Store Day. How important were record stores to your career?

John Oates: My first record contract was actually with a place called the Record Museum, which was a shop in downtown Philadelphia that specialised in 45s. One day in 1967, my high school band literally walked into the store with a test pressing and said: “Hey, we made a record.” And the guy took it, put it on the record player, played it on the crappy speakers and said: “Oh, this sounds great… step into my office.”

So we went behind the counter into the back office and signed a contract, which was a portent of things to come, in the great tradition of musicians getting screwed by business people.

The video for one of your other songs – She’s Gone – went viral recently, just because it’s so bizarre. What’s the story there?

Daryl Hall: We were just starting out and we had an opportunity at our local TV station in Philadelphia, who wanted us to do a lip-sync of She’s Gone. John’s sister was, like, 22 years-old and she was a director for the television station, so we used her. I put on a bathrobe, John had a penguin suit, our tour manager, Randy Hoffman, was dressed as the devil and we just did the song.

It scared the people at the TV station so badly, I wasn’t even sure that they were going to put it on the air, but they did.

And then it disappeared into obscurity for decades until someone put it online?

Daryl Hall: Completely. Nobody knew about it. But I’m happy to hear it’s gone viral. That’s the only video I really ever liked.

It’s 15 years since the last Hall and Oates record. Have you any plans to record together again?

Daryl Hall: I was actually starting a project with John when the pandemic hit, so we’re on hold right now. But before we can even get into the studio we have a tour booked in the States for August.

What would 2021 Hall and Oates sound like?

John Oates: I would continue down the track we were on when we made the Big Bang Boom album in 1984, which was a very experimental and very probing, technically-advanced record for the time. If we were to do the same thing now, it would be a whole other level of technology. So I’m interested in exploring the possibility of something like that.

Halogen lightbulb sales to be banned in UK under climate change plans

Sales of halogen lightbulbs are to be banned in the UK from September, with fluorescent lights to follow, under government climate change plans.

The move will cut 1.26 million tonnes of carbon emissions a year and deliver consumers savings, officials say.

The UK began phasing out the sale of higher-energy halogen lightbulbs in 2018 under EU-wide rules.

Now retailers will no longer be able to sell most remaining halogen bulbs, such as kitchen spotlights.

Legislation for the plans is being brought forward this month by the government.

The plan will help continue the shift to low-energy LED lightbulbs, which account for about two thirds of lights now sold in Britain.

It is expected to mean LEDs will account for 85% of all bulbs sold by 2030, officials said.

LED lights last five times longer than traditional halogen bulbs and produce the same amount of light, but use up to 80% less power.

To help people to choose the most efficient lightbulbs, changes to the energy labels that consumers see on bulb packaging are being brought in, with the A+, A++ and A+++ ratings abandoned and efficiency graded between A-G, with only the most efficient bulbs given an A rating.

LED bulbs could be incorporated into the fluorescent light fittings as a more energy-efficient alternative, officials said.

Legislation will also include moves to phase out high-energy fluorescent lightbulbs – such as strip lights commonly found in offices – with a view to bringing an end to their sale from September 2023.

The cut in carbon emissions as a result of the new rules is the equivalent of removing more than half a million cars from the UK’s roads, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) said.

It is part of a package of measures which it says will save consumers money and includes the right to get goods repaired, new energy labels and higher efficiency standards for white goods, TVs and other appliances.

Energy minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan said: “We’re phasing out old inefficient halogen bulbs for good, so we can move more quickly to longer-lasting LED bulbs, meaning less waste and a brighter and cleaner future for the UK.

“By helping ensure electrical appliances use less energy but perform just as well, we’re saving households money on their bills and helping tackle climate change.”

Stephen Rouatt, chief executive of Signify UK, which owns Philips lighting, said: “Using energy-efficient LED equivalents for halogen and fluorescent lighting on an even broader scale will significantly help the UK on its journey to decarbonisation, as well as lowering the annual electricity bills for consumers.”

Calls for more pop-up campsites as demand surges

Rural businesses and landowners are urging the government to further relax regulations to enable more temporary campsites to pop up this summer.

One such pitch is behind the Devonshire Arms, in the heart of the Peak District.

Landlady Fiona Kirby is offering pitches for £15 a night in a small grassy meadow.

“We’ve got this big expanse that we don’t really use to it’s best ability,” she said.

The facilities are basic, just a tap, but it meets two needs: the huge demand for UK breaks from holidaymakers and boosting the coffers of a struggling inn by enticing diners through the door.

For Fiona, it’s been a no-brainer: “I’ve been amazed. We’ve been full every night we’ve been open. And all I’ve had to do is mow the lawn.”

From last year, as the pandemic hit, landowners could set up a temporary site for 56 days without planning permission, rather than the usual 28.

But the campaign group Carry on Camping argues this just isn’t enough to meet demand, nor the needs of rural businesses this year.

They are after a full six months, to make it worthwhile for businesses, to make the most of camping now in June, all the way up to October.

Dan Yates is managing director of PitchUp, and has been behind the campaign.

“This is all about making the most of the weather,” he explained. “We’ve had the 28-day rule a long time, and for most businesses it wasn’t viable to plumb in toilets, train staff and take a chance on the forecast. Fifty-six is a whole different ball game – but we need longer.”

Dan said many of the businesses looking to offer temporary pitches are wedding venues, or farmers who’ve lost subsidies. “Landowners can earn up to £50,000 a season in some cases,” he said. “And no other type of accommodation in Britain can scale up like this to meet customer demand.”

Some may feel less than enthused at the prospect of swapping the Algarve for The Dales or Dorset, but Dan said bookings at his business PitchUp are up 200% compared to 2019 and just continues to grow: “It’s unprecedented.”

His campaign also highlights that families camping will spend, on average, £46 a day in nearby pubs, cafes, shops or attractions, giving a much-needed boost to rural economies. The National Farmers Union, Historic Houses and Countryside Alliance has backed the calls too.

But back at the Devonshire Arms Fiona knows it’s not been popular with everyone. Some locals have voiced their resentment at extra traffic, visitors and mess.

“But the money I can make in the summer will help me through the lean times in the winter,” she added.

The Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government is responsible for the regulation in England and Wales.

A spokesperson said: “We have doubled the number of days temporary campsites can operate as part of our support for businesses and local economies during the pandemic. These measures are in place until the end of the year and we are keeping them under review.”

In Scotland and Northern Ireland, more relaxed camping rules are already in place.

Fake prescription drugs left my son brain damaged

Joe began buying what he believed were genuine diazepam and Xanex pills from the internet to help with anxiety.

But he became addicted to the fake pills – which he continued to believe were real – and earlier this year they almost killed him.

Joe had struggled with shyness in his late teens and, like many, he found moving away to university a challenge.

But when the 23-year-old returned home to rural mid Wales after his first year, mum Sarah was initially excited to see changes in him.

“I would say his personality had changed,” said Sarah.

“He was much louder and almost like a little bit brash. Naively, I thought he’d just come out of his shell.”

What Sarah didn’t know was Joe – not their real names – had begun to self-medicate with what he believed were genuine diazepam and Xanax pills bought online in an effort to help with his anxiety.

It wasn’t long before his family noticed other changes in him too.

“He go through phases of sleep walking, mood changes, very dilated pupils,” said 25-year-old Alex, Joe’s older sister.

“I asked him to talk to me as a sibling, I said I wouldn’t say anything to mum and dad, but he never did.”

When he returned to university for his second year, his mum began to get phone calls from him in the middle of the night.

“He said ‘I’ve been using prescription drugs to try and help myself and I think it’s getting out of control,'” said Sarah.

“I became aware he was buying them on the internet and that he was using them to address his mental health issues. He’d researched what he thought he needed to take – and in his mind he’d tackled the problem.

“But as things got worse I think he became very afraid that he was being overtaken by the addiction.”

When he was at home normal-looking packages would arrive for him – inside were what he believed to be prescription drugs. He eventually showed his mum them, hoping to reassure her.

Prescription drugs have to be prescribed by your GP but many people, like Joe, are going online to buy pills that they believe are legitimate to avoid consulting with a doctor.

“It was mostly diazepam,” she said. “It was in fully printed and marked packaging with batch numbers, dates and the information leaflet inside.

“To me they were the genuine drugs – and to Joe they were the genuine drugs.

“He used to say to me ‘I know not to take too many, I know how many I should take, I’m in control, don’t worry mum.’

“It didn’t for one minute enter my mind that it wasn’t what it said on the tin.”

However the pills weren’t what they claimed to be.

According to drugs testing lab Wedinos, between 45% to 65% of benzodiazepines sent in for testing, which include diazepam and Xanax, are actually fakes.

These pills can use unregulated and much stronger ingredients, frequently leaving users with pills up to 10 times stronger than what they think they are taking.

Joe had no idea the pills he was taking were fake. Earlier this year his mum went to wake him, only to find he had overdosed.

“I could see as soon as I approached the door that he was lying across his bed,” recalled Sarah.

“The look of him, the feel of him, it just said to me ‘he’s dead, he’s gone.’

“I just became hysterical. There was no-one in the house. I dialled the emergency services – and I couldn’t speak – I was just shouting.”

The paramedics battled to save Joe’s life for hours. Eventually a decision was made to try to move him to hospital.

Sarah was told he could die on the way down the stairs, let alone the long journey to the nearest emergency department.

Joe had suffered a cardiac arrest. He survived, but suffered major brain damage.

“The prescription drugs that Joe had been buying on the internet were not legitimate,” she said.

“It wasn’t what he believed, and I believed, was in the tablets.

Some drugs charities in Wales say referrals for benzodiazepines have gone up 150% in the past year, with many warning about the dangers of buying pills online.

“It is incredibly easy to be deceived,” said Josie Smith, national lead for substance misuse at Public Health Wales.

“We’re seeing very clever marketing of tablets that look exactly as you would find from a prescribed medication. Even in the blister packs, with the packaging, it can look really like a medication.

“Certainly in the past few years, not only in Wales but also right across in Europe, we know these drugs have become incredibly easy to obtain. They’re highly available, even promoted through particular website or social media.

“I think that’s the challenge that we need to address, to inform and to increase awareness around the risk of not knowing what it is that you’re taking – even if it looks like something you’ve been prescribed in the past.”

For Joe, just 23 and still – several months later – fighting for his life, it is too late.

But his family are speaking out in the hope of raising awareness.

“Joe’s story is still unfolding,” said his sister Alex.

“But if we can help even one family, to not go through what we’re going through, then that would be job done.”

The names of Joe and his family have been changed to protect their identities.

If you’ve been affected by any of the issues in this story, the BBC Action Line can offer help and support.

Brexit: UK and EU urge compromises over Irish Sea border checks

The UK’s Brexit minister Lord Frost has urged the EU to show “common sense” during talks over post-Brexit rules in Northern Ireland.

The Tory peer will meet his EU counterpart Maros Sefcovic in London on Wednesday to discuss ways to reduce disruption at the Irish Sea border.

Some delayed border checks are due to start next month, but both sides are calling on each other to compromise.

Mr Sefcovic has warned against “quick fixes” to border issues.

The UK and EU officials have been locked in talks over simplifying the Northern Ireland Protocol, part of the UK’s 2019 Brexit withdrawal deal.

This created a trade border between Northern Ireland and Great Britain, in order to prevent goods checks along the Irish land border.

That has required new border checks on GB goods going to Northern Ireland, causing disruption to some food supplies and online deliveries.

The UK has unilaterally pushed back the full implementation of checks on supermarket goods and parcels to ease this disruption – prompting the EU to accuse the UK of undermining the protocol and beginning legal action.

The next phase of controls, on chilled meat products like sausages and mince, is due to begin on 1 July when a jointly-agreed grace period ends.

Ahead of this week’s negotiations, Mr Sefcovic – a vice-president of the European Commission – has warned the UK against unilaterally extending this deadline too.

He said that if this were to happen, the EU “will not be shy in reacting swiftly, firmly and resolutely to ensure that the UK abides by its international law obligations”.

Ahead of the meeting, Lord Frost said: “time is short and practical solutions are needed now to make the protocol work”.

“I look to the EU to show flexibility and engage with our proposals so that we can find solutions that enjoy the confidence of all communities,” he said.

He added that “further threats of legal action and trade retaliation” would not help consumers or businesses based in Northern Ireland.

“What is needed is pragmatism and common sense solutions to resolve the issues as they are before us,” he added.

Earlier this week, Lord Frost admitted the UK had “underestimated” the effect of the protocol in Northern Ireland, but also accused the EU of “legal purism” in how it has been interpreted.

Mr Sefcovic denied the EU had been inflexible, saying it had shown it was prepared to “find creative solutions when required”.

Speaking to reporters on Tuesday evening, he said the two sides were “approaching the crossroads” in how they deal with border issues.

“We can have two possible roads. One is road of cooperation, show and action and constructive engagement,” he said.

“The other would lead us to more, to a difficult situation which would be generated by further unilateral actions.”

“I hope that with Lord Frost we will find tomorrow the solutions to clearly opt for the first path, because only that will bring us to the long lasting solutions and not quick fixes.”

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has said she will also raise Northern Ireland issues with Prime Minister Boris Johnson at this weekend’s G7 summit in Cornwall.

As well as meeting to discuss issues in Northern Ireland, the UK and EU are set to hold their first-ever set of official talks over implementing the post-Brexit trade deal agreed late last year.

Among issues to be discussed are law enforcement co-operation, fees for visa applications and tensions over fishing rights.

Tax details of US super-rich allegedly leaked

Details claiming to reveal how little US billionaires pay in income tax have been leaked to an investigative website.

ProPublica says it has seen the tax returns of some of the world’s richest people, including Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk and Warren Buffett.

The website alleges Amazon’s Mr Bezos paid no tax in 2007 and 2011, while Tesla’s Mr Musk’s paid nothing in 2018.

The FBI and tax authorities are looking into the source of the leak.

ProPublica said it was analysing what it called a “vast trove of Internal Revenue Service data” on the taxes of the billionaires, and would release further details over coming weeks.

While the BBC has not been able to confirm the claims, the alleged leak comes at a time of growing debate about the amount of tax paid by the wealthy and widening inequality.

ProPublica said the richest 25 Americans pay less in tax – an average of 15.8% of adjusted gross income – than most mainstream US workers.

The website said: “Using perfectly legal tax strategies, many of the uber-rich are able to shrink their federal tax bills to nothing or close to it.”

The wealthy, as with many ordinary citizens, are able to reduce their income tax bills via such things as charitable donations and drawing money from investment income rather wage income.

ProPublica, using data collected by Forbes magazine, said the wealth of the 25 richest Americans collectively jumped by $401bn from 2014 to 2018 – but they paid $13.6bn in income tax over those years.

President Joe Biden has vowed to increase tax on the richest Americans as part of a mission to improve equality and raise money for his massive infrastructure investment programme.

He wants to raise the top rate of tax, double the tax on what high earners make from investments, and change inheritance tax.

However, ProPublica’s analysis concluded: “While some wealthy Americans, such as hedge fund managers, would pay more taxes under the current Biden administration proposals, the vast majority of the top 25 would see little change.”

One of the billionaires mentioned, the philanthropist George Soros, is also alleged to have paid minimal tax. His office had not replied to a BBC request for comment, but said in a statement to ProPublica that Mr Soros did not owe tax some years because of losses on investments.

The statement also pointed out that he had long supported higher taxes on America’s wealthiest people.

ProPublica has written several articles about how budget cuts at the US Internal Revenue Service has hampered its ability to enforce tax rules on the wealthy and large corporations. The news organisation said it received the leaked documents in response to these articles.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said that “any unauthorized disclosure of confidential government information” is illegal.

Treasury Department spokeswoman Lily Adams said in an emailed statement to Reuters that the matter has been referred to the FBI, federal prosecutors and two internal Treasury Department watchdogs, “all of whom have independent authority to investigate.”

US Internal Revenue Service Commissioner Charles Rettig said: “I can’t speak to anything with respect to specific taxpayers. I can confirm that there is an investigation, with respect to the allegations that the source of the information in that article came from the Internal Revenue Service.”

Chris Harrison: The Bachelor host leaves for good over racism row

The long-time host of hit US dating show The Bachelor is stepping down permanently after widespread criticism of his comments on race.

Chris Harrison, who also fronted the show’s spin-offs, will not return to the ABC programmes, Deadline reported.

Controversy erupted in February after he excused past behaviour of a cast member who had been accused of racism, saying he was not the “woke police”.

“By excusing historical racism, I defended it,” he said at the time.

Harrison hosted The Bachelor for 25 seasons, from the show’s beginning in 2002. He also fronted The Bachelorette and Bachelor in Paradise.

The Bachelor and The Bachelorette revolve around a single man or woman selecting a potential spouse from a pool of suitors.

The news of Harrison’s permanent exit came a day after season 17 of The Bachelorette began without him. Former Bachelorettes Tayshia Adams and Kaitlyn Bristowe are the show’s hosts instead.

In February, Harrison “stepped aside” and apologised for “speaking in a manner that perpetuates racism” during an interview with former Bachelorette Rachelle Lindsay.

In the interview, he commented on photos showing The Bachelor contestant Rachael Kirkconnell at a ball themed around a slavery-era plantation when she was 18.

Harrison later issued a longer apology, saying: “By excusing historical racism, I defended it. I invoked the term ‘woke police’, which is unacceptable. I am ashamed over how uninformed I was. I was so wrong.”

Kirkconnell also apologised, saying: “At one point, I didn’t recognise how offensive and racist my actions were, but that doesn’t excuse them.

“My age or when it happened does not excuse anything. They are not acceptable or okay in any sense. I was ignorant, but my ignorance was racist.”

In June 2020, fans of the ABC show petitioned for it to address the unequal treatment of cast members of colour.

At the forefront of that initiative was Lindsay, who at the time was the only black lead to have ever served on The Bachelorette.

The show responded with a promise to address their race issues by casting more people of colour, and announced The Bachelor’s first black lead, Matt James, for the series in which Kirkconnell was a contestant.

She ended up winning, and she and James are still in a relationship.

Tunbridge Wells: Skinners Kent schools closed after data breach

Two schools have closed after hackers broke into their servers, stole data and encrypted pupil information.

Officials at the Skinners’ Kent Academy and Skinners’ Kent Primary School said they “cannot be sure” exactly what information hackers have access to.

But they urged parents at the Tunbridge Wells schools to contact their banks to let them know that personal details could have been taken.

Action Fraud and the National Cyber Security Centre are investigating.

The police and the trust’s own data protection company are also carrying out inquires after the attack, which began last Wednesday.

Skinners Kent Academy Trust said on its website that the hackers told them what information they have access to.

It said they did not “appear” to have access to the School Information Management System, which is where personal records for pupils, students and staff are held.

“However, they have encrypted this data so that we no longer have access to it,” the trust added.

As staff no longer hold vital information on the pupils – including emergency contact details – the decision was taken to close the schools on Monday.

The trust is now in the process of collecting all this data from parents again, before it can reopen.

The schools must also have their computers reconfigured so staff can access the resources required to teach. The schools set up remote learning on Tuesday.

The statement on the trust’s website advised parents: “It would be very wise to let your bank know that your bank details may have been taken.”

A trust spokeswoman described the hackers as “sophisticated”.

She added: “The trust is working incredibly hard to ensure that our students and pupils are back in our schools…..as soon as it is possible to do so.”

Brexit: What is the Northern Ireland Protocol and why does it affect sausages?

Sausages from Great Britain could soon be banned from entering Northern Ireland.

The problem for bangers – along with burgers and other chilled meats – is a section of the Brexit deal called the Northern Ireland Protocol.

Because of Brexit, Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales) no longer follows EU rules. However, Northern Ireland does – because it shares a land border with the Republic of Ireland, an EU member.

Sausages come into this because EU food safety rules don’t allow chilled meat products to enter its market from non-members – like the UK.

The EU is concerned that if Great Britain sends sausages – or other items – to Northern Ireland, they could end up over the border, in Ireland.

However, under the Northern Ireland Protocol – which the UK government signed up to – this hasn’t been a problem so far. This is because a six-month grace period has been in place, during which the rules don’t apply.

However, this runs out at the end of June.

Talks on what happens next, as well as on other aspects of the protocol, will be held between the UK and EU on Wednesday 9 June.

UK Environment Secretary George Eustice told the BBC the EU needed to explain why sausage sales to Northern Ireland should stop.

“They haven’t given a satisfactory explanation as to why they think it’s a problem,” he said.

During Brexit negotiations, all sides agreed that protecting the Northern Ireland peace deal (the Good Friday agreement) was an absolute priority.

It meant keeping the land border between the Republic of Ireland (in the EU) and Northern Ireland (in the UK) open and avoiding new infrastructure like cameras and border posts.

That was easy when both Northern Ireland and the Republic were both part of the EU. However, a new arrangement was needed after Brexit because the EU requires certain goods to be inspected when they arrive from non-EU countries.

So, the EU and the UK negotiated the Northern Ireland Protocol, which came into force on 1 January 2021.

Under the protocol Northern Ireland continues to follow many EU rules. This means lorries can drive across the land border without being inspected.

However, England, Scotland and Wales are no longer following those rules – leading to a new “regulatory” border between GB and Northern Ireland.

That means new checks on goods.

Inspections take place at Northern Ireland ports, and customs documents have to be filled in.

This has prompted criticism that a border has effectively been created in the Irish Sea.

Some food products arriving in Northern Ireland from Great Britain – such as meat, milk, fish and eggs – have to be monitored to ensure they meet EU standards.

They need to go through a border control post, where paperwork is checked and some physical inspections take place.

The new system got off to a shaky start. The EU said in early February that the control posts were not yet fully operational and some goods were entering Northern Ireland without being properly declared.

Supermarkets were given an initial three-month grace period, during which the rules were not to be enforced. This was to give them time to adapt and to ensure supplies were maintained.

However, there was still some disruption at the beginning of the year with certain types of fresh produce missing from shelves.

In March, the UK decided – by itself – to extend the grace period until October. It subsequently announced further unilateral moves, to make the trade in parcels and plants from GB to Northern Ireland easier.

The EU has previously said the UK’s decision to extend the grace period breaks international law. And it has launched legal action which could end up with the European Court of Justice imposing substantial fines on the UK.

On a visit to Northern Ireland on 12 March, before the EU legal action was launched, Boris Johnson insisted that the government’s move was lawful.

Checks were temporarily suspended at the beginning of February, over what were described as “sinister” threats to some border staff checking goods.

Unionists are strongly opposed to the checks because they don’t want Northern Ireland to be treated differently to the rest of the UK. One group has written to the Prime Minister to withdraw support for the Good Friday agreement.

Colonial Pipeline boss deeply sorry for cyber attack

The boss of Colonial Pipeline has apologised after a cyber attack took the US fuel pipeline offline last month, causing major disruption.

Joseph Blount said: “We are deeply sorry for the impact that this attack had.”

Mr Blount also told Senators the decision to pay a $4.4m (£3.1m) ransom to hackers in Bitcoin was the “hardest decision” in his career.

The US has since recovered 63.7 of the Bitcoin, worth $2.3m.

The President and chief executive of Colonial Pipeline said in front of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee that he was also “heartened by the resilience of our country and our company”.

Cyber criminal gang DarkSide – which US authorities said operates from eastern Europe and possibly Russia – infiltrated the pipeline last month. It carries 45% of the East Coast’s supply of diesel, petrol and jet fuel, Colonial Pipeline says.

The attack disrupted supplies for several days causing fuel shortages and queues at pumps in states such as Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina.

Mr Blount said on Tuesday that the decision to pay the ransom was taken the day after the attack first took place on 7 May.

The FBI recommends that companies do not pay criminals over ransomware attacks, in case they invite further hacks in the future.

“I made the decision to pay and I made the decision to keep the information about the payment as confidential as possible,” he said.

“I believe with all my heart it was the right choice to make… but I want to respect those who see this issue differently,” Mr Blount added.

He told senators that he felt paying the ransom was necessary to bring the pipeline back online as quickly as possible.

Once Colonial made a cryptocurrency payment, the company received a decryption tool so it could unlock the systems compromised by the hackers – although that was not enough to restart systems immediately.

“What a lot of people don’t realise is it takes months and months… even years to restore your systems,” Mr Blount said.

Although the “critical infrastructure” of the pipeline was back online within days, seven finance systems used by the firm were only restored this week, he said.

Some politicians also questioned the security measures the firm had in place.

Senator Margaret Hassan, of New Hampshire, said: “I don’t think it’s acceptable to understand the critical nature of your product, but not have the preparation or system in place to protect it as though it’s critical infrastructure.”

Hackers were able to get into the company’s IT systems using a virtual private network (VPN) account, an encrypted internet connection that allowed employees to access its networks remotely.

Mr Blount said this was a “legacy” VPN that was not in use at the time, although it did not have two-step authentication in place.

He said the password that was compromised was not a simplistic “Colonial123-type password”.

“We often take a look at our defences, and even though we felt comfortably historically… this threat grows every day and the sophistication of this threat grow every day”, he said.

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