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Johnson insists Brexit ‘teething problems’ can be resolved

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Boris Johnson has admitted there are “teething problems” in the post-Brexit trade relationship between Great Britain and Northern Ireland as industry experts warned there could be fresh shortages on supermarket shelves.

Retailers warned that shops in Northern Ireland could face further problems unless the EU is prepared to extend the “grace period” in the Brexit agreement.

British Retail Consortium director Andrew Opie said problems which had resulted in a shortage of some food products following the end of the Brexit transition period on December 31st had largely been overcome.

But he said there could be fresh difficulties in April when a series of exemptions on goods being moved to Northern Ireland from Great Britain comes to an end.

Mr Johnson told MPs on the Commons Liaison Committee: “The situation in Northern Ireland is that trade is flowing smoothly, as I understand it.

 

“And exporters are benefiting from the unfettered access between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

“Yes, I am not going to deny down that there are teething problems, and there are issues that we need to sort out… but the deal has been of great, great assistance to our businesses in smoothing this.”

He said the Government would invoke Article 16 of the Northern Ireland Protocol – which allows it to unilaterally impose safeguards – if serious issues arise.

“What I can certainly guarantee is that if there are serious problems in… supplying supermarkets in Northern Ireland because of some piece of bureaucracy that’s misapplied, then we will simply exercise Article 16 of the protocol.

“It is absurd that there should be such difficulties.”

Earlier Mr Opie warned MPs that “if we do not find a workable solution for retailers in the next couple of months we do face significant disruption in Northern Ireland”.

Depleted shelves in Sainsbury’s at the Forestside shopping centre in Belfast (David Young/PA)

He told the Commons Brexit Committee that supermarkets which exported to the Republic of Ireland had found the system was “unworkable” as far as their supply chains were concerned.

“That is why we need to think about Northern Ireland. We should not just be trying to apply the same processes that apply to the EU into Great Britain-Northern Ireland,” he said.

“Sending a lasagne from Great Britain to the Republic of Ireland is so complicated. You have to have authorisation going up through the chain, the vet at the end has to sign it off and he has to see all the authorisations.”

Controls on goods moving to Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK are required under the terms of the Brexit settlement agreed by Mr Johnson, to ensure there is no return to a hard border with the Republic.

Food and Drink Federation chief executive Ian Wright warned that without changes to the deals, the industry would have to rethink all its supply routes, leading to increased costs and delays.

MPs have been warned of the potential for fresh disruption at the Port of Dover (Gareth Fuller/PA)

“Unless the deal changes in some material way we are going to see the re-engineering of almost all the EU-UK and GB-NI supply chains over the next six months,” he said.

He said that one international supplier had found that the paperwork for a consignment moving from the UK to the EU which would normally have taken three hours to complete had so far taken five days – and they were still working on it.

Mr Wright also expressed concern about the potential for delays at the Channel ports as the numbers of lorries making the crossing picked up over the coming months.

“It will get worse. Currently, volumes across the short straits are at about 2,000 lorries. They should be around 10,000. So the opportunity for the scale of concerns to rise is huge,” he said.

Mr Opie also issued a warning over disruption to goods crossing the Channel, saying “it will get worse before it gets better”.

He said he is on watch for any impact this week and onwards, with British businesses “still not 100 per cent prepared” for the changes as the French step up customs checks.

“So we are anticipating problems. We’re hoping that they will be relatively minor and consumers don’t notice a difference,” Mr Opie told the MPs.

“This is our peak import season and I couldn’t stress this is probably the worst time of the year to try and manage disruption on the short straits.”

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Iran

Culture min., Cinema Organization head send messages to TISFF

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Culture min., Cinema Organization head send messages to TISFF

Salehi, in his message to TISFF, which was inaugurated in Tehran on Jan 20, said the short film is a quatrain of the world of images and the  Iranians are forerunners in writing couplets in the world and will be the same in producing short films. 

In the meantime, Entezami in his message hailed the organizers of the festival and wished further success for them.

Commenting on holding the festival in an online format, Entezami underscored that good measures have been taken and instead of shutting down and being passive in the face of the Coronavirus phenomenon.

He said the festival organizers have created new opportunities and conditions, including the distancing of different sections of the festival.

Entezami also hoped that a significant part of the works, which in terms of quality and quantity, will be considered more and better than the performance of young filmmakers last year.

Presided by Sadeq Mousavi, some 63 short films will vie in the international section of the event from 19 countries including France, India, US, Spain, Germany, Ghana, China, Czech Republic, Poland, Italy, Turkey, Australia, Bulgaria, Denmark, Russia, South Africa, Belgium, Kazakhstan as well as Iran.

The short films will also stream online for filmgoers during the event, and winners will be announced on January 25.

In this year edition, over 4,986 foreign and 1,700 Iranian short films were submitted to different sections of the festival.

In the meantime, 146 Iranian films are competing in the national sections of the event which include feature, documentary, experimental and animation.

MNA/PR

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Dustin Diamond undergoing chemotherapy treatments for cancer

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Original Saved By The Bell star Dustin Diamond has begun chemotherapy treatments after being diagnosed with cancer, according to his representative.

Diamond, best known for playing Screech on the hit 90s sitcom, was taken to hospital earlier this month in Florida.

Last week, his team disclosed he had cancer.

“Dustin has completed his first round of chemo and his next round is being scheduled. He will also begin his physical therapy soon,” the actor’s spokesman, Roger Paul, said in a statement.

“Dustin is looking forward to spending more time with his girlfriend, playing his bass guitar/video games, as well as making videos for his fans on social media,” Mr Paul added.

Saved By The Bell aired from 1989 to 1993, and its spinoffs included Saved By The Bell: The College Years and “Saved By The Bell: The New Class, both of which Diamond starred in.

A sequel was launched on Peacock this fall featuring many from the original cast, including Elizabeth Berkley, Mario Lopez, Tiffani Thiessen and Mark-Paul Gosselaar. Diamond was not included.

Diamond has been sued several times for delinquent taxes and in foreclosure proceedings for missing mortgage payments.

He has appeared on reality TV shows, made a sex tape and produced a tell-all documentary on Lifetime TV called The Unauthorized Saved By The Bell Story.

In 2015, he was sentenced to serve four months in jail for his part in a Wisconsin barroom stabbing.

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