A BREXIT deal is set to be struck with the EU at “the 59 minute of the 11th hour” as negotiations reach a crucial moment. Alister Jack, Secretary of State for Scotland told Express.co.uk in an interview today this week “was the week” for a deal to be secured. The thorny issues of fishing rights and the “level playing field” aimed at preventing unfair competition on standards and state subsidies remain the major obstacles to an agreement. But this publication has learnt a deal could be secured by the end of this week as talks between Lord Frost and Michel Barnier continue. In an exclusive interview with this website, he said: “We’ve had for a quite a long time now that this is the week. “But I genuinely think that this is the week. “The clock is ticking for a deal to be ratified because we are ending the transition period on December 31 so I do genuinely think this is the week to get a deal done. “With the EU historically, it’s always been at the 59th minute at the 11th hour and I think we’ve reached that. “If they are prepared to respect our sovereignty having left the EU and to respect the sovereignty of our coastal waters, then I hope there is a deal to be done.”
Ignore the blustering brinkmanship: there will be a deal between Britain and the EU. This week, next week or in the final second before the clock strikes 12, this Brexit-crazed government will sign on the line. It needs no crystal ball to foresee a deal. Though this government is disgraceful and dishonest, it is not certifiably insane. It will not kill off the car industry, manufacturing, farming, finance and fishing. It will not cut off security and police relations with Europe. Nor will it want a hard border in Ireland, breaking the Good Friday agreement. And nor will it freeze friendship with the new US president, nor leave relations with our nearest neighbours and traders irreparably rancorous. The Faragists, and the hardcore MPs in the European Research Group, want that door-slam, still seeking the forever unattainable sovereignty phantasm. But for Boris Johnson’s Brexit cabinet, this is the moment of truth. Finally ministers have to face up to the futility of what they have done: they will struggle to deny their Brexit idea was a lie, never available. For the Brexiteers, Johnson’s deal will fail miserably. That’s because any deal would always trade some of that sovereignty fairy dust for something more tangible – such as no massive tariff on British beef.
A BREXIT trade deal could be secured in a matter of days Boris Johnson’s negotiating composure finally pays off, Express.co.uk understands. Michel Barnier is in London for talks with Lord Frost this week in what is seen as a last chance to secure a deal, with impasses remaining over fisheries, state aid and the level playing field. With just a month to go until the end of the transition period, talks remain stuck on fishing rights, which was described by Dominic Raab as an “outstanding major bone of contention”. But the Foreign Secretary said there was “a deal to be done” after the EU showed progress on the so-called level playing field which is aimed at preventing unfair competition. As he entered trade talks in London, Mr Barnier was asked if there was reason for optimism and he said: “There are reasons for determination.”
A ROUND-THE-CLOCK monitoring centre to help the UK “take back control” of its borders is being launched today. Michael Gove said the multi-million pound intelligence hub will keep track of people and goods travelling in and out of the country. The Cabinet Office Minister told the Daily Express Britain “will finally stand on its own two feet” when the country is free of the EU’s control next month. He wrote: “Since leaving the EU in January we have been in the Brexit transition period. Now that’s about to end. “In just a month’s time, big changes are coming, whatever the outcome of our current talks with the EU. The UK will finally stand on its own two feet. “We are taking back control of our borders, laws and money, and leaving the EU single market and customs union.”
BRITAIN shouldn’t be allowed to “lay down the law” on who fishes in its own waters after Brexit, France has today claimed. Paris was today refusing to drop its demand for near-parity access to Britain’s coastal waters for its country’s fishermen. Europe minister Clement Beaune insisted the two sides were “still very far from agreement” on the Brexit trade deal. Speaking to reporters in Madrid, he said: “Our fishermen are no less important than theirs and they didn’t have the right to vote in the referendum. “There can be no agreement unless there is one that gives sustainable and wide-ranging access to British waters.” Mr Beaune, a close ally of President Emmanuel Macron, insisted Brussels shouldn’t accept a trade agreement that hands Britain back full control over its own fishing grounds. He said France will “try again” to reassert itself on the negotiations with Britain to secure a good deal for its fishing industry.
Boris Johnson has agreed to keep Britain tied to European human rights rules in the Brexit trade deal, says the EU chief negotiator. The Prime Minister gave in to the EU demand so Britain can retain access to shared intelligence on criminals, Michel Barnier told MEPs. He had previously warned that the UK would automatically be kicked out of joint law enforcement programmes if it pulled out of the European Convention on Human Rights. At a behind-closed-doors meeting of MEPs on Friday, Mr Barnier said Britain had shifted its stance. ‘We are almost in agreement on judicial and police co-operation,’ he said, according to a leaked transcript. ‘The British have accepted the prerequisites that we put down on the European Convention on Human Rights. We can now finalise those points.’
ANGELA Merkel has backed Michel Barnier to use his “deft hand” to deliver a Brexit compromise as time runs out to secure a trade deal with Britain. Speaking at an online event today, the German Chancellor urged “impatient” European capitals to support their chief negotiator to broker an acceptable trade-off for post-Brexit fishing rights and state aid rules. The veteran leader also empathised European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen’s growing influence as Berlin’s dealmaker in the wrangling over a future EU-UK trade and security deal. Mrs Merkel hinted her former defence minister’s intervention would help deliver a “positive conclusion” in the talks.
European Union governments are getting impatient over the lack of progress in the Brexit negotiations, Angela Merkel warned on Monday. The German chancellor said Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, was getting “increasingly involved” in a sign that talks were nearing their endgame. Mrs Merkel said the negotiations in London, which remain deadlocked over the critical issues of fishing, “level playing field” guarantees and the deal’s enforcement, were “difficult and challenging”. UK and EU negotiators are in a race against time to strike a trade deal and ratify it before the end of year no deal deadline, when Britain leaves the Single Market and Customs Union.
Sir Keir Starmer has decided to break from Boris Johnson’ in today’s vote on new coronavirus restrictions – in a move that could further damage the PM’s authority and leave him at the mercy of his backbench. No10 is expected to win today’s Commons vote on the three-tier lockdown curbs due to come into force tomorrow when the blanket shutdown ends – but its majority will be slashed by Labour’s abstention. Sir Keir, who has backed government measures throughout the pandemic, said it would not be in the national interest to vote the restrictions down when coronavirus still posed a ‘serious risk’ to the public. But his party’s decision not to actively support the Government has left Mr Johnson exposed to his own MPs, with little sign last night that No10’s dossier on the social and economic consequences of the tier system had quelled a rebellion which could see up to 100 Conservatives vote against the measures.
BORIS JOHNSON is facing a massive backbench rebellion today in a crunch House of Commons vote on his new coronavirus tiers system. MPs will today vote on the controversial new legislation amid rising anger from Tory backbenchers at the draconian measures. The three-tier system is due to replace the national lockdown in England which will end at midnight tonight. But large numbers of Conservative MPs are angry at the proposed new system which would see 99 percent of England placed under the highest tiers. Just Cornwall and the Isle of Wight are due to be placed under the more lenient Tier 1. Yesterday Environment Minister George Eustice admitted that as many as 100 Tory MPs – more than a quarter of the parliamentary Party – were unhappy at the new plan and could vote against the measures in the House of Commons vote.
The Prime Minister is braced for a damaging Tory rebellion as MPs vote on a new toughened system of tiered coronavirus controls for England. The Government is expected to win Tuesday’s Commons vote on the new rules – which are due to come into effect the following day – after Labour said it would abstain. Sir Keir Starmer – who has previously backed Government measures – said while his party had “serious misgivings” it would not be in the national interest to vote them down when the virus still posed a “serious risk”. However, with scores of Conservative MPs deeply unhappy at the extent of the restrictions, the vote is likely to throw Tory divisions into sharp relief.
LABOUR MPs have slammed ministers’ “hopeless” and “deeply flawed” plans for a second round of tiered coronavirus restrictions before a crunch Commons vote tomorrow (Tuesday). Up to 100 Tory MPs could rebel in voting down the government’s plans for a tiered system, which would replace the national lockdown from midnight. The government is so desperate to get approval that some Tory MPs have reportedly been promised a ministerial job if they vote for the plans. PM Boris Johnson may also have to rely on Labour and other opposition MPs to get the system approved. Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey has said that all 11 of his party’s MPs will “withhold support” for the plans, which would be a modified version of the three-tier lockdown implemented in October.
Boris Johnson faces a humiliating Tory revolt over his new tiers system on Tuesday after he was accused of refusing to publish any forecast of the impact it will have on the economy. Scores of backbenchers are expected to rebel when the tiers are put to a vote, saying they were not being given the full picture and were being asked to back “a pig in a poke”. On Monday night, Sir Keir Starmer, the Labour leader, announced that he would tell his MPs to abstain in the vote, meaning the size of the Tory rebellion will be thrown into even sharper focus. Although the tiers – which come into force on Wednesday – are still expected to be approved by Parliament, the absence of Labour votes will hugely diminish the winning margin and draw attention to the split in the Tory ranks.
Boris Johnson will start to claw back the power to call an election today with a warning to judges to keep out of decisions to bring parliaments to a close. Legislation repealing the Fixed-term Parliaments Act (FTPA) is published today, with ministers seeking to restore the power to go to the country conferred by royal prerogative, according to senior government sources. Mr Johnson included a promise to scrap the FTPA in the Conservatives’ manifesto in last December’s election, called after a six-month Brexit stalemate in a hung parliament he could not dissolve.
Number 10 was today accused of running a ‘brainwashing PR campaign’ after MailOnline’s analysis of official data showed only four NHS trusts in England are busier now than they were this time last year — despite warnings the health service would be crippled by coronavirus without the revamped three-tier lockdown system. Michael Gove sparked fury over the weekend when he claimed that every hospital in England would be ‘physically overwhelmed’ by Covid-19 without the Government’s new restrictions, as he tried to persuade MPs and the public to support the brutal curbs. But NHS England figures paint an entirely different picture, with thousands more hospital beds spare this year than last winter. On average, 77,942 out of 88,903 (87.7 per cent) available beds were occupied across the country in the week ending November 22, which is the most recent snapshot. This figure does not take into account make-shift capacity at mothballed Nightingales, or the thousands of beds commandeered from the private sector. For comparison, occupancy stood at 94.9 per cent, on average, during the seven-day spell that ended December 8 in 2019 — which is the most comparable data available for last winter — when around 91,733 out of all 96,675 available beds were full.
SAGE doom-mongers were WRONG when they predicted 4,000 daily Covid deaths this winter before they plunged the country into a crippling second lockdown, a shocking graph shows. The graph below shows the actual number of deaths compared to the grim “winter scenario” laid out by Chris Whitty and Patrick Valance. Since mid-November, the number of deaths has been beneath even the most conservative forecast by the government’s top scientific advisers. And according to The Spectator, this lower number of deaths over the last two weeks is not due to the second lockdown. That’s because it takes three to four weeks for changes in restrictions to show in Covid fatality data. The current figures – which show daily deaths peaking at 425 on November 18 – actually reflects pre-lockdown infections, the report says.
Wales’s First Minister Mark Drakeford has banned pubs and other hospitality venues from selling alcohol and subjected them to a 6 pm curfew. The Labour politician is also considering travel restrictions in and out of the country. The lockdown measures are modelled on Scotland’s Tier 3 restrictions, imposed by the country’s leftist Nicola Sturgeon of the Scottish National Party (SNP). Scotland had first banned the sale of alcohol inside pubs nationwide for two weeks in October. Mr Drakeford said on Monday, according to WalesOnline, that from Friday, pubs, bars, cafes, and restaurants will be forced to close early and be banned from serving alcohol.
Restaurants, pubs, bars, and cafes in Wales will be forced to stop serving alcohol and will have to close by 6pm after a rise in coronavirus cases, First Minister Mark Drakeford has announced. The new round of restrictions will start on 4 December, the first Friday night in the run-up to Christmas, a period during which hospitality businesses make a significant proportion of their annual revenues. Cinemas, bowling alleys, and other indoor entertainment venues will also be forced to shut their doors until the regulations are reviewed on 17 December. The announcement comes just three weeks after the end of Wales’s 17-day firebreak lockdown and amid another rise in coronavirus cases particularly among under-25s in 17 of the country’s 22 local authorities.
NICOLA STURGEON used a speech at the SNP conference to insist that Scotland wants to return to the European Union. Nicola Sturgeon has sent a message of unity to countries in the European Union as Brexit looms. The UK is scheduled to leave the EU at the end of next month, following the end of the transition period. Speaking at the SNP conference, Ms Sturgeon said: “Here in the UK the threat of Brexit looms. In just a month’s time Scotland will be forced against our will to a much more distant relationship with our friends across the European Union. “Before we go any further, I want to send this message to our European friends and neighbours. “You are – and always will be – part of who we are. You are not distant to us. “To those of you who have come from other countries to live here in ours, thank you – please stay. “To the other countries of the EU, Scotland wants to return. And we hope to do so soon, as an independent member state.”
GPs are in a row with the Government over the Covid vaccine roll-out, with doctors warning that the current plans could leave them bankrupt. Primary care leaders have indicated that some surgeries may refuse to sign up to the national effort unless health chiefs promise more money and to pay the extra costs of delivering the jabs up front. They are also demanding to be released from the obligation to perform various routine services, such as asthma monitoring for low-low risk patients, while the roll-out takes place.
Restaurants, bars and cinemas may turn customers away if they have not had a Covid jab, the new minister for the mass vaccine roll-out suggested tonight. Nadhim Zahawi indicated that although an injection would be voluntary, some venues – including sports grounds – might insist on proof of one in return for granting entry. The minister said individuals would have to decide for themselves but would be given the ‘strong message’ that jabs were good for their family, community and country. Airlines have already been examining the idea of asking for ‘immunity passports’ as a condition of flying. Some experts tonight said they were uneasy about such schemes and raised concerns over data privacy and human rights.
A blood test to detect two molecules that act as indicators of a person’s likelihood to get Alzheimer’s disease later in life could be a ‘game-changer’, a new study claims. The two molecules – P-tau181, a tau protein, and neurofilament light polypeptide (NfL) – are found in plasma, the light yellow liquid that makes up 55 per cent of our blood. In a sample of 557 people in their 60s and 70s, the presence of high levels of either P-tau181 and NfL were the most accurate predictors of the patient’s progression from mild cognitive impairment (MCI) to severe memory and thinking problems, typical of Alzheimer’s. Researchers say blood tests to detect levels of the two molecules could allow doctors to track the progression of Alzheimer’s disease progression in at-risk populations.