NO DEAL is now the most likely outcome of Brexit trade talks as Brussels wants to keep the UK as its twin, Boris Johnson warned last night. The PM summoned his Cabinet to a bleak conference call, telling them outrageous EU demands were pushing negotiations to the brink. Updating them on Wednesday’s Brussels dinner with EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, Mr Johnson said that a last-minute rehash of EU demands to punish Brexit Britain for undercutting it had soured hopes of a deal. He shared an anecdote with his colleagues that the EU had told him they saw the future relationship with the UK as like twins. The PM said: “So if the EU decides to have a haircut then the UK is going to have a haircut or else face punishment. “Or if the EU decides to buy an expensive handbag then the UK has to buy an expensive handbag, too, or else face tariffs. “Clearly that is not the sensible way to proceed.” Mr Johnson is also understood to be miffed that the two or three ideas he took to Brussels to try to break the deadlock were all but ignored by the EU side.
Boris Johnson has put the country on notice for a no-deal Brexit after telling his Cabinet that Brussels wants to “punish” Britain for refusing to be yoked to EU rules. The Prime Minister said the EU wants to treat the UK as a “twin” that must copy whatever it does in future, which is “clearly not the sensible way to proceed”. He said he would “go the extra mile” and was ready to fly to Paris, Berlin or Brussels if there was any prospect that he could “get this home and get a deal”. However, with no signs of movement from the EU three days before trade talks are due to end, Mr Johnson told ministers the time had come to “get on and make those preparations” to trade on Australia-type terms with Europe from January 1.
Boris Johnson told Britain to prepare for the end of the Brexit transition period without a deal as he stepped up the pressure on EU leaders before a summit last night. The prime minister said he had the cabinet’s very strong backing in rejecting the “deal on the table” and warned it was vital that “everyone gets ready” for the no-deal option. Asked if he thought leaving in three weeks’ time without an agreement had become the most likely outcome, he said: “I do think we need to be very, very clear, there is now a strong possibility, a strong possibility, that we will have a solution that is much more like an Australian relationship with the EU than a Canadian relationship.
Boris Johnson has ordered ministers to prepare for the “strong possibility” of a no-deal Brexit, warning that the UK risks being “locked in the EU’s orbit” as senior Tories urge him to find an agreement. After a three-hour summit with the European commission chief, Ursula von der Leyen, failed to bridge major gaps between them, the prime minister said he was prepared to “go the extra mile” by flying to Paris or Berlin for face-to-face talks with EU leaders. But he said the EU’s current offer was unacceptable because the UK could not be treated like its twin. “It was put to me that this was kind of a bit like twins, and the UK is one twin the EU is another, and if the EU decides to have a haircut then the UK is going to have a haircut or else face punishment.
BRITISH and EU negotiators have reached a “crunch point” with just 72 hours to clinch a trade agreement, the European Parliament’s Brexit chief has warned. David McAllister said it would become clear whether the European Union and Britain can overcome their differences and reach a free trade agreement by the end of the week. Speaking to Express.co.uk, the German MEP, who is a close ally of Angela Merkel, said he was prepared to let the negotiations go down to the wire if it produced a successful outcome. He insisted the EU Parliament was ready to be “creative and pragmatic” when it comes to rubber-stamping a draft legal text for approval.
There is a “strong possibility” no free trade deal will be struck with the EU and the UK should be prepare to crash out with no-deal, Boris Johnson has warned. The prime minister told British citizens and businesses to “make proper preparations” for that scenario, which would come into effect on 1 January 2021 – adding that the deal currently on the table “isn’t right for the UK”. He insisted he would “keep going” and “go the extra mile” to try to strike a trade agreement with Brussels, but added he told cabinet ministers this afternoon to “get on and make those preparations” for no-deal.
There is now a “strong possibility” the UK will leave the EU without a deal, despite months-long, still ongoing talks, Boris Johnson has said. With just three weeks to go until the end of the transition period, the prime minister admitted he had ordered his ministers to step up preparations for no deal. Mr Johnson was speaking after a meeting of his Cabinet on Thursday night, who he said had agreed that “the deal on the table is really not at the moment right for the UK”. “What I’ve said to our negotiators is that we’ve got to keep going … And I will go to Brussels, I will go to Paris, I will go to Berlin, I will go to wherever to try and get this home and get a deal,” he told reporters.
Ireland last night urged the EU to help ‘break the logjam’ in Brexit trade talks as he insisted that an agreement with the UK is ‘within reach’ – despite Boris Johnson claiming that a No Deal scenario is a ‘strong possibility’. Speaking before a summit of EU leaders yesterday, Irish premier Micheal Martin insisted that there are no ‘winners or losers’ and said neither side should walk away when ’97 per cent of a deal had been agreed’. Ireland is the member state most at risk from Britain crashing out of the Single Market and Customs Union on January 1 and straight onto World Trade Organisation terms – euphemistically dubbed ‘Australia-style’ by No10.
GERMAN chancellor Angela Merkel has been criticised for failing to intervene personally in ongoing Brexit trade talks bringing them “to the brink of failure”. On Thursday Boris Johnson warned there is a “strong possibility” the UK will fail to agree a new trade deal with the EU. If followed an inconclusive meeting between the Prime Minister and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Wednesday. However, writing in the German Spigel magazine reporter Michael Sauga called on Ms Merkel to step in. The journalist argued EU leaders had been mistaken in attempting to reverse the Brexit referendum result when it was clear this wouldn’t succeed and suggested the German chancellor holds some responsibility for the talks success.
The European Commission followed up an unproductive “11th-hour” dinner meeting between their president and Britain’s Boris Johnson with threats to refuse British air, road, and rail traffic unless the country agrees to submit to EU ‘contingency’ rules. British air lines would be prevented from landing in European airports, British road hauled fright would be prevented from crossing borders, and the Eurotunnel railway that links Great Britain and France would be closed by the European Union if the UK government fails to meet Europe’s demands by January 1st 2021.
The EU has said that in the event of a no-deal Brexit, British airlines could be banned from landing in European destinations and public disorder could break out as haulage routes break down. But in a flurry of announcements, the European commission said it would legislate to temporarily allow airlines from the UK to operate flights across its territory and it would keep roads open to British hauliers for six months, if the government maintained regulations equivalent to EU law.
Tech giants will face fines of up to 6pc of their turnover if they fail to take greater responsibility for policing their platforms, according to new EU regulations expected to be published next week. According to documents seen by the Financial Times, tech firms with more than 45m users will have to share data with authorities and researchers, vet third-party suppliers and be more transparent about disclosing targeted advertising. This is the first time the EU has defined which tech companies will be affected by the new rules.
IF ANYONE had any lingering doubts as to which side deserves the lion’s share of the blame for the strong likelihood of a no-deal Brexit, they will surely have been dispelled by the EU’s latest behaviour. Two weeks ago the two sides appeared to be moving closer together. Talks had hardly gone smoothly but it was at least looking likely that a deal could be struck in time to be enacted for when Britain’s transitional arrangements with the EU end on January 1. Then came the bombshell. Instead of looking for possible concessions, as the UK government was doing, the EU produced a document which attempted to move things in the opposite direction.
Over 30 Labour Party MPs have joined a new parliamentary group to “support and champion” the work of the far-left George Soros’ Open Society Foundations-cash recipient “anti-hate” group Hope not Hate. The “Labour Hope not Hate Parliamentary Group” will be chaired by Barnsley East MP Stephanie Peacock, according to an announcement made by the far-left activist group on Twitter Tuesday. According to the far-left activist group, the new Labour group will “campaign in Parliament on key issues in the fight against fascism, the far-right & extremism.”
Parts of the Midlands and the North of England could see themselves released from Tier Three lockdown rules next week as their infection rates dropped by as much as 45 per cent in the first week of December. Cases fell by nearly half in Gateshead, for example, and by a third or more in Newcastle, North East Lincolnshire and Dudley – all of which were put into the toughest local rules when national lockdown finished on December 2. Numerous areas across the Midlands and the North saw infection rates fall under the toughest Tier Three rules, while cases in the South – given more lax restrictions – have surged again. London looks headed for Tier Three, while the rates of positive tests have also surged in Berkshire, Essex, East Sussex and Bath at the start of this month.
The United States has recorded its most deadly week of the coronavirus pandemic with a 44 percent increase in fatalities nationwide compared to last week. In the past seven days, the US set new records in all three metrics that measure the pandemic’s severity, according to the COVID Tracking Project. Deaths rose to 15,966 last week, new cases to 1.4million and hospitalizations from C0VID-19 now stand at an all-time high of 107,248, setting another new record on Thursday. The last week marked a 27 percent increase in new weekly cases and an 8.8 percent increase in hospitalizations, placing further strain on the country’s medical system.
BORIS Johnson must be able to enforce a third coronavirus lockdown if cases reach high enough levels, or the Government faces an irreversible “catastrophe”, an expert has warned. England recently entered a new tiered system of restrictions following its second national lockdown through November. It has prompted speculation about how long certain areas will remain in tier 2 before tougher measures are imposed. Prime Minister Boris Johnson faced opposition from dozens of rebels within his own party in imposing these latest restrictions, with critics voicing concern over economic harm.
THOUSANDS of teen schoolkids will get Covid tests amid fears they are fuelling a devastating third wave. Emergency testing teams will be sent to secondary schools across the South East to swab pupils and their families. The blitz comes as London faces being plunged into severe Tier 3 restrictions next week unless soaring infection rates are rapidly reduced. The drastic move would force pubs and restaurants to close again before Christmas — and wreck New Year plans for millions of people.
Health secretary Matt Hancock has announced that mass coronavirus testing will be rolled out to secondary schools in parts of London, Essex and Kent, as a response to the increasing rate of infections there. The decision comes as tier 3 appears to be looming for London, as the capital now has the highest Covid-19 infection rate in England. Cases are rising in three regions, according to Public Health England, with London standing at 191.8 cases per 100,000 people in the weekend to 6 December – up from 158.1 a week earlier.
Travel industry bosses have pleaded with the EU not to block Britons from travelling to Europe after January 1, after it emerged there could be a coronavirus travel ban that applies to the UK. The EU blocks the citizens of most states who are not members from travelling to Europe – a policy that could see holidays cancelled and misery for the British travel industry in the new year. Tourism bosses said individual states should be “sensible and override any EU-bloc decision which prevents entry”, or the European Council should add the UK to a safe list of countries for travel.
Travellers coming to the UK from locations not on the travel corridor list will only need to self-isolate for five days if they test negative for coronavirus, the Transport Secretary has announced. Currently, people coming from countries not on the safe list need to self-isolate for 14 days. But in a boost for tourists and business travellers, Grant Shapps on Thursday unveiled the new ‘Test to Release’ service, which will come into effect on December 15.
THE Canary Islands have been removed from the travel corridor list, the government has announced. Anyone returning from the islands, which include Tenerife, Lanzarote and Gran Canaria, will be forced to quarantine from Saturday. The islands were the only destination in Spain still open to Brits, with the rest of the country on the quarantine list. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps wrote on Twitter: “Data indicates weekly cases and positive tests are increasing in the CANARY ISLANDS and so we are REMOVING them from the #TravelCorridor list to reduce the risk of importing COVID-19.”
British travellers face being temporarily banned from European destinations after January unless coronavirus cases fall in the UK. Under EU rules designed to curb the spread of the infection, only travellers from third countries deemed safe are allowed entry to the bloc for non-essential reasons. Individual states can relax the rules, although there is no guarantee that this will happen. At present these rules do not apply to British travellers because the UK, during the transition period, remains a member of the European Economic Area (EEA).
GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and its French partner Sanofi have announced a delay in their coronavirus vaccine programme after trials showed a low immune response in older adults. The two pharmaceutical companies will begin a second-phase study in February, with hopes of rolling out a more effective jab by the end of 2021. The UK’s vaccine taskforce has secured access to 60 million doses of the GSK vaccine. Interim results of the Phase 1 and 2 studies showed an immune response comparable to patients who recovered from COVID-19 in adults aged 18 to 49.
Australia’s potential coronavirus vaccine has been scrapped after several trial participants returned false positive HIV test results. The University of Queensland had been developing the vaccine in partnership with pharmaceutical company CSL and the government had ordered 51 million doses. But those plans have been abruptly halted over fears the false results could damage the public’s confidence in the COVID-19 vaccination program. The government was left scrambling to make up the shortfall, ordering millions of potential doses in late-stage trials after the decision was made to pull the plug.
A promising Australian candidate for a coronavirus vaccine has been abandoned after trial participants returned false HIV positive results. Australia had previously agreed to buy 51 million doses of the vaccine being developed by Australian firm CSL and the University of Queensland (UQ). The government said orders of other vaccines would now fill the shortfall. CSL and UQ stressed that the positive results were false – meaning trial participants’ health was not at risk. The Australian government said it had now entered an agreement for the Novavax vaccine, and upped its existing order of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine.
Shoppers are facing Christmas delivery mayhem as the Royal Mail and leading retailers have admitted worrying delays. Last night, Royal Mail acknowledged delays in its services due to ‘exceptionally high volumes’. It also blamed the longer delivery times on social distancing rules in place in local mail centres and delivery offices. A shift to online shopping means there are 200million more parcels in the postal and courier system this year. Online orders are expected to be up by more than 50 per cent this year as internet festive shopping overtakes the high street for the first time.
Delays at Royal Mail and turmoil in the ports threaten to cause chaos for deliveries of millions of Christmas gifts. Royal Mail bosses have warned that strict Covid rules and swathes of self-isolating staff have left the firm struggling to deal with exceptionally high volumes of parcels following an online shopping boom. The company is now telling customers they may face “slightly longer delivery timescales” and disrupted services. Meanwhile a global trade crunch could delay international shipments of Christmas presents during the festive period.
THE UK is bracing for snow to fall this Christmas as a powerful polar blast is forecast to smash freezing air across the UK. Low pressure from the Arctic is expected to push a cold front down the UK from next week, which could bring wintry weather with it. Central and Eastern Scotland is predicted to see up to five inches of snow on Christmas Day, according to WXCHARTs’ snow depth models. A sprinkle is also expected to fall in northern parts of England including Carlisle and Middlesbrough as temperatures plunge to sub-zero levels.