A TRADE deal with Australia should be Boris Johnson’s priority, a poll has suggested, as Britain looks to forge new relationships with countries around the world following Brexit. Talks between the UK and the US focusing on a trade pact were postponed earlier this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, but will continue to make progress in September. And trade talks with Japan are heating up, with the two sides saying last week they hope to have a deal signed by next month.
The UK’s trade secretary has pledged a renewed effort to remove “damaging” tariffs on Scotch whisky, which is caught up in a 16-year old trade spat between the US and EU over aircraft subsidies. US trade representative Robert Lighthizer confirmed on Wednesday night that the Trump administration would maintain 15% tariffs on Airbus aircraft and 25% tariffs on other European goods, including Scotch whisky, that were imposed last year following a World Trade Organisation (WTO) ruling on state aid.
The UK’s chief Brexit negotiator said on Thursday that a free trade agreement with the European Union could be agreed in September, as Ireland’s prime minister said a “landing zone” for the deal had emerged. British and EU officials meet in Brussels for the seventh round of trade talks next week after a fortnight break following five weeks of intensified negotiations. David Frost said: “Our assessment is that agreement can be reached in September, and we will work to achieve this if we can.”
Ireland’s Taoiseach said he was confident a “landing zone” can be found for a trade deal between the EU and UK by the end of year following talks with the Prime Minister. After his first meeting with Boris Johnson since taking over the leadership of the Irish Government in June, Micheál Martin claimed his “gut instinct” was an agreement could be struck. Boris Johnson vowed any trade deal would not result in a border down the Irish Sea, declaring it would not happen “over my dead body” as he insisted Northern Ireland business would have unfettered access to UK markets.
BREXITEERS have hailed a “big win” for the UK’s trade relationship with the US as Washington has removed 25 percent tariffs on British shortbread. International Trade Secretary Liz Truss welcomed the decision by Washington to also refrain from slapping tariffs on imports of gin and blended whisky. But she pointed out that the US still has tariffs on goods such as single malt Scotch and vowed to step up efforts to pressure US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to lift the punitive border taxes.
More than 3.8million EU citizens have applied to stay in the UK permanently after freedom of movement ends – with two million granted approval so far. Nationals from the bloc and their families must go through the Home Office’s settlement scheme by June next year to carry on living and working in the country after the Brexit transition period. According to the latest figures, 2,041,200 people had been granted settled status up to the end of last month. A further 1,475,500 were granted pre-settled status, where they will need to reapply again after living in the country for five years to gain permanent residence.
A police officer has told residents in the no-go zone of Montpellier that if they are sick of violence and verbal abuse from local youths, they should either move or adopt the vigilante methods used in Corsica and handle their own problems. Last Friday, residents of the Hauts de Massane district made repeated phone calls to police over incidents of youths breaking into houses and garages, stealing, throwing rocks at vehicles, and screaming profanities at inhabitants.
Migration across the Channel is surging because Britain has become a “no-lose” option for illegal immigrants and asylum seekers, according to a report. It accuses the government of having lost control of illegal immigration as well as presiding over mounting backlogs in the asylum system. Eighty-four migrants, including women and children, arrived in Kent yesterday, the tenth consecutive day that groups of people have made the 21-mile journey from France despite Conservative promises to make it an “infrequent phenomenon”.
Migrants have been met by the Border Force off the Kent coast and brought ashore for an unprecedented 10th day in a row. People in life jackets and masks, including children, were brought into Dover harbour on board the patrol boat Speedwell and then taken ashore by officials. Border Force cutter Seeker and French border patrol boat Scarpe are also active in the Channel. Favourable weather in the English Channel has seen hundreds of migrants make the crossing this month, with more than 4,000 migrants reaching the UK so far this year.
The Greek coastguard fired warning shots near a boat full of migrants near Rhodes this week, deterring the migrants from reaching the island. The coastguard on patrol in the area is said to have “fired warning shots at a safe section of the boat” which contained an unknown number of migrants. The warning shots quickly deterred the migrants who slowed their speed and then returned to the Turkish coast. Turkish officials stated, according to a report from Greek newspaper Kathimerini, that Greek officials had left by the time they came on the scene.
Hundreds of thousands of British holidaymakers will need to quarantine when they return from France, Boris Johnson announced on Thursday night. The Prime Minister decided to strip France from the “green list” after it reported a sharp rise in coronavirus infections. About 400,000 Britons have until 4am on Saturday to return to the UK before restrictions are implemented, requiring them to self-isolate for two weeks. The announcement, which echoes the way quarantine was imposed at six hours’ notice on travellers from Spain, will lead to a scramble for flights and trains out of France ahead of the deadline.
Hundreds of thousands of travellers in France will be forced to follow strict quarantine restrictions when returning to the UK, the government has announced in response to a surge in coronavirus infections. It comes after the country recorded 2,669 new cases of Covid-19 in a single day – the highest figure since lockdown measures were eased – with the health ministry warning that the circulation of the virus was “intensifying”. In a move that will throw travellers’s plans into chaos, the transport secretary Grant Shapps also said the Netherlands, Malta, Monaco, the Turks & Caicos islands, and Aruba would be removed from the government’s exemption list from 4am on Saturday.
HALF a million Brits face a desperate dash to get home after France was last night kicked off the Government’s safe list. Thousands were set to spark a “mini Dunkirk” as they prepare to evacuate for Blighty amid a spike in coronavirus cases across holiday spots. The Government’s decision gives half a million Brits currently in France less than a day to get back if they want to avoid going into quarantine. But with flights fully booked and the Channel Tunnel packed, many will miss the deadline of 4am tomorrow.
Thousands of holidaymakers have seen their plans thrown into chaos after UK quarantine measures were imposed on France from Saturday. The 14-day isolation requirement begins at 04:00 BST and also applies to people arriving from the Netherlands, Monaco, Malta, Turks and Caicos, and Aruba. It comes after France’s prime minister acknowledged infection numbers were going “the wrong way”. France warned it would take “reciprocal measures”.
France was added to the UK’s quarantine list yesterday in a savage blow to tens of thousands of British holidaymakers. After a week of speculation ministers acted on a worsening coronavirus situation across the Channel, ministers ordered travellers returning from the popular destination to isolate for 14 days. The quarantine is set to come in at 4am tomorrow – and with an estimated British 500,000 holidaymakers in France, a weekend of chaos looms.
Britons in France were scrambling to find a way back home last night before quarantine measures come into effect. At least half a million are believed to be on a break in the country, the UK’s second most popular holiday destination. Many were preparing to leave villas and resorts early to avoid having to go into self-isolation on their return. The new rules come into force at 4am tomorrow. Anyone arriving in the UK after then must fill out a “passenger locator form” which includes an address at which they will isolate. Failure to comply can result in a £1,000 fine.
Boris Johnson has taken the brakes off the easing of lockdown as he announced that plans for wedding receptions, sporting events and indoor performances will resume. The Prime Minister said the changes will allow people to “get back to more of the things they have missed” since the health crisis began after rising infection rates appeared to have “levelled off”. However Mr Johnson also introduced tougher penalties for repeatedly failing to wear face masks in public places.
Beauty salons will be able to carry out face treatments such as eyebrow threading and facials from Saturday, the Prime Minister announced last night. Tattoo studios, spas and barbers across England will also be able to offer all ‘close contact’ services, including eyelash treatments, under new guidance. In addition, indoor soft play areas, indoor theatres, bowling alleys, skating rinks and casinos will be permitted to reopen from this weekend. Downing Street also said it will resume plans to pilot a small number of sporting events in order to test the safe return of larger crowds.
FOOTBALL fans will finally begin returning to stadiums next month — but might not be allowed to sing. A further easing of lockdown rules announced tonight will also see snooker lovers back in the Crucible this weekend for the World Championship. Rugby matches and racing at Goodwood are also on the list of approved “pilot” events in the coming weeks. But capacity will be capped and all fans will likely be urged not to chant or shout for fear of spreading the virus. The new Premier League season starts on September 12.
Wedding receptions can finally restart in England from Saturday, the government announced today. Today’s announcement comes two weeks after plans to restart the gatherings were scrapped with 12 hours’ notice due to a rise in coronavirus cases. Rules had been set to change from August 1 in England to allow small, socially-distanced receptions of up to 30 people. However, the move was one of those postponed for at least two weeks by Boris Johnson.
Fines of up to £3,200 for failure to wear a facemask will be introduced as part of new curbs on risky behaviour. On-the-spot penalties of up to £10,000 will also be levied on the organisers of illegal parties as ministers grow concerned about gangs arranging gatherings that can turn violent. The announcement came as Boris Johnson announced the relaxation of further restrictions from tomorrow. Theatres will reopen and wedding receptions and spectator sport resume. However, the prime minister said that people must not become “complacent”.
FINES for lawbreakers who persistently fail to wear facemasks in shops or on public transport are to be hiked in a new coronavirus crackdown. People caught repeatedly flouting the social-distancing rule will see the current £100 penalty double with each subsequent offence up to a maximum of £3,200. And organisers of illegal raves or unauthorised gatherings of more than 30 people could be hit with swingeing £10,000 fines. Boris Johnson last night ordered the toughening of COVID-19 penalty regime following concerns that a persistent minority are ignoring the rules drafted to curb fresh spikes in infections.
People who repeatedly refuse to wear a face mask will be hit with increased fines of up to £3,200, Boris Johnson has said, as he announced England’s lockdown measures will be further eased from Saturday. Organisers of illegal raves face £10,000 penalties under tougher new enforcement measures outlined alongside the latest loosening of the UK’s coronavirus restrictions. Indoor theatre, music and other performing arts venues will be able to stage events with socially distanced audiences from 15 August, while spectators will return to sports in selected pilot events.
Brits could be fined up to £3,200 for not wearing face coverings in a bid to prevent a second wave of coronavirus. This comes as ministers fear young Brits could fuel a second wave if stricter measures. Along with the hike for face masks, those found organising illegal raves will also be issued a £10,000 fine. Ministers are becoming increasingly worried about young people flouting rules, as studies show they are the least affected by the deadly bug.
The exam regulator has accused teachers of submitting “implausibly high” predicted grades amid a growing fall-out over A-level results day. On Thursday, official data revealed that close to 40 per cent of results were downgraded from teachers’ predictions (see graphic below), prompting students to complain that they had been let down by the system. But the Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation (Ofqual) said that, while the vast majority of teachers had submitted accurate estimates to exam boards, some had put forward wildly inflated grades.
Ministers are facing a backlash from head teachers and Conservative MPs over the “shambolic” handling of A-level results. Schools across the country scrambled to appeal against results that left some of their top pupils missing out on places at the best universities. Candidates were distraught after two fifths of assessments by teachers were downgraded by a computer algorithm created by Ofqual, the exam regulator. Private schools, academy chains and sixth-form colleges turned on Gavin Williamson, the education secretary, urging him to address the unfairness urgently.
THE government is under increasing pressure to follow Scotland’s lead by scrapping moderated A-levels after thousands of pupils’ results were downgraded in what has been described as a “huge injustice.” In England, 39 per cent of teachers’ estimates were reduced by at least one grade, according to data from Ofqual, amounting to around 280,000 entries. The proportion of downgrades was highest for pupils from the most deprived backgrounds, but the regulator has insisted that there was no evidence of systemic bias.
With all the noise Labour is making over today’s exam results, Guido was surprised to see the usual teaching unions have not been plastered across the airwaves today. The largest teaching union, the NEU, has sent just three tweets so far – and it turns out they are attempting to perform a screeching U-turn. The exam body Ofqual originally consulted widely on the way it would grade this year’s students without exams. The enormous number of consultation responses included 78 responses identifying as a ‘teacher representative group or union’.
Conservative MPs are putting pressure on Boris Johnson to beef up his much-criticised plans for the climate emergency and deliver an earlier ban on fossil fuel cars. They should be outlawed from 2030, the One Nation group of 100 moderate Tories says – not 2035, as intended – to meet the recommendation of the government’s own climate advisers. “This nearer end-date will provide the catalyst to ensure that the rollout of electric vehicles gets the focus and investment it needs,” its report argues.
A group of moderate Conservative MPs has joined green groups in calling for the government’s ban on new fossil fuel vehicles to be brought forward by five years to 2030 as part of a plan to ignite a green economic recovery. The recently reformed caucus of centrist Conservatives has called on ministers to accelerate the shift to electric vehicles as part of a comprehensive green policy report aimed at bringing the UK in line with the official advice of the government’s climate tsars.
The Metropolitan Police commissioner denied last night that the force was institutionally racist after officers stopped a car carrying the MP Dawn Butler. Dame Cressida Dick said there was “zero tolerance” of racism within the Met, and that institutional racism was an unhelpful term. Her comments came after footage of vehicle stops by police went viral on social media. Ms Butler was the passenger in a car pulled over in Hackney, east London, on Sunday. The Labour MP for Brent Central accused officers of racial profiling. She claimed that the Met was institutionally racist and called for Dame Cressida’s resignation.
Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick has denied that her force is institutionally racist, stating it adopts a zero tolerance approach to the issue. Britain’s most senior police officer told Channel 4 News today that allegations around racism in the Met were not ‘helpful’ labels for the force. Meanwhile, on the issue of racism, Dame Cressida said: ‘We have zero tolerance of racist behaviour within the Met. Just last week somebody was sacked for racist conduct. And everybody knows that is the case.
Hammersmith Bridge was closed to the public with little warning today after safety inspectors found cracks in the 133-year-old structure had worsened amid the recent heatwave. The suspension bridge in west London was closed ‘indefinitely’ to motorists in April last year after ‘critical faults’ were detected in the ironwork. Hammersmith and Fulham Council made the decision to shut the crossing to pedestrians and cyclists from 5pm today (Thursday) after a ‘sudden deterioration in key parts of the structure.’
Hammersmith Bridge has been closed to all members of the public after safety inspectors found the recent heatwave had worsened cracks in the 133-year-old structure. Even boats will not be allowed to pass under the bridge, which is used by up to 16,000 people every day. A repair bill of £140 million could be needed to keep the decaying bridge secure in the long term. Hammersmith Bridge has been closed to motorists since April 2019 due to ‘critical faults’ found by safety sensors, but it was still open to cyclists and pedestrians while repairs are carried out.
A severely delayed and already over-budget system to help the emergency services to communicate could be further compromised by Huawei technology, politicians said yesterday. BT has said that it will keep using Huawei’s 4G technology in the £9 billion telecoms network for the emergency services, despite the ban on 5G equipment from the Chinese company. The programme already has a predicted overspend of £3.1 billion and a delay until completion of five years.