Brexit

Evening Standard
Brexit talks were heading for trouble today after Boris Johnson led the entire Cabinet in flatly rejecting European Union demands for Britain to make concessions. The Government dug in its heels against EU demands that the UK share its fishing waters and obey future European rules on employment and the environment. The latest round of talks are due to end tomorrow – and the Government is planning a “stock-take” before the next round in June to decide if it is worth carrying on. “Cabinet agreed that we won’t agree to demands for us to give up our rights as an independent state, especially when the EU has shown through its agreement with other countries like Canada, that these controls are not necessary,” said the Prime Minister’s spokesman.

EU

Express
BRITONS have reacted furiously after the European Commission threatened to take legal action against Britain over claims the Government refused to follow the European Union’s freedom of movement rules. This afternoon the European Commission claimed the UK did not notify Brussels’ about legislative changes that failed “to comply with EU law on free movement of EU citizens”. The European Commission sent a formal notice to the UK – the first stage of infringement proceedings – giving the Government four months to “address the shortcomings” it has identified.

Evening Standard
Brussels has launched legal action against the UK for its “failure to comply” with European Union rules on free movement. The European Commission sent a formal notice to the UK – the first stage of infringement proceedings – giving the Government four months to “address the shortcomings” it has identified. Infringement proceedings are launched when an EU country fails to implement EU law, and can lead to the European Court of Justice imposing financial penalties.

Independent
Britain is facing legal action in the European Court of Justice for failing to comply with free movement rules, even though it has left the European Union. Brussels has begun infringement proceedings giving the UK government four months to “address the shortcomings” or be referred to the Luxembourg court in a case which could end in financial penalties. According to the European Commission, UK national laws are unfairly restricting the rights of EU citizens under free movement legislation and could adversely affect their rights after the end of the transition period which will see Britain cease to be subject to European directives on 31 December.

Sky News
Brussels has launched legal action against the UK for alleged “failure to comply” with EU freedom of movement rules. It sent the government a formal notice – the first stage of infringement proceedings – giving four months to “address the shortcomings”. Despite Brexit happening at the end of January, the UK is now in a transition period where it must follow EU rules until the end of 2020 while negotiators try to hammer out a trade deal.

Guardian
The British government has been ordered to pay the European commission’s legal costs after being successfully sued for granting City traders a tax break without EU permission. The European court of justice ruled that the UK breached an EU directive by failing to notify Brussels of a zero rate of VAT given to commodities traders over the last four decades. The UK is now expected by Brussels to seek the authorisation of the 27 member states or drop the policy, which it is claimed has unfairly boosted the City of London at the expense of other EU financial centres.

BBC News
The UK has said the EU is in danger of breaching the terms of the Brexit agreement by failing to uphold the rights of British expats. Ministers said Britons on the continent risked not being given enough time to register to stay, as procedures were complex and there was little guidance. Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove said there was a “major imbalance” between the EU and UK’s approaches.

Trade talks

Telegraph
European Commission trade negotiators have rejected British demands to allow UK-based testing laboratories to certify cars, chemicals and pharmaceutical products for export into the EU market.  This could mean British manufacturers will be forced to have products certified by EU-based authorities before they can be exported – something that would be prohibitively expensive for many businesses.  The EU has agreed to similar provisions in recent free trade agreements with developed countries, including deals with Japan and Canada, in order to reduce the burden on businesses and remove non-tariff barriers to trade.

Antibody tests

BBC News
A test to find out whether people have been infected with coronavirus in the past has been approved by health officials in England. Public Health England said the antibody test, developed by Swiss pharmaceutical company Roche, was a “very positive development”. The blood test looks for antibodies to see if a person has already had the virus and might now have some immunity. Until now, officials have said such tests are not reliable enough.

Mail
Five million coronavirus antibody kits are on standby for NHS use after a second test was approved by health officials. The new test – produced by medical giant Abbott – has been given the green light by Public Health England as spotting 100 per cent of those who have had the virus. It is the second antibody test to be ratified in two days, following the approval of a kit made by Roche Diagnostics.

Lockdown lift

Telegraph
Boris Johnson is expected to come under pressure from Conservative MPs on Friday not to hike taxes to pay for the coronavirus crisis and to lift the lockdown as soon as possible. The Prime Minister will make history by taking questions at what is thought to be the first-ever “virtual” meeting of 250 backbench Tory MPs in the party’s 1922 committee at 1pm on Friday. Sir Graham Brady, the 1922 chairman, will oversee the meeting and call questions from a prepared list of MPs who are in their offices or at home.

Vulnerable

Guardian
Ministers are facing calls to end the limbo of “indefinite” isolation for 2.5 million people shielding from coronavirus, amid claims that the numbers added to the “extremely vulnerable” list have doubled in some areas in the last week. Labour said it was “deeply alarming” that hundreds of thousands more people had been added to the list of those required to isolate indoors over the last seven weeks, suggesting they were put at risk unnecessarily by initially being missed off.

ITV News
People expect the lifting of social distancing restrictions to be slow and gradual, with most indoor social activities not possible until at least September, according to new research. The restrictions survey found that most people also believe that the lifting of restrictions should prioritise necessities ahead of leisure activities. The findings are based on data collected the week before Taoiseach Leo Varadkar announced the roadmap to opening society and businesses on May 1.

New cases

Mail
London is recording fewer than 24 new Covid-19 cases a day and could see the virus eradicated within weeks, according to new data. Analysis by Public Health England and Cambridge University calculated that the ‘R’ reproduction rate has fallen to 0.4 in the capital, with the number of new cases halving every 3.5 days. The figure shows the capital, once the worst-affected region of the country, is now ahead of every other area in recovering and could see all new cases eliminated by June.

Telegraph
Fewer than 24 people are catching coronavirus each day in London, new modelling suggests, with forecasts predicting the virus could be wiped out in the capital within a fortnight. Analysis by Public Health England and Cambridge University calculates that the “R” reproduction rate has fallen to 0.4 in London, with the number of new cases halving every 3.5 days. If cases continue to decrease at the current rate, the virus will be virtually eliminated in the capital by the end of the month, raising questions about whether the strict lockdown measures would need to continue.

Schools

Mail
The row between teachers and unions over when and how to reopen our schools exploded last night. In an extraordinary intervention, former education secretary David Blunkett accused the unions of ‘working against the interests of children’ by continuing to frustrate teachers who are desperate to get back into the classroom. And current Education Secretary Gavin Williamson demanded unions do their ‘duty’ and stop their opposition.

Huffington Post
Boris Johnson’s plans to reopen schools from June 1 could be stopped in their tracks by city mayors, councils and individual headteachers, teaching unions have suggested. Liverpool mayor Joe Anderson became the first local leader to declare that he would not allow his local schools to readmit pupils if he felt the safety of staff and youngsters would be put at risk. Greater Manchester’s metro mayor Andy Burnham was more cautious, but urged ministers to work with trade unions before ploughing ahead with proposals to open primaries to all pupils before the summer break.

Guardian
Teachers can legally refuse to return when schools reopen unless they get the same protections against coronavirus as other frontline staff, one of the UK’s leading teaching unions has warned. In a letter to local authorities seen by the Guardian, the 300,000-strong NASUWT threatens to invoke legal action to defend teachers against being forced back into schools on 1 June because of the risk to their health. The union’s letter marks a significant hardening against the government’s push to reopen primary schools in England from 1 June.

A&E

iNews
The number of people attending A&E in England has fallen to its lowest level on record amid the coronavrius crisis. Data released by NHS England shows attendance and emergency admissions to hospitals dropped by almost 57 per cent last month, compared with the same time last year.  A total of 917,000 people were recorded in these services during April 2020, a decrease of 56.6 per cent on the same month in 2019. The figure represents the lowest number of hospital attendees since current records began in August 2010.

Obesity

Times
Boris Johnson is preparing a “much more interventionist” drive to tackle obesity as part of the fight against coronavirus after his spell in hospital with the disease. The prime minister told senior ministers and advisers, “I’ve changed my mind on this” and that he was drawing up a new strategy. Research has found that being obese doubles the risk of needing hospital treatment for coronavirus. About one in three British adults is clinically obese, classified as those with a body mass index (BMI) above 30.

Sun
BORIS Johnson has vowed to tackle obesity as part of the fight against coronavirus, after reports that he believes his weight landed him in intensive care with the disease. The prime minister, previously a critic of the “nanny state”, is said to now support a “more interventionist” approach to obesity, which is known to double a coronavirus patient’s chances of being hospitalised. Johnson last month spent three days in intensive care fighting off the virus after his symptoms failed to clear following a ten-day spell in self-isolation.

Diabetes

Times
One in four coronavirus deaths in hospitals are people who have diabetes, according to new official data. For the first time NHS England has broken down deaths by pre-existing conditions. The figures, which take in fatalities over the past six weeks, also show that a fifth of those dying had dementia and a sixth had chronic pulmonary disease. The findings are based on an analysis of over 20,000 deaths since March 31.

ITV News
A quarter of Covid-19 patients who have died in hospitals in England had diabetes, according to figures released by the health service. Of the 22,332 patients who died since March 31, when pre-existing conditions began to be reported, some 5,873 (26%) of patients had diabetes, while 4,048 (18%) had dementia, NHS England has said. Some 3,254 (15%) were reported to have chronic pulmonary disease, while 1,549 patients had asthma. NHS England said the accuracy of the data is reliant on the availability and transfer of information by healthcare providers, and patients may have had more than one pre-existing condition.

Statistics

Telegraph
A Coronavirus ‘north-south divide’ has emerged across England, according to the latest modelling by scientists at Public Health England. The new figures also show that the death rate is far higher for older people than has previously been estimated.  And it shows that nearly one in five children aged between five and 14 has been infected with the disease, the highest of any age group. The data has been calculated by Public Health England (PHE) and Cambridge University.

Times
The government has come under increasing pressure to tackle the high numbers of coronavirus infections and deaths in care homes. In the Commons this week the prime minister was grilled by Sir Keir Starmer, the Labour leader, who said the five-year average number of deaths in care homes for April was “just over 8,000” but that this year it was 26,000. The Office for National Statistics said that 8,314 were recorded as having resulted from Covid-19.

Mail
Britain’s daily COVID-19 death toll dropped again today as the outbreak continues to slow, as officials announced 428 more victims – the lowest jump on a Thursday since the end of March. Official figures released by the Department of Health show 33,614 coronavirus patients have now died across all settings in the UK, including hospitals and care homes, since the crisis began. But the count is known to be inaccurate because it only takes into account lab-confirmed cases.

Star
Experts have predicted the exact day when there will be no coronavirus deaths in the UK, according to an American study. The research takes into account the longevity of the deadly pandemic, that has so far caused 302,000 deaths worldwide. The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), an independent part of the University of Washington, has been tracking cases, hospital admissions and deaths in America.

Scotland

Times
Scottish nationalists with “too much time on their hands” are playing politics with coronavirus by drawing up plans to break up Britain during lockdown, a cabinet minister has said. Alister Jack, the secretary of state for Scotland, said that any preparation for how the country emerges from the pandemic should focus on the economy rather than constitutional issues.

Express
A SENIOR SNP minister has warned the “incompetence” of the UK Government in dealing with the coronavirus pandemic will leave the road to Scottish independence open. Scotland’s First Minister and SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon has been at odds with Westminster over the handling of COVID-19 north and south of the border. Boris Johnson  has started easing lockdown restrictions in England and has ditched the “stay at home” slogan from Government messaging, which has remained in place in Scotland.

ITV News
The majority of Scots have more confidence in the Scottish Government to stop a further outbreak of coronavirus than UK ministers, a survey suggests. Nearly two-thirds of Scottish respondents (62%) believe Holyrood ministers are capable of preventing a second wave of Covid-19, while 38% said they are confident in the UK Government doing so. The findings are among the preliminary results from the UK-wide CovidLife survey, launched last month by the University of Edinburgh’s Generation Scotland project.

Europe

Express
EUROPE’S top World Health Organisation (WHO) official has warned certain countries to prepare for a deadly second wave of the coronavirus this autumn. As certain countries across the world begin to ease lockdown measures, Dr Hans Kluge, director for the WHO European region, warned now was not the time to prepare for a second wave of the outbreak. Although the number of new deaths are dropping in the UK, France and Italy, Mr Kluge warned the outbreak was not coming to an end

Telegraph
European countries should brace themselves for a deadly second wave of coronavirus infections because the pandemic is not over, the World Health Organisation’s top official in Europe has said.  In an exclusive interview with The Telegraph, Dr Hans Kluge, director for the WHO European region, delivered a stark warning to countries beginning to ease their lockdown restrictions, saying that now is the “time for preparation, not celebration”. Dr Kluge stressed that, as the number of cases of Covid-19 in countries such as the UK, France and Italy was beginning to fall, it did not mean the pandemic was coming to an end.

Mirror
Families hoping for a summer holiday in Spain, France or Europe should not give up just yet, a top Brussels official said. European Commission vice-president Margrethe Vestager offered lockdown-weary Britons a glimmer of hope for a getaway later this year, despite the coronavirus crisis. Asked about the chances of Britons travelling to the continent for a break, Ms Vestager told the BBC: “I would hope so. “I think that there’s discussion over it at every dinner table in Europe and probably also in the UK.

Telegraph
With a view to easing lockdown and allowing people to begin travelling again, for work or leisure, several countries are calling for an “immunity passport”. The authorities in some popular European destinations, including Greece, Sardinia and the Balearic Islands, are talking openly about antibody-based passports to enable safe entry for tourists.  Chile’s Ministry of Health recently announced that it would issue “release certificates,” in the form of smartphone QR codes, to those who are 14 days clear of Covid-19 symptoms.

Telegraph
France unveiled an €18 billion “Marshall Plan for tourism” to save the “jewel in the crown” of the world’s most visited nation in the wake of coronavirus. The massive package came as Italians were offered financial incentives to holiday on home soil along with a €4bn bailout plan for the country’s tourism industry. France welcomed nearly 90 million foreign tourists last year but a two-month nationwide lockdown to stem the viral epidemic has forced 95 per cent of its hotels to remain shuttered since mid-March with many facing imminent bankruptcy.

Sport

Telegraph
The Six Nations may be moved from its traditional window of February and March to allow it to take place at the same time as the southern hemisphere’s Rugby Championship as part of a radical overhaul of the global calendar, Telegraph Sport can reveal. It is understood that elements within the Six Nations are now said to be “open” to the idea of pushing the start of the championship back by a month to run during  March and April as part of a compromise with the southern hemisphere, which would also bring forward the start of their tournament from August.

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