BRITAIN last night warned Michel Barnier he’s got until the end of September to broker a Brexit deal. Michael Gove said the UK will have little choice but to give up on the talks if it hasn’t seen “significant progress” by then. During an appearance before MPs he was asked when No 10 will walk away and switch its full focus to no deal planning. He said: “We don’t have a date per se pencilled in, but it is the case if we haven’t secured significant progress by October then it will be difficult.”
Boris Johnson warned Emmanuel Macron that Britain would not allow post-Brexit trade negotiations to drag on into the autumn as the French President made his first foreign trip since the coronavirus lockdown. Mr Macron is also understood to have pressed for the Government to rethink its 14-day quarantine system for new arrivals to Britain during talks in Downing Street. His brief visit – which included a meeting with the Prince of Wales – was conducted under strict social distancing rules, but at one point the President appeared to forget the guidance by reaching out to touch Prince Charles.
Boris Johnson has told Emmanuel Macron that it “makes no sense” to extend post-Brexit trade talks beyond the end of the summer, in talks during the French president’s one-day visit to London. Mr Johnson is eager to seal agreement on a future trade and security partnership with the EU swiftly, as the lack of progress so far has heightened the danger of an economically disruptive no-deal crash-out at the end of the Brexit transition period in December.
BORIS JOHNSON today warned French President Emmanuel Macron that Brexit-trade talks with the EU cannot stretch on into the Autumn. The Prime Minister pressed home his insistence as the two leaders met face-to-face to mark the 80th anniversary of Charles de Gaulle’s historic broadcast to rally the French Resistance. Mr Johnson said it “does not make sense” to keep extending negotiation on a new trading relationship with the bloc beyond the summer. Talks are set to be ramped up in July in the hope of making a breakthrough to ensure a deal is in place when the Brexit transition period ends on December 31.
The Government is preparing to employ “shock and awe” tactics to push the British public and businesses into preparing for the end of the Brexit transitional period. A “Transition Campaign” is being planned to warn people of the “consequences of not taking action” and the hitherto militarily “shock and awe” tactic – normally used to show overwhelming power and force to surprise the enemy – will be used to spur people into acting. The contract, first reported on by Politico and published on the Tussell procurement website, revealed the Cabinet Office commissioned advertising agency MullenLowe London to lead the information campaign.
Chancellor Angela Merkel outlined her objectives Thursday for Germany’s forthcoming six-month presidency of the European Union, saying a more global role and enhanced international governance are a way forward for the troubled bloc. “The dramatic global consequences of the (coronavirus) pandemic demand that Europe takes on more global responsibility,” Merkel told the Bundestag lower house of parliament. “At this time, the world needs Europe’s strong voice for the protection of human dignity, democracy and freedom,” she added, Reuters reports.
Michael Gove has warned Northern Ireland will vote to break away from EU customs rules if Brussels is too “bureaucratic” about enforcing the new border in the Irish Sea. The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster told MPs on a scrutiny committee that there would be “unfettered access” of Northern Irish products to mainland Britain. Pressed on whether that meant no exit declarations on goods travelling to the mainland, he said, “absolutely”. Michel Barnier said at the end of the fourth round of Brexit negotiations that avoiding exit declarations on goods moving from Northern Ireland was “incompatible with the legal commitments accepted by the UK” in the Northern Irish Protocol.
The government is to reimburse Northern Irish businesses if they are hit by tariffs due to a collapse in Brexit talks, Michael Gove has said. He revealed the plans after being criticised by MPs over Brexit arrangements for the region. “We want to make sure that in the event of there not being a free trade agreement of whatever kind with the EU that we are in a position to indemnify and reimburse companies for tariffs,” the minister for the Cabinet Office told the Northern Ireland affairs select committee.
New border controls between Northern Ireland and Great Britain included in Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal should not be implemented because they will undermine support for the agreement among unionists, the UK government has said. Michael Gove, who is overseeing the implementation of the Northern Ireland protocol, told MPs that the EU’s “maximalist” interpretation of the agreement – signed by the prime minister in January – would be unsustainable. “The argument we’re making to the EU as well is if you insist on significant new infrastructure and a significant new presence what you will do is actually make the protocol less acceptable to the majority community in Northern Ireland and therefore you run the risk of the protocol being voted down in a future election,” Mr Gove told the Commons Northern Ireland affairs committee.
None of the 1,100 migrants who have arrived in Britain illegally by boat over the last seven weeks have been deported – despite persistent pledges from Priti Patel. The Home Secretary consistently vowed to eradicate crossings and return those who enter the country, but just 155 of nearly 4,000 migrants have been sent back since January last year. That figure of 155 emerged at the beginning of May, and represented just five per cent of the 2,839 who arrived from the start of 2019, but the Home Office has now conceded that number remains the same today – meaning none of the 1,138 who have landed in small boats in the last month-and-a-half have been returned.
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The UK Border Force, the division of the Home Office which claims to protect the British people from outside threats, transported another 70 illegal boat migrants to Dover on Tuesday. The newest batch of migrants to be brought back to British shores from the English Channel brings the total of boat migrants to arrive this year past 2,000, a new record, despite the fact that the year is only halfway over, the Daily Mail reports. The Home Office recorded 1,890 illegal boat migrant arrivals during the whole of 2019.
Matt Hancock, the health secretary, and NHS bosses are pushing for a £5bn-a-year deal to treat NHS patients in private hospitals and tackle a spiralling backlog amid the coronavirus pandemic, the Guardian has learned. But the Treasury is blocking the plan, which could cover a range of treatments including cancer surgery, joint operations and cataract removals amid concerns that it will not offer value for money. The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) and NHS England want the Treasury to fund an extension of a contract that has resulted in scores of private hospitals being paid about £400m a month to perform procedures since the start of the pandemic, when the NHS suspended swathes of non-urgent treatment to prioritise Covid-19 patients.
The number of people dying of any cause is back to normal for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic began, Public Health England said. In all age groups there were no excess deaths in the week to Wednesday, June 10, its figures showed. Experts said data showed we were “through the first wave” with no sign of a second peak. Infections are also falling and the Office for National Statistics said that new cases had averaged 3,800 a day since late April, but that “the decline may have slowed in recent weeks”. About 33,000 people now have coronavirus, equivalent to one person in 1,700 nationwide, a quarter of the figure in early May.
Over-50s are to be given priority for a coronavirus vaccine when it becomes available, along with key workers in the health and social care sectors and those with heart and kidney disease, the health secretary has said. No jab is yet available, but human trials began on a second potential vaccine being developed at Imperial College London this week, while production has already started on another possible inoculation at Oxford with the aim of building up stockpiles to be ready for deployment if it is approved for use in the autumn.
Frontline healthcare workers, over-50s and people with underlying conditions will be prioritised if a Covid-19 vaccine is developed. Speaking at today’s Downing Street press briefing Health Secretary Matt Hancock set out who could be first in line for a coronavirus jab. However experts warn that it is still not known whether safe and effective vaccinations can be developed and when they might become available. Interim advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) said health and social care workers are the highest priority due to the personal risk they face, as well as the danger of passing the infection on to vulnerable patients.
The UK has began producing what could be a vaccine for coronavirus, despite the drug having no clinical approval, the health secretary has announced. Matt Hancock told the government’s daily coronavirus press conference that a deal had been “struck” between pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca and Oxford University to begin the manufacture of a potential vaccine. “They’re starting manufacturing now, even ahead of approval so we can build up a stock pile and be ready should it be clinically approved,” the health secretary said.
The Government will pay for private tutors for children who have fallen behind during lockdown as part of a £1 billion “catch-up” plan to be announced by the Prime Minister on Friday. Schools will be given money to hire in-house tutors who can run extra classes for small groups of pupils throughout the academic year. The £350 million tutoring programme will be targeted at the most disadvantaged children in the country, who have fared the worst while schools have been closed amid the coronavirus crisis.
Boris Johnson today unveiled cash dedicated to helping pupils at risk of falling behind because they have been shut out of lessons for the last three months. There is no guarantee all children will be able to go back in September – by when they will have spent six months away. The Prime Minister, who is expected to visit a school today, said: “This £1billion catch-up package will help headteachers to provide extra support to children who have fallen behind while out of school.
Boris Johnson has announced a £1 billion package to help pupils in England to catch up on lost learning, including intensive tutoring for the most disadvantaged children. Those most affected by the school closures enforced as part of the lockdown in March will benefit from a £350 million “national tutoring programme”, equivalent to about £14,000 per school. Head teachers will be able to apply for grants worth a further £650 million to spend on initiatives such as extra teaching, technology or summer schools for all pupils.
Schools will be handed £1billion to fund catch-up classes for children who have lost out due to the lockdown, ministers said last night. Headteachers will be encouraged to hire private tutors to run intensive after-school classes to help millions of pupils who have lost more than a term of their education since schools were ordered to close in mid-March. Schools will be given cash to assess all pupils and identify and help those who have fallen furthest behind.
The two metre social distancing rule will be halved in Northern Ireland’s schools when they reopen in August, putting more pressure on Boris Johnson to relax measures in England. First Minister Arlene Foster said the measure would allow class sizes to return to near-normal levels. In guidance sent to school principals, reducing the rule to one metre is “safe and appropriate” and had been taken after an “extensive” review by the Public Health Agency and Northern Irelands’ Chief Medical Officer.
Exam results could be slashed amid forecasts suggesting teachers have marked pupils affected by the coronavirus pandemic too generously this year, while other pupils to be impacted by the virus will benefit from a £1billion support package. As some pupils face longer school days and new social distancing measures, data published by FFT Datalab suggests exams regulator Ofqual will have to bring down the results of Year 11 and Year 13 pupils this year.
A smartphone app to track the spread of Covid-19 may never be released, ministers admitted yesterday, as they abandoned a three-month attempt to create their own version of the technology. Matt Hancock, the health secretary, announced that the government was scrapping its coronavirus contact-tracing app to focus on one developed with Apple and Google technology. Mr Hancock said that in trials neither of the potential apps was accurate enough to be used by the public and he could not indicate when, or if, a usable version might be available.
Matt Hancock tonight insisted Britain will eventually get a Covid-19 tracking app that works after ministers abandoned NHS-made technology following its failure in a trial on the Isle of Wight. Officials admitted today that the NHS app, once praised by the Health Secretary as vital for lifting lockdown and described by Boris Johnson as a central part of the UK’s test and trace system, did not work on Apple iPhones. The health service’s digital arm, NHSX, has now ditched plans to create its own app and will work with Apple and Google to improve their existing technology.
The NHS coronavirus contact-tracing app is to be abandoned and replaced after an audit found it could detect only one in 25 contacts on Apple phones. In a major U-turn, health officials are ditching the way the current tracing app works and shifting to a model based on technology provided by Apple and Google. The programme has been dogged by criticism, with questions for months about why Britain insisted on building its own app, rather than harness the skills of the tech giants.
BRITS should test pets for coronavirus amid fears they are harbouring the bug and could spark a second wave, experts say. Researchers from University College London want a mass surveillance programme of animals that live close to humans. They warn there is increasing evidence that pets and livestock can catch the disease, incubate it and then infect owners. If the virus becomes common in animals there is a risk of another outbreak even if it has been eradicated in people, they add.
The Church of England and the Bank of England apologised on Thursday night for their historic links to slavery through vicars, bishops and Bank governors who benefited from the trade in the 19th century. The Church said its links to slavery were “a source of shame” as it emerged that scores of churches, clergymen and even a bishop could have been funded by compensation paid to plantation owners. Fresh analysis of a database held by University College London (UCL) found that nearly 100 clergymen, including a bishop, who benefited from slavery were from the Church of England.
The Bank of England has apologised for the “inexcusable connections” of its former governors and directors who were involved in the slave trade. The Bank said it would take down portraits of the governors with links to slavery. A database compiled by University College London of slave owners and other beneficiaries of slavery lists 11 former governors and 16 directors. They include Sir John Rae Reid, governor in 1839-41, who received compensation for the loss of 3,112 slaves worth £63,050, equivalent to more than £7 million today, on the abolition of slavery in 1833.
England rugby fans could soon be banned from singing ‘Swing Low, Sweet Chariot’ at international matches because of its origins as an anthem for American slaves. The Rugby Football Union (RFU) announced on Thursday that it was conducting a review into the ‘historical context’ of the song over concerns it is inappropriate. A well-placed source said: “One option after consultations is to stop this being sung at matches.” The use by the RFU on social media of the slogan “Carry Them Home” taken from the song’s second line has been suspended with immediate effect, the organisation said.
England rugby fans could soon be banned from singing Swing Low, Sweet Chariot at matches because of the song’s ties with slavery, it has emerged. The iconic anthem which rings round the stands at Twickenham is being reviewed by the Rugby Football Union, which has launched a wide-ranging probe into racism. Written by a black slave in the American South during the nineteenth century, the song was first belted out by supporters when two black wingers – Martin Offiah and Chris Oti – became sporting heroes on the pitch at the end of the 1980s.
England rugby bosses are expected to call on fans to drop Swing Low, Sweet Chariot as their unofficial anthem because of its associations with slavery. The anthem, a 19th-century African-American slave song, is the subject of a review by the Rugby Football Union. First sung at Twickenham in 1987 for Martin Offiah — a black player nicknamed “Chariots” — it has become essential at England matches.
Packet rice brand Uncle Ben’s, a staple in cupboards and larders across Britain, is set to be re-branded amid anti-racism protests across the world by the Black Lives Matter movement. In a move they hope will ‘help put an end to racial injustices’, bosses behind the well-known brand have today revealed they are set to ‘evolve’ the visual identity of its products, which are sold in thousands of supermarkets and shops across the UK.
A cabinet minister has sparked outrage from opposition parties after asking Boris Johnson to use some of the government’s overseas aid budget on two new yachts to replace the Royal Yacht Britannia. Paymaster General Penny Mordaunt has written to the prime minister urging him to consider two successor vessels to HMY Britannia – arguing it would be within Overseas Development Assistance (ODA) rules to spend aid money on the project.