The European Union’s chief Brexit negotiator has said that a trade deal with Britain is currently “unlikely”, as the country will not submit to the bloc’s demands on regulations and fisheries. “By its current refusal to commit to open and fair competition and to a balanced agreement on fisheries, the UK makes a trade agreement, at this point, unlikely,” declared Michel Barnier, the Frenchman leading the negotiations with the British for the supranational bloc. While the United Kingdom technically left the EU at the beginning of 2020, losing its representation in the European Commission, European Parliament, and other EU institutions, it remains an EU member-state in all but name throughout the current “transition period”, with its trading arrangements with the bloc, regulatory framework, fisheries, and so on remaining firmly within Brussels’ control. “Until the very last day of this negotiation and despite the current difficulties the EU will remain engaged, constructive, and respectful,” Barnier claimed — but went on to threaten that “If we do not reach an agreement on our future partnership there will be far more friction, for instance on trading goods in addition to new customs formalities there will be tariffs and quotas.”
A no-deal Brexit looms larger than ever after both the EU and UK said an agreement is “unlikely” and vowed not to blink in the few months left for talks. The latest round of negotiations broke up in now-familiar acrimony, forcing Boris Johnson to admit to missing his deadline for a breakthrough by the end of July. In a blistering attack, Michel Barnier, the EU chief negotiator, warned attempts to bludgeon Brussels with “ultimatums or threats” would fail, adding: “I don’t think we’ve got time for these games.” He told a press conference: “By its current refusal to commit to the condition of open and fair competition, and to a balanced agreement on fisheries, the UK makes a trade agreement at this point unlikely.”
BRUSSELS negotiator Michel Barnier hit out at Britain for failing to compromise in order to secure a post-Brexit trade deal. The Frenchman accused his UK counterpart David Frost of not showing a “willingness to break the deadlock”. He also claimed Britain is still trying to obtain “single market”-like access to the EU. Speaking after the talks, Mr Barnier said: “The UK has not shown the same level of engagement and readiness to find solutions respecting the EU’s fundamental principles and interests.” He added: “The UK did not show a willingness to break the deadlock.”
BRITAIN has offered an olive branch to the EU over Brexit. We are set to compromise on one key sticking point to get a deal. Negotiator David Frost has now told counterpart Michel Barnier that the fate of trade talks is “in his hands”. He is confident a deal can be reached by September but also warned Britain must be prepared for the possibility of leaving without one. Mr Frost yesterday agreed to work with the EU on its wish for a governance deal covering all aspects of our interaction with the bloc. Britain had wanted a series of mini agreements covering different areas. But Mr Barnier warned there was still “substantial areas of disagreement” over fishing rights and the freedom to set our own laws.
EU negotiator Michel Barnier blasted the UK today as he warned a trade deal is ‘unlikely’ before the end of the year. He lashed out at Britain over its hardline position on fishing rights in territorial waters after the transition period ends on December 31 as talks ended without breakthrough in London. Mr Barnier used a press conference to warn that the EU would not accept a deal that resulted in the ‘partial destruction’ of the EU fishing industry, but would continue with talks to ‘the last moment’. ‘By its current refusal to commit to conditions of open and fair competition and to a balanced agreement on fisheries, the UK makes a trade agreement – at this point – unlikely,’ Mr Barnier said.
Britain has set a new deadline of October for a trade deal with the EU to be signed after Michel Barnier said an agreement was now “unlikely”. The two sides remain deadlocked on the issues of fishing rights and anti-competition guarantees, but will continue talking through the summer after conceding that Boris Johnson’s July deadline will be missed. David Frost, Britain’s chief negotiator, said a deal could still be reached if the EU was prepared to give ground – but Mr Barnier said Britain’s current position was “completely unacceptable” to Brussels.
A comprehensive Brexit trade deal could be finalised in September, British and EU negotiators said yesterday while warning of two big hurdles. After the latest talks in London, Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator, said that an agreement was “unlikely” unless Britain made concessions on fishing rights and competition. David Frost, Boris Johnson’s chief negotiator, said “considerable gaps remain in the most difficult areas” and that the UK must “face the possibility” that the talks could collapse.
Europe cannot ‘fail twice on migration’ and must avoid a repeat of the 2015 crisis, the EU Commission has warned today. Vice-President Margaritis Schinas said today the bloc cannot have similar scenes to those seen five years ago, when more than a million exiles fleeing wars, persecution or poverty flooded the continent. The huge influx caused significant political rifts within the European Union with some states in the border-free Schengen area putting up fences and reimposing frontier controls. ‘Europe cannot fail twice on migration,’ Schinas said at a press conference after a meeting of ministers from 18 EU and Western Balkan nations.
More than half the entire population of England will be offered free flu jabs this winter to ensure the NHS is able to cope with a possible second wave of coronavirus. Everyone over the age of 50 will be eligible, as well as all schoolchildren up to Year 7, health workers and the medically vulnerable in the biggest flu vaccination programme in British history. In total around 30 million people will be covered by the scheme – double last year’s number, when only the over-65s and younger children were included. The Government has been quietly stockpiling tons of flu vaccine to ensure there will not be a shortage when the winter flu season arrives.
Everyone over 50 will be offered flu jabs by the NHS this winter as health chiefs aim to vaccinate about half the population. The health service wants to reach 30 million people in England from September, twice as many as usual, to help prevent hospitals buckling under a combined surge of flu and Covid-19. Year 7 pupils and the families of people who have been shielding will be among the new groups to receive the jab. All NHS staff will be expected to be vaccinated to protect patients, but there are no plans to make this compulsory.
VETS could administer the flu jab as part of the biggest ever vaccination programme in UK history. Ministers aim to double uptake to cover more than 30 million people – half of all Brits – to help prevent the NHS being overwhelmed this winter. Officials are now “actively considering” using animal doctors to hit the ambitious target. Around 15 million people received the flu jab in England last year. But health bosses plan to hugely expand the scheme to avoid a double-whammy of infections. They fear a second wave of Covid during the coldest months could overrun hospitals, if it coincides with a major influenza outbreak.
The Government is aiming to double its winter flu vaccination programme in England to 30million people, with free jabs for everyone aged 50 and over and children under 11. Last year, around 15million people received a jab against seasonal flu but ministers hope this will rise to 30million this winter. Experts are concerned about the impact of a double-whammy of Covid-19 cases and seasonal flu potentially overwhelming the NHS. There are also worries that people could suffer both seasonal flu and Covid-19 at the same time. So the Department of Health and Social Care hopes that an increase in people getting flu vaccines means there will be fewer flu patients taking up space in hospitals and the NHS will have more time to deal with coronavirus patients.
Major supermarkets and coffee chains say they will not enforce new rules which say customers should wear face coverings from Friday. Sainsburys, Asda, Co-op and Costa Coffee are among retailers saying they have no intention of policing the laws, which carry a penalty of a £100 fine. It comes after the Police Federation of England and Wales, which represents rank-and-file officers, said it was “unrealistic and unfair” to expect them to patrol the aisles looking for people breaking the coronavirus regulations. And Metropolitan Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick said she hoped shoppers who refuse to wear masks would be “shamed” into compliance.
Ministers face accusations that rules on face coverings are confusing and illogical after they finally set out where they will and will not be required. While they are mandatory in places such as post offices or banks, heritage sites, cinemas and libraries will be exempt. They will be compulsory when buying food to take away but customers choosing table service will be exempt unless queueing to collect their meals. Matt Hancock, the health secretary, said: “As we move into the next stage of easing restrictions, it is vital we continue to shop safely so that we can make the most of our fantastic retail industry this summer.
A factory which makes vaccines for salmon and seabream is being bought by the Government in a drive to churn out millions of coronavirus jabs. The site in Braintree, Essex has been snapped up by the taxpayer for £16m in a deal with Aim-listed animal health and genetics business Benchmark Holdings. Its existing facilities will be upgraded and the factory will be retooled to produce millions of doses of vaccines and other gene therapies. The deal is part of a £100m push by ministers to quickly scale up Britain’s capacity to produce a vaccine for Covid-19 as soon as one is found to work so life can return to normal. It was sealed in less than two months after Benchmark chairman Peter George watched one of the Government’s televised daily briefings on the pandemic which mentioned plans for a vaccine taskforce.
Hundreds more walk-in test centres are planned to ensure that no one is more than 30 minutes from a coronavirus check. As part of preparations for winter, NHS Test and Trace wants to ensure that everyone in cities is within half an hour’s walk of a centre and within half an hour’s drive in rural areas. A public information campaign described as being on a par with the “stay at home” lockdown message is due to begin next week and will urge people to take a test if they have symptoms. Officials believe that having more people tested is the NHS’s biggest challenge for winter, when the virus is expected to circulate more easily. There are 15 walk-in centres at present.
Waiting times for coronavirus swab test results have surged in the past week and now one in three people at drive-through centres have to wait more than 24 hours. Damning statistics today published by the Department of Health show NHS Test and Trace is failing on one of its most important measures – testing people quickly. Prime Minister Boris Johnson had promised that all results would be delivered within 24 hours of someone taking a test, but the service has again missed the target. Between July 9 and July 15, the proportion of people getting their results within a day was 46.8 per cent, down from 50.6 per cent between July 2 and July 8. The fast turnaround rate plummeted for the regional drive-through centres, where only 68.6 per cent of people got their results within 24 hours, compared to 87.1 per cent a week earlier. This meant 31.4 per cent of people waited more than a day.
More than 200 new city-centre coronavirus testing centres are to be set up by the government in a bid to ensure everyone in urban areas is within a 30-minute walk of a test. The fresh “ambition” set by NHS Test and Trace will be allied to Boris Johnson’s latest target of increasing testing capacity to half a million tests per day by the end of October. At present just 15 walk-in centres exist, but the mass expansion will be part of a plan to ensure the UK is prepared for a possible second spike of Covid-19 this winter, along with the seasonal flu outbreaks. “At least a couple of hundred” new walk-in centres are planned to be created between now and the end of October.
Holidaymakers due to travel abroad have been warned that they could be forced into quarantine on their return under a new system that could see “air bridges” collapse at short notice. The UK currently reviews nations on its “safe list” every three weeks but is expected to announce a rolling review system that could see countries placed on its “red list” at short notice should they see a serious spike in coronavirus cases. It raises the prospect of holidaymakers travelling abroad to countries only to discover, before they end their holiday, that they may have to stay in quarantine on their return. The Government is expected to announce that Spain is to remain on its “safe” list despite a surge in Covid-19 outbreaks that has forced regional authorities to reintroduce local restrictions.
Boris Johnson has given Scotland an extra £1.9 billion as part of a plan to help Britain “bounce back stronger together” which he hopes will shore up support for the Union. The prime minister suggested that Nicola Sturgeon, the Scottish first minister, had highlighted differences between London and Edinburgh throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. During a trip to Orkney and northeast Scotland, Mr Johnson said that the main differences between his approach to the virus and Ms Sturgeon’s was presentational.
Nicola Sturgeon and Boris Johnson locked horns over Scottish independence today as the Prime Minister visited the country for the first time since the general election. The First Minister lashed out as Mr Johnson visited Orkney and north east Scotland on a whistle-stop one-day tour in which he ruled out a re-run of the 2014 referendum. Mr Johnson, who was greeted by pro-independence campaigners as soon as he arrived north of the border this morning, said the ‘Union is a fantastically strong institution’ as he outright rejected the SNP leader’s demand for another border poll. He also claimed that coronavirus would have been a ‘disaster’ for an independent Scotland which could not rely on assistance from the rest of the UK.
One hundred people a week are losing almost all their savings to pay “sky high” care bills, research shows, despite Boris Johnson pledging a year ago that no one would ever have to sell their home to pay for care. Analysis from Age UK reveals that, in just one year, the numbers whose assets have been “wiped out” by paying fees for care homes and help at home has risen by more than one third. Charities said the social care system was “on its knees” and urged the Prime Minister to make good his promise to “fix the crisis in social care once and for all“. The Government has pledged to publish a green paper on social care, with options for reform expected to include a system of insurance in which working people pay towards a fund should they need later care.
ALMOST 100 Brits are financially ruined each week after being forced to sell their home or wipe out savings to pay for care. Age UK said old people who fail to qualify for free aid spent £7.4billion in the past year on help with the likes of cooking and dressing. And the charity found 14 people a day – or 98 a week – are exhausting their assets paying “staggering” sums for such services. Boris Johnson promised to “fix social care” and ensure nobody had to sell their home to pay for vital help when he became PM. Speaking outside No 10 last July, he said: “We will fix the crisis in social care once and for all with a clear plan we have prepared to give every older person the dignity and security they deserve.”
China has moved to block the UK’s offer of citizenship to Hong Kong residents, warning it may not recognise their passports as valid documents. Beijing hit out after the government said it would “welcome warmly” any of 2.9 million Hong Kongers with British National Overseas (BNO) status, who fear its crackdown in the territory. The move appears to confirm the fears of Dominic Raab, who said last weekend: “Ultimately, if they follow through on something like that, there would be little we could do to coercively force them.”
The chairs of eight parliamentary foreign affairs committees from across Europe have written to the Chinese government in opposition to Hong Kong’s new security law, saying it infringes on “basic human rights” in their countries. The joint statement by the committee chairs – from countries including Germany, the UK, Belgium, Latvia, Norway and the European parliament itself – shows a network of parliamentarians is being constructed to shift European governments towards a harder stance on China’s abuse of human rights. The politicians claim European public opinion has lost faith in China due to the way in which it has intervened to impose a new security law, which gives Beijing unprecedented powers, without consulting the people of Hong Kong.
CHINA is set to REJECT the UK’s offer to give Hong Kong residents British citizenships. The move would be a massive blow to Hong Kongers eligible for a British National (Overseas) Passport hoping to flee to the UK after a Chinese crackdown on the city-state. In a press conference today Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said China firmly opposes the UK’s offer of residency to those eligible for BNO passports. China could ditch recognition of a BNO passport as a viable travel document – barring people from leaving Hong Kong with them.