BORIS JOHNSON has been advised to call the EU’s bluff over the Brexit bill row by a trade expert. Boris Johnson sparked a Brexit frenzy earlier this month by unveiling, and then pressing ahead with, a legislative masterplan that would undercut parts of the 2020 EU divorce treaty. The EU said it could not trust Britain if it broke international law, explored what legal action it could take and demanded London pull back from the brink. But trade expert Shanker Singham, Chief Executive Officer from Competere, explained litigation on the issue will be good to clarify the objections of both parties.
The big news on Brexit has been almost uniformly bad in recent weeks, sparked above all by rows over the UK’s divisive Internal Market Bill. National leaders from across Europe have expressed scepticism about the chances of a free-trade deal with just three weeks to go before Boris Johnson’s self-imposed deadline for an agreement. The UK has further ramped up preparations for a no-deal outcome, publicly insisting that the Government is ready for an “Australian-style trade arrangement” – in other words, moving to World Trade Organisation terms from 1 January. But away from the spotlight, the sound and fury resonates less loudly.
FRANCE has hit back at statements from the UK about post-Brexit transport delays across the Channel and warned the EU “won’t fall for a kind of intimidation at the European level” to reach an agreement between the two sides. The French are furious at Boris Johnson pressing ahead with the Internal Market Bill, which seeks to overrise key elements of the Withdrawal Agreement signed with the EU last year which would subsequently break international law. France’s Europe minister Clément Beaune told the Financial Times: “Of course the signals that have been sent in the past few days are damaging.
The European Union’s unelected executive-cum-legislature, the European Commission, has put forward a “Mandatory Solidarity Mechanism” to spread the burden of the migrant crisis across all member-states. The BBC reported that the “so-called ‘Mandatory Solidarity Mechanism’ will oblige each member state to accept a number of refugees in return for a reported €10,000 (£9,200; $11,750) per adult and €12,000 for an unaccompanied child,” and that “EU states that fail to honour the pact could face court proceedings and large fines.”
France has dismissed this week’s dire British warnings about post-Brexit transport delays across the Channel as tactical posturing, the Financial Times reported on Friday. “Of course, the signals that have been sent in the past few days are damaging,” France’s Europe minister Clément Beaune told FT. “Anything which disrupts, disturbs or increases tensions in the negotiations is regrettable, and we won’t fall for a kind of intimidation at the European level,” the report quoted Beaune.
Britain is facing a wave of redundancies after Rishi Sunak said that the government was no longer willing to subsidise the wages of people in jobs that would not otherwise exist. The chancellor confirmed it was time for the economy to “move forward” as he announced that ministers would now provide support only for viable jobs. He said it would be “fundamentally wrong” to extend the furlough scheme, which has paid 80 per cent of workers’ wages, amid concerns that it is propping up roles that would otherwise have been scrapped. The government will instead cover up to a fifth of the wages of people who go back to work on a part-time basis as part of a support package for businesses.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced a new Job Support Scheme to replace the furlough system which will see the government “directly support” the wages of people working at least a third of their normal hours. Mr Sunak’s statement followed intense pressure from business leaders, MPs and unions to announce measures to protect millions of jobs in sectors hit by new coronavirus restrictions. It came as Downing Street denied any rift between Boris Johnson and Mr Sunak after the prime minister chose not to attend the statement.
RISHI Sunak unveiled £5billion of measures to keep the economy afloat over winter — but said it will fail to stop mass job losses and firms going bust. The Chancellor announced the state will top up the wages of employees forced to go part-time for the next six months. But the scheme is aimed only at protecting “viable jobs”, and leading economists warned of two million more losses from Covid by Christmas. It was among a three-pronged Winter Economy Plan to help protect firms and workers from the tough restrictions announced this week.
London is thought to be on the brink of a localised lockdown — but official figures show the outbreak may finally be slowing down, despite hospital admissions for coronavirus having tripled in a fortnight and public health chiefs warning of a ‘rising tide’ of the virus in the capital. During a behind-closed-doors briefing this week, Kevin Fenton, director of Public Health England in the capital, told London mayor Sadiq Khan and the leaders of all 32 boroughs that all signs indicated the disease was making a rapid resurgence in the city. Ministers are now said to be mulling a decision to place more than 9million people in the city under even tighter restrictions, if the new suite of national social distancing measures announced by the Government this week fail to curb climbing numbers.
LONDON could be on the brink of lockdown after coronavirus hospital admissions triple in a fortnight. However, official figures show the number of people on wards is 13 times lower than it was in March – and new cases are slowing. Health chiefs have warned of a “rising tide” of Covid in the capital. And today, UK coronavirus cases rose by 6,634 in the highest increase EVER in 24 hours as 40 deaths were recorded. It’s a 95 per cent increase on the number of infections that were reported this time last week, with the number of infections now sitting at 416,363.
A record number of new coronavirus cases have been recorded, with a senior Public Health England official saying the increase in infections should be a “stark warning to us all”. The UK recorded 6,634 cases of Covid-19 on Thursday, the highest reported figure during the course of the pandemic, up from the highs of May. There were 40 deaths in all settings, bringing the total to 41,902. Figures separately published by the UK’s statistics agencies show there have now been 57,600 deaths registered in the UK where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate.
Almost 10,000 people a day in the UK are contracting coronavirus, the health secretary, Matt Hancock, has warned, as Scotland’s first minister requested urgent talks with the UK government to consider further tightening social restrictions. Hancock said the latest surge in infections was still significantly lower than the 100,000 a day estimated during the spring and urged people to download the newly released NHS contact-tracing app to “make the country a safer place”. Speaking to Sky News, he said: “Yesterday we had a figure that there are over 6,000 people who have tested positive in the previous 24 hours.
Britain could be facing 50,000 new Covid-19 cases a day within weeks if the current rate of infection is not halted, the Government’s Chief Scientific Adviser has warned. Sir Patrick Vallance told a televised briefing that the UK could see 200 deaths every day if fast action is not taken to curb the spread of the disease. Speaking alongside Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty, Sir Patrick said the “vast majority of the population remain susceptible” to catching coronavirus, and that “speed” and “action” were now needed to tackle the crisis.
Matt Hancock has suggested up to 10,000 people a day could be contracting coronavirus, as he urged members of the public to download the long-delayed NHS tracing app that was finally launched today. It comes after the UK officially recorded 6,178 infections of the virus on Wednesday – the highest daily increase since 1 May – and 37 more deaths within 28 days of a positive Covid-19 test. Speaking to Sky News, the health secretary said: “The massive testing capability we’ve got helps to find where the virus is so, if you think about it, yesterday we had a figure that there is over 6,000 people who have tested positive in the previous 24 hours.
Britain today recorded 6,634 more cases of coronavirus and 40 deaths as figures show infections have doubled in a week. Yvonne Doyle, Public Health England’s medical director, confirmed the figures this evening after the Government’s Covid-19 dashboard went down with technical difficulties. Today’s record-high daily cases take the total infection toll to 416,363, although millions of Brits went undiagnosed during the first wave of the pandemic due the government’s lacklustre testing regime.
Test & Trace app
The new coronavirus contact tracing app is available for download in England and Wales from Thursday after months of delay. The smartphone app monitors your contacts and will alert you if you have been exposed to the virus by coming into contact with an infected person. Boris Johnson first promised the app as part of his “world beating” testing system, but its rollout has been plagued by delays and technical problems. The first version was ditched when it emerged it did not work on the majority of iPhones. The new version – which has been trialled on the Isle of Wight and in the London borough of Newham – has new features, from QR scanners for pubs to a pulsing “heartbeat” that’ll count down your isolation time.
Lockdown sceptics in the Conservative party have hailed comments by the chancellor saying that Britons must learn to live “without fear” and highlighting the importance of human contact and social interaction. In his closing remarks to parliament, Rishi Sunak appeared to launch a defence of the decision to reopen swathes of the economy over the summer and encourage people back into restaurants with the eat out to help out discount scheme. “Lives can no longer be put on hold,” the chancellor said, as he stressed that the move to allow pubs, shops and leisure facilities to reopen was about more than just the economy.
A group of more than 40 Conservative MPs are bidding to force the government to give parliament a vote before the renewal of ministers’ coronavirus powers. Sir Graham Brady, the chair of the influential 1922 Committee of Tory backbenchers, is leading the cross-party effort to amend emergency COVID-19 legislation. Powers under the Coronavirus Act, which was passed in March, have to be renewed by parliament every six months. The potential Tory rebellion reflects the unease among some Conservative MPs about the continuing use of the powers and the latest restrictions announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson this week.
THE SNP and Labour have been urged to join a growing Tory backbench rebellion to rein in Boris Johnson’s power to impose strict coronavirus lockdown restrictions without parliamentary approval. Sir Graham Brady has pushed ahead with his plan to table an amendment forcing the Government to put any new COVID-19 restrictions to a vote of MPs. Speaking on ITV’s Peston on Wednesday night, fellow Tory MP, and supporter of the amendment, Steve Baker said that he was “absolutely 100 percent certain it will pass”.
More than 40 Conservative MPs are backing an attempt to increase parliamentary scrutiny over further coronavirus restrictions in England. Senior Tory Sir Graham Brady has tabled an amendment that would see the House of Commons debate and vote on any future such measures. It comes as MPs prepare to consider government legislation that will keep Covid-19 emergency powers in force. The government said it was consulting MPs on public health measures. The Coronavirus Act – which was passed in March – gave ministers emergency powers to respond to the pandemic but they were time-limited and need to be renewed by the House of Commons next week.
Guido has got his hands on the wording of the Brady amendment circulating among Tory MPs. As expected, the aim of the amendment is to allow MPs to debate and vote on new national Coronavirus measures. Tory rebels are seeking to append the Government’s statutory motion to make a strong statement about the intent of Parliament. Guido hears the proposals are popular, with MPs who have never rebelled before joining the ranks… One organiser tells Guido they would much prefer to reach accommodation with the government, than force a defeat on them. The amendment will be tabled tonight and appear on tomorrow’s order paper. Or you can read it today on Guido…
Half of Britons with tell-tale coronavirus symptoms such as a fever and persistent cough may not actually have the disease, a study has suggested. Public Health England (PHE) researchers looked at 1,000 key workers who thought they had recovered from Covid-19 over summer after suffering the disease’s most common symptoms. But 49 per cent of the participants tested negative for antibodies in their blood — proteins that signal a person has previously had the virus. However, this may be an underestimate of those who had actually infection because there are other parts of the immune system that fight the virus — like T cells — which are not detectable with tests.
At least 10,000 people have unexpectedly died in their own home since mid-June, official statistics show. Seven-hundred ‘excess deaths’ in private homes have been registered each week in England and Wales alone since the pandemic began to die down. But only an average of 21 each week are down to the coronavirus, according to data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS). And rates have plummeted in recent weeks to as low as seven. Data shows 30,000 people have died in their homes in the UK since the start of the pandemic in March, and the pattern does not appear to be slowing.
Britons face virtual worldwide quarantine today after four more countries were taken off the list where holidaymakers can travel without Covid restrictions. There are now just nine holiday options that don’t include some form of test or restriction; both Greece (except for travellers from Scotland, or those visiting certain islands) and Italy survive, along with the likes of Turkey and Germany. The widening travel ban came as Iceland, Denmark, Slovakia and Curacao were axed from the UK’s quarantine-free “green list” this afternoon. From Saturday 4am any traveller from these destinations will have to quarantine for 14 days on arrival in the UK. With most countries still on the UK’s “green list” either requiring self-isolation or negative Covid tests on arrival, it means there are just seven destinations where “air bridges” remain open both ways.
Demand for autumn holidays in Turkey and Italy have risen dramatically as a growing number of countries come under strict UK government travel restrictions. Ministers announced today that arrivals from Denmark, Iceland, Slovakia and the Dutch Caribbean island of Curaçao will now come under the compulsory two-week quarantine. Restrictions have been introduced for 34 countries or islands previously deemed “safe” for British holidaymakers over the past two months. This includes Spain, France, Portugal, Malta, Croatia, Belgium and the Netherlands.
The sale of unregistered pay as you go mobile phones should be stopped to thwart criminals who use them to conduct County Lines drug operations, a senior police officer has said. Detective Superintendent Gareth Williams from the British Transport Police, said gangsters are able to operate using unregistered handsets that can send 500 text messages in one go and can be bought using cash without any details being recorded. Mr Williams called on mobile phone companies to stop people buying the phones without registering their personal details, insisting it would deal a major blow to the criminal network.
Fur sales will be banned after Britain’s departure from the EU single market and customs union under plans being drawn up by ministers, it was reported on Thursday night. The move is being spearheaded by Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park, minister at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, who is a close friend of Boris Johnson and his fiancée Carrie Symonds, an animal rights campaigner. Last year, Ms Symonds described anyone who wished to buy fur as “really sick” and that clothes brands were “nuts” to sell it.
Fur sales will be banned after Britain leaves the EU’s single market and customs union in December under proposals being drawn up by ministers. Lord Goldsmith, the Government’s animal welfare minister and a close friend and political ally of Boris Johnson and his fiancee Carrie Symonds, is understood to be spearheading the move. The Government is considering plans to prohibit the import of wild animal fur into the UK that would essentially forbid the sale of clothes containing fur in shops after the transition period.
Ministers are drawing up plans to mark the end of EU law in Britain by banning the import of wild animal fur. The government is considering rules that would, in effect, prohibit the sale of clothes containing fur in shops after Britain leaves the EU’s single market and customs union. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is expected to publish a consultation paper shortly after the Brexit transition period formally ends in December.
Just over a third of the total amount lost to scams where people were tricked into transferring money to a fraudster was returned to customers in the first half of 2020, according to figures from a trade association. A total of £207.8million was lost to authorised push payment (APP) scams between January and June 2020, UK Finance said. Banks and other finance providers were able to return £73.1 million, or around 35 per cent of the total, to customers – made up of £59.9 million returned to personal customers and £13.2 million going to non-personal or business accounts.
The vast majority of British citizens would support a 10p in the pound increase in income tax for high earners, a report has claimed, as the country braces itself for major tax increases in the coming years. Chancellor Rishi Sunak has warned the British public that taxes will need to rise to pay for the billions of pounds spent during the coronavirus crisis. However, there are major decisions to be made about how such tax increases would be applied.