BREXIT talks finished a day early and even the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier has been criticised by pro-EU group, Best for Britain as the two sides failed to make progress. Mr Barnier and his counterpart, David Frost, concluded Brexit talks a day early today as the EU’s chief negotiator admitted the areas of divergence still remain. Following negotiations today, Mr Barnier insisted the UK continues not to engage in talks. However, in a damning “indictment” of the EU’s negotiating strategy, pro-European group, Best for Britain, even hit out at the lack of progression in talks from both sides. CEO of the group, Naomi Smith said: “The lack of movement in these negotiations is a damning indictment of both sides’ negotiating strategy. “It is clear that though Britain would be hit hardest, both sides stand to lose from a failure to agree a deal.” The main areas of divergence remain the concept of a level-playing field, state aid, fisheries and the access to the single market for financial services. The EU has remained steadfast it will not drop its standards on the level-playing field or fair competition.
Michel Barnier accused British trade negotiators of a lack of respect after Brexit talks ended a day early on Thursday amid “serious divergences” between the UK and the EU. Mr Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator, blamed British intransigence and a refusal to engage in negotiations for the lack of progress in this week’s round of talks, which had been meant to close on Friday. The EU and UK are divided over fishing rights, the future role of the European Court of Justice, Brussels’ demands for “level playing field” guarantees and the governance of the future relationship treaty. “We want a deal but not at any price,” said Ursula von der Leyen, the European Commission president, during a press conference with Angela Merkel. The German Chancellor, whose country holds the presidency of the EU, warned the bloc needed to be prepared for a no deal exit.
The latest round of Brexit negotiations – the first face-to-face talks since the coronavirus lockdown began – have broken up early with “significant differences” remaining between the UK and EU. This week’s talks between UK and EU officials on a future trade deal had been due to continue until Friday. However, after four days, the latest discussions have ended with both sides admitting they continue to disagree on a number of issues.
Brexit talks broke up a day early yesterday amid “serious” disagreements and an accusation from Michel Barnier that the government was failing to respect concessions made by the EU. The EU’s chief negotiator expressed his disappointment that intensified talks and Boris Johnson’s pledge to put a “tiger in the tank” to clinch a deal had failed to make progress. “Our goal was to get negotiations successfully and quickly on a trajectory to reach an agreement. However, after four days of discussions, serious divergences remain,” he said.
This week’s round of trade talks between Brexit Britain and the European Union have ended a day early, with the UK’s negotiator David Frost saying there were “significant differences” remaining between the two parties. Talks in Brussels, Belgium, began on Monday and were meant to last all week. While Mr Frost said that “negotiations have been comprehensive and useful”, “they have also underlined the significant differences that still remain between us on a number of important issues”. “We remain committed to working hard to find an early understanding on the principles underlying an agreement out of the intensified talks process during July, as agreed at the HLM [high-level meeting] on 15 June. Talks will continue next week in London as agreed in the revised terms of reference published on 12 June,” Mr Frost said in a statement on Thursday.
BREXIT talks broke up 24 hours early on Thursday as Michel Barnier accused Britain of showing a lack of respect for his demands. He said there are still “serious divergences” between the two sides as the latest round of negotiations ended in deadlock. The Frenchman insisted he has “listened carefully” to the PM’s red lines on fishing and sovereignty and wants to find compromises. But he fumed: “The EU expects its positions to be better understood and respected in order to reach an agreement. “We need an equivalent engagement by the UK. We continue to believe that an agreement is possible and in everyone’s interest.” Britain’s negotiator David Frost said the first face-to-face meetings since March had provided “extra depth and flexibility” to the talks.
The latest negotiations in Brussels on an EU-UK trade and security deal have broken up early, with the EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, complaining of a lack of respect and engagement by the British government. The two sides ended the week’s talks – the first held in person since February – a day ahead of the jointly agreed schedule amid evident frustration at the lack of progress in bridging what both Barnier and his UK counterpart, David Frost, described as “serious” disagreements. “Our goal was to get negotiations successfully and quickly on a trajectory to reach an agreement,” Barnier said in a statement. “However, after four days of discussions, serious divergences remain.”
Latest Brexit trade talks broke up early today with negotiators admitting big splits remain as the clock ticks down to the deadline for a deal. UK and EU teams held this week’s round in Brussels – their first face-to-face meeting since the coronavirus outbreak – and will hold a return leg in London next week. A deadline for extending the 11-month transition has passed – piling pressure on negotiators to strike an agreement. Officials have until December 31 to secure a trade pact, with Britain due to leave the EU single market and customs union in less than six months.
Brexit trade talks in Brussels have ended a day early as David Frost, the UK’s chief negotiator, warned that “significant differences” remain between the two sides. The meetings taking place this week had been the first in-person discussions since the beginning of the coronavirus crisis, with conversations previously held via videoconference. But by Thursday lunchtime, officials said they had got as far as they could this week, despite the planned schedule including sessions later in the day and a further meeting on Friday.
At the beginning of April, with the country in the grip of lockdown, police began mounting raids against dozens of high-profile gangsters. It was initially thought astute police chiefs were simply taking advantage of the unprecedented situation to swoop on wanted criminals because they knew where to find them. But instead of street soldiers and the usual “low hanging fruit”, many of those arrested appeared to be kingpin criminals thought “untouchable” until now. The suspects were as baffled as anyone as to why they were suddenly being picked up, perhaps fearing the work of a supergrass. But then, on June 12, some of the most senior members of Britain’s criminal fraternity received a text on their mobiles that made everything clear. The top-secret, encrypted messaging platform EncroChat, which they had for four years used for their business, had been compromised by law enforcement agencies. The message from the shadowy France-based provider was stark: “We can no longer guarantee the security of your device. We advise you to power off and physically dispose of your device immediately.”
Britain’s biggest ever crime bust has captured 746 crooked kingpins and foiled hundred of plots after raids by every UK police force, with £54 million of dirty cash, two tonnes of drugs and 77 firearms seized after an impenetrable phone network was smashed. Pictured today is the stunning mountain of dirty cash, guns and Fendi-embossed ‘designer cocaine’ hidden in supermarket bags that were seized from suburban homes. A sting stretching the globe saw scores of raids carried out across the country in a major move in the battle against drugs, guns and illegal activity, which top level criminals ran through what they thought was a ‘impenetrable’ secret phone network. But the National Crime Agency and European forces managed to get inside the phone system called EncroChat in an operation dubbed Operation Venetic, and listen in on drug lords and businessman as they planned operations, trafficked humans and even arranged hitmen for murders.
The National Crime Agency and police have struck the biggest blow against organised crime in decades by infiltrating an encrypted phone network used for trafficking drugs and firearms. Intelligence from Encrochat, which had been used by about 10,000 criminals in Britain to co-ordinate their activities, is expected to bring down previously untouchable figures. Almost 800 criminals in Britain have already been arrested after French officials hacked the platform two months ago and passed secret messages on it to the NCA. Up to 200 potential gangland murders have been thwarted, while £54 million in cash, 77 firearms and two tonnes of drugs have been seized.
A rise in babies with head injuries suspected to be caused by abuse has been reported by a specialist children’s hospital during the pandemic. Ten babies aged from 17 days to 13 months with suspected abusive head trauma were treated in Great Ormond Street Hospital during the first month of lockdown, according to a journal letter. During the same period over the previous three years (March 23 – April 23), the London hospital saw an average of 0.67 cases a month. The authors warn that the figures are likely to be an under-estimate given the avoidance of hospitals due to fears of contracting Covid-19.
Child abuse soared during the lockdown, specialists at one of Britain’s leading children’s hospitals have warned after seeing a surge in cases. In just one month, the number of new cases at the head trauma unit of Great Ormond Street Hospital rose by 1,493 per cent compared with the same period in the previous three years, which consultants said pointed to a “silent pandemic”. Usually fewer than one child a month is admitted with a head injury caused by physical abuse, but 10 youngsters were brought for treatment between March 23 and April 23, the month immediately following the beginning of lockdown.
All care home staff will be tested every week and elderly residents every month to prevent outbreaks. More testing laboratories are planned as the government shifts towards regular testing of asymptomatic people who are in jobs involving contact with large numbers of people. The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) recommends regular testing of taxi drivers, shop workers and other “high-contact” professionals, who have higher death rates. It recommended testing asymptomatic care staff after a study of 9,000 showed the problem of those with no symptoms spreading the virus between homes. Regular testing will be available to almost two million people from Monday.
New virus infections are declining in hotspots in the north and Midlands, figures show, easing fears of more local lockdowns. Infection rates have fallen by a third in Bradford and Barnsley, the two areas with the highest rates after Leicester. Bedford, which is keeping playgrounds closed this weekend after a spike in cases, saw them halve last week to 18 per 100,000 people. In Bradford officials are stepping up efforts to avoid a lockdown, including advising key worker families to draw up a rota for bathing if they live with a vulnerable person and to minimise time spent in kitchens and living rooms.
CORONAVIRUS infection rates are deeply divided across England as new data reveals only eight of the country’s 50 worst-hit areas are in the south. The newly-released data from Public Health England gives an eye-opening snapshot of Covid-19 cases across England as the threat of more ‘local lockdowns’ looms. Infection rates were highest in Leicester for the week ending June 21st with 140.2 cases confirmed for every 100,000 people. The city also became the first in the UK to enter into a local lockdown this week with schools and non-essential shops closing their doors.
Only eight of England’s 50 areas worst-hit by coronavirus are in the South, according to official data that lays bare the country’s North-South divide amid the growing threat of more ‘local lockdowns’. Leicester — the first city in UK to be struck by further Covid-controlling measures — has the worst infection rate in the country, with 140.2 cases confirmed between June 15-21 for every 100,000 people. It is followed by a cluster in the North West of England, with Bradford, Barnsley and Rochdale all recording at least 50 coronavirus infections for every 100,000 people in the same seven-day spell.
Deaths from coronavirus appear to have stopped falling as infections also continue to plateau. Official data shows that the seven-day rolling average of deaths has stayed broadly stable at about 117 over the past week, with only a 1.2 per cent fall from the week before. In the seven days to Wednesday deaths totalled 825, compared with 823 the week before. This compares with weekly falls of more than 20 per cent in both of the three previous weeks and experts said the consequences of flat-lining infection rates were feeding through to mortality figures. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said infection rates were flat, with 3,500 people catching the virus every day, not significantly different to the week before.
English holidaymakers will be free to travel to France, Spain, Italy and Germany without facing 14-day quarantine from next week, Grant Shapps announced on Thursday night. The Transport Secretary will publish a list of more than 60 countries on Friday where the Government proposes to abandon its quarantine policy and open up the borders to free travel. They will be rated under a traffic light system with travellers to the lowest coronavirus risk “green” countries facing no quarantine on their return to the UK, although they may face restrictions in those nations.
Air bridges allowing tourists to travel to France, Italy and other countries were confirmed late last night. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office will today set out exemptions from a number of countries from its ‘all but essential’ travel guidance from July 4. However the measures exempting travellers from quarantine will not be in force until July 10. The majority of passengers will still have to provide contact details when they arrive in England. Those who have been through countries still on the quarantine list in the past 14 days will still have to self-isolate for two weeks.
Quarantine-free “air bridges” will be introduced next week but will initially apply only to people arriving into England, it will be announced today. The Department for Transport said that holidaymakers would be able to travel to and from a “small list” of countries without self-isolating for two weeks on their return. The change will be introduced in England from next Friday, July 10 — four days later than originally planned — after a row with the devolved government in Scotland. It was confirmed that Germany, France, Spain and Italy would be among the countries in the first wave of agreements.
GCSE exams could be delayed next year to June 7 and could have more optional questions in test papers under proposals unveiled by England’s exams regulator. Ofqual launched a two-week consultation on its plans GCSEs and A-level exams in 2021 after students faced months of school closures due to the Covid-19 pandemic. It is considering how next year’s exam timetable could be changed to allow more time for teaching. The watchdog is proposing delaying the start of the GCSE exam series to after the half-term break.
SCHOOLS must reopen in September or ministers will force them to, Gavin Williamson said on Thursday. The Education Secretary warned unions cannot “dictate” what is best for kids as he pledged to get all pupils back to class after summer. He told Thursday’s No 10 press conference: “We see all local authorities now accepting the fact that they have to work with us to ensure all schools are open. “And while we didn’t want to, we had to highlight to some local authorities the fact that we did have powers and we would use those power.” The Government has the legal power to force schools to open, but Whitehall sources said they did not expect to have to use it.
BORIS Johnson warned China its brutal crackdown in Hong Kong risks the Huawei deal. The PM said he cannot accept letting “potentially hostile state vendors” into our 5G network. His strongest attack yet on developments in HK hinted they could get tech giant Huawei banned from Britain. It came after Beijing spoke of retribution over his offer of sanctuary to three million British nationals in the former colony. Foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian issued a veiled threat that the UK will have to “bear any consequences caused” by that decision. He said: “Hong Kong matters are China’s domestic affairs and no countries have any right to intervene.”
China’s ‘unacceptable’ crackdown in Hong Kong could shut the door to Huawei’s involvement in Britain’s 5G mobile network, Boris Johnson has said as London and Beijing traded blows today. Mr Johnson said the draconian new security law that China has imposed on Hong Kong was ‘plainly an unacceptable breach’ of the freedoms that the city was guaranteed after Britain handed it back in 1997. Linking the crisis to the Huawei deal, the PM told the Evening Standard that ‘I don’t want to see our critical national infrastructure at risk of being in any way controlled by potentially hostile state vendors… so we have to think very carefully about how to proceed now.’ Mr Johnson has been under massive pressure to change course on Huawei after agreeing in January to give the Chinese tech giant a ‘limited’ role in the 5G network, despite fears that Beijing would use it for espionage.
China has said it would take “corresponding measures” if Boris Johnson’s government pushes forward with its plan to give three million Hong Kong residents the chance to settle in the UK. The Chinese foreign ministry claimed the offer violated previous agreements. As Beijing faces international condemnation for imposing a new security law on the city, Australian prime minister Scott Morrison suggested his government may follow the UK in offering visas to Hong Kong citizens. It came as the US Senate approved a bill imposing sanctions on Chinese officials and any Hong Kong police units clashing with protesters.