A ‘furious’ Priti Patel last night backed sending Royal Navy patrols into the English Channel after a record number of migrants reached Britain. Officials have been ordered to draw up plans in which, for the first time, the Navy could turn back boats. Yesterday 235 migrants in 17 vessels made the perilous crossing – the highest daily total since the crisis began, surpassing the previous record of 202 set on Thursday last week. The number who have reached Britain so far this year is now already double the total who arrived in the whole of 2019. Nearly 3,950 migrants made the crossing in small boats in the first 219 days of 2020 – compared with 1,850 last year.
PRITI PATEL has “backed” the Royal Navy’s assistance in policing Britain’s border crisis, after record migrants crossed the English Channel. The Home Secretary has ordered officials to draw up plans using the Royal Navy to turn back boats ferrying migrants. It followed a record 235 migrants in 17 vessels being caught in one day, the highest daily total of migrants making the crossing since the crisis began. Last year, Mrs Patel pledged that illegal immigration would be nearly completely curbed by this point.
MPs have launched an inquiry into the increase in the number of people trying to enter the UK by using small boats to cross the English Channel. More than 1,000 migrants arrived on UK shores in this way in July. The Commons home affairs committee will look at the role of criminal gangs play in facilitating these crossings, as well as the responses of UK and French authorities. Labour said ministers were “failing to get to grips with the crisis”.
A HEAVILY pregnant woman and her children were among a record number of migrants who made it across the Channel to Britain today (Thursday). An estimated 230 took advantage of the calm waters to tackle the 21-mile straight in dozens of small boats and kayaks. It was the highest daily total on record — topping the 202 on July 30 — and means 3,800 illegals have reached our waters this year. Home Secretary Priti Patel has demanded Border Force officials to carry out a review of our defences in the Channel following calls to send in the Navy to tackle the crossings.
The Royal Navy will be needed to perform returns of illegal boat migrants to France in the English Channel, said the union representing the UK Border Force. The Union for Borders, Immigration, and Customs (ISU) said that Border Force officials are ill-equipped to handle dangerous situations and possible violence from migrants attempting to cross the Channel illegally. “They are designed for rescue, not incarceration,” claimed Lucy Moreton, the professional officer of the ISU, in comments reported by The Telegraph — an assessment at odds with the public’s perception that Border Force exists to enforce national borders.
The Navy could be called in to help reduce the number of illegal migrants crossing the Channel after 235 reached the UK in a new record for a single day. Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, has ordered a review of the UK’s current sea capability in the Channel, which could see the Navy recalled to help tackle the situation for the first time since her predecessor, Sajid Javid, requested military aid last January. “We are looking at what other assets might be needed – including, potentially, the Navy,” said a Government source.
MPs are to investigate a surge in migrants crossing the English Channel in small boats after more than 2,000 people were reported to have entered the country by this route in June. The home affairs select committee, chaired by Labour’s Yvette Cooper, is to examine the reasons behind the growth in crossings and will look at the role of criminal gangs. In 2018 fewer than 500 people were detected to have entered the UK by small boat across the Channel, but the number has surged this year, with at least 202 migrants crossing to Britain on one day alone last week in 20 boats.
A heavily pregnant woman and young children were among migrants who successfully crossed the Channel yesterday, bringing the number of arrivals so far this year to more than double the total in the whole of last year. The woman was among a group of about 16 migrants, ten of them young children, who landed on Dungeness beach in Kent. Others arrived at Dover after being intercepted by Border Force.
Nigel Farage released footage on Tuesday apparently showing illegal boat migrants being loaded onto coaches at the Port of Dover, as the UK Border Force brought over 100 more migrants ashore after crossing the English Channel from France. The Brexit Party leader questioned whether the migrants will be moved to “a hotel near you” — a reference to an investigation Mr Farage carried out last week that uncovered a hotel in the West Midlands housing 147 asylum seekers at public expense while refusing to take bookings from native Britons.
Boris Johnson needs to be more “realistic and pragmatic” if he wants a Brexit trade deal with the EU, Germany’s foreign minister has said. Michael Roth said he was “disappointed” with the UK’s lack of flexibility in negotiations so far, with just five months left to sign a deal and EU officials warning an agreement looks “unlikely”. Both sides are still at loggerheads over fisheries, regulatory alignment, the role of the European Court of Justice, police and judicial cooperation, and the overall shape of any deal. Mr Roth told the AFP news agency he was “disappointed that London is shifting further and further away from the political declaration agreed between us as a reliable basis for negotiations” – previous commitments made the prime minister during the first stage of talks.
GERMANY has demanded Britain be more “realistic and pragmatic” in the Brexit trade talks with the European Union. European affairs minister Michael Roth accused Boris Johnson’s negotiating team rowing back on previous agreements with the bloc. Berlin is “disappointed that London is shifting further and further away from the Political Declaration agreed between us as a reliable basis for the negotiations,” he fumed. “I would like those responsible in London to be more realistic and pragmatic.”
The government is considering a plan to scrap reduced jail sentences for ‘bang to rights’ criminals who plead guilty to their crimes. It follows backlash after one of the killers of PC Andrew Harper had his sentence slashed by a third. Justice Secretary Robert Buckland is reportedly studying proposals to end the current practice of reducing jail sentences by one third. Under current UK law, if an offender does admit to their crime it usually means they get a reduced sentence with a maximum of a third off when they admit their crime at the very earliest opportunity.
The easing of lockdown restrictions did not result in an increase in Covid-19 infection rates in England, the largest swab testing survey carried out to date has found. Although there are fears that releasing measures too soon has led to localised spikes in some areas, new data suggests that there was no overall rise after primary schools returned and non-essential shops reopened. According to Imperial College London and Ipsos Mori, community prevalence actually fell after lockdown measures were relaxed, decreasing from 12 infections per 10,000 people in May to eight in 10,000 by mid-June to early July.
Swindon and parts of the north west of England have seen significant rises in their coronavirus rates, new figures from the NHS have revealed. The Covid-19 cases per 100,000 for every local authority in England have been revealed with the release of the rolling seven-day rate of new infections. Many of the areas which have experienced increased infection rates are ones which have been placed under localised lockdown by the government.
BELGIUM is the latest country to be bumped from safe travel list after a spike in cases – with UK holidaymakers now facing two weeks isolation. It is joined by Andorra and the Bahamas who also drop off the “green light” nations list after a jump in coronavirus outbreaks. Also, visitors from Malaysia and Brunia will not have to quarantine when entering the UK after fewer people contracted the bug in the south east Asian nations.
A rise in coronavirus infections in France is being closely monitored by ministers after Norway re-imposed quarantine on it. France’s weekly rate has overtaken that of Portugal, which has reduced its coronavirus cases to the extent that ministers are considering lifting the travel ban on it next week and allowing flights to the country and its islands of the Azores and Madeira. The moves came as it was announced Belgium, Andorra and the Bahamas will this weekend be removed from the Government’s “green” list which exempts arrivals to the UK from self-isolating for 14 days.
People arriving into the UK from Belgium, the Bahamas and Andorra will have to quarantine for 14 days. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the changes start at 04:00 BST on Saturday except in Wales, where it started midnight on Thursday. The countries are the latest to have a change in rules, after quarantines were reimposed for Spain and Luxembourg. The Foreign Office is also warning against “all but essential travel” to the three countries.
Thousands of holidays could be at risk as France is ‘highly likely’ to be added to the 14-day quarantine list following a dramatic rise in coronavirus infections, according to travel experts. Tourists returning to the UK could soon be facing a 14 days in self-isolation amid speculation that France will be added to the Foreign Office’s quarantine list. The number of daily coronavirus cases in the country has soared in recent days, with 1,695 new infections being recorded just yesterday, as it battles a second wave of Covid-19.
BRITISH tourists headed to France have been warned they may have to quarantine on their return to the UK. The European country reported its highest daily increase since May 30 of 1,695 new cases this week – as fears of a second wave of infections intensify. Brits can currently travel to and from France without quarantining on arrival or return, and there are no bans in place. There are also no entry restrictions regarding coronavirus tests or entry forms needed to be filled out.
British tourists planning to visit France are being warned that they may have to quarantine on their return amid fears of a second wave of coronavirus there. Holidaymakers should only book trips that can be easily rearranged at 24 hours’ notice, a senior aviation source said last night, adding that France was “bubbling” with cases. One leading travel consultant predicted that France had only five days to bring its infection numbers down or the British government would add it to its quarantine list.
Germany has recorded more than 1,000 new coronavirus cases in a day for the first time since early May as the government said that all new arrivals from “risky” countries would be obliged to take a test. The number of infections has been gently but steadily rising across much of the country over the past fortnight. Yesterday it reached 1,045 new cases, up from fewer than 400 a day on average in the middle of July.
Test & trace
The NHS has been accused of wasting ‘eye-watering’ sums after it emerged its main virus ‘test and trace’ contract has cost taxpayers £900-plus per person contacted. Private firm Serco has a £108million 13-week deal to get in touch with people who test positive and their close contacts and encourage them to isolate for two weeks. But figures uncovered by Labour show that after nine weeks only 83,000 people have been contacted, at a cost to the taxpayer of £902.50 for each one.
Thousands of England’s coronavirus sufferers’ recent contacts are failing to go into isolation after they were not reached by NHS Test and Trace. Of Covid-19 patients who spoke to the “world-beating” system on July 23-29, 72.4% of their recent contacts were reached and told to self-isolate. That figure has fallen two weeks in a row and is now at the second-lowest since NHS Test and Trace launched at the end of May. The figures will spark fears some people could be unwittingly spreading the virus – which is at its most infectious at, or just before, the onset of symptoms.
It’s already well-known that being overweight is a major risk factor for contracting the novel coronavirus. But some health experts fear that when a vaccine finally becomes available, it may not protect obese Americans as well as the general population.. Previous studies have found that inoculations for influenza and hepatitis B have been less effective in obese adults, making them more prone to illness and severe complications such as organ failure and death. Researchers theorize a COVD-19 vaccine may result in similar circumstances, leaving one of the most at-risk populations vulnerable during the pandemic that has already sickened 4.8 million and killed more than 158,000 in the US.
The NHS has pulled out of a deal allowing it to take over private hospitals, raising fears about efforts to clear a huge backlog of patient care. Paying patients are expected to benefit as the health service releases a quarter of private hospital capacity from the deal next month, saying that it is too expensive to treat patients in Harley Street clinics even at cost price. Fourteen hospitals in London and eight in cities from Exeter to Leeds are being released from the deal immediately.
NHS bosses have been urged not to axe non-covid treatments even if there is a second wave, it was reported last night. Doctors have warned that cancelling non-urgent operations will inflict pain and misery on tens of thousands of patients. Many were axed in March to ensure hospitals could cope with a flood of seriously ill virus sufferers. The lockdown has been linked to thousands of avoidable deaths among non-coronavirus patients. Leading surgeons said the decision had turned the NHS into a ‘Covid-only service’.
Pupils will be allowed to challenge “unfair” A-level and GCSE grades after the exam regulator changed its stance in the face of a backlash from headteachers. Schools will now be allowed to appeal against results in “exceptional” cases if they believe students are incorrectly marked down by the statistical modelling being used to calculate the grades. The decision comes in the wake of the Scottish results fiasco, where close to 125,000 predicted grades were downgraded by the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA).
Thousands more pupils could get the right of appeal over their A-level grades next week after a key concession by the exam regulator. Schools will have greater scope to challenge results on behalf of entire year groups after the move by Ofqual. Exams were cancelled this year and teachers had to provide grades for each child and put them in ranked order within the class. These grades could be changed by exam boards according to the school’s previous performance.
With just a week to go before results day, schools in England were last night given fresh powers to appeal against poor grades. Exam watchdog Ofqual was spurred into action by the outcry over Tuesday’s Scottish Highers, nearly a quarter of which were downgraded by education chiefs. This year’s A-level and GCSE exams were cancelled due to the coronavirus crisis, so teenagers are to be awarded marks based on their teachers’ assessments. The regulator now admits that ‘high ability’ students at poor schools could get worse-than-deserved results.
Boris Johnson is facing discontent from Tory-controlled local authorities by ordering England’s more affluent areas to release the most land for housing. Under a reform of planning laws, local control over the rate of building will effectively be removed. Instead, central government will “distribute” an annual target, at present 300,000 homes, among local authorities, which will be required to designate enough land to meet it.
Affluent areas will be forced to build more new homes in a radical shake-up of the planning system that will see computers decide on applications. Boris Johnson last night admitted the controversial reforms will be seen by some as ‘too much change too fast’ and ‘too much of a break from what has gone before’. But the Prime Minister insisted it was important to ‘take big, bold steps’ so the country can ‘finally build the homes we all need’. Under the proposals, ministers will dictate how many homes have to be built each year in local areas, with mandatory figures set by central Government for councils.
SOCIAL housing could “face extinction” under the government’s sweeping reforms to the planning system, a charity warned today. Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick claims the proposals, which constitute the biggest shake up of the planning system since World War II, will cut red tape and speed up house building. Under proposals in the planning for the future white paper, the government intends to scrap section 106 agreements and the community infrastructure levy, legislation which delivers 50 per cent of the country’s affordable housing.
The government’s proposals to “cut red tape” in the planning system will make it harder to build affordable and social homes in the capital, the mayor of London has warned. Writing in The Independent, Sadiq Khan said the changes would “mean fewer social and affordable homes being built every year, poorer quality housing and local people left with out-of-place buildings and no opportunity to have their say”. The government’s wide-ranging proposals include abolishing Section 106, a legal instrument that gives councils powers to require developers to build infrastructure or affordable homes in order to get planning permission.
The number of new affordable homes could fall sharply in some areas under an exemption for smaller developments in the planning reforms. Developers are at present required to contribute to affordable housing on sites involving ten or more new homes. The planning white paper proposes lifting that threshold to 40 or 50 homes “for an initial period of 18 months” to boost building during the economic recovery. Paul Miner, head of planning at the Campaign to Protect Rural England, said that many rural areas and small towns tended to have developments of fewer than 40 homes, meaning that they would miss out on gaining much-needed affordable housing.