Brexit

Express

UK taxpayers have paid the EU an eye-watering £41billion since voting to quit the bloc in 2016, a shocking new analysis has revealed. And Facts4EU.Org has warned the nation is also faced with the prospect of forking out billions more – with payments scheduled for the next 44 years. The preliminary report, published on the organisation’s website, breaks down the total amount handed over to Brussels in the four-and-a-half years since the referendum. The figure comprises £5.1billion in the second half of 2016, £9.3billion in 2017, £9.1billion in 2018, £9.4billion in 2019 and £8.2billion last year. Taking June 24, 2016 – the day after the referendum result – as a starting point, the UK has therefore paid the EU £24,863,554 a day in the 1,649 days since the vote. David Evans, spokesman for the Facts4EU.Org team told Express.co.uk its report was based on official Government figures gathered from HM Treasury, the Office for Budget Responsibility, and the House of Commons Library. The figure comprises £5.1billion in the second half of 2016, £9.3billion in 2017, £9.1billion in 2018, £9.4billion in 2019 and £8.2billion last year.

Express

DOING business with Europe is more attractive than ever for British exporters, one of France’s leading customs chiefs has claimed.

Defying the naysayers, French officials have deployed new “smart border” technology to beat chaos at their ports after the introduction of new post-Brexit trading rules. Trucks are flowing freely between Dover and Calais thanks to the system, which Jean-Michel Thillier, the head customs official for the Hauts-de-France region, insisted has made the route “more attractive than in the past”. Even with new paperwork requirements, he said his team of officers in northern France had managed to process thousands of lorries with ease.

Brussels officials had previously branded such systems “magical thinking” after similar proposals by Brexiteers to minimise border friction.

 

EU

Express

THE blame for France’s vaccine rollout fiasco lies squarely on the shoulders of Emmanuel Macron, with the President having made his country the “laughing stock” of the continent, an MEP has said.

Debate is currently raging after the revelation that France was lagging far behind other countries in terms of administering the jab to its population, with figures suggesting just 5,000 had been inoculated as of yesterday. Nicolas Bay, the general secretary of the right-wing National Rally party led by Marine Le Pen, was in no doubt where the responsibility lay.

He told Express.co.uk: “The government of Emmanuel Macron and Jean Castex must be blamed.” The supply and distribution of vaccines should have been anticipated weeks ago, Mr Bay insisted.

Express

MICHEL BARNIER has handed Brexiteers an “undeserved gift” in the post-Brexit trade and security deal, senior MEPs have warned.

In a letter to the EU’s Brexit chief, leaders from the European Parliament’s green bloc claimed Britain is free to transform itself into a “Singapore on Thames”-styled economy. Philippe Lamberts, the group’s co-chair, and Sven Giegold, its financial affairs spokesman, bemoaned the lack of EU provisions to prevent the City of London from outcompeting European finance hubs. They wrote: “In summary, nothing in the draft agreement would hinder the UK from converting itself into a ‘Singapore on Thames’, at least in terms of taxation and anti-money laundering policies.Politically this is an undeserved gift for those Brexiteers who hoped for this future for the UK.”

Cities and towns with freeport status will benefit from tax breaks, simpler customs procedures and wider Government support to attract fresh investment from within the UK and overseas.

Messrs Lamberts and Giegold have proposed that Brussels uses the prospect of suspending the City of London’s easy access to the single market as “leverage” to keep Britain from deregulating its tax policy.

Fisheries

Express

BREXIT is done, apparently, and the Prime Minister on Sunday finally revealed what ‘taking back control’ of our waters means to him, telling Andrew Marr that we will be able to “ban these huge Hoover trawlers” which are destroying our oceans now that we have left the European Union.

The Government has already made vague commitments to stop these destructive vessels from fishing in our protected areas after Brexit, but to hear the Prime Minister himself say this is an exciting step in the right direction.

However, words are cheap, and the Prime Minister’s words on Sunday are undermined by the decision to grant licenses to at least SEVEN supertrawlers so they can continue fishing in the UK’s protected areas this year.

If the Prime Minister really means what he said, he must act and ban bottom trawlers and supertrawlers from all of the UK’s Marine Protected Areas.

This could be done immediately by using the UK’s renewed powers in the 2020 Fisheries Act to restrict the fishing licenses of any destructive vessels that are operating in our protected areas.

Express

According to a leaked Government document, the UK won 2.5 times more victories than the EU. The paper, drafted as part of the Government’s attempt to sell the deal to eurosceptic MPs, claimed David Frost’s negotiators got their way on 43 percent of the major issues, compared with 17 percent for the EU’s Michel Barnier, with 40 percent of the treaty being a balanced compromise.

The crucial issue of fishing was described as a mutual compromise, with the Government settling for a 5.5-year transition “during which access is fixed”.

However, Brussels might soon find itself in trouble, as many EU member states have already started complaining about the new arrangement.

NHS staff

iNews

The NHS faces catastrophe unless the public take lockdown seriously and stay at home, a leading professor of intensive care has warned.

Rupert Pearse, consultant at the Royal London Hospital, said staff were becoming overstretched which was leaving colleagues unsure whether they can provide appropriate levels of care. He said there would usually be one fully-trained intensive care unit (ICU) nurse to one ICU patient but said this was not currently possible. The warning came as NHS trusts in London are on the verge of being overwhelmed, according to leaked health service documents, while other trusts are rapidly turning normal wards into intensive care units (ICUs). According to a Zoom presentation seen by the Health Service Journal (HSJ), hospital capacity in London will not be enough for the expected rise in patients in the coming weeks. The data showed even if the number of Covid patients grows at the lowest rate considered likely, and measures to manage demand and increase capacity, including opening the capital’s Nightingale hospital, are successful, the NHS in London will be short of nearly 2,000 general and acute and intensive care beds by January 19.

 

Vaccine

Mail

Boris Johnson today announced he is bringing in the Army to bolster the UK’s coronavirus vaccination drive and claimed the NHS will be able to give 200,000 jabs every day by next Friday as part of ambitious lockdown-ending plans.

With the roll-out of vaccines the only light at the end of the tunnel, the Prime Minister today reassured the public there are enough doses available to get all the top priority groups immunised by mid-February. He also pledged to offer every care home resident a jab by the end of January and announced a new national online booking system that is hoped will be speed up the process.

And for people who get sick before they can get a vaccine, Mr Johnson announced that two routine arthritis drugs – tocilizumab and sarilumab – would be used to treat critically-ill patients after scientists today found they can cut the risk of death by up to a quarter.

Sun

BORIS Johnson last night vowed to vaccinate at least 200,000 Brits a day by next week — with the Army joining his Covid war.

The PM said that by next Friday, January 15, the rollout of the vaccine would be hugely ramped up, as he revealed that nearly 1.5million had been given their first dose so far.

Putting Britain on a war-footing in his new strategy to defeat the virus with “battle preparation techniques to help us keep up the pace” the PM laid out his plan for how to get there.

A new national booking service for people to be vaccinated will also be unveiled – and no one will have to travel more than ten miles to get one, the PM added.

He said more than 1,400 hospitals, GP practices and pharmacies would be immunising patients by the end of next week.

And he insisted he had “no doubt” that there would be enough supply to offer everyone in the top four vulnerable groups a vaccine by his February 15 deadline.

A fuller plan will be published on Monday – along with the first day of the daily vaccine figures.

NHS boss Simon Stevens said the bulk of the jabs will be through GPs offering it to local patients, but people will also be able to get them through hospital hubs, and mass vaccination centres working 7 days a week.

Times

An arthritis drug that cuts the risk of death for the sickest Covid-19 patients by 24 per cent could save thousands of lives just as the NHS starts to be overwhelmed.

Tocilizumab was also found to reduce the time that critically ill patients spent in intensive care by up to ten days, offering help to hospitals facing what the head of the health service called last night an “incredibly serious situation”.

Boris Johnson promised: “These life-saving drugs will be available through the NHS with immediate effect.”

Updated guidance will be issued to NHS hospitals today encouraging them to use tocilizumab in their treatment of Covid-19 patients who are admitted to intensive care units.

Mirror

The Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine “is effective” against the new mutant Covid variants, a major study has found. The vaccine appeared to work against a key mutation in the highly transmissible new variants of the coronavirus discovered in the UK and South Africa, according to a laboratory study conducted by the US drugmaker. The encouraging news will be a relief to many in Britain with soaring cases and deaths from Covid fuelled by the highly infectious new variant.

Scientists had cast doubt over whether vaccines would protect against new variants, particularly the one rife in South Africa.

The not-yet peer reviewed study by Pfizer and scientists from the University of Texas Medical Branch indicated the vaccine was effective in neutralising virus with the so-called N501Y mutation of the spike protein. The study was conducted on blood taken from people who had been given the vaccine. Its findings are limited, because it does not look at the full set of mutations found in either of the new variants of the rapidly spreading virus.

 

Social care

Mail

Care homes say it would be a ‘grave mistake’ to use their empty beds as overflow for packed hospitals as the number of people being admitted with Covid-19 surges.

The NHS is making plans to commandeer spare care beds across the country to help release pressure on hospitals as their wards fill up with coronavirus patients.

But the Government is blocking the move to send patients to care homes because it doesn’t want to pay and fears patients could spread Covid to the homes’ extremely vulnerable residents, the Health Service Journal reports.

The National Care Forum warned that care homes are facing their own ‘phenomenal’ pressures and cannot cope with NHS patients too. It argued calls to protect the NHS must not ignore the ‘massive potential impact’ on care homes.

 

Scotland

Express

NICOLA STURGEON will find negotiating EU membership for an independent Scotland incredibly difficult, as Brussels will not want “another Greece” joining the bloc, an economist has claimed in an exclusive interview with Express.co.uk. Despite Prime Minister Boris Johnson rejecting her independence demands, Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon wants to hold a second referendum in the spring of 2021.

In a recent column for the Irish Times, Ms Sturgeon reiterated that independence is Scotland’s only route to rejoining the EU.

She wrote: “We are now faced with a hard Brexit against our will, at the worst possible time in the middle of a pandemic and economic recession. It is therefore not surprising that a consistent majority of people in Scotland now say they are in favour of becoming an independent country. Scotland, like all nations, is unique.The same can be said of our constitutional circumstances.”

In an exclusive interview with Express.co.uk, though, Economics Professor at Edinburgh Napier University Piotr Jaworski explained why it is very unlikely Brussels will allow Scotland to join its bloc.

Mail

Tougher lockdown restrictions could be needed in Scotland as the NHS is coming under ‘severe and increasing pressure’ from Covid-19, Nicola Sturgeon has warned. Days after mainland Scotland entered its second national lockdown, the First Minister warned stricter measures could still be needed to combat the faster spreading strain of Covid-19.

Her comments came as the number of people in hospital in Scotland with the virus rose to 1,467 – ‘pretty close’ to the number reached at the peak of the first wave.

Some activities which were halted in March have been allowed to continue, such as professional sport and some construction and manufacturing work. But Ms Sturgeon said: ‘For this lockdown to really be as effective as we need it to be we must radically reduce the number of interactions we are having, and that means reducing to a minimum when people are required to leave their homes.

Speaking at her daily coronavirus briefing, the First Minister added: ‘At this stage people need to prioritise limiting the spread of this virus, and if we think as a Government that we need to go further in terms of the regulations and the legal restrictions, we will do that, because we have to cut interactions sufficiently to stop this virus spreading.

Express

NICOLA STURGEON has been attacked by George Galloway over Scotland’s coronavirus vaccine rollout. Scotland’s First Minister has faced pressure following claims the SNP Government’s coronavirus vaccine timetable has been delayed. Earlier this week, Nicola Sturgeon said more than 100,000 people have received their first dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech or Oxford/AstraZeneca jab. Ms Sturgeon said she is aiming for everyone over 50 and younger people with underlying health conditions in the devolved nation to receive their first dose by early May.

However, the First Minister’s rivals called her out on an apparent contradiction as the SNP’s health secretary said Scotland’s entire adult population would be vaccinated “by spring”. George Galloway, a former MP and critic of the SNP party, blasted Ms Sturgeon for her “absurd” vaccine response. Taking to Twitter, Mr Galloway wrote: “The situation is perfectly absurd. A British vaccine paid for with British money distributed by the British Army maladministered by a devolved administration syphoning resources to bring about the break-up of Britain. Farcical.”

 

Overseas travel

Guardian

International travellers will need to show a negative Covid-19 test before being allowed into the UK, the government has announced, in a significant toughening of border controls to try to stem the spread of new coronavirus variants. The new rules will take effect next week and apply to returning UK nationals as well as foreign citizens. Passengers will need to produce a test result taken less than 72 hours before boarding planes, boats or trains to the UK, and could be fined £500 in border spot checks without a negative result. Arrivals will still need to quarantine for 10 days, even with a negative test, unless they are coming from one of the limited number of countries deemed low risk on the government’s travel corridor list. The rules will officially only apply to England but ministers were said to be working closely with the devolved administrations on similar measures for Wales and Northern Ireland. The Scottish government confirmed it would adopt the same plan, while adding it would not affect current rules that make non-essential travel to and from Scotland illegal. The rules will not apply to visitors from Ireland, which is also expected to put a similar scheme in place this week.

It comes as other countries including France close their borders to British travellers due to the highly transmissible new variant of Covid-19 first identified in the UK.

Times

All international travellers, including Britons abroad, will have to produce a negative coronavirus test result to enter England and Scotland under new restrictions. Arrivals will have to take a test up to three days before travelling as part of the measures likely to be introduced from next Thursday. It will mirror systems used by other countries. All airlines, ferry operators and cross-Channel rail services will have to check for proof of a negative result and bar passengers without one. Those who arrive in England and Scotland without a negative test will face £500 on-the-spot fines.

Mail

Britons may be stranded abroad as ministers say travellers will be banned from entering the UK within days if they do not have proof they are clear of coronavirus. Passengers will be banned from entering the UK next week if they do not have a negative test within 72 hours of departure. But there are concerns in the travel industry some will be stuck on holiday because many destinations – such as Barbados – do not have testing facilities. It is expected to cause a scramble for return flights as around 100,000 Brits are currently away in hotspots such as Dubai and the Maldives. They will apply to Britons and foreign nationals in a bid to keep out infections and mutant strains such as the one in South Africa. The curbs could come in next week.

Express

TRAVELLERS will have to show they have tested negative for Covid-19 in a border clampdown to stop new strains of the virus entering the country. All international arrivals, including Britons, must present proof they have taken a test 72 hours before departure to gain entry to the UK. Passengers will be hit with a £500 on the spot fine if they fail to comply with the new rules. The changes will come into force next week for passengers arriving by boat, plane or train. Truckers and children under 11 are among a limited number of exceptions. Passengers arriving from countries not on the Government’s travel corridor list must still self-isolate for ten days even if their pre-departure test result is negative. Travellers also need to fill in forms showing where they will be based during their quarantine and Border Force will conduct spot checks on arrival into England, the Department for Transport said. It comes as a ban was imposed on almost every country in southern Africa last night amid fears of a highly contagious new strain of Covid-19. South Africa is suffering a sharp spike in cases, driven by a new variant that may reduce the effectiveness of vaccines.

 

USA

Telegraph

Boris Johnson has “unreservedly” condemned Donald Trump for encouraging the crowd that stormed the Capitol building in Washington DC on Wednesday. Mr Johnson said the US president had been “completely wrong” to cast doubt on the outcome of the November presidential election and to encourage the “disgraceful” behaviour that resulted in four deaths. Mr Johnson has had a warm relationship with Mr Trump until now, and has been repeatedly praised by the president for his leadership and his handling of Brexit. But the Prime Minister took the opportunity to distance himself from Mr Trump as he was asked about the Capitol riot at a Downing Street press conference on Thursday and expressed relief that Joe Biden had been confirmed as the next president.

Sun

NANCY Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar and a Republican rep have urged Mike Pence to force Donald Trump from office as Congress considers impeaching him again. Republican Rep Adam Kinzinger and a string of high-profile Democratic politicians – including the House Speaker and the soon-to-be Senate Majority Leader – made the announcements on Thursday, following a night of chaos at the Capitol. In calling for Trump’s ouster, Pelosi termed the president “a very dangerous person who should not continue in office.” “A complete tool of Putin, this president is,” Pelosi said.”Putin wants to undermine democracy … and the president gave him the biggest — of all of his many gifts to Putin — the biggest gift yesterday.” Schumer – who is set to be the Senate Majority Leader after Democrats won both of Georgia’s Senate seats in Tuesday’s special election – was equally condemnatory. “This president should not hold office one day longer. The quickest and most effective way—it can be done today—to remove this president from office would be for the Vice President to immediately invoke the 25th amendment,” he continued.

Mail

Donald Trump has been accused of lying about his response to Wednesday’s riots after he claimed that he had called up the National Guard to quell the unrest, when it was widely reported to have been Mike Pence who took control. After more than 24 hours of public silence since his supporters stormed the Capitol, Trump released a short video where he blasted the ‘heinous’ attack and called for national ‘healing’ and an ‘orderly’ and ‘seamless’ transition to a new administration. His claim to have called up the National Guard was immediately disputed.

Express

JOHN McDonnell has been shamed over having allegedly hailed “violent” left-wing protesters as “the best of our movement” after condemning Trump supporters for storming Congress. Former shadow chancellor John McDonnell branded riots in the US Capitol Building on Wednesday night as “proto-fascist” as he called upon Prime Minister Boris Johnson to take a strong stand against Donald Trump. Supporters of the incumbent American President broke into the US Congress during a vote to certify Joe Biden’s victory in the November Presidential elections. Downing Street’s former joint Chief of Staff Nick Timothy slammed Mr McDonnell after he attacked President Trump’s supporters in an interview with ITV’s Robert Peston.

Guardian

More than 24 hours after he incited a mob to attack the US Capitol, Donald Trump has urged an end to the violence and finally acknowledged that Joe Biden will be the next president, saying in a video statement that “a new administration will be inaugurated on January 20” and promising a smooth transfer of power. The statement was posted on Twitter – one of the only social media platforms to which the president still has access – following a day of silence after his unprecedented encouragement of rioters bent on insurrection. Hours later, Capitol police confirmed that a police officer had died during the attack on Wednesday. A statement said Brian Sicknick was injured while physically engaging with protesters and an investigation into his death would be carried out.

 

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