TOP Brexit trade negotiators are to meet in London today as they face a race against time to reach a breakthrough. The Prime Minister’s spokesman said: “We have been perfectly clear about the need to work towards the October 15 European Council. The EU has agreed to intensified talks, those have been taking place this week and you will see more of them next week.” Mr Barnier is expected to tell Lord Frost he is prepared to drop the EU’s hardline fisheries demands for the same level of access to Britain’s coastal waters. The Brussels bureaucrat will signal his willingness to budge but only if the UK is prepared to offer more reassurances over future state subsidies policy.
The UK needs to take “significant steps” in the coming days to secure a trade deal with the EU, the European Council president has said. Charles Michel said talks were approaching a “moment of truth” ahead of a crucial EU summit next week. Taoiseach, or Irish PM, Micheál Martin said “movement” was required before “end-state negotiations” could begin. EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier is due to meet his UK counterpart for informal talks on Friday. The UK’s post-Brexit transition period, during which the trading relationship between the two sides has remained the same, is due to end in December.
BRUSSELS has warned Britain must make “significant steps” before a Brexit trade deal can be finalised. Top eurocrat Charles Michel insisted Boris Johnson must make concessions in the row over access to Britain’s coastal waters and a regulatory level playing field for state subsidies. Speaking in Dublin, he said EU and UK negotiators now face a “moment of truth” in the trade talks as they are accelerated. Mr Michel said: “My message is simple, the EU stands in full solidarity with Ireland.” He added: “We need significant steps to be made by our British friends in the coming days, not only on fisheries but also on the level playing field and governance.
EU officials have urged scepticism about British “spin” over the rising chances of a Brexit trade deal, claiming Boris Johnson’s government was “pushing a sense of positivism and momentum – but we just don’t see it”. Charles Michel, the European Council president, with whom the PM spoke yesterday, warned that the UK needed to take “significant steps” to secure a deal, adding: “The coming days are crucial, this is the moment of truth.” Meanwhile, two Tory select committee chairs, Greg Clark and Jeremy Hunt, have launched an inquiry into the government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
A post-Brexit trade, fishing and security agreement is close but negotiations will need to continue until the end of the month, Michel Barnier has told Europe’s capitals. The EU’s chief negotiator told a meeting of European ambassadors on Wednesday that any discussion at a summit in Brussels next week of a possible compromise, especially on fishing, would damage unity. He will urge European leaders to repeat the need for further UK concessions and not to react to Boris Johnson’s attempts to turn the summit into a negotiating deadline.
All is fair in love and cod war. And with the EU’s coastal states under pressure to give way on Britain’s demands for greater fishing catches in its waters post-Brexit, any old argument is worth a try. When the issue of the future access of European fishing fleets was being discussed by EU ambassadors in Brussels on Wednesday the Belgian government’s representative, Willem van de Voorde, made a notable intervention. To the confusion of some, and the delight of others, the ambassador cited a treaty signed some 350 years ago by King Charles II which had granted 50 Flemish fishermen from Bruges “eternal rights” to English fishing waters.
MICHEL BARNIER will today tell Lord Frost he is prepared to drop the EU’s hardline fisheries despite facing an internal rebellion over the planned concession. The European Union’s chief negotiator was said to be ready to “move away” from the bloc’s demand to retain the same level of access to Britain’s coastal waters after the Brexit transition period ends in December. But he is under pressure from influential EU fishing states, including France, Denmark, Belgium and the Netherlands, to avoid any last-minute compromise as Boris Johnson’s deadline looms over the negotiations. Mr Barnier has told EU ambassadors the bloc must help the Prime Minister secure a victory for Scottish fishermen by giving them a greater share of future fishing opportunities. The Brussels bureaucrat will signal his willingness to budge but only if Lord Frost, Mr Johnson’s Brexit envoy, is prepared to offer more reassurances over future state subsidies policy.
French officials yesterday refused to back down over access to UK fishing waters – despite the EU’s chief negotiator urging them to be more ‘realistic’ in Brexit talks. European affairs minister Clement Beaune insisted that France would not sell out its fishermen amid calls for a compromise. The hardline stance came after Brussels negotiator Michel Barnier urged France and other EU coastal states to compromise over their demands on fishing in negotiations with Britain. At a meeting of EU diplomats on Wednesday night, Mr Barnier said it was not ‘feasible’ for European trawlers to keep the same access to UK waters as they have now. But Mr Beaune said yesterday: ‘Our fishermen will not be a bargaining chip for Brexit, they will not have to pay the price for Britain’s choices.’
MICHEL Barnier will tomorrow (Friday) tell Britain that he will water down the EU stance on fishing rights. The bloc’s Brexit negotiator will defy French calls for him to remain firm on status quo access to our waters. Brussels has billed the next few days as a “moment of truth” and called for “significant steps” towards compromise from UK negotiator David Frost. Council chief Charles Michel declared: “Progress has been made but it’s not enough.” Irish PM Micheal Martin hailed a better mood and greater engagement on key issues. But he also said the time has come for the UK to reciprocate Mr Barnier’s offers.
REMAINERS have vowed to abandon the Labour Party after it pledged not to fight to rejoin the European Union. Yesterday, Rachel Reeves, the shadow chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, set out Labour’s Brexit policy stating the UK will not rejoin the EU under a Labour government. She said: “Under a Labour government, we will have a close relationship with the EU but we won’t be back in the EU. “I know that is something that is sad and difficult to come to terms with for a lot of us, but I think that is the reality we have to face up to.” When asked about the possibility of Labour backing a campaign to rejoin in 2024, Ms Reeves said the party needed to “accept the result” and “move on”.
Boris Johnson faced a backlash from “Red Wall” MPs and regional leaders on Thursday as they complained that lockdown measures were killing their local economies. Large parts of northern England are preparing for new restrictions on Monday when a three-tier “traffic light” scheme is due to be introduced, which is expected to shut pubs, bars and restaurants in high-risk areas. An estimated 10 million Britons are to be hit by the tougher lockdown measures as Covid numbers soar, with pubs and restaurants expected to be closed in Manchester, Liverpool, Newcastle and Nottingham.
Plans to place the areas worst hit by coronavirus in much tighter lockdown restrictions are still being finalised but ministers have signed off measures for less-infected regions. Officials have approved measures for tiers 1 and 2 – the areas with lower to medium levels of infection, where limited restrictions are needed – but there is wrangling over the detail of tier 3, including how much money should be spent per head of population. But people living in tier 3 areas – probably covering cities including Liverpool and Manchester, where infection rates are well over 500 per 100,000 people – can expect measures very similar to the full nationwide lockdown in March, with exceptions such as schools remaining open. Under the tier 3 proposals, all hospitality businesses, including bars, pubs, restaurants and cafés, would close and people would be banned from mixing with anyone outside their own household.
Nearly two-thirds of the public would back a Scottish-style ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown as Boris Johnson prepares to shut pubs and restaurants in the North. An exclusive poll for MailOnline has found strong support for a ‘short sharp shock’ of tough restrictions across the country in a bid to break transmission chains. The research by Redfield &Wilton Strategies also uncovered widespread confusion and disaffection with the current complex local curbs.
Millions of people in parts of northern England face brutal new lockdown restrictions from Monday. Pubs and restaurants could be forced to close under a new ‘three-tier’ local lockdown system for England. Ministers say they need to simplify the rules into three standard categories – and it seems they will instantly have to slap some major cities with the hardest crackdown. But despite plans leaking overnight, to the fury of baffled northern leaders, they still haven’t been finalised or agreed by ministers.
England is expected to be carved into three different lockdown tiers next week, with millions of people facing tougher restrictions as the government tries to get a handle on rising coronavirus cases and hospital admissions. Pubs, restaurants and leisure facilities are expected to be closed in parts of the North put into the strictest tier, according to two sources who have seen blueprints of the current plans. Under the proposals, people living in the strictest tier – tier three – are also expected to be ordered not to have any social contact with anyone outside their household in any setting, according to one person familiar with the blueprints being drawn up by the government.
BORIS Johnson faced a growing backlash over his plan to close Northern pubs and restaurants despite a series of grim warnings from government advisers. The looming restrictions come as Professor Chris Whitty warned of more than 300 intensive care patients in just 21 days from now unless urgent action is taken to stop the spread. And Sage adviser Professor John Edmunds said that coronavirus is “holding a gun to the PM’s head”. Downing Street dispatched Chief Medical Officer Prof Whitty to give a private briefing to Northern MPs to quell a Commons lockdown revolt.
Lockdown measures may be needed for six months, England’s chief medical officer has told MPs amid warnings that the number of coronavirus patients in intensive care will exceed the April peak in the north of England within 22 days. In a presentation to more than 130 MPs, Chris Whitty said that new vaccines and treatments were possible in January but that the crisis would only ease in April. The briefing was part of Downing Street’s efforts to prepare the ground for new lockdown measures to be imposed on Monday, although MPs were told officials would not answer questions on policy not yet announced.
Europe is now reporting more coronavirus cases weekly than the United States or South America, as experts warn that a return to the peak of the epidemic in March could be on the cards unless urgent action is taken. There has also been a rise in the number of cases among the most vulnerable groups, including the over-65s, as the pandemic’s second wave sweeps the continent. In a sign that Europe is heading towards becoming the epicentre of Covid-19 cases, the continent recorded 460,000 new coronavirus cases last week, while North and South America announced 380,000 each. While cases have been on the rise in countries including France and Britain for several weeks, most of these were among younger people, who are less likely to be hospitalised or die as a result of Covid-19.
The number of coronavirus patients in intensive care in the north of England will surpass the April peak if infections continue rising at the current rate, MPs have been warned in a briefing chaired by Chris Whitty and a minister. MPs were also shown early research by Public Health England suggesting that bars, pubs and restaurants accounted for 41% of cases in which two or more under-30s had visited the same venue in the week before testing positive. This fell to a quarter of infections across all age groups, the MPs were told. With new restrictions expected to be announced next week for millions of people, and likely to hit hospitality venues, MPs were told there would be 304 people in intensive care units across the north of England in 22 days on the current trajectory.
Hundreds of thousands of vulnerable people face being told to stay at home this winter as ministers plan to resume shielding in infection hotspots. Advice for clinically vulnerable people to avoid others could be included in the top tier of a simplified local lockdown system to be announced next week, as concern mounts about rising infection rates in the north of England. Senior doctors warned that rising Covid-19 cases risked an NHS “implosion”, with a health minister saying that hospitals were ten days away from being critical and the test-and-trace system suffering its worst week.
Hundreds of thousands of vulnerable Britons may need to shield indoors for months and measures to curb coronavirus will be likely until at least April to stop the NHS from imploding as winter looms. Advice for clinically at-risk people to avoid contact with others could be included in the top tier of a ‘traffic light’ local lockdown system which is set to be announced next week. Concern is mounting over rising rates of infections in the north of England.
Covid patients in the NHS will be able to get treatment in the coming months with remdesivir, one of the drugs given to Donald Trump, after the European commission negotiated for enough doses for 500,000 patients in 36 countries including the UK. There is a global shortage of remdesivir because the US bought up all stocks from the US-based manufacturer Gilead from June to October. Demand for the drug is ramping up following Trump’s treatment for Covid. The commission signed a joint procurement deal with Gilead on Thursday on behalf of the bloc.
The Chancellor will be announcing an extension to the furlough scheme on Friday, providing much-needed support for businesses which could be forced to close, according to The Times. The scheme will reportedly be made available to employers “as long as pubs, restaurants and other businesses” are shut, and will subsidise two thirds of wages of staff working in those establishments. The move would follow mounting concerns over the potential impact of further lockdown restrictions in parts of England.
Rishi Sunak will announce a local furlough scheme today in which the government will subsidise two thirds of the wages of workers in pubs, restaurants and other businesses that are forced to close to stop the spread of coronavirus. Pubs and restaurants in northern England will be shut next week in an effort to stop hospitals being overwhelmed by the rising number of Covid-19 cases. A new system of restrictions divides England into three tiers of escalating severity. Merseyside and other parts of northern England will be placed in the highest tier as some hospitals start to run out of dedicated coronavirus beds. Businesses such as pubs, restaurants and cafés will be forced to close.
Police have mounted a blitz on people failing to wear face masks on public transport, as Transport for London (TFL) revealed up to one in ten passengers are ignoring the law. Police alongside TFL enforcement officers are issuing on-the-spot fines of £200 to anyone failing to wear a face mask without an adequate explanation after targeting areas across London. Some 400 fines have been issued to those refusing to comply during the blitzes which have been targeted on areas where frontline transport staff have raised complaints about people failing to wear them.
A major new NHS campaign urging the public to ‘Help Us Help You’ is being launched to combat the rising backlog of cancer cases caused by coronavirus. Health chiefs in England will use a celebrity-fronted messages to tell people they will not be viewed as a ‘burden’ if they seek help for ailments unrelated to coronavirus during the pandemic. The move came as the full impact of lockdown on the health service was revealed, showing more than 110,000 people have been waiting longer than a year treatment.
The NHS could implode without fast action to curb a rise in Covid-19 cases, doctors said, as the test-and-trace system had its worst week on record. Infections jumped 56 per cent and experts claimed that coronavirus was “holding a gun” to Boris Johnson’s head. Hospitals in northwest England expect the number of Covid-19 patients to reach their April peak in three weeks. Katherine Henderson, head of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, said: “If we do not take effective precautions, Covid will continue its explosion across the country, a devastating consequence of which could be the implosion of our NHS this winter.”
The NHS is encouraging sick patients to visit hospitals and GP surgeries during the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic after thousands were turned away during lockdown. A new campaign, “Help Us to Help You”, is being launched to tell patients that they will not be viewed as a “burden” if they attempt to seek help for non-Covid ailments this winter. It comes amid fears that the mantra of “Protect the NHS” – when people were urged not to visit hospitals or GPs for fear of spreading the virus – led to thousands of patients being unable or unwilling to seek help during the first wave.
Rishi Sunak is examining proposals for a UK-wide carbon tax that could raise billions of pounds while encouraging the drive towards net-zero emissions. The chancellor is seeking to replace existing EU carbon-reduction schemes with the new tax when the transition period finishes at the end of the year. Treasury officials are also looking at longer-term proposals to extend the tax to other areas including domestic gas and agriculture, which could raise more than £25 billion by 2030, supporters say.