Brexit

Express
THE EU should not get a penny of the £39 billion divorce bill or any of the other benefits of the Withdrawal Agreement if it fails to agree a fair free trade deal with Britain, two former cabinet ministers have stated. Former Conservative leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith and former Brexit minister David Jones have said that the EU has not met its obligation to act in good faith over the trade talks making unreasonable demands which “do not respect Britain’s sovereignty”. The comments represent a new ratcheting up of Britain’s position by Brexiteers as the point of no return approaches on whether there can be a trade deal in place before the end of the transition period on December 31. Members of the powerful European Research Group (ERG) of Tory Brexiteer MPs are determined that there should not be any compromise on issues regarding British sovereignty and insisted that the final deal should see revisions to the Withdrawal Agreement which was put into law in January. Part of the Withdrawal Agreement provisions was for the UK to pay a highly controversial divorce settlement of £39 billion to Brussels. There is fury that the EU has tried to insist on level playing field obligations in a trade agreement which it has not demanded from other countries but would tie the UK to EU laws and regulations. In addition the EU wants unfettered access to UK fishing waters.

EU

Breitbart
German security authorities have claimed that members of the far-left Antifa movement are preparing attacks on police officers and political opponents, including potential assassinations. The Antifa movement in Germany and its 50 supporting groups across the country are becoming increasingly more violent, according to a report from the Federal Criminal Police Office and the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution seen by Focus magazine. They are also believed to be plotting targetted attacks. Authorities are also concerned over allegations that some German Antifa members have travelled to northern Syria to undertake combat training with the left-wing Kurdish militia, the YPG, Focus reports.

Illegal immigration

Mail
Ruthless traffickers have set up a base in Belgium to smuggle migrants across the Channel. The Daily Mail has established that organised crime networks calling themselves the ‘boat mafia’ have moved in to Brussels to profit from a huge rise in migrants. Some 1,000 arrivals are using the city as an alternative staging post to France from which to plan their entry to the UK. About 600 migrants sleep in Maximilien park near the main train station. Others sleep on a quayside by the central canal. At night the smugglers move in, offering a trip across the Channel in an inflatable dinghy for as little as £500. Migrants told the Mail they have been offered places on bigger boats for a ‘more guaranteed crossing’ costing between £2,000 and £3,000 per person. Some have started selling cannabis and cocaine to save up enough money. Migrants rob other migrants at knifepoint for the fare, according to a group from Afghanistan.

Independent
Plans to send royal navy warships to block migrants from crossing the Channel are being stepped up, despite warnings they will drown and threats of legal action. Priti Patel put in a formal request to the Ministry of Defence for help – even after an official there branded the crackdown “completely potty” – ignoring a growing backlash. She also appointed a former royal marine as her “clandestine Channel threat commander”, paving the way for interceptions and the turning back of boats, in a defiant statement of intent. The move came after many more migrants, including one in a wheelchair, were brought ashore from a Border Force boat on another busy day for Channel crossings. More than 130 migrants succeeded in making the perilous journey to the UK on Friday – part of a surge Ms Patel condemned as “appalling”.

Mirror
Plans to deploy the Navy to prevent people crossing the Channel to seek asylum have been branded “unlawful, reckless and dangerous”. Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, has stepped up efforts to curb the numbers of people making the perilous trip by formally requesting help from the Navy and appointing a former Royal Marine as “clandestine Channel threat commander.  But Amnesty said it was unlawful to prevent people from claiming asylum in the UK and deploying military force would put lives at greater risk.

Sky News
A political row between the UK and France over migrant crossings in the Channel has intensified, with Britain’s immigration minister saying the “unacceptable” increase in numbers “simply cannot go on”. Chris Philp is due to meet his French counterpart in Paris on Tuesday to discuss stronger measures, including “interceptions and returns”. It comes as 151 migrants reached the UK on Saturday – taking the total since 1 January to 4,100. While southeast England basked in roasting sunshine on Sunday, a dozen people arrived in Dover after making the dangerous crossing. Mr Philp said the UK government wants to make the route across the Channel “completely unviable” so migrants “have no incentive to come to northern France or attempt the crossing in the first place”.

Times
France has defended its efforts to prevent migrants from crossing the Channel as it emerged that it wants another £30 million from Britain. Five times as many migrants had been stopped since January compared with the same period last year, according the French interior ministry. The total for last month was ten times that recorded in July 2019. Chris Philp, the immigration minister, is due in Paris today to continue negotiations over an agreement to combat cross-Channel trafficking, as the former foreign secretary David Miliband fights a plan to use the Royal Navy to “push back” migrants.

Quarantine

iNews
Ministers are keeping a watching brief on rising coronavirus  cases in Malta, Iceland and the Netherlands which could be next in line for quarantine rules. Last week British holidaymakers and business travellers in Belgium, Andorra and the Bahamas were given a 36-hour warning that they would have to self-isolate for 14 days if they returned home after Saturday. France, which remains on the list of countries currently exempt from quarantine, has also shown a steady rise in cases but there are as yet no plans for new rules for Britons on holiday in that country. The latest figures from the European Centre for Disease and Control show that cases of Covid-19 are soaring in Malta, a popular holiday destination for Britons.

Death toll

Telegraph
The official Covid-19 daily death toll may never be brought back following an investigation into Public Health England’s method of counting it, the Telegraph understands. The conclusions of the review, which was ordered by Matt Hancock after it emerged officials were “over-exaggerating” deaths from the virus, are expected this week. One expected recommendation would be to stop daily reporting altogether and move to a weekly official death toll instead, a government source said on Sunday night. The review has been “looking at all options,” the source said. On July 17, the Health Secretary asked PHE to urgently investigate the way daily death statistics had been reported, leading PHE to say it was “pausing” the daily release. It came after Oxford University experts revealed a significant proportion of the daily out-of-hospital death toll relates to patients who recovered from the virus weeks or months earlier. Under the previous system, anyone who has ever tested positive for the virus in England was automatically counted as a coronavirus death when they died, even if the death was from a car accident.

Mail
Britain’s official coronavirus daily death count could be scrapped following an investigation into Public Health England’s method of counting the toll. The conclusions of the investigation, which was ordered by Health Secretary Matt Hancock after it emerged officials were ‘exaggerating’ virus deaths, are expected this week, The Telegraph reported. One recommendation could be to move to a weekly official death toll, a government source said. Britain paused its daily update of the death toll last month and the government ordered a review into how Public Health England reports coronavirus deaths, after academics said the daily figures may include people who died of other causes. Academics in a blog post had warned that the way the government health agency calculated the figures was skewed as patients who tested positive for coronavirus, but are successfully treated, will still be counted as dying from the virus ‘even if they had a heart attack or were run over by a bus three months later’.

Education

Times
Teaching unions committed themselves yesterday to reopening schools next month but they remain at loggerheads with the government over routine coronavirus testing and tracing. The National Education Union (NEU) echoed a call by Anne Longfield, the children’s commissioner for England, for a robust testing system to help teachers and older pupils in secondary schools. It said that it should be in place for all schools and colleges. Nick Gibb, the schools minister, has ruled out testing for children or teachers who do not have symptoms.

Mail
Teacher union bosses have been accused of trying to throttle government plans to reopen schools next month with a 200-long list of safety demands. The National Education Union has provided its half a million members with a ‘checklist’ of Covid-secure measures which its institution should be enforcing. If these demands are not met, and concerns are not acted upon, the union urges staff to ‘escalate’ their quarrel.   It comes as Geoff Barton, the general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, also warned that schools could teach pupils on a ‘week on, week off’ basis if the government continued to demand that all children return to school by September.

Guardian
Ministers are facing fresh pressure to help schools in England limit the spread of coronavirus when they reopen fully in September after rejecting a call for teachers and pupils to undergo routine testing. Nick Gibb, the schools minister, said the government would not go along with a demand from the children’s commissioner for England to bring in routine coronavirus testing, and would only test those who showed symptoms. Scotland, where schools start to reopen from Tuesday, plans to bring in an enhanced Covid-19 testing and surveillance regime, though it will not be ready in time for the start of term.

Sun
GAVIN Williamson has vowed the Government will do “everything in our power” to make sure children return to school next month. A day after Boris Johnson said it was the country’s “moral duty” to get kids back to class, the Education Secretary welcomed a study by Public Health England that shows there is little evidence of Covid-19 spread in schools. Youngsters have been out of mainstream education for nearly five months throughout the pandemic. And Mr Williamson said it is now a “national priority” to get them back to their desks for the autumn term.

Telegraph
Schools will teach pupils on a “week on-week off” basis if there is a resurgence of coronavirus, the head of a leading teaching  union warned Boris Johnson on Sunday night. The Prime Minister is due to visit a school on Monday, where he is expected to repeat his pledge that all pupils will be back in the classroom every day from the start of term next month. The Government will also launch a PR campaign this week to reinforce the message. Mr Johnson has been keen to stress that reopening schools is a matter of social justice as well as integral to kickstarting the economy. But on Sunday evening it emerged that schools are drawing up contingency plans which threaten to undermine the Prime Minister’s pleas.

Times
The children’s commissioner set herself at odds with the government yesterday as she called for pupils and teachers to be routinely tested for coronavirus. Anne Longfield’s remarks were in sharp contrast to those of Nick Gibb, the schools minister, who said the present precautions were sufficient and that the government’s approach was informed by scientific advice. Boris Johnson will also point today to research indicating little evidence of coronavirus spread in the classroom, in an attempt to turn up the pressure on teaching unions and Labour and help to reassure parents and pupils that it will be safe to return to classes next month.

Sun
MORE local councils will deploy their own armies of Covid-hunters to ensure all kids can return to school next month. They will support the failing NHS Test and Trace programme, which is operated nationally and relies on call centres. It is reaching fewer than half of potential virus contacts as people refuse to handover numbers or fail to pick up the phone. Experts warn the UK faces a second wave twice as bad as the first if performance does not improve before classes resume. Councils hope to track down more people by sending teams to knock doors.

Times
Home-educated children will be left without qualifications this week because only schools can allocate A levels and GCSEs, academics have warned. Those usually taught at home as a matter of course, rather than temporarily because of school closures, will suffer a “significantly detrimental” impact. Home-educated children sit exams as independent candidates, and have been left without a suitable substitute as exam boards rely on schools to award results this year, the Centre for Social Mobility at Exeter University said. Teenagers can sit “back up” A-level and GCSE exams in the autumn, but this could mean that candidates have to take a year out before going to university, by the time they get their results.

Social care

Guardian
Policymakers’ failure to tackle chronically underfunded social care has resulted in a “lost decade” and a system now at breaking point, according to a report. A team led by Jon Glasby, a professor of health and social care at the University of Birmingham, says that without swift government intervention including urgent funding changes England’s adult social care system could quickly become unsustainable. Adult social care includes residential care homes and help with eating, washing, dressing and shopping. The paper says the impact has been particularly felt in services for older people. Those for working-age people have been less affected. It suggests that despite the legitimate needs of other groups “it is hard to interpret this other than as the product of ageist attitudes and assumptions about the role and needs of older people”.

Vaccine

Telegraph
Scientists working on Britain’s best hope for a coronavirus vaccine are understood to be at odds about whether to deliberately infect healthy patients in order to test it. Professor Adrian Hill, director of the Jenner Institute at Oxford University, wants to recruit young volunteers for such tests in the hope it will speed up the race for a successful jab. He is among hundreds of scientists advocating the use of “human challenge trials” which would see healthy people under the age of 30 deliberately infected in order to test the jab. But Sarah Gilbert, professor of vaccinology at the institute, is understood to have clashed with him over his intentions, believing the risk to volunteers is too high. Their dilemma is whether to expose volunteers to the virus, which could mean a successful vaccine becomes available more quickly – or wait until any potential long-term effects are better understood.

Independent
Only just over half of Britons are committed to taking a coronavirus vaccine, according to new research described as “deeply concerning”. People opposed to mask-wearing, those who distrust scientists, and people who believe “too much fuss is being made about the pandemic” are most likely to refuse, it finds. More young people will also reject the jab – with 22 per cent of under-34s saying they definitely will, or are likely to, compared with only 11 per cent of those aged between 55 and 75. The author of the study, by King’s College London (KCL), warned that “conspiracy theories and mistrust of government, authority and science” could undermine the best chance of defeating Covid-19.

Alzheimers

Times
The first drug shown to potentially delay the progression of Alzheimer’s disease could be approved next year. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the United States said that aducanumab had been accepted for a priority review process. Patients given the treatment in trials had an improvement in memory and language skills. Aducanumab is an antibody designed to target amyloid, a protein that builds up in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s at an early stage in the disease process. The FDA aims to get a drug through the entire process in six months and is looking to make a decision by March next year.

Telegraph
The first drug which could halt Alzheimer’s disease is to be fast-tracked for approval, in what experts say could be the biggest breakthrough yet. Charities said the decision by US watchdogs to give the treatment a “priority review” could see it prescribed within six months, giving hope to sufferers around the world. Trials have found that patients given the drug Aducanumab saw improvements in their language skills and ability to keep track of time and place, and a slower loss of memory. Currently, medicines prescribed to treat Alzheimer’s disease can only mask the symptoms, rather than slow the development of disease.  However, the new treatment, which works by helping to untangle clumps of plaque in the brain, could be the first to halt the disease’s progression, trials suggest.

Canals

Times
The biggest ever upgrade of canal towpaths is being planned to turn muddy, neglected routes into safe, good quality surfaces for walking and cycling. The Canal and River Trust has proposed 30 towpath improvement schemes for inner city and urban areas, including Burnley, Wigan, Sheffield, Bradford, Birmingham, Leicester and London. The plans cover more than 100 miles of towpaths and will cost about £45 million over five years. Use of Britain’s towpaths more than doubled in some places in recent months as more people exercised locally during the lockdown and chose to walk or cycle rather than drive.

TV licences

Times
The BBC risks facing a “peasants’ revolt” if it takes the over-75s to court for refusing to pay the licence fee, the Conservative head of the culture committee warned yesterday. The corporation began sending letters last week to pensioners previously exempt from the fee reminding them that they must pay. From August 1 only people older than 75 on pension credit retain automatic exemption. The withdrawal of the benefit came after a face-off over funding between the BBC and the government. The pandemic delayed enforcement of the fee.

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