The European Union is ready to back down from its hard line on fishing rights next month once Europe’s leaders get involved in post-Brexit trade negotiations, according to senior sources in Brussels. Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator, has struggled to gain “attention” from European capitals during the coronavirus crisis on the need to shift from what he has conceded is a “maximalist” mandate on fisheries demanded by France, Spain, Belgium and the Netherlands. Meanwhile David Frost, Boris Johnson’s chief negotiator, has suffered from Downing Street’s focus on the virus as he searches for “trade-offs” on key trade and economy areas.
David Frost, Britain’s chief Brexit negotiator, has told Boris Johnson that Michel Barnier is “losing the argument” in UK-EU trade talks but negotiations could end in no deal. Mr Frost briefed the Prime Minister that the EU must change its approach if there is to be any chance of sealing a free trade agreement before the deadline of the end of the year. But he warned that Mr Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator, was straitjacketed by the EU’s refusal to change his negotiating mandate, which forced him to make unreasonable demands over fishing and the level playing field guarantees. Officials believe Brussels is trying to force a halfway house compromise on British red lines such as a continued role for the European Court of Justice in British affairs, the creation of a Norway-style fishing agreement or the UK’s right to regulate itself as it sees fit. British negotiators believe that no trade-offs on these fundamentals are possible, even if Mr Johnson was to intervene personally in the negotiations to try and break the deadlock.
Labour has renewed calls for the Brexit transition period to be extended past the end of 2020 if no trade deal is agreed with the EU, to stop the UK “crashing out”. Shadow Cabinet Office minister Rachel Reeves urged negotiators not to “rush” and to “take the time that is necessary”. The UK left the EU in January, but is still operating on the same rules – including trade terms and free movement – until 31 December. By then either a trade deal will be in place or, if none is reached, the UK will fall on to base-level World Trade Organisation terms, with much higher tariffs slapped on exported goods. The deadline for extending talks is the end of June, but Prime Minister Boris Johnson has repeatedly said he will not do so.
FAST track NHS visas for nurses and doctors will be introduced with the historic immigration bill which is due to return to Parliament tomorrow (Monday). The bill is part of Boris Johnson’s “take back control” promise to the British people on delivering Brexit and will bring an end to unfettered free movement from the EU. It is due to come into effect in January at the end of the transition period and means that for the first time in decades the UK can decide who is allowed into the country. In an exclusive comment piece for the Sunday Express, Home Secretary Priti Patel, a veteran Brexit campaigner, has promised that the new points based system will mean the country can attract the “brightest and the best.” She said: “This historic piece of legislation ends the European Union’s free movement of people and lays the foundations to build a fairer, firmer, skills-led points-based immigration system. “For the first time in decades, the UK will have the power to determine who comes to this country.”
A new points-based immigration system moves a step closer to becoming law as proposed legislation appears before MPs. The immigration bill repeals EU freedom of movement and introduces the new framework – though not exact details – for who can come to live in Britain. Home Secretary Priti Patel said the new system promotes a “high skill” economy. But critics said the coronavirus pandemic has changed public attitudes towards those considered “unskilled”. The legislation, the Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill, will enter the Commons on Monday for a second reading. It was first introduced in December 2018 but stalled amid a series of defeats for then PM Theresa May’s minority government.
More than 1,000 illegal boat migrants have reached British shores since the country introduced a national lockdown in March, with people-smugglers taking advantage of the coronavirus to traffic increased amounts of unaccompanied minors. On Saturday, 90 migrants claiming to hail from Algeria, Libya, Eritrea, Sudan, and Senegal were brought ashore at Dover after crossing the English Channel in small boats from France — a safe, first world country. The crossings brought the number of illegal migrants known to have successfully made it to Britain during the lockdown to 1,064. The Immigration Officers’ Union told The Telegraph that during the coronavirus crisis the French government has reduced border patrols in favour of using officers to enforce the French lockdown.
British researchers believe that blood-thinning drugs could help to combat Covid-19 after establishing a “clear link” between the virus and clots in the lungs. The findings could help explain why oxygen levels in some patients fall dramatically, even though they do not feel out of breath — a condition known as “silent” or “happy hypoxia”. Peter Openshaw, a specialist in experimental medicine at Imperial College London, described the clots as “a really nasty twist that we haven’t seen before with many other viruses”. Researchers believe that careful use of blood-thinning medicines could save lives. However, they cautioned that serious side-effects were possible and that treatment would have to start early to prevent clots forming.
BLOOD-THINNING drugs could be key in helping to save coronavirus patients’ lives, a team of top British doctors has found. The new discovery raises hopes as medics rush to find effective treatments for the killer bug – which has killed more than 310,000 people worldwide. London doctors made the discovery after realising coronavirus caused potentially deadly blood clots in the lungs of seriously ill patients. NHS England is set to give hospitals fresh guidance on blood thinning which may help save lives, reports The Telegraph. The team at Royal Brompton Hospital’s severe respiratory failure service established the link between Covid-19 and blood clots in the lungs. Using high tech CT scans, they managed to realise there was a lack of blood flow which suggesting clotting in small blood vessels.
Britain’s largest airport is planning to increase the number of flights within weeks as the government faces pressure to lift travel restrictions. Heathrow said that new measures to allow more people to fly safely would include temperature screenings for arrivals. John Holland-Kaye, the airport’s chief executive, said that it was working with Public Health England on standards to minimise the risk of coronavirus transmission. From this week thermal screening technology will be used in the immigration hall at Terminal 2 as a trial. Only the technology’s viability will initially be tested, although in the future the system could be used to identify passengers with a fever who could then be told to self-isolate.
A vaccine for nearly half of Britons could be available by September after the Government brokered a deal between Oxford University and AstraZeneca, the drug company, to produce up to 30 million doses. Alok Sharma, the Business Secretary, said the UK would be the first country to get a vaccine, should trials be successful, and announced an extra £84 million in funding to accelerate research and production at Oxford and Imperial College. The Oxford vaccine is furthest along in human trials. Prof Sara Gilbert, who is leading the research, has predicted it could be ready by the early autumn. Mr Sharma also announced that the UK’s first Vaccines Manufacturing Innovation Centre in Harwell, Oxon, would be open by summer 2021 and able to produce vaccines for the entire population within six months.
DRUGS giant AstraZeneca will make 30 million doses of the Oxford coronavirus vaccine by September if it works – and the UK will be the first to get it. Business Secretary Alok Sharma this evening announced a global licensing deal had been signed between Oxford University and the pharma firm as part of a £130million plan to vaccinate half the UK population. The firm will make 100million doses of the vaccine over time if it proves to prevent the infection – and half of Brits would be in line to get one. In order to succeed “as soon as possible,” Mr Sharma announced a fresh £84m in cash for the two universities to scale up production of their ground-breaking potential vaccines. £65.5 million is earmarked for Oxford and £18.5million for Imperial. That’s on top of £47m already handed out to scientists who are racing for a cure to the disease raging across the world.
The UK will receive 30million doses of a coronavirus vaccine “by September” if it is proven to work, a government minister announced today. Alok Sharma said Oxford University, one of two “frontrunners” trialling a vaccine in the UK, has finalised a global licensing agreement with pharma giant AstraZeneca. The Business Secretary claimed if the vaccine passes clinical trials – “and it is a big if” – the firm would produce 100million doses for use in the UK. Of those 100million doses, AstraZeneca would “work to” make 30million doses available for the UK “by September”, he said. Government sources said data gathered through ongoing trials will point to who could get the vaccine first in the UK. They could include groups most vulnerable to the disease, or key workers who need to return to frontline work most urgently, or both.
As many as 30 million doses of a Covid-19 vaccine could be made for Britain by September under a deal between Oxford University and the drugmaker Astrazeneca. Ministers announced the target as they pledged £65.5 million in additional funding for the Oxford vaccine project. A second potential British vaccine, being developed at Imperial College London, will receive £18.5 million. The Oxford team’s global licensing agreement with Astrazeneca, which is based in Cambridge, would cover the commercialisation and manufacturing of the jab, which still needs to pass safety and efficacy tests. If the vaccine works, Astrazeneca has said that it will make it available at cost during the pandemic. It could later earn royalties if the virus became endemic like seasonal influenza.
A 14-day quarantine for visitors to Britain is expected to be announced by ministers this week and could be in place until an airport test for Covid-19 is available. Home Secretary Priti Patel is due to set out new plans for the UK’s borders within the next three days. The quarantine is expected to be time-limited with a “sunset” clause that would allow the Government to review it after a set period. This would permit the introduction of an alternative coronavirus test at airports and ports at some point in the future if officials establish that it is feasible. Michael Gove, the Cabinet Office minister who has been leading on the quarantine plans, is understood to be keen for onsite coronavirus testing in airports to enable passengers to avoid having to be quarantined for a fortnight.
The head of the CBI has urged the government to “think very carefully” about its proposed 14-day quarantine for people arriving in the UK, warning it could put the brakes on economic recovery. Dame Carolyn Fairbairn told Sky News’ Ridge on Sunday that restoring aviation links would be a “powerful” boost to the UK economy after lockdown and warned that aerospace and manufacturing businesses are “really worried” about the obstacles quarantine would cause to movements of critical workers. Heathrow chief executive John Holland-Kaye said that any quarantine must be in place “for a relatively short amount of time” only, warning that as long as it remains there will be little or no boost to the minimal passenger numbers passing through the airport under lockdown.
Europe must prepare for a second deadly wave of the coronavirus in the winter, a top World Health Organisation chief has warned. Dr Hans Kluge, director for the WHO European region, said he was ‘very concerned’ a surge in infections would coincide with other seasonal diseases such as the flu. He said now is the time to strengthen health care systems by increasing bed capacity so that countries are ready to brace more patients. He also cautioned that now is the time for ‘preparation, not celebration’ across Europe – even if daily numbers of cases and deaths are dwindling.
EUROPE must prepare for a deadly second wave of coronavirus infections this winter, a top WHO chief has warned. Dr Hans Kluge, the organisation’s director for Europe, said he was “very concerned” about another spike in cases despite months of lockdown across the continent finally bringing the infection rate under control. Speaking to the Telegraph, Dr Kluge warned that now was “time for preparation, not celebration” as stringent lockdown measures begin to ease across Europe. Though cases in hard-hit countries such as the UK and Italy have seen a dramatic reduction in the past few weeks, Dr Kluge claims that the pandemic remains at an early stage. The WHO chief said: “I’m very concerned about a double wave – in the fall, we could have a second wave of Covid and another one of seasonal flu or measles.”
Official guidance has “watered down” expectations on protective equipment for workers and could put people at risk, Labour has said. Andy McDonald, the shadow employment rights secretary, has written to business secretary Alok Sharma to warn of holes in the government advice to firms, which was finally published on Monday evening – 24 hours after the prime minister first said people should begin returning to work. In an interview with The Independent, Mr McDonald also poured scorn on Boris Johnson’s “ludicrous” insistence that “British common sense” would help the public navigate its way out of lockdown after widespread confusion last week over the new strategy. As official figures showed that male security guards and taxi drivers were among the most likely to die from coronavirus outside of clinical settings, Mr McDonald said “working people are bearing the brunt” of the risks.
Coronavirus does not spread widely in schools, according to a major study which is being considered by government advisers. The research looked at 18 infected teachers and students in 15 schools, and found that despite them coming into contact with 863 people at the schools, only two were infected. It is the only major study of transmission among children and teachers, and shows that the spread of the virus is “limited” in classrooms. Previous studies have suggested that younger children are likely to only contract a mild form of coronavirus and do not play a major role in the spread of the disease, but this is the first time the spread of Covid-19 has been directly studied in primary and secondary schools.
Southwold on the Suffolk coast is usually thronging on a sunny May weekend, not just with tourists but locals from surrounding villages, coming to enjoy the town’s thriving High Street with its independent retailers. It is home to fashion stores, restaurants, a bakery, art galleries, a newsagent, a couple of hairdressers, an ironmonger, a book shop, an oldfashioned sweet-shop and a pub owned by local brewer Adnams. Across the street is a butcher’s that has stood here since the 17th century. It is, in short, the perfect High Street. Until now. Today the phrase used by nearly all business owners to describe Southwold is ‘ghost town’.
Britain is backing moves to establish an independent inquiry into the international response to the coronavirus. Crucially, however, today’s resolution at the World Health Assembly spares China an investigation into the origin of the disease. The UK has thrown its weight behind a compromise move that officials say is a “first step” towards a wider review. The initial motion put forward by the EU and Australia did not specifically mention China or Wuhan, the city where the pandemic began, but called for the World Health Organisation and World Organisation for Animal Health to conduct “scientific and collaborative field missions” and “identify the zoonotic source of the virus and the route of introduction to the human population, including the possible role of intermediate hosts”.
Step by step, the EU institutional machine is making the same mistake with the German people that it made with the British people. It is taking a law-abiding and well-meaning nation for granted. It is treating the legitimate sensitivities of a large net contributor with disdain and playing fast and loose with constitutional law. The European Court (ECJ) has acquired the habit of claiming powers that are not rooted in any Treaty text, advancing Monnet federalism by an odd mixture of bravado and stealth. The EU assumed it could get away with this because the German policy class has been broadly complicit – up to a point – but Europe has now run into the unyielding resistance of the German constitutional court, the defender of the post-War Rechtsstaat, and the body that likes to think of itself as the “people’s court”.
Menthol cigarettes will be banned from Wednesday this week as part of a bid to stop youngsters from smoking. According to experts, menthol cigarettes relax airways and lower severity of smoke. But Action on Smoking and Health (AHS) claims banning them will cut the numbers of youngsters taking up the habit. Amanda Sandford, from the charity, told Liverpool Echo: “There is evidence that menthol cigarettes relax the airways and the flavour masks the harshness of the smoke, therefore younger people find it easier to smoke. “However, it is an absolute myth that menthol cigarettes are better for you. “All cigarettes are harmful and menthol cigarettes are just as dangerous as normal cigarettes.”