The door to a trade deal with the EU remains “ajar” Michael Gove has said, as he and Boris Johnson’s chief negotiator prepare for talks with their counterparts on Monday. Mr Gove said the EU had “drawn stumps” on a deal by insisting that any further compromises must come from Britain, but the two sides will continue talking this week. Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator, has cancelled a planned trip to London on Monday, but he and his counterpart Lord Frost are expected to speak by telephone today. Meanwhile, Mr Gove will hold face to face talks in London with Maros Sefcovic, who co-chairs the EU-UK joint committee dedicated to solving outstanding problems with the EU Withdrawal Agreement. On Sunday night the Government launched a new “Time Is Running Out” advertising campaign telling businesses to prepare to trade on World Trade Organisation terms at the end of the transition period.
THE UK’s archbishops have sparked a furious reaction from Conservative Brexiteers after launching an intervention ahead of the House of Lords debating Boris Johnson’s Brexit legislation. Peers are due to debate the UK Internal Market Bill on Monday. But the archbishops of Canterbury, York, Armagh, Wales and the Scottish Episcopal Church warned the controversial legislation would set a “disastrous precedent” and pose “enormous moral, as well as political and legal, consequences”. The letter, published in the Financial Times, has prompted an angry reaction from Tory MPs. Former Brexit minister David Jones blasted that the comments “betray a lack of understanding of the issues involved”.
The leaders of the UK’s Anglican Churches have warned the government that its new Brexit bill could set a “disastrous precedent”. The Internal Markets Bill could damage the relationship between the UK’s four nations, the archbishops of Canterbury and York and the heads of the Church in Scotland, Wales and Ireland say. It comes as peers are due to have their first say on the legislation. The bill would allow aspects of the EU Withdrawal Agreement to be superseded. Opponents argue that it breaks international law and have vowed to stop or amend it. MPs overwhelmingly backed the Internal Markets Bill last month but resistance is expected in the Lords, where Boris Johnson does not have a majority.
Boris Johnson was on a collision course with the Church over Brexit last night. In an extraordinary intervention, the UK’s five Anglican archbishops warned that controversial legislation would set a ‘disastrous precedent’ and undermine Britain’s standing in the world. The group, led by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said the Internal Market Bill would ride roughshod over the Withdrawal Agreement signed with the EU last year – and potentially put peace in Northern Ireland at risk. They added: ‘If carefully negotiated terms are not honoured and laws can be ‘legally’ broken, on what foundations does our democracy stand?’ The intervention sparked a furious backlash from Tory MPs last night. Former Brexit minister David Jones said the comments ‘betray a lack of understanding of the issues involved’. He added: ‘This is way beyond the remit of the Church. It is a straightforward question of constitutional propriety.
BRITAIN’S five senior Archbishops last night launched an astonishing attack on the government’s Brexit plans. The group slammed the Internal Markets Bill, being debated in Parliament today for allowing the government to tear up parts of the Brexit divorce deal. The blistering letter, printed in today’s Financial Times, is likely to spark accusations they are overstepping the mark by meddling in politics. Ministers have admitted the IM Bill breaks international law, but says it is needed to stop Brussel putting trade barriers up between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK. The letter, which has been signed by Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, branded the bill a “disaster”. It fumes: “The Bill is, of course, not just concerned with domestic law. It currently asks the country’s highest law- making body to equip a government minister to break international law.
BUSINESS leaders are being urged to ramp up preparations for a no-deal Brexit in a new Government campaign dubbed “Time is running out”. The campaign comes after Boris Johnson told the country to get ready for an Australian-style arrangement – a no deal outcome trading on World Trade Organisation (WTO) terms – in a televised statement on Friday. In a call on Tuesday, the Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Michael Gove will urge business leaders to prepare for when the transition period comes to a close at the end of the year. HMRC is also writing to businesses that trade with the EU to set out the new customs and tax rules and how to deal with them. Mr Gove said: “At the end of this year we are leaving the EU Single Market and Customs Union and this means there are both new challenges and new opportunities for businesses.
Businesses will be told to step up their preparations for leaving the Brexit transition period without a deal this week after Boris Johnson threatened to pull the plug on the trade negotiations last week. The Prime Minister and Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove will hold a conference call with business leaders on Monday to warn them to get ready for leaving the EU without a formal trade deal. It coincides with a new advertising blitz launching on Monday urging companies not to get caught out by the change in trading terms from 1 January, under the campaign banner: “Time is running out”. Letters to 200,000 businesses will be sent out from HMRC to set out the new customs and tax rules coming into place from the new year.
EMMANUEL MACRON confirmed that the EU would launch a devastating energy embargo against the UK if Boris Johnson refuses to give in on fisheries. Emmanuel Macron reacted furiously to Boris Johnson’s claims that trade talks are “over” between the UK and EU. Mr Macron has played hardball in the talks on fisheries, insisting on Thursday that French fishermen would “not be sacrificed” for the sake of a deal. However, if the UK leaves the EU without a deal then French fishermen could face being banned from British waters. In response, the French President has signalled the EU would launch a devastating energy embargo against the UK unless Boris Johnson gives in on fisheries. Following the EU summit in Brussels on Friday, Mr Macron told French radio that if the UK does not allow French fishermen in its waters, the EU would have to block the UK’s energy supplies to the European market.
A migrant drowned today as he tried to get to Britain from northern France via a makeshift boat. The body of a man, who cannot be identified because he was not carrying any documents, was found on the beach at Sangatte, next to Calais, on Sunday morning. Next to him was a life vest – one typical of the kind that migrants wear as they pack rigid inflatable dinghies bound for the coast of England, or by those using makeshift crafts. On Sunday morning the French Navy intercepted 11 boats containing a total of 191 migrants trying to get across the English Channel. On Saturday, nine dinghies containing 201 migrants were stopped, while 102 migrants in seven boats made it to Britain.
THE Home Office is “failing to respect” the legal rights of asylum-seekers in its “relentless” drive to deport them as quickly as possible, lawyers and campaigners have told the Morning Star. Immigration lawyers have seen a rise in “poorly made decisions” by the department to deport asylum-seekers on charter flights. A new wave of deportations has specifically targeted asylum-seekers who cross the Channel in small boats. Dozens of people have been returned to EU member countries as part of Home Secretary Priti Patel’s pledge to deport 1,000 refugees before the end of the year. Since August, charter flights have taken place at a rate of almost two per week.
Abuse of human rights laws by foreign criminals will face a major crackdown in sweeping reforms. A loophole in Labour’s Human Rights Act, which has been exploited by murderers, rapists and other serious criminals, will be closed by ministers, the Daily Mail can reveal today. For the first time, restrictions will be placed on the use of Article 3 of the Act, which prohibits ‘torture and inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment’. The reforms will aim to eliminate use of Article 3 in farcical cases. It could include a complete ban on European Union nationals claiming they can’t be sent home for human rights reasons. The Home Office will narrow the types of cases which can use Article 3 in a bid to stop judges ‘gold-plating’ Britain’s duties under international law. It could mean the Government is able to deport hundreds more foreign criminals a year as they are blocked from bringing spurious human rights claims.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson will offer Manchester’s leaders up to £100 million on Monday to accept Tier-3 coronavirus restrictions or risk having them imposed against their will. Andy Burnham, the Mayor of Greater Manchester, described talks with Downing Street on Sunday as “constructive”, increasing speculation he might be ready to do a deal. The Prime Minister wants to avoid imposing Tier-3 status on Manchester without local consent, and Government sources said talks with its leaders could take “days”. Ministers believe if the situation in Manchester continues to worsen, Mr Burnham will come under increasing pressure locally to accept tighter measures for the sake of public health. Mr Johnson has said he will intervene to impose Tier-3 status if there is no agreement.
Greater Manchester’s mayor is calling for more support for the region’s stance against stricter Covid-19 measures, saying it is “likely” the whole of the country will be facing Tier 3 rules this winter. “This is more than a Greater Manchester issue, this is more than a north of England issue, this is everyone’s issue,” Andy Burnham told ITV News. Speaking after a meeting with the prime minister’s chief strategic adviser Sir Edward Lister, Mr Burnham said: “This is not about a big cheque for Greater Manchester, this is about the poorest people in our communities.” Mr Burnham and cross-party local leaders from the region are opposing Tier 3 restrictions without greater financial support for workers and businesses.
Boris Johnson is ready to offer tens of millions of pounds to head off a northern revolt against tougher coronavirus curbs in which key Tories have sided with a Labour mayor. Downing Street wants to pressure Andy Burnham, the mayor of Greater Manchester, into accepting Tier 3 restrictions today while dangling extra cash for the region if a deal is reached. Senior Tories, including Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the backbench 1922 Committee and MP for Altrincham & Sale West, have aligned themselves with Mr Burnham in resisting Tier 3. “We simply haven’t been given the evidence that it would be effective,” Sir Graham said.
Doctors claim that Manchester is at risk of running out of hospital beds for coronavirus patients as talks over whether the city will enter tier three lockdown restrictions enter another week with Andy Burnham still refusing to agree to tighter restrictions. Boris Johnson is set to offer the region up to £100million to compensate for the financial hit of new restrictions as talks continue with local leaders including Greater Manchester mayor Mr Burnham, who wants more funding before he agrees to the move. The row has also split the Tory party with MPs including 1922 committee chair Sir Graham Brady questioning whether the move is needed as infections in the city center continues to decrease. Conservative MPs from northern ‘Red Wall’ seats have also backed Mr Burnham’s stance, and furiously hit back at a letter from 20 Tories from seats with lower infections urging Manchester to accept the restrictions.
Labour’s plans for a temporary lockdown could see the economy and society shut down ‘multiple’ times this winter, senior figures admitted yesterday. Sir Keir Starmer last week called on Boris Johnson to impose an immediate circuit breaker lasting for two to three weeks. But Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary Kate Green yesterday admitted that the lockdown, which would include the closure of shops, pubs and restaurants, might have to last longer than three weeks to be effective. And the shadow Cabinet Office minister Rachel Reeves said the exercise might have to be repeated several times in the coming months. Asked whether Labour accepted that the measure might be required ‘multiple’ times through the winter and spring, Miss Reeves told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show: ‘If that is what is needed then that is the approach that has to be taken, because we’ve got to get a grip on this virus.’ She added: ‘The tiered approach isn’t working. Tier Two is just a holding ground before you go into Tier Three.’
The Welsh Government is demanding more support from Westminster to protect jobs and businesses ahead of a possible two-week circuit-break lockdown, the country’s health minister has said. Vaughan Gething said the furlough scheme ends on October 31 and will be replaced by the UK Government with a ‘less generous’ Job Support Scheme. He told the BBC‘s Politics Wales show the Welsh Government is ‘arguing’ with ministers in London that a ‘more certain and more generous package’ is needed. From November 1 the UK Government will pay 67 per cent of wages – up to a maximum of £2,100 a month – for each employee. Staff must be off work for a minimum of seven days to be eligible, and their employer does not have to pay towards their salary.
A decision on a “short, sharp” national lockdown across Wales is due to be announced later. First Minister Mark Drakeford is set to make an announcement about a two or three-week “fire-break” around midday. The Welsh Government cabinet will meet this morning to make a final decision over the circuit-breaker, after considering advice from experts. But mounting speculation about a two-week lockdown to slow down the virus has been fuelled by a letter. Wales director of the Confederation of Passenger Transport, John Pockett, wrote to members on Friday, saying a lockdown would start at 18:00 on 23 October and end on 9 November, which would “take us back to the situation in March”. He subsequently told PA Media he was “surmising” the outcome.
Test & trace
Why has Test and Trace fallen apart in England while other countries have managed to make the system work? The principle is simple – test people with symptoms, trace their contacts and ask them to self-isolate – but the execution has varied dramatically. England has lagged behind countries such as South Korea, which rapidly grasped the importance of testing people and tracking their contacts. And where Germany invested in local contact tracers, the English system relied on poorly performing call centres. In other countries innovative ideas have been dreamed up, such as in Singapore, where older people without smartphones who cannot download the contact tracing app can instead wear Bluetooth tokens on lanyards around their neck. But in England even the basics have gone wrong, with the system becoming overwhelmed by demand, and resulting in farcical cases where people in south London were offered tests in Aberdeen.
The government has been forced to defend its decision to hand track-and-trace data over to the police amid concerns the policy could damage public trust. An update to Department of Health and Social Care policy confirmed the police would be able to gain access to details on a “case-by-case basis” to find out if someone had been told to self isolate. Breaching quarantine when told to remain inside by the government’s guidance risks a fine of up to £10,000 under legislation brought in at the end of September. However, scientific experts and medical officials have warned the measure may put the public off engaging with contact tracers — while eroding trust between the NHS and the public.
People with suspected Covid-19 symptoms were on Sunday sent to a nonexistent site in Kent, in what was seen as a further blow to England’s failing test-and-trace system. Council officials in Sevenoaks said the address had been listed on the government website for people to arrange appointments on the national booking portal. However, the mobile testing unit, which was meant to be introduced in response to a local rise in coronavirus rates, was not deployed to start on site today for “an unknown reason”, according to a spokesperson. This led to reports of some people driving around the facility for up to an hour before realising it was not operational.
A top government advisor has said there is ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ as he predicts a Covid-19 vaccine will be ready by the end of March 2021. Professor Jeremy Farrar, a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), said the UK faces a ‘very, very difficult’ period over the next three to six months. But the Wellcome Trust director said there is ‘light at the end of the tunnel’, as he believes a Covid-19 vaccine and effective treatment will be ready in the first quarter of 2021. It comes as England’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer Jonathan Van-Tam has said the vaccine being prepared at Oxford University could be ready by December. Meanwhile, drug giant Pfizer has released a video showing that production of their vaccine is well under way at the manufacturing plant in Belgium. Prof Farrar told Sky News’ Sophy Ridge on Sunday a circuit-breaker national lockdown is now needed, claiming there could currently be 50,000 coronavirus cases per day across the UK.
The devastating cost of efforts to “protect the NHS” in the pandemic has been exposed by a new analysis of 200 health conditions which reveals hospital admissions plummeted by up to 90 per cent. The major report shows that consultations for the most common cancers fell by up to two thirds during lockdown, while heart-attack checks reduced by almost half. Experts said the findings were “staggering” and could mean thousands of extra deaths. They warned that the situation must not be repeated during the second wave of the pandemic, as hospitals come under growing pressure, with operations being cancelled. During lockdown, the Government urged the public to “Stay Home, Protect the NHS, Save Lives.”