BRITAIN sent a staggering £15.8 billion to Brussels during the country’s final year of European Union membership, new figures have revealed. The latest data, published by the Office for National Statistics, showed the Government was forced to inject a gross payment of £304 million from taxpayers every week to the bloc’s financial coffers. The figure would have been £4.4 billion higher without the hard-fought rebate secured by Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher at the EU’s Fontainebleau summit in 1984. Analysis in the ONS’ annual Pink Book publication showed £5.2 billion was returned to the UK last year under the EU’s spending plans, giving a net contribution of £10.6 billion. The significant delay to Britain’s departure from the bloc meant the country’s net contribution was £1 billion more than in 2018.
Farmers have welcomed a “landmark moment” in the campaign against imports of food produced to lower environmental and welfare standards after the government promised independent scrutiny of post-Brexit trade deals. Liz Truss, the trade secretary, and George Eustice, the environment secretary, announced that the Trade and Agriculture Commission would be placed on a statutory footing. The commission was created in July and was due to last only six months but will now continue its work for at least three years. It will be tasked with producing a report on each new proposed free trade agreement reached by the government in time for the start of parliament’s 21-day scrutiny process before the deal is finalised.
SCOTLAND is an “economic basket case” which will learn a harsh economic reality if the SNP succeeds in forcing independence, a banking consultant has said. Bob Lyddon, founder of Lyddon Consulting Services Limited, believes Boris Johnson should call Nicola Sturgeon‘s bluff by offering to cut the nation loose to see how it fares on its own. And he predicted after independence, high levels of current public spending would crash to well below the current average UK level. Mr Lyddon has written two separate analyses examining the issue of Scottish independence, ‘Why Scotland must keep the pound – and why it can’t’, published in advance of the 2014 referendum, and ‘The Smith Commission – buying the Great SNP Bluff’, published in 2015, in reference to the document published afterwards intended to offer Scotland more devolved powers.
Scotland could be bounced into a four-week national lockdown by the Treasury’s decision to end the extended 80% furlough scheme at the beginning of December. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has floated the possibility of “a full lockdown” and described funding from Westminster as a “crucial point”. As Scotland moves into a new five-tier system of restrictions the Scottish government could be left with the bill for supporting businesses forced to close if and when the highest tier is brought in at a later date. The first minister said in a statement that her government will “carefully consider the impact” of the lockdown in England.
Scotland’s new Covid restrictions come into force on Monday as England prepares for another national lockdown. The regional system has five levels but each of the country’s 32 local authorities has initially been graded between levels 1 and 3. People under level 3 restrictions have been told to make only essential journeys outside their council area. The launch comes amid ongoing calls for clarity from the Treasury over the extension to the furlough scheme. To prevent any confusion around the local levels a postcode tracker has been launched so people can check the regulations – which take effect from 06:00.
The Brexit Party is to be relaunched as an anti-lockdown party called Reform UK, Nigel Farage and Richard Tice will announce on Monday, in a move which could alarm libertarian Conservative MPs. In a joint article for Monday’s Telegraph, Mr Farage and Mr Tice declare that “lockdowns don’t work”, and say their new party will back a policy of “focused protection” from coronavirus only for the most vulnerable, to allow the rest of the population to develop herd immunity. The plans to change the name of the Brexit Party to Reform UK are subject to approval of the Electoral Commission. Papers were submitted to the regulator last week. Reform UK hopes to stand a slate of candidates at May’s elections – when the Tories are contesting thousands of shire seats, as well as policing and crime commissioner elections – and the next general election, expected by 2024.
Nigel Farage wants to rebrand the Brexit Party as Reform UK and “become a voice” for lockdown skeptics during the coronavirus pandemic. The Brexit Party fought 275 seats and took two per cent of votes but did not succeed in electing an MP in the 2019 general election. It will now broaden its agenda to include campaigning against measures imposed by the UK Government, as well as seeking “reform” in other areas. He said: “As promised, we continue to keep a very close eye on the Government’s trade negotiations with the EU, to ensure a proper Brexit. “Further reform in many other areas is also vital for our nation’s future.”
Nigel Farage is seeking to relaunch his political career by rebranding the Brexit Party as an anti-lockdown party. The party has formally applied to the Electoral Commission to change its name to Reform UK and will campaign against coronavirus measures. Announcing the party’s new aims, Mr Farage – who has led UKIP several times – and Richard Tice, the Brexit Party chairman, said it will tackle several ‘powerful vested interests’. These include ‘the House of Lords, the BBC, the way we vote, law and order, immigration’. The pair also claim ‘badly run, wasteful quangos are in abundance’. But the party – which hopes to capitalise on anti-lockdown sentiment – believes the most pertinent issue is ‘the Government’s woeful response to coronavirus’.
A FISHING boss has warned of utter devastation in his community, with dozens of fishermen being forced to hang up their nets due to an influx of French trawlers “wiping out stocks”, with just weeks to go until the Brexit transition deadline. Don Thompson, President of the Jersey Fishermen’s Association, said half of the 132 fishermen he represents have put their boats up for sale because there is simply not enough fish left for them to catch in their local waters. Under the Bay of Granville Treaty, fishing boats from France and Jersey are allowed shared access to the island’s territorial waters – but not on the same scale.
BRITISH taxpayers have spent £139,178.83 every day for a decade trying to stop illegal immigration from France, the Daily Express can reveal. The colossal drain on the public purse can be disclosed for the first time after the Daily Express obtained Home Office documents laying bare the scale of the outlay. They show £508 million has been thrown at the crisis since 2010/11 – equal to £50.8 million a year. It comes as Home Secretary Priti Patel promised a new “firm and fair” arrangement to fix Britain’s “broken asylum system” after a year in which record numbers had attempted to cross the Channel illegally.
Boris Johnson will on Monday concede that the national lockdown could extend beyond December 2 amid growing unrest about the restrictions among ministers and Tory MPs. The Prime Minister will tell the House of Commons that he will “seek to” end the draconian new measures in a month’s time, but will stop short of ruling out an extension. On Sunday, Michael Gove, the Cabinet Office minister, said it was the Government’s “fervent hope” that the lockdown would end after 28 days, but asked if it might go on longer he said: “Yes.” It came as scientific advisers warned that a month-long lockdown would not be enough to force Covid-19 infections into reverse unless schools were also closed down.
Boris Johnson will tell MPs on Monday he will “seek to ease restrictions” on December 2 after Michael Gove admitted England’s Covid lockdown could last more than four weeks Cabinet Office minister Mr Gove said earlier on Sunday the government could extend the national lockdown if data shows the infection rate has not fallen enough. Mr Gove told the Sophy Ridge on Sunday programme that December 2 is a “review” date and that the government would “be drive by the data”. But the prime minister has appeared to slap down those comments. He will say on Monday: “On December 2, we will seek to ease restrictions, going back into the tiered system on a local and regional basis according to the latest data and trends.”
England’s lockdown could extend into the new year with a brief relaxation over the Christmas period, cabinet ministers have warned amid a backlash from Tory MPs. Michael Gove, the Cabinet Office minister, confirmed yesterday that the second lockdown could last beyond December 2 if the rate of transmission had not fallen. Cabinet ministers told The Times that they believed it would be “very difficult” to end the lockdown if deaths and hospital admissions were still rising. “There’s a lag to these things,” one said. “The fear will be that in four weeks’ time deaths will be higher than they are now, which will give credibility to people who want to keep national measures in place.”
Boris Johnson will insist there is “no alternative” to a nationwide lockdown as he addresses the House of Commons on Monday amid mounting fury among Tory MPs, after ministers conceded the new “stay at home” order could be extended beyond 2 December. The prime minister will tell parliament that without the draconian new measures, which will come into force across England on Thursday, deaths from coronavirus over the winter could be “twice as bad or even worse” than in the first wave. He will promise the government will “seek to ease” restrictions when the measures are due to expire. However, cabinet minister Michael Gove made clear on Sunday they could be left in place if they have not yet brought the infection rate down sufficiently.
Boris Johnson was facing a Tory rebellion last night over his new national lockdown. Many of his own MPs were outraged by the revelation that the restrictions could last much longer than the planned four weeks – and potentially even run into spring with a brief easing over Christmas. Some indicated they would oppose the measures that business chiefs fear will devastate an already fragile economy. ‘I will be voting against the new national lockdown on Wednesday when it comes before the House of Commons,’ said former Cabinet minister Esther McVey. ‘The ‘lockdown cure’ is causing more harm than Covid.’
BORIS Johnson will today insist the lockdown in England will end on December 2 — despite claims it could end up being for longer. The Prime Minister is set to use a statement to the Commons this afternoon to say there is “no alternative” but to impose four weeks of stringent restrictions across England to control rising cases. It comes amid confusion over whether the measures could be extended beyond December 2, after Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove admitted they may need to be in place for longer. Johnson will tell MPs the Government will “seek to ease” restrictions and return to the tiered system on December 2, though a Number 10 source insisted the measures would be “time-limited” for four weeks.
Death scenarios used by the Government to justify a second national lockdown are out-of-date and may be four times too high, research suggests. At Saturday night’s Downing Street press conference, scientists presented graphs suggesting England could see 4,000 daily deaths early next month. The scenario from Cambridge University was used as part of efforts to justify the introduction of sweeping restrictions. But data experts have questioned why the scenario – drawn up three weeks ago – was chosen to illustrate the crisis, when the university has produced far more recent forecasts, which are significantly lower. The modelling presented on Saturday night, which suggests deaths could reach 4,000 a day by December, is so out-of-date that it suggests daily deaths are now around 1,000 a day.
DEATH toll forecasts used by the government as grounds for another nationwide lockdown are out-of-date and could be four times too high, experts have said. A Downing Street press conference led by Boris Johnson on Saturday included data suggesting that England could be seeing up to 4,000 deaths each day by early December. The projections were based on research conducted three weeks ago by Cambridge University, the Telegraph reports. Experts have questioned why the work is still being used to make decisions when the university has published more recent research, whose estimated death tolls are considerably lower.
Covid-19 deaths could be twice as high over the winter as they were in the first wave of the pandemic, PM Boris Johnson is expected to warn MPs later. In a Parliamentary statement he will say there is “no alternative” as he seeks to win support for the planned four-week lockdown across England. But Mr Johnson will explain he was “right to try every possible option” before ordering people to stay at home. Labour has said it will back the lockdown but criticised the delay. Mr Johnson announced at a Downing Street news conference on Saturday that strict measures would be imposed across England from Thursday, closing pubs, restaurants, gyms, non-essential shops and places of worship.
A rise in deaths to around 500 per day over the next three weeks is inevitable until we start to see the new measures take effect, according to scientists who said delay has been the consequence of waiting to be certain before acting. Experts have called on the Government to use the next four weeks to put the country in a better position to deal with the inevitable rise in coronavirus cases over the winter. Among the measures are integrating the NHS Track and Trace system to ensure that people are quickly diagnosed and their contracts efficiently traced and quarantined, and improving the physical and social environment in workplaces, schools and universities – for example, by increasing ventilation, spacing people out as much as possible and supporting as many people as possible to work remotely.
Rishi Sunak has warned colleagues that a second lockdown has thrown the Government’s ability to maintain current levels of spending on public services into doubt. The Chancellor is understood to have issued the stark warning during Saturday’s meeting of the Cabinet to sign off the four-week circuit breaker which will see vast swathes of the economy shuttered for the second time this year. According to insiders, Mr Sunak told ministers that “the spending review is going to get hard” and that another prolonged lockdown posed serious challenges for the funding of public services. Ministers were also asked to approve Boris Johnson’s plans without any economic data being presented, with Mr Sunak said to have made clear that “this is a health decision not an economic decision”.
Rishi Sunak was reluctant to agree to the second national lockdown in light of the threat to the economy and the huge £5 billion cost of furlough, sources said last night. The Chancellor was one of those at the Downing Street meeting on Friday which decided to go ahead with new restrictive measures. A source said there was a ‘collective decision’ to back a second lockdown, and that Mr Sunak ‘accepted it’ – and he did not threaten to resign, as some whispers around Westminster were suggesting yesterday. ‘There was a presentation from the scientists,’ the source said.
Schools may have to close because the government ignored scientific advice to go back into lockdown earlier, a government adviser said yesterday. Sir Jeremy Farrar said that schools may end up having to shut if infection rates continue to rise during the new lockdown. The member of Sage and director of the Wellcome Trust also warned that the country should not become “fixed on” the lockdown ending on December 2. “Because we have delayed the onset of this lockdown, it does make keeping schools [open] harder,” Sir Jeremy told The Andrew Marr Show on BBC One. “If the transmission in secondary schools continues to rise that may have to be revisited in the next four weeks.”
Scientists advising the government urged ministers to close secondary schools for the month-long lockdown in England, i understands. Shutting schools for older children was one of the measures scientists said would help bring R below 1 due to high infection rates among teens, along with closing pubs, restaurants and non-essential shops. But the proposal was blocked because keeping education open throughout the second lockdown is a red line for the Prime Minister. Official figures show that coronavirus cases in the year 7 to year 11 age group in England increased 50 times between 1 September and 23 October, from 40 to 2,010, despite schools operating a system of bubbles for classes or year groups.
Airlines have been busy overnight working on plans to cancel the majority of leisure flights in response to England’s impending national lockdown. Under new rules announced by the Government on Saturday, non-essential travel – both domestic and international – is banned from Thursday November 5 until at least December 2. That takes all overseas holidays off the table during this period, as well as staycations, given that overnight stays away from home are not permitted. Paul Charles, CEO of travel consultancy the PC Agency, tells Telegraph Travel: “Airline planning teams are already working on cancelling outbound flights after November 5, and it will be difficult to plan for December based on a lack of visibility as to what will happen closer to Christmas.
Airports and airlines are installing futuristic technologies in preparation for when travel restrictions are finally eased. Touchless technologies, such as digital toilet queues, and systems that monitor passengers temperatures throughout flights, will be used to reduce the risk of the coronavirus spreading. High-tech safety measures are already being installed in Avalon Airport in Melbourne, Victoria’s second busiest airport. Airport boss Justin Giddings has installed a new security screening system which eliminates the hassle of having to remove technology and liquids from carry-on bags, news.com.au reported.