BREXITEERS have warned Britain must not cave into Brussels after claims only 60 per cent of its demands will be met in trade talks. Chief negotiator David Frost is said to have privately insisted the UK will get a deal on future relations and progress is being made. But Eurosceptics warned the UK must not back down on key sticking points in the final weeks of negotiations. Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen said achieving just 60 per cent of the UK’s demands would not be a good outcome. “I can’t see how we can give so much,” he said. “The majority of the items that we disagree on and are causing the stumbling blocks, no sovereign nation could ever agree to. “They are not reasonable demands. “The EU is not treating the UK and an independent sovereign nation, it is acting as if we are still a member of the EU.”
BORIS JOHNSON is set to tighten his grip on power on Scotland and could be set to hold more Cabinet meetings in a bid to hold Nicola Sturgeon to account, Express.co.uk has learnt tonight. It comes amid surging support for independence which has seen recent polls show that 54 percent of Scots are in favour of leaving the UK. Express.co.uk understands that he told a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday that more ministers should be sent to Scotland to “show how strong Westminster is”. The UK Government’s base is located at Queen Elizabeth House, which opened last July and is home to more than 3,000 civil servants.
The French prime minister has raised the possibility of a second lockdown as the number of coronavirus infections continues to rise. A day after the UK government enforced quarantine measures on Spain, Jean Castex told the Nice-Matin newspaper that a new lockdown could not be ruled out, but stressed that the government’s priority was “prevention”. “What we must avoid above all is a general lockdown,” he said. “Such a measure breaks the spread of the epidemic, certainly, but it is catastrophic on an economic and social level, including for the psychological health of some of our fellow citizens.” He said France would strive to avoid a national lockdown but may impose “localised lockdowns” in areas where infections surge.
France’s daily coronavirus infection rate is on the rise again, as more than 1,130 new cases were reported Friday, making July’s figures similar to those seen in May, when France first started to ease its strict lockdown measures. France has reported over 217,000 coronavirus cases and more than 30,000 deaths since cases were first reported in the country during early March, according to Johns Hopkins University data. Health authorities have warned that France is heading in the wrong direction as the infection rate is yet again accelerating, meaning that the virus has not started to peter out.
EUROPE is on alert as coronavirus cases are surging sparking fears of a potential second wave. France has warned the progress in the fight against coronavirus has been “erased”, and meanwhile Britain closed its air bridge to Spain due to a spike in cases. Many European nations are seeing an increase in the number of virus cases as governments lift draconian lockdown measures to attempt to reignite their damaged economies. France recorded 1,130 new infections on Friday as compared to just 81 when lockdown was eased at the end of May. Spain meanwhile recorded its highest infection figure since May 11 with 2,615 new cases on Thursday, followed by 2,255 on Friday.
For all their promise of romance and adventure, Europe’s sleeper trains had appeared to have reached the end of the line. Cripplingly expensive to run and forsaken by travellers for budget airlines, a decision by the German rail operator Deutsche Bahn to terminate the service connecting Paris to Berlin six years ago ushered in the closure of routes across the continent including almost all of France’s network. But as Europe continues to grapple with the coronavirus pandemic, there are tentative signs of a new dawn for the couchettes and twin bunks, as the concerns of both governments and travellers’ over the environmental impact of short-haul flights are being complemented by a desire to avoid airport departure lounges and security queues.
Celebrations over the EU’s €750bn Recovery Fund have been rudely interrupted. Italy is already warning that the money will not come soon enough to avert an autumn liquidity squeeze. Roberto Gualtieri, Italy’s technocrat finance minister, told leaders of the ruling coalition behind closed doors that the treasury will struggle to cover both a budget deficit near 12pc of GDP and to redeem a mountain of old debts coming due over coming months. He urged a formal request to the EU’s reviled bail-out fund (ESM) to unlock €36bn of immediate pandemic loans, according to Il Sole.
Back to work
Boris Johnson’s hopes of getting people to return to work from 1 August are in serious doubt as the UK’s biggest civil service union warns of “serious industrial unrest” if public servants across the country are pushed to return to their offices too early. The Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS), which has 200,000 members, has reacted furiously after being told at a private meeting in Downing Street on Thursday that the Cabinet Office’s permanent secretary, Alex Chisholm, has written to all Whitehall departments, asking them to report back on how they could get more people to return as early as next month. While the letter made clear it would be left to the discretion of individual departments to decide what was safe, the unions were given the impression that civil servants were being asked to “take the lead” and “set an example” after Johnson announced earlier this month that the “stay at home” guidance would end from 1 August.
A union chief has warned that civil servants may go on strike if ordered back to their desks to clear the backlogs in public services. Mark Serwotka said ministers will face ‘serious industrial unrest’ if they tell their staff to return. The hardline stance of the general secretary of the Public and Commercial Services Union threatens Boris Johnson’s attempt to tackle ‘backlog Britain’. These are the huge delays that have built up in issuing official documents such as passports, driving licences and birth certificates. It also threatens efforts to breathe life into towns and cities by encouraging office staff back to work.
Everyone over 40 would start contributing towards the cost of care in later life under radical plans being studied by ministers to finally end the crisis in social care, the Guardian can reveal. Under the plan over-40s would have to pay more in tax or national insurance, or be compelled to insure themselves against hefty bills for care when they are older. The money raised would then be used to pay for the help that frail elderly people need with washing, dressing and other activities if still at home, or to cover their stay in a care home. The plans are being examined by Boris Johnson’s new health and social care taskforce and the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC).
Covid-19 should push the Government into reforming social care a soon as possible after the “traumatic” effect of the pandemic on the sector, according to the head of the National Care Association. Nadra Ahmed urged politicians to turn words into actions as the sector copes with the catastrophic impact of the coronavirus and asked the country to have an “honest conversation” about how a properly funded industry would be paid for. “Our staff have been through a very traumatic experience – both personally and professionally – and they have shown their skills at being able to deliver what is really ‘mini hospital’ care, and it has been grossly undervalued.
CARE-HOME bosses were accused today of putting the lives of residents and staff at risk by refusing to pay full sick pay to workers who self-isolate. Unison said that despite financial support offered by councils, care-home owners were refusing to pay sick pay, forcing staff to work even when showing symptoms of the coronavirus. The union in Salford said the city council’s package of protections for care workers during the pandemic involves financial support for providers in exchange for guarantees that include full pay to care workers who have to self-isolate.
The number of people with coronavirus antibodies in the UK is a third lower than previously believed, official figures show. Public Health England data suggests just one in 10 people have the protective proteins in London when one in six did during the peak of the epidemic. And less than 5 per cent of the population in the North East have the antibodies needed to battle the killer virus. Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance previously said to achieve ‘herd immunity’ about 60 per cent of the population needs to have been infected.
A fresh row broke out over face masks on Sunday night as teaching unions called for ministers to consider making them mandatory for children in all secondary schools. It came as at least 10 schools decided to break with official Government guidance in order to make face coverings compulsory or “strongly encouraged” when pupils return in September. Unions said recent announcements requiring the wearing of masks on public transport and in shops had “highlighted the need for similar protections to be in place in schools and colleges”.
Demand for places at private schools has jumped by as much as 30 per cent because parents of state-educated children fear that they have fallen behind during lockdown. There has been an increase in inquiries from “high-aspirational, worried” parents looking for places, according to the Independent Schools Association. In the private sector many pupils have had to log in for registration during lockdown and complete a full day of live lessons on screen.
BRITS returning from Spain to the UK who have to unexpectedly quarantine for two weeks face losing cash – and they cannot claim sick pay. Earlier today the Foreign Secretary urged employers to be “flexible” and stressed they shouldn’t punish their employees for following the law and staying home to stop the spread of the virus. Last night the Government removed Spain from the safe list of countries, and said anyone returning would have to stay home for a fortnight or risk a £1000 fine. But there’s nothing forcing employers to give anything to people who have to isolate when they return back from Spain.
In Benidorm, where Spanish tourism was born when tourists were first allowed to wear bikinis in the 1950s, Britain’s quarantine decision was seen as a “hammer blow” by hoteliers. The Costa Blanca town, which transformed itself from a fishing village to a byword for mass tourism, depends on the UK for 40 per cent of its holidaymakers. Its mayor, Toni Perez, reacted to the surprise quarantine announcement by saying: “We very much regret it. In Benidorm, we’ve worked a lot to minimise the risks and we haven’t got any problems here at the moment.
Dominic Raab has refused to apologise for the last-minute changes to quarantine rules for arrivals from Spain. Holidaymakers were only told of the changes hours before they came in – meaning people enjoying a summer break in Spain will have to isolate for 14 days when they get back to the UK. The Foreign Secretary said the eleventh-hour decision to scrap the “travel corridor” between both countries was made on Saturday after a spike in cases.
The foreign secretary has said the government will not apologise for its snap decision to order tourists returning from Spain to quarantine, saying further spread could risk another lockdown in the UK. Dominic Raab said the government had to take “swift, decisive action” when the data from Spain showed a surge in infections right across the country. Overnight, the UK imposed snap new restrictions on holidaymakers returning from Spain on Saturday night, meaning those who return must quarantine for two weeks.
The government has warned it “won’t hesitate” to add more countries to its quarantine list at short notice – despite anger among Britons who went to Spain unaware they would have to isolate for two weeks upon returning. Ministers faced questions after Spain was added to the list from midnight on Saturday with just a few hours’ warning. A government source said: “The evidence is kept under constant review and if this changes and the risk increases in any country we will not hesitate to act – as the Spain decision shows.”
Hundreds of thousands of Britons have been rushing to cancel foreign holidays amid warnings that the decision to quarantine arrivals from Spain would cause the collapse of overseas travel this summer. Experts said the government’s decision to announce the change hours before it took effect would have a seismic impact on the travel industry, with would-be holidaymakers fearing that restrictions could be imposed on other countries with little or no warning. Holidays to France, Italy and Greece were being cancelled in large numbers after Dominic Raab, the foreign secretary, warned that quarantine measures may be applied elsewhere.
Dominic Raab warned that more summer holidays abroad could be ruined today as he said he could not guarantee more countries would not be slapped with quarantine rules. He spoke out after holidaymakers already in Spain were told they would now have to spend 14 days in isolation on their return after air bridge rules were reversed overnight. The change was made because of a spike in cases in the popular holiday destination, and it will raise fears that other countries could follow suite.
Holidaymakers have been warned the government could impose “handbrake restrictions” on more countries beyond Spain in order to stop the spread of coronavirus – with travellers unlikely to be given much warning if further quarantine measures need to be enforced. The restrictions on travellers returning from Spain after the measures were announced overnight threw summer holiday plans into disarray for British tourists, and will raise fears among those travelling to other European countries that they could face a similar turnaround at a moment’s notice.
The Spanish government is focused on convincing Britain to exclude the Balearic and Canary islands from a 14-day quarantine it abruptly imposed on all travellers returning from Spain, Foreign Minister Arancha Gonzalez Laya said on Sunday. “Spain is safe, it is safe for Spaniards, it is safe for tourists,” Gonzalez Laya told reporters. She added that her government would take measures regarding other countries if needed, based on epidemilogic data, but that there would be no tit-for-tat retaliation taking place.
Everyone who is overweight should lose at least 5lbs in order to save countless lives and spare the NHS a £100million cost, the Health Secretary has said. Matt Hancock said coronavirus was the “deadly wake-up call” Britain needed to tackle obesity, as the Government unveils a strategy to slim the nation’s waistlines. The advertising of unhealthy food will be banned online and before the 9pm watershed on television, with buy one get one free deals on chocolate and crisps axed and calorie counts placed on menus.
GPs will prescribe Weight Watchers diet plans to overweight patients as part of measures to tackle obesity, Boris Johnson said as he urged people to “do their bit”. The government will ban junk food advertising before the 9pm watershed on television and consult on plans to ban it outright online. Promotions on junk food such as buy one, get one free offers and prominent displays in supermarkets will be banned. All cafés, restaurants and takeaways that are part of chains employing more than 250 people will have to put calorie counts on their menus.
Family doctors will become ‘healthy weight’ coaches and sweets will be banned at shop checkouts under the Government’s tough anti-obesity drive. GPs will be trained to help patients shed the pounds, rather than simply telling them they are too fat. Obese patients will also be referred for weight management classes under new targets for GPs as part of the plans which will encourage people to take responsibility for their own health. They could be put on a 12-week healthy eating and fitness plan, with doctors urged to prescribe walking and cycling.
The UK’s only centre dedicated to stamping out female genital mutilation is facing closure after the government pulled its funding, putting women at fresh risk of harm. Cash has been quietly withdrawn from the unit – set up by Theresa May, when she vowed to end FGM “within a generation” – leaving it struggling to survive, The Independent can reveal. The crisis comes despite hundreds of new victims of FGM being identified every month and just one successful prosecution for the practice, despite laws being on the books for 35 years. The head of the unit’s advisory board said its work had “never been more essential”, warning: “It would be devastating if all of its vital work had to come to an end.” The centre receives referrals on girls at risk from FGM, carries out assessments, takes out protection orders and trains thousands of teachers, social workers, police officers and lawyers. Jointly run by Barnardo’s and Local Government Association (LGA), after opening in 2015, it has been stripped of funding as part of a 76 per cent overall reduction – revealed by The Independent last week.
Ireland is being considered as a possible location for an “international charter city” to be developed in anticipation of a mass exodus of Hong Kongers fleeing China’s tightening grasp on their home. Ivan Ko, a Hong Kong citizen with decades of experience in real estate and property development, has reportedly been searching for places around the world to build a new version of Hong Kong since China implemented its new national security law in the city. The charter city would be designed to have its own tax regime and regulations, U.K.’s The Telegraph reported. Last week, the British government outlined a new pathway to U.K. citizenship for up to 3 million eligible Hong Kongers, starting in January 2021.