The Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has claimed there is a “Brexit deal to be done” this week, but warned fishing rights remained an “outstanding major bone of contention” in trade talks. Mr Raab suggested it could be the “last week or so” of substantive negotiations as he urged Brussels to give ground on fishing rights by accepting Britain’s right to control its own waters as a “point of principle.” After weekend claims Britain may be just seven days away from leaving the EU without a trade deal, Mr Raab struck a more positive tone, claiming:  “I do think we’re in a reasonable position – there’s a deal to be done.” He said: “If you look really at what the outstanding issues are, of course the level playing field, but it feels like there is progress towards greater respect for what the UK position was.” His comments came as the EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, was locked in talks with his UK counterpart Lord Frost, at the weekend, with the two sides said to be still far apart on fishing rights. The EU has been demanding 50 per cent of the catch in British waters while the UK has been sticking at 20 per cent.: 14 sec

THE UK could strike a Brexit trade deal this week if the EU “doesn’t move the goalposts”. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab admits fishing rights are “still a bone of contention” but he is confident of an agreement. The UK and EU need to seal an arrangement by Saturday to have time to get it through their respective parliaments by the end of the year. It is understood Boris Johnson is lining up a call with European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen after she put pressure on her negotiator Michel Barnier to get it tied up.

There is only a “narrow” gap between Britain and the EU on a Brexit trade deal but fishing remains the biggest obstacle, Dominic Raab said yesterday. The foreign secretary said there had been progress on level playing field rules, which govern how far Britain must follow EU laws in the future and that there was a “landing zone” for a deal in the next week or so.  Mr Raab said the “major bone of contention” was fishing rights and it “can’t be right” that the EU wanted Britain to be able to land only 18 per cent of fish caught in British waters.


MICHEL BARNIER has sparked panic among EU diplomats who fear he might be “tempted” to agree a post-Brexit trade deal with the UK in a move that could spark fury among the bloc’s member states. The chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier flew to London this weekend to resume face-to-face talks with UK counterpart David Frost over the terms of a free trade agreement when Britain begins life outside European Union on January 1, 2021. But serious differences still remain, with both sets of negotiating teams refusing to give significant ground on a number of issues, predominantly around fisheries and state aid. French President Emmanual Macron has also been vocal about the EU still having the same access to UK waters over concerns for the future of the French fishing industry.

Brussels’ EU Quarter may never be the same again. Deep into a second lockdown, the home of many EU institutions and their staff is a radically different place these days. The sidewalks are no longer bustling and the streets aren’t clogged with traffic. Instead, it’s a ghost town. EU civil servants are overwhelmingly working from home, not the office; drivers have left their cars behind (if they go out at all); many cafés and restaurants are closed, and some will never reopen; and several real estate projects have been put on hold. Even when Belgium lifts its confinement measures designed to contain the spread of the coronavirus, many city officials and locals believe the district won’t ever return to how it was.

THE BBC’s Diplomatic Editor has revealed the EU will soon use “some of those extraordinary tricks” to push the UK into extending the Brexit talks, with just one week left of trade negotiations. The EU may soon “trick” the UK into extending the talks as the Brexit trade negotiations enter their final week, Newsnight’s Diplomatic Editor has claimed. There is panic among insiders in Brussels that the talks will collapse without a deal next weekend. Newsnight’s Diplomatic Editor Mark Urban told BBC’s Dateline panel programme that there will soon be some “extraordinary EU tricks” to extend the talks.


The Government has announced plans to overhaul the country’s farming industry by introducing environmental incentives which will replace the costly EU subsidies after Brexit.   In the biggest change to farming in more than 50 years, the subsidies will be phased out and replaced with payments to protect the environment and introducing more sustainable farming practices. The Government says the plan is to deliver ‘a better, fairer farming system in England’ which will transform the way farmers are supported over a seven-year period. Under the new scheme, farmers will be rewarded for environmental measures such as restoring habitats, producing free-range eggs and minimising animal suffering.

Wildlife will thrive, air and water will be cleaner and livestock will be treated more humanely under the biggest change in farming policy for half a century, the government will promise today. A seven-year plan to phase out paying subsidies to farmers based on how much land they own has been laid out as part of a post-Brexit overhaul of agriculture in England. Instead, farmers will receive money for improving productivity and the environment.  The present system of “direct payments” per hectare under the EU’s common agricultural policy will start to be reduced next year.

Wildlife, nature and the climate will benefit from the biggest shake-up in farming policy in England for 50 years, according to government plans. The £1.6bn subsidy farmers receive every year for simply owning land will be phased out by 2028, with the funds used instead to pay them to restore wild habitats, create new woodlands, boost soils and cut pesticide use. The wealthiest landowners – those receiving annual payments over £150,000 a year – will face the sharpest cuts, starting with 25% in 2021. Those receiving under £30,000 will see a 5% cut next year. Some of the biggest recipients of the existing scheme have been the Duke of Westminster, the inventor Sir James Dyson, racehorse owner Prince Khalid bin Abdullah al Saud and the Queen.

English farmers could be paid for producing free-range eggs or grass-fed beef under post-Brexit changes to agricultural subsidies, the Government will announce on Monday. Higher welfare English food could be labelled in shops to give consumers greater choice amid concerns over import standards in post-Brexit deals. English farmers will ultimately have higher legal standards for the food they produce in a move that may raise concerns about global competitiveness. Reforms to £3 billion subsidies for farmers under the much-maligned EU Common Agricultural Policy are a cornerstone of the Government’s post-Brexit plans. Where the CAP was blamed for encouraging inefficiencies and poor environmental practices, farmers will be paid for producing “public goods”, including clean air and water, and reductions in carbon emissions.


The country will face another national lockdown if MPs reject new local limits, Boris Johnson warned tonight (Sunday). The Prime Minister was battling to quell a Tory revolt as he unveiled a series of concessions in a bid to persuade backbenchers to back a tougher tiers system. But ahead of a critical Commons vote Tuesday, the rebels tonight demanded ‘hard evidence’ to convince them that the crackdown will save more lives than it costs. Tomorrow Downing Street will publish an analysis of the health, economic and social impacts of coronavirus and the measures taken to suppress it. The move is an attempt to limit the scale of a rebellion which has been growing since last week.

City AM
Boris Johnson has bent to the demands of Tory backbench MPs by softening England’s future Covid restrictions regime. Johnson wrote to MPs telling them that people stuck in the strictest Covid restrictions will have them downgraded next month, while also promising that the tier system will end earlier than expected. Millions of people put into Tier 3 restrictions this week will be downgraded to Tier 2 at the next review on 16 December to ensure they can patronise hospitality venues in the lead up to Christmas, according to the Sunday Times. Areas in Tier 3 include Greater Manchester, Birmingham and the whole of Kent.

Boris Johnson has appealed for unity as rebel Conservative MPs warned he had to provide “hard” evidence for the introduction of controversial new lockdown tiers or face a backbench revolt.   As his foreign secretary raised the spectre of a possible third wave of cases next year, the prime minister said the government’s plans would protect the NHS from becoming “overwhelmed” and allow the economy to re-open safely.   But in a letter to potential rebels he added that with a vaccine in sight “now more than ever is the time to demonstrate unity and resolve”.   In a dramatic climbdown over the weekend, Mr Johnson also offered to end the new system early, after just nine weeks, and to give MPs a separate vote on whether or not the restrictions should continue until March.

Boris Johnson has told dissenting Conservative MPs he is holding firm in the face of a damaging revolt over the tougher three-tier system this week. In a letter to MPs on the Covid Research Group (CRG), the Prime Minister appealed for “unity and resolve” in the face of the pandemic, adding that “there is every reason to hope and believe that the worst is nearly behind us”.  As many as 100 Tory MPs from across the party could refuse to back the new system of tiers in a Commons vote on Tuesday, forcing the PM to rely on Labour support hours before the lockdown is due to end. Mr Johnson has insisted that the threat to the NHS remains “severe” and that the tougher restrictions in the new tiers are “necessary”.


Lockdown cut Covid cases nationally by a third, although barely changed the level of infection in some areas, new data suggests. Imperial College London’s REACT study for England found that infections fell by more than half in the North West and North East, and were also down in Yorkshire and the Humber. But prevalence remained high in the East Midlands and West Midlands. More than 105,000 volunteers were tested in England for the ongoing research. According to round seven of the study, there were 96 people infected per 10,000 between November 13 and 24, down from 132 per 10,000 between October 26 and November 2.

BBC News
Coronavirus infections in England have fallen by about a third over lockdown, according to a major study. Some of the worst-hit areas saw the biggest improvements – but, despite this progress, cases remained relatively high across England. Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the data showed the country could not “take our foot off the pedal just yet”. The findings by Imperial College London were based on swabbing more than 100,000 people between 13-24 November. The React-1 study is highly respected and gives us the most up-to-date picture of Covid-19 in the country. Its researchers estimated the virus’s reproduction (R) rate had fallen to 0.88.

Millions of people heading into the top tier of coronavirus restrictions have been given hope that the curbs will be eased within weeks as an official study showed numbers infected had halved in the north. Boris Johnson is understood to be looking for Tier 3 areas that can be moved down to Tier 2 before Christmas as he seeks to convince sceptical MPs to vote for the new system tomorrow.  Hopes that areas facing the strictest rules will get them eased have been boosted by the country’s biggest coronavirus study. It has concluded that the number of people with the infection had dropped by 30 per cent across England since the lockdown was introduced at the start of the month.

Infections have plummeted by nearly a third across England since the second national lockdown was imposed, a major study has revealed. Cases have halved in the North West and North East – boosting hopes that much of the North could be moved down into Tier Two. The Imperial College London research, commissioned by the Department of Health, was based on random swab testing of 105,000 people between November 13 and 24. Overall, one in 100 tested positive compared with one in 80 during the previous round of testing between October 16 and November 2.  Separate daily Department of Health data published yesterday also confirmed infection figures are shrinking dramatically.


Pubs and restaurants hit by new coronavirus restrictions will be given extra cash to help get them through Christmas, Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to announce as he tries to see off a growing Tory rebellion. The Prime Minister has decided the potential closure of tens of thousands of premises is an unacceptable price to pay for a new system that places 99 per cent of England under the toughest Tier 2 or 3 restrictions from Wednesday. A Government source said: “There are already grants of £2,000 and £3,000 for businesses in Tiers 2 and 3, but we recognise that we need to do more.”  The new tiers system, which has been described as a death knell for thousands of pubs and restaurants, requires all premises in Tier 3 to offer only takeaway service, while those in Tier 2 can only serve alcohol with “substantial meals” – restrictions which will apply to 99 per cent of the country.

Sky News
Several police forces in England have said they have handed out multiple fines after breaking up a number of large-scale illegal parties over the weekend.  Police were called to at least four locations, including a university hall of residence in Nottingham where up to 200 people were discovered at one gathering. Nottinghamshire Police said in a statement: “Officers were called to flat in Pilcher Gate, Nottingham, shortly before 10.30pm last night and issued £200 fixed penalty notices to 21 people found inside. “Investigations are ongoing to establish the identity of the organiser, who could face additional punishment. “Another large party was broken up shortly after midnight at an address in Corporation Oaks, St Ann’s and the organiser was issued with a summons to appear in court at a later date.”


NHS bosses plan to enlist celebrities and “influencers” with big social media followings in a major campaign to persuade people to have a Covid vaccine amid fears of low take-up. Ministers and NHS England are drawing up a list of “very sensible” famous faces in the hope that their advice to get immunised would be widely trusted, the Guardian has learned. Health chiefs are particularly worried about the number of people who are still undecided, and about vaccine scepticism among NHS staff. “There will be a big national campaign [to drive take-up],” said one source with knowledge of the plans. “NHS England are looking for famous faces, people who are known and loved. It could be celebrities who are very sensible and have done sensible stuff during the pandemic.” No names are thought to have been confirmed.

Britain’s National Health Service (NHS) will launch a campaign fronted by “very sensible” celebrities to persuade people to take coronavirus vaccines, according to reports. “There will be a big national campaign [to drive take-up],” a source told the Guardian. “NHS England are looking for famous faces, people who are known and loved. It could be celebrities who are very sensible and have done sensible stuff during the pandemic.” The left-wing newspaper says Marcus Rashford, a professional football player who has been harrying the government over issues such as free school meals in recent months, is one of the names being considered. 100 million doses of the Oxford University/AstraZeneca vaccine have been ordered by Boris Johnson’s government, along with several million American-made vaccines


Shops are to be allowed to stay open for longer in the run-up to Christmas under a major relaxation of rules announced to help revive High Street stores hammered by coronavirus restrictions.  In an exclusive article for The Telegraph, Robert Jenrick, the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, said he wanted councils to waive rules that restrict shops’ opening hours. Shops currently have to apply under the town and country planning act if they want to extend their hours beyond 9am to 7pm from Monday to Saturday but it is a process that can take weeks. Mr Jenrick said he wanted to sweep away such bureaucracy  to help shops after months of coronavirus restrictions and increasing competition from online sales.

ITV News
Shops will be given permission to trade around the clock as the high street tries to recoup some of the losses it has suffered during the pandemic, a cabinet minister said. Retailers normally have to go through a lengthy and time-consuming process to apply to local authorities under the Town and Country Planning Act if they wish to extend hours outside the window of 9am to 7pm. Communities secretary Robert Jenrick said he wanted to remove the bureaucracy to encourage greater trade – allowing shops to open for up to 24 hours a day in December and January. Writing in the Daily Telegraph, he said: “With these changes local shops can open longer, ensuring more pleasant and safer shopping with less pressure on public transport.

Some High Street shops will open 24 hours a day in December in a desperate bid to offset the £900million a day economic hit of the new tier restrictions. Primark has decided to open 11 shops around the clock, with other chains extending hours until late into the night. The attempt to recoup Covid-19 losses comes as the Centre for Economics and Business Research estimates the tier system will cost the economy in England £900million daily up to Christmas and beyond. M&S will open hundreds of stores until midnight. John Lewis, Currys PC World, Next and other big High Street names will also extend trading hours.

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