Brexit

Mail
The day the UK became fully self-governing again, January 1, 2021, was for many millions of Britons a reason to celebrate. But you wouldn’t have picked that up from our national broadcaster. The BBC‘s reports were unrelievedly apprehensive. And it provided a platform for Frankie Boyle — you know, the comedian who likes to poke fun at people with Down’s Syndrome — to declare on his own New Year special: ‘Having Brexit at the end of a year like this is like finding cancer has spread to the walls of your house.’ Nice. But no broadcaster has been as hysterically doom-laden as Dan Snow, presenter of various history programmes.  On January 1, he tweeted: ’75 years ago, after history’s bloodiest war, with its genocide and unimaginable brutality, a generation of survivors tried to prevent future war by building institutions to curb assertions of national sovereignty. The UK forged that. Now we help to dismantle it. Brexit is a tragedy.’

Rejoiners

Express
THOUSANDS of frantic ‘Rejoiners’ are hatching a desperate plot to drag the UK back into the European Union – just days after the country’s full historic deeparture from the bloc. The ‘Rejoin Campaign’ group, which was launched on Saturday, now has more than 9,000 followers on Twitter. Rejoin Campaign says in the description of the group on its Twitter account: “Welcome to Rejoin Campaign, proposing a campaign for the UK to rejoin the European Union. No group, party, organisation or commercial interest is behind this account.  “It’s run by someone of no particular significance, other than being pro EU. “Its only value is in its followers.”

Fisheries

Times
Ministers are preparing the details of a £100 million package to rebuild Britain’s fishing fleet, enabling it to take on new quotas as they are relinquished by the European Union. The scheme is being put together after it was promised last month to counter criticism by fishermen that the government had sold out the industry to get its Brexit trade deal over the line. It is expected to allow British crews to expand their fleet during a five-and-a-half-year transition period to catch species that have traditionally been the preserve of the French and Dutch.

Mail
Ministers are finalising plans for a £100million post-Brexit package to revive Britain’s fishing fleet to help land catches normally taken by France and the Netherlands.  The scheme was promised last month as the government faced criticism by fisherman that it had compromised on important issues to finally secure a trade deal with the EU.   It is thought that under the plans, British crews will be able to expand their fleet within a five-and-a-half year transition window to catch species that were traditionally only sought by French and Dutch teams, The Times reports. The processing industry will also be expanded to make sure there is enough capacity to land the additional fish, reports say.  A government source said Chancellor Rishi Sunak had discussed the plans with Boris Johnson before the Brexit deal had been agreed. The source said: ‘We took the view that the fishing fleet needed to be rebuilt to take advantage of the new access… We needed to invest a lot more into it if we were actually going to be able to catch the fish that we will be entitled to.

EU

Express
A PROMINENT writer who supported the UK’s EU membership has spoken out about how Emmanuel Macron’s “Britain bashing” has turned her into a Brexiteer, branding the French leader “arrogant”. The claim was made by Paris based writer Anne-Elisabeth Moutet, who is published by both French and British publications. Mr Macron addressed Brexit during his New Year address to the French nation.  In an incendiary move he claimed the ‘Leave’ vote had been “born of many lies and false promises”. At 23:00 on December 31 Britain exited the EU Brexit transition period and regained its status as a fully independent trading nation. It now trades with the EU on the terms of an agreement Boris Johnson reached with European leaders on December 24, which was swiftly pushed through Parliament.

Sun
BRITS have been deported from Spain after officials claimed their papers were now invalid following Brexit. Both the Spanish and British governments have said both the old Foreign National Identification (NIE) document and the new Foreign ID Card (TIE) remain valid. And several Brit expats have already paid the price when they were prevented from boarding a BA-Iberia flight to Madrid when the airline said their pre-Brexit residency papers were no longer valid. Others were deported back to Britain from Barcelona for the same reason, the Guardian reported. Meanwhile, Tony Blair compared Brexit to “shock therapy”, saying: “There is nothing that Brexit’s going to do for Britain on its own.

Scotland

Mail
Nicola Sturgeon will discuss new measures with ministers today before recalling Scottish Parliament for an urgent statement – amid a ‘rapid rise’ in Covid-19 infections.  All of mainland Scotland is already under the toughester tier of restrictions. But Ms Sturgeon’s Cabinet is expected to discuss any additional measures that may be required to reduce the transmission of coronavirus, ahead of a debate in Parliament. Yesterday Scotland announced 2,464 new cases of Covid-19, with the latest figures for hospital admissions and deaths not due until Tuesday. In a series of tweets, Ms Sturgeon said: ‘The rapid increase in Covid cases, driven by the new variant, is of very serious concern. ‘The steep increases and severe NHS pressure being experienced in other parts of the UK is a sign of what may lie ahead. So we must take all steps to slow spread while vaccination progresses. ‘We, like other countries, are in a race between this faster spreading strain of Covid and the vaccination programme.

Evening Standard
The Prime Minister has reiterated his position that a Scottish independence referendum  should be a “once-in-a-generation” vote. Speaking on the Andrew Marr show, Boris Johnson said that the gap between referendums on Europe – the first in 1975 and the second in 2016 – was “a good sort of gap”. However, Mr Marr suggested that now “things had changed” for Scotland, after leaving the European Union and the coronavirus pandemic. He asked Mr Johnson what a voter in Scotland should do if they decided that a second independence referendum was now something they wanted, what were “the democratic tools in my hands to now do that?” Mr Johnson said: “Referendums in my experience, direct experience, in this country are not particularly jolly events. “They don’t have a notably unifying force in the national mood, they should be only once in a generation.” Asked what the difference was between a referendum on EU membership being granted and one on Scottish independence being requested, he said: “The difference is we had a referendum in 1975 and we then had another one in 2016.

Times
A 40-year gap should be left between constitutional referendums, Boris Johnson said yesterday as he again rejected demands for another vote on Scottish independence. The prime minister compared the wait between ballots on joining and leaving the European Union with the 2014 decision on Scotland’s future. With polls showing the Scottish National Party on course for a majority in Scottish parliamentary elections in May as well as a sustained preference for independence, pressure is building to put the question to the vote again. Constitutional issues are reserved to Westminster and Mr Johnson, a leading figure in the Vote Leave campaign in 2016 that led to Brexit, has repeatedly said that he will not countenance another vote while he is prime minister.

Covid restrictions

Times
Boris Johnson told Britain yesterday to prepare for what will in effect be a third national lockdown, including further school closures, as he pledged to “do what it takes” to get Covid-19 case numbers under control. The prime minister is expected to make an assessment of the latest infection numbers by Wednesday that will include the first signs of the effect of easing social distancing over Christmas. Downing Street sources warned that this was likely to result in more areas of England being placed into Tier 4 restrictions and additional school closures in the worst affected areas. “It’s not something we want to do but it may be what the data requires,” they said.

iNews
Most of England is likely to be placed under the top level of restrictions within days as the number of confirmed coronavirus cases soared past 50,000 for the sixth day running. Boris Johnson warned the nation it faces a “difficult few weeks and months” until large parts of the population can be vaccinated and that people needed to be “humble” in the face of the new variant. Scientists and officials are alarmed at the rise in cases in London in particular, which are now at 902 per 100,000 people, with one in four tests in the capital producing a positive result. But the government is so far resisting a full lockdown across the country. The Prime Minister told BBC1’s Andrew Marr: “It may well be that we need to do things in the next few weeks that will be tougher in some parts of the country… I am fully, fully reconciled to that and I think people around the country are reconciled to that too.

Telegraph
Tier 3 is no longer enough to contain the new variant of coronavirus, the Health Secretary has warned, as more areas of the UK head for the toughest measures. Boris Johnson is under pressure to impose a new national lockdown, with sources suggesting there are plans for the return of shielding this month. On Monday morning Matt Hancock said Tier 3, which is in force in areas of the North East and South West of England, was no longer enough to contain the new variant of Covid-19. “Unfortunately the number of cases is rising, and in some parts of the country, for instance some of the Tier 3 areas, [we] are seeing sharp rises. “Each week we look at all of the areas of the country to check that we are in the right position in terms of the tiers. It is a very difficult situation in terms of the growth of the virus.

Mail
Boris Johnson will decide today whether to introduce stricter coronavirus restrictions as he faces calls from Labour to bring in a national lockdown. The Prime Minister warned yesterday that curbs were ‘probably about to get tougher’ as Government sources said more areas of England could be plunged into Tier Four in days. Under the strict measures, already in place across three-quarters of the country, only essential shops such as supermarkets are allowed to open and people are meant to stay at home. Mr Johnson said he was also considering further closures of schools. Cabinet sources said they expected the Government’s ‘Covid-O’ committee, which makes decisions on lockdown restrictions, would meet today to decide on the next steps to take.

Sun
BORIS Johnson will decide within days if England will be plunged back into a strict national lockdown that could last for months. The PM – who is currently facing calls for another full-scale shutdown from Labour – admitted yesterday the current tier system will get even tougher. He will meet officials to decide whether the mutant strain of coronavirus surging through the country will mean a return to a March-style lockdown, with schools shut, non-essential shops shuttered and most travel banned. Cabinet sources say they expect the Government’s Covid-O committee, which makes decisions on restrictions, will meet today to decide on the next steps to take, the Daily Mail claimed.

Telegraph
Boris Johnson has put the country on notice for a third national lockdown, as it emerged that the Government is drawing up plans for the return of shielding.  England could be back in lockdown by the middle of the month, Government sources suggested, prompting fears that the country will be kept in a straitjacket until at least Easter. The Telegraph understands that discussions about the return of shielding have already begun in Government, and a further announcement on school closures could come as soon as this week. Mr Johnson signposted further closures and refused to rule out personal restrictions last seen during the first lockdown as he talked of the need to be “realistic” about the pace at which Covid is spreading. The Prime Minister told the BBC’s Andrew Marr: “It may be that we need to do things in the next few weeks that will be tougher in many parts of the country. I’m fully, fully reconciled to that. My bet is the people of this country are reconciled to that.”

Vaccine

Mail
People who have received the Covid-19 vaccine should avoid drinking alcohol because it can reduce the body’s immune response to the jab, experts have warned.  Alcohol changes the make-up of the trillions of microorganisms that live in the gut which play an important role in preventing the invasion of bacteria and viruses.  This leads to the damage of immune cells in the blood, known as white blood cells, including lymphocytes, which send out antibodies to attack viruses.  Emergency medicine specialist Dr Ronx Ikharia conducted an experiment where they took blood samples before and after drinking three glasses of Prosecco.  Dr Ikharia, the presenter of BBC documentary, The Truth About… Boosting Your Immune System which airs on Wednesday, found that three glasses were enough to bring down the levels of lymphocyte cells in their blood by as much as 50 per cent.

Mirror
Drinking alcohol could reduce the effectiveness of the coronavirus vaccine, experts have warned. Alcohol alters the make-up of the microorganisms in the gut which help to halt bacteria and viruses spreading throughout the body. This can mean the white blood cells – which release antibodies to attack the likes of Covid-19 and other bugs – become damaged or reduced and unable to fight off an attack. As part of new BBC documentary, The Truth About… Boosting Your Immune System, which airs on Wednesday, Dr Ronx Ikharia conducted an experiment with Prosecco.  The emergency medicine specialist took blood samples before and after drinking three glasses of the popular Italian sparkling white wine.  They found the quantity was enough to reduce the levels of white lymphocyte cells in the blood by half.

Telegraph
The first Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine has been delivered in the UK.  Dialysis patient Brian Pinker, 82, has become the first person to be vaccinated with the new Covid-19 jab after getting the dose at Oxford University Hospital, NHS England said. Six hospitals in England will administer the first of around 530,000 doses of the newly approved vaccine that Britain has ready to go. The coronavirus immunisation programme will be expanded to hundreds of other British sites in the coming days, with the Government hoping it will deliver tens of millions of doses within months. Prime Minister Boris Johnson insisted on Sunday that tens of millions of doses of Covid-19 vaccine would be delivered by the end of March.

Education

Mail
Teaching unions today united to try to shut down all classrooms as headteachers revolted en masse against Boris Johnson’s plea to stay open leaving millions of parents to begin homeschooling their children for at least a fortnight with often only a few hours’ notice. Many headteachers ordered to stay open have decided to shut their gates anyway this morning despite the Prime Minister’s insistence that ‘schools are safe’ as all of Britain’s teaching unions called for classroom teaching to be ‘paused’ until teachers are vaccinated.  In a joint statement the leaders of the GMB, NAHT, NASUWT, NEU, UNISON and Unite unions have said they want ‘an immediate nationwide move to remote education for all pupils in primary, secondary and special schools and colleges’.  The move will consign millions of children to ‘sub-standard’ online learning experts say can ‘set back’ children years, especially those from working class families while Ofsted chief inspector Amanda Spielman warned schools not to ‘furlough’ children by shutting down again.

Times
Primary schools across England announced plans for unilateral closures yesterday as teachers, councils and public health experts staged a revolt against the government. Schools around the country began contacting families to say that they were going to stay closed for health reasons, except for the children of key workers and vulnerable families. Ian Ward, the leader of Birmingham city council, the largest local authority in the country, told head teachers they should carry out a risk assessment and that, if it was shown that it was not safe to open schools, the council would back them. He said cases among five to nine-year-olds in the city had nearly doubled during December.

Mail
Boris Johnson has refused to rule out cancelling exams this summer after headteachers called for them to scrapped. The Prime Minister has come under pressure to axe GCSEs and A-Levels because so many children have missed out on schooling since the pandemic began. Secondary schools have been ordered to close for the first two weeks of term to suppress Covid – particularly the new, faster-spreading variant – and there are fears the shutdown could last until February. Headteachers have warned of huge inequality in the system, with some pupils left to face the summer exams less prepared than others. Asked yesterday on The Andrew Marr Show on BBC1 whether exams should be cancelled, the Prime Minister declined to rule the idea out, adding: ‘We’ve got to be realistic about the pace at which this new variant has spread, we’ve got to be realistic about the impact it’s having on our NHS, and we’ve got to be humble in the face of this virus.’

Scallywag bunkers

Telegraph
In the summer of 1940 following the retreat from Dunkirk, the British nation braced itself for a German Invasion. With Hitler expected to sweep across the Channel at any moment, Sir Winston Churchill ordered the formation of a secret resistance movement. Made up of a shadowy band of armed saboteurs known as scallywags, and operating out of hundreds of underground bunkers hidden throughout the countryside, the British Auxiliary Units were intended as a last line of defence. Now a fascinating project to find and excavate these bunkers has been launched and researchers are asking for the public’s help to locate them before they are lost forever. Andy Chatterton from the British Resistance Archive, which is helping to coordinate the study, said: “Most people think they know the story of Britain in 1940. That we were a country on our knees waiting for the German invasion, but in actual fact there was a huge amount going on.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email