Fisheries

Times
Foreign supertrawlers almost doubled the time they spent fishing in UK marine protected areas in the first six months of this year compared to the whole of 2019, an investigation has found. British fishermen claim the supertrawlers, which are each more than 100m long and can catch hundreds of tonnes of fish a day, are trying to build up a track record to support claims for continued access to UK waters in a post-Brexit fisheries agreement.  Between January and June, the 23 Russian and Dutch-owned vessels spent 5,590 hours fishing in 19 protected areas, up from 2,963 hours last year, 1,388 in 2018 and 475 in 2017.

Brexit

Express
BRITAIN handed over a massive £14.4billion to Brussels during the country’s final year of EU membership, according to new figures. Treasury data published by the House of Commons Library showed the annual gross contribution to Brussels coffers was one of the highest in the UK’s 47 years as a member of the European bloc. The huge sum from taxpayers – nearly a billion pounds more than the previous year – was equivalent to more than £500 for every household in the UK. It would have been around £4.5billion higher without the rebate won by the then prime minister Margaret Thatcher during budget negotiations in the 1980s.

Immigrants

Mail
The Mayor of Calais said Britain sending in the Navy to police the Channel would be ‘a declaration of maritime war’ amid a sharp rise in the number of migrants making the perilous crossing. Mayor Natacha Bouchart responded to Priti Patel’s formal request for help from the Ministry of Defence (MoD) as the number of people making the life-threatening journey continues to climb – with four boats carrying around 30 people arriving this morning. The Calais Mayor said in an interview with France 3: ‘I think the [French] government would oppose it. ‘Here we are hostile to it. Rather than accept migrants who would work in the black market, Boris Johnson would do better than to teach us lessons, would be better to create better laws to accept people in his own country.

Mirror
Sending the Royal Navy into the English Channel to deal with migrant crossings is a “declaration of maritime war”, the mayor of Calais has said. Natacha Bouchart told France 3 that the British Government must take responsibility and called on Priti Patel’s French counterpart to push them on the issue. Her fierce words came as more migrants arrived in the UK on Wednesday – the ninth day in a row. At least 19 asylum seekers who arrived in the UK after crossing the Channel in small boats and were due to be deported on Wednesday have had their removals paused, the PA news agency has learned.

Telegraph
Sending the Royal Navy into the Channel to tackle migrant crossings is a “declaration of maritime war”, the mayor of Calais has said. Natacha Bouchart said the UK Government needed to take responsibility for the worsening migrant situation and criticised the Home Office’s request for military assistance.  “It is a declaration of maritime war,” she said, accusing the British of “contenting themselves with giving lessons and by subjecting Calasians to this situation for too long”.  She added that Calais should not have to continue to suffer economically and in terms of image and humanitarian reception. The former Conservative leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith said Ms Bouchart’s comments were “ridiculous”, and Tobias Ellwood, the chairman of the defence select committee, accused of her using “irresponsible language”.

Breitbart
The Mayor of Calais claimed that Britain has “declared maritime war” by floating the idea of sending the Royal Navy to the English Channel to prevent further waves of illegal boat migrants from reaching British shores from France. The outburst from Mayor Natacha Bouchart came one day after British immigration minister Chris Philp travelled to Paris to try to secure a deal that would see migrants immediately returned to France. “The British themselves have created this hot air by not reviewing their own reception systems and are content to hand out lessons and by subjecting the people of Calais to this situation for too long,” Bouchart pronounced.

Independent
The plan for Navy ships to block migrants crossing the English Channel has been branded “a declaration of war” by a senior French politician, escalating the row. The mayor of Calais  instead demanded the UK “take its responsibilities”, echoing campaign groups by calling on Boris Johnson to finally create legal routes for refugees. As a Royal Air Force plane was sent to patrol the Channel – in response to Priti Patel’s request for military help – Natacha Bouchart said: “It is a declaration of maritime war.”

EU

Express
THE European Commission has come under fire from an MEP after countries started re-closing borders amid new surges in coronavirus cases. Back in June, EU countries agreed there would no longer be panic and uncoordinated border closings like those implemented across the bloc at the beginning of the pandemic. But as new cases of the deadly virus continue to rise across countries within the EU, many have begun to close borders again to stop the spread of the virus. Last week, the EU Commission urged all member states to avoid any “uncoordinated actions at the EU internal borders”.

Asylum

Times
Priti Patel told Tory MPs that the asylum system was “broken” as she promised to introduce laws that would “send the left into meltdown”. The home secretary said that the system was being “exploited by leftie Labour-supporting lawyers” who were doing everything they could to stop the government removing people. The comments were part of a Zoom conference call to discuss ways to overhaul the asylum system. One MP on the call said that Ms Patel criticised “judicial activism”. She is working on a “fair borders bill” to be introduced this year.

Sharia marriages

Breitbart
Thousands of women are trapped in “marital captivity” in the United Kingdom, as the government has refused to make the registration of sharia marriages mandatory out of fear of appearing “Islamophobic”, a report has found. The report, entitled Fallen Through the Cracks, authored by Emma Webb of the Civitas think tank, revealed that of the 100,000 sharia marriages that are held each year in Britain, only around 25 per cent are actually registered with the government. The research published on Tuesday found that people in the government are afraid of accusations of being Islamophobic if they crack down on the unregistered marriages and view the practice of sharia marriages as a “social and religious” problem that should “be dealt with by the community rather than the law”.

Hostile states

BBC News
The UK must work to stop China and Russia using the pandemic to their global advantage, MPs have warned. The Commons Defence Committee said an ongoing review of foreign and security policy must prioritise looking at the capabilities of “hostile states”. It called for a “robust assessment” of the threat Moscow and Beijing pose to UK interests at home and abroad. Meanwhile, the government has brought in new powers for police to detain people they suspect of espionage. Home Secretary Priti Patel said this would send a “clear message” of “zero tolerance” to anyone attempting to disrupt UK interests.

Police powers

ITV News
Police in the UK will now be able to stop, search and detain individuals at UK ports to determine whether they are involved in hostile state activity. From Thursday, fresh measures will allow specially trained officers to take action in relation to espionage and foreign interference. The new “Schedule 3” powers are part of the UK’s wider effort to tackle hostile state activity. Outlined in the Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Act 2019, the powers were created as part of the UK’s response to the Salisbury nerve-agent attack in 2018. Safeguards including independent oversight by the Investigatory Powers Commissioner have also been put in place alongside the measures.

Deaths

Telegraph
Nearly 10 per cent of coronavirus deaths reported by Public Health England (PHE) were not related to Covid-19, the body has admitted.  The Department of Health has been urgently reviewing the way in which it records deaths after Oxford University noticed in July that former coronavirus patients were being included in mortality figures even if they had recovered and then died of something else.  On Wednesday, the true extent of the problem emerged when PHE published a report showing that 3,664 people who had been included in 40,160 English coronavirus deaths did not have Covid-19 on their death certificate. It is also now clear that England’s death rate has been diminishing far faster than official figures showed.

Mirror
More than 5,300 fatalities have been wiped from the official coronavirus death toll after a Government overhaul of the way figures are recorded. In a major change to daily deaths reporting, the UK will only count people who died within 28 days of a positive Covid-19 test. The decision to imposed a new cut-off brings England in line with Scotland and Wales, and comes after concern from experts that the death toll was being overstated. Under the new method, the UK death toll comes down from 46,706 to 41,239 on Wednesday – a reduction of 12%.

Westmonster
Deaths on England and Wales have remained below the seven-year average for the seventh week in a row, according to the Office for National Statistics. The number of deaths in care homes, hospitals and other communal establishments has also remained below the five-year average for the week ending 31st July. The number of deaths in private homes continued to be higher than the five-year average. Of deaths registered in this week, 193 of 8,946 mentioned Coronavirus. This is the lowest number of deaths involving Covid in the last 19 weeks. This means Covid was mentioned in relation to just 2.2% of all deaths in England and Wales in the week ending 31st July.

Times
The official coronavirus daily death count is expected to fall by up to three quarters after ministers switched to a method designed to spot a second wave more quickly and avoid scaring people. Britain’s overall total death toll has been cut by more than 5,000 to 41,329 after England decided to include only those who died within 28 days of testing positive for coronavirus. Scientists have told ministers, however, that this will underestimate the true numbers, wrongly excluding thousands of people who die from “long Covid”.

Mail
The UK’s coronavirus death toll has fallen by more than 5,000 after health chiefs agreed to only include people who died within 28 days of a positive test.   The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) reduced the number following an urgent review into how Public Health England calculates the daily Covid-19 death figures.  Officials said today the number of Britons who died within 28 days of testing positive for the virus was 41,329 – down from the 46,706 deaths reported by the Government on Tuesday.

Education

Telegraph
Inflating the grades of the Covid generation risks devaluing their exam results and harming their future career prospects, the Education Secretary has said. Writing in The Telegraph, Gavin Williamson said he would refuse to follow Scotland in an about-turn allowing students to be awarded grades predicted by their teachers. On Thursday, thousands of A-level students in England will be given marks calculated by a statistical model which takes into account a range of factors including their performance in earlier tests and previous exam results at their school. However, on Wednesday ministers admitted this will mean that 40 per cent of students are awarded a lower grade  than predicted by teachers.

Times
More than 100,000 pupils who will have their A levels downgraded by regulators today have been thrown a lifeline by universities that are ready to rip up their admissions rules for this year. Universities have reassured ministers that they will “soften” the grades they normally require for entry to take account of the extraordinary circumstances that led to exams being cancelled. Grades in England are being awarded using teacher assessments of how pupils would have performed, moderated by exam boards and the regulator Ofqual using a computer algorithm.

Sun
A NEW “triple lock” aims to give youngsters in England fair A-level and GCSE scores — and to prevent a Scottish-style fiasco. Pupils will be able to choose whatever is highest out of their computer-moderated grade, mock grade or a September re-sit if they opt for it. Education Secretary Gavin Williamson had to rip up the system at the 11th hour amid fears for poor pupils’ results. Scotland overturned more than 124,000 results after admitting less well-off children had been penalised by computer moderation, leading to a grovelling apology from the Scottish National Party, which runs the nation’s schools. In a dramatic U-turn, Scotland’s education chief John Swinney said pupils will be given higher grades based solely on their teacher assessment.

Social care

Independent
MPs have been told some care homes have become “like prisons” since the coronavirus lockdown was enforced, with isolation having a “devastating” impact on the mental health of residents. In an evidence session, a national charity outlined the “deteriorating” well-being of many care users, including receiving daily calls of people losing weight, speech, memory and no longer being able to recognise family members after months of separation. “There’s one relative who put it to us: they are losing the will to live,” said Helen Wildbore, the director of the Relatives & Residents Association (R&RA). The distressing experiences of residents in care home across the country was laid bare during a session of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on coronavirus, which focused on the impact of the pandemic on social care settings.

Mirror
Care homes have become like jails as health bosses battle to cut the spread of coronavirus, MPs and peers were warned yesterday. Giving evidence to the all-party parliamentary group on coronavirus, Helen Wildbore, director of the Relatives and Residents Association, said residents felt care homes had become their “prison” because of curbs to prevent the surge of Covid-19. She said: “Many of the callers to our helpline have been telling us that the current situation in care homes is now very much like a prison with such restricted visiting, residents unable to leave the grounds of the home and limited interaction with other residents and staff. “This had had a really devastating impact on mental health, not only for the people using care services but also for the staff who have been through some very challenging times over the past six months dealing with the isolation and loneliness.”

iNews
The toll on the physical and mental health of the elderly due to the coronavirus lockdown was revealed to MPs. Older people both in care homes and in the community were reporting loss of mobility, low mood, increased risk of falls and lack of stimulation, the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on coronavirus was told. The MPs are conducting an inquiry into the widespread impact of, and the Government’s response to, the pandemic.

Tracing

Times
Using “backwards contact tracing” to identify the source of a virus cluster could double the effectiveness of the test-and-trace service, scientists say. By working out where people got infected as well as who they went on to infect, it may be possible to stop twice as many infections being passed on. There is increasing evidence that the virus transmits through “superspreading events”, according to a paper co-authored with researchers who sit on the government’s Sage committee. Conventional tracing seeks to identify cases and track down the people they met after they became infectious. This is the method being employed in the UK. Backwards tracing, used in some Asian countries, seeks to identify the person who infected that first case.

iNews
The long-awaited NHS Test and Trace coronavirus app for England will be launched today, three months later than planned. Ministers and Baroness Dido Harding, the head of the contact-tracing programme, will unveil details of the technology that is reportedly a scaled-back version of the world-leading app originally promised. It comes just days after the Government changed its strategy on tracking coronavirus infections by cutting back on its centralised system and targeting more resources at councils who can deploy contact tracers to knock on doors and isolate localised outbreaks. A third of tracers employed by Serco are to be made redundant after reports that many were left with no work to do. At the height of the pandemic in May, the Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, pledged a nationwide app, along the lines of the successful technology in South Korea, which alerts individuals if they have been in contact with someone who has tested positive.

Testing

Telegraph
If you are starting to feel like the coronavirus epidemic will never end, then you may be correct. A statistical quirk in testing means that Britain may never hit zero cases, even if the virus is wiped out entirely.  The reason lies in the large number of false positives that are almost certain to creep in once case numbers drop very low, yet testing remains very high. Testing is never 100 per cent accurate, and scientists must factor in the false positive and negative rates when determining infection prevalence. The problem is, nobody knows what those rates are. The best guess at present is that coronavirus tests pick up around 80-85 per cent of positive cases, and around 99.9 per cent of negative cases. It may be a lot worse than that. In June, the Government Office for Science submitted a paper to the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) estimating that the false positive rate may be 2.3 per cent, suggesting that only 97.7 negative cases would be spotted.

Cocaine

Mail
Priti Patel has ordered the Government’s official drug experts to help combat Britain’s cocaine epidemic. The Home Secretary  wants a plan to cut spiralling use of the Class A drug. Cocaine abuse is growing, particularly among white men under 30 – with the largest increases in the South West and East Midlands. In a letter to Professor Owen Bowden-Jones, the chairman of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD), Mrs Patel said: ‘I would… be grateful for the ACMD’s considered attention to this area of work, focusing on the following two questions. ‘Why do some young people start using powder cocaine, and why do some of those continue to use it into adulthood?

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