Prime Minister Boris Johnson will not walk away from Brexit negotiations today, despite setting a 15 October deadline for reaching an “outline” for a trade deal with the EU. Johnson signaled that he will not decide whether an agreement with the bloc is possible before today’s EU summit in Brussels, following advice from Brexit envoy Lord Frost. A Number 10 spokesperson said that the Prime Minister would “take a decision on next steps following the European Council, in light of his conversation with President von der Leyen, and on advice from his negotiating team”. They added: “Some progress has been made this week, primarily in technical areas of the negotiations, but there are still differences with fisheries being the starkest. Not having a common text to work from has made progress difficult.” The two-day meeting in Brussels due to begin today will see 27 EU leaders say that “progress on the key issues of interest to the union is still not sufficient for an agreement to be reached”.
The UK Government is weighing up whether to walk away from post-Brexit trade talks this week after postponing the deadline for a breakthrough by 24 hours. Boris Johnson originally set Thursday as the last possible date for an outline trade agreement but he is waiting to hear from EU heads of state attending a European Council summit in Brussels. On Wednesday night, he told the bloc’s leaders he was “disappointed” the last fortnight had not produced a breakthrough. European officials are ready to extend the negotiations by another month and the Prime Minister will decide whether to accept the offer based on the statements and “atmospherics” of the summit once it concludes on Friday, according to Westminster sources. If talks continue they must move to a daily basis, he will tell the EU.
Boris Johnson will delay a decision on whether to quit the Brexit trade negotiations until after the European Council summit ends on Friday, after it became clear his no-deal deadline will be missed on Thursday. The Prime Minister spoke to Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, and Charles Michel, the European Council president on Wednesday night. He warned the EU had to agree to round-the-clock talks or he would carry out his threat, which would mean trading on WTO terms. Mrs von der Leyen said after the call: “The EU is working on a deal, but not at any price. Conditions must be right, on fisheries, level-playing field and governance. Still a lot of work ahead of us.”
Boris Johnson tonight told EU leaders he was ‘disappointed’ their Brexit talks had stalled and was mulling his ‘next steps’ as his self-imposed no deal deadline looms. The Prime Minister was told via conference call by Commission president Ursula von der Leyen and Council president Charles Michel that there could be no agreement struck if the UK didn’t change its stance on fisheries. Mr Johnson has previously suggested he would walk away from the negotiating table if there was no agreement on a trade deal by the time of the two-day summit meeting in Brussels starting on Thursday.
FTSE climbed higher this morning ahead of Boris Johnson’s talks as markets prepare for a no deal Brexit. FTSE climbed 0.6 percent, driven by a 5.7 percent hop in London-recorded portions of Simply Eat Takeaway.com NV JETJ.L as the food-requesting firm detailed a 46 percent bounce in its requests during the second from last quarter. The mid-cap FTSE 250 .FTMC additionally increased 0.6 percent, with polymer creator Synthomer Plc SYNTS.L flooding 21.9 percent after it announced an interval profit and raised its 2020 EBITDA standpoint.
BORIS JOHNSON has issued Brussels with a brutal Brexit ultimatum – resolve the issue of fisheries or the UK will walk away from talks on Friday. Although there has been some progress made in the last week, no agreement has been made on the UK’s fisheries. The Prime Minister has remained adamant a deal must be reached by the EU summit, which starts today, in order for both sides to implement the deal before the turn of the year. Previously, Mr Johnson has threatened to walk away from talks if a deal was not agreed by October 15. EU officials have insisted they will not agree a deal at any price, leaving the Prime Minister no choice but to assess the situation by the end of the EU summit tomorrow (Thursday).
GERMANY warned France last night to back down on demands to fish UK waters or “get nothing” in a major Brexit split. British negotiators agreed to carry on talking despite Boris Johnson’s trade deal deadline set for today as the EU big beasts began to fracture on avoiding No Deal. Emmanual Macron was warned by German government figures that his hardline fishing demand risks talks collapsing and leaving the whole EU empty-handed. Berlin warned the French President that the entire bloc will see its boats shut out of UK waters and their quotas cut to “zero” if he doesn’t compromise.
Fish wars have broken out in the English Channel as French trawlers confronted their British counterparts – firing flares and throwing frying pans. Two British boats – the Girl Macey, skippered by Scott Glover, and the Golden Promise, by Brian Whittington – fishing for scallops were involved in the skirmish. The vessels, both based out of Brixham in Devon, were surrounded by around 20 French boats and were pelted with objects including frying pans and rocks. The French crews even threw oil at the Gal Macey before firing a flare at the ship, with the violence sparking fears that there could be a death as hostilities worsen. Ministers have put in place a ‘five-fold increase in our enforcement capacity’ over the last year in preparation for a possible ‘Cod War’ stand-off with European trawlermen.
BREXIT trade talks could be derailed at a late stage if the three EU member states pushing for access to UK fishing waters refuse to budge. Prime Minister Boris Johnson will meet with President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen this week to try and establish progress in Brexit trade talks. Mr Johnson had set the deadline for a deal at October 15, making this week’s talks a defining moment in the future relationship between Brussels and London. The meeting comes after the EU and UK negotiators have clashed over their respective red lines, leading to stalled negotiations. Brussels negotiator Michel Barnier has demanded the EU keep access to UK waters, or Britain will be excluded from European markets. Fisheries, despite being seen by some as only a minor issue, has yet again proved to be a potential deal-breaker. The fishing industries of Denmark, the Netherlands, and France want the EU to fight tooth and nail to protect their access to UK waters, with Mr Huggins adding: “There’s politics on both sides of the Channel.”
Emmanuel Macron has walked into a Brexit trap. Even those most sympathetic to the EU can see that his maximalist claims on sovereign British waters amount to indefensible overreach and “cakeism”. It is self-evidently incoherent for Paris to argue that everything changes for Britain after withdrawal – to the point of aggressive ‘cumulation’ rules on car parts, and the skinniest of access for services – while at the same time insisting that Britain must remain a prisoner of the Common Fisheries Policy. There is a whiff of neo-imperial coercion in Mr Macron’s threat to block a Brexit trade deal unless the UK gives way on this emotive issue, and his petulant diplomacy is clearly causing irritation at the Kanzleramt.
Rishi Sunak has warned a ‘blunt’ circuit-breaker national lockdown could cause ‘permanent damage,’ to UK jobs and firms. There are growing calls, particularly from Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, for a two-week circuit breaker to be implemented as a means of slowing the Covid-19 infection rate. Manchester and Lancashire could well join Liverpool under Tier 3 restrictions on activity as part of the Government’s latest Covid-19 strategy. Chancellor of the Exchequer Mr Sunak has defended regional lockdowns, saying they prevent nationwide measures that would be a ‘hit to businesses and jobs’. But A YouGov poll estimates around 68 per cent of the population would support a two week, nationwide, circuit breaker lockdown.
London is on the brink of a local lockdown that would bring another nine million people under tough restrictions on socialising and travelling. Sadiq Khan, the mayor, briefed the capital’s health chiefs about the move into the “high” Tier 2 coronavirus category after a meeting of the Joint Biosecurity Centre yesterday and an announcement could come as soon as tomorrow. The meeting, chaired by Matt Hancock, the health secretary, and Chris Whitty, the chief medical officer for England, also recommended that most of the northwest and northeast and large parts of Yorkshire and the Midlands be placed in the “very high” Tier 3.
LONDON could go into Tier 2 lockdown TOMORROW – bringing a ban on household mixing. A final decision on the fate of the capital will be made today after 12 of London’s boroughs have breached the threshold of 100 cases per 100,000 people. The restrictions would impact nine million people if London is placed on the ‘High’ alert level. A final decision will be made by the Prime Minister and his top Covid Operations committee today. But last night government insiders said it was “very likely” the capital would face the tougher restrictions. Sadiq Khan has demanded a support package for businesses in London in the event of stricter rules coming in.
Rishi Sunak warned against “rushing to another lockdown” and made clear his opposition to a national “circuit-breaker” as he said the country faced an “economic emergency”. Ministers are braced for the announcement of a two-week lockdown – which they expect to be made a week on Friday if coronavirus infections continue to rise – after Boris Johnson told MPs: “I rule nothing out.” But the Chancellor described a temporary national lockdown as “a blunt instrument” on Wednesday, saying it would “cause needless damage to parts of our country where virus rates are low”. Mr Johnson is understood to be studying plans for a region-by-region “circuit-breaker” in England, beginning in the last week of the month, but the Prime Minister wants to give the new three-tier system a chance to bring infection rates down before making a final decision.
Manchester and Lancashire could be put under Tier 3 lockdown after the Government’s ‘Gold command’ taskforce scientists signed off on the harsh measures. Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to review the proposals today and, if he also agrees, the areas would be plunged into the harshest lockdown in the Government’s three-tier system – so far only imposed on Liverpool. Health Secretary Matt Hancock is due to update the House of Commons on Thursday morning at around 11.30am. Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham and its local council leaders earlier threatened legal action if the city is plunged into the ‘fundamentally flawed’ highest level of local restrictions without more financial help.
Test & trace
Private sector consultants are being paid £7,000 a day to help run the Government’s failing Test and Trace programme, it emerged last night. The amount has been condemned as a ‘disgraceful’ use of taxpayer cash amid the already eye-watering expense of Covid testing. Budgeted at £12billion, the scheme is seen as vital to the Government’s pandemic response, yet it is coming under severe strain as cases climb. Last week, a major glitch saw 16,000 cases go missing, severely hampering the contact tracing programme and officials’ ability to track the spread of the virus. Even before that, the system was struggling to cope, with officials failing to trace a third of contacts who might have been exposed to Covid.
The government is paying private sector consultants the equivalent of million-pound wages to work on its test-and-trace system. Some executives from Boston Consulting Group (BCG) helping the government to set up and run its testing system are being paid day rates of about £7,000, equivalent to a salary of about £1.5 million, according to Sky News. The revelation is the latest evidence of the cost of the testing scheme, which is budgeted to be £12 billion this year. According to the documents, the government has paid BCG about £10 million for a team of about 40 consultants to work on the testing system between the end of April and late August.
Companies will soon be able to carry out mass onsite screening of employees thanks to a British firm’s new 15-minute coronavirus test it says is the first of its kind to be made available to businesses across the UK. Warrington-based AlphaBiolabs said the £50 kit, which identifies the presence of the Covid-19 antigen from a nose and throat sample, will help firms navigate the second wave of the pandemic. The company told i it is currently manufacturing “a large batch” of devices and also has some available for immediate dispatch. As surging coronavirus case numbers have pushed public sector testing capacity to the limit, private providers have reported a surge in demand, particularly from businesses.
People living in Covid-19 hotspots in England, Northern Ireland and Scotland will be banned from coming into Wales for the time being, the First Minister has confirmed. Mark Drakeford said they were looking to introduce the restrictions by 6pm on Friday 16, should Boris Johnson not bring in his own measures to the same effect before that date. He added that he has already spoken to Scotland’s First Minister who is in support of the move Welsh Government are taking. People in areas of Wales under local lockdown restrictions are already unable to travel to other parts of the country without a reasonable excuse, which does not include a holiday.
Quarantine for people returning to the UK will be slashed to seven days under a radical overhaul of the Government’s coronavirus travel ban. Grant Shapps told the virtual ABTA travel industry conference today that travellers will self-isolate at home and take a Covid test a week after landing. The Transport Secretary ruled out testing on arrival at UK airports and ports, adding: ‘We’re proposing a domestic test regime, where people land and wait a week, have a test and get early release.’ The test will need to take place ‘in person,’ he said, and will be provided by the private sector, in order to prevent putting additional strain on the NHS. Mr Shapps added the test will be paid for by the traveller.
Care homes have been told they will be expected to make room for coronavirus patients who have been discharged from hospital, despite the policy being blamed for spread of the virus earlier in the year. The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has sent a letter to providers urging them to prepare “isolation” rooms as the number of deaths continues to rise. However the plans, seen by The Telegraph, have sparked a backlash from care home managers, who have said the notion of having Covid-positive patients in the same building as vulnerable residents is “laughable”.
Care homes are once again being asked to take in elderly hospital patients infected with coronavirus to protect the NHS from being overwhelmed this winter. The sensational decision has sparked widespread fears No 10 has not learnt from its catastrophic errors during the first wave of the pandemic, which led to the disease killing tens of thousands of elderly residents. Department of Health bosses have written to care providers asking them to identify a group of designated facilities — either standalone units or zoned accommodation with separate staffing rotas that could take Covid-19-positive patients, to prevent the virus being spread among elderly residents.
Hundreds of under-65s have been killed by strokes and heart attacks because of the lockdown, a shock report reveals today. Deaths soared by nearly 800 from March to July, according to the British Heart Foundation. Experts blamed the Government’s stay-at-home guidance, which has discouraged even the desperately ill from seeking medical help. The death toll is likely to rise with the onset of winter and the resurgence of the pandemic, which could see further swathes of the North put under the highest level of lockdown from as early as today. Officials recorded almost 2,800 heart attack and stroke deaths among under-65s in March and April – 420 more than usual.
There has been a “concerning” rise in the number of under-65s dying from heart problems as a consequence of the coronavirus pandemic, a leading charity has warned. The British Heart Foundation (BHF) said there has been a worrying rise in additional deaths from heart and circulatory diseases. It urged people to seek medical help if they had any troubling symptoms. The charity also said that maintaining cardiac services during a second peak of the pandemic should be a “priority” as delaying care for heart and circulatory problems can cause “avoidable harm”.
Operations are being cancelled across the NHS as health services struggle to cope with rising numbers of Covid-19 patients. On Wednesday, one of the Government’s scientific advisers said Liverpool could run out of hospital beds in the next week, warning of a “dire” situation as he urged those in the city to comply with its lockdown. The city’s hospitals have begun cancelling routine operations, along with NHS trusts in Birmingham, Nottingham, Plymouth, Swansea and Belfast amid rising numbers of coronavirus admissions. Professor Calum Semple, a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), appeared in a video message issued by Liverpool City Council, asking the public to pay “great attention” to the new restrictions in the Liverpool City region.
National Grid has warned that Britain’s electricity will be in short supply over the next few days after a string of unplanned power plant outages and unusually low wind speeds this week. The electricity system operator said it will take action to “make sure there is enough generation” during the cold weather spell to prevent a second major blackout in as many years. “Unusually low wind output coinciding with a number of generator outages means the cushion of spare capacity we operate the system with has been reduced,” the company told its Twitter followers.