Brexit Bill

Express
BREXIT trade talks between the UK and European Union are set to collapse amid a row over the controversial Internal Market Bill, a political expert has said. Ben Harris-Quinney, chairman of the Independent Bow Group think-tank, has said the Government’s plan to make changes to the withdrawal agreement has made a no deal scenario “more likely” at the end of the transition period. Despite huge opposition from the EU and Tory backbenchers, the Prime Minister pressed ahead with the legislation to provide legal “safety net” to the peace process and ensure Brussels could not impose tariffs on goods moving to Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK in the event of no deal.

Evening Standard
The Government has agreed to a compromise with Tory rebels over the controversial UK Internal Market Bill, giving MPs a vote before using powers which would break international law. Following constructive talks over the last few days, the Government has agreed to table an amendment for Committee Stage. The bill, which looks at how England trades with Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland post-Brexit, has proved controversial both in and outside of the House of Commons. It gives the Government power to change aspects of the European  Withdrawal agreement – a legally-binding deal which was signed with Brussels in January.

Fisheries

Telegraph
Britain could cede control over fishing waters around the Channel Islands in an attempt to resolve a key dispute in Brexit negotiations with the European Union, it has been claimed. UK diplomats have floated the possibility of instating different fishing rights around the Channel Islands to those around the rest of the UK, allowing more access for French vessels, two sources told Reuters. The claims have been dismissed by Government sources, one of whom told The Telegraph: “There is no departure from our fundamental position that we will have control of our waters around there [the Channel Islands].”

Express
BORIS JOHNSON will not surrender British coastal waters in a bid to secure a last-minute compromise in trade talks with the European Union. The Prime Minister’s negotiators with Brussels are under strict orders “not to depart” from his promise to deliver a significant increase in fishing opportunities for UK boats. Downing Street fired a warning to the bloc after Michel Barnier suggested British officials offered a number of concessions during last week’s wrangling over a post-Brexit trade deal. The Brussels bureaucrat told a private meeting of European diplomats Lord Frost made a “tentative” move towards the bloc’s demand for the same level of access to UK waters as it has under the Common Fisheries Policy, a source said.

Migrants

Mail
A series of extraordinary pictures has revealed French border guards escorting a boatload of 16 migrants into British waters and ‘dumping’ them there. The incident was witnessed yesterday morning from a fishing boat about 12 miles from Folkestone near the French-British sea border. The images capture the moment a French rigid inflatable boat or RIB, carrying two border guards, was dispatched from a larger naval vessel to check on the migrants.  But, rather than block them from entering British waters, they allowed the illegal crossing to continue.

Telegraph
It was shortly after 7am that the French Navy’s 105-ton patrol boat came into view. As the P726 Aramis sat quietly on the horizon across the English Channel, we spotted, in front of her, a small shape bobbing in the choppy water. Sixteen Afghan migrants, including four women and two children, were struggling against the wind in their dangerously overloaded inflatable, and in need of assistance a mile inside French territorial waters.  However, instead of bringing the wet and shivering group on board and returning them to France, the French vessel shepherded the boat towards British waters, where they promptly abandoned it: a practice the French have long been accused of doing, but which has never been independently witnessed by a journalist, until now.

Times
Far-right activists are attempting to muster a “militia” against proposals to turn a disused barracks on the Kent coast into Britain’s first migrant camp. They have been filming migrants coming into Dover and posting videos of the Napier barracks near Folkestone with a call to “take back the country”. The Home Office has said that it intends to use the former barracks, which were part of Shorncliffe army camp before its closure in 1995, as temporary housing for about 400 people from next week as asylum claims are processed.

Foreign aid

Mail
BRITAIN could rip up rules on how foreign aid is spent as it seeks to ensure handouts better serve this country’s interests, Boris Johnson said yesterday. The Prime Minister suggested the Government could stop following the international definition of what can be counted as aid. Appearing before the liaison committee, he said the billions could be diverted so that at the same time as boosting international development they also help create more jobs at home.

EU

Independent
Boris Johnson may be stoking Brexit row to distract from coronavirus failures, EU’s Michel Barnier warns Boris Johnson could be deliberately stoking a row over Brexit to distract from the British government’s failures over coronavirus, Michel Barnier has reportedly said. The EU’s chief negotiator is said to have told diplomats from EU countries in Brussels that domestic considerations could be behind the shift in rhetoric, according to a report from the Politico website citing two diplomats present.

Reuters
The head of the European Commission said on Wednesday the chances of reaching a trade deal with Britain were fading by the day as the British government pushes ahead with moves that would breach their divorce treaty.  The British government announced draft legislation last week which it acknowledges would violate its international legal obligations and undercut parts of the divorce deal it signed before Britain formally left the European Union in January.

iNews
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has lambasted Boris Johnson’s plans to rip up parts of his Brexit divorce deal, saying “it cannot be unilaterally changed, disregarded or disapplied”. Ms von der Leyen added that the disagreement was a “matter of law and trust and good faith” in her first annual State of the Union speech to the European Parliament. Speaking in Brussels just after Mr Johnson’s controversial Brexit Bill was backed by MPs in the House of Commons, she said the Withdrawal Agreement was a ratified treaty, enshrined in international law – and a guarantee for the Good Friday Agreement.

Mirror
The European Commission chief has warned that hopes of a Brexit trade deal are fading by the day as tensions continued to rise with Brussels. Ursula von der Leyen told the European Parliament “with every day that passes, the chances of a timely agreement do start to fade” and warned there was “very little time”. She said the UK cannot “unilaterally” rip up parts of Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal and insisted that Margaret Thatcher would not have broken an international treaty. Ms von der Leyen said: “This agreement has been ratified by this house and the House of Commons. It cannot be unilaterally changed, disregarded, disapplied.

Independent
Britain cannot unilaterally change the Brexit withdrawal agreement, the European Commission president has said, following moves by Boris Johnson to undermine the agreement. In her annual “state of the union” address to the European Parliament, Ursula von der Leyen warned that the EU would “never backtrack” on the treaty, which ensures no hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland. And she quoted former Conservative UK prime minister Margaret Thatcher saying Britain should never break its word to other countries. “The EU and the UK jointly agreed it was the best and only way for ensuring peace on the island of Ireland,” she told the European Parliament in Strasbourg. “And we will never backtrack on that.

Breitbart
President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen has said that the United Kingdom cannot change the Withdrawal Agreement. Making her state of the union address at the European Parliament on Wednesday in Brussels, the head of the EU’s powerful executive arm said: “This Withdrawal Agreement took three years to negotiate, and we worked relentlessly on it line-by-line, word-by-word, and together we succeeded. “The European Union and the UK jointly agreed that it was the best and only way for ensuring peace on the island of Ireland and we will never backtrack on that.”

Express
BREXIT TALKS have descended into chaos between the two sides following the announcement of the UK Internal Customs Bill it has now been reported. Amid the controversy surrounding the bill, the BBC’s Katya Adler has revealed Brexit talks have become “messy” as the two sides work towards a deal. EU officials have expressed specific concern over the violation of certain elements of the withdrawal agreement due to the Internal Market Bill. Commenting on the negotiations, the BBC reporter said: “1st: EU is taken aback (polite description) about government plans for Brexit Withdrawal Agreement in Internal Mkt Bill + gov admission it breaks international law. “2nd: Gov says: ‘Worry not. We’ll only use if we have to. “We’ll use bilateral arbitration means first’. “3rd: EU said at the beginning of week: trust in government was diminishing.

Testing

Telegraph
Large numbers of people will be refused coronavirus tests even if they have symptoms under Government plans to ration testing if the crisis deepens, The Telegraph can reveal.  A prioritisation list drawn up by health officials suggests routine testing would no longer be offered to swathes of the public, with tests restricted to hospital patients, care homes, certain key workers and schools.  It came as the UK recorded nearly 4,000 new Covid-19 cases in a day for the first time since the start of May, with a jump from 3,539 to 3,991 in one day.

Sun
BRITS with coronavirus symptoms may be refused tests under new plans to ration swabs, it is reported. A priority list drawn up by health officials could restrict tests to hospital patients, care homes, certain key workers and schools if the testing crisis continues. A nationwide backlog of 240,000 swabs this week left Covid test centres swamped by desperate Brits trying to get tested. Centres in Southend, Bury, Bedford, Oldham, London, and Southampton were flooded by people eager to get swabbed on Wednesday – as cases in Britian rose by nearly 4,000.

Guardian
Boris Johnson has said the Covid-19 testing system currently “has huge problems” during a sometimes downbeat appearance before an influential committee of MPs, as new figures showed nearly 4,000 UK cases in the 24 hours up to Wednesday morning, the highest daily total since early May. With the number of people admitted to hospital in England with coronavirus also reaching the highest level since the start of July, Johnson warned that the Covid death rate was likely to start rising in the coming weeks. Appearing before the Commons liaison committee, Johnson conceded that there was currently not enough testing capacity, and “many people are deeply frustrated”.

Mirror
A rationing plan for coronavirus tests will be announced within days after ministers admitted it will still be “weeks” before a backlog is solved. Ordinary members of the public – such as school children and their parents – could find themselves being forced to wait because NHS workers, followed by those in social care, will be put first. It comes despite the government for months insisting people must get a test if they had any of the three coronavirus symptoms, or even if “in doubt”. And it will raise fears as testing is the critical way of tracing positive cases’ close contacts, in order to tell them to go into isolation for 14 days.

Independent
Boris Johnson has admitted to the Liaison Committee that the UK does not have sufficient testing capacity, but continued to defend the coronavirus testing system amid chaos. Earlier, he faced deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner at prime minister’s questions as she filled in for isolating Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer in the House of Commons, where he failed to answer questions from the deputy Labour leader about how much care home workers earn per hour in the UK.

Times
Problems with the government’s Covid-19 testing programme are closing schools and heaping pressure on A&Es and GP practices, according to warnings from teachers, doctors and hospital chiefs yesterday. The prime minister urged people not to book tests unless they had symptoms, with the education secretary saying that parents should not get their child tested even if a classmate had been sent home sick with Covid-19. Head teachers say that schools are being forced to close because so few tests are available and the system is chaotic and has ground to a halt.

WFH

Telegraph
Office staff will be given a “work from home” order within a fortnight if the “rule of six” fails to bring down coronavirus infection rates, ministers have been warned. The current shortage of Covid-19 tests means employers will have no choice but to send more workers home, undermining the already weak economic recovery, business leaders said. Senior Government sources said it would take two weeks to assess whether the “rule of six” had brought down infections. If it was found that it had failed to do so, further lockdown measures may be required.

Mail
More than half of workers have said they never expect to return to a five-day working week in the office, a new survey by broadband provider TalkTalk has found. A new report called ‘Lockdown Lessons’ also found that 58% of people in employment said they felt more productive as a result of working from home. Bosses also agreed, with 30% of business leaders saying the changes had seen a boost in productivity and 35% said the moves had seen more collaboration. The new working arrangements for millions of office workers also found that with the commute being removed, many are turning to learning a new skill or hobby, the survey found.

‘Rule of six’

Mail
Scores of students flouted the new Rule of Six restrictions last night as they queued outside a nightclub in Portsmouth and descended onto the streets of the coastal city to enjoy a night of heavy partying.  Young revellers, including Portsmouth University students who had recently arrived to the city in Hampshire to begin their academic year, swapped a night in at home to queue outside The Astoria in Guildhall Walk and hit the numerous pubs and bars.

Mirror
Tough new restrictions that limit mixing at work or in social settings could be brought in within weeks if the ‘Rule of Six’ does not flatten the curve, sources claim. Government officials are understood to be looking at all options – other than closing schools – to help keep the spiralling virus under control. Boris Johnson has ruled out a second nationwide lockdown – opting for localised lockdowns instead. But he but is thought to be planning one “by the back door” if the virus continues to spike. New measures that could stop the virus spreading further include shielding being brought back for the most vulnerable, and pubs forced to close early if people don’t obey the existing rules.

Guardian
Two families of four stopping for a chat in the street would contravene England’s “rule of six” coronavirus restrictions and constitute mingling, the home secretary has said. “You have got to put this in the context of coronavirus and keeping distance, wearing masks,” Priti Patel told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. “The rule of six is about making sure that people are being conscientious and not putting other people’s health at risk.” She said she would report neighbours or any other group that she saw flouting the new restrictions banning social gatherings of more than six people, which came into place in England on Monday.

Curfew

Times
Pubs and restaurants around the country face early closing times to slow coronavirus infections, with London’s public health chief warning of a “local curfew” in the capital. The prime minister is looking for targeted ways to control the epidemic, which is spreading fastest among the young and risks running out of control. Hospitality businesses in hotspots are expected to be ordered to shut by 10pm. A further 3,991 cases were confirmed yesterday, 50 per cent higher than a week ago, and Boris Johnson warned that a rise in deaths would follow.

Sun
THE North East will be plunged into lockdown from midnight tonight with a reported 10pm pub curfew and households banned from mixing. Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick confirmed large parts of the region will be hit with tighter lockdown restrictions from Friday. The measures – which affect around 2million people – would include a 10pm curfew on pubs and restaurants, The Telegraph reports. Different households are set to be banned from mixing apart from at schools, work and university.

Care homes

Mail
A CLAMPDOWN on carers who spread coronavirus between care homes was unveiled yesterday. A new action plan would include measures to ‘toughen up rules’ surrounding staff movements. Ministers are also agonising over whether to impose restrictions on family visits. Yesterday Boris Johnson admitted to MPs that he was ‘concerned’ about the recent rise in infections. He said his new strategy would include extra cash to ensure homes have enough PPE.

Christmas

Mail
The Prime Minister has urged the country to be tough and stick to his new coronavirus restrictions in order to flatten the Covid-19 infection rate and save Christmas. Boris Johnson said fresh rules could be imposed on the country if people don’t obey the new ‘rule of six’ and halt the pandemic in its tracks.  His call comes as the North East is set to be on the receiving end of new restrictions, including pubs closing at 10pm and households being banned from socialising with anyone outside their home. Down in London, public health chiefs have warned of curfews in the capital, while offices could be closed nationwide within just two weeks if the Prime Minister’s policy fails to bring down infection numbers.

BBC

Times
An anti-BBC campaign group founded by Brexiteers has raised nearly £60,000 in crowdfunding donations as it pushes for radical reform of the licence fee. Defund the BBC has already bought billboard and Facebook adverts highlighting the national broadcaster’s spending excesses. It plans to capitalise on public anger around this week’s BBC “rich list”, including Zoe Ball’s £1 million pay rise, to raise hundreds of thousands of pounds more to escalate its lobbying efforts.

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