Britain must send “clear signals” that it wants to seal a deal with the European Union on their relationship after Brexit, the bloc’s chief negotiator said ahead of more talks with London, adding a deal was still possible before the end of the year. Michel Barnier said Britain had so far not engaged with tentative openings floated by the EU side on state aid and fisheries in the previous negotiating rounds, which have mostly been held on video calls due to coronavirus safety restrictions. “The ball is in the UK’s court,” Barnier told an online seminar on Wednesday. “I believe that the deal is still possible.” He said he was “disappointed” with Britain’s refusal to negotiate on foreign policy and defence but that he was open to finding a “margin of flexibility” on thus-far conflicting EU and UK positions on fishing and the state aid fair play guarantees.
THE European Union’s justice commissioner has said Britain will be expected to apply EU regulations on data protection as part of any free trade deal with the bloc, a demand which does not match up to Michel Barnier’s Brexit negotiating mandate. Didier Reynders made the comments at the launch of a review into the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in Brussels. He said: “When it comes to transfer with a member that is leaving us – the United Kingdom – we want to make sure that in any Brexit agreement there is the proper application of the rules of the GDPR.”
Michel Barnier warned on Wednesday that the EU’s demands for level playing field guarantees were “not for sale” but said that Brussels was willing to work on “clever compromises” to get a trade deal with Britain done. A week before the two sides begin month-long intensified negotiations, the EU’s chief negotiator said that the zero tariff, zero quota deal was “still in our reach” but added that “the ball is the UK’s court.” Brussels wants the UK to sign up to commitments to not undercut EU standards on tax, state aid, labour rights and the environment.
MICHEL BARNIER has dropped a massive hint that he could quit as the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator at the end of this year. While speaking during a meeting on Wednesday, Mr Barnier suggested his tenure could come to an end in the coming months. The Brexit transition period is due to expire on December 31 and talks between the UK and Brussels will next month step up a notch in a bid to find common ground on key issues to complete a trade deal. But when talking about the full “comprehensive framework” being completed, Mr Barnier said “probably somebody else” will continue crunch talks.
BORIS Johnson’s Government has been heavily defeated in the House of Lords as peers demand environmental protections are put at the heart of the UK’s post-Brexit fishing policy. Peers backed a cross-party amendment to the Fisheries Bill aimed at making environmental sustainability the prime objective to prevent over-fishing and damage to the marine environment. The Lords approved the amendment by 310 votes to 251, majority 59, in the report stage debate on the legislation. Peers conducted the vote both remotely and in Parliament. All Labour and Lib Dem peers voted against the Government, with just three Tory MPs rebelling.
Brexit leader Nigel Farage has released more footage of illegal boat migrants being brought ashore and loaded onto coaches by the British Border Force, saying the numbers are “so overwhelming” that the government is resorting to busing migrants “all over the country”. On Wednesday, dozens more illegal migrants reached British shores after crossing the English Channel from France. The migrants will be added to the ever-increasing toll, which has already surpassed the total number recorded last year in just six months.
The Government will use emergency coronavirus controls of the UK’s railways to centralise control of Britain’s railways, in a move comparable to nationalisation. The Transport Secretary said the crisis had provided opportunities to establish a “different type of railway”, in a move that would mean the end of the franchise system established by John Major. Train operators would receive a fixed fee from the Government which would essentially own all routes and collect fares. Under the current system franchise holders collect fares and pay a percentage to the Exchequer, which encourages them to maximise income.
Health services are planning for a second wave twice the size of the first. It comes as tens of thousands of people yesterday ignored social distancing rules aimed at preventing the spread of coronavirus to flock to beaches on the hottest day of the year. NHS documents drawn up by local planners in the South East show they are preparing for a “reasonable worst case scenario” of a second wave, which is 2-2.5 times the size of the first outbreak. Health officials insisted the scenario was for contingency planning only and not based on forecast or other intelligence. But yesterday health experts warned of the need for an urgent review to ensure Britain is properly prepared for the “real risk” of a second wave of coronavirus after lockdown restrictions are eased.
Boris Johnson’s Government has been urged to prepare for a second wave of coronavirus after it was accused of missteps and not taking the initial outbreak seriously enough. Britain’s leading medical experts have written an open letter calling for an urgent review of whether the country is properly prepared for the “real risk” of another fight against Covid-19. Earlier modelling has suggested a new peak could hit after Christmas and kill as many as 60 people a day.
Health leaders are calling for an urgent review to ensure Britain is properly prepared for the “real risk” of a second wave of coronavirus. Ministers have been warned that urgent action is needed to prevent further loss of life and to protect the economy amid growing fears of a renewed outbreak in the winter. The appeal is backed by the presidents of the Royal Colleges of Physicians, Surgeons, GPs and Nursing, as a further 154 deaths were confirmed by the government on Wednesday.
Social distancing will not be applied in schools and “bubbles” will be expanded to enable all pupils to return to their classes full-time in September, the Government will announce next week. Pupils will not be expected to keep two metres or even one metre apart at all times while in the school building, The Telegraph understands. Instead, schools will be asked to focus on limiting the extent to which children mix outside of their class or year group and on implementing strict hygiene regimes. The solution to reopening schools will involve groups of children being placed in “bubbles”- as is already the case in primaries – and is seen by the Government as removing the need for social distancing.
The 15-child limit on class sizes is to be more than doubled under plans to get all pupils back to school in September, with school buildings exempt from social distancing rules. Proposals being finalised by the Education Secretary Gavin Williamson will continue the ‘bubble’ system that has allowed some primary classes to start up again already. Currently, the bubbles of up to 15 children are taught together but not allowed to mix with other classes in the school.
Colleges face a £2bn income loss next year and some will go bust unless the government delivers emergency help, their leaders have warned. The black hole has opened up after colleges were closed down when the coronavirus pandemic struck in March – with the majority of apprentices now on furlough, or made redundant. They have now been left out of the £1bn student catch-up programme, a decision branded “indefensible” by David Hughes, the chief executive of the Association of Colleges.
HOPES that all kids could be back in school by September soared tonight with plans to double the pupil “bubble” cap to 30 and scrap social distancing inside classrooms. Under current rules, class numbers are capped at 15 and social distancing measures leave heads with a logistical nightmare requiring double the teaching space. But from the autumn primary school pupils will not be required to keep apart from others in their own “protective bubble”, just stay away from other groups.
Police will retain the powers to break up ‘large and irresponsible’ gatherings in England following the latest easing of the lockdown regulations, Downing Street has said. The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said while many of the rules and regulations will now become guidance, some powers will remain. ‘What the police will be able to do is break up large and irresponsible gatherings of over 30 people,’ the spokesman said. ‘Police can also continue to enforce the wearing of face coverings on public transport.
Brits have defied social distancing by flocking to beaches on the hottest day of the year so far as temperatures soared to 91F and vets warned dog owners against walking their pets in the summer heat. The mercury sky-rocketed as people crowded together on packed beaches and at beauty spots – but thunderstorms and rain are set to lash the country from tomorrow night. London Heathrow hit 90.5F (32.5C) at 3pm this afternoon, the first time the temperature has gone above 90F in 2020. The warmest day so far is still May 29 when Dawyck in the Scottish Borders got up to 84F (28.9C).
Pubs, bars and restaurants will be able to offer al fresco dining and takeaway pints under a new legislation aimed at helping reopen the hospitality sector. Ministers will introduce a new bill in parliament on Thursday that will temporarily change strict licensing laws to allow people to buy alcohol from pubs and drink it in parks or on pavements to make it easier for people to social distance. Under the new rules, licensed outlets will be able to convert their car parks and terraces into temporary beer gardens, and pubs will be able to set up tables and chairs on pavements to serve their customers.
NEW laws to be rushed through within days will allow a summer of drinking in streets, car parks and other outdoor spaces to help pubs bounce back from months in lockdown. It will allow thousands more pubs, restaurants and cafes to serve customers outside by July 4 rather than requiring lengthy planning applications. The new Business and Planning Bill will also relax planning permission rules to make it easier and quicker to arrange car boot sales, summer fetes and outdoor markets. It will double the amount of time that planning permissions last for these temporary events and allow ‘temporary structures’ such as marquees and street trading stalls to stay up for up to 28 days.
Al fresco dining will be on the menu in England this summer as part of Boris Johnson’s plan to significantly ease the coronavirus lockdown from July 4. Planning laws will be relaxed so pubs, restaurants and cafes can serve customers outside. They will also be able to use car parks and terraces as dining and drinking areas as part of measures in new legislation introduced today. Licensing laws will also be relaxed to allow pubs and restaurants to sell drinks that can be enjoyed away from the establishment, in a move Downing Street hopes will make social distancing easier. The business and planning bill is also designed to cut planning regulations to boost outdoor street trading and markets, and the government working with councils to pedestrianise areas of towns and cities.
A bonfire of red tape is being unveiled by Boris Johnson in a move to help the economy to recover from coronavirus and the nation to enjoy the summer sunshine outdoors. On the day temperatures are set to soar to a record 34C – hotter than the Caribbean and Morocco – the government is publishing new legislation sweeping away dozens of planning regulations. The result will be more food and alcohol on sale outdoors, more outdoor markets, car boot sales and summer fairs, all allowed without the burden of restrictive planning and licensing laws. A Business and Planning Bill, packed with deregulation proposals, is being introduced in the Commons, with ministers claiming it will help businesses get back on their feet and get people back in their jobs safely.
BRITAIN is set for an al fresco revolution this summer as new laws are introduced on Thursday that will transform the way people socialise and help struggling businesses. The changes will see every pub, bar and restaurant automatically given permission to serve alcohol for people to drink on the pavement and in the street. They will also be able to expand their drinking and dining areas into car parks to allow more customers. Councils are being encouraged to pedestrianise areas and new planning freedoms will make it easier for outdoor markets, pop-up car-boot sales and summer fairs to be set up.
Stricken theatres could be given a government bailout after they warned they face ruin, No10 hinted today. Downing Street said the government would discuss “what support we could potentially provide” as England moves into the next phase of lockdown. However, Boris Johnson’s official spokesman did not make clear what that support might be. And it comes a week after Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden already said theatres might get “further support.” Theatres and concert halls have been told they can reopen in England from July 4 – but not put on any live shows.
Foreign holiday bookings have surged by more than 50 per cent in two weeks as Britons secure their breaks before the government eases travel restrictions. Grant Shapps, the transport secretary, said yesterday that quarantine-free “air bridges” would be announced to countries that have a coronavirus test and trace system comparable to Britain’s. The Times understands that deals will be confirmed with a small number of countries popular with British holidaymakers, including Spain, Italy, Greece and France. Portugal is also likely to be included despite a recent spike in Covid-19 cases. The move will be confirmed on Monday in an attempt to lift the travel industry, although it is unlikely that quarantine-free flights will run straight away. There could be a week’s delay.
Ministers are in talks to create “air bridges” with a number of “core” European countries including Spain, Italy, Greece, France, Turkey and Croatia to let holidaymakers go abroad this summer without having to quarantine on their return. Austria and Germany are also among the countries officials are considering, the Guardian understands. There are hopes an announcement will be made before the UK quarantine programme is officially reviewed next Monday, to give the travel industry more time to prepare. The countries being considered to share an air bridge must have a small enough rate of infection to allow British people to travel there and back without having to undergo 14 days of self-isolation on their return.
BRITS will be able to get jet off to safe holiday spots next week as the government announces the first set of ‘air bridges’ to destinations. The Sun can reveal the roadmap of global destinations set to be unveiled as safe over the coming weeks and months. A series of “intensive phone calls” are still taking place to finalise the bilateral deals, which will start next week when a series of European holiday destinations, including France, Italy and Spain are declared safe by the Foreign Office. Today Transport Secretary Grant Shapps revealed ‘air bridges’ will only be agreed with countries which have a coronavirus test and trace system at the same standard as the UK as well a low rate of the virus.
“Air bridges” with a series of short-haul destinations are set to be unveiled at the weekend as the Government plots a three-stage approach to revive flying. The first tranche of bridges are expected to be with popular “low-risk” holiday destinations including France, Italy, Spain, Greece and Germany, largely to “re-fire” the Mediterranean tourist industry from July 4, according to sources. Portugal is not expected to be included after its spike in coronavirus rates, but the bridges mean people going on holiday to the other destinations will not be required to quarantine for 14 days on their return to the UK. Ministers hope the plan will enable families to start planning Mediterranean summer breaks to the most popular destinations this weekend.
Britain could reach its highest levels of UV radiation due to a lack of planes, coupled with clear blue skies and sweltering temperatures – a potent combination that increases the risk of skin cancer. Ultra-violet rays, which can also cause sunburn and cataracts, are expected to reach level 9 across parts of Devon and Cornwall on what is set to be the hottest day of the year in the UK so far. The mercury hit a sweltering 90.5F (32.5C) on Wednesday, while temperatures today could climb even further in the Midlands and Wales. West London is forecast to see temperatures peak between 32C (89.6F) and 33C (91.4F), while parts of Wales could see the mercury rise to 34C (93.2F).
THE blistering 31C heatwave has brought Britain one step from a national emergency, the Met Office has warned. Forecasters have raised a heat health alert to amber for the East and West Midlands and told people to look out for the vulnerable, elderly and babies. The level three warning is triggered when temperatures are recorded that could have a “significant effect on health” if reached for two consecutive days and the intervening night. In the Midlands, conditions are forecast to see highs of 30C during the day and 15C at night.
Anger is growing over the government’s decision to merge the overseas aid department with the Foreign Office, with senior Tories and ex-ministers demanding Boris Johnson install a development minister in the cabinet. The Conservative former secretary of state for the Department for International Development (DfID) Andrew Mitchell is among the signatories to a cross-party letter sent to the prime minister that also calls for the retention of the Commons international development committee (IDC) and the scrutiny body, the Independent Commission for Aid Impact (ICAI).