HOPES of a Brexit deal were handed a boost after British and European Union negotiators edged closer to a compromise. They raised the prospect of an agreement could be found as easy as next Tuesday with progress being made in a number of areas as part of the intensified wrangling over a trade deal. The two sides were said to be close to finalising a draft legal text on future common standards, including state subsidies for businesses, as part of a tentative breakthrough in the talks. Lord Frost and EU counterpart Michel Barnier are expected to pass the negotiations up to Boris Johnson and European Commission chief Ursula von der leyen to take a decision on the final trade-offs. Despite early signs of progress, it was said there are still significant gaps between both sides on the level-playing field, fisheries and enforcing the final agreement.
A HEATED Brexit argument emerged tonight after Downing Street claimed Nicola Sturgeon’s Scottish Government refused to hand over “crucial data” on being prepared for Brexit. Westminster officials say Scottish ministers had not given the UK Government access to documents outlining how Scotland aims to prepare for the end of the Brexit transition period on December 31. These documents included information on how cash from the UK Government to support Brexit readiness had been spent and how ministers at Holyrood were ensuring that businesses are ready for the change. But Edinburgh has disputed the claims tonight accusing Westminster of spouting “nonsense” claiming they put ideas to Westminster.
Scotland’s left-separatist devolved government has said children should not be allowed to go door-to-door this Halloween, in case they somehow spread the Chinese coronavirus to their neighbours. The Scottish government, headed by the Scottish National Party (SNP), is roughly equivalent to a U.S. state government, and has the power to impose coronavirus restrictions distinct from those set by the central government in London. “Under the current restrictions it is not possible to meet up indoors or in large groups outdoors, so the safest thing to do this year is to stay at home,” said Deputy First Minister John Swinney. “I know guising is a big part of Halloween and children will be sad to miss out, but as door-to-door guising brings an additional and avoidable risk of spreading the virus, our clear advice for families is to avoid it,” Swiney claimed.
As the world watched in awe five years ago, new faces were welcomed into Germany with balloons and banners proclaiming ‘We love refugees’. More than a million strangers headed there from faraway lands at the height of Europe’s biggest migration crisis since World War II hoping for a new life in the West. In a rallying cry to her nation, the German chancellor Angela Merkel declared in the autumn of 2015: ‘We can do this. We are strong and can manage it.’ Even as Mrs Merkel’s historic speech was broadcast on German TV, reports flashed up on the screen that trainloads of men, women and children were clamouring to be let in at her borders. And they were.
Almost 300 asylum seekers including 36 children have died trying to cross the Channel to the UK in the past 20 years, according to the first analysis to collate deaths. The Institute of Race Relations research, due to be published next month and seen by the Guardian, details the cases of 292 people who have died trying to cross by vehicle, tunnel and over the water since 1999. It includes Tuesday’s four deaths, when an Iranian Kurdish couple and two of their children died when their boat sank. Maël Galisson from Gisti, a legal service for asylum seekers in France, has worked on the report, published in partnership with the Permanent People’s Tribunal London steering group, and has been documenting these deaths for two decades.
Sir Keir Starmer will on Thursday come under renewed pressure to take action against Jeremy Corbyn and his allies as Britain’s equalities watchdog publishes its long-awaited report into anti-Semitism in the Labour Party. The Daily Telegraph can reveal that the charity that helped trigger the 18-month investigation into Labour will demand that Sir Keir deal with a series of fresh complaints against his predecessor and other MPs. Writing to Sir Keir on Thursday morning, the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism (CAA) will urge him to demonstrate his commitment to stamping out anti-Jewish racism by holding the “individuals responsible” for the crisis “to account”.
Labour faces the most shameful day in its 114-year history today when a ‘damning’ report is published into its failure to deal with anti-Semitism. The Equality and Human Rights Commission launched an investigation last year into claims that the party under Jeremy Corbyn had victimised Jews and turned a blind eye to hard-Left racism. It was only the second time such a probe had been opened into a political party. The first was into the BNP. Labour’s health spokesman Jonathan Ashworth said: ‘I obviously don’t know what’s in the report, because it’s confidential, but that was a shameful period in our history, and we have to be clear that we are never going back to that.
Senior Labour figures are braced for the equalities watchdog to rule that the party acted unlawfully in its treatment of Jewish members, as a shadow cabinet minister said the antisemitism crisis was the most shameful in Labour’s history. The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) report is set to recommend an independent complaints system when the findings of its long-awaited inquiry are published on Thursday. The inquiry’s conclusion will close a painful chapter in Labour’s history under Jeremy Corbyn, when it was accused of institutional antisemitism and MPs resigned amid recriminations over toxic factionalism within the party HQ.
NHS staff, scientists and business leaders will band together today to urge Boris Johnson to take a ‘rational, balanced and cautious’ approach to Covid. The new group, called Recovery, will warn the Prime Minister that ‘hysteria’ could end up being worse than the virus itself. Its leaders will urge the Government to sign up to five ‘reasonable demands’, including a promise that it will always bear in mind that whatever restrictions are put in place, life has to be ‘worth living’. They want ministers to agree to ‘behave with humanity’ rather than curbing essential freedoms of large swathes of the population; to ‘give equal regard to all lives’ by not postponing vital treatment for other conditions, and to ‘get the economy moving’. And they are demanding a public inquiry to look at the impact of the Government’s policies on other killer diseases, mental health, the economy and children’s future.
Fewer than 20 people aged under 40 have died with coronavirus since the second wave began. Official figures reveal the disease is now 100 times as deadly for the oldest in society as for the young, and that increased infections among children and young adults has not led to their hospitalisations or deaths. And including deaths in private homes as well as hospitals, only 17 people under 40 died with Covid between the end of August and the middle of this month. The latest NHS update published yesterday showed that just one person under the age of 20, and another 13 under 40, have died with coronavirus in English hospitals since the start of September.
The government believes that a German vaccine backed by Pfizer could be ready to distribute before Christmas, with the first doses earmarked for the elderly and vulnerable. Albert Bourla, the chief executive of Pfizer, said that the vaccine was in the “last mile” and that the pharmaceutical company expected results within a matter of weeks. Britain has already bought enough doses for 20 million people and is anticipating that some will be available for use immediately if the drug is shown to be successful. Senior government sources expect that a verdict on whether it works will be available before Oxford’s competing vaccine, which may not provide results until after Christmas.
The UK is only buying a vaccine to protect the people most vulnerable to COVID-19 – effectively ending any hope of herd immunity in the foreseeable future, Sky News understands. Every vaccine bought for the UK stockpile since the summer has been on the assumption that just 30 million people – less than half the population – will get it. With such low coverage, the virus would continue to spread and some form of social distancing would still be needed. The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) issued advice in June that said people over 50, those with underlying health issues, and health and care workers should be given priority.
UK government scientists believe a German vaccine in its ‘last mile’ could be ready to distribute by Christmas. The vaccine, to be produced by the pharmaceutical company Pfizer, will first be rolled out to the elderly and vulnerable. Britain has already bought enough doses of the vaccine for 20 million people – with the hope that it will be able to be used immediately. Albert Bourla, the chief executive of Pfizer, said that the vaccine was in the “last mile,” with results expected within a matter of weeks. This could be a massive breakthrough for Brits who could face fines for having more than six people around the dinner table on Christmas Day.
A DOOMSDAY warning from SAGE scientists has warned that 85,000 more people could die of coronavirus in the second wave – with infections peaking at 100,000 a day by Valentine’s Day. Gloomy worst case scenario leaked documents from the Government’s top team of experts lays bare a bleak picture for the country over the winter ahead, The Spectator revealed last night. Although it is not a working assumption, the pessimistic predictions show that 356,000 may need to go to hospital – and the wave of deaths could last until March. The core assumption is of “a difficult autumn followed by a large winter peak”, the document says.
Scientists increased pressure for a tougher national lockdown last night amid suggestions that up to 85,000 could die in a second wave of coronavirus. The new ‘worst case’ scenario came in a leaked Sage committee paper as government-commissioned research claimed nearly one million in England are currently infected. The study warned the country was at a ‘critical stage’ in the second wave and urgent action was needed to get the R number below one. Boris Johnson is under growing pressure from scientists for a national ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown or a return to the kind of restrictions the country faced in spring.
Britain’s death toll from the second coronavirus wave could reach 85,000 – almost double the total so far – according to leaked documents from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage). The “reasonable worst case scenario” suggests the number of fatalities could remain high for at least three months, continuing long after Christmas and even into March. The modelling, leaked to The Spectator, comes as the UK’s total deaths rose by a further 310, bringing the toll to 45,365. It comes amid suggestions that the whole of England could be placed under Tier 3 Covid restrictions by Christmas if infections continue to rise.
A tenth of the country could be tested for coronavirus every week following the deployment of rapid saliva testing kits, it has emerged. Government officials have asked all local directors of public health to sign up to receive the testing kits – which provide results in 30 minutes – as NHS test and trace embarks on an ‘important new front in our fight against coronavirus’, according to a leaked letter. The move, seen as an acceleration of the Prime Minister’s ‘Operation Moonshot’ scheme, is intended to both contain outbreaks and preserve freedoms through mass testing.
Covid-19 testing capacity has increased by nearly 20 per cent this week as the Government makes a final push to reach its 500,000-a-day target by the end of October. Whitehall officials are now confident the target will be hit on schedule thanks to a last-minute ramping up of capacity in labs run by Public Health England, which process tests for NHS staff and patients as well as care workers. The growth in capacity suggests it may soon be possible to test all doctors and nurses for coronavirus at least once a week even if they do not have symptoms, which experts have pinpointed as a key route to suppressing the growth of the virus.
Nearly 100,000 people are catching coronavirus every day in England, a major analysis suggests. The study, by Imperial College London, says the pace of the epidemic is accelerating and estimates the number of people infected is now doubling every nine days. The authors say we are at a “critical stage” and “something has to change”. France and Germany have turned to forms of lockdown to control the virus. Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick told BBC Breakfast the government wanted to “try to avoid having a national blanket approach” to coronavirus restrictions in England.
Covid-19 is now spreading fastest in the capital, according to the latest official estimates, raising fears of a Tier 3 London lockdown. The ‘R rate’ — the rate of spread of infection — has catapulted to a best estimate of 2.9 in London, the highest rate in the country. Figures released today by the Department of Health and Social Care, compiled by Imperial College London and Ipsos Mori, showed the virus was growing exponentially in the week to 25 October. It means each infected person is estimated to transmit the virus to almost three other Londoners. However, the prevalence of coronavirus in the capital still remains lower than in other regions such as Lancashire, Manchester, Liverpool and West Yorkshire, with less than one per cent of the capital’s population infected.
Nearly 100,000 Britons are getting infected with coronavirus every day, according to results of Government-led surveillance study that suggests the UK is hurtling towards a second peak that could rival the first. The REACT-1 project — which has been swabbing tens of thousands of people every week — estimated there were around 96,000 people getting infected every day in England by October 25. Imperial College London experts behind the research warned cases were just weeks away from surpassing levels seen during the darkest days of the pandemic in March and April.
When it rains, it pours. And when it comes to the coronavirus news-cycle, even by those standards, this week has brought some deeply worrying news. Just days after professors from Imperial College London confirmed suspicions that our antibody response to Covid-19 weakens significantly over time, the very same group of scientists have put out another study, which makes for equally grim reading. The REACT-1 findings cover infection rates across England up until Sunday, October 25 – making this the most up to date evaluation of how quickly the virus is spreading.
French President Emmanuel Macron today announced a new nationwide lockdown, claiming that 400,000 people will die of coronavirus if the country does nothing to control a second wave that will be ‘more deadly than the first’. The national measures will take effect from Friday morning until December 1 and are considered to be ‘more flexible’ than the country’s first lockdown, with all public services, schools and essential workplaces to remain open. But people on the streets will still have to carry documents justifying their reason for leaving home – that will be subject to police checks – and bars and restaurants will close.
France will enter a new indefinite national lockdown at midnight tonight after President Macron told the nation that the coronavirus was spreading faster than the first wave and that intensive care units would be saturated by mid-November. No movement outside the home will be permitted for non-essential activities in a near repeat of the strict lockdown that closed the country for two months in the spring, Mr Macron said. In a slight softening of the harsh previous restrictions, primary and secondary schools will remain open and visits will be allowed to retirement homes.
France will be plunged into a second lockdown on Friday after Emmanuel Macron said Europe was being “overrun” by a second wave of coronavirus that would be “harder, more deadly than the first.” The French president ordered the closure of non-essential shops, along with bars and restaurants, and people must stay at home unless they have documentation showing why they need to go to work or make other journeys. Britons will be banned from entering the country unless they have a signed certificate saying why they need to travel.
German officials agreed Wednesday to a four-week shutdown of restaurants, bars, theaters and other leisure facilities in an effort to curb a rapid rise in coronavirus infections, opting for decisive action to prevent an “acute national health emergency,” Chancellor Angela Merkel said. The new restrictions, widely dubbed a “lockdown light,” are set to take effect on Monday and to last until Nov. 30. They were approved during a videoconference meeting between Merkel and Germany’s 16 state governors, who are responsible for imposing and lifting restrictions.
Up to 50,000 cancer cases have gone undiagnosed during the pandemic, a leading charity warned yesterday. It said NHS services could take almost two years to recover. Macmillan Cancer Support added that the country was ‘at a crossroads’ and said shutting down cancer care this winter could cost thousands of lives. Experts predict the number of patients with undiagnosed cases of the disease could double by this time next year – unless cancer services are protected. They estimate it will take the NHS at least 20 months to tackle the backlog caused by coronavirus so far.
UP to 50,000 people have cancers which remain undiagnosed due to disruption caused by Covid-19, a charity says. Macmillan Cancer Support says a further 33,000 should have started treatment, but have faced delays. And it could take 18 months to clear the backlog in a “best case scenario”, it warns. But the number awaiting diagnosis could double to 100,000 within a year if hospitals grind to a halt over winter. Macmillan says the backlog has been caused by people not going to see their GP, and NHS delays and cancellations. Lynda Thomas, the charity’s chief executive, said: “Cancer care is at a crossroads and cannot be shut down this winter.