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The new French minister for Europe Clement Beaune has said No Deal Brexit is better than a bad deal and France will not be ‘intimidated’ in upcoming talks. ‘We will not accept a deal at any price,’ he told France Inter radio in his first public comments on Brexit since his appointment on Sunday. ‘Better no deal at all than a bad deal,’ he said while adding that a deal was nevertheless the best outcome for all concerned. He said France would be ‘intransigent’ on fishing, and will not be ‘intimidated’ by Britain in the negotiation ‘game’.

BIG-talking France has warned it isn’t “intimidated” by the threat of no deal after Michel Barnier set a new Halloween deadline for the Brexit talks. Britain and the EU are on course for a spooky showdown with negotiations going to the wire despite the PM’s call for both sides to speed them up.  And Emmanuel Macron will spark a major bust-up on fishing by insisting Brussels sticks to its hardline demand of full access to our waters.  His new Europe minister Clement Beaune said the French President will be “intransigent” and block a deal if he doesn’t get what he wants

France has warned Britain it is not “intimidated” by threats to walk away from the Brexit talks and parroted Theresa May’s mantra that “no deal is better than a bad deal”.  The country’s new Europe minister Clément Beaune vowed that French President Emmanuel Macron will be “intransigent” over his demands for full access to UK waters in the future. In his first public comments on the negotiations since being appointed on Sunday, he told France Inter radio: “We will not accept a deal at any price. Better no deal at all than a bad deal.”


THE European Union has demanded Britain hand over unfettered access to its rich fishing waters in a post-Brexit trade deal because “it’s not such a big give”, in comments which will likely infuriate fishermen across the country. One of the main sticking points in ongoing trade negotiations between the UK and Brussels remains fishing rights, with David Frost firmly standing his ground on a demand for a zonal attachment system while the EU is urging a compromise. EU diplomats have mentioned the possibility of Brussels slapping sanctions on Britain in other areas of trade if European trawlers were kicked out of UK seas.

MICHEL BARNIER has warned Brexit talks could break down on Halloween unless a fisheries deal can be found in the coming weeks. The European Union’s chief negotiator set a new deadline of October 31 for Britain and Brussels to finally conclude on their free-trade agreement. During a hearing with French MPs, the bureaucrat warned it would be far from straight forward because of Boris Johnson’s promise to deliver a “huge difference” for British fishermen. The Prime Minister handed the ultimatum to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen last month during their showdown talks.


GUY VERHOFSTADT has sparked backlash from Brexiteers after demanding an EU army. The Belgian MEP took to Twitter after it was announced that Donald Trump is pulling 12,000 US troops out of Germany in a row over Berlin’s contributions to Nato. Mr Verhofstadt fumed: “Germany and EU continue to be bullied by @realDonaldTrump. “The problem is not money. EU countries combined are 2nd biggest military spender (with China). “Real problem is 27 armies and 27 budgets. “Time for a real European defence market, strategy and army.” But Mr Verhofstadt’s call for an EU army prompted a furious reaction from Brexiteers.

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The U.S. announced plans Wednesday to shift 12,000 troops out of Germany as part of a multibillion-dollar effort to deter Russian  influence and reassure European allies in the region. The moves, which will bring 6,400 American troops home and shift 5,600 elsewhere on the continent, are set to begin “within weeks,” according to Defense Secretary Mark Esper. It also fulfills President Trump’s previously announced desire to withdraw troops from Germany, largely due to its failure to spend enough on defense.

Trade deal

Britain could sign its first post-Brexit trade deal within weeks as ministers target finalising an agreement with Japan by September.  Talks with Tokyo started on June 8 and have been ongoing since then, with a ‘significant breakthrough’ taking place yesterday.  The UK is now hopeful of getting the trade deal in the books before the autumn.  The deal would then kick in from January 1, 2021, after the end of the Brexit transition period.

The UK and Japan are on track to secure a trade deal by September in what would be Britain’s first post-Brexit agreement with another country. The deal will be based on the existing EU trade arrangements with Japan, but with some changes designed to benefit both sides. The two countries decided against starting a new deal from scratch in order to get it done more quickly. British negotiators are pushing for greater access to Japan’s markets for data and digital services, which are key parts of the UK economy seen by ministers as crucial for economic growth outside the EU.

The UK is close to sealing a “continuity” trade deal with Japan that will mirror that of the EU pact that Britain will no longer be part of next January. But in order to strike an agreement in time for it to be ratified by the Japanese parliament, the international trade secretary, Liz Truss, has had to drop her ambitions for preferential treatment for British food exports. And while she has not got the concessions she wanted on agriculture, often the most contentious subject in trade talks, it is understood the deal will go further than that of the EU’s in relation to data and digital services.

Ministers are close to signing the UK’s first significant post-Brexit trade deal with Japan after fast-track talks put an agreement within striking distance. The deal is understood to mirror closely the EU’s economic partnership agreement with Japan that came into force last year, but it will be less ambitious than originally intended. It will include provisions on digital services designed to make it easier and cheaper for technology companies to sell their products in Japan and the UK.


More than 660million people of all nationalities will be eligible to apply for work visas under Britain’s points-based immigration system, critics warned last night.  Migration Watch UK said it could let immigration ‘spin out of control’. The figure from the group, which wants tougher border controls, includes more than 250million from India and China. Migration Watch UK has urged Mrs Patel to cap the number able to secure work visas under the scheme, which begins in January as Britain leaves the EU. Migrants will have to speak English and hold a job offer to qualify.

A French Member of the National Assembly has claimed that the huge number of illegal migrant boat crossings to the UK are fuelled by “British law and way of life”. It comes some have said that evictions from the Calais camp are fuelling the number of crossings being made. Calais MP Pierre-Henri Dumont said he too noticed a “huge dismantlement” of a migrant camp before Priti Patel’s visit. However, he said that since then migrants have returned to the area in larger numbers. He added: “To me, there is no link between the dismantlement and the crossings. “The huge number of crossings is the result of the British law and way of life, making it easier for the migrants to live in clandestinity in the UK, to work and find a place to live, than in France.


Patients will be asked to book an A&E appointment by calling 111 this winter, NHS bosses have been told.  The plans, revealed in a board meeting for NHS England and NHS Improvement yesterday, are set to be put in place before December.  But hospitals will not turn away patients who turn up without calling ahead of their visit, it was claimed. Pilot studies of the ring-ahead scheme at casualty departments in Portsmouth and London have reportedly produced good results.  The plans to ‘transform’ A&E care will move towards scrapping the four-hour waiting time target, it was also revealed.

PATIENTS who need A&E treatment will be told to book appointments before arriving, NHS leaders have been told. Brits suffering with injuries or illnesses that require urgent attention will need to book in before travelling to their local hospital. Patients will book using the NHS 111 service to help hospitals better manage numbers. During the same meeting, hospital leaders were told the four-hour waiting time target is likely to be axed before winter.

Casualty patients are to be asked to call first and book into A&E before they arrive. Hospitals will not turn away people who turn up without initially calling NHS 111, but it is hoped that the system will reduce lengthy waiting times. The scheme, which was revealed at an NHS England board meeting, will be in place by December. Hospitals will be asked to rapidly adjust and make ­improvements as they go, ­according to new papers. Currently, the NHS aims to admit, transfer or discharge 95% of patients within four hours – but it has not hit the target since 2015. It is hoped the appointment system will cut overcrowding, as less-urgent cases can be asked to wait at home.

Second wave

People with symptoms of coronavirus will be told to stay home for 10 days, amid fears that Britain is facing a second wave of the virus. The period of isolation – which is currently seven days – will be increased by three days, the Deputy Chief Medical Officer will announce. However, the Health Secretary will on Thursday say that ministers are now exploring ways to reduce the 14-day quarantine  period for those entering the UK, which could mean that quarantine and self-isolation periods are standardised at 10 days. All this comes after Boris Johnson expressed fears about the threat of a second coronavirus wave across Europe, with concerns that it could arrive in the UK in the next two weeks. New figures have also revealed that the R rate is rising in four UK regions, and is now above 1 in two areas.

The government is not doing everything it should to stop a second wave of coronavirus from hitting the UK, the British Medical Association’s top doctor has warned. The intervention comes as Boris Johnson pointed the finger at Europe and said “swift” action was being taken to prevent localised outbreaks identified on the continent spreading back to the UK. However, epidemiologists told The Independent that the government’s own policy failures would likely play a part in an “inevitable” increased infection rate in the UK – which still has a higher death ratio than most of its neighbours.

People who test positive for coronavirus are be told to stay at home for ten days – up from the current seven-day self-isolation period. The change – which also applies to anyone who has symptoms – comes amid fears of a surge in infections in the coming weeks. The Daily Mail revealed yesterday how Boris Johnson was ‘extremely concerned’ about the possibility of a second spike. The rolling average of daily cases has been rising since earlier this month, while there have been fresh restrictions in Oldham and localised outbreaks in Stone and Wrexham.

People with coronavirus symptoms will be told to isolate for longer under toughened guidance designed to stop infection spreading. The measure comes amid mounting concern that Britain could be weeks away from a second wave.  It follows discussions on the virus between Sir Patrick Vallance, the government’s chief scientific adviser, Boris Johnson and cabinet ministers in Downing Street on Monday. The Times has been told that Sir Patrick is concerned that Britain could be two to three weeks behind Spain in terms of the spread of the virus.


Millions of clinically vulnerable people in England will no longer have to follow strict “shielding” guidance from August under major changes to the rules. In March, the Government ordered 2.2 million people with serious health conditions to stay indoors to protect them from coronavirus. The restrictions have been slowly eased, with shielded people allowed to meet up with up to five people from July 6. And from August 1 the shielding advice will end completely – unless there is a spike in coronavirus cases.


Boris Johnson is facing a rebellion from up to 40 Tory MPs who are urging him to bring in airport testing to replace 14-day quarantine.   The MPs are set to write to the Prime Minister this week calling on him to bring in testing of holidaymakers and business travellers returning from “high risk” countries so they could reduce their 14 days in self-isolation by at least five or six days.  They are also urging the Government to introduce regional “air bridges” that could open holiday routes to the Spanish Balearic and Canary Islands and Portugal’s islands of Madeira and the Azores which are currently subject to UK quarantine under travel bans to the mainland.

Pressure is mounting on Boris Johnson to scrap blanket quarantine measures on arrivals from high-risk countries as airlines warn of “permanent scarring”. Forty-seven airlines, airports and tourism groups wrote to the prime minister to demand a “nuanced” policy. The letter, signed by the bosses of British Airways, Easyjet and Jet2, and Heathrow, Gatwick, Manchester and Luton airports, warned that post-Brexit plans to create an “outward-facing, global trading nation” were at risk. Senior Tories joined the clamour for changes to the quarantine rules, including David Davis, the former Brexit secretary, Sir Iain Duncan Smith, the former Conservative Party leader, and Sir Charles Walker, a vice-chairman of the 1922 committee.


Crucial vaccination programmes have ground to a halt during lockdowns around the world, drug maker GlaxoSmithKline warned as it struck a deal with ministers for 60 million doses of its potential Covid jab.  Innoculation rates for other diseases have slumped as countries focus on fighting coronavirus, Glaxo said, adding that its financial performance will suffer this year if take-up does not recover by the third quarter as expected. The FTSE 100 company also signed an agreement with the Government for doses of a coronavirus vaccine it is developing with French rival Sanofi.

Britain has signed a deal for up to 60 million doses of a potential coronavirus vaccine being developed by Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), it said on Wednesday, its latest such arrangement as the race to tame the pandemic heats up. With its four deals so far, Britain has struck more coronavirus vaccine supply agreements than any other country, securing 250 million doses for a population of 66 million. But with no vaccine yet proven to work, a range of potential suppliers is seen as giving the best chance of success. “The fact remains that there are no guarantees,” said business minister Alok Sharma.

The government has signed a deal for up to 60 million doses of a Covid-19 vaccine being developed by the British pharmaceutical company Glaxosmithkline and France’s Sanofi. This is the fourth vaccine deal that the government has agreed as it scrambles to buy up doses from across a suite of different technologies. No vaccine has yet been approved to prevent Covid-19 but more than 160 teams of scientists around the world are at different stages of development, with 35 now in human trials. Ministers have warned that it is still far from certain that any will work, and said that Britain’s strategy is to hedge its bets by obtaining as broad a spectrum of vaccines as possible.


Only one in ten GP appointments is now being held face to face, a survey has found, fuelling speculation that doctor’s appointments online or by phone are likely to remain. The survey by the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) found that 61 per cent of consultations are now held by phone call, 6 per cent through text or email and 4 per cent by online video. A further 18 per cent are accounted for by telephone triage assessments and home visits, leaving only 11 per cent of consultations carried out at a surgery

Only one in ten GP appointments is face to face – three months after ministers vowed to get the NHS back to normal.  A major survey found 61 per cent of consultations are via phone call, 6 per cent through text or email and 4 per cent by online video.  Telephone triage assessments and home visits account for another 18 per cent, meaning that only 11 per cent of consultations led to direct contact at a surgery.  This figure stood at 75 per cent before the pandemic. Some patients now fear their surgery will not reopen fully while health experts point out that virtual appointments can miss symptoms and complex conditions. Yet in late April – as coronavirus cases tailed off – Matt Hancock promised to restore regular NHS care.


Record numbers of students are expected to get a university place through clearing this year. Places for British students have been increased to help offset the fall in those coming from overseas because of coronavirus. The head of Ucas, the admissions service, predicted that 80,000 students could find a place in clearing, up from 73,000 last year. The system opens in two weeks when A-level results come out. Universities such as King’s College London, Bristol and Edinburgh, along with 14 other members of the elite Russell Group, are still seeking students. They have 4,383 courses available between them.


Agents working for the Chinese government have hacked into Vatican computers as the deadline approaches for the renewal of a controversial pact on the status of the Catholic Church in China, an American cybersecurity company has reported. Recorded Future, a private outfit based in Somerville, Massachusetts, claims the  hackers began their attacks on Vatican computers and email servers in early May. Their targets included the Pontifical Institute of Foreign Missions, the Catholic diocese of Hong Kong, and the Vatican-related Hong Kong Study Mission to China, a body involved in the 2018 agreement to share authority over the appointment of Catholic bishops in China between the communist government and the Holy See.

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