Coronavirus

Times
The coronavirus outbreak will “present significant challenges” to the UK, Boris Johnson has said. While the impact on the lives of those who are told to self-isolate is relatively clear, the virus is likely to bring a different look to many parts of society. Doctors in hospitals and GP surgeries are already being told to use more phone appointments or video services. Much of the impact will depend on how well the public health  measures being put in place can “flatten the curve” — spreading out cases so that they do not all arrive at once and overwhelm hospitals.

Mail
Everyone with a cold will be told to quarantine themselves for a week, it was revealed today – as Boris Johnson gave a stark warning that the UK will not be able to contain the coronavirus outbreak. With the number of cases rising quickly, the advice will be issued within a fortnight, according to Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty. Officials said the huge disruption to the economy was necessary to potentially save thousands of lives. Those with a heavy cold, sore throat, dry cough or a minor fever will be advised to self-isolate for seven days.

Telegraph
We know, or we think we know, Italy as one of the most irrepressibly social and free-spirited nations on Earth. Yet on Sunday morning 16 million Italians in the north of the country woke to find themselves under a quarantine not dissimilar to those put in place in central China in January. By Monday evening, that had been extended to 60 million across the whole country. With confirmed cases climbing by 2,000 a day, travel has been restricted across the nation. Public gatherings including weddings, funerals and sports matches have been banned, and while bars and restaurants can open during daylight hours, customers must sit at least a metre apart.

Sky News
Britain is preparing to move to the next phase of its response to the coronavirus outbreak – when people will be told self-isolate for even a minor cough or cold. Currently, the UK is in the “containment phase” of the government’s plan, meaning it is trying to stop COVID-19 being transmitted inside the country. But Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that was “extremely unlikely to work on its own” and “extensive preparations” were underway to move to the “delay” phase to slow the virus’ spread. England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty warned “we are now very close” to instructing anyone who has “even minor respiratory tract infections or a fever” to self-isolate for a week.

Mail
Travel restrictions are being imposed across Italy nationwide as the whole country goes into lockdown to try to halt the spread of the new coronavirus. Italian premier Giuseppe Conte said on Monday night that a new government decree will require all people in Italy to demonstrate a need to work, health conditions or other limited reasons to travel outside the areas where they live. Conte said he is extending restrictions on travel from the north to the entire country of 60 million people in a new move to try to stop the spread of the virus that has so far killed more than 460 in Italy.

Trade talks

Mail
Britain is planning to present the EU with a draft free trade deal within the next nine days, it was revealed today.  Michael Gove made the announcement amid a bitter stand-off between the two sides over a wide-range of issues after last week’s first round of talks in Brussels. The second round of talks begins in London on March 18, where they will seek to find common ground over issues including fishing rights and the so-called ‘level playing field’. In a written statement today regarding last week’s talks, Cabinet Office Minister Mr Gove said: ‘Discussions in some areas identified a degree of common understanding of the ground that future talks could cover.  ‘In other areas, notably fisheries, governance and dispute settlement, and the so-called ”level playing field”, there were, as expected, significant differences.

BBC News
The UK should consider the trade-offs it is willing to make in a post-Brexit deal, European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen says. She said the closer the UK’s access to the single market – which it is leaving – the more it must adhere to EU rules. But cabinet minister Michael Gove said the UK “would regain its economic and political independence” and any deal “would need to reflect that reality”. Both sides agreed that differences remained after last week’s trade talks. The UK wants a “Canada-style” free trade agreement, while Brussels has called for a closer relationship.

Breitbart
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has said that if the UK wants a trade deal with access to the Single Market, Brexit Britain must stay constrained by EU rules. Addressing reporters in Brussels, Belgium, on Monday, the chief of the EU’s powerful executive arm said: “We are aware that there are differences in the approach towards what scope should the future agreement have and what are — if I may say so — the rules of the game everybody has to abide to.” “So it will be important that the UK makes up its mind — the closer they want to have access to the single market, the more they have to play by the rules that are the rules of the Single Market.

Sky News
The government has responded to an EU call to “make up its mind” by revealing plans to publish a draft post-Brexit trade deal within the next nine days. David Frost, the prime minister’s EU adviser who is leading the UK’s negotiating effort, on Monday said he would unveil a draft free trade deal before next week’s next round of talks with Brussels. This would be included among other “legal texts” to be tabled in advance of the negotiations in London between 18-20 March, Mr Frost said on Twitter.

Independent
Britain must follow the “rules of the game” if it wants tariff-free trade with the EU from the end of this year, the European Commission president has warned. In a press conference to mark the end of her first 100 days in office Ursula von der Leyen said that the UK had to “make up its mind” whether it wanted to keep access. Brexit trade talks kicked off last week in Brussels but stumbled on the issue of whether the UK would stay aligned with some EU rules as part of a “level playing field” of regulations. EU countries are worried that the UK will deregulate and undercut the EU on standards, and say tariff-free trade can only continue if the UK signs up to certain standards on the environment, workers’ rights, state aid and product standards.

Times
Britain will table its plans for a Canada-style free trade agreement with the EU before the next round of negotiations, the government has announced. Michael Gove, the chancellor for the Duchy of Lancaster, who advises on policy development, said that the government would put forward a series of draft legal texts as Britain attempts to take the initiative in talks. It is likely to highlight the distance between the two sides on issues such as regulation and fisheries. Demands yesterday by the EU for the UK to “make up its mind” on the kind of post-Brexit deal it wants were treated with disdain by Downing Street.

Guido
In an unexpected accelerating of the UK’s future relationship negotiations with the EU, Michael Gove and David Frost have announced they will table a draft trade agreement within the next nine days. This comes ahead of the second round of negotiations which will take place on home turf in London. Publishing a full draft of an FTA is a bold move which the EU sprung on the UK during the previous Brexit negotiation round. The tables have turned…

Express
DOWNING STREET has hit back at European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen after she took a swipe at Britain over Brexit negotiations and urged the government to “make up its mind”. Boris Johnson’s Europe adviser David Frost said he would publish a draft free trade deal before next week’s round of talks with Brussels kicks off.  It comes after Ms von der Leyen’s comments earlier on Monday drew widespread criticism. Speaking after the first round of meetings concluded, she said the EU needed their British partners to establish clear ground rules on its approach.

Migrants

Times
Talks between the European Union and President Erdogan broke down last night after officials told the Turkish leader to stop encouraging migrants to flock to Greece. Mr Erdogan accused the EU of not taking in enough refugees, not giving Turkey enough money to house them and of breaking the terms of the 2016 deal on migrants. His bad-tempered exchange with Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, and Charles Michel, the president of the European Council, lasted an hour and 45 minutes.

Sun
ASTONISHING images show a Turkish tank tearing down border fencing in a bid to let migrants into Greece, it has been claimed. Greek authorities released the night-vision footage over the weekend showing the armoured personnel carrier knocking down the fencing in the Kastanies region. Tayyip Erdogan has called on Greece to open its borders for migrants trying to reach Europe. Other images appear to show hundreds of desperate refugees helping with the demolition tugging on the fence chains which the tank is pulling.

Breitbart
The Islamist president of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, called on Greece to open its borders to allow thousands of migrants to pass through the country into other European nations. Erdogan, who is meeting with European Union and NATO leaders in Brussels on Monday, said that he will demand “much more support” in return for curbing the flow of migrants attempting to enter the bloc illegally. “Hey Greece! I appeal to you… open the gates as well and be free of this burden… Let them go to other European countries,” Mr Erdogan said in a speech on Sunday, per The Telegraph.

Telegraph
The European Union is prepared to offer Turkey more cash to keep migrants out of Europe, as Germany and four other EU countries agreed to take in refugee children from Greek camps on Monday.  Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, suggested that the EU was ready to pay Ankara more than the €6 billion (about £5.2 bn) it pledged in 2016 as part of the controversial EU-Turkey migrant deal. Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the president of Turkey, met with Mrs von der Leyen and Charles Michel, the president of the European Council, for testy talks lasting about 90 minutes.

Markets

Times
Investors have been warned to brace for more volatility in the markets after the coronavirus crisis knocked almost £125 billion off Britain’s benchmark share index in a single day. According to economists, global stocks “could yet fall further” over the months ahead until the acceleration in the number of new Covid-19 cases starts to recede. The FTSE 100 endured its worst day since 2008 yesterday. One trader described it as an “absolutely bananas” session.

Telegraph
The London stock market has suffered its biggest crash since the financial crisis as the coronavirus continues to wreak havoc across the globe. The blue-chip FTSE 100 index closed down 7.69pc, wiping more than £124bn off the value of London’s biggest listed companies in a day of brutal trading labelled a “new Black Monday” by analysts. This drop is the worst since October 2008 and means the FTSE 100 has entered a “bear market” – where prices fall 20pc or more from a recent high. The index has dropped more than 21pc since mid-January, hitting millions of savers who are building up a pension pot.

Sun
THE FTSE 100 closed 7.7 per cent down this afternoon after an oil price war launched by Saudi Arabia overnight wiped 30 per cent off the price of a barrel of oil. It was at a three-year low at the start of a trading day, down almost 8 per cent, with investors also alarmed about the economic fallout of the coronavirus outbreak.  As of 5.00pm today, it recovered slightly to close 496.78 points down, or 7.69 per cent. Around was £125billion off the stock markets — slashing the pensions and savings of millions on what has been dubbed Black Death Monday. Shares in the FTSE 100 index of Britain’s biggest companies plummeted around 500 points.

Mail
More than £150billion was wiped off the value of Britain’s leading companies yesterday as the FTSE 100 endured its sharpest one-day fall since the height of the 2008 crash. On what was termed a new Black Monday, panic over coronavirus and a collapse in oil prices sent the world’s financial markets into meltdown – sparking warnings of a global recession. The FTSE 100 index of leading shares plunged when it opened yesterday morning. By the time markets closed for the day, the index had dropped by 7.7 per cent to 5,965.77 points.

Times
Global markets suffered their worst day since the financial crisis of 2008 in a sell-off dubbed the new Black Monday amid growing alarm over the effect of coronavirus on the world economy. Hundreds of billions of pounds of wealth vanished in a few hours yesterday as the odds on a global recession dramatically shortened. Britain is now reporting more daily cases than China. Boris Johnson urged the country “to pull together in a united and national effort” to beat the virus as government efforts to control its spread were about to be stepped up.

Budget

Telegraph
Drivers are likely to be the biggest beneficiaries of the oil crash, with prices at the pumps due to drop sharply in coming weeks. The AA has said that families with two cars could save nearly £15.50 a month as fuel bills fall to reflect the plunging price of crude. Petrol costs could come down by as much as 8p a litre to an average 116.6p following the latest oil slump. Goldman Sachs analysts are predicting Brent crude could drop as low as $20 a barrel as oil floods onto the market – a level likely to push petrol down to £1 a litre for the first time in five years.

Sun
CHANCELLOR Rishi Sunak will announce a cut in the ‘jobs tax’ in Wednesday’s Budget in a major boost for Britain’s businesses. He will raise the Employment Allowance from £3,000 to £4,000 next month, giving an immediate reprieve to firms struggling with hikes to the minimum wage and coronavirus. It means all firms will not have to pay Employer National Insurance Contributions (NICs) – known as the ‘jobs tax’ – on the first £4,000 of their annual bill.

Mail
Rishi Sunak will use tomorrow’s Budget to ‘toughen up community sentences’ to make Britain’s streets safer. The Chancellor will set aside £100million to bolster the probation service and support victims of rape and sexual assault. Convicted criminals released from prison on licence half-way through their sentences will face tighter constraints, including stricter curfews. And offenders known to commit crimes after drinking will be fitted with so-called ‘sobriety tags’, which monitor their location and sample skin perspiration to determine whether they have consumed alcohol.

Independent
Rishi Sunak is to announce a £70m package to “toughen up” measures for criminals on probation, including the rollout of tagging devices monitoring whether they have consumed alcohol. Unveiling the Budget on Wednesday, the chancellor will outline the funds, including an additional £30m for tackling domestic abuse and supporting victims of rape and sexual abuse. Under the plans, the Treasury said those released from prison on licence will have tighter constraints impose on their probation period, such as stricter curfews and an increase in the hours of unpaid work offenders are required to carry out.

Social care

Mail
An inquiry into the social care crisis has been launched by MPs in an attempt to prevent the system from collapsing. They will investigate how much extra money is needed from the Government over each of the next five years. Staffing shortages and possible measures to improve recruitment will also be examined by the health and social care committee. Chairman Jeremy Hunt said: ‘This long-standing crisis comes with a huge cost to families and individuals who can’t get the social care they need. ‘But it affects us all when a lack of availability prevents people leaving hospital, contributing to increased pressure on the NHS.

Flooding

Mail
Parts of flood-hit Britain were today braced for three weeks’ worth of rain forecast to fall in less than 24 hours as forecasters warned of a threat to life from fast-flowing and deep floodwater. Heavy rain is expected for much of Wales and North West England between 3pm today and 12pm tomorrow with homes likely to be flooded and some communities being cut off along with power cuts and train cancellations. Up to four inches (100mm) of rain is expected to fall between 6pm tonight and 10am tomorrow in Mid Wales which has been placed under a Met Office amber weather warning that tells of a ‘danger to life’ overnight.

Sun
THE Met Office has warned of a potential “threat to life” as a month’s worth of rain in 24 hours could bring dangerous floods to the UK. Residents could face more flooding as heavy rainfall is set to bring fast flowing or deep flood water to mid and northwestern areas of Wales today. Up to 90mm of rainfall was expected to hit Wales from last night until 10am today, with a risk of power cuts and travel disruption. The average rainfall for March is 117mm in Wales which means the worst affected areas could be hit by three weeks of rain in just over 24 hours.

ITV News
Parts of Wales have been hit by more heavy rain just weeks after Storm Dennis devastated areas of the country – with further downpours forecast. A Met Office amber warning is in place for parts of mid and north-west Wales with fast-flowing or deep floodwater likely, causing a “danger to life”. Areas already hit by flooding in February, including Builth Wells and Newtown in mid Wales, are among those expected to be worst hit, with flooding likely to cause damage to homes and businesses. Pantmawr, in Powys, saw 23.8mm of rainfall in around four or five hours from Monday afternoon with more expected overnight and some areas on higher ground due to get up to 100mm.

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