BORIS Johnson believes the chances of a Brexit deal are slipping away unless EU leaders step in and pressure their negotiator Michel Barnier to compromise. British officials are increasingly worried talks will fizzle out as there has been zero movement from Brussels on its hardline fishing demands. A Government spokesman said: “Unfortunately, we haven’t achieved as much as we’d hoped during this intensive process. “The EU doesn’t seem to realise the scale of change in fishing rights they face if there is no agreement.” Mr Barnier is warning that punishing tariffs will cripple UK exporters if Britain does not cave on access to waters. He has drawn up doomsday scenarios for key UK manufacturing sectors and is using them to turn the screw on our negotiator David Frost.
The House of Lords voted resoundingly to remove controversial clauses from Boris Johnson’s Brexit legislation on Monday night, as peers accused the Government of behaving like a “third world dictatorship”. In a major defeat for the Prime Minister, peers sought to expunge sections of the Internal Market Bill which ministers admitted would break international law in a “very specific and limited way”. Peers voted by 433 to 165 to strip out the clauses which would allow the UK to renege on its obligations in the Withdrawal Agreement. During the debate, Tory grandee Lord Clarke warned that the legislation was a “rather Donald Trump-like gesture” and urged peers to join him in voting against the Government.
Boris Johnson has put himself on a collision course with the Joe Biden administration in the US after Downing Street said it would press ahead with legislation designed to override the Brexit deal on Northern Ireland. Peers inflicted a huge defeat on the government after voting overwhelmingly to remove measures that seek to “disapply” parts of the Northern Ireland protocol – measures that Biden has said would put the Good Friday agreement at risk. Lords voted 433 to 165 on the amendment tabled by Lord Eames, the former primate of all Ireland, who spoke movingly of the fragile peace in Northern Ireland.
Boris Johnson is set to press ahead with plans to break international law despite a defeat in the House of Lords and a warning from president-elect Joe Biden. Peers defeated the government by 433 votes to 165 on Monday night, amending the government’s Internal Market Bill to remove clauses that override the Brexit deal with the EU on Northern Ireland. Downing Street had already pledged ahead of the vote to use its Commons majority to reinsert the offending clauses, which ministers have admitted break international law in a “limited and specific way”.
Peers in the House of Lords have voted to recommend changes to Boris Johnson‘s controversial UK Internal Market Bill, but it is believed the prime minister will press ahead with his Brexit plans regardless. Peers voted by a majority of 268 to alter remove the contentious parts of the UK Internal Market Bill, as Conservative former leader Lord Howard of Lympne warned the government is using the language of “lawbreakers” everywhere. They voted to strip out powers from the Bill that would enable ministers to break international law. Cross-party amendments were tabled to strike out clauses linked to the most contentious part of the Bill, namely part five, which gives ministers the power to breach the Brexit divorce deal – known as the Withdrawal Agreement – brokered with Brussels last year.
PEERS have blocked Boris Johnson’s Internal Market Bill in the House of Lords – earning a stinging rebuke from a Tory MP who lambasted the “unaccountable” chamber. The Chamber began a series of votes on clauses within the Bill just before 11pm, voting down the first one by 433 to 165. It was the third largest defeat in the upper chamber since 1999 and rebels included Lord Howard and Lord Clarke. Peers went on to inflict a further defeat on the Government by 407 votes to 148, majority 259, stripping out a further contentious clause relating to the Northern Ireland Protocol. All the other controversial provisions were removed without votes.
Boris Johnson defied Joe Biden today by vowing to reverse a possible defeat in Parliament over the Brexit laws that the next US President has branded a threat to peace in Northern Ireland. Despite the President-elect having personally fired a warning shot at Britain about the issue, a senior Cabinet minister announced that the Government will reinstate any key clauses to the Internal Market Bill, which critics say flout international law. Mr Johnson did not receive a phone call from the next leader of the free world overnight, No10 sources told the Standard, and was not expecting one today.
The NHS has been told to be ready to start giving out a coronavirus vaccine from the start of the December – and would get the Army’s help. Health Secretary Matt Hancock said health chiefs are standing by to deploy a jab against Covid-19 in as little as three weeks’ time. It comes after Pfizer and partner BioNTech yesterday announced a major breakthrough, saying their jab was more than 90% effective in trials. Mr Hancock today said he hoped for further developments from a second candidate, the Oxford vaccine, in the “coming weeks”.
Scientists have said Britain could return to normal life by the spring after a Covid vaccine breakthrough was hailed as a “great day for science and humanity”. International trials on 43,500 people found the jab prevented 90 per cent of cases of coronavirus, with no safety concerns raised. On Monday night, Boris Johnson said the “bugle of the scientific cavalry” was getting louder, while leading scientists said they were “smiling from ear to ear” after Pfizer declared the trial results. Britain has already ordered 40 million doses of the vaccine, including 10 million which could be administered before Christmas if regulatory approval is granted.
The NHS is ready to start providing the new coronavirus vaccine “as fast as safely possible”, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said. He said vaccination clinics would be open seven days a week and centres set up in places such as sports halls. But he urged people to be patient and said “we just don’t know” how many people will need to be vaccinated before life can return to normal. It comes after doctors said they “stand ready” to start immunising people. On Monday, the news was announced that the world’s first effective coronavirus vaccine had shown it could prevent more than 90% of people from getting Covid in early results.
Kate Bingham, chair of the government’s vaccine taskforce, is facing questions over whether she will benefit from a $65m (£49m) UK taxpayer- backed investment into a fund run by her private equity firm. Bingham, a venture capitalist married to Treasury minister Jesse Norman, has already come under fire over allegations she revealed sensitive information to a private investors’ conference and insisted on hiring costly PR advisers. She is expected to leave her post at the end of the year, according to a government source who said her contract ran until January 2021 and she had always intended to leave at that point.
Britain’s most vulnerable people could start being vaccinated against Covid before Christmas after a leading candidate was found to be more than 90 per cent effective. The world’s first coronavirus vaccine results showed that a jab developed by Pfizer, the US pharmaceutical giant and BioNTech of Germany, was both safe and considerably more effective than had been hoped. The developers hope to fast-track approval so that the injection can be ready for use by the end of the year. They have agreed to provide the UK with enough doses to vaccinate five million healthcare workers and other vulnerable people by January, with millions more doses due to be delivered to the country later next year.
Britain should be heading back to normal by the spring, scientists said yesterday, after the announcement of a vaccine that is 90 per cent effective in stopping the coronavirus. Jonathan Van-Tam, the deputy chief medical officer for England, said that the “huge milestone” meant this wave of infection could be the last that Britain endured. He said he was hopeful that the first Britons could be injected with the Pfizer and Biontech vaccine before Christmas. Britain has bought 40 million doses in advance, enough to inoculate 20 million people, and the NHS is preparing to start with the most vulnerable.
Boris Johnson has called on Britons to stick to the rules to get through the second wave of the coronavirus while promising that the UK will be at the ‘front of the pack’ for a new vaccine after a massive breakthrough. The PM tried to cool hopes of an early end to lockdown after Pfizer and BioNTech revealed that initial results from a massive clinical trial suggested nine out of 10 people who get their jab are protected by it. The UK could now get 10million doses of the vaccine by Christmas – enough for five million Britons – with experts raising expectations that life could be ‘back to normal’ by the spring.
The NHS is planning a “get out the vote” style operation to ensure people have two doses of a coronavirus vaccine as it prepares to start immunising vulnerable people before Christmas. Hospital fridges are likely to be used to store a Pfizer vaccine that must be kept at -70C if it is approved by regulators, with health chiefs believing that it could be feasible to use existing infrastructure at least to reach health and care staff and care home residents, who will be first in line. Initial plans envision a relatively limited vaccination programme targeting the most vulnerable, with communication efforts at first focused on urging people to wait their turn.
Britain’s today recorded another 21,350 Covid cases as the country’s outbreak continues to tail off amid mounting calls from Tory MPs to end the blanket lockdown before December 2. Department of Health data shows the daily number of infections is stable, even though today’s figure is a 12.7 per cent jump on last Monday’s 18,950. But deaths are continuing to rise because of the lag in how long it can take patients to become severely ill, with just 136 lab-confirmed deaths recorded this time last week. Despite the slight uptick in cases compared to last week, the rolling seven-day average, which is a more accurate measure because it takes into account day-to-day reporting fluctuations, has barely changed in the past fortnight.
Boris Johnson tonight offered little hope for London businesses hoping to escape from lockdown before December 2. The Prime Minister said that although the case rate in the capital was “flattening”, he had seen new data this morning that showed it was doubling in the nation as a whole. Mr Johnson was answering a question from the Standard at his Downing Street press conference after calls from London’s business leaders and MPs for an early exit from lockdown because of growing evidence of the improvement.
Nearly one in five people who have had Covid-19 are diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder such as anxiety, depression or insomnia within three months of testing positive for the virus, according to a study that suggests action is needed to mitigate the mental health toll of the pandemic. The analysis – conducted by researchers from the University of Oxford and NIHR Oxford Health Biomedical Research Centre – also found that people with a pre-existing mental health diagnosis were 65% more likely to be diagnosed with Covid-19 than those without, even accounting for known risk factors such as age, sex, race, and underlying physical conditions.
One in every 17 people who have had Covid-19 could be diagnosed with anxiety, depression or insomnia for the first time, a study of millions of US patient health records suggests. That is about double the risk from other illnesses, the researchers say. Unexpectedly, they also found existing psychiatric patients were 65% more likely to be diagnosed with Covid-19. This could be linked to their physical health or drugs prescribed to treat disorders, the researchers speculated. They should be given appropriate care, the Oxford team said.
Half a million instant coronavirus tests will be sent to councils within days as part of a nationwide move towards screening that will also enable NHS staff to be checked twice a week. Boris Johnson said that frequent testing of people without symptoms was “full of potential for our ability to defeat the virus” as he announced plans to send more than 50 councils 10,000 kits each, with universities also promised supplies. Ministers are hoping that widespread use of lateral flow technology, which gives results within minutes without the need for a lab, could control the virus through mass checks.
More than half a million rapid coronavirus tests will be sent to public health authorities this week to detect asymptomatic cases. The 600,000 lateral flow test kits will be given to more than 50 directors of public health in England during the coming days. They can deliver results in an hour. Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “Last week we rolled out mass testing in Liverpool using new, rapid technology so we can detect this virus quicker than ever before, even in people who don’t have symptoms. “Mass testing is a vital tool to help us control this virus and get life more normal.”
Covid patients should be sent to hospital earlier, researchers have said after finding that just a small drop in blood oxygen levels can indicate an increased risk of dying. A paper published by UK academics and led by the NHS’s national clinical lead for patient deterioration found that current NHS guidelines on blood oxygen levels may be set too high. It also makes a strong case for all UK households to keep an oximeter as well as a thermometer in their medicine cupboard at home. The NHS currently considers blood oxygen levels of between 94 and 98 per cent as “normal” for treatment at home but the study, which compared oxygen readings taken by UK ambulance crews with outcomes, found that even small falls in readings below 96 per cent should ring alarm bells and may require hospitalisation.
Quarantine for arrivals to the UK is set to be slashed from 14 days after the lockdown ends, Grant Shapps said today. The Transport Secretary said work on a ‘test and release’ system for the border was making ‘very good progress’. He also claimed the mass testing programme launched in Liverpool last week gives ‘hope for optimism’ that quarantine-free travel could be possible. People arriving in the UK from countries without a travel corridor are required to self-isolate for 14 days in a bid to slow the spread of coronavirus.
The Covid self-isolation period is expected to be cut from two weeks to 10 days after a row involving Prof Chris Whitty and Dominic Cummings, who had been pushing for a more drastic change, the Guardian understands. The reduced quarantine time is to be made possible by increasing the use of rapid tests – for which the UK government has paid more than £500m, despite the fact that some are not designed to test people without symptoms. It comes amid growing concerns about compliance, with only 11% of people abiding fully by the current two-week self-isolation rule, according to research by King’s College London in September.
A people-smuggling gang believed to have brought between 500 and 1,000 migrants into Britain over the past 12 months has been broken up by French police. The gang, which is of Iraqi-Kurd origin, charged the migrants €3,000 (£2,690) each to travel from France, according to Superintendent Jean Arvieu. The migrants were mostly Iraqi Kurds but also included Iranians, Afghans, Syrians and Pakistanis. Having arrived in France, they headed for the Paris region, from where they were driven by network operatives to motorway service stations in Burgundy. There, they were stowed away in lorries heading for Britain.
MINISTERS will today open talks with BBC bosses about the future cost of the TV licence fee in an attempt to get better value for money for viewers. Culture and Media Secretary Oliver Dowden is set to kick off the negotiations about funding for the broadcaster for at least five years from April 2022. He is also urging the corporation to slash costs and provide more “support” for the elderly following the decision to scrap free TV licences for all pensioners aged over 75. His discussions follow calls from some Tory backbenchers for non-payment of the annual fee to be decriminalised.
The Justice Department official who oversees investigations of voter fraud has resigned after Attorney General William Barr authorized federal prosecutors across the U.S. to pursue ‘substantial allegations’ of voting irregularities before the 2020 presidential election is certified, despite little evidence of fraud. Richard Pilger will step down from the post within hours, according to an email he sent to colleagues that was obtained by The New York Times. Pilger, director of the Election Crimes Branch of the Department of Justice since 2010, submitted his resignation shortly after his boss, Barr, announced the unprecedented federal support for the investigations – a move which would delight Donald Trump.
The US attorney general, William Barr, has authorized federal prosecutors to begin investigating “substantial allegations” of voter irregularities across the country in a stark break with longstanding practice and despite a lack of evidence of any major fraud having been committed. The intervention of Barr, who has frequently been accused of politicizing the DoJ, comes as Donald Trump refuses to concede defeat and promotes a number of legally meritless lawsuits aimed at casting doubt on the legitimacy of the election. Joe Biden was confirmed as president-elect on Saturday after he won the critical battleground state of Pennsylvania.
THE US Attorney General has waded into the chaotic 2020 election to authorize the Department of Justice to look into alleged “voting irregularities” – despite there being no evidence of widespread voter fraud. William Barr’s unprecedented intervention on Monday led to Richard Pilger, who oversees the Justice Department’s investigations of voter fraud, to quit just hours later. Pilger, a career DOJ prosecutor who oversaw investigations related to voting fraud, wrote his resignation within hours of Barr’s memo going public on Monday evening.