Boris Johnson is ready to pull the plug on Brexit trade talks within days unless progress is made. Chief negotiator Lord Frost will update the Prime Minister tomorrow (WED) on whether there is a realistic chance of an agreement being reached. It comes as allies of French president Emmanuel Macron threatened to derail a deal unless the nation’s fishing fleets are given the same access to British waters as they have now. Rows over fish quotas have been one of the major stumbling blocks in the negotiations. Mr Johnson’s spokesman said: “The Prime Minister has been very clear in his talks with European leaders that time is in short supply.” Downing Street said the government is racing to reach agreement by October 15, the next summit of EU leaders and the date Brussels negotiator Michel Barnier has previously insisted is the final deadline.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson will have his Brexit resolve tested this week, with his October 15th crunch deadline set to result in either a deal, no deal, or another soft deadline extension. The UK officially left the EU on January 31st, 2020, but remains in a transition period and tied to EU rules until the end of this year. If the UK does not agree on a new trading relationship with the EU by then, it will trade with the bloc on World Trade Organization (WTO) terms from January 1st, 2021.
FRANCE has ordered Michel Barnier and Germany to show “no weakness” in the battle to maintain control of Britain’s fishing grounds after Brexit. European affairs minister Clement Beaune insisted securing access to the UK’s coastal waters remains a “big priority” for Paris as wrangling over a free-trade agreement is intensified. His intervention comes amid efforts by Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator, to water down the bloc’s hardline demands to maintain the status quo for fisheries after the end of the transition period in December. Speaking after an event at the French economy ministry, Mr Beaune said: “Our priorities are extremely transparent, fisheries is certainly one of them.
Emmanuel Macron will show “no weakness” during tough trade negotiations over Brexit fishing rights, his Europe Minister warned on Monday. Boris Johnson told the French President that progress had to be made in fisheries if a free trade agreement was to be struck when the two leaders spoke on Saturday morning. The Prime Minister threatened to quit the negotiations if the “shape” of a trade deal is not in sight by Thursday’s EU summit. “We will not accept a bad deal and a bad deal in fisheries in particular,” said Clément Beaune, a close ally of Mr Macron, “We will have no weakness on this issue of fisheries, that is clear.” Mr Beaune warned the UK and his EU allies that Paris would not allow French fishermen to be sacrificed just to get the free trade agreement over the line as the French government urged businesses to prepare for all scenarios, including no deal.
FRENCH fishermen have raged at the prospect of Britain regaining control over its fishing waters. French fishermen have argued there could be catastrophic consequences for their industry if they are not granted access to UK fishing waters. While speaking to Sky News, French fishermen argued Brexit confusion has created uncertainty on whether they will be able to continue their livelihoods. However, one person highlighted a key change the French Government should introduce to counteract the change in fishing rights. Fisherman Laurent Merlin said: “There is no fish left for us in French waters. “Sole has completely disappeared already, the small amount that is left is in British waters.
France is threatening to force a no-deal Brexit unless the UK backs down over fishing rights. French fishermen would rather have “no agreement than a bad agreement,” said the country’s fishing minister. Emmanuel Macron’s top ally in Brussels said it was time for Boris Johnson to “decide” whether he really wants a deal, and intervene to make it happen.
Boris Johnson overruled Sage experts two weeks ago when they pressed for an even tougher ‘circuit-breaker’ before announcing his three-tiered system on Monday. On September 21, the scientific advisory group presented a shortlist of options which included banning all indoor contact between households, closing bars, restaurants, cafes, gyms, and hairdressers. At the top of the list was the recommendation for a two or three week lockdown with draconian measures similar to those imposed earlier in the pandemic. ‘If this were as strict and well-adhered to as the restrictions in late May, this could put the epidemic back by approximately 28 days or more,’ the dossier said.
Boris Johnson overruled Government scientists who pressed for national lockdown measures such as stopping all household mixing and closing all pubs, it emerged on Monday night. Papers from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) show that the body called for an immediate introduction of national interventions, saying failure to take such measures could result in “a very large epidemic with catastrophic consequences”. Liverpool became the only region placed into the toughest tier of a new three-tier lockdown system on Monday, with intense negotiations still going on in other areas on Monday night.
Boris Johnson urged council leaders across the north last night to step up and agree draconian lockdown measures after Liverpool’s regional mayor accepted tough restrictions. The city, and some of the surrounding area, will be on the highest coronavirus alert from tomorrow after the launch of a three-tier system intended to reboot the fight to contain the virus in England. However, the announcement of what was intended to be a simplified policy was overshadowed by rows over how and where it will operate.
The government’s chief medical officer has warned that new local lockdown restrictions to be brought in in the most severe cases will not work on their own. Just hours after they were unveiled by Boris Johnson, Professor Chris Whitty said he was “not confident” they would be enough to curtail the spread of the disease. Just one area in England has, so far, been classified as “very high” risk. From Wednesday all bars, pubs, and gyms in Merseyside will have to close.
The effort to streamline lockdown rules has exposed a power struggle between local and central government, with some local leaders resisting attempts to introduce the toughest restrictions in their areas. Directly elected mayors lack the power to decide coronavirus measures in their areas, but the government is unwilling to introduce tough lockdowns without the support of local leaders. Local authorities are resisting attempts to move different parts of the country with significantly different infection rates into the same lockdown tiers. They are also calling for more financial support for businesses in areas with stricter restrictions.
Boris Johnson’s new coronavirus lockdown rules are being debated and voted on by MPs, with the prime minister facing a Tory backlash and potential rebellion. Some Conservative MPs are against the measures on civil liberties grounds, while others claim restrictions such as the 10pm curfew for pubs and restaurants are counter-productive. But unless Sir Keir Starmer orders Labour MPs to vote against the measures, in a series of votes following a four-hour debate, the prime minister is assured of victory even if some of his own MPs rebel. Defending his new curbs at a Downing Street news conference, Mr Johnson said COVID cases had gone up four times in four weeks, more people were in hospital, and deaths were rising.
NIGHTINGALE hospitals have been placed on standby across the North — where up to a third of critical care beds are already taken by Covid patients. Around four in ten of all coronavirus cases are in the North West, health bosses say. It has led to NHS leaders “mobilising” three overflow Nightingale hospitals in Manchester, Sunderland and Harrogate. It was also revealed yesterday that more people across England are now in hospital with Covid than on March 23 — the day national lockdown was imposed. But experts say deaths during this second wave of the virus could be less than half seen in the first.
Emergency Nightingale hospitals have been put on standby to deal with the expected surge in coronavirus admissions. The decision was taken amid warnings that doctors in the North West and North East of England could end up treating more patients than they did during the peak of the first wave of the pandemic. NHS England’s medical director, Professor Stephen Powis, said three Nightingales – in Manchester, Sunderland and Harrogate – are ready to help the health service as hospitals come under increasing pressure. More Covid-19 patients are being admitted now than before the Government announced the national lockdown in March.
German ministers face a growing mutiny against a rule forbidding people from coronavirus hotspots such as Berlin and Frankfurt to stay overnight in other parts of the country. Under the “accommodation ban” travellers from risk areas, including four of Germany’s five biggest cities, are unable to rent rooms in most other regions unless they can provide a fresh negative test result. One eastern state, Mecklenburg-West Pomerania, requires arrivals from these zones to go into quarantine until they have passed two tests.
FLU jabs ahead of winter could help avoid a “twindemic” with Covid-19, say experts. The lifesaving push for people to have the seasonal injection comes as researchers study whether TB jabs stimulate the immune system and fend off the coronavirus. Public Health England (PHE) research suggests that people infected with both the flu and the coronavirus during the first wave – between January and April – were more at risk of severe illness and death. The PHE study stated that the chance of death for coronavirus patients roughly doubles if they catch flu at the same time.
VULNERABLE people could be asked to shield again as ministers seek to protect them from the second wave of the virus. But officials are concerned about “killer” loneliness. Deputy Chief Medical Officer Jenny Harries is today set to outline further measures for those likely to be at the highest risk of Covid-19. Last night they were told to take more care. The Government’s top doctor, Prof Chris Whitty, said: “People previously shielding are at greater risk. “We always advise they take greater precautions. “But we also recognise there were significant difficulties in mental distress and loneliness for people who were put into shielding as they certainly perceived it. “And I think we’re trying to deal with that in the way we approach shielding.”
Do Not Resuscitate
AN INQUIRY has been launched into the alleged blanket use of Do Not Attempt Resuscitation (DNAR) orders in England during the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic. The Care Quality Commission (CQC) will investigate concerns that the orders were wrongly applied to certain groups, including care home residents. The decision to issue a DNAR to a person who is very ill should only be made with the consent of the individual or their family. However, a doctor can make an on-the-spot decision in exceptional circumstances, but this must always be done on an individual basis. The CQC said it is proceeding “apace” with the review, commissioned by the Department for Health and Social care.
Test & trace
The test-and-trace system is only having a “marginal impact” on reducing the spread of coronavirus, key scientists advising the Government have said. The programme will “further decline” unless it grows at the same rate as the epidemic, the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) warned in documents released on Monday. Boris Johnson has promised the scheme would be “world beating”, while experts and politicians alike see it as a major way of reducing the severity of restrictions imposed during the crisis. The Sage scientists wrote: “The relatively low levels of engagement with the system… coupled with testing delays and likely poor rates of adherence with self-isolation suggests that this system is having a marginal impact on transmission at the moment.”
SAGE scientists cast doubts on the effectiveness of the current Test and Trace system which they claim has only had a “marginal impact on transmission”, it has been revealed. Experts said the £10bn system already needs a major overhaul due to the “relatively low level of engagement” and claimed its use would “likely decline in future”. The findings were made in a report from September 21 but have only been made public this evening amid a flurry of other coronavirus developments. A circuit-breaker was at the top of a shortlist of coronavirus interventions recommended to the Government by expert advisers last month – but the move was blocked.
Most A-Level and GCSE exams will be delayed by three weeks next summer due to the coronavirus crisis, the Government has announced. Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said exams would go ahead in 2021 but pupils would be given more time to prepare after months away from the classroom following school closures. Summer exams will start on 7 June and end on 2 July for almost all AS/A levels and GCSEs. A-Level students will get their results on 24 August, with GCSEs on 27 August – allowing students to start the academic year as normal.
Next summer’s A-levels and GCSEs in England are going ahead – but with reduced content for some subjects and a start date pushed back by three weeks. Most exams will now start from 7 June, rather than mid-May, in an attempt to make up for lost teaching time. Head teachers accused ministers of an “inadequate response” to the scale of disruption facing pupils and teachers. Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said further back-up plans would be decided later for “all scenarios”. The Department for Education says it expects vocational qualifications to also align with this changed timetable.
Negative interest rates could spell the end of free bank accounts, experts warned after the Bank of England gave its clearest indication yet that the controversial policy could be introduced. The Bank has written to UK lenders’ chief executives asking them to set out their readiness for negative rates, raising the prospect of an unprecedented move below zero as the recovery begins to slow. It could trigger massive losses for lenders. According to analysts and grandees, in an extreme scenario banks could be forced to start charging millions of customers a monthly fee.
The Bank of England has moved a step closer to adopting negative interest after writing to banks asking them how ready they would be for the groundbreaking move. Sam Woods, one of Threadneedle Street’s deputy governors, has asked banks what steps they would need to take in the event that official borrowing costs were pushed below zero. Woods said: “For a negative bank rate to be effective as a policy tool, the financial sector – as the key transmission mechanism of monetary policy – would need to be operationally ready to implement it in a way that does not adversely affect the safety and soundness of firms.” Although Woods said his letter was not an indication that the Bank would adopt negative interest rates for the first time in its 326-year history, he made it clear that officials needed to know whether there were operational or technological challenges involved in such a move.
Three million patients have missed out on cancer screenings as a result of the coronavirus crisis, experts have warned. Charities say they are ‘really worried’ about the impact on survival rates as figures published yesterday revealed the full toll of the pandemic. Cancer Research UK (CRUK) found that millions have missed vital screenings while more than 350,000 people haven’t been urgently referred for a cancer check who should have been. Around 31,000 fewer patients started treatment between April and July compared to last year – a reduction of 26 per cent. Lung cancer has been the worst hit, with referrals down 50 per cent because patients believe their cough and chest pains are symptoms of coronavirus.
THOUSANDS of Brits could die from cancer after three million people missed out on lifesaving cancer screening during the pandemic, experts warned last night. Cancer Research UK chief Michelle Mitchell said people took the message “literally” and failed to see their GP with symptoms. Analysis by the charity revealed the shocking impact following official advice to “stay at home and protect the NHS” had on referrals. There were 350,000 fewer urgent referrals and 31,000 fewer patients started treatment between April and July. This represents a 26 per cent fall in new treatment compared with the same period last year. The fall in referrals could be due to fewer people coming forward or the pausing of some screening programmes and tests.
Powerful automatic guns are being smuggled into Britain for use by organised crime gangs. The National Crime Agency and police seized weapons in raids on the homes of previously untouchable “Mr Big”s after receiving intelligence from European detectives who broke an encrypted phone network used by drug dealers and gun traffickers. Matt Perfect, the crime agency’s firearms threat lead, said that new Skorpion and G9A automatic pistols, which fire at a speed comparable to an AK47 assault rifle, were found.
The actual cost of a farcical green energy scheme exposed by the Mail could be a staggering £5billion, an official report reveals today. The botched initiative was paying wind turbine owners seven times the value of the electricity they generate. Now a watchdog says the eye-watering cost to UK households is even worse than thought. In the week that Boris Johnson, in his speech to the Tory conference, trumpeted wind power as the future for the nation’s energy generation, the Mail’s investigation found that it was effectively a licence to print money.
Scientists returning from the world’s biggest mission to the North Pole have warned that the Arctic is “dying” and will soon be ice-free in the summer. The expedition, which set off last September and docked in the German port of Bremerhaven on Monday found ice that was “badly eroded, melted, thin and brittle,” mission leader Markus Rex said. The €150 million (£136 million) Polarstern expedition was organised to better understand the Arctic and help scientists predict the impacts of climate change. Mr Rex said: “We witnessed how the Arctic ocean is dying. We saw this process right outside our windows, or when we walked on the brittle ice.”