The European Union’s post-Brexit trade negotiators are reportedly planning to back down on its demands for continued access to Britain’s fishing waters. Meanwhile, the British government has returned civil servants to the front line of planning for a ‘no deal’. Brussels has been pushing for the continuation of the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) which sees member-states free to fish in more than 60 per cent of the UK’s territorial waters.
Tens of thousands more migrants from outside the EU will be able to come to Britain in the biggest immigration shake-up for decades. The Home Office admitted that an extra 50,000 workers and their families could arrive in the UK each year from the rest of the world. They will be joined by a further 25,000 students, making a total of 75,000. But up to 400,000 fewer EU citizens will make their homes here by the end of 2025 – or around 80,000 a year – according to official figures.
The Government has set out its plans for a points-based immigration system to come into force on January 1, 2021. The Home Office, headed by Priti Patel, will introduce a new Immigration Bill that scraps free movement and shuts out “unskilled” workers, as Britain cuts ties with the EU after Brexit. In a policy statement published on February 12, the Government vowed to priorotise workers who wish to migrate to the UK based on their skills and not where they come from. This has been both lauded and criticised by people across the party divide, as many question whether they or their relatives would pass the new threshold.
Post-Brexit immigration plans to replace freedom of movement with the EU have passed their first major hurdle in parliament. The points-based system was approved by 351 votes to 252 – thanks to Boris Johnson’s large Conservative majority in the Commons. More details are expected to be fleshed out later in the year to explain the future system for all those who move to the UK after the transition period ends at the end of December 2020. The plans will now be scrutinised further by MPs before the House of Lords debates and votes on them, too.
A former Tory minister has called for a “phased” approach to ending free movement after the Brexit transition period amid the economic turmoil created by the coronavirus pandemic. As the long-delayed Immigration Bill passed its second reading, Caroline Nokes urged the Home Office to adopt a more cautious approach to the post-Brexit rules. Under the Home Office plan, and without a Brexit negotiation extension, a new “Australian-style points-based” immigration system will come into force when the 11-month transition period comes to an end in December.
PRITI PATEL has said ending free movement after Brexit will create a “firmer, fairer and simpler system” that will “play a vital role” in the UK’s recovery from coronavirus. In February, the Government set out proposals for the new system, with points awarded for specific requirements. These included being able to speak English to a certain level, having a job offer from an approved employer and meeting a salary threshold of £25,600.
The Government will today begin the passage of its flagship Immigration Bill through the House of Commons amid growing fears it will block ‘low-skilled’ NHS and care workers from coming to the UK. The draft legislation will pave the way for the introduction of an Australian-style points-based immigration system in January next year after the Brexit transition period ends. But Labour and the SNP have said they will oppose the Bill on the grounds they believe it discriminates against low-paid but important workers like those in the care sector.
Labour has urged the government to rethink “unfair” new immigration rules which pose a threat to NHS and the care staff playing critical roles in the battle against coronavirus. As the Immigration Bill returns to the Commons, Nick Thomas-Symonds, the shadow home secretary, said it was hypocritical for ministers to clap for NHS workers and then tell people they are “unwelcome” because they are deemed low-skilled.
ITALY has vented its anger at Germany during the coronavirus pandemic with some citizens claiming they feel abandoned by their EU counterparts. Right-wing populists in Italy such as Matteo Salvini have exploited the situation by fermenting anger towards German’s in a series of tweets and speeches. The Lega leader argued that the EU retreats into member state self protectionism during times of hardship. He said this is hypocritical after being “fed European slogans for 20 years.” He fumed that when Italy needs help, it will come from Venezuela or Albania and that, “we don’t get anything from Germany, except two fingers in our eyes.”
France and Germany have proposed a €500bn (£439bn) recovery fund for struggling European Union economies as they battle to quell bitter infighting over the bloc’s halting response to the Covid-19 catastrophe. Under new plans presented by French president Emmanuel Macron and German chancellor Angela Merkel, the 27 EU members would borrow jointly on financial markets to offer grants rather than loans to struggling nations. The move by the EU’s two most powerful economies comes after Berlin rejected previous calls for so-called “coronabonds”, jointly issued debt to pay for tackling the crisis. It represents a concession from Germany.
The first coronavirus vaccine tested on humans appears safe and generated antibodies which stopped the virus replicating, according to early trial results shared on Monday. Eight healthy volunteers saw few adverse effects after taking two doses of the potential vaccine, according to Moderna, its manufacturer based in Massachusetts. It appeared to trigger an immune response – the critical requirement of a working vaccine – producing “neutralising antibodies” in all eight of the patients.
A CORONAVIRUS vaccine being developed by Oxford University may not stop people becoming infected with the disease, experts warn. The latest animal trials of the “front runner” vaccine carried out using six monkeys revealed all went on to catch the killer infection. The revelations come as Drug giant AstraZeneca said it will make 30 million doses of the vaccine by September if it works and the UK will be the first to get them. Oxford finished its first phase of human trials this week – with everyone planned having received their vaccine doses on schedule.
The first Covid-19 vaccine to be tested in people has shown signs of stimulating an immune response against the virus, the company behind it said. Moderna, which is based in the US, said yesterday that eight healthy volunteers who each received two doses of its experimental vaccine, starting in March, had made neutralising antibodies. These bind to virus particles and are thought to be a key element of the body’s defences against the disease.
Chinese scientists have discovered two antibodies which prevent the coronavirus from invading human cells. The distinct antibodies are called H4 and B38 and prevent SARS-CoV-2, the virus which causes COVID-19, from latching on to uninfected cells. In preliminary trials on mice, the amount of virus inside infected lungs was reduced by up to a third after just three days and the rodents suffered less damage to their respiratory system. The antibodies were discovered in the blood of a recovered patient and block the pathogen from binding to the ACE2 receptor on the surface of many human cells.
Coronavirus testing will be offered from today to everyone over five years old who has symptoms, the government has announced. Health Secretary Matt Hancock unveiled the huge expansion in eligibility in the latest step to prepare for easing lockdown. He told the House of Commons: “Everyone aged 5 and over with symptoms is now eligible for a test. That applies right across the UK in all four nations from now.” It is the latest expansion in eligibility, three weeks after testing was extended to over-65s or people who need to leave home for work, with symptoms.
Everyone over the age of five with coronavirus symptoms across the UK is now eligible for a test, Matt Hancock has announced. The health secretary said that the testing programme would be expanded from key workers and the over-65s, meaning that those showing signs of Covid-19 will be able to either book a test at a drive-through centre or request a home kit. But Mr Hancock faced criticism over the test-and-trace system as he refused to set a date for the programme to start – after Downing Street said the next stage of lockdown-easing could begin without it.
CORONAVIRUS tests will now be available for anyone aged five and over across the UK if they need it, Matt Hancock has revealed today. The Health Secretary said anyone can apply to have a test if they show signs of having the virus – including if they lose their sense of taste or smell. Mr Hancock told the House of Commons this afternoon: “Everyone aged five and over with symptoms is now eligible for a test. “That applies right across the UK across all four nations from now.”
The UK’s Health Secretary has announced that everyone over the age of five who is showing Covid-19 symptoms is now eligible for a coronavirus test in the UK. In a House of Commons statement on Monday afternoon, Matt Hancock said the Government’s plan to slow the spread of the virus and protect the NHS is working. He then announced as part of the next steps in fighting the pandemic, eligibility for testing has been expanded to include anyone older than five who is showing symptoms.
Everyone aged five and over in the UK with symptoms can now be tested for coronavirus, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has announced. He was speaking in Parliament after the loss of taste or smell was added to the list of Covid-19 symptoms, alongside a fever and a new persistent cough. Mr Hancock said the government was “expanding eligibility for testing further than ever before”.
People should now self-isolate if they lose their sense of smell or taste because it is a definite symptom of coronavirus, the government announced today. In the first change to the policy since the beginning of the outbreak, officials have added a third tell-tale sign to the government’s definition of COVID-19. The chief medical officers of the UK say anosmia – the scientific name for the loss of the senses – is clearly linked to the virus and should be treated with the same amount of caution as a fever or a new cough, the only other two official symptoms
Brits should now self isolate and assume they have Covid-19 if they suffer from a loss of smell after warnings tens of thousands of cases are being missed. Loss of smell and possibly taste has been added to fever and a persistent cough as the crucial early warning signs to assume you have the bug. UK guidance states from today you should self-isolate for seven days if you develop any of the three symptoms.
Britons were given fresh hope of a summer holiday abroad yesterday after the transport secretary announced plans for “air bridges” between countries with low coronavirus infection rates. Grant Shapps said that the strict quarantine on all arrivals into Britain could be relaxed in favour of a more targeted focus on people from high-risk countries. The blanket quarantine measures will be introduced from early next month to prevent a second outbreak of Covid-19 in Britain.
Ministers are mulling coronavirus ‘air bridges’ to allow travellers to move between countries without the need for quarantine once the outbreak is under control, it was revealed today. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said a ‘blanket’ 14-day quarantine rule for arrivals will be introduced from next month. But he disclosed that there are ‘active discussions’ going on over what countries could be exempted from the regime in future, referring to the idea of ‘air bridges’ – usually used to refer to military flights over enemy territory.
Holidaymakers could be able to travel abroad this summer after the Government announced plans to create “air bridges” with other nations. The proposal, announced by Grant Shapps, the Transport Secretary, would mean that holidaymakers would be able to travel to foreign resorts and return to Britain without entering quarantine. This week the Government is expected to announce a 14-day quarantine period for international arrivals. Anyone who breaches the quarantine faces fines of between £1,000 and £10,000.
Coronavirus in care homes will be thrust into the spotlight again amid reports ministers knew a month ago that temporary workers were helping spread the killer disease. Care chiefs will appear before MPs on Tuesday to update them on how homes and their staff are coping with the pandemic. It comes as The Guardian claimed a leaked Public Health England study found workers who transmitted coronavirus across six care homes had been brought in to cover for staff who were self-isolating to prevent the vulnerable people they looked after from becoming infected.
Temporary care workers transmitted Covid-19 between care homes as cases surged, according to an unpublished government study which used genome tracking to investigate outbreaks. In evidence that raises further questions about ministers’ claims to have “thrown a protective ring around care homes”, it emerged that agency workers – often employed on zero-hours contracts – unwittingly spread the infection as the pandemic grew, according to the study by Public Health England (PHE).
Almost four in 10 care homes in England have had outbreaks of coronavirus, a spokesperson for the prime minister has said. At least 5,889 care homes had reported a suspected outbreak of symptomatic or confirmed coronavirus, as of May 17, Number 10 confirmed. The figure amounts to 38% of care homes in England, the spokesperson said. In the last week, a further 343 care homes reported suspected cases. Care home residents are among people described as “clinically vulnerable” to coronavirus, which means many are at risk of becoming critically ill if they catch the virus.
Four out of 10 care homes in England have reported outbreaks of coronavirus, according to the Prime Minister’s office. A spokesman for Boris Johnson said data currently shows 5,889 care homes have reported a suspected or confirmed COVID-19 outbreak during the pandemic. This amounted to 38 per cent of all the homes in England, he said, and 343 of them had reported cases in the past seven days. The government is facing scathing criticism over claims it left care homes in the lurch as it scrambled to protect the NHS at the start of the outbreak.
People with learning disabilities living in care are being denied coronavirus tests, a residential manager has claimed. Government advice states that ‘at the moment’ tests can only be provided to care homes which look after ‘older people or people with dementia’. This means that residences which have a majority of people with learning disabilities, are not automatically eligible for testing kits on the Government’s new online care home portal. It comes after new data by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) revealed a 175 per cent rise in unexpected deaths in places where people with autism and learning disabilities live.
A government minister has not ruled out penalising regions in England if they refuse to reopen schools as the coronavirus lockdown is eased. Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden told Sky News ministers wanted to work in a “constructive way” with teachers and unions to address their “legitimate concerns” about pupils returning to the classroom. Under plans to ease the COVID-19 lockdown outlined by Prime Minister Boris Johnson earlier this month, there will be a staged reopening of primary schools from 1 June.
There has been no significant increase in coronavirus infections after schools in 22 EU countries were reopened, EU education ministers heard at a video conference on Monday. After the meeting of ministers, Blaženka Divjak, Croatia’s minister, told reporters in Brussels most of the schools had only been open for a fortnight. “We are at the beginning of reopening of the education system in Europe,” she said, “in our discussion today, we have examined various related organisational and safety aspects.”
Reopening schools across Europe has not caused a spike in coronavirus cases. Evidence from 22 EU states that have restored classes suggests little or no risk to pupils, teachers or families. The revelation piles pressure on unions resisting plans to send younger children back from June 1. The National Education Union yesterday even claimed it was not safe for teachers to mark workbooks. But an EU meeting was told that the gradual return to school had not resulted in ‘anything negative’.
Hundreds of thousands of grandparents could be at greater risk of coronavirus infection when schools reopen within two weeks. Government guidelines urge older people to isolate from their families, but experts say the advice is “completely unrealistic” and impossible to follow for those who live with their children and grandchildren. At least 259,000 children live in the same households as their grandparents, according to the Office for National Statistics, accounting for 3 per cent of families with children.
A bid to build a 1,000 capacity “mega-mosque” in one of London’s most iconic buildings has been met with a rash of last-minute objections from locals, with concerns citing its close proximity to the city’s world-famous historic gay quarter. The plans submitted to the City of Westminster Council surround the Trocadero building [pictured, above] on Picadilly Circus in London’s cultural hub in the West End. Under the new design, the basements and part of the ground floor would be converted into a 1,000 capacity mosque. The property is owned by Malawian-born, London-based developer Asif Aziz, and the conversion of part of the iconic building is being shepherded by his registered charity the Aziz Foundation.
CHINA has sparked fears of a global trade war after imposing an extraordinary 80 per cent tariff on Australian barley exports. It comes after Scott Morrison, the Australian Prime Minister, demanded an independent probe into the origins of the coronavirus outbreak. In response to the criticism, Chinese leaders warned of trade punishment that could wipe $135billion from the Australian economy. China today announced an 80.5 per cent levy on barley exports starting on Tuesday – with the tax set to remain in place for five years.