Brexit

Express
BORIS JOHNSON warned Brussels last night Britain will walk away without a deal if it refuses to compromise in the final days of talks. The Prime Minister said the negotiations are stuck and told the EU it must accept the UK will take control of its laws and borders. Speaking from No 10, he insisted the country can “certainly cope” with any difficulties caused by moving on to World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules from January 1. He said: “The position is unchanged. There are problems. It is vital everybody understands that the UK has got to be able to control its own laws completely and also that we have got to be able to control our own fisheries.  “And it remains the case that WTO terms would be more than satisfactory for the UK and we can certainly cope with any difficulties that are thrown our way.”

Breitbart
Around 30 Brexiteer Conservative MPs could vote against or abstain over Boris Johnson’s trade deal with the European Union, if the prime minister agrees to a soft Brexit, or ‘Brexit In Name Only’. Talks between London and Brussels are going down to the wire, with the transition period set to end on December 31st, 2020. Disagreement remains over issues including access to Britain’s lucrative fishing waters, with nations like France demanding the continued unfettered access the had under the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy before Brexit.

Fisheries

Mail
Britain and Brussels appeared to be inching closer to an agreement on fishing last night after the EU offered fresh concessions. Chief negotiator Michel Barnier originally offered to accept a cut of just 15 per cent in the EU’s quota of fish in British waters, phased in over ten years. This was raised to 25 per cent over eight years, in what was said to be a ‘final offer’. But last night, there were reports that the two sides could settle on the EU handing over 35 per cent of its quota over five years. Future disputes would be settled by independent arbitration. The move means parliament could be recalled to vote through a Brexit deal on December 30.

Express
BRITISH negotiators could be on the verge of reaching an agreement in the row over post-Brexit fishing rights. UK Brexit envoy Lord Frost was said to be prepared to lower his demands for future fishing quotas if Brussels agrees to back down in other areas of the agreement. Sources close to the talks say the UK is now willing to accept between 30-35 percent of the £590million worth of fish caught by European boats in our coastal waters this year.

Guardian
Downing Street has made a major counter-offer on fishing access for EU fleets in British waters to break the Brexit trade talks deadlock, raising hopes of a deal before Christmas. After a difficult period of negotiations, with both sides seemingly entrenched, the UK’s chief Brexit negotiator, David Frost, is understood to have tabled a proposal that could unlock the troubled talks. According to EU sources, the British demand for a 60% reduction in the catch by value in British waters had been reduced to 35%, far closer to the 25% reduction that Frost’s EU counterpart, Michel Barnier, had said he would be prepared to accept.

Times
Britain has tabled a compromise on fishing that could break a deadlock over compensation if quotas for Europe’s fleet are severely cut in future. The proposals are thought to offer more protection for existing fish quotas and offer a compensation mechanism for reductions after a phased transition. Fishing is blocking the talks with nine days before the end of the transition period. The new offer is a significant concession to Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator. The proposals would allow the European Union to keep about two thirds of the value of fish, worth €650 million, that European boats now catch in British waters with a transition period, thought to be five years, to cushion the change.

Telegraph
Britain and the EU moved closer to a compromise on fisheries on Monday night as MPs were told to prepare to vote on a potential trade deal on Wednesday next week. The Government tabled an 11th-hour proposal that would see the bloc slash the value of its fishing catch in UK waters by roughly a third over a transition period of five years, it was claimed, down from an initial demand to cut it by 60 per cent over three years. EU negotiators have held out for a reduction of just 25 per cent over a seven-year transition, according to reports. The bloc initially tabled a cut of 18 per cent over 10 years.

EU

Express
BREXIT concessions made by Boris Johnson could “allow the EU to take action” against the UK in the future, experts have warned as negotiations falter. As the threat of a no deal Brexit  coincides with fears over the coronavirus pandemic, Prime Minister Boris Johnson is resisting an extension to negotiations with Brussels. Mayor of London Sadiq Khan and a number of Conservative MPs have called for talks to go into next year after France banned UK freight from entering the country.

Yahoo News
The EU’s ratification plans for the Brexit trade deal are in chaos amid infighting between the European Parliament and the bloc’s member states.   Simmering inter-institutional rivalry between the Council and Parliament was laid bare after senior MEPs set a deadline of midnight last Sunday for the UK-EU trade agreement to be finished. EU diplomats from the member states made clear that negotiations would continue past the deadline and that they were prepared to sideline the parliament and “provisionally apply” the deal if it could be agreed before the end of year deadline.

National lockdown

Mail
England was put on notice for a New Year lockdown last night amid warnings the mutant Covid strain has spread to the entire country with experts warning of a ‘human disaster,’ unless draconian measures are enforced across the country. Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance said it was likely that measures would ‘need to be increased’ in areas outside London and the South East, which are in the new lockdown-style Tier Four. Professor Robert West, who sits on Sage’s behaviour science panel, said the Government’s current methods were unlikely to contain the spread of Covid-19.

iNews
Tier 4 restrictions should be imposed on the whole of the United Kingdom to avoid “big increases” in hospitalisations and deaths in the new year, a scientific adviser to the Government has warned.  Professor Andrew Hayward, a member of the key expert group guiding ministers on the new variant of coronavirus, said it would “make sense” to extend the restrictions placed on London and the South East at the weekend because of the ability of the new strain to increase infection levels “very, very quickly”. The epidemiology expert at University College London said the rest of the UK could be around three weeks behind the capital in terms of infection rates and fresh restrictions should apply before Christmas.

ITV News
More areas of the country could be placed under severe Covid-19 restrictions, the government’s chief scientific adviser has suggested. Sir Patrick Vallance explained that due to the new mutant strain of the virus, which is making the virus spread quicker, local health authorities will need to consider imposing more Tier 4 levels of restrictions to help contain it. “It’s likely that measures will need to be increased in some places in due course and not reduced,” Sir Patrick said during a Downing Street press conference on Monday.

Guardian
Boris Johnson is facing intense pressure to impose another national lockdown within days, as more than 40 countries banned arrivals from the UK in an effort to keep out a new fast-spreading variant of coronavirus. Government scientific advisers warned that inaction could cost tens of thousands of lives and risk an “economic, human and social disaster”, with the new strain spreading across the UK and overseas. Ministers urged people to avoid panic-buying food as France failed to lift its ban on freight and passengers from the UK on Monday despite a personal appeal from the prime minister, who asked Emmanuel Macron to put aside his “anxiety” over the new strain of Covid-19.

New variant Covid

Mail
Children may be more at-risk of catching the new mutated coronavirus variant than any previous strains, Government advisers today claimed. Professor Neil Ferguson, an epidemiologist of Imperial College London and member of No10’s advisory group NERVTAG, said there was a ‘hint’ children – who have barely been affected by the pandemic so far – were more susceptible to the mutation. The academic, known as ‘Professor Lockdown’, was instrumental in the UK’s March restrictions but stepped down from his advisory position on SAGE after he flaunted the guidance he helped implement to visit his married lover.

Times
The toughest coronavirus restrictions must be extended to “get ahead” of infections driven by a new variant, according to the chief scientific adviser. Sir Patrick Vallance said that lesser measures had proved ineffective and a stricter approach was likely. Public health chiefs in the north and Midlands instructed people arriving yesterday from Tier 4 areas in southern and eastern England to self-isolate for ten days in the first such “domestic quarantine” measures. Sir Patrick said at a Downing Street press conference that the variant was “everywhere” and cases would rise after “inevitable mixing” over Christmas.

Travel ban

Telegraph
Spain became the latest country to cut travel links to Britain on Monday over a new, rapidly spreading strain of the coronavirus as the EU failed to agree on a joint travel ban. The country announced it will be banning travellers from the UK from Tuesday in coordination with neighbouring Portugal after crisis talks in Brussels on Monday produced no coordinated plan to avoid the chaos and confusion seen at airports and on land borders. Spanish citizens and residents will be allowed to enter the country.

Independent
As dozens of countries around the world closed their borders to travellers from the UK, Boris Johnson was engaged in a frantic diplomatic bid to persuade France to reopen cross-Channel routes for vital freight transport. Flights were grounded and ferry services halted in response to the discovery of a virulent new strain of Covid-19 in the UK, causing queues of lorries stretching miles from the port of Dover and the Eurotunnel terminal in Folkestone. Sainsbury’s said that supermarkets could soon run out of fresh goods like citrus fruits, salads, cauliflowers and broccoli, though other Christmas items have been stockpiled and should not run short.

Dover crossing

Mail
Lorry drivers stranded in Kent are being slapped with parking tickets as the M20 closes overnight with nearly 1,000 trucks parked along it. France’s decision to close its border with Britain led to a day of chaos on Kent’s roads, as lorry drivers were filmed blasting their horns at the Port of Dover in frustration – and another crashed into a car as it made a desperate bid to get into a lorry park. There is no end in sight either, with France not expected to announce a decision until tomorrow, despite ongoing talks with Britain.

BBC News
Lorry drivers in Kent have spent a second night sleeping in their vehicles waiting for the border with France to reopen – as politicians thrash out a plan to restart trade and travel. France shut the border for 48 hours on Sunday over the UK’s new virus variant. The government said 945 lorries were stacked up near Dover on Monday night – but the number now seems to be much higher, said BBC reporter Simon Jones. Other European countries are talking about how to coordinate their response.

Sun
LORRY drivers have been slapped with parking fines for pulling into Kent laybys after France’s travel ban left them stranded overnight. The M20 was closed with hundreds of lorries marooned in Kent as Emmanuel Macron’s travel ban sparked food shortage warnings. Lorries were stuck in huge lines on the motorway after the UK ban ordered by Mr Macron over the mutant Covid strain. Highways England said 900 lorries were parked on the M20 at 6pm on Monday, but an hour earlier the PM had insisted the number was around 170.

Telegraph
Boris Johnson is drawing up contingency plans to test all lorry drivers taking goods across the Channel in order to bring an end to the disruption at Britain’s ports. Ministers are understood to be preparing “infrastructure” to allow thousands of truckers to be tested for Covid-19 after France insisted hauliers should be cleared as negative before entering the country. On Monday night, Mr Johnson made a personal appeal to Emmanuel Macron, the French president, to reopen the French border after ports were closed in response to the news that a newly-discovered mutant coronavirus strain was “out of control” in London and the South-East.

Mail
Boris Johnson has plans to test all lorry drivers taking goods across the Channel in a bid to chaos at ports before Christmas. The prime minister blustered his way through a pointless press conference on Monday afternoon, where he was unable to answer most of the questions put to him about a French travel ban.  Mr Johnson made a personal appeal to French president Emmanuel Macron last night to end the travel ban – which was raised amid concerns over a new strain of Covid-19.

Education

Mail
There were fresh fears tonight that schools could be closed indefinitely as Boris Johnson refused to commit to welcoming students back at agreed times in January.   Speaking at the coronavirus press briefing, the Prime Minister said plans to reopen schools by January 11 would be kept ‘under constant review’. Number 10 and Health Secretary Matt Hancock had until recently maintained it would be feasible to reopen with a mass testing programme for pupils, while education unions had demanded a delay of up to two weeks. ‘Obviously we want if we possibly can to get schools back in a staggered way in January in the way we have set out, but the common sense thing to do is follow the path of the pandemic and keep things under constant review,’ said Mr Johnson.

Telegraph
Minister are considering keeping schools closed for all of January amid fears that the new Covid-19 strain is spreading faster among children, The Telegraph understands. Government scientists said they were concerned that children may be fuelling a new surge of the virus across the country as cases rose by 55 per cent in single week. Teaching unions have written to Boris Johnson demanding that he delays the reopening of schools next term amid growing evidence that the mutant variant infects children “more effectively”.

Times
Schools may not reopen in January, Boris Johnson admitted last night amid warnings that the new strain of coronavirus may be spread more easily among pupils. The government has previously insisted that it will do everything to keep schools open and last week took legal action to stop them closing early for Christmas. Secondary schools are expected to return a week late after Christmas, with the first week used to teach most pupils remotely while setting up a testing system, though headteachers have said the plan is not viable.

Sun
BORIS Johnson has said he can’t promise schools will reopen after Christmas after experts warned the new Covid strain is more easily spread among kids. A Sage subcommittee warned today the new strain may be more easily spread among younger children. Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance said tonight that more measures may be needed to get a grip on the virus. Sir Patrick warned of the new mutant strain ripping across the nation: “It’s more transmissible, we’ve absolutely got to make sure we’ve got the right level of restrictions in place.

Royal Mail

Mail
Royal Mail is suspending a service guaranteeing rapid delivery of parcels in time for Christmas amid chaos in sorting offices and Covid-19 disruption. The delivery of letters and packages to Europe has also been temporarily halted as fears grow over the more infectious strain of the virus in the UK. Images posted online in recent days have shown mountains of sacks at sorting offices around the country. The situation has now escalated following the discovery of the new mutant strain and strict Tier Four restrictions covering London and much of the south-east.

Sky News
Royal Mail has halted deliveries to Europe, except for the Republic of Ireland, due to a UK travel ban triggered by the discovery of a new faster spreading coronavirus strain. The company has also added Canada and Turkey to its “on suspension” list due to delays caused by “severely limited” air capacity. In addition, Royal Mail said it could not guarantee special delivery items posted on 23 December would arrive before Christmas due to tighter COVID-19 restrictions being introduced in England. Confirmation of a more infectious coronavirus  variant has seen countries around the world shut their borders to the UK, including France, closing off one of the most important trade routes with mainland Europe and causing major transport disruption in Kent.

ITV News
Royal Mail has suspended all mail services to Europe and delivery company DHL has suspended all road and sea deliveries into the UK. Transport in and out of the UK has been hampered by the closure of French ports and the Channel Tunnel just days before Christmas, with fears over the new strain of Covid-19 found in the south-east of England. DHL said the new coronavirus mutation, which is currently spreading through the UK, had caused disruption to their transport change which meant they had to stop the deliveries “effectively immediately and until further notice.”

World War 3

Express
TAIWAN has started building a fleet of advanced submarines to ramp up its defence forces as tensions with China continue to escalate. Experts have warned the new military fleet could obscure China’s plans to invade the island or create a naval blockade. The constructions of the first eight new submarines began last month in the southern port city of Kaohsiung. The first fleet are reportedly expected to start their sea trials in 2025. Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen called the move a “historic milestone” during a ceremony to mark the start of the submarine programme. She added how it “demonstrates Taiwan’s strong will to the world”. China has claimed sovereignty over the whole of Taiwan, a democracy of around 24 million people.

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