BREXIT negotiators have been warned to get a move on as time to strike a trade deal before next month’s deadline is rapidly running out. European Commission Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis, who is replacing Ireland’s Phil Hogan as EU trade chief, said it was impossible to rule out insufficient progress causing a no deal outcome. Speaking after a meeting of trade ministers in Berlin, Mr Dombrovskis said: “There are many outstanding issues. “Progress on a number of key EU asks so far is not sufficient. “So we would need to intensify negotiations substantially if we are to reach a successful outcome. “The alternative of a no deal Brexit is not appealing, but we cannot exclude it.”
BRUSSELS has granted permission to European banks to trade trillions of pounds through the City of London until 2022 amid fears of an acrimonious split with Britain. The UK is a world leader in the financial markets with City-based firms acting as the middlemen for buyers and sellers across the globe. European Union banks face being cut off from vital “clearing houses” at the end of the year if Brexit trade talks collapse. Those EU banks “clear” around £670 trillion a year – with the vast majority of business going through London. With eurocrats becoming increasingly worried about the prospect of a no-deal Brexit, they have signed off on plans to give European firms an 18-month licence to continue using London.
Internal Market Bill
Britain hopes never to need to use proposed powers to break its Withdrawal Agreement with the European Union, Northern Ireland Office minister Robin Walker said on Monday as the government pressed ahead with legislation to create such powers. The British government is attempting to pass a bill that would give it the ability to break international law, citing a need to protect trade with Northern Ireland if attempts to negotiate a settlement with the EU prove unsuccessful. The proposal has enraged Brussels, which has demanded the plan be withdrawn, and has thrown talks on a future relationship with the bloc into chaos.
The Global Britain project is marching on. Earlier this month the UK agreed an historic trade with Japan, with only the finer details left to be tied up. A second round of trade talks with Australia gets under way this week. And discussions with Canada are back on the table. Progress is easier on free trade agreements (FTAs) that are more a matter of “copying and pasting” those already negotiated between third-party countries and the EU. But experts stress this is no reason to underestimate the benefits of rollovers. “In a world where there’s increasing economic nationalism, the value of locking in existing market access shouldn’t be taken for granted,” says Stephen Booth of the Policy Exchange think tank. Even a “phase one” transitional arrangement with Ottawa, for example, would help to preserve the trading relationship carved out in the EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement.
BORIS JOHNSON was right to rip up Brexit legislation because it was the only way to calm growing panic over Northern Ireland, former Trade Secretary Liam Fox said today. Speaking to Express.co.uk, the Brexiteer MP for North Somerset said the Prime Minister was protecting “all eventualities” by putting forward the Internal Market Bill, as trade talks between the UK and EU crumble. The EU has made it clear it disapproves of the Bill because it overrides key elements of the deal relating to Northern Ireland. But Mr Fox, who has passed the second round of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Director-General selection, said: “I think it is very clear that there are a number of complexities in this with the Northern Ireland agreement and the Withdrawal Agreement.
Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage said that he has intelligence from sources in Calais, that a massive wave of hundreds of illegal migrants will set sail from the beaches of France on Tuesday, and questioned whether British or French authorities will ‘lift a finger” to stop the “invasion”. Mr Farage said that based on his intelligence he is predicting that “hundreds” of migrants will attempt to leave the beaches of Northern France to the UK on Tuesday. “Now if I know this is happening tomorrow already,” he told talkRadio’s Mike Graham on Monday, “I would like to think the Home Secretary, I would like to think Border Force, I would like to think the French authorities would know that too.”
About 30 migrants were brought into an Army barracks in Kent, which has been repurposed as a migrant camp, on Monday night. The Napier Barracks, in Folkestone, will eventually house 400 asylum seekers. The first arrivals at the barracks on Monday are believed to have crossed the Channel aboard small boats. A black BMW saloon pulled up at the entrance at 7.45pm and three taxis followed the car inside the barracks. Around six men were in each people carrier, with most of them wearing face masks.
THE first migrants have tonight arrived at a military barracks in the UK converted to cope with the surge in people crossing the Channel. A group of around 20 were driven into Napier Barracks in Folkestone, Kent, which will house up to 400 migrants for around a year. Three people carriers were pictured carrying the migrants, who were mostly wearing face masks as they arrived at their makeshift home. A driver could reportedly being heard yelling “it’s urgent” at the drop-off gate.
The first migrants have arrived in taxis at an army barracks in Kent which has been converted into a ‘dispersal facility’. Around 20 migrants were brought to Napier Barracks in Folkestone today where they could be housed for the up to a year. At 7.45pm this evening a black BMW saloon arrived at the barracks with the driver slamming his dashboard with his hand and shouting: ‘It’s urgent’. A security guard opened the gates to the barracks and the saloon entered, closely followed by three dark unmarked taxis – two black Mercedes and one grey Volkswagen.
Boris Johnson will on Tuesday announce national Covid-19 restrictions including early pub closing and a return to working from home as he starts to reverse the freedoms of recent months. The Prime Minister will order all hospitality venues in England to close by 10pm from this Thursday after the coronavirus alert status was raised to the second-highest level for the first time since June. In a televised address to the nation on Tuesday evening, Mr Johnson will tell people to return to home working where it does not detrimentally affect businesses and re-state the need for mask-wearing, hand-washing and social distancing.
Boris Johnson will unveil a major crackdown on normal life today in a bid to halt a second wave of coronavirus. He will drop his ‘back to work’ drive, announce restrictions on socialising and impose a 10pm curfew on bars and restaurants from Thursday. Pubs and other venues will be allowed to serve seated customers only and drinkers will be banned from gathering in crowds. Chief medical officer Chris Whitty said yesterday it was crucial to break ‘unnecessary links between households’.
BORIS Johnson will today order pubs to shut at 10pm every night after dire warnings of thousands more cases of Covid-19. The curfew, from this Thursday, will also hit restaurants and all other hospitality venues in England. The Prime Minister hopes the move, along with other restrictions to be announced, will avoid the need for a second crippling lockdown. Boris Johnson has staved off pressure from Cabinet to shut the hospitality industry completely and will address the nation on TV at 8pm. This follows a chilling briefing from the UK’s top docs that we had “in a bad sense literally turned a corner” — with the death rate primed to hit 200 per day again within weeks.
Boris Johnson will today impose a 10pm curfew on pubs and restaurants, ban ordering at the bar and encourage working from home as he tries to rally the country in a renewed fight against coronavirus. The Covid alert system was raised to its second most severe level last night before new restrictions that the prime minister will say are needed to prevent the return of a nationwide growth in infections. From Thursday venues will be legally required to close earlier and to offer table service only. Ministers met last night to decide which of the exemptions to the rule of six will be dropped, with indoor sporting events the most likely.
Teachers will be the only key workers other than NHS and care staff to be given priority for coronavirus tests. A rationing list has finally been published after an internal government debate over how wide eligibility should be. Those pushing for a smaller group won. People with symptoms in local lockdown areas will also get priority over those in the rest of the country as the government attempts to deal with continued shortages of tests.
The “priority list” for who will get coronavirus tests first was revealed today under a new rationing plan by the government. Health Secretary Matt Hancock confirmed all admissions to hospital, care home residents and staff, and NHS staff will be first to get tests. Teachers will also be on the list if they have symptoms, after those staff. But there is no special priority given to children – despite large numbers being sent home from schools in the first few weeks back. It comes after a surge in demand for tests and a processing bottleneck which left desperate people unable to book a slot, or being told to travel hundreds of miles.
Companies and individuals could be forced to pay for rapid turnaround coronavirus tests as the “cost of doing business” when they become available, the head of NHS Test and Trace has warned. Baroness Dido Harding said those without symptoms might choose to foot the bill for self-administered tests to act as a kind of Covid-19 passport to allow them to take part in non-socially distanced activities, in comments first reported by the i newspaper. She said the current swift turnaround tests starting to hit the market were too unreliable for use within the health service, and only indicate whether an individual is not contagious for around 24 hours.
Britain today (Sunday) recorded another 4,368 coronavirus cases as government data shows the number of daily infections has now doubled in a fortnight — despite the government’s top advisors warning the public that they were rising two-fold every week. Department of Health figures show slightly fewer than 4,000 new infections are now being recorded each day, on average — up 31 per cent from the figure of 2,998 last Monday. Statistics also show the rolling seven-day average jumped 48 per cent before that, from 2,032 on September 7. Health officials today also announced 11 more coronavirus deaths, taking the official number of Covid-19 victims to 41,788. Government statistics reveal 22 Britons are now succumbing to the illness daily, up from 12 last Monday and eight the week before that, meaning the rate has almost trebled in a fortnight.
Project fear mark 3
It was a graph clearly designed to shock laissez-faire Britons into a mass show of contrition and prepare the public for the new restrictions that will inevitably be imposed in the coming days. At a press conference from Downing Street on Monday, Sir Patrick Vallance warned that coronavirus cases could reach 50,000 a day by mid-October if the numbers double every seven days, with deaths growing past 200 a day. “It is not a prediction,” the Government’s chief scientific adviser insisted twice. Instead, he said, it was an illustration that “simply showed you how quickly this can move”.
Britain could see tens of thousands of Covid-19 deaths over the winter with little prospect of release from restrictions for six months, the government’s chief scientific and medical advisers have warned. Without urgent action Britain could see 50,000 cases and more than 200 deaths a day within two months, Sir Patrick Vallance, the chief scientific adviser, said yesterday. He held out the possibility of a vaccine being available by the end of the year “in small amounts for certain groups” but said that the more likely scenario for widespread use was the first half of 2021.
Britain could be facing 50,000 new Covid-19 cases a day within weeks if the current rate of infection is not halted, the Government’s Chief Scientific Adviser has warned. Sir Patrick Vallance told a televised briefing that the UK could see 200 deaths every day if fast action is not taken to curb the spread of the disease. Speaking alongside Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty, Sir Patrick said the “vast majority of the population remain susceptible” to catching coronavirus, and that “speed” and “action” were now needed to tackle the crisis. Professor Whitty told Monday’s press conference that, over the next six months, Britons would have to take the pandemic “collectively, very seriously”.
THE UK could soon face 50,000 new cases and 200 dead per day unless ministers take more action to protect the public, the government’s scientific advisers warned today. England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty and the government’s top scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance spoke from Downing Street, unaccompanied by ministers for the first time, after infection rates rose to 6,000 people per day.
Downing Street sowed confusion over the new coronavirus app today, just days ahead of its launch. Officials this morning said the delayed NHS Covid-19 app being launched in England and Wales on Thursday would not provide the automatic contact-tracing ability that was first promised. But No10 was forced into a swift U-turn after the Department of Health and Social Care confirmed that it would have this capacity. The app is being delivered months late and with only a fraction of the functionality first envisaged in the spring.
Despite lobby briefing confusion this afternoon, the Health Department is insistent that the new NHS Covid App will have contact tracing at the core of its operation. When it launches on Thursday, contact tracing will be on as default, although users will be able to switch it off when putting their phones in lockers or are working beside someone with a perspex screen between them. Reports that the contact tracing app would not contact trace were mistaken… The app will tell users if they have been close to someone who has tested positive for Covid for an extended period of time, by scanning for other phones with the app installed. It will also allow users to scan in to venues with a unique QR code, report symptoms, and book a test. Assuming there are any tests left…
Germany’s most celebrated virologist has some trenchant advice for countries contemplating a second national lockdown: hold your nerve, and don’t succumb to the pervasive mood of mass hysteria. “It is time to stop all this alarmism. We can outsmart the virus using all our knowledge,” said Professor Hendrik Streeck, director of Germany’s Institute of Virology at Bonn University. “We have to realise that Covid-19 is going to be with us for a long time and we must learn to live with it. We can’t keep shutting down our daily lives and paralysing everything,” he said.
Greenpeace campaigners have begun dumping giant boulders in a North Sea conservation zone to thwart trawlers that they say are hiding destructive fishing by illegally switching off their automatic tracking systems. Fishing leaders responded angrily, accusing the group of putting fishermen at risk and doing more damage to marine habitats than the trawlers do. Greenpeace insists that there is no threat to safety or wildlife and plans over the next few days to drop granite boulders weighing up to three tonnes from its ship Esperanza inside the Dogger Bank conservation area.
Facebook has threatened to pull its social media platforms from Europe if it is forced to stop transferring users’ data to the US. The technology company warned that more than 410m people may lose access to its services, after the Irish Data Protection Commissioner (DPC) suggested it would enforce a European Court of Justice decision that such transfers of data break EU law. The DPC issued a preliminary order earlier this month. “In the event that the applicant [Facebook] were subject to a complete suspension of the transfer of users’ data to the US, as appears to be what the DPC proposes, it is not clear to the applicant how, in those circumstances, it could continue to provide the Facebook and Instagram services in the EU,” wrote Yvonne Cunnane, head of data protection at Facebook Ireland, in an appeal.
Train companies will be penalised for operating late and dirty trains after the government scrapped the 25-year-old rail franchising system. Grant Shapps, the transport secretary, said that payments would be withheld from private operators that failed to meet new performance targets. The system would replace the discredited model in which companies “still earn profits” despite failing to get passengers to destinations on time, he added. The comments were made yesterday as he announced that franchises, which were introduced by Sir John Major’s government when the railways were privatised in the mid-1990s, had finally been scrapped.
More than 21 million Premium Bond savers will see their odds of winning diminish after National Savings & Investments announced cuts to its popular savings scheme. The odds of winning on Premium Bonds will fall to 34,500 to 1 from 24,500 to 1, from December. The prize fund will also be reduced, meaning that the effective prize rate drops from 1.4pc to 1pc. The changes will see the number of £100,000 prizes offered in each draw fall from seven to four. This means struggling savers will be hit with the longest odds and poorest returns since April 2009.
Millions of savers will see their returns plummet after National Savings and Investments slashed its interest rates. The move, which affects 25 million people, has been described by analysts as “devastating” for the market. NS&I is to reduce rates on several accounts, including cutting two market-leading products to 0.01 per cent, and will significantly worsen the odds on winning in its Premium Bonds prize draw. Experts believe that commercial banks will be encouraged to cut their own rates in response.