TODAY’S fourth anniversary of the historic referendum victory to leave the EU should serve as a springboard for Britain to secure a blockbuster post-Brexit trade deal. The rallying cry from Brexiteers comes as negotiations on a future trading relationship with the bloc reach a critical point four years on from the monumental 2016 result which saw Britain vote 52 percent to 48 percent in favour of leaving the European Union. Brexit formally took place on January 31, but the UK is still in the transition period in which it follows EU laws and benefits from single market membership until the end of the year. Both sides are trying to thrash out an agreement on a future relationship including an ambitious free trade deal. But after four rounds of negotiations amid the coronavirus crisis, Boris Johnson and EU leaders including Commission President Ursula von der Leyen held a virtual summit in order to break the deadlock.
The UK will reserve the right to diverge from European Union standards, even if it means accepting trade tariffs from the bloc. Negotiations are set to accelerate following Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s return to the frontline of UK-EU talks following the height of the coronavirus pandemic and his own recovery from the illness. Media reports in recent weeks point to renewed vigour from both parties to get a deal done as soon as possible — calling for a “new phase” of less formal talks. The EU is aiming for October to conclude the process, while the prime minister is seeking to have one agreed by the end of July.
How long can Britons be deprived of reasonably priced Australian chocolate biscuits? Such is the magnitude of the issues faced by the Department of International Trade (DIT) – which could be next for the chop, if the rumours are true – as it scrambles to negotiate post-Brexit trade deals amid a global pandemic and historic recession. In a video posted on Twitter, Boris Johnson joked that potential tariff cuts as a result of a deal with Canberra would make Tim Tam biscuits more affordable as he announced the first round of trade talks between the UK, Australia and New Zealand by video conference.
White lives matter
Burnley football club has apologised and vowed to hand out lifetime bans after a plane carrying a banner reading ‘White Lives Matter Burnley’ was flown over the Etihad stadium ahead of the team’s match with Manchester City this evening. A private plane bearing the message flew over the stadium in Manchester just moments after both Burnley and City players took a knee to show their support for the Black Lives Matter movement. Jake Hepple, a Burnley local, has claimed responsibility for the stunt sharing a video of the plane to his Facebook along with a refusal to apologise. Hepple wrote: ‘I’d like to take this time to apologise .. TO ABSOLUTELY F****** NOBODY!
Burnley are “ashamed and embarrassed” by a banner reading ‘White Lives Matter Burnley’ that was towed by an aeroplane over Etihad Stadium during Monday’s match against Manchester City. The aircraft circled over the stadium just after kick-off in City’s 5-0 win. Burnley and City players and staff had taken a knee in support of the Black Lives Matter movement moments earlier. “Fans like that don’t deserve to be around football,” Clarets skipper Ben Mee told BBC Radio 5 Live. Defender Mee added: “We’re ashamed, we’re embarrassed.
Burnley have forcefully condemned a “White Lives Matter” stunt carried out during the team’s game at Manchester City, describing the fly-past of a banner bearing the slogan as “offensive” and at odds with the club’s values. A small plane trailing the words “White Lives Matter Burnley” flew over the pitch shortly after kick-off at the Etihad Stadium, in an act later described by Fare – the European equality body – as part of a wider “racist backlash”. Players from both teams were wearing “Black Lives Matter” on the back of their shirts, as has been customary since the Premier League returned amid anti-racism protests in the wake of George Floyd’s killing in the United States, and all 22 had taken the knee moments before the fly-past.
A PLANE carrying a message “White Lives Matter Burnley” has flown over the Etihad during their clash with Manchester City. The distasteful incident came just moments after all players took a knee in solidarity for the global Black Lives Matter movement. Burnley have confirmed they are investigating the incident. A statement read: “Burnley Football Club strongly condemns the actions of those responsible for the aircraft and offensive banner that flew over The Etihad Stadium on Monday evening.
All new BBC programmes will be required to meet a 20 per cent diversity quota, as part of a drive to address inequality in response to Black Lives Matter. Programme-makers must demonstrate that at least one-fifth of the production team – writers, directors and crew – are from a diverse background in order to get the show commissioned. In one of his final acts as director-general, Lord Hall of Birkenhead also announced that the BBC will spend £100 million of its television programme budget over the next three years on “diverse and inclusive content”. The quota comes into effect from April next year. The definition of diversity includes people with disabilities and those from poorer socio-economic backgrounds.
Dozens of MPs have written to the BBC asking the corporation to stop proposed cuts to English regional television programming. Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has also joined MPs in the capital who say local reporting is “vital for democracy and transparency”. It comes after the BBC launched a review into regional programming with reports of planned cuts to Inside Out and Sunday Politics programmes. Currently all Sunday politics shows have been replaced by a single national programme and the next series of Inside Out has been cancelled.
More than two million people who have spent three months shielding from coronavirus have been told it is now safe to go back to work. In a move that was criticised by charities Matt Hancock, the health secretary, said that falling infection rates meant measures to protect the clinically vulnerable could be relaxed. The shielding scheme will begin to wind down next month. From July 6, the 2.2 million people affected will be able to leave their homes to meet friends and family outside in groups of up to six, in line with the rules for the wider population. People shielding who live alone or who are single parents will be allowed to create a “support bubble” with one other household.
More than two million people shielding from coronavirus in England will be able to spend more time outside their home from next month. Health Secretary Matt Hancock revealed plans for the extremely clinically vulnerable – many of whom have not left their homes in three months – to begin easing their lockdown. From Monday, 6 July, those shielding from coronavirus can gather in groups of up to six people outdoors and form a ‘support bubble’ with another household. Shielding will then be completely paused from August 1. It means people with serious underlying health conditions including respiratory diseases, some cancers and transplant patients will follow roughly the same rules as the rest of the public.
More than two million people trapped at home under the Government’s ‘shielding’ scheme to protect them from coronavirus will finally be allowed back outside and to reunite with loved ones from July 6. Health Secretary Matt Hancock said levels of the virus in the UK are now so low that it will soon be safe for vulnerable people to start returning to normality – there is now thought to be approximately one infected person in every 1,700 people. The 2.2million ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’ people in England will be allowed to meet up with small groups outdoors in two weeks’ time.
Charities have warned that some medically vulnerable people could be forced to choose between financial security and their health, after Matt Hancock announced that “shielding” measures which have confined 2.2 million inside their homes for the past three months are to be lifted in England at the start of August. In the latest in a series of significant relaxations of lockdown, the health secretary said that from 6 July people shielding from the coronavirus will be able to gather in groups of up to six people at a two-metre distance outdoors, while those living alone will be allowed to form a “support bubble” with another household, visiting one another as often as they like and staying overnight. And from the end of next month, clinically vulnerable people will no longer be advised to shield and will be able to visit shops and places of worship and return to their workplace if they cannot do their job at home, but will be advised to stick to social distancing rules.
Nightingale hospitals will be kept on standby for an expected second wave of coronavirus, MPs have been told. NHS England said it is in talks to maintain the use of private hospitals as it attempts to tackle the biggest treatment backlog in its history. The NHS faces an estimated seven million backlog after all non-urgent procedures were postponed during the main weeks of the outbreak. It follows demands from the Royal College of Surgeons among others to permanently incorporate some of the Nightingales into the NHS.
Boris Johnson is coming under growing pressure to deliver a fresh multi-million pound package of support for the UK’s tourism industry to ensure its survival after suffering “three winters in a row” because of the coronavirus pandemic. The prime minister is expected to announce shortly whether domestic tourism can reopen as planned on 4 July, with voices across the sector urging him to act quickly on a decision which has already come too late for many businesses to prepare. Now a cross-party group of MPs representing holiday areas are joining with industry bodies in calling for an extension of chancellor Rishi Sunak’s support schemes – such as grants, loans and furlough payments – for as much as six months to the spring of 2021, when they can expect revenues from bookings to start flowing again.
Pub car parks and hotel grounds will be able to convert into temporary beer gardens under plans being drawn up by ministers to help the hospitality sector bounce back from the coronavirus. Legislation due to be introduced to Parliament on Thursday is expected to include changes to the law to enable restaurants, hotels and pubs to turn their “spaces inside out” over the summer months. According to Whitehall and industry insiders, the Business and Planning Bill will temporarily relax licensing laws to enable more companies to serve alcohol outdoors on their premises.
Cinemas, museums and art galleries can open from the end of next week in a push to save the leisure and tourism industry, Boris Johnson will say on Tuesday. At the same time, the Prime Minister will confirm the two-metre rule will be cut to one, enabling businesses and venues to reopen in the biggest return of freedoms since lockdown. On July 4, already dubbed by some MPs “Super Saturday”, restaurants, hotels, pubs and hairdressers will also be allowed to reopen, and “air bridges” established to save the summer holidays. Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary, announced that 2.2 million people who had been shielding during lockdown will finally be allowed to see friends and stay with their families from July 6, with shielding ending fully on July 31.
Cinemas, museums and galleries in England are to be allowed to re-open from 4 July, in the latest move by Boris Johnson to restore normal life after the three-month coronavirus lockdown. But, as the government moves to rescue the arts and culture, they are likely to be ordered to introduce one-way systems, spaced queueing, increased ventilation and pre-booked tickets. At the same time, the prime minister is taking the axe to the two-metre social distancing rule, as he also throws open the doors of England’s pubs, restaurants and hairdressers after the lockdown.
Cultural life in England is to restart with museums, art galleries and cinemas able to reopen from July 4, Boris Johnson will tell MPs today. In the latest relaxation of the coronavirus lockdown imposed three months ago today, it is likely that visitors will have to pre-book tickets for venues that will in turn have to introduce one-way systems, spaced queuing and improved ventilation. Members of two households will be able to meet indoors as long as they maintain social distancing under plans discussed by Mr Johnson and his senior ministers and medical and scientific advisers.
Dominic Cummings pledged last night to overhaul the “appalling” planning system as Britain emerges from the coronavirus crisis and heaped praise on Rishi Sunak. The prime minister’s most senior adviser said that there would be no return to austerity and that the government would address “long-term problems” such as the planning system. He denied that there would be a reshuffle and dismissed suggestions that Gavin Williamson, the education secretary, could be moved on as “invented bollocks”. He repeatedly singled out Mr Sunak, the chancellor, for praise, saying that he has done an “amazing job”.
GCSEs and A-level exams in England look likely to be delayed next summer so that children can catch up on lessons missed in the lockdown. Gavin Williamson, the education secretary, told MPs yesterday that he wanted to “move those exams back” to allow more teaching time, and would start talks shortly with the exams regulator Ofqual on new dates. A similar proposal had already been announced in Scotland. Kent county council announced that it would delay this year’s 11-plus entrance exam for its grammar schools for a month, from September to October, to help children get back into the swing of school before they sit the test.
GCSE and A-Level exams could be sat later in 2021 to give students more time to prepare after being housebound by coronavirus, Gavin Williamson said today. The Education Secretary confirmed a consultation has been launched into whether the tests could be moved from May to July – traditionally during the school holidays. Students preparing for exams next summer have missed three months of lessons, mocks and exam preparation due to coronavirus and such a move would allow them extra time to catch up.
Britons will be able to go on holiday within a fortnight as the government prepares to allow trips in the UK and travel to up to ten approved countries. Ministers are preparing to relax the UK’s two-week quarantine rules to save summer holidays abroad, amid warnings from officials that the move could increase the spread of Covid-19. The government is understood to be close to agreeing a list of ten countries that it is considered safe for Britons to travel to without needing to self isolate when they return. These include popular summer destinations such as France, Spain, Greece, Italy and Turkey, which have lower levels of coronavirus infections than the UK.
As lockdown restrictions ease and people socialise outdoors with takeaway coffess and beers, the question of access to toilets is proving a huge problem, with people taking to social media to complain about revellers urinating in public. Now there’s a solution in the form of the website LockdownLoo.com, created by civil servant Tom, 25, and his tech-worker brother Charles Riley, of Hammersmith, operating under the alias Sir Caughtshort, which aims to log all the open conveniences across the UK and Northern Ireland. The site currently lists more than 1,200 public toilets and loos in stations, cafes and pubs that are open, with the help of councils and submissions from the public via Twitter.
A new class of cancer drug has been tested in humans for the first time, and has apparently stopped or even reversed the growth of tumours in patients who had failed to respond to conventional treatment. The drug is designed to interfere with a particular DNA repair mechanism used by cancer, making tumours especially vulnerable to chemotherapy. This means that in theory it could be used on a wide range of cancers. Although only 40 patients were involved, and larger studies are needed, doctors said the findings provided early evidence that the approach could become a “potent cancer treatment”. Half saw tumour growth stop, and when researchers considered the 23 who had been given chemotherapy as well that rose to almost three quarters.
PATIENTS with advanced cancer saw tumours vanish during trials of an “exciting” new drug. The cancer stopped growing in over half of those given the experimental treatment. Some even had their tumour shrink or disappear completely, the Institute of Cancer Research in London found. The study was designed to test the safety of berzosertib when taken for cancers including breast and bowel. It is unusual to see a clinical response to drugs at this stage.
A personalised cancer vaccine designed to boost the body’s own natural defences when used alongside chemotherapy shows ‘promising signs’ after a clinical trial. The treatment is created by taking a biopsy of a tumour and then using artificial intelligence to identify certain proteins not recognised by the immune system. They use these proteins to create tailor-made vaccines for each individual cancer patients and then administer them alongside immunotherapy drug atezolizumab. So far researchers have only tested it on patients with advanced cancers and just 8 per cent saw their tumours shrink – with 49 per cent seeing no change.
Hong Kong’s ‘one country, two systems’ status is gravely under threat. Local dissatisfaction is so great that even last October, a survey by the Chinese University of Hong Kong found that 40pc of the city’s 7.5 million residents were interested in emigrating. Now, the question mark over the future of the city’s democratic freedom is so ominous that the British Government has said it will offer visas to the nearly 3 million people in Hong Kong who either hold or are eligible to apply for a British National Overseas passport. But one maverick Hong Kong property developer is taking the vision of mass migration of Hong Kongers much further. There are now bold, experimental plans to create a new Hong Kong elsewhere in the world – and it could be built in Britain.