EU

Express
BREXIT will further aggravate drug shortages in Germany, with experts warning multimillion euro pharmaceutical firms will be crippled from as soon as January 31 when the UK officially leaves the bloc. German drug importers have warned they expect Brexit to further exacerbate drug shortages in Berlin, which are already scarce and will further trigger a market “imbalance”. Jörg Geller, board member of the Association of Pharmaceutical Importers in Germany (VAD) and President of the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Importers (EAEPC), said: “The scarcity on the European pharmaceutical market could worsen with the UK’s exit from the EU next year. “We fear that after Brexit we will no longer be able to buy medicines in the UK. “At the same time, the UK can continue to buy medicines in the EU. Therefore the market will quickly be imbalanced.” The current situation with drugs in Germany is dire, and has been since 2018.

Express
THE EU has been dealt another blow as a recent survey of Italians has stated under 40 percent trust the trade bloc. In a survey released on December 20 showed only 38 percent of those asked trusted the EU while 52 percent stated they do. The poll by Europbarometer put Italy near the bottom of the countries who have any faith in the trade bloc. Only the UK (29 percent), France (32 percent), and Greece (34 percent) are lower than Italy. Moreover, the average for the trade bloc across its 28 members states is just 43 percent in terms of satisfaction with policies emanating from Brussels. The news of Italy’s falling trust comes at a time of increasing pressure on the trade bloc. Following Boris Johnson’s landslide election victory, the UK now has an even stronger mandate to leave the EU.

Express
BRUSSELS is set to be rocked by an internal battle over the next few months as the EU27 seek to finalise their list of trade demands from the UK  by the end of February. Member states need to agree a draft mandate by February 1 in order for trade talks to commence in March. The task will be anything but easy as some countries will need to make concessions in order for an agreement to be reached. One EU diplomat told Politico: “At a certain point there are going to be trade-offs necessary.” During the state opening of Parlaiment last week Boris Johnson reiterated his stance that the Brexit transition period will not be extended beyond December 31, 2020 – meaning that a trade deal has to be agreed with the EU within this time frame. But David Tinline, a former senior adviser to WTO chief Roberto Azevêdo, has warned the Prime Minister has weakened his negotiating hand by imposing the 11-month time limit.

Brexit

Express
BORIS Johnson’s determination to “get Brexit done” and force through a trade deal with the EU by the end of 2020 makes a hard Brexit highly probably, a former World Trade Organisation (WTO) adviser has said. And David Tinline has also warned Mr Johnson he will need to compromise when granting US companies more access to NHS services in order to secure a much-coveted trade deal with the United States. Speaking to Politico, Mr Tinline, who spent six years as a senior adviser to WTO director general Robert Acevedo, leaving his post earlier this year, cast doubt on the idea that Mr Johnson will be able to get anything more than a very basic trade deal with the bloc, despite the PM’s confidence. He said: “If you’re going to set a hard time limit you’re going to reduce the level of ambition to the point where it’s been described as a ‘bare bones’ agreement.” There was no prospect of the EU permitting a zero-tariff, zero-quota deal unless it largely adhered to EU standards – despite the fact that Mr Johnson told the Commons on Friday there would be “no alignment” with Brussels rules.

Labour Party

Times
The former Labour leader Ed Miliband has been accused of “breathtaking arrogance” after putting himself forward to run a review of the party’s heaviest general election defeat since 1935. A panel of “commissioners”, including Mr Miliband’s former chief of staff Lucy Powell, is due to hear evidence from defeated MPs as well as candidates, councillors and activists. It will hold public focus groups in the heartland seats that Labour lost this month. The move to set up the commission without widely consulting Labour MPs has infuriated many within the party who accuse Mr Miliband of failing to learn from 2015, when he led Labour to a loss of 26 seats at the general election then quit the morning after polling day.

Sun
FORMER Labour leader Ed Miliband is to help lead a review into the party’s disastrous election result. After a crushing defeat against Boris Johnson, the inquest will look at why Jeremy Corbyn’s party fared so badly in an election that saw the ‘red wall’ swept away. Set up by Labour Together, it hopes to find out what went wrong and “map out a route back to power”. It has now brought in Mr Miliband who got smashed by David Cameron in 2015, losing 25 seats. The review will also be run by former shadow education secretary Lucy Powell, who made up the former leader’s team in 2015. Along with Birmingham Ladywood MP Shabana Mahmood, the will interview all of the 59 Labour MPs who lost their seats as Mr Johnson landed a stonking majority.

Express
TONY BLAIR is responsible for the demise of the Labour Party by ignoring and marginalising traditional Labour voters, Theresa May’s former adviser has claimed. Political adviser Nick Timothy has leapt to Jeremy Corbyn’s defence as he claims Tony Blair is the one at fault for Labour’s decline. The former Downing Street Joint Chief of Staff said Tony Blair was the one to blame for losing ground in Labour’s heartlands in the 1990s. Mr Timothy also hit out at those blaming Labour’s colossal defeat in this month’s general election on Brexit, suggesting that the problem lies much deeper. Writing in the Daily Telegraph, Mr Timothy agreed Labour’s demise is not the fault of Mr Corbyn and his colleagues.

Independent
Ed Miliband is joining a group of senior Labour figures carrying out a major inquest into the party’s general election defeat. The former Labour leader will be part of a commission made up of voices from “different Labour traditions” aimed at taking a “meaningful look” at why the party has lost four elections in a row. Jeremy Corbyn has faced criticism for claiming Labour “won the argument” and writing only a generic letter of thanks to former MPs who lost their seats rather than apologising personally. Yet the commissioners behind the independent review said it was wrong to blame only Mr Corbyn – or the position on Brexit – for Labour’s heaviest general election loss since 1935.

Scotland

Express
AN independent Scotland would immediately be plunged into austerity as a result of being deprived of revenue from the rest of the UK to pay for public services, with the problems posed by Brexit paling by comparison, an economist has warned First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. The SNP, which won 48 seats in December 12’s general election, is training its fire on UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, with Westminster leader Ian Blackford insisting he lacks a mandate for Brexit north of the border.  Newly-elected SNP MP Kenny MacAskill, meanwhile, claimed the UK was becoming the “51st state of the USA” under the Tories. However, John McLaren, a professor at the Business School at the University of Glasgow, warned it would be far from plain sailing for Scotland if it ever voted to leave the UK in a future independence referendum.

NHS

Times
People who dial 999 for an ambulance are increasingly likely to be asked to take a taxi to hospital, with an 83 per cent rise in such cases outside London in the past year. The pressure ambulance services was exposed last week when a woman who broke her foot outside her home died after lying for six hours on a freezing pavement. Official statistics showed that the number of patients enduring long delays in ambulances has tripled in the past year. Last week 4,469 had to wait an hour or more in ambulances outside A&E departments. There is also a severe shortage of paramedics.

HS2

Independent
Boris Johnson has been urged to “change course” on High Speed 2 by more than 20 of his own MPs, weeks after he admitted the controversial project could end up costing the taxpayer more than £100bn. The newly re-formed HS2 Review Group – which consists of veteran and recently elected Tories, some seated in Labour’s “red wall” – wrote to the PM on Saturday requesting meetings with him and the transport secretary “as a matter of urgency”. They warned the business case for the project was collapsing, voicing “significant concerns” about government-owned HS2 Ltd’s ability to manage the project and unease over its environmental impact. “It is not too late for the government to change course,” Banbury MP Victoria Prentis wrote in the letter signed by 20 other Tories. “We have many new colleagues who have campaigned against or are seriously concerned about the future of this project.

Police

Mail
Police have spent millions of pounds on electric cars they admit are useless for chasing suspects or rushing to help victims. Forces around the country have bought at least 448 environmentally-friendly vehicles to help them meet green energy targets. But almost all of the cars and vans are being used in non-emergency situations or by chiefs to get to work. Official police reports conceded that electric vehicles cannot meet the demands of urgent response or pursuit driving. They take too long to charge up to be ready for 999 calls and could run out of battery before a shift ends.

Defence

Mail
The new US owners of British defence company Cobham have vowed to keep the firm in the UK as the government continues to face criticism for allowing the £4 billion takeover to go ahead.  Cobham, a world-leading expert in air-to-air refuelling, said Advent International had committed to maintaining a UK headquarters, to continue funding research and development at its Dorset offices and to keep using the company’s current name.  Contracts with the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and the Home Office will also stay in the UK with a ‘commitment not to restructure the UK operating companies’ capacity in a way that would result in some, or all, of the relevant activities being developed and/or supplied from outside the UK without the written approval of the relevant (Government) department’.

BBC

Telegraph
The BBC is criminalising thousands of young people every year by prosecuting them for failing to pay the license fee, Government figures show. Around 18,000 people under the age of 20 have been prosecuted in the last five years amid fears that the court action could be putting their futures at risk. The news comes despite evidence that fewer than half of 16 to 24-year-olds watch the BBC on an average week, with many turning off the public service broadcaster in favour of streaming channels.  Andrew Brigden, the Tory MP who has let the campaign to decriminalise the licence fee, said: “This could have a major impact on their life chances and their future employment prospects.

Smoking

Mail
Smokers who switch to e-cigarettes often stay hooked on nicotine and fail to quit the addiction altogether, an expert has warned. Consultant psychiatrist Adam Winstock said people can take up vaping as a ‘substitute’ for tobacco and need more help to beat their nicotine habit. The professor at University College London called for vapers to be given the same support as smokers who turn to the NHS to help quit cigarettes.  He added that while vaping is less damaging to health, smokers should try to quit both rather than simply moving to e-cigarettes. ‘While most other forms of nicotine replacement were designed as a transition from using nicotine to not using nicotine, for some people vaping simply becomes a substitute,’ said Professor Winstock.

Sky News
Former smokers who are struggling to quit vaping should be given support, a drugs expert has said. Adam Winstock, a consultant psychiatrist and honorary clinical professor at University College London, said people should view the activity as a transition to becoming totally free from nicotine, rather than simply a “substitute” for smoking tobacco. While the potential long-term health risks of vaping are unknown, it is widely believed to be safer than smoking. Prof Winstock said it is better for people to vape for a long period of time rather than revert to smoking tobacco, but that their “secondary goal” should be to quit altogether.

ISIS

Mail
ISIS is reorganising in Iraq to become an ‘Al Qaeda on steroids’ with ‘better techniques’ and ‘a lot more money’, intelligence officials warned today. The militants are said to be posing an increased threat after becoming more skilled and dangerous than Al Qaeda, two years after losing the last of their territory in Iraq. The group have been buying vehicles, weapons, food supplies and equipment – and now have more technological nous, Kurdish and Western intelligence officials said.  Lahur Talabany, a top Kurdish counter-terrorism official, told BBC News: ‘They have better techniques, better tactics and a lot more money at their disposal.

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