Brexit

Mail
Boris Johnson will intervene in post-Brexit trade talks with the European Union this week as he tries to personally break the negotiating stalemate, it was claimed today (Monday).  The Prime Minister is said to be preparing to call Ursula von der Leyen, the President of the European Commission, in a last ditch bid to get the deal over the line.  Brussels has set a deadline of next Tuesday for all remaining points of contention to be resolved.   There is growing optimism a deal will be done but there are still major disagreements on the two crunch issues of fishing rights and state aid.  Talks have been hampered after a member of Michel Barnier‘s team last week tested positive for coronavirus, prompting top-level discussions to be suspended.  Officials have continued to negotiate remotely but it is hoped face-to-face talks between Mr Barnier and his UK counterpart Lord Frost will be able to resume on Thursday.

Breitbart
Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak has said Britain will prosper without a deal with the EU and will not accept one “at any price”, predicting that the Chinese coronavirus will be more economically impactful going into 2021 in any case. “I think we’re being entirely reasonable with our requests and have been consistent and transparent through this process about what’s important to us,” the finance minister told the BBC, before adding that the United Kingdom “will prosper in any eventuality.” The British government has been pursuing a relatively straightforward deal with the European Union based on tariff-free trade and mutual recognition of standards — a not unreasonable ambition, given the United Kingdom is the European Union’s single-largest export market, and almost all EU members, taken individually, have a net positive trade balance with Britain.

Express
BORIS JOHNSON is ready to intervene in Brexit trade negotiations amid rising hopes a deal can be secured soon. Downing Street said there are still issues that need to be resolved as talks resumed today. But the Prime Minister and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen are poised to talk to push an agreement over the line.  Irish premier Micheal Martin fuelled hopes of a breakthrough being made within days. He said: “I would be hopeful that by the end of this week we could see the outline of a deal. “That remains to be seen. It’s down to political will. One must remain hopeful that a deal can be arrived at.”

Times
A Brexit trade, security and fishing deal could be in sight early next week as Michel Barnier, the European Union’s chief negotiator, prepares to come out of coronavirus quarantine for the final round of talks. Negotiators continued line-by-line talks on a draft legal treaty text yesterday as talks enter the last stage. There was an outbreak of the virus in the European team last week.  While opening a new customs facility at Dublin port yesterday, Micheál Martin, the Irish prime minister, said that negotiators were working on “texts now in all areas” and the EU’s assessment was the most hopeful to date.

EU

Express
FREXIT momentum appears to be building as anti-Brussels sentiment quickly spreads across Emmanuel Macron’s nation following Britain’s momentous decision to leave the EU. Rising disenchantment with the dealings of EU officials is not just confined to Brexit Britain, with anti-Brussels feelings seemingly growing in France. It comes as the European Commission expressed concerns over the increase in salaries for French healthcare workers during the COVID-19 crisis.  But former MEP and eurosceptic Florian Philippot hit back saying this type of stance proved why Frexit must happen now. He was also responding after Britain pledged to plough £3billion more into the NHS, crippled by the global pandemic. Mr Philippot tweeted: “The UK invests an additional 3 billion in its health system. “Meanwhile the EU blames France for its salary increases in public hospitals. So Frexit? Yes to Frexit! And quick!”

Express
FURIOUS MEPs have hit out amid fears they will be bounced into green-lighting a Brexit trade and security deal in a matter of weeks. The European Parliament now expects to be forced to hold a last-gasp voting session on the future relationship agreement on December 28. Senior MEPs have voiced frustration at the lack of time they will be given to properly scrutinise the legal texts with talks expected to run into December. Bernd Lange, the EU Parliament’s trade chief, fumed: “It’s already five past midnight. We need a text, otherwise ratification and democratic scrutiny by the European Parliament will be a farce.  “The gambling of Boris Johnson has brought us where are now. We won’t pay the price for that.”

Vaccine

Express
THE CORONAVIRUS vaccine could become mandatory in the UK in order to control the spread of the disease, according to a member of the Government’s COVID-19 vaccine task force. Sir John Bell from the University of Oxford said Britain may get to a position where it is necessary to make the coronavirus vaccine mandatory. It comes after the Oxford jab’s interim data suggested it was 70 percent effective at protecting people from the virus.  The researchers have said the vaccine’s figure could be as high as 90 percent after tweaking the dose. Speaking to BBC Newsnight, Sir Bell said he is actually “firmly against” mandating a vaccine in the country. But he warned that it could be possibly in order to control the rapid spread of the coronavirus.

Sun
BORIS Johnson last night begged Brits to pull together one more time to banish Covid-19 — with a vaccine promised for the majority by the spring. He set out the Government’s tough Winter Plan, warning that Christmas time was “the season to be jolly careful” and that local lockdown tiers will last until at least March. Mr Johnson hailed the “sacrifices of millions of people” but he dashed hopes of family and friends mixing again for months more. And he called last orders on thousands of struggling pubs by banning those that cannot serve food from reopening when national lockdown ends next week. Setting out the plan, which will be a return to region-by-region rules, Mr Johnson insisted “no other peacetime PM has asked so much of the British people”.

Christmas

Telegraph
Boris Johnson warned on Monday night that Britain is entering “the season to be jolly careful” as he announced new coronavirus restrictions that will last until the end of March. On the day that Oxford University announced successful trials of its Covid vaccine, Mr Johnson revealed details of a revised regional three-tier system that will begin on December 2. Under the new scheme, pubs and restaurants in Tier 3 areas will only be allowed to serve takeaways, while in Tier 2 they can only serve alcohol with a meal, prompting warnings of “dire” consequences for the hospitality industry. However, all shops will be able to reopen in every tier, amateur sport and children’s activities will also be allowed to resume, and crowds of up to 4,000 will be allowed in sports stadiums.

ITV News
Christmas during the Covid crisis will be the season to be “jolly careful”, Boris Johnson has warned. The Prime Minister is in ongoing talks to thrash out a plan with the leaders of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland with the hope of allowing families to reunite. The Prime Minister was unable on Monday to confirm details of how people across the UK would be able to spend the festive period. ITV News’ Political Editor Robert Peston understands a five-day easing of the rules with allow for up to three families to spend the Christmas period together. Mr Johnson confirmed in a press briefing on Monday, however, that England will return to a regional tier system from December 2. Details of which areas will be in which tiers will not be set out until Thursday.

Breitbart
After months of the British government sending signals that it may maintain lockdown or strict social distancing rules over December, effectively cancelling family Christmases, the Cabinet Office has said that Britons may have their festivities “for a small number of days”. Cabinet Minister Michael Gove held meetings with the leaders of the devolved governments of Wales, Northern Ireland, and Scotland on Saturday, promoting the “four nations” approach over the holy period where Britons would be allowed “some limited additional household bubbling for a small number of days”.

Scotland

Mail
Nicola Sturgeon today cancelled Hogmanay as she confirmed that the easing of Covid rules over Christmas would not cover new year celebrations. The First Minister announced it was ‘likely’ families will be able to form extended household bubbles for Christmas but warned rules could only be eased ‘for a few days.’ The famous new year merrymaking north of the border often continues throughout January 1 and can even run into January 2 – which is a Scottish bank holiday. But Ms Sturgeon, a champion of Scots traditions, has insisted that a ‘sensible balance’ must be struck between stopping the disease and allowing families to come together.

Tiers

Mail
Boris Johnson yesterday published a 56-page Winter Plan mapping out coronavirus rules which will apply to daily life until the Spring when the Government hopes draconian curbs can start to be lifted for good. The Prime Minister confirmed the England-wide lockdown will end as planned on December 2 and the nation will then move back into a tiered system of measures which will be tougher than those in place before November.  But Mr Johnson struck an optimistic tone Monday afternoon as he said ‘for the first time since this wretched virus took hold, we can see a route out of the pandemic’. Below is a breakdown of the Prime Minister’s strategy

iNews
Beefed-up Covid-19 rules will stay in place until the end of March, Boris Johnson said as he announced a new three-tier regime which will replace the nationwide lockdown in England from next Wednesday. Sports grounds and theatres can welcome back crowds, even as much of the country is banned from socialising indoors and the hospitality industry remains under tight restrictions likely to last until a coronavirus vaccine is fully rolled out. The Prime Minister told a Downing Street press conference on Monday: “Even if all three vaccines are approved, even if the production timetables are met – and vaccines notoriously fall behind in their production timetables – it will be months before we can be sure we have inoculated everyone that needs a vaccine.

Telegraph
More than half the country will be put into tougher restrictions when the national lockdown ends, Boris Johnson has announced. Under the new tier system, more parts of England are expected to be placed into higher measures than they were before the national lockdown, which ends on December 2, was imposed. Mr Johnson conceded it was “likely that more of the country is placed into tiers 2 and 3 at first” in order to “control the virus effectively”.  Following the Prime Minister’s announcement, a number of MPs urged the Government to put London in the lowest tier or risk economic havoc.

Quarantine

Guardian
The two-week quarantine period for international arrivals to England is to be cut to as little as five days next month, with travellers allowed to leave self-isolation after a negative Covid-19 test. The government said the new “test to release” regime would be in place from 15 December. Airlines said it was “light at the end of the tunnel” for the struggling travel industry, but said most travel would only return when a pre-departure testing  regime was in place. Passengers who choose to use the scheme must book a test before travel – and pay for it privately – from a list of government-approved suppliers, which has yet to be published. The cost is likely to be between £65 and £120. Anyone arriving in England by plane, ferry or train will still need to complete a passenger locator form and self-isolate for five full days before taking a test.

BBC News
People arriving in England will be soon able to reduce their quarantine period by more than half if they pay for a Covid test after five days, the transport secretary has announced. The rules will come into force from 15 December and the tests from private firms will cost between £65 and £120. Grant Shapps said the scheme would “bolster international travel while keeping the public safe”. The travel industry welcomed the policy but described it as “long overdue”. It follows Boris Johnson’s announcement that England will come under “toughened” three-tiered regional restrictions when the lockdown ends on 2 December. Under the new travel rules, passengers who arrive from a destination not on the government’s travel corridors list will still need to enter self-isolation.

Nightingale Courts

ITV News
The concept that “justice delayed is justice denied” dates back centuries to the Magna Carta, but in modern Britain the coronavirus pandemic is causing record delays in the legal system. Social distancing means that trials, especially those involving juries, are far harder to conduct. Government has set up a string of ‘Nightingale Courts’ aiming to tackle the problem and we have new details of their plans.  Yet many of those affected by the delays believe far too little is being done about a problem that could have been foreseen 10 months ago. The courts backlog is now at record levels, with 51,595 outstanding Crown Court cases in England and Wales, a 46% rise since January.  In Magistrates courts it is 489,226 cases, a rise of 56%.

Universities

Guardian
UK universities “perpetuate institutional racism” and vice-chancellors should undergo training to improve racial literacy as part of a sector-wide crackdown, according to a report. Universities UK (UUK), which represents 140 institutions in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, calls on senior leaders to admit where there are problems of racism at their institutions and to improve understanding and awareness among staff and students of racism, racial micro-aggressions, white privilege and white allyship. The report, Tackling Racial Harassment in Higher Education, comes after an inquiry by the government’s Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) found that universities were failing to address tens of thousands of racist incidents every year.

Measles

Express
CORONAVIRUS is disrupting global efforts to eliminate measles despite scientists warning cases have skyrocketed over the past four years. A report published by the World Health Organisation and US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states the number of measles cases in 2016 was 132,490 globally – marking a drop from 853,479 in the year 2000. However, between 2016 and 2020, cases shot up to 869,770 – the most reported cases since 1996 and a rise of around 556 percent. The WHO/CDC report on progress toward regional measles elimination was based on the number of incident measles cases submitted to health organisations like the WHO and UNICEF annually by countries around the world.

Trump

Telegraph
Donald Trump has directed his team to cooperate with an incoming President-elect Joe Biden administration after the General Services Administration ascertained the Democrat as the “apparent election winner”. The US president, in his closest statement yet to finally conceding he lost, tweeted: “In the best interest of our Country, I am recommending that Emily (Murphy, GSA Administrator) and her team do what needs to be done with regard to initial protocols, and have told my team to do the same.” The move clears the way for the start of an official transition and allows Mr Biden to coordinate with federal agencies on plans for taking over on January 20.

Sun
DONALD Trump has allowed the formal transition process with Joe Biden to begin – but vowed to “prevail” with his election fight. The White House General Services Administration (GSA) has written to President-elect Biden to signal the beginning of the handover, more than two weeks after election day. It means the President-elect will now become party to the daily security briefing and be able to communicate with the country’s Covid-19 task-force. Emily Murphy, chief General Services Administrator, wrote to Biden Monday that had been judged the “apparent winner” of the election. Murphy notably did not write that the Democrat had been “ascertained” the winner of the election. Trump tweeted shortly after to thank the GSA chief for her “steadfast loyalty and dedication to our country”.

Express
JOE Biden, US President-elect, is due to begin the formal transition process as the White House prepares for its new presidential team. It’s according to a new letter sent by the US’ GSA administrator Emily Murphy, obtained by CNN. Analysts have called it “as near as we’ve had to a concession” from President Trump’s team – who have so far refused to acknowledge Mr Biden’s election win.  The move is seen to be a big step by the team, since it means funding will be allocated to Mr Biden by Trump appointees. However, Mr Trump himself has insisted he will “never concede to fake ballots” and said his legal cases are continuing despite the transition protocol.

Mail
Donald Trump may have finally allowed the transition to Joe Biden to begin, but the president has made clear he is not going down without a fight. Trump made clear Monday evening that starting the transition, which will allow Biden to get daily security briefings and be able to communicate with the COVID taskforce, did not mean he was conceding the election. In a furious tweet, that has been flagged as disputed by Twitter, the current president promised that he was ‘moving full speed ahead’ and swore he would ‘never concede’ to the election results. ‘What does GSA being allowed to preliminarily work with the Dems have to do with continuing to pursue our various cases on what will go down as the most corrupt election in American political history?’ he asked, referring to the General Services Administration (GSA).

China

Mail
Tens of millions of pounds of our cash is being ploughed into  China‘s vast economy every year – on schemes including opera and rice production. In an unprecedented audit, the Mail has uncovered £81million in aid sent to the world’s second largest economy. It exposes how the UK taxpayer is boosting China’s prosperity despite the British Government being at loggerheads with Xi Jinping‘s regime over Beijing’s approach to Hong Kong, human rights violations against Uighur Muslims and the controversy surrounding telecoms giant Huawei. In the first day of its investigation into public sector expenditure yesterday, the Mail revealed how £5.6billion is wasted. Today, we reveal how British cash is helping the Chinese overtake us as the world’s largest producer of wind energy, protecting their cities from floods.

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