BREXIT negotiations turned sour when the EU included a UK “punishment clause” in its proposals, which the bloc was later forced to remove. Negotiations have reached breaking point as Prime Minister Boris Johnson and EU negotiator Michel Barnier fail to make progress over a trade deal. Mr Barnier agreed to put everything on the table and “intensify” talks as he looks to secure a deal with the UK. Brussels and London have clashed over red lines on state aid, regulation and fisheries as the end of the transition period approaches, with many fearing a deal may be out of sight. The EU has demanded continued access to UK fishing grounds despite warnings from Mr Johnson that Britain will take control of its waters. But a no deal scenario still looks increasingly likely as a compromise still looks out of reach. While neither side has budged during trade talks, the EU were forced to remove a “punishment clause” during withdrawal talks.
NO Deal will cost the EU a whopping £30 billion a year in lost trade with Britain, experts warned last night. Germany, the Netherlands, and France will be hit the hardest if the Brexit talks fail, according to a bombshell report. But if a trade agreement is found the impact on businesses in major European economies would be roughly halved. The findings will heap pressure on EU leaders, including Emmanuel Macron, to compromise as negotiations reach their climax. Dutch credit insurer Euler Hermes, which is owned by the German financial services giant Allianz, put the chances of No Deal at 45 per cent. Under that scenario Germany would suffer a £7.4 billion a year hit, affecting its famed manufacturing sector the worst. The Netherlands, which has a booming trade in chemicals with Britain, is predicted to lose £4.3 billion. And France, whose leader Mr Macron is taking the hardest line, faces a £3.3 billion whammy with its food and wine industry in the firing line.
THE European Union is under pressure from business leaders to secure a Brexit deal with the UK because of fears of a £30billion blow to trade. As wrangling over a free trade agreement reaches a crunch point, a new report has warned Germany, France and the Netherlands have the most to lose if Michel Barnier refuses to compromise in the rows over fisheries and common standards. German insurance giant Allianz said the chances of a no-deal Brexit have “considerably increased to 45 percent”. Their study adds: “A Hard Brexit could cost as much as €33billion in annual exports to the EU, with Germany, the Netherlands and France hit the hardest.”
THE EU has been warned “time is short” to secure a Brexit deal as talks continue this week. EU’s Chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier has extended his stay in London to Wednesday amid optimism of a breakthrough. His British counterparts will then travel to Belgium to continue talks ahead of a mid-November deadline. It comes as French President Emmanuel Macron has admitted he’s playing “the bad cop” but has repeatedly said he’d be prepared to see no trade deal at all than back down on the issue, with Europe minister Clément Beaune adding that said Paris is determined to ensure the EU is “really tough” with Britain. This puts France at odds not only with nearly every other EU nation.
GERMANY and France are set for a whopping £10.7 billion blow unless the European Union can secure a Brexit deal with Britain, a new report has warned. The bloc’s largest economies will shoulder the burden of a £30 billion loss in trade with the UK in a no deal scenario, according to a new report. German insurance giants Allianz have revealed potential slumps in business for car-makers, chemical producers and other manufacturers across the bloc if Michel Barnier refuses to budge in the wrangling over a post-Brexit trade deal. Its report urges EU leaders, such as Germany’s Angela Merkel and France’s Emmanuel Macron, to agree to a compromise to prevent a loss of £30 billion in the bloc’s exports to the UK because of the introduction of trade tariffs.
House of Lords
THE House of Lords will simply be fuelling calls for its outright abolition if it attempts to gut the Government’s Internal Market Bill, Tory MP Daniel Kawczynski has said. David Jones MP, the deputy-chairman of the eurosceptic European Research Group (ERG) has predicted any amendments peers make will be swiftly overturned when the legislation returns to the House of Commons. And Robert Oulds, director of the pro-Brexit Bruges Group, warned it was no surprise the unelected chamber is “siding with the undemocratic EU“. The Bill is undergoing detailed line-by-line scrutiny in the House of Lords and is currently scheduled for four days of consideration at committee stage. Cross-party amendments have been tabled to strike out clauses linked to the most contentious part of the Bill, which aim to give ministers the power to breach the Brexit divorce deal – known as the Withdrawal Agreement – brokered with Brussels last year.
Britain’s coronavirus outbreak has slowed significantly since the start of the month, suggesting the latest suite of lockdown restrictions are successfully flattening the second curve of the outbreak. Infections were almost doubling every seven-to-eight days in September, which sparked widespread fears the country had sleep-walked into a second wave following a lull in transmission over summer when the national lockdown was lifted. On the back of the worrying figures, the Government’s chief scientific and medical officers warned the disease was growing exponentially and predicted a doomsday scenario of 50,000 cases a day by mid-October. Ministers tightened social freedoms nationally – introducing the rule of six and 10pm curfew – and ushered in the controversial three-tier lockdown system which plunged millions into even stricter curbs in Covid-19 hotspot areas.
Coronavirus deaths have fallen for the fourth day in a row – but daily infections have topped 20,000 again. On Monday, the government said 102 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for COVID-19. This was down from 224 on Friday, 174 on Saturday and 151 on Sunday. It comes as hundreds of thousands more people will be placed under the most stringent coronavirus restrictions after ministers confirmed a deal to put Warrington and Nottingham into Tier 3. As of 00.01 on Tuesday, pubs and bars in Warrington will have to close unless they serve meals and households will be banned from mixing indoors or in private gardens and beer gardens.
More than 50 Tory MPs have written to the PM calling for a “clear road map” out of lockdown restrictions in northern England, warning the region risks being “left behind”. The letter from the Northern Research Group said the pandemic threatened Boris Johnson’s pledge to “level-up”. They also called for an economic recovery plan for the region, arguing it had been hardest hit by the virus. No 10 said it was “committed to levelling up across the country”. All the areas under the strictest restrictions of the government’s three-tier system for England are in the North or the Midlands. Warrington has become the latest area to join the Liverpool City Region, Greater Manchester, Lancashire and South Yorkshire in the top tier, while Nottingham and parts of the surrounding county will move into the highest tier on Thursday.
More than 50 Conservative MPs in ‘red wall’ constituencies are demanding a post-coronavirus economy plan for the north of England and a ‘roadmap out of lockdown’ from the Prime Minister. A letter to Boris Johnson from the Northern Research Group – a newly-launched alliance of Tory MPs led by ex-Northern Powerhouse minister Jake Berry – outlines the group’s demands, which include a tailored economic recovery plan for the north. Mr Berry says that the virus could widen the North-South divide and ‘send the North into reverse’. His group is now calling for Mr Johnson to ‘level-up the North’ – something the PM claimed he would do following sweeping Conservative gains in the region in the General Election.
Boris Johnson faces a revolt as more than 50 Tory MPs warn that Covid-19 is threatening his pledge to “level-up” the country and could “send the North into reverse”. A group of northern Conservative backbenchers, led by former northern powerhouse minister Jake Berry, has written to the Prime Minister expressing their concerns. The Northern Research Group (NRG) wants Mr Johnson to set out a “clear road-map” out of lockdown and to develop an economic recovery plan for the North.
Boris Johnson faced a challenge to his coronavirus strategy as more than 50 of his own MPs demanded a “clear road map out of lockdown” for northern regions. The letter, signed by the Conservative backbenchers representing “red wall” seats in northern England which handed him his electoral landslide, warns that businesses and households in tier three regions face economic hardship “with no end in sight” to the measures. The MPs also demand the Prime Minister prioritise recovery for the North, which has been hit hardest by the social and economic impacts of the pandemic, including accelerating road, rail and social infrastructure projects and job creation.
Protests erupted across Europe last night as thousands of angry demonstrators called on their Governments to reconsider a second-round of lockdown restrictions. In Italy, violence was reported in at least two major northern cities, Milan and Turin, as vast crowds protested freedom-limiting restrictions enforced to tackle a second surge in coronavirus cases. Witnesses said a number of luxury stores, including a Gucci shop, were ransacked in central Turin as crowds of youths took to the streets after nightfall, letting off huge firecrackers and lighting coloured flares. Meanwhile in Barcelona, demonstrators set rubbish bins on fire in the streets – before riot police intervened to bring the chaos to an end.
Protests against the new Covid-19 restrictions in several of Italy’s major cities, including Turin and Milan, have turned violent as anger escalates at the tough new measures brought in to stem rising infections. Police fired tear gas after a group of demonstrators in the northern city of Turin broke off from a peaceful protest, smashing store windows on a shopping street, setting off smoke bombs and hurling bottles at police in a main city square, local broadcasters said. A photographer was reported to have been injured by a hurled bottle, state TV channel RAI said. Earlier, some 300 taxis peacefully lined up to draw attention to their economic losses from the implosion of tourism and disappearance of workers from the city centre.
European governments are “well behind” in the fight against coronavirus and the continent is becoming an epicentre for the disease, a senior World Health Organisation medic has warned. Dr Michael Ryan, executive director of the WHO’s health emergencies programme, said much more comprehensive measures will be needed if Europe is to get on top of the virus. Speaking at a press conference, Dr Ryan said there was “no question” that Europe was an epicentre for Covid-19. “Right now we are well behind this virus in Europe so getting ahead of it is going to take some serious acceleration in what we do and maybe much more comprehensive nature of measures that are going to be needed,” Dr Ryan said.
The findings from a surveillance study of 365,000 people raise a terrifying prospect – one of Britain as some sort of Narnia, where it is always winter but never Christmas. Research by Imperial College London has been key to Government policy-making on the pandemic from the off. Most famously, it was behind the modelling that persuaded Boris Johnson to order the country into full lockdown in March. The study being published now is no less significant. For months, the Government’s approach to the pandemic has been predicated on the assumption that a vaccine will ultimately come to the rescue. Until then, measures can only “buy time”.
HOPES of a coronavirus vaccine breakthrough rose last night after early trials showed a “strong immune” response in older volunteers. Tests of the Oxford jab also found the over-55s had lower levels of side-effects than younger participants. Experts hailed the development as a “milestone” in the race to secure a vaccination that will help the world recover from the Covid-19 pandemic. The risk of becoming seriously ill with coronavirus increases with age, meaning any vaccination programme must be effective in the older population. Interim results from the vaccine, produced by Oxford University and pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca, suggest it produces a robust immune response in the old and the young.
Older people have a strong immune response to Oxford’s vaccine, raising hopes that it will protect all sectors of society. Although the research cannot prove that the vaccine protects against disease, it did show that even in people over 70 it elicited a robust antibody and T-cell immune response. The findings come from a previously unreleased analysis of early-stage human trials, looking specifically at volunteers aged 56 and over. “This marks a key milestone and reassures us that the vaccine is safe for use and induces strong immune responses in both parts of the immune system in all adult groups,” said Andrew Pollard, from Oxford University, who announced the findings.
The Oxford University coronavirus vaccine produces a “strong” immune response among the elderly, the latest data shows. Analysis of the Phase II stage of the trial process reportedly found similar responses across all age groups, in findings that have been hailed as a “milestone” in the fight against the pandemic. It comes as Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary, said he expects a vaccine to be rolled out in the first half of next year, although he said it was possible some people could get access before New Year’s Eve. While they face the highest risk from respiratory infections, elderly people often fail to mount a sufficiently robust response after being vaccinated due to their less active immune systems.
Free school meals
Rishi Sunak was locked in a bitter blame game with Gavin Williamson over the row on free school meals last night. Allies of the Chancellor furiously hit out at suggestions that Mr Sunak was responsible for blocking the extension of the scheme to the October half term holidays. Instead, they pointed the finger at Mr Williamson, the Education Secretary, who they insisted had not put forward a spending proposal for approval. It came as Mr Sunak became the target of online attack adverts which blamed him for the Government’s refusal to perform a U-turn. A group headed by a former Labour campaign chief used a slick campaign video to denounce the Chancellor’s family wealth.
THOUSANDS of feeding stations for hungry children opened across England today as the government stubbornly stuck to its decision to deny them free school meals over half-term. A huge and spontaneous mobilisation of volunteers took place nationwide to feed hundreds of thousands of the 1.4 million vulnerable and deprived youngsters who qualify for free school meals. A number of Tory MPs who voted last week to deny children food by not extending free dinners into the holidays faced a backlash in their constituencies. Dozens of empty plates bearing angry messages were left outside one MP’s office, and another Conservative MP was banned “for life” from a local shop.
Concerns are growing that long NHS waiting times caused by the coronavirus crisis are exacerbating pre-existing health inequalities and creating a “two-tier” system, as more people turn to the private sector for quicker treatment. As leading doctors warn mass cancellations of NHS operations in England are inevitable this winter after waiting times reached the highest levels on record this summer, data shows a rise in the number of people self-funding treatment or investing in private health insurance. “Covid-19 has not impacted everyone equally, and there is clearly a risk that the backlog in routine hospital treatment is going to add to those inequalities if some people are able to get treatment faster because they’re able to pay,” said Tim Gardner, from the Health Foundation thinktank.
Homebuyers are facing a triple blow which could see hundreds of thousands miss out on the Chancellor’s stamp duty holiday because of delays in getting purchases over the line. New figures suggest some 325,000 buyers will not complete before the March 31 deadline because of issues with conveyancing, surveying, mortgage and search services. At the same time, buyers are also facing rising interest rates on mortgage deals, with borrowers now typically having to pay £600 more over the course of a two-year fixed deal than at the start of the summer. And there is a mortgage deal drought, with the number on offer from banks and building societies halving since the start of the year.
Nasa has confirmed for the first time that there is water on the sunlit surface of the Moon. The discovery opens up the possibility it could be used by humans setting up a lunar base to drink, or to manufacture rocket fuel for an eventual mission to Mars. Nasa scientist Casey Honniball said: “To be clear, this is not puddles of water. It is water molecules so spread apart they do not form ice or liquid water. These water molecules are not interacting with each other. “If we find the water is abundant enough in certain locations we may be able to use it as a resource for human exploration. It could be used as drinking water, breathable oxygen, and rocket fuel. Something is generating the water, and something must be trapping it there.”
NASA has today confirmed, for the first time, that there is water on the sunlit surface of the moon. The revelation means it is possible water is easily accessible and not just in the deep, permanently shadowed craters of the south pole, as was previously thought. A separate piece of research found these so-called ‘cold traps’, which are always in shadow, may contain up to 15,000 square miles (40,000 square km) of water. The discovery means future missions to the moon could be prolonged by making use of these water molecules which are scattered across the moon. Astronauts could use the natural resource, which may have arrived via comets or solar winds, and turn it into oxygen or drinking water to sustain a future colony.