BREXITEERS are preparing to celebrate another milestone in the process of quitting the EU tomorrow – with the end of the month marking any lingering possibility of an extension to the transition period beyond 2020. In accordance with the Brexit withdrawal agreement thrashed out between the UK and EU last year, and enshrined in the EU Withdrawal Act, the deadline for a UK request to any further delay beyond the end of the year is July 1. Pro-Brexit think tank the Bruges Group underlined their belief that an extension is now impossible, tweeting: “Well folks, it’s nearly the end of June, which means we did it.
The EU and UK negotiation teams met face-to-face for the first time since March today amid intense efforts to break the deadlock over trade terms. David Frost and Michel Barnier gathered around a large circular table in Brussels this morning, as they tried to thrash out differences on fishing rights and demands to obey the bloc’s rules. The discussions were paused when the coronavirus struck, with both Mr Frost and Mr Barnier coming down with symptoms.
Face-to-face negotiations on a post-Brexit trade deal between the UK and the EU have begun in Brussels, after the teams pledged to “intensify” talks. It will be the first time the UK’s chief negotiator, David Frost, and his EU counterpart, Michel Barnier, have met in person since talks began in March, due to the coronavirus outbreak. Negotiations have continued through the pandemic, but took place virtually. Boris Johnson has said a deal could be reached this month with “new momentum”.
Brexit negotiations have resumed in Brussels in an attempt to break the deadlock over four key issues: fisheries, fair competition in trade, governance and security. Talks started on Monday with a two-hour, face-to-face meeting between David Frost, the chief UK negotiator, and the EU’s Michel Barnier, the first since the Covid-19 outbreak halted talks in March. As Frost and his team of a dozen-plus negotiators headed to Brussels by train on Sunday, it was being revealed that Boris Johnson had given him a new role (and a peerage) as his national security adviser.
Ministers have bowed to pressure to set up an independent commission to ensure that British farmers are not undercut as Whitehall pursues a string of post-Brexit trade deals. Liz Truss, the international trade secretary, said that free trade agreements with countries including the United States “must be fair and reciprocal”. Ms Truss, who has insisted that Britain will maintain EU bans on goods including chlorinated chicken after leaving the bloc, announced the panel in an effort to allay fears that domestic farms could be hurt by cheaper imports.
Downing Street indicated it wants EU trade talks to end in September as officials met to break the deadlock today. The Prime Minister’s spokesman said that UK-EU negotiations need to end “by the autumn” and the job of the UK’s chief negotiator will “cease to exist” later this year. It comes as EU and UK negotiating teams met face-to-face for the first time since March in a bid to break the deadlock over trade terms.
DAVID Frost’s promotion to be the PM’s top security adviser has raised hopes of a swift Brexit deal. Brussels sources called it “encouraging” that Mr Frost will stay on as Britain’s chief negotiator until talks end. Eurocrats think he won’t want discussions to end in failure at the same time as he takes on the key role overseeing terror threats. A diplomatic source told The Sun: “Frost must now more than ever be a man in a hurry. Failure would be a very poor look.” The PM’s spokesman admitted the final deadline for the talks is the end of September — placing the UK on the same page as the EU on timing.
MICHEL Barnier must change his “unreasonable demands” with respect to a post-Brexit trade deal, Mark Francois, chairman of the eurosceptic European Research Group has said in a letter to the EU’s chief negotiator. Mr Francois’s letter was tweeted by party colleague Andrea Jenkyns on the day face-to-face trade talks between the UK and the EU kicked off today in Brussels, with both sides agreeing to “intensify” negotiations in July. The Tory MP for Rayleigh and Wickford said “certain EU demands are simply not going to work”.
The UK’s Brexit negotiators are pushing to agree the outline of a trade deal with the EU within a month after talks restarted in person for the first time since the lockdown began. British and European negotiating teams have been stripped down from more than 100 people on each side to just 20 as the more senior officials take control of the talks. Negotiations have been running since February with a view to striking a comprehensive trade agreement before the Brexit transition period expires on 31 December.
The appointment of the UK’s chief Brexit negotiator as national security adviser sets an effective deadline for negotiations with the EU at the end of September, Downing Street has indicated. David Frost is expected to take up the security role at the end of August but will work with departing incumbent Sir Mark Sedwill during a short “transition period”, Boris Johnson’s official spokesperson on Monday.
An overhaul of the sprawling Cabinet Office has long been a temptation for Number 10 and the Prime Minister’s most powerful aide, Dominic Cummings. The coronavirus crisis has heaped further frustration on the department, which is at the heart of Whitehall and oversees everything from policy implementation to constitutional reform. Sir Mark Sedwill’s departure as permanent secretary has reignited talk that Downing Street is about to bring the Cabinet Office under its control, with some sources suggesting a merger with Number 10 could be on the cards.
Leicester has become the first city in Britain to be plunged back into lockdown after public health officials expressed alarm at a significant rise in Covid-19 cases. Shops that only reopened on June 15 have been ordered to close from today, schools will be shut from Thursday to all but vulnerable pupils and the children of key workers, pubs and restaurants will remain shut on July 4 and a proposed relaxation of shielding on July 6 has been cancelled.
Britain’s first local lockdown has been imposed on Leicester after a surge in Covid-19 cases, with schools and shops to close and the opening of pubs cancelled. Several northern towns are now causing alarm to health officials, with Labour demanding intensive testing and distribution of facemasks to prevent other cities following Leicester into lockdown. Officials described Leicester as a “tinderbox” for coronavirus cases, with rates three times that of the town with the next highest rate.
Leicester will endure the country’s first local lockdown, with schools shutting for most children and re-opened shops forced to close again, as restrictions are strengthened and continued for two weeks in a bid to combat a surge in Covid-19 cases. Non-essential stores will close from Tuesday with schools shut to all but a small group of children from Thursday in a series of measures announced by the health secretary, Matt Hancock, to quell coronavirus infections – which swelled by nearly 950 in a fortnight according to Leicester City council. It means the city of more than 300,000 people will have to wait while the rest of England enjoys new freedoms, including the reopening of pubs and restaurants from 4 July, on what has been labelled “Super Saturday”.
The UK’s first full-scale local lockdown will be imposed on Leicester from today with schools and non-essential shops forced to shut all over again. People in the city have been told to stay in their homes and make only essential travel after cases spiralled in a new coronavirus outbreak. Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary, announced non-essential retail which opened on June 15 must shut from today in East Midlands city. That means many businesses in Leicester must not open their doors this morning – despite the lockdown coming with just hours to spare. And primary schools which opened to some pupils from June 1 must once again close to all but the most vulnerable, or children of key workers, from Thursday.
Britain today announced 25 more coronavirus deaths as data showed half of NHS trusts in England have gone a week without a death and no fatalities have been recorded in Scotland for four days in a row. Department of Health chiefs say the lab-confirmed death toll now stands at 43,575 but the real number of victims is thought to be in the region of 55,000 when all suspected deaths are taken into account. Just 15 fatalities were announced last Monday and 36 yesterday — but the number of deaths recorded on Sundays and Mondays are always lower because of a recording lag over the weekend.
Boris Johnson will promise today to lead Britain out of the coronavirus crisis with an economic recovery plan as bold as Franklin D Roosevelt’s New Deal. The prime minister is announcing a £5 billion programme of accelerated capital spending on hospitals, roads, rail, prisons, courts, schools and high streets to help to sustain a job market ravaged by the pandemic. Mr Johnson will invite comparisons with the reforming 32nd US president, who used the full power of the state to restore American fortunes after the Great Depression, as he sets out a programme that includes a pledge to retrain those who have lost their jobs.
Boris Johnson today vowed to keep splashing the cash despite mounting government debt as he insisted the coronavirus crisis can be an ‘opportunity for change’. The PM said he will ‘double down’ on investment in ‘levelling up’ the UK, comparing the effort to Franklin D Roosevelt’s New Deal following the Great Depression in the US in the 1930s. Unveiling a billion-pound upgrade of school buildings as the first step in his revival programme, Mr Johnson said the ‘nightmare’ of the pandemic would not mean a return to ‘austerity’ – insisting that would be a ‘mistake’.
Boris Johnson will attempt to mark a new phase in the coronavirus response today by setting out plans for an “infrastructure revolution” to create jobs and stimulate an economic recovery. The prime minister will invoke the 1930s “new deal” of former US President Franklin D Roosevelt as he delivers a major speech in the West Midlands town of Dudley this morning. He will announce £5bn in capital investment to accelerate infrastructure projects this year, including hospital maintenance works, school building and improvements to the road and rail networks.
Boris Johnson has angered green campaigners after a £5bn infrastructure spending boost lacked new measures to achieve his legal duty of net zero carbon emissions. Vowing to “build back better” as the UK emerges from the coronavirus pandemic, the prime minister will announce cash for hospital maintenance, court upgrades, high street rescues and – controversially – road upgrades. But he had been urged to seize the moment to ensure the UK is not “locked further into the climate crisis” – with the commitment of net zero emissions by 2050 in deep trouble.
A POLICE chief has warned cops haven’t gone soft – and insisted violent lager louts will be arrested on Super Saturday. Met Police head Cressida Dick has vowed to crackdown on violence after a wave of clashes with officers in recent weeks. And she warned troublemakers they will be arrested as millions are expected to flood pubs on Saturday when they reopen for the first time in three months. The commissioner told the Daily Express: “Some people might say we have been heavy handed and some not firm enough, but I utterly reject that we have gone soft.
Many NHS services will not get back to full capacity for more than a year, according to the Royal College of Physicians, even discounting the potential for a second wave of Covid-19 cases. Specialities including cardiology, gastroenterology and rheumatology expect to see and treat fewer patients for at least 12 months than they did before coronavirus hit. In a report the college said doctors faced “difficult decisions” on which patients to prioritise.
The NHS faces a possible exodus of doctors before the second wave of coronavirus arrives, a leader of the British Medical Association has warned – with Brexit making it harder to replace them. A new survey of doctors found almost one in seven is planning to quit the NHS or retire when the current crisis subsides, with many more saying they aim to cut back on hours, and almost a third complaining of mental health problems related to four months of relentless struggle against Covid-19.
Ministers’ plans for quarantine-free “air bridges” risked descending into chaos today after Greece confirmed that it would ban flights from the UK for another fortnight. It had been expected that a travel corridor agreement would be brokered between the UK government and Greece to allow holidays to take place as early as next week. Greece — one of the most popular countries for British holidaymakers — was named at the weekend as one of the countries where summer holidays would be possible without quarantining for two weeks on return to the UK.
The Government officially dropped its blanket coronavirus quarantine for arrivals today – as Greece dashed the hopes of holidaymakers by slapping a new two-week ban on British flights. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps officially ended the much-criticised programme just three weeks after it was introduced for visitors and those returning to homes in the UK. In a Written Ministerial Statement to MPs he confirmed measures unveiled by Downing Street on Saturday, to come into effect ‘shortly’.
SCHOOLS, hospitals and offices are being told by the Government to prepare for “marauding” terror attacks. The Home Office have republished advice urging the public to rehearse their response to “fast-moving” terror incidents. The advice booklet was first drafted in 2017 and 2018, but has now been posted again on the Gov.uk website after three people were stabbed to death in Reading earlier this month. Meanwhile, Priti Priti warned of “lone wolf” attacks in the coming weeks. The Home Secretary told the House of Commons last week: “We have all too often seen the results of poisonous extremist ideology.
Nicola Sturgeon has refused to rule out quarantine for people arriving in Scotland from other parts of the UK and criticised the prime minister for tolerating “higher levels” of coronavirus infections across England. At her daily briefing the first minister said that “we have to be on our guard against cases coming into Scotland from elsewhere”. She also demanded that Boris Johnson made clear his intention to eliminate coronavirus from the whole of the UK.
ENGLISH tourists may face a 14-day quarantine in Scotland if cases continue to rise south of the border. Senior figures in the Scottish Government are to be concerned by the surge of cases in Leicester and have now put plans in place for possible new restrictions. Today Nicola Sturgeon claimed there were “no plans” for the policy, but admitted things could change. She said: “There is a general issue that we have to consider as we go further through this pandemic. “As our infection rates continue to fall, we have to be on our guard against cases coming into Scotland from elsewhere.
Scotland should consider quarantining travellers from England if the coronavirus crisis continues, one leading scientist has suggested. Professor Devi Sridhar – who advises First Minister Nicola Sturgeon – claimed that Scotland is on track to be ‘Covid-free’ by the end of September. Scotland yesterday recorded no new Covid-19 deaths, marking three days in a row and the eighth time this month of zero fatalities. But the outbreak has yet to fizzle out in England, with thousands of people still thought to be getting struck down with the virus every day.
Court cuts have forced people to travel more than ten times further to access legal services in some areas, new figures show. It means victims, witnesses and police officers have to travel almost 30 miles further to access the justice system in some cases. More than 150 magistrates courts in England in Wales were closed after the coalition government, led by David Cameron, came to power in 2010 – a loss of more than half of the total estate.
Schools may teach a slimmed-down curriculum focusing on maths and English when children return in September, with the full syllabus not reappearing until next summer, according to draft government plans. Some subjects may be put on hold until 2021 to allow time for pupils to catch up on the core subjects given insufficient attention during lockdown, under plans being considered by ministers. Pupils taking their GCSEs next summer may also need to drop some subjects entirely so that extra space can be made in their timetables for English and maths lessons, says proposed guidance on schools reopening.
Entire year groups of up to 250 secondary pupils will be sent home if one tests positive for coronavirus under government plans to safely reopen all schools full-time in September. Head teachers will also be urged to re-teach primary-level maths and English when new pupils arrive in September, and be allowed to slim down the number of GCSEs that older pupils sit. Official guidance is due out on Thursday, confirming ministers’ plan to meet a promise of getting all pupils back to school.
All children in England will be expected to go back to school in September on a full timetable, with secondary pupils kept in “Covid-secure” year groups to limit transmission of the virus, according to leaked guidance. The government is said to be keen to avoid a “vague and woolly” start to the new academic year after months of uncertainty since schools closed to the majority of pupils in March, as part of a national effort to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
HS2 trains would link east and west across northern England under proposals for a fully integrated high-speed rail network. New plans have been submitted to a government-backed review that envisage running HS2 services through a tunnel under Manchester before crossing the Pennines to Bradford, Leeds, York and Newcastle. It would combine the plans for HS2 with the proposed Northern Powerhouse Rail project, which is designed to improve intercity connections across the Pennines.