EUROPEAN UNION chiefs have discovered what it’s like to come up against an unflappable British Prime Minister once again. Boris Johnson’s resolute drive to untangle the country from Brussels’ burdensome red tape is showing the first signs of success. EU bureaucrats had hoped to keep the Government tied to their state aid regime amid fears the Prime Minister’s pledge to “level up” Britain after Brexit would leave the bloc flagging behind. Their determination to prevent UK firms from outcompeting continental rivals saw Michel Barnier ordered by member states to ensure Britain “dynamically aligned” to the bloc’s rules governing state subsidies and tax breaks, with a role for the European Court of Justice to police the pact.
The European Union is willing to compromise to rescue troubled Brexit talks by softening its demand that Britain heed EU rules on state aid in the future, diplomatic sources told Reuters. They said Brussels could go for a compromise entailing a dispute-settling mechanism on any state aid granted by the UK to its companies in the future, rather than obliging London to follow the bloc’s own rules from the outset. Provisions to ensure fair competition pose the biggest stumbling block in the negotiations aimed at sealing a new trade accord from 2021 following Britain’s exit from the EU in January after 46 years of membership.
The Black Lives Matter paramilitary-style march in Brixton has had a lot of coverage, including videos of protestors yelling at police and calling them “terrorists”. Only three arrests were made despite the widespread “threatening, abusive or insulting” behaviour being clear public order offences… That tiny arrest number is even more surprising when taking into account photos of dozens of men wearing matching para-military outfits with face coverings and branded stab vests reading “FF Force” (Forever Family). In 1936, a new public order act was introduced to counter the rise of Oswald Mosley’s fascist Black Shirts, banning political uniforms: Prohibition of uniforms in connection with political objects.
There have been numerous demonstrations across Britain since the dramatic rise of the Black Lives Matter movement in response to the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis in May. But the one that took place in Brixton over the weekend, to mark the 186th anniversary of the Abolition of Slavery, was different. It marked the debut appearance of Forever Family, a black rights protest group, on London’s streets.Their intent was undoubtedly peaceful, but many felt their appearance — makeshift black uniforms and stab vests bearing the logo FF Force, while some had face masks and one a balaclava — was reminiscent of a paramilitary organisation.
The Magistrates Association hopes the recent Black Lives Matter (BLM) demonstrations will encourage ethnic minority activists to sign up to boost “diversity” in the criminal justice system, according to a PA news agency report. The association, which represents magistrates in England and Wales, called for more young black, Asian, and minority ethnic (BAME) people to volunteer for the roles. At present, 88 per cent of lay justices are white. In England and Wales, magistrates are volunteers who hear cases for minor offences and impose punishments on individuals.
Migrants are being told by people smugglers that it is “now or never” to cross the Channel because the border will close next year when the UK is finally out of the European Union, immigration officers say. Lucy Moreton, professional officer at the Immigration Services Union, said that the warning was helping to fuel a rise in desperate migrants willing to set sail from France in kayaks, pedalos and dinghies. She said that the success that migrants are having in crossing the Channel is encouraging even more people.
People aged over 50 will not be asked to stay at home to avoid a second nationwide lockdown, the government has said. No 10 dismissed reports that the measure would be taken in the event of a second wave of the coronavirus. The prime minister’s spokesman said yesterday that the suggestion, which had prompted accusations of ageism, was inaccurate. As part of the lockdown that began in March, 2.2 million people who were deemed most vulnerable were asked to shield themselves from society and avoid all contact with others.
Housing secretary Robert Jenrick has insisted talk of extending shielding to over-50s in the winter is “just speculation”, as the government faces a backlash over possible plans aimed at averting a second coronavirus wave. Reports on Sunday suggested elderly and vulnerable people could be told to stay at home again under new shielding proposals drawn up by the Cabinet Office. People aged between 50 and 70 may also be given “personalised risk ratings”, according to the Sunday Times, in a move that would add to the 2.2 million who were deemed most vulnerable during the spring peak.
Shielding the over-50s from the spread of coronavirus is “impractical”, a health expert has said. Devi Sridhar, professor and chair of global public health at the University of Edinburgh and an adviser to Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon, also said such a measure was “unethical”. Her comments came after the government’s shielding advice came to an end on Saturday, meaning 2.2 million people with underlying severe health conditions were told they could leave their homes and return to work.
Plans to extend shielding to some over-50s this winter have been abandoned after Cabinet ministers mounted a backlash against the proposal. Downing Street killed off the plan to tell over-50s to stay at home after ministers warned it was impractical, could damage the economy and sent out mixed messages on the day the Government wanted workers to get back to the office. Industry chiefs and prominent backbenchers including former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith also warned it was “economic madness” by depriving business of key managers and experience at a time when they were needed to help rescue industry in face of a recession.
No10 today refused to rule out effectively sealing off London if coronavirus cases spike as Sadiq Khan accused Boris Johnson of ‘riding roughshod’ over the city’s best interests. The Mayor of London has written to the PM to voice ‘great surprise’ at suggestions a quarantine zone could be created within the M25, complaining that it has been 12 weeks since he was invited to a Cobra meeting and the lack of consultation is ‘unacceptable’. Mr Johnson held a ‘war game’ session with Chancellor Rishi Sunak last week to run through possible options as fears mount over a second peak in the disease.
Travel in and out of London could be halted if the coronavirus spikes, Downing Street has confirmed – adding the threat applies to every town and city in England. Boris Johnson’s spokesman answered questions today over a flurry of reports that travel across the M25 could face restrictions in a second wave. The spokesman confirmed that could indeed happen if there is a local outbreak of Covid-19. But he insisted it’s “not a new thing” and “not something that’s specific to London or anywhere else”.
LONDON and other major cities could be locked down with travel in and out banned if coronavirus cases worsen, No10 confirmed today. As part of the Government’s recently released ‘contain strategy’, it won’t rule out the power to stop people from going into certain areas to stop the spread of the virus. Today the PM’s spokesman confirmed London and other cities could be locked down if coronavirus cases spike. They told reporters this lunchtime: “If you look at the contain strategy… it sets out within there the possibility of putting in place restrictions on travel if there is an area particularly badly affected.
SADIQ Khan has ordered Boris Johnson not to seal off London in a angry letter in which he complains of not being informed of the Government’s plans. Mr Khan was writing after news emerged relating to an exercise staged last week in which a major resurgence of COVID-19 in the capital was central. Reports in several media outlets suggested the M25 would be used as a “quarantine ring” – effectively sealing the city off. Mr Khan writes: “Our surprise is such that far reaching contingency plans have been discussed and tested without the involvement of London’s government.
Reopening schools without an improvement in test and trace could result in a second coronavirus wave more than twice the size of the first, a Lancet study suggests. Researchers said pubs may have to be closed or millions of people urged to work from home if significant progress in tracking the spread of the virus is not made in the next month. The study, by University College London and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, simulated how the virus might spread when schools open at the start of September.
Ministers still intend to reopen schools at full capacity across England in September despite concerns raised by teaching unions, a cabinet minister has said. Robert Jenrick, the communities secretary, also said there were no plans to close pubs in order to keep coronavirus infection levels down ahead of the return to classrooms, after a government scientific adviser suggested that there might have to be a “trade-off” between the two. He also cast doubt on reports that Boris Johnson’s government is considering asking over-50s to stay at home in an age-differentiated lockdown in the case of an upsurge in Covid-19, telling Times Radio: “That’s not something that is being actively considered.”
Some schools may remain shut in September if there are spikes of coronavirus in their area, Downing Street said. The reopening of schools in England from next month is a “top priority” for the Prime Minister and Government, No 10 insisted, but acknowledged that the fast-changing situation across the country may keep many children away from the classroom. The comments are the first confirmation from the Government that the planned reopening of schools could be disrupted by ripples of infections occurring in local areas.
The NHS Test and Trace programme needs to be scaled up in order to reopen schools safely, researchers have said.A new modelling study has suggested reopening schools across the UK in September must be combined with a high-coverage test-trace-isolate strategy to avoid a second wave of coronavirus later this year. Researchers warned in a worst-case scenario, a second wave could be 2.3 times higher than the first, according to the study published in The Lancet Child And Adolescent Health.
SCHOOL children returning to class in September will trigger a devastating second wave of Covid-19 that could infect twice as many as before, a major study claims. Scientists said reopening schools in the UK would result in a crisis peaking in December unless the test and trace system drastically improves. The crisis could be avoided, however — with pubs remaining open and no draconian lockdowns needed — if testing is ramped up and the track and trace system is improved.
Children returning to school in September will trigger a devastating second wave of Covid-19 that could infect twice as many as the first unless the test and trace system drastically improves, a major study has claimed. Scientists said reopening schools in the UK would inevitably result in another crisis that peaks in December. But it could be avoided — with pubs remaining open and no draconian lockdowns needed — if testing is dramatically ramped up and the contact tracing system becomes better. Three quarters of people with Covid-19 would need to be tested and self-isolate to prevent a second wave caused by schools reopening.
The government has just one month to significantly boost its test-and-trace systems or risk a “second wave” of coronavirus after schools reopen, researchers have warned. Against a backdrop of rising Covid infection rates in some areas and the introduction of local restrictions, the government has reiterated its determination to reopen schools in England to all pupils in all year groups in September. But researchers who modelled a range of scenarios for the reopening of schools as part of a wider easing of lockdown said there would need to be a rapid improvement to the test-trace-isolate system to avoid a resurgence of the disease.
Testing squads will be sent to schools in areas of high infection to try to keep them open even during local lockdowns. Regular checks for pupils and teachers with no symptoms in hotspot areas are being considered as ministers hope to use on-the-spot testing machines to help douse local flare-ups. Matt Hancock, the health secretary, said that technology that gave results in 90 minutes would allow much more widespread testing in schools to hunt down and control the virus.
Eat out to help out
Monday to Wednesday is the new weekend, restaurants said as they hailed the first day of the new discount scheme. Restaurants reported a surge in bookings as Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s “Eat Out to Help Out” scheme, giving diners up to £10 off a meal and soft drinks, has helped feed demand. Social media users posted pictures of cut-price breakfasts on Monday morning, as major chains including Wetherspoon, Nando’s and Pizza Express have signed up to offer the discount.
Just before midday yesterday at the South Bank branch of Wahaca, a Mexican chain, in central London, the outdoor tables were filling up. This shouldn’t be unusual: its prime location on the river means that on a sunny lunchtime in the holidays every table should be packed with tourists and families. Coronavirus, of course, has rendered the area a ghost town, and sucked away most customers. Yesterday, however, was the first day of the “eat out to help out” scheme.
Doctors have been told not to prescribe drugs including paracetamol and ibuprofen to millions of chronic pain sufferers because they can do more harm than good. There is “little or no evidence” that the painkillers make any difference to the quality of life or psychological distress of the patients, according to draft guidance from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice). More than 20 million people in Britain are thought to suffer from chronic pain, which is defined as lasting or recurring for more than three months.
Painkillers such as paracetamol and ibuprofen can do ‘more harm than good’ and should not be prescribed to treat chronic pain, health officials have said. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence claims that there is ‘little or no evidence’ the drugs, as well as aspirin and opioids, work. But in draft guidance, published on Monday, Nice said there was evidence painkillers can cause harm, including addiction. It says it would be ‘inappropriate’ for them to be offered to patients anymore, despite the NHS saying paracetamol is safe when taken over many years.
Guard dogs and drones are to be deployed at water parks in the Paris region amid rising tensions among youths from immigrant families unable to return to their countries of origin for the holidays. Security has been tightened after about 200 youths took part in a punch-up at the Étampes leisure island outside Paris, which has a water park, pony riding and a tree-top adventure course, as hundreds of families ran for cover. The brawl on Friday was the latest in a series of violent incidents at water parks in the Paris area, which are popular day trip destinations.
Angela Merkel’s party is considering tighter temporary curbs on freedom of assembly after police in Berlin broke up a rally of 20,000 people protesting against Germany’s coronavirus regulations. Demonstrations and all other public gatherings were banned during the lockdown but are now permitted as long as participants stick to hygiene rules such as mask-wearing. However, Armin Schuster, a senior MP and home affairs spokesman for the centre-right Christian Democratic Union, suggested that such protests could be banned altogether as they were a “danger to the public”.
Defund The BBC is urging followers to cancel their TV licence in solidarity with the elderly, whom the corporation began taxing on Saturday. The viral campaign launched a provocative mobile digital billboard campaign across the North West today, as they continue to appeal for funds via their Go Fund Me page so that they can keep the momentum going just as the corporation attempts to expand its power and secure the future of the TV licence.
Ministers were last night accused of an ‘appalling breach’ of the debt owed to Afghan interpreters who served alongside British soldiers during the 13-year war. A cross-party group of MPs urged the Defence Secretary and Home Secretary to give sanctuary to the heroes and their families without delay. In a letter seen by the Daily Mail, the 15 MPs said those who put their lives at risk for the UK ‘must be allowed to live in it’. Dr Julian Lewis, chairman of the Intelligence and Security committee and champion for the Afghan translators, is among those who have signed the letter.
Russian hackers stole classified documents from the email account of Liam Fox, the former international trade secretary, it was reported last night. The hackers accessed a confidential dossier detailing trade negotiations with the United States which appeared to show that NHS drug procurement was on the table, the news agency Reuters said.
Confidential documents which sparked claims that the NHS is on the table in US trade talks were stolen from Liam Fox’s email account by suspected Russian hackers, it has been alleged. Two sources said the former trade secretary’s account was broken into multiple times between July and October last year, Reuters reported. They declined to name the Russian group or organisation they believed was responsible, but said the attack bore the hallmarks of a state-backed operation, Reuters said.
Secret UK trade documents used by then Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn to attack the Government were stolen by Russian hackers from the email account of former international trade secretary Liam Fox, it was reported today. The Department of International Trade documents on post-Brexit trade talks with the US were brandished by the hard Left MP at a press conference in November, days before he led his party to a catastrophic vote defeat at the hands of Boris Johnson. The Reuters news agency today cited sources who said they were taken from the email of Dr Fox, who had been removed from his post by Boris Johnson the previous July.