A BREXITEER has outlined a solution to the ongoing Brexit row involving Northern Ireland and has warned the existing measures are “very dangerous” for Belfast.
The UK and the European Union remain at a standstill over the implementation of the Northern Ireland Protocol despite the Brexit trade deal being formally approved by MEPs last week. Negotiators are hoping to fine-tune the protocol and ensure goods can travel with limited checks via Belfast. The controversial mechanism was created to prevent a hard border on the island of Ireland and ties Northern Ireland to the EU customs union and single market.
The protocol has been provisionally used since January and resulted in some disruption to trade flowing via Belfast.
The UK Government took unilateral action to extend grace periods and relaxed customs checks on products until October.
The EU argue the protocol should be implemented in full and have triggered legal action.
Brexiteer and former foreign policy adviser Ben Harris-Quinney has called for the Northern Ireland Protocol to be replaced by a niche piece of legislation already used by the EU.
The Chairman of the Bow Group think-tank has advocated the use of Article 349 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.
MICHEL BARNIER has admitted Brexit Britain had a successful coronavirus vaccine rollout, saying the UK’s programme was easier to implement than under the EU’s “bureaucracy”.
Mr Barnier, the EU’s Brexit trade deal negotiator, conceded Britain’s Covid vaccine programme showed how individual states can act faster than the bloc in rolling out life-saving jabs. While he stopped short of praising Boris Johnson’s Government for the Covid vaccine rollout, he admitted the EU had “faults” with its jab programme.
Mr Barnier was asked in an interview whether Britain’s success in rolling out coronavirus jabs was an “extraordinary advert” for Brexit.
The former negotiator refused to engage in “one-upmanship”, and said it was “too early to draw conclusions” on Covid responses around the world.
But, Mr Barnier admitted: “It’s true that there were faults (on the EU side) at the start.
“Why? Because we wanted to decide for 27 and not alone.
“It’s easier to decide alone than 27 above all when you’re not under an EU competency…
Britain vaccinated people faster against Covid than EU countries because it is free of Brussels’ bureaucracy, the bloc’s chief negotiator has admitted.
Michel Barnier, 70, said that ideology, red tape and an aversion to risk-taking led Europe to bungle its early vaccination drive – with just 24 per cent of the continent’s population given at least one vaccine up to now, compared to 50 per cent in the UK.
He said lessons should be learned from the current crisis, including whether more powers should be given to countries to make decisions independent of Brussels
But he added that it is still ‘too early to tell’ which countries have coped best with the pandemic, and insisted there is little to be gained from games of ‘one-upmanship’.
Speaking to France Inter, Mr Barnier said: ‘I recognise that there were administrative problems, bureaucracy [within the EU].
‘There was an almost ideological mistrust of public-private partnerships. We don’t know how to take risks.
‘The British took risks by financing the private sector. The Americans took risks. We don’t know how to do that yet.’
The prospects of a major third wave of Covid in the UK this summer are “diminishing”, a top SAGE member declared today.
Prof Neil Ferguson said he still expects cases and “to some extent” deaths to tick up in the late summer if Britain returns to normal – but “at a much lower level” that in the second wave, unless a vaccine-resistant new variant takes hold.
As long as a variant doesn’t take hold, “we don’t see any prospect of the NHS being overwhelmed”, said Prof Ferguson – whose original modelling last Spring was crucial to securing the first lockdown.
His comments mark a major shift from modelling for SAGE in February, which projected 30,000 further Covid deaths by summer 2022 under every model of easing lockdown.
Six different scenarios were all predicted to cause a third wave of some kind, with the worst models including almost 150,000 extra deaths.
Prof Ferguson said models had changed due to the vaccine being more effective than scientists had hoped.
Nearly 300 illegal migrants landed on British soil over the weekend, taking the total number of migrants who arrived in the UK this year to over 2,000.
On Saturday, the UK’s Border Force confirmed it had intercepted and brought ashore 185 illegal aliens after crossing the English Channel in small rubber boats from France.
The flow of migrants continued on Sunday, as another 92 people were taken in, according to BBC reporter Simon Jones.
An analysis conducted by the Daily Mail found that the latest Channel crossings put the total number of illegals who have been recorded to have reached Britain this year to 2,293, more than the entire year of 2019, which saw 1,890 arrive.
2020 was a record year for illegal boat migration, with over 8,400 migrants arriving in the UK. However, despite promises to “take back control” of migration following the country’s official departure from the European Union, the flow has only increased.
Last week, some 375 migrants attempted the journey in one day. While French authorities managed to stop 166 and take them back to France, British Borden Force brought to England the remaining 209, representing the highest daily number of the year.
Projections carried out by The Telegraph in April predict that 20,000 migrants will successfully reach the UK by illegally crossing the English Channel from France. Other predictions have suggested that the number could reach as many as 25,000.
Conservative Party staff are in uproar over the costly revamp of Boris Johnson’s Downing Street flat after officials were told there was no money for pay rises.
Party officials were “furious” to discover that almost £60,000 from Conservative Campaign Headquarters (CCHQ) funds was channelled to pay an invoice for the flat refurbishment while at the same time staff were informed their pay was being frozen.
Officials at CCHQ and at regional offices have not had a pay rise since Boris Johnson swept to victory in 2019. The Telegraph understands that in February, Aimee Henderson, the Conservative Party’s finance director, told employees the party was in no position to “splash the cash”. Ms Henderson said a pay rise even linked to inflation would not be possible this year.
It has now emerged that at about the same time, the Conservative Party picked up part of the tab for the flat in Downing Street occupied by Mr Johnson and his fiancee, Carrie Symonds. It is alleged that the party paid £58,000 towards the revamp.
It is thought the cash came via a party donor, although Mr Johnson insists he has now paid the total bill himself. The total refurbishment is reported to have cost close to £200,000.
Twenty-minute heart checks on the NHS will allow patients to be diagnosed five times more quickly and prevent hospital stays, health chiefs have said.
The 3D heart scans will be offered to around 100,000 patients with suspected heart disease over the next three years.
The technology, called HeartFlow, turns a regular CT scan of the heart into a 3D image allowing doctors to diagnose life-threatening coronary heart disease in just 20 minutes. Previously, patients would have had to go to hospital for an invasive and time-consuming angiogram.
Health officials said the rollout would mean patients could be seen, diagnosed, and treated around five times more quickly, speeding up help for them, and helping services to get back on track.
The device will be offered to patients with stable, recent onset chest pains, who would currently be sent to hospital for angiograms. The national scheme follows NHS targets to reduce the number of heart attacks and strokes by 150,000.
Patients with life-threatening coronary heart disease will be treated five times faster thanks to 3D scans being introduced on the NHS that allow for a diagnosis in just 20 minutes.
The revolutionary technology can turn a regular CT scan of the heart into a 3D image, allowing doctors to diagnose them rapidly, NHS England said.
It added that about 100,000 people will be eligible to use the HeartFlow technology over the next three years.
Patients – who would previously have had to undergo an invasive and time-consuming angiogram in hospital – will now be seen, diagnosed and treated around five times faster.
British holidaymakers are expected to be freed to travel to Europe’s top holiday destinations next month after Brussels opened the door to vaccinated travellers from the start of June.
Spain, Greece and France are among countries that could be added to the safe “green list” by the end of June under the traffic light system being drawn up by Downing Street for international travel, The Telegraph can disclose.
On Monday, Boris Johnson played down hopes of an immediate mass getaway, saying that putting a significant number of countries on the “green list” from May 17 would risk an “influx of disease”.
The Prime Minister was immediately accused of an “overly cautious” approach by Tory MPs and travel industry chiefs after the European Commission proposed that fully vaccinated Britons could travel freely to Europe without any testing or quarantine requirements from as early as the start of June.
The EU has boosted hope for summer holidays with plans to allow tourists back soon.
And those with just one jab may be able to travel if they are from areas with low Covid rates.
Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said: “Time to revive EU tourism industry.”
Boris Johnson urged “caution” to avoid an influx of variants.
Ursula von der Leyen’s bid to open up Europe to tourists this summer will be welcome news for Brits starved of sunshine holidays and worn down by a year of lockdowns.
The EU Commission president unveiled plans to welcome back people from countries outside the bloc with low Covid case rates, even if the have not had both doses of the vaccine.
But Boris Johnson warned Britain would be “cautious” to avoid a glut of cases from abroad. EU member states are due to start discussing the proposals on Tuesday. Sources have suggested travel could open up in June.
Ms von der Leyen tweeted: “Time to revive EU tourism industry and for cross-border friendships to rekindle…safely.”
Boris Johnson has poured cold water over holiday hopes by refusing to approve unrestricted foreign travel
The Prime Minister said: “We do want to do some opening up on May 17 but I don’t think that the people of this country want to see an influx of disease from anywhere else.
“I certainly don’t and we have got to be very, very tough, and we have got to be as cautious as we can, whilst we continue to open up.”
His comments come amid a bitter Cabinet divide after MPs recommended that holidays abroad should be discouraged even when legal.
The all-party parliamentary group on Covid warned that airports were a “breeding ground” for the virus and the Government should discourage people from travelling abroad unless it is essential.
Death rates on smart motorways with the hard shoulder permanently removed are higher than those on conventional motorways, official figures show.
The revelation blows a hole in Transport Secretary Grant Shapps‘ claims that smart motorways are ‘as safe as, or safer than’ their conventional counterparts.
It also undermines a claim last week by Highways England’s acting chief executive Nick Harris that they ‘are the safest roads in the country’.
Evidence submitted to the Commons transport committee, which is investigating smart motorways, shows that in 2018 ‘live lane fatality rates’ were more than a third higher on ‘All Lane Running’ (ALR) roads.
These smart motorways have their hard shoulders permanently scrapped and converted into an extra lane, meaning motorists can become marooned in traffic rushing past them.
Legally changing gender will cost only £5 from today after the fee was slashed from £140.
But the move to make the process ‘kinder and more straightforward’ was condemned by transgender rights campaigners as a ‘fig leaf’ to avoid having to make swapping gender simpler.
Anyone who wants to switch officially still faces legal requirements, including approval from a doctor and the need to live for two years in the acquired gender. However, Women and Equalities Minister Liz Truss said the changes, including being able to apply for a gender recognition certificate online for the first time, removed a key concern for trans campaigners.
She added: ‘We want transgender people to be free to live and to prosper in modern Britain. In the National LGBT Survey, 34 per cent of transgender people told us that the cost of applying for a certificate was holding them back from doing so.
‘We have removed that barrier, and I am proud that we have made the process of getting a certificate fairer, simpler and much more affordable.’