BRUSSELS was warned Britain will walk away from Brexit talks rather than hang on for an “11th hour” deal. Penny Mordaunt said there would be “no point” in striking a last minute agreement because it would leave businesses scrambling to prepare for the changes. The paymaster general said the UK is pushing for negotiations on future relations to be speeded up. Eurocrats will be told on Friday that Britain will not agree to extend the transition period. Ms Mordaunt told MPs progress has stalled but she remains “confident” a deal can be struck. She said: “There is no point in us arriving at an agreement at the 11th hour. We have to arrive at agreement to enable it to be implemented, ratified, but also for our citizens and businesses to prepare.
The UK “cannot keep negotiating forever” with the EU over Brexit, a minister has insisted. Trade talks with Brussels are at a “key stage” and they need to be escalated in the coming weeks, Cabinet Office minister Penny Mordaunt said on Tuesday. The former International Development secretary repeatedly ruled out extending the transition period beyond December this year and pressed the need for the UK to be treated as a “sovereign equal”. Tory colleague Jerome Mayhew asked Ms Mordaunt if an extension of the transition period would “serve no useful purpose” other than to cost the UK money, prolong business uncertainty, “delay effective control of our borders” and hamper the response to the coronavirus crisis. Ms Mordaunt replied: “The honourable gentleman is damn right.”
The UK government will tell the EU on Friday it is not going to seek an extension to the Brexit transition period, the paymaster general, Penny Mordaunt, has said. She told the House of Commons in an update on Brexit talks that she and Michael Gove would “emphasise that we will not be extending the transition period” when they meet EU counterparts at a Brexit joint committee meeting on Friday. It led to an immediate accusation of the government behaving recklessly, with the Scottish National party MP Pete Wishart accusing the Conservatives of trying to “heap misery upon misery” with Covid-19 and Brexit “the twin horsemen of the economic apocalypse” denying any prospect of recovery.
The UK has started planning for leaving the Brexit transition without a trade deal at the end of the year, Penny Mordaunt has said. The Cabinet Office minister said it is “prudent and wise” to prepare for trade negotiations to fail and for the UK to default to World Trade Organisation (WTO) terms for business with the EU from January. A Whitehall source later told HuffPost UK that the government was “of course planning” through the cabinet exit operations (XO) committee chaired by Michael Gove for the UK to leave the single market and customs union, with or without a deal on new trade relations.
REMAINERS faced a fiery backlash after issuing a call for the Brexit transition period to be extended, warning the UK is fast approaching the extension deadline with no signs of a trade deal in sight. The staunchly anti-Brexit Liberal Democrats said the country is “dangerously close” to the extension deadline and warned of a “no deal crash out” if action is not taken. The party sought to whip up support for their campaign on social media, urging people to get on board with the “urgent” bid. Their plea for more negotiating time comes after the fourth round of trade talks with the EU wrapped up last week without a breakthrough. The Lib Dems tweeted a picture which read: “Urgent: We must extend the Brexit transition period and avoid a no deal crash out.”
Boris Johnson has been told he must apologise for his past “racist” comments before his support for Black Lives Matter will be taken seriously. The prime minister has issued a video message, recognising the death of George Floyd had awakened “a widespread and incontrovertible, undeniable feeling of injustice” among black people. But playwright and campaigner Bonnie Greer said the support would carry more weight if Mr Johnson acknowledged the hurt caused by his notorious newspaper articles. One described African people as having “watermelon smiles”, another said women in burqas looked like “bank robbers”, and Mr Johnson also wrote that seeing “a bunch of black kids” scared him.
Police fear far-Right thugs could descend on the capital this weekend to take on anti-racism protesters. Football hooligans are planning counter-protests to ‘defend’ memorials and statues. Former English Defence League leader Tommy Robinson called for opposition protests in a two-minute video in which he accused police of being ‘soft-handed’ at Black Lives Matters marches. He accused officers of failing to act because there were ‘too many people who aren’t white’.
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A massive demonstration has been planned for Saturday, the 13th of June, in response to the attacks on brave Met Police officers, the vandalism of UK landmarks, and rioting by Antifa Terrorists. The event is due to take place at 11am on Saturday June 13th on Whitehall – and intends to be a peacefull response to Antifa anarchy and welcomes and all colours, creeds and orientations. The protest hopes to give a balance to the biased coverage and reaction to the death of criminal thug George Floyd, who left-wing UK Antifa protesters have been using to further their own gains. If you’re tired of Black Lives Matter having the spotlight, tired of Antifa thugs ripping apart our historic Capital, then come on down to London on Saturday, wear a mask and stay 2 metres apart.
A monument celebrating an 18th Century slave dealer has been removed from the docks he helped to construct as pressure from the Black Lives Matter protests to remove racist statues has forced councils across the country into action. Workmen were today seen uprooting a statue of Robert Milligan from its spot on West India Quay in London’s docklands to cheers from spectators. Protesters had drawn up a hit list of 60 ‘racist’ monuments to be taken down, including Milligan’s. Amid growing pressure to act, the charity Canal and River Trust worked with the Museum of London and the London Borough of Tower Hamlets to remove the bronze figure of the Scottish merchant who owned 526 slaves at his Jamaican sugar plantation.
A MONUMENT to a slave trader has been removed from London’s docklands after the Black Lives Matter protests – as cops shielded Winston Churchill’s statue from further damage. The figure of Robert Milligan was taken down by a JCB from its plinth in West India Quay following a petition by a Labour MP. Tower Hamlets Council authorised the removal of the figure by professionals this evening, meanwhile cops had to form a human shield to protect a monument to Winston Churchill in parliament Square. In a statement on Twitter, the council said: “Tonight, we have removed the statue of slave trader Robert Milligan that previously stood at West India Quay.
All statues in Labour councils across England and Wales, and across London, will be examined for links to slavery and plantation owners, their leaders have said, as an east London authority took one down off its plinth on Tuesday evening. The statue of slave owner Robert Milligan at West India Quay in London’s Docklands was removed using a JCB, after the charity which owns the land where it stood promised to organise its “safe removal” following a petition launched by Ehtasham Haque. The local council, Tower Hamlets, said it had removed the statue and had “also announced a review into monuments and other sites in our borough to understand how we should represent the more troubling periods in our history”.
Black Lives Matter supporters have compiled a “hit list” of dozens of statues across the country, as the Mayor of London said controversial monuments should be removed to avoid causing offence. Statues of historical figures including Sir Francis Drake, Nancy Astor, Christopher Colombus and William Gladstone should be toppled “for celebrating slavery and racism”, campaigners said on Tuesday night. It came as councils and museums rushed to remove contentious statues after protesters threw a statue of Edward Colston, a 17th-century slave trader, into a river in Bristol on Sunday.
Emboldened by the zero-resistance police response to the destruction of a statue on Sunday, a hard-left campaign group with a history of high-profile activism has published a list of dozens of other public memorials targeted for removal. Published by the Stop Trump Coalition, and by their own reckoning, a “project in support of the Black Lives Matter movement and the topplers of Edward Colston”, the Topple The Racists list names dozens of statues and other memorials to figures from British and world history that have been judged unworthy by 21st century standards. Among the list are several perennial hate-figures for the left, including famed explorer and mariner Christopher Columbus, and Elizabethan privateer Sir Francis Drake.
“Structural racism and social inequality” should be taken into account when looking at the impact of COVID-19 on Britain’s black, Asian and minority ethnic, according to an expert involved in a recent review. Professor Kevin Fenton was a major part of a Public Health England (PHE) report – ordered by the government – into why the BAME community has been disproportionately affected by coronavirus. It found people from BAME groups were up to twice as likely to die with COVID-19 than those from a white British background. The review was also meant to offer recommendations, but sources have told Sky News that these were “held back” by the government.
NICOLA STURGEON is seeking increased borrowing powers from the UK Government in a bid to fill a fiscal black hole amid the coronavirus pandemic. Scotland’s finance secretary has appealed for greater authority for Holyrood, arguing that the current arrangement in place is not fit to adequately tackle “an economic crisis of this scale”. Her plea comes after the Government’s chief economist last week warned Scotland’s economy may not bounce back to pre-epidemic levels until 2023. Kate Forbes, who serves as Scotland’s finance minister, said the Scottish Government would have no choice but to make “deep cuts” to public services if it was not handed more powers.
The two-metre rule is to be relaxed once coronavirus infections fall sufficiently to open up the hospitality sector. Pubs, restaurants and cafés are waiting for detailed guidance from the business department on how they can open securely from July 4, the date set in the “road map” after which elements of the sector can start to reopen as long as the virus remains under control. Senior officials said that the guidance could retain the two-metre rule initially, but alternative guidance on smaller distances was being prepared for when the rule was relaxed. A cabinet minister said the government faced a choice of whether to delay publication of the guidance until the rule was relaxed or press on with the earliest possible reopening.
The business secretary, Alok Sharma, has said the 2 metre distancing rule remains under review in England, despite the prime minister’s hope that his scientific advisers would give the green light to relax it imminently. Boris Johnson has made clear that he is keen to ease the rule, as the government battles to prevent thousands of hospitality businesses collapsing in the coming months. No 10 is understood to have told senior figures in the sector that the idea of reducing physical distancing to 1 metre would be discussed at Tuesday’s cabinet meeting.
Rules requiring customers in shops, pubs and restaurants to remain two metres apart from one another are to remain in place, as Boris Johnson breached a commitment to publish the results of a scientific review into the issue. The hospitality industry has been lobbying ministers hard to relax the rule, and one representative of bars and restaurants around the country today said that its retention will render almost every business in the sector “completely unviable”.
The widespread use of face masks keeps the coronavirus reproduction number below 1.0, and prevents further waves when combined with lockdowns, new research suggests. A modelling study from the universities of Cambridge and Greenwich indicates that lockdowns alone will not stop the resurgence of Covid-19. Researchers say even homemade masks with limited effectiveness can dramatically reduce transmission rates if worn by enough people, regardless of whether they show symptoms.
NHS waiting lists are likely to more than double to 10 million people by the end of the year, health bosses have warned. Continuing pressure from coronavirus, plus reduced patient flow due to infection control measures, means the health service faces an “uphill battle” to restart normal services such as those for stroke and heart disease, according to a report from the NHS Confederation, which represents leaders from across the health sector. The backlog of treatments and staffing shortages is expected to exacerbate the waiting lists, currently standing at 4.2 million. However, this scenario does not account for a second wave of coronavirus and assumes some access to new treatments such as a vaccine.
School children under the age of 15 are more likely to be hit by lightning than die from coronavirus, new figures suggest, amid mounting pressure for the government to get more to get pupils back into classrooms as quickly as possible. Scientists from the universities of Cambridge and Oxford have called for “rational debate” based on the “tiny” risk to children and have suggested that if no vaccine is found in the future then it may be better for younger people to continue with their lives, while shielding the more vulnerable. It comes as the government was accused of “losing the plot” after Gavin Williamson, the Education Secretary, scrapped the Government’s target of getting all primary school pupils back in the classroom before the summer holidays.
Boris Johnson needs an urgent national plan to get all pupils back to school in England from September, with an army of support staff, the requisitioning of public buildings and extra help for disadvantaged students, unions and cross-party MPs have said. As the government admitted that most primary pupils in England would not get back to the classroom before summer, ministers were urged to set out a comprehensive strategy or risk an “epidemic of educational poverty”. Gavin Williamson, the education secretary, had hoped all primary schools in the country would reopen four weeks before the summer holidays but was forced to admit on Tuesday that this would be missed because of the difficulty of keeping children apart and in bubbles of 15.
STUDENTS will sit their GCSEs and A-Levels next year as planned, Gavin Williamson said today. The Education Secretary confirmed that exams will go back to normal by summer 2021. Exams have been cancelled for millions of young people this year thanks to coronavirus. Instead teachers will decide on what grades to give to each student based on their work over the year – which will then be sent to examiners to double check. Coursework, essays, assignments and mock exams will also be used to determine the marks. But Mr Williamson said today that exams for all students will be back to normal by next year.
A national effort on the scale of the vast furlough scheme for jobs is needed to get children back into schools, former education secretaries and experts say. They spoke out after the government confirmed that most primary pupils would not come back to school until September, meaning they will have been out of the classroom for six months. Boris Johnson had said he wanted all primary years back for a month before the summer holidays, but this has not proved possible under the logistics of social-distancing rules. Justine Greening, the former education secretary, said Britain faced an education crisis without drastic action. The disadvantaged may not catch up and the hundreds of thousands leaving education this summer could end up unemployed, she said.
PLANS for all primary school children to return before summer were abandoned by the government today in a victory for teachers warning against the risk to public safety. The government had aimed to bring all pupils in England back four weeks before the end of term, despite some schools warning that they were already short of space due to the socially distanced reopening for Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 pupils, and could not accommodate more children. Teachers and teaching unions have been at loggerheads with the government over the full reopening of schools, warning that many were in no position to implement social distancing and the policy could spark a “second spike” in Covid-19 cases.
The lockdown will ease significantly from Monday with all shops and zoos allowed to reopen as the government steps up efforts to repair the economic damage caused by the pandemic. At the daily Downing Street press conference yesterday, Alok Sharma, the business secretary, confirmed that from June 15 non-essential retailers, such as clothes stores and bookshops, would be able to welcome customers for the first time since March 23 — but only if they had made their premises “Covid-secure”.
Non-essential shops in England will be allowed to reopen from Monday, Business Secretary Alok Sharma has confirmed. The Government announced last month that most retailers would be allowed to reopen from June 15 if certain conditions were met. And today, speaking at the Downing Street daily press conference, Mr Sharma confirmed that in Minster’s opinion it was safe to reopen shops. The Prime Minister announced on Monday 25 May that all non-essential retailers in England will be allowed to open with social distancing in place from 15 June.
Moscow swung abruptly back to life today after the mayor surprised the Russian capital by lifting the vast majority of coronavirus curbs overnight. All limits on movement were immediately scrapped, while courts and even hairdressers were allowed to reopen. Cafés and restaurants will welcome visitors this month. Sergei Sobyanin, the mayor and the head of Russia’s Covid-19 taskforce, had previously warned that normal life would not return until a vaccine had been found. Instead, he congratulated Muscovites “on another shared victory” — even as the city registered more than 3,500 new cases and 110 deaths in the past 48 hours.