Trade talks

Express
THE UK will seek to strike a post-Brexit free trade deal with Japan which goes further than the existing EU agreement, the International Trade Secretary has said. Talks will take place online due to the ongoing coronavirus crisis. Negotiation objectives have been published ahead of online talks. Secretary of State for International Trade Liz Truss has said that both sides are committed to an “ambitious timeline”. Ms Truss said: “Japan is one of our largest trading partners and a new trade deal will help to increase trade, boost investment and create more jobs following the economic challenges caused by coronavirus.

City AM
A potential UK-Japan free trade deal would provide a £383m boost to London’s economy each year, City A.M. can reveal. Estimates from the Department of International Trade, and seen by City A.M., show a trade deal between the two nations would be a major boon to the capital, particularly its financial and professional services industries. It comes as the UK set out its negotiating objectives today for its Japan trade talks, with formal negotiations expected to start shortly. Among the highest priorities is to “diversify [the UK’s] supply chains beyond the EU and China” and to “reduce barriers  to cross-border trade and investment, support co-operation on financial regulation and make it easier for professionals to operate in Japan”.

EU

Breitbart
The European Commission is set to present a plan in Brussels to remove border controls within the visa-free Schengen zone as well the introduction of Green New Deal-style stimulus package to promote so-called green businesses in the aftermath of the Chinese coronavirus pandemic. The proposed strategy, which is set to be released on Wednesday, will see a phased opening of borders throughout the bloc, with countries that share “similar overall risk profiles” being the first to open. The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) will be tasked with determining which areas are of low risk, in order to lift the “blanket quarantine measures” that are currently set in place.

Express
A BRUSSELS chief has launched a blistering attack on the UK and handed Prime Minister Boris Johnson an ultimatum on post-Brexit trade talks. Nicola Beer, vice president of the European Parliament, has ordered Britain to make quick progress in Brexit discussions or agree to an extension to the transition period. Britain and the EU are currently in deadlock over the future trading relationship and both sides have until June to decide whether negotiations should be prolonged beyond the December 31 deadline. This week Boris Johnson’s Brexit negotiator David Frost is holding a third round of discussions with the European Commission’s Head of Task Force Michel Barnier, but an agreement is still yet to be reached on core topics such as regulations, justice and fishing.

iNews
The European Commission will unveil a roadmap to revive the hard-hit travel and tourism industry this summer offering guidance on reopening national borders, compensating cancelled flights, and ensuring social distancing at holiday resorts.  The advice, which comes as European countries slowly ease their coronavirus lockdown restrictions, could salvage some of the summer season.  Entitled ‘Europe needs a rest’, the guidance attempts to balance the economic benefits from restoring transport across the European Union with the risks in a potential resurgence of virus cases.

The economy

Telegraph
A confidential Treasury assessment of the coronavirus crisis estimates that it will cost the Exchequer almost £300 billion this year and could require measures including an increase in income tax, the end of the triple lock on state pension increases and a two-year public sector pay freeze. The Telegraph can reveal that a Treasury document drawn up for Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor, sets out a proposed “policy package” of tax increases and spending reductions which may have to be announced within weeks in order to “enhance credibility and boost investor confidence” in the British economy.

Express
A TREASURY document has revealed the cost of the coronavirus pandemic and the measures needed to recover the economy. The report, drawn up for Chancellor Rishi Sunak, describes a “policy package” which may have to be published within weeks in order to “enhance credibility and boost investor confidence” in the British economy. The document says the Chancellor “has indicated a preference for accepting a higher but broadly stable level of debt” after the crisis. But it added: “As debt is likely to reach significantly higher levels after the crisis, it will be important to stabilise the debt-to-GDP ratio and prevent debt from continuing to grow on an unsustainable trajectory”.

Mail
Britain’s bill for the pandemic could hit £300billion and force tax rises, cuts to the state pension and a public-sector pay freeze, a Treasury document warns. A paper drawn up for Chancellor Rishi Sunak said the austerity-style policies – including drastic cuts to public spending and welfare – may have to be announced within weeks to boost confidence in the economy. It could lead to rises in income tax, VAT and national insurance, as well as an end to the pension triple lock guaranteeing the state pension rises each year by the highest of inflation, earnings growth and 2.5 per cent.

Times
The coronavirus crisis will cost the exchequer almost £300 billion this year and could require increases in income tax, a two-year public pay freeze and an end to the triple-lock on state pensions, an internal Treasury assessment has suggested. The document sets out a proposed “policy package” of tax rises and spending cuts and forecasts Britain will have a £337 billion budget deficit this year, compared with £55 billion in the March Budget.

Furlough

Sun
BRITISH workers were last night feared to have developed furlough fever — a desire to stay safe at home while being paid 80 per cent of their wages. The warning came as Chancellor Rishi Sunak extended the Government’s bailout scheme until the end of October. It means the support — due to end next month — will last for a total of eight months at an estimated cost of £80billion. Mr Sunak tweeted: “I won’t give up on the people who rely on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. We stood behind Britain’s workers and businesses as we came into this crisis, and we will stand behind them as we come through the other side.”

Mail
Business could face having to stump up as much as half of furloughed workers’ emergency coronavirus pay even if they remain closed under plans to extend the massive job retention scheme until October. Rishi Sunak today extended the government’s massive coronavirus bailout to the autumn despite fears about the spiralling cost. Workers will still get 80 per cent of wages up to a ceiling of £2,500 a month, and from August there will be ‘flexibility’ for them to go back part-time, the Chancellor told MPs this afternoon.

Mirror
Millions of workers stranded by coronavirus have been thrown a lifeline after the government pledged wage cash until October 31. The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will be extended for another four months – ensuring furloughed workers get 80% of their usual wage up to £2,500 a month, despite not being at work. But in a major change, government support for the scheme will be cut from August 1 – with firms told to make up the difference themselves.

Guardian
The chancellor has extended the government’s coronavirus wage subsidy scheme for workers until the end of October despite its spiralling cost, as he attempts to prevent a wave of job losses in the summer. In a surprise move that underlines the likely duration of the economic crisis, Rishi Sunak said the unprecedented scheme would continue until the autumn, despite its eye-watering cost. With 7.5 million workers having their wages paid by the taxpayer, Paul Johnson, director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, said the total cost of the scheme could now amount to more than £80bn.

Independent
The furlough scheme to support workers through the coronavirus crisis is being extended to the end of October, but employers will be asked to bear a share of the cost of paying staff up to 80 per cent of wages while they are not working, chancellor Rishi Sunak has told the House of Commons. Mr Sunak said that additional flexibility will be built into the scheme to allow a part-time return to work over the summer, but the Treasury is not planning to reveal precise details of how this will work and how much employers will have to pay until the end of May.

Care homes

Sky News
Care homes have been “almost compelled” to take people who have not been tested for coronavirus, Sky News has been told. Official statistics show deaths in care homes made up 40.4% of the overall number of COVID-19 fatalities across England and Wales in the week to 1 May. Sky News has revealed several councils threatened to withhold funding to help care homes deal with the coronavirus outbreak if they did not agree to take in patients with the illness.

Contact app

Mirror
The Government’s task force of 18,000 contract tracers will launch next week, Downing Street has confirmed. The force will be tasked with tracking down people who have been in contact with someone who has tested positive for Covid-19. From next week 15,000 people on the phone, and 3000 in person, will try to contain the spread of the virus by targetting testing at people who have potentially been exposed. Public health experts have said the tracers would be essential to stop the second wave of infections once the lockdown restrictions have been eased.

Telegraph
The NHS contact-tracing app is still due to roll-out in “mid-May” Matt Hancock has insisted, as the former health secretary Andrew Lansley has said the location data it collects could help avoid a second national lockdown. Mr Hancock said on Tuesday that the NHS Covid-19 App’s trial on the Isle of Wight had “gone well” and that NHS developers had “learned lessons” from glitches users initially reported when it was released last week. The health secretary’s comments come as his predecessor, Lord Lansley, spoke out in favour of the NHS’s version of the app, saying the anonymous location data it collects could allow the Government to impose localised restrictions if a second wave of infection took hold.

Times
The NHS coronavirus tracing app will be introduced across England in “mid-May”, while 18,000 tracing agents will be in place by the end of the next week, the government has pledged. Matt Hancock, the health secretary, said yesterday that he was “pleased with progress” in a trial of the app that began on the Isle of Wight last week. He reiterated a target to release the technology by the middle of this month but in the absence of a concrete deadline, critics fear that the timeline may be pushed beyond the end of next week.

Schools

Sun
ALMOST half a million teachers have been told to refuse even talking about returning to school next month by the boss of the UK’s biggest teaching union. Boris Johnson is keen for schools to re-open their doors on June 1 with social distancing measures in place – but there are fears among unions this could be impossible to maintain. Now the boss of the National Education Union (NEU) – the biggest teaching union in the UK after joining with the National Union of Teachers (NUT) – has urged 461,960 members not to engage with the plans until the government has issued more advice.

Telegraph
The two largest teacher unions have told their members that they should not go to work on June 1 if they feel unsafe. The Prime Minister announced his strategy to end lockdown by asking teachers to prepare for the return of pupils in Reception, Year One and Year Six at the start of next month. He said that it is the Government’s “ambition” that primary schools will be open for children of all ages by the end of June so they can have one month of lessons before the summer holidays.

Guardian
Government plans to reopen schools in England face a mounting backlash from education unions, who say the proposals are not feasible and have advised teachers and support staff not to “engage with” preparations for a 1 June return. The Department for Education (DfE) wants children back in primary schools in a phased reopening starting next month, with class sizes limited to 15 and a staggered timetable to limit the number of pupils and risk of transmission. The education secretary, Gavin Williamson, has held regular meetings with sector leaders to try to keep teachers onboard, but relations appeared to be fraying on Tuesday with unions complaining they were not consulted on the 1 June return date or the year groups chosen to return first.

Times
Teachers are heading for a clash with the government over the reopening of primary schools in England on June 1 after their biggest union ordered them not to “engage” with the planning process. The National Education Union (NEU) said it was unconvinced that there was any scientific basis behind government guidance issued yesterday that teachers did not need PPE equipment to keep them safe. The union said it needed to see the scientific backing for recommending that social distancing rules, considered crucial to stopping the spread of the virus, did not have to be followed in schools as long as class sizes were small and stringent hygiene was followed.

Home working

ITV News
Social media site Twitter has said employees can opt to continue home working “forever” after the Covid-19 crisis eases. The company, based in San Francisco and with a site in London, employs around 5,000 people and said it was among the first to start a work from home model. In a post on the company’s blog, it said the past few months had shown that having employees complete their duties remotely can work. “If our employees are in a role and situation that enables them to work from home and they want to continue to do so forever, we will make that happen.

Herd immunity

Independent
The World Health Organisation has condemned the “dangerous” concept of herd immunity for managing the coronavirus pandemic. Dr Michael Ryan, executive director of the WHO’s health emergencies programme said it was wrong to think that countries can “magically” make their populations immune to Covid-19. It was reported in March that the UK government was hoping to achieve herd immunity by allowing the virus to make its way through the population.

Housing market

Telegraph
The housing market has been given the green light to reopen after the Government announced it would lift the ban on property viewings and valuations taking place. From Wednesday, people will be allowed to travel to visit estate agents, letting agents or show homes, keeping in line with social distancing guidelines. House buyers will also be permitted to view residential properties they wish to buy or rent.  All activities required to facilitate the sale of rental of a home are also able to resume, including property valuers attending properties.

ITV News
The housing market is set to be restarted as property viewings and visits to estate agents may be seen as a reasonable excuse for leaving the house under regulations coming into force in England from Wednesday. Property professionals welcomed the moves which they hope will help to reinvigorate the market and release some of the £82 billion-worth of pent-up demand in the market. Under previous rules to help limit the spread of Covid-19, moving house where it was reasonably necessary was already deemed a valid excuse for people to be away from home.

Times
Ministers will unfreeze the country’s housing market today and allow people to visit and view properties in a move that experts said could limit the decline in prices. Estate agents, removal firms and conveyancers are all now permitted to open in England as long as they follow social-distancing rules. Show homes will be allowed to open and councils will be given the freedom to allow construction in residential areas until as late as 9pm on Monday to Saturday to allow for staggered shifts and to relieve pressure on public transport.

Holidays

Mail
Anxious holidaymakers are being ‘bullied’ into handing over thousands of pounds for trips that are unlikely to go ahead. Countless holidays have been cancelled since the Foreign Office advised against all but essential travel in March. With no end date in sight, and the Government now looking to enforce a 14-day quarantine period for travellers returning to Britain by air, it is highly likely that many families will be unable to go abroad for the foreseeable future.  Despite this, scores of readers have told Money Mail they are still being asked to pay more money for trips they are certain they won’t be able to take.

BBC News
Many British people are unlikely to be able to take foreign holidays this summer because of coronavirus, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said. He told ITV’s This Morning it’s “likely to be the case” there won’t be a normal summer holiday season. The government is opening up parts of the economy, and Ryanair is planning to start services in July. But Mr Hancock said the traditional big-break holiday season is unlikely. Social distancing will have to be maintained for some time, he said. “The conclusion from that is it is unlikely that big, lavish international holidays are going to be possible for this summer.

Telegraph
Summer holidays are most “likely” cancelled, Matt Hancock has admitted, as he warned any staycations will require social distancing and “lavish international holidays” are off. The Health Secretary said a ban on holidays including self-catering accommodation was still in force, while the Foreign Office has advised against all but essential international travel and the 14-day quarantine plans to the UK and other overseas destinations makes most foreign holidays unviable.

Sport

Telegraph
The Premier League will explain in detail to captains and managers the significant “cultural changes” that have to be accepted if football is to be played again before the end of the year. On Wednesday the league plans to try to allay growing health fears during two crunch meetings but will also make it clear that if its plans are not accepted then the future of the game is in danger. Among the questions that will be addressed is why it is important for the Premier League to resume next month in spite of players expressing their anger at a perceived rush to return.

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