THE UK is closing in on striking a huge trade deal with Australia as pressure builds on the EU to break the deadlock in post-Brexit negotiations. Britain has completed the first round of negotiations for a Free-Trade Agreement (FTA) with Australia, as the UK looks to ratify agreements with nations around with world – including Japan and the US. International Trade Secretary Liz Truss said the UK was “one step closer to an ambitious” deal with Australia which would help to bring investment, better jobs, higher wages and lower prices. In a statement following the virtual talks, Ms Truss added: “Discussions between negotiators were productive and reflected our shared ambition to secure a comprehensive deal to boost trade and investment between our like-minded economies. “Teams discussed their respective objectives and agreed a forward plan for future talks. Our positive discussions in round one have laid the groundwork for the UK and Australia to achieve high-quality outcomes across the agreement.”
The UK is “one step closer to an ambitious, wide-ranging free trade agreement” with Australia after a “positive” first round of negotiations. That’s according to the UK’s International Trade Secretary Liz Truss who has released a statement, saying: “We are now one step closer to an ambitious, wide-ranging free trade agreement with one of our oldest friends. “An FTA with Australia can bring investment, better jobs, higher wages and lower prices just when we need them the most. “Both teams of negotiators recognised the unprecedented circumstances we find ourselves in and reiterated that more global trade is essential to support post-Covid economic recovery.”
EU citizens will be deported for minor offences under Priti Patel’s post-Brexit immigration crackdown, despite having permission to stay, a leading lawyer has warned. Rules that allow foreign offenders to be expelled only if they represent a threat to the UK will be beefed up to target persistent pickpockets and shoplifters, from January. Crucially, the home secretary announced the change would apply to the 3 million-plus EU citizens in the UK in the process of being awarded settled status, which supposedly guarantees their right to stay. Colin Yeo, an immigration barrister, warned the crackdown was “a major change” from the current law that requires “a proportionality assessment and a current threat from the person facing deportation”. “The Home Office was already targeting EU citizens and deporting more of them by bending and sometimes breaking EU law,” he told The Independent. “But I’d expect the number of EU citizens to be deported to increase substantially from January 2021 onwards.
BRUSSLES is planning a huge legal crackdown on low-tax member states over their corporate tax regimes as the EU toughens its approach on tax deals. Brussels will be targeting sweetheart tax deals in particular, which often involve tax breaks or other advantages which aim to bring business to that particular member state. The crackdown would amount to an unprecedented legal assault, as the European Commission explores ways to trigger an unused treaty instrument to use to their advantage. The initiative would aim to reduce multinationals’ ability to exploit advantageous corporate tax schemes and attempt to harmonise tax regimes across the bloc. And the plan will only require the backing of a qualified majority of the EU’s 27 member states.
Boris Johnson has failed to head off a Tory rebellion over Huawei despite banning the buying of new equipment from the Chinese telecoms firm from January and pledging to strip it from Britain’s 5G network by 2027. A group of Conservative MPs who have been putting pressure on the Government to ban Huawei will table a series of amendments when legislation comes to Parliament in the autumn to try and win further concessions. Concerns have been raised that telecoms companies will buy cheap Huawei equipment by January and continue to install it for years, as well as fears about the exclusion of 3G and 4G from the ban.
China’s ambassador yesterday hinted at retaliation over the ‘disappointing and wrong’ decision to strip Huawei out of Britain’s 5G network – adding it was ‘questionable’ if the UK can be an ‘open and fair’ business environment for firms from other countries. Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said all of the firm’s existing 5G technology will be stripped out by 2027 in a move which represents a major U-turn after the Government said in January that Huawei would be allowed to help build the infrastructure. Liu Xiaoming, the Chinese ambassador to the UK, tweeted: ‘Disappointing and wrong decision by the UK on Huawei.
China tonight cast doubt over the future of its investments in the UK after Boris Johnson brought down the curtain on the so-called “golden era” of commercial relations between the countries by excluding tech giant Huawei from the development of Britain’s hi-tech 5G mobile communications network. In a major U-turn just six months after approving Huawei involvement in the development of the futuristic network, the prime minister slapped a ban on UK operators purchasing any of the company’s equipment after the end of this year and said any 5G kit already installed must be ripped out by 2027. Meanwhile, UK broadband operators have been told to transition away from the company’s products within around two years.
Boris Johnson sent diplomatic relations with Beijing plunging yesterday after British telecoms firms were ordered to strip Chinese tech giant Huawei’s equipment from 5G networks by 2027. Former intelligence chiefs warned the UK risks being “dragged in Washington’s wake” in the midst of an escalating cold war between China and the US. The Government embarked on a major U-turn yesterday when Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden announced all telecoms companies will be banned from buying equipment from the Chinese tech giant from December 31. The Prime Minister also set a deadline of 2027 to strip out existing Huawei technology from the UK’s 5G network, in a move that has further escalated diplomatic tensions with Beijing.
Huawei is to be stripped out of Britain’s 5G phone networks by 2027, a date that puts Boris Johnson on collision course with a group of Conservative rebels who want the Chinese company eliminated quicker and more comprehensively. Oliver Dowden, the UK culture secretary, also announced that no new Huawei 5G kit can be bought after 31 December this year – but disappointed the rebels by saying that older 2G, 3G and 4G kit can remain until it is no longer needed. The minister declared that the UK will be on an “irreversible path” to eliminating “high-risk vendors” such as Huawei in 5G by the time of the next general election in 2024, in attempt to placate some MPs.
Britain’s 5G network will be delayed for up to three years and could cost up to £2billion more than expect after the Government decided to remove Huawei technology from the system by 2027. Telecomms companies will be told not to buy any new Huawei 5G equipment from December 31, the Government has confirmed. And legal changes will make its purchase illegal in the coming months, Media Secretary Oliver Dowden has told MPs. But preexisting Huawei technology in 3G, 4G and fibreoptic broadband infrastructure will remain in place.
Rival telecoms firms welcomed the government’s announcement today that the UK will ban new Huawei products from its 5G infrastructure from next year, in a move that could signal a “gold rush” as alternative vendors scramble to scoop up Huawei’s market share in the UK. Speaking in the House of Commons today, culture secretary Oliver Dowden also announced a 2027 deadline for all existing Huawei technology to be stripped from Britain’s mobile networks in a significant U-turn for the UK.
Beijing has threatened retaliation against British companies in China, hinting that Boris Johnson had failed the “litmus test” for future trade deals after blocking Huawei from 5G networks. Oliver Dowden, the culture secretary, announced yesterday that telecoms companies would be barred from buying Huawei equipment from January next year. The Chinese company’s technology will be stripped out of the 5G network entirely by 2027. The announcement, which threatens Mr Johnson’s manifesto promise to supply superfast broadband to every home and business across the country by 2025, prompted a warning from Beijing that Britain should expect retaliation.
Ministers are to invest £5bn over the next seven years to help protect more than 300,000 homes and businesses in England from flooding. The money will help create about 2,000 new flood and coastal defences. Households and businesses will also be supported to get back on their feet after suffering water damage. But the measures will include potentially controversial changes to the scheme which insures homes in flood-prone areas. In March Boris Johnson was forced to defend his decision not to visit areas devastated by floods, and claimed the emergency services had advised him to stay away. But he did visit flood hit homes during the general election last December.
The government’s long-awaited strategy for tackling floods in England does not go far enough and appears to conflict with Boris Johnson’s “build, build, build” plan for more housing, experts have said. Billed by ministers as the most comprehensive flood defence plan in a decade, the fresh approach will mean more money spent on natural solutions to counter floods, such as capturing water on fields. But the plan, unveiled on Tuesday, stopped short of banning any new building on land at the highest risk of flooding, disappointing experts, local authorities and flood-hit communities. Prof Hannah Cloke, a hydrologist at the University of Reading, said the government’s pledge to review house building on floodplains did not “sound in tune” with the prime minister’s commitment to cutting red tape to build new homes more quickly under “Project Speed”.
Capital gains tax
The chancellor has ordered a review of capital gains tax that could result in the Treasury clawing back billions of pounds from homeowners and investors to help to pay for the coronavirus outbreak. Rishi Sunak turned his attention to the levy as the independent budget watchdog warned that he would need to raise taxes to bring the public finances back under control. Mr Sunak said last week that he was prepared to take difficult decisions after spending £188 billion on tackling the virus and mitigating its economic damage since March. In ordering the review of CGT, which taxes profits on homes and other assets, he wants advisers to consider “how gains are taxed compared with other types of income”.
A review of the Capital Gains Tax system is under way to see if it is ‘fit for purpose’. Chancellor Rishi Sunak has asked the Office of Tax Simplification to carry out the analysis of the tax, which is a levy on any profit made when selling assets. The review will examine rules that charge up to 28 per cent on gains from residential property and 20 per cent on other assets. It will also look at whether allowances and reliefs, such as the exemption when selling your main home, could be simplified or scrapped. But experts suggest the review could primarily serve as a way to raise funds.
Wealthy households could be in line for tax rises to claw back the cost of extra spending during the coronavirus pandemic, after the government called for a wide-ranging review of capital gains tax. Rishi Sunak surprised backbench Tory MPs after he ordered the examination of the main tax on asset sales, which reaps billions of pounds for the exchequer each year on the sale of second homes, works of art and stocks and shares. Analysts said the chancellor’s review could open the door to higher taxes for the wealthy over the rest of the current parliament. The request followed a report by the Office for Budget Responsibility that highlighted how the growing deficit in government spending was likely to exceed £350bn this year as the costs of protecting businesses and households during the pandemic spiralled higher.
A rise in deaths and serious injuries involving drink drivers is linked to a sharp decline in breathalyser tests by police, a damning watchdog report will reveal tomorrow (Thur). It will also question whether some speed cameras are being used to raise revenue and compensate for cuts in roads policing rather than improve road safety. The report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Police was specially commissioned by the Department for Transport (DfT) amid concerns that safety on Britain’s roads has been compromised by reductions in traffic police. It found that police enforcement of drink drivers, motorists illegally using mobile phones and people driving without a seatbelt had slumped by as much as 75 per cent since 2011. This coincides with the long-term decline in deaths on British roads tailing off over the same period.
Face coverings could soon be recommended in all public places including offices and other workplaces after ministers introduced new laws forcing people to wear them in shops, the Telegraph has learnt. Officials have begun private talks with groups representing major employers amid growing fears within Government over the prospect of a second wave of covid infections in the autumn. The talks came as a council in Lancashire became the first to order face coverings to be worn in all workplaces and enclosed public spaces following a rise in coronavirus infections. President Macron also announced that face masks will soon become compulsory in all indoor public places in France as parts of America reimposed lockdowns. Boris Johnson is expected to set out a fresh “road map” for his long-term Covid-19 strategy on Friday, when he will give new details of how the country will get back to work without risking a second spike.
Shoppers not wearing face masks are likely to be refused service under new Government rules. Ministers are drawing up guidance for shop managers on how to enforce the compulsory wearing of face coverings, which comes into force next week. It is expected to make clear they have the right to refuse customers service – just as they can turn them away if they were being rude or aggressive. Although shoppers who do not wear a mask can be fined up to £100, police chiefs say they will struggle to enforce the rules which apply from Friday, July 24.
Cabinet ministers gave out mixed messages on masks yesterday morning as they bought breakfast. Michael Gove, the Cabinet Office minister, was pictured without a mask in a Pret a Manger minutes after Liz Truss, the trade secretary, entered the same branch in Westminster wearing a blue face covering. On Sunday Mr Gove had prompted a day of confusion when he appeared to reject mandatory face coverings before being forced to row back on his comments. He said that it was “basic good manners” to wear a mask in a shop. Yesterday he was criticised for not setting a better example.
BRITS could wear face masks in shops until 2021 with coverings becoming the “new normal” unless a covid-19 vaccine is found. New rules mean coverings must be worn in shops from July 24 with those flouting the law in England facing a £100 fine. Shopkeepers have even been told to dob in lawbreaking customers to cops – but officers have warned it will be impossible to police. And government insiders hinted that Brits could be walking into the new normal until a coronavirus vaccine is found. One Cabinet source told the Mirror: “We are not doing this with a timeline in mind. This is part of the new normal.
The architect of David Cameron’s social care reforms has told MPs that the sector’s lack of funding is a “stain on the nation”. Sir Andrew Dilnot said bills for personal care should be capped at £45,000, beyond which a local authority would pay all the costs of looking after someone in residential care or in their own home. This is well below the £72,000 limit that Mr Cameron had proposed, although his planned reforms were never implemented. Sir Andrew, former chairman of the UK Statistics Authority and warden of Nuffield College, Oxford, told MPs on the health and social care select committee that he stood by his recommendations from a report in 2011. The proposed cap of £35,000 would be £45,000 in today’s prices.
Boris Johnson has been urged to channel his hero Winston Churchill by capping care costs for the elderly at £45,000. Economist Sir Andrew Dilnot, who first proposed a cap nine years ago, said England’s creaking social care system is a ‘stain on us as a nation’, forcing thousands to pay sky-high bills for their care. Last night he called on the Prime Minister to emulate Churchill, who introduced the concept of social insurance in 1911, by bringing in a scheme to cover the catastrophic care costs. He told of how Churchill had described the public service as ‘bringing the magic of averages to the rescue of millions’.
BRITS should pay no more than £45,000 towards the cost of social care in their lifetime, a leading economist has told MPs. Sir Andrew Dilnot said a cap would “take away the fear” that families will be forced to sell their home to pay for help in old age. He described the current lack of funding for the likes of care homes as a “stain on the nation” and called for urgent reforms. Sir Andrew, who wrote a flagship report on the issue in 2011, said the scheme would cost the Government £3.1billion a year. And he said there is no reason why social care should not be funded through taxation in a similar way to schools and the NHS. He told the Commons Health Committee: “We just do not spend enough money on care.
Care costs should be capped at £45,000 a year in England and more cash ploughed into provision for the poorest in society, according to Sir Andrew Dilnot, who has advised successive Conservative governments on reform. The measures to bring care funding closer into line with the NHS would cost an extra £3.1bn a year – a 14% increase on councils’ social care budget – Dilnot said in evidence on Tuesday to the House of Commons health and social care committee. The committee, chaired by the former health secretary Jeremy Hunt, has restarted its inquiry into funding social care and its workforce amid the coronavirus pandemic, during which 20,000 people died in UK care homes from confirmed or suspected cases of Covid-19.