Trade

Express
MICHAEL GOVE shut down a major European Union trade deal demand in the Commons as he warned that the UK could never accept it and emphasised the importance of democracy. The UK will seek to shake off any and all influence from the European Union after it has left, according to Michael Gove. The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster had appeared in the Commons to update the House on Brexit negotiations. He had replied to a question from his Labour counterpart, Rachel Reeves, about safeguarding the security of British citizens. Ms Reeves asked: “We were promised broad, comprehensive and balanced security partnership. “There is no greater priority than keeping the British people safe and secure.

Evening Standard
The Government has said its exports could increase by as much as £1 billion as a result of the trade deals it is seeking from Australia and New Zealand. Trade deals with the two countries will enable Britain to “make good on the promise of Brexit“, the International Trade Secretary said. Setting out its negotiating objectives on Wednesday ahead of the start of formal talks, trade secretary Liz Truss said: “Our new-found status as an independent trading nation will enable us to strengthen ties with countries around the world. “Ambitious, wide-ranging free trade agreements with old friends like Australia and New Zealand are a powerful way for us to do that and make good on the promise of Brexit.

Foreign aid

Sun
BORIS Johnson has scrapped the foreign aid department to end the UK role of being a “cashpoint in the sky”. The Prime Minister confirmed the move today, which will see the Department for International Development merge with the Foreign Office. The aid department will be officially scrapped by September, and the Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab will run it. But Britain will still spend 0.7 per cent of GDP on international aid. This means Britain will continue to spend it’s £14billion aid budget. Mr Johnson told MPs the plans would save money.

Express
BORIS JOHNSON has announced he is scrapping the Office for International Development as part of a major revamp. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said he is merging the Department for International Development (DfID) with the Foreign Office. The announcement was made during his Global Britain speech in the House of Commons this afternoon. The merger will help better promote British interests without cutting spending on overseas projects, according to the Prime Minister.

Mirror
Boris Johnson has claimed developing countries who get foreign aid behead their rivals. Mr Johnson made the comments as he announced he was to scrap the UK’s foreign aid department. Complaining there was a disconnect between the UK’s strategic objectives and humanitarian spending, Mr Johnson told MPs: “It’s no use a British diplomat going into see the leader of a country and urging him not to cut the head off his opponent, and to do something for democracy in his country if the next day another emanation of this government is going to arrive with a cheque for £250m.”

Telegraph
Boris Johnson will use the £14 billion foreign aid budget to counter “Russian meddling” and protect national security after announcing he is to scrap the Department for International Development. The Prime Minister said Britain’s aid spending would no longer be “some giant cashpoint in the sky” following a series of cases such as a multi-million-pound grant to an Ethiopian girl band. He decided to merge Dfid with the Foreign Office and hand control of aid to Dominic Raab, the Foreign Secretary, after losing patience with the way Dfid was allocating taxpayers’ cash.

Mail
Former Conservative prime minister David Cameron lashed out at Boris Johnson today, branding his decision to axe the UK’s foreign aid department a ‘mistake’. In what is believed to be his first policy intervention since quitting in 2016 ex-premier Mr Cameron joined his Labour predecessors to criticise Mr Johnson’s decision to scrap the Department for International Development. The Prime Minister told MPs in the Commons today it will be merged into the Foreign Office to create the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, in a bid to ‘maximise British influence’ overseas.

Times
David Cameron has told Boris Johnson that scrapping the Department for International Development is a “mistake” that will diminish Britain on the world stage. Mr Johnson announced yesterday that the department was to be absorbed into the Foreign Office, saying that Britain’s overseas budget had been treated like “some giant cashpoint in the sky”. The merged department will be called the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office. In his first criticism of Mr Johnson’s actions as prime minister, Mr Cameron warned that the decision would lead to “less expertise, less voice for development at the top table and ultimately less respect for the UK overseas”.

Fisheries

Express
BORIS JOHNSON’S options to resolve the escalating fishing dispute with Brussels have been whittled down to three compromises. Jill Rutter, a senior fellow at the Institute for Government who specialises in Brexit and Government policy, has laid out the routes the Prime Minister could take to bring the row to an end and strike a trade deal with the bloc. In a blogpost for The UK in a Changing Europe, Ms Rutter said while recognising the UK as an independent sovereign nation would be an “easy concession” for Eurocrats to make, Britain giving way would be a less straight-forward process.

Breitbart
The EU is expected to back down over demands to Britain’s fishing waters and will accept a deal with the UK where London and Brussels negotiate quotas annually. The British government and the EU have agreed for negotiators David Frost and Michel Barnier to work on a compromise that would see the EU step back from demanding permanent rights to access Britain’s territorial waters on equal terms to the bloc’s Common Fisheries Policy (CFP). Currently, European fishermen land more than 60 per cent of fish caught off the UK’s coast, including 91 per cent of Britain’s English Channel cod. The relationship is further unbalanced, with EU fishermen catching five times the value of fish in British waters as British fishermen catch in European waters.

Illegal immigration

Telegraph
The Home Office has no idea how many illegal immigrants there are in Britain, the National Audit Office (NAO) has warned. In a critical report on its management of illegal immigrants, it said the Home Office’s last estimate was 15 years old, when it was 430,000 in 2005. Subsequent studies by other groups suggests it has doubled but the NAO said the Home Office “does not have an up-to-date estimate of how many people have no right to remain in the UK.” The NAO, the official spending watchdog, acknowledged there would be “significant uncertainty” around any estimate because of the complexity involved.

Guardian
The government’s policy of making life intolerable for people who are suspected of illegally entering the UK is yet to show that it can persuade them to leave, Whitehall’s spending watchdog has found. The National Audit Office said that Home Office officials admit that they have no specific evidence to show the “compliant environment” policy – the successor to the “hostile environment” that led to the Windrush scandal – encourages voluntary departures or fosters compliance with visa and passport conditions. In a report issued on Wednesday, auditors also pointed out that the Home Office has not updated its estimate of the size of the illegal population for 15 years, and that nearly two-thirds of immigration enforcement detainees are released from detention without removal.

Sky News
An up-to-date estimate of the number of illegal immigrants in the United Kingdom has not been produced for 15 years, according to a report. The National Audit Office (NAO) said the last estimate in 2005 suggested there were around 430,000 people in the country with no right to remain. But independent research since has put the figure at more than one million, Whitehall’s spending watchdog said. The NAO’s report into the Home Office’s immigration enforcement directorate said the department had estimated demand for immigration enforcement activity. This was put at between 240,000 and 320,000 cases a year.

Statues

Telegraph
Sir Winston Churchill’s statue is set to be freed from its box in time for President Macron’s visit on Thursday to award London the Legion d’honneur in tribute for the city’s courage and support in World War Two. MPs had warned that it would be ironic if Sir Winston was to remain boarded up as the two nations marked the 80th anniversary of General de Gaulle’s “Appel” from Broadcasting House in London to the French people to resist the German occupation during the Second World War. Sir Winston’s statue in Parliament Square, and Cenotaph, was among statues and memorials hidden from view last week at the request of Sadiq Khan, the London mayor, and English Heritage after security warnings they could be attacked or damaged in the weekend’s planned protests.

Mail
Sir Winston Churchill’s statue will be freed from its protective box by Thursday in time for French President Emmanuel Macron’s visit to bestow the Legion of Honour on London.   Black Lives Matter protests across Europe have targetted statues of public figures with links to the slave trade and racism, with many being defaced and damaged during demonstrations.  Protesters daubed the words ‘was a racist’ under Churchill’s name, prompting London Mayor Sadiq Khan and English Heritage to order the monument be boarded up.

Times
Protesters who desecrate war memorials should be sent to a battle camp to learn from military personnel, a former defence secretary has suggested. Penny Mordaunt, now a Cabinet Office minister, has written to Robert Buckland, the justice secretary, saying the camps would give an insight into what service personnel go through. Ms Mordaunt, Conservative MP for Portsmouth North and a Royal Navy reservist, said she understood the “immense anger” among the public about vandalism of war memorials. The government has said it will “earnestly consider” a proposed law to protect such sites.

Air bridges

Mail
Quarantine-free ‘air bridges’ are set to be put in place by June 30 which  would allow Britons to travel abroad without needing to isolate on arrival.  The UK Foreign Office placed a ban on all non-essential travel to other countries in the middle of March but the regulation is expected to be scrapped in the coming weeks. However, the Government is set to successfully negotiate deals with some foreign nations, meaning Britons could choose to have a summer holiday abroad after several weeks in lockdown.

Treatment

ITV News
British scientists have made the “biggest breakthrough yet” in the treatment of coronavirus with a drug which is “proven to reduce the risk of death”, the prime minister has announced. When trialled, the drug dexamethasone reduced the death rates of those on ventilators by around a third in comparison to the group given standard care. Boris Johnson said “the chances of dying from Covid-19 have been greatly reduced by this treatment”. He said he was “proud” of the “fantastic team of scientists right here in the UK” who conducted the “first robust clinical trial anywhere in the world” on the use of dexamethasone as a coronavirus treatment.

Telegraph
The world’s first coronavirus treatment that significantly reduces the risk of death is being given to NHS patients following groundbreaking trials by British scientists. In a breakthrough described by Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister, as a “remarkable achievement”, the common steroid dexamethasone was shown to radically improve the chances of survival for the most ill patients. Mr Johnson hailed the result as the “biggest breakthrough yet” in the treatment of coronavirus, both in Britain and globally. “We are seeing the first chink of light,” he told the daily Downing Street news briefing.

Times
The world’s first coronavirus treatment proven to save lives is being given to NHS patients after a “huge breakthrough” by British scientists. Dexamethasone, a decades-old steroid that costs about 50p per day, was found to reduce Covid-19 deaths by up to one third for the sickest patients. NHS hospitals were advised to begin using it immediately amid hopes for a new era of treatment for the disease. Oxford University researchers said that up to 5,000 deaths could have been prevented in Britain if doctors had been aware of its potential and it had been used from the start of the pandemic.

Mail
A former coronavirus patient who was treated with a drug which was hailed by the Prime Minister today as the ‘biggest breakthrough yet’ in the UK’s coronavirus fight has said the experimental medicine ‘saved his life’.   Peter Herring, 69, from Ely in Cambridgeshire, was rushed to Addenbrooke’s Hospital in late April after the deadly virus infiltrated his lungs and was placed on oxygen support within hours of his arrival. As his health deteriorated and he became gravely ill, the former John Lewis manager volunteered to take part in a new drug’s trial and was offered dexamethasone, a cheap steroid that has been around for decades, in an effort to save his life.

Testing

Mail
Tens of thousands more Covid victims may be identified thanks to a ‘game-changing’ blood test. Offering a potentially massive boost to the battered economy, it can spot 98 per cent of cases – even those without symptoms. Scientists fear that existing methods are effective in detecting the virus only in the very sick. Yet studies show that up to eight in ten cases are so mild that sufferers barely notice they are ill – and therefore will not know they have potential immunity. Birmingham University’s test will put these ‘hidden’ victims on the radar – with huge implications for firms, families and schools.

Sun
SCIENTISTS may now be able to identify thousands more people infected by coronavirus thanks to a “game-changing” blood test that can spot 98 per cent of cases. Diagnosing the virus will be an essential part of stopping its spread and lifting lockdowns around the world, but an accurate test has so far proved elusive. Research has found that up to 29 per cent of current tests conducted on carriers produce a negative result. While current tests try to detect a protein associated with the virus, the new test, developed by the University of Birmingham, looks for antibodies produced by the body when Covid-19 is present.

Shielding

Telegraph
More than 2 million people who are under orders to stay home and be fully “shielded” will be told they can stop isolating at the end of next month, it has emerged. After being forced to “cocoon” themselves at home since the beginning of lockdown, members of the public classed as extremely vulnerable to Covid-19 are reportedly to be released from self-isolation at the end of July. Whilst Downing Street insisted that no final decision had been made, other Government sources said reports that the policy will be relaxed in July were accurate.

Sun
THE government has said it is yet to decide whether two million vulnerable Brits will need to continue to shield themselves from coronavirus after the end of July. Reports had earlier said it was poised to end its “shielding” programme for those at highest risk of the disease as infection rates continue to fall. The move would have meant those affected would be able to leave their home to go to work or go shopping for the first time since lockdown started in March.

Mirror
Two million vulnerable Brits could soon be told they no longer need to shield themselves from contact with others. The government is reviewing its advice to ‘shielding’ people at the highest risk of coronavirus. It follows reports the advice could be scrapped by the end of July. Food packages and medicine deliveries for these people could also be ended, the Health Service Journal reports. But priority online food shopping from supermarkets is expected to remain while ministers will keep the shielding list in case they need to ask people to isolate again during a second wave.

Independent
The government’s shielding programme for high risk patients could be wound down in July, it has emerged. More than two million people are currently classed as extremely vulnerable to coronavirus. They have been ‘shielded’ and warned to avoid all unnecessary contact with others. To ensure they have been properly protected they have been eligible for food parcels and other support. Charities have previously warned that many in the group are suffering badly from the isolating effects of lockdown.

Times
Ministers hope to drop the shielding programme for the most vulnerable people at the end of next month, as levels of the virus in circulation fall. Some 2.2 million people with pre-existing health conditions that make them particularly susceptible to Covid-19 were sent letters in late March or early April telling them they should not leave their homes for at least 12 weeks. Whitehall sources said last night that lifting the restrictions was “under active consideration”, with a decision expected in the coming weeks.

Education

Telegraph
Private schools are preparing to disregard Government guidance and open at the start of the new academic year “come what may”, The Telegraph can reveal. Some of the most prestigious fee-paying institutions are setting up their own track and trace systems, which they aim to have up and running for September. It comes as the Government formally admitted in a High Court document, in response to a legal challenge to its lockdown policies, that it was a “request, not a direction” for schools to close.

Times
Ofsted inspectors need to “get back to work” a school governor has said amid concerns about the impact of coronavirus on a generation of children. David Wolfson, a leading lawyer, said that people at his small primary school had been “left to determine ‘best practice’ by ourselves”. In a letter to The Times, the QC added: “Where is Ofsted and its inspectors?  Like our teachers, Ofsted needs to get back to work.”

Cash

Telegraph
Banks could share branches for the first time, in a pilot to boost access to cash. Eight towns and villages have been chosen to take part in the scheme which will help address the challenges of continued free access to cash. Some of the locations have seen all their bank branches close in recent years or have faced a dwindling number of free ATMs. The communities will now work with the banking industry to draw up “sustainable” solutions to keep cash viable. Around two million people still  mostly use cash in their day to day lives.

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