THE EU will block any free-trade agreement with Britain unless Boris Johnson agrees to guarantee access for European boats to the country’s fishing grounds, Germany today warned. European affairs minister Michael Roth said the future relationship hinged on a comprehensive fisheries pact to manage “common resources”. Addressing the European Parliament, he said: “We do understand that the UK wants certain advantages for its own fishermen, for its own fisheries industry. “But, common resources need to be managed together in a sustainable way, which means we cannot accept that the UK would exclude EU fisheries efforts from its territorial waters all together.”

BRITAIN has access to only half of the fishing opportunities in its own waters, according to Environment Secretary George Eustice as MPs debate Brexit legislation around the UK’s fishing waters. MPs have been encouraged to back a flagship Brexit legislation which will implement controls on foreign vessels seeking to access UK fishing waters. Environment Secretary George Eustice said the Fisheries Bill gives the UK a chance to correct “shortcomings” in the EU-led approach to fishing for the “first time in almost half a century”. It comes as the chances of a Brexit deal between the UK and EU seem “unlikely” according to Brussels chief negotiator Michel Barnier. He told the Commons: “Overall the UK fishing industry currently has access to just around half of the fishing opportunities that are in our own waters and that cannot be right.


BORIS JOHNSON has handed the European Union and its chief negotiator one of the clearest Brexit ultimatums yet in trade deal talks between the UK and EU – drop your demands on a number of red lines, or risk a complete collapse in negotiations and a no deal Brexit outcome. The UK and EU remain deadlocked in post-Brexit trade talks – more than five months after they started – as they both refuse to give ground in a number of areas and repeatedly blame each other for the current stalemate in negotiations. Mr Barnier last month set a deadline for a deal to be struck by October 31 for it to be ratified by the European Parliament in time for the transition period deadline on December 31, fears of a no deal Brexit are increasing by the day. Now Downing Street has issued one of its biggest warnings yet over a Brexit deal, stating that while it is still possible to agree, “it is clear that will not be easy to achieve”.

Boris Johnson has admitted the UK is currently heading for a no-deal Brexit, with an agreement now “very difficult” as the two sides dig in and refuse to compromise. In a new gloomy summary of the state of the talks, No 10 described a deal as only “still possible” – with a strong attack on the EU’s failure to give ground. “An agreement is still possible and this is still our goal, but it is clear it will not be easy to achieve,” the prime minister’s spokesperson said. He confirmed Brussels was refusing to discuss British proposals on future fishing quotas until it had received a state aid plan – something London has so far refused to set out.

Downing Street has played down the prospect of reaching a trade deal with the EU in time for December, saying it will be “very difficult” – and blaming Brussels’ insistence on tackling tough issues upfront. The UK’s chief negotiator, David Frost, is meeting his EU counterpart Michel Barnier in London, in advance of the next round of formal talks next week. But with the clock ticking to 31 December, when the status quo transition is due to end, Boris Johnson’s official spokesman conceded that hopes of a deal were dwindling. “The EU continues to insist that we must agree on difficult areas in the negotiations, such as EU state aid, before any further work can be done in any other area of the negotiations, including on legal texts, and that makes it very difficult to make progress,” the spokesman said.

The European Union is refusing to discuss a treaty on fishing unless the United Kingdom abandons its claim of full sovereignty over its own territorial waters. Currently, under the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), fishermen from the EU27 land more than 60 per cent of fish in Britain’s waters. The French, for example, are legally allowed to catch 84 per cent of Britain’s cod caught in the English Channel and two-thirds of British Irish Sea haddock. While the UK wants to take back full control of its territorial waters and agree on annual fishing licences with EU countries, Brussels is demanding long-term pledges.

BORIS JOHNSON’s negotiators warn EU stubbornness is drastically increasing the chances of a no deal Brexit. Lord Frost, the head of the Prime Minister’s Task Force, met his Brussels counterpart Michel Barnier face-to-face in London yesterday in yet another attempt to break the deadlock in the wrangle over a post-Brexit UK-EU trade deal. But as the pair grappled over the agenda for next round of formal talks, the Prime Minister’s spokesman admitted a UK-EU trade deal “will not be easy to achieve” because of the bloc’s intransigence. Negotiators from the European Union are digging in a row over rules for state subsidies to private firms and refusing to allow any other issues to be discussed, the spokesman added. Lord Frost and Mr Barnier met last night to try to thrash out a framework for the eight round of formal trade negotiations due to be held in London from Monday.

Downing Street has said that it will be difficult to finalise a free trade agreement with the European Union before the no deal deadline at the end of this year.  France and Germany also warned that time was running out to avoid no deal, which would mean the UK and EU trading on less lucrative WTO terms and with tariffs from January 1. The Prime Minister’s spokesman blamed Brussels for the deadlocked negotiations, accusing the EU of blocking talks until the UK made concessions on fishing rights and level playing field guarantees for state aid, which govern subsidies and bailouts.

Evening Standard
EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier today stepped up warnings across Europe that there will be new barriers with the UK even if an 11th-hour trade deal is struck. Ahead of travelling to London to try to break the deadlock in negotiations, he tweeted guidance from the European Union that “changes are inevitable” and businesses, citizens and public bodies should prepare for them. Mr Barnier was due to hold emergency talks today with UK chief Brexit negotiator David Frost amid a stand-off over state aid rules and fishing rights. In a tweet directed at Croatia, he highlighted the guidance which states: “Even if the EU and the UK enter into a very ambitious partnership by the end of 2020 covering all areas agreed in the Political Declaration, the withdrawal of the UK from the EU, internal market and customs union at the end of the transition period will inevitably create barriers to trade and cross-border exchanges that do not exist today.


Almost 1,500 migrants crossed the Channel in small dinghies to reach Britain last month, a record since the route became popular last year. More than 130 refugees arrived yesterday after four days of bad weather made conditions difficult for the 21-mile journey from France. They came on 15 rigid-hulled, inflatable dinghies as well as an inflatable kayak. Women and children were taken aboard Border Force cutters and brought into the port of Dover before being handed over to immigration officials to be processed. Several of the migrants wore winter coats, while a woman was pictured in an anorak and a woollen bobble hat.

A record number of migrants reached Britain by illegally crossing the Channel last month, it has been confirmed.  More than 1,450 arrived by small boats in August, bringing the total since the start of the year to more than 5,000. Just 1,850 migrants made the journey in 2019.  The massive rise comes despite a vow from Home Secretary Priti Patel last autumn to have made the crossings an ‘infrequent phenomenon’ by this point.

Foreign aid

Rishi Sunak is seeking to divert billions of pounds from foreign aid to pay for upgrades to Britain’s intelligence and defence capabilities. The chancellor has told cabinet colleagues that increased spending on items such as enhanced cyberweapons and AI-enabled drones must come from the aid budget. The Treasury is gearing up for a fight over the pledge that commits Britain to spending 0.7 per cent of national income on development projects. An overhaul of foreign, defence and security policy is due to conclude in November. A desire to develop cutting-edge military technologies risks being compromised by a multibillion-pound deficit in the Ministry of Defence’s funding plans for existing kit programmes.

Rishi Sunak wants to divert billions from the foreign aid budget to pay for spies, drones and cyberweapons, it was reported last night. The Chancellor has told Cabinet that any increased spending on defence assets such as AI-enabled drones must come from aid funds. The UK has a legal obligation to spend 0.7 per cent of GDP on aid – which this year comes to £15.8billion – but a review of foreign, defence and security policy could see defence prioritised. A Whitehall source told The Times: ‘The Chancellor has been clear that if the review isn’t cost-neutral it is only right that any extra spending comes out of the 0.7 per cent.’

Sky News
The UK has reiterated a pledge to spend 0.7 per cent of national income on overseas aid even as suspicion mounts that the government seeks to divert money away from the world’s poorest. A new government department repeated the spending commitment as it opened on Wednesday with the merger of the long-standing Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and the relatively-newer Department for International Development (DFID). “The UK has committed to spending 0.7 per cent of our national income on aid, and the formation of the [Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office] FCDO today will make sure our diplomatic influence and development expertise are combined to the best effect on the global stage,” it said.


The Square Mile is preparing to scrap statues and other landmarks with historic links to slavery and racism, following the Black Lives Matter movement. City of London Corporation bosses, who run the area home to some of the world’s biggest banks, has now launched a three-month consultation that could see the sculptures felled for good. The London’s financial district is considering options including relocating the memorials, reinterpreting or retaining them, depending on the responses collected.

ID cards

Downing Street is planning new digital ID cards for British citizens as Dominic Cummings bids to transform the Government’s use of data despite privacy fears. People will get an online identity that can be used for daily activities such as proving ones age, registering with a GP and buying properties from a different location. It comes after issues emerged in identifying people during the Covid-19 pandemic, such as during the self-employment income support scheme. The government did not have any details on half of the 2.6million who applied for support at the start of the crisis. Some – such as Tony Blair – called for new digital ID cards to prove their ‘disease status’ as the world relaxed lockdown measures.


Nicola Sturgeon has been accused of living in a “bubble” after unveiling plans in the middle of a pandemic for another independence referendum while doing little more to stem a wave of imminent job losses. Unveiling her Programme for Government for the coming year, Holyrood’s version of Westminster’s Queen’s Speech, the First Minister said she would publish a draft Referendum Bill with a ballot paper question and timetable. She said she would then seek a “clear endorsement” for another separation vote in next May’s Holyrood election, with polls suggesting she is on course for a landslide victory. Boris Johnson would come under intense political pressure to drop his opposition to handing Ms Sturgeon the powers to stage a legal vote, amid concerns blocking it would drive up support for separation.

Nicola Sturgeon has said that a draft Bill will be drawn up setting out the timing, terms and question for a new Scottish independence referendum. Announcing her programme for government in the Scottish Parliament, the First Minister said a draft Bill will set out the proposed question people will be asked in a new poll. She said at next year’s Holyrood election she will ‘make the case for Scotland to become an independent country, and seek a clear endorsement of Scotland’s right to choose our own future’. Addressing the ‘self-sabotage’ of Brexit, Ms Sturgeon said leaving the EU ‘strengthens the case for Scotland becoming an independent country’.

A British minister said she was surprised by plans for another Scottish independence referendum given the budget deficit in the country and the economic challenges facing the whole of the United Kingdom after the COVID-19 pandemic. “I’m just somewhat surprised,” Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey told BBC television on Wednesday. “Last week we saw that Scotland has a record deficit, the union bonus is about 2,000 pounds ($2,673) per person in Scotland. I really struggle to understand why this is the right time to be thinking about an independence referendum.” Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon on Tuesday pledged to publish draft legislation for a new independence referendum, including the question and timing of the vote, before the country’s parliamentary election next year.

SCOTS leader Nicola Sturgeon was branded “reckless” yesterday after reviving her crusade to break up Britain in the face of economic meltdown. The First Minister sparked fury as she announced she will set out her demands for a fresh separation vote within the next six months. A timetable will be proposed by her administration before May’s Holyrood elections despite warnings of a slow recovery from Covid-19. Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross said: “This was the moment where the First Minister could have put selfish, narrow interests to one side and united the country.  Instead, we’re told the solution is another Referendum Bill, only this time in the middle of a pandemic.

The Scottish government will propose the timescale and question for a second referendum on Scottish independence by next spring, Nicola Sturgeon has said, as she pledged the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic would act as an accelerant and not a brake on the Scottish National party’s ambitions. Setting out her programme for government – Holyrood’s equivalent to the Queen’s speech – on Tuesday afternoon, the first minister announced a “youth guarantee”, offering a job or a place in education or training to everyone aged 16 to 24 , as she said Covid “will not be the defining experience for this generation”. cShe also revealed plans for a £100m green jobs fund, further investment in digital infrastructure, and a review of adult social care, which will set out options for a “national care service”. Sturgeon hailed her government’s “game-changing” Scottish child payment, but anti-poverty campaigners said that the delay of the rollout until next February would leave many families overwhelmed in the interim.


Antibodies that people make to fight coronavirus last for at least four months after diagnosis and do not fade quickly as some earlier reports suggested, scientists have found. Tuesday’s report, from tests on more than 30,000 people in Iceland, is the most extensive work yet on the immune system’s response to the virus over time, and is good news for efforts to develop vaccines. If a vaccine can spur production of long-lasting antibodies as natural infection seems to do, it gives hope that “immunity to this unpredictable and highly contagious virus may not be fleeting”, scientists said. One of the big mysteries of the pandemic is whether having had coronavirus helps protect against future infection, and for how long.


The world may be one step closer to getting a coronavirus jab after Oxford University’s vaccine candidate entered its final stage of tests in the US. UK drug giant AstraZeneca, which owns the rights to the vaccine, said it had enrolled 30,000 American volunteers to take part in its phase three clinical trial. It now means 50,000 people worldwide are taking part in studies to see whether the jab – known as AZD1222 – can actually prevent people getting infected with Covid-19. Thousands of volunteers have already been injected with the experimental drug in the UK, Brazil and South Africa and are being monitored by scientists. Oxford’s Professor Sarah Gilbert, the brains behind the jab, said preliminary data from trials in these countries could be expected in the coming weeks.


Men with beer bellies are more likely to die from prostate cancer than their slimmer peers, according to a study. In Britain almost 12,000 people die every year from prostate cancer, making it the second most common cause of cancer death among men. One man in six will have the disease but unless it spreads the five-year survival rate is almost 100 per cent. The researchers found that the quarter of men with the biggest waist circumferences — over 103cm, or 40½in — were 35 per cent more likely to die of prostate cancer than the quarter with the smallest measurements, below 90cm, or 35½in.

BLOKES with a beer belly are a third more likely to die from prostate cancer, a study suggests. The disease appears more deadly in fellas who carry flab around their stomach and waist than elsewhere on the body. University of Oxford researchers analysed data on 218,225 UK men aged 40 to 69, who were tracked for 10.8 years. Some 571 died from prostate cancer during this period. The experts found no clear link between total body fat or body mass index (BMI) and the odds of dying from the disease. But the quarter of men with the largest waists faced a 35 per cent higher risk than the quarter with the slimmest.

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