IF Boris Johnson holds his nerve he can kill off any lingering hopes the EU may have about an extension to the transition period as early as next week, the boss of a UK-based pro-Brexit think tank has said. The UK Government has been urged to carve out a middle way and implement a conditional extension to the EU transition period to ensure Brexit uncertainty is mitigated for businesses who have already been hit by the coronavirus pandemic. The move has been proposed by Raoul Ruparel, Theresa May’s former special advisor on Europe, who argues such a measure would “allow everyone to prepare for any deal reached”. Mr Ruparel’s suggestion differs to an outright extension of the Brexit transition period, which is due to end on December 31, 2020.
Brexit talks risk reaching a stalemate if there is no progress in the next round of negotiations between the European Union and the British government, EU sources have said. The two sides are due to resume talks next week, the final round scheduled before a “high-level conference” in June to assess progress before the end-of-year deadline. After the chief negotiators, Michel Barnier and David Frost, exchanged testy letters last week, a senior EU official said there was a risk of stalemate if the EU did not see progress on its vital interests, including how to ensure fair competition, or a level play field, between British and EU companies under a free-trade deal.
ARGENTINA has asked the EU not to include the Falkland Islands in a post-Brexit deal with the UK, despite it being a British overseas territory. Argentina’s foreign minister Felipe Solá asked his Irish counterpart Simon Coveney for support in excluding the Islands from an agreement between the UK and the EU. In a telephone call, Mr Solá expressed concerns about the implications it could have for “the Argentine territories of the Malvinas, South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands, which are under a sovereignty dispute with the UK”. He added: “Argentina would appreciate Ireland’s support so that the EU, in the framework of the trade agreement signed with Mercosur, abstains from including the Malvinas Islands in the current negotiations that are carried out with the UK as a result of Brexit, so that the future relationship between the EU and the UK does not apply or have any effect on the islands.”
BRITISH negotiators could seal their first major victory in the trade talks with the European Union as the bloc prepares to offer concessions on its “maximalist” fisheries demands. Boris Johnson has so far refused to accept plans by Brussels to maintain the same level of access to Britain’s fishing waters as a key pillar of the post-Brexit future relationship. Instead the Prime Minister wants the fisheries agreement to recognise the country’s newly-acquired coastal independence. His chief negotiator, David Frost, has set out blueprints to agree new quota shares by using scientific methods that will be discussed as part of an annual negotiation on access.
The EU is said to be willing to ease its stance on fisheries in talks with the UK next week in what would mark a significant breakthrough in post-Brexit trade negotiations. Fishing has proved a major stumbling block in Brexit talks, with the UK pushing back against Brussels’ demands for access to British waters to be maintained. The bloc has argued that fishing is a sensitive issue for France, stating it would not sign a new trade deal without a stable agreement in place. But the EU is now prepared to soften its approach ahead of upcoming talks, Reuters reported, citing sources.
Brussels sources have signalled that the European Union may be planning to back down on their fishing demands following the chief British negotiator saying the UK would not accept the bloc’s “low-quality” trade deal offer. Under the current Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), European fishermen have access to more than 60 per cent of the landings coming from the UK’s territorial waters; to date, Brussels has demanded continued access in exchange for a free trade agreement (FTA). The EU may be softening on that position, however, with sources speaking to Reuters saying that the EU is willing to drop that “maximalist” approach.
The European Commission is set to unveil a gigantic recovery package worth up to €2 trillion (£1.78 trillion) to help salvage the European Union’s pandemic-ravaged economies, despite fierce resistance from the bloc’s richer countries. The EU recovery package will blend grants, loans and guarantees over the next few years, including heavy leveraging of private financing, although battlelines are already being drawn up over the exact size, shape, scope and terms of the aid. It will include a two-year €500 billion recovery fund alongside a seven-year EU budget of around €1 trillion and is aimed at ensuring the most vulnerable economies in the bloc bounce back from what is likely to be the deepest recession in living memory. The plans have the backing of both Germany and France, who last week threw their weight behind the €500 billion fund, marking a bold shift in direction for Berlin.
A kayak and six boats carrying migrants were brought to Dover on Tuesday morning after crossing the Channel illegally, as the French Navy was alleged to have escorted them across the sea. The Telegraph understands that dozens more people made it to the UK after being shadowed across the busy shipping lane and into British waters by a French navy vessel. Already this month, a record 601 people have made it to the UK in this way.
NIGEL FARAGE claimed Brexit may be playing a large role in the Dominic Cummings row as he delivered a judgement on whether the PM’s aide was in breach of the lockdown rules. Nigel Farage stunned LBC listeners when he claimed the motivations behind the outrage against Dominic Cummings may have to do with Brexit. Boris Johnson’s chief aide has been accused of flouting the Government’s own lockdown restrictions by travelling over 200 miles when he had coronavirus symptoms. Mr Cummings addressed press from Downing Street to explain his movements in an attempt to stave off demands for his resignation.
Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage has said that Remainers want the prime minister’s adviser, Dominic Cummings, fired, in order to have an excuse to extend the transition period. “It is clear that there are many — not all, but many, in the Remain camp particularly — who would like to see the back of him, who think Cummings going now may well aid them in getting us to extend beyond the end of this year,” Mr Farage said during his LBC show on Monday.
EX-EUROPEAN Council boss Donald Tusk has attacked Boris Johnson’s chief aide Dominic Cummings on Twitter, as he made another dig at Brexit. The Brexit-bashing former eurocrat used the Prime Minister’s chief adviser refusal to apologise for his actions to launch another stinging attack on the country’s departure from the European Union. Mr Tusk, who was one of the bloc’s harsh critics of the referendum result, hit out at Mr Cummings in a social media post. Writing on Twitter, he said: “This is apparently Cummings and his Brexit friends’ rule: that they leave when they should stay.”
Former European Council president Donald Tusk has criticised Dominic Cummings as the crisis surrounding his alleged breach of the coronavirus lockdown rules deepens. Cummings has faced calls to step down from his role as an adviser to Boris Johnson after it was revealed he had driven 250 miles to northern England while Britain was under a strict lockdown. Tusk, who has been a vocal critic of Brexit and the Vote Leave campaign masterminded by Cummings, posted a tweet on Tuesday mocking Johnson’s aide over the scandal.
NHS patients are to benefit from a drug hailed as the “biggest step forward” in treating coronavirus. Remdesivir, an antiviral originally designed to fight ebola, is the only drug shown to have any effect in combating Covid-19. It will soon be available to some of those in greatest need, Matt Hancock, the health secretary, announced yesterday. “This is probably the biggest step forward in the treatment of coronavirus since the crisis began,” he said. The drug interferes with the life cycle of the virus and in a large trial in the US was shown to shorten the time patients took to recover by about four days.
The UK has made “probably the biggest step forward” in the treatment of coronavirus since the crisis began, Matt Hancock has said. A treatment being trialled in the UK, Remdesivir, has already given “promising early results” which show coronavirus recovery could be shorted by “about four days”. The antiviral drug is being trialled on NHS patients with Covid-19, and if successful health officials will be “prioritising the use of this treatment where it will provide the greatest benefit,” the health secretary said. “This is probably the biggest step forward in the treatment of coronavirus since the crisis began,” he added.
Brit patients with severe cases of coronavirus are set to be given an experimental Ebola drug. The anti-viral drug remdesivir is being heralded as the “biggest step forward in the treatment of coronavirus since the crisis began”. The drug, which has been subjected to extensive studies on monkeys as well as select human cases, will only be administered to further select cases as part of a collaboration with manufacturer Gilead Sciences, it was announced today.
Britain could soon be carrying out a million coronavirus tests a day thanks to rapid diagnostics technology being assessed by the NHS. If approved, the technology might allow routine monthly testing of every household in the country. Documents seen by the Daily Mail reveal the NHS is in early talks over the tests, which cost less than £2.50 each. The potential breakthrough could be made if genetic testing techniques are adopted, DNA testing experts claim. They say this could increase testing capacity across the country ten-fold.
Rishi Sunak is set to announce that companies will soon be banned from putting any more employees into the Government’s furlough scheme in plans to get Britain back to work, it is claimed. The Chancellor will this week lay out the second stage of his plans to help businesses come off Government financial support and get the country ‘back up and running’. New details are also expected to be revealed over how companies’ contributions to employee wages – of which 80 per cent are currently paid by the Treasury – will change as some firms bring back staff part time from August.
FIRMS are set to be barred from furloughing more staff as the Government looks to wind down the scheme. Rishi Sunak is expected to announce the slow end of the emergency funds set aside to help struggling companies through the first phase of the coronavirus crisis. The Chancellor is set to reveal details of the job retention scheme, which will need contributions from employers when it kicks in at the start of August. He will also unveil the rules surrounding furloughed employees returning to work on a part-time basis, the Financial Times reports.
Just one quarter of pupils in year 10 and 12 will be allowed to return to schools to see their teachers at any one time, according to new Department for Education guidance. Boris Johnson said when he announced his road map for easing lockdown that he wanted secondary school students in England who are facing exams next year to have some face-to-face time with staff before the summer holidays. But the new guidance shows that in order for schools to adhere to social distancing rules the number of pupils allowed back will be capped at 25 per cent of normal levels.
Plans to reopen schools have been plunged into chaos – as a government minister admits England’s primaries might not all open on June 1. England’s primaries were told to prepare to bring back year R, 1 and 6 pupils back to class, with other primary years returning later in June. But those plans were hurled into doubt by a mass revolt from unions and councils. Liverpool, Hartlepool, Birmingham, and even Tory-run Solihull and Essex have warned June 1 might not be possible.
TOUGH local lockdowns to rapidly isolate new coronavirus sufferers could be thrown in place from Thursday, The Sun can reveal. Boris Johnson plans to announce the government’s crucial new ‘track and trace’ programme to stamp out new coronavirus contagion trails tomorrow. He will say it will go live either on Thursday or Friday, when an army of 25,000 contact tracers will begin work hunting down new cases. Whole towns could face lockdown if there are regional flare-ups and schools, businesses or workplaces may be closed.
Future “flare-ups” of coronavirus infections could lead to localised lockdown measures, the health secretary has said. Matt Hancock revealed stricter social distancing measures could be introduced in certain areas in future as part of the NHS “test and trace” system for continuing to suppress the spread of COVID-19. “We will have local lockdowns in future where there are flare-ups,” he said at the daily Downing Street coronavirus briefing on Tuesday. “We have a system we are putting in place with a combination of Public Health England and the new joint biosecurity centre – along with the local directors of public health who play an absolutely crucial role in the decision-making in the system – to make sure if there is a local flare-up there is a local lockdown,” he continued.
‘Local lockdowns’ could be imposed on whole towns if there are regional flare-ups of coronavirus cases, Matt Hancock confirmed yesterday. The Health Secretary said the ability to tighten restrictions in individual regions will be part of the NHS test, track and trace system – which is set to expand on June 1. This could lead to local schools, businesses or workplaces being closed in areas with high prevalence of infection, according to the government’s road map on easing lockdown restrictions.
FAMILIES and friends may soon be having barbecues together under plans allowing different households to meet for the first time in months. Ministers looking to ease the coronavirus lockdown restrictions are hoping to approve small outdoors gatherings at home from next month. It will be capped at two households at a time — but will mean youngsters can see grandparents again. Ministers want to let different households meet up at their homes again for the first time since lockdown in March.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Monday that all ‘non-essential’ shops can reopen in England on June 15th, with retailers planning on quarantining items touched by customers. “I want people to be confident that they can shop safely, provided they follow the social distancing rules for all premises,” Prime Minister Johnson said, outlining that shops will be obliged also to enforce new hygiene standards. Retailers have been told to maintain social distancing, make available hand sanitation for staff and customers, limit the number of people in premises, and restrict human contact wherever possible.
More than 35 Tory MPs including former Cabinet ministers have called for Dominic Cummings to resign, after claiming they have been contacted by hundreds of angry constituents over his alleged breaches of lockdown. Boris Johnson’s hopes of quelling public anger over his aide’s conduct were in jeopardy on Tuesday night as opinion polls showed a sharp fall in support despite Mr Cummings hosting an unprecedented press conference to explain why he travelled to Durham to facilitate emergency childcare during the lockdown.
Boris Johnson was struggling last night to contain a growing party revolt over Dominic Cummings as 39 Tory MPs demanded his resignation. With public opinion hardening against the senior adviser accused of repeated breaches of the lockdown, a new poll reveals the scale of the political damage caused by the controversy. A YouGov survey for The Times shows the Conservative lead over Labour cut by nine points in a week. Support for the Tories was down by four points, to 44 per cent. Labour added five points to 38 per cent compared with a week ago.
Boris Johnson is facing more potentially awkward questions about his refusal to sack Dominic Cummings in a 90-minute interrogation by senior MPs. For the first time since becoming prime minister 10 months ago, he is appearing before the Liaison Committee, made up of the MPs who chair all-party select committees. Mr Johnson’s interrogation comes as more than 30 Tory MPs demand Mr Cummings is sacked and opinion polls suggest strong public support for his dismissal. The whole committee session, likely to be conducted by video link, will be about the government’s handling of the coronavirus crisis, beginning with a section allowing questions about Mr Cummings.
Boris Johnson faced an extraordinary and growing revolt from within his own party on Tuesday over his refusal to sack his chief adviser, Dominic Cummings, for breaching lockdown rules. On a day of dramatic developments, a junior minister resigned and more than 30 other Conservative MPs called for Cummings to go, many citing inboxes overflowing with hundreds of angry messages from constituents. A further eight Tory MPs were publicly critical of the senior aide’s actions, and three said privately that he should be forced out.
COPS were called to break up an alleged illegal lockdown bank holiday birthday party at the home of a Tory MP. Balloons and banners outside Rob Roberts’ North Wales home reportedly celebrated a 40th birthday. The Mirror reports two people visiting the Mold house were asked to leave yesterday. Police confirmed they attended the Delyn MP’s home over a “possible breach of Covid-19 regulations”. It is thought Mr Roberts’ wife Alexandra turned 40 years old on Monday.
An illegal birthday party was held at a Tory MP’s house during the coronavirus lockdown, with police called to the property. Two people who were visiting the house of Rob Roberts, MP for Delyn in North Wales, were asked to leave, the Daily Mirror reports. There were balloons and banners outside the house yesterday. It is understood that Mr Roberts’ wife Alexandra turned 40 on Monday. North Wales Police Superintendent Mark Pierce said: “In response to two reports of a possible breach of Covid 19 regulations we visited an address at Ty’n y Coed, Mold, yesterday (Monday, May 25).