Former Brexit secretary David Davis said that the European Union is trying to push for an extension to the transition period in an attempt to siphon off more British money during the impending economic collapse the bloc is facing as a result of the Chinese coronavirus. In response to the two-year extension floated by the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, Conservative MP and former special forces reservist David Davis said that the UK could not afford to cower and extend the transition period, as “every single time we extend, we weaken our position and strengthen theirs”. Mr Davis said that throughout trade negotiations with the bloc, the economy of the UK has remained stable, which he believes is a signal of how well prepared the country is to leave the EU. “For the economy to just charge on through: that is amazing,” Davis said in an interview with LBC Radio on Monday. The Brexiteer MP said that in comparison, the EU’s financial status is “very poor” due to the Chinese coronavirus that resulted in lockdowns across the continent, which is why — in his view– the bloc is pushing for the UK to remain in the European Union to help subsidise the economic recovery with money from the British taxpayer. “They want our money for another two years,” he cautioned.
Boris Johnson’s spokesman accused the European Union of “wishful thinking” on Tuesday as he ruled out any compromise over fishing rights after the Brexit transition period. UK and EU officials will hold difficult online negotiations over access to British fishing waters on Wednesday in the fourth round of the Brexit trade talks, which ends on Friday. Both sides called on the other to drop their red lines over fishing after the last round of talks ended in bad-tempered recrimination. EU sources said this week they expected British negotiators to fold on their red lines over fishing and the level playing field guarantees if Brussels was to hint at a willingness to compromise.
Britain accused the EU of wishful thinking yesterday for claiming it should compromise on access to fishing waters and follow standards set by Brussels. As the latest round of trade talks began, Downing Street said Brussels had failed to acknowledge the nation’s new-found independence. UK chief negotiator David Frost and the EU’s Michel Barnier are holding meetings online after the last round of talks ended in stalemate. The two sides must make progress ahead of a summit this month between Boris Johnson and EU chief Ursula von der Leyen, but the UK has already indicated it will walk away from negotiations if there is no prospect of an agreement by then.
The UK’s fishing industry has accused the EU of using a “nuclear option” to secure a Brexit deal, warning that it is prepared for blockades by the French if trade talks collapse. Fishing leaders have also revealed they do not support an extension to the transition period despite being hit badly by the coronavirus pandemic, with the closure of restaurants and hotels affecting sales. Barrie Deas, the chief executive of the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations said the industry is relishing liberation from the common fisheries policy, claiming decades of injustices, such as French boats being allowed to catch 84% of the quota of cod in the Channel, for instance.
A breakthrough on a post-Brexit fisheries agreement will lead to economic disruption and a blockade of Calais as sure as “night follows day”, the British fishing industry has warned. Talks continue this week between the government and the European Union. There are rising hopes that a deal on fishing will be reached soon, removing the biggest obstacle to a future free-trade agreement. The emergence of any new fisheries compromise will deprive France, and other European countries, of a significant part of their fishing catch.
Boris Johnson is to take “direct control” of the Government’s handling of the coronavirus crisis after a chaotic fortnight in which his chief aide was accused of breaking the lockdown rules and the Government’s test and trace plans were hit by setbacks. A shake-up in Downing Street will see the Government’s entire approach to the pandemic run by two centrally-run committees, covering strategy and operational delivery. Tory MPs said the changes could weaken the influence of chief adviser Dominic Cummings – who was heavily criticised for a 260-mile trip during lockdown – and allow Mr Johnson to tighten his grip on the fight against the pandemic after being treated in intensive care for the virus.
Quarantining people arriving in the UK is crucial to preventing a second coronavirus peak, Priti Patel has said as she prepares to defend the controversial policy to MPs. The Home Secretary, writing for The Telegraph with Grant Shapps, the Transport Secretary, warns “we will all suffer if we get this wrong” and argues tourism will be up and running faster if tough measures are taken to keep the virus in retreat. The article refers to air corridors, which would see restriction-free travel between the UK and some countries, but does not mention a date.
Foreign travellers who disobey forthcoming UK quarantine rules could be deported, according to new restrictions laid out by ministers. The rules, due to be set out by Home Secretary Priti Patel on Wednesday, have caused unease in the Tory ranks and been condemned by businesses. The plans, coming into force on June 8, will see people arriving in the UK told to isolate for 14 days to prevent coronavirus cases being introduced from overseas.
Hopes for foreign holidays this summer have been revived after sources claimed Boris Johnson was looking at relax the government’s controversial quarantine plan with air bridges. From next week, people coming into the UK from abroad will have to quarantine for 14 days to stop the spread of coronavirus. But with business chiefs warning this will wreck the travel and hospitality industry, the Prime Minister is pushing for quarantine-free ‘travel corridors’ or air bridges to popular destinations.
The home secretary will today confront rebellious Conservative MPs, warning them that their opposition to the government’s overseas quarantine plans risks alienating the public and throwing away the progress in fighting Covid-19. In a defiant stance, Priti Patel will round on Tory opponents who have warned that the two-week compulsory quarantine scheme for people arriving in Britain from Monday will damage the country’s economic recovery.
Britain is on track to have zero Covid-19 deaths by July, a leading expert predicted today – as health chiefs announced 324 more coronavirus fatalities. Professor Carl Heneghan, an Oxford University epidemiologist, expects no ‘excess deaths’ when weekly data taking into account suspected and confirmed deaths is published next Tuesday. The weekly death toll in England and Wales dropped to its lowest levels since the lockdown began, an Office for National Statistics (ONS) report said today.
DEATH rates in Britain ‘could already have returned to normal’ as coronavirus continues to fizzle out, an expert predicts. Prof Carl Heneghan said he would expect to see zero ‘excess deaths’ when figures from the Office of National Statistics are published next week. Scientists calculate ‘excess mortality’ by looking at all the deaths in the country – and then taking away the average number of deaths over the same period in the previous five years. It’s thought to be one of the most reliable ways to measure the real impact of a pandemic.
The two-metre rule on social distancing is based on outdated science that may have overestimated the risk by up to fifteen times, senior MPs and scientists have warned. The Government on Tuesday said the controversial rule would stay in place despite a major study showing the comparative risk of halving the distance to one metre was far less than previously thought. Business leaders and MPs have called for the guidance to be altered in line with WHO guidance and rules followed by some other countries in order to avoid mass redundancies and help the hospitality sector reopen.
The scientist behind lockdown in the UK has admitted that Sweden has achieved roughly the same suppression of coronavirus without draconian restrictions. Neil Ferguson, who became known as “professor lockdown” after convincing Boris Johnson to radically curtail everyday freedoms, acknowledged that, despite relying on “quite similar science”, the Swedish authorities had “got a long way to the same effect” without a full lockdown. Sweden has adopted a far softer approach to Covid-19 than elsewhere in Europe, introducing voluntary social-distancing measures and keeping restaurants and bars and many schools open.
Chief medical officer Chris Whitty made the decision not to lower the coronavirus alert level last week, Downing Street has confirmed. A cut from Level 4 – meaning transmission is “high or rising exponentially” – to 3, where the virus is “in general circulation”, had been widely expected after Boris Johnson signalled his plan to relax lockdown restrictions in England at the start of this week. But in the event, ministers were able to say only that the pandemic in the UK was at Level 4, but “transitioning towards Level 3”.
Test and trace
Fewer than half the people whose details have been handed to the NHS test and trace scheme because they are at risk of coronavirus have been contacted, leaked documents suggest. The system launched last Thursday, with 25,000 contact tracers recruited in a bid to prevent the spread of the virus. Since then, there have been claims that many tracers have been left with nothing to do, with Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary, saying it was right that the system had “more capacity than we need” so it could respond quickly.
The NHS test-and-trace system is failing to trace the contacts of at least 60 per cent of people who test positive for coronavirus, new figures suggest. Matt Hancock, the health secretary, said on Monday that the programme was “working well” and that the vast majority of new cases had been contacted since it began last Thursday. However, figures disclosed last night appear to show serious problems at the start of the scheme. They suggest that 1,831 of 4,456 patients, or 40 per cent, put on the system after testing positive for Covid-19 had provided information about their close contacts, either in an online form or to contact tracers.
CHINA could spark global “conflict”, MP Tobias Ellwood has warned, after it emerged Beijing were planning to use a coronavirus vaccine to leverage power. Mr Ellwood, Tory MP for Bournemouth East, said tensions could spiral into conflict after Liu Xiaoming, China’s ambassador to Britain, suggested his country was making significant progress on the development of a jab – and would be willing to share it with the rest of the world. He told Express.co.uk he feared the vaccine could push already-tense relations between the US and the West to the brink.
The World Health Organization has heaped praise on China for its response to Covid-19. At a press conference in Beijing in February, Bruce Aylward, from a joint taskforce sent to Wuhan, went as far as to say the world should thank the Chinese government for its handling of the outbreak. However, internal WHO documents seen by the Associated Press appear to suggest that behind the scenes there was considerable frustration with the delays and lack of transparency in getting information from the authorities in China.
Boris Johnson has pledged to allow nearly three million Hong Kong citizens the right to live and work indefinitely in the UK, with a route to full citizenship, if China imposes a controversial new national security law on the city. The prime minister described the potential move as “one of the biggest changes in our visa system in history”. It is a significant escalation in the UK’s objections to Beijing’s plans. Previously foreign secretary Dominic Raab had only said the offer would be available to the 350,000 current holders of a British National Overseas passport in Hong Kong and their dependants.
Boris Johnson has said he is ready to open the door to nearly three million Hong Kong citizens if China imposes a new security law that critics say would rob the territory of its autonomy. The Prime Minister offered to make what he said would be one of the “biggest changes” in the history of the British visa system to allow 2.85 million Hong Kong citizens the chance of fully-fledged citizenship. The move, which represents a dramatic escalation in the stand-off between the UK and China, would put Hongkongers “on the route to citizenship”, said the Conservative Party leader.
The UK has warned it will offer a “path to citizenship” to 300,000 people in Hong Kong if China brings in a controversial national security law. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab confirmed he will “change the arrangements” for British National Overseas passport holders in Hong Kong if the law goes ahead. Currently BNO passport holders enjoy six months’ visa free entry into the UK to visit. Mr Raab told the Commons: “If China follows through with its proposed legislation, we will put in place new arrangements to allow BNOs to come to the UK without the current six month limit.”
Boris Johnson has said he will have ‘no choice’ but to offer the people of Hong Kong citizenship if China erodes human rights in the former British colony. The Prime Minister said last night that a proposed new national security law in Hong Kong would ‘dramatically erode its autonomy’ and breach the terms of its treaty with the UK. Mr Johnson said he would ‘willingly’ bring in one of the ‘biggest changes in our visa system in British history’ as an ‘alternative’ to Chinese repression.
Britain will not walk away from the people of Hong Kong and will have “no choice” but to offer them a route to UK citizenship if China strips them of their freedom, Boris Johnson has warned. The prime minister has made offering the island’s residents “an alternative” to Chinese repression a matter of national honour in a dramatic escalation of the confrontation with Beijing. Writing in The Times today, Mr Johnson says that the Chinese imposition of a national security law on Hong Kong would “dramatically erode its autonomy” and breach the terms of its treaty with the UK.
Boris Johnson is ready to open the door to nearly three million Hong Kong citizens if China imposes a new security law that critics say would rob the territory of its autonomy. The Prime Minister, writing in The Times, has offered to make what he says would be one of the “biggest changes” in the history of the British visa system to allow 2.85 million Hong Kong citizens the chance of fully-fledged citizenship. The move, which represents a dramatic escalation in the stand-off between the UK and China, would put Hongkongers “on the route to citizenship”, said the Conservative Party leader.
The unrest in Hong Kong has led to a surge of residents renewing their British National (Overseas) passports, highlighting that many regard securing a back-up plan as a matter of urgency, according to data published yesterday. China’s push to impose national security laws in the former British colony has stoked worries about its future and prompted Britain to offer refuge to almost three million Hong Kong residents eligible for the passport.
Foreign secretary Dominic Raab has told China to “step back from the brink” and to not enforce the planned security legislation in Hong Kong. Raab told MPs today that the new legislation “lies in direct conflict with China’s international obligations” and was a breach of Hong Kong’s autonomy. The UK announced last week it would offer UK visas to the 3m British National Overseas (BNO) passport holders in the former British territory, with a pathway to future citizenship, if Beijing enforced the planned changes.
When he ran for president in 2016, Donald Trump was routinely compared to Richard Nixon: both men promised to restore “law and order”. Nixon won the presidency in 1968 in a familiar context – protests and riots in major cities – and he claimed to speak for a “silent majority” unrepresented by the Democrats or the media. So, comes the question, if Trump follows a Nixon strategy, will he win in November? Perhaps. But there are some major differences. The most obvious is that Nixon was running as an outsider whereas Trump is the incumbent, and Trump will be blamed for the condition of his country even if a lot of it isn’t his fault.
DRAMATIC photos show looters and cops clashing in New York during another night of violence as the Macy’s department store was ransacked. Mayor Bill de Blasio said Tuesday that the curfew would be extended through June 7, from 8pm to 5am – a day after thugs lit a fire outside the famous building in Manhattan’s Herald Square before smashing down the door. NYPD officers arrested two men at the store after the entrance was breached, while rioters ransacked a Nike store and carried out armloads of clothing.
US PRESIDENT Donald Trump has declared war on his own citizens, threatening to send the country’s military onto the streets as the uprising spreads to more than 75 towns and cities. In a phone conference today, a belligerent Mr Trump berated state governors for failing to deal with escalating tensions triggered by the killing of unarmed black man George Floyd in Minneapolis at the hands of the police last week. “Most of you are weak. It’s like a war. And we will end it fast. Be tough.
Joe Root believes Ben Stokes would be a “fantastic” stand-in captain if he has to miss the first Test against West Indies to attend the birth of his second child. Root’s wife is due to give birth at the start of July and he confirmed he will miss the Test match if necessary to be by her side. It means Root will have to leave the biosecure environment created by the England and Wales Cricket Board to ensure its matches with West Indies can go ahead behind closed doors. On Tuesday the ECB released the itinerary for the three Tests which start at the Ageas Bowl on July 8 before moving to Emirates Old Trafford for two Tests starting on July 16.