EUROPEAN capitals have ordered France to back down from their maximalist demands to secure status quo access to the country’s fishing grounds. EU diplomats mounted pressure on President Emmanuel Macron’s Brussels envoy to drop his “unrealistic” call for Britain to remain tied to the bloc’s Common Fisheries Policy beyond the end of the post-Brexit transition period. This comes as Michel Barnier raised hopes of a Brexit pact as the EU’s dealmaker declared there was a new “buzz” in the trade talks, according to Brussels sources. The European Union’s chief negotiator praised the “improved atmosphere” in the wrangling over a post-Brexit trade deal in a private meeting with MEPs. Earlier this week at a private Brussels meetings, top European diplomats decided the bloc was being “too strict” with its demands to maintain status quo access to Britain’s coastal waters after the end of the year.
Boris Johnson has been rebuffed by Brussels after making an eleventh hour attempt to break the Brexit logjam with new proposals on limiting state subsidies to ailing British companies. As the latest week of negotiations began, EU sources welcomed the UK’s effort to make a compromise with a submission of a new round of “negotiating papers”, but warned that a large gap remained between the two sides. According to Brussels sources, the UK’s paper on state aid, the most contentious of the outstanding issues, offered to lay out a series of “principles” on controlling domestic subsidies. The EU said the paper offered hope that the UK would build on provisions in the recently signed UK-Japan deal.
BORIS JOHNSON has backed down on negotiating demands around the UK’s car industry after the EU flatly rejected David Frost’s proposal, a leaked letter has shown. Car parts imported from countries such as Japan will not be treated as British. This means, despite being used in British cars, the parts could now receive a new tariff even if there is a free trade agreement with the EU. This bombshell for the UK car industry was revealed in a letter, sent by Lord David Frost on September 7. In the letter, Lord Frost informed industry leaders of the EU’s refusal to budge on the issue.
French police have dismantled a migrant camp in the northern port of Calais from where thousands of people have sought to cross the Channel to reach British shores. The operation to clear the makeshift camp, which was home to about 700 people, began shortly before sunrise on Tuesday. It was the biggest such operation since the sprawling camp known as the “Jungle” was broken up four years ago. Several thousand people have attempted the perilous crossing this year, often paying people-smugglers to help them traverse one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes in overloaded rubber dinghies.
A migrant camp in Calais, France in which 700 to 800 migrants were squatting was dismantled by French police on Tuesday, in what is being characterized as the largest operation since the destruction of the notorious Calais “Jungle” in 2016. The French port city still acts as a magnet for migrants from the Middle East and Africa who hope to illegally cross the English Channel and reach the United Kingdom where — despite travelling from a safe first world country in France — they are often afforded the ability to claim asylum status. While the migrants wait for people smuggling gangs to provide them passage across the Channel — in vessels ranging from surfboards and kayaks to ‘gold package’ rubber dinghies — migrants often establish makeshift camps in French cities such as Calais.
GUY VERHOFSTADT has been mocked by Brexiteers on Twitter after admitting a major weakness in the European Union. The Belgian MEP took to social media to fume that the UK and Canada had already imposed sanctions on Belarus’ president Alexander Lukashenko while Brussels is still squabbling over the issue. Mr Verhofstadt said: “UK and Canada impose sanctions on Lukashenko and his cronies… while the EU is still unable to decide. Unanimity is killing the EU!” But the tweet prompted a quick response from Brexiteers. Ex-Brexit Party MEP Belinda de Lucy wrote: “Thank you @guyverhofstadt for highlighting the importance of the nation state being free to impose sanctions swiftly and efficiently outside of supranational shackles. Ahhh to be free.”
Internal Market Bill
Boris Johnson’s controversial Brexit legislation, enabling the UK to break international law has cleared the House of Commons. MPs voted in favour of the UK Internal Market Bill, which would give the government power to override the Withdrawal Agreement with the EU. The Bill cleared the House of Commons after MPs voted by 340 votes in favour to 256 against, a majority of 84. However the Bill must be approved by the House of Lords before it is signed into law as an Act.
A controversial government Brexit bill that breaches international law has safely passed its final House of Commons hurdle, despite continued serious doubts among a number of Conservative MPs about the plan. The internal market bill, which primarily sets out technical post-Brexit details involving the devolved nations, also gives ministers the power to unilaterally rewrite elements of the withdrawal agreement with the EU. It passed its third reading on Tuesday night by 340 votes to 256 and will now go to the House of Lords.
Boris Johnson’s legislation to unilaterally override the EU withdrawal agreement has cleared the Commons, despite a minister’s admission it flouts international law. After a series of divisions on Tuesday evening, MPs passed the contentious Internal Market Bill at third reading by 340 to 256 votes – a government majority of 84. Despite concerns raised by Conservatives, voting lists showed no MP from the party voted against the legislation while a vote was not registered for former prime minister Theresa May – suggesting she abstained.
Boris Johnson today begged mutinous Tories to ‘work together’ with him amid fury over coronavirus lockdown, the university shambles and 10pm pubs curfew. With 16 million Britons now under draconian restrictions, the PM admitted there were ‘Orwelllian’ elements to the restrictions the government has been imposing – including punitive new fines and bans on households mixing in the North East. There is also a wave of criticism of the 10pm curfew on pubs in England, with complaints that it is making matters worse by shifting partying on to the streets or into people’s homes.
The prime minister, Boris Johnson, has been slammed as “grossly incompetent” as he was forced to apologise after getting his own government’s coronavirus rules wrong. The PM’s blunder over new restrictions on social gatherings in the northeast of England came as he answered questions on live TV just hours before they come into force, with the threat of fines for members of the public who fail to observe them. Mr Johnson admitted that the public would find the government’s instructions “confusing” and said he was relying on “the great common sense of this country” to defeat coronavirus.
Boris Johnson was urged to make it easier for migrant workers to enter Britain to become builders and even butchers today – as he launched a scheme to provide new skills for Brits left unemployed by coronavirus. The independent Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) recommended that meatsellers, bricklayers and welders be added to the UK’s shortage occupation list (SOL) – which helps migrants get work visas to fill jobs where there are not enough native applications.
NINETY hotels are being used by the Home Office to house migrants. In a shocking admission, Home Office officials have warned the hotels are “not great value for the taxpayer”. The accommodation – which includes high-end four-star rated hotels – is part of a £4 billion ten-year contract between the Home Office and three outsourcing giants – including Serco. The other firms are Mears and Clearsprings. The Sun understands the firms then take over the running of the hotel from chains. It comes amid a massive spike in migrants arriving across the Channel on small boats.
Thousands of ventilators bought to treat Covid-19 patients are sitting in warehouses due to a lack of demand, according to a new report. A National Audit Office (NAO) study found that the overall cost of programmes to acquire ventilators has been higher than would be expected “in normal times”, but that efforts had been made to control costs. It found that £569 million had been spent overall on ventilators by the Government, through programmes set up by the Department of Health and Social Care and the Cabinet Office. At the start of the pandemic, modelling from China suggested that up to 30,000 ventilators would be needed to treat patients with coronavirus in the UK.
Thousands of ventilators bought to treat Covid-19 patients are sitting in warehouses due to a lack of demand, the spending watchdog has revealed. Ministers prioritised ‘speed over cost’, meaning they paid 50 per cent over the odds for foreign-supplied machines, the National Audit Office (NAO) found. In one case, 750 ventilators purchased at a cost of £2.2million had to be withdrawn on the advice of clinicians. The Government also spent tens of millions of pounds on British designs which were ultimately not needed.
THE true scale of March’s coronavirus peak in Europe was ten times the current second wave, experts claim. Around 300,000 new cases a week are currently being diagnosed across the continent but they estimate three million caught the disease in one week in the spring, with most cases going undiagnosed. Mass testing for the deadly virus is far more advanced than earlier in the outbreak, meaning its genuine spread was never really known. Just 200,000 cases were confirmed back then despite the huge death toll. That news came as daily infections in the UK rocketed to 7,143 — a 77 per cent increase from 4,044 positive cases the day before.
Conservative rebels were on the brink of winning their fight for votes on Covid restrictions on Tuesday night after Boris Johnson was forced to apologise for not knowing the rules himself. The Prime Minister issued a public correction after he wrongly claimed people in the North-East could mix with other households in a pub. Rebel MPs – including the head of the 1922 Committee of backbench Conservatives and several former Cabinet ministers – said the gaffe had “strengthened the argument” for greater parliamentary scrutiny of new rules as Mr Johnson’s confusion had proved that new legislation had been rushed and was impossible to follow.
Boris Johnson has admitted that the patchwork of local coronavirus restrictions is confusing after apologising for misunderstanding rules he imposed on the northeast last night. The prime minister said he “misspoke” when botching an explanation of regional rules that came into force at midnight. The government has been criticised by local leaders about the “chaotic” way the restrictions have been imposed. They appear to undermine the national “rule of six” that was introduced to simplify matters.
Daily coronavirus cases topped 7,000 for the first time in Britain yesterday, dashing hopes that the “rule of six” was weakening a second wave of infection. A death toll of 71, twice as many as a week ago, and a doubling in ten days of the number on ventilators to 259 confirmed the sharply worsening trend. Boris Johnson will prepare the nation for more bad news in a Downing Street press conference today, with Merseyside on the brink of joining the northeast under tougher restrictions.
Rush-hour traffic in big cities has not dropped despite Boris Johnson’s request for people to work from home to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Congestion levels yesterday morning were largely unchanged on those seen at the same point last week, suggesting that commuting habits have not been altered by the new advice. An analysis of daily figures published by TomTom, the traffic data company, shows that congestion increased slightly in seven out of 15 cities at 8am.
Some civil servants may never go back to the office, one of the country’s top mandarins has said, predicting that working from home will become a ‘permanent feature’ of Government departments. Alex Chisholm’s comments come despite recent efforts by the Prime Minister who, before the second wave of Covid-19 infections hit the UK, had led calls for staff to return to the workplace. The rallying cry had been issued in response to concerns that cafes and other businesses which rely on demand from commuters were facing ruin.
Vice-chancellors have called for A-level exams to be cancelled next year because it would be “simply wrong” to waste time on assessment rather than lessons, putting them at odds with Gavin Williamson. The heads of two universities — supported by several others — have set out plans for teenagers to focus on learning for the whole of this academic year. The education secretary has insisted that GCSEs and A-levels will take place next summer and will decide next month whether they will be delayed slightly and whether less content will be compulsory in exams.
Students could be told to isolate for two weeks before the Christmas break – even if they don’t have any coronavirus symptoms, it is reported today. The eye-catching idea would supposedly allow thousands of teenagers to safely leave university halls and fan out across the country when term ends. But there would be major questions over how it could be policed or enforced. It has been floated as one possibility as Education Secretary Gavin Williamson prepares to end his silence and address the fiasco in the Commons today.
University students will be able to return home for Christmas, but Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has said some students may have to self-isolate at the end of term. Speaking to the Commons, Mr Williamson said: “I know there has been some anxiety about the impact safety measures will have on the Christmas holidays. “We are going to work with universities to make sure that all students are supported to return home safely and spend Christmas with their loved ones if they choose to do so.”
Shocking footage shows hundreds of students climbing on top of ping pong tables and raving at a Coventry University accommodation block on Tuesday night. At least 200 students are thought to have crammed into a common room at Arundel House, close to Coventry University’s main campus, ignoring social distancing guidelines and the rule of six. Some revellers could be heard screaming, while a group of male students clambered on top of a ping pong table as they sang along to the thumping music. The accommodation block is just a two minute walk from campus and is also close to the town centre.
Teacher are pushing left-wing views in classrooms and putting working-class pupils off school with ideas at odds with their “family’s beliefs”, a former Conservative cabinet minister has claimed. Tory MP Esther McVey, the ex-work and pensions secretary, suggested at a panel event that Britain’s pupils were now being “indoctrinated” in schools. She said: “I would say for a long period of time, I would never have known what my teacher thought, politically or in any other way. They wouldn’t have tried to indoctrinate me.
NEARLY a million women have missed out on breast screening during the Covid crisis – leaving almost 9,000 cancers undetected, charities claim. Campaigners warn lives will be lost after the “lifesaving” programme was paused in March. The backlog will also pile further pressure on already over-stretched NHS services as more cases are diagnosed late. Breast Cancer Now, which carried out the analysis, called on ministers to plough in extra cash to deal with delays. NHS tumour screening has only now started to resume due to the coronavirus pandemic. The charity estimates 986,000 women across the UK missed out on mammograms as a result – 838,000 in England, 78,000 in Scotland, 48,000 in Wales and 23,000 in Northern Ireland. It also calculates 8,655 tumours have now gone undetected.
The waiting list for cancer patients appears to have grown by nearly 20 per cent between August and September, it was reported yesterday. Charities warned separately that almost a million women had missed out on breast cancer screening during the pandemic, and said there were higher cancer rates in deprived areas. The Health Service Journal (HSJ) said NHS data showed the total number of people waiting to see cancer specialists had grown from 50,000 to about 58,000 between the start of August and the middle of September.
A million women have missed out on breast cancer screening as a result of lockdown. The huge backlog means the killer disease may have gone undetected in around 8,600 of them. The charity Breast Cancer Now estimates that 986,000 patients are waiting for life-saving mammograms because screening ground to a halt when the pandemic struck. Early diagnosis hugely improves survival chances and doctors warned the delays mean young and otherwise healthy women will ‘die unnecessarily’.
Anti-racism campaigners have reported more than 20 Tory councillors to the party’s Islamophobia inquiry as polling suggests nearly half of all members think Islam is “incompatible” with British life. Hope not Hate identified dozens of Tory members using social media to express anti-Muslim sentiment in its submission to the inquiry, set up last year to examine claims of discrimination in the party. The group also commissioned a YouGov poll of more than 1,200 Conservative members that found widespread distrust of Islam and Muslims among grassroots Tory supporters.
Almost half of Conservative Party members believe Islam is ‘generally a threat’ to the British way of life, a poll has found. The survey of rank-and-file activists showed 47 per cent thought the religion was incompatible with British values. Some 43 per cent were positive about Muslims, in contrast to roughly three-quarters of respondents who expressed positive views about Hindus and Sikhs.
A train powered by hydrogen will run on the mainline for the first time today as part of a government plan to clean up our diesel-fuelled railways. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps hopes hydrogen trains will start taking paying passengers in 2023. Trials of the ‘Hydroflex’ train will begin at Long Marston, Warwickshire, and run on the North Cotswold line from Oxford to Hereford. Unlike diesel trains, hydrogen-powered trains do not emit harmful gases. Instead they rely on hydrogen and oxygen to produce electricity, water and heat.