ARCH-federalist Guy Verhofstadt has called for more powers to be handed to Brussels to deal with the coronavirus crisis – including over the UK. The senior Belgian MEP said it was time for the European Union to issue pandemic travel rules amid fears a second wave could soon erupt across the Continent. Any bloc-wide travel rules would likely be applied to Britain until the end of the year as part of the post-Brexit transition period. Writing on Twitter, Mr Verhofstadt said: “It’s time the EU takes action to harmonise the COVID data and to issue one set of traveler rules.
The European Commission has dismissed a demand by senior Tories to rewrite the Brexit withdrawal agreement to reduce the amount of cash Britain has to pay the EU. Brexiteers including Iain Duncan Smith have claimed that the financial liabilities signed up to by Boris Johnson in the agreement were too great, that the treaty “costs too much” and “denies us true national independence”. But speaking to reporters on Tuesday, a European Commission spokesperson said the agreement’s financial section included “completely normal legal commitments”.
BRUSSELS has rejected a senior Brexiteer’s calls for the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement to be torn up. Former Conservative leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith yesterday claimed the divorce deal could leave the UK liable for £160billion of unpaid loans. He said the European Union “want our money and they want to stop us being a competitor”, adding: “The Withdrawal Agreement we signed last year sadly helps them.” But the European Commission dismissed Sir Iain’s criticism, insisting the pact is a “firm document” which “stands”. An EU spokesman said: “I think it’s very clear that we are not going to get into a debate with British politicians on liabilities or any other of the provisions of the Withdrawal Agreement.
IF EVER the case for Brexit needed to be re-made, two recent stories provided yet more evidence of why we made the right decision in 2016. The scale of Britain’s bill for the EU has recently been exposed and the fact 23 EU countries are worse at breaking EU laws than Britain. Firstly, according to The Sun, the UK is facing a £160BN loans bill after Brexit — four times the size of the “divorce” settlement – since the Withdrawal Agreement keeps the UK hooked to payments issued by EU agencies. According to Matt Dathan: “The European Investment Bank and the European Financial Stability Mechanism have paid out hundreds of billions. It has gone to “investment projects” across its 27 members, some of them economically fragile.
Another 120 migrants were intercepted by Border Force agents in the Channel yesterday as ministers prepared new measures to stop abuses of the asylum system. The Home Office is preparing for a fight with lobby groups over plans to limit the opportunity for applicants to make multiple claims to prolong proceedings and thwart removals. Ministers are braced for the surge in crossings to continue as people smugglers take advantage of good weather. Since 2015 the UK has given £114 million to France to bolster security at Channel ports and along beaches, but it is demanding that Paris take more action to tackle the crisis.
French ships were seen apparently escorting illegal migrants in small boats across the English Channel again on Tuesday morning, confirming earlier reporting from Breitbart London and Brexit leader Nigel Farage, who uncovered the practice. ITV’s Good Morning Britain filmed the migrants crossing into British waters after being “shadowed” by French naval vessels in the Channel — reporting that at the time of filming they witnessed four or five migrant boats attempting to make the journey. The film showed a small rubber dinghy with approximately ten migrants sailing by the crew’s boat, with the presenter remarking that the boat was clearly not designed to hold that many people — requiring them to bail water to keep afloat.
Another 120 migrants streamed into Dover today as people smugglers urge hundreds to make the Channel crossing now before Brexit ‘closes the door’. Pictures show men wearing masks and lifejackets being brought into the Kent port of Dover on a Border Force speedboat. The Home Office confirmed Border Force and partner agencies intercepted eight boats while the Coastguard earlier said it was dealing with ‘multiple incidents’. So far this year, at least 3,510 migrants have made the illegal crossing from France, compared to around 1,850 in 2019. Border Force sent out vessels Seeker and Hunter from Dover to deal with the small boats crossing the busiest shipping lane in the world.
BUNGLED French efforts to stop migrants crossing the channel into the UK is like “trying to empty the sea with a spoon”, Calais’s MP has moaned. Pierre Henri Dumont complained French police “can’t be in different places at the same time” as he admitted that they didn’t take boats back to shore if they’ve crossed over into British waters. He said that “maybe we should do more” but insisted the French were keeping an eye on 400km of coastline 24-hours a day. Speaking to BBC Radio 4 today he said: “You only need five minutes for a smuggler to take a boat, bring all the migrants on the boat, and go to the seas. “What we are doing is trying to empty the sea with a spoon”.
LAWYERS representing over 1,400 families who have lost loved-ones to Covid-19 will today unveil plans to take legal action against the Government over its handling of the pandemic. The Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice campaign will lay out the legal case they are planning to take against the Government. Four men and women who lost their dads to coronavirus will give evidence to a cross-party group of MPs and peers investigating the Government’s handling of the pandemic. They have sent the Government a formal notice of their plans to pursue legal action that will secure a statutory public inquiry into the pandemic.
An “inexplicable” failure to quarantine travellers to the UK fuelled the Covid-19 pandemic and led to unnecessary infections and deaths, a damning report by MPs finds today. The fateful decision in March – taken without “any scientific evidence” to justify it – is blamed for making the impact of coronavirus “far worse” than if restrictions had been imposed. It meant many hundreds of Covid-infected passengers arrived every day – particularly from Spain, Italy and France – as the UK stood “almost unique” in rejecting border checks, the report says. It was “a serious mistake that significantly increased both the pace and the scale of the epidemic in the UK, and meant that many more people caught Covid-19”, the Commons Home Affairs Committee concludes.
Ministers let up to 10,000 travellers with coronavirus spread it across the country at the start of the pandemic by failing to bring in quarantine rules early enough, senior MPs have said. The government was accused of making “critical errors” over how it treated those arriving in the UK in March, leading to COVID-19 taking hold faster. Failing to catch “imported infection” then left the country with a “far worse” experience of the disease, the cross-party Commons home affairs select committee found.
The spread of coronavirus in the UK could have been slowed with earlier quarantine restrictions on arrivals, a group of MPs has said. The Home Affairs committee said a lack of border measures earlier in the pandemic was a “serious mistake”. It added ministers had underestimated the threat of importing the virus from Europe as opposed to Asia. But a Home Office spokeswoman said the committee were “incorrect in their assertions”. She added: “All of our decisions throughout the pandemic have been guided by the science, with appropriate measures introduced at the right time to keep us all safe.”
BORIS Johnson’s failure to close the borders to travellers from coronavirus hotspots let the killer virus rip through Britain, a withering report has found. An inquiry by the Commons Home Affairs committee estimated that 10,000 people with Covid-19 may have entered or returned to the UK in March with no restrictions. They were allowed into the UK from countries with known coronavirus outbreaks, including Italy, Spain and France. The damning report concluded that the UK’s coronavirus pandemic has been “far worse as a result of the Government’s decision not to require quarantine during March, which would have reduced the number of imported infections”.
Allowing millions of people to enter the UK from growing Covid-19 hotspots at the height of the pandemic was an “inexplicable” blunder that could have caused tens of thousands of infections, a damning parliamentary report has found. MPs on the Commons home affairs committee found ministers had been unable to justify the decision to remove all quarantine requirements for people arriving at the border in March, even as Britain went into lockdown. They also questioned why arrivals from countries such as Spain and France were not restricted at a time that those countries were seeing case numbers rise exponentially in those countries – and warned that the existing border quarantine policy may need to be improved to avoid worsening a second wave of the virus.
Coronavirus spread faster in the UK as the Government failed to bring in quarantine rules for travellers in the early days of the pandemic, according to MPs. The “critical errors” – including the “inexplicable” decision to lift all border restrictions in March – “accelerated” the scale and pace of the pandemic in the country and led to “many more people contracting Covid-19”, a Commons Home Affairs Committee report said. The group of MPs backed the decision to include Spain in the current quarantine measures – although it hit out at the way travel corridor decisions were being made and called for improvements.
Pubs and shops should be shut in order to reopen schools if a trade off needs to be made because of a rise in infections, the Children’s Commissioner has urged the government. Anne Longfield said that if lockdown restrictions need to be reimposed because of local flare ups in infection rates, schools must only be closed to bring transmission down as a last resort once all other options have been exhausted. She criticised ministers for treating children as an “afterthought” during the first lockdown, adding they must be put at the heart of planning for a second wave. “That means schools must be the first to reopen and the last to close during any local lockdowns,” she said.
Schools fully reopening in England next month is “not up for debate”, a government minister has insisted amid warnings that without a scaled-up test and trace programme the country could experience a second wave of coronavirus infections. Simon Clarke, a housing minister, said it was “an absolute priority” to get children back to schools in the autumn – seven months after Boris Johnson ordered the closure of all primary and secondaries to curb the spread of the virus. His remarks followed the publication of a new study in the Lancet Child And Adolescent Health, which analysed data from the first wave of Covid-19 and modelled the potential impact of schools in Britain reopening in September to understand how the virus can be kept under control.
Schools must be kept open ahead of pubs or shops in any future coronavirus lockdown, the Children’s Commissioner for England has warned. In a major intervention, Anne Longfield said children had been treated as an ‘after-thought’ in the first lockdown and insisted they must be at the heart of future plans. She said schools should always be the first to open and the last to close. She also declared that, if necessary, they should be prioritised over other sectors and kept open at the expense of pubs, restaurants or non-essential shops.
Closing schools must be “a last resort” in any future lockdowns, the children’s commissioner for England has warned, with education taking priority over the economy. In a briefing for ministers Anne Longfield said that shutting restaurants, shops and other non-essential services must be the first line of defence in any future outbreak with schools remaining open. She accused the government of too often regarding children as “an afterthought” during the first lockdown, leading to damaging effects on their education and wellbeing.
Ministers have been accused of being “negligent” towards care home residents and staff, after it emerged that the target of delivering regular coronavirus tests this summer has been dropped. In a leaked memo obtained by The Sunday Times, the government’s adult social care testing director, Jane Cummings, said that the originally promised timelines for rolling out regular tests had been abandoned. Weekly testing for staff and 28-day tests for residents was due to begin in England on 6 July for care homes looking after over-65s and those with dementia, with a rollout to all adult social care homes from August.
Rishi Sunak is considering an increase in business rates for the “most valuable properties”, with fears being raised that the move could hurt firms already struggling amid the effects of the coronavirus crisis. The Chancellor has asked for industry feedback on whether high end shops, offices and other large premises should pay a new, higher business rate, with responses due ahead of the autumn Budget. In a call for evidence as part of a business rates review, the Treasury said failing to raise enough revenue from them could put pressure on “other parts of the tax system”.
Rishi Sunak is considering bringing in a hike in business rates, it was reported last night. Looking to raise revenues with the economy beleaguered by the coronavrius pandemic, the Chancellor has limited options. Now according to the Daily Telegraph he is looking at the increase for the ‘most valuable properties’. However, there are concerns the increase could hurt retail firms already struggling, with job losses and shop closures increasing. The Chancellor is said to have requested feedback from industry experts on whether luxury shops, offices and other large buildings should be subject to a higher business rate.
Deaths from the most common type of heart attack rose by nearly 40 per cent during lockdown, a major study has shown. The research prompted warnings that the Government’s “Stay Home” message may have had a “devastating” impact by deterring thousands of patients in medical crisis from seeking help. The study, led by the University of Leeds, tracked more than 50,000 patients who had a heart attack and were treated at 99 major hospitals in England before or during lockdown. It found that, overall, the number being treated for the most common type of heart attack – NSTEMI (Non ST Segment Elevation (NSTEMI) Myocardial Infarction), which is caused by a partial blockage – fell by 49 per cent in the two months from March 23.
The Government’s ‘Stay at Home’ messaging during the strictest days of lockdown may have led to a spike in heart attack deaths, research suggests. Analysis by University of Leeds experts found hospital admissions for heart attacks plummeted by 40 per cent in April and May in England. The data also suggests that tens more Britons died from the most mild form of heart attack, which is usually treatable if patients are given quick medical attention. Scientists behind the study say lots of very ill people appear to have been reluctant to seek help despite suffering life-threatening symptoms.
Dementia rates are falling across the developed world, meaning that millions more people, especially men, will escape the condition, a study has shown. The risk of developing dementia has been dropping by roughly 13 per cent a decade over the past 27 years, according to Harvard University research. Much of the decline comes from plummeting rates in men. In Britain the average man’s likelihood of dying with dementia has fallen by an estimated 22 per cent a decade, while for women it appeared to remain unchanged. Similar trends can be seen across Europe and the US, with the overall average drop calculated by analysing studies involving 50,000 people. In the developed world the risk for women is now the same as for men.
MPs cannot refuse to treat patients who refuse to wear a face covering, according to new NHS guidance which doctors have denounced as “barmy”. Under laws introduced last month, people can be fined for failing to wear a mask in shops or on public transport. Those powers will be extended to cover cinemas, museums and places of worship from Saturday. Government advice, updated on Friday, says face coverings are needed in NHS settings, including hospitals and primary or community care settings such as GP surgeries. However, advice sent to GPs the same day says they cannot refuse to treat patients who will not wear them. In a bulletin to GPs, NHS England said patients “should not be refused entry to a premises or access to care if they are unable to or refuse to” wear a face mask.
A charity has criticised the BBC for sending out ‘long and complex’ letters to the over-75s about its new TV licence scheme. Age UK said the documents fail to make it clear when the elderly will get a demand for payment after millions lost their right to a free licence. And the BBC has braced itself for a revolt with older viewers likely to start receiving the ten-page letters from today outlining how the benefit will now only go to those on pension credit. But the charity warned the letters confirmed its view that the controversial change would ‘in all likelihood end in tears’. It came into force on August 1 but the broadcaster has only just sent out the first letters telling the elderly what to do.
The BBC will seek today to quell a growing revolt over the end of free TV licences for people aged above 75 as it sends out millions of letters to affected households. The corporation has hired 800 licence-fee agents and will allow poorer over-75s to claim a free licence without submitting documentary proof as it tries to reassure pensioners. The first letters informing people that they must pay the £157.50 annual levy will arrive today. Pensioner groups are co-ordinating resistance, urging all over-60s to cancel their TV licence direct debits in solidarity with over-75s and instead offer to pay with monthly, backdated cheques.