Trade

Express
BREXIT trade negotiations will see the UK and EU go head-to-head this year, but what does the bloc actually want? Brexit trade arrangements will be decided in the 11-month transition period which began when Britain officially left the European Union on January 31. The UK and EU have different positions on the future trading relationship the two will share. Express.co.uk has compiled a guide for what the EU is looking for with these trade talks. The EU’s policy on state aid and competition prevents governments from propping up certain industries and encouraging a monopoly. In order to prevent this in the future, the EU will seek to ensure post-Brexit Britain continues to implement policies which protect against this. The EU fears that post-Brexit the UK could support firms and businesses competing against European competitors allowing them to “dump” goods in EU markets.

Independent
Cabinet office minister Michael Gove sparked anger after claiming the UK doesn’t “need” a post-Brexit trade deal with the EU, insisting it is better to “stand up for Britain” than accept any rules from Brussels. It comes as a former Tory minister and ex-president of the COP26 UN climate summit in Glasgow – sacked last week by the government – launched a blistering attack on Boris Johnson’s record on climate change. Claire Perry O’Neill claimed Mr Johnson “doesn’t really get” climate change and said his promises “are not close to being met”.

Express
BORIS JOHNSON could have the upper hand in future trade talks with the EU as Britain is in a ‘good negotiating position’, an expert claims. The schedule for a free trade agree between the EU and Britain was deemed unrealistic by the President of IfW, the Kiel Institute for the World Economy. However, Gabriel Felbermayr claimed in the event of a no deal the EU would have a lot to lose. He added one major loss would be the blocs bargaining power on the international stage.

EU

Express
ANGELA MERKEL’s Germany could be set to go head to head with Austria in a fierce battle over the terms of the next EU budget. The countries, who are both net contributors to the EU budget, have expressed differing opinions on how much cash they should pump into the bloc, and the terms by which they should do so. Speaking on Monday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel asserted Germany and Austria are in a “common situation”. According to the German leader, both countries “have restrictions”. She said: “We will coordinate, very, very closely on this matter.”

Mail
Britain’s membership of the European Union came to an awkward end last week after the UK’s representative to the bloc was told by his opposite number from another member state: ‘Good riddance.’  The remark was made to Sir Tim Barrow by Irena Andrassy, Croatia’s permanent representative in Brussels, during Sir Tim’s final pre-Brexit meeting with EU counterparts.  However, the exchange was apparently the result of a misunderstanding of the British phrase which Ms Andrassy believed equated to something like ‘good luck’.  Chairing the last meeting of EU envoys two days before January 31, Ms Andrassy told Sir Tim: ‘Thank you, goodbye, and good riddance.’

Independent
The European Union’s final message to the UK ahead of Brexit was “thank you, goodbye, and good riddance”, because of a comic mix-up at a meeting of EU diplomats.  The Financial Times reports that that Irena Andrassy, Croatia’s permanent representative in Brussels, made the comments while chairing the final meeting of EU ambassadors ahead of Britain’s exit. In her parting comments to conclude the meeting, she wished Sir Tim Barrow, her UK counterpart “good riddance” – mistakenly assuming the phrase meant “good luck”. The mix-up was said to be taken in good humour by the British delegation.

Express
FLORIAN PHILIPPOT, a French politician, has said he ‘envies’ Britain over its departure from the European Union, after the UK officially left last Friday. The hardline sovereignist has long called for a French referendum on EU membership, and repeatedly cheered a Brexit vote he hopes can boost eurosceptic sentiment at home. French far-right politician Florian Philippot, leader of the anti-Brussels The Patriots movement, said on Monday he “envied” the British for Brexit, adding that the divorce showed that no member state was destined to be forever shackled to the bloc. Asked by French broadcaster RFI whether he was “envious” of the British for finally quitting the European Union, he answered: “Yes! We should all be delighted for the United Kingdom, because the British made the choice of freedom … and democracy.”  “The British reality shows that we can leave the EU – contrary to what we’ve always been told. And I’m sure things will go very well for them.”

Virus

Mail
There are fears of a huge spike in UK coronavirus cases as thousands of passengers continue to flood into the UK from China on scheduled flights. Despite the US, Australia, New ZealandItaly, Taiwan and Vietnam barring foreigners entry from China, hulking passenger jets continue to land at Heathrow each day.  The Foreign Office on Tuesday urged Britons to leave China, advising against all but essential travel to the virus-stricken country, however thousands of Chinese continue arriving daily.

Sun
THE Chinese authorities are deliberately falsifying the coronavirus numbers, a leading expert has said. Gordon Chang says there has been a “breakdown in government” which means it has “just lost the ability to pick up corpses”. Multiple  witnesses and leaked video’s show heavily “overwhelmed” authorities making threats against people ‘spreading rumours’ or showing the chaotic handling of the situation at ground zero. Mr Chang, an expert in Chinese affairs and censorship, says that the official 427 death count is “far too low”.

ITV News
The death toll in mainland China from the coronavirus outbreak has risen to 490, officials said early on Wednesday. The total number of cases has increased to 24,324, as China moved patients into newly built or converted hospitals in the hardest-hit city of Wuhan. The latest figures are up from 425 deaths and 20,438 confirmed cases on Tuesday. Japan has said 10 people on the Diamond Princess cruise ship have tested positive for coronavirus and were being taken to hospitals.

Times
China announced a “severe crackdown” on illegal wildlife markets and trading as it struggled to contain the coronavirus outbreak and ordered millions more people to stay indoors. At least 23,000 cases have been confirmed in China, where the death toll has reached 490. The youngest victim is a month-old baby. The order to “strengthen market supervision, resolutely ban and severely crack down on illegal wildlife markets and trade” was issued by the Politburo standing committee, the most senior Communist Party body, at a meeting held by President Xi on Monday.

Mail
There are fears of a huge spike in UK coronavirus cases as thousands of passengers continue to flood into the UK from China on scheduled flights. Despite the US, Australia, New ZealandItaly, Taiwan and Vietnam barring foreigners entry from China, hulking passenger jets continue to land at Heathrow each day. The Foreign Office on Tuesday urged Britons to leave China, advising against all but essential travel to the virus-stricken country, however thousands of Chinese continue arriving daily.  In addition to those returning home, foreigners can still arrive from China, with four jets landing at Heathrow tomorrow from Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, bringing up to 1,200 passengers.

Guardian
All 30,000 British nationals in China have been urged to leave the country “if they can” because of the coronavirus outbreak, in a surprise move that prompted criticism that the UK government has left its citizens to fend for themselves. In a further sign of mounting international concern about the spread of the coronavirus, the Foreign Office also recommended a ban on Britons travelling to China. This was partly due to concerns that the Chinese government is struggling to control the spread of the virus, but also because of the dwindling number of British officials who remain in the country.

Ireland

ITV News
Sinn Fein has come under fire over its “soft” approach to criminality during the final leaders’ debate of the Irish General election. The left-wing party surged into the lead in one recent opinion poll in the race to head the next coalition Government after this weekend’s poll. A senior Sinn Fein member from Northern Ireland is to apologise for comments he made about the beating to death of Co Armagh man Paul Quinn in 2007. The party’s attitude to IRA violence during the Troubles has been a frequent focus during previous Irish elections.

Health

Guardian
Parts of the NHS are “seriously financially unstable” and trusts are building up levels of debt they are unlikely to ever repay, according to Whitehall’s spending watchdog. The National Audit Office found that NHS provider trusts reported a combined deficit of £827m and clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) a £150m deficit in the financial year ending 31 March 2019. It said extra money provided by the government to stabilise the finances of individual NHS bodies had not been fully effective. Trusts in financial difficulty were increasingly relying on short-term loans from the Department of Health  and Social Care (DHSC), the auditors said.

Times
More than 11,000 women treated by a rogue surgeon jailed for maiming patients will be called in for checks as a report prompted calls for an urgent review of private healthcare. The independent inquiry into the case of Ian Paterson, who performed unnecessary and damaging surgery on thousands of his patients, said that a “culture of avoidance and denial” among clinicians allowed him to carry on for a decade. The findings, published yesterday, have focused attention on “opaque” private hospitals, which are now facing calls to offer patients the same protection and information as the NHS.

Mail
Rogue breast cancer surgeon Ian Paterson may have operated on more than 1,000 patients unnecessarily over a 14-year period, a damning report revealed today – as it called for every one of his 11,000 patients to be urgently checked. The independent inquiry blasted the NHS and private health organisation Spire for being ‘dysfunctional at almost every level’ after allowing Paterson to perform unnecessary surgery on patients.  The damning report found he was able to wound patients as a result of a ‘culture of avoidance and denial’ and a ‘wilful blindness’ from staff. It also revealed one of his former colleagues has been referred to the police while five others will face medical tribunals. None of them have been named.

Terrorism

Mail
Only five extremists in Britain are subject to anti-terror orders despite estimates that 3,000 suspected jihadis are at large, official figures reveal. Ministers are under mounting pressure to beef up Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures (TPIMs) to stop attacks. They are the toughest tool the security services have to restrict the activities and movements of terror suspects. They are supposed to ensure that the police and MI5 can protect the public from British-based fanatics who cannot be prosecuted or foreigners who cannot be deported.

Guardian
Britain could temporarily separate itself from the European convention on human rights (ECHR) in order to push through emergency laws on sentencing for terrorists in the wake of the London Bridge and Streatham attacks. Ministers want to ban convicted terrorists from being automatically released halfway through their prison term as soon as possible following Sunday’s incident in south London. It was the second case in just over two months of a freed prisoner committing further terror offences. On Tuesday, a government spokesman did not rule out derogating from the ECHR to try to put the new laws in place and said the legislation could be introduced in the next few days.

Motoring

Telegraph
Hybrid car owners have been given a “kick in the face” by ministers, motoring bodies have said, as they warned that the surprise decision to ban the vehicles from sale in 2035 will “backfire”. Tens of thousands of motorists who were incentivised by the government to buy hybrid cars believing they were an environmentally friendly option now fear their resale value will slump as the ban approaches. Friends of the Earth accused ministers of “greenwashing” the public into believing they should buy hybrids, even though some models can produce higher CO2 emissions than new diesel cars.

Independent
Boris Johnson has been accused of making “unrealistic” claims about the prospect of electric planes at the launch of COP26, the UN’s latest climate change summit. It comes after the woman he sacked as president of the talks, the former energy minister Claire Perry O’Neill, claimed the prime minister had told her he did not “really get” the urgency of global warming. The prime minister shared a stage at the Science Museum in London with Sir David Attenborough and Giuseppe Conte, the Italian prime minister, as he launched the COP26 talks which are to be held in Glasgow in November.

Times
Grants for electric cars could be scrapped in the next two months despite plans to bring forward a ban on new petrol and diesel vehicles. The £3,500 subsidy for buyers of plug-in cars expires at the end of next month and the industry fears that it will be ditched altogether. Ministers have already said that the long-term future of the grant will be “inviable in terms of costs to the taxpayer” as the number of electric car registrations rises.

Sun
DRIVERS have been forced to pay nearly £5 more than necessary to fill up their cars. Fuel firms have raked in nearly £500million in weeks by refusing to pass on price drops. A study shows that since Christmas wholesale petrol and diesel costs have fallen nearly 14 per cent. But at the same time, the average pump costs have increased by 2.2p for petrol and 3.4p for diesel. The difference in diesel costs and forecourt prices was the biggest, with oil firms including BP, Shell and Texaco refusing to pass on £327million in savings. It means that last month the average family with a diesel car paid nearly a fiver more for fuel. The companies also kept £147million from the difference in petrol costs and prices.

COP26

Times
Boris Johnson sounded out the former Conservative leaders David Cameron and William Hague to take on the top role at this year’s United Nations climate change conference in Glasgow, The Times can reveal. The former prime minister and Lord Hague of Richmond turned down the offer to serve as the figurehead of the COP26 event in November. Mr Johnson has identified hosting the UN conference — secured last year with the backing of France and Germany — as a key part of his diplomatic drive to present Britain as a world leader after Brexit.

Mail
Boris Johnson asked former Tory leaders David Cameron and William Hague to front this year’s United Nations climate change summit in Glasgow but both turned him down, it was reported yesterday. Mr Cameron is thought to have rejected the offer before Lord Hague was sounded out. It came after former Tory minister Claire Perry O’Neill was last week sacked from her job as president of the summit in November. The approach to Mr Cameron suggests Mr Johnson has healed a rift with his former Eton friend which formed during the 2016 Brexit referendum.

Guardian
Preparations for this year’s climate summit in Glasgow are being overshadowed by a bitter row between the UK and Scottish governments over a key building near the venue. UK government sources have accused Scottish ministers of refusing to hand over a building the Scottish government wants to use as its base for the COP 26 climate talks in November. Scottish ministers say they booked the Glasgow science centre, a publicly funded venue on the opposite bank of the Clyde from the main conference site, only after the UK government said it would be outside the summit security zone last November.

BBC licence

Telegraph
Baroness Morgan has questioned whether the TV licence fee can remain “relevant” in the multi-channel era as she fired the first shots in a battle with the BBC over its future funding. The Culture Secretary said that in the age of subscription services such as Netflix, Sky and Amazon, ministers must “think carefully” about how the licence fee could fit into “this changing media landscape”. On Wednesday she will launch a public consultation on whether non-payment of the licence fee should be decriminalised, admitting such a move would “have an impact” on BBC funding.

Independent
Boris Johnson has stepped up his assault on the BBC with the launch of a new consultation on whether failure to pay the licence fee should be a criminal offence. Culture secretary Nicky Morgan will question how to ensure the £154.50 annual charge which funds the public broadcaster “remains relevant in this changing media landscape” in a review into sanctions for non-payment of the licence fee. People who refuse to pay face fines of up to £1,000, criminal convictions and even imprisonment – although only five people went to prison for failing to pay in 2018.

Mail
The first step towards scrapping the licence fee will be taken today – as a minister warns that the BBC could become defunct like the Blockbuster video chain unless it moves with the times. In a major statement of intent, Culture Secretary Nicky Morgan will unveil plans to decriminalise non-payment, ending the controversial system that clogs up the courts and leads to some people being jailed. The BBC opposes the move, which it warns will cost it £200million a year.

Times
The BBC is facing a £200 million hole in its finances as the government proceeds with plans to let people escape prosecution for watching television without a licence. Today Baroness Morgan of Cotes, the culture secretary, is launching a public consultation on decriminalising non-payment of the licence fee by 2022. She warned that the present system, under which evaders ultimately face conviction and imprisonment if they fail to pay a fine, risks punishing the vulnerable and may no longer be appropriate for the digital age.

Rail travel

Mail
Eurostar bosses are planning to run high-speed trains to new further-away countries such as ItalySpain and Portugal, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps revealed yesterday. He said ministers are helping the company launch dozens of ‘seamless’ services from London to European cities and holiday destinations. Currently the furthest Eurostar takes passengers is the south of France – around 800 miles from London. But it is expected to extend its reach to cities like Rome (1,165 miles) and Lisbon (1,360).

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