A BREXIT fisheries agreement is still far away despite Boris Johnson’s major concession to Brussels last week, British fishermen believe. Last week, Mr Johnson’s chief negotiator Lord Frost presented the EU with a three-year adjustment period over fisheries. Despite this major concession from the UK, a fisheries agreement remains elusive as the clock ticks down on the Brexit negotiations. Speaking to Express.co.uk, chief executive of The National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations, Barrie Deas argued the EU is yet to regard the UK as an independent state. Indeed, Mr Deas stated big gaps remain between the two sides as EU states such as France desperately try to retain unrestricted access to British waters. He said: “I think we’re some considerable way away from an agreement.
UK and EU negotiators are close to clinching a deal on social security rights for their citizens, it emerged on Tuesday before the two sides meet in London for crunch trade talks. Brussels accepted nine out of ten UK proposals to protect rights such as death grants and benefits for accidents at work in the ninth negotiating round in Brussels, two diplomatic sources said. The tenth proposal is that EU citizens to pay a surcharge over five years for healthcare access for family members but Brussels says Britain should reciprocate the open access it offers. There is still no breakthrough on the major obstacles of the level playing field guarantees, fishing rights and the enforcement and dispute resolution system for the future trading relationship.
Britain and the EU are closer to agreement on reciprocal social security rights for their citizens after Brexit, two diplomatic sources said, with one describing talks last week on an elusive trade deal as “one of the most positive so far”. The European Union diplomats said Brussels was now gearing up to negotiate until as late as mid-November – rather than cutting talks off at the start of next month – to avoid a damaging “no-deal” scenario when Britain’s standstill transition with the bloc ends on Dec. 31. There was no breakthrough in last week’s negotiations on the three most contentious issues – fisheries, fair competition guarantees and ways to settle future disputes – but the prospects of an overall accord looked brighter.
BREXIT talks between the UK and EU have made serious “progress” with one Brussels source stating an agreement is in sight. Commenting today, an EU source has claimed serious progress has been made between the two sides on reciprocal social security rights for their citizens. Another source also claimed the current discussion has been “one of the most positive so far”.
British and EU negotiators are making some progress on side-issues in Brexit trade talks but are still unable to find common ground on the big issues – with just a week to go until a make-or-break summit. With the clock ticking down to the European Council meeting, EU diplomats from member states have been briefed by the Commission that the two sides are close to a deal on social security rights. A round of talks last week were described as “one of the most positive so far” by diplomats, the Reuters news agency reports.
MICHEL BARNIER could easily find himself in a “dangerous” position as intensified Brexit trade talks resume with an expert warning the EU negotiator should not expect Boris Johnson to “blink or fold” anytime soon. The EU should “never have allowed themselves to get to a position where they are now”, according to expert Wolfgang Münchau. The Eurointelligence founder provided an insight into the Brexit negotiations to his podcast listeners. Mr Münchau pointed to a “miscalculation” either EU negotiator Michel Barnier or Prime Minister Boris Johnson could make which he described as “dangerous”. He said: “The biggest risk to this is a miscalculation. “It could be the Europeans or it could be the British.
The EU’s top court has ruled that unrestrained mass surveillance of phone and internet data is unlawful, in the latest blow to the UK’s chances of securing a post-Brexit data-sharing agreement with the EU. The European Court of Justice (ECJ) today handed out its much-anticipated verdict on government surveillance, ruling that the indiscriminate retention of data is illegal under EU law unless there is a “serious threat to national security”.
A top European Union official dealing with the United Kingdom said Tuesday that a cliff-edge rupture between the two without even a basic trade deal by the end of the year is becoming more likely by the day. European Vice President Maros Sefcovic told the European Parliament that “time is short” to reach a deal before a Brexit divorce transition period ends by year’s end, effectively giving negotiators less than four weeks to broker a deal which must subsequently go through a lengthy approval process. And he pointed his finger at British Prime Minister Boris Johnson for making things even more difficult when he decided last month to introduce a bill that breaches the legally binding Withdrawal Agreement it struck with the bloc to make sure it could leave on Jan. 31.
Surging coronavirus infection rates have put Britain on the brink of tougher lockdown measures, overshadowing Boris Johnson’s attempt yesterday to focus on life after the pandemic. The government’s scientific advisers called for “urgent and drastic action” after cases doubled in 11 days to 14,542 and deaths doubled to 76 in the same period. Hospital admissions in England jumped by a quarter in one day and ministers are scrambling to find a way to bring down cases in the northwest amid concerns about the ability of the health service to cope over winter in infection hotspots.
The numbers of people being admitted to hospital with Covid-19 have levelled off in huge areas of England as data suggests the country is being dragged into panic by an out-of-control outbreak in the north. In London, the South East and the South West – home to around half of the country’s population of 55million – daily admissions appear to be plateauing after rising in line with cases during September from a low point over the summer. However, admissions are still accelerating in the North West, North East and Yorkshire, where new local lockdowns are springing up every week and positive tests are spiralling to record numbers. But as talk grows of a second national lockdown when winter hits, figures suggests the south faces being lumped under rules it doesn’t need. The picture is more complex in the Midlands and the East of England – in the Midlands hospitalisations rose dramatically during September but there are signs they have peaked now, while admissions appear to still be rising slowly in the East, although at significantly lower levels than in the northern regions.
Deaths from coronavirus climbed by more than 50 per cent in a week last month, according to official figures considered among the most reliable. The Office for National Statistics said that there were 215 deaths in England and Wales in the week ending September 25 with coronavirus on the death certificate, 76 more than the week before. One death in 50 was due to Covid-19. It is the third weekly rise in a row. The numbers remain, however, well below those reported in the spring. In the week ending April 17, when deaths peaked, some 8,758 death certificates included a mention of Covid-19.
The number of Britons in hospital with coronavirus has soared by 25 per cent in a day, new data has today revealed, as figures show the UK has recorded 14,542 more infections – more than triple the number from a fortnight ago. In another blow to hopes the virus is being brought under control, official NHS data shows there were 478 new hospital admissions in England on Sunday – the most recent day figures are available for. The figure is 25 per cent increase on Saturday’s data, when 386 people were admitted the hospital with Covid-19. It also represents a four-month high, the likes of which have not been seen since June 3, when the figure was 491. Data also shows the number of people on ventilators is on the rise, from 259 a week ago to 349 on Sunday. But while hospital admissions have increased, the number of people dying in hospital of the virus remains considerably lower than at the start of the pandemic.
BORIS Johnson is grappling with the desperately difficult decision of whether to plunge millions in the North back into tougher lockdown. The Prime Minister offered a vision of hope yesterday but admitted Britain still faces one of history’s “darkest moments” with Covid cases soaring again. He warned we must fight “night and day to repel this virus” but there is “simply no reasonable alternative” to restrictions. Pubs and restaurants face closure in Liverpool, Manchester and Newcastle, with Chancellor Rishi Sunak scrambling to put together a local bailout package for businesses facing ruin.
A Cabinet row has thrown a major overhaul of local lockdown rules into disarray as the leaders of the worst-affected cities warned that the current measures are “not working”. A “traffic light” system of different levels of restrictions was due to be announced on Wednesday – but an intervention by Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor, is threatening to delay the plans. The row erupted as Boris Johnson faces a growing Conservative backlash over his handling of the coronavirus crisis, with critics arguing that lockdown measures such as the 10pm curfew for pubs and restaurants are damaging the economy and could even be increasing infections.
Boris Johnson is facing a ‘cabinet row’ over plans for a tougher coronavirus crackdown, as Northern city leaders last night pleaded with ministers not to impose lockdown-style measures. Amid growing talk of a Tory back bench rebellion over his 10pm Covid curfew, the Prime Minister is said to be facing a deepening split between senior ministers – some of whom want to protect the economy and others who are calling for tougher restrictions. It comes as leaders from four Covid-hit northern cities, Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds and Newcastle have written to Mr Johnson begging him not to ramp-up coronavirus restrictions as he mulls over whether to impose stricter curbs.
More than a dozen Tory rebels flexed their muscles on new coronavirus rules, but failed to defeat the government over its “rule of six”. Fourteen Conservative backbenchers were joined by five DUP MPs in trying to curb the restrictions on social gatherings. They were easily outnumbered, but Labour and 62 Conservatives abstained, meaning the total number who backed the government was short of half of all MPs.
Boris Johnson has dodged a rebellion on the rule of six after MPs voted to keep the controversial limit on social gatherings. There has been mounting unease within Tory ranks about restrictions on people’s liberties and Mr Johnson has acknowledged some people are ‘furious’ with the Government. Conservative critics want children to be excluded from the rule of six and say the 10pm curfew on pubs, bars and restaurants isn’t justified.
A senior Conservative is urging fellow MPs to join a new campaign against the “irreparable damage” from Covid-19 restrictions – demanding a return to “life as normal”. The open challenge, mounted by ex-minister Steve Baker, underlines the growing Tory backlash against the measures – even as they are likely to be tightened further as infections soar. Launched in the United States, The Great Barrington Declaration calls instead for “focused protection” for high-risk people, while the majority are granted full freedoms “until we reach herd immunity”. Music, sport and other cultural activities should “resume”, pubs and restaurants should be open and younger adults should “work normally, rather than from home”.
Boris Johnson was spared an embarrassing defeat for his coronavirus regulations at the hands of furious Tory rebels on the day of his party conference speech. Furious Tory MPs’ bid to humiliate Mr Johnson failed on Tueday after just 17 MPs voted to reject the measures, which also included scrutiny of the lockdown measures already in place on Merseyside. The Covid-19 regulations which enforce the rules on gatherings in England were backed by MPs with a majority of 270. 12 Conservatives voted against the measures, alongside 5 DUP members.
BORIS JOHNSON has been saved from an embarrassing U-turn after MPs passed in favour of the controversial ‘rule of six’ regulation. MPs tonight voted 287 to 17, in favour of keeping the regulation and the 10pm curfew on hospitality venues. Of those 17, 12 Tory MPs voted against the Government in combination with five DUP MPs. The rules are already in force although MPs were given powers to vote on coronavirus restrictions put forward by the Government in the future.
An international group of scientists have signed an open letter supported by 44,000 members of the general public calling for lockdown to be ended in favour of a herd immunity strategy. Titled the Great Barrington Declaration after the US town where it was written, it says that those who are not vulnerable “should immediately be allowed to resume life as normal” and that maintaining any lockdown policies would cause irreparable harm. The authors, including the Oxford epidemiologist Sunetra Gupta, wrote: “The most compassionate approach that balances the risks and benefits of reaching herd immunity is to allow those who are at minimal risk of death to live their lives normally to build up immunity to the virus through natural infection.
Taxpayers are facing losses of up to £26billion from fast-track coronavirus loans to small businesses that are stolen by fraudsters or never repaid. The staggering potential bill has been revealed after an investigation into bounce- back loans by the Government spending watchdog, the National Audit Office. The scheme was rushed out by Chancellor Rishi Sunak in May after businesses complained banks were refusing to lend under the original emergency loan scheme. But last night the chairman of the Commons’ public accounts committee warned that the ‘hasty launch’ of the lifeline means ‘criminals may have helped themselves to billions of pounds at the taxpayer’s expense’.
The Government could lose up to £26billion through fraud and businesses being unable to repay taxpayers’ cash provided by the Bounce Back Loan Scheme, a Whitehall spending watchdog has warned. Chancellor Rishi Sunak unveiled the scheme in April to provide quick loans of up to £50,000, or a maximum of 25% of annual turnover, to small businesses during the pandemic. Officials expect to lend between £38bn and £48bn by November 4 – far higher than the £18bn to £26bn planned when it launched, according to the National Audit Office. But the watchdog said conditions for using the scheme were far less strict than for other loan options. It added: “As a result of credit and fraud risks, (the Business Department and British Business Bank) have made a preliminary estimate that 35% to 60% of borrowers may default on the loans.
A Tory Party fringe event this afternoon saw Tory deputy speakers Eleanor Laing and Nigel Evans speak at a “The Future of Parliament” chat hosted by Conservative Young Women, in which it was revealed the new Covid-friendly voting method in the Commons – with MPs tapping their vote in via a card reader in the No or Aye Lobbies – will stay forever post-pandemic, signalling an end to the ancient method of six Commons clerks recording votes by hand (and latterly by iPad), based on members’ name.
The Commons has just announced a new swathe of Covid-fighting measures will be introduced as the number of cases seen on the estate begin to creep up. Naming no names (Ferrier)… Other anti-Covid advice includes: An enforcement of face masks on the estate, including in the voting lobby; Looking at the possibility of splitting out the ‘ayes and no’ voting queues – and creating a division lobby in a different place near the Chamber.
Boris Johnson has given his first clear hint that social care will be funded through a form of national insurance as he said the “magic of averages” would solve the problem. The Prime Minister deliberately chose a phrase coined by his idol, Sir Winston Churchill – who used it when talking about welfare taxes – to point the way forward. He promised to “fix the injustice of care home funding” as he said coronavirus had “shone a spotlight” on the problems care homes face.
Britain could boycott the 2022 Winter Olympics and Prince William may not attend over concerns about China‘s abuse of Uighur Muslims. The UK was one of 39 countries at the United Nations to raise concerns over a security crackdown in Hong Kong and the abuse of the Islamic population in the Xinjiang. Earlier this year China’s ambassador to the UK, Liu Xiaoming, was forced to deny reports that the country was attempting to reduce the Uighur population through forced sterilisation, insisting it was not ‘Government policy.’
The prime minister’s pledge to power every home in the country with offshore wind turbines by 2030 will cost £50bn and require massive reform of the power market, experts have warned. Speaking at the Tory party conference on Tuesday, Boris Johnson set in stone a manifesto target to quadruple offshore wind capacity to 40GW within the decade. Experts at Aurora Energy Research calculate that it will cost the private sector about £50bn to deliver the increased capacity, about twice as much as was invested during the 2010s.
Scientists have questioned Boris Johnson’s claims about the potential for wind turbines to meet the energy needs of homes by 2030. The prime minister told the Conservative Party conference yesterday that “in ten years’ time offshore wind will be powering every home in the country”. He said: “Your kettle, your washing machine, your cooker, your heating, your plug-in electric vehicle — the lot of them will get their juice cleanly and without guilt from the breezes that blow around these islands.”
Church of England
The Church of England failed to protect children and young people from sexual predators, with safeguards often overlooked in favour of protecting the clergy’s reputation, a damning report has found. The Church was accused of being “in direct conflict” with its moral purpose of providing “care and love for the innocent and the vulnerable” by failing to take abuse allegations seriously. The report found the Church neglected the “physical, emotional and spiritual wellbeing” of the young, and creating a culture where abusers were able to hide within the institution.