Top British and EU negotiators will dine at Number 10 Downing Street on Tuesday, kicking off the latest round of Brexit talks that have all but stalled amid differences, with the top EU official saying he wants an agreement, “but not at any price”. Last week’s round was cut short with both sides saying that, while they wanted an agreement, they had yet to overcome the gulf in positions that could see Britain leaving a status-quo transition period at the end of this year without a trade deal. After leaving the EU in January, Britain is keen to strike out alone, pursuing trade deals with other countries and setting up its own sanctions regime, and has insisted it should not have to sign up to the bloc’s standards. Brussels has also stood firm, with EU negotiator Michel Barnier posting a picture of himself and his team travelling on a train to London on Tuesday and saying: “The EU wants an agreement – and we are doing everything to succeed – but not at any price.” Brussels has said there can be no new economic partnership without robust guarantees to ensure fair competition.
BREXIT talks will restart today amid hopes Brussels is ready to compromise on its demands over fishing rights. Fish was on the menu for dinner as well as discussions between officials last night ahead of informal negotiations opening this morning. Access to UK waters after the transition period ends in December is one of the key stumbling blocks in striking a future trade deal. Documents released yesterday revealed Eurocrat Michel Barnier has indicated Brussels is willing to compromise. The EU chief negotiator told a House of Lords committee that there will be no trade agreement without a “balanced” agreement on fisheries. He said: “Is this balanced agreement the British position as it is? Certainly not. “Is it the European position as it is today? Clearly not. We have two entirely contradictory positions. “If we both dig our heels in on those positions, there will be no discussion or agreement on fisheries and therefore no agreement on trade. That is not what we want.”
Michel Barnier has hinted the EU is prepared to compromise on the crunch issue of fishing rights as he and his UK counterpart David Frost meet in Downing Street for Brexit trade talks this evening (Tuesday). Mr Frost, the UK’s chief Brexit negotiator, will welcome Mr Barnier for a private dinner which will see fish on the menu in more ways than one. The pair are expected to dine on chargrilled asparagus, followed by a fillet of halibut and then a terrine of summer fruits.
Michel Barnier opened the door for City companies to access EU markets after Brexit as one-to-one negotiations with David Frost got under way in London. The prime minister’s chief Brexit negotiator invited Mr Barnier for dinner in Downing Street last night where he was served halibut — the largest flat fish caught in British waters. Today the two teams will meet in Whitehall for further rounds of informal talks designed to bridge the differences that stand in the way of a deal. Boris Johnson has said he wants to conclude an outline agreement by the end of the month but so far neither the UK nor the EU has moved substantially on the key areas of disagreement.
The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier met his counterpart in Downing Street on Tuesday evening, in the latest bid to unblock stalled Brexit talks. Fish was on the menu at No.10 as Mr Barnier and David Frost dined on a fillet of halibut, chargrilled asparagus, and a terrine of summer fruits. Fishing rights for EU fleets in British waters are also among issues that need to be ironed out for a free trade agreement to be struck. Other stumbling blocks included the so-called “level playing field” on regulations demanded by the EU, workers’ rights, and state aid rules. “The EU wants an agreement – and we are doing everything to succeed – but not at any price,”
THE European Union must learn two huge lessons from the coronavirus pandemic which is wreaking havoc on the eurozone’s economy, a British political scientist has said. Mark Leonard said it is vital that member states “move closer together for a corona reconstruction plan” over the coming months as nationwide lockdowns are lifted. Writing for German online news site focus.de, Mr Leonard said leaders should pull together to help soften the economic blows of the epidemic. He is co-founder and director of the European Council on Foreign Relations, the first pan-European think tank. He claimed the coronavirus crisis had shown many European citizens the globalised world including relying on the US and China is falling apart. And the second lesson for the bloc to address is the growing support to address the climate emergency.
The European Union will introduce full border checks with the UK on January 1, despite Britain introducing customs controls on EU goods more slowly and whether or not the two sides agree a trade deal. Michel Barnier warned a House of Lords Committee that Brussels “will not delay things”, despite a Government U-Turn, which meant full controls on imports to the UK not being imposed for another six months after the EU. The UK announced a gradual three phased implementation of border checks in June after previously insisting that checks would be inevitable. Full border checks will now only apply on EU goods entering the UK from July 2021.
FULL border checks will be introduced by the European Union on January 1 even though the UK plans to impose customs controls on EU goods six months later, according to Michel Barnier. The EU’s chief negotiator told a House of Lords Committee Brussels “will not delay things” after Britain announced a gradual three phased implementation of border checks of its own. Ministers said full border checks will now only apply on EU goods entering the UK from July 2021. Mr Barnier said the EU was ready for Britain to leave the Customs Union and Single Market at the end of the transition period on January 1.
The EU Commission have released their latest economic forecast, with a worsened outlook compared to what was forecast in May. They now forecast the Eurozone economy to contract by 8.7% in 2020 before growing 6.1% by 2021 in 2021. However the 2021 forecasts have been done with the assumption of ‘status quo’ trading with Brexit Britain. The Commission’s EU economy forecast is for a 8.3% contraction in 2020, before growing 5.8% in 2021. As the Commission themselves make clear: “The contraction in 2020 is, therefore, projected to be significantly greater than the 7.7% projected for the Euro area and 7.4% for the EU as a whole in the Spring Forecast.”
Rishi Sunak will announce plans today to pay the wages of hundreds of thousands of young people on work placements for six months as he warns that they must not “bear the brunt” of the coronavirus crisis. The chancellor will use his summer economic update to publicise a £2 billion “kickstart” work placement scheme in which the state will cover the minimum wage for young workers, with employers able to top up pay packets. Each person will receive about £5,500 from the government over half a year, while businesses will receive £1,000 for taking them on.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak will unveil a £2 billion scheme aimed at alleviating youth unemployment by subsidising work placements when he sets out his coronavirus recovery package. A three-point plan to boost the ailing economy by helping job creation will include a plan to help pay for six-month placements for some young people facing long-term unemployment. Mr Sunak will set out the measures in his summer economic update in the House of Commons on Wednesday, as he faces pressure to assist those who are most at risk from a financial crisis.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak will announce a £2bn “kickstart scheme” later to create more jobs for young people. The fund will subsidise six-month work placements for people on Universal Credit aged between 16 and 24, who are at risk of long-term unemployment. Labour welcomed the move, but said the government had failed to “rise to the scale of the unemployment crisis”. Mr Sunak is also expected to announce a temporary stamp duty holiday to stimulate the property market. This would exempt the first £500,000 of all property sales from the tax.
The Government has come under fire for failing to help renters in a £2bn “green jobs” scheme to cut gas and electricity bills for millions of families across the country. The Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, will on Wednesday announce plans to issue vouchers worth up to £10,000 for households to spend on insulation, low-energy lighting, energy-efficient doors and other environmentally friendly improvements. The Treasury estimates that the initiative, which is due to be launched in September, could save families up to £600 a year on energy costs.
Home buyers will on Wednesday be offered an emergency stamp duty holiday as the centrepiece of the government’s coronavirus recovery plan to be unveiled by Rishi Sunak. The Chancellor is expected to raise the threshold for the tax and temporarily exempt the first £500,000 of any property price to boost the economy and save buyers up to £15,000. The move, which is part of a multi-billion pound package to revive the post-Covid economy and create thousands of jobs, will benefit seven out of ten house buyers in England and Northern Ireland. It will come into effect immediately. Mr Sunak will also use his mini-budget to unveil a £2 billion scheme to get hundreds of thousands of 16 to 24-year-olds into work by directly paying their wages for six months.
Rishi Sunak is set to axe stamp duty on most homes on Wednesday in a temporary move designed to boost the flagging housing market. Whitehall sources said the Chancellor was ready to introduce a six-month stamp duty holiday as part of his mini-Budget designed to boost growth and jobs. Mr Sunak is understood to be considering raising the starting threshold for paying stamp duty from £125,000 to at least £300,000, and possibly as much as £500,000. On a property worth the national average of £248,000, the reduction would save a buyer £2,460. If the stamp duty threshold is raised as high as £500,000, this would be worth £15,000 to the home buyer.
Rishi Sunak will respond to growing fears of a surge in youth unemployment from Britain’s pandemic-scarred economy on Wednesday with a £2bn temporary job creation scheme for the under-25s. Amid evidence that the fallout from the Covid-19-enforced lockdown has hit vulnerable young workers harder than other age groups, the chancellor will use his summer statement to announce that the government will fund six-month job placements for an estimated 350,000 18 to 24-year-olds.
House of Lords
Very senior Lords have been heaping praise on the upper house’s new digital voting system – “PeerHub” – even suggesting they may keep the system in place once the pandemic is over, so elderly peers no longer have to spend hours in the palace waiting for votes that sometimes don’t happen, and queuing for when divisions are called. It could put London’s premier retirement home technological light years ahead of the Commons… Since electronic voting was introduced, Lords have been voting in record numbers from the comfort of their own home(s) – and getting £162 per click. Voting records consistently show turnouts of around 500 peers voting on each bill. The chamber, however, has 775 members… Despite the convenience of online voting, well over 200 members-per-vote are still refusing to do the job they were appointed to do.
Dozens of care homes have been urgently investigated over “serious concerns” that staff and residents were left dangerously exposed to coronavirus, The Telegraph can disclose. During lockdown, urgent inspections were carried out by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) on around 50 homes where managers allegedly failed to follow safety procedures around coronavirus. Meanwhile, providers are now facing scores of compensation claims from families who blame negligence for the deaths of loved ones, it can be revealed.
Matt Hancock (Tuesday) today revealed the government will look again at whether people in England should wear face coverings or masks while out in public. Speaking in the House of Commons, the Health Secretary replied ‘yes’ when asked whether officials would reconsider the existing advice in England. Current rules say people must wear a covering over their nose and mouth when they are on public transport — but they aren’t mandatory anywhere else. In many countries, and increasingly so in Europe, people must wear them all the time when out in public. But Britain has resisted bringing in a wider policy.
A rare form of brain inflammation is one of several neurological disorders that appear to be tied to coronavirus, researchers have said. Specialists in London said they had seen a “concerning increase” in cases of acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (Adem), which involves a swelling of the brain and spinal cord. Symptoms include weakness in the arms or legs, unsteadiness and drowsiness. Nine cases were identified in Greater London in five weeks, all in adult patients with confirmed or suspected coronavirus.
Free hospital parking for all NHS staff will end once the coronavirus pandemic begins to ease, the government has confirmed. Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced on March 25 that the Government would cover the costs of car parking for NHS staff who he said were ‘going above and beyond every day’ at hospitals in England. But the Department of Health has now said that the scheme cannot continue indefinitely. Instead, free parking will continue only for ‘key patient groups and NHS staff in certain circumstances’ as the pandemic eases, although no further timeline has been given.
NHS healthcare workers need clarity over the future of free hospital parking after a health minister announced funding for it “cannot continue indefinitely”, a Liberal Democrat MP has said. Health Secretary Matt Hancock said on 25 March that the government would cover the parking costs of NHS staff who were “going above and beyond every day” during the coronavirus outbreak in England. But health minister Edward Argar has since said the government is looking at how long this support will “need” to go on.
Thousands of headteachers across England are demanding that public exams be cut back next year because plans to catch up on lost lessons are “neither realistic nor workable”. They also fear a mental health crisis among pupils who are currently expected to sit their GCSEs and A-levels as normal in summer 2021. The headteachers, from 78 English local authorities and represented by the campaign group Worth Less?, are calling for a significant cut in curriculum content and fewer exams in each subject to ease pressure on pupils and allow teachers to focus on student wellbeing rather than “exam cramming”, the Guardian reported.
Head teachers across England have called for a cut in the number of exams next year to prevent a mental health crisis among pupils who have lost months of learning during the pandemic. The teachers, who work across 78 education authorities and represented by the campaign group Worth Less?, say the Government’s assumption that pupils can catch up on lost lessons when they return to school in September, and sit their GCSEs and A-levels as normal in the summer of 2021, is “neither realistic nor workable”. Instead, they are calling for a reduction in the curriculum and fewer exams in each subject to allow teachers to focus on student wellbeing rather than “exam cramming”.
Thousands of headteachers across England are demanding that exams be cut back next year amid fears of a mental health crisis among pupils who have lost months of learning in the coronavirus pandemic. They say the government’s assumption that pupils can catch up on lost lessons when they return to school in September, and sit their GCSEs and A-levels as normal in summer 2021, is “neither realistic nor workable”. Instead, they are calling for a significant cut in curriculum content and fewer exams in each subject to ease pressure on pupils and allow teachers to focus on student wellbeing rather than “exam cramming”. Currently, pupils can sit up to 30 two-hour papers over the course of a month.
Working parents are forfeiting £250 million in earnings every week as the continuing closure of schools and nurseries force them to cut down on work to look after their children, Money Mail can reveal. Families are losing an average of £36 per week from their household income as they struggle to cope with increased childcare demands, while some parents are losing in excess of £300. One in ten parents has had to voluntarily reduce their hours and take a pay cut, while 11 per cent have been furloughed because they can no longer keep up with their workload, according to exclusive research by Consumer Intelligence. A further 6 per cent have had to stop working completely.
The Trump administration has formally notified the United Nations that it will withdraw from the World Health Organization (WHO), breaking ties with the international health body as the US death toll from coronavirus surpassed 130,000. The US notice of withdrawal, effective from July 6 2021, was formally submitted to the United Nations secretary-general, the depository for the WHO, on Monday a senior administration official told The Telegraph. The move was immediately critcised by Democrats with Joe Biden, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, pledging to rejoin the WHO on his “first day” as president if he is elected in November.
China on Wednesday opened a new office for its security agents to operate openly in Hong Kong for the first time under a tough new law, transforming a hotel into the force’s headquarters. “The Office for Safeguarding National Security of the Central People’s Government in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region was inaugurated here on Wednesday morning,” China’s official Xinhua news agency said. The new base is the Metropark Hotel, a skyscraper overlooking Hong Kong’s Victoria Park. The city’s leader said the opening of the new office a “historic moment” that will help safeguard national security.