Brexit

Barnier is still insisting the ECJ has legal authority in the UK says the Telegraph.

Michel Barnier has written to Mark Francois and told the Chair of the Eurosceptic European Research Group of Tory MPs that Brexit isn’t worth it.
Mr Francois had sent the EU’s chief negotiator an open letter, which he titled a “missive from a free country”, on June 29.
“While nobody has been able to demonstrate to me the added value of leaving the most integrated economic and free trade area in the world, I have always respected the UK’s decision to withdraw from the EU,” Mr Barnier said in reply.
“In this same spirit we approach the ongoing negotiations with your great – and indeed free – country.”
Mr Barnier warned Mr Francois that the EU would hold Boris Johnson to the joint Political Declaration and that Brussels was adamant that the European Court of Justice must have the final say on the interpretation of EU law.
The Political Declaration, which is a non-binding document setting out the broad outline of the free trade agreement, was “agreed by your prime minister and voted for by the House of Commons, including yourself,” Mr Barnier added.

Apparently, he can’t see that Brexit will give any benefit to the UK, says Yahoo News.

The EU’s chief negotiator has written to Conservative MP Mark Francois reminding him that he voted for the Brexit deal he had written to him to complain about.
Francois, who is chairman of the European Research Group (ERG), wrote a letter to Michel Barnier titled ‘A Missive from a Free Country’ demanding that he find a compromise on some contentious points around trade, including policy on fisheries.
But in his reply, Barnier reminded the Tory MP that many of the issues had previously been agreed within the Political Declaration signed by Boris Johnson and voted through by MPs.

The Independent points out the sarcasm in Barnier’s letter.

Michel Barnier has mocked a Tory MP’s protests about the EU’s aims for a post-Brexit trade deal – pointing out he voted for the measures himself.
Mark Francois, head of the hardline European Research Group, wrote to the EU’s chief negotiator last month, insisting he must drop his “unreasonable demands”.
In a scathing response, Mr Barnier sets out how those “demands” – on adherence to EU rules and the role of the European Court of Justice – were both “agreed” by Boris Johnson, in the Brexit deal.
It was then “voted for by the House of Commons, including yourself, as part of the withdrawal agreement ratification,” he points out.
In a letter dripping in sarcasm, Mr Barnier adds: “All we are asking of the UK is to honour its commitments in the political declaration.”

Wee Burney’s panicking, reports the Express.

SCOTLAND could fall into economic chaos if there is a no deal Brexit, the Scottish Government has said.
The Scottish Government’s latest economic report reveals a no deal Brexit would have “significant impact on economic activity” in Scotland. The fears are now being raised less than six months before the end of the Brexit transition period when the UK will no longer have to follow EU rules.
The Scottish Government has repeatedly called for the transition period to be extended with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon writing to Boris Johnson warning that “fundamental issues” still remained between the UK and EU negotiators.

The Guardian has an interesting story about a potential new customs centre in Kent.

The government has secretly purchased 11 hectares (27 acres) of land 20 miles from Dover to site a vast new Brexit customs clearance centre for the 10,000 lorries that come through the Kent port from Calais every day.
It will be the first customs post erected in the UK to deal with goods coming from the EU for 27 years.
Work will begin on fencing off the vast 1.2m square foot “Mojo” site on the outskirts of Ashford on Monday. The local council were given only a few hours’ notice that the land was now in public ownership.

And the Express claims the PM dropped in on the negotiations without warning.

BREXIT talks are back on track after Boris Johnson surprised Michel Barnier with an unexpected appearance during the latest round of discussions.
Mr Johnson personally interrupted a meeting between UK negotiator David Frost and his EU counterpart Mr Barnier earlier this week. The PM met with Mr Barnier before a crunch dinner on Tuesday, reminding the EU talks chief he expected a deal this summer. The event was aimed at allowing Mr Barnier and Mr Frost to meet in a more informal setting.

EU

In an exclusive report, the Sun reports that we’re still going to have to pay for an EU building that is used only once a month.

BRITS will have to stump up for a £16m revamp of the EU Parliament even though we’ve left, leaked documents seen by The Sun reveal.
Euro MPs want to splash the cash on massively upgrading security at their Strasbourg HQ, which is only used once a month and is just 20 years old.
There are plans to build a shiny new £10m reception, which will be bullet and bomb proof, and a £3.5m secure forecourt for limousines.
The lobby will be linked to the main building by a glass walkway to ensure “architectural integration” according to the plans.

NHS

The PM looks at overhauling the service, reports the Mail

Boris Johnson is planning a radical overhaul of the NHS amid government frustration at the role of the health service’s chief executive Simon Stevens during the coronavirus pandemic, it has been claimed.
To do so, the PM has set up a new taskforce to come up with plans for ministers to regain more direct control over the NHS, after ceding it in 2012, and ‘clip the wings’ of Stevens.
The taskforce is made up of senior civil servants and advisers from Downing Street, the Treasury and the Department of Health and social care.
There has been government frustration, particularly on the part of Health Secretary Matt Hancock, at Stevens’ role during the battle against coronavirus.

The Telegraph also has a report.

Boris Johnson is reportedly planning a radical reorganisation of the NHS in the wake of coronavirus.
The Prime Minister is understood to have set up a task force to devise plans for how ministers can regain the direct control over the health service they lost in 2012 under former health secretary Andrew Lansley’s reforms.
The move is being seen as an attempt to dilute the powerbase built by NHS England Chief Executive Sir Simon Stevens, who has been in the post since 2014.

Back to work

Boris is encouraging workers to return to their workplaces, says the Mail.

Boris Johnson will next week tell office workers to start returning to their desks to help save the British economy.
The Prime Minister will use an update on virus strategy to press employers to start ordering their staff back to the workplace – if it is safe.
He and Chancellor Rishi Sunak are said to be aghast at the impact empty offices are having on town centre shops and restaurants – and worried that widespread homeworking is wrecking Britain’s productivity.

No need to work from home any more, says the Sun.

BORIS Johnson has shelved the work-from-home message and told the nation to get back to the office.
In a huge shift away from the current Government guidance – which tells people to work from home where they can and go in when they can’t – the PM said it was time for people to behave normally again.
The PM said in a Q&A with the public, dubbed People’s PMQs: “I want people to be back to work as carefully as possible.
“It’s very important that people should be going back to work if they can now.

Westmonster reports the shift in policy.

Boris Johnson has urged Britons to go back to work if they can, in a significant shift from the Government’s policy of telling people to work from home.
The Prime Minister said people should “try to lead their lives more normally” as restrictions are eased after months of lockdown.
And he hinted that stricter rules on wearing face coverings in public places may be introduced in a bid to reduce the spread of Coronavirus.
In an online question and answer session with the public, Mr Johnson said: “I want people to go back to work as carefully as possible. It’s very important that people should be going back to work if they can now.

But the Mirror reports the possibility of a new law allowing people to work from home.

The right to work from home could be enshrined in law after the Health Secretary said he would consider a legal shake-up.
Until now, ministers have refused to put legal duties on firms to let people choose their working arrangements after coronavirus.
But Matt Hancock last night said flexible working is the “new norm” and was something all “good employers” should accommodate moving forward.
Asked if he would consider enforcing this through legislation, he replied “yes”, adding: “the way you could look at it is there’s a right to request flexible working.

Face masks

Several of the media report the Prime Minister’s plans to force us to wear face coverings.  The Telegraph says:

Face masks will become mandatory in shops and enclosed spaces, Boris Johnson has indicated, as he said it was time for the country to “go back to work”.
The Prime Minister, who posed in a face covering for the first time on Friday, said the Government needed to be “stricter” on enforcing guidelines for wearing them indoors.
He said: “We increasingly think we have to insist in confined spaces–transport, shops – wear a face covering.”

The rules could be toughened, says Sky News.

Boris Johnson has served notice that tougher rules on wearing face masks could be on the way, as he appealed to people working from home to go back to work.
In a significant shift in COVID-19 policy, the prime minister said the government now needs to be stricter on insisting people wear masks in confined spaces such as shops.
Mr Johnson was himself seen wearing a covering – a bright blue number – for the first time on Friday, while he visited shops and takeaways in his constituency of Uxbridge.

The Independent says he could be strict about their use.

Boris Johnson has given his strongest hint yet that face coverings  may be made mandatory in shops in England, saying that he is looking at ways to be “stricter” about their use.
The comment came as Mr Johnson signalled an apparent shift in government on the return to normal life, and said people should “go back to work if they can”. The government has previously said that people should work from home if it is possible.

‘The science’ says face coverings slow the spread of the virus, says the Times.

Boris Johnson is poised to make face coverings compulsory in shops after mounting evidence that they slow the spread of coronavirus.
The prime minister promised last night to get “stricter” on their use and said he was “looking at ways of making sure” that more people covered their faces indoors.
A government source said it was a “fair assumption” that masks would become mandatory in shops and other indoor settings within a few weeks.

Second wave

The virus could thrive in cold weather, prompting more cases in the winter, says the Mail.

Ministers have been told to prepare for a surge in coronavirus  cases this winter that could trigger a second national lockdown.
The Government’s scientific advisers now have ‘strong’ evidence that the virus flourishes at an optimal temperature of around 4C (39F).
They say this, combined with annual pressures on the NHS caused by seasonal flu, means the UK is heading for a ‘difficult winter’.
Last night, one senior official said: ‘We can get away with a lot at the moment because it is summer.

And we could go back into lockdown, says the Guardian.

Nationwide lockdown measures could be reintroduced at the end of summer, Government scientists say.
New infection rate data from the UK’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) suggests the outbreak in England may no longer be shrinking.
The R reproduction estimate in England has seen an uptick to between 0.8 and 1, up from between 0.8-0.9 the previous week.
The upper end of that estimate at 1 would mean on average every person who catches the virus is passing it on to someone else.

The Times says the virus could last a lot longer in winter.

More local outbreaks and even a second full lockdown are likely in winter, ministers have been warned as scientists concluded that coronavirus will last ten times as long outdoors in December.
Boris Johnson agreed that “it’s going to be the winter where we’re really going to have to be on it” because of the challenge of flu and the risk of a second wave. “There’s a risk that the virus will come back again so it’s important now to make real progress in driving it down,” he told a “People’s PMQs” on Facebook.

But the Mail claims another lockdown would not be welcomed.

The Government has been warned to prepare for ‘visible resistance’ if it ever tries to introduce another lockdown to fight coronavirus in the future, official advice papers revealed today.
Newly-released files from Number 10’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) show that top behavioural scientists fear people won’t follow the draconian rules for a second time.
They warned young people are tiring of social distancing and abandoning the rules, while disagreements about the UK’s approach to Covid-19  mean the public will be less likely to follow advice in future.

Education

Assessment of pupils’ grades could lead to discrimination, says the Guardian.

“Well-heeled and sharp-elbowed” families are most likely to benefit from complaining over this year’s GCSE and A-level results that may be distorted by bias and discrimination against disadvantaged pupils, according to MPs.
The MPs also warned that there was potential for the appeals system “to resemble the wild west” as different systems are used by different exam boards.
The House of Commons education committee is calling for Ofqual, the exam regulator in England, to examine whether some groups such as black and minority ethnic pupils or pupils with special needs “have been systematically disadvantaged” by the way the exam grades will be awarded.

Travel

You can now go on holiday abroad – but do you want to? The Mail reports.

Coronavirus ‘air bridges’ finally come into force today with dozens of destinations opened up – but a poll shows they might fall flat as under a fifth of Britons intend to go on holiday abroad this year.
Research for MailOnline found limited appetite among the public for heading for sun-drenched beaches, despite the lifting of draconian quarantine measures on many countries.
Just 17 per cent intend to have a break abroad this year, while 22 per cent say they will go on holiday in the UK.

And there will be no quarantine on your return, says the Sun.

BRITS can officially go back on holiday from today without having to quarantine in England.
Last week, the government announced the full list of air bridge countries which would allow holidaymakers to visit without spending two weeks in isolation on their return.
The new rules come into place from today, while the travel ban for the air bridge destinations was lifted on July 4.

Sport

Football clubs are not maintaining social distancing, says the Telegraph.

Premier League clubs have been warned by government that players and coaches are not social distancing at water breaks or during goal celebrations and must change their habits or risk setting a bad example to the public.
The 20 clubs were contacted individually by the Premier League via letter this week to remind them to encourage their players to keep unnecessary contact to a minimum, following informal conversations between the league and government officials. The Premier League deals with both Public Health England and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, which formulated the protocols that allowed elite sport to return.

But sports fans are disappointed that they will have to pay full price for tickets, says the Sun.

MINISTERS have been blasted for slashing ticket prices for the opera, theatre and museums – but not for the footie.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak has cut VAT from 20 to 5 per cent on trips to the arts, but he has left sport off the list.
Lib Dem MP Layla Moran wrote to the Chancellor urging him to extend the scheme.
In it, she wrote: “You have cut VAT on everything from tickets to shows, theatres, amusement parks, museums and zoos, but critically not admission to sporting events.
“This means that it is 5 per cent VAT to attend a West End theatre but 20 per cent to watch a live sporting event, such as Oxford United.”

Capital of the north

The government is thinking about moving some of its departments to York, reports the Mail.

Downing Street is considering York for a possible second centre of government as senior Whitehall staff leave the capital en masse.
Departments must file plans to move thousands of officials from London into new sites across Britain, and York – which is the site of a push to relocate the House of Lords – was identified as a potential site to base senior civil servants.
A source told The Times it was ‘pretty serious’, with some officials looking to buy property in the area.
They added: ‘It’s not just the House of Lords. Senior civil servants who are close to decision-making are already looking at Rightmove to see what they can buy for the cost of a terraced house in East Dulwich. And they like it. They are looking at substantial Edwardian villas in Harrogate.’

Hong Kong

Judges may find it hard to maintain their independence says the Times.

British judges on Hong Kong’s highest court could be forced to quit if they fail to condemn China’s repressive security law, senior legal figures have told The Times.
Lord Reed of Allermuir, president of the UK Supreme Court, is among ten British judges who sit on the Hong Kong Court of Final Appeal.
Fears have been raised about their ability to remain independent after Beijing’s imposition of a law that heavily restricts criticism of the regime.

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