Brexit

The Express claims the EU is treating the UK like China in the Brexit talks.

THE European Union is replicating an incredibly tough stance it has taken with China in the ongoing post-Brexit trade talks with the UK, a political expert has warned, as negotiations between Brussels and London prepare to enter a critical week.
China and the EU have been locked in talks since 2013, when efforts began to produce an investment agreement which would deliver predictable, long-term mutual access to both markets. There have so far been 31 negotiating rounds, including one earlier this month. The Comprehensive Agreement on Investment (CAI) – the EU being treated in China the way Chinese businesses are treated in the EU – is currently one of the core topics of discussion. Beijing also wants to agree a 2025 Cooperation Agenda with the EU, which could reset Sino-European relations in areas ranging from climate control and energy security to science and technology.
But both the 2025 Cooperation Agenda and the CAI are dependent on the satisfaction of a set of issues which include level playing field considerations – one of the major elements which has proved to be a huge stumbling block in trade talks between the EU and UK.

Concessions have been made on both sides, says the Telegraph, but are they enough?

European Union sources expect next week’s Brexit talks to be a round of “shadow boxing”, after the UK and Brussels made concessions in the previous set of negotiations.
About 50 British officials are expected to travel to Belgium on Tuesday, despite the country being put on the UK’s coronavirus red list.
“Both sides have moved closer together but we see this round as laying the foundations for future breakthroughs,” an EU source close to the negotiations said.
“Imagine two fencers sizing each other out or two fighters shadow-boxing before the real engagement begins.”
The negotiations come after a break following five solid weeks of intensified negotiations, which finally brought concessions from both sides.
The UK signalled that it would accept the future relationship being governed by a single treaty. Previously it had insisted on a suite of separate agreements covering issues such as the trade deal and fishing rights.

Scotland

But the prospect of an internal market between Scotland and England has been raised, says the Express.

SCOTTISH politicians have warned Boris Johnson against imposing a post-Brexit internal market between the devolved nations and the UK Government without their consent.
The Westminster Government wants to establish a new internal market between the four nations after December 31, when the Brexit transition period comes to a close. MSPs have warned “every devolved power could be undermined” by the proposals.

And as far as quarantining visitors to the country is concerned, the Independent carries a poll.

Nearly half of Scots believe that English tourists should not be allowed over the border unless they go into quarantine, according to a YouGov poll.
The survey found 47 per cent of people in Scotland  wanted travellers from England only to be allowed to enter the country if they undergo a period of self-isolation.
The research revealed significant differences in attitudes about tourists coming into the country during the coronavirus pandemic, depending on political persuasion.
More than half (54 per cent) of SNP voters surveyed said they did not want English tourists to be able cross the border freely, compared to 37 per cent of Scottish Labour voters, and 19 per cent of those who voted for the Conservatives at the 2019 election.

Quarantine

The travel industry has been hit by further government rules says the Telegraph.

The addition of France to the Foreign Office’s ‘red’ list is a devastating blow for a travel industry that hoped Spain’s inclusion might have been the worst of a fretful summer.
France and Spain together represent the most popular summer holiday destinations for British holidaymakers. This year has now seen the summer season shortened at both ends, a disastrous turn of events for the sector.
One travel industry source said of the decision: “Summer is effectively cancelled… We had hoped that France would manage to cling on.”

And the Guardian is one of those papers reporting the rush home from the Continent before the quarantine deadline.

Thousands of holidaymakers scrambled to return from France on Friday night amid chaotic scenes as it emerged ministers rushed forward the imposition of quarantine measures by 24 hours.
It is understood that Downing Street had initially planned for the rules to come into force on Sunday but it was brought ahead to 4am on Saturday after discussions with Holyrood and other devolved administrations, leaving tourists a narrower window to get home.

The Mail considers the possibility of children missing the first days of the new school term.

Families were scrambling to flee France last night amid fears new quarantine rules will cause thousands of children to miss the start of the school year.
Pupils who do not return to the UK by Tuesday night will still be self-isolating at home when the majority of schools go back on September 2.
But with limited capacity on flights, ferries and the Eurotunnel, many will have no choice but to stay in France – or pay high prices for some of the remaining tickets.

The Telegraph reports a call for testing of all incoming travellers.

Holidaymakers returning to the UK from “red list” countries should be tested in order to end the “quarantine roulette” that has dogged the summer, the Government has been told.
Around 160,000 travellers faced a scramble to return from France on Friday after they were given just over 24 hours’ notice by the Government to leave the country or face having to quarantine for 14 days on their return.
Thousands more face the prospect of cancelling breaks or risk missing weeks of work. Going on holiday could also mean children – who have already missed months of school – being stuck in quarantine when the new term starts.

Infections

The weekly numbers of people infected with Covid is not going up, says the Times.

Infection rates have held steady for two weeks but the latest round of lockdown easing planned for today will not happen in the northwest and Leicester.
Government scientific advisers have called for a ban on the term “local lockdown”, saying that it made residents feel ashamed and punished.
The behavioural science sub-group of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) said that ministers should talk about “areas of intervention”. Higher transmission among ethnic minorities could be exploited by “extreme right-wing groups” to whip up racial stigmatisation, they added.

The Mirror says the virus is under control.

Official figures have given fresh hope coronavirus is not running out of control in England.
There was alarm last month when the Office for National Statistics recorded the first rise in new cases each day since the devastating peak in April.
That potentially meant the virus was spreading exponentially, with each sufferer infecting more than one other person with the disease.
After a string of new restrictions, including a ban on indoor meetings in Greater Manchester, delayed reopenings and travel quarantine from Spain, that rise appears to have been arrested, for now.

Vaccine

There may be a vaccine ready by the end of the year, says the Mirror.

A coronavirus vaccine could be ready within months, the expert leading Britain’s hunt for a jab declared today.
Kate Bingham, chairwoman of the UK Vaccine Taskforce, said the “first possible time” an inoculation could be developed to offer immunity was “towards the tail end of the year, if everything works”.
But, speaking to the BBC, she also admitted it was “more likely, I think, it will be next year”.
It comes as Britain announced it will buy 90million doses of potential Covid-19 vaccines from US firms Johnson & Johnson and Novavax Inc.
The decision brings the total number of deals by the UK government to six as the race for shots heats up.

Millions of doses have been ordered, says Reuters.

Britain will buy potential COVID-19 vaccines from U.S. drugmakers Johnson & Johnson (JNJ.N) and Novavax Inc (NVAX.O), the companies said on Friday, boosting the number of deals it has with drugmakers as the global vaccine race rages on.
Britain and the United States are in the lead with six vaccine deals with drugmakers each, as companies and governments worldwide work overtime to find a vaccine against the pandemic disease.
The latest agreements bring Britain’s total number of doses secured to 340 million, with options for millions more, for a population of 66 million.
Britain said both vaccines could be available by the middle of next year for priority groups, such as such as frontline health and social care workers, ethnic minorities, adults with serious diseases, and the elderly.
The deals cover a wide range of vaccine types currently in development for COVID-19, as Britain seeks to hedge its bets should one or more of the technologies prove ineffective.

Social care

All new care home residents can be tested now, says Huffington Post.

Care homes have been given access to coronavirus testing for all new residents after HuffPost UK revealed some people were forced to lie to obtain a negative test result that would allow them to enter residential care.
Previously, tests could only be accessed by people in the community if they had coronavirus symptoms, but care homes were reluctant to admit people unless they could provide a negative result.
HuffPost UK heard the story of one woman who was  advised by her GP and social worker to lie about her 97-year-old mother having symptoms so she could get a test that would allow her to enter respite care if the result was negative.
On Friday, government guidelines on care admissions were changed to ensure all those entering homes get tests, to stop the disease spreading among the elderly and vulnerable.

Mental health

Lockdown is affecting people’s mental health, says the Telegraph.

More health staff are being trained to treat people with post-traumatic stress disorder in preparation for a possible spike in demand for mental health services in the wake of the coronavirus crisis.
Nearly 3,000 trainees are expected to start courses in psychological therapies and former staff are being asked to consider returning to frontline roles.
The aim is to be prepared for growing numbers of people with anxiety and depression and related conditions.
NHS national director for mental health Claire Murdoch said the pandemic had “turned lives upside down”.
“Although talking therapy services have been available throughout, this is about making sure the NHS is ready for a potential spike in demand further down the line, which we know can happen during periods of extreme crisis,” she said.

Education

The Times reports further potential problems next week.

Head teachers say that next week’s GCSE results could be even worse for pupils than A-levels amid fears that two million results may be downgraded.
They warn that predicted grades are more likely to be discarded for GCSEs because the calculation appears to downgrade results more often when a large number of pupils take a subject at a school. Large numbers of entries are more common in GCSEs than A-levels.
About 700,000 pupils in England had been due to take five million GCSE exams before schools shut in March.

Several of the media report that no charge will be made to challenge an exam grade.  The Telegraph reports:

All exam appeals will be free this year, the Education Secretary announced last night in an attempt to see off rising anger ahead of GCSE results day.
Gavin Williamson said that his department would cover the costs so that schools were not left out of pocket, as he announced that he would set up a Government task force to oversee the appeals process.
His intervention came as statisticians predicted that  GCSE results day on Thursday would be an even bigger disaster for students than A-levels were.

The Times also has the story.

Every school in England will be able to appeal against A-level and GCSE grades free of charge, the education secretary has said.
Gavin Williamson told The Times that the government would cover the fees to ensure that head teachers were not deterred from making appeals.
He said that the move, which will cost between £8 million and £15 million, will help to avoid “shocking injustices”, where schools fail to take action on behalf of pupils.
Exam boards initially charge schools between £9.50 and £25 per pupil for each appeal, but this can rise to as much as £150 per grade for more contentious cases and schools can pass this cost on to parents. The fee is refunded if the appeal is successful.

Ofqual could take action, says the Guardian.

Britain’s equalities watchdog has warned it will intervene in the controversy over the handling of A-level results in England after students from disadvantaged backgrounds were worst hit while private school pupils benefited the most.
The release of A-level results on Thursday revealed that the largest share of rises in A* and A grades in England had gone to independent schools, with two privately educated pupils receiving an extra A* for every one at a state secondary.
Nearly 40% of teachers’ recommended grades – 280,000 in total – were downgraded, it was confirmed. Deprived pupils were more likely to have seen those grades lowered by Ofqual’s algorithm, and the gap in results between pupils on free school meals and better-off pupils widened compared with 2019.

Scotland has scrapped moderating results and the English government is being pressed to do the same, says the Morning Star.

THE government is under increasing pressure to follow Scotland’s lead by scrapping moderated A-levels after thousands of pupils’ results were downgraded in what has been described as a “huge injustice.”
In England, 39 per cent of teachers’ estimates were reduced by at least one grade, according to data from Ofqual, amounting to around 280,000 entries.
The proportion of downgrades was highest for pupils from the most deprived backgrounds, but the regulator has insisted that there was no evidence of systemic bias.

It would normally be the schools who pay, says the Mail.

Schools will not be charged for appealing against A-level grades amid fears that this week’s marking fiasco will be repeated for children receiving their GCSE results next week.
The UK’s under-fire education secretary Gavin Williamson said that the government would cover the appeal costs to ensure that head teachers are not put off from making appeals by the cost.
The government is facing a storm after nearly 40 per cent of results were downgraded by the computer model deployed when exams had to be cancelled due to the coronavirus crisis.

The Metro agrees that next week’s results could go the same way.

As many as two million GCSE grades could be forced down by the same Government algorithms that left so many A-Level students disappointed, a new analysis has found.  Pupils may again discover they have dropped one or more grades from their teachers’ recommendations when they pick up their results next week, according to education experts, with pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds likely to be the hardest hit.
The Guardian reports the FFT Education Datalab research unit expects the proportion of grades being downgraded to be in the region of 35-40% – a similar figure to the 39% of A-Level grades affected this week.  GCSEs are taken by around 700,000 schoolchildren in England, who in a normal year would sit five million individual exams. Thousands of headteachers have called on the Education Secretary Gavin Williamson to explain how he intends to avoid a repeat of the ‘serious injustices’ seen when A-Level pupils found out their results on Thursday.

In an exclusive report, the Sun claims the education secretary could lose his job.

BUNGLING Gavin Williamson is fighting to cling on to his Cabinet job in the wake of the A Levels meltdown.
No10 is livid with the Education Secretary after he presided over a string of humiliating school disasters.
He U-turned on a vow to get all primary school pupils back to class before summer, and sparked nationwide fury with the marking shambles.
And if next week’s GCSE results end up in an A Levels-style disaster, it could be the final straw for his Cabinet career.
Cabinet colleagues have sharpened their knives against Mr Williamson, with one cruelly comparing him to the gaffe-prone Frank Spencer in the sitcom Some Mothers Do Ave Em.

Facial recognition

Facial recognition technology could be expanded says the Times.

A police force hopes to deploy facial recognition and behavioural technology that can spot anger and distress, in a widening use of artificial intelligence.
Retrospective facial recognition is under consideration in other areas to solve cold cases by scanning through CCTV, although issues of ethics have delayed the Home Office pilot.
Police in Lincolnshire are to test a system that would enable them to search live CCTV for specific parameters such as mood and facial expression.
While police say such tools are helpful to detect crime they have raised concerns from privacy campaigners who fear there are not enough safeguards and the tactics are too intrusive.

The economy

Our economy could be bouncing back says the Mail.

Britain’s economy is on course for a rapid recovery from the coronavirus crisis, a senior Bank of England  official predicts today.
Chief economist Andy Haldane says strong consumer spending has already helped the UK claw back as much as half of the losses triggered by the pandemic.
He insists ‘now is the time to see the economic glass as half full rather than half empty’ – as official statistics reveal a sharp increase in the number of white collar workers returning to their offices.
Responding to the figures, Chancellor Rishi Sunak  said: ‘Our economy has been hit hard by the virus, but the statistics out today show promise of Britain bouncing back.

Property

Stamp duty scrapping has energised the housing market, says the Times.

Property sales are up by 20 per cent and average asking prices have risen by £10,000 in the four weeks since a cut in stamp duty, according to Bank of England data.
Despite confirmation that the country is now in the depths of recession, average asking prices are £30,000 higher and thousands more sales are being agreed each week than before the lockdown from March 27 to May 13. However, analysts believe the rise is a bubble, and the true effects of the economic crash are yet to arrive.

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