Brexit talks

The talks are not going well, says the Mail.

Brexit trade talks stalled today as the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier warned the bloc will not ‘bargain away our values for the benefit of the British economy’.
The third round of negotiations has now concluded but the chances of a deal by the end of the year appear to be slipping after each side blamed the other for a lack of progress on fishing arrangements and whether the UK will have to stick to EU rules.
Mr Barnier said the bloc wants a ‘modern’ agreement and ‘not a narrow one rooted in past precedents and sliced-up sector by sector’ as he also told Number 10: ‘You cannot have the best of both worlds.’
But Britain insisted Brussels must tear up its current ‘ideological approach’ if a deal is to be done.
The UK’s chief negotiator David Frost said the ‘major obstacle’ to an agreement is the EU insisting on a ‘level playing field’ provision which would see Britain having to adhere to the bloc’s rules and regulations long into the future.

And the talks are going downhill even further, says the Express.

TALKS over the UK’s post-Brexit trading relationship with the European Union descended into acrimony yesterday.
UK chief negotiator David Frost hit out at Brussels’ “ideological approach” as he warned there had been “very little progress” in the latest round of wrangling.
Amid heightened tensions Mr Frost hinted the UK may walk out of future talks if there wasn’t a “constructive process”.

The Telegraph claims they’re about to collapse.

The Brexit trade talks were at the point of collapse on Friday after the UK’s chief negotiator said the EU’s “ideological approach” made it impossible to reach an agreement.
The two sides’ chief negotiators went public with their displeasure at the state of negotiations, raising the prospect that Britain could walk out of the talks in June and pursue no deal.

The Express has several pieces on the talks including our negotiator’s full speech.

BRITAIN’S Brexit negotiator David Frost has launched a furious rant at the EU as talks to secure a trade deal are on the brink of collapse. Read his full speech here.

Even BBC News admits that talks are not going well.

“Very little progress” has been made in the latest round of UK-EU trade talks, the UK government has said.
The UK’s negotiator David Frost said a far-reaching free trade agreement could be agreed before the end of the year “without major difficulties”.
But it was being held up by the EU’s desire to “bind” the UK to its laws and seek unfair access to fishing waters.
The EU’s Michel Barnier suggested the UK’s own demands were “not realistic” and warned of a looming stalemate.

The political slant of each media outlet comes out with their report.  The Guardian says:

Britain’s chief negotiator in the talks over the future relationship with the EU has warned Michel Barnier that he must drop his “ideological approach” within the next fortnight, as the latest round of talks ended in stalemate.
The comments from David Frost came as both sides offered a gloomy prognosis for the negotiations on trade, security and fisheries, with little sign of the teams finding common ground.

The Mirror is a little more even-handed.

The EU and UK have warned Brexit trade talks risk collapse after “tetchy” negotiations ended in stalemate.
Britain faces crashing out of EU rules on December 31 without a deal as both sides struggled to make a breakthrough.
Both sides said there was little progress in the latest round – weeks before a June 30 deadline.
Negotiators must decide by then whether to keep talks going, extend the transition period beyond December, or abandon all hope of a trade deal because there is not enough progress.

The pro-Brexit Mail blames the EU negotiator.

Britain’s chief negotiator has accused Brussels of taking an “ideological approach” to floundering Brexit trade talks, which he says are making “very little progress”.
Speaking after the latest round of negotiations, David Frost said the UK would make public its draft proposals for a trade deal next week, following a warning by EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, that “the United Kingdom has not got into a real discussion” on key issues.

Even the Times has had to admit that our man has given the EU an ultimatum.

David Frost, the prime minister’s chief Brexit negotiator, has given the European Union a two-week ultimatum to change course in trade and fisheries talks and accused Michel Barnier of putting ideology before getting a deal.
Post-Brexit talks have hit an impasse six weeks before a legally binding deadline expires ruling out any extension to the transition period.


Meanwhile, across the channel, the law is clamping down on those who don’t like the EU says Breitbart.

Germany’s Bundestag has approved a new law imposing a prison sentence of up to three years for damaging or destroying a European Union flag, in an effort to curb “hate”.
The national parliament voted on Thursday to amend the criminal code to protect the European Union flag from being destroyed, damaged, or defaced. Punishments for contraventions of the law range from a fine or even a prison sentence of up to three years.


Reports that those coming in from France will not be subject to quarantine have been refuted in the Independent.

British families’ hopes of summer holidays in France  have been dealt a blow as Downing Street said there was no “French exemption” from plans for a 14-day quarantine for travellers from abroad.
A joint statement by Boris Johnson and French president Emmanuel Macron on Sunday appeared to suggest the cross-Channel neighbours were preparing to exclude one another from quarantine rules designed to stop the spread of coronavirus  over international borders.

But is this a change of mind by the government? BBC News says no.

The government has denied that travellers from France will be exempted from the planned coronavirus quarantine measures.
Under the plans announced last weekend, people arriving from abroad must isolate themselves for two weeks.
Those with nowhere to stay will be obliged to isolate in accommodation provided by the authorities.

The news is a blow to those hoping to get to France for a holiday, says the Mirror.

Hopes of a “French holiday” exemption to quarantine rules have been dashed as Brits face the prospect of two weeks in isolation when they return.
Downing Street today confirmed “there isn’t a French exemption” to 14 days’ quarantine – which will soon be mandatory for most people who arrive from any nation into the UK.
That appears to crush widespread reports that UK holidaymakers could be able to escape across the Channel later this summer.


… except, of course, those coming in by air, reports the Mail.

Most of us are in dire straits in lockdown, confined with cabin fever and wanderlust.
We’ve followed the rules to the letter, only leaving home where necessary and avoiding beloved friends and family.
Yet while many of us haven’t ventured past the garden gate since March, a curious phenomenon taunts us: the planes in the sky.
In scenes that have exasperated Britons locked down in their homes for nearly eight weeks – in the country with the world’s second-highest death toll – jets continue to streak overhead.


The Mail has an exclusive report on hospital admissions.

Hospital admissions for coronavirus have halved since the pandemic’s peak, the head of the NHS  reveals today.
Writing exclusively in the Daily Mail, Simon Stevens says the fall in demand means the sick should not delay in seeking help for other illnesses.
Hospital staff are treating just over 9,000 patients a day in England – down from 19,000 a few weeks ago. Admissions are now falling by around 2,000 a week.

Coronavirus Act

ITV News considers the action police have been taking.

Dozens of people have been wrongly charged by police under a new coronavirus law, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has admitted.
All 44 charges brought under the Coronavirus Act, which allows officers to remove or detain a “suspected infectious person” for screening and assessment, since it was brought in on March 27 were incorrect.
And 12 charges under the Health Protection Regulations 2020, which give powers to break up gatherings and fine people breaching restriction of movement rules, were also wrong.


A cure for the virus could be on the cards, says the Mail.

Scientists at a California biotech company have found an antibody that completely blocks coronavirus in a discovery they called a ‘cure,’ Fox News reported.
Sorrento Therapeutics, based in San Diego, claims its STI-1499 antibody stopped coronavirus from entering 100 percent of healthy human cells in petri dish experiments.

Tests are being carried out on a cure here in the UK, says the Mail.

Hopes a coronavirus cure could be on the horizon were raised today after a vaccine developed in Britain showed promising signs in trials on monkeys.
The University of Oxford’s experimental jab strengthened the immune system in six rhesus macaques without causing any side effects.
Within 28 days of being vaccinated, all of the animals had COVID-19 antibodies – produced by the body to give it some immunity from the virus.


And testing kits are on standby, reports the Mail,

Five million coronavirus antibody kits are on standby for NHS use after a second test was approved by health officials.
The new test – produced by medical giant Abbott – has been given the green light by Public Health England as spotting 100 per cent of those who have had the virus.

Sniffer dogs

Dogs can detect health problems like cancer and diabetes.  Can they be trained to sniff out coronavirus?  The Telegraph reports.

Medical sniffer dogs will be trained to detect asymptomatic coronavirus carriers under a Government-backed initiative that could see 250 people screened per hour.
Three cocker spaniels, two labradors and a labradoodle are to begin intensive training at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) using odour samples from Covid-19-positive patients, ministers announced on Friday.

And the plans are backed by the government, says iNews.

The Government is to start trialling specially-trained sniffer dogs to see if they can detect Covid-19 in humans before they begin to show symptoms as part of its plans for an “early warning” system.
Trials are due to start within the next two weeks to determine whether “covid dogs” are able to detect coronavirus in humans by taking odour samples, which scientists hope could “revolutionise” how the virus is monitored.

The ‘R’ rate

The reproduction rate of the virus, known as ‘R’, is under scrutiny in the Telegraph.

Britain’s coronavirus infection rate has risen, driven by care homes and hospitals, the Government said on Friday – but transmission in the community is now very low.
The Government Office for Science announced that the latest ‘R’ number range for the UK is now 0.7 to 1.0, up from 0.5 to 0.9 last weekend. The reproduction ‘R’ number is the average that shows many people one person with coronavirus will pass it on to.

The Mail says it’s rising.

Britain’s crucial coronavirus reproduction rate has crept up to the point where the outbreak could spiral back out of control, government scientists today warned – on the same day officials announced the lowest weekly death toll since the end of March, with just 384 more victims.
Experts sitting on Number 10’s SAGE panel saying the reproduction rate – known as the R – has risen to somewhere between 0.7 and 1 after officials claimed it was between 0.5 and 0.9 last week.

The Times says it has ‘slightly increased’.

The R number indicating the rate at which the coronavirus outbreak is growing in Britain may have slightly increased and could be as high as 1, according to official figures that suggest there may be very little wiggle room for any further lifting of the lockdown.
The latest estimates of the number, which reflect the state of transmission a fortnight ago, put it as between 0.7 and 1.

But does it matter?  Sky News reports:

Take the words of the prime minister. On 30 April, Boris Johnson told the nation that “keeping the R rate down is absolutely vital to our recovery”.
Or take the words of Monday’s government document, “Our Plan to Rebuild”, which made a point of warning that the R rate was “potentially only just below 1”.
On this basis, the document suggested, the government was only allowing the smallest of lockdown easing to take place in England.
On the advice of the government’s scientific advisory committee SAGE, the government announced on Friday evening that the R rate had gone up.


Education should start getting back to normal soon, says the Telegraph.

Britain’s teaching unions should stop “squabbling” and get children back to school as it is “extremely damaging” for them not to return to the classroom in the coming weeks, the Children’s Commissioner has warned.
Amid a growing stand-off between the unions and the Government, Anne Longfield has published research on NHS nurseries which shows that despite remaining open, none have suffered any coronavirus outbreaks.

But only if the unions agree, reports the Mail.

Doctors today said teachers’ unions are ‘absolutely right’ to argue it is unsafe for schools to open on June 1 – as the Children’s Commissioner led a chorus of influential voices calling for pupils to return as soon as possible.
The British Medical Association warned the number of coronavirus cases was still too high in a letter to the National Education Union on Friday.
‘Until we have got case numbers much lower, we should not consider reopening schools,’ the BMA council’s chair, Chaand Nagpaul, said in the letter to his NEU counterpart, Kevin Courtney, reported The Guardian.

The parties involved in the negotiations should get together, says Sky News.

The government and teaching unions must “stop squabbling” and agree a plan to get children back to school in “a safe, phased return”, the children’s commissioner for England has said.
Anne Longfield also called for “rigorous” COVID-19 testing of teachers, children and families to ease safety fears among parents.
“I am disappointed that the debate about when some primary school kids can return has descended into a squabble between government and the teaching unions,” she said.

The Times says teachers may defy their unions.

The country’s biggest primary school chains are preparing to defy teaching unions and reopen to pupils at the start of next month.
Ministers are planning for children in reception and Years 1 and 6 to return to their classrooms from June 1. Unions oppose the plan, claiming that teachers, pupils and their families will be at risk of catching the coronavirus.
The heads of four school chains — Reach 2, Harris, Oasis and GEP — said yesterday that they were backing the government plan.

And doctors are backing the unions, reports the Telegraph.

The chair of the British Medical Association’s council has defended teachers’ unions who are refusing to engage in talks with the Government over reopening schools.
Unions, including the National Education Union (NEU), have abandoned talks with Government scientific advisers after refusing to support the plans for a phased reopening of schools.
The British Medical Association has weighed in to support the unions, saying that its views are “completely aligned” with the NEU.


Beer is being poured down the drain as it goes off, says the Telegraph.

As many as 70m pints are set to be poured away as beer goes off while pubs stay shut during the crisis.
Pubs have been forced to find novel ways of using up lager and ale that cannot be sold during the pandemic so it does not get wasted completely.
Britain’s 47,000 pubs have been hit hard by government restrictions that aimed to contain the spread of coronavirus, with some publicans converting their sites into shops to keep some money coming in during lockdown.

The Sun also has the story.

UK pubs have thrown away 70million pints of spoilt beer during the coronavirus crisis.
Experts say the duty on out-of-date beer — unsold because of the lockdown — can be claimed back by pubs.
But the waste has cost millions.
The figure is based on the nation’s 47,000 pubs having an average ten beer taps each.
Some unsaleable beer has been donated to farmers to use to create organic fertiliser or animal feed, with brewers keen not to waste their product.

London congestion charge

Sadiq Khan has hiked up the congestion charge, says the Times.

Boris Johnson attacked the London mayor’s “irresponsible” leadership yesterday after it emerged that motorists will face a 30 per cent rise in the cost of driving into the city centre to plug a hole in transport funding.
Sadiq Khan announced that the congestion charge would rise to £15 a day, designed to offset a “catastrophic” collapse in public transport fare income. It will be the first rise in six years.
The present £11.50 charge for driving into central London, which has been suspended for the past two months, will be reinstated on Monday.

And this is despite a government handout, the Sun points out.

SADIQ Khan sparked outrage today by announcing plans to hike London’s congestion charge and increase fares for commuters and schoolkids – after his multi-billion bailout from the Government.
In a double dose of bad news, the Mayor announced plans to whack up the charges for vehicles driving in central London from June, and commuters travelling will face higher costs in the coming months too.


An exclusive report in the Telegraph tell us about discussions with the football league.

League Two clubs voted 20 to four against the relegation of the bottom club, currently Stevenage, as part of discussions towards the season being curtailed early by the Football League.
The decision, which has yet to be ratified by the EFL or the Football Association, represents the first serious move of any professional division in the English game to scrap relegation as a result of the coronavirus crisis.

And the Times claims the BBC may be able to broadcast matches.

The BBC could be given an unprecedented opportunity to broadcast some of the remaining Premier League matches this season live.
The proposal for playing the remaining 92 matches of the 2019-20 campaign in empty grounds would mean that all of the games are televised. Of these, 47 have already been allocated for TV coverage. Under the plan, 32 of the other 45 games would be given to the main rights holder, Sky, eight to BT Sport and five to the BBC and Amazon, as they are also rights holders.

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