EU

Just one EU country could veto a trade deal, reports the Express.

BORIS JOHNSON’S Brexit trade deal could well be scuppered thanks to a piece of EU legislation.
EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier set out Brussels’ negotiating objectives this week. Within those objectives, Mr Barnier said the EU is willing to sign up to an extensive and ambitious trade deal with the UK.
The deal, however, could be set for a snag after Mr Barnier declared within the objectives that the future agreement must uphold the “partnership should uphold the precautionary principle in the Union as set out in the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union”.
According to Politico, the reference to the treaty means all members of the European Parliament must come to a unanimous agreement.
This, therefore, allows a member state to veto the direction to which talks are proceeding to “force Barnier into keeping every country’s interests in mind during the upcoming negotiations”.

The Telegraph reports a demand by the ‘little Napoleon’.

Emmanuel Macron has told the European Commission it must tie Britain to EU rules forever during post-Brexit trade negotiations between the UK and Brussels.
France wants to toughen the bloc’s negotiating mandate for the trade talks and force Britain to agree to “dynamic alignment” with EU rules for tax, state aid, the environment and social standards.
Dynamic alignment means Britain would have to change its laws to mirror those in Brussels as they evolve over time, despite the UK having no say in the drafting of those standards after Brexit.
“France wants dynamic alignment across the board,” one EU diplomat said.
The EU is anxious that Britain will use Brexit to embark on a slash and burn of EU regulations and gain what it claims is in an unfair competitive advantage over the bloc by undercutting it.

The Express also reports Macron’s words.

EMMANUEL Macron has infuriated Britons by demanding the UK obeys EU rules on an array of sticking points such as employment, environment and competition forever in return for a post-Brexit trade deal.
The young French President, 41, demanded the European Commission to keep Britain tied to the bloc on a selection of matters in return for a post-Brexit trade deal. A diplomat told the Daily Telegraph that “France wants dynamic alignment across the board”. Another said “full dynamic alignment makes sense” as an “opening bid” in trade talks.

And the demands are echoed by MEPs in the Guardian.

An influential group of MEPs have said any future British government should be required to upgrade key employment, environment and competition laws to maintain free trade with the European Union.
A leaked copy of a draft resolution from the European parliament’s newly formed EU-UK co-ordination group suggests the UK should pledge to match European standards on workers’ rights, environmental protection and state aid, when the EU updates its rulebook.

iNews claims there a call for a new defence strategy.

The French president has called for new post-Brexit EU defence strategy.
Emmanuel Macron made the call to a French military audience one week after Britain, Europe’s only other nuclear-armed state, officially exited the EU.
The French leader said his country sees its nuclear weapons as a deterrent against attacks from belligerent foes, though acknowledged that France’s nuclear might is diminished after its military scaled down its arsenal to under 300 nuclear weapons.

But our fisherfolk are still worried, reports the Express.

BRITISH fishermen have been warned they will be “first thrown overboard if Boris Johnson seriously wants to pursue a trade agreement with the EU”, as huge pressure grows on the Prime Minister not to sell out UK fishing in exchange for a favourable post-Brexit agreement with Brussels.
Boris Johnson delivered Brexit as promised on January 31, clearing the path for the UK to finally leave the European Union. He will now turn his attentions to trade talks with Brussels, which will begin next month and wants a full post-Brexit deal in place by the end of the transition period in December 2020. But fishing has already emerged as arguably the biggest stumbling block in upcoming negotiations.

Conservative Party

Breitbart is scathing about the Tories.

Boris Johnson’s administration is another Conservative In Name Only government in the fine traditions of David Cameron and Theresa May. The latest evidence of this is CCHQ’s extraordinary and outrageous decision to censure one of its own MPs for attending a conservative conference.
Daniel Kawczynski, MP for Shrewsbury and Atcham, attended a conference in Rome where the speakers included Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and Italy’s Matteo Salvini.
A perfectly reasonable decision, you might think. Orban and Salvini are — along with politicians like Donald Trump, Nigel Farage and Jair Bolsonaro — key figures in the populist wave that is sweeping world politics in opposition to the suffocating globalism embodied by institutions like Davos and supranational organisations like the European Union. Any Conservative MP worth the name should be studying these people closely to see what lessons can be learned.

And the Independent – who else? – is having another pop at the Tories.

Further questions have been raised over Tory links to the European far-right after one of the party’s MPs endorsed a conspiracist group on the fringes of French politics.
Andrea Jenkyns gave the thumbs up to the Union Populaire Républicaine, a hard-right outfit founded in 2007 by conspiracy theorist politician François Asselineau.
It follows criticism of another Tory MP, Daniel Kawczynski, for speaking at a conference of far-right parties in Rome earlier this week, whose attendees he said “represent serious ideas and concerns”.

Labour Party

The Labour boss is being uncooperative, says the Independent

Jeremy Corbyn is to snub a formal inquest into Labour’s disastrous performance in the general election.
The Labour leader is not taking part in the probe into what went wrong at the polls, The Independent understands, which is due to examine the root causes behind the party’s worst electoral  defeat since before the Second World War.
Headed up by former leader Ed Miliband, the inquiry is expected to report that Labour was hopelessly outmatched by the Tories in its digital campaign, while activists on the ground were repeatedly confronted with concern about Mr Corbyn, insiders said.

The Sun also reports Corbyn’s snub.

LABOUR flop Jeremy Corbyn is snubbing the party’s inquest into what led to their catastrophic election defeat, The Sun can reveal.
The Labour boss is not giving evidence to the inquiry into what went wrong, which is expected to slam his woeful strategy.
Party insiders said the report will find that voters were horrified by Mr Corbyn’s alleged links with terrorists like the IRA.
While it will also find that Labour “totally lost” the online election battle with the Tories, who managed to get their messages picked up widely on sites like Facebook.

Could this lead to the end of the Labour party?  BBC News reports:

Labour’s “devastating” general election defeat could spell the end of the party, shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth has warned.
The Labour MP told a BBC Radio 4 documentary the party had to change or face up to 15 years out of power.
“Unless we do something quick this could be the end of the Labour Party in this country”, he said.
Senior Labour and Tory figures give frank assessments of the 2019 campaign in the programme to be aired on Sunday.

Ireland

There’s a General Election today, reports the Mirror.

Ireland could be on the brink of a political earthquake is voters cast their ballots in the general election on Saturday.
Opinion polls have shown that nationalist Sinn Fein could pull off an upset and end a century of back and forth rule by the center-right parties of Fine Gael and Fianna Fail.
The left-wing party- which was formerly the political wing of the IRA – has for the first time established itself as a contender for government.
Sinn Fein, historically the political wing of the IRA, have fought a campaign around the issues of housing, health and welfare.

And it could spell the end of the country’s T-shop, says the Express.

LEO VARADKAR looks set to lose his job as Ireland’s Prime Minister because of “three key factors” according to Bloomberg’s Dara Doyle.
Mr Doyle outlined the credit that Mr Varadkar received for his approach towards Brexit has been diminished by the housing crisis and issues with the health service in Ireland. Alongside this the Irish Prime Minister is seen as “cold” and someone who does not connect with voters. Mr Doyle also stated Ireland has a desire for political change having had the same party in charge for almost a decade.

iNews also carries the story.

Voters in Ireland will go to the polls on Saturday – the first time a ballot has been held on the weekend – to choose their next government.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar dissolved the Dáil last month, saying Ireland had a “window of opportunity” to hold an election before the next European Council meeting in March.
Current Prime Minister Mr Varadkar was a prominent voice throughout the Brexit negotiations and, given Ireland is one of the EU member states most impacted by the UK leaving, he had a large stake in the eventual agreement.

Trade

A post-Brexit trade deal with the US is in jeopardy, says the Mail.

US Vice President Mike Pence today suggested the UK’s decision to grant Huawei a role in its 5G network could harm the chances of agreeing a post-Brexit trade deal.
Mr Pence was asked if Boris Johnson‘s decision to give the Chinese tech giant the green light would be a deal breaker for a potential trade pact between the US and UK and he replied: ‘We’ll see.’
It comes after it was claimed that Donald Trump  was ‘apoplectic’ during a call with Mr Johnson when the pair discussed Huawei.

The Independent also (gleefully) reports the possibility.

Boris Johnson’s decision to give Chinese tech giant  Huawei a role in the UK’s 5G telecoms network could block the way to a post-Brexit trade deal with the US, vice-president Mike Pence has said.
Asked if the prime minister’s choice – made in the face of loud opposition from Donald Trump’s White House – could be a “deal-breaker” for a UK-US trade agreement, the vice president replied: “We’ll see.”
President Trump was “apoplectic” when told of the decision by Mr Johnson last week and slammed down the phone on their conversation.

And the Guardian reports Mr Pence’s ‘disquiet’.

US vice-president Mike Pence appeared to hint on Friday that White House disquiet at the involvement of Huawei in building the UK’s 5G network could jeopardise trade talks between the two countries.
Pence told the US broadcaster CNBC: “The United States is very disappointed that the United Kingdom has decided to go forward with Huawei.
“We are profoundly disappointed … When I went at the president’s direction in September I met with Prime Minister Johnson and I told him the moment the UK was out of Brexit we were willing to begin to negotiate a free trade arrangement with the UK.”

The Times claims a deal could be in jeopardy.

Britain may have jeopardised a trade deal with America by approving Huawei’s role in its mobile network upgrade, the US vice-president hinted yesterday.
Mike Pence made clear that the White House was “profoundly disappointed” by Boris Johnson’s decision to allow the Chinese telecoms company to install kit at the “edge” of 5G.
He told the American broadcaster CNBC: “The United States is very disappointed that the United Kingdom has decided to go forward with Huawei.

Illegal migration

They’re still coming, reports the Times.

Thousands of Border Force officials will be redeployed to the south coast under plans to stop smuggling and illegal immigration across the English Channel after December 31.
More than 100 migrants were picked up yesterday in the Channel, a record for a single day.
Priti Patel, the home secretary, has told the cabinet that she wants to turn the Border Force into a “proper law enforcement agency” with a greater focus on frontline operations.

NHS

It seems the PM is taking a long look at the NHS, says the Times.

Boris Johnson will use a new law to clip the wings of the NHS chief executive as he attempts to exert more control over the health service.
No 10 is concerned that Sir Simon Stevens, the head of NHS England, has too much power.
Dominic Cummings, the prime minister’s chief aide, believes that at present the law gives Sir Simon excessive freedom, making it hard for Downing Street to impose its will. There is also frustration in government about the slow pace at which the health service responds to demands from Whitehall. Legislation to be introduced this year will include powers for ministers to give orders to Sir Simon, who is meant to be operationally independent.

Antarctica

The continent is melting fast, says the Times.

Antarctica has hit its highest temperature on record with a reading of 18.3C at a research station on its rocky peninsula.
The temperature easily beat the 17.5C reached in 2015 at the same Argentinian base. Scientists have warned about instability in the Thwaites Glacier — a block of ice at the base of the peninsula that is roughly the area of Britain.
In the Antarctic summer temperatures on the peninsula typically hover a little above zero, but with big fluctuations.

ITV News outlines the record-breaking temperatures.

The continent of Antarctica has experienced its hottest temperature on record, with a research station provisionally recording 18.3C (64.94F)
The reading beats the previous record on the earth’s southernmost continent of 17.5C (63.5F) in March 2015 by 0.8C, according to the Argentine station Esperanza, which collected the data.
The tweet reporting the news from Argentina’s meteorological association was shared by the United Nations’s World Meteorological Organisation (WMO).
The Antarctic Peninsula, the northwest tip near South America, is among the fastest warming regions on earth, with temperatures rising almost 3C (5.4F) over the past 50 years, the WMO said.

Storm Ciara

It’s going to be dangerous out there tomorrow, says the Sun.

BRITS have been warned not to travel by train on Sunday as Storm Ciara is set to smash the country with 80mph winds.
Network Rail has warned widespread disruption to travel including reduced train services and speed restrictions due to the weather.
Strong winds could damage overhead electric wires and tracks if debris and trees fall onto tracks.
The disruptions may continue into Monday if repair work on the lines is effected.
Network Rail has urged people living near railways to brace themselves for the conditions by tying down their garden furniture and trampolines.

It’s going to be wild, reports the Star.

Britain is in for a weekend of wild weather as Storm Ciara slams into the country.
Like her predecessors Atiyah and Brendan, Ciara is expected to cause widespread disruption with heavy rain and widespread gales. The storm is currently tracking eastwards towards the UK and Ireland.
The Met Office has issued multiple National Severe Weather Warnings for Saturday and Sunday, including an amber warning for southeast England on Sunday.
This colour code means “there is the possibility of travel delays, road and rail closures, power cuts and the potential risk to life and property”, according to the Met Office website.

Don’t travel if you don’t have to, urges ITV News.

Trains passengers are being urged to only travel on Sunday if their journey is “absolutely necessary” as Storm Ciara is set to batter the UK.
The Met Office is predicting heavy wind and rain that could cause disruption to flights, trains and ferries, as well as damage to buildings.
Widespread gusts of up to 80mph are expecting in places – prompting several rail firms to operate reduced timetables amid speed restrictions.
Network Rail said it “must prioritise the safety of passengers and railway staff.”

Coronavirus

China is being hit by the effects of corona, reports the Telegraph.

Capital outflows from China have begun to accelerate and the first concrete trade data from Asia have exposed a drastic disruption of supply chains, raising the risk of a broader global financial shock unless the coronavirus is brought under control within days.
Analysts are already downgrading growth forecasts sharply as the de facto lockdown of Chinese cities engulfs most of its core economy, extending as far as Guangzhou, Tianjin, Ningbo and the crucial industrial hubs of the greater Shanghai region. Almost 400 million people are now under some form of coercive quarantine.

The government is acting to prevent drug shortages, says the Sun.

DRUG firms have been told to keep up their No Deal Brexit stockpiles amid fears coronavirus could cause shortages.
With Chinese factories shut amid the outbreak, there are concerns medicines and life-saving gear made there may run low.
Pharmaceutical giants here stuffed warehouses full in case Britain crashed out of the EU without a deal last month.
Ministers are urging them to continue in case the coronavirus sparks a global supply crisis, The Sun columnist James Forsyth reveals today.

And our government is ramping up its testing procedures, reports the Mail.

Thousands of patients across the UK can be tested for coronavirus every day with a new diagnostic test, the Government has said.
Preparation to control cases have been stepped up after a third British person tested positive for the virus yesterday and the Government faced a backlash for its ‘passive’ and ‘weak’ response to the advancing outbreak.
From Monday, twelve laboratories in the UK will have the capacity to analyse swabs taken from suspected patients. Until now, only one lab in London has been able to do this.
A total of 620 tests have been conducted on UK citizens, of which 617 were confirmed negative and three positive.

Alien life

Is anyone out there?  The Mail reports:

A British space scientist says it is ‘almost a racing certain’ that Jupiter’s moon Europa is home to alien life, but believes they are ‘octopus’ like creatures.
Monica Grady, who is a professor of Planetary and Space Science at Liverpool Hope University, suggests the icy seas beneath Euorpa’s surface is a prime location to find beings with similar intelligence to the marine animal.
Brady also thinks that the deep caverns and caves on Mars may also be harboring life-forms, as these areas provide relief from the intense solar radiation.

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