Brexit

No quarter is being given in the trade deal says the Telegraph.

Michael Gove has told businesses to brace for “significant disruption” at the border as France ordered its ports to crack down on lorries arriving from Britain with incorrect paperwork from Monday.
With business leaders warning that post-Brexit red tape is already hampering the flow of trade across the Channel, Mr Gove said the Government would “redouble” its efforts to communicate changes to firms and hauliers.
He added that the impact of new EU trading arrangements would be felt most firmly on the “Dover-Calais route,” with figures released on Friday showing 700 lorries travelling through Kent had already been turned away at the border since January 1.
While the majority of refusals so far have been due to coronavirus testing issues rather than non-compliance, the Cabinet Office said that heightened traffic in the coming days meant disruption was likely to intensify.

The Guardian says some companies are restricting deliveries to the EU.

A growing number of retailers and courier firms are suspending or cutting back deliveries into the EU as companies grapple with new border controls as well as import taxes.
On Friday DPD, the international delivery giant, said it was “pausing” its road service from the UK into Europe, including the Republic of Ireland. Separately, Marks & Spencer said it was concerned that a third of the products in its Irish food halls, including Percy Pig sweets, would now be subject to import tariffs. Such taxes could spell higher prices for shoppers.
DPD said new border procedures, including additional customs paperwork, needed for parcels destined for Europe were putting extra pressure on turnaround and transit times.
The company said it was returning one-fifth of parcels to the sender because they had incorrect or incomplete data attached. It also blamed delays and congestion at UK ports for its decision, as well as more rigid requirements for Channel crossings.

Rejoiners

Breitbart claims the movement to rejoin the bloc is being led by the Labour Party.

A former Labour frontbencher has admitted that most in her party “at heart” wants to rejoin the European Union, and advocated considering scrapping the pound sterling to join the euro single currency.
Reform UK leader Nigel Farage may have spoken too soon when, after the UK left the EU’s institutions on December 31st, 2020, he claimed the “Brexit wars are over”.
Rosie Duffield, a former Labour frontbencher who has represented Canterbury since 2017, is a hardline Europhile who lobbied for a so-called “People’s Vote” — a Remainer campaign which tried to disguise as a populist movement the push for a second referendum to overturn the original populist revolution: the June 2016 vote to leave the European Union.
Speaking to HuffPost UK’s Commons People podcast on Thursday, Ms Duffield rejected the notion that the Brexit question was settled — not even for a generation.
“No, I’m not giving up. All the groups that I was involved with are already calling themselves ‘Rejoiners’. They’re starting to think about that. I think, maybe it’s a little bit too soon, but we might as well start to build a movement.”

Armed forces

Our missile stock is to be updated, says the Express.

A NEW £550million deal for new missiles to ensure the UK is “ready for war” has been signed in a boost to the British Armed Forces.
Known as SPEAR3, the next-generation missile can travel long distances at high-subsonic speed and over the next decade will become the Royal Navy’s primary air-to-ground weapon. The investment, worth £550m, will see the installation of new surface-attack missiles and will support hundreds of UK jobs.
At 1.8 metres long, the missile system has a range of more than 140-kilometres and, powered by a turbojet engine, can operate across land and sea, day or night.
The missiles will have the capability to overpower any enemy air defence systems, according to the Ministry of Defence.
The system will become the F35’s plane primary air-to-ground weapon which forms part of the Queen Elizabeth class carrier strike group.

EU

But the Christmas Eve deal could be shot down in flames by MEPs, reports the Express.

BRUSSELS is facing a nightmare scenario as MEPs plot to block a major trade deal that has already been agreed at a political level.
The European Commission has already secured an investment agreement with China, but the deal has yet to be passed by the European Parliament. This next stage could prove difficult for Brussels, as swathes of MEPs could refuse to ratify the agreement in protest of Beijing’s human rights abuses.
Parliamentarians are considering whether it would be ethical to back such a deal while Beijing is ramping up crackdowns in Hong Kong and Xinjiang.
On Wednesday over 50 pro-democracy activists were arrested in Hong Kong, while measures continue to be taken against the Uighur minority in Xinjiang.

Scotland

The Express queries whether Wee Burney’s plans to rejoin the bloc will be accepted.

NICOLA STURGEON’s plans to join the EU were questioned by a Spanish MEP who warned the Scottish economy is a “problem”.
Debate on whether Scotland can join the EU, and how long the country would have to wait, has been fierce in Holyrood. The SNP have raged against the UK’s decision to vote for Brexit, and has called for a second independence referendum with the hope Scotland can return to Brussels as an EU member state. One European country at the centre of the debate is Spain – where its own grappling with Catalonia over independence has raised fears Madrid may block Ms  Sturgeon‘s EU plans. This was highlighted when Conservative Spanish MEP, Esteban Gonzalez Pons, warned Scotland’s deficit could prove costly.

Crackdown

Was the crackdown a political, scientific or medical decision?  The Mail reports:

Matt Hancock, Michael Gove and Chris Whitty convinced Boris Johnson to lock down the country for a third time, reports say.
The Prime Minister faced a stark situation in a ‘dashboard’ meeting at 9am on Monday, with infection and hospitalisation figures painting a bleak picture of the country’s situation.
Mr Johnson went on to describe the data as a ‘bit unclear’ during an interview at north London’s Chase Farm Hospital, insisting that reopening schools was the right thing to do.
But the PM was less bullish when he returned to Downing Street, where England’s chief medical officer Chris Whitty said he and other CMOs in the four nations thought the threat meter should be raised to the highest possible level, The Times reports.

Will having the jab help?  Maybe not, says the Mail.

People must be told to keep social distancing and wearing face coverings even after they have had a Covid vaccineSAGE has warned.
In a paper produced by the Government‘s scientific advisers, experts said officials should make sure immunised Britons understand they have to keep following the rules.
Although people who receive the vaccine should be protected from severe disease from two to three weeks after getting the jab, they could still spread the illness.
And until there is a ‘high degree of coverage’ which protects most of those at risk of death, social distancing must carry on as normal, the scientists said.
The paper was produced by SPI-B, a sub-group of SAGE that focuses on people’s behaviour and how it might affect the coronavirus outbreak.
They said they were fairly confident that ‘some of those who have been vaccinated will show a reduction in personal protective behaviours’.

Deaths are still soaring, says the Sun.

BRITAIN suffered its darkest day in the war against Covid-19 yesterday.
The highest number of deaths and record infections were recorded — and a state of emergency was declared in London hospitals.
PM Boris Johnson last night had to urge the public to comply with the third lockdown as the daily fatality count doubled in a week to 1,325.
New daily confirmed cases rocketed to 68,000.
One Government adviser estimated 150,000 a day are falling victim to the virus.
The R-rate of infection in the worst-affected parts of the country stands at 1.4 — far above the target of under 1.
Yesterday was also the 11th straight day infection numbers were above 50,000 and cases have risen by almost 30 per cent week on week.

And the police are about to take firmer action, reports the Times.

Police are toughening enforcement of the lockdown as government scientific advisers fear that public neglect of restrictions could keep infections high for months.
A record death toll and level of infections were recorded yesterday as figures suggested that people are leaving home far more often than last spring.
Boris Johnson made a fresh plea last night for people to follow the rules as the government began a television campaign to urge people to stay at home. “Our hospitals are under more pressure than at any other time since the start of the pandemic, and infection rates across the entire country continue to soar at an alarming rate,” the prime minister said.

More hard-hitting warnings will be issued, says the Telegraph.

Ministers are considering a “tough crackdown” to pressure more Britons to stay at home after the daily coronavirus death toll hit a record high.
There is growing concern in Government over compliance with the latest lockdown after Covid cases continued to rise sharply, with one in 15 people now estimated to be infected in some parts of London. Rates in Liverpool and some other areas have almost quadrupled in a week.
A new hard-hitting Government advertising campaign, unveiled on Friday night, warned the public that if they leave their homes “people will die”.
In a new television advertisement, Professor Chris Whitty, the chief medical officer, says: “Covid-19, especially the new variant, is spreading quickly across the country. This puts many people at risk of serious disease and is placing a lot of pressure on our NHS. Once more, we must all stay home.”
The campaign urges people to “act like you’ve got it”, adding that “anyone can spread it”.

The PM has joined in pleas to stay home, reports the Mail.

Boris Johnson last night begged families to stay at home as the Covid-19 death toll hit a grim new record – with the Government launching a new campaign blitz to scare people into obeying lockdown rules.
England’s Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty has appeared in adverts urging us to stay at home as the new variant of the virus rips across the country.
Two terrifying new posters also show a patient dying in hospital and a healthcare worker wearing full PPE, warning Britons: ‘If you go out, you can spread it. People will die.’
Mr Johnson said that infections were rising at an alarming rate, despite the new national lockdown imposed at the start of the week.

Vaccine

The Telegraph has an exclusive report on payments to GPs.

GPs are being paid £1,000 to cancel second dose appointments for Covid jabs and given a script to follow to deal with angry patients amid growing chaos in the roll-out of the vaccine programme.
Practices have been offered the payments to cover the workload of postponing hundreds of patients who were set to have their second dose and booking new ones in their place.
NHS sources said the shift has contributed to delays in rolling out the programme. Some GPs have refused to postpone the appointments, with practice managers saying it was “too cruel” to dash the hopes of those who were booked for a second jab.
Ministers have promised to offer almost 15 million people jabs by the middle of February, with hundreds of doses a day administered by the end of next week.

But some doses of the vaccine are being thrown away, says the Telegraph.

More than 100,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine may have been thrown away because of incorrect guidance by Public Health England, it has been revealed.
Instructions issued when the vaccine was being produced in December said that five doses could be obtained from each vial, but was revised by PHE on Jan 4 to allow for “administration of a sixth dose if obtainable”.
The Department for Health and Social Care said that the updated guidance had been issued on Dec 17, made available in a pack called “information for UK healthcare professionals”.
However, it is understood that some healthcare staff were unaware of the changes.

A third vaccine has been approved, says the Times.

The medical regulator has approved a coronavirus vaccine from the American company Moderna with the first deliveries expected in the spring.
Trials suggest the Moderna jab is 94.5 per cent effective and the EU is due to receive its first supplies next week. Britain will have to wait until later in the year despite placing its order first.
The government said yesterday that it had increased its order by 10 million doses to 17 million. Each person requires two shots. Britain has also bought 100 million doses of the Oxford-Astrazeneca vaccine and 40 million from Pfizer-Biontech.

Over the Channel, all is not well, says the Express.

EU BOSSES have finally lost patience with the German government and launched a blistering attack on Berlin over its role in the bloc’s shambolic Covid-19 vaccine roll-out programme.
The European Commission, headed by former German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen has been under massive pressure from Germany which accused Brussels of failing to order enough of the vaccine to go around. Officials in Berlin said it was unacceptable that Germany, where the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine was developed, found itself with insufficient doses to carry out an effective roll-out.  And they sparked outrage in Brussels when they said Germany should have taken care of it itself before helping other member states.
A furious Ms von der Leyen has written a strongly-worded letter to Angela Merkel’s government making clear the EU’s views on the row and blaming individual member states rather than Brussels for the supply issues.

London

The residents of our capital city are suffering, reports the Mail.

London is facing the biggest threat of the pandemic so far as the NHS buckles under the strain of coronavirus cases, experts warned today as a major incident was declared in the capital.
The city is one of the main hotspots of the latest wave of the virus which saw deaths reach a record high today, with its spread now ‘out of control’ in the metropolitan area.
Mayor Sadiq Khan warned that more than 1 per cent of the city’s nine million residents tested positive for Covid last week, with one in 30 residents currently estimated to be infected.
In the worst-hit boroughs, it is feared the rate is as high as one in 20 and startling figures also show that hospital admissions rose by a quarter in the first week of January.
More than 7,000 NHS beds across the capital are currently occupied by Covid patients – 35 per cent higher than the busiest day of the pandemic in the spring.

The Sun claims hospitals are almost overwhelmed.

A MAJOR incident has today been declared in London with hospitals at breaking point as Covid cases continue to rocket.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan is also urging people to wear masks “routinely” outside their homes as one in 30 Londoners is now infected.
He said the NHS is “on the cusp of being overwhelmed” with more than 7,000 Covid patients in London hospitals — almost 2,000 more than the first peak last April.
The numbers of people on ventilators has almost doubled since Christmas day – with 47 per cent more patients in intensive care, the Mayor said.
And he warned hospitals will run out of beds in “in the next couple of weeks” unless the spread is slowed down “drastically”.

And the police are being used as ambulance drivers, says iNews.

Police officers are being drafted in to drive ambulances in London as soaring Covid-19 cases threatened to overwhelm hospitals and prompted the declaration of a “major incident” in the capital.
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan warned that growing infection rates, which mean that one in 20 people now have Coronavirus in some parts of the capital, were putting “immense pressure” on an already-stretched health service with 800 new admissions – equivalent to the capacity of a large hospital – a day.
On Friday, the UK recorded 1,325 deaths linked to Covid-19, the highest number of fatalities in a single day since the pandemic began, with a further 68,035 infections.
The escalating crisis prompted Mr Khan to formally declare a major incident – previously called for the Grenfell Tower fire and terror attacks in London – meaning that emergency services can no longer guarantee a normal level of response and allowing the implementation of special measures.

Anti-vax demos are likely to be targeted by the police, says the Evening Standard.

Any Londoners planning on participating in anti-lockdown protests this weekend have been warned to expect the long arm of the law.
Group StandUpX is planning to stage a demonstration against the new coronavirus restrictions in Clapham Commonsouth London, on Saturday afternoon.
The action was planned after England entered its third national shutdown, with people up and down the country urged, once more, to “stay at home”.
The group was involved in Parliament Square protests earlier this week which saw 21 people arrested.
Despite this, its social media accounts have called for “thousands” to join the latest march.
The Metropolitan Police has responded with an open letter saying the force is “aware” of the planned action and reminding people to remember their duty to others during the health crisis.

Education

Schools are expected to make provision to educate children of key workers but the Guardian says additional pupils are attending.

Primary schools in England have reported a big increase in the number of pupils attending during the latest lockdown, leading to warnings it may increase the spread of Covid-19 and prolong the need for school closures.
A survey of school leaders and classroom teachers revealed a sharp turnaround in the numbers of children attending school this week compared with those who attended in March 2020 during the first national lockdown.
The survey by the Teacher Tapp app found that one in six primary schools in England reported that 30% or more of their normal roll was attending in person this week, far more than in the first week of the March lockdown.
Nationally the figures would equate to more than 2,500 primary schools in England with a third or more of their pupils in their classrooms. More than 300 of those schools said at least half of all their pupils attended in person.

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