Brexit

Westminster MPs north of the border appear to think England owes them money, says the Express.

THE SNP is demanding the UK Government pay Scotland billions of pounds in compensation for the economic impact on the country from Brexit, while again ramping up calls for a second referendum on Scottish independence.
Britain finally completed its full exit from the EU on New Year’s Eve following the conclusion of an 11-month transition period, which also saw the two sides conclude post-Brexit trade deal talks and announce an agreement on Christmas Eve. The departure ends 47 years of EU membership and comes four-and-a-half years after the UK voted to leave the bloc historic referendum. But Scotland had voted by a margin of 62 percent to 38 percent to remain in the EU during that referendum and has since continued to launch scathing attacks against the UK Government.

The Guardian claims it’s to do with the country’s independence aims.

The Scottish National Party (SNP) has demanded that Boris Johnson pay billions of pounds in compensation to Scotland for the mounting costs and disruption of Brexit.
Brexit has strained the bonds that tie together the United Kingdom: England and Wales voted to leave but Northern Ireland and Scotland voted to stay.
The SNP, which wants independence for Scotland and is pushing for a second referendum, said Scottish fishers faced grave disruption due to Brexit.
Johnson’s Conservatives “must apologise to Scottish businesses and pay compensation to Scotland for the long-term damage they are doing to our economy – costing us billions in lost trade and growth,” said Ian Blackford, the SNP’s leader in the British parliament.

The leader in Parliament has described Brexit as ‘economic vandalism’, says Yahoo News.

The SNP at Westminster has called for Scotland to be given “compensation” for the economic effects of Brexit.
The party’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford has described leaving the European Union, which was finalised on December 31, as an “act of economic vandalism”.
The Scottish Government has said changes to customs and exports could cost the UK £7 billion annually, while Constitution Secretary Mike Russell has said Scotland’s GDP could drop by 6% in the next decade.

Fisheries

The row over our fish continues in the Express.

BREXIT fisheries concerns may increase for UK trawlermen after French officials vowed to stand firm on the deal despite any disruption to trade.
Although some fishermen have reported problems trading due to the added paperwork, French officials have dug their heels in over fishing exports to the bloc. Exporters are now having to deal with new customs declarations and other paperwork to sell to the EU. Such is the difficulty of exporting, some fishermen in Scotland are now reducing trade due to the bureaucratic problems.

But several papers say huge supertrawlers will be able to continue stripping the seas.  The Telegraph reports:

Supertrawlers will be free to plunder Britain’s waters after Brexit, government sources have admitted, as they do not have the powers to implement a blanket ban.
Many hoped that leaving the EU would also mean waving goodbye to their massive boats, which throw nets up to a mile long into the sea and are blamed for environmental destruction.
Since we officially left the EU, supertrawlers including the Margiris, which is banned in Australia after being accused of depleting fish stocks, have been fishing off the coast of the UK.
Government sources said that they cannot “exclude these boats altogether“, and can only currently legislate in terms of the type of fishing they do.

And it’s because the government doesn’t know how to stop them, says the Mail.

Foreign supertrawlers are still able to plunder the coasts off Britain despite Brexit because the government cannot work out how to ban them, a source says.
The insider admitted ministers cannot ‘exclude these boats altogether’ and are only able to control what form of fishing they do.
For example they can ban methods such as bottom trawling in Marine Protected Areas but will not rule on the size of the boat or its nets.
MPs and campaigners have branded it not good enough and are seeking ways to ban supertrawlers outright.
It comes after a report warned ships that use this form of fishing should be stopped from ‘bulldozing a national park’.

EU

Disquiet among European countries continues in the Express.

THE EUROPEAN UNION could face the threat of ‘Italexit’ as one expert warned the EU hasn’t served Rome’s best interests.
Euroscepticism has been particularly prominent in Italy in recent years, thanks largely to Matteo Salvini and his Lega Party. He has branded the euro a “crime against humanity”, and regularly hit out at Brussels on a number of policies. And in July, the Italexit Party was launched by Gianluigi Paragone, who promised to free Italy “from the cage of the European Union and the single currency”.

Illegal immigrants

Our border force has refused to allow a boatful of migrants permission to dock says the Mail.

Border Force has stopped a boat ferrying up to 35 migrants towards the Sussex coast, the second Channel dash made since the UK officially left the EU on New Year’s Day.
Lifeboats were launched Saturday afternoon to rescue the migrants from a boat, which is believed to have been carrying children and five injured people.
Teams of coastguards and RNLI Lifeboats from Eastbourne and Newhaven, as well as Bexhill, Eastbourne and Langdon Battery Coastguard Rescue Teams were called to the rescue mission at around 12:45pm.

Elections

The Times reports that this spring’s local elections could be postponed.

Local and mayoral elections that were scheduled for May 6 are likely to be delayed because of the coronavirus.
Mayors and town hall leaders were approached by civil servants last week to discuss whether it would be too dangerous to proceed with the biggest test of political support in this parliament, with almost 40 million people entitled to vote.
A unit in the cabinet office is working on contingency plans to hold the vote in June, July or September instead.

Police

Our Priti is getting tough, says the Mail.

Priti Patel is planning to launch a ‘power grab’ against woke police chiefs and ‘failing’ police and crime commissioners, The Mail on Sunday can reveal.
The Home Secretary will this month present the recommendations of her review into the powers of PCCs, which will include looking at the police’s ‘operational independence’.
It is understood the plans would make it easier to sack a police chief who refuses to take action when protesters tear down statues.
Last night, Home Office sources launched attacks on Labour mayors Sadiq Khan and Andy Burnham and the Bristol police force, claiming they ‘vacated the pitch’ last year.

And she has backed the police over the question of whether or not people are violating the lockdown rules, says Breitbart.

The minister in charge of Britain’s police forces has said she supports officers interrogating why Britons are sitting on park benches when they should be in lockdown at home.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Thursday, Home Secretary Priti Patel said that she “completely back[s] the police” asking people for proof for why they are outside during lockdown, which forbids leaving home only for essential purposes.
She added that “it’s right that police act robustly”, referencing over 800 fines issued over the Christmas period for what she called “egregious breaches” of coronavirus restrictions.

Potential rule breakers will get just a single warning, says Sky News.

“Strong enforcement” of coronavirus restrictions is needed to control the spread of the disease, the home secretary has warned.
Priti Patel said police forces should focus their resources on people who “are clearly breaking” lockdown rules to “safeguard our country’s recovery from this deadly virus”.
Government sources have told Sky News this will mean that “more fines will be issued, and quicker”.
As UK coronavirus deaths surpassed 80,000 after a fourth consecutive daily increase of more than 1,000, the home secretary said: “Enforcing these rules saves lives. It is as simple as that. Officers will continue to engage with the public across the country and will not hesitate to take action when necessary.”

The Telegraph also has the story.

Every police officer has been told to fine people £200 if they believe they are in breach of the rules and refuse to return home at the first time of asking, in new guidance issued to all chief constables seen by the Sunday Telegraph.
Ministers are dramatically increasing enforcement to stave off calls from scientists for tougher rules than March.
A Home Office insider said officers would now “move through the gears” and be quicker to fine people, warning: “We are going to see more rapid movement to enforcement.
“Over 1,000 people died yesterday. It is important that everyone sticks to the rules. The rules have been around for long enough.

But the former Brexit part boss has warned that this may have gone too far, reports Breitbart.

Brexit leader Nigel Farage warned that lockdowns in the United Kingdom are pushing the country into a full-on police state, predicting that the battle to regain individual liberty will be a tougher struggle than leaving the European Union.
Mr Farage said that is unlikely that the British government will relinquish the emergency powers it has accumulated during the coronavirus crisis.
“Once the state takes power how on earth do we get those powers back? Do we have enough independently-minded MPs in Westminster to challenge the executive once we’re through this crisis to say those powers need to be returned, those liberties and freedoms need to go back to the people?”
“I’m beginning to think that the battle for our individual liberty could be an even bigger battle than the battle to get us out of the European Union,” Farage said.

Education

There is controversy over whether or not schools should stay open, says the Mail.

There is no convincing evidence that closing schools reduces the spread of coronavirus, a group of leading British scientists has found.
Despite the Cabinet’s insistence that the evidence from Government scientific advisers was ‘clear’ and that schools closed last week because ‘we had to act’, a review of studies from across the globe found no consensus on the issue – with the evidence, at best, ‘uncertain’.
It raises questions over what evidence – if any – advisers were using to force the Prime Minister into an abrupt U-turn just 24 hours after he insisted schools were safe.
The review, the first to analyse all the work done in this area, was carried out by respected doctors and academics, including Professor Chris Bonell, who sits on the Government’s Sage advisory group, and the president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, Professor Russell Viner.

Not all exams have been cancelled, says the Times.

Teenagers who were due to sit their GCSEs and A-levels this summer will face some form of test this year, the exam regulator Ofqual is expected to announce this week.
Under the proposals, children will sit tests or “mini” exams in schools, to be marked by their teachers. The tests, which will be devised by exam boards, are likely to be taken late in the summer term, when it is hoped that coronavirus infection rates will have died down enough for schools to be fully reopened.
There would also be internal assessments set by teachers in some subjects, including the chance for children to submit portfolios of work completed in the past two years.

Even though schools are open only to children of key workers, class numbers have been rising, says Huffington Post.

Teachers have reported significantly higher attendance rates in primary schools compared to the first lockdown, with “full” classrooms and staff torn between online and classroom learning.
After weeks of uncertainty, Boris Johnson closed every school in England on Monday when he announced a national lockdown – a step which had not been taken since the first days of the pandemic in March.
But despite schools remaining open only for vulnerable children and the children of key workers, alongside a new category for children unable to study at home, teachers and parents have reported much higher rates of attendance so far during the current lockdown.

Vaccine

Our two most senior senior citizens have had their jabs, says the Mail.

The Queen and Prince Philip received their Covid-19 vaccinations yesterday – and made the fact public to encourage take-up of the injections which could finally turn the tide against the deadly pandemic.
As Boris Johnson announced an ambitious ‘test and jabs’ blitz to combat the virus, Her Majesty, 94, and the Duke of Edinburgh, 99, received their injections at Windsor Castle from a doctor in the Royal Household.
They had their first jab only when it became available to others in the Berkshire area to avoid any suggestion of special treatment. The same will apply to the second injection, expected in a few weeks.
The Palace declined to specify whether they received the Oxford or the Pfizer vaccine, to avoid giving the impression of favouring one over the other.

Red tape is slowing things up, says Yahoo News.

The NHS could vaccinate the entire population in five days but is being hampered by bureaucracy, a leading immunologist has claimed.
Sir John Bell, regius chair of medicine at the University of Oxford, said stubborn NHS bureaucrats were standing in the way of a high-speed mass inoculation programme that could prevent many further deaths.
“The NHS has the theoretical capacity to immunise everybody in five days if they want to, but I don’t get the sense they are really motivated,” Bell told the Times.
“Did you see the list of things you have to do to volunteer to help the inoculation programme? To impose it on people who are just sticking a needle in an arm is bonkers.”

And action has started in a vaccination hub, reports the Mail.

Key workers have become some of the first to be vaccinated against coronavirus at a mass vaccine hub in Newcastle as the government ramps up distribution of the jabs in the hope of ending lockdown by spring.
People were pictured being given injections at the Life Science Centre in Newcastle on Saturday – one of seven centres that are due to open to the elderly and vulnerable on Monday.
It comes after Boris Johnson pledged to vaccinate hundreds of thousands people per day by Friday with the aim of giving 13million the jab before Easter, allowing lockdown restrictions to be significantly loosened.
The mass vaccination hubs – located in Newcastle, Manchester, London, Stevenage, Surrey, Bristol and Birmingham – can treat up to four people per minute and will work alongside GP surgeries and other facilities to try and hit the Prime Minister’s ambitious target.

NHS

The virus is hitting frontline staff, says the Sun.

THE number of frontline doctors, nurses and healthcare staff catching coronavirus has reached crisis levels, senior NHS staff have warned.
More than 46,000 hospital staff are off sick with Covid-19, heaping pressure on an “already overstretched force struggling to manage” one expert has said.
Dr Chaand Nagpaul, chair of the British Medical Association, warned members that thousands of staff are currently off sick due to Covid-19, or because they are self-isolating due to a member of their family testing positive.

The Guardian describes it as a ‘crisis’.

The number of doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers who are falling ill with Covid-19 has reached crisis levels and is seriously hampering the fight against the rapidly escalating pandemic, senior figures in the NHS have warned.
The problem of staff absence, because of illness or the need to self-isolate when family members test positive, is also beginning to hamper the vaccination programme – just as the government throws maximum resources into efforts to vaccinate 15 million high priority people by the middle of February.

And top medic Chris Whitty is again issuing dire warnings, says the Times.

Emergency patients will be turned away from hospitals, causing “avoidable deaths”, unless the public starts obeying the lockdown, England’s chief medical officer warns today.
In a stark intervention designed to shock, Professor Chris Whitty warns that everyone who meets friends and family unnecessarily is a “link in a chain” that threatens the lives of vulnerable people.
Writing for us today, the country’s leading medic says people should “not act” as if vaccination had protected them already.
He writes: “We must stay home except for work, exercise and essential activities. Every unnecessary interaction you have could be the link in a chain of transmission which has a vulnerable person at the end.”

Doctors are being forced to play God, reports the Sun.

DOCTORS in packed London hospitals are being forced to choose who gets critical care and prioritising younger patients, according to reports.
Medics in the capital said a shortage of beds meant hospitals were implementing emergency guidelines – amid fears the NHS is reaching a point where it “simply won’t be able to cope”.
Doctors are reportedly “triaging” patients for critical care, with younger patients in the queue ahead of elderly patients – who are more likely to die from the virus.

And cancer patients are suffering says the Telegraph.

NHS hospitals are treating less than half of the cancer patients they normally would, it has emerged amid increasing fears it is struggling to cope with surging coronavirus cases.
The Sunday Telegraph can also reveal there are at least 10,000 fewer patients in hospitals being treated for non-covid issues today than the middle of last month, as doctors increasingly prioritise people with Covid-19.
New figures show the majority of patients in nine hospitals in general and acute wards are being treated for the virus, while three times as many frontline health care workers are off sick than normal for this time of year.

USA

The anti-Trump brigade is working hard, says the Mail.

House Democrats on Monday will circulate an article of impeachment charging President Trump with ‘incitement of insurrection’ after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told his Republican colleagues in the upper chamber that the earliest a second trial would begin is Inauguration Day.
House Rep. Ted Lieu of California announced on his Twitter feed on Saturday that 180 members of Congress have signed as co-sponsors of the article of impeachment that he helped draft alongside fellow House Reps. Jamie Raskin and David Cicilline.
Lieu, a Democrat, wrote that his party will introduce the article of impeachment during the House’s pro forma session on Monday.

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