EU

Has the bloc suddenly realised it has nothing to negotiate upon?  The Express reports:

THE EU has appeared to shift their tone paving the way for a Brexit deal to be struck with claims it is “inevitable” Brussels will have to give in to Boris Johnson’s demands.
Brexit talks head to a crucial phase next week, as London seeks a trade deal with Brussels before the end of the transition period on December 31. However, impasses remain on both sides on fisheries, the level playing field and state aid following “frosty” exchanges between officials this week.
Belgian MEP Philippe Lamberts said Europeans giving ground was “inevitable” when it came to fishing.
The Greens MEP, who sits on the European Parliament’s Brexit committee, said: “If there is no agreement, it will be dramatic; if there is an agreement it won’t be great.”
One EU diplomat close to the talks stressed “logic and reason” would point to a deal.
He added: “But if anything became clear in the past three years, when it comes to Brexit, economic rationale and pure logic are not enough to explain what’s happening.”
But a Whitehall official close to the negotiations told Express.co.uk they hoped to see some “light at the end of the tunnel”.
They added: “We are standing our ground, let’s hope Brussels come to sense.”

Brexit

The Guardian reports that Boris is toughing it out.

Boris Johnson remains the “hardest in the room” in his unwillingness to budge to secure a Brexit deal, government insiders said this weekend, amid warnings that just days remain to finalise an agreement.
After a torrid week for Downing Street which saw two former Vote Leave figures quit the prime minister’s senior team, ministers in favour of a deal said they hoped their departures would boost the chances of finally signing an EU trade agreement after months of brinkmanship.
However, sources familiar with the government’s deliberations said that, at repeated meetings, it had been the prime minister himself who had been the most hardline in wanting to hold out for better terms. They said the departure of Dominic Cummings, the prime minister’s senior adviser, and Lee Cain, his communications chief, would not change the fact that Johnson himself remained determined and hard to read.
“The prime minister is always the hardest in the room on Brexit – more so than perhaps other ministers and advisers,” said a senior Whitehall source.

But talks continue, reports iNews.

Britain and the European Union are set resume last-ditch talks in Brussels on Monday after so far failing to close gaps between their positions.
The UK and the EU are trying to hammer out a post-Brexit trade deal after the current transition period finishes on December 31.
But the two sides remain divided on two of the thorniest issues that have long dogged the negotiations – competition rules and fishing.
With just seven weeks before the transition period ends, both sides have stepped up negotiations on a deal that would protect nearly a trillion dollars of trade from possible disruption.
But after missing a mid-November deadline, the British government say there has been little movement on stubborn differences over fair competition rules and fisheries.

Fisheries

And our fish are still causing a problem, says the Express.

BORIS Johnson’s negotiating team has been urged to hold its nerve as Brexit talks to decide the country’s future relationship with the EU enter a crunch week.
The UK and the EU are under intense pressure to agree a trade deal but Downing St insists there will be “no backsliding on Brexit”.
No 10 was rocked last week by the departure of chief adviser and Vote Leave maestro Dominic Cummings, which prompted Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage to warn that a “sell-out is close”.
He said: “The Leavers are leaving Downing St.”  But prominent Brexiteer Andrew Bridgen said Mr Cummings could safely leave the stage because Britain is now out of the EU.
He said: “When the dragon is slain, you don’t need a dragonslayer anymore.”

Labour Party

Meanwhile, Corbynistas are still kicking up a fight says the Mail.

Jeremy Corbyn supporters were yesterday accused of preparing a Donald Trump-style ‘fight to the bitter end’ in the courts as Labour’s antisemitism controversy dramatically deepened.
Backers of the ex-leader have set up a company to fund his defence in legal battles connected with the antisemitism furore.
‘JBC Defence Ltd’ also has the aim of potentially paying the legal costs and damages ‘that any other person’ could run up by supporting Mr Corbyn.
Its existence emerged last week when the MP – whose full name is Jeremy Bernard Corbyn – disclosed: ‘I am likely to benefit from a legal fund managed by JBC Defence Ltd.’

Lockdown

The PM has a growing revolt on his hands, reports the Telegraph.

Boris Johnson is facing a growing revolt against lockdown restrictions, as more than 30 MPs who voted for the current measures joined a parliamentary group opposed to any extension of restrictions.
The Covid Recovery Group, which launched on Wednesday to fight the imposition of a third national lockdown at the beginning of next month, has grown substantially and now numbers around 70 MPs.
The Telegraph can disclose that recruits include more than 30 lawmakers who supported the current lockdown, among them Damian Green, the former deputy prime minister, Tom Tugendhat, the senior backbencher, and many members of the Conservative Party’s 2019 intake of MPs.

Vaccine

Will there be a jab before Christmas?  The Express reports the possibility.

OXFORD University’s coronavirus vaccine could be proved effective as soon as this year, a scientist involved in its production has said.
The vaccine – being developed by the university in cooperation with British-Swedish pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca – is also cheaper and easier to store that the Pfizer-BioNTech jab. The announcement would be good news for the Government, which has already placed an order for 100 million doses, on top of the 40 million it has ordered from Pfizer.
It follows news from Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech on Monday that its own vaccine had proved to be 90 percent effective in preventing illness following key phase 3 trials.
Meanwhile, Professor Andrew Pollard, who is spearheading the Oxford-AstraZeneca effort, told The Sun his own team’s “miracle” work was being done at “record speed”.
He said: “We’re optimistic we’ll be able to demonstrate efficacy by the end of the year.

But can the health service cope?  The Express doubts it.

THE CORONAVIRUS vaccine rollout could cause NHS staff to ‘buckle’ under the pressure, health experts fear.
It comes amid hopes a COVID-19 jab could be available in the UK by this year. Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said he expects the distribution of a vaccine in Britain to be a “mammoth logistical operation”.
However, the NHS is already having to deal with a second coronavirus wave which just this week saw a record 33,470 new cases being recorded in a single day – though analysts point out the UK’s testing capacity has also increased.
Health experts are now concerned that burdening the NHS with the rollout of a vaccine could “end in burnout”.

It’s a miracle!  Or so the Sun says.

TENS of millions of British-made Covid-19 vaccines are ready to roll into production by the end of the year, it has been revealed.
Professor Andrew Pollard, who led the Oxford University and AstraZeneca-backed trial, said they are on track and “optimistic” to get the green light on the jab by Christmas.
He said his team’s work was a “miracle” done at “record speed”.
And their anti-viral will be easier to deliver and ten times cheaper than the Pfizer version, which needs two injections weeks apart and must be stored below -109F (-78C).
Professor Pollard says: “Ours are stored at fridge temperature.”
He said the pioneering vaccine is on the cusp of demonstrating “efficacy” — an important medical test to prove a drug’s success, which German drug-firm Pfizer proved on its own vaccine just last Monday.

But fraudsters have been caught selling fake vaccine, says Yahoo News.

British authorities are working to prevent the sale of fake coronavirus vaccines by fraudsters, it has emerged.
National Crime Agency (NCA) official said that while the early stages of the pandemic saw criminal groups use personal protective equipment (PPE) scams to target businesses, vaccine fraud was the “emerging threat”.
Speaking at a webinar held by the Resilience First group, director general Graeme Biggar said: “The new emerging threat will be around vaccine fraud.
“We haven’t seen much of that yet but we absolutely expect when vaccines begin to roll out that there will be people offering fake vaccines. We are trying to get ahead of that trend now.”

The government could clamp down on social media scare stories, reports BBC News.

Emergency laws to “stamp out dangerous” anti-vaccine content online should be introduced, Labour has said.
The party is calling for financial and criminal penalties for social media firms that do not remove false scare stories about vaccines.
It follows news of progress on the first effective coronavirus vaccine.
The government said it took the issue “extremely seriously” with “a major commitment” from Facebook, Twitter and Google to tackle anti-vaccine content.
Many social media platforms label false content as misleading or disputed – and all remove posts that contravene terms of service.

Sky News has the same story.

Anti-vaccination content should be “stamped-out” on social media, Labour has said.
With hopes rising of a COVID-19 jab being rolled out by the end of the year, the opposition has called for emergency legislation to “stamp out dangerous anti-vax content”.
The party wants the government to bring forward legislation that would include financial and criminal penalties for companies that fail to act against such content.
Labour has claimed dedicated anti-vaccination groups with, hundreds of thousands of members on social media, are “churning out disinformation” on the issue.

Get a jab; get a certificate; get into venues, says Breitbart.

A senior Conservative MP has said it is possible that once mass vaccination is underway workplaces and social venues may ban entry to those who do not have a certificate to prove they have been vaccinated against COVID-19.
Earlier this week, drugs firms Pfizer and BioNTech revealed that their coronavirus vaccine was more than 90 per cent effective at preventing infection. However, the British government was cautious about the development, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson  telling a press conference: “I must stress that these are very, very early days.”
Speaking to HuffPost UK on Thursday, Tom Tugendhat MP, the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee in the House of Commons, said  that if there is a nationwide rollout of a vaccine, he could imagine that employers and social venues such as pubs and restaurants may demand to see certificates of vaccination, comparing it to conditions on entry to certain countries.

Treatment

And a known drug could prove very effective against the virus, says the Mail.

An arthritis drug has been found to cut deaths in patients admitted to hospital with Covid-19 by a remarkable two-thirds – giving medics a powerful new weapon in their armoury against the disease.
The daily pill, first earmarked as a potential Covid game-changer by a British firm, reduces deaths by 71 per cent in those with moderate or severe illness, researchers say.
Importantly, it works in the elderly, raising hopes that it will save the most vulnerable.
Called baricitinib, and marketed under the brand name Olumiant, it is a relatively new drug for rheumatoid arthritis that has been available for only three years.

Nightingale Hospitals

The famed hospitals are underused says the Mail.

Fewer than 30 people are currently being treated in  Nightingale hospitals, despite the recent rise in Covid-19 hospital admissions.
Only one of the seven facilities across the country is open, with two more ‘ready to take patients’ if needed.
The 750-bed Nightingale in Manchester is caring for a few dozen patients who have now tested negative for the coronavirus but are in need of step-down care after a stay in hospital.
The Nightingale hospitals in Sunderland and Harrogate have been asked to be ready for patients.
On Friday, there were 13,328 people in hospital with Covid, including 1,158 on ventilators.
In the first wave of the pandemic, seven Nightingale hospitals were built at a cost of £220 million.
The NHS was, however, largely able to cope so only two were used, with around 200 people treated.

Long-Covid

The continuing effects of the virus are being addressed, says the Times.

The NHS is to set up more than 40 mini-hospitals to treat “long Covid” patients, amid concerns that up to 500,000 may be suffering lasting effects.
The centres will offer care to those displaying persistent symptoms such as breathlessness, chronic fatigue, brain fog, anxiety and stress. Experts believe a significant proportion of patients cannot shake off some of the serious negative effects of the disease many months after falling ill.
Sir Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, said the health service needed to mobilise to help long Covid patients in the same way that it rapidly reorganised to deal with acute Covid-19 infections earlier this year.

Second wave

On the Continent, the virus could be on the retreat, reports the Telegraph.

The coronavirus pandemic recorded several grim milestones in Europe this week, but there are signs of hope on the horizon.
Italy became the latest European country to record 1m cases this week, while in France there are now more people hospitalised with the virus than at the height of the first wave.
But the news the first vaccine is effective and will be ready for distribution soon was not the only cause for cautious optimism. Across much of the Continent there are signs the second wave is slowing and may have passed its peak.
In Germany, France and Spain the rate of infection has begun to slow, while hard-hit countries such as Belgium, the Netherlands and the Czech Republic have seen a dramatic fall in new cases.

Transport

In other news, London police have set up weapons detectors, according to Breitbart.

Police forces have installed ‘knife arches’ at railway stations in England and Wales to tackle violent knife crime.
London’s Metropolitan Police in partnership with the British Transport Police (BTP), Thames Valley Police, Merseyside Police, and Leicestershire Police are some of the forces involved in Operation Sceptre, which  takes place twice a year.
The knife arches, set up at railway stations’ entrances and exits, use electromagnetic pulses to detect metal objects passing through them. The metal detectors are portable and can be moved around to different parts of the stations, to deter criminals carrying weapons with violent intent.

Cycle lanes

Cycle lanes may be a good idea for cyclists but they are affecting the rest of the road traffic, says the Mail.

Lives are being put in danger because ambulances are stuck in traffic caused by controversial new cycle lanes, experts say.
One of Britain’s leading paramedics warned that emergency vehicles are being delayed after councils were handed millions of pounds to turn busy car lanes into cycle-only routes. They are being rushed out to try to encourage more people to cycle to work rather than use public transport or their cars during the pandemic.
Bollards have been hastily installed across towns and cities to keep cyclists separate from cars. But critics say this has prevented vehicles from moving out of the way of ambulances when they are responding to 999 calls.

Petrol ban

The end of petrol vehicles is drawing closer, says City AM.

Boris Johnson is set to announce that the ban on petrol and diesel vehicles will be brought forward to 2030.
The announcement is expected as part of a landmark speech laying out the government’s 10 point plan for climate change.
Back in February the ban on the sale of such vehicles was brought forward to 2035, but the Prime Minister is now expected to go further, the FT reported.
Electric cars currently make up just seven per cent of the UK car market, but it is hoped that the announcement will jump start the industry.

Planning

The rules surrounding new homes could be reviewed, reports the Telegraph.

Plans to unleash a new generation of homes across England using an “ill conceived” algorithm are being overhauled amid the threat of a seismic rebellion by Conservative MPs.
The Sunday Telegraph understands that a formula used to produce targets for each area is being “rebalanced” to focus on building homes in urban areas, following a major backlash by senior Tories, including Theresa May.
The move represents a significant climbdown by Boris Johnson and Robert Jenrick, the Housing Secretary.
Mrs May had warned that the proposed building formula “flies in the face” of the Government’s ‘levelling up’ agenda and would lead to more investment in London and the South East.

Terrorists

The Telegraph claims dozens of terrorists have avoided being deported.

Almost 50 foreign-born terrorists including the  Reading attacker convicted last week of triple murder have avoided deportation on release from jail, according to a new study.
An analysis of convictions over the past 20 years has identified 45 foreign nationals who have served prison sentences for Islamist-inpsired terrorist offences but have been allowed to remain in the UK after completing their jail terms.
Khairi Saadallah, who stabbed to death three people in a park in Reading at the height of lockdown in the summer, should have been deported for a string of violent crimes before he went on the rampage.
Saadallah, 26, who was born in Libya, was on an MI5 watchlist at the time of the attack and had been convicted of 11 separate offences, including carrying knives.

Supreme Court

Changes are afoot, says the Telegraph.

Britain’s Supreme Court is facing an overhaul that could see it renamed over concerns that US-style controversies may become routine in the UK, The Telegraph can disclose.
Ministers are understood to be discussing plans to change the name of the court, cut the number of permanent judges and bring in those with “specialist” knowledge to hear individual cases.
The proposals are based on concerns that Tony Blair “botched” the reforms that introduced the body, leaving it increasingly under pressure to “settle political arguments”.
The court, which was introduced by Mr Blair and Lord Falconer, the then Lord Chancellor, in 2005, drew the ire of senior Conservatives last year after ruling that Boris Johnson’s prorogation of Parliament during a stand-off over Brexit was unlawful.

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