Trade talks

Post-Brexit talks between the EU and the UK are not going to be easy.  The Telegraph says the PM won’t give in.

Boris Johnson is preparing to dismiss demands by Brussels for the UK to abide by EU rules on tax and workers’ rights after Brexit.
Number 10 is understood to object to a raft of stipulations in a draft negotiating mandate submitted to EU leaders by the European Commission – as senior Tories described some demands as “ridiculous”.
The disclosure comes after David Frost, the Prime Minister’s Europe adviser, held talks with British officials last week to finalise the UK’s negotiating position for trade talks with the EU.
Mr Johnson’s negotiators are expected to insist that the UK should be given a deal akin to the EU’s agreements with countries such as Canada, Korea and Japan, which they say involve less stringent requirements than those set out in the draft mandate.
The EU insists that the UK must agree to a “level playing field” in order to guarantee that that the country will not undercut the bloc with Singapore-style low-tax system.

The Sun says the bloc’s demands will lower standards.

BORIS Johnson is refusing to bow to post-Brexit trade deal demands from Brussels because they fall below UK standards.
The PM strongly objects to the UK sticking to EU rules on tax and workers’ rights ahead of the first wave of talks.
A line-by-line review of the EU’s draft mandate has been branded “ridiculous” by one senior Tory.
The move comes as the UK’s chief negotiator David Frost and his Task Force Europe met this week to finalise our negotiating position.
Frost, Mr Johnson’s Europe adviser, will be in Brussels to give a talk tomorrow night on the future relationship.
Britain is demanding a free trade deal like Canada or a looser arrangement like Australia ahead of talks starting early next month.
But negotiators will not accept over-reaching demands from Eurocrats insisting the UK signs up to lower standards.

Sky News says the EU’s demands are ridiculous …

Demands made by Brussels ahead of Brexit trade talks are unreasonable and ridiculous, a government source is claiming as the UK prepares to start negotiations.
A new Brussels blueprint says the EU will seek to police UK subsidies, impose rules on its tax regime and ask the government to commit to aligning with the EU’s standards forever.
Yet, according to the UK government, Brussels has already agreed with countries such as Canada, South Korea and Japan that there should be no such requirements in its trade deals with them.
On subsidies, the EU is demanding that the UK sticks to Brussels rules permanently, according to the British government, and also wants jurisdiction over how the rules are enforced in the UK.

…, and unreasonable, says the Express.

PRIME Minister Boris Johnson will tell the EU that it is being unreasonable and ridiculous in its conditions for a trade deal – and that Britain will walk away unless there is a change of heart.
The Sunday Express has seen draft proposals for the Government’s mandate for EU talks, which lay out Mr Johnson’s red lines in the negotiations this year.
It will confirm that he has ditched the approach of his predecessor Theresa May in seeking a bespoke deal with the EU, which could tie Britain to its rules and judgements.

The UK’s demands will be set out tomorrow, says the Times.

Boris Johnson’s EU negotiator will set out Britain’s demands for a trade deal with Brussels tomorrow, going on the attack to demand the same terms the EU has granted Canada, South Korea and Japan.
In a speech in Brussels tomorrow night, David Frost will warn that the EU’s decision to insist that Britain continues to adhere to its rules will damage the chances of a deal.
Frost will make his first public appearance, having concluded that the secrecy that governed Theresa May’s negotiations with the EU is not the way to get the best outcome.

Is it even worth trying?  A pub boss says no, reports the Express.

BORIS JOHNSON has been urged to abandon post-Brexit trade talks with the EU by Wetherspoon boss Tim Martin, who instead suggests the UK should leave on World Trade Organisation (WTO) terms.
Britain will enter post-Brexit trade talks with the EU next month, as the two sides attempt to thrash out before the end of the transition period on December 31. So far EU bosses have hinted they want the UK to stay closely aligned with Brussels rules and have warned Boris Johnson they will not back the kind of agreement he is seeking. As a result, Wetherspoon boss Tim Martin is urging the Prime Minister to walk away from the talks.

Covid-19

The illness formerly known as Coronavirus is worsening.  The Telegraph suggests possible patients should shut themselves away.

Anyone suffering flu-like symptoms could be ordered to “self-isolate” for a fortnight if the number of coronavirus cases in the UK hits the hundreds, in what would be a dramatic shift in Government strategy.
Over the last week, hospitals across the country have created “isolation pods,” to ensure that anyone tested for the virus is kept away from other patients, with efforts to track all close contacts of confirmed cases.
But The Telegraph understands that after a series of high-level meetings health officials are expected to change tack – and simply order anyone with possible symptoms of flu to stay at home – if the virus is not contained.
That means millions of Britons with coughs and colds could end up quarantined at home, as part of attempts to dampen down spread of the virus.

Hospitals are on alert says the Times.

Hospitals have been ordered to take new measures to stop the coronavirus in the UK as experts said there is a “distinct possibility” that up to 50 per cent of Britons could be affected.
Health officials plan to use 24 NHS hospitals to treat patients in the event of a surge in infections. They may also expand NHS 111 services to cope with a rise in calls.
The contingency plans reveal that hospitals have been told to:
● Prepare airtight rooms with en-suite bathroom facilities to isolate potential cases
● Avoid using agency staff to care for suspected patients to curb the risk of the virus spreading across hospitals, care homes and schools

And the virus has struck in Europe, reports the Sun.

A MAN in Paris has died after contracting coronavirus, becoming the first European fatality.
The death toll has now reached 1,527 and an expert has warned the coronavirus could potentially kill 400,000 Brits.
For all the latest updates and news on Covid-19 follow our live blog below.

The Telegraph reports the potential trade repercussions.

Coronavirus will have a greater impact on global trade than the US-China trade war, knocking off $26bn a week in lost exports, a report has found.
Euler Hermes, which insures payments to exporters, estimates that the weekly loss will be equivalent to a rise in the world import tariff on goods by 1 percentage point – more than the effect of the trade spat last year, which was 0.7 percentage points.
The shock will occur via shocks on both the supply and demand sides as manufacturing production stalls, exports to China fall and travel is reduced. Germany, Hong Kong, South Korea, the US and Japan are the most exposed.

Child sexual exploitation

A story in Breitbart has not been picked up by the other media.

Another three “Asian” grooming gang abusers have been sentenced for multiple rapes, indecent assaults, and drug dealing offences in Oxford, England.
41-year-old Naim Khan ( 24/8/1978), 44-year-old Mohammed Nazir (20/3/1975), and 42-year-old Raheem Ahmed (22/2/1977) were convicted of the following crimes, respectively, according to a Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) announcement:
Seven counts of rape (two counts were multiple incidents covering at least 12 occasions); four counts of indecent assault (two counts were multiple incidents covering at least 15 occasions); one count of procuring a man to rape the victim; two counts of procuring men to indecently assault the victim; one count of supplying class B drugs on at least 12 occasions (Victim 1) one count of indecent assault (Victim 2).

Labour leadership

The front runner will not offer the losing candidates jobs, says the Mail.

Labour’s bitter infighting surfaced today when Sir Keir Starmer flatly refused to guarantee his leadership rivals a place in his top team.
Rebecca Long-Bailey said she was ‘sad’ the frontrunner did not want her or Lisa Nandy in his shadow cabinet, which he is on course to form after storming the latest round of the contest.
Both women said they would have the shadow Brexit secretary on their front bench, but he swatted away attempts to reciprocate the commitment.

The final three candidates are wooing the Scots, says Sky News.

The final contenders for the Labour leadership have answered questions at a hustings in Glasgow, with all three backing more powers being devolved.
Sir Keir StarmerRebecca Long-Bailey and Lisa Nandy set out their views on topics including Scottish independence and the constitution.
All three MPs agreed that the party had to win in Scotland to win back power.
However, Ms Long-Bailey was the only one to explicitly state she would agree to a fresh ballot on independence.

EU

A poll reported by Breitbart suggests France is in trouble.

A survey released by polling firm Ifop has claimed that more than six in ten French people think that French civilisation as we know it will collapse.
The survey noted that a third of the people who believed in the collapse think it will occur in a brutal fashion and put the time frame for the collapse within the next 20 year or so.
One of the chief reasons stated by respondents as the prime cause of a potential collapse is climate change, with 27 per cent stating that climate factors and overconsumption will spell the end for French civilisation, French media outlet L’Aisne Nouvelle reports.

Storm Dennis

Dennis the Menace is hitting the UK hard says the Times.

Travellers heading for a half-term break face major disruptions as one of the worst winter storms of recent times hits Britain, with hundreds of flights cancelled and gale-force winds of up to 70mph.
In the early hours of the morning, the Met Office issued a red warning of heavy rain, the highest tier of alert. The pouring of a month’s worth of rainfall in some places “poses a significant risk to life”.
The office has issued over 311 flood warning across the UK, with South Wales and five other areas in “severe” risk. In addition to the risk of widespread flooding, power cuts and disruption from Storm Dennis, a north Atlantic storm that has been described as a “bomb cyclone”.

The Mail says it has ‘wreaked havoc’.

Storm Dennis has wreaked havoc since making landfall in Britain with hundreds of flights cancelled, trains delayed and already flood-ravaged areas preparing for their second bout of devastating extreme weather.
No fewer than 40,000 passengers have been affected by travel disruption so far as budget airline easyJet cancels 234 flights.
Another 60 will not take off tomorrow – affecting a further 10,000 people – as the storm brings 70mph winds and 100mm of rainfall to some areas.
Amber weather warnings are in place across Dartmoor and south Devon, most of Wales, the Pennines and large swathes of Yorkshire until 3pm tomorrow.

HoL

The upper house could move north, says the Telegraph.

Downing Street is holding talks with developers about moving the House of Lords to York after the Prime Minister’s chief of staff identified the city as the “feasible choice” for the relocation of the chamber.
Sir Eddie Lister is understood to have backed plans for the upper House to be relocated to a 111-acre site in York which is controlled by a partnership including Homes England, the government agency he chaired until joining Number 10 last year.
Boris Johnson’s aides are now holding detailed discussions about constructing a chamber on the site, along with office space for staff and peers and a possible summit venue, when parliamentarians decamp from the Palace of Westminster in 2025, for long-planned restoration works.

BBC

The Times reports on the future of the national broadcaster.

Downing Street turned on the BBC last night — vowing to scrap the television licence fee and make viewers pay a subscription. The national broadcaster could also be compelled to downsize and sell off most of its radio stations.
In a plan that would change the face of British broadcasting, senior aides to the prime minister insisted that they are “not bluffing” about changing the BBC’s funding model and “pruning” its reach into people’s homes.

It could go subscription-only, says the Telegraph.

Senior aides to the Prime Minister last night vowed to scrap the BBC‘s television licence fee and replace it with a subscription model.
The move could force the corporation to downsize and sell off most of its radio stations in a “massive pruning back” of its activities, according to a senior source quoted in The Sunday Times.
The source told the paper that Boris Johnson was “really strident” on the need for serious reform.

HS2

It looks like the High Speed Rail will go ahead, but its parameters are changing says the Telegraph.

The government-owned firm building HS2 has quietly withdrawn from a set of pledges to protect landscapes, wildlife habitats and residents along the route, The Telegraph can disclose.
HS2 Ltd has drawn up a new environmental policy, ditching explicit commitments to “avoid significant adverse impacts on health and quality and life” and “minimise” the effect of the scheme on the environment.
The new document also drops a previous pledge to fully restore agricultural land that is “disturbed” during construction.

And a Chinese firm could be involved, reports the Mail.

The cost to Britain’s sovereignty could be ‘higher than we ever imagined’ if Beijing’s state-owned railway builder is given a role in constructing HS2, a Tory MP has said.
Britain is in talks with China about the project and the China Railway Construction Corporation (CRCC) has said it can build the line in just five years.
They have also claimed the high speed link could be completed at a much lower cost than is currently forecast, according to the Financial Times.

The Guardian also reports the Chinese connection.

Britain is in talks with China over giving Beijing’s state-owned railway-builder a role in constructing the troubled HS2 high-speed link. The China Railway Construction Corporation (CRCC) has said it can build the line in just five years at a much lower cost than is currently forecast, according to the Financial Times.
Department for Transport (DfT) officials confirmed “preliminary discussions” had taken place between CCRC and HS2 Ltd, but said no “concrete commitments” had been made. “The DfT is always keen to learn from the experience of others and to consider approaches that offer value for money to the taxpayer,” one official said.

Sky News says the company will build it for less …

A Chinese railway company could be about to take over construction of the troubled HS2 rail link.
The British government is in talks with the China Railway Construction Corporation, which has said it can build the line in just five years at a much lower cost.
In a letter reported in Building Magazine but seen by the Financial Times, CRCC wrote to HS2 Ltd’s chief executive saying: “We are certain that we can offer a cost that is significantly lower than the projections we have seen.

… and cheaper, says the Independent.

Britain is in talks with China over giving Beijing’s state-owned railway builder a role in constructing the troubled HS2 high-speed link.
The China Railway Construction Corporation (CRCC) has said it can build the line in just five years at a much lower cost than is currently forecast, according to the Financial Times.
Department for Transport (DfT) officials confirmed “preliminary discussions” had taken place between CCRC and HS2 Ltd, but said no “concrete commitments” had been made.

But other costs could be ‘higher’ reports Yahoo News.

The cost to Britain’s sovereignty could be “higher than we ever imagined” if Beijing’s state-owned railway builder is given a role in constructing the troubled HS2 high-speed link, a Tory MP said.
Britain is in talks with China about the project and the China Railway Construction Corporation (CRCC) has said it can build the line in just five years at a much lower cost than is currently forecast, according to the Financial Times.

Benefits

The poorest in our society could have suffered, says the Guardian.

Disabled and chronically ill benefit claimants who were left thousands of pounds out of pocket by a government error may have also been overcharged by their local authorities for social care, it has emerged.
At least 110,000 benefit claimants were underpaid an average of £5,000 following a botched overhaul of incapacity benefits which began in 2011, according to the latest figures.
The error occurred when Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) officials transferred people from older benefits on to the wrong kind of employment support allowance (ESA), meaning they missed out on premium payments they were eligible for.

The Mirror highlights the advanced payments.

Nearly £50million of Universal Credit benefit payments were clawed back from the poorest households in one month last year, according to the Tory government’s own figures.
New claimants for Universal Credit have to wait a minimum of five weeks for their first payment to be processed, forcing many to take out loans form from the Government.
The borrowing, known as Advance Payments, to cover their basic living costs before their first entitlement arrives and is then deducted from regular payments.

‘Mansion tax’

The PM has been forced to change his plans, says the Telegraph.

Boris Johnson has shelved plans to impose a “mansion tax” on owners of expensive homes, following a major backlash among Conservative MPs and grassroots.
The Prime Minister is understood to have “cooled” on the idea of including a new “high value property tax” in next month’s budget, having previously discussed the proposals with Sajid Javid, who quit as Chancellor last week.
The Sunday Telegraph can disclose that the Treasury had also wanted to announce a nationwide revaluation of homes, which would have left millions of families with higher council tax bills.

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