EU

The bloc is having problems persuading its members to shell out for recovery from the virus says the Express.

EU MEMBER-STATES like Sweden are revolting against Brussels’ plan to protect itself from the economic impact of a no-deal Brexit crisis at this weekend’s summit.
Brussels has demanded EU countries fund a €5 billion Brexit reserve fund to protect countries most at risk of economic turmoil after the UK leaves the bloc. However, according to RTE, Sweden has voiced fierce opposition to the plans at the European Union summit in Brussels this weekend. Europe Editor Tony Connelly said that EU member-states are furious at the additional funding demand because “Brexit has nothing to do with the pandemic”.
Connelly explained: “In order to placate countries like Ireland, Charles Michel introduced this idea of a Brexit reserve fund.
“The idea was if Europe was going to refit its economy for a post-pandemic world, you have to take into asymmetric shocks like Brexit that will affect how economies will emerge from the pandemic.
“There is a figure of 5bn in there. But, I understand that not everyone is happy with this idea.
“The Swedes in particular have been muttering about why Brexit should be part of this recovery fund.”

There’s going to be a further meeting today, reports Yahoo News.

European Union leaders agreed to reconvene at noon on Sunday after spending Saturday evening locked in intense negotiations in an attempt to save a summit on the terms of a €750bn (£682bn) pandemic recovery fund from an acrimonious end as the debate over the bloc’s financial future became “heated”.
A second day of talks in Brussels saw Poland’s prime minister, Mateusz Morawiecki, publicly accuse the Netherlands, Austria, Denmark and Sweden of being “misers” while the Italian prime minister, Giuseppe Conte, claimed the Dutch were trying to rewrite the EU’s rules.
“We are stalled, it is proving very complicated, more complicated than expected, there are many discussions on what we are discussing that we are unable to resolve,” Conte said in a video message on his Facebook page on Saturday evening.
The leaders are split over both the size of a recovery fund and the seven-year budget due to start next year. There is also stark division over the nature of the conditions attached to the emergency funding and the balance between grants and loans on offer to countries hit by the crisis.

The Mail has a scare story which came from France.

Ministers were told Britain was on the brink of running out of food after the French President warned he would close his country’s borders.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock was told at the start of the Covid-19 crisis the UK’s food supply chain was about to ‘fall over’ as workers at French ports failed to turn up.
It is also claimed that three days before Britain went into lockdown, on March 20, Emmanuel Macron told Prime Minister Boris Johnson to act now or France will close its borders.

But if the proposals don’t go through one of the bloc’s prime ministers could walk out says the Express

A LEADING Prime Minister of a European Union member-state has signalled that he could leave the decisive summit in Brussels early if Hungary and Poland veto the current proposals.
Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel told CNBC that he “doesn’t need to spend time in Brussels” if Hungary and Poland refuse to accept the rule of law demands on the table at the EU summit. Huge sums of the EU budget could be withheld form countries that “fail to live up to democratic standards” according to a proposal targeting both Hungary and Poland. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban threatened to veto the entire deal over the mechanism designed to freeze funds for states undercutting the rule of law.
The Luxembourg leader said that if Poland and Hungary actually use their veto power against the deal due to the rule of law proposal, he will leave the summit early.
Speaking to CNBC, Mr Bettel said: “We have countries who think we shouldn’t speak about the rule of law.

Fisheries

Meanwhile, a fisheries boss has called the bloc ‘arrogant’, says the Express.

A FISHING chief has warned of the staggering arrogance of members of the European Commission, saying by the time they realise how important sovereignty is to Britons it may be “too late”.
Simon Collins, executive officer of Shetland Fishermen’s Association, said the EU has time and again “failed to appreciate what matters to the UK” when it comes to voters’ reasons for wanting out of the bloc. As post-Brexit trade negotiations continued in Brussels this week after last week’s round in London, he warned Boris Johnson against any sort of “sellout” for fishermen.
His warning comes after Ireland’s new Taoiseach Micheal Martin said there is an “urgent” need for progress in negotiations.
As fishing continues to be one of the main sticking points in talks, Mr Collins said Michel Barnier should wake up to the fact that regaining rights over British waters is central to the Brexit cause.

Lockdown

Back home, Boris has said he’d rather not go back into lockdown, reports the Telegraph.

Boris Johnson has effectively ruled out another  nationwide lockdown, stating the option is now akin to a “nuclear deterrent”.
In an exclusive interview with The Sunday Telegraph, Mr Johnson says he “certainly” does not want another blanket shutdown, “and nor do I think we will be in that position again”.
The intervention, which appears to put the Prime Minister at odds with his chief scientific adviser, comes after councils were given sweeping new powers to impose ‘lightning’ local lockdowns in the event of further Covid-19 outbreaks.

The Sun also reports his comments.

BORIS Johnson has insisted Britain will not need another national lockdown.
The Prime Minister said he “did not think we will be in that position again” as he hopes for a “significant return to normality” in time for Christmas.
In an interview with The Sunday Telegraph, Mr Johnson claimed the authorities were getting much better at spotting local outbreaks, although it was important the ability to order national action was held in reserve.
He said: “I can’t abandon that tool any more than I would abandon a nuclear deterrent. But it is like a nuclear deterrent, I certainly don’t want to use it. And nor do I think we will be in that position again.
“It’s not just that we’re getting much better at spotting the disease and isolating it locally, but we understand far more which groups it affects, how it works, how it’s transmitted, so the possibility of different types of segmentation, of enhanced shielding for particular groups, is now there.”

Another lockdown could be a ‘nuclear deterrent’, says Sky News.

Boris Johnson has played down the prospect of a second national coronavirus lockdown as he compared enforcing the measures to using Britain’s nuclear deterrent.
The prime minister added that authorities are getting better at identifying and isolating local outbreaks, but said it was important that the power to order national action was held in reserve.
He told The Sunday Telegraph: “I can’t abandon that tool any more than I would abandon a nuclear deterrent.
“But it is like a nuclear deterrent, I certainly don’t want to use it, and nor do I think we will be in that position again.”
Mr Johnson’s comments could lead to further tensions between ministers and their scientific experts after Sir Patrick Vallance, the government’s chief scientific adviser, warned on Friday there was “a risk” that national measures could be needed as winter approaches.

In the Mail he said local outbreaks could be controlled.

Boris Johnson has played down the prospect of a second national coronavirus lockdown, saying he did not want to use it any more than Britain’s Trident nuclear deterrent.
The Prime Minister said the authorities were getting better at identifying and isolating local outbreaks, although it was important that the power to order national action was held in reserve.
‘I can’t abandon that tool any more than I would abandon a nuclear deterrent. But it is like a nuclear deterrent, I certainly don’t want to use it. And nor do I think we will be in that position again,’ he told The Sunday Telegraph.

His warning comes as thousands more deaths are expected this winter, reports the Independent.

Boris Johnson has said the UK will not need another nationwide lockdown despite expert warnings of up to 120,000 extra deaths during a second wave this winter.
The prime minister described the coronavirus  restrictions he imposed on 23 March as a “nuclear deterrent” that he did not think he would ever have to use again.
However his attempt to rule out a further UK lockdown in an interview with the Sunday Telegraph is likely to bring him into conflict with the government’s scientific advisors.
Sir Patrick Vallance, chief scientific adviser, has warned that there was a risk “national measures” might be needed in the event of resurgence of the virus.

The Guardian reports on the powers given to councils.

Councils in England have been given fresh powers to shut down shops and events to help prevent coronavirus outbreaks and avert local lockdowns.
Boris Johnson said on Friday that local authorities would be given stronger controls in time for the weekend as he set out plans for returning the UK to normality after the Covid-19 crisis.
James Jamieson, the chair of the Local Government Association (LGA), which represents council leaders, said he was hopeful the new measures would prevent local lockdowns like that seen in Leicester being required in the future.
“Locally led responses have proven to be the best way to tackle significant outbreaks, which this framework rightly emphasises. Councils know their local communities best and know how to address each unique outbreak,” Jamieson said.
“Greater powers for councils to take swift and effective action to address local outbreaks will hopefully help avoid the need for more stringent measures to be imposed locally.”

Second wave

The Telegraph also has details of the deaths we could expect this winter.

The report by Britain’s most distinguished medical research body made terrifying reading. A second wave of coronavirus threatened to engulf the UK this winter, killing 120,000 people in a “worst case” scenario.
The study by the Academy of Medical Sciences and commissioned by the Government’s scientific advisory group Sage inevitably made headline news. The same day it was being briefed, Boris Johnson was advising the public to wear face masks in shops.
But now another Government scientific adviser has questioned the assumptions on which the academy’s modelling was based. Professor Robert Dingwall has said the academy’s suggestion that more than 100,000 more people might die of Covid-19 by the spring of 2021 was based on ‘flawed’ mathematical modelling. But its effect, he said, was to reinforce the terrible fear created by coronavirus and a further ‘devastating’ effect on the UK’s economic recovery.
Mathematical modelling for the pandemic has been a troubling issue ever since scientists at Imperial College London predicted in March that 250,000 people could lose their lives to Covid-19, prompting the Prime Minister to order an immediate nationwide lockdown.

Home working

Those working from home could be ordered to return to their normal place of work, says the Mirror.

The Government will update national advice on going to work from August 1 with employers given more leeway on staff returning to offices, factories and other places of work.
Employers in England will have discretion over whether to ask staff to go back to work, Boris Johnson said this morning.
In a statement the Prime Minister announced plans to further relax Covid-19 lockdown measures.
From today public transport will be available to everyone in England – although alternative modes of transport are still encouraged.
And on August 1 bowling alleys, skating rinks, casinos and beauty salons can all reopen, with wedding receptions of up to 30 people also allowed.

The Sun says the PM is gaining support.

BORIS Johnson is slowly winning public support for his struggle to get Britain back to work, a poll reveals today.
Seven out of ten people now believe workers must return to the office soon to avoid a devastating economic crash.
Many are still deeply afraid of catching the virus and will continue to avoid shopping or eating out in restaurants.
But the PM’s call for normal life to resume is starting to hit home, the exclusive Sun on Sunday survey shows.
Fear of catching coronavirus is still the biggest single concern for 57 cent of the population. But most accept we have to leave our homes and get back to the workplace to save the economy.

Testing

Names of those testing positive will be given to their local council says the Guardian.

The health secretary, Matt Hancock, has bowed to pressure from councils, which demanded full access to the names and data of people in their areas who tested positive for Covid-19, and those with whom they have been in contact, in another major government U-turn.
Local authorities and public health officials have been complaining for weeks that they are being hampered in efforts to combat and prevent local outbreaks by lack of access to “named patient data” which would allow them to get straight to the sources of local outbreaks.
Now the Observer has been told that Hancock, who has insisted repeatedly that local authorities have all the information they need from the track and trace system, is set to give way and allow access to the named data as well other information already provided, such as postcodes, so long as strict data protection rules and conditions are followed.

China

The country is obstructing an investigation, says the Times.

Plans for a World Health Organisation (WHO) mission to China to investigate the coronavirus pandemic have been postponed after two scientists spent a week in a Beijing hotel in quarantine.
The UN agency had hoped to deploy a full team this month if negotiations with Chinese scientists and government officials last week made progress.
But Michael Ryan, head of its health emergencies programme, acknowledged this weekend that the quarantine requirements and “working remotely” had been “not ideal” for the two experts, although he was “very pleased with collaboration” so far.
Putting together a multinational team and bringing it to China would take “weeks, not days”, Ryan said. He cited challenges of logistics and “health risk management”, an apparent reference to the quarantine.

And if students are barred from our universities they’ll be in trouble, says the Times.

Universities face “financial wipeout” if Chinese students stop coming to Britain, with ministers braced for £50bn in lost investment across the economy amid rising tensions with Beijing.
Last week, the UK government said mobile providers were banned from buying Huawei 5G equipment from next year. They must remove Chinese 5G kit from their networks by 2027.
The move has sparked fears of retaliatory measures, with China’s ambassador to London warning that the UK may no longer be an “open, fair and non-discriminatory” destination for foreign firms.
Higher education, tourism and nuclear power are all vulnerable to sanctions or a slowdown in Chinese investment. The UK imports £49bn of Chinese goods and services, and exports £30.7bn to the world’s most populous nation.

Passports

There’s a huge backlog in applications, says the Telegraph.

Families have been forced to cancel holidays because of delays of up to four months to process their passport applications, an investigation by The Telegraph has found.
Angry travellers have had to wait as long as 143 days for their passport requests to be completed, forcing them to put on hold their holidays, visits to relatives not seen since before the pandemic or even mortgage applications for new house deals.
The passport office’s premium fast-track service and face-to-face interviews required for first passports are suspended as it struggles to get its 2,000 staff back to work in their offices while maintaining social distancing.

Rail travel

There’ll be a boost to northern railways this week, says the Times.

Ministers will clear the way for a £6bn investment in railways in the north of England this week.
Grant Shapps, the transport secretary, is to announce the creation of a Northern Transport Acceleration Council to deliver an upgrade to the trans-Pennine route which will electrify the lines between Manchester and Leeds.
The new council is designed to deliver Boris Johnson’s “Project Speed” commitment to speed up national infrastructure spending.
In a sign of the government’s determination to get shovels in the ground, a dedicated government minister will sit on the council and Shapps will attend some of the meetings.

The Morning Star can hardly believe what it’s reporting.

ON MARCH 23 2020, the Tory government — yes that’s right, those ideological champions of privatisation and the invisible hand of the market — took “temporary” control of our railways.
The arrangement in March was set to last for six months, but it’s now clear that the old franchising business as usual simply won’t work. Guaranteed payouts to shareholders regardless of how rail services were run were a complete scandal and must never be allowed to return.
Throughout the pandemic, our railways are keeping vital services running to get our key workers to where they need to be and safely home again and to ensure food supplies and medicines get to our shops and pharmacies — clearly showing just how essential they are to our well-being.
But back to privatisation. Let’s recap the “highlights.”

Dogs

The Telegraph says you should train your dog to get used to you wearing a mask.

Dogs are scared of face masks, owners have been warned, as experts say you should be wary before taking them on public transport again.
While masks have come as quite an adjustment for Britons, man’s best friend is also struggling to come to terms with the new addition to their owners wardrobe.
Animal behaviourists have warned that everyone suddenly covering their faces could scare dogs. It is currently mandatory to wear face masks when on public transport, with this expected to be extended to shops and supermarkets in England from July 24. Those who do not wear masks risk being slapped with a £100 fine.
But the animal charity Dog Trust has said the addition of face masks could make our canine pets feel “confused” and “concerned” as they can’t read human facial expressions.

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