Brexit

The Express reports a call to the EU to stop procrastinating.

THE EU now has “no excuses not to knuckle down” and reach a Brexit trade agreement, sources say. Brussels must stop foot-dragging and wake up to the fact that the UK is an independent country if trade negotiations are to succeed, an insider warned as talks continue this week.
Boris Johnson had hoped the outline of a post-Brexit free trade deal would be nailed down this month, but the EU’s refusal to first reach agreement on the more straightforward areas before tackling the thorniest issues is blamed for “paralysis”. Britain now wants both sides to get to work on the texts of agreements, ahead of the end of Brexit transition phase at the close of the year.

The Sun points out that the UK has dodged a huge payout by leaving the bloc.

BRITAIN escaped a £55billion bailout burden by quitting the EU, it was revealed.
Leave campaigners say we would have faced the second highest liability for a recovery fund for coronavirus-hit nations.
And that is twice the size of our divorce bill.
Former Brexit minister David Jones said: “We really have had the most incredible lucky escape. Had we stayed in the EU or agreed to a longer transition period we would have been on the hook for a potentially catastrophic sum.
“It’s extremely good we left when we did.”
The potential cost of extending the transition period would have been nearly twice that of Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s £30billion job protection scheme.

And the prospect of using the German chancellor to help break the talks deadlock has been quashed, says the Express.

BORIS JOHNSON has been told to forget about trying to turn to Angela Merkel in order to break the Brexit deadlock, by a leading Irish politician, after it emerged the UK could look to bypass EU negotiators in order to strike a trade deal.
Neale Richmond, a leading member of Leo Varadkar’s Fine Gael Party, has dismissed any idea of Angela Merkel breaking rank and insisted the European Union would continue to work together in post-Brexit trade talks.

Quarantine

The big story of the day is the announcement of the sudden decision to force travellers from Spain to isolate.  The Telegraph says:

Tens of thousands of British tourists in Spain have had their holidays thrown into disarray after the Government imposed an immediate two-week quarantine for anyone returning home from the country.
Ministers reimposed restrictions on travel from Spain, including its islands, on Saturday night following new outbreaks of coronavirus that prompted Spanish health officials to warn of a potential second wave of infections.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office changed its advice to warn against all but essential travel to mainland Spain. Holiday firms have begun urgently cancelling trips to the country, with TUI stating that it “won’t take customers on holiday” if they were required to quarantine on their return.

The Times says millions of tourists could be affected.

As many as 1½ million British tourists were left in limbo this weekend after the government ordered travellers to isolate for 14 days when they return from Spain after a second wave of the coronavirus.
Ministers held a crisis meeting yesterday and removed Spain from the list of countries exempt from quarantine after it recorded 2,255 new cases of the virus on Friday compared with a daily average of 132 in June.

The air bridge has been suspended, says the Independent.

Boris Johnson has suspended an air bridge agreement with Spain  and reimposed quarantine measures on tourists re-entering Britain from the European country.
It comes after the Spanish health minister reported 971 new infections of coronavirus on Thursday, the biggest daily spike since the lockdown in the country was eased.
The change in policy from the government will mean any tourist returning to the UK from Spain, including the Canary Islands and Balearics, will be requested to self-isolate for a 14-day period, or risk being fined by the authorities. It takes effect from midnight.

The Mail calls it a ‘snap’ ruling.

Thousands of UK holidaymakers were returning home to two weeks stuck in quarantine today after a snap ruling from the Government last night saw Spain taken off the safe travel list – and anyone in the country told to self-isolate when they came back.
Tourists who had jetted off to the Mediterranean when Boris Johnson’s ministers insisted it was safe were furious after learning the air bridge scheme, which should let them back in without restrictions, was effectively pulled out from under them.

There’s been a surge in infections in the country, says the Guardian.

The UK imposed restrictions on holidaymakers returning from Spain on Saturday night in a bid to curb the surge in coronavirus infections.
The decision means those coming back from Spain will have to self­isolate for two weeks upon their return. The move, a blow to the government’s travel corridor scheme, followed a dramatic increase in the virus in Spain where nearly 1,000 infections have been reported in the past two days.
Ministers removed Spain from the government’s list of countries to which it is safe to travel after the rise in Covid-19 cases.

Reuters reports ‘major concerns’.

Britain’s decision late on Saturday to take Spain off a safe-travel list over a rise in coronavirus cases took effect from midnight (2300 GMT on Saturday), leaving travellers with no time to dodge it, and with major concerns about their returns, tourists at Madrid’s Barajas airport said.
“It’s really bad because it’s just come all of a sudden, it’s not given very much time to prepare so everyone is now panicking,” said Emily Harrison, from Essex, who was taking a flight to London and faced the prospect of having to self-isolate for two weeks.

And the government’s announcement has been criticised in the Sun.

A BRITISH couple who are to be among the first travellers to quarantine after returning from Spain have slammed the government’s travel u-turn as “ridiculous”.
Sophie Ingham, 23, and her boyfriend Nick Baldwin are on holiday in Tenerife but face two weeks in isolation when they land in the UK tomorrow.
They flew out to the Spanish island last week after the government opened up an ‘air bridge’ with the country.

Herd immunity

Conflicting statistics about antibodies are reported in the Telegraph.

The number of people with Covid-19 antibodies is up to a third lower than previously thought, according to official data.
Figures collated by Public Health England (PHE) show that in London – where the prevalence of antibodies is at its highest – only one in 10 people are now estimated to have them, compared to one in six following the peak of the coronavirus outbreak.
In the north-east, less than five per cent of people were found to have antibodies, the protective proteins produced to help fight off the virus. The figures are based on samples taken from blood donors in different parts of the country.

Obesity

Being overweight puts patients at more risk, reports iNews.

Obesity increases the risk of serious illness or death from Covid-19 by up to 90 per cent, a report from Public Health England (PHE) has found.
Although some data suggests that more people have exercised during lockdown, evidence indicates that the nation’s exercise levels have not increased overall since before the pandemic, the report found. Meanwhile, snack food and alcohol sales have increased from high street shops.
Current evidence does not suggest that having excess weight increases people’s chances of contracting coronavirus, but people with the illness who are overweight are much more likely to be admitted into hospital and be critically ill in intensive care compared to those with a healthy body weight, with certain groups at higher risk.
The PHE report summarises findings from evidence published during the pandemic on the effects of excess weight and obesity on Covid-19 with risk of hospitalisation or death growing substantially as BMI [body mass index] increases.

And the Guardian reports a government strategy to help patients lose weight.

GPs will be encouraged to prescribe cycling as a way for patients to lose weight, as part of a new government strategy to tackle the nation’s obesity crisis to be announced on Monday.
In what Downing Street says is its biggest initiative to encourage more people to take exercise, the plans to be revealed by prime minister Boris Johnson could also mean GP surgeries participating in bicycle schemes, to make cycling easier and cheaper to take up.
Government officials say that a key challenge will be to make people feel safer on bikes in busy urban areas. This, they accept, will mean spending huge sums on segregated cycle lanes and secure cycle parking as well as developing low-traffic neighbourhoods.

Illegal immigration

Away from Covid, the Sun reports on a success story against people trafficking.

A SUSPECTED migrant-smuggling crime ring has been smashed by cops.
Eleven alleged members of a gang using small boats for cross-Channel people trafficking were arrested.
More than £150,000 in cash and two vehicles were seized at 12 properties in London and Sheffield.
The arrests follow months of intelligence-sharing in a  joint operation by UK and French law enforcement agencies.
Police confirmed ten people were arrested on Tuesday and released under investigation. Another person was held on Thursday.

And Breitbart reports a potential declaration to try and stop illegal migration.

Austrian Interior Minister Karl Nehammer has introduced a “Vienna Declaration” to combat mass illegal migration.
The declaration was agreed upon by 18 countries attending the two-day conference, with Nehammer saying the agreement was contrary to his own expectations.
“With this, we can today announce not only constructive talks but also a political agreement,” Nehammer said.
The new declaration will see closer cooperation on illegal migration and illegal smuggling between the countries represented at the conference, such as Germany, Greece, and Croatia. It will be coordinated through a new office located in Vienna, Kronen Zeitung reports.

Labour Party

The party could be in for a financial shock, says the Times.

Labour has been warned it faces payouts of millions of pounds that could threaten the party’s financial stability unless it settles a series of legal actions out of court.
Lawyers from 3D Solicitors, representing nine current and former Labour members, are expected to inform the party of the detailed basis of claims they are making this week for breaches of data protection and privacy rules.
All nine had their WhatsApp messages included in a report produced by Jeremy Corbyn loyalists in the party’s headquarters that was then leaked to the media in April. All had previously made complaints about the way the party was dealing with allegations of antisemitism.

The Guardian also has the story.

Labour will this week be formally notified of a batch of potentially costly new legal actions over antisemitism – days after a warning was issued to the shadow cabinet about the devastating toll the crisis is taking on the party’s finances.
The Observer can reveal that lawyers from the Manchester-based firm 3D Solicitors, representing nine current and former Labour members, will notify the party’s high command early this week of the detailed basis of claims they are making for breaches of data protection and privacy rules.
The nine individuals are all understood to have lodged confidential complaints to the party while Jeremy Corbyn was leader about what they saw as cases of antisemitism.

And the huge sum already collected for the former leader might need to be returned, says the Express.

JEREMY CORBYN has been told by a former Labour MP to return thousands of pounds donated to him to defend the former party leader against a possible legal battle.
Supporters have raised nearly £250,000 on behalf of Mr Corbyn after he was threatened with legal action for criticising the decision from Labour to apologise and pay damages to anti-Semitism whistleblowers. The campaign, set up on the GoFundMe website, smashed its initial target of £20,000 in just under 24-hours.

The Mail puts the sum at more than £200k.

Jeremy Corbyn should hand back the money donated to him to defend the former Labour leader, a former Labour MP has urged.
Supporters have raised more than £210,000 on behalf of Mr Corbyn as he faces legal action after criticising the party’s decision to apologise and pay damages to anti-Semitism whistleblowers.
Carole Morgan, from Ryde in South East England, organised the Go Fund Me to let the former Labour leader know his fans have ‘not forgotten him’. The Islington North Labour Party said she set it up in good faith.
The campaign smashed the target of £20,000 in under 24 hours.

Unemployment

Joblessness is rising, reports the Guardian.

More than 30 people are chasing each job in parts of Britain with more than 100 unemployed people for each vacancy in one part of Northern Ireland, new figures reveal.
The data, compiled by the Institute for Employment Studies (IES), highlights the challenges facing jobseekers during the coronavirus pandemic and comes as the government restores sanctions to the benefit system. Conditions on benefit claimants were suspended in March.

Green rail

Billions of pounds are to be spent on the railways says the Telegraph.

Taxpayers are in line for a bill of up to £30bn to make the railways greener, according to a leaked Network Rail report.
The document urges Grant Shapps, the Transport Secretary, to take action immediately or risk missing the Government’s 2050 net zero carbon goal.
The 231-page analysis by state-backed tracks and stations owner, seen by The Sunday Telegraph, shines a light on how Britain’s railways have failed to keep pace with electrification overseas.
In order to meet Britain’s climate change commitments, 15,700 km (9,756 miles) of track, on which predominantly diesel locomotives run, needs to be upgraded.

Education

The government has changed its mind about the assessment of exam results, reports the Telegraph.

Most A-level and GCSE results will be decided by statistical modelling rather than teachers’ predicted grades, in a major about-turn by the Government.
Teachers’ predicted grades will serve “little or no purpose” in the modelling that determines the majority of pupils’ results, sources have said.
Concerns over the reliability of teachers’ predictions – in particular, their tendency to inflate pupils’ grades – led to a decision by Ofqual, the exam regulator, not to rely on them.

And grammar schools have been told to delay 11+ exams, says the Mirror.

The government has ordered grammar schools to delay 11-plus tests until at late October at the earliest.
Long-awaited advice was issued today for selective schools – after campaigners feared pupils would be left behind after six months out of school.
Despite SATs, GCSE and A-levels being cancelled, some school entry tests in England were still scheduled to go ahead as soon as September for entry to Year 7 in 2021.
Campaigners said wealthier children with better home-schooling would have a major advantage when all schools reopen in September.

TV Licences

The Times claims the elderly will not be told immediately that they have to buy a television licence.

The BBC has been accused of a “distinctly amateurish” start to charging over-75s for television licences as it emerged that pensioners will not receive a letter outlining the change until after it takes effect.
From Saturday viewers over 75 will no longer be automatically exempt from paying the £157.50 fee. But TV Licensing will only then start sending out the 4.5 million “payment invitation” letters. They will be posted in batches, so many pensioners face a longer wait.

Treason

Treason laws could be revised, according to the Mail.

Boris Johnson is to give Britain’s treason laws the biggest shakeup since 1695 in a bid to counter the growing threat of hostile states like Russia and China.
In the wake of severe criticism from Parliament’s Intelligence Committee in the Russia report, increased hostilities with China and legal loopholes that could see returning IS fighters walk free, a ‘three-pronged attack’ is being drawn up by Ministers.
This would see a new Treason Act, a new Espionage Act to track foreign agents and influencers, and a rewriting of the Official Secrets Act ‘to make it fit for the digital era’.

The Times claims concerns are growing.

Ministers are rewriting the treason laws to target Britons who work for foreign powers as concern grows about attempts by China and Russia to buy influence in Britain and manipulate public opinion.
Senior government sources say Home Office officials have their “foot very much on the gas” to publish new treason laws this autumn, probably as part of a defence and security review.
The definition of treachery would include helping foreign states that are engaged in various types of attacks on the UK and assisting groups with which the UK is engaged in armed conflict.
Sajid Javid raised the prospect of a definition of treason to tackle “hostile state activity” when he was home secretary in 2019 and that work is now nearing a conclusion.

There are still government concerns over the involvement of China, says the Telegraph.

Senior Conservatives are this weekend demanding a review of the Hinkley Point C nuclear plant after a Sunday Telegraph investigation found a Chinese state energy company is more closely involved in the project than previously disclosed.
Sir Iain Duncan Smith, the former Conservative leader, said he believes that ministers had been misled when they approved the role of China General Nuclear in the £22.5bn reactor. Theresa May’s government was assured in 2016 the Beijing-controlled company would be a financial partner only when it took a 33.5pc stake in Hinkley alongside the lead developer, France’s EDF.
The Sunday Telegraph found conflicting statements from the Chinese and the French over the number of Chinese workers on the site. CGN has said it has “more than 100 engineers and technical experts working on Hinkley”, while EDF has put the number at between 20 and 30. Both companies this weekend declined to comment.
Corporate and project sources said CGN’s role goes beyond financial support, with EDF leaning heavily on Chinese technical expertise. “Of course, we work closely with the Chinese,” said one project source.
The collaboration has become so close that CGN has warned EDF New Nuclear Build, the division responsible for building Hinkley, not to share commercially sensitive information with its sister company EDF Energy, which operates nuclear sites across Europe.
Sir Iain said: “It was obviously never just going to be a financial partnership. This information tells you everything you need to know to back the call to have an independent, strategic review into our dependency on China.

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