Brexit

We’re heading for the final showdown, says the Express.

A FINAL agreement between the United Kingdom and the European Union is “very much possible” yet “far from certain”, Britain’s chief negotiator warned as he urged Brussels to abandon impossible demands.
The two sides are entering the final stages of negotiations as the UK works to nail down a free trade agreement before the Brexit transition phase comes to a close at the end of the year. David Frost, who represents Britain in the high stakes talks, urged his EU counterparts to “scale back” their “unrealistic ambitions” and cautioned that “time is short”. Tensions have flared over Brussels’ attempts to limit the UK’s ability to set its own fishing policy, design its own regulations and decide what aid to give British businesses.
Meanwhile, leading Brexiteers have called for Britain to “terminate” the Withdrawal Agreement because it gives “Brussels and its agencies continuing power over the UK for years to come”. They warn that if the agreement remains in place the UK will face years of “legal wrangling” and nothing less than “a nightmare on Brexit street”.

According to the Times, concessions have been made.

Britain and Brussels are set to enter final-stage Brexit trade talks within a week after both sides made key concessions.
If the ninth round of talks, which will begin on Tuesday, go well then Lord Frost, the UK negotiator, and his EU counterpart, Michel Barnier, will hope to enter the “tunnel”, where the final details will be hammered out in total secrecy, at the end of this week.
The expectation is that this would then lead to two weeks of secret discussions and a final agreement to be put in place just after the next EU summit in Brussels in mid-October.

And Yahoo News claims the bloc has been told to be ‘realistic’ on its demands.

The Prime Minister’s chief Brexit negotiator hinted at progress in the trade talks last night, but insisted the EU still needed to be more “realistic” about the rules that the UK could accept.
Lord Frost said the last fortnight of informal talks with Michel Barnier, his Brussels counterpart, had been “relatively positive”, as he suggested that the EU had scaled back on some “unrealistic ambitions”.
The two sides have been at loggerheads over fishing rights in British waters and EU demands for the UK to continue following the bloc’s rules on industrial subsidies.

Reuters reports that the ‘divorce deal’ will give the EU too much.

An influential pro-hard Brexit think-tank urged Prime Minister Boris Johnson to tear up his divorce deal with the European Union on Saturday, saying it would still allow the bloc too much power in Britain.
Johnson’s government has sought this month to pass laws that could override parts of Britain’s EU exit treaty that it signed in January, despite a warning from Brussels that doing so would wreck their future relationship.
But the Centre for Brexit Policy said this did not go far enough because the Withdrawal Agreement allowed Brussels ongoing influence in Britain over such issues as the law and state aid.

EU

The Express quotes an Irish minister’s threat.

IRELAND’S Foreign Minister Simon Coveney has admitted that any trade deal that the UK and EU agree will be rejected by member states if the UK is still threatening to rewrite the Withdrawal Agreement.
The Irish foreign affairs minister has admitted the EU27 are unlikely to ratify any Brexit deal if the UK is still making threats against the Withdrawal Agreement. Speaking in the Irish Parliament this week, Simon Coveney said there was no point in a Brexit trade agreement while the threat of the controversial Internal Market Bill persists. This means that any trade agreement is likely to fail even if Boris Johnson compromises for a deal with the EU before the mid-October deadline.

Parliament

There’s going to be another showdown in Parliament, reports the Telegraph.

Boris Johnson is preparing to effectively dare rebels to vote down his entire package of Covid-19 measures this week if the Commons Speaker blocks a vote designed to give MPs a say on new restrictions.
A growing number of MPs are rallying around an amendment tabled by Sir Graham Brady, the chairman of the 1922 committee of Tory backbenchers, which would force a vote on future social restrictions before they are imposed.

And it looks like charities are ganging up on the PM, claims the Independent.

A coalition of charities and human rights groups is calling on MPs to scrap a piece of emergency coronavirus legislation that has allowed ministers to impose dramatic restrictions on individuals’ liberties without debate in parliament.
Boris Johnson must win a vote in the Commons on Wednesday to preserve the Coronavirus Act, which was rushed through in a single day at the start of lockdown on 23 March but must be renewed every six months to remain in effect.
He is already facing potential defeat at the hands of Tory rebels, 42 of whom have backed an amendment that would force him to hold a parliamentary debate and vote before imposing any new restrictions, such as curfews, lockdowns or limits on social contact.
Now groups including Liberty, Black Lives Matter UK, the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, the Traveller Movement and Big Brother Watch have demanded that the act be scrapped altogether.

But there will be a vote, reports Sky News.

The government has said MPs will get to vote on the “rule of six” as it attempts to see off a rebellion by Conservatives who want more scrutiny of coronavirus regulations.
Senior Tory Sir Graham Brady told Sky News he would be “pressing on” with his attempt to change the law as “we need debates and votes in advance where practicable”.
Another backbench rebel said the offer by the government was “not the point and not a concession” as under existing procedures they would be given a retrospective vote anyway.

New party

An exclusive report in the Telegraph says there’s yet another new party being formed.

Actor Laurence Fox is launching a political party to fight the culture wars after raising over £1 million, including substantial sums from former Tory donors, The Telegraph can disclose.
Fox hopes to stand dozens of candidates for his new party at the next general election to provide a political movement for people who are “tired of being told that we represent the very thing we have, in history, stood together against”.
His aims include reforming publicly funded institutions, likely to include the BBC, and celebrating Britain’s history and global contribution.
The new party (provisionally called “Reclaim”) could launch as soon as next month.

The Express has picked up the story.

LAWRENCE FOX is setting up a new political party that will seek to transform publicly funded organisations, likely including the BBC, it has been reported.
The actor has so far raised £1 million for the funding of the party, including donations from former Tory contributors, according to The Telegraph. Mr Fox said aims to represent citizens who are “tired of being told that we represent the very thing we have, in history, stood together against”.

LibDems

Looks like the LibDems have dropped one of their major policies, says the Independent.

Plans to edge Liberal Democrats away from a commitment to rejoin the EU have sparked a furious row with fervent Remainers at Sir Ed Davey’s first conference as leader.
A member of the party’s federal policy committee has accused the leadership of a “stitch-up” after a motion put forward for this weekend’s virtual gathering suggested that rejoining should be an “option on the table” rather than a formal goal of party policy.

Education

There are claims that the freedom of speech is being undermined, says the Independent.

Schools have been banned from using teaching material that calls for the end of capitalism because it is an “extreme political stance”, sparking criticism.
New guidance puts groups wanting to replace the economic system on a par with those endorsing racism, antisemitism and violence, or the overthrow of democracy.
Even material that is “not extreme” has been outlawed if it has been produced by organisations on the banned list, because that could “imply endorsement”.

The science

Back to the virus, and one of the scientists says the government’s policy is doomed to fail says the Times.

The coronavirus strategy will fail to stop the disease spreading and risks plunging Britain into a “cycle of epidemic waves”, one of the government’s most senior scientific advisers warns today.
Sir Jeremy Farrar — a member of Sage, the government’s scientific advisory group for emergencies — said there had been a “slow response” to the first wave and that this mistake was being repeated.
The official daily number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in the UK was 6,042 yesterday — the fourth successive day it has exceeded 6,000, more than during the spring outbreak.

App

The famed Covid app doesn’t always work, reports the Guardian.

People tested for Covid-19 in NHS hospitals and Public Health England labs were unable to share their results with the NHS’s contact-tracing app in England, it has emerged.
The Department of Health and Social Care said on Saturday evening that the issue, which was revealed on Friday by the app’s official Twitter account as it responded to a complaint from someone unable to log their result, has now been fixed.
The app, which launched two days ago, requires a code which the user said was not provided in the text and email he received with his result.

The Independent also has the story.

The long-delayed NHS Covid-19 app has hit fresh trouble after it emerged it could not process tens of thousands of test results in England.
Ministers are under pressure to explain the “extraordinary” failure, affecting tests at NHS hospitals and Public Health England laboratories, which provoked more criticism of the technology.
To add to the embarrassment, the Welsh government said it had avoided the same problem – which came just two days after the app was finally launched, four months later than promised.

The problem has been resolved, says the Telegraph.

Officials were forced to urgently remove a major blindspot in the Government’s Covid-19 app on Saturday which meant that more than a third of daily tests were being excluded from the system.
On Saturday morning, it emerged that those who tested positive for the virus in NHS hospitals and Public Health England (PHE) labs were unable to share their result using the official contact-tracing app for the first 48 hours after its introduction on Thursday.

And the Mirror also reports that the flaw has been fixed.

A problem with the new NHS Covid-19 app has been fixed after people tested in NHS hospitals or Public Health England labs couldn’t enter their results.
While the issue preventing users in England from logging a positive test result has been resolved, people who book a test outside the app still cannot log negative results.
Concerns were expressed when it emerged people tested in NHS hospitals or Public Health England (PHE) labs or those taking part in the Office for National Statistics infection survey could not enter their results on the newly-launched app.

Or, at least, that’s what the department of health claims, says the ITV News.

A problem preventing users of the NHS Covid-19 app in England logging a positive test result has now been resolved, the department of health has said.
However those who book a test outside the app still cannot log negative results.
Concerns were expressed when it emerged people tested in NHS hospitals or Public Health England (PHE) labs or those taking part in the Office for National Statistics infection survey could not enter their results on the newly-launched app.

Testing

Testing for the virus could become less uncomfortable, says the Times.

“Swirl, gargle and spit” saliva-based testing will be introduced as part of plans to check up to 4.5 million people a day for the coronavirus by December, according to official documents.
Boris Johnson has previously stated his intention to test millions of people daily by early next year as part of Operation Moonshot.
The programme, with a budget of up to £100bn, aims to detect virus outbreaks before they can spread, supporting “economic activity and a return to normal life”.

Universities

Today’s big story is that university students are being forced into isolation.  The Telegraph reports:

A senior Conservative figure has called for students locked down or forced to self-isolate because of Covid-19 outbreaks to receive refunds on their university fees.
Thousands more students will need to be subjected to lockdowns and self-isolation to protect the wider population from Covid-19 outbreaks, disease control experts have warned.
It comes as further student accommodation blocks  were locked down and universities warned that they would expel those who did not follow coronavirus restrictions.

Yahoo News says students claim they’re under ‘halls-arrest’.

Students in lockdown at university have claimed police and security staff prevented them from leaving their accommodation after a coronavirus outbreak.
Manchester Metropolitan University has ordered residents at its Birley and Cambridge halls to self-isolate in their rooms for 14 days and only leave for medical emergencies.
The decision was announced by the city council on Friday after 127 students tested positive for  coronavirus.
However students complained that they were given no warning of the lockdown and no guidance on how they would get food and other supplies.
One sign put up in a window at Birley Halls compared the university to a prison by referring to “HMP MMU”.

Calls to have students’ tuition fees scrapped appear in the Times.

As the coronavirus sweeps across university campuses and thousands of students are locked down in halls of residence, a leading scientist has called for students to have their tuition fees waived instead of being fined for partying at the start of term.
Carl Heneghan, professor of evidence-based medicine at Oxford University, who attended a meeting with Boris Johnson and members of the Sage advisory group last week, said the state had helped every sector, including pubs, but had “clamped down” on students.

Honours

The Mail reports the prospect of NHS staff being honoured.

Hundreds of doctors, nurses and other heroes in the battle against coronavirus will be recognised in a ‘bumper’ honours list to be published next month.
People who have made outstanding contributions in the UK’s response to the virus will be rewarded in a special Queen’s Birthday Honours List on October 10.
Boris Johnson announced earlier this year that the Birthday Honours, normally released in June, would be put back to allow time to say thank you for the work of those on the frontline against the pandemic.

Reuters also reports the plans.

Britain’s Queen Elizabeth will recognise the work of hundreds of doctors, nurses, fundraisers and volunteers during the COVID pandemic when her annual birthday honours list is published next month.
The list, which was due to be published in June, was postponed in order to add nominations for people playing key roles in the early months of the outbreak. It will be released on Oct. 10.

Ofcom

Who will be the new Ofcom boss?  The Mail says it could be a right-winger.

Former Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre has been approached by Boris Johnson to become Chairman of Ofcom, in the latest example of Downing Street‘s determination to shake up the Left-wing establishment.
The attempt to install Mr Dacre at the broadcasting regulator comes as Whitehall mandarins are trying to put the brakes on the Prime Minister’s drive to install Charles Moore – a Brexiteer critic of the BBC – as the Corporation’s next Chairman.
The Mail on Sunday understands that Mr Dacre, 71, who edited the Daily Mail for 26 years until 2018, was wooed by Mr Johnson over drinks at No 10 earlier this year and was asked to consider succeeding Lord Burns.

The Telegraph has picked up the story.

Boris Johnson is considering appointing one of the BBC’s fiercest critics as chairman of the broadcasting regulator, in a dramatic move that will dial up the pressure on the corporation.
Paul Dacre, the former long-standing editor of the Daily Mail, is understood to be the Prime Minister’s favoured choice to become chairman of Ofcom.
The potential appointment is certain to cause deep alarm among the BBC’s current hierarchy and its supporters. It is expected that the Fleet Street veteran would want to reign in the corporation, forcing it to downsize and focus on its core public service responsibilities. He would also be expected to take a hardline against tech giants such as Google and Facebook.

As has the Guardian.

Boris Johnson is reported to have offered jobs at the head of two of Britain’s most important media organisations to two outspoken critics of the BBC.
Paul Dacre, former editor of the Daily Mail, has been asked to run the national broadcasting regulator, Ofcom, while Lord Moore, the former editor of the Daily Telegraph and biographer of Margaret Thatcher, is believed to be considering accepting the role of chairman of the BBC.
The provocative choice of two such hardline anti-BBC voices has prompted anger and dismay across the broadcasting and entertainment industry.

The Independent reports the possibility that the new BBC boss will also be a right-winger.

Boris Johnson has asked the former editor of the Daily Mail Paul Dacre to become the new chief of the broadcasting regulator Ofcom.
The prime minister is also said to have earmarked the arch BBC critic Lord Charles Moore – a former editor of the Daily Telegraph – to take over as chair of the UK’s national broadcaster.
If successful, the move to usher two right-wing Brexiteers into the top roles in British television could see the UK’s media landscape significantly altered.
Both men have previously been outspoken critics of the BBC, of which right-wing criticism has intensified in recent months over what is viewed as its disproportionately left-wing comedy output, with opponents also accusing it of pandering to “woke” culture.

Remembrance

In an exclusive report, the Sun claims Poppy Day is in jeopardy.

HUNDREDS of Poppy Day parades are at risk of being cancelled due to coronavirus, ministers were warned tonight.
Wreath-laying organisers have been left “high and dry” as the Government has failed to issue safety rules.
Ceremonies in villages, towns and cities across the country are in doubt because they have received no official guidance. Labour urged Defence Secretary Ben Wallace to step in to ensure our fallen heroes are remembered on November 8.

You can show your support at rbl.org.uk/poppyappeal

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