International trade

The Express carries a call to the PM to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership and trade with 11 other countries.

BORIS Johnson’s Government has been urged to make the most of new post-Brexit freedom and pursue “the big one” – a deal which would unlock trade with some of the Pacific’s most important economies.
Champions of free trade want the UK to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership, an agreement between 11 countries around the Pacific Rim including Australia, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Singapore and Vietnam. The breakneck speed at which the Prime Minister nailed down a deal with the EU has raised hopes that the UK can rapidly secure deals and exploit opportunities to boost trade and grow the economy. Victoria Hewson, a trade expert at the highly influential Institute of Economic Affairs, pushed for the UK to join the Pacific nations’ trading group – technically known as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) – which in 2018 accounted for 13 percent of global GDP.
She said: “I think we definitely should be pursuing that. That’s absolutely vital.


Remainers, now rebranded ‘rejoiners’ are still protesting over Brexit, says the Express.

PRO-EU campaigners have gathered to protest against the UK leaving the EU, with one admitting: “We are very sad and very angry.”
Demonstrators from Yes to EU gathered on Thursday afternoon to protest against the end of the transition period and Britain leaving the bloc. Campaigners claimed they were “very sad” as they undertook socially distanced protest outside the Scottish Parliament.
Morag Williamson, from the group, said: “We are very sad and very angry at the same time.
“We don’t want to leave the family of Europe – but we are being dragged out against our will.”


The government’s fisheries department is flexing its mussles (sic) says the Express.

THE UK has banned Norwegian and Faroese vessels from fishing its territorial waters until a new agreement can be made with regional fisheries organisations.
The UK’s Marine Management Organisation (MMO) has confirmed negotiations will need to end before Norwegian and Faroese vessels will be able to fish UK waters. Likewise, an agreement will need to be made with the regional fisheries management organisations of these territories in order for British fishermen to access the territorial waters of Norway and the Faroe Islands. On New Year’s Eve, the UK’s fishing administrations issued new licences for UK vessels that allowed them access to fish in all UK waters.

The Express reports that French fishermen in UK waters could be facing gunboats.

FOUR Royal Navy gunships have been sent to the English Channel in a huge warning to European Union fishermen over their rights in the waters following the conclusion of Brexit.
In the hours leading up to the end of the Brexit transition period between the UK and EU on New Year’s Eve, a convoy of warships left Portsmouth and headed into the Channel. The offshore patrol vessels are armed with cannon and machine guns and are under strict orders to protect the UK’s sovereign fishing grounds. HMS Trent, the newly-launched £100million Royal Navy warship, led the group of vessels, followed by HMS Tyne, HMS Tamar and HMS Mersey.
The quartet of River class vessels are assigned to fishery protection duties.


Sir John Redwood has pointed out that in the current list of trade deals, the EU doesn’t include the deal agreed on Christmas Eve, says the Express.

BREXITEER John Redwood has hit out at the EU after their official website failed to include the UK on its current list of trade deals.
Mr Redwood, Conservative MP for Wokingham, claimed the EU is finding it “difficult to adjust” in a blog post issued to his website. He also referred to January 1 as ‘Independence Day’ for the UK in a tweet on Friday.
In his blog post, Mr Redwood observed the EU’s website “has no record of the EU/UK trade agreement under trade deals”.

Breitbart runs the second part of a two-part series.

This is part two of a three-part series. Read part one here.

Britain left the European Union in name in January 2020, but remained subject to the EU, its judges, and its migration regime through a so-called “transition” period. It left in a real sense at 11 pm on December 31st — according to supporters of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s exit deal, at least. But how did the country get here?
Theresa May did not win a crushing victory when she called a snap election for June 2017. Indeed, with the one-year anniversary of the Brexit vote weeks away and Britain’s withdrawal nowhere near being delivered despite her tough talk, many Leavers had grown tired of her. Large numbers of working-class voters reverted to Labour, believing — wrongly, as it turned out — that the leftist party would “respect the result” of the 2016 vote, as they promised.

The Express fears there could now be a power-grab.

BRITAIN’S departure from the European Union has sparked fears of an immediate power grab by Germany and France.
Smaller member states said they were already missing the UK’s influence in Brussels amid signs that Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron plan to waste no time in imposing their dominance over the bloc. Angry officials said Ms Merkel had showed she was willing to flexing her muscles in Britain’s absence by pushing through a trade deal with China before Germany’s six-month presidency of the EU comes to an end.
Brussels and Beijing have struck an investment deal which the German chancellor insists will give European companies greater access to Chinese markets and help redress unbalanced economic ties.


The PM has lauded the new Oxford vaccine, says the Mail.

Boris Johnson last night hailed the arrival of the Oxford vaccine as a ‘triumph of British science’ and said he was ‘confident this is the year we will defeat coronavirus‘.
The first batches yesterday began arriving at UK hospitals, including the Princess Royal Hospital in Haywards Heath, West Sussex, where laboratory technician Lukasz Najdrowski carefully removed the packs of vials from a cardboard box.
With an initial 530,000 doses available from tomorrow, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the addition of the Oxford vaccine to the Pfizer drug which has been in use since December 8 meant ‘the end is in sight’.
About two-thirds of the million doses delivered UK-wide by New Year’s Eve have been used to vaccinate those over 80, meaning about a fifth of that highly vulnerable age group have received their first jab.

And the vaccine is now being rolled out to our hospitals, says the Mail.

The first batches of the newly-approved coronavirus vaccine from Oxford University and AstraZeneca have started arriving at UK hospitals ahead of the jab’s rollout.
Some 530,000 doses of the jab will be available from Monday – with vulnerable people taking priority – as Health Secretary Matt Hancock says the inoculation drive is ‘accelerating’.
One of the first hospitals to take delivery of a batch on Saturday morning was the Princess Royal Hospital in Haywards Heath, West Sussex, which is part of Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust.

Red tape that is stopping retired doctors helping with the mass vaccination effort could be slashed, says the Telegraph.

Matt Hancock has ordered officials to slash red tape that is putting off retired doctors from signing up to help with the mass Covid inoculation programme ahead of the first jabs of the new British-made vaccine on Monday.
The Telegraph disclosed last week that retired medics had been dissuaded from returning to the NHS front line by bureaucracy including a requirement to provide 21 different pieces of evidence to support their application.
However, Mr Hancock, the Health Secretary has now told officials that he wants the process to be urgently streamlined.

The country’s deputy chief medical officer has said that the gap between the first and second jab is OK, reports the Mail.

The scientist leading the UK coronavirus vaccination programme has defended the decision to extend the gap between the two doses, insisting it is ‘the way we save lives’.
Professor Jonathan Van-Tam says waiting 12 weeks between jabs rather than the original three will protect those most at risk of dying from Covid-19, adding that the focus must be ‘to deliver first vaccine doses to as many people, in the shortest possible timeframe’.
As the first supplies of the Oxford vaccine arrived in the UK yesterday, the Deputy Chief Medical Officer – who has become the trusted face of Downing Street press conferences during the crisis – predicted that ‘tens of millions of doses’ will be available by the end of March.

And there are loads more vaccination sites being prepared, says Sky News.

Hundreds of new vaccination sites are expected to be up and running this week as the NHS expands its coronavirus immunisation programme.
Some 530,000 doses of the Oxford University-AstraZeneca vaccine will be available across the UK from Monday.
At first, only a small number of hospitals will distribute the COVID-19 vaccine but after a few days, most of the doses will be sent to hundreds of GP-led services.
There are already more than 700 of these sites, according to NHS England, but hundreds more at hospitals and led by GPs are due to launch this week.


Away from Covid, ‘the rock’ is still the subject of disagreement.  The Guardian says:

Spain will have the last word on who can enter Gibraltar under the terms of the preliminary post-Brexit deal announced this week, Spain’s foreign minister has said, in an assertion that was swiftly challenged by Gibraltar’s chief minister.
The agreement in principle – struck just hours before Gibraltar was poised to become the only frontier marked by a hard Brexit – will allow the British overseas territory to join the Schengen free movement area with Spain acting as a guarantor.
Gibraltar’s port and airport would become the external borders of the Schengen area, with checks undertaken by the EU’s Frontex border agency for an initial period of four years.

The rock’s chief minister has other ideas, says the Mail.

Gibraltar has slapped down Spain‘s claim to have the final say on who enters the British territory, setting the stage for more wrangling over sovereignty.
Chief minister Fabian Picardo today tersely declared that ‘this is our land’ after Madrid’s top diplomat said her government would oversee cross-border travel.
The row comes a mere two days after an 11th-hour post-Brexit deal was struck to integrate Gibraltar into the EU’s passport-free Schengen Zone to avert a hard border.
Almost 30,000 people crossed between Spain and Gibraltar every day before the pandemic, half of whom were workers.

And Breitbart claims Spaniards are ‘gloating’.

Spain has gloated that it is being given control over the British territory of Gibraltar’s borders as part of a side deal between Boris Johnson’s administration and the European Union.
Prime Minister Johnson had submitted to the EU’s demands that Gibraltar, known as the Rock, should be cut out of the main Brexit negotiations to appease neighbouring Spain, and it was not included in his Christmas Eve deal.
With just a day to go before the end of the so-called “transition” period, the former Crown Colony faced a localised no-deal Brexit including a hard border with Spain, and little contingency planning by the Johnson administration in place to ameliorate the situation.


Teachers are demanding more remote teaching says the Telegraph.

All schools in England should remain closed and education be delivered remotely for the start of the spring term, three major teaching unions have said.
The National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT) and the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) joined the National Education Union (NEU) in calling for a move to remote education for primary and secondary schools across the country.
The move has deepened the crisis facing Gavin Williamson, the Education Secretary, following a series of U-turns which prompted claims that his department’s response to coronavirus has been chaotic.

And the unions are telling their members not to go back to work, reports ITV News.

A leading teaching union has advised primary school staff not to return to classrooms due to unsafe conditions amid the pandemic.
On Friday, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson confirmed that all London primary schools will remain shut next week as the capital battles with high levels of coronavirus infections.
Most other primary schools in England are expected to still open on Monday while secondary schools will reopen on a staggered basis, with exam year pupils returning on January 11 and others returning a week later.
Unions representing teachers and support staff have since called for delays to the reopening of schools across the country.

The Morning Star says teachers may refuse to work.

HUNDREDS of thousands of teachers could refuse to work this week on health and safety grounds unless schools are closed to all but vulnerable children and children of key workers.
The National Education Union (NEU) will inform its members that it is not safe to enter schools before mid-January given the government’s loss of control over the rising tide of Covid-19 infections.
It will advise them to refuse to enter their workplaces under Section 44 of the Health and Safety Act, on the grounds that the government has not taken steps to ensure schools are safe environments for pupils or staff.

And the possibility of schooling being ‘furloughed’ is rejected, says ITV News.

Children’s education cannot be “furloughed” for months while Covid-19 vaccinations are rolled out and the country waits for coronavirus cases to subside, the head of England’s schools watchdog has said.
Pressure is mounting on the government from both sides on whether children in England should return to school as normal following the Christmas holiday.
Ofsted chief inspector Amanda Spielman has joined calls for pupils to return to the classroom as soon as possible, writing in the Sunday Telegraph that time away from school should be kept to an “absolute minimum”.

Next years’ exams could be cancelled … again, says the Times.

Head teachers have warned that GCSE and A-level exams cannot go ahead this summer after plans for reopening schools for the spring term were thrown into chaos.
Most primary schools in England are due to open tomorrow, followed by a phased start for secondary schools a week later with GCSE and A-level pupils returning first. The education secretary, Gavin Williamson, still insists that teenagers must sit the national exams.
However, a network of 2,000 head teachers in 80 local authorities will today insist that teachers, pupils and parents should not be put at risk of contracting Covid-19 in order to protect the GCSE and A-level timetables.

The question seems to be led by politics rather than a desire to teach, points out the Mail.

More Left-wing councils were last night joining the revolt against Government plans to keep schools open.
Brighton and Hove City Council followed eight authorities in London in demanding primaries teach remotely amid rising Covid cases.
Most primaries in England are expected to open their doors tomorrow, while secondary schools will reopen on a staggered basis later this month with plans to test every student weekly.
Yesterday, however, the UK’s largest teaching union advised members it was not safe to return to the classroom and called for a move to online teaching.

Legal action is being considered says the Guardian.

The planned reopening of schools in England has descended into disarray, as unions advised teachers not to return to the classroom, heads took legal action over the government’s plans and senior Tories warned that school gates may have to remain shut for weeks to come.
With warnings that some primary heads would arrive at work on Monday morning unsure about whether they would be able to reopen to pupils, teachers accused the government of making an “utter shambles” of school reopening and demanded a last-minute delay. Gavin Williamson, the education secretary, was also facing renewed calls to resign over the chaos.

The action is being led by two of the most radical unions, says iNews.

The headteachers’ union has announced plans to take legal action against the Government over its handling of the coronavirus crisis within schools.
The National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) said on Saturday it has brought preliminary steps in legal proceedings against the Department for Education, along with the Association of School and College Leaders.
The process covers a range of issues including the scientific advice the Government is drawing on as well as proposals for testing in schools.


Looks like not all politicians are against Nigel Farage says Breitbart.

Two Conservative members of the House of Lords intervened in the Brexit treaty debate to express gratitude to a giant of the Eurosceptic movement Nigel Farage.
Lord Howard of Rising, who voted for Britain to leave the European Economic Community in 1975 and the European Union in 2016, used the short time allocated to him to interject during the Boris Johnson EU treaty reading in the upper house to give a vote of thanks to two influential Brexiteers, Sir James Goldsmith and Nigel Farage.


An analysis of programmes put out by our national broadcaster was very biased against Brexit, says the Mail.

BBC broadcasters and presenters launched a bitter last-ditch onslaught against Brexit during the New Year schedules.
Britain’s long-awaited departure from the European Union on Thursday coincided with what critics described as ill-tempered tirades, offensive remarks and heavily biased reportage in the Corporation’s end-of-year programming.
Among those making comments that appeared to be aimed at the 17.4 million people who voted Leave were comedians Nish Kumar and Frankie Boyle.
Kumar, who hosts the BBC Two satire show The Mash Report, delivered his diatribe during an appearance on Graham Norton’s New Year’s Eve special.
The 35-year-old began by describing long-time Brexit campaigner Nigel Farage as ‘a sack of meat brought to life by a witch’s curse’.


There’s more pressure on the government to scrap the project, says the Telegraph.

Anti-HS2 campaigners have united around a new push to see the controversial project scrapped amid falling demand during the coronavirus pandemic.
Richard Walker, the CEO of Iceland and human rights lawyer Michael Mansfield QC are among signatories of a new petition calling for the Government to hold a new vote over the £100bn project.
“The £100bn+ HS2 vanity project did not show a return for the taxpayer even before Covid-19 blew all assumptions about the UK’s future travel needs out of the water,” Richard Walker said.

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