Brexit

Could we actually be heading for a successful Brexit?  The Times (reluctantly!) says maybe.

The Brexit negotiator, Lord Frost, has signalled to Michel Barnier, the EU’s frontman, that he will recommend Britain leaves without a trade deal unless Brussels drops demands the UK continue to align with its rules on state aid.
Frost took a tough stance a week ago in private meetings with Barnier, which failed to advance the talks. Barnier then demanded to see the UK’s blueprint for its domestic subsidy regime after the transition, which is not likely to be published until the end of September.
The EU is demanding Britain continue to accept rules that prevent the government from subsidising British companies at the expense of EU rivals, even once the transition period ends on December 31.

The Express reports another EU demand.

BORIS JOHNSON has threatened a no-deal Brexit unless the EU drops its demands over state aid rules.
Britain’s chief Brexit negotiator, David Frost, has signalled to his EU counterpart, Michel Barnier, that he will recommend Britain leaves without a trade deal if Brussels continues to demand that the UK should align with its rules on state aid. Mr Frost has already taken a hard stance on the topic in private meetings.
Mr Barnier demanded to see Britain’s blueprint for its domestic subsidy regime for when the Brexit transition period is over.
The regime is not likely to be published until the end of September.
The EU wants Britain to continue to follow rules that prevent the Government from subsidising British companies over EU rivals.

International trade

The international trade secretary sees a great future for the UK, reports the Telegraph.

Liz Truss will this week set out her ambition for a “gold standard” trade deal with Australia which would wipe tariffs on spirits, clothing and cars, as the Government prepares to step up talks next month.
The International Trade Secretary will tell MPs that UK officials are intensifying talks as they push for a wide-ranging agreement which includes financial services, telecoms, technology, food and drink.
The Government also hopes to make it easier for professionals to travel and work in Australia, with politicians in Canberra calling for the two sides to agree to freedom of movement in any post-Brexit deal.

Boris

There are rumours that the Prime Minister hasn’t fully recovered from his brush with Covid and is planning to quit.  The Express reports on the plans by some to take over.

A SENIOR minister last week held a meeting with friends and allies to set up a £1 million bid to be the next leader of the Conservative Party amid growing speculation Boris Johnson will quit in the next year.
The Prime Minister last week described reports he would go early as “absolute nonsense”.
The denial followed Sir Henry Wakefield, the father-in-law to Mr Johnson’s chief of staff Dominic Cummings, reportedly telling a friend on a walk that the Prime Minister was struggling to recover from coronavirus and would be gone in six months.
But Tory MPs are now questioning whether the Prime Minister “has the stomach to continue” and are concerned about the number of U-turns performed by the government during the coronavirus pandemic.
The A-levels U-turn to cancel downgraded results, which many Tory MPs think should have been corrected before a change in policy was needed, has been described as “the last straw” but some.

Tax

There’s a chasm in the public finances which needs to be filled, says the Telegraph.

Treasury officials are pushing for the largest tax rises in a generation to plug the gaping holes in the public finances, in a move being resisted by Downing Street, The Telegraph can disclose.
The proposed quintuple whammy of tax increases would enable the Exchequer to raise at least £20 billion a year, and some could be introduced as early as in the Budget.
While no decisions have been made, multiple sources have told this newspaper that proposals under active consideration include aligning capital gains tax (CGT) with income tax, slashing pension tax relief, raising fuel and other duties, the introduction of an online sales tax and a simplification of the inheritance tax system.

The Mail says the wealthy will be asked to pay more.

A £30billion tax raid on the wealthy is being planned to help pay for the massive cost of coronavirus, it was claimed last night.
Treasury officials are said to be drawing up plans to target the better off, businesses and pensions to plug the gap in the nation’s finances.
Capital gains tax and corporation tax would both be raised in proposals reportedly set to play a central part of Rishi Sunak‘s Budget in November.
The Chancellor is specifically understood to be looking at hiking corporation tax from 19 per cent to 24 per cent to raise £12billion next year and £17billion in 2023/24.
Second-home owners would also be hit under proposals to require people to pay capital gains tax at the same rate as they pay income tax.

The Sun calls the prospective tax rises ‘mammoth’.

BRITS could be hit by mammoth tax hikes to raise £20billion a year to plug debt caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Treasury officials are said to be planning a five-way blitz that would see the largest tax rises in a generation.
But the move, which could be introduced in the Budget, is being blocked by some senior figures at No10, The Sunday Telegraph reports.
Under the proposals, capital gains tax could be merged with income tax, while pension tax relief could be slashed.
Fuel and other duties could be raised and online sales tax could also be introduced to help plug any gaping holes in the economy.

And the Times says foreign aid will also be hit.

Treasury officials are drawing up plans for a £30bn tax raid on the wealthy, businesses, pensions and foreign aid — to plug a hole in the nation’s finances caused by the coronavirus crisis.
Under proposals that are due to form the centrepiece of the budget in November, the government is planning to raise both capital gains tax and corporation tax.
Rishi Sunak, the chancellor, is also considering a proposal to increase corporation tax from 19% to 24%, a move that would raise £12bn next year, rising to £17bn in 2023-24, but would put the government on a collision course with businesses hit by the pandemic.

Electoral commission

The Telegraph reports calls for the commission to be scrapped.

The Electoral Commission should be abolished or radically overhauled because it has become “accountable to no-one”, the Conservative Party has said.
Amid mounting concerns over the regulator’s performance and accountability, Tory chairman Amanda Milling claimed it is “not fit for purpose” and should not be allowed to hand itself the ability to prosecute parties and campaign groups.
The Telegraph can reveal the Conservatives have now lodged a submission with the Committee on Standards in Public Life, which is currently reviewing the Commission’s remit and whether it should be handed more powers.

Television

The Mail claims there are secret plans against the BBC.

A former Downing Street adviser is behind a secret new project to set up an ‘impartial’ television news channel to rival the crisis-hit BBC, The Mail on Sunday can reveal.
Sir Robbie Gibb – who was a senior BBC executive before becoming Theresa May’s director of communications at No 10 – is spearheading a drive to raise funds for GB News.
The 24-hour station, due to launch early next year, aims to capitalise on growing discontent over the BBC, with sources describing it as an antidote to the ‘woke, wet’ Corporation.

The Guardian has more details.

Rival efforts are under way to launch a Fox News-style opinionated current affairs TV station in Britain to counter the BBC.
One group is promising a news channel “distinctly different from the out-of-touch incumbents” and has already been awarded a licence to broadcast by the media regulator, Ofcom, under the name “GB News”. Its founder has said the BBC is a “disgrace” that “is bad for Britain on so many levels” and “needs to be broken up”.
A rival project is being devised in the headquarters of Rupert Murdoch’s British media empire by the former Fox News executive David Rhodes, although it is unclear whether it will result in a traditional TV channel or be online-only.
Both are pitching to a perceived gap in the market for opinionated video output fuelled by growing distrust of the BBC among some parts of its audience, especially on the political right over culture war issues such as Brexit and whether Rule, Britannia! should be sung at the Last Night of the Proms.

Second wave

Back to the virus, and Project Fear mark I-don’t-know-what is alive and well says the Independent.

As many as 85,000 people could die in the UK in a second wave of the coronavirus this winter, a leaked scientific document prepared for the government suggests.
The paper by the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), seen by BBC Two’s Newsnight, says that some lockdown restrictions may have to be reintroduced and kept in place until March 2021, though it adds that schools are likely to remain open.
The document stresses that it is setting out a worst-case scenario and not a prediction of what is likely to happen, and says that there is “a wide range of uncertainty” about the actual outcome.

The Sun also has details of the leaked report.

THIS winter could see up to 85,000 excess deaths from the coronavirus, according to a leaked report from the government’s SAGE committee.
The report looked at a “reasonable worst case scenario” for the coming months.
It comes as lockdown restrictions are set to be eased for around one million people across Greater Manchester, Lancashire, and West Yorkshire.
But thousands of Brits have also been reported to police for breaking the 14-day quarantine rule.

And we could just go back into lockdown, says the Mail.

Nationwide restrictions cannot be ruled out should England see a spike in coronavirus cases this winter, the Health Secretary has warned.
Matt Hancock also hinted that restrictions may not be eased over Christmas to avoid an ‘uptick’ in the number of Covid-19 cases.
Mr Hancock said countries in others parts of the world were already experiencing a second wave, adding it was ‘a very serious threat’.

Even Breitbart reports the prospect.

A second national lockdown may be coming down the pike in England should there be a significant “second wave” of Chinese coronavirus infections, the Health Secretary of the United Kingdom said on Friday.
The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Matt Hancock, said that, under the government’s planning for a “reasonable worst-case scenario”, England may once again be plunged into lockdown.
Mr Hancock said that so-called second waves of the Wuhan virus are “clearly visible” in other countries and that “it is a very serious threat”, claiming that a second wave is “avoidable but it’s not easy”.

Face masks

Do face nappies work?  There are conflicting opinions says the Telegraph.

There has been little as divisive in this pandemic as the debate over face masks. It’s a battle waged on many fronts, some political, others scientific. It raises not only thorny issues about identity politics and the culture wars that plague us but important questions about the way in which we weigh facts and act as a society on scientific evidence.
As the winter approaches and we are pushed indoors, expect the battle to intensify as we look for ways to mitigate transmission of the virus in offices, and even our homes.
The history of face masks should provide all sides with a degree of perspective, perhaps solace. We can surely all come together and agree that it is amusingly appropriate that the first person to study the airborne dynamics of mucous droplets was a chap called Carl Flügge.

Even the ‘expert’ says there’s no evidence, reports the Mail.

The evidence on face coverings ‘is not very strong in either direction’, England’s deputy chief medical officer has said, leaving Britons confused once again over experts’ changing attitudes to masks.
Government guidance released late last night ahead of the return of children to classes next week said teachers and students may need to wear face coverings in communal areas.
It follows existing rules which state masks must be worn on public transport, in hospitals and in many shops, as well as leisure facilities such as cinemas, but not pubs or restaurants.
Experts’ attitudes to face coverings have changed repeatedly since restrictions were first enforced nearly five months ago, and Jenny Harries‘ latest comments caused further confusion.

Rail travel

Rail companies are demanding more money, says the Telegraph.

Boris Johnson is this weekend facing a commuting crisis as anger grows among train firms that their finances risk being skewered by the Government’s response to the pandemic.
With schools set to reopen and the Prime Minister urging Britons back into offices, Whitehall officials are scrambling to finalise new agreements with train firms to keep services running. Having spent £3.5bn between March and mid-June propping up rail operators’ finances, ministers are desperate to keep the future taxpayer bill to a minimum.
Current emergency agreements, which effectively nationalised the rail network in March as passenger numbers fell 95pc, are due to expire in just three weeks’ time.

Bicycle travel

But there are lots of people taking to two wheels, reports the Telegraph.

The UK’s biggest bicycle maker has had to stop taking orders following unprecedented demand from Britons eager to find a new way to get to work.
Brompton boss Will Butler-Adams, a self-confessed “nutter on a soapbox”, says that the Covid-19 crisis has made people “rethink” the benefits of two-wheeled transport.
Mr Butler-Adams said that demand for Brompton’s folding bikes, assembled in a factory in west London, had come from all around the world.
“We’ve stopped taking orders until the end of October,” he said. “We are in a situation that is so exciting but we want to try to develop the foundations for the next 10 years.

Air travel

And the airline regulator is demanding more powers to force companies to refund payment for cancelled flights says the Times.

For those forced to take a staycation, the agony of a lost foreign holiday is made worse by the fury of waiting for the airline to refund the cost of the cancelled flight.
Under European Union law refunds should be paid within seven days, but many are still waiting. At the height of the pandemic more than £7bn was owed in refunds to passengers.
Richard Moriarty, chief executive of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), said it had “consistently faced problems” regulating airlines’ behaviour because of restricted powers.
He is calling on the government to give the regulator greater powers, including the ability to fine airlines, a move that would be likely to prompt carriers to treat customers more fairly.

Covid conspiracy

But is it all one big hoax?  A lot of people think so says Yahoo News.

Thousands of protesters branding the  coronavirus  pandemic a “hoax” gathered in Trafalgar Square  today (Saturday).
The demonstrators, who were not wearing face coverings, carried signs saying “no more masks no more lockdown” and “incremental fascism” at Saturday’s “Unite for Freedom” rally.
The event was held after Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the Government is responding to “an increase in anti-vax messages and anti-test messages” with a programme under way to tackle “these sorts of conspiracy theories”.
A poster advertising the anti-lockdown event read: “Nothing is more important as time is very short – the Government are voting for a two-year extension of their emergency Covid-19 powers in September 2020.
“The first six months was a disaster – this must not be allowed to continue! We have to take a stand.”

The Mail reports the arrest of a prominent person.

Jeremy Corbyn’s brother Piers was yesterday arrested at a mass-gathering of Covid-19 conspiracy theorists who took to the streets of London to demonstrate against lockdown restrictions and vaccination programmes.
The former Labour leader’s older brother was filmed being taken away from Trafalgar Square by a gaggle of mask-wearing police officers who hauled him into a van.
It is the third time the decisive anti-lockdown figure has been arrested in just over three months. He was arrested on May 16 and May 30 while protesting in Hyde Park.
More than 10,000 anti-lockdown protesters who believe coronavirus is a hoax gathered for the ‘Unite for Freedom’ rally which started at noon in the capital on Saturday.

And the Metro claims there were thousands at the protest.

Up to 10,000 coronavirus-deniers have gathered in London’s Trafalgar Square to protest against lockdowns and vaccination programmes. The ‘Unite for Freedom’ rally started at noon and called for an ‘end to Government lies’ and the ‘restoration of all freedoms.’ Pictures from the demonstration showed a sizeable crowd gathered in the square, holding signs warning that coronavirus is a ‘scam’ and a ‘hoax.’ One man held a homemade placard on which he had scrawled ‘no to mandatory vaccines.’
Another called the World Health Organisation the ‘World Hoax Organisation’ and someone else proudly held a sign calling for an ‘end to medical tyranny.’

The Sun calls them Covid-deniers.

THOUSANDS of coronavirus conspiracy theorists who believe the pandemic is a HOAX have marched on London today (Saturday).
Crowds of Covid-deniers swarmed the capital demanding an end to face masks, social distancing and the search for a vaccine.
The ‘Unite For Freedom’ rally began at midday – with protesters calling for an end to “government lies” over the pandemic.
Pictures show large crowds gathered in Trafalgar Square holding signs claiming that the virus is a “hoax” and a “scam”.
Other placards read: “No to mandatory vaccines!”

The Star has the story of one NHS worker.

An NHS worker is under investigation after she branded the coronavirus pandemic a “load of b******s” before appearing to show her support for Covid-19 hoax believers on Saturday.
Care UK employee Louise Hampton dismissed the deadly Covid-19 health crisis after she received a certificate thanking her for her hard work over the past five months.
She uploaded a controversial video to social media in which she blasted health chiefs and the clap for carers movement as she argued the health crisis has left many NHS employees twiddling their thumbs.
The clip has been viewed over half a million times – but the health worker is under fire for the expletive-filled message.

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