Brexit

With talks being resumed this week, threatening messages have been issued says the Times.

The EU’s chief negotiator has warned Boris Johnson that he must keep his promises if he wants to avoid the double economic hit of a no-deal Brexit and the coronavirus pandemic.
In an exclusive interview, Michel Barnier accuses the prime minister of backsliding on commitments made in the political declaration. Issuing an ultimatum, he warned that there would not be an “agreement at any cost”.
Speaking ahead of the start of the fourth round of Brexit talks this week, which could determine whether an agreement on a trade deal can be reached before the end of the transition period on December 31, Barnier said: “The UK has been taking a step back — two steps back, three steps back — from the original commitments.

The Express carries the warning to the EU.

THE EU has been warned that if it continues to drag its feet over the Brexit talks then the UK will walk away in September without a trade or security deal.
The Sunday Express understands that Boris Johnson has authorised an ultimatum to Brussels and its chief negotiator Michel Barnier because of the refusal by the EU to come to the table with reasonable demands.
The warning comes ahead of the fourth round of negotiations running from Tuesday until Friday next week, with talks across all eleven workstreams held via videoconference.

The pro-EU Independent claims the lack of progress is the UK’s fault.

The UK faces a no-deal Brexit unless Boris Johnson keeps the promises he made when securing the withdrawal agreement, the EU’s chief negotiator has warned.
Michel Barnier accused the prime minister of trying to back away from the written commitments in the political declaration signed with the European Commission.
He declared there would be no trade deal unless the text he negotiated was complied with “to the letter” — and claimed Britain had more to lose from the failure of the talks.

The Sun says the bloc is wasting time.

BORIS Johnson has told EU time-wasters they have until September to strike a Brexit deal or Britain will walk away without one.
The PM has warned that foot-dragging by Brussels will not force him to extend the transition period beyond December 31.
He says they need to wake up to the political reality and get things moving before it is too late.
Britain’s chief negotiator David Frost has warned EU boss Michel Barnier that they need to up the pace in this week’s crucial talks if we are to reach a trade deal.

What is the deadline for the agreement?  End of this month, end of December or, as the Mail says, September.

Boris Johnson told EU leaders they have until September to strike a deal amid fears they are ‘running down the clock’, as crucial Brexit talks are due to resume this week.
Britain has accused the European Union of trying to string out Brexit trade talks in the hope the UK will agree to its terms.
But the Prime Minister has warned that any delays from Brussels will not persuade the UK to extend the transition period past December 31.
Britain and the EU will attempt to revive the imperilled trade talks on Tuesday, entering a crucial week of negotiations that could mark the final hope for a deal.

The Telegraph blames the EU.

Britain has accused the EU of wanting to string out Brexit trade talks until the November deadline for an agreement in the hope of making the UK cave in to its demands.
With the latest round of negotiations beginning on Tuesday, Boris Johnson wants to up the pace of the talks after making it clear that he will not extend the transition period and will not budge on sovereignty issues such as fishing rights.
Ministers are anxious to ensure that businesses have as much time as possible to prepare for whatever trading regime is in place when the UK’s current arrangements come to an end on December 31.

The Frenchman has issued a warning, reports the Express.

MICHEL BARNIER has continued his war of words with the UK over a post-Brexit trade deal ahead of the next round of crucial negotiations.
Michel Barnier has accused the UK’s Brexit negotiating team of wanting the “best of both worlds” by retaining the conditions of being an EU member while leaving the single market and customs union. The European Commission Head of Taskforce and the UK’s Brexit negotiator David Frost have so far held three rounds of talks without making a breakthrough, with discussions resuming next week.
In a wide-ranging interview with German radio station Deutschlandfunk, Mr Barnier said: “The British have not understood or do not want to understand that Brexit has consequences for them. For us too. But also for them.

Emergency budget

The chancellor is working out how we can get out of this financial mess, says the Times.

Rishi Sunak, the chancellor, is working on an emergency budget statement in an effort to save the economy, after warning MPs last week that two million jobs would be lost unless pubs and restaurants reopened soon.
Plans to save millions of furloughed workers from the scrap heap and retrain them will be a centrepiece of the address to MPs, which is pencilled in for the week beginning July 6.

But there’s pressure on the PM to stick to his election pledges, says the Express.

BORIS Johnson has been warned that if he reneges on his election pledge to rule out raising personal taxes he will damage both the economy and public trust in his government.
Pressure has been mounting on the Prime Minister and Chancellor Rishi Sunak to increase income tax, national insurance or VAT to help pay off the coronavirus debt. When pressed earlier this week at the Liaison Committee of senior MPs, Mr Johnson refused to rule out increases of those three taxes even though it was a manifesto commitment not to raise them. Answering questions from the Tory chairman of the Treasury select committee Mel Stride, Mr Johnson insisted that he would stick to manifesto policies listing pledges on police and nurse numbers as well as the hospital building programme.

Cummings

In an exclusive report, the Mail claims the PM has warned his advisor.

Boris Johnson has issued a stern rebuke to his aide Dominic Cummings, warning that he ‘will not tolerate’ another media firestorm.
The Prime Minister has ordered his top adviser to stay firmly out of the public eye following the crisis caused by his lockdown trip from London to Durham, with one senior Downing Street source telling The Mail on Sunday: ‘Dom’s been firmly put in his place.’
Mr Johnson’s ‘last chance’ ultimatum comes after Remainer and Left-wing critics leapt on the saga to take revenge for Mr Cummings’s role in winning the Brexit referendum and a landslide Tory Election victory.
The Mail on Sunday can today reveal that a retired teacher who reported the No 10 adviser to police broke lockdown rules himself – while a supposed ‘witness’ who claimed Mr Cummings had made a second trip to the region admitted he made his statement up as a joke.

The Mail also reports the plot against the advisor by an anti-Brexiteer.

An anti-Brexit Labour peer who was one of Tony Blair’s closest allies passed on information to help expose Dominic Cummings’s alleged breach of the virus lockdown, The Mail on Sunday can reveal.
Former Durham MP Hilary Armstrong is being feted by Labour colleagues for her role in revealing that the No 10 aide had travelled 260 miles from his London home to stay near his parents in the North East.

Bercow

Another prominent figure has been disappointed, reports the Sun.

JOHN Bercow’s hopes of taking a seat in the Lords have been crushed.
The former Commons Speaker was nominated by ex-Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn after the PM refused.
But now it has been rejected by the Lords Appointments Commission.
They also threw out a bid to give a peerage to Karie Murphy, who was executive director of Mr Corbyn’s  office.
Mr Bercow was investigated for alleged bullying which he denies.

Lockdown lift

On to Covid-19, and the prospect of being released from our confinement is outlined in the Telegraph.

Britain’s top scientist today defends the Government’s right to choose when and how it eases the lockdown, amid public criticism by several members of the panel advising ministers on the Covid-19 outbreak.
Writing in The Sunday Telegraph, Sir Patrick Vallance says ministers have to take “many other factors into consideration” beyond scientific advice, adding that such advice should be “independent of politics”.
His intervention comes as Boris Johnson faced claims that he was easing lockdown restrictions too quickly, with one member of the 55-strong Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) that “many of us” would rather wait for infection rates to be reduced even further before relaxing the measures.

The Independent also has the new rules.

Groups of up to six people will be able to exercise together outdoors from Monday as long as they observe social distancing  rules, the government has said.
In the latest easing of lockdown measures, teams will be able to train together while friends and family will be able to play non-contact sports in parks or gardens.
Parents will also be able to accompany their children to coaching sessions carried out on a one to one basis or in small groups.

Shielding

And those of us with underlying health conditions see a crack in the door of our jail, says the Times.

More than two million people who are particularly vulnerable to the coronavirus have been told they can go outside for the first time in 10 weeks.
From today, those who are “shielding” will be told they can spend time outdoors as long as they continue to follow social-distancing measures.
Those judged “clinically extremely vulnerable” will be allowed out with other members of their household.

Sky News reports the new Labour leader’s reaction.

Boris Johnson is easing more lockdown rules, this time allowing those vulnerable to coronavirus who are shielding to leave home and go outdoors.
The change will coincide with other rules being eased on Monday and comes despite a backlash from leading scientists who claim the government is moving too soon.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has accused the prime minister of making difficult decisions more risky because of his mistakes over the past week.

The odds of catching the virus have lengthened, says the Sun.

MILLIONS of vulnerable Brits will be told it is safe to venture outdoors again after ten weeks confined to their homes.
They will get the all clear after experts ruled there is now just a 1,000-to-one chance of them catching the  coronavirus.
Boris Johnson will announce tomorrow that from Monday 2.2million people “shielded” from the pandemic can go outside with members of their household.
The PM will also allow frail or elderly people who live alone to meet outside with one other person from another address — if they socially distance.

We shielders have been ‘hailed’ by the PM for our sacrifice, says the Mail.

Families across England will finally be able to see their elderly relatives again tomorrow, as millions of vulnerable people ‘shielding’ are allowed to spend time outdoors.
As part of the easing of lockdown restrictions, 2.2 million vulnerable people will be able to go outside with members of their household, while continuing to follow social distancing guidelines. Those who live alone will be able to meet outside with one other person from another household, in a move that will bring joy to thousands.

Care homes

The Guardian reports on the mental state of some elderly in care.

Senior social care leaders are calling on ministers to prioritise unlocking care homes amid growing concerns that mental health problems are contributing to the deaths of residents.
Most care homes have been closed to visitors since the lockdown began, to prevent the spread of Covid-19, but many fear the lack of contact with loved ones has had serious consequences on residents’ mental and physical wellbeing.

Child abuse

And the Telegraph has a story about the risks of vulnerable children who have been forced to stay at home with their abusers.

The economic impact of the lockdown will pale by comparison to the “perfect storm” leaving vulnerable children “isolating alongside their abusers”, Sajid Javid has warned.
Writing for The Telegraph, the former Home Secretary said the current restrictions appeared to be facilitating a “surge” in sexual abuse of children which he predicted would be reflected in figures later this year.
Mr Javid is to lead a new “no holds barred” investigation into child sexual abuse in Britain, along with the Centre for Social Justice think tank. Mr Javid said the inquiry would not be impeded by “cultural and political sensitivities” after the men convicted in recent high-profile cases were disproportionately of Pakistani, Kashmiri, Bangladeshi and Bengali heritage.

Treatment

Another drug has potential, says the Mail.

The anti-anxiety drug Xanax is among seven existing medicines identified by scientists as possibly being able to block coronavirus, a new study has revealed.
Researches from universities in Barcelona have been searching for existing drugs that can help block the virus that has devastated the world.
They have been looking at certain medicines that could help stop the ability of the virus to replicate inside cells and have listed seven drugs that could help.
Among them is the common anti-anxiety drug Xanax, as well as two others which are already showing promising lab results.

Social distancing

The Evening Standard reports that the PM is being pressured to scrap the social distancing rules.

Boris Johnson is under pressure from senior Conservative MPs to scrap the two-metre social distancing rule, it is claimed.
The Prime Minister revealed earlier this week that he had ordered the Government’s scientific advisers to review the stringent spacing rule, telling the Commons liaison committee that “we will be able to reduce that distance” as lockdown eases.

Schools

Some schools are due to return tomorrow.  But will it happen?  The Times says:

The reopening of primary schools in England to more pupils will be hampered by a shortage of teachers and by anxious parents, according to various surveys. Some councils are even going to reimburse parents for driving their children to school.
A survey of 5,000 school leaders, released today by Tes, formerly the Times Educational Supplement, said a fifth of school staff, including teachers and classroom assistants, would not be able to return to work this week.
Some teachers have health conditions, such as asthma and diabetes, or live with a vulnerable family member, such as a pregnant wife or girlfriend. Others are at a higher risk because of their age.

Whether teachers will turn up is a matter for their bosses, says the Mirror.

Downing Street suggested that teachers and other staff who refuse to turn up in schools over safety concerns will be a matter for heads to sort out.
Asked whether they would be deemed to be in breach of their terms of employment, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “Head teachers I’m sure will be having conversations with their own staff in the usual way.

Test & trace

Now we know the real reason ‘test & trace’ didn’t take off.  The Telegraph explains.

Britain’s disastrous decision to abandon testing for coronavirus occurred because health systems could only cope with five cases a week, official documents show.
Newly-released papers from the Scientific Advisory Group on Emergencies shows routine testing and tracing of contacts was stopped because Public Health England’s systems were struggling to deal with a handful of cases.
At a meeting on Feb 18, advisors said PHE could only cope with testing and tracing contacts of five Covid-19 cases a week, with modelling suggesting it might only be possible to increase this to 50 cases.

ITV News also has the story.

Widespread testing and contact tracing of coronavirus patients was stopped after it was revealed Public Health England only had the capacity to deal with five people a week.
Contact tracing – which aims to cut off routes of transmission for the virus and control local flare-ups – was used in the early stages of the crisis when the number of cases was lower but appeared to have been abandoned as a strategy in March.

Fraud

But the new ‘test & trace’ programme is under threat says the Telegraph.

The new NHS test and trace programme is being undermined by hackers sending out phishing scams falsely warning the public they may have Covid-19.
Public Health England have warned potential contacts to check suspicious messages against the Government website after a flurry of reports of Britons being falsely informed they may have coronavirus.
Several public health directors have called for all forms of communication from contact tracers to involve two-step verification to eradicate the risk of scammers gaining confidential information.

A levels

The assessments of A-levels could be inaccurate, says the Times.

One in five A-level grades awarded to teenagers this summer could be inaccurate, according to modelling for the exams regulator Ofqual.
Academics fear this year’s emergency marking system, which uses teacher assessment after exams were cancelled because of the coronavirus, will favour “conformist” pupils and penalise “mavericks”, who do better when they sit exams than teachers predict.
Under the arrangements, teachers will rank pupils in order of merit and award grades based on school tests and assignments. The scores will then be “standardised” by exam boards, using schools’ previous results to adjust grading that is too generous or too strict.

Sport

Some sports will restart tomorrow, says ITV News.

Competitive sport in England can resume from Monday under strict coronavirus safety guidance, the government has announced.
Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden has outlined the “strict conditions” for the return of domestic competitions, to be played behind closed doors without spectators.
Making the announcement at the government’s daily coronavirus briefing on Saturday, the minister said: “Live British sport will shortly be back on in safe and carefully controlled environments.”

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