Brexit

Following the telecon between Boris and Ursula yesterday afternoon, the Guardian has announced an extension to the talks – again!

Boris Johnson and Ursula von der Leyen have approved a further month of Brexit negotiations after agreeing that enough progress has been made to justify a last push to reach a deal on trade and security.
The EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, will travel to London this week for talks with his British counterpart, David Frost, and the two sides will then hold follow-up talks in Brussels the week after.
The fresh rounds were agreed after a phone call on Saturday afternoon between the British prime minister and European commission president. EU sources said the conversation was “not a game-changer” but not “unhelpful”, with both sides showing resolve to find “landing zones” on the most difficult areas.
Before the new rounds of negotiation, Barnier will visit the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, in Berlin on Monday. Merkel had suggested on Friday that the EU would show fresh flexibility.
In a joint statement following their call, Johnson and Von der Leyen said they had identified reasons for hope that common ground on the most contentious issues could be found. They called on their teams to intensify negotiations in the coming weeks.

The Independent is downbeat about the talks.

The spectre of a no-deal Brexit has come a step closer after Boris Johnson ended one-on-one talks with the president of the European Commission without any breakthrough in the search for a free trade agreement.
The prime minister and Ursula von der Leyen have instructed chief negotiators David Frost and Michel Barnier to “work intensively” to bridge “significant” remaining differences on fisheries, governance and the level playing field on standards demanded by Brussels.
But a joint statement released after the phone discussion appeared to signal awareness on both sides that a deal may not be achievable, saying that they regard it as important to get an agreement “if at all possible”.

Of course, it’s entirely Boris’ fault, says the Mirror.

Britain lurched closer to a no-deal Brexit yesterday after Boris Johnson failed to break the deadlock in crunch talks with EU boss Ursula von der Leyen.
The PM video-called the EU Commission President in the hope the meeting would unblock stalled negotiations.
But afterwards a No10 spokesman said: “Significant gaps remained.
“They instructed their chief negotiators to work intensively to try to bridge those gaps.”

And yet the Times still maintains that there’s just 11 days to find a solution.

Boris Johnson set a deadline of October 15 to secure a Brexit deal with Brussels yesterday as the two sides agreed to 11 days of “intensified” talks to finalise an agreement.
In a phone call with Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, the prime minister made clear that the UK will leave without a deal unless it looks like one is all but completed by October 15. With talks beginning tomorrow, he warned: “Time is very short.” He intervened amid concern in Downing Street that the EU may try to run out the clock on talks until Britain goes cap in hand to them.

Sky News is one of the media which reports the phrase ‘significant gaps’.

“Significant gaps remain” between the UK and the EU as Brexit negotiations continue, the European Commission’s president said, but talks will continue in an attempt to strike a deal.
On Twitter, Ursula von der Leyen said she has had a “good phone call” with Boris Johnson, during which they discussed how negotiations have been progressing so far.
The pair spoke via video conference and said afterwards they have told their chief negotiators to continue to push “intensively” to strike a post-Brexit trade agreement.

ITV News highlights the phrase too.

“Significant gaps” still stand in the way of a  Brexit deal, the EU and UK have confirmed in a joint statement, but they’ve agreed to “work intensively” to resolve their differences.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen spoke via video conference on Saturday as negotiations reach a critical point with less than two weeks remaining before the agreed mid-October deadline.
The joint statement revealed gaps still remain “notably but not only” in the areas of fisheries, the level playing field, and governance.

But the Express is far more upbeat.

BRITAIN will be able to trade its way to recovery from the economic crisis caused by coronavirus thanks to the deals opening up to the country as a result of leaving the EU.
In an exclusive interview with the Sunday Express, international trade secretary Liz Truss said there is every reason to be optimistic about the UK’s long term future with countries lining up to make agreements.
Hot from agreeing a deal with Japan which will boost trade by £15.2 billion, Ms Truss said that another blockbuster deal is “just months away” with Australia while significant progress has been made with the USA and New Zealand.
Significantly, the UK is on the verge of joining one of the world’s biggest trade blocs, the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) – one of the fastest economic growth areas in the world – thanks to the agreement with Japan.
Other rollover deals from the EU in the pipeline include ones with Canada, Vietnam and Singapore.

Fisheries

Once we get our fishing waters back, the industry will boom, says the Express.

UK fisheries could see a £6.5 billion boost once Brexit trade talks with the European Union have concluded and the UK regains full control of British waters.
The future of UK fisheries have been a hotly-debated point of contention in the Brexit negotiations between the United Kingdom and the European Union. The bloc has sought to maintain access to British waters in the aftermath of withdrawal while the UK Government demanded they relinquish full control back to Britain. Paul Lines, the chairman of the Lowestoft Fishing Alliance, told Un-locked Brexit is an opportunity for fisheries to get a £6.5 billion boost after years of “demise.”

The Express also report a warning that the industry must not be sold out.

BORIS JOHNSON has been warned not to sell-out Britain’s fisheries in a last-minute “surrender deal” to Brussels, ahead of his crunch talk with EU chief Ursula von der Leyen.
British fisheries have sent Boris Johnson a dire warning, saying that the proposed UK compromise on fishing would kill off the industry. Earlier this week, it was revealed that Britain had offered a three-year transition period for European fishing fleets to allow them to prepare for the post-Brexit changes in a last-minute concession. Fishing chiefs have reacted furiously to this “sell-out” deal, and warned that there will not be “an industry left to save” after a three-year transition period.

Migrants

More tough talk from the Home Secretary is reported in the Independent.

Priti Patel is to brand the UK’s asylum system “broken” and promise the biggest overhaul in decades in a speech to Conservative conference, sparking alarm among refugee charities and immigration lawyers.
Speaking to the online conference on Sunday, Ms Patel will promise to take “every necessary step to fix this broken system” and deliver a “firm and fair” alternative.
Although details of her plans are sketchy, the home secretary is expected to promise to put a halt to illegal migrants making “endless” claims to remain in the UK.
And she will pledge to make more immediate returns of people who arrive in the UK with no valid claim for protection and to use the “full force” of intelligence and crime agencies to hunt down smuggling gangs such as those assisting Channel crossings in small boats.

Sky News says the new system will be ‘firm and fair’.

The home secretary will promise an asylum system that is “firm and fair” when she speaks at the Conservative Party conference later.
Priti Patel will present a system that would see the government routinely denying asylum to migrants who cross the English Channel on boats or via other “illegal routes”.
This would include migrants who pay criminal gangs or smugglers to help them reach the UK but “legal routes” would be created for those at risk of harm, she has promised.

The Sun claims she said the system is broken.

PRITI Patel will declare Britain’s asylum system is “fundamentally broken” — and launch the biggest overhaul in decades.
The Home Secretary will target criminal gangs, illegal migrants and unscrupulous lawyers who are failing genuine refugees and costing taxpayers £1billion a year.
She will vow to end years of inaction by successive governments and create a new structure that is both firm and fair.
Ms Patel will unveil a wide- ranging action plan after a year in which over 5,000 migrants have crossed the Channel in dinghies to enter Britain illegally.
In a keynote speech, she will say: “A fair asylum system should provide safe haven to those fleeing persecution, oppression or tyranny. But ours doesn’t.

And if foreigners arrive illegally they will automatically be denied asylum says the Telegraph.

Migrants who board boats to cross the Channel or come to Britain via other illegal routes will be routinely denied asylum under new laws to be unveiled today by Priti Patel, the home secretary.
In a major shake-up of asylum rules, the government plans a two-tier system where migrants are treated differently if they pay criminal gangs to help them come to Britain. Patel says it is “morally indefensible” that people paying traffickers “elbow” aside genuine asylum seekers.
The home secretary will unveil a six-point plan that will be outlined in a “fair borders bill” to be published next year.

Foreign aid

More of our money is to be spent here, reports the Independent.

The UK’s humanitarian aid spending may be slashed for a second time this year, the Treasury has signalled.
Aid agencies urged ministers not to cut the budget, saying this could have a damaging effect on healthcare, water, sanitation, education and food availability across the poorest countries.
Rishi Sunak in July announced a £2.9bn cut to the aid budget, justifying the move by saying the UK economy had shrunk. The chancellor said the promise of spending 0.7 per cent of gross national income on international aid could be met with a smaller contribution.
Ministers now say they are prepared to cut development spending further if the economy performs even worse than expected.

EU

Our food standards will have to be met by the EU if it wants to trade with us, says the Express.

THE EU has been warned that it will have to meet Britain’s high food standards to be allowed to sell in the UK after the end of transition.
The warning from international trade secretary Liz Truss came as new concerns over EU standards have been highlighted by meat inspectors.
They have warned that a decision by Brussels to downgrade inspections of pork could allow tuberculosis into the food chain.
Speaking exclusively to the Sunday Express, Ms Truss also agreed that critics of US food standards trying to block a free trade deal with America are guilty of “double standards” by ignoring dubious practices in the EU.

And elsewhere in the EU, the Morning Star reports a law to be brought into France.

FRENCH President Emmanuel Macron yesterday outlined laws against “separatism” that critics say stigmatise the country’s nearly five million Muslims.
Mr Macron has called for a “French Islam” that ensures mosques and imams adhere to the republic’s values, notably secularism, though it is unclear whether this would extend to discussions of France’s imperialist history or foreign policy.
The proposed laws include controversial elements such as French funding for Islamic organisations aimed at replacing funds from abroad, with Saudi Arabia accused of funding mosques and using them to spread its highly intolerant Salafist ideology.
Because details contradict a 1905 law separating church and state, this will need to be modified.

Civil service

A government minister has slammed his ‘Sir Humpreys’, reports the Telegraph.

The civil service is “broken” and suffering from a “desperate shortage of practical skills”, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s minister for Whitehall reform has declared.
In the clearest public signal of intent yet of the Government’s plans for a radical overhaul the system, Lord Agnew described Whitehall as “the most overcentralised bureaucracy in the Western world”, in which the “overwhelming majority” of civil servants were “urban metropolitan thinkers”.
His intervention came as Michael Gove, who oversees Lord Agnew’s work at the Cabinet Office, warned that too many Government jobs were based in Whitehall, adding: “I think we need some of the big Government departments and the big decision makers not in London but closer to where the action is in the North West, the West Midlands, Teesside and Tyneside.”

Queen’s speech

With the Queen getting ready for the State Opening of Parliament (maybe!), a senior politician has asked for suggestions for bills to come before the House, reports the Guardian.

The Commons leader, Jacob Rees-Mogg, has written to his cabinet colleagues calling for “bold and ambitious” bills for the upcoming Queen’s speech.
No 10 said it wanted to look “beyond” the Covid-19 pandemic and the prime minister would “not be blown off course” from delivering his manifesto commitments.
In his letter Rees-Mogg said it would be “important to be ready to make the most of the opportunities” after the transition period with the European Union ends on 31 December.

Electoral Commission

A power grab by the head of the commission has forced his withdrawal, says the Telegraph.

The chairman of the election watchdog is being forced to stand down after the body drew fury from the Conservatives over a botched attempt to hand itself powers to prosecute political parties.
Sir John Holmes is understood to have been told by MPs that he cannot continue in the role – after seeking to extend his four-year term beyond December.
The Electoral Commission is also now shelving plans to acquire powers to prosecute scores of criminal offences itself, rather than referring suspected breaches to the police and Crown ­Prosecution Service.

Tory conference

It’s just not happening, says the Independent.

The Conservative Party’s first virtual conference hit problems today as the website crashed for many activists and observers trying to log in to watch cabinet minister Michael Gove.
Internet viewers trying to watch the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster having a “fireside chat” with West Midlands mayor Andy Street were confronted with a Cloudflare gateway timeout message saying “conference.conservatives.com – Host Error”.
Party sources were not immediately aware of the cause of the problem, but it quickly generated complaints on social media from those trying to watch.

Testing

Should incoming travellers be tested?  The Telegraph reports:

The Government will make an announcement about airport testing “in the coming days”, a Treasury minister has said in the first key moment of the Conservative party conference today.
Steve Barclay, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, told Heathrow boss John Holland-Kaye airport testing was a “key priority” adding that Grant Shapps, the Transport Secretary, and Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary, to make an announcement on this “in the coming days”.
The aviation industry has long called for airport testing to be introduced as a way of reducing the amount of time people will have to spend in quarantine after arriving in the UK from one of the many counties on the “red list”.

And if you get a test, you could be in line for an Amazon voucher, reports the Sun.

BORIS Johnson is dishing out up to £170million of taxpayers’ cash on Amazon and other online store vouchers to coax people into Covid tests.
The Office for National Statistics announced 400,000 will be invited on to programmes to collate figures on the virus.
And each participant, picked in a random mail shot, will get a £50 voucher — rising to £425 for a 12-month stint.
They can be spent at 40 outlets including Amazon, Primark and John Lewis and TK Maxx.

NHS

Non-Covid patients may be able to get treatment if their trust or GP is willing to pay for it, says the Telegraph.

Individual NHS trusts and local GPs across the UK will be able to buy non-coronavirus check-ups, tests and operations at nearby private hospitals for the next four years, under a major new ‘pay as you go’ deal due to be unveiled within days.
The Telegraph understands the NHS is designing a £10 billion contract tender to give local trusts and clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) the flexibility to quickly make use of nearby private facilities and medics where they need help reducing local backlogs  and cope with a second wave of Covid-19 infections.
The new deal comes after the NHS block-booked the majority of private hospitals during the first wave of coronavirus to prevent the health service becoming overwhelmed.

Fines

The Mirror reports a poll saying fines should be increased.

Brits terrified of catching Covid want fines for rule breakers ­doubled to £20,000.
The stricter clampdown would be win the backing of six out of 10 people, says a survey for the Sunday Mirror.
Our poll also found 58 per cent favoured closing all pubs, bars and restaurants for two weeks and stopping households mixing indoors.
Half of people believe households should also not mix outdoors and 44 per cent would accept another unlimited national lockdown.

5G

A mast sale is being investigated by a mobile operator, says the Telegraph.

The mobile operator Three is exploring a sale of masts in a bid to cash in on the shift to 5G networks and spiralling valuations for telecoms infrastructure.
Industry sources said Three, which is owned by the Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing, was examining a move that could raise billions in cash and pave the way for a merger with a rival.
An array of potential buyers are said to be circling the process. They include Cellnex, a £24bn Madrid-listed giant.
Earlier this year, it completed a £2bn takeover of the mobile arm of Arqiva, making it Britain’s biggest independent mast provider, renting infrastructure to all four main mobile operators.

Teeth

Do you have a dental appointment?  The Times reports problems may take a long time to sort out.

Patients may have to wait until next year for dental treatment because 15 million appointments have been delayed by the coronavirus.
With restrictions still in place, some dentists can see only emergency cases and are not doing routine checkups. Many are carrying out only serious procedures on patients whose teeth have deteriorated from problems “stored up” for months during the lockdown.

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