Brexit

The negotiations continue, reports the Guardian.

The Brexit negotiations remained stuck after a call between Boris Johnson and Ursula von der Leyen before a decisive week of talks.
The European commission president and the prime minister both highlighted in their post-call statements the contentious issues of EU access to British waters and agreement on future rules to ensure fair competition.
Von der Leyen tweeted that “some progress has been made, but large differences remain” with just over a week remaining before the UK and EU parliaments need to begin ratification of a trade and security deal.
A statement from Downing Street emphasised the need to “redouble efforts” when the two sides, led by the EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, and his British counterpart, David Frost, re-engage on Monday.
A Downing Street spokesman said after Saturday’s call: “The prime minister set out that, while some progress had been made in recent discussions, significant differences remain in a number of areas, including the so-called level playing field and fish.

And no. 10 has issued a warning to ‘get real’, says the Sun.

BRUSSELS was warned last night to take a reality check if they want to strike a Brexit trade deal.
The EU was urged by No10 to rip up their current negotiating positions to get an agreement over the line.
The wake-up call came as Boris Johnson held talks with European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen.
They agreed trade teams will “redouble efforts” to get a deal and talks will restart tomorrow, No 10 said.
A ­Government source said: “Unfortunately we haven’t achieved as much as we’d hoped. We need more realism from the EU.”
Progress has been made on law enforcement, transport and social security in recent weeks.
But UK sources feel the EU position on fisheries is unreasonable and Brussels is attempting to impose rules “through the back door” on state aid.

Even BBC News reports the differences.

“Significant differences” between the UK and the EU remain, as negotiations for a post-Brexit trade deal continue, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said
Following a call with EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Saturday, the PM said progress had been made but there were still issues around the “level playing field” and fishing.
Both parties agreed negotiating teams would resume talks in London on Monday.
They also agreed to remain “in close contact” over the coming days.
A statement from Downing Street on Saturday said: “Prime Minister Boris Johnson today spoke with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen for a stock take on the progress in the negotiations between the UK and the EU.

EU

Even the Frenchman has been given a warning, says the Telegraph.

European car and food manufacturers have warned Michel Barnier that his proposals for policing trade between the EU and the UK could damage companies on both sides of the Channel.
Major trade bodies are urging the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator to soften demands that would see tariffs placed on many vehicles and food items because the proportion of parts or ingredients obtained from abroad exceeds certain thresholds.
The move came as a Government source warned that ongoing intensive talks had failed to yield “as much as we’d hoped” so far, warning that the EU “can’t expect us to agree to a treaty under which we can’t move away from EU norms in important areas”.

Fisheries

Our fish are still being demanded, says the Express.

EU foot dragging means that a post Brexit trade deal is still in danger of not happening sources in the UK negotiating team have warned. The new concerns come as Boris Johnson today held talks with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyan to “take stock” of where the negotiations have reached.
A senior British source has said that a deal is now possible and the two sides are in a position to start writing the text for a treaty. However, the EU’s continued demands on access to British fishing waters and so called level playing field provisions is imperilling the talks.
Meanwhile, Mr Johnson is under new pressure from Brexiteers including senior Tory MPs not to surrender to EU demands with a new checklist produced to see if any deal meets the standards required by campaigners. Following, the discussion between the Prime Minister and Ms von der Leyan, yesterday, a Downing Street spokesman said: “The Prime Minister set out that, while some progress had been made in recent discussions, significant differences remain in a number of areas, including the so-called level playing field and fish.

Europe

Perhaps mini-Manny is starting to wake up to terror attacks, says the Express.

EMMANUEL MACRON has led calls for a reform to freedom of movement rules in wake of the recent terror attacks that sparked chaos across the European Union.
The French president has already ramped up border controls in France and warned the EU’s Schengen area, which allows free movement across borders, may need to change. The country triggered its highest security alert after two terror attacks took place in less than a month.
The first attack took the life of teacher Samuel Paty, who was beheaded for showing cartoons of Prophet Muhammad to his students.
The second incident, a knife attack that killed three people, took place at a church in Niece last week.

And Breitbart also reports the calls for another look at migration.

French president Emmanuel Macron has called for an overhaul of the European Union’s internal border agreement after noting that terrorists have used migration flows.
The French leader said he would be proposing to the European Council next month an overhaul to the EU’s Schengen agreement, including “greater control” within the political bloc.
President Macron also stated that he would be doubling the number of police and customs staff manning France’s own borders from 2,400 to 4,800 to fight against illegal migration as well as terrorist threats to his country, France Info reports.

Covid is hitting the bloc hard, says the Express.

PROTESTS have erupted in Germany over coronavirus restrictions after the country entered a new lockdown this week.
Huge crowds took to the streets in Leipzig for the protest against coronavirus curbs. Demonstrators threw firecrackers as they clashed with police in chaotic scenes.
German journalist Martin Heller warned police had lost control of the rally.
He tweeted: “Firecrackers on police officers. Corona demonstrators drive the security forces on the ring in front of them. Loss of control.”
In a later tweet, he added: “The moment the police withdraw, Corona protesters force unauthorized march across the ring in #Leipzig.”

House of Lords

Peers are being obstreperous again says the Express.

FREEDOM of movement with the European Union could still continue after the end of the transition period next year if members of the House of Lords block vital immigration legislation next week.
Sources close to Home Secretary Priti Patel say “there is a real danger” that Remainer peers block the immigration bill for a third time on Monday. The move would be almost unprecedented because the unelected Lords usually allows government legislation which was in an election manifesto to pass after its amendments are initially rejected or accepted. But it is understood that peers, who are overwhelmingly anti-Brexit, are using amendments on asylum put forward by Lord Dubs as an excuse to hold up the legislation.
In a sign of the anguish in government circles about the “political games” being played by peers, Home Office source said that if Lords move to block the bill again the Home Secretary “will go tonto”.

Lockdown

Boris is cross about a leak last week and is taking action, says the Mail.

Boris Johnson sent security experts to the homes of Cabinet Ministers to examine their personal mobile phones as part of a major leak inquiry.
Senior figures, including Matt Hancock and Michael Gove, were told to surrender their phones as No10 hunted for the mole whose secret briefings forced the Prime Minister to make an early announcement of the new lockdown.
In the bid to unmask the ‘chatty rat’, as Government sources have dubbed in the Cabinet.
The Ministers’ personal messages were examined under the investigation, ordered by a furious Mr Johnson after he was rushed into announcing the English lockdown at a hastily convened press conference last Saturday.
Hawks believe that pro-lockdown ‘doves’ leaked details of the so-called ‘quad’ meeting of Johnson, Sunak, Gove and Hancock the previous day to stop the Prime Minister from watering down the shutdown plans.

Phones are being seized, says the Sun.

BORIS Johnson ordered security experts to visit Cabinet Ministers at home to examine their phones as part of a leak inquiry.
The hunt is on for the mole who leaked secret briefings to the media which forced the Prime Minister to make an early announcement about the introduction of a second coronavirus lockdown.
Senior figures including the Health Secretary Matt Hancock and Michael Gove, the Cabinet Office Minister, have been ordered to surrender their personal mobiles, in a bid to reveal the person who has been dubbed the “chatty rat”.
Last night, Mr Hancock categorically denied any involvement in the leak, but declined to comment on the investigation.

And the SAGE group must be challenged over its advice, says the Express.

The Treasury must form its own advisory group to counterbalance to the “COVID-19 only” approach of SAGE, experts say.
England was placed into lockdown following advice from the government’s scientific advisors, despite warnings that the move would lead to mass unemployment and huge economic damage.
Much of the data relied on by SAGE, including the ‘4000 a day’ death figures, has been challenged, with experts saying too much weight was being given to the doomsday scenarios.
One accused the group of using “eye-wateringly wrong modelling data to inform government policy” akin to “crystal ball gazing.”

Second wave

We know the ‘official’ data are being questioned.  The Telegraph says it’s simply not true

Official data is “exaggerating” the current risk posed by Covid-19, a coalition of almost 500 senior doctors and scientists warned on Saturday, claiming talk of a second wave is “misleading”.
In a joint letter to Boris Johnson, the medics and academics say the Government’s approach to the pandemic has become “disproportionate” and is “causing more harm than good”.
They warn that mass testing is “distorting the current risk” from the virus, with tests likely to be producing high numbers of “false positive” results and providing a poor indication of whether someone is infectious, and say the Government must do more to place increasing infection and deaths “in the context of the normal seasonal illness/death rate”.

The Mail calls the risk ‘exaggerated’.

Official data is ‘exaggerating’ the risk of Covid-19 and talk of a second wave is ‘misleading’, nearly 500 academics told Boris Johnson in open letter attacking lockdown.
The doctors and scientists said the Government’s response to the coronavirus  pandemic has become ‘disproportionate’ and that mass testing has distorted the risk of the virus.
They said tests are likely to be producing high numbers of ‘false positive’ results and the Government must do more to put infection and death rates within the context of normal seasonal rates.
The letter criticised the Government’s handling of coronavirus for ‘causing more harm than good’.
It comes after the UK yesterday confirmed a further 24,957 positive Covid tests, up just 13.9 per cent on last week’s total.
Top scientists suggested the UK’s second wave of coronavirus has already peaked.

Hospital acquired infections

And it seems that a good percentage of patients actually caught the bug in hospital, says the Mail.

Thousands of Britons died of Covid-19 after catching it in hospital – as experts warn the virus is now being spread by NHS staff, a Mail on Sunday investigation has found.
During the first wave of the pandemic, patients who went into hospital to be treated for conditions unrelated to Covid were infected while on a non-Covid ward and then died.
Hospital-acquired infections accounted for at least one in ten Covid deaths during the first wave, according to data released to this newspaper under the Freedom of Information Act.
But rates vary widely. At the Countess of Chester Hospital in Chester, 88 out of 231 Covid-19 deaths were hospital acquired – nearly 40 per cent of all the Trust’s Covid-19 deaths. And in Bristol and Weston, of 151 Covid-19 deaths, 51 of were linked to hospital-acquired infections, a third of all Covid-19 deaths at the Trust.

Vaccine

The pressure to approve a vaccine is ‘worrying’ says the Telegraph.

The Government is piling “worrying” political pressure on scientists on the Joint Committee on Vaccination (JCVI) and Immunisation to endorse a Covid vaccine before Christmas, The Telegraph has learned.
Political figures have made it clear to individuals on the committee that Boris Johnson would like them to recommend a vaccine programme quickly so that he can offer it as “a Christmas present to the nation”.
A source said: “It’s done with nods and winks, as these things are – but they are in no doubt. The Prime Minister wants to be able to make an announcement just before Christmas – here is my present to the nation of the vaccine – even if the vaccinations aren’t going to happen until the New Year.”
However, scientists on the JCVI are concerned that trying to meet that deadline could compromise the safety of the vaccination programme and are determined that the process is not rushed.

Vitamin D

A simple solution could be additional vitamins, says the Mail.

Millions of vulnerable people will be sent supplies of Vitamin D by the Government as evidence grows that it helps in the battle against Covid-19 infection.
Care-home residents and people shielding because they suffer from conditions such as cancer will be sent enough supplies of the vitamin to last four months, with the first packages due to arrive early next month.
The move comes after Health Secretary Matt Hancock decided he had to act fast in light of the emerging evidence about the benefits of Vitamin D.
One recent study found that more than 80 per cent of Covid-19 victims admitted to hospital were Vitamin D deficient, compared with a UK average of 25 per cent.
Ministers are hoping that greater uptake of the vitamin, along with more effective drug treatments and a viable vaccine, will combine to remove the need for an endless series of rolling lockdowns.
A senior Government source said that direct delivery to people’s doorsteps in England would ‘help prevent Vitamin D deficiency and maintain normal calcium levels in the blood and keep bones and muscles healthy’.

US election

Joe’s won – for the moment, says the Telegraph.

Joe Biden was declared the winner of the US presidential election on Saturday, confining Donald Trump to only a single term and bringing to a close four tumultuous years in the White House.
The Democratic presidential nominee became the president-elect on Saturday morning when US media outlets concluded that he had won the state of Pennsylvania and therefore the election. His running mate, Kamala Harris, became the first woman to be elected vice president in the country’s history.
Within minutes of the news breaking, scenes of wild celebration were seen on city streets across America, with vast crowds gathering, honking car horns and waving US flags.
Mr Biden said in a statement that he was “honoured and humbled” and issued a unifying message as his focus turned to the Oval Office.
“With the campaign over, it’s time to put the anger and the harsh rhetoric behind us and come together as a nation,” he said. “It’s time for America to unite and to heal. We are the United States of America, and there’s nothing we can’t do if we do it together.”
However Mr Trump, who was golfing when the declaration was made, refused to concede, instead issuing a statement vowing to fight on through the courts.

He called for unity, reports the Mail.

Joe Biden proclaimed his victory over Donald Trump as he addressed the nation for the first time since the election was called in his favor on Saturday night saying: ‘The people have delivered us a clear victory.’
The 77-year-old president-elect took to the stage in Wilmington, Delaware after being introduced by Kamala Harris, his vice-president elect, to cheers from a crowd who had driven in to hear him.
Biden called on Americans to come together after the election, making an appeal to Trump voters and offering a message of hope and sympathy to those who have suffered from the coronavirus pandemic and its resulting affect on the economy.
Two hours after Biden spoke, there began to be signs of movement in the White House, as CNN reported that Jared Kushner had told his father-in-law it was time to concede, ending speculation about who would have to tell the president that it was time to end tweet after tweet of denial and defiance and let the peaceful transition of power begin.

And he promised to be a president for all Americans, reports the Sun.

JOE Biden vowed to “unify” and “restore the soul” of the nation in a victory speech on Saturday night aimed at healing divisions.
The Democrat, 77, called for an end to “this grim era of demonization” and reached out to Trump supporters, saying: “Let’s give each other a chance.”
“I pledge to be a president who does not seek to divide, but unify,” Biden said. “Who doesn’t see red states and blue states, but United States.”
Speaking directly to Trump supporters, the president-elect said: “I understand the disappointment tonight. I’ve lost a couple of times myself. But now let’s give each other a chance.
“It’s time to put away the harsh rhetoric, lower the temperature, see each other again, listen to each other again.”

The Times says his speech was a good one.

He has waited 48 years for this moment, and last night President-Elect Joe Biden gave the best speech of his long career in politics.
After several days of agonising political stalemate ended in victory yesterday, Biden was heartfelt, jubilant and determined.
“Folks! The people of this nation have spoken. They have delivered a clear victory,” he told a crowd of honking cars at a rally in his home town of Wilmington, Delaware, after entering to We Take Care of Our Own by Bruce Springsteen.
“I am humbled by the trust and confidence you place in me,” he said. “I pledge to be a president who seeks not to divide but unify.”

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