Blog: Boris Johnson pushes Brexit talks beyond EU summit – follow live – The Independent

Boris Johnson will speak to Ursula von der Leyen

Boris Johnson has signalled he will not walk away from Brexit trade talks this week, despite the passing of his deadline for the “outline” of a deal. It comes as the PM is set to discuss the state of play with European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen on Wednesday. 

Downing Street is said to be encouraged by Angela Merkel’s latest remarks. The German chancellor suggested the EU would have to be more “realistic” in compromising on fishing rights, saying a deal had to be “in British interests as well as the interests of the 27-member EU”.

Meanwhile, Mr Johnson is under pressure over coronavirus curbs. Sir Keir Starmer has called for a full “circuit breaker” lockdown in England of at least two weeks – a move the PM is reportedly now considering ahead of the half-term holiday.

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Arts groups forced to back government campaign on social media

Cash-strapped arts organisations are required to back a government campaign in order to access much needed rescue grants.

Confidential documents – seen by The Independent – show groups were told that in receiving the Culture Recovery Fund cash they had agreed to credit and mention the government’s ‘Here for Culture’ campaign on social media.

One recipient lashed out at ministers, saying it was “somewhat galling to be forced to essentially thank the government for funds to bail us out of the situation they have put us into”.

Demand described as “galling”

Adam Forrest14 October 2020 11:01

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Boris Johnson to continue Brexit talks after deadline expires

No 10 has signalled it is willing to drop the mid-October deadline for the “outline” of a Brexit trade deal – as Boris Johnson accepts negotiations will have to continue after the 15-16 October EU leaders’ summit.

The EU’s chief negotiator David Frost is expected to advise the prime minister to stay in talks – and tell him it will be difficult but not impossible to get an agreement.

It’s confirmation of what EU negotiator Michel Barnier has been telling officials in Brussels over the past week. Many Brexit-watchers have been predicting early November would be the “landing zone” for a deal – if sufficient compromises can be reached.

David Frost to tell PM it will be difficult but not impossible to get agreement

Adam Forrest14 October 2020 10:40

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Northern Ireland set for circuit-breaker lockdown

Will Boris Johnson have his hand forced on a second lockdown? We’ve heard from the Welsh first minister saying Wales is now “actively” preparing for one.  

Now Northern Ireland is set for a short “circuit breaker” – including a two-week closure of schools and four-week closure of pubs. An official announcement is expected from the Northern Ireland Assembly this morning.

‘We know this is hard and that people will be worried about their livelihoods’

Adam Forrest14 October 2020 10:27

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Manchester won’t accept Tier 3 status, vows Labour mayor

Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham said the government “has not discussed” whether his area will be moved into Tier 3 status later today.

“Instead, the pressure is being piled on via media briefings,” he tweeted. “Later today I will set out why the current Tier 3 proposal is fundamentally flawed and why we won’t accept it.”

Adam Forrest14 October 2020 10:18

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Wales ‘actively preparing’ for lockdown, says first minister

The Welsh government is “very actively talking about and preparing for” a circuit-breaker lockdown in Wales, first minister Mark Drakeford has said.

He told Sky News that “detailed planning” was under way to establish what measures would be put in place during a circuit-breaker, how long it would last for, how schools would be treated – and how to come out of it.

He said comments by cabinet minister Therese Coffey about a circuit-breaker not being the right move “fly in the face of the advice of Sage … I don’t think it is sensible for the UK government to dismiss that idea.”

Coffey told Sky News: “I do not believe the prime minister wants to set off on a national lockdown.”

Adam Forrest14 October 2020 10:13

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Circuit-breaker would save thousands of lives, say government’s scientists

Some interesting reading for Boris Johnson this morning. A new paper by Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) member Graham Medley and Matt Keeling (who also advises the government) backs the idea of a “circuit breaker” lockdown.  

They say thousands of lives would be saved if there are two weeks of lockdown restrictions in England from 24 October to 7 November (roughly the dates No 10 is said to be considering).

Their paper shows that a full lockdown, with stay-at-home orders and the closures of schools, could cut deaths for the rest of the 2020 from around 19,900 to 12,100.

Meanwhile, Sage member Andrew Hayward said it was “very disappointing” No 10 ignored advisers’ call in September for something akin to full lockdown. He said even Tier 3 restrictions wouldn’t be enough to stop cases rising.

Adam Forrest14 October 2020 10:12

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Dominic Cummings and family ‘avoid huge council tax bill’

Dominic Cummings and his family are liable for council tax on two properties built at his family’s farm in the northeast of England – but backdated charges that reportedly could have amounted to tens of thousands of pounds will not apply.  

Officials have concluded that charges for the buildings, on the outskirts of Durham, should start from this month rather than from when both properties were built, without planning permission.

The Northern Echo, which first reported the story, said council tax would be paid on Cummings’ band A cottage, and his sister’s band C family home from 4 October.  

The paper claimed the amount written off could total up to £50,000. The Valuation Office Agency refused to comment on individual cases when approached by The Independent.

Report says charges for two buildings on Durham farm won’t apply retrospectively

Adam Forrest14 October 2020 10:08

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Merkel suggests EU will have to be ‘realistic’ on fishing rights

UK government figures are said to be encouraged by Angela Merkel’s latest remarks. The German chancellor suggested the EU would have to be more “realistic” in compromising on fishing rights.

“We also have to take into account the reality [that] an agreement has to be in the interests of both parties, in British interests as well as the interests of the 27-member EU,” Merkel said.  

Was it a message to French president Emmanuel Macron? French ministers have been particularly insistent that EU fisherman retain the same access to British waters as part of any free trade agreement.

The respected Brexit commentator Mujtaba Rahman says Merkel and Macron are at odds over the final negotiations. The German leader favours a “polite, civilized and constructive process” while the French president is keen to play hardball, he writes in his latest column for Politico.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel(AP)

Adam Forrest14 October 2020 10:03

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Johnson ‘considering two-week circuit breaker for England’

Sir Keir Starmer appears to have calculated that the prime minister will have to impose a short lockdown, so it would be better to get ahead of it now. According to The Telegraph, the calculation is correct.

Boris Johnson is said to be considering a two-week circuit breaker if the new, three-tier measures aren’t effective, and will decide at the end of next week on whether a national lockdown for England is needed.

One senior Tory source told the newspaper the chances of a circuit breaker in the weeks ahead were “at least 80 per cent … If the numbers keep going up there will have to be a circuit breaker.”

PM said to be considering lockdown(Pool/AFP via Getty Images)

Adam Forrest14 October 2020 10:02

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Labour defends ‘foresighted’ Starmer’s lockdown call

Sir Keir Starmer has shattered the uneasy political consensus over coronavirus – calling for a full “circuit breaker” lockdown in England of two to three weeks.  Addressing Boris Johnson directly, he said: “You can’t keep delaying this – act now, break the cycle.”  

His deputy Angela Rayner dismissed Tory claims of “Captain Hindsight”, stating: “We’re not Captain Hindsight at all, we’ve had plenty of foresight – we’ve just seen a huge amount of incompetence from the government.”

Shadow Cabinet Office minister Rachel Reeves denied the idea he was “playing games” with his support for a circuit-breaker. “Keir Starmer is showing real leadership and following the science. It is a shame the government is not doing that,” she said on Wednesday morning.

“It is not too late for them to change course, it is not too late for them to do that. We urge them, plead with them, to do that.”

Adam Forrest14 October 2020 10:00

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