European Union sources expect next week’s Brexit talks to be a round of “shadow boxing”, after the UK and Brussels made concessions in the previous set of negotiations. About 50 British officials are expected to travel to Belgium on Tuesday, despite the country being put on the URead More »
Prime minister says new measures will focus on rail links and pub closures. Boris Johnson has announced another election package costing hundreds of millions of pounds for neglected towns, some of which will be spent in marginal constituencies. Concentrating on rundown high streets, the closures of pubs and post offices and the restoration of rail links, the prime minister has claimed that the measures will build upon the £3.6bn towns fund first announced in July. Towns that have been singled out in the new measures include Cleveleys, near Blackpool, where the Conservatives are defending a majority of 2,023, and Willenhall in Walsall North, where they hope to improve on a 2,601 majority. Labour said last night the Conservatives were responsible for the destruction of the high streets they are now claiming they will help. Andrew Gwynne, the shadow communities secretary, said: “The Tories are destroying our high streets and towns. A decade of vicious cuts to the services that people in our communities rely on has taken 60p in every £1 from council budgets.” Johnson said a future Conservative government would extend the retail discount on business rates to 50% next year. For businesses with a rateable value of less than £51,000, this will mean an increase on the current retail discount of 33% in 2020-21. This would amount to “an effective £280m tax cut” for small businesses, the party claimed. A new £1,000 business rates relief for pubs would also be introduced under a Johnson majority government – an £18m tax cut for next year, it is claimed. The Conservatives said they would also introduce a £150m fund that will help groups trying to take over and run pubs and post offices threatened with closure. Following on from previous pledges to reverse rail cuts recommended by Dr Richard Beeching in the 1960s, Johnson has also pledged to set up a £500m Beeching Reversal fund. Towns such as Ashington, Seaton Delaval and Blyth, with a combined population of 100,000, will receive cash following a request from Northumberland council for £99m to reinstate stations, the Tories claimed. Willenhall and Darlaston in the West Midlands will receive £18m to reopen stations – a further £10m has already been provided by the government, the party said. Investment will also be provided to connect Skelmersdale to Liverpool and Manchester. A disused railway line will be funded to improve transport connections for Thornton-Cleveleys and Fleetwood. In a statement last night, Johnson said: “For too long, too many towns and villages across Britain have been overlooked and left behind. When the UK voted to leave the EU in 2016, many communities felt their voices had been heard for the first time in decades and that their lives would improve. “We will invest in these communities and help people put the heart back into the places they call home.” One organisation representing retailers said Johnson’s plans did not go far enough to revive the UK’s troubled shopping districts. Tom Ironside, director of business and regulation at the British Retail Consortium, said the majority of the UK’s 3 million retail workers were employed in businesses that would not benefit from today’s announcement. “It is essential that the next government scraps ‘downwards transition’, which costs retailers £1.3bn, freezes next year’s rates increase, and introduces an improvement relief to encourage investment in our high streets. “To ensure the long-term vitality of our town and city centres, the next government should follow the recommendations of the treasury select committee and commit to wholesale reform of our broken business rates system,” he said. The Conservatives have been accused of using public money to boost their election prospects after it emerged that funding from the towns fund was going to wealthier Tory marginals. An analysis by the Times found this week that a third of the 100 towns due to receive some of the £3.6bn pot were not among the 300 most deprived towns. These included Loughborough, which was won by Nicky Morgan, the culture secretary, at the last election, with a majority of around 4,000. Kirby was not on the list.
“This is a very bad and stupid and dangerous and criminal thing to do,” said Boris Johnson on Monday, in response to a spike in people crossing the Channel in small boats.The prime minister, speaking hours after 20 Syrians arrived on Kent shores in a dinghy, proceeded to state that people arriving on boats were able to remain in the country despite “blatantly coming here illegally”.
The head of the London hospital that serves Boris Johnson’s constituency today quit with immediate effect, a month after its staff were at the centre of a coronavirus outbreak.Sarah Tedford, who earned about £190,000 a year and had a NHS pension pot worth almost £1 million, tendered her resignation as chief executive of Hillingdon hospital, the trust said in a statement.
The Government was facing a growing backlash from Tory MPs today after its handling of A-levels was branded “extremely unfair” to individual pupils.Students have been left scrambling to appeal after 280,000 results assessed by teachers, in the absence of exams, were downgraded by a computer algorithm.
Boris Johnson was today being urged to help reopen Hammersmith bridge after its emergency closure to pedestrians and cyclists last night .The cast-iron bridge was already closed to vehicles but cracks in its ageing structure widened as a result of the heatwave – forcing Hammersmith and Fulham council to ban all crossings.
The mayor of Calais has said Boris Johnson must “calm down” over migrants crossing the English Channel in boats – urging the prime minister to change the UK government’s strategy and rhetoric.Natacha Bouchart, leader of the French coastal town from which many migrants have departed, condemned the UK government’s proposal to enlist the Royal Navy to stop boats reaching Britain.
People who repeatedly refuse to wear a face mask will be hit with increased fines of up to £3,200, Boris Johnson has said, as he announced England's lockdown measures will be further eased from Saturday.Organisers of illegal raves face £10,000 penalties under tougher new enforcement measures outlined alongside the latest loosening of the UK's coronavirus restrictions.
Hundreds of thousands of school leavers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland are receiving their A-level results, as ministers face pressure over a last-minute change to allow students to choose their mock exam results if they are unhappy with their grades.Exams this summer were cancelled due to the pandemic and students will receive estimated grades to help them progress into university, work or training.
Boris Johnson has insisted the exam results published today are "robust" and "dependable" amid mounting anger over downgrading methods.Many A-level students were left distraught after some 280,000 entries were downgraded from teacher assessments amid cancelled exams due to Covid-19.
The UK's chief Brexit negotiator said on Thursday that a free trade agreement with the European Union could be agreed in September, as Ireland's prime minister said a "landing zone" for the deal had emerged. British and EU officials meet in Brussels for the seventh round of trade talks next week after a fortnight break following five weeks of intensified negotiations. David Frost said: "Our assessment is that agreement can be reached in September, and we will work to achieve this if we can." Michel Barnier, the EU's chief negotiator, has set an end of October deadline for the trade deal to be finalised, which is supported by influential member states such as Germany. Ireland's Taoiseach, Micheál Martin, met Boris Johnson for talks on Thursday in Hillsborough, Northern Ireland (see video below). He said both sides knew that they needed to avoid the economic shock of a no trade deal Brexit after the coronavirus crisis. If a trade deal is not agreed by the end of the year, the EU and UK will trade on far less lucrative WTO terms. "Where there's a will, there's a way," he said. "It seems to me that there is a landing zone if that will is there on both sides, and I think it is."
Boris Johnson has shrugged off protests that the A-levels process has been a fiasco, describing the results as “robust” and “dependable”.Despite growing anger among pupils and teachers, the prime minister also insisted he had full confidence Gavin Williamson, the under-fire education secretary.
Once again, we must be thankful to Nigel Farage, this time for spotting what he called a “shocking invasion”.William the Conqueror was bad enough, but this is more severe, involving a vast flotilla of a rubber dinghy and a force of an estimated seven people, making clear their intent to subdue our population with their blood-curdling warrior cry: “We are so tired, hungry, and very thirsty. My son has not eaten for five days.”
It’s traditional in business and diplomacy for negotiators to bring their opposite numbers a token gift.Unilever has a lovely trick of presenting a jar of Marmite with the deal-maker’s name on the label.
Conservative MPs are putting pressure on Boris Johnson to beef up his much-criticised plans for the climate emergency, including an earlier ban on fossil fuel cars.They should be outlawed from 2030, the One Nation group of 100 moderate Tories says – not 2035, as intended – to meet the recommendation of the government’s own climate advisers.
Boris Johnson won't get his 'golden age of cycling' while the roads feel unsafe. Instead of spending £27bn on new roads, let’s make existing ones better for the two-thirds of people too scared to cycle
The government has failed to offer transparency and clarity to parliament and public about a major defence review which Downing Street itself has described as “the most comprehensive since the end of the Cold War”, a Commons report has charged.The MPs also accused No 10 of not disclosing who exactly was in charge of the Integrated Review, and of seemingly shutting out those previously involved in forming defence policy, outside analysts and stakeholders from the process.
Coronavirus latest news: Government launches trial of new contact tracing app after failure of original Almost 40 per cent of A-level results downgraded as Government under pressure to U-turn Gavin Williamson: The system for determining A-level results in England is both robust and fair UK not 'match fit' for trade talks, says New Zealand's deputy prime minister Nearly 10 per cent of coronavirus deaths were not related to Covid-19 Summer sale: Save 50% - Just £1 a week for 6 months There is"a landing zone" for the EU and UK to strike a trade deal before Brexit, Ireland's Taoiseach has said. Micheal Martin, who met Boris Johnson for talks today in Hillsborough, Northern Ireland, said both sides knew that they needed to avoid another economic shock following Covid-19. "I think where there's a will, there's a way," he said. "It seems to me that there is a landing zone if that will is there on both sides and I think it is, on the European Union side and on the British side to find that landing zone. "My own gut instinct is we both understand that we don't need another shock to the economic system that a no-deal Brexit would give or a sub-optimal trade agreement would give to our respective economies across Europe, Ireland and of course within Great Britain itself alongside the enormous shock that Covid has already given." Mr Martin said he hoped for a "productive outcome" when Brexit negotiations resumed later this month. This is their first meeting since Mr Martin took the reins as leader of the Republic. Last year Mr Johnson's meeting with his predecessor Leo Varadkar was critical to brokering a deal which led to the Withdrawal Agreement being passed. Follow the latest updates below.
Boris Johnson isn’t really a Conservative and Middle England is starting to lose hope in him, says Nigel Farage. In an exclusive interview with the Telegraph’s Planet Normal podcast, which you can listen to easily on the audio player above, the Brexit Party leader said that the Government’s handling of the coronavirus crisis has been “a shambles” and that voters no longer have confidence in the Prime Minister on law and order and immigration. “The vast, vast majority of Conservative supporters and voters, particularly in that red wall that helped get Boris his majority, want to live in a country where the police are in control, where we have proper law and order,” he said. “I think Boris is in danger of losing Middle England on these subjects. I really do. “His problem is that Middle England is beginning to lose hope with him on law and order, on the immigration, and dare I mention it, the handling of the coronavirus crisis, which frankly has been a shambles.”
New Zealand has protested at the lack of progress in talks over a post-Brexit trade deal, insisting the UK is not “match-fit” for negotiations.The country’s deputy prime minister, Winston Peters, said Britain’s four-decade membership of the EU meant it was not ready to properly engage in talks once it was able to pursue independent agreements.
Britain attempting multiple Brexit trade deals at once is like a cricketer who hasn't played in 30 years attempting to win the Ashes, New Zealand's deputy prime minister said on Wednesday. New Zealand has blamed Britain for slow progress towards a free trade deal and accused it of not being "match fit" for international negotiations. British officials are currently in formal trade talks with the European Union, Japan, New Zealand, Australia and the US and racing to finalise as many deals as possible before the end of the Brexit transition period on December 31. Winston Peters, New Zealand's deputy PM, said he was "very frustrated" with the progress made on a post-Brexit agreement with Britain, adding: "We just need the British to realise that you can do more than one deal at a time." Mr Peters blamed the UK’s 47-year membership of the EU for it not being ready to pursue multiple trade deals around the world at once. The European Commission negotiates trade deals on behalf of the whole bloc, which means the UK has not negotiated a trade deal since it joined the forerunner of the EU in 1973. New Zealand, which is also in formal trade negotiations with the EU, negotiates its own trade agreements rather than as a bloc with other countries. Mr Peters said: "We've had to look offshore for a long time and so we are seriously match fit when it comes to that, in a way that I don't believe that the UK is because the UK has been locked up in the EU all these years." "In terms of their trading skills and finesse and their firepower – without being critical – they've never had an outing lately," he told Times Radio.
Britain’s struggling nightclubs industry today urged the government to come up with a plan to get them back open before they go bust at a cost of thousands of jobs.Last month, as Boris Johnson eased measures on offices, public transport and leisure centres, he ruled out reopening nightclubs and gave no hints as to how or when they might reopen.
Boris Johnson poised to stop UK funding overseas fossil fuel projects. New policy will rule out future loans and guarantees made through UK Export Finance