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Frost urged to cool it as tensions flare with Brussels over Brexit

Frost urged to cool it as tensions flare with Brussels over Brexit


Business groups and UK exporters have called on Lord David Frost to step back from his abrasive approach to dealing with Brussels and seek to build a mutually beneficial trading relationship with the EU.

Frost’s promotion to Boris Johnson’s cabinet as minister for EU relations has coincided with a fresh deterioration in relations between London and Brussels, particularly over the handling of Northern Ireland.

Trade groups, whose members have already suffered millions of pounds of losses as a result of new red tape after Brexit, warned that if both sides did not seek to build consensus then lasting damage would be inflicted on the UK economy. 

James Withers, chief executive of industry group Scotland Food and Drink, which represents exporters like Scottish salmon farmers who lost £11m in the first two months of trading with the EU this year, said “the ball had been dropped diplomatically” by both sides.

“If the first few weeks of any relationship set the tone, there is a lot of worry about. It feels like we are already at a major crossroads. We face a relationship choice, either collaboration or disintegration. We need the diplomatic temperature to be dialled down,” he said.

Frost’s tough-talking approach to dealing with Brussels — visible in the conducting of last year’s trade negotiations — was on display again last week when the UK announced that it would unilaterally extend grace periods for implementing new arrangements for trade between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

The UK government move, which government insiders said was the unavoidable consequence of the EU failing to act to reduce the impact of the UK’s Brexit divorce treaty on Northern Ireland’s fragile politics, drew the threat of imminent legal action from the European Commission.

Under the terms of the Northern Ireland protocol — part of the 2019 treaty which secured Britain’s formal exit from the EU — the region, while remaining part of the UK, must follow EU customs rules for goods. To avoid a land border on the island of Ireland, this required the creation of a trade frontier in the Irish Sea to ensure that all goods flowing from Great Britain into Northern Ireland comply with the bloc’s rules.

Having irritated the EU with his move on Northern Ireland, Frost then followed up with an article in the Sunday Telegraph, reported under a front-page headline urging the EU to “Stop Sulking”, in which the former chief Brexit negotiator invited the EU to “shake off any remaining ill will towards us for leaving, and instead build a friendly relationship between sovereign equals”.

One senior Tory said the only reason Johnson put Frost in charge of EU relations, replacing the more emollient Michael Gove, was “because the prime minister wants a row with the EU”.

But Frost’s allies say the new minister had not set out to create an “aggressive” atmosphere in his first week and had only been following through on plans for Northern Ireland already drawn up by Gove last month.

They concede that Frost did act without notifying his opposite number in the European Commission, Maros Sefcovic, in advance, but that the step was the “minimum necessary” to avoid disruption in Northern Ireland. “We are not planning anything else like that,” added a senior Tory official. 

But Brussels has reacted defensively to what it sees as a hectoring British tone. One senior EU diplomat said that “trust was low” and the fear in Brussels was that relations could quickly degenerate into a tit-for-tat battle between the UK and EU. 

“We can’t accept that we are being taken for granted or being taken for idiots,” the diplomat said. “The opportunity here is that we can start a new cycle in our relationship and move on. The risk is we add insult to injury.”

Sefcovic himself has complained that Frost chose not to use a “hotline” arrangement that the EU commissioner and Gove had put in place to nip problems in the bud.

Frost tells allies that Brussels is far from blameless, arguing that the EU has been “unhelpful” in a number of areas since the post-Brexit trade deal took full effect on January 1, including through its decision — quickly abandoned — to impose border controls on the island of Ireland for vaccines. He also cites the EU’s treatment of live shellfish exports, which are subject to onerous new restrictions.

Whatever the rights and wrongs, the tough-talking on both sides is alarming business.

Shane Brennan, the chief executive of the Cold Chain Federation that represents the perishable products industry, said Frost must work to ensure that trading businesses did not become “pawns” in a bigger political game stoking longstanding animosities with the EU.

“Adopting a ‘madman’ negotiating strategy might be great politics, but it’s terrible for food supply chains. The next few months are make or break for the food industry. A strong recovery from lockdown is vital and supply chain instability would shatter fragile confidence,” he said. 

The rise in temperature comes as Cabinet ministers deliberate how strictly the UK should enforce new border controls which are scheduled to be imposed on EU food exporters to the UK after April 1.

Some interest groups, such as hauliers and pig farmers, have argued for a strict approach by the UK government in order to level the playing field with EU competitors, while other interests, such as supermarkets, want a lighter touch approach that prioritises the flow of goods into the UK.

However, Richard Burnett, chief executive of the Road Haulage Association, said there was a contradiction in Frost’s hard-nosed rhetorical approach if, as widely expected, the UK decided to soft-pedal the new controls to reduce the risk of interruptions to supply chains.

“It doesn’t make sense Frost taking a verbal hardline with Brussels, and then taking a light-touch approach to enforcing the new UK border — unless you’ve got good and trusting dialogue between the two parties, which clearly we haven’t,” he said.



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Indian Covid variant will NOT set lockdown back to ‘square one’

Indian Covid variant will NOT set lockdown back to ‘square one’


The Indian Covid variant is unlikely to set lockdown easing back to ‘square one’ because immunity from vaccines ‘won’t just disappear’, a leading immunology expert claimed.

Member of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) Professor Adam Finn said he expected a ‘gradual erosion’ of vaccine protection as the virus evolves.

But he said it was but not enough to ‘scupper’ the Prime Minister’s road map, as one leading scientist had predicted. 

Boris Johnson plans to remove all legal limits on social contact by June 21 – after non-essential retail shops and outdoor pubs and bars reopened this week.

On Friday, Imperial College’s Danny Altmann said ‘we should be terribly concerned’ after 77 cases of a potentially vaccine-busting Covid-19 mutation first discovered in India were identified in Britain.

Professor Altmann told the BBC: ‘They (variants of concern) are things that can most scupper our escape plan at the moment and give us a third wave. They are a worry.

But Professor Finn blasted Professor Altmann as ‘a bit pessimistic’ with his assessment.

The Indian Covid variant is unlikely to set lockdown easing back to 'square one' because immunity from vaccines 'won't just disappear', a leading immunology expert claimed. Pictured: A health worker takes a nasal swab sample of a woman to test for Covid-19 at Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus railway station in Mumbai

The Indian Covid variant is unlikely to set lockdown easing back to ‘square one’ because immunity from vaccines ‘won’t just disappear’, a leading immunology expert claimed. Pictured: A health worker takes a nasal swab sample of a woman to test for Covid-19 at Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus railway station in Mumbai

He told Times Radio: ‘We’ve all expected evolution of this virus to occur from the start.

Member of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) Professor Adam Finn said he expected a 'gradual erosion' of vaccine protection as the virus evolves.

Member of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) Professor Adam Finn said he expected a ‘gradual erosion’ of vaccine protection as the virus evolves.

‘I also think that we know from other viruses and previous experience that the immunity that vaccines give won’t just disappear.

‘It will be a gradual erosion. It won’t be back to square one. I would be really surprised if that happened.

‘So, I think, possibly, that interpretation is a bit pessimistic.’

The Indian variant is thought to be the cause of a huge second wave of infections across the south-Asian nation.  

The country, of more than 1.3billion people, had 176,000 new cases on Thursday – a rate of 127 cases per million people, compared to 23 per million in the UK.

But the Government has so far left India off the mandatory hotel quarantine list – unlike neighbouring countries Bangladesh and Pakistan.

Imperial College's Danny Altmann (pictured) said the UK should be 'terribly concerned' about the India variant

Imperial College’s Danny Altmann (pictured) said the UK should be ‘terribly concerned’ about the India variant

A Covid patient in Lok Nayak Jai Prakash in India. The country, of more than 1.3billion people, had 176,000 new cases on Thursday - a rate of 127 cases per million people, compared to 23 per million in the UK

A Covid patient in Lok Nayak Jai Prakash in India. The country, of more than 1.3billion people, had 176,000 new cases on Thursday – a rate of 127 cases per million people, compared to 23 per million in the UK

In this aerial picture taken on April 16, relatives and friends gather to bury the dead bodies of Covid-19 coronavirus victims at a graveyard in New Delhi

In this aerial picture taken on April 16, relatives and friends gather to bury the dead bodies of Covid-19 coronavirus victims at a graveyard in New Delhi

That’s despite experts believing that the Indian variant not only speeds up transmission, but also features an ‘escape mutation’ which could possibly impact on the effectiveness of vaccines.

It was earlier revealed that 77 cases of the variant had been discovered in the UK.

WHAT DO WE KNOW ABOUT THE INDIA VARIANT? 

Real name: B.1.617

When and where was it discovered? The variant was first reported as being of concern by the Indian government in late March. The first cases appear to date back to October 2020. 

What mutations does it have? The two main mutations are named E484Q and L452R, which scientists suspect can help it to transmit faster and to get past immune cells made in response to older variants. Those mutations are routinely not found on other variants monitored by Public Health England.

How many people in the UK have been infected with it? 77 people so far, according to a report published on April 15. Their locations are unknown.

Public Health England said the strain – known as B.1.617 – was under investigation ‘due to sustained international transmission’.

Paul Hunter, professor in medicine at the University of East Anglia, said the variant featured two ‘escape mutations’ – E484Q and L452R.

These essentially make its easier for the virus to slip past antibodies – which a person can get through vaccinations or previous infection.

Professor Hunter told ITV: ‘There’s laboratory evidence that both of these are escape mutations.

‘Basically, applying what we know about other human coronaviruses would suggest that this is going to be even less controlled by vaccine.

‘But we don’t know that for certain at the moment.’

Despite the concern, India is not currently on the Government’s ‘red list’ for travel.

The red list sees people who have been in those countries in the previous 10 days refused entry to the UK.

British or Irish nationals, or people with UK residency rights, are able to return from red list countries but must isolate in a quarantine hotel for 10 days.

Boris Johnson is due to visit India later this month – in his first international since the Brexit deal with the EU was reached.

The UK is hoping to secure a £50billion trade deal with the south-Asian country.  

Downing Street has defended leaving India off the hotel quarantine list and said the register is ‘under constant review’.

Neighbouring Bangladesh and Pakistan, however, are included on the list despite their outbreaks being only a third of the size.  

So far, seventy-three of the 77 cases have been in England and four in Scotland.

The first of them date back to February, The Guardian reports, although no announcement was made until yesterday. 

Public Health England generally only makes the announcement when it becomes clear that the variant could be dangerous. 

India's not on the UK's red list but Pakistan and Bangladesh are, despite currently having smaller outbreaks

India’s not on the UK’s red list but Pakistan and Bangladesh are, despite currently having smaller outbreaks

Variations of the virus crop up all the time and when cases first appear it is difficult to tell if they are significant or not, or whether there is any trend.

A similar delay happened before testing started to pick up the South Africa variant. PHE officials knew that variant was spreading in Britain in December but didn’t start testing communities to weed it out until February.

The Indian variant was first spotted by scientists in March when it was described by the government in New Delhi as a ‘double mutant’.

They suggested that the variant had formed as a hybrid of two other strains and that it showed signs of being more infectious and less easily targeted by the immune system.

Two key mutations set it apart from others – named E484Q and L452R – with both of them found on the ‘spike’ that the virus uses to latch onto human cells.

These are not thought to be key mutations of any of the other variants on Public Health England’s list, but have appeared in virus samples before.

Dr Simon Clarke, a microbiologist at Reading University, said at the time: ‘As for the L452R mutation, we’re still waiting for a proper definition of what it does.’ 

Surge testing is being done in London to weed out cases of the South Africa variant, which experts describe as 'the most worrying' strain

Surge testing is being done in London to weed out cases of the South Africa variant, which experts describe as ‘the most worrying’ strain

The arrival of the India variant in the UK, and the fact that the country is seeing a massive resurgence in Covid-19 cases, do not seem to have set off alarm bells in the Foreign Office.

WHICH COUNTRIES ARE ON THE RED LIST? 

  • Angola
  • Argentina
  • Bangladesh
  • Bolivia
  • Botswana
  • Brazil
  • Burundi
  • Cape Verde
  • Chile
  • Colombia
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • Ecuador
  • Eswatini
  • Ethiopia
  • French Guiana
  • Guyana
  • Kenya
  • Lesotho
  • Malawi
  • Mozambique
  • Namibia
  • Oman
  • Pakistan
  • Panama
  • Paraguay
  • Peru
  • Philippines
  • Qatar
  • Rwanda
  • Seychelles
  • Somalia
  • South Africa
  • Suriname
  • Tanzania
  • United Arab Emirates (UAE)
  • Uruguay
  • Venezuela
  • Zambia
  • Zimbabwe

India is still not on the red list, which means travellers would have to go into hotel quarantine in case they have coronavirus, despite its close neighbours being on the list even though they have smaller outbreaks.

A No 10 spokesman said today: ‘We add and remove countries based on the latest scientific data and public health advice from a range of world-leading experts.

‘We keep it under constant review and we won’t hesitate to introduce tougher restrictions and add countries if we think it is necessary.’

India is going through a rough second wave of the virus, with higher infection rates than during the first explosion in cases last summer.

A staggering 175,910 new cases were diagnosed yesterday, almost treble the 65,000 cases on April 1.

Boris Johnson will visit India on April 26 and his team insist ‘all elements of the trip will be Covid-secure’.   

It comes as Britain’s daily Covid cases fell again yesterday as officials recorded just 2,596 positive tests — down 20 per cent in a week.

Department of Health bosses also posted 34 daily deaths — down 43 per cent on last Friday’s figures.

And the most up-to-date hospital admission figures show the number of infected coronavirus patients needing NHS care plunged to 204 on April 12, compared to 235 the previous week. 

Daily admissions were above 4,000 at the peak in January. 

Another 129,782 first doses were also dished out on Thursday, taking the UK’s total number of vaccinated adults to 32.5million. 

Some 417,683 were also given second dose, with the number fully vaccinated now at 8.9million.

It comes as official estimates yesterday suggested England’s coronavirus R rate could now be as low as 0.7 and infections are continuing to fall.

No10’s scientific advisers predict the reproduction rate — the average number of people infected patients pass the virus on to — is no higher than 1.0. Last week SAGE said the figure was likely between 0.8 and 1.0.

Office for National Statistics surveillance data also suggested only one in 500 people in England had the virus at any point in the week ending April 10, a 34 per cent drop from the previous week. 

For comparison, the rate during the darkest days of the nation’s second wave in January was around one in 50 – or 2 per cent of the population.

Pubs and restaurants had not reopened for outdoor service for the time period covered by the ONS data, although schools had been welcoming back pupils for more than a month.  

Have vaccine passports been axed? Spectators will be able to attend sports matches with just a test in advance and without facemasks in trial events 

By Tom Pyman and David Wilcock, Whitehall Correspondent and James Tapsfield Political Editor For Mailonline 

Facemasks and social distancing are to be axed at events which will look at how to ease lockdown long-term.

The Events Research Programme, which will examine ways of reopening mass-attendance venues safely, is to test the measures at a number of upcoming pilot events, including the FA Cup Final. 

The football season-ending showpiece next month, its two preceding semi-finals and the League Cup Final are all included in the plan, to establish how best to minimise the risk of Covid transmission in larger crowds. 

Guidance released by the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport on Friday revealed that Covid ‘certificates’ will not be used.  

Instead fans travelling to Wembley for the final on May 15 – which will take place with 21,000 spectators – will have to provide evidence of a recent negative Covid test and take tests afterwards.

Furthermore, plans involve scrapping ‘non-pharmaceutical interventions’ (NPIs), which are actions which have been used to mitigate the virus, such as masks and social distancing.  

Face masks will not be required under pilot plans made by the Events Research Programme

Face masks will not be required under pilot plans made by the Events Research Programme

Crowds enjoyed the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne in February without wearing face coverings

Crowds enjoyed the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne in February without wearing face coverings

Fans travelling to Wembley for the final on May 15 - which will take place with 21,000 spectators - will have to provide evidence of a recent negative Covid test and take tests afterwards.

Fans travelling to Wembley for the final on May 15 – which will take place with 21,000 spectators – will have to provide evidence of a recent negative Covid test and take tests afterwards.

The guidance says: ‘The ERP will look at a range of mitigating factors including test-on-entry protocols for use in determining how we can reopen larger venues safely.

‘These protocols will be used in combination with the suspension of NPIs (face coverings, social distancing) to test what works best to achieve the aim of returning greater numbers of fans back to indoor and outdoor venues.’

The announcement prompted speculation that the Prime Minister has caved in over vaccine passports to rebel Tory backbenchers, who had threatened to join Labour to vote down any law governing their introduction, on civil liberties grounds. 

One rebel Tory MP told MailOnline: ‘I think we’ve managed to take the wheels off this plan.’ 

DCMS yesterday published its guidance for the ERP events. As well as the Wembley football matches they include the World Snooker Championship at Sheffield’s Crucible Theatre and a series of events in Liverpool, at a cinema, nightclub and conference centre. 

The guidance adds: ‘There will be no requirement for participants to show proof of vaccine.

‘Participants in the ERP pilots published to date will have to provide a basic Covid certification that they have tested negative for Covid-19.’

The announcement prompted speculation that the Prime Minister (pictured yesterday)  has caved in to rebel Tory backbenchers

The announcement prompted speculation that the Prime Minister (pictured yesterday)  has caved in to rebel Tory backbenchers

It adds: ‘Yes, entry will be subject to a negative test result. In practice this will work in much the same way that international travel has taken place in recent months – entry will be denied to those that cannot provide evidence of a negative test result.’

A Number 10 spokesman today insisted that Covid passports ‘could have an important role to play… and we are continuing to look at how they may operate.’

He declined to comment directly on the pilot schemes, adding: ‘Work is ongoing with groups and other experts in this area as we consider all the evidence to ensure that if or when we do introduce any such schemes we have taken into account all of the things we have spoken about in terms of the moral implications of any scheme.

‘The Prime Minister has set out that they won’t play a part in the opening of stages two and three but it is something we continue to work on and we continue to look at the evidence.’ 



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Has Boris shown Covid passports the red card? Vaccine proof will not be needed at FA Cup Final pilot

Has Boris shown Covid passports the red card? Vaccine proof will not be needed at FA Cup Final pilot


Has Boris shown Covid passports the red card? Vaccine ‘certificates’ will not be piloted by the crowd at the FA Cup Final at Wembley next month amid furious Tory backlash

  • The football season-ending showpiece is part of Events Research Programme 
  • It is examining ways to safely reopen mass events after the lockdown ends 
  • But fans won’t need Covid passports, only proof of a recent negative Covid test 

Boris Johnson has been accused of scrapping plans to introduce vaccine passports’ to go to the pub after the measure was missing from a list of high-profile pilot events including the FA Cup Final.

The football season-ending showpiece next month, its two preceding semi-finals and the League Cup Final are on the Events Research Programme which will examine ways of reopening mass-attendance venues safely.

But under guidance released by the Department of Digital, Culture Media and Sport today, Covid ‘certificates’ will not be used. 

Instead fans travelling to Wembley for the final on May 15 – which will take place with 21,000 spectators – will have to provide evidence of a recent negative Covid test and take tests afterwards.

The announcement prompted speculation that the Prime Minister has caved in to rebel Tory backbenchers, who had threatened to join Labour to vote down any law governing their introduction, on civil liberties grounds. 

One rebel Tory MP told MailOnline today: ‘I think we’ve managed to take the wheels off this plan.’ 

Fans travelling to Wembley for the final on May 15 - which will take place with 21,000 spectators - will have to provide evidence of a recent negative Covid test and take tests afterwards.

Fans travelling to Wembley for the final on May 15 – which will take place with 21,000 spectators – will have to provide evidence of a recent negative Covid test and take tests afterwards.

The announcement prompted speculation that the Prime Minister (pictured yesterday)  has caved in to rebel Tory backbenchers

The announcement prompted speculation that the Prime Minister (pictured yesterday)  has caved in to rebel Tory backbenchers

DCMS today published its guidance for the ERP events. As well as the Wembley football matches they include the World Snooker Championship at Sheffield’s Crucible Theatre and a series of events in Liverpool, at a cinema, nightclub and conference centre. 

The guidance published today says: ‘There will be no requirement for participants to show proof of vaccine.

‘Participants in the ERP pilots published to date will have to provide a basic Covid certification that they have tested negative for Covid-19.’

It adds: ‘Yes, entry will be subject to a negative test result. In practice this will work in much the same way that international travel has taken place in recent months – entry will be denied to those that cannot provide evidence of a negative test result.’

A Number 10 spokesman today insisted that Covid passports ‘could have an important role to play… and we are continuing to look at how they may operate.’

He declined to comment directly on the pilot schemes, adding: ‘Work is ongoing with groups and other experts in this area as we consider all the evidence to ensure that if or when we do introduce any such schemes we have taken into account all of the things we have spoken about in terms of the moral implications of any scheme.

‘The Prime Minister has set out that they won’t play a part in the opening of stages two and three but it is something we continue to work on and we continue to look at the evidence.’  



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Facemasks and social distancing to be axed at events looking at how to ease lockdown

Facemasks and social distancing to be axed at events looking at how to ease lockdown


Facemasks and social distancing to be axed at events looking at how to ease lockdown in latest boost for coronavirus freedom

  • Events Research Programme looking at schemes for events such as FA Cup Final 
  • It is examining ways to safely reopen mass events after the lockdown ends 
  • But fans won’t need Covid passports, only proof of a recent negative Covid test 

Facemasks and social distancing are to be axed at events which will look at how to ease lockdown long-term.

The Events Research Programme, which will examine ways of reopening mass-attendance venues safely, is to test the measures at a number of upcoming pilot events, including the FA Cup Final. 

The football season-ending showpiece next month, its two preceding semi-finals and the League Cup Final are all included in the plan, to establish how best to minimise the risk of Covid transmission in larger crowds. 

Guidance released by the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport on Friday revealed that Covid ‘certificates’ will not be used.  

Instead fans travelling to Wembley for the final on May 15 – which will take place with 21,000 spectators – will have to provide evidence of a recent negative Covid test and take tests afterwards.

Furthermore, plans involve scrapping ‘non-pharmaceutical interventions’ (NPIs), which are actions which have been used to mitigate the virus, such as masks and social distancing.  

Face masks will not be required under pilot plans made by the Events Research Programme

Face masks will not be required under pilot plans made by the Events Research Programme

Crowds enjoyed the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne in February without wearing face coverings

Crowds enjoyed the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne in February without wearing face coverings

Fans travelling to Wembley for the final on May 15 - which will take place with 21,000 spectators - will have to provide evidence of a recent negative Covid test and take tests afterwards.

Fans travelling to Wembley for the final on May 15 – which will take place with 21,000 spectators – will have to provide evidence of a recent negative Covid test and take tests afterwards.

The guidance says: ‘The ERP will look at a range of mitigating factors including test-on-entry protocols for use in determining how we can reopen larger venues safely.

‘These protocols will be used in combination with the suspension of NPIs (face coverings, social distancing) to test what works best to achieve the aim of returning greater numbers of fans back to indoor and outdoor venues.’

The announcement prompted speculation that the Prime Minister has caved in over vaccine passports to rebel Tory backbenchers, who had threatened to join Labour to vote down any law governing their introduction, on civil liberties grounds. 

One rebel Tory MP told MailOnline: ‘I think we’ve managed to take the wheels off this plan.’ 

DCMS yesterday published its guidance for the ERP events. As well as the Wembley football matches they include the World Snooker Championship at Sheffield’s Crucible Theatre and a series of events in Liverpool, at a cinema, nightclub and conference centre. 

The guidance adds: ‘There will be no requirement for participants to show proof of vaccine.

‘Participants in the ERP pilots published to date will have to provide a basic Covid certification that they have tested negative for Covid-19.’

The announcement prompted speculation that the Prime Minister (pictured yesterday)  has caved in to rebel Tory backbenchers

The announcement prompted speculation that the Prime Minister (pictured yesterday)  has caved in to rebel Tory backbenchers

It adds: ‘Yes, entry will be subject to a negative test result. In practice this will work in much the same way that international travel has taken place in recent months – entry will be denied to those that cannot provide evidence of a negative test result.’

A Number 10 spokesman today insisted that Covid passports ‘could have an important role to play… and we are continuing to look at how they may operate.’

He declined to comment directly on the pilot schemes, adding: ‘Work is ongoing with groups and other experts in this area as we consider all the evidence to ensure that if or when we do introduce any such schemes we have taken into account all of the things we have spoken about in terms of the moral implications of any scheme.

‘The Prime Minister has set out that they won’t play a part in the opening of stages two and three but it is something we continue to work on and we continue to look at the evidence.’  



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Steve Bruce believes David Moyes should be crowned Manager of the Year ‘no matter what happens’

Steve Bruce believes David Moyes should be crowned Manager of the Year ‘no matter what happens’


Steve Bruce believes David Moyes should be crowned Manager of the Year ‘no matter what happens’ as he praises West Ham boss for bouncing back from Manchester United misery

  • Steve Bruce has saluted David Moyes for bouncing back from Man United misery
  • Moyes got the job in 2013 when he was named as Sir Alex Ferguson’s successor
  • But he lasted less than a year in the post after they finished outside the top six 
  • However, Moyes has found success with his West Ham United squad this season
  • As a result, the Magpies boss says Moyes get his vote for manager of the season 

Newcastle boss Steve Bruce has saluted old foe David Moyes for the way he has bounced back from his Manchester United misery.

Moyes landed the dream job in 2013 when he was appointed as Sir Alex Ferguson’s successor at Old Trafford.

But he lasted less than a year in the post as reigning champions United slumped to their only finish outside the top six in the Premier League era.

Steve Bruce has saluted David Moyes for bouncing back from Manchester United misery

Steve Bruce has saluted David Moyes for bouncing back from Manchester United misery 

A testing first spell at West Ham, which followed difficult stints at Real Sociedad and Sunderland, further tarnished the reputation Moyes had built during an 11-year stint at Everton.

But he has emphatically reversed his trajectory since returning to the Hammers in December 2019 and heads to St James’ Park today with his side sitting in fourth, within touching distance of shock qualification for next season’s Champions League.

Newcastle boss Bruce said: ‘For his achievements at Everton, he got the top job and he didn’t get long enough at it. 

Moyes got the Man United job in 2013 when he was named as Sir Alex Ferguson’s successor

Moyes got the Man United job in 2013 when he was named as Sir Alex Ferguson’s successor

But he lasted less than a year in the post after the Red Devils finished outside the top six

But he lasted less than a year in the post after the Red Devils finished outside the top six 

‘He’s shown his resilience, his toughness and the man he is. That is why he’s been so successful and managed in the Premier League for so long. 

‘For the last 20 years, it seems I’ve always been against Moyesy. He has always been there and he always works hard at what he does and is passionate about what he does.

‘He’s proved again what a top-class manager he is and he’s already got my vote for manager of the year.

‘To get West Ham in the top four… and it’s not just that, it’s the recruitment, who he has brought in and how they have managed.

‘They’ve done very, very well. I’m really pleased for Moyesy, of course I am.’

Bruce got the better of Moyes with a 2-0 victory when the sides met at the London Stadium on the opening weekend of the season.

Bruce praised David Moyes (left) and tipped the West Ham boss to be manager of the season

Bruce praised David Moyes (left) and tipped the West Ham boss to be manager of the season

West Ham have a had a magnificent season so far and are chasing Champions League football

West Ham have a had a magnificent season so far and are chasing Champions League football

However, the two men have moved in very different circles since, with Newcastle finding themselves engaged in a tooth-and-nail fight for survival amid a seemingly never-ending takeover saga which made headlines again this week.

Before the Scot’s renaissance in east London, both Moyes and Bruce had been branded footballing dinosaurs and had their methods questioned in certain quarters, but Bruce knows that goes with the territory.

‘Look, I suppose when you get a bit older, you have to deal with all those things,’ he added. ‘But Moyes got to the top because of his ability to work hard, to have a certain resilience.

‘It just goes to show, in my opinion, what a top-class manager he is — he’s relentless in his work ethic.’



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Prince Philip’s funeral: Boris Johnson will watch from Chequers but leaves wreath at Windsor Castle

Prince Philip’s funeral: Boris Johnson will watch from Chequers but leaves wreath at Windsor Castle


‘The nation owes more than words can say’: Boris Johnson leaves wreath with hand-written note for Duke of Edinburgh as it is revealed PM will watch funeral on TV at Chequers

  • A wreath with a tribute from Boris Johnson has been left at Windsor Castle
  • The message says nation owes the Duke of Edinburgh ‘more than words can say’
  • The PM is expected to watch the funeral tomorrow from his Chequers residence 

Boris Johnson left a wreath for the Duke of Edinburgh today saying the nation owes ‘more than words can say’.

A handwritten message was placed with the PM’s tribute outside St George’s Chapel in the grounds of Windsor Castle.

‘In grateful memory of a man to whom the nation owes more than words can say,’ it reads. ‘Sent on behalf of the nation. From the Prime Minister’.

Mr Johnson will watch Prince Philip’s funeral tomorrow from his Chequers country residence, after indicating he will not attend in person to allow more space for family. 

Other official wreaths had also been left at St George’s Chapel today. One from Nicola Sturgeon read: ‘With deepest sympathy from the First Minister of Scotland and the Scottish Government.’

A handwritten message has been left with the PM's tribute outside St George's Chapel in the grounds of Windsor Castle

A handwritten message has been left with the PM’s tribute outside St George’s Chapel in the grounds of Windsor Castle

The message reads: 'In grateful memory of a man to whom the nation owes more than words can say.'

The message reads: ‘In grateful memory of a man to whom the nation owes more than words can say.’

Queen Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh are pictured last year in the quadrangle of Windsor Castle ahead of his 99th birthday

Queen Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh are pictured last year in the quadrangle of Windsor Castle ahead of his 99th birthday

This is the funeral procession for tomorrow's funeral, where William and Harry will not stand next to eachother with the Queen following behind in her car

This is the funeral procession for tomorrow’s funeral, where William and Harry will not stand next to eachother with the Queen following behind in her car

The Royal Navy’s tribute read: ‘In gratitude for an exceptional life of service from all ranks of the Royal Navy.

‘Fair winds and following seas.’ 

The Queen is said to be ‘bearing up well’ as she signs off on the final preparations for her husband’s funeral, having ordered William and Harry not to walk shoulder to shoulder behind their grandfather’s coffin when he is laid to rest.

The estranged brothers are both in the small party of close family members – all male apart from Princess Anne – who will follow the Duke of Edinburgh’s body, but they will be separated by their cousin, Peter Phillips, on the eight minute walk from Windsor Castle to church.

The Queen will at the rear of the procession in the royal Bentley, and before it sets off, Her Majesty will have a moment of quiet reflection when her car draws up behind the coffin at the State Entrance to the castle and pauses for a moment.

And when the coffin borne on a Land Rover is carried into St George’s Chapel in Windsor, William will move ahead of his younger brother as they take their seats separately amongst the 30 guests.

The Queen is expected to sit alone due to restrictions imposed on the pared-back funeral due to Covid.

Meanwhile, calls to name a Royal Navy warship in honour of Prince Philip have been growing.

A petition to name a new military vessel after the late Duke of Edinburgh has rapidly gathered more than 12,000 signatures.

Tory MP James Gray suggested that one of the escort ships for the new Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier could be named after the Duke. 

‘It would be nice to have the escort ship named after the Duke of Edinburgh – quite fitting,’  Mr Gray said. 

Mr Johnson (pictured on a visit to the naval college in Dartmouth yesterday) will watch Prince Philip's funeral tomorrow from his Chequers country residence, after indicating he will not attend in person to allow more space for family

Mr Johnson (pictured on a visit to the naval college in Dartmouth yesterday) will watch Prince Philip’s funeral tomorrow from his Chequers country residence, after indicating he will not attend in person to allow more space for family



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No10 hits back at lateral flow test fears after Matt Hancock adviser warning

No10 hits back at lateral flow test fears after Matt Hancock adviser warning


Number 10 has today hit back at claims controversial rapid lateral flow coronavirus tests are dangerously unreliable. 

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said the kits, which give a result in under half an hour, ‘have been tested rigorously and we are confident that they are accurate’.

It came after an adviser to Matt Hancock admitted as few as two per cent of positive lateral flow test results taken in low prevalence areas are correct.

In emails leaked to the Guardian, senior strategist Ben Dyson is said to have warned Health Department colleagues about the unreliability of lateral flow test results. 

The self-administered kits have been mired in controversy since they were put into mass use when schools in England reopened last month. They are now available for free to all adults with no Covid symptoms.

Scientists have warned they give the wrong result too often, which can both lead to people needlessly isolating or unknowingly spreading the disease.

They perform even poorer when a person does the test themselves, which is mainly how they are being deployed.

Earlier this week MailOnline revealed at least one in 10 positive results given by the rapid tests were wrong in March. Public Health England data shows 3,248 positive results have been found to be false by follow-up swab tests.    

Mr Dyson, who is an executive director of strategy at the health department and one of health secretary Matt Hancock's advisers, reportedly raised feared that the reliability of positive results could be as low as two per cent in certain areas.

Mr Dyson, who is an executive director of strategy at the health department and one of health secretary Matt Hancock’s advisers, reportedly raised feared that the reliability of positive results could be as low as two per cent in certain areas.

In emails, leaked to the Guardian, senior strategist Ben Dyson is said to have warned health department colleagues about the unreliability of lateral flow test results

In emails, leaked to the Guardian, senior strategist Ben Dyson is said to have warned health department colleagues about the unreliability of lateral flow test results

The email was reportedly sent on April 9 - four days after Boris Johnson announced a multi-billion pound plan for a mass-testing drive in the UK using lateral flow tests (pictured)

The email was reportedly sent on April 9 – four days after Boris Johnson announced a multi-billion pound plan for a mass-testing drive in the UK using lateral flow tests (pictured)

Q&A: On Government’s mass testing plan

What is being proposed?

Ministers want everyone in England to take a Covid test twice a week to help quickly identify any surge in cases as the economy and society are unlocked in the coming months.

How will it work?

People will be able to order so-called lateral flow tests for use at home, or get tested at work or at sites run by local councils. They are already used by millions of children following the return to school last month.

What are lateral flow tests?

These pregnancy-style tests can deliver results at home within half an hour. Like a regular test they involve taking a swab from the back of the throat and nose but the samples do not have to be sent for laboratory analysis.

Are these tests reliable?

They are not as sensitive as a standard PCR laboratory test. One study found they missed 40 per cent of asymptomatic cases. However, they perform much better at picking up cases where people have a high viral load. The Government says they have picked up 120,000 cases which would not otherwise have been identified.

What if I test positive?

People who test positive will be asked to self-isolate in the normal way, as well as providing details of their contacts to the Test and Trace service.

What about false positives?

Recent analysis by NHS Test and Trace suggests fewer than one in a thousand lateral flow tests will produce a false positive. However, anyone who does test positive will be offered a PCR test to confirm the result.

How much will this cost?

Officials were tight-lipped about the likely cost, but acknowledge it will run into billions of pounds. Lateral flow tests are much cheaper than the standard PCR ones, with some reports suggesting the Government can buy them for as little as £5 each. But if 25 million people were to test twice a week, the cost would still top £1 billion a month.

What will it cost me?

Nothing. The Government will pick up the bill for all tests.

Mr Johnson’s spokesman said today: ‘We have spoken before about the importance of being able to allow testing for those who may be asymptomatic, we all know now that there are many people who have Covid who don’t show any symptoms so lateral tests play an important role in those who may be asymptomatic being able to spot that they are carrying the virus.’

Asked if their use would be scaled back, he replied: ‘No. Given that every one in three can have Covid but not show symptoms, lateral flow tests are incredibly important in our plan and what we have introduced to identify cases and keep cases down to an absolute minimum.’ 

It came on the back of leaked emails sent to colleagues by Mr Dyson, who is an executive director of strategy at the health department and one of Mr Hancock’s top advisers. 

The email was reportedly sent on April 9, four days after Boris Johnson announced a multi-billion pound plan for a mass-testing drive in the UK – which would see Britons test themselves twice a week with lateral flow tests.

According to the Guardian, Mr Dyson said in his email: ‘As of today, someone who gets a positive LFD result in (say) London has at best a 25 per cent chance of it being a true positive, but if it is a self-reported test potentially as low as 10 per cent (on an optimistic assumption about specificity) or as low as 2 per cent (on a more pessimistic assumption).’

Mr Dyson’s fears are based on data which shows that as the number of cases goes down in an area, the number of false positive results – which wrongly tell people they have Covid – stays roughly the same. 

This means the ratio of false positives to true positives increases.

This is a different concern from that raised in the Government’s mass-testing trial last year – Operation Moonshot in Liverpool – where data showed lateral flow tests missed 60 per cent of positive cases.

Recent analysis by NHS Test and Trace suggests fewer than one in 1,000 lateral flow tests will produce a false positive.

The Government last month announced a multi-billion-pound plan for a mass-testing plan programme across the UK, which will see millions of testing kits sent out across the country.

Under the plan, every Briton will have access to kits to test themselves two-times a week.

Announcing the plan, Mr Hancock said: ‘Reclaiming our lost freedoms & getting back to normal hinges on us all getting tested regularly.’ 

But critics have raised fears that, even with a one in 1,000 false positive rate, when a mass-testing programme is rolled out to millions of people each week, it could lead to thousands of people being forced to self-isolate without actually having the virus. 

The Government plans to combat this by offering those who test positive a’gold standard’ PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test to confirm the result. 

The Prime Minister insisted the programme will ‘stop outbreaks in their tracks’ and is necessary to ensure that the sacrifices made in recent months ‘are not wasted’.

But Allyson Pollock, a professor of public health at Newcastle University, warned the rollout of mass testing is ‘going to do more harm than good’.

Branding it a ‘scandalous waste of money’, she said regular testing when cases were low would result in more false positives than actual cases, forcing people to self-isolate unnecessarily. 

Her argument was backed up by a review of all studies into lateral flow tests – the type that would be used – which suggests the country is already at the level where there may be more false than true positives.

‘The Government is rolling this out without any good evidence of the cost, the harms or the benefits,’ Professor Pollock told LBC radio.

‘Lateral flow tests are a problem because they miss people. Cases are falling to rock bottom now – the majority of cases will be false positives and that will result in people having to isolate unnecessarily.’

Boris Johnson will today urge everybody to take two Covid tests a week to help safeguard the unlocking of the country

Boris Johnson will today urge everybody to take two Covid tests a week to help safeguard the unlocking of the country

Matt Hancock faced a backlash today after he claimed a multi-billion pound plan to test everyone for coronavirus twice a week is the only way 'back to normality'

Matt Hancock faced a backlash today after he claimed a multi-billion pound plan to test everyone for coronavirus twice a week is the only way ‘back to normality’

PCR AND LATERAL FLOW TESTS: THE KEY DIFFERENCES

A PCR test can cost upwards of £180 per person, with the swab needing to be processed in a lab. 

The UK, on the other hand, favours faster tests which are not lab based and give a result within 15 minutes.

These rapid coronavirus tests, known as lateral flow tests, are ones that can be done on the spot using portable equipment.

They are faster and cheaper than lab-based PCR tests, which the government uses to diagnose people, but are less accurate. 

She added: ‘It’s giving a lot of money to commercial companies where the tests have not been evaluated and piloted in proper public health settings. This is a public health disaster.’

Government experts are satisfied the DIY swabs, widely used by schools, care homes and the NHS, are a key tool in reopening society.

The tests are said to have identified 120,000 cases that might not otherwise have been picked up.

From Friday, people will be able to request packs of test kits for home use to collect from a pharmacy, or be tested at council-run sites or in workplace schemes.

Taking 15 to 30 minutes to produce a result, they are faster, cheaper and easier to use than the PCR laboratory tests.

Ministers have agreed anyone testing positive will be offered a PCR test to confirm the result. But critics fear LFTs are not sensitive enough to be relied on, particularly in detecting the asymptomatic cases that make the virus so difficult to control.

Last month, a major review of 64 studies found that the rapid antigen tests correctly identified an average of 72 per cent of infected people, falling to 58 per cent of asymptomatic cases.

Figures released by the Government yesterday revealed a further 30 people had died from Covid, down 43 per cent from the previous week

Figures released by the Government yesterday revealed a further 30 people had died from Covid, down 43 per cent from the previous week

Britain reported 2,672 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, government data showed, up slightly from 2,491 on Wednesday

Britain reported 2,672 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, government data showed, up slightly from 2,491 on Wednesday

When infection rates were low in the community, the tests picked up far more ‘false positives’ than positive samples.

How will the mass testing plan work? 

Everyone in England will be eligible for two free rapid coronavirus tests a week from Friday.

The kits can be collected from local testing sites and pharmacies, accessed through workplaces, ordered for delivery to homes, or completed as part of community testing schemes.

Screening will continue to be carried out on-site at schools and colleges.

Anyone who tests positive must immediately self-isolate, and seek a PCR test to confirm the result.  

Speaking last month, Jon Deeks, professor of biostatistics at the University of Birmingham, said: ‘One of the issues which should have been picked up is these tests work a lot less well in people who are asymptomatic.’

He described using the tests every week on the entire population as ‘beyond reckless’.

Today the Department of Health said there were no plans to halt rapid coronavirus testing, after the Guardian reported the programme may be scaled back in England because of concerns about false positives. 

‘With around one in three people not showing symptoms of COVID-19, regular, rapid testing is an essential tool to control the spread of the virus as restrictions ease by picking up cases that would not otherwise have been detected,’ a ministry spokeswoman said in an emailed statement.

‘Rapid testing detects cases quickly, meaning positive cases can isolate immediately, and figures show that for every 1,000 lateral flow tests carried out, there is fewer than one false positive result.’

Britain reported 2,672 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, government data showed, up slightly from 2,491 on Wednesday but taking the fall over the last seven days to almost 7 per cent compared with a week earlier.

A total of 32.44 million people had received a first dose of a vaccine against coronavirus by April 14 and 8.51 million people had received a second dose.

HOW LATERAL FLOW TESTS ARE ONLY TRUSTWORTHY WHEN ADMINISTERED BY TRAINED STAFF

Lateral flow tests are only accurate at diagnosing coronavirus when administered by trained professionals, studies have repeatedly shown. 

The tests, which give results in as little as 15 minutes, use swabs of the nose or throat. Samples are then mixed in a testing liquid and put into a plastic cassette which can detect the presence or absence of coronavirus and then produce an image of a line, the same way as a pregnancy test, to indicate whether it is positive or negative.

The Department of Health and NHS are instructing people to use the tests on themselves, despite manufacturers of some kits saying they shouldn’t be used as DIY swabs.

Both the swabbing procedure and the use of the test cassette can easily be done wrong and affect the accuracy of the test. 

If the swab isn’t done for long enough, or deep enough into the nose or throat, it may not pick up fragments of virus. Medical professionals are also able to use nasopharyngeal swabs, which go right to the back of the nostril, whereas this is not advised for people who test themselves.

And if the sample isn’t properly inserted into the cassette the result might be wrong, or people may misread the display when it produces a result. 

SELF-TESTING CUT ACCURACY FROM 79% TO 58%

A University of Oxford and Public Health England evaluation of the Innova lateral flow test, which is being widely used in the UK, found its sensitivity – the proportion of positive cases it detected – fell from 79 per cent to 58 per cent when it was used by untrained members of the public instead of lab experts. 

Based on this evaluation, officials pushed ahead and used it for a real-world self-testing trial.

PILOT IN LIVERPOOL FOUND FEWER THAN HALF OF POSITIVES

When the same Innova test was trialled on members of the public in Liverpool – with people taking their own swabs and trained military staff operating the tests – the swabs picked up just 41 per cent of positive cases.

In the study the rapid tests detected 891 positive results, compared to lab-based PCR swabs that found 2,829 positives in the same group. This means 1,938 people got a wrong negative result from the rapid test.

The study didn’t compare this to professionally done rapid tests, but the manufacturer Innova claims its test is 95 per cent sensitive in lab conditions. 

…BUT TESTING DONE BY MEDICS IN SLOVAKIA ‘REDUCED INFECTIONS’ 

Despite rapid lateral flow tests getting bad press, officials in Slovakia used them on 5.2million people – almost the entire population of 5.5m – in a trial that a study later estimated to have cut the country’s infection rate by 60 per cent.

The tests used were between 70 and 90 per cent accurate and all the swabs and evaluations were carried out by trained medical workers. They used deep nasopharyngeal swabs, that go to the back of the nose, whereas self-testing generally relies on a swab of only the nostril.

London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine researchers said that the scheme successfully weeded out coronavirus cases that wouldn’t have been found otherwise, slashing the number of cases by over half in a week during a lockdown. 

HOW RAPID TESTS ARE DIFFERENT TO LAB-BASED PCR SWABS 

Lateral flow tests are an alternative to the gold standard PCR test – known scientifically as polymerase chain reaction testing – which is more expensive and more labour-intensive but more accurate.

PCR tests also use a swab but this is then processed using high-tech laboratory equipment to analyse the genetic sequence of the sample to see if any of it matches the genes of coronavirus.

This is a much more long-winded and expensive process, involving multiple types of trained staff, and the analysis process can take hours, with the whole process from swab to someone receiving their result taking days.

It is significantly more accurate, however. In ideal conditions the tests are almost 100 per cent accurate at spotting the virus, although this may be more like 70 per cent in the real world. 



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