politics

Brexit negotiations latest – live: Boris Johnson will ‘not be focus’ for US if Biden wins as EU talks continue


Holiday activity scheme may be extended, minister says

Post-Brexit Britain will no longer be Washington’s “centre of gravity” in Europe if Joe Biden wins the US presidential election, the UK’s former top security adviser has warned in a blow for Boris Johnson.

It came as the EU confirmed Brexit trade talks had progressed sufficiently to allow a move to continue them in Brussels from Thursday.

Meanwhile, the PM is also under pressure to solve the free school meals row plaguing his government, as Marcus Rashford’s petition on child poverty nears 1 million signatures. However. Rishi Sunak ruled out any major U-turn on free meal vouchers, saying No 10 had to “trust local councils”.

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Gibraltar and Spain plan last minute Brexit side-deal to keep free movement

Spain and Gibraltar are planning a last-minute bilateral Brexit deal aimed at making Brexit less damaging for their citizens when the transition period ends on 31 December, writes Jon Stone.

The proposed agreement, which would not directly address the vexed question of sovereignty, would aim to preserve free movement across the Gibraltan border, the Financial Times reports.

Arancha González, Spain’s foreign minister, told the newspaper that an agreement could make the coming changes “simpler” and “less costly”.

Jon Sharman27 October 2020 15:35

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Rashford praises councils’ food poverty drives

Marcus Rashford has praised local councils’ efforts to feed hungry children over the school holidays.

The Manchester United striker said it was “just incredible” given that government hardship funding had now lapsed.

If you’d like to get up to speed on that £63m funding, you can read our story from overnight below:

Jon Sharman27 October 2020 15:27

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Brexit deal ‘likely’, says Coveney

Ireland’s foreign minister says it’s likely a Brexit deal will be struck, but that it will not be easy.

Simon Coveney said he was “under no illusion of the challenges” facing UK and EU negotiators trying to reach an agreement over the next fortnight, which he said was the “realistic” timeline for completion.

“We’re likely to get a deal but it won’t be easy,” Mr Coveney told an Irish Farmers Journal webinar.

Jon Sharman27 October 2020 15:38

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Check on people in self-isolation ‘every day’, WHO tells Boris Johnson

People self-isolating need to be monitored “every day” if Covid-19 is to be tamed, the World Health Organisation says – urging Boris Johnson to be much tougher, writes Rob Merrick.

Another lockdown could be avoided, a spokeswoman said, but only if the UK and other European countries provided far more help to those affected and ensured they complied.

“Make it genuinely possible for them to self-isolate,” Margaret Harris said, pointing to the need to work, or have time off, obtain food and help family members in need.

Jon Sharman27 October 2020 15:12

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Labour peer recalls ‘panic’ of school holidays while growing up in poverty

Labour peer recalls ‘panic’ of school holidays while growing up in poverty

Jon Sharman27 October 2020 14:42

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Opinion: While private education thrives, youth unemployment may turn state schools into glorified job centres

In a deeply-worrying statistic, the number of 18-24 year olds claiming unemployment-related benefits increased by nearly 125 per cent between March and September this year, writes Maxine Harrison.

Covid-19 has severely affected the job market and the traditional career trajectory, leaving many young people, who otherwise would have sought regular 9-5 jobs, for example, to forcibly consider other, more precarious employment, such as gig work. 

Jon Sharman27 October 2020 14:12

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Holiday clubs alone ‘may not be enough to tackle child food poverty’

Ministers will have to come up with a mix of ways to tackle child food poverty if they plan to take extra steps on the issue in the wake of Marcus Rashford’s free school meals campaign, it has been claimed.

A top official involved in the pilot of holiday activity and food programmes – the brainchild of government food czar Henry Dimbleby – said some children in need could be missed out if the scheme’s focus is too narrow.

Kirsty McHugh, chief executive of the Mayor’s Fund for London, told the PA news agency: “Think about the children who are under five and not yet in school. They haven’t got free school meal eligibility.

“We could have holiday provision at scale but it’s going to have to be broader than just free school meals eligibility.

“It’s going to have to be a mix of things. And the holiday provision in itself is a really good way forward, but it’s not going to be the whole answer and it’s particularly tricky for the Christmas period.”

Ms McHugh said a lot of the voluntary groups and public sector organisations that run holiday provision tended not to operate at Christmas.

“That’s something that has to be factored in,” she said, adding: “Holiday provision would be great over Christmas, but the question is have you got the community groups, the youth clubs etc who are operating given that people want to spend time with their families.”

Jon Sharman27 October 2020 14:04

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Rescue operation under way after migrant boat sinks trying to reach UK

A boat carrying migrants attempting to reach the UK has sunk in the English Channel, writes Lizzie Dearden.

French authorities have mounted a search and rescue operation off the coast of Dunkirk.

Jon Sharman27 October 2020 14:08

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Peer describes ‘panic’ of looming summer holidays while growing up in poverty

Labour’s Lord Griffiths of Burry Port has told the House of Lords of the panic his family – he, his mother and his brother – felt ahead of the school holidays when he was a child living in poverty.

His mother relied on free school meals to make ends meet, he told peers.

He said: “I was in receipt of free meals throughout my entire school career. My mother, a single woman, her only income was the contributions of the National Assistance, we lived in one room.

“I remember very clearly, I can still taste and smell it, the mounting panic ahead of school holidays because the income we had could not stretch to feeding two boys and a mother in that day.

“Marcus Rashford and I have this, and probably only this, in common. We remember not in our heads but in our whole bodies. An old Etonian, of course, can’t be expected to have had the same experience.”

Lord Griffiths said children faced a “postcode lottery” in terms of the response of their local councils.

Baroness Berridge, the education minister, replied: “Many noble lords of all parties and none can recall circumstances in which their own needs – whether that be housing or food – were not met through the circumstances of their family.

“It’s not a postcode lottery – 1.4 million children in England are entitled to free school meals, saving their families over £400 a year, and in addition to that, particularly through the soft drinks levy, the government has in nearly 2,500 schools been funding breakfast clubs to provide children with healthy food.”

Jon Sharman27 October 2020 13:54

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Government dragged back to court for approving more arms sales to Saudi Arabia

The government is facing a new court battle to keep arms shipments flowing to Saudi Arabia, after campaigners filed a judicial review against the policy, writes Jon Stone.

The Court of Appeal imposed a block on new arms sales to the autocracy in June 2019, but the government lifted it following a review in July 2020.

Now Campaign Against the Arms Trade, which responsible for the original court action, is seeking a judicial review of the decision by ministers to overturn the ban.

Jon Sharman27 October 2020 13:22



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