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US supreme court justice and women’s rights champion Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies
US supreme court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a towering women’s rights champion who became the court’s second female justice, has died aged 87 at her home in Washington.
A statement from the court said Ms Ginsburg died as a result of complications from metastatic pancreatic cancer.

Her death just over six weeks before US election day is likely to trigger a fierce battle over whether President Donald Trump should nominate her replacement at the highest court in America, or if the seat should remain vacant until the result of the race in November against Democratic challenger Joe Biden is known.

The US senate majority leader Mitch McConnell said senators will vote on Mr Trump’s choice to replace Ms Ginsburg, even though it is an election year.

Mr Trump called Ms Ginsburg an “amazing woman” and did not mention filling her vacant supreme court seat when he spoke to reporters following a rally in Minnesota.

Mr Biden said the winner of the November election should choose Ms Ginsburg’s replacement.

“There is no doubt – let me be clear – that the voters should pick the president and the president should pick the justice for the senate to consider,” Mr Biden told reporters in Delaware.

Former president Barack Obama was among those paying tribute to Ms Ginsburg.

He said: “Over a long career on both sides of the bench – as a relentless litigator and an incisive jurist – justice Ginsburg helped us see that discrimination on the basis of sex isn’t about an abstract ideal of equality; that it doesn’t only harm women; that it has real consequences for all of us. It’s about who we are – and who we can be.”

US chief justice John Roberts also mourned Ms Ginsburg’s passing, saying: “Our nation has lost a jurist of historic stature.

“We at the supreme court have lost a cherished colleague. Today we mourn, but with confidence that future generations will remember Ruth Bader Ginsburg as we knew her – a tireless and resolute champion of justice.”

Ms Ginsburg announced in July that she was undergoing chemotherapy treatment for lesions on her liver, the latest of several battles with cancer.

She spent her final years on the bench as the unquestioned leader of the court’s liberal wing and became something of a rock star to her admirers.

Young women especially seemed to embrace the court’s Jewish grandmother, affectionately calling her the Notorious RBG, for her defence of the rights of women and minorities, and the strength and resilience she displayed in the face of personal loss and health crises.

Those health issues included five bouts with cancer beginning in 1999, falls that resulted in broken ribs, the insertion of a stent to clear a blocked artery and assorted other hospital treatments after she turned 75.

She resisted calls by liberals to retire during Barack Obama’s presidency at a time when Democrats held the senate and a replacement with similar views could have been confirmed.

Instead, Mr Trump will almost certainly try to push Ms Ginsburg’s successor through the Republican-controlled senate — and move the conservative court even more to the right.

Ms Ginsburg antagonised Mr Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign in a series of media interviews, including calling him a faker. She later apologised.

Her appointment by then-president Bill Clinton in 1993 was the first by a Democrat in 26 years. She initially found a comfortable ideological home somewhere left of centre on a conservative court dominated by Republican appointments. Her liberal voice grew stronger the longer she served.

Ms Ginsburg was a mother of two, an opera lover and an intellectual who watched arguments behind oversized glasses for many years, though she ditched them for more fashionable frames in her later years. At argument sessions in the ornate courtroom, she was known for digging deep into case records and for being a stickler for following the rules.

She argued six key cases before the court in the 1970s when she was an architect of the women’s rights movement. She won five.

At the time of her appointment, Mr Clinton said: “Ruth Bader Ginsburg does not need a seat on the supreme court to earn her place in the American history books. She has already done that.”

Following her death, Mr Clinton said: “Her 27 years on the court exceeded even my highest expectations when I appointed her.”

On the court, her most significant majority opinions were the 1996 ruling that ordered the Virginia Military Institute to accept women or give up its state funding, and the 2015 decision that upheld independent commissions some states use to draw congressional districts.

Besides civil rights, Ms Ginsburg took an interest in capital punishment, voting repeatedly to limit its use. During her tenure, the court declared it unconstitutional for states to execute the intellectually disabled and killers younger than 18.

In addition, she questioned the quality of lawyers for poor accused murderers. In the most divisive of cases, including the Bush v Gore decision in 2000, she was often at odds with the court’s more conservative members – initially chief justice William H Rehnquist and justices Sandra Day O’Connor, Antonin Scalia, Anthony M Kennedy and Clarence Thomas.

The division remained the same after John Roberts replaced Rehnquist as chief justice, Samuel Alito took Ms O’Connor’s seat, and, under Mr Trump, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh joined the court, in seats that had been held by Mr Scalia and Mr Kennedy, respectively.

Ms Ginsburg would say later that the 5-4 decision that settled the 2000 presidential election for Republican George W Bush was a “breathtaking episode” at the court.

When Mr Scalia died in 2016, also an election year, senate majority leader Mitch McConnell refused to act on Mr Obama’s nomination of judge Merrick Garland to fill the opening.

The seat remained vacant until after Mr Trump’s surprising victory. Mr McConnell has said he would move to confirm a Trump nominee if a vacancy came up this year.

Ms Ginsburg authored powerful dissents of her own in cases involving abortion, voting rights and pay discrimination against women.

She said some were aimed at swaying the opinions of her fellow judges while others were “an appeal to the intelligence of another day”, in the hopes that they would provide guidance to future courts.

“Hope springs eternal,” she said in 2007, “and when I am writing a dissent, I’m always hoping for that fifth or sixth vote – even though I’m disappointed more often than not.”

She married her husband, Martin Ginsburg, in 1954, the year she graduated from Cornell University. He died in 2010. She is survived by two children, Jane and James, and several grandchildren.

Published: 19/09/2020 by Radio NewsHub

Constant supervision of visitors in care homes to continue under winter plan
Visitors to care homes in areas with high numbers of coronavirus cases will continue to be constantly supervised as part of the Government’s adult social care winter action plan.
Any facility listed by Public Health England’s (PHE) surveillance report as being an area of intervention should immediately move to stop visiting, except in “exceptional circumstances”, the plan says.

The number of people affected is expected to increase as ministers consider tough new coronavirus restrictions after Boris Johnson said the long-feared second wave of the pandemic had arrived in the UK.

The plan was published on Friday evening along with a letter from care minister Helen Whately in which she expressed hope the virus would be eradicated from care homes by September 2021.

In the letter addressed to the heads of local authorities, care home providers and public health and adult social care directors, Ms Whately said: “This time next year, it would be wonderful to achieve our objective of Covid-free care homes, resilient communities and a health and care workforce still able to give their very best.”

The plan sets out the national support available to the sector to help fight the spread of coronavirus over winter.

Ms Whately said with the prevalence of coronavirus rising in the general population and in social care, “now is the time to act”.

She added: “This year, we have all shared or recognised the pain of losing family members, friends and colleagues to coronavirus and its complications.

“I am determined to do all that I can to protect everyone receiving and providing care this winter.

“Nationally, locally and at the front line, we must intensify our efforts to support, protect and equip everyone in the system.

“With the prevalence of coronavirus rising in the population and in social care, now is the time to act.”

Care homes will receive free personal protective equipment (PPE) and providers must stop movement of staff between homes “unless absolutely necessary”.

The plan says limitations on staff movement between care homes would be “enforced through regulations focused on care home providers”.

The Infection Control Fund, set up in May, has been extended until March and will offer the sector an extra £546 million to help providers through the winter months.

A new dashboard will monitor care home infections, while a chief nurse for adult social care will be appointed to the Department of Health and Social Care.

The plan also says the Government is drawing up a “designation” scheme with the Care Quality Commission for premises that are safe for people leaving hospital who have tested positive for Covid-19 or are awaiting a test result.

Patients will continue to be tested prior to discharge and no provider should be forced to accept an existing or new patient if they cannot deal with their coronavirus safely, it added.

The plan says £1.8 billion has been provided via the NHS to support the “safe and timely” discharge of patients from hospital, including through testing them for coronavirus.

The charity Mencap and the National Care Forum (NCF) welcomed the plan, but both raised concerns about the proposals to restrict visits to care homes.

Vic Rayner, executive director at NCF, said the plan “ticks all the right boxes” but there was a lot of detail still to come.

She added: “There is cold comfort for the social care workforce.

“Much feted over recent months, the Government has not taken the opportunity within this plan to celebrate and reward their efforts.

“The workforce is our most valuable asset – and the plan ignores or minimises that fact at all of our peril.

“Finally, it is of huge concern that the plan seeks to further restrict visits to care homes, and NCF calls on Government to think again about blanket bans in areas of intervention.”

Published: 19/09/2020 by Radio NewsHub

Ministers consider new Covid controls as cases rise
Ministers are considering tough new coronavirus restrictions as Boris Johnson said the long-feared the second wave of the pandemic has arrived in the UK.
With new cases of the disease in England estimated to have doubled over the past week, the Prime Minister said they were keeping “everything under review”.

He is facing calls from the First Ministers of Scotland and Wales to call a meeting of the Government’s Cobra civil contingencies committee with the devolved administrations to consider the worsening situation.

The Government is thought to be looking at a temporary two-week “circuit break”, with new controls across England in an attempt to break the chain of transmission and prevent a new spike in the disease.

The move could see hospitality and leisure venues forced to close their doors again, while socialising between households could be banned.

Speaking during a visit to Oxford on Friday, Mr Johnson said it was clear the second wave that had been spreading across Europe has now reached the the UK.

“We are now seeing a second wave coming in. We are seeing it in France, in Spain, across Europe – it has been absolutely, I’m afraid, inevitable we were going to see it in this country,” he said.

However, there are concerns among some Tory MPs of the economic impact of further restrictions just as activity is picking up again following the first lockdown.

The warning comes less than a week after the new “rule of six” – outlawing social gatherings of more than six people – came into force, underlining the speed at which the virus had taken off again.

Earlier on Friday, Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced new restrictions for large parts of England’s North West, West Yorkshire and the Midlands.

It means by Tuesday, when the measures come into force, around 13.5 million people in the UK will be living under some form of coronavirus controls.

The Prime Minister insisted he still wanted to avoid a second national lockdown.

He added however: “Clearly when you look at what is happening, you have got to wonder whether we need to go further than the ‘rule of six’ that we have brought in on Monday.”

His comments came as new confirmed daily cases of coronavirus hit 4,322 – the highest since May 8.

Cases of the virus and hospital admissions for Covid-19 are doubling every seven to eight days in the UK, according to the new data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) said the R number – representing the number of people an infected person will pass the virus to – had risen to between 1.1 and 1.4, meaning cases could rise very quickly.

Public Health England (PHE) warned the data could be a sign of “far worse things to come”.

Although deaths are currently low, experts expect them to rise, with Sage saying the R number “shows that we are moving to wider spread growth in transmission at a faster rate”.

Last week, the R number was said to be between 1.0 and 1.2.

Meanwhile, the ONS said its latest estimate “shows the number of infections has increased in recent weeks”.

Overall, an average of 6,000 people in England per day were estimated to be newly infected with Covid-19 between September 4-10, almost double the 3,200 people per day from August 30 to September 5.

The figures do not include people staying in hospitals or care homes.

Yvonne Doyle, medical director at PHE, said: “We’re seeing clear signs this virus is now spreading widely across all age groups and I am particularly worried by the increase in rates of admission to hospital and intensive care among older people.

“This could be a warning of far worse things to come.”

Published: 19/09/2020 by Radio NewsHub

Covid-19: Fresh restrictions for the North West, West Yorkshire and the Midlands
Huge parts of England’s North West, West Yorkshire and the Midlands face tough new restrictions from Tuesday as Matt Hancock refused to rule out a national lockdown.
Ministers announced a tightening of rules in response to “major increases” in Covid-19 cases in large areas of the North West and Yorkshire and parts of the Midlands.

In Merseyside, Warrington, Halton and Lancashire (excluding Blackpool and Greater Manchester), the following restrictions will be enforced from Tuesday:

Residents must not socialise with other people outside of their own households or support bubble in private homes and gardens

Restaurants, pubs and bars will be restricted to table service only, while all leisure and entertainment venues including restaurants, pubs and cinemas, must close between 10pm to 5am.

Residents are also advised to avoid public transport unless it is essential, as well as professional or amateur sporting events.

The new rules do not apply to Bolton or Greater Manchester, where separate restrictions are already in place.

In the Midlands, people in Oadby and Wigston will be banned from socialising with others outside of their own households or support bubble in private homes and gardens from Tuesday.

And in West Yorkshire, people in all parts of Bradford, Kirklees, Calderdale, will also be banned from socialising with other people outside their household or bubble from Tuesday.

Health and Social Care Secretary, Matt Hancock said: “We are seeing cases of coronavirus rise fast in Lancashire, Merseyside, West Yorkshire, Warrington, Halton and Wolverhampton.

“Local leaders in these areas have asked for stronger restrictions to be put in place to protect local people, and we are acting decisively to support them.

“I know these restrictions will make every-day life harder for many, but I know that residents will work together and respect the rules so we can reduce rates of transmission.

“I urge local people to isolate and get a test if you have symptoms, follow the advice of NHS Test and Trace, and always remember ‘hands, face, space’. By sticking to these steps, we will get through this together.”

In the week to September 11, Covid-19 rates in Liverpool have increased to 100.6 per 100,000 people, while in Warrington they have risen to 111.2, and 145.5 in Oadby and Wigston.

In Wolverhampton, rates have increased to 61.8 per 100,000 people, according to the Department of Health.

It comes after Mr Hancock said a second national lockdown to curb the spread of coronavirus has not been ruled out but the “great hope” is that people will heed current advice to help manage a “very serious” situation.

He said a national lockdown was the “last line of defence” as he responded to reports that ministers are considering further national measures, even for just a two-week period, such as imposing a curfew on bars and restaurants.

The Government is still under fire over the NHS Test and Trace system, which has seen up to four times the number of people trying to book a test as the number of tests available.

Experts have said that, without effective testing and tracing, it will be much harder to control the spread of the virus and pinpoint larger outbreaks.

New figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) on Friday showed an estimated 59,800 people in private households in England had Covid-19 between September 4 and 10 – around one in 900 individuals.

The ONS said the latest estimate “shows the number of infections has increased in recent weeks”.

The figures do not include people staying in hospitals or care homes.

Published: 18/09/2020 by Radio NewsHub

European Commission president ‘convinced’ UK-EU trade deal can still be done
The European Commission chief has said she is “convinced” a trade deal remains possible with the UK but called Boris Johnson’s attempt to override the Brexit treaty an “unpleasant surprise”.

Ursula von der Leyen, in comments made to reporters, said Downing Street’s controversial UK Internal Market Bill had “distracted very strongly” from the two sides being able to secure fresh trade terms before the looming deadline.

The post-Brexit transition period, during which relations between the European Union and the UK have remained static, is due to end after December 31 and leaders on both sides of the Channel have warned that an agreement is needed by October if a deal is to be ratified in time for the start of 2021.

With the cliff edge only a month away, the Prime Minister has faced criticism domestically and on the world stage for pursuing legislation that would defy the Withdrawal Agreement brokered with the EU last year, breaking international law in the process.

Mr Johnson was forced on Wednesday to agree to table an amendment to the Internal Market Bill, giving MPs a vote before the Government can use the powers related to Northern Ireland which would breach the treaty.

But the compromise has not seen Brussels back down, with Eric Mamer, chief spokesman for the European Commission, telling a press briefing that its position had not changed and it still wanted the offending clauses to be withdrawn from the legislation.

Despite the wrangle over the Bill – which has been derided by every living former prime minister, scores of senior Tory backbenchers, US Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and Brussels – commission president Ms von der Leyen said she remained sure that consensus on a future partnership with the UK could be reached.

It comes after the former London School of Economics student used her annual State of the Union address to the European Parliament on Wednesday to warn Mr Johnson the UK could not unilaterally set aside the Withdrawal Agreement.

Ms von der Leyen, in comments reported by Politico, told reporters on Thursday: “Where the UK is concerned, we want an agreement, and I think the attempt to violate the Withdrawal Agreement distracted very strongly from the ongoing negotiations.

“This was an unpleasant surprise.

“And therefore it is time now that our British friends restore the trust in the validity of a signature under treaty, and that we keep on going, focused to negotiate because time is running out.”

In reply to another question, the German politician said she was “still convinced” a deal with London “can be done”.

The commission president’s comments come as the UK confirmed “some limited progress” had been made between the negotiation teams during informal talks in Brussels this week.

“The UK’s negotiating team had useful informal discussions with the EU this week as we seek to reach an agreement by mid-October on our future relationship,” said a UK Government spokesman.

“These covered a broad range of issues and some limited progress was made, but significant gaps remain in key areas, including fisheries and subsidies.

“We will continue to work hard to bridge those gaps in talks next week, without compromising our fundamental position of being an independent country.”

Published: 18/09/2020 by Radio NewsHub

Total number of people in lockdown rises above 10 million
Tough new measures to control the spread of coronavirus have come into effect in the north-east of England, taking the total number of people across the UK in lockdown to more than 10 million.

The new restrictions cover Northumberland, North Tyneside, South Tyneside, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Gateshead, Sunderland and County Durham and began at midnight.

Residents are banned from socialising in homes or gardens with people outside their own households or support bubble, food and drink venues are restricted to table service only and leisure and entertainment venues must close at 10pm.

The changes run alongside the England-wide six-person limit on social gatherings.

It takes the total number of people under in areas under additional restrictions across the UK to more than 10 million, covering parts of Scotland, south Wales, the north west and north east of England, Yorkshire and the Midlands.

The new lockdown measures come amid reports that tougher restrictions are expected to be imposed on Lancashire.

Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said: “Labour warned months ago that unless the Government spent the summer fixing the testing regime then we would face a bleak winter.

“The Government ignored that advice, the testing regime is collapsing and so it is not surprising national restrictions are back on the table.”

Meanwhile, the Government is expected to announce tighter restrictions on care home visits in areas with high numbers of coronavirus cases.

Care homes in areas subject to local lockdowns may be advised to temporarily restrict visits in all but end-of-life situations, it is understood.

For parts of the country where there is no local lockdown, but where community transmission is a cause for concern, an option officials are considering is advising that visits are restricted to one designated visitor per resident.

The Government will set out further details on Friday in its social care action plan to help fight the spread of coronavirus over winter.

The Financial Times reported that leading scientists advising the UK Government have proposed a two-week national lockdown in October to tackle the rising number of Covid-19 cases.

The experts, from the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) and the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling (Spi-m), have suggested a lockdown to coincide with the October school half-term, it added.

It comes as the head of NHS Test and Trace denied it was “failing”, and a senior minister hit out at people for “carping” about its flaws.

Baroness Dido Harding – head of NHS Test and Trace – acknowledged demand was significantly outstripping capacity.

But she said the size of the system had been based on modelling by the Government’s scientific advisers, and suggested the problems were exacerbated by people without symptoms seeking tests for which they were ineligible.

Faced with criticism of the shortage of tests, Commons Leader Jacob Rees-Mogg told MPs that “instead of this endless carping”, people should “celebrate the phenomenal success of the British nation in getting up to a quarter of a million tests of a disease that nobody knew about until earlier in the year”.

New testing figures for England showed 33.3% of people who were swabbed at a regional site, local site or mobile testing unit received their result within 24 hours – despite Boris Johnson’s promise that they would all be turned around within that timescale by the end of June.

Some 73.9% of close contacts of people who tested positive for Covid-19 in England were reached through the Test and Trace system in the week ending September 9 up from 69.5% on the previous week, but below the 77.2% reached in the week to August 19.

The latest figure showed an ability to carry out 242,817 tests a day, but the Government has pledged that will increase to 500,000 by the end of October.

Figures on Thursday showed there had been a further 3,395 lab-confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK, and 21 more people had died within 28 days of testing positive.

This brings the UK death toll to 41,705, although separate figures published by the statistics agencies show 57,500 cases where Covid-19 was mentioned on a death certificate.

In other developments:

– A total of 18,371 new people tested positive for Covid-19 in England in the week to September 9, a rise of 75% in positive cases on the previous week.

– YouGov’s coronavirus tracker poll showed that the proportion of Britons who approve of the way the Government has responded to the pandemic has fallen to its lowest level yet. Some 30% think the Government has handled the issue of Covid-19 well, with 63% saying it has handled it badly.

– A lockdown was coming into effect in Rhondda Cynon Taf in South Wales, meaning people must not enter or leave the area without a reasonable excuse.

– Thailand and Singapore have been added to the list of travel corridors, meaning travellers arriving in the UK from those countries after 4am on Saturday will no longer need to self-isolate for 14 days, but Slovenia and Guadeloupe have been removed.

Published: 18/09/2020 by Radio NewsHub

Thailand and Singapore added to quarantine-exemption list
Thailand and Singapore have been added to the list of travel corridors after a decrease in the rate of coronavirus cases, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has announced.
Travellers arriving in England from either south-east Asian country after 4am on Saturday will no longer need to self-isolate for 14 days.

But quarantine restrictions are being imposed on travellers from Slovenia and Guadeloupe.

The Department for Transport (DfT) said there has been “a significant change in both the level and pace of confirmed cases of coronavirus in both destinations”.

Data from Slovenia shows that its seven-day rate of cases is 29.1 per 100,000 people, up from 14.4 in the previous seven days.

The rate for Guadeloupe has risen more than six-fold in the past four weeks, the DfT said.

A rate of 20 is the threshold above which the UK Government considers triggering quarantine conditions.

The decision to remove the quarantine requirement for arrivals from Thailand and Singapore is unlikely to lead in a surge of people from England visiting the destinations.

The countries are only allowing people to enter for a limited number of reasons, such as if they have a work permit or are the spouse or child of a resident.

Published: 17/09/2020 by Radio NewsHub

Eoin Morgan urges England to learn from ODI series defeat against Australia
Captain Eoin Morgan refused to be downcast after England ended their international summer with a rare one-day series defeat at the hands of rivals Australia, insisting the intensity of the battle will stand his side in good stead.

With the series level at 1-1 after two close finishes, England were primed to close out the decider having reduced their opponents to 73 for five chasing 303.

But a pair of magnificent centuries, 106 for Alex Carey and 108 for the buccaneering Glenn Maxwell, turned the tables as the tourists sealed a three-wicket success with just two balls remaining.

It was the world champions’ first one-day defeat on home soil since 2015 and the first anywhere since a trip to India in 2017.

Morgan has become accustomed to being on the right side of things in the 50-over format but felt a setback on challenging wickets at Emirates Old Trafford was a more instructive experience than walkovers on perfect batting tracks.

“I think sometimes when you have wins like that you can take performances for granted but given the kind of tight contests we’ve had with Australia in both the T20s and the ODIs, we have learned a huge amount,” he said.

“The positive of the series is knowing we can win games of cricket when we don’t play our best game. I know we’ve not played our best but the character and resilience we’ve showed has been brilliant.

“We’ve also learned quite a lot about the group playing on slower wickets. Having an opportunity to play on them for three games in a row is a rare one for us. It hasn’t gone our way, but certainly we have addressed an area of our game that is our weakest. We now have time to take it and work on it.”

While Morgan is heading straight to the Indian Premier League on Thursday – one of nine England players heading to the United Arab Emirates via charter plane – he is uncertain where or when he will next be on international duty.

A tour of South Africa is tentatively pencilled in for November but the ongoing uncertainty over the coronavirus pandemic means it is hard to take anything for granted.

Whenever the team does reconvene it will surely be in another ‘bio-secure’ bubble, based on the blueprint the England and Wales Cricket Board has been able to put together and successfully manage over the past two-and-a-half months.

“From where we were five months ago to have had a full set of international fixtures and to have cricket back on the TV is huge for the game,” he reflected.

“I think we’ve pioneered and mapped out exactly how to get cricket back on. Given we’ve had no positive cases within the bubble I think it is a very good example and one every team around the world will look at.

“Whether they can model it exactly like that might be a bit more challenging but I think the ECB has done an outstanding job.”

Australia captain Aaron Finch was visibly relieved to sign off from the tour in celebratory fashion after seeing the game ebb and flow as both sides wrestled for the result.

In the end it needed career-best efforts from both Carey and Maxwell, who clubbed seven sixes, to seal it.

“We were in trouble, England had all the momentum at 73 for five but that Maxi partnership with Alex was fantastic,” he said.

“Maxi is in the team to do a specific role, he’s able to take the game away from opponents when you’re having a good day but also to counter-attack and try and swing momentum in changing rooms.

“I don’t think there are many bowlers around the world that can trouble him when he’s having one of those sort of days.”

Published: 17/09/2020 by Radio NewsHub

New restrictions expected for North East amid rising Covid-19 cases
The North East looks set to become the latest area in England to come under local restrictions as coronavirus cases rise.

Newcastle City Council leader Nick Forbes said “additional, temporary” measures are being planned to prevent another full lockdown.

He said he expected Health Secretary Matt Hancock to make an announcement on Thursday morning.

The Chronicle Live website reported that measures would include a 10pm curfew on pubs, restaurants and other licensed premises.

It also said people will be banned from socialising with anyone outside their household

Other restrictions it said were due to be announced but had not yet been confirmed include people being told not to go on holiday with different households and spectators advised not to attend sporting venues.

It said care home visits will be restricted to essential visitors, and people will be advised to avoid public transport at peak times except for essential journeys, and to avoid car-shares.

Mr Forbes tweeted: “Some additional, temporary restrictions are being planned to prevent another full lockdown.”

One Twitter user asked when the announcement would be made, adding that the “uncertainty creates lots of anxiety for people”.

He replied: “We are waiting confirmation from Government on the final version of the regulations; I am expecting an announcement by the Health Secretary at 11am tomorrow.”

The restrictions will reportedly apply to Newcastle, Northumberland, North Tyneside, South Tyneside, Gateshead, County Durham and Sunderland – which have all seen rises in cases, according to the latest weekly rates.

Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said a “full briefing” will be given on Thursday ahead of the measures coming into place at midnight.

He told ITV’s Peston show: “The number of cases has been rising rapidly in many parts of the country, but in particular in the North East, and so a decision has been made to impose further restrictions there.

“And a full announcement will be made tomorrow and so people living in that part of the country should watch out for that. And the measures will come into play at midnight on Thursday evening.

“So, over the course of the day a full briefing will be made available to everybody including the councils and business community.”

A spokesman for the Department of Health and Social Care said: “We constantly monitor infection rates across the country and keep all measures under review in consultation with local leaders.

“Any changes to local restrictions will be announced in the usual way.”

The most recent figures show Newcastle to have recorded a sharp increase in its weekly rate, up from 51.2 to 64.1, with 194 new cases in the seven days to September 13.

It comes after local measures in the likes of Greater Manchester and Birmingham have been put in place in a bid to address rising rates of infection.

Published: 17/09/2020 by Radio NewsHub

Biden warns Northern Ireland peace deal must not be ‘casualty’ of Brexit
US presidential election frontrunner Joe Biden has insisted the Good Friday peace deal in Northern Ireland cannot become a “casualty” of Brexit.

The intervention by the Democratic Party nominee for the White House came as Prime Minister Boris Johnson faces concerted opposition to Government moves that would override the divorce deal with Brussels regarding trade with Northern Ireland.

As Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab was visiting Washington DC to discuss the issue, former vice president Mr Biden, who is leading incumbent president Donald Trump in a series of nationwide polls ahead of the November election, said a future trade deal between the US and UK could only happen if the peace agreement was respected.

Mr Biden tweeted: “We can’t allow the Good Friday Agreement that brought peace to Northern Ireland to become a casualty of Brexit.

“Any trade deal between the US and UK must be contingent upon respect for the Agreement and preventing the return of a hard border. Period.”

His comments came as Mr Johnson saw the resignation of a senior law officer, Lord Keen, and was forced into a compromise over controversial plans to break international law by overriding the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement.

The remarks echoed those of Democratic Speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi.

Before a meeting with Ms Pelosi, Mr Raab accused Brussels of the “politicisation” of Northern Ireland issues in the context of Brexit trade talks.

He said the EU stance threatened the Good Friday Agreement.

Mr Raab said he had made clear the UK has an “absolute” commitment to the Good Friday Agreement.

“The UK action here is defensive in relation to what the EU is doing, it is precautionary, we haven’t done any of this yet, and it is proportionate,” he said.

“What we cannot have is the EU seeking to erect a regulatory border down the Irish Sea between Northern Ireland and Britain.”

Ms Pelosi has warned Congress would never pass a free trade agreement with the UK if legislation to override the Brexit divorce settlement was to “imperil” the peace process.

She said in a statement following her meeting with Mr Raab that she “welcomed his assurances but reiterated the same message that we delivered to the leaders of the UK in London last year: if the UK violates its international agreements and Brexit undermines the Good Friday accord, there will be absolutely no chance of a US-UK trade agreement passing the Congress”.

Speaking to reporters after his meeting with Mr Raab, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he had “great confidence” the British Government “will get this right in a way that treats everyone fairly and gets a good outcome for what it was the people of the United Kingdom voted for now several years back”.

The Government will table an amendment to the UK Internal Market Bill, giving MPs a vote before it can use powers which would breach the deal brokered with Brussels last year.

Around 30 Tory rebels were thought to be preparing to vote for an amendment on Tuesday which would have required a Commons vote before the provisions in the Bill relating to Northern Ireland could come into force.

Downing Street relented and announced in a joint statement with Conservative MPs Sir Bob Neill and Damian Green that it would seek to amend the Bill to require the Commons to vote before a minister can use the powers.

The statement said: “Following constructive talks over the last few days, the Government has agreed to table an amendment for Committee Stage.

“This amendment will require the House of Commons to vote for a motion before a minister can use the ‘notwithstanding’ powers contained in the UK Internal Market Bill.”

But Mr Johnson risked further conflict with the EU when he said Brussels was not acting in good faith.

He told the Sun: “We assumed our EU friends and partners would want to negotiate in good faith. We’ve been paid up members for 45 years.”

The Government’s top law officer for Scotland resigned on Wednesday amid reports he was unhappy about the plans to override the Withdrawal Agreement.

Lord Keen of Elie QC, the Advocate General, said in his resignation letter: “Over the past week I have found it increasingly difficult to reconcile what I consider to be my obligations as a Law Officer with your policy intentions with respect to the UKIM Bill.

“I have endeavoured to identify a respectable argument for the provisions at clauses 42 to 45 of the Bill but it is now clear that this will not meet your policy intentions.

Labour’s shadow attorney general Lord Falconer said: “This has been a week of chaos from the Government’s own law officers, whose legal advice has been renounced by its own Government and the voice of the law officers has been muted, and their authority is completely shot.”

Published: 17/09/2020 by Radio NewsHub


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