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Boris Johnson says law MUST be observed in Prince Andrew Epstein row but insists it's a 'matter for Royal Family'

BORIS Johnson said the law "must be carried out" in the Prince Andrew and Jeffrey Epstein row, but has insisted it is a "matter for the Royal Family".

The Prime Minister spoke to LBC today, after Epstein's former girlfriend appeared in US court yesterday following her arrest.




Ghislaine Maxwell, 58, appeared in via video link accused of grooming and abusing girls as young as 14 for Epstein.

The British socialite's arrest comes almost a year after Epstein was arrested and then killed himself in prison in mysterious circumstances.

Her friendship with Prince Andrew, 60, has been under scrutiny since the start of the Epstein scandal.

Andrew was earlier asked to co-operate by US lawyers in the probe over his paedo pal and tell all he knows about alleged Epstein pimp Maxwell.

And the PM said today: "Obviously everyone's sympathies are with the victims of Jeffrey Epstein, but you would not expect me to comment on matters affecting the royal family.

"No such approach has been made [by US to Government for interview]. Otherwise it really is a matter for the royal family."

But added: "The law must be observed."

MAXWELL'S ROYAL FRIENDSHIP

Maxwell introduced Andrew to Epstein in 1999 while she was dating the US billionaire.

She was a guest at Windsor Castle for Andrew's 40th birthday party thrown by the Queen.

Maxwell even attended Beatrice's 18th bash at Windsor Castle and a shooting party at Sandringham thrown by Andrew for her birthday.

The Duke of York has been accused of sleeping with sex slave Virginia Giuffre Roberts three times when she was just a teenager.

Ms Roberts claims she met Andrew on a trip to London with Maxwell and Epstein in 2001 at Maxwell's house.

The US prosecution's case against Maxwell does not involve Prince Andrew, who has furthermore denied the claims of Ms Roberts.

The law must be observed

But New York Attorney Audrey Strauss said it was possible Maxwell could co-operate despite facing charges of lying about “unspeakable” child sex crimes.

And Ms Strauss said she’d “like the benefit” of Andrew’s statement — after revealing some of Epstein’s abuse took place in London.

She added: “We’d welcome Prince Andrew coming in to talk with us. Our doors remain open.”

Ms Strauss kept tight-lipped over whether the royal would be quizzed as a suspect or witness.

Last month, the US officially demanded Britain hand over Prince Andrew to be quizzed over his links to billionaire paedophile pal Epstein.

In a bombshell move, the Department of Justice told the UK the Duke of York was now caught up in a criminal probe for the first time.

He has always vehemently denied any wrongdoing. Sources close to the Prince were “bewildered” that the US Department of Justice wanted a chat — given they say they have contacted prosecutors.

They said the Duke’s legal team had “reached out” to lawyers on “a senior level” with no reply.

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Boris Johnson urges the public not to 'overdo it' when pubs reopen

Boris Johnson urges the public not to ‘overdo it’ when pubs across England reopen on Saturday as Jacob Rees-Mogg says he has bought a yard of ale glass so he can ‘measure social distancing’

  • Pubs and restaurants in England to reopen on Saturday for first time since March
  • But Boris Johnson urged caution, telling people not to ‘overdo it’ this weekend
  • Jacob Rees-Mogg said he had bought a yard of ale glass for ‘social distancing’ 
  • Comes after Treasury deleted a controversial tweet urging people to visit pubs 

Boris Johnson has urged the nation not to ‘overdo it’ when pubs and restaurants across England reopen on Saturday.

The Prime Minister has called on people to be careful while enjoying themselves as the hospitality sector welcomes back customers for the first time since March. 

However, the PM’s plea to members of the public to be sensible risked being undermined by Jacob Rees-Mogg who told MPs he had bought a yard of ale glass which he intends to take to a pub on Saturday. 

It came after the Treasury was accused of publishing ‘the most tone-deaf tweet in history’ after urging people to celebrate the reopening of pubs. 

The tweet told people to ‘grab a drink and raise a glass’ but it prompted an immediate social media backlash as people said it was in bad taste given the UK’s coronavirus death toll and it was quickly deleted. 

Police and medics have urged people to be responsible this weekend amid fears some members of the public could over-indulge on their first trip to a bar in more than three months.

Officers in Durham are welcoming customers back to pubs by warning: ‘Enjoy the bars. Don’t end up behind them.’ 

Boris Johnson has urged the nation not to ‘overdo it’ when pubs and restaurnts reopen across England on Saturday

Commons Leader Jacob Rees-Mogg said he had bought a yard of ale glass ahead of a trip to a local pub at the weekend

There are concerns that a failure to observe social distancing rules when lockdown is further loosened could lead to a spike in Covid-19 infections. 

Mr Johnson will lead a Downing Street press conference on Friday evening ahead of pubs, restaurants and hairdressers reopening on Saturday.  

The Prime Minister’s Official Spokesman told a Westminster briefing today: ‘(Mr Johnson) has said that he does want to see people able to go out and to enjoy themselves, but he is also very clear that everybody needs to be careful, stay alert and to follow the guidance.

‘The guidance is there to keep everybody safe and to control the spread of the virus, and it is hugely important that everybody follows the advice and makes sure that they don’t overdo it.’

Asked if Mr Johnson would be visiting a pub or restaurant on Saturday, the spokesman said: ‘He’s talked about his enthusiasm for a haircut and pint previously but I don’t know exactly what he’s doing on Saturday yet.’

The spokesman added that it would be ‘plain for all to see next week what he’s been doing at the weekend’ if he gets his famous blonde locks trimmed over the weekend.

The spokesman’s comments came as Mr Rees-Mogg, the Commons Leader, said he had bought a yard of ale glass ahead of his own trip to a pub at the weekend. 

Responding to a question from Labour MP Lilian Greenwood, Mr Rees-Mogg said: ‘I welcome her good cheer about the pubs opening on Saturday. 

‘Last week I suggested that people use a yard of ale to measure their social distancing and I am glad to say I have had the yard glass delivered and I am looking forward to visiting The Crown in West Harptree on Saturday to see if I can get the two and a half pints that I believe a yard of ale actually takes. 

‘Whether I then drink the same is another question.’ 

Some experts are concerned that the lockdown easing risks undoing progress made in stopping the spread of the disease. 

The Treasury was accused of fuelling a potential increase in infections after it urged people to go to pubs at the weekend, tweeting last night: ‘Grab a drink and raise a glass, pubs are reopening their doors from 4 July.’ 

The message published by Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s department was accompanied by a short animated video showing glasses being raised. 

HM Treasury tweeted yesterday to urge people to ‘grab a drink and raise a glass’ as pubs reopen in England on Saturday. The tweet was deleted after a social media backlash

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has previously said he ‘can’t wait to get back to the pub… and I don’t even drink’

ITV Good Morning Britain presenter Piers Morgan was one of many people to lash out at the Treasury for posting the message. 

He tweeted: ‘This must be the most tone-deaf tweet in history. 

’65k people dead, the economy catering, millions facing unemployment.. and the Treasury wants us all to go out on the p*** & celebrate.’   

Other social media users labelled the tweet ‘irresponsible’, said it was in ‘bad taste’ and that it was ‘wholly inappropriate’.

A Treasury spokesman said today: ‘We got it wrong on this and the tweet was quickly removed.’

The Government is pushing ahead with what has become unofficially known as ‘Super Saturday’ despite Leicester going into local lockdown and other areas seeing an increase in cases.  

Pubs and restaurants will be allowed to reopen their doors from Saturday but they will be very different to how they were before lockdown was imposed in March. 

Government guidance suggests staff should wear face coverings while premises should provide patrons with hand sanitiser. 

All orders should be taken from the table, with many likely to use smartphone apps. 

Businesses have been told to put in place one-way systems to keep people away from each other.

Venues should also keep a record of all visitors so the NHS Test and Trace programme can immediately pounce on any virus outbreaks. 

Loud music and live performances will not be allowed in order to stop people from having to shout to be heard which can increase transmission of the disease.

Social distancing will still be required but it will no longer be two metres in all situations. 

From Saturday people who are not part of the same household will be told to keep to the one metre-plus rule.

The ‘plus’ is what Mr Johnson called mitigation, and it means taking extra steps to keep safe such as wearing a mask, regularly washing hands and sitting side by side, rather than face to face.

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Boris Johnson says Hong Kong crackdown could scupper Huawei deal

Boris condemns ‘unacceptable’ Hong Kong crackdown and hints he will axe Huawei 5G deal after Beijing vowed retaliation against Britain over plan to let three million Hong Kongers settle

  • Boris Johnson said UK would ‘have to think very carefully about how to proceed’ with the Huawei 5G deal
  • PM criticised China’s draconian new security law in Hong Kong which has already led to new crackdown
  • Britain has offered five years’ residency to 2.9million Hong Kongers with a possible route to UK citizenship
  • But China has rebuked Britain for making the offer and threatened to take its own ‘corresponding measures’  

China’s ‘unacceptable’ crackdown in Hong Kong could shut the door to Huawei’s involvement in Britain’s 5G mobile network, Boris Johnson has said as London and Beijing traded blows today. 

Mr Johnson said the draconian new security law that China has imposed on Hong Kong was ‘plainly an unacceptable breach’ of the freedoms that the city was guaranteed after Britain handed it back in 1997. 

Linking the crisis to the Huawei deal, the PM told the Evening Standard that ‘I don’t want to see our critical national infrastructure at risk of being in any way controlled by potentially hostile state vendors… so we have to think very carefully about how to proceed now.’ 

Q&A on Hong Kong’s British Nationals Overseas (BNOs)

What is a British National (overseas)?

Hong Kongers could register for this special status before the 1997 handover. They get a UK passport but no automatic right to live and work in the UK. You cannot apply to become a BNO.

How many of them are there?

As of February, there were 349,881 BNO passport holders. The Government estimates that there are around 2.9million BNOs currently in Hong Kong.

What is Britain offering them?

A path to citizenship. BNOs will get five years ‘limited leave to remain’. They can then apply for ‘settled status’. After 12 months with settled status, they can apply for citizenship. Their close family will also be eligible. 

Mr Johnson has been under massive pressure to change course on Huawei after agreeing in January to give the Chinese tech giant a ‘limited’ role in the 5G network, despite fears that Beijing would use it for espionage. 

Since then, the coronavirus pandemic and the crisis in Hong Kong have thrown Britain’s relations with China into crisis – with Beijing now threatening to punish the UK for offering refuge to Hong Kongers.  

Hundreds were arrested in a crackdown on Hong Kong protesters yesterday just hours after the new law came into force, bringing in long prison sentences for dissent and trials run by the mainland Communist Party. 

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab yesterday unveiled plans to offer residency and a possible route to citizenship to British Nationals (Overseas), a group of nearly three million people with links to Hong Kong. 

But Beijing regards them as Chinese nationals and its embassy in London warned today that ‘we firmly oppose this and reserve the right to take corresponding measures’.     

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told a press conference today that ‘the UK should bear any consequences caused by this… Hong Kong matters are China’s domestic affairs, and no countries have any right to intervene.’  

Mr Raab admitted last night that there would be little the UK could do if China tried to stop Hong Kongers from leaving.    

China did not say how it might retaliate, but it has recently hit Australia with a series of tariffs, export bans and warnings against travelling and studying in the country after it led global calls for an inquiry into coronavirus.  

Australia said today it is considering a similar citizenship offer, while Taiwan has opened an office to help Hong Kongers take refuge there.  

Boris Johnson (pictured at his House of Commons office yesterday) has warned that the Huawei 5G deal could be scuppered by China’s crackdown in Hong Kong 

Riot police officers pin down a protester during a demonstration in Hong Kong yesterday amid anger at Beijing’s new security law which could lead to suspects being tried by Communist Party courts on the mainland 

Protesters march in Hong Kong yesterday in a fresh round of demonstrations which saw hundreds arrested, including some people detained under Beijing’s new national security law 

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian (pictured) told reporters at a press conference today that ‘all the consequences shall be borne by the UK side’ after Britain drew up plans to offer residency to three million Hong Kongers

Hong Kong police last night arrested a man accused of stabbing a police officer during protests over the new security law (pictured_ – taking him off a Cathay Pacific flight to London moments before it took off 

Riot police detain a man as they clear protesters taking part in a rally against a new national security law in Hong Kong on July 1, 2020, on the 23rd anniversary of the city’s handover from Britain to China

A protester uses a sharp object against a police officer who is trying to detain a man (C) during a rally against a new national security law in Hong Kong

Hong Kongers look to take up Britain’s offer

‘Hundreds of thousands of people’ from Hong Kong might come to the UK after the Government offered an escape route to around three million people in the city, says a former British consulate worker who alleged he was tortured in China.

Simon Cheng is the first person to have been granted political asylum by the Home Office after he was allegedly shackled and beaten in secret detention in the Chinese city of Shenzhen.

Mr Cheng, a British overseas national, announced Wednesday night that his immigration application had been approved last Friday by the British government.

The pro-democracy activist, 29, today said that ‘hundreds of thousands of people’ from Hong Kong might follow his footsteps and choose to come to the UK.

The former consulate worker was detained in China for over two weeks last August after Beijing accused the former consulate worker of inciting unrest amid mass anti-government demonstrations in Hong Kong.

Simon Cheng (pictured) is the first person to have been granted political asylum by the Home Office in relation to China’s crackdown on the Hong Kong anti-government movement after he was allegedly shackled, beaten, forced to stand for long hours in secret detention in China

Eunice Wong, a Hong Kong student who has just finished her Master’s degree in the UK, said she would be taking advantage of the offer.

‘It’s the only option. I don’t think I can go back home now. I will be persecuted,’ she told The Times. 

In a separate interview with BBC Radio 5 Live, Ms Wong said she would not be able to go home again after talking to foreign media.

Thousands of Hong Kong citizens have already expressed their desire to move to Britain on social media platforms.

A Facebook group named the ‘Official Group for BNO Equality Movement’ has seen nearly 3,000 new members in the past month.

Numerous Hong Kong websites have published articles explaining the process of applying for the new BNO rights, including one titled ‘Things you must know before immigration’.

The PM is under pressure on Huawei from all sides, with Tory backbenchers repeatedly bringing up the issue in yesterday’s Commons debate on Hong Kong. 

Tom Tugendhat, the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, also raised concerns about China’s influence on the UK university sector – citing claims that ‘Chinese students have already been influenced to silence debate and change outcomes here in the UK’. 

Labour has also called for Britain to ‘develop home grown alternatives’ to Chinese technology and make ‘a proper assessment of the national security implications’ before green-lighting the Huawei deal.  

Mr Raab told MPs that Huawei’s role was currently ‘under review’ by the National Cyber Security Centre, with ministers no longer sticking by the January deal to let Huawei into 35 per cent of the network and none of its ‘core’ elements. 

Unveiling the offer to Hong Kongers, Mr Raab said the ‘bespoke’ new arrangement to be implemented in the coming months would grant BNOs five years’ limited leave to remain in the UK with the ability to live and work.

They would then be eligible to apply for settled status and would be able to apply for citizenship after 12 months with that status. 

At the moment, BNOs can travel on a British passport and receive UK diplomatic help but do not have the automatic right to live or work in Britain. 

The status had to be acquired before 1997 and can no longer be applied for, although ‘dependents’ of BNO holders will be eligible under the scheme. 

As of February, there were nearly 350,000 BNO passport holders, while the Government estimates there are around 2.9million BNOs living in Hong Kong. 

‘This is a special, bespoke set of arrangements developed for the unique circumstances we face and in the light of our historic commitment to the people of Hong Kong,’ Mr Raab said.  

However, the Foreign Secretary later said ‘only a proportion’ would be likely to take up the new status.

He also said that if Beijing tried to stop people with British National (Overseas) status from leaving Hong Kong, there would be little that could be done by the UK.

Mr Raab told ITV’s Peston programme: ‘There is diplomatic leverage, there are other ways that we can persuade China not to fully implement either the national security law or some of the reprisals you talk about.

‘But ultimately we need to be honest that we wouldn’t be able to force China to allow BNOs to come to the UK.’

The Chinese embassy in London insists that ‘all Chinese compatriots residing in Hong Kong are Chinese nationals’. 

‘If the British side makes unilateral changes to the relevant practice, it will breach its own position and pledges as well as international law and basic norms governing international relations,’ it said in a statement. 

‘We firmly oppose this and reserve the right to take corresponding measures,’ it said without elaborating.  

Separately, foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian warned at a daily briefing today that Britain would bear all consequences for any actions it took over Hong Kong. 

‘All Chinese compatriots in Hong Kong, including those holding the British National (Overseas) passports, are Chinese citizens,’ Zhao said. 

‘Before Hong Kong returned, the UK side had clearly promised not to provide the right of abode in Britain for holders of the BNO travel documents. The UK side has ignored the Chinese side’s solemn position and insisted on changing the policy to provide a route for the relevant individuals to stay in the UK and obtain UK citizenship. 

‘[The UK’s move] has seriously breached its own promises and violates international law and the basic principles of international relations. The Chinese side strongly condemns this and reserves the rights of further reactions. The UK should bear any consequences caused by this.’

Hu Xijin, the editor of the state-run Global Times, struck a different tone by saying that Britain should either grant citizenship immediately or not at all. 

‘Johnson government should give Hong Kong BNO passport holders UK citizenship, rather than let them go through a long period of uncertainty,’ he said. 

‘No matter what’s China’s official response, Chinese people have no objection to UK opening its arms to Hongkongers who want to leave.’ 

Britain regards the new security law as a breach of the 1984 treaty which agreed the terms of the handover – but China regards it as a historical document with no validity today.  



The officer retreats after being stabbed in the arm and receives treatment to his bloody wounds from his colleagues

Protesters chant slogans during a rally against a new national security law in Hong Kong on July 1, 2020, on the 23rd anniversary of the city’s handover from Britain to China. – Hong Kong police made the first arrests under Beijing’s new national security law on July 1 as the city greeted the anniversary of its handover to China with protesters fleeing water cannon

Pictured: Riot police officers walk as anti-national security law protesters march during the anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover to China from Britain, in Hong Kong, China July 1, 2020

Pictured: A woman reacts after she was hit with pepper spray deployed by police as they cleared a street with protesters rallying against a new national security law in Hong Kong on July 1, 2020

Pictured: A police officer raises his pepper spray handgun as he detains a man during a march against the national security law at the anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover to China from Britain in Hong Kong, China July 1, 2020

How UK and China have clashed over 5G, Covid-19 and human rights 

In October 2015, then-PM David Cameron told Chinese state TV that Britain and China were entering ‘something of a golden era in our relationship’ – but those ties have since been thrown off course by a series of disputes. 

HUAWEI AND 5G 

Beijing has been angered by Western fears that Chinese tech giant Huawei could be used as a front for Communist Party espionage. 

Huawei has long been lobbying to help build Britain’s 5G mobile network, but some politicians fear that Beijing could commandeer the technology to tap into communications.    

China has previously accused UK ministers of showing ‘deep-rooted pride and prejudice’ by raising fears about Huawei’s involvement. Huawei denies any spying link. 

In January 2020, Huawei was granted a limited role in the 5G network after the government said it could manage the risks and would keep Huawei out of the ‘core’ of the network, limiting its role to 35 per cent. 

But US pressure has prompted a rethink in recent weeks. Ministers admitted this week that US sanctions are ‘likely to have an impact on the viability of Huawei as a provider’.  

Britain is now studying ways it can cut Huawei out of its system entirely and build up an alliance of European and Asian providers that reduces China’s dominance in the field. 

CORONAVIRUS CRISIS

UK ministers have said that China faces a ‘reckoning’ over its handling of the coronavirus crisis, which started in Wuhan late last year and has killed more than 40,000 people in Britain. 

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said in May that China has questions to answer about how the disease was allowed to spiral out of control, amid claims that China covered up the outbreak in its earliest days. 

Britain was among the countries to back Australia’s calls for a WHO investigation into the pandemic. China has responded to Australia’s pressure with a series of retaliatory measures.  

China’s state-run Global Times stoked further tension in May by saying the UK’s response to Covid-19 was ‘flippant and ill-prepared’ and saying the UK needed a ‘miracle’ to escape the ‘mess’ it was in. 

HUMAN RIGHTS 

Britain voiced concern about the crackdown in Hong Kong during last year’s protests, saying that mass arrests and the use of live ammunition risked ‘inflaming tensions’. 

In addition, Britain was one of 23 countries to voice alarm about Chinese human rights abuses in Xinjiang, where ethnic minority Uighurs have allegedly been detained in ‘re-education camps’.  

A joint statement signed by Britain said there were ‘credible reports of mass detention; efforts to restrict cultural and religious practices; mass surveillance disproportionately targeting ethnic Uighurs; and other human rights violations and abuses’. 

Britain also urged China to give ‘meaningful access’ to UN investigators to assess the situation in Xinjiang.  

INFLUENCE ON BRITAIN’S ELITE    

A London club packed with political and business elites was caught in a row last month after a book claimed it was being used by China to ‘groom’ Britain’s elites. 

The pro-China 48 Group Club, which lists Lord Heseltine among its patrons, is taking legal action over the book which suggested that China sees the club as a channel for its lobbying efforts. 

The club denied being a ‘vehicle for Beijing’ and said it was an ‘independent body’ promoting ‘positive Sino-British relations’, The Times reported.  

Experts have previously warned about Chinese tactics of ‘elite capture’ by appointing prominent foreigners as well-paid advisers and making them ‘more amenable to Communist Party aims’.    

Beijing unveiled the details of the security law on Tuesday night after weeks of uncertainty, pushing one of the world’s most glittering financial hubs on to a more authoritarian path. 

Article 38 of the law even appears to claim jurisdiction over ‘every person on the planet’ for supposed national security crimes committed overseas.   

Hong Kong returned to China in 1997 under a deal known as ‘one country, two systems’ which maintained rights such as free speech and an independent judiciary that are unknown on the mainland. Beijing promised to preserve the city’s way of life until at least 2047- but critics say its special status is now dead.  

Hong Kong police began their new crackdown on dissent yesterday, boasting of their draconian new powers as they rounded up hundreds of pro-democracy activists including a 15-year-old girl waving an independence flag.  

Police used water cannons, tear gas and pepper spray to drive protesters back on the 23rd anniversary of the former British colony’s return to Chinese rule. Three were injured when a man flying a Hong Kong independence flag rammed his motorbike into a group of officers.  

Ten people were specifically arrested under the new security law, which lines up long prison sentences for crimes of ‘subversion’ and ‘terrorism’ which critics fear could be used to silence dissent. 

Around 370 were arrested on other charges, including unlawful assembly and possessing weapons.   

Police said that one officer was stabbed in the arm by ‘rioters holding sharp objects’. They added that the suspects fled and bystanders offered no help.

Authorities later arrested a 24-year-old man at the city’s airport in the early hours of Thursday on suspicion of attacking and wounding an officer during protests. 

A police spokesman said the arrested man was surnamed Wong but could not confirm if he was leaving Hong Kong or working at the airport.  

Wong had purchased a ticket on Wednesday and boarded the flight with no check-in luggage, the official said. He did not respond to the air crew who called him by name, and was not at his designated seat. Police identified him after conducting a sweep of the plane. 

Local media reported he was arrested after a relative tipped off police about his his travel plans. 

The new law is seen as Beijing’s boldest step yet to bring the semi-autonomous territory under control of the authoritarian mainland. 

Campaigners say the ‘one country, two systems’ formula which was meant to guarantee Hong Kong’s freedoms until 2047 is now dead – but China insists the law is an internal affair targeting only a handful of ‘troublemakers’. 

The law also allows China’s feared security agencies to openly set up shop in Hong Kong for the first time, and could open the door for dissidents to be tried on the mainland. An influential group of barristers says the law will weaken the independent judiciary which is seen as key to Hong Kong’s success as a business hub. 

Brought in following anti-government protests last year, it outlaws any action deemed to be against the national interest of China. 

Anyone shouting slogans or holding flags calling for independence is violating the law, regardless of whether violence is used. Even driving a bus full of protesters could be deemed illegal.

The most serious offenders will be labelled ‘terrorists’, transferred to the mainland and receive a maximum sentence of life in jail.

One example of a terror act, for example, is attacking public transport, something protesters often did last year. But it also includes providing support or assistance for such acts.

‘This would mean many ‘moderate’ or peaceful supporters of the protest movement would be caught under the law if the extreme protesters they assisted were to be arrested as terrorists,’ Hong Kong lawyer Antony Dapiran said. 

Some trials will be held behind closed doors. A new police unit unaccountable to local laws has also been given licence to operate in the territory. Beijing, not Hong Kong, will have power over how the law is interpreted. 

Ahead of the protest, pro-democracy activist Tsang Kin-shing, of the League of Social Democrats, warned there was a ‘large chance of our being arrested’.

He said: ‘The charges will not be light, please judge for yourself.’

A man who gave his name as Seth, 35, said: ‘I’m scared of going to jail but for justice I have to come out today, I have to stand up.’ 

Media tycoon Jimmy Lai said the law meant Hong Kong was ‘dead’. He added: ‘It’s worse than the worst scenario imagined. Hong Kong is totally subdued, totally under control.’

Mr Lai, 72, who also supported the Tiananmen Square protesters in 1989, thinks Beijing will come for him but is unfazed. ‘I cannot worry, because you never know what kind of measures they will take against me,’ he said. 

Pictured: Riot police (L) deploy pepper spray toward journalists (R) as protesters gathered for a rally against a new national security law in Hong Kong on July 1, 2020, on the 23rd anniversary of the city’s handover from Britain to China

Pictured: Helicopters with China’s national flag and the flag of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region fly over the Victoria Harbor during a ceremony to celebrate the 23rd anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to China on July 1, 2020 in Hong Kong, China

Pictured: Riot police secure an area in front of a burning road block during a demonstration against the new national security law on July 1, 2020 in Hong Kong, China

Pictured: A row of riot police officers is seen in front of a water cannon vehicle during a march against the national security law at the anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover to China from Britain, in Hong Kong, China July 1, 2020

Pictured: Pan-democratic legislator Eddie Chu Hoi-dick, Vice convener for Hong Kong’s Civil Human Rights Front Figo Chan, and activist Leung Kwok-hung, also known as ‘Long Hair’, march at the anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover to China from Britain, in Hong Kong, China July 1, 2020

Pictured: Protesters chant slogans and gesture during a rally against a new national security law in Hong Kong on July 1, 2020, on the 23rd anniversary of the city’s handover from Britain to China

Pictured: Demonstrators take part in a protest against the new national security law on July 1, 2020 in Hong Kong, China

Pictured: A protester (centre R) is detained by police during a rally against a new national security law in Hong Kong on July 1, 2020, on the 23rd anniversary of the city’s handover from Britain to China. – Hong Kong police arrested more than 300 people on July 1 – including nine under China’s new national security law – as thousands defied a ban on protests on the anniversary of the city’s handover to China

Hong Kong barristers warn of threat to independent judiciary 

Hong Kong’s new security law undermines its independent judiciary and could lead to suspects being deported to the mainland, an influential group of barristers has warned.

In a scathing critique, the city’s Bar Association said the new law dismantles the legal firewall between Hong Kong’s independent judiciary – which is seen as crucial to the city’s success as a business hub – and China’s Communist Party-controlled courts.    

The Association said the new national security offences were ‘widely drawn’ and ‘are capable of being applied in a manner that is arbitrary, and that disproportionately interferes with fundamental rights, including the freedom of conscience, expression and assembly’.

‘Lawyers, judges, police and Hong Kong residents were given no opportunity to familiarise themselves with the contents of the new law, including the serious criminal offences it creates, before it came into force,’ it said. 

Barristers said the law makes clear ‘suspects can be removed to face trial in Mainland China’ and points out that the process does not have the usual checks and balances of extradition hearings. 

It noted the law allowed mainland security agents working in Hong Kong to be ‘above the reach of local law’ and said empowering the city’s chief executive to appoint judges to oversee national security cases undermined judicial independence.

In response, China dismissed the statement as ‘unfounded’, claiming officials had held dialogue sessions with Hong Kong residents to hear their opinions on the law.

‘The lawyers’ association’s claim… that the law lacked meaningful consultation is totally unfounded,’ said foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian. 

Hong Kong’s Beijing-backed leader Carrie Lam strongly endorsed the new law in her speech marking the 23rd anniversary of the handover yesterday.  

‘This decision was necessary and timely to maintain Hong Kong’s stability,’ Lam said following a flag-raising ceremony and the playing of China’s national anthem.

Speaking at the harbour-front venue where the last British governor Chris Patten handed Hong Kong back to Chinese rule, Lam described it as the most important development in the 23 years since then. 

Mr Raab yesterday rebuked HSBC for supporting the new law, saying that the rights of Hong Kong should not be ‘sacrificed on the altar of bankers’ bonuses’. HSBC was originally known as the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation. 

British banking giants HSBC and Standard Chartered – both with a major presence in Hong Kong and on the mainland – joined other firms in publicly backing the law last month. 

The Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce described the passing of the law earlier this week as ‘instrumental in helping to restore stability and certainty to Hong Kong, which has been severely impacted by the social unrest since last year’.

‘We need a stable environment which the (security law) aims to provide.’ 

Analysts and members of the business community have said the law could add to the risk and complexity of doing business in Hong Kong, but is unlikely to spark an exodus of foreign firms because the city is still seen as the gateway to the Chinese economy. 

The city’s Bar Association, an influential group of barristers, said the new law dismantles the legal firewall between Hong Kong’s independent judiciary – which is seen as crucial to the city’s success as a business hub – and China’s Communist Party-controlled courts.    

Hong Kong restaurant is raided by police for displaying pro-democracy posters 

A noodle restaurant in Hong Kong has been forced to shut down after police raided the eatery for displaying pro-democracy slogans, pamphlets and figurines.

The owner of ‘Bowl and Plate’, Gordon Lam, announced the store closure today on Facebook after being warned by the authorities that the restaurant’s decorations might breach the new national security law.

The post was accompanied by pictures of Mr Lam tearing down the slogans that were put up six months ago to show support of the ongoing anti-government protests in the city.

A noodle restaurant in Hong Kong has been forced to shut down after police raided the eatery for displaying pro-democracy slogans, pamphlets and figurines. The picture shows the owner, Gordon Lam, taking down the posters following police raid

The store closure was announced today by the owner after being warned by the authorities that the restaurant’s decorations might breach the new national security law

Another image previously uploaded on the noodle bar’s Instagram shows the restaurant’s walls being filled with posters with slogans backing the pro-democracy protesters and supporting Hong Kong’s independence.

Many customers have left supportive comments under Mr Lam’s post. One commenter wrote: ‘They can’t tear them down. They are in our hearts.’

Another one read: ‘The most important thing is that you’re safe. We will help you once the business is reopened. One bowl…I’ll eat a few more bowls!’

The Association said the new national security offences were ‘widely drawn’ and ‘are capable of being applied in a manner that is arbitrary, and that disproportionately interferes with fundamental rights, including the freedom of conscience, expression and assembly’.

‘Lawyers, judges, police and Hong Kong residents were given no opportunity to familiarise themselves with the contents of the new law, including the serious criminal offences it creates, before it came into force,’ it said. 

China’s move has provoked a backlash around the world. The US House of Representatives last night agreed unanimously to seek tough sanctions on Chinese officials and Hong Kong police. 

On Thursday, Australian leader Scott Morrison said he was ‘very actively’ considering offering Hong Kongers safe haven. 

Taiwan has opened an office to help Hong Kongers wanting to flee, while a proposed bill in the United States offering sanctuary to city residents has received widespread bipartisan support.

China routinely dismisses all such criticism as interference in its domestic affairs. One of the crimes in the Hong Kong security law explicitly outlaws receiving funding or support from overseas to disrupt lawmaking in Hong Kong or impose sanctions on the city.  

Amnesty International said the new law was a ‘far-reaching threat to Hong Kong’s freedoms’. 

Its Asia-Pacific regional director, Nicholas Bequelin, added: ‘With its vague language and provisions for secret trials, hand-picked judges and mainland security agencies operating freely in the city, the law is wide open to politically motivated, capricious and arbitrary interpretation by the authorities.

‘Hong Kongers are facing an assault by the Beijing authorities and the Hong Kong government on freedoms that they have long enjoyed.’

One major cause of alarm is Article 38 of the law which purports to claim jurisdiction over national security offences committed overseas, even by foreigners.   

‘If you’ve ever said anything that might offend [China] or Hong Kong authorities, stay out of Hong Kong,’ Donald Clarke, an expert on Chinese law at George Washington University, wrote in an analysis. 

‘I know of no reason not to think it means what it appears to say: it is asserting extraterritorial jurisdiction over every person on the planet,’ Clarke wrote. 

The UK updated its travel advice on Hong Kong, saying there is an ‘increased risk of detention and deportation’. It advised Britons to ‘avoid protests and demonstrations.’ Political leaders across the spectrum have condemned China’s crackdown, which came quicker than anyone expected.

But Rod Wye, of the Chatham House think-tank, said Beijing will not care as it takes advantage of global instability and rifts opening up between Western powers.

‘The USA and EU are moving in different directions in many areas. It is perhaps to China’s advantage that that should be so,’ he said.’Expressions of concern are certainly not going to change the Chinese intention one little bit.’ 

Pictured: Xie Feng, commissioner of the Chinese Foreign Ministry in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region addresses a flag-raising ceremony to celebrate the 23rd anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to the motherland on July 1, 2020 in Hong Kong, China

Pictured: A person is detained by riot police officers during a march against national security law at the anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover to China from Britain, in Hong Kong, China July 1, 2020

IAN BIRRELL: The hideous crushing of Hong Kong’s freedom is a victory for despots over democracy 

The first arrest was a man clutching a black flag inscribed with the words ‘Hong Kong Independence’ in both English and Chinese.

By the time dusk fell over the skyscrapers and ferries of one of the world’s great cities, another nine protesters —including a 15-year-old girl and a woman with a sign featuring the British flag — had been seized under a harsh new security law.

Created in secrecy by Communist Party chiefs in Beijing, this draconian measure is designed to throttle the freedoms that made Hong Kong such a special place. Its sudden imposition marked a dark day for democracy with big global consequences.

Those protesters now risk life imprisonment. They can be carted off into China’s sinister network of compliant courts and brutal jails as President Xi Jinping tightens his grip on the former British colony.

Yet still, thousands joined the territory’s annual rally to mark the anniversary of its handover to China in 1997 with hundreds of pro-democracy protesters seized by the increasingly thuggish police force.

Crowds chanted slogans such as ‘resist till the end’, despite fusillades of pepper spray and pellets. One man admitted he was scared of going to jail, ‘but for justice I have to come out today, I have to stand up’.

Such bravery is impressive, as I saw for myself last year, spending three weeks with these protesters amid the tear gas and baton charges as citizens raised in comparative freedom fought the repression of Communist China.

Pictured: China’s President Xi Jinping voting on a proposal to draft a security law on Hong Kong during the closing session of the National People’s Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on May 28 2020. China passed the sweeping national security law for Hong Kong on June 30, 2020

Futility

At a time when the West is so disturbingly complacent over its own democracies, it was inspiring to meet protesters prepared to risk everything to protect liberties that we take for granted.

Most were young, affable and highly-educated. They admitted to their fears and the probable futility of taking on the might of the Chinese state with umbrellas and wok lids (to place over rounds of tear gas). ‘What alternative do we have?’ asked one.

Yet it was also sad talking to such youthful idealists given the near-certain trajectory of their struggle. ‘I will keep fighting because this is our home and we must protect our freedoms at all costs,’ said one 18-year-old student, admitting she was terrified.

When I asked another young woman why she took such risks, she told me of visiting a Chinese city and being fined for jay-walking, the money taken from her online bank account by the time she had crossed the street thanks to all the facial recognition cameras. ‘Who wants to live in such a society?’ she asked rightly.

These people sought to avoid being sucked into a state relying on repression and technology to control one fifth of the world’s population. Now they fear for their future trapped in the straitjacket of China’s Orwellian society.

The chilling new security law was drafted in secret with even Carrie Lam, Hong Kong’s dismal and subservient leader, kept in the dark — then imposed on Tuesday.

Yesterday, people were deleting social media accounts, fearing that family members who had voiced criticism would not be allowed back to visit them, and wondering if they might, one day, be carted off to a Chinese cell under the deliberately vague legislation.

‘We have to be very careful what we say since you have no idea what is a criminal offence now,’ one activist told me. ‘We all know the consequences if we are taken to China and forced to confess.’

The new law is designed to end the protests that exploded early last year, convulsing the territory. It has four core offences — separatism, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign countries — that allow authorities to target dissidents at will.

Dystopian

The measure unleashes Chinese security agencies to operate openly for the first time, permits courts to hear cases in secret and even applies to foreign nationals, provoking fears that critics could be prosecuted when entering the territory.

This moment marks the death of the ‘one country, two systems deal’, which was agreed with Britain under the 1984 handover pact and supposed to have been kept for 50 years after Hong Kong was returned to China.

Clearly it shows that Beijing under Xi Jinping, its aggressive nationalist president, cannot be trusted. Boris Johnson deserves credit for his firm response in offering three million residents the chance to settle in this country.

These events underline our naivety in dealing with China, especially since Xi won power in 2013. Beijing had, after all, made its intentions clear six years ago with a white paper insisting it had ‘comprehensive jurisdiction’ over Hong Kong.

Yet first we thought trade would corrode Communist autocracy, then we hoped the internet could destroy dictatorship. David Cameron tried to chum up to Xi with boasts of a ‘golden era’ and toe-curling talk of helping ‘deliver the Chinese dream’.

Pictured: Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam speaks during a press conference on the new national security law in Hong Kong, China, 01 July 2020

But as those Hong Kong protesters know all too well — and despite China’s amazing economic rise — China’s president is delivering a dystopian nightmare to his 1.3 billion citizens while rapidly building up military strength and flexing his growing power.

Earlier this week, it was revealed that Beijing has allowed a forced abortion and sterilisation programme on Muslim minorities in Xinjiang, who have already been subjected to 24-hour surveillance with many thrown into concentration camps.

One survivor of these awful places intended to crush traditional cultures told me of enforced medical treatments and horrific torture ranging from beatings and mass rape to medieval-style devices such as a nail-studded chair.

China has embraced the digital age yet found ways to ruthlessly control citizens with technology.

It is even creating a ‘social credit’ system to thwart ‘negative’ attitudes, which bars those failing to stick to its strict diktats from the best jobs, schools and rail services.

Hong Kong is, unfortunately, probably beyond salvation. But we must be aware of the implications as the world slides into a new Cold War tussle between autocracy and freedom.

For Xi, the ultimate prize is Taiwan — an island beacon of democracy just off China’s coast, once the refuge for forces defeated by Mao’s Communists, which he seeks to ‘reunify’ with its ‘motherland’.

Beijing hoped support for ‘peaceful unification’ would grow in Taiwan as the two nations grew close economically.

Now the crackdown in Hong Kong has showed the hollowness of its promises — so support for China has unsurprisingly crashed.

Slaughter

This hideous crushing of Hong Kong, regardless of the consequences for one of the world’s financial centres, shows China’s Leninist leadership has abandoned any hope of seducing Taiwan with sweet talk of freedom.

Meanwhile, China has shown it will brazenly use coral atolls in the South China Sea to expand its terrain and slaughter Indian solders on a disputed Himalayan mountainside.

So how will the West respond if China tries to attack or blockade its ally Taiwan?

As one protester in Hong Kong said to me, this is a long battle between democracy and despotism. ‘Who knows how it will end?’ he asked.

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Boris Johnson's dad ignores lockdown travel rule to fly to Greek holiday home

The Prime Minister’s father has flown to Greece despite Government guidance to avoid foreign travel unless it is absolutely necessary.

Stanley Johnson, 79, arrived via the Bulgarian capital Sofia, as the Greek government has banned direct flights from the UK until mid-July. He touched down in Athens last night before travelling to his mountain-top villa.

He shared two Instagram posts showing the plane landing in the Greek capital and of him wearing a face mask in an airport queue. The Mediterranean country opened its borders to foreign tourists yesterday but its government has said flights coming in from Britain and Sweden won’t be allowed until at least July 15.

Mr Johnson’s trip appears to show away to get around such measures designed to stop an influx of visitors from place with a large number of coronavirus cases. However he insists his journey to his four bed villa was necessary.

Speaking from his balcony last night he told the Daily Mail: ‘I’m in Pelion on essential business trying to Covid-proof my property in view of the upcoming letting season. I need to set up distancing measures at the property because they’re taking it very seriously here.

Visit our live blog for the latest updates: Coronavirus news live

‘The Greeks are trying to stop bulk arrivals from the UK but they were quite happy to have me coming in. All they wanted to know where I was coming from and what I was doing. Then I had my temperature taken and was swabbed twice.


‘We must get these air bridges set up as soon as possible. From what I’ve seen the arrival of the British will not be a danger to the Greeks because they’re so careful here.’

Under current rules Johnson would be expected to quarantine for 14 days after returning to the UK.

It comes as his son Boris prepares to give the green light for Brits to travel to 95 countries later today.

But with many countries concerned about the UK’s coronavirus outbreak, particularly in Leicester, only 12 countries are expected to allow ‘air bridges’, allowing tourists to bypass quarantine rules.

In March Stanley Johnson was criticised for going against his the Goverment’s advice after telling ITV’s This Morning he wanted everyone to catch Covid-19 to ‘get it over with’.

The previous day the Prime Minister had urged people to avoid pubs, clubs and unnecessary travel, before later enforcing this with a nationwide lockdown.

But Stanley brushed off his son’s pleas and told the programme: ‘Of course I’ll go to a pub if I need to go to a pub. The people who run pubs need a little bit of people – they don’t want people to not be in the pub at all.’

Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at [email protected]

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Boris pleads with firms to hold off on job cuts

Boris pleads with firms to hold off on job cuts ‘until times get better’ as Sir Philip Green’s Arcadia group axes 500 workers, John Lewis plans to close stores and lose staff and Harrods cuts 750 roles as High Street bloodbath gathers pace

  • Boris Johnson urged employers to ‘wait for times to get better’ to make job cuts 
  • John Lewis has plans to open 30 stores but unlikely that all 50 will all open again
  • Boss Sharon White warned staff at JL and Waitrose that jobs and bonus could go 
  • Harrods is latest big name to announce hundreds of job cuts on ailing high street
  • Bensons for Beds, Harveys and TM Lewin announced layoffs and store closures  

Boris Johnson today urged firms to hold off on job cuts ‘until times get better’ after John Lewis, Harrods and Topshop announced plans to close stores and axe workers as coronavirus continues to choke Britain’s high streets. 

The Prime Minister was confronted about a growing numbers of job losses amid the pandemic during todays PMQs, insisting the Government will do ‘everything we can to assist.’ 

He implored employers to ‘keep supporting your workers with the furloughing scheme,’ adding ‘it is much better now to wait for times to get better rather than laying people off.’       

John Lewis is expected to lose stores, workers and one of its headquarters as well as jobs at its sister business Waitrose while Harrods today revealed it must slash around 700 posts.

The bad news at two of the UK’s best loved department stores came amid disaster for retailers up and down the country as TM Lewin, Harveys, Bensons for Beds and Upper Crust hit the wall and tens of thousands of jobs are at risk in the ailing airline and engineering sectors.

Sir Philip Green’s Topshop empire also today revealed redundancy plans, with the Arcadia Group poised to cut around 500 of its 2,500 head office jobs amid a restructure in face of the coronavirus crisis.  

The Prime Minister (pictured today) was confronted about a growing numbers of job losses amid the pandemic during todays PMQs, insisting the Government will do ‘everything we can to assist’

Labour MP Stephen Doughty today highlighted the number of potential job losses as a result of the coronavirus lockdown, which has had an unprecedented impact on business across Britain.     

‘The Prime Minister does not want to talk about the numbers of job losses, so let me give him some,’ he said.

‘British Airways, 12,000 jobs potentially to go, including in the Vale of Glamorgan, in Llantrisant and in Blackwood; GE, 1,400 jobs potentially to go at Nantgarw; Rolls-Royce, nearly 6,000 to go in Derby, Solihull, Glasgow, Rotherham; and, as my right honourable and learned Friend the Leader of the Opposition has pointed out, Airbus, with 1,700 jobs potentially to go in north Wales and in the south-west, affecting my own constituents.

‘Workers at those plants do not want to hear slogans. They do not want to hear bluff and bluster. They want to know from the Prime Minister what he is going to do to save those jobs in the long term.

‘They have had the furlough scheme; what is he going to do to protect them going forward?’

Sir Philip Green’s Topshop empire today revealed redundancy plans, with the Arcadia group poised to cut around 500 of its 2,500 head office jobs amid a restructure in face of the coronavirus crisis (stock image)

Department store John Lewis is expected to lose stores, workers and one of its headquarters as well as jobs at its sister business Waitrose (stock image)

Harrods (pictured, the department store) today revealed it must slash around 700 posts

Mr Johnson replied: ‘I do not wish to accuse the honourable gentleman of failing to listen to what I have been saying over the past few days, but in addition to the £120 billion of support that we have put into the economy, we have to recognise that people now are, as he says, worried about their jobs.

‘That is why we have a plan to build, build, build with a £600 billion programme of investment and to deliver jobs, jobs, jobs.

‘For sectors across the country where we need to keep young people in particular in employment we have offered, as he knows, an opportunity guarantee so that they will have either an apprenticeship, an in-work placement or the opportunity for training.’

Labour MP Bambos Charalambous highlighted the plight of struggling arts companies as he asked the PM to make money available to ensure the sector survives.      

It comes as the UK today announced a further 176 coronavirus deaths, with the official total now standing at 43,906 — but separate government figures show the UK topped the dreaded 50,000 mark a month ago. 

The lockdown has hammered UK business with John Lewis unveiling reopening plans for another 10 stores including its first in Wales and Scotland as well as the chain’s flagship shop in Oxford Street – but sources admitted it is ‘highly unlikely’ that all 50 will ever reopen again. 

John Lewis boss Sharon White, who joined from broadcasting watchdog Ofcom before the pandemic began, has written to 80,000 staff at the retailer and its supermarket Waitrose warning them that their bonus is unlikely next year as she tried to improve profits.

Harrods boss Michael Ward has also told his staff that 700 jobs will have to because of the need to cut costs.

In a memo to staff he said: ‘With a heavy-heart, today I need to confirm that due to the ongoing impacts of this pandemic, we as a business will need to make reductions to our workforce’ and said 14% of its 4,800 staff would likely lose their jobs’.

John Lewis boss Sharon White has written to staff warning that jobs, stores and the annual bonus are all under threat because of coronavirus

The lockdown has hammered UK business with John Lewis unveiling reopening plans for another 10 stores (Kingston pictured) including its first in Wales and Scotland as well as the chain’s flagship shop in Oxford Street – but sources admitted it is ‘highly unlikely’ that all 50 will ever reopen again.

Waitrose jobs could also go and staff are likely to lose out on their bonuses for the next year

Harrods boss Michael Ward has also told his staff that 700 jobs will have to because of the need to cut costs as the high street is in crisis but its Knightsbridge store (pictured in April) is safe

The grim day for retail also saw Sir Philip Green’s (pictured) Arcadia Group blame ‘very challenging times’ as it revealed plans to trim its head office operations

John Lewis was struggling before the pandemic shut down their department stores and supermarkets.

In March profits slumped by 23 per cent to £123million and the bonus paid to staff since 1953 was dropped to two per cent of salary – the lowest for more than 60 years. 

Sharon White’s letter to thousands of staff, leaked to the Evening Standard, said: ‘The difficult reality is that we have too much store space for the way people want to shop now. As difficult as it is, we now know that it is highly unlikely that we will reopen all our John Lewis stores. Regrettably, it is likely that there will implications for some Partners’ jobs. We are in active discussions with landlords about ending some leases and renegotiating others to make the terms more flexible’.

How John Lewis’ new boss is forced to wield the axe just months into the job 

Sharon White only joined John Lewis in January and has been hit by a pandemic that shut its stores and Waitrose supermarkets and now she must cut jobs, stores and bonuses.    

Ms White, 52, announced last summer she would leave her job as chief executive of Ofcom to take over from current chairman of the retailer Sir Charlie Mayfield at the beginning of next year.

Cambridge-educated Ms White had a number of senior civil servant roles at the Treasury and Ministry of Justice before she joined the media watchdog in 2015.

The 53-year-old has no formal retail experience and has been described as an ‘unlikely candidate’ by her predecessor.

She is married to Robert Chote, who is head of the Office for Budget Responsibility, with whom she has two children. The couple have been repeatedly dubbed ‘Mr and Mrs Treasury’.

The mother-of-two was even rumoured to be in the running to become the next Governor of the Bank of England, a £480,000-a-year role.

After becoming Second Permanent Secretary in 2013, The Voice named Ms White as the seventh most powerful black person in Britain.

She was born to Jamaican immigrant parents and was brought up in Leyton, east London, where she went to a state secondary school.

Ms White graduated from Cambridge with an economics degree before studying for her Master’s at University College London.

On the bonus, she said: ‘We entered the crisis with weakening profits, and we have taken a number of actions to preserve cash. Support from the Government has been a big help – they have paid most of our furlough costs and given us a holiday from business rates. Trade too has not been as bad as our worst-case scenario thanks to a lot of hard work from our Partners. However as our competitors reopen we expect trading to be tougher in the second half of the year. There is clearly a lot of uncertainty but as things stand, it is hard to see the circumstances where we will be able to pay a bonus next year. I know this will be a blow for partners who have made sacrifices these past months.’ 

John Lewis has opened 20 stores with social distancing in June and will now open ten more – raising questions about the remaining 20.

It said said shops in Basingstoke, Cardiff, Chelmsford, Chester, Edinburgh, Exeter, Glasgow, Stratford and the Trafford Centre will reopen on Monday July 13.

Its Oxford Street department store will open later in the week, on July 16, as John Lewis said the size of the shop meant it needed extra time to finalise plans.

The latest raft of reopenings will take the total for the group so far to 32 since lockdown restrictions have eased for non-essential shops, with 18 remaining closed.

England was the first to allow retailers to reopen, on June 15, followed by Wales on June 23 and Scotland on June 29.

John Lewis said it will open more of its shops later in the summer, although insiders have warned previously it is ‘highly unlikely’ all 50 will ever reopen again.

The group said it was sticking to its ‘safe, not fast’ approach.

Berangere Michel, executive director for customer service at the John Lewis Partnership, added: ‘We are learning as we go and tweaking our approach to give our customers and partners the best possible experience.

‘Feedback from customers is that they really enjoy being able to test and try out products such as tablets, mattresses and shoes, all in a safe environment, as well as asking our expert partners for advice.’

John Lewis has put in place a number of social distancing measures, including cutting the number of entrances and exits, capping customers allowed in each store, protective screens at checkouts as well as new drop boxes for returned goods to be quarantined for 48 hours.

It recently said some of the stores will increase the number of customers allowed in each site at any one time after bosses found that social distancing was possible with greater crowds in bigger stores.  

The grim day for retail also saw Sir Philip Green’s Arcadia Group blame ‘very challenging times’ as it revealed plans to trim its head office operations.

The firm, which also owns Burton and other high street brands, said: ‘Due to the impact of Covid-19 on our business including the closure for over three months of all our stores and head offices, we have today informed staff of the need to restructure our head offices.’

‘This restructuring is essential to ensure that we operate as efficiently as possible during these very challenging times.’    

Ryanair will cut 3,500 jobs if pilots and cabin crew don’t agree to pay cuts, the airline’s owner Michael O’Leary announced today, as unions call for government help amid job losses at EasyJet and Airbus. 

Yesterday plane maker Airbus announced it will cut 1,700 jobs in the UK, while EasyJet plans to cut 4,500 roles. 

Ryanair, Europe’s biggest budget airline, said it had already cut 250 office staff around the continent, Mr O’Leary told the BBC this morning: ‘We’ve already announced about 3,500 job losses but we’re engaged in extensive negotiations with our pilots, our cabin crew and we’re asking them to all take pay cuts as an alternative to job losses.

Bensons for Beds, Harveys and TM Lewin have all announced layoffs and store closures.

Up to 3,500 jobs could go at Ryanair, unless pilots and cabin crew agree to a pay cut. The airline’s planes, above at London Southend Airport yesterday, are taking to the skies once again today with around 1,000 flights scheduled to take place  

‘We’re looking from 20% from the best paid captains, 5% from the lowest paid flight attendants and we think if we can negotiate those pay cuts by agreement, we can avoid most but not all job losses.’  

Speaking on Good Morning Britain today, Mr O’Leary said the aviation industry had suffered the ‘worst downturn we have ever had in our 100-year industry.’

Ryanair resumed service from today, with around 1,000 flights scheduled to take place.

Upper Crust and Caffe Ritazza are now at risk 

Up to 5,000 jobs are under threat at the group which owns Upper Crust and Caffe Ritazza following plunging passengers numbers at railway stations and airports amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The SSP group warned it expects to open only around a fifth of its sites in the UK by the autumn as travel is set to remain at very low levels amid the Covid-19 crisis.

It has launched a consultation on a restructure to ‘simplify and reshape’ the business in the face of the pandemic, which could lead to more than half of its 9,000-strong peak season workforce being axed.  

Mr O’Leary said: ‘After 9/11, the last great shock to the airline industry, flights were grounded for four days. 

‘So far with this pandemic we’ve been grounded for almost four months across the UK and Europe, so this is historic. 

‘We’ve never gone through a downturn like this before and it’s not just the airline industry. The tourism industry in Britain, the restaurants, the hotels, the leisure outlets, are critically dependent on us bringing hundreds of thousands of European visitors to the UK, we need to get this industry moving again in July and August.’

Unite has called for greater support of the airline industry amid a growing number of job losses.

Speaking to BBC Radio Four this morning, the union’s regional secretary for the South West, Steve Preddy, said: ‘Nobody’s asking for charitable handouts, we don’t expect the British taxpayers to support private industry but what we’re saying is that the government can intervene to provide loan support and reconfigurations of the apprenticeship levy to support this very important sector of our economy to ride this current storm.’ 

It comes as Airbus, Europe’s biggest aircraft maker, announced plans to slash nearly 15,000 jobs across its global operations – including 1,700 in the UK.

Meanwhile EasyJet yesterday said 4,500 jobs were at risk, and Bensons for Beds, Harveys and TM Lewin all announced layoffs and store closures.   

Michael O’Leary told Good Morning Britain viewers ‘we need to get back to some degree of normality’

Aerospace giant Airbus is to cut 1,700 jobs in the UK as the coronavirus pandemic causes ‘the gravest crisis’ the aviation industry has ever faced (Airbus facility near Nantes, France)

The news is a huge blow to its site at Broughton in Wales, where wings are manufactured, and its other factory at Filton in Bristol (pictured, British Airways Airbus A380 airplanes)

How coronavirus has affected UK airlines and travel operators 

Flybe: Europe’s largest regional airline collapsed on March 5 after months on the brink, triggering 2,400 job losses and left around 15,000 passengers stranded across the UK and Europe. 

British Airways: The International Airlines Group, which also includes Iberia and Aer Lingus, said on March 16 that there would be a 75 per cent reduction in passenger capacity for two months, with boss Willie Walsh admitting there was ‘no guarantee that many European airlines would survive’. The company has since said it wants to reduce the number of staff by 12,000. 

Loganair: The Scottish regional airline said on March 30 that it expects to ask the Government for a bailout to cope with the impact of the pandemic. 

Jet2: The airline has suspended all of its flights departing from Britain until April 30. A number of Jet2 flights turned around mid-air last month while travelling to Spain when a lockdown was announced in the country.

Virgin Atlantic: The airline said on March 16 that it would have reduced its lights by 80 per cent by March 26, and this will go up to 85 per cent by April. It has also urged the Government to offer carriers emergency credit facilities worth up to £7.5billion.

Ryanair: More than 90 per cent of the Irish-based airline’s planes are now grounded, with the rest of the aircraft providing repatriation and rescue flights. Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary said his airline would be forced to shed 3,000 jobs while seeking pay reductions of up to 20 per cent by those who remain. 

TUI: Holiday giant Tui is looking to cut up to 8,000 roles worldwide with the firm calling Covid-19 the ‘greatest crisis’ the industry has faced.

The UK’s biggest tour operator posted losses of 845.8 million euro (£747m) in the first half of 2020, compared to 289.1 million (£255m) in the same period 12 months previously. 

Speaking on BBC Radio 4 this morning, regional secretary of the Unite union Steve Preddy warned the government must ‘intervene to provide loan support.’

He added: ‘There’s no question that the global airline market was readjusting itself, we saw that before the pandemic. However that does not account for the serious and deep affect the pandemic has had on the aircraft industry worldwide and particularly here in the UK, we are after all the second largest aircraft manufacturer in the world. 

‘This is about bums in seats, the evidence is with the return of confidence in air travel and if people are reassured the industry could return to some sense of normality before that time, but it will need bridging support and that’s what we’re asking the government to provide.

‘In France recently the government have announced some 16bn euros in support for the aviation sector and similar numbers in Germany and Spain and in the US phenomenal support for the aviation sector.

‘Nobody’s asking for charitable handouts, we don’t expect the British taxpayers to support private industry but what we’re saying is that the government can intervene to provide loan support, reconfigurations of the apprenticeship levy to support this very important sector of our economy to ride this current storm.’

Job cuts at Airbus represent 15 per cent of its 90,000-strong commercial aerospace workforce – 50 per cent greater than cuts it made in 2007. 

The news is a huge blow to its site at Broughton in north Wales, where wings are manufactured, and its other factory at Filton in Bristol. 

Airbus added that while it will try to limit job losses to voluntary redundancies and retirements, compulsory redundancies ‘cannot be ruled out’.  

A statement said: ‘Airbus has announced plans to adapt its global workforce and resize its commercial aircraft activity in response to the Covid-19 crisis.’

It added that ‘this adaptation is expected to result in a reduction of around 15,000 positions no later than summer 2021’.

Airbus slashed aircraft production by a third to about 60 a month in April. It has seen commercial aircraft business activity drop by nearly 40 per cent in recent months. 

The aerospace giant had furloughed 3,200 UK staff after its chief executive said the company was ‘bleeding cash at an unprecedented speed’. 

Workers at the Broughton factory in north Wales were furloughed and the company had applied for the UK Government’s coronavirus job retention scheme. 

‘Airbus confirms it has agreed with its social partners to apply the government’s Job Retention Scheme for approximately 3,200 production and production-support employees at its commercial aircraft site in Broughton,’ it had said. 

In a statement released on Tuesday, chief executive Guillaume Faury revealed: ‘Airbus is facing the gravest crisis this industry has ever experienced. 

‘The measures we have taken so far have enabled us to absorb the initial shock of this global pandemic. 

‘Now, we must ensure that we can sustain our enterprise and emerge from the crisis as a healthy, global aerospace leader, adjusting to the overwhelming challenges of our customers. 

Upper Crust owner SSP Group is axing up to 5,000 UK jobs (pictured, in Marylebone Station)

Shirtmaker TM Lewin collapses into administration  

TM Lewin collapsed into administration yesterday with 600 jobs axed.

The 122-year-old shirtmaker’s 66 shops, which also sell shoes, suits and ties, will disappear from the high street but its online platform will remain.

The firm blamed the coronavirus pandemic for the move to digital-only as it could not afford to pay rents after stores shut in March. 

A TM Lewin source told MailOnline an email was sent to staff 25 minutes before a Microsoft team meeting to tell them they were being made redundant. 

‘To confront that reality, we must now adopt more far-reaching measures. 

‘Our management team and our Board of Directors are fully committed to limiting the social impact of this adaptation. 

‘We thank our governmental partners as they help us preserve our expertise and know-how as much as possible and have played an important role in limiting the social impact of this crisis in our industry.

‘The Airbus teams and their skills and competences will enable us to pursue our ambition to pioneer a sustainable future for aerospace.’

Mr Faury added that the cuts could have been ‘significantly worse’ had it not been for government support.  

Airbus is the UK’s biggest aerospace company. Its Oxford base is a major helicopter supplier for the Ministry of Defence and air ambulance services.   

The company is also planning to cut 5,000 jobs in France, 5,100 in Germany, 900 in Spain and 1,300 positions at its other worldwide sites.

Paul Everitt, chief executive of ADS, said ‘Airbus is central to our aerospace industry and has a close relationship with its highly-integrated UK supply chain’. 

He called on the Government ‘to support a strong recovery’, adding: ‘This is undoubtedly the toughest period the global aerospace industry has ever faced’. 

Meanwhile, Unite called the announcement ‘another act of industrial vandalism and a terrible insult to our incredible UK workforce’. 

Unite assistant general secretary Steve Tuner said: ‘Over the weeks of this crisis, this country’s aerospace jobs have gone hand over fist yet not one word of support or act of assistance has been forthcoming from the Government.

‘The UK Government is watching from the sidelines while a national asset is destroyed. The only words uttered by the Government in relation to UK aerospace during this entire crisis came out of the blue today in relation to the prime minister’s UK-made ‘Jet Zero’ project. But while our world-class industry is shedding skills and workers at the present rate, this project will be nothing more than a PR fantasy. 

Around 5,000 posts in France, 5,100 in Germany, 900 in Spain, 1,700 in the UK and 1,300 elsewhere will be cut (pictured, Air France A380 Airbus and airplanes)


In a statement released on Tuesday, Airbus CEO Guillaume Faury (left) said the company’s future was at stake after the coronavirus pandemic rocked the air travel industry (right, Philippe Mhun, Executive Vice-President Programmes and Services)

‘UK aerospace workers deserve the same support and investment that Mr (Emmanuel) Macron and Ms (Angela) Merkel provide to their workers. 

‘Airbus workers in France and Germany have up to two years to work to fend off their redundancies and turn their businesses around while in the UK the axe falls with immediate effect. With every day that goes by without any action to support this sector from the UK Government, our competitors cheer.’   

How was EasyJet doing before the lockdown? 

According to Feb 2020 flight schedules, easyJet operated over 8,900 flights (one-way) a week, from over 120 airports (mainly in Europe).

In terms of flights operated per week during the month of Feb 2020, easyJet’s top five airports were:

  • London Gatwick – 850 flights
  • Geneva – 522 flights
  • Berlin – 396 flights
  • London Luton – 372 flights
  • Amsterdam – 353 flights

Per week in Feb 2020, easyJet’s top five routes, in terms of scheduled seats available, were between:

  • London Gatwick and Geneva
  • London Gatwick and Amsterdam
  • Paris Orly and Toulouse
  • London Luton and Amsterdam
  • Paris Orly and Nice

Peter Hughes, Unite’s Wales regional secretary, said: ‘The significance of large-scale job losses at Airbus would have a devastating impact on the aerospace sector in Wales and on the wider Welsh economy.

‘Unite has been calling for the UK Government to put a plan of support in place for the aerospace sector for months. 

‘This support has been provided by France and Germany. 

‘Will the UK Government now step up to the plate and do everything required to support UK aviation jobs? We are calling upon Airbus to hold their nerve and step back from implementing their plan.’ 

Shadow transport secretary Jim McMahon said on Tuesday: ‘News of job losses today in the aviation sector is devastating for those affected. Thousands of jobs have been under threat of redundancy, with staff, the sector and politicians of all sides urging the Government to act, yet Tory ministers have been found wanting.’ 

He added: ‘Labour has consistently called for an extension to the furlough in the most impacted industries, and a sectoral deal that supports the whole aviation industry, including securing jobs and protecting the supply chain, while continuing to press for higher environmental standards.’ 

Secretary of State for Wales Simon Hart said: ‘This is extremely worrying news for workers, their families and the wider community.’ 

The company is cutting nearly 15,000 jobs across its global operations to stay afloat as the coronavirus crisis rocks the air travel industry (pictured, Air France Airbus A380 aircraft)

Wales’s minister for economy, transport and North Wales Ken Skates said: ‘The sector is in crisis and the UK Government needs to take swift and decisive action now to save the industry and its supply chain. 

EasyJet revealed up to 4,500 staff will lose their jobs, including 1,900 UK employees (pictured, EasyJet planes at Stansted Airport on Tuesday)

‘The alarm bells have been sounding for weeks and we need urgent steps at a UK level to prevent this crisis becoming even worse.’

Yesterday, budget airline EasyJet revealed up to 4,500 staff will lose their jobs, including 1,900 UK employees, and announced plans to close its bases at London’s Stansted and Southend airports, and at Newcastle.    

Some 727 of its UK-based pilots are at risk of redundancy, equivalent to about one-third of its pilots in the country. 

The airline had announced last month that it was reducing its workforce by nearly a third, warning it needed to cut 4,500 jobs to stay competitive.

Harveys and Bensons for Beds are among Covid’s retail casualties

Furniture chain Harveys fell into administration, with the immediate loss of 240 jobs.

Over 1,000 more jobs could be axed if 20 stores at risk of closure shut. 

Bensons for Beds, also fell into administration, but was immediately bought back by Alteri in a ‘prepack deal’. 

Under the deal, they plan to keep up to 175 of Bensons for Beds’s 242 stores as well as its Huntingdon manufacturing operation and nearly 1,900 jobs. 

At the start of this month EasyJet raised £419million of cash to help it see through the pandemic. It has also taken a £600million government loan.

The Luton-based carrier becomes the latest domino to fall in the aviation industry, which has suffered massive losses in the wake of the pandemic.  

EasyJet said the proposals are to close the bases in August to customers booked to fly from the airport over the summer ‘will not be affected as a result of this.’ 

Yesterday, it began consultation on proposals with employee representatives on all of its UK-based pilots and crew. 

The proposals include the potential closing of three of its bases in the UK – London Stansted, London Southend and Newcastle. 

EasyJet chief executive Johan Lundgren said: ‘These are very difficult proposals to put forward in what is an unprecedented and difficult time for the airline and the industry as a whole. We are focused on doing what is right for the company and its long term health and success so we can protect jobs going forward.

‘Unfortunately the lower demand environment means we need fewer aircraft and have less opportunity for work for our people – we are committed to working constructively with our employee representatives across the network with the aim of minimising job losses as far as possible.

‘These proposals are no reflection on our people at Stansted, Southend and Newcastle, who have all worked tirelessly and have been fully committed to providing great service for our customers.’

The British Airline Pilots’ Association (BALPA)  accused EasyJet of ‘excessive overreaction’ and urged the Government to stop the industry’s ‘death spiral’.  

EasyJet chief executive Johan Lundgren (pictured at Gatwick on June 15) said the proposals were ‘difficult to put forward in what is an unprecedented and difficult time’

EasyJet aircraft pictured at London Southend Airport in Essex on Tuesday

The British Airline Pilots’ Association (BALPA) has accused EasyJet of ‘excessive over-reaction’ after the airline revealed up to 4,500 staff will lose its jobs

The union tweeted: ‘We are shocked at the size of potential pilot job losses in EasyJet which equate to nearly 1-in-3 of EasyJet pilots in the UK: 727 pilots.  

‘EasyJet paid £174million out to shareholders, got agreements to furlough staff to protect cash, got £600million from the Government, has boasted of having £2.4billion in liquidity, and ticket sales are going through the roof so fast they cannot get pilots back off furlough quickly enough.

‘So this seems an excessive over-reaction. It doesn’t add up. We are meeting EasyJet today and we will be fighting to save every single job.

‘This is more evidence that aviation in the UK is caught in a death spiral of despair and individual airlines are flailing around without direction. Govt should step in, provide a strategy and back a moratorium on job losses’.  

Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary told GMB: ‘We need to get back to some degree of normality, we can’t live our lives sitting isolated at home.

‘We are going to have to go back to work, people are going to have to take trains, the London Underground and planes.’

Up to 5,000 jobs are under threat at the group which owns Upper Crust and Caffe Ritazza following plunging passengers numbers at railway stations and airports amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The SSP group warned it expects to open only around a fifth of its sites in the UK by the autumn as travel is set to remain at very low levels amid the Covid-19 crisis.

It has launched a consultation on a restructure to ‘simplify and reshape’ the business in the face of the pandemic, which could lead to more than half of its 9,000-strong peak season workforce being axed. 

The group, which employs 9,000 people and has around 580 stores including those trading under the Caffe Ritazza brand, said head office and UK staff will be affected. 

Pre-lockdown, SSP traded from around 2,800 units in airports, railway stations and motorway services stations. It served 1.5million customers every day in 35 countries. 

SSP Chief executive Simon Smith said: ‘In the UK the pace of the recovery continues to be slow.

‘In response to this, we are now taking further action to protect the business and create the right base from which to rebuild our operations.

‘Regrettably, we are starting a collective consultation which will affect our UK colleagues.

‘These are extremely difficult decisions, and our main priority will be to conduct the process carefully and fairly.’ 

TM Lewin collapsed into administration yesterday with 600 jobs axed.

The 122-year-old shirtmaker’s 66 shops, which also sell shoes, suits and ties, will disappear from the high street but its online platform will remain.

The firm blamed the coronavirus pandemic for the move to digital-only as it could not afford to pay rents after stores shut in March. 

The 122-year-old shirtmaker’s 66 shops, which also sell shoes, suits and ties, will disappear from the UK high street but its online platform will remain (file photo)

The firm blamed the coronavirus pandemic for the move to digital-only as it could not afford to pay rents after stores shut in March (file photo)

It is the latest retail victim of the crisis, following the owner of Britain’s biggest shopping centres Intu Properties which went into administration last week. 

A TM Lewin source told MailOnline an email was sent to staff 25 minutes before a Microsoft team meeting to tell them they were being made redundant.

The woman, who worked for the company, said the conference lasted just four minutes with around 110 staff on the call.

She said the meeting was held by the new owner of TM Lewin, Torque, with group transformation CEO James Doyan hosting it.  

She added: ‘There was no chance for anyone to ask questions or have any say. We were told to mute ourselves and turn off our cameras for the meeting.’ 

Harveys also became another casualty of the pandemic yesterday as the furniture chain fell into administration, with the immediate loss of 240 jobs.

Over 1,000 more jobs could be axed if 20 stores at risk of closure shut. 

Harveys became another casualty of the pandemic on Tuesday as the furniture chain fell into administration, with the immediate loss of 240 jobs

Harveys website says they are no longer taking new orders but will honour existing orders

Collapsed: All Harveys stores, around 20 and mostly in London, will continue to trade for now and existing customer orders will be honoured

All Harveys stores in the UK will continue to trade for now as administrators PwC look for a buyer for the business and its three manufacturing sites. 

The company’s website says they are not taking any new orders, but claims that ‘existing orders will be delivered as communicated’. 

The chain, which is owned by private equity firm Alteri Investors, was already struggling even before the coronavirus pandemic struck.  

‘A combination of structural issues and Covid means we are going to have to leave behind the underperforming part of the business’, said CEO Gavin George.

Harvey’s sister furniture chain, Bensons for Beds, also fell into administration, but was immediately bought back by Alteri in a ‘prepack deal’. 

Under the deal, they plan to keep up to 175 of Bensons for Beds’s 242 stores as well as its Huntingdon manufacturing operation and nearly 1,900 jobs. 

Zelf Hussain, joint administrator at PwC, said the two furniture chains, and especially Harveys, had faced ‘cashflow pressures’ in recent months, which were ‘exacerbated by coronavirus on the supply chain and customer sales’. 

Twelve million jobs are now being propped up by the state: Furlough bill rises by another £2.6billion in a WEEK to £25billion, while grants to self-employed hit £7.7billion 

By David Wilcock, Whitehall Correspondent for MailOnline 

Britain’s furlough bill soared past £25billion this week with more than 12 million jobs now being propped up by the state, new figures revealed today.

The coronavirus job retention scheme (JRS) which pays 80 per cent of salary costs for staff – rose £2.6billion this week from £22.9billion the week before.

It is now supporting 9.3million jobs, according to the Treasury and HMRC, while the support scheme for the self-employed rose to 7.7billion, across 2.6million claims.

Banks have lent small businesses £29.5billion-worth of 100 per cent state-backed loans, up about £1.5 billion pounds from the previous week. 

Larger firms had received £11.1 billion from the government’s main lending scheme, with the biggest companies getting an extra 2.3 billion pounds. 

The figures were released as Boris Johnson promised a ‘New Deal’ to rebuild Britain.

Britain’s furlough bill soared past £25billion this week with more than 12 million jobs now being propped up by the state, new figures revealed today

Figures reveal scale of Covid business loans 

Figures released on Tuesday by the Treasury and HMRC show one extent of the Government’s massive spending spree to help sure up a faltering economy hit by the coronavirus crisis.

As ministers ordered Britons to stay at home unless they had to shop for food in March, Rishi Sunak promised to do ‘whatever it takes’ to support the companies whose business would be decimated by the decision.

It meant launching three Government-backed loans, the coronavirus business interruption loan scheme (CBILS), a similar scheme for larger businesses called CLBILS, and the bounce-back loans, which help out some of the smallest companies.

Data for last week, released Tuesday, again shows that the bounce-back loans have proved the most popular.

Close to 1.2million businesses have applied for the loans of up to £50,000.

So far a little under 970,000 have been approved and handed £29.5billion.

Meanwhile, 105,000 companies have applied for a CBILS loan, 52,000 have been approved, and £11.1billion has been paid out. Out of the 745 applicants for CLBILS, 359 have been approved for loans worth £2.3 billion.

The Government also revealed that 1.1 million businesses have furloughed 9.3 million workers, claiming £25.5 billion to cover a portion of their salaries while they cannot work.

The costly programmes were launched to see Britain through the worst of lockdown, but the Government will hope that these can be eased.

The Treasury has already said that companies will have to shoulder some of the burden for paying their furloughed workers from August, before the programme is phased out.

The deadline for new applications to the scheme was set at June 30.

It comes as the economy is preparing to return to some semblance of normality. On Saturday, pubs and restaurants will be allowed to reopen for the first time since March 23.

As a major English city is plunged back into a local lockdown, Prime Minister Boris Johnson today pledged to ‘build, build, build’, bringing forward a massive programme of public works.

He said that Britain can ‘not just bounce back, but bounce forward – stronger and better and more united than ever before’ in the wake of the coronavirus.

But in a grim reminder that the virus is still at large, Mr Johnson was last night locked in crisis talks about reimposing the lockdown in Leicester.

Today’s speech was accompanied by billions of pounds of investment in building and refurbishing schools, hospitals and roads, as well as spending on transport and local growth projects.

A new unit, dubbed Project Speed, will be led by Rishi Sunak this summer to identify projects that can be fast-tracked.

Reform of the planning system to remove ‘blockages’ is also under consideration. And a new National Infrastructure Strategy will be published in the autumn.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak will put the ‘infrastructure revolution’ at the heart of a mini-Budget expected on July 8.

In his speech in Dudley today, the PM pledged to ‘build back better and stronger’, with a programme designed to reach all parts of the country.

‘Too many parts of this country have felt left behind, neglected, unloved, as though someone had taken a strategic decision that their fate did not matter as much as the metropolis,’ he said. 

The PM offered an ‘opportunity guarantee’ to young people and those who have lost their jobs because of the lockdown, with major investment in apprenticeships and further education.

And his chief aide Dominic Cummings is shaking up the Whitehall machine, which saw the departure of Britain’s top civil servant Sir Mark Sedwill on Sunday night.

Mr Johnson referenced the famous New Deal programmes led by Franklin D Roosevelt, which are credited with rescuing the United States from the Great Depression in the 1930s. Yesterday he confirmed there would be no attempt to ‘go back to what people called austerity’, saying it would be a mistake.

It came as Anneliese Dodds warned mass unemployment could have a ‘scarring impact on our country for decades’ if the Government cannot adapt the furlough scheme for different industries instead of pursuing a ‘one size fits all approach’.

Speaking on Good Morning Britain, the Shadow Chancellor said: ‘If we look at what other countries are doing, and what the evidence tells us, that first step of stopping people becoming unemployed in the first place is absolutely critical. 

As a major English city is plunged back into a local lockdown, the Prime Minister pledged to ‘build, build, build’, bringing forward a massive programme of public works

It came as shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds (pictured) warned that mass unemployment could have a ‘scarring impact on our country for decades’

‘Once people have become unemployed, that has a scarring impact on them and on our country for decades into the future.

‘So what I’m saying to the Government, and I’ve offered this in the spirit of constructive opposition many times, I’ve said to them, please, shift course, do not continue to have this one size fits all approach, because that will inevitably lead to much greater unemployment in the future.’

Ms Dodds recommended keeping young people in education and training for longer to ‘keep them out of that pool of unemployed people,’ and better supporting those who become unemployed using previously used strategies like the Future Jobs Fund.

TUI, EasyJet and Ryanair CANCEL all flights and holidays to Greece after it bans travellers from the UK until July 15 because of high coronavirus infection rate 

ByDavid Wilcock, Whitehall Correspondent For Mailonline 

Travel firms have been forced to scrap thousands of flights and holiday packages in Greece after the nation extended its ban on arrivals from the UK.

TUI, Ryanair, Easyjet, Jet2 and British Airways have all axed travel plans for Brits who booked in the hope of a quick getaway in early July.

But the Greek prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis last night extended a UK flight ban due to end on July 1 to July 15.

He took the action despite UK plans to include Greece in a ‘green’ group of countries it was safe for Britons to travel to using quarantine-free air bridges.

Greece has been relatively lightly affected by coronavirus, but the UK continues to be one of the worst affected countries in Europe.

Greek prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis took the action despite UK plans to include Greece in a ‘green’ group of countries it was safe for Britons to travel to using quarantine-free air bridges

TUI, the UK’s biggest tour operator, was due to serve four Greek islands when it resumed operations on July 11, while EasyJet had announced plans to resume flights from the UK to Greece next week with fares starting at £39.99.

The boss of TUI this morning demanded clarity over the air bridge scheme, warning that other countries could follow Greece’s example.

Andrew Flintham, managing director of TUI UK & Ireland, said the proposal could only work after ‘two-way conversations’ between Britain and other countries, adding: ‘I think there’s still going to be a few bumps in the road.’

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps last night officially ended the much-criticised blanket quarantine programme just three weeks after it was introduced for visitors and those returning to homes in the UK.

In a Written Ministerial Statement to MPs he confirmed new measures unveiled by Downing Street on Saturday, to come into effect ‘shortly’.

Under the traffic light system, drawn up by the Joint Biosecurity Centre and Public Health England and set to be in place by July 6, countries will be rated green, amber or red based on coronavirus infection levels, the reliability of official data and confidence in test and trace systems.

The 14-day quarantine requirement will remain only for ‘red-rated’ countries such as the US and Brazil. Travel between ‘green’ and ‘amber’ countries will be quarantine-free, but passengers will have to fill in a ‘locator form’ to trace their movements. 

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Boris Johnson DENIES failing to share infection data with Leicester

Boris Johnson DENIES failing to share crucial infection data with Leicester authorities as Keir Starmer slams ‘lost week’ while disease was allowed to run riot before city was locked down

  • Boris Johnson and Keir Starmer clashed over Leicester lockdown at PMQs
  • PM furiously denied failing to share critical testing data with local authorities 
  • Sir Keir accused him of a ‘lost week’ when the virus was left to run wild in the city 

Boris Johnson was today accused of letting coronavirus run wild in Leicester during a ‘lost week’. 

In brutal clashes at PMQs, Mr Johnson furiously denied failing to share crucial data on infections with the authorities in the city.

But Labour leader Keir Starmer accused him of being ‘slow to act’ and said local officials were left believing there were only 80 positive tests per week, when the real figure was more than 940.

 Mr Johnson insisted the ‘Pillar Two’ testing data, which covers screening of the general population carried out in commercial labs, was shared. 

Leicester has been plunged into a fresh lockdown after alarm at a surge in cases, and there are claims other areas could be about to follow.


Labour leader Keir Starmer (right) accused Boris Johnson (left) of being ‘slow to act’ and said local officials in Leicester were left believing there were only 80 positive tests per week, when the real figure was more than 940

Pictured: The lockdown zone in Leicester, which has left some Britons in lockdown while their neighbours are not

In the Commons, Sir Keir said: ‘At the daily press conference on June 18 the Health Secretary said ”there’s an outbreak of Covid-19 right now in parts of Leicester”. 

‘Yet it was only on Monday evening this week that the Government introduced restrictions.

‘That’s a delay of 11 days during which the virus was spreading in Leicester.

‘Why was the Government so slow to act?’

Mr Johnson said the Government ‘acted decisively’ and ‘put on the breaks’ in Leicester.

‘Actually the Government first took notice and acted that was going on in Leicester on June 8 because we could see there was an issue there,’ he said. ‘We sent mobile testing units shortly thereafter.

‘We engaged actively with the authorities in Leicester, with public health in Leicester, with everyone responsible in Leicester, in the way we have done with other areas that have had similar issues.

‘Unfortunately in Leicester, it did not prove possible to get the results that we have seen elsewhere so on Monday we took the decision, which I hope the right honourable gentleman approves of, to go into lockdown in Leicester.’

But Sir Keir insisted: ‘There was a lost week while the virus was spreading.’ 

The full extent of local infection rates is still unclear because of gaps in the data given out to the public and what is known inside the Government.

Leicester and other authorities claim they are not being provided with figures from ‘Pillar 2’.    

Jess Phillips, Labour MP for Birmingham Yardley and shadow minister for domestic violence, tweeted: ‘Boris Johnson is just lying. It has been incredibly hard for local authorities to get data and information from the beginning of the crisis.

‘It won’t be a shock that he’s a liar but still makes my blood boil that he just stands and lies while people are sick and losing their jobs.’ 

Bradford, Doncaster and Barnsley are said to be at the top of the Government’s list of potential Covid hotspots as the virus continues to run rampant in Yorkshire (shown in red)

Bradford, Doncaster and Barnsley are said to be at the top of the Government’s list of potential Covid-19 hotspots as the virus continues to run rampant in Yorkshire.

Former Government scientific adviser ‘Professor Lockdown’ Neil Ferguson, of Imperial College London, said these towns and cities were ‘clearly of concern’ and suggested they could be next to roll back the draconian curbs.  

Parts of Kent, the North West of England and more than a dozen London boroughs are also being kept under review after clusters of cases in the last week.  

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We welcome Boris Johson's 'housing revolution' but the PM must now act on his words and get it done

Bulldozer Boris

SLASHING red tape, bulldozing NIMBYs and building a housing revolution. Yes, it’s what Britain needs, along with much else.

But these so far are just words every Prime Minister utters. Getting it done is the other 99.999 per cent of the battle.

Britain is still held back by archaic restrictions, councils blocking developments for political reasons, MPs opposing much-needed projects to appease their NIMBY constituents . . . even local councillors wanting harmless outbuildings torn down over some footling ­planning infraction.

So we wish the Johnson-Gove-Cummings team luck taking on this habitual obstructionism, where no one else has managed it. 

It is true that they have far more revolutionary zeal than almost any of their predecessors. Let’s hope their party follows their lead.

The PM’s big speech yesterday was full of trademark and welcome “glass half-full” optimism despite the economic abyss we are staring into.

But he was at least realistic about it being a far greater challenge than the 2008 crash. Yesterday’s figures underline that.

A staggering 12million workers are being shored up by taxpayers.

No one should fault the scale of the Government’s bailouts. But when that money stops, as it must, the pain will be widespread and acute.

So a job-creating infrastructure programme is a sound idea — even if the initial £5billion promised is a fraction of what’s needed.

More worrying to us is a Tory PM all but ruling out tax cuts, while reassuring us only that rates will stay “reasonable” and that he is “not a Communist”.

Lower taxes not only create jobs, as the Coalition proved to great effect from 2010, they will enable firms to keep staff in work when the furlough expires.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has a big speech of his own next week. We hope he knows that Britain’s Bounce Back won’t happen solely via the State’s ­generosity with public money.

It will mainly be led by private enterprise thriving again in a post-Brexit economy where taxes undercut those elsewhere.

City in pain

OUR hearts go out to the people and businesses of Leicester. How agonising to be locked down again.

But there is no question it had to happen. 

And it should stand as a warning to every part of Britain, even as we approach our big liberation on Saturday: A new flare-up will put your town or city right back where we were in March.

The temptation to abandon social distancing, masks and so on may be great. But we cannot do so yet.

Our first victory over the disease is in sight. Infections and excess deaths are right down.

The death rate is now BELOW the seasonal average. And yet a national second wave, unlikely though it is, is still possible.

Let’s all play our part in avoiding it.

GOT a story? RING The Sun on 0207 782 4104 or WHATSAPP on 07423720250 or EMAIL [email protected]

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Boris Johnson hints at tax rises to pay for coronavirus but warns UK must stay 'competitive' after Brexit

BORIS Johnson has hinted at tax rises to pay for the coronavirus but insisted the UK must remain “competitive” after Brexit.

The Prime Minister today refused to rule out tax hikes, and warned Brits face a “generational challenge” due to the pandemic.

⚠️ Read our coronavirus live blog for the latest news & updates

Making a major speech in Dudley this morning, the PM was asked directly about tax rises.

He said: “You have to wait and see what Rishi has to say.

“I think we understand the debate, you know where my instincts are and what I would like to do, they are of course to cut taxes wherever you possibly can.

“The difficulty is we have a generational challenge now.”

The PM explained he wanted to "take our country forward", but suggested tax hikes could put off much needed investors after Brexit.

He explained: “You need to make sure as we leave the EU, the fiscal environment has to be as competitive as it possibly can be.

“I want brilliant British ideas being translated into Brilliant british companies. 

“Billion pound british companies, not just disappearing to America or China or whenever else. 

“That requires a competitive approach to taxation.”

It came in a wide-ranging speech where the PM also promised thousands of discounted homes for first-time buyers in a multi-billion pound package.



Boris vowed to get the country back on track with a "New Deal" programme of building and investment – and fast tracking £5billion of spending dubbed Project Speed.

The PM vowed a Roosevelt-style plan to pick up the country and get it going again after three months of shutdown.

And he announced what he said was "the most radical reforms to our planning system since the Second World War" by cutting red tape to revitalise our high streets.

He told voters in the Blue Wall seats the Government is on a “mission to unite and level up” the UK.

Alongside his programme he revealed £12billion of funding for a homes plan that will support up to 180,000 new affordable homes for ownership and rent over the next 8 years.

Included in that will be a 1,500 unit pilot of ‘First Homes’ to people buying a home for the first time – at a 30% discount.

  • New building rules will allow empty buildings to be transformed into new homes without the red tape – known as 'Project Speed'
  • Old retail buildings can be turned into cafés or other services without requiring planning permission – in a boost for Britain's high streets
  • £1.5billion will be spent on hospital repairs
  • £1bn to fund 10-year school rebuilding programme and £560m school upgrades and repairs
  • Some £900million will be allocated to “shovel ready” projects, mainly in the Midlands and North
  • Vowed to plant 30,000 hectares of trees

The PM said today: "We will build fantastic new homes on brownfields sites and other areas, with better transport and other infrastructure, that could be suitable and right for development.

"We will address that intergenerational injustice and help young people get people the housing ladder the way their parents and grandparents could.

"We will build better, we will build greener, and faster."

 

 

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Boris Johnson warns coronavirus is 'still circling like a shark in the water' ahead of July 4 lockdown easing

BORIS Johnson has warned that coronavirus is "still circling like a shark in the water" ahead of the lockdown easing on July 4.

The Prime Minister said he wanted to "get back to life as normal… as fast as possible" but cautioned that the threat of Covid-19 hasn't gone away.

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He referred to the outbreak of cases in Leicester, which has prompted the UK's first localised lockdown today.

Speaking today in Dudley, he said: "As we approach July 4, I must say that the dangers as we can see in Leicester have not gone away.

"The virus is out there, still circling like a shark in the water and it will take all our collective discipline and resolve to keep that virus at bay."

In a rousing speech, in which he set out a spending spree to help the economy cope with the "aftershock" of the coronavirus crisis, he also warned that he would not hesitate to take "draconian steps" to "put on the brakes" where there were flare-ups of coronavirus.

Leicester lockdown

It comes as tougher measures will be introduced in Leicester following a localised surge in Covid cases.

To stop the spread, non-essential shops will close from today while schools will shut to most pupils from Thursday.

The planned opening of restaurants, pubs, cafes, hairdressers and cinemas across England from Saturday will also not happen in Leicester.

The relaxation of shielding measures from next week is also unable to go ahead for people in the city.

 

 

Leicester had seen 10 per cent of all positive cases in England over the past week, while its seven-day infection rate was 135 cases per 100,000 – three times that of the next highest city.

Earlier said targeted interventions to slow the spread of Covid over the last 11 days failed to work, according to the Health Secretary Matt Hancock.

Mr Johnson added: "On Leicester, let me just say that, obviously, we will be in constant communication with the authorities in Leicester, but, also, monitoring it nationally.

"And, insuring that as and when the data changes, and the situation improves, then we will take steps to ease the measures that we have had to enforce."

'Unresolved challenges'

Defending the NHS Test and Trace system, the PM said: "We are testing now almost double per head what most other European countries are doing.

"We have got a testing capacity of 280,000 a day and testing is a huge part of that whack-a-mole strategy and will continue to be intensified."

The Government is now "determined to use this crisis finally to tackle this country's great unresolved challenges of the last three decades", Mr Johnson pledged.

To unite and level up, and to that end we will build, build, build

He said: "To build the homes, to fix the NHS, to solve social care, to tackle the skills crisis, to mend the indefensible gap in opportunity and productivity and connectivity between the regions of the UK.

"To unite and level up, and to that end we will build, build, build.

"Build back better, build back greener, build back faster. And to do that at the pace that this moment requires, we need now to distil the very best of the psychic energy of the last few months.

"Let's take the zap and elan of the armed services who helped to build the Nightingales.

"Let's take the selflessness and the love of the health and the care workers and the charities.

"The public spirit and the good humour of the entire population. And let's brew them together with the superhuman energy of Captain Tom – bounding around his garden at the age of 100 and raising millions for charity.

"Let's take that combination, that spirit: bottle it, swig it.

"And I believe we will have found if not quite a magic potion, at least the right formula to get us through these dark times."

And while Boris declared that he wanted to see the country forge ahead, it was warned that other cities could face local lockdowns if the bug continued to spike in areas.

Home Secretary Priti Patel said the government had seen "flare-ups" in the last three or four weeks.

She said: "Because with local flare-ups it is right we have a localised solution in terms of infection control, social distancing, testing and many of the tools actually within the Public Health England space that will come together to control the virus and to stop the spread so we can get on top of the infection."

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It comes as the economy is preparing to return to some semblance of normality.

On Saturday, pubs and restaurants will be allowed to reopen for the first time since March 23.

The two-metre social distancing rule has also been slashed to one-metre plus, which means introducing mitigation measures such as wearing a face mask, washing hands and sitting back to back when with people from outside your household.

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Boris Johnson gives the EU three months to seal a Brexit trade deal

Boris Johnson gives the EU three months to seal a Brexit trade deal as face-to-face talks resume in Brussels

  • The UK and the European Union are in currently talks over a Brexit trade deal
  • UK PM Boris Johnson has set a deadline of three months to conclude the talks
  • UK chief Brexit negotiator David Frost will take over as National Security Adviser
  • Mr Frost travelled to Brussels for EU talks and takes over from Sir Mark Sedwill 

Boris Johnson set a three-month deadline for concluding Brexit trade deal talks yesterday, as face-to-face negotiations resumed in Brussels.

Downing Street said the Prime Minister would not allow the talks to run beyond September because it would leave businesses with too little time to prepare for the end of the transition period in December.

No 10 confirmed that the UK’s chief Brexit negotiator, David Frost, will start his new job as the PM’s national security adviser at the end of August.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson (pictured) has set a deadline of three months for Brexit talks with the European Union to conclude

Mr Frost will not be replaced, but indicated that the Brexit negotiations would remain his top priority ‘until those negotiations have concluded’.

The PM’s official spokesman said this could mean Mr Frost doing both jobs for a time, but stressed this would be for a very limited period at most.

‘Talks can’t go on into the autumn,’ he said. Asked how long negotiations could continue, the spokesman said the PM was clear about ‘not wanting to be continuing having talks in October’.

The move sets a tight timescale for concluding negotiations. The deadline for extending the transition period beyond the end of this year expires today, and the PM’s spokesman confirmed the mechanism would not be triggered.

Downing Street also confirmed today that the UK’s chief Brexit negotiator, David Frost (pictured), will begin his new role as PM’s national security advisor at the end of August

This means that the UK will be fully out of the EU by January 1, with or without a trade deal. No deal would result in both sides levying tariffs on each other’s goods.

The PM had originally threatened to walk away from the talks at the end of this month unless a deal was in sight. 

But officials acknowledge that the original timetable has been affected by the pandemic. 

The new deadline emerged as Mr Frost travelled to Brussels for the first face-to-face negotiations with his EU counterpart Michel Barnier since the lockdown began.

Until now, talks have been held via video link – a process Mr Frost believes has hindered progress. He warned that ‘some of the EU’s unrealistic positions will have to change’.

He added: ‘UK sovereignty, over our laws, courts, or our fishing waters, is not up for discussion.’ 

The talks are stalled over the EU’s refusal to recognise the UK’s right to control its waters and set its own laws.

Mr Frost (pictured left) travelled to Brussels today to have face-to-face talks with his EU counterpart Michel Barnier (right)

Brussels wants EU trawlers to be guaranteed their current fishing rights in perpetuity, while the Government is insisting we should determine access on an annual basis. 

The EU also wants a ‘level playing field’, in which the UK would not cut red tape imposed by Brussels.

Mr Frost made clear he was not interested in a ‘compromise’ plan, which would give Brussels the right to impose tariffs if the UK departed from EU regulations after Brexit.

He added: ‘The Government will not agree to ideas like the one currently circulating.’

The UK has tabled a separate compromise which would allow the EU to levy tariffs on a small number of ‘sensitive’ agricultural products in return for dropping its ‘level playing field’ demands.

Weekly talks will now take place throughout July, with the venue alternating between Brussels and London.

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