A former Miss UK has reportedly become the UK’s richest divorcee after splitting from her billionaire husband. Kirsty Bertarelli, 50, is believed to have taken £350million after splitting with Ernesto Bertarelli after 21 years of marriage.
Human rights lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana, has said he was surprised that the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), could hail Britain for uniting Nigeria in his Independence Day speech.
Sky Brown, 13, becomes Britain’s youngest Olympic medallist after winning bronze. Sakura Yosozumi, Kokona Hiraki and Sky Brown were on a podium, with Olympic medals around their necks, trying to explain how it felt to win gold, silver and bronze on skateboards with a combined age of 44. “Stoked”, “insane”, and “crazy happy” summed it up.
Sky Brown has been crowned Great Britain’s youngest Olympic medallist after winning bronze in the women’s skateboard park event at the Ariake Urban Arena in Tokyo.
Britain reported its highest number of deaths and people in hospital with coronavirus since March on Tuesday, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson urging caution despite a week of lower reported numbers of infection.
Britain reported 131 new deaths from COVID-19, the highest daily total since March 17, though it came after just 14 deaths were reported on Monday, suggesting the weekend might have impacted when deaths were reported. The number of COVID-19 patients in British hospitals has also steadily risen to 5,918, also the highest since March, following a spike in cases earlier this month.
The number of new infections has fallen each day for the last seven days, though Johnson stressed the pandemic was not over. “It is very, very important that we don’t allow ourselves to run away with premature conclusions about (lower case numbers),” Johnson told broadcasters, noting it would take a while for the lifting of restrictions in England to feed through to the data.
“People have got to remain very cautious and that remains the approach of the government.” Johnson has lifted restrictions in England and is betting he can get one of Europe’s largest economies firing again because so many people are now vaccinated, a decision which marks a new chapter in the response to the novel coronavirus.
Imperial College epidemiologist Neil Ferguson said the effective end of Britain’s pandemic could be just months away as vaccines have so dramatically reduced the risk of hospitalisation and death.
“We’re not completely out of the woods but the equation has fundamentally changed” Ferguson, whose modelling of the virus’s likely spread at the outset of the pandemic in early 2020 alarmed governments across the world said.
“Im positive that by late September, October time we will be looking back at most of the pandemic.” ON THE WAY DOWN
Johnson lifted COVID-19 restrictions in England on July 19. New daily cases in the current wave peaked two days earlier at 54,674 and have since fallen dramatically, to 23,511 new cases on Tuesday. The closure of schools for summer, the end of the Euro 2020 soccer championships and warmer weather are among factors epidemiologists say might have reduced social mixing indoors and therefore cases, even as England’s economy has fully reopened.
Case numbers have been falling for longer in Scotland, where the recent peak in new infections was on July 1, than in England corresponding to an earlier elimination from the Euros. “Both of them seem to coincide in some ways with the end of activity in the Euro 2020 tournament,’ Rowland Kao, an epidemiologist at the University of Edinburgh, told reporters, adding that changes in testing patterns might mean that the sharpness of the drop is overstated in daily testing figures.
Cases may go up again, because we’re only Just going to be starting to see the effect of the complete release of restrictions associated with July 19 in England. So there may still be rises yet to come. Britain has one of the highest official fatality rates from COVID-19 in the world, with 129,303 deaths, but vaccinations and lockdowns have greatly slowed the rate since March.
Scotland’s National Clinical Director Jason Leitch said a gradual return to usual social activity would help smooth the end of the current wave, but that the next few weeks would be unpredictable. “On the way down is always bumpier than the exponential rise on the way up, he said.
French authorities said on Friday they had rescued a boatload of 42 migrants in the English channel after their boat got into difficulty.
The emergency services were alerted by the migrants, and a rescue vessel picked them up in the sea off the Pas-de-Calais area, according to a French police statement.
They were taken to the nearby port of Boulogne-sur-Mer, and all are in good health, the statement said.
Thousands of migrants each year attempt the dangerous sea crossing from France to the coast of Britain, often paying human smugglers to help them through one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes in overloaded rubber dinghies.
For now at least, the UK government’s approach will further strain relations with the European Union, still the country’s biggest trading partner by a long way.
At the heart of the issue is the Northern Ireland Protocol, which was included in the Brexit deal to avoid the return of a physical border between Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom, and Ireland, which is a member of the European Union.
Border checks and guard posts disappeared following the 1998 Good Friday Agreement that brought peace to the island of Ireland after 30 years of violent conflict between Catholic nationalists, who want a unified country, and Protestants who are loyal to the United Kingdom.
The European Union worried that a physical barrier could once again become a source of tension, and it would not agree to police the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland to protect the integrity of the EU market. Johnson, who helped lead the campaign for Brexit, instead agreed that Northern Ireland would remain subject to EU market rules, and to check goods flowing from the United Kingdom to Northern Ireland.
But those new checks on goods moving between mainland Britain and Northern Ireland have created chaos, upending supply chains, adding costs to businesses and reducing the availability of certain products in Northern Ireland supermarkets. According to the UK government, at least 200 businesses in Britain have stopped servicing the nation due to post-Brexit red tape.
On Thursday, the British Generic Manufacturers Association, a trade body for manufacturers of generic medicines, said onerous new trading rules have forced its companies to put on notice over 2,000 medicines for withdrawal from Northern Ireland.
The UK government now wants “significant change” to the Protocol, which it acknowledges in a paper published this week is the cause of “most of the current friction” with the European Union. It is effectively trying to renegotiate a deal it agreed to seven months ago, putting forward proposals that it knows the European Union cannot accept.
The paper “reads like a client’s submission to their divorce lawyer — full of blame-shifting, faux sadness and passive aggression,” Winters and Michael Gasiorek of the UK Trade Policy Observatory wrote in a blog on Thursday.
“It reflects weakness and can only serve to diminish the Government’s international standing,” they added.
The United Kingdom has a lot at stake. Brexit has added costs to British exporters, knocking trade with their most important market and hurting economic growth in the long run. It needs new trade deals to offset some of the damage caused by Brexit.
But if it fails to honor treaties it has already signed, the UK government might find it more difficult to secure agreements on favorable terms with other countries, including the United States.
“We will not agree to a renegotiation of the Protocol,” European Commission Vice President Maroš Šefčovič said in a statement on Wednesday. “Respecting international legal obligations is of paramount importance,” he added.
This sentiment is shared by Jacinda Ardern, the prime minister of New Zealand — a country with which Britain is currently engaged in trade talks and which has the power to prevent it from joining the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).
The CPTPP is an 11-country free trade pact that includes Mexico, Australia, Canada and Singapore. While it won’t compensate for the economic losses arising from Brexit, it has nonetheless been described by UK Trade Secretary Liz Truss as a “glittering post-Brexit prize.”
In a speech to the New Zealand Institute of International Affairs earlier this month, Ardern said that New Zealand had agreed to negotiations that will pave the way for the United Kingdom to join the partnership.
“CPTPP is our highest quality agreement,” she added. “Those aspiring to join will have to be able to meet its high standards.”
Some trade experts interpreted the comment as being directed at Britain. “If it wasn’t intended for the UK it was a completely wasted breath,” Winters said.
Even more pointed warnings have come from other quarters. For any UK government, a trade deal with the United States would be by far the biggest economic victory of a post-Brexit Britain.
That has always looked a long shot, given that neither former President Donald Trump nor current President Joe Biden have had much appetite to sign up to major international treaties, amid a broader shift away from trade liberalization.
But the UK government’s recent actions aren’t helping its cause. In a statement this week, US Democratic Congressman Brendan Boyle rebuked the UK government’s approach to Northern Ireland and highlighted “strong bipartisan” support for the Good Friday Agreement.
“The British government negotiated the Northern Ireland Protocol, agreed to it, and its Parliament voted for it. Yet almost immediately after it went into effect, the British government has tried to evade its responsibilities under the protocol,” he said.
“Their latest statement and proposed changes just continues this trend and serves only to further destabilize Northern Ireland,” he added.
While Biden has been clear that his focus lies mainly on domestic issues, he has also repeatedly warned Britain against making the Good Friday Agreement a “casualty of Brexit.”
“Biden has a specific interest in Northern Ireland and its stability, and does view the UK as the antagonist in that discussion,” said Sam Lowe, a senior research fellow at the Centre for European Reform.
“Ongoing disputes with the EU over Northern Ireland and threats to renege on commitments creates a problem with the US, but I’m not convinced it creates huge problems with any other countries,” he added.
David Henig, UK director at the European Centre for International Political Economy, said that other countries may view the spat over Northern Ireland as a unique case.
“Other countries will certainly be aware that the UK is going back on [its agreements with the European Union], but each negotiation is separate,” Henig said. “It will not be viewed as a particularly good thing but I’m not sure that they won’t segregate it away from their own discussions. Northern Ireland clearly is a special case.”
With grace periods on checks on some goods flowing between Britain and Northern Ireland set to expire at the end of September, including animal products such as chilled meats, more political wrangling between the United Kingdom and European Union lies ahead.
“I can quite easily see this carrying on for quite a while without a change,” said Henig.
“The state of uncertainty might become the status quo,” added Lowe.
Northern Ireland will bear the brunt of this sorry state of affairs. But Johnson’s dream of a “global Britain” will also suffer consequences.
EU officials have already rejected the UK call for a renegotiation, which trade experts say amounts to a brazen attempt to press the European Union to agree to demands that it already rejected during several rounds of talks.
Just seven months after singing its praises, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is attempting to rewrite the Brexit deal he signed with the European Union.
It’s a risky move that will undermine Britain’s credibility as a trustworthy trading partner at the very moment that the UK government is seeking to forge economic alliances far beyond Europe to justify its “global Britain” sales pitch for Brexit, according to experts.
Other countries watching the drama unfold will proceed with caution when it comes to dealing with the United Kingdom, according to L. Alan Winters of the UK Trade Policy Observatory at the University of Sussex in England.
“It certainly does raise questions about the trustworthiness of this government,” he said “I don’t think it will lead to the complete cessation of negotiations between the UK and other countries, but I think it will make it a little bit more difficult,” he added.
To be clear, the UK government’s capricious behavior is a bad look, but it won’t necessarily prove fatal to future trade alliances. It could, however, weaken its negotiating position.
“The UK is a substantial economy,” and is an “attractive trade partner in many ways,” said Simon Usherwood, a professor of politics and international studies at The Open University in England.
Potential partners, such as New Zealand and other Pacific nations, may just insist on more robust ways to settle disputes in case the United Kingdom tried to backtrack on a deal, he told reporters.
“If you wanted a trade deal with the UK, now is probably the best time to get one on your own terms,” Usherwood added, pointing to the highly accommodating deal the UK government granted Australia. “The UK is in a tight situation. It needs to show that leaving the EU was a worthwhile venture.”