Newslinks for Tuesday 4th August 2020

Johnson’s go-ahead for TikTok headquarters divides Tories

“Boris Johnson has given the go-ahead to allow TikTok, the Chinese video sharing app, to set up its international headquarters in London. In a move that has infuriated some Tory backbenchers, Downing Street said that it had no objection to TikTok setting up, despite concern over its close links to the Chinese government. It is understood that Bytedance, TikTok’s parent company, has made no final decision on the move as it negotiates the sale of its American arm to the US software giant Microsoft. One government source said that although the UK had no objection to the plan it was not a “done deal” as the company tries to restructure after a threat by President Trump to ban it in the United States. “Bytedance’s decision on the location of their global HQ is a commercial decision for the company,” Downing Street said.” – The Times

>Yesterday:

Russian hackers “got trade files from Liam Fox’s email account”

Russian hackers stole classified documents from the email account of Liam Fox, the former international trade secretary, it was reported last night. The hackers accessed a confidential dossier detailing trade negotiations with the United States which appeared to show that NHS drug procurement was on the table, the news agency Reuters said. Kremlin-backed cybercriminals allegedly accessed the account repeatedly over three months, including a two-week period while Dr Fox was still in office. Jeremy Corbyn, then Labour leader, held a printed version of the 451-page document aloft surrounded by NHS staff at a party press conference as part of his campaign before last December’s general election. There is no suggestion that Mr Corbyn acquired the document unlawfully.” – The Times

Rachel Sylvester: China is winning this war of the worlds

“The Three-Body Problem, by the Chinese science fiction writer Liu Cixin, is about as far out of my literary comfort zone as it’s possible to get. Alien invasions and virtual reality computer games underpinned by theoretical physics and quantum mechanics do not often feature in Jane Austen or Hilary Mantel. But when a friend gave me a copy of the book, I was gripped. It is a fantastical story that gives a fascinating insight into the clash of civilisations between China and the West. Liu’s novel — the first part of a trilogy — is based on an apocalyptic struggle for supremacy between two rival powers. Earth is under threat from Trisolaris, an unstable distant planet in a solar system that has three suns. The Trisolarans are much more scientifically advanced but the humans have greater ingenuity.” – The Times

>Today:

UK warns drug firms to stockpile in case of Brexit disruption

“Pharmaceutical companies should stockpile six weeks’ worth of drugs to guard against disruption at the end of the Brexit transition period, the government has said. The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has written to medicine suppliers advising them to make boosting their reserves a priority. The letter, published online on Monday, reiterates that ministers will not be asking for an extension to the transition period past 31 December, despite the coronavirus pandemic. There are concerns that the Covid-19 crisis has led to a dwindling of some medical stocks and that a disorderly exit without a trade deal could cause significant disruption.” – The Guardian

Coronavirus 1) No 10 ditches plan to shield over-50s after backlash from ministers

“Plans to extend shielding to some over-50s this winter have been abandoned after Cabinet ministers mounted a backlash against the proposal. Downing Street killed off the plan to tell over-50s to stay at home after ministers warned it was impractical, could damage the economy and sent out mixed messages on the day the Government wanted workers to get back to the office. Industry chiefs and prominent backbenchers including former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith also warned it was “economic madness” by depriving business of key managers and experience at a time when they were needed to help rescue industry in face of a recession.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Hancock calls over-50s report “speculation” – Daily Mail
  • “Segmented” lockdown could be the answer – The Times
  • Don’t give paracetamol to chronic pain patients, doctors told – The Times
  • Oxford Coronavirus vaccine may be financial shot in the arm for Huawei – The Times
  • Survivors of Covid-19 show an increased rate of psychiatric disorders, finds study – The Guardian

Coronavirus 2) Cities face blockades to contain a second wave of Coronavirus

“Ministers are prepared to quarantine towns and cities to prevent a second wave of coronavirus, Downing Street said yesterday. Under the plans, the government would impose travel restrictions in areas with severe Covid-19 outbreaks to stop residents leaving. Police would enforce the measures and could fine people who try to leave unless they fall under a list of exemptions. Boris Johnson and senior cabinet ministers have “war-gamed” the possibility of imposing movement restrictions on London around the M25 if a surge of cases occurs in the capital. Downing Street confirmed yesterday that local quarantines could be imposed across England. “There is the possibility of putting in place restrictions on travel if there is an area which is particularly badly affected,” a spokesman said.” – The Times

  • English pubs likely to be spared new Covid-19 restrictions, says No 10 – The Guardian
  • Testing every passenger arriving in Britain could cut quarantine time from 14 days to five, claims think tank – Daily Mail
  • UK advertisers pulled more than £1.1 billion spend during Covid lockdown – The Guardian

Coronavirus 3) Schools to get Coronavirus testing squads to help them open

“Testing squads will be sent to schools in areas of high infection to try to keep them open even during local lockdowns. Regular checks for pupils and teachers with no symptoms in hotspot areas are being considered as ministers hope to use on-the-spot testing machines to help douse local flare-ups. Matt Hancock, the health secretary, said that technology that gave results in 90 minutes would allow much more widespread testing in schools to hunt down and control the virus. Scientists have warned that without a significant improvement in the test-and-trace system the reopening of schools in September risks restarting the pandemic. If Britain is going to prevent a second wave in the autumn and send children back to school, then a new study estimates that 75 per cent of symptomatic Covid-19 cases will need to be caught”. – The Times

  • Reopening schools without better test and trace “threatens second wave”, warns the Lancet – Daily Telegraph
  • Schools and councils will be given millions of pounds to put on extra bus services to get all kids back in the classroom – The Sun

Coronavirus 4) “Monday to Wednesday is the new weekend” as restaurants welcome Sunak’s discount scheme…

“Monday to Wednesday is the new weekend, restaurants said as they hailed the first day of the new discount scheme. Restaurants reported a surge in bookings as Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s “Eat Out to Help Out” scheme, giving diners up to £10 off a meal and soft drinks, has helped feed demand. Social media users posted pictures of cut-price breakfasts on Monday morning, as major chains including Wetherspoon, Nando’s and Pizza Express have signed up to offer the discount. The majority of restaurants have embraced the scheme, UK Hospitality, the trade body, said, but some experts and owners raised concerns it could hurt weekend demand.” – Daily Telegraph

  • … but workers are too slow to return to offices as England relaxes rules – FT
  • “Just one in 20 civil servants have returned to their desks” – The Sun 
  • Places in Birmingham and Canary Wharf deserted – The Guardian
  • UK theatres job losses rise by 2,000 in a month, union figures show – The Guardian

>Yesterday:

Number of UK citizens emigrating to EU up by 30 per cent since Brexit vote

“The number of British nationals emigrating to other EU countries has risen by 30% since the Brexit referendum, with half making their decision to leave in the first three months after the vote, research has found. Analysis of data from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and Eurostat shows that migration from Britain to EU states averaged 56,832 people a year in 2008-15, growing to 73,642 a year in 2016-18. The study also shows a 500% increase in those who made the move and then took up citizenship in an EU state. Germany saw a 2,000% rise, with 31,600 Britons naturalising there since the referendum. “These increases in numbers are of a magnitude that you would expect when a country is hit by a major economic or political crisis,” said Daniel Auer, co-author of the study by Oxford University in Berlin and the Berlin Social Science Center.” – The Guardian

Grenfell Tower fire exposes culture of bad building

“On a balmy summer night three years ago one of the greatest tragedies in recent history unfolded as Grenfell Tower was consumed in flames. Over the past fortnight the principal building contractor responsible for the renovation of the 23-storey block, including the installation of flammable cladding, gave evidence to the inquiry into the fire in west London. The testimony of executives at Rydon offers an insight into how the building industry works and how its practices may have contributed to the disaster that night — and could lead to other tragedies in future. Rydon subcontracted large parts of the project to other firms but did not have the expertise to monitor what they were doing on site. It was said that key fire barriers on the outside of the building were wrongly fitted or not fitted at all and no one noticed.” – The Times

Sturgeon said she wanted to “cry” over pictures of pubgoers

“Nicola Sturgeon said she ‘wanted to cry’ over pictures of pubgoers gathering with no social distancing at the weekend as 27 cases of coronavirus are linked to one bar in Aberdeen. SNP MP Stephen Flynn today tweeted two photos he had spotted online of the city centre, where an outbreak took place in The Hawthorn Bar. The MP said he was ‘scunnered’ by the images, which showed dozens of people queuing to enter pubs in the city. It comes as NHS Grampian announce 27 cases of the virus have been linked to the bar, adding it is ‘aware’ of photos being shared online of ‘extremely busy bars’.” – Daily Mail

Migrants make dash for UK as smugglers warn door is closing

“Migrants are being told by people smugglers that it is “now or never” to cross the Channel because the border will close next year when the UK is finally out of the European Union, immigration officers say. Lucy Moreton, professional officer at the Immigration Services Union, said that the warning was helping to fuel a rise in desperate migrants willing to set sail from France in kayaks, pedalos and dinghies. She said that the success that migrants are having in crossing the Channel is encouraging even more people. “It is seen as a route that works,” she said. “What had been a niche market, a very expensive route, has now become cheaper and one that is seen as successful.”” – The Times 

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