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Britains PM Johnson has every hope of avoiding no-deal Brexit

Issued on: 16/09/2020 – 20:48Modified: 16/09/2020 – 20:49

Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Wednesda..

Issued on: Modified:

Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Wednesday said he had full confidence that Britain and the EU would avoid a potentially disastrous cliff-edge “no deal” at the end of this year.

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But he refused to back down on controversial new legislation that he openly admits will break international law and which has put his government at loggerheads with Brussels.

The proposed law, which overrides parts of the Brexit treaty relating to trade in Northern Ireland, could torpedo already fraught trade talks with the European Union.

The prospect of a “no deal” is looming larger with the talks deadlocked, and both sides insisting agreement must be struck by next month for it to be implemented at the end of the year.

Johnson told MPs that a “no deal” was “not what this country wants and its not what our EU friends and partners want from us”.

“Therefore I have every hope and expectation that that will not be the outcome,” he told a parliamentary committee during more than two hours of questioning.

The UK Internal Market Bill was put before parliament this week, despite EU calls for it to be withdrawn and stark reminders of the need to uphold treaty obligations.

Johnson has claimed the EU could “blockade” food and agricultural products heading to Northern Ireland from mainland Britain by imposing higher duties and tariffs.

Northern Ireland will have Britains only land border with the EU from January 1, and remains bound by some EU rules to ensure its border with Ireland stays open.

An open border was a key requirement of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement that brought an end to more than 30 years of violence over British rule in Northern Ireland.

Johnson said EU officials had “signally failed” to rule out preventing goods reaching Northern Ireland from Britain if no trade agreement is made.

“Its always possible that Im mistaken and perhaps they will prove my suspicions wrong,” he said.

The bill was designed as a “belt and braces” measure to regulate trade within the UK, and an “insurance policy” against any extreme action, he added.

“I prefer to have protections that guarantee the integrity of this country and protect against the potential rupture of the United Kingdom,” he said.

Resignation and compromise

A “no deal” outcome to the talks would see tariffs imposed by both sides, and on Britains side, they “would be quite formidable for some of their products”, he added.

EU chief executive Ursula von der Leyen earlier said the divorce deal that allowed Britain to leave the bloc could not be “unilaterally changed, disregarded or misapplied”.

“This is a matter of law and trust and good faith,” the European Commission president Read More – Source

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Coronavirus pandemic: 156 nations join WHO-led global plan for vaccine, US and China absent

Issued on: 22/09/2020 – 11:11Modified: 22/09/2020 – 11:18

A total of 156 countries have joined the..

Issued on: 22/09/2020 – 11:11Modified: 22/09/2020 – 11:18

A total of 156 countries have joined the global COVAX scheme intended to ensure fair distribution of supplies of future #vaccines against #Covid-19, an alliance led by the World Health Organization said on Monday. #WRead More – Source

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More than 60 wealthy countries join WHO’s plan for distributing Covid-19 vaccine

Issued on: 22/09/2020 – 07:44

More than 60 wealthy nations have joined a WHO-backed programme to f..

Issued on: 22/09/2020 – 07:44

More than 60 wealthy nations have joined a WHO-backed programme to facilitate poor countries' access to coronavirus vaccines, but the US and China are not on the list published Monday.

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The World Health Organization has in coordination with the global vaccine alliance group Gavi and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) created a mechanism aimed at ensuring a more equitable distribution of any future Covid-19 vaccines.

But the mechanism, known as Covax, has struggled to raise the funds needed to provide for the 92 low-income countries and other economies that quickly signed up.

WHO had encouraged richer nations to step up to the plate by the end of last week and when the deadline fell, 64 were onboard with another 38 expected to join in "coming days", the three organisations said in a joint statement.

Among those who have signed up are "the European Commission … on behalf of 27 EU member states plus Norway and Iceland," it said.

The United States, which under President Donald Trump has relentlessly criticised the WHO's handling of the pandemic and which is in the process of withdrawing from the organisation, is not on the list.

And China, where the novel coronavirus first surfaced late last year, is also absent.

"The purpose of the Covax facility is to try to work with every country in the world," Gavi chief Seth Berkley told a virtual briefing when asked about China's absence from the list.

"I can assure you that we have had conversations and will continue to have conversations with all countries," he said.

'Not charity'

In addition to working to get more countries to join Covax, Berkley said there was also an ongoing dialogue with vaccine-producing countries about "if they have successful vaccines that come out, how we can make sure they are made available to others in the world."

The aim is for Covax to lay its hands on two billion doses of safe and effective vaccines by the end of 2021.

But the mechanism is facing a range of significant challenges, not least a serious funding shortfall.

The WHO has said some $38 billion is needed for its overall ACT-Accelerator programme, which includes Covax, but also global collaboration towards developing and ensuring equitable access to tests and treatments for Covid-19, and strengthening health systems.

But so far it has received just $3.0 billion of that.

The 64 members of the Facility will be joined by 92 low- and middle-income economies eligible for support for the procurement of vaccines through the Read More – Source

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Madrid opera canceled after audience revolts over social distancing concerns

An opera in Madrid was halted on Sunday night after audience members protested over concerns that se..

An opera in Madrid was halted on Sunday night after audience members protested over concerns that seating was too crowded in the venue.The Teatro Real in Spain's capital city was forced to cancel the performance of Giuseppe Verdi's "Un ballo in maschera" after a group of spectators staged a protest during the performance, eventually ending the show and closing the venue for the night.Police officers were called to the site on Sunday.The venue said Monday that it "greatly regrets what happened" but attributed the upset to shifts in the city's health regulations.In July, the theater hosted performances of another Verdi opera, "La Traviata," and spaced out audience members by sealing off some chairs and placing empty chairs between each pair of occupied seats, it said.But it relaxed its seating policy after the city eased coronavirus restrictions, allowing some venues to host bigger audiences. On Sunday, the Teatro Real was at 65% capacity, still below city guidelines that allow such venues to fill up to 75% of normal capacity, it said. Audience members were allowed to freely choose their seats, though they wore masks during the performance.The Teatro Real on Monday acknowledged in a statement that some spectators had felt unsafe in their seats, "even if the current health regulations were scrupulously complied with, verified by the police who traveled to the [Teatro Real] last night." The statement added: "The Teatro Real wants to reiterate its commitment to the health safety of the public, artists and workers, in which it has been working with dedication, responsibility and great energy, since April, with its own Medical Committee and scrupulous monitoRead More – Source



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