‘EU in world of pain’ Why Brussels needs Brexit trade deal with UK in fight for survival

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson struck a deal on the withdrawal agreement with the European Union towards the end of last year to include small amendments to the Irish backstop, an issue that was a thorn in the side of his predecessor, Theresa May. Mr Johnson had no such problems, using the Conservative Party’s huge 80-seat majority gained when crushing political rivals in December’s general election, to get his amended withdrawal agreement voted through the Commons by MPs and delivering on his promise to “get Brexit done” on January 31. The UK and EU quickly got trade talks underway, with Britain’s chief negotiator David Frost taking a team to Brussels to meet one led by EU counterpart Michel Barnier.

But already both sides have traded vicious insults over each other’s respective negotiating stances in talks, with huge cracks widening from bitter disagreements over a number of crucial demands being made in the post-Brexit agreement.

Following the conclusion of the latest round of virtual talks earlier this month, Mr Frost has warned the EU would have to dramatically relent in a number of areas before the next set of negotiations begin on Monday.

Mr Johnson is insisting a post-Brexit trade deal with the EU must be signed before the end of the transition period on December 31, and is refusing requests to extend this deadline to allow more time to get one agreed – a move that has left leading EU figures furious.

Prior to the start of the first negotiations with Brussels in March, he also warned the UK would walk away from the negotiating table if sufficient progress had not been made by next month.

Political experts have warned this piles huge pressure on the EU, especially with the bloc desperately struggling to manage the fallout from the coronavirus crisis.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has warned the eurozone could shrink by as much as seven percent this year, sparking fresh fears for the future of the under-pressure single currency.

John Macdonald, Head of Government Affairs at the Adam Smith Institute think tank, explained how the coronavirus crisis has “radically changed” the negotiating positions of the UK and EU in the space of just a few months.

He warned the EU is “about to be in a world of pain” as the economic fallout throughout the bloc is threatening to leave the continent near breaking point.

Mr Macdonald said: “The coronavirus crisis has radically changed the negotiating positions.

“The UK, like nations across the world has been ravaged by the pandemic. But the swift and extensive action of the Chancellor has staved off economic collapse.

“On the other hand, the EU is about to be in a world of pain.

“As Spain, Portugal and Italy face the prospect of sovereign debt crises, the pooling of debt, greater fiscal transfer from larger EU economies and potential tax hikes will likely become necessary, jeopardising the EU’s already compromised finances and increasing tensions between member states.”

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Patrick Sullivan, chief executive of the Westminster-based Parliament think tank, told Express.co.uk: “The UK now has the upper hand in trade talks.

“Eurozone-fledgling companies are still over-reliant on bank debt funding compared with, for example, their American counterparts.

“Eurozone banks are still not strong enough to fund a new financing for European business from their own balance sheets.

“They need global investors with risk appetite to invest, and London’s financial expertise is essential to achieving this. Given the perilous state of the eurozone, the EU now needs this trade deal more.

“A post-COVID-19 recession European continent will be crying out for a new generation of entrepreneurs to create companies which will go on to be world leaders, generating employment and wealth for Europeans.

“This requires interconnected and efficient access to their largest trading bloc, not artificial barriers to trade and investment.”

The pressure on the EU intensified after the European Central Bank warned the eurozone’s most debt-ridden countries risk bringing the single currency bloc to its knees as the impact of the coronavirus pandemic is laid bare.

Debt levels are expected to rise well above those witnessed after the 2008 financial crisis, according to the ECB’s biannual financial stability review.

Eurozone Governments’ budget deficits are forecast on average to rise to eight percent of gross domestic product.

The ECB has also forecast aggregate government debt to increase from 86 percent of GDP to over 100 percent across the eurozone.

The review warned: “The pandemic represents a medium-term challenge to the sustainability of public finances.

“A more severe and prolonged economic contraction than envisaged would risk putting the public debt to GDP ratio on an unsustainable path.”

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UK weather: Britain to melt as shock weather chart shows UK turn DARK RED with heat blast

The UK can expect to see a surge in temperatures over the weekend. Britain’s temperatures will rise as high as 28C with much sunshine expected. BBC Weather forecaster Matt Taylor explained the warmth will reach all areas of the UK over the weekend.

He said: “The amount of sunshine across the UK has been astonishing, and more of it is to come.

“It is the North-West of Scotland where we could see the highest temperatures.

“We have high pressure to the east of us, so winds and an easterly breeze will keep things a little cooler in the south-east of England.

“Scotland could get to 28C and it will be sunshine from dawn to dusk today for many people on Friday.”

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The Met Office has also predicted that Sunday could prove to be the hottest day of the year if temperatures continue to rise.

Met Office meteorologist Aidan McGivern explained the Scottish highlands see the hottest temperatures in the country over the weekend.

Mr McGivern said: “Look at Scotland, the north of Scotland by Friday and Saturday – 28C here, especially around the Moray coast.

“That could be the warmest place in the whole of the country and certainly the warmest day of the year so far in Scotland.”

“By Sunday similar sorts of temperatures, widely 25-28C”

Despite the warm weather for the weekend, it is not expected to last long into the new week.

Temperatures across the country are forecasted to fall due to cooler air from the Atlantic.

Mr McGivern said: “There is increased uncertainty around the middle of next week for the timing of the change to cooler air.

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“It looks likely that northern parts of the country will see a change to cooler more unsettled weather around the early part of next week.

“Southern parts of the country will get hotter for a time before then also starting this gradual change to cooler more unsettled weather.

“This comes with an increased chance of rain or showers as well.”

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‘Wake up!’ Warning issued over China’s secret plot to destroy US economy

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Tensions between the US and China have escalated over the last few months following the outbreak of the deadly COVID-19 pandemic. Accusations of hacking coronavirus vaccine research have ignited the strained relationship between the two countries.

And now, Representative for Oklahoma Kevin Hern has accused the Communist nation of “cheating” and warned they could “flood the market” and take over the US economy.

Writing for The Hill, Mr Hern said: “The United States is strong, we will not be beaten by the likes of China.

“Oppression doesn’t inspire innovation or loyalty.

“And yet, the Chinese do have an advantage – they cheat.”

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Kim Jong-un title: What is Kim Jong-un’s official title?

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Kim Jong-un has been the subject of speculation surrounding his health, with rumours of his death circulating in recent weeks. However, on Sunday state media said the North Korean leader hosted a meeting to discuss the country’s nuclear capabilities.

This marked Kim’s first appearance in three weeks after a previous absence – which was what had sparked rumours of surgery, ill-health and death.

State media service KCNA said the meeting discussed measures to bolster armed forces and “reliably contain the persistent big or small military threats from the hostile forces.”

The report added: “Set forth at the meeting were new policies for further increasing the nuclear war deterrence of the country and putting the strategic armed forces on a high alert operation.”

Kim has made an unusually small number of outings in the past two months, with his absence from a key anniversary prompting speculation about his condition.

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This came as Pyongyang has stepped up measures against the COVID-19 pandemic.

North Korea says it has no confirmed cases of the new coronavirus, but South Korea’s intelligence agency has said it cannot rule out the North has had an outbreak.

Ruling Workers’ Party officials wore face masks to greet Kim as he entered the meeting of the party’s powerful Central Military Commission, state television showed.

However, no one – including Kim – was seen wearing a mask during the meeting.

What is Kim Jong-un’s official title?

Kim Jong-un has served as leader of North Korea since 2011 and is known by several titles dependent on occasion, in media or by the North Korean people.

Kim has been the Supreme Commander of the Korean People’s Army since December 24, 2011.

On March 27, 2012, Kim was elected to the Fourth Conference of the Workers’ Party of Korea.

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In July 2012, Kim Jong-un was promoted to wonsu (translated as marshal), the highest active rank in the military.

After his father’s – Kim Jong-il – death in 2011, Kim Jong-un was hailed as the “great successor to the revolutionary cause of Juche”.

He has also been called “outstanding leader of the party, army and people”, and “respected comrade who is identical to Supreme Commander Kim Jong-il”.

The Korean Central News Agency described Kim Jong-un as “a great person born of heaven”, a propaganda term both his father and grandfather had enjoyed.

Of his appointment, the ruling Workers’ Party said: “We vow with bleeding tears to call Kim Jong-un our supreme commander, our leader.”

In November 2012, satellite photos showed a 1,600 ft propaganda message carved into a hillside in Ryanggang Province, reading, “Long Live General Kim Jong-un, the Shining Sun!”

North Korean state media often refers to him as Marshal Kim Jong-un, “the Marshal” or “Dear Respected”.

One reported – and more bizarre – title of Kim’s is “Ender of the Human Race and Planet Earth”.

Kim also holds the titles of

  • Chairman of the Workers’ Party of Korea (as First Secretary between 2012 and 2016),
  • ex officio Chairman of the Central Military Commission
  • Chairman of the State Affairs Commission

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UK hot weather forecast: Atlantic high pressure system to blast weekend heatwave frenzy

Britain will enjoy a mini-heatwave over the next few days as temperatures begin to soar once more across the UK. This is due to high pressure sweeping in from the Atlantic, bringing a surge of hot air that will linger for days.

It could even reach 28C in southern parts, as social distancing regulations will once again be tested, as many could flock to beaches and beauty spots.

For Friday, the Met Office said: “Another, warm and largely sunny day for most of the UK, with a low risk of a few sharp showers during the afternoon across parts of Scotland.”

Across the weekend, the Met Office forecasts “mostly dry, sunny and very warm” weather “across much of the UK, with the highest temperatures in the west”.

Net Weather forecaster Nick Finnis said: “High pressure close to the east keeping weather fronts at bay to the west, with most seeing sunshine from dawn to dusk, with very little in the way of cloud for many.

“Very warm for most in the light southeasterly breezes, still a brisk easterly breeze towards the southeast, which means the highest temperatures will again be towards the west.

“So, we could see 25C in Glasgow and Manchester, 26C in Cardiff, 20-24C elsewhere, cooler around coasts, particularly North Sea coasts of East Anglia and Kent with the onshore breeze.

“The weekend is looking fine, dry, sunny and warm for most, with high pressure close to the east continuing to keep weather fronts at bay over the Atlantic.

“Both Saturday and Sunday will see plenty of warm sunshine, though there will be an increasingly brisk southeasterly breeze – particularly in the east.

“Temperatures widely reaching the mid-twenties inland, even across Scotland, perhaps up to 27C across south Wales and inland parts of SW England, cooler across eastern coastal areas.”

London will have temperatures of up to 25C, with high pollen levels, hay-fever sufferers should be aware.

A BBC forecaster said: “High pressure will remain close to the east of the UK, bringing further dry and very warm conditions for Saturday and Sunday with plenty of sunshine. It will become breezier for many too.

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“Monday will see another dry and very warm day with sunshine for most.”

The hottest part of the UK will undoubtedly be the south, where there could be potentially a hosepipe ban in the upcoming weeks.

Last weekend saw thousands take to Brighton beach, as the government has urged the public to use their “common sense” going forward.

Shortly before 12 pm on Bank Holiday Monday, Bournemouth Council said all its seafront car parks were full and told residents to “think twice” before visiting the beach.

Meanwhile, MeteoGroup forecast for this weekend that the hot weather will stick around until Sunday.

The forecaster said: “After a fine evening with sunshine, most areas will remain dry with clear skies overnight.

“However, some low cloud and mist may affect coastal areas of northern and eastern Scotland. A mild night. Moderate south-easterly winds.

“Tomorrow (Saturday) will be dry, warm and sunny again for most, although with perhaps the odd shower for northern Scotland.

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UK heatwave forecast: Scorching 28C highs as UK to see HOTTEST day of year – maps, charts

Sunny skies, hot weather and balmy evenings have dominated the weather over the past week, making for an “exceptional spring” according to Met Office forecasters. Now, this hot weather is predicted to last for the rest of meteorological spring and into the start of summer.

Giving the 10-day trend, Met Office meteorologist Aidan McGivern said: “It’s been an exceptional spring so far across the UK so far as sunshine is concerned.

“For the rest of May and the rest of Meteorological spring, there is simply more sunshine to come widely up and down the country.

“There will be an increase in temperatures, later this week, northern and western areas seeing the highest temperatures. Subtle changes into the start of next week, more significant changes later next week.”

Mr McGivern added northern Scotland saw outbreaks of cloud and rain on Wednesday night, “but they are soon out of the way by the start of Thursday and then the high pressure builds back in, but builds to the east of the UK.”

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“That means we are going to see more of an easterly airflow, and that will change the distribution of temperatures by the time we get to Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

“Thursday, the distribution of temperatures means it will be hottest in the south, south-west, South Wales, West Wales, South West England as well seeing 26 perhaps 27C.

“Much cooler to the north of Scotland. But look at Scotland – the north of Scotland – by Friday and Saturday, 28C here, especially around the Murray Coast.

“That could be the warmest place in the whole of the country, and certainly the warmest day of the year so far in Scotland.”

So why is Scotland seeing the scorching highs? Mr McGivern explained: “What’s going on? Well, that easterly breeze is bringing cooler air to the north sea coast as well as the English Channel coast, its actually quite a cool airflow, but its warming up on Friday and Saturday as it crosses the country because of all that strong sunshine.

“Then as it moves over the higher ground and say central parts of Scotland, it warms up and dries up even further so that when it comes down on the other side of the mountains, well those temperatures are even higher than they were before.

“This is called the Foehn Effect, northern Scotland will benefit most from this at 28C, mid to high 20sC elsewhere across parts of northern and western Britain.”

Mr McGivern added on Sunday there will be “similar sorts of temperatures” with the mercury “widely 25 to 28C” across northern and western Britain, feeling “cooler on the coasts”.

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However, on Monday the forecaster said there will be a change, with the North Sea coasts feeling “much warmer” and the coasts of northwest Scotland “much cooler”.

This is because “the winds are starting to shift”.

Mr McGivern said the main forecast for the next five days sees hot sunshine, with “sunny skies for the vast majority.”

However, this heat has the potential to spark a thunderstorm – which the forecaster said could strike across the northwest highlands on Saturday and Sunday.

Anyone heading outside over the next few days should take precautions as UV and pollen levels will be high.

This means wearing suncream and sunglasses when outside, and if suffering from hay fever taking any treatment or precautions which may help.

Social distancing guidelines must also be adhered to for anyone heading outside – with lockdown measures still in place.

Bookmaker Coral now makes June odds on, at 4/5, to be the hottest June since records began.

The odds have been cut from 5/4 in the last 24 hours.

Coral spokesman Harry Aitkenhead said: “May has seen some truly glorious spring weather and we think that it’s more of the same for June.

“We now make it odds on, having cut the odds, that next month breaks the record as the hottest June ever.”

Coral also make it odds on, at 1/2, for a hosepipe ban during the summer of 2020.

This May is on course to be the driest recorded since the 19th Century.

Mr Aitkenhead said: “It’s been the driest May since the 1800s and that means if the weather continues we’ll be looking at a hosepipe ban during the summer of 2020.”

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Trump to issue SHOCK executive order on social media in Twitter row

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The US President has been embroiled in a feud with social media platform Twitter as they have introduced fact checking on a tweet of Trump’s about mail-in ballots. It is the first time that Twitter introduced a fact check on the platform.

Earlier on Wednesday, Trump tweeted that social media firms are attempting to censor right wing viewpoints in an attempt to rig the November 3 election.

Trump tweeted: “Big Tech is doing everything in their very considerable power to CENSOR in advance of the 2020 Election.

“If that happens, we no longer have our freedom.

“I will never let it happen!

In the same tweet, he claimed that action will be taken soon.

He continued: “They tried hard in 2016, and lost.

“Now they are going absolutely crazy.”

He concluded his tweet with “Stay tuned!”

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Earlier the same day, Trump tweeted: “Republicans feel that Social Media Platforms totally silence conservatives voices.

“We will strongly regulate, or close them down, before we can ever allow this to happen.

“We saw what they attempted to do, and failed, in 2016.

“We can’t let a more sophisticated version of that happen again.

“Just like we can’t let large scale Mail-In Ballots take root in our Country.

“It would be a free for all on cheating, forgery and the theft of Ballots.

“Whoever cheated the most would win.

“Likewise, Social Media, clean up your act, now!”

President Trump’s feud with Twitter in particular had recently taken a giant turn, with Twitter introducing fact checking onto the president tweets.

He had tweeted, without providing evidence: “There is no way (zero!) that Mail-In Ballots will be anything less than substantially fraudulent.”

Twitter added a warning label to the post and linked to a page that described the claims as “unsubstantiated”.

It started with Trump posting a conspiracy theory that Lori Klausutis was murdered in 2001 by her boss, MSNBC host Joe Scarborough.

Twitter has refused to delete tweets by US President Donald Trump after a widower publicly implored the company to remove “horrifying lies” about his wife’s death, amplified by Mr Trump.

Twitter’s chief executive Jack Dorsey responded to criticism of the platform’s fact-checking policies in a series of posts, saying: “We’ll continue to point out incorrect or disputed information about elections globally.”

Twitter has tightened its policies in recent years as it faced criticism that its hands-off approach was helping fake accounts and misinformation to thrive.

In an interview with Fox News on Wednesday, airing on Thursday, Facebook’s chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said censoring a social media platform would not be the “right reflex” for a government concerned about censorship.

Shares in both Twitter and Facebook fell in Wednesday’s trading session in New York.

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South China Sea chaos: China sends warning to rivals by unveiling record-breaking ship

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The new ship dwarfs coastguard vessels from other nations based in the highly disputed waters where China’s military presence continues to increase. The ship will enter service with the Ministry of Transport’s South China Sea Rescue Bureau.

On Monday, a subsidiary of state-owned China State Shipbuilding Corporation announced they had completed work on the ship and had successfully installed stabilising components for the search and rescue (SAR) vessel.

According to a press release on the China Merchant Industrial Holdings’ website, a contract to construct the ship was signed between the South China Sea Rescue Bureau and a subsidiary of the China Merchants Group back in November.

The signing ceremony was reportedly overseen by the South China Sea Rescue Bureau’s Party Secretary, Zhuang Zeping.

Technical plans and designs for the ship are expected to be completed this month.

Known as the 14,000 Kilowatt Large Cruiser Rescue Ship, it is reportedly set to be roughly 450-feet-long, 88 feet wide and 36 feet deep, according to Radio Free Asia.

If these measurements are accurate, the ship would be the largest and most powerful operated by China’s search and rescue service.

It is also reported to be the most advanced SAR vessel in China’s fleet with the ability to haul shipwrecks out of the sea with a 133-ton crane.

The China Rescue Service (CRS) solely focuses on maritime rescue or salvaging after accidents at sea involving other ships and civilians.

The South China Sea Rescue Bureau has set up regional bases on disputed rocks and islands in the region, including Fiery Cross Reef.

According to state media, there have been four rescue missions since the establishment of the rescue base on Fiery Cross Reef.

Most recently, the CRS rescued a fishing boat that became ground in the Paracel Islands.

This rescue took place after Vietnam resisted China’s decision to kick its fisherman out of the sea earlier this month.

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China hit out at Vietnam’s fishing protest in the South China Sea days after Beijing issued a ban on trawlers in part of the disputed waters.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry said its neighbour had no right to comment on the annual summer prohibition on fishing, insisting China had every right to issue such a ban.

The two countries have for years been embroiled in a bitter dispute over the stretch of water.

The area is known to the Vietnamese as the East Sea.

The stretch which is home to more than 200 specks of land is potentially rich in energy.

Le Thi Thu Hang, a spokeswoman for Vietnam’s Foreign Ministry, said: “Vietnam demands that China not further complicate the situation in the South China Sea.”

The annual ban sees more than 50,000 fishing boats forced to suspend their operations.

The South China Sea region is a disputed territory where it faces rival ownership claims from China, Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Taiwan.

Diplomatic relations between the nations, which have laid claim to the islands, are already extremely strained.

The recent construction of bunkers on some of the atolls points to China preparing to “protection against air or missile strikes”, raising the prospect of a potential conflict, sparking World War 3 fears.

The islands and surrounding reefs have been the subject of a bitter and long-running territorial dispute, with China, Malaysia, Taiwan, Vietnam and the Philippines all laying claim to parts of the archipelago.

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Emily Maitlis issues crushing put-down to Boris Johnson over Cummings row

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Ms Maitlis elaborated a concise summary of the recent events that caused chaos and divide among Government officials. The BBC Two presenter was praised on social media over her candid remarks.

Boris Johnson gave an address on Sunday evening explaining that Dominic Cummings, his chief adviser, “had no alternative” but to travel 260 miles from London to County Durham with his family last month.

Addressing the audience Ms Maitlis said: “Dominic Cummings broke the rules, the country can see that, and it’s shocked the government cannot.

“The longer ministers and the prime minister tell us he worked with them, the more angry the response to this scandal is likely to be.

“He was the man, remember, who always got the public mood, he tagged the lazy label of ‘elite’ on those who disagreed.

“He should understand that public mood. One of fury, contempt, and anguish.

“He made those who struggled to keep to the rules feel like fools, and has allowed many more to feel like they can flout them.”

She added: “The prime minister knows all this, and despite the resignation of one minister, growing unease from his backbenchers, a dramatic early warning from the polls, and a deep national disquiet, Boris Johnson has chosen to ignore it.”

Ms Maitlis said she did not expect to be joined by a government minister to explain the situation, but that the programme would continue to report on the latest developments.

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Members of the audience took to Twitter upon hearing the statement to praise the presenter’s ability to describe the situation.

“Absolutely no mucking about from @maitlis,” said James Clayton.

“Maitlis destroys Cummings in 20 seconds,” posted another user.

“A great journalist puts into words the things people feel,” tweeted Stefan Simanowitz.

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On Sunday’s address, the Prime Minster said that after “extensive face-to-face conversations” he resolved that Mr Cummings did not breach the rules.

He explained that Mr Cummings and his wife had been “travelling to find the right kind of childcare, at the moment when both he and his wife were about to be incapacitated by coronavirus.”

He added: “Looking at the very severe childcare difficulties that presented themselves to Dominic Cummings and his family, I think what they did was totally understandable.

“There is guidance about that particular difficulty, about what you need to do, the pressures that families face when they have childcare needs.”

The guidance cited four “very limited purposes” for not abiding by the lockdown rules, specifically: “any medical need, including to donate blood, avoid injury or illness, escape risk of harm, or to provide care or help a vulnerable person.”

Number 10 issued a statement on Saturday advising that Mr Cummings and his wife believed that the guidelines meant that were allowed to drive north.

A Downing Street spokesman said: “Owing to his wife being infected with suspected coronavirus and the high likelihood that he would himself become unwell, it was essential for Dominic Cummings to ensure his young child could be properly cared for.

“His sister and nieces had volunteered to help so he went to a house near to but separate from his extended family in case their help was needed.

“His sister shopped for the family and left everything outside.

“At no stage was he or his family spoken to by the police about this matter, as is being reported.

“His actions were in line with coronavirus guidelines. Mr Cummings believes he behaved reasonably and legally.”

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Bye, bye Corbyn: Blairite appointment smuggles left-wing’s stranglehold of Labour

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Sir Keir Starmer established his grip as his favoured contender beat trade union backed candidates to become the new general secretary. David Evans, who worked for the party under Tony Blair, was picked by the party’s ruling body after a private vote last night. Sir Keir said Mr Evans will help the party work to “restore trust with the British people” and build a team that “can win the next election”.

The Labour leader added: “He brings a wealth of experience to this crucial role and a clear understanding of the scale of the task ahead of us.”

Six candidates made it on to the shortlist to replace Jennie Formby, who was a key ally of Jeremy Corbyn and quit by “mutual agreement” when Sir Keir took over.

But Mr Evans’ main rival was Byron Taylor, Labour’s former trade union liaison officer.

Some trade unions wanted a candidate from the left of the party but the more moderate GMB union helped to swing the vote in favour of the centrist candidate.

Mr Evans was Labour’s assistant general secretary between 1999-2001 and organised the election campaign that secured Mr Blair a second term.

He called for a “radical overhaul” of the party to “empower modernising forces” and marginalise the left in an internal report in 1999.

One of the first tasks Mr Evans will face is having to deal with the party’s response to the Equalities and Human Rights Commission investigation into Labour’s handling of anti-Semitism under Mr Corbyn.

Mr Evans, who founded a political research company, said: “It is an honour and a privilege to be appointed General Secretary of the Labour Party.

“We face a defining period in the history of our great party, with a global pandemic, an imminent recession and a mountain to climb to win the next election. Through the strength of our movement, I know we can rise to this challenge.

“I look forward to working with our party, trade unions and members to build a team that can win us the next general election and give us the opportunity to once again serve the British people in government.”

Andrew Fisher, who used to work for Mr Corbyn, Karin Christiansen, a former general secretary of the Co-operative Party, former MEP Neena Gill and Amanda Martin, president of the National Education Union, also ran.

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