United Kingdom

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Covid-19: The United Kingdom recorded 16,022 new cases and 521 deaths
Boris Johnson visits a Covid-19 testing facility
Boris Johnson visits a Covid-19 testing facility Credit: Pippa Fowles / No 10 Downing Street

According to the official numbers released on Friday, the United Kingdom recorded 16,022 new Covid-19 cases and 521 deaths within 28 days of a positive test for the virus.

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Jeremy Corbyn to be readmitted to UK Labour after suspension over anti-Semitism
Jeremy Corbyn
Jeremy Corbyn Credit: Garry Knight (Public Domain)

The former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was suspended for his comments, which rejected the overall conclusions of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) report into antisemitism in the party, and said the problem was "dramatically overstated for political reasons" by opponents and the media.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission said in October it had found evidence of failure to adequately train people investigating alleged anti-Semitism, political interference in the processing of complaints, and harassment of individuals.

Current leader Keir Starmer has been trying to make a clean break from the hard-left Corbyn era as he seeks to turn around Labour's fortunes after four successive general election defeats since 2010.

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Boris Johnson self isolates after meeting with MP
Boris Johnson self isolates after meeting with MP
Credit: Courtesy of Twitter

The UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is starting a period of self-isolating tonight (15/11/20) after meeting with Ashfield MP Lee Anderson who later tested positive for COVID-19.

Boris, who was hospitalised by COVID-19 in April 2020, is said to not be showing any symptoms currently.

The NHS Track & Trace system - that has faced backlash for not working fast enough in recent times - contacted the PM with the news he must self isolate.

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MI5 moves UK Terrorism threat level to "SEVERE"

The MI5 page informing the current UK (England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland) threat level was changed to SEVERE. Also, the threat to Northern Ireland from Northern Ireland-related terrorism is SEVERE. SEVERE means an attack is highly likely. Just 1 level below the top one: critical.

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Prince William tested positive for Covid-19 in April, reports say
Prince William tested positive for Covid-19 in April, reports say
Credit: By Frankie Fouganthin - Own work / via Wikimedia Commons

Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, tested positive for Covid-19 earlier this year in April and "was hit pretty hard by the virus" and "was struggling to breathe", British newspaper The Sun reports. According to The Sun, William later told "one observer at an engagement" that he didn't want to worry anyone with his diagnosis.

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Boris Johnson: England will enter national lockdown as coronavirus surges
Boris Johnson: England will enter national lockdown as coronavirus surges
(Open Government Licence v3.0)

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced a new month-long stay-at-home order for England will come into effect next week. "From Thursday until the start of December, you must stay at home," Boris Johnson said.

Johnson was forced to make the announcement on Saturday after the government's plans were leaked to numerous national newspapers the previous evening. The plan had been initially to announce the measures on Monday.

The rules apply only to England. Wales and Northern Ireland are already effectively in lockdown and Scotland has implemented a set of tough regional restrictions.

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Labour party suspends ex-boss Corbyn over accusations of antisemitism
Labour party suspends ex-boss Corbyn over accusations of antisemitism
Credit: Jeremy Corbyn / via Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons CC0 Waiver)

The British Labour Party has suspended its former leader Jeremy Corbyn. An internal report highlights, among other things, a lack of willingness to combat antisemitism as well as serious failure and interference by party headquarters in complaint procedures. Current labour boss Starmer imposed sanctions on his predecessor, saying that those who still considered the events to be exaggerated were themselves part of the problem and should not be in the Labour Party.

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British House of Lords rejects Single Market Act by a large majority
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson Credit: Annie Mole (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

The British House of Lords rejected the Single Market Act by a large majority. It voted 395 to 169 against the draft. If the law passes at a later point Boris Johnson's government could use the law to cancel parts of the exit agreement between London and the EU.

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Wales announces "short, sharp" lockdown to slow down spread of Covid-19
Wales announces "short, sharp" lockdown to slow down spread of Covid-19
Credit: unsplash.com / Callum Blacoe

In order to slow the accelerating spread of Covid-19, Wales will go into a national lockdown from Friday the 23rd of October to Monday the 9th of November.

First Minister Mark Drakeford has stated that the goal is to "slow down the virus and buy us more time". People will need to stay home during the lockdown, work from home if possible and all non-food related retail will be shut down as well as hotels and hairdressers.

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British government evaluates building a bridge between Scotland and Northern Ireland
British government evaluates building a bridge between Scotland and Northern Ireland
Credit: unsplash.com / K. Mitch Hodge

According to the government, Prime Minister Boris Johnson commissioned a corresponding study on Saturday. Among other things, the study is to focus on the feasibility of a bridge between Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Johnson had recently repeatedly expressed sympathy for such a project. Such a bridge would have a length of at least 32 kilometers. In addition, the project is to focus on the possible expansion of air, road and rail links in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The results of the study should be available in the middle of next year.

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Environment Department in the UK considers total ban on fur sales after Brexit
Environment Department in the UK considers total ban on fur sales after Brexit
Credit: unsplash.com / Juliane Liebermann

According to reports Zac Goldsmith, minister at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, is considering a ban on all fur sales in the United Kingdom following the leave of the European Union's single market.

A spokesperson for the department has commented on the reports that "fur farming has rightly been banned in this country for nearly 20 years. Once our future relationship with the EU has been established there will be an opportunity for the government to consider further steps it could take in relation to fur sales".

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Liberal Democrats in the United Kingdom are set to commit to a universal basic income
Ed Davey (right)
Ed Davey (right) Credit: Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Open Government Licence v3.0)

As the first major national party in the United Kingdom, the Liberal Democrats are set to vote on universal basic income policies on the first day of their annual conference.

The motion is expected to pass and is supported by party leader Sir Ed Davey.

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Theresa May criticises Johnson's government over Brexit bill
Theresa May
Theresa May Credit: EU2017EE Estonian Presidency (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

The former prime minister of the United Kingdom Theresa May has stated in a Commons speech that "the government is acting recklessly and irresponsibly with no thought for the long-term impact on the standing of the United Kingdom in the world" referring to the new Brexit bill that would be in breach with international law.

She added that "the government didn’t really understand what it was signing up to when it signed the withdrawal agreement".

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Johnson considers new restrictions amid surging COVID-19 cases
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson Credit: EU2017EE Estonian Presidency (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

PM Boris Johnson is considering tougher restrictions in England as the country sees "a second wave" of COVID-19, among them a ban on households mixing and reducing opening hours for eaters.

Mr Johnson said he did not "want to go into bigger lockdown" but that stricter measures might be necessary to curb infections. "Clearly when you look at what is happening, you have got to wonder whether we need to go further than the rule of six that we brought in on Monday," Johnson added.

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"National lockdown is the last line of defence" – Matt Hancock
"National lockdown is the last line of defence" – Matt Hancock
Credit: Richard Townshend / Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons Attribution 3.0)

UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock won't rule out a second nationwide lockdown to curb the spread of COVID-19, telling Sky News that while a "national lockdown is the last line of defence", the government would do "whatever is necessary to keep people safe in a very difficult pandemic."

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England puts Portugal back on Covid-19 quarantine list
Torre de Belém, Lisbon, Portugal
Torre de Belém, Lisbon, Portugal Credit: Berthold Werner (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

British transport minister Grant Shapps announced that travellers from mainland Portugal to England would have to quarantine from 03:00 UTC on Saturday. The announcement comes just weeks after the country was put on the safe list.

Travellers from the Portuguese islands of the Azores and Madeira are still allowed to skip quarantine.

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The UK admits bill to change Brexit agreement would "break international law"
European Flag at Downing Street
European Flag at Downing Street Credit: Frederick Tubiermont

The United Kingdom minister for Northern Ireland, Brandon Lewis, announced to the Parliament Tuesday that the government would be willing to "break international law in a very specific and limited way" by ignoring terms of the Brexit agreement with the European Union.

Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Union Commission, said tweeted: "Very concerned about announcements from the British government on its intentions to breach the Withdrawal Agreement. This would break international law and undermines trust. Pacta sunt servanda = the foundation of prosperous future relations."

US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi stated: "If the U.K. violates that international treaty and Brexit undermines the Good Friday accord, there will be absolutely no chance of a U.S.-U.K. trade agreement passing the Congress."

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England limits social gatherings to six people
England limits social gatherings to six people
Credit: unsplash.com / Mark Claus

From Monday the 14th of September on it'll be illegal in England to meet with more than six people, following a law change to contain a second wave of Covid-19 infections.

Exempt from this regulation will be schools and schools. Weddings, funerals, and organized teams sports will be exempt as well if they are Covid-secure.

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A staff member at Coalville school tests positive for Covid-19 days after Boris Johnson said the biggest risk is not Covid-19

The prime minister of the United Kingdom, Boris Johnson, had visited the Castle Rock School in Coalville, Leicestershire for the reopening and told students that the biggest risk was "continuing to be out of school" and not the Covid-19.

Now a staff member of the school has tested positive for Covid-19 resulting in multiple classes and tutor groups going into self-isolation as "a precautionary measure". The school stated that the safety at the institution is "paramount".

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Face Coverings Mandatory in Secondary Schools in Local Lockdown Areas
Face Coverings Mandatory in Secondary Schools in Local Lockdown Areas
Credit: unsplas.com/NeONBRAND

Pupils of secondary schools in regions of England that are under local lockdown are now required to wear face coverings in schools, a U-turn on previous guidance. In those areas that are no affected by local lockdown restrictions, headteachers can decide whether masks need to be worn.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said the decision was "the most precautionary approach" based on "the latest medical and scientific advice".

Tory MPs voiced criticism, saying mask would send "the wrong message" that "schools are not a safe setting".

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United Kingdom to impose quarantine for arrivals from France and the Netherlands
Grant Shapps
Grant Shapps Credit: Web Summit (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

Grant Shapps, transport minister for the United Kingdom, announce a 14-day quarantine on all arrivals from France, the Netherlands and Malta on Saturday because Covid-19 infection rates there are too high.

French junior minister for European affairs Clément Beaune said, on Twitter, "A British decision that we regret and which will lead to a measure of reciprocity, hoping that things will return to normal as soon as possible,"

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United Kingdom removes Andorra, Bahamas and Belgium from safe travel list
Grant Shapps
Grant Shapps Credit: Richard Townshend (Creative Commons Attribution 3.0)

British Transport Minister Grant Shapps announced Thursday that Andorra, the Bahamas and Belgium were removed from the Covid-19 Travel Corridors list. The decision means passengers arriving from those countries will be required to quarantine for 14 days.

On Twitter, Shapps said: "Data shows we need to remove Andorra, Belgium and The Bahamas from our list of #coronavirus Travel Corridors in order to keep infection rates DOWN. If you arrive in the UK after 0400 Saturday from these destinations, you will need to self-isolate for 14 days."

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Aberdeen under lockdown again after new COVID-19 outbreak
Empty streets in Aberdeen
Empty streets in Aberdeen Credit: Rab Lawrence from Aberdeen/Scotland / Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

Aberdeen has gone back into lockdown due to the city's growing COVID-19 outbreak. Restaurants and pubs had to close by 17:00 on Wednesday and further restrictions, including no-house-visits, have been imposed until at least next Wednesday.

Nicola Sturgeon spoke of a "significant outbreak" after infections rose to 54 confirmed cases, all linked to the Hawthorn Bar. Patrons of the Hawthorn Bar who are linked to the cluster had visited a total of 28 other venues, possibly infected others there.

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Mahatma Gandhi possibly to become first non-white person on British coins
Mahatma Gandhi possibly to become first non-white person on British coins
Credit: Elliott & Fry / Wikimedia Commons (Public Domain)

The United Kingdom's Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak has started supporting a campaign that is to help the recognition of black and minority ethnic (BAME) people in shaping modern Britain.

The Royal Mint Advisory Committee has now started working on a coin that will feature Mahatma Gandhi, the leader of the independence movement in India who was assassinated in August 1947 just five months after the end of the British rule.

Sunak has stated that "black, Asian and other ethnic minority communities have made a profound contribution to the shared history of the UK".

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Irish politician John Hume dies aged 83
John Hume in 2008
John Hume in 2008 Credit: Óli Gneisti at en.wikipedia (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.5)

Irish politician and former SDLP leader John Hume has died at a nursing home in Derry on August 3 at the age of 83. He had suffered from dementia since the late 90s.

From 1979 to 2001, he was the leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party and was described as "the man who kept hope alive". Hume was a leading player in the peace process in Northern Ireland and won Nobel Peace Prize alongside David Trimble in 1998.

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Boris Johnson Halts Further Lockdown Easing
Boris Johnson Halts Further Lockdown Easing
Credit: U.K. Prime Minister / Wikimedia Commons (Open Government Licence v3.0)

PM Johnson halts lockdown easing in England for at least another two weeks to slow down rising coronavirus infections, saying it was time to "squeeze the brake pedal." This results in venues such as bowling allies, casinos and close-contact services having to remain closed until 15 August. Mandatory face masks will be extended to indoor venues, including cinemas, museums and places of worship.

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UK Government Secures 60m More Doses of COVID-19 vaccine
Glaxo Smith Kline Offices on the Great West Road at Brentford
Glaxo Smith Kline Offices on the Great West Road at Brentford Credit: Maxwell Hamilton / Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0)

The UK government signed a deal with drug giants GSK and Sanofi for 60 million doses of an experimental COVID-19 vaccine. This is the country's fourth COVID-19 vaccination deal. The UK previously secured 100m doses from AstraZeneca and 90m doses from the alliance between Valneva, BioNtech and Pfizer.

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UK government implements two week quarantine for returners from Spain
Madrid-Barajas Adolfo Suárez Airport
Madrid-Barajas Adolfo Suárez Airport Credit: unsplash.com/Roberto Arias

The government of the United Kingdom has announced that a mandatory two-week quarantine will be implemented for all returners and travellers from Spain following a spike in Covid-19 cases.

Health Minister Robin Swann has stated that "the advice from the chief medical officer and chief scientific adviser is that a negative Covid-19 test immediately on return from Spain would not exclude infection - so a period of self-isolation would still be required" and that "public health considerations must take priority".

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Boris Johnson hopes for 'significant return to normality' by christmas
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson gives a statement outside 10 Downing Street
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson gives a statement outside 10 Downing Street Credit: UK Prime Minister's Office (Open Government Licence v3.0)

PM Boris Johnson reveals plans for further easing of restrictions in England as he plans for a "significant return to normality" by Christmas, though he added was hoping for the best but "planning for the worst." Johnson encourages people to use public transport again and hands decisions on work-from-home-rules to employers starting August 1.

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Captain Tom Moore has been knighted by Queen Elizabeth
Arise, Captain Sir Thomas Moore!  Today The Queen conferred the Honour of Knighthood on @captaintommoore  at an Investiture at #WindsorCastle.
Arise, Captain Sir Thomas Moore! Today The Queen conferred the Honour of Knighthood on @captaintommoore at an Investiture at #WindsorCastle. Credit: @RoyalFamily via Twitter

Captain Tom Moore, the British WWII veteran who raised £32 million for health care workers by walking laps in his garden, has been knighted by Queen Elizabeth on Friday. In the Queen's first official engagement in person since the Covid-19 lockdown, she praised the 100-year-old veteran and thanked him for the donation he had raised.