At least five Conservative MPs, including Boris Johnson, and two Downing Street aides are self-isolating for 14 days following a meeting at Number 10 last week.
The prime minister, who was admitted to intensive care with coronavirus in April, on Monday announced he was isolation after meeting with a Tory MP who had since tested positive for Covid-19. He said he was notified by NHS Test and Trace that he must self-isolate on Sunday, but said he had “no symptoms”.
Health secretary Matt Hancock told a Downing Street press conference on Monday that the UK had bought five million doses of a Covid-19 vaccine developed by US-led biotech firm Moderna, hours after the company reported promising results in its ongoing trial.
During the televised briefing, Mr Hancock refused to guarantee a post-Covid pay rise for NHS staff in response to a question from The Independent.
Talks on a future trade relationship between the UK and European Union post-Brexit are continuing this week, with the UK’s Brexit negotiator, Lord David Frost, in Brussels ahead of a European Council video summit on Thursday which has been touted as a deadline for a draft deal.
Lord Frost warned “quite a lot” remains to be done if a trade deal is to be sealed with the EU, with just days to go before the effective deadline for agreement.
The Scottish National Party has claimed Boris Johnson is taking the UK “on the path to catastrophe”, while Ireland’s foreign minister Simon Coveney has warned talks could collapse if there is no movement from the UK on fisheries, where he said London was asking for major concessions from Brussels in return for access to its waters for EU ships.
PM ‘right to self-isolate, says Starmer
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has said Boris Johnson was right to self-isolate after being contacted by NHS Test and Trace.
"This is frustrating for the prime minister, I understand that. It is important he self-isolates," he told reporters during a visit to Oxford.
"It is important for all of us to say that we have got to comply with the advice and guidance."
Downing Street praises ‘hard work’ of Cummings and Cain
Downing Street has praised the "hard work" done by the prime minister's controversial aides Dominic Cummings and Lee Cain as they prepare to leave his Number 10 operation.
The prime minister's official spokesman said the former Vote Leave pair could continue to work on "specific projects" until they finally depart by the end of the year.
"The PM would thank both Dom and Lee for the service they have given to him and the hard work they have put in over recent months on projects such as mass testing and the government's coronavirus response," the spokesman said.
UK calls on EU to show more ‘realism’ in trade deal negotiations
The UK has called for the European Union to show more "realism" in the negotiations on a post-Brexit trade deal as time runs out for a deal to be reached.
The prime minister's official spokesman said: "The negotiations have resumed in Brussels. The discussions will be based on our largely common draft treaty texts.
"But significant differences do remain and key elements in the draft texts are not yet agreed.
"What we are working to do is seek solutions that fully respect UK sovereignty.
"Negotiators have been in contact almost every day since 22 October and they are continuing to work intensively to bridge the gaps that remain between us.
"But, although there has been some progress in recent days, there is much work to be done and time is now very short.
"So if we are to make further progress in the coming days, we need to see more realism from the EU on what it means for the UK to be an independent state."
Port chiefs warn £200m for upgrades is nowhere near enough and time running out to start work
The bill for easing post-Brexit turmoil at UK ports will be far more than the £200m available and time is running out to start the work, an inquiry has heard, deputy political editor Rob Merrick reports.
Port chiefs said infrastructure work had taken nearly a year in the past – but they would have just six months and only because full import controls have been delayed until next June.
The head of UK Major Ports Group told a Lords committee that no funding decisions had yet been taken, so operators were unable to “start laying concrete, putting space in the ground”.
Brexit: Port chiefs warn £200m for upgrades is nowhere near enough and time running out to start work
Infrastructure work has taken nearly a year in the past, but just six months will be available - even if the cash is there
Downing Street refuses to comment on accusation Cummings and Cain call Carrie Symonds ‘Princess Nut Nuts’
In the vicious briefing wars that have taken place since the turmoil in No 10 became public, allies of Dominic Cummings and Lee Cain had been accused of calling Boris Johnson's fiancee Carrie Symonds "Princess Nut Nuts".
Asked what Mr Johnson thought about that, the prime minister's official spokesman said: "I have read an awful lot of unattributed anonymous material over the course of the weekend and I have never chosen to comment on that.
"From the prime minister's point of view, he knows that the government and No 10 is focused on getting the country through the coronavirus pandemic and on delivering his levelling-up agenda.
"He has a huge job of work to do on behalf of the people who put him here and he has never been more committed to delivering on their behalf."
Asked about Ms Symonds' role in No 10 - she reportedly lobbied against Mr Cain's appointment as chief of staff - the spokesman said: "The prime ninister receives advice from his political appointees and civil servants, but ultimately it is for him and ministers to decide."
Time running out for Brexit deal, EU warns
Time is fast running out for a Brexit deal, EU diplomats have warned the UK.
Ireland has said there were just days, or possibly weeks, left to find a way to unlock trade talks, while a senior EU official said there may no longer be time to put any trade deal agreed into force.
"It's getting terribly late and may be too late already," the senior official told Reuters.
"They haven't quite reached where they had hoped to be," a second source, an EU diplomat, said.
Ireland’s foreign minister, Simon Coveney, said it could take another two weeks for an agreement to be struck, taking the talks close to the 31 December deadline.
"We are more likely to get a deal than not, purely because the consequences of not getting a deal are so significant and so costly for the UK and Ireland as it happens, and for some other EU countries," Mr Coveney told an online conference.
Significant gaps remain in Brexit trade talks as time runs out for agreement with EU
"Quite a lot” remains to be done if a trade deal to be sealed with the EU, Boris Johnson’s chief Brexit negotiator has said, with just days to go before the effective deadline for agreement.
David Frost’s comment came amid growing alarm at the prospect of an economically damaging no-deal Brexit at the end of 2020, with the Scottish National Party warning that Boris Johnson was taking the UK “on the path to catastrophe”.
Political editor Andrew Woodcock has the full story:
Ireland warns negotiations may collapse on issue of fisheries
Jenrick criticises huge ‘waking watch’ fees
Housing secretary Robert Jenrick has slammed the “outrageous fees” being passed on to residents to pay for firms patrolling buildings at risk of a Grenfell-style fire.
Residents are reportedly having to pay out an average of £331 per month, with typical monthly bills in London amounting to £499.
Rob Merrick reports:
Huge ‘waking watch’ fees to stop Grenfell-style fires are ‘a national scandal’, Cabinet minister says
Residents of cladded buildings are paying average of £331 a month - but staff employed often have minimal fire safety training
Health secretary Matt Hancock will be leading a press conference very shortly. He is joined by Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, the deputy chief medical officer for England, and Susan Hopkins, a deputy director at Public Health England and medical adviser to NHS Test and Trace.
UK coronavirus death toll rises by 168
The UK’s coronavirus death toll has risen by 168 across a 24-hour period, while cases continue to soar.
Read more on the latest Covid figures here:
The UK’s coronavirus death toll has risen by 168 across a 24-hour period - while cases continue to soar.
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