Today's news: Latest headlines for the UK on Friday 4 December

Emily Cleary
·4-min read

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France threatens to veto Brexit deal

What happened?

Brexit trade talks are at a “very difficult point” amid warnings time is running out for a deal to be struck. A spokesman for Boris Johnson told reporters on Friday: “Time is in very short supply and we are at a very difficult point in the talks.” Negotiations dragged on until 11pm on Thursday night as both sides look to hammer out a deal.

What are the sticking points?

Fishing and the so-called “level playing field” aimed at preventing unfair competition on state subsidies and standards remain the main issues to be resolved in the talks. The Brexit transition period is due to end on 31 December, which means there is little time left to get a deal agreed and approved by Westminster and the EU. If there is no deal, the two sides will trade on WTO rules from 1 January.

What's the EU saying?

The EU's chief negotiator Michel Barnier said earlier that Friday was an "important day". There have been conflicting reports over the chances of success. In contrast to London's pessimistic public statements and claim that the EU had demanded last-minute concessions, one EU official said a deal was "imminent" and another suggested it was days away. Barnier was due to return to Brussels on Friday but it is thought he may remain in London to continue to try and thrash out a deal over the weekend.

The big coronavirus stories today—

R rate falls to lowest level since the summer

Friday’s update offers further hope the spread of COVID-19 infections is starting to be brought under control following England’s four-week national lockdown.

Read the full story here (Yahoo News UK)

London 'at risk' of dropping into Tier 3

A public health chief warned today of the risk of London being plunged into Tier 3 restrictions as the squeeze on Covid-19 cases appears to be faltering.

Read the full story here (Evening Standard)

NHS workers no longer at front of vaccine queue

NHS staff will no longer be among the first people to be vaccinated against Covid-19 after a rethink about who should be given priority. Hospitals will instead begin by immunising care home staff.

Read the full story here (Guardian)

800,000 vaccine doses by the end of the year

The first doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine are thought to have arrived in the UK, shortly after the regulator said it could be rolled out with nearly a million expected to reach the UK by next week.

Read the full story here (The Independent)

— What else happened today? —

Liverpool mayor arrested on bribery charges

Joe Anderson, who has been hailed as an influential public COVID figure in recent weeks, is believed to have been arrested in connection with an investigation into building and planning developments in the city.

Read the full story here (Sky News)

Police called after extreme 'thundersnow'

The phenomenon - which hit Edinburgh in the early hours of Friday morning - happens when thunder and lightning mix with a heavy snowstorm. It sometimes causes loud claps that can be confused with explosions.

Read the full story here (Sky News)

Woman who slit girl's throat cleared of murder

Eltiona Skana, a paranoid schizophrenic, admitted the manslaughter of Emily Jones on the grounds of diminished responsibility on Mother's Day this year but denied murdering her.

Read the full story here (Yahoo News UK)

Body found 500ft from blast that killed four

Four people died in the tragedy at the Wessex Water waste water treatment works near Bristol on Thursday with a source saying one of the victims was thrown 150m in the air.

Read the full story here (Yahoo News UK)

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(Yahoo News)
(Yahoo News)