No 10 rejects EU's £40bn Brexit divorce bill

·40 min read
The row over the divorce bill marks a fresh Brexit dispute  - AFP
The row over the divorce bill marks a fresh Brexit dispute - AFP

Downing Street has rejected Brussels' suggestions that the final Brexit divorce bill settlement should be £2 billion than previously agreed.

The bill, buried in the EU's accounts for 2020, states that 6.8 billion euros (£5.8 billion) is to be paid by the UK this year, taking the total amount to £40.8 billion. But this afternoon No 10 insisted the figure Britain owes remains within original range of £35-39 billion.

"We don't recognise that figure, it's an estimate produced by the EU for its own internal accounting purposes," a No 10 spokesman said.

"For example it doesn't reflect all the money owed back to the UK which reduces the amount we pay. Our estimate remains in the central range of between £35-39 billion and we will publish full details in Parliament shortly."

In Brussels, however, a European Commission spokesman said the new figure is "correct".

"The report is final and the calculations were made in line with the withdrawal agreement," he said. "We have already informed the UK Government about the payments that they have to do with regard to the first part of this year and they've already in fact paid part of the amount concerned.

"Therefore, we have absolutely no indications at this point in time that the bill, or the amount that we've calculated will be contested."

03:07 PM

And that's it for another day...

The pressure is on the Government to quickly clarify what it is doing about the NHS Covid app, amid growing concerns that millions of people could be forced to self-isolate this summer.

It's clear the message from unions and NHS bosses has got through: Grant Shapps this morning confirmed that the app will be dialled down to reflect social distancing rules from July 19 (as things stand, there will be none), while Number 10 said it was looking at a carve out to exempt frontline workers.

But the Prime Minister's spokesman insisted the app remained essential - which suggests it may become rather more important later this year. However 87 per cent of you disagree and want it scrapped entirely - just 13 per cent think it has value now or in the future.

Anew study found that double doses offer high protection to the most vulnerable, which may help allay concerns around face masks guidance being changed. However that hasn't stopped more complaints emerging about Boris Johnson's plan for step four.

The Prime Minister is expected to give the final verdict on whether July 19 is going ahead - but all the signs from Downing Street so far are good, even if cases are on the rise.

Alongside the challenge of Covid, Brexit issues are not going away and a fresh row has emerged over the divorce bill, after the EU appeared to increase the final tally. What's a couple of billion between amies? We should hear more next week.

For all that, and the rest of the day's news, carry on reading below.

02:53 PM

'Traumatised’: Telegraph readers on Covid tests for children after travel

Children as young as five will have to subject themselves to mandatory PCR tests when returning from amber list countries in lieu of quarantine from July 19, Grant Shapps announced yesterday.

But the Transport Secretary faced criticism for his decision from parents and academics for being unnecessary and potentially harmful to young children.

We asked you whether the mandatory testing of children aged five to 18 is the right call - and it's safe the say the consensus is not in support of the new measure.

Read the full details here.

02:41 PM

Labour demands that Grant Shapps speaks to 'every airline that flies into UK' over disruption fears

Labour has demanded that Grant Shapps contact every airline flying into the UK in a bid to avoid "huge delays" at airports this summer.

Jim McMahon, shadow transport secretary, has written to his counterpart following Mr Shapps' admission yesterday that there would be more disruption than usual this year.

“While it’s right to manage expectations, Government ministers are not merely commentators on the situation – they are empowered to seek to address problems they foresee," he wrote.

“So can I ask you whether you have met or spoken with every airline that flies into the UK from a green or amber list country to talk them through the new processes and ensure that their staff will know how operate this new system as speedily as possible?”

02:31 PM

Union calls for U-turn on face masks in shops

The shop-workers' union has called on the Government to drop plans to make face masks optional after July 19.

Usdaw has written to Kwasi Kwarteng, the Business Secretary, warning that retail workers are at a greater risk of catching the virus under the current plans.

General secretary Paddy Lillis said: "The Government should not be weakening safety measures in shops at the same time as opening up other venues.

"Retailers may be able to attempt to enforce their own face covering policies, but in the absence of a legal requirement, as has already been highlighted by the British Retail Consortium, this is likely to result in further significant increases in abuse, threats and violence towards retail workers.

"Wearing a face covering in crowded public areas like shops is not merely a personal choice, it is an important measure to help protect workers who have no option but to interact with large numbers of people as a part of their job."

02:29 PM

All talk, no jabs: the reality of global vaccine diplomacy

If you believe the @sputnikvaccine Twitter account – a feed tweeting apparently on behalf of the Kremlin – Russia is single-handedly inoculating the world.

A relentless stream of pictures and videos shows Sputnik deliveries arriving in almost every corner of the globe, from Paraguay and Argentina to Mauritius and Egypt.

But lurking beneath the social media onslaught are less impressive figures; the reality of Russia’s vaccine diplomacy campaign simply does not match the rhetoric.

According to data from the analytics company Airfinity, just 24 per cent of the 1.14 million doses of Sputnik V pledged by Russia have been delivered – roughly 278,000 vaccines have been donated to nine countries including Angola, Moldova and Zimbabwe.

Russia isn’t alone. Almost no government has lived up to their grandiose vows to donate Covid-19 shots and “vaccinate the world”.

Just how soft is the soft power afforded by vaccine diplomacy? Read more on that here.

02:20 PM

France could ease rules for British travellers, says transport minister

France could soon ease rules for British travellers entering the country, the French transport minister has said.

Restrictions have been progressively lifted in France after months of lockdowns as vaccination speeds up, despite an uptick in cases fuelled by the more aggressive delta variant in recent days.

"With the vaccination campaign advancing well in both France and UK there could be a co-ordinated decision soon to lift the UK from the orange list," Jean-Baptiste Djebbari told the BBC.

"We are looking at the evolution of the health situation and want to make a decision as quickly as we can," he added.

02:15 PM

The Telegraph weekly news quiz: Have you been paying attention?

In the week that England won their Euro 2020 semi-final match against Denmark after being awarded a controversial penalty, The Telegraph's news quiz is here to find out how closely you have been paying attention to the headlines.

Boris Johnson revealed how freedoms will return in England from July 19, but self-isolation rules will remain in place until which date? And who was British teenager Emma Raducanu playing when she bowed out of Wimbledon?

If you've been reading this week's Telegraph Front Page newsletters you will have come across all of the answers to the quiz.

Test your mettle below.

02:04 PM

Have your say: Should the NHS Covid app be scrapped from July 19?

This morning Grant Shapps confirmed that ministers are looking at how to dial down the sensitivity of the NHS Covid app so that it is in line with the rules that we expect to be in place from July 19.

With social distancing restrictions being dropped (we hope) that suggests the end of being pinged is nigh. But the Government is insisting that the app remains essential and that people should not ignore any alerts they receive in the meantime.

With cases on the rise, there is genuine concern that Covid could start spreading again, particularly among the younger, unvaccinated population.

But if social distancing is ending, and checking in requirements, should the app simply be scrapped? Have your say in the poll below.

01:59 PM

Boris Johnson congratulates new Israeli prime minister - a month into the role

Boris Johnson has spoken to new Israeli counterpart Naftali Bennett today, "to congratulate him on the formation of a new government and reaffirm the strength of the UK-Israel relationship".

Mr Bennett has been prime minister of Israel since 13 June, after agreeing a coalition that ousted Benjamin Netanyahu.

"The leaders stressed their commitment to deepening cooperation on defence and security, as well as in technology and trade," a Downing Street spokesman said.

"They discussed the shared fight against coronavirus and welcomed the collaboration between our two countries throughout the pandemic, including exchanges between medical experts and data-sharing on vaccines.

"The Prime Minister raised the importance of working together to tackle climate change, and hoped that Prime Minister Bennett would be able to attend the UK-hosted COP26 summit in November."

01:49 PM

Double dose of vaccine offers high protection to immunosuppressed, PHE study finds

Covid vaccines offer high levels of protection for people with conditions that make them most at-risk, Public Health England (PHE) has said.

Vaccine effectiveness after a second dose was 74 per cent, with similar protection to those who are not in an at-risk group. This rises from four per cent after a first dose, showing the importance of a second dose.

Diabetes, severe asthma, chronic heart, kidney or liver disease, neurological disease, and illnesses or therapies that weaken the immune system, such as blood cancer, HIV or chemotherapy, are all linked with worse health outcomes from Covid.

Dr Mary Ramsay, head of immunisation at PHE, said: "It is vital that anyone with an underlying condition gets both doses, especially people with weakened immune systems as they gain so much more benefit from the second dose."

01:29 PM

Priti Patel condemns 'shocking attack' on two police officers in Devon

The Home Secretary has condemned a "shocking attack" on two police officers in Devon last night.

A 60-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of attempted murder after two police officers were stabbed, Devon and Cornwall Police said.

Officers were called to a report of an assault at an address in Burrator Avenue in Princetown, Devon, at around 11.55pm on Thursday.

Priti Patel said she was "glad that their injuries were not life-threatening and I wish them both a quick and full recovery.

"Attacks like these are why we're doubling sentences for assaulting an emergency worker," Ms Patel added.

01:26 PM

England's R-rate rises to 1.2-1.5

England's R-rate has increased slightly and is between 1.2 to 1.5, according to the latest Government figures.

Last week, it was between 1.1 and 1.3.

The R-rate represents the average number of people each Covid-19 positive person goes on to infect.

An R number between 1.2 and 1.5 means that, on average, every 10 people infected will infect between 12 and 15 other people.

The growth rate is between three and seven per cent, which means the number of new infections is growing by between that range every day.

01:17 PM

Boris Johnson 'undermining Track and Trace', says Sir Keir Starmer

Sir Keir Starmer has said Boris Johnson is to blame for the rise in people deleting the NHS Covid app from their phones to avoid having to self-isolate.

"Why are we having this discussion?" the Labour leader said. "Because the Prime Minister is going to remove all the protections at the same time, that will allow the Johnson variant to surge again... and millions of people having to isolate.

"People can see what is coming," he added, pointing to the reports of people disabling the app. "I don't want to see that happen, but it's a consequence of his decisions, and undermining the very Track and Trace system he has spent billions of pounds on."

01:06 PM

Workers could be 'hobbled by enforced isolation' under current plans, warns TUC

The Trades Union Congress has written to ministers, warning that a back-to-work push could be "hobbled by rising infections and enforced self-isolation".

The group claimed that the Government "is refusing" to consult with unions and employers on changes, and fears that the new guidance – which is due to be published as restrictions are lifted on July 19 – will be “vague” and result in widespread confusion.

Frances O'Grady, the general secretary, said: "The TUC has real fears that clear, detailed guidance for employers will be replaced by vague exhortations to employers to do the right thing, resulting in confusion.

“Government must not offload its responsibility to consult on guidelines to protect the health and safety of workers, and it must not gamble the safety of key workers, from bus drivers to supermarket staff, on an individual customer’s sense of personal responsibility.”

12:44 PM

NHS Covid app to be relaxed as social distancing ends on July 19, says Grant Shapps

The Government is looking to cut the sensitivity of the NHS app in line with the end of social distancing on July 19, Grant Shapps has said.

The Transport Secretary told Sky News the sensitivity of the app would be dropped "to align with recommendations that come in on July 19."

He said the aim was to keep it in line with "the overall nationwide levels of things like social distancing and other rules".

Speaking with Times Radio later, Mr Shapps said scientists were now determining "what distance it should ping", adding that the app will be "updated in line with new social distancing and all the rest of it".

During an interview with BBC Breakfast, he added that the "relaxing of one metre plus rule on July 19 might well lead to review of the way the app needs to function".

12:40 PM

Give country an extra bank holiday, whatever Euros result, says Unite

The country's biggest union has joined calls for Boris Johnson to agree an extra bank holiday if England beat Italy in the Euro finals.

The Prime Minister is said to be mulling the measure, but he and ministers have declined to comment so far for fear of "jinxing" the result. But Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said the day off should come regardless.

"After the last 16 months, all workers deserve an extra day off in appreciation of how they have gone the extra yard to help the UK through the pandemic," he said. "If that coincides with a holiday to mark England winning Sunday’s final, all the better.

“An extra bank holiday shouldn’t just be a one off. Workers in the UK enjoy fewer bank holidays than their counterparts throughout the rest of Europe. A permanent extra bank holiday will give a long-term boost to industries such as hospitality and tourism which have been among the worst affected sectors during the pandemic."

12:33 PM

Number of people deleting NHS app 'steadily rising' for months, warns Spi-B scientist

A Government scientist has said the number of people deleting the NHS Covid app has been "steadily rising" for months, and called for greater financial support to turn the tide.

Professor Henry Potts, a member of the Spi-B group of behavioural experts advising the Government, said that if ministers want people to self-isolate they need to make it easier to do so.

"The problem of people deleting the app or simply turning the app off or ignoring what it says has been a problem for many months. We have seen steadily rising numbers of people deleting the app," he told the Today programme.

He added: "The best way of improving isolation is more support - financial support, it can also be practical support."

12:17 PM

Tory MP admits he is 'annoyed' by his own boycott of England during Euros

A Conservative MP has admitted he is "annoyed" by his own boycott of the England team, over their decision to take the knee before each game in the Euros.

Lee Anderson, Ashfield MP, said: "I am annoyed that I'm not going to watch it, of course I am, but I made a statement and I would be a hypocrite to go back on that. The left would like that.

"The local Labour Party in my constituency are driving around with a big van and my picture and name on, saying I am boycotting the football," he told GB News.

"I am a massive England supporter [but] I made a statement and I stick to my word. I am not going to watch the game, but I am going to support the team. I hope they bring it home, and I will be the first one cheering."

11:56 AM

Lobby latest: No 10 rejects EU's claim to higher Brexit divorce bill

Downing Street has rejected a new higher figure for the Brexit "divorce bill" from the European Union of 47.5 billion euros (£40.8 billion).

A No 10 spokesman said: "We don't recognise that figure, it's an estimate produced by the EU for its own internal accounting purposes. For example it doesn't reflect all the money owed back to the UK, which reduces the amount we pay.

"Our estimate remains in the central range of between £35-39 billion and we will publish full details in Parliament shortly."

Pressed if the UK will not be paying the new sum, he responded: "As I say, we don't recognise that figure."

See 9:20am for more.

11:53 AM

Lobby latest: No 10 mulling isolation exemptions for frontline workers

Downing Street is mulling additional exemptions for NHS staff, to avoid high levels of frontline workers having to isolate this summer.

There are already some exemptions in place for "some clinical staff, where they are wearing appropriate clinical grade PPE", the Prime Minister’s spokesman said today.

But he confirmed that a further carve out - for those who are pinged because of contact in their daily activities - is "something we are looking at ahead of step four".

He added: "Self isolation and breaking the chain of transmission has been an important tool that has been used throughout the pandemic, but we are aware of the impact self-isolation has had on people and businesses.”

Pressed on whether there could be other sectors exempted, such as lorry drivers, he said: "I am not going to get into particular professions."

11:51 AM

Lobby latest: No 10 has 'no stats' for many people are deleting the NHS Covid app

Number 10 has urged people to isolate if they are ‘pinged’ by the NHS Covid app, while admitting they "don’t have the stats" for how many people have deleted it from their phones.

A spokesman for the Prime Minister said it was a "valuable tool to break the chain of transmission for those who have come into contact with someone who has a positive test”.

He added: "Throughout the test and trace and app programme, it’s been the case that if you have been contacted directly it’s a legal requirement and if you are contacted through the app it is guidance… it is important that people continue to isolate if they are asked to do so."

He declined to comment on the specific plan to reduce the sensitivity of the app, beyond pointing to the words of the Transport Secretary this morning.

11:50 AM

Lobby latest: Four tests will still have to be met for July 19 reopening

Number 10 has confirmed that the four tests will need to be hit before the Prime Minister is able to confirm the July 19 reopening next week.

Boris Johnson is expected to confirm the final stage of his roadmap will go ahead on Monday, a week before the unlocking takes place.

The four tests - the vaccine programme continuing, hospitalisations and deaths are falling as a result, infection rates do not risk a surge in hospitalisation and that no new variants of concern change the outlook - have formed the basis of all stages so far.

A spokesman said: "As we have done throughout, the decision will be based on four tests we set out at the start of the roadmap process. The Prime Minister continually receives updates and data from experts... He has always based decisions on the scientific evidence and data provided."

11:49 AM

Lobby latest: Boris Johnson put mask on ‘very shortly’ after sitting in car

Boris Johnson put his face mask on “very shortly” after getting into his ministerial car, Number 10 has said.

The Prime Minister was pictured sitting in the back of a chauffeur-driven vehicle without a face covering on.

His spokesman said: “The Prime Minister was getting into the car, in line with guidance putting his mask on very shortly afterwards.”

Challenged over rules that say the mask should be put on prior to entering a taxi, he stressed he “hadn’t asked him that question” but added: “He got in the car and put his masks on very shortly after doing so, in line with guidance.”

11:38 AM

Ursula von der Leyen to back Italy in Euro finals

"Her heart is with the squadra Azzuri" - Shutterstock
"Her heart is with the squadra Azzuri" - Shutterstock

European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen, who is German, will support Italy against England in the European Championship final at Wembley on Sunday.

Her spokesman said in Brussels, "Her heart is with the squadra Azzuri. So she will be supporting Italy on Sunday."

Italy is an EU member state, while relations between the EU and the UK have been strained since the UK left the bloc. England knocked Mrs von der Leyen's Germany out of the tournament.

There is speculation that EU officials fear that an England triumph will be credited to Brexit by UK politicians. When England last won an international tournament, it was also not a member of the bloc.

11:25 AM

UK to deport Albanian criminals more quickly under new deal

Priti Patel has struck a new agreement with Albania to speed up the deportation of the nation’s criminals from the UK.

The Home Secretary signed the agreement to remove failed asylum seekers and jailed Albanian criminals sooner as part of a two-day visit to the country’s capital, Tirana.

Albanians make up the largest number of foreign national offenders in UK prisons, totalling more than 1,500, or 16 per cent of the overseas jail population.

The deal will enable the Government to enact its plans for the earlier removal of criminals from UK jails proposed in its new Nationality and Borders Bill.

11:13 AM

Covid case rates rise to highest level since February

Around one in 160 people in private households in England had Covid-19 in the week to July 3 - up from one in 260 in the previous week, according to the latest estimates from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

This is the highest level since the week to February 19.

The percentage of people testing positive for Covid-19 is estimated to have increased in all regions of England.

North-east England and north-west England had the highest proportion of people of any region likely to test positive for coronavirus in the week to July 3: around one in 80.

Eastern England had the lowest estimate: around one in 350.

11:03 AM

Chopper's Politics: Ministers 'don't understand the stuff they are in charge of'

Ministers "don't actually really know about the stuff they're in charge of", the architect of the Government's Universal Credit system claims.

Lord Freud, who was welfare reform minister from 2010 to 2016, told today's Chopper's Politics podcast: "Much of what politicians do is about signalling and what they would like to happen and what they think should be happening, but probably isn't."

For example, former work and pensions secretary Sir Iain Duncan Smith "would say that something was actually happening, when it was basically a gleam in our eye", he explained.

"They don't actually know anything usually about the stuff they're in charge of, which is why you have all of these weird interviews going on between journalists who often have been experts in an area for years and years and years, who know much more than the politician."

Listen to the interview in full above.

10:44 AM

Sir Keir Starmer meets partner of murdered journalist in Londonderry

Sir Keir Starmer talks to Sara Canning, partner to Lyra McKee who was murdered whilst reporting on a dissident republican riot in Derry  - Getty
Sir Keir Starmer talks to Sara Canning, partner to Lyra McKee who was murdered whilst reporting on a dissident republican riot in Derry - Getty

Sir Keir Starmer and shadow secretary of state Louise Haigh have met with Sara Canning, the partner of journalist Lyra McKee who was killed by dissidents in the city in 2019.

After walking across the peace bridge in Derry/Londonderry, the Labour leader was greeted by SDLP leader and Foyle MP Colum Eastwood before visiting the Guildhall.

10:35 AM

Two-child limit on welfare 'justifiable', judge rules

The UK's highest court has rejected a challenge over the Government's "two-child limit" for welfare payments.

The rule, which came into force in April 2017, restricts Child Tax Credit and Universal Credit to the first two children in a family, with a few exceptions. A challenge was brought by two lone mothers and their children - who the court ordered cannot be identified - supported by the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG), on behalf of all those affected by the policy.

Giving the lead ruling on Friday, the court's president Lord Reed dismissed the case, upholding previous decisions of the High Court and Court of Appeal.

The judges concluded that while the policy does have a greater impact on women - who make up 90 per cent of single parent families - there is an "objective and reasonable justification" for that effect, namely to "protect the economic wellbeing of the country".

They also concluded that any impact of the policy on children in families with more than one sibling is "justifiable".

10:18 AM

Alan Cochrane: Nicola Sturgeon must fix the self-isolation shambles

For a politician who’s urged caution on the rest of us with just about every public utterance she’s made, Nicola Sturgeon got the mood all wrong yesterday, writes Alan Cochrane.

If ever there was a time for "action this day", as another leader used to say when urgency was required, that time is now - not next Tuesday.

In a country where a sizeable proportion of people have hung on her every word for most of the last eighteen months, it’s now clear that the First Minister needs to get a grip of the now obviously deficient contact tracing system.

It is at the root of the extremely difficult problems Scotland faces with the Delta variant - not the variant itself, but the Scottish Government’s way of dealing with it.

Read more from Alan here.

10:08 AM

Amnesty for Troubles-era offences is wrong plan, says Sir Keir Starmer

Sir Keir Starmer has said any amnesty for all Troubles-era offences must "start with" the families of victims, as he signalled his opposition to Government plans.

Speaking from Northern Ireland, where he is on a two-day trip, the Labour said: "Many of them expressed to me yesterday that the impact that it still has on them if they lost a loved one, on their families, their siblings, their children, and of course those that were injured.

"Any discussion about legacy has to start with them. Promises have been made, promises haven't been kept and I think that's where the conversation has to start," he added. "We have to find a way forward but they very strongly feel that you can't sit in London and draw a line, it has to start here, with them, conversations about how we move forward.

"I don't agree with it, I don't think that it is the right plan and I think any discussion about legacy has to start here in Northern Ireland, sitting down with victims and those most affected, and I would urge the Prime Minister to take that approach rather than the one he is taking."

10:01 AM

Gambling with summer: Labour sounds warnings over plans to dial down NHS Covid app

Labour has hit out at Government plans to reduce the sensitivity of the NHS Covid app, saying it is "not the time to be taking the batteries out of the smoke alarm".

Justin Madders, shadow health minister, said the move was "hard to square" with the rise in cases of the more transmissible Delta variant, which has been found to reinfect people.

"We need clear messages from ministers about how contact tracing will work once more people are vaccinated - not mixed messages that suggest they just want more people to avoid being traced," he added.

"With predictions of 100,000 cases a day an effective contact tracing system will be crucial to stop cases spiralling out of control. Without one, ministers are gambling with summer."

09:51 AM

Government faces legal challenge over use of private email

The Government is facing a legal challenge over the use of private email accounts and WhatsApp by ministers and senior officials.

Campaign group Good Law Project believes current official guidance on it leaves an "accountability gap", and is seeking to challenge it in the courts. It follows the revelation that Matt Hancock and Lord Bethell both used private emails to conduct official business.

Number 10 has stressed that this was conducted in line with guidance.

But Gemma Abbott, legal director of Good Law Project said: "Government’s current policy on the use of private email is not fit for purpose and it seems Ministers aren’t taking much notice of it in any event. Perhaps most concerning is that it appears some in Government think the use of private communication channels is a means of avoiding proper scrutiny.

"We don’t just think the current approach is wrong, we think it’s unlawful. If successful, this legal action could close this accountability gap, paving the way for a robust, lawful policy on the use of private email and WhatsApp."

09:34 AM

Stop sending drug addict shoplifters to prison, ministers told

Drug addicts who turn to petty crime such as shoplifting should be spared prison, a government review has recommended.

Dame Carol Black’s review warns that too many drug users are “cycling in and out” of prison without being rehabilitated or their abuse being treated effectively.

Instead the Government should use alternatives to prison such as community sentences with treatment orders that can help lesser offenders who were guilty of crimes such as low-level thefts or criminal damage.

Dame Carol said: “Rarely are prison sentences a restorative experience. Our prisons are overcrowded, with limited meaningful activity, drugs easily available, and insufficient treatment.

“Discharge brings little hope of an alternative way of life. Diversions from prison, and meaningful aftercare, have both been severely diminished and this trend must be reversed to break the costly cycle of addiction and offending.”

09:24 AM

Have your say: Should the NHS Covid app be scrapped from July 19?

This morning Grant Shapps confirmed that ministers are looking at how to dial down the sensitivity of the NHS Covid app so that it is in line with the rules that we expect to be in place from July 19.

With social distancing restrictions being dropped (we hope) that suggests the end of being pinged is nigh. But the Government is insisting that the app remains essential and that people should not ignore any alerts they receive in the meantime.

With cases on the rise, there is genuine concern that Covid could start spreading again, particularly among the younger, unvaccinated population.

But if social distancing is ending, and checking in requirements, should the app simply be scrapped? Have your say in the poll below.

09:18 AM

Former Labour MP sexually assaulted aide in Westminster office, employment tribunal rules

A former Labour MP sexually assaulted an aide in his Westminster office and fired her when she refused his advances, an employment tribunal has ruled.

Mike Hill, the former Hartlepool MP, was found to have repeatedly harassed his parliamentary staff member, and climbed into her bed and rubbed against her.

Mr Hill sexually assaulted the woman at work on more than one occasion, and victimised her when she rejected him by changing her employment terms and conditions then making her redundant.

He is now facing a potential criminal inquiry following the findings at the London tribunal, as the female victim said she is likely to pursue a police complaint against him.

Read more here.

09:09 AM

Delta variant sees uptick in hospitalisations and deaths

A total of 1,904 people have been admitted to hospital in England with the Delta variant of Covid-19 as of June 21, official figures show.

Some 1,283 of the 1,904 people were under the age of 50, of which 77 per cent were unvaccinated, while 615 were 50 or over, of which 32 per cent were unvaccinated.

There have been 257 deaths from those confirmed with having the Delta variant within 28 days of a positive test, Public Health England said.

Of this number, 26 were under the age of 50 and 231 were aged 50 or over.

08:55 AM

Taliban 'controls 85pc of Afghanistan', spokesman claims

The Taliban has said it now controls 85 percent of Afghanistan as the militants mount an offensive amid the West's military withdrawal, though the group's claims cannot be independently verified.

At a press conference in Moscow, Taliban negotiator Shahabuddin Delawar said that "85 percent of Afghanistan's territory" is under the group's control, including some 250 of the country's 398 districts.

Mr Delawar added: "The United States was forced to leave our territory."

Yesterday Boris Johnson confirmed that "most" British personnel had left the region, following the US decision to withdraw, amid criticism from Tory backbenchers that the UK was "walking away" at a critical point.

08:44 AM

Delta variant cases surge 34pc in a week

A total of 216,249 confirmed and probable cases of the Covid-19 Delta variant have now been identified in the UK, according to the latest figures from Public Health England - up by 34 per cent on last week.

The vast majority of cases - 180,643 - have been in England, with 28,559 in Scotland, 3,666 in Wales and 3,381 in Northern Ireland.

The Delta variant currently accounts for approximately 99 per cent of confirmed cases of coronavirus across the UK.

It comes amid fresh fears that the variant is causing a higher rate of re-infection. Read more on that here.

08:28 AM

Italy fans will face 'very restricted programme' for Euros trip, insists Grant Shapps

Grant Shapps has defended the Government's decision to allow in 1,000 football fans from Italy for Sunday's European Championship final against England, to join some 60,000 other supporters.

Scientists have warned that the green light to a large presence at the football final could seed new outbreaks of Covid-19, with a rise among infections in young men.

But the Transport Secretary stressed that the fans from Italy would be on specially chartered flights, stay in London only 12 hours and have a segregated zone at Wembley Stadium, and return home after the match.

"They aren't able to travel anywhere else," he told Sky News, calling it a "very restricted programme".

08:20 AM

EU demands £2bn more than expected on final Brexit divorce bill

Britain’s final bill for leaving the EU is £40.8 billion, according to accounts filed in Brussels, a greater sum than previously forecast.

Officials had estimated the final cost would be £39 billion – £1.8 billion less than the EU amount contained in the EU’s consolidated budget report for 2020.

The financial settlement was agreed during tense talks over the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement.

Both sides signed off on a method to calculate what was owed in 2017 but the Withdrawal Agreement itself was not ratified until 2019.

News of the final withdrawal settlement comes amid tension between Brussels and London over the Northern Ireland Protocol which was created to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland.

08:12 AM

Sadiq Khan faces funding black hole for Crossrail

Sadiq Khan is being urged to “get a grip” of the ballooning cost to finish Crossrail after a £218m funding hole opened up in the finances of London's new tube line.

Crossrail, also known as the Elizabeth Line, will now cost taxpayers £19bn, according to a report by the National Audit Office (NAO).

The public spending scrutineer said that Crossrail is now “low value for money” for taxpayers as costs spiral and post-pandemic demand for public transport dwindles.

Keith Prince, Conservative assembly member and transport spokesman said: "The latest progress report worryingly suggests that the Elizabeth Line is still plagued with problems and may not be ready to open in the first half of 2022 as hoped. The Mayor desperately needs to get a grip of this project and get it over the line early next year without blowing the bank.”

Read more here.

08:00 AM

Generation resignation: Why millennials are refusing to return to the office

Covid has been the great disruptor, challenging everything we thought we knew about how we live our lives – including how we work.

People have been re-evaluating our priorities, working out which bits of our pre-pandemic lives we want back and what we want to ditch. And for many, particularly millennials, the thing that isn’t working is work itself.

‘The great resignation is coming,’ US academic Anthony Klotz, associate professor of management at Texas A&M University, told Bloomberg Businessweek in May.

His comments came on the back of a study by Microsoft that found 41 per cent of workers across the globe were planning to hand in their notice. In the UK too, research from HR software firm Personio found four in 10 employees were looking to change roles in either the next six or 12 months or once the economy has strengthened – rising to 55 per cent among 18- to 34-year-olds.

Read more about generation resignation here.

07:51 AM

Bosses urged to show 'flexibility' to staff over Euros final

Bosses should consider allowing staff to start later in the morning after the Euro 2020 football final, the TUC has said.

General secretary Frances O'Grady said the game promises to be a "historic moment" for the country, with millions of workers likely to be watching - and perhaps celebrating.

"We all hope the final against Italy is a cause for celebration," she said. "Bosses should talk to their staff about flexible working arrangements ahead of Monday morning - perhaps allowing them to start later and claim back their time afterwards.

"And bosses should show flexibility too towards the 2.2 million workers who work on a Sunday - many of them key workers," she added.

"Many of them will want to watch the match, and they should be able to, either at work or by finishing early and making up the time."

07:42 AM

A day with Rishi Sunak: How does the Chancellor's 'plan for jobs' hold up a year on?

The Chancellor is rallying Britons to return to the office as soon as the Government’s “work from home” guidance lifts, declaring it “really important” for younger staff.

The Telegraph spent an afternoon with Rishi Sunak in Wolverhampton to make a short film, released on Friday, examining government support for businesses and jobs during the pandemic.

He revealed that more than a third of the working population had received state support during the Covid crisis, including through the furlough and self-employment support schemes.

Lucy Fisher, The Telegraph's Deputy Political Editor, joined Mr Sunak one year on from launching his 'Plan for Jobs'.

Watch the video above to see what she found out.

07:29 AM

Petition for Euros bank holiday reaches 300,000 signatures

A petition calling for a Bank Holiday on Monday should England win Euro 2020 has passed 300,000 signatures.

The petition reads: "Sunday 8pm is a difficult time for families to plan to be together for the event - knowing we have an additional day off the next day would significantly help this.

"Furthermore, a historic win should be celebrated. It would be expected for the winning team to parade the trophy, and a bank holiday would be a perfect time to do this. Also, English people would naturally want to continue to enjoy the win, giving the retail and leisure industry a much-needed opportunity to make up lost revenues."

Asked about the prospect of a bank holiday, Grant Shapps told Sky News he "didn't want to jinx" England's chances against Italy.

07:27 AM

Train companies can make face masks a condition of carriage, says Grant Shapps

Grant Shapps has said train companies will be allowed to insist on face masks but called on firms to "take a realistic view of it".

He told Radio 4's Today programme: "The rail companies, as with airlines, may well decide to say 'we know our services are particularly crowded, therefore as a condition of carriage we require... face masks to be worn'."

The Transport Secretary said it "makes perfect sense" to wear a mask during rush hour, but not on an empty carriage.

"People will need to follow what is required to buy a ticket and travel on that particular service," he added.

07:23 AM

NHS app will not be 'ultimate arbiter', says Grant Shapps

The NHS app will not be "the ultimate arbiter of everything that happens" after restrictions are dropped on July 19, Grant Shapps has said.

"We follow scientific advice, and are looking to tweak the app to be suitable to circumstances at the time," he added, noting that the rates of people who have been double vaccinated are at "record highs".

He told Radio 4's Today programme: "We will see that all fit in, in order to make this an extra tool, and a very important one, but not as the ultimate arbiter of everything that happens with coronavirus."

07:20 AM

Don't ignore the NHS app if you get pinged, says Grant Shapps

The NHS app will be "calibrated" in line with social distancing, but people must not ignore it if they are "pinged", Grant Shapps has said.

The Transport Secretary told Radio 4's Today programme: "We keep the operation of the NHS Covid app under review as the rules change on things like social distancing, to make sure it is calibrated in the right way, especially through July 19.

"The medical experts will advise on what the level of sensitive should be, relative to where we are in our vaccination programme."

But asked what people should do it if 'pings' just before a long-planned holiday, he said: "You shouldn't ignore it.... we absolutely don't want people to ignore it."

07:15 AM

UK economy slowed in May from April surge

The UK economy rebounded further in May following the latest easing of lockdown restrictions but recorded a slowdown in growth, new figures show.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said gross domestic product (GDP) - a measure of economic growth - grew by 0.8 per cent in May, as it slowed from a 2.3 per cent rise in April.

Analysts had predicted the economy would report a 1.5 per cent increase for the month.

Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor, said: "It's great to see people back out and about thanks to the success of the vaccine rollout, and to see that reflected in today's figures for economic growth."

But Bridget Phillipson, shadow chief secretary to the Treasury, said: "This morning's growth data shows how fragile the UK's economic recovery is."

07:12 AM

British tourists told to expect queues

Holidaymakers should expect additional queues when they check in for their flights home due to the need for coronavirus checks, the Transport Secretary has said.

Grant Shapps told BBC Breakfast: "Before you board a plane you would need to show you have completed your passenger locator form, that you have carried out a pre-departure test, that you have got your test booked for day two and all of that needs to be checked by the carrier - the airline usually - before you travel.

"So the place to expect queues is the airport you are coming from. Once you get back to the UK all of that is starting to be automated.

"People should expect more disruption than usual but I know that everyone is working very hard to minimise those queues."

07:10 AM

Reciprocal travel plan to be unveiled 'in next couple of weeks', says Grant Shapps

Grant Shapps has said the Government is "actively working" on plans to accept vaccination certificates from travellers who receive a coronavirus jab in other countries.

The Transport Secretary told Sky News he expected to be able to make an announcement "in the next couple of weeks" on extending it to people who receive a World Health Organisation-approved vaccine in other countries.

"The next thing is to be able to recognise apps from other countries or certification from other countries," he said.

"It is easier done from some places, like the EU where they have a digital app coming along, than it is in the United States where I think they have 50 different systems, one for each state."

07:01 AM

Rishi Sunak tells workers to get back to the office

The Chancellor is rallying Britons to return to the office as soon as the Government’s “work from home” guidance lifts, declaring it “really important” for younger staff.

Rishi Sunak conceded that operating remotely via Zoom during the pandemic had been “not great” for workers at the beginning of their careers, who find face-to-face interaction particularly “valuable”.

Signalling his strong support for workers to return to the office at step four of the Prime Minister’s roadmap out of restrictions, scheduled for July 19, he said: “I think for young people, especially, that ability to be in your office, be in your workplace and learn from others more directly, is something that's really important and I look forward to us slowly getting back to that.”

07:00 AM

Good Morning

Rishi Sunak is urging workers to get back to the office - but there are still concerns about how many people could end up isolating this summer.

With concerns that critical workers could be among those forced to stay at home, it looks likely that this issue will continue to dominate today.

Here is today's front page.