Friday evening news briefing: France's Brexit deal veto threat

·6-min read
Michel Barnier cancelled a briefing with ambassadors as talks intensified - Hollie Adams/ Bloomberg
Michel Barnier cancelled a briefing with ambassadors as talks intensified - Hollie Adams/ Bloomberg

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Brexit talks 'into weekend' as France threatens veto

It all comes down to the next few days. Brexit trade talks have ended without a conclusion being reached, and may not resume until Sunday morning, the Telegraph understands. Michel Barnier had cancelled his planned briefing to EU ambassadors earlier today "due to ongoing intensive negotiations", with Downing Street describing this as a "very difficult point in the talks". Fishing rights are among the key sticking points and France has issued a warning it will veto a Brexit agreement if it is not happy with the terms. Read the comments of the country's European Affairs minister. Patrick O'Flynn analyses why Emmanuel Macron's gamble that Britain is ready to cave could blow up in his face.

The pound has wobbled amid the uncertainty in the trade talks but there is clearly concern on both sides of the Channel. German and Dutch businesses have called on negotiators to reach a last-minute deal, warning that failure to do so would be a "disaster". Here is what happens if the talks fail and Matthew Lynn infers that President Macron is gambling that France could be a winner from a no-deal Brexit. Jonathan Saxty reveals nine red flags Brexiteers will not tolerate in a deal.

R number 'between 0.8 and 1' as Covid infections fall

The number of new Covid-19 infections in England is continuing to fall, according to the latest estimates. The reproduction number, or R value, of coronavirus transmission across the UK is now between 0.8 and 1, the Government Office for Science and the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) said, down from 0.9 and 1 the week before. Figures from the Office for National Statistics also suggest the incidence rate is now at its lowest since the end of September. Our liveblog has the latest. Meanwhile, Cyprus is to waive Covid testing requirements for visitors who have been vaccinated against the virus. Read on for details.

'Thundersnow' leads concerned residents to call police

The sound was so loud, concerned residents in Edinburgh called the emergency services to report what they believed to be an exploding bomb or collapsing building. Yet the noise they heard overnight was in fact a phenomenon known as "thundersnow". Police have issued reassurances after receiving "a number of calls". Other parts of Britain woke up to snowfall and there are warnings further wintry weather may be on the way. View a gallery of Britons enjoying the snow while Mark Bailey outlines the surprising health benefits of exercising in the cold.

At a glance: Latest coronavirus headlines

Also in the news: Today's other headlines

Avonmouth blast | A 63-year-old man understood to be nearing retirement has been named as the first victim of the explosion at a waste water treatment works near Bristol which left four people dead.

Around the world: Mink farmers grieve end of industry

Peter Hindbo takes a mink pelt from his four-year-old grandson, turns it fur-side out with a vacuum tube, and tosses it into a barrel of salt and sawdust for a final tumbling. Outside, his mink sheds on the family's traditional Danish courtyard farm in central Jutland are now completely empty. Just a single rack of chilled carcasses remains to be skinned after a nationwide cull forced him to wipe out his own farm stock of 25,000 animals. He has been forced to destroy a family business he has spent the last 35 years building up. Richard Orange has this dispatch.

Friday interview

'I had a bit of money in the bank and that has now gone'


Simon Russell Beale - Andrew Crowley
Simon Russell Beale - Andrew Crowley

As he finally returns to the stage, Olivier-award winning actor Simon Russell Beale reveals the financial and emotional cost of the lockdown

Read the full interview

Comment and analysis

Editor's choice: Features and arts

  1. Katie Morley Investigates | 'Stepmother stole thousands from husband, then died of cancer’

  2. The Midults | My mother-in-law openly prefers one of my two daughters. What should I do?

  3. Exercising outdoors | 10 ways to run safely this winter

Business and money briefing

Negative rates | UK interest rates can be cut below zero if needed to ward off the scars of Covid-19 or an economic hit from a no-deal Brexit, the Bank of England's Michael Saunders has said. Read his comments.

Sport briefing

Autumn Nations Cup | Eddie Jones has named his strongest side for England's tournament decider against France, who will be fielding a shadow team due to an agreement struck with Top 14 clubs. Gavin Mairs outlines why Jones' selection reflects his ruthless approach to the Autumn Nations Cup, while France's assistant coach Shaun Edwards has insisted in this interview that "France will make this final a contest".

Tonight's TV  

Waterhole: Africa's Animal Oasis, BBC Two, 9pm | Presenter Chris Packham and biologist Ella Al-Shamahi construct a brand new, camera-thronged waterhole from scratch in one of East Africa's bustling game reserves. Read more.

And finally... for this evening's downtime

Sometimes, the old ones really are the best | As the RSC goes back to the ancient stories of the Trojan war, Claire Allfree reveals why Homer and Virgil are still essential for modern audiences.