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Bitesized Blighty: January 31, 2020

Zara Thornton  Follow

  • Boris Johnson will pronounce “the dawn of a new era” for Britain today, as it ends almost half a century of European Union membership. Mr Johnson will set a sober tone for “Brexit day” by holding his weekly cabinet meeting in Sunderland, the first city to declare support for leaving the EU in the 2016 referendum. Britain will no longer be represented in EU meetings, even though the bloc’s rules will continue to apply until the end of the transition period. Britain’s departure from the EU will be a moment of profound sadness for half the country and takes place against an uncertain economic backdrop.
  • The chief medical officer for England has announced that two people have tested positive for coronavirus in the UK. They are both members of the same family and are receiving specialist NHS care. The WHO declared the outbreak a global emergency yesterday, with 98 cases of the virus in another 18 countries. At least 213 people in China have died, mostly in Hubei, with almost 10,000 cases nationally. Prof Chris Whitty, chief medical officer for England said: “The NHS is extremely well-prepared and used to managing infections and we are already working rapidly to identify any contacts the patients had, to prevent further spread.
  • Boris Johnson gave the go-ahead on Tuesday for Huawei, the Chinese telecoms equipment maker, to supply kit for Britain’s fifth-generation mobile phone network. The Trump administration views the decision by the UK National Security Council as a craven surrender of national sovereignty over data to the Chinese state, warning that it could give Beijing a backdoor route to spy on British communications. Former UK defence secretary Liam Fox said Mr Johnson risked giving a “green light to other countries which don’t have the UK’s security capabilities”. 

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