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Britons furious as Biden picks Brexit-hater for top US job – ‘We are NOT America’s poodle’

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Joe Biden, who will take over from Donald Trump next January, named Antony Blinken as his choice for secretary of state. Mr Blinken has been a longtime confidant of the President-elect, and has also expressed highly critical views of Brexit.

Mr Blinken, who served as deputy national security adviser in President Barack Obama’s administration, once described Britain’s decision to exit the EU as a “total mess” and compared it to far-right Marine Le Pen’s rise in France.

Speaking on the Pod Save the World podcast, the American previously described the UK’s handling of Brexit as “the dog that caught the car and then the car goes into reverse and runs over the dog. It’s a total mess”.

He said “our interests would have been in keeping Britain in”.

Express.co.uk readers have reacted furiously to the news, as the UK has yet to agree a post-Brexit trade deal with the US.

But many readers were optimistic that Mr Biden’s Presidency would not thwart the UK’s success once it had left the EU.

One person wrote: “Biden can pick who he wants, it will make no difference to the UK, trade is trade, and we have the rest of the world, plus four years is not long to wait until Biden is history.”

Another said: “Good for him… I hope he will be very happy with his Brexit hating buddy…

“Meanwhile the UK continues to progress without the help of this idiot!”

JUST IN: Brexit fisheries row: EU fishermen fear ‘we will go bankrupt’

A third fumed: “We are NOT AMERICAS POODLE if Joe doesn’t want to trade with the uk well ce la vie we are able to trade around the world with bigger friends than Joe, so bring it on!”

One user claimed anyone who opposes Brexit is also opposed to democracy.

They wrote: “If he hates Brexit he hates democracy.”

Another reader said: “Staying in the EU, would have been a ‘Blinkin mess’.”

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One reader said the UK should not fear Mr Blinken’s appointment, and suggested Britain should ditch hopes of a trade deal with the US altogether.

They wrote: “Are we supposed to be scared of this person.

“If that is the intent then its failed dramatically and to be honest I for one would not like a deal under Biden or the democrats, too biased for me and sane thinking people!”

Another person suggested Mr Blinken will be “powerless” to act on his anti-Brexit views.

They wrote: “Yes Blinken can voice his displeasure but ultimately is powerless to affect any meaningful political change in the UK, but he’s welcome to his beliefs.”

Boris Johnson has so far sought to prioritise a UK-US free trade agreement.

But his efforts may be about to hit a brick wall, as Mr Biden opposes Brexit and has reservations about the Prime Minister, who he once likened to a “physical and emotional clone” of Mr Trump.

The President-elect is likely to forge closer ties with the EU during his tenure, which could hamper the UK’s attempts to secure a prosperous trade deal with the US.

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World News

Joe Biden warning: President-elect could spark ‘constitutional outrage’ with ‘tinkering’

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Iain Dale told Express.co.uk the President-elect has refused to rule out increasing the number of justices on the Supreme Court. There are currently six justices that lean towards the Republican Party and three that a more aligned to the Democrats.

Mr Dale said: “Joe Biden has refused to rule out increasing the number of Justices on the Supreme Court.

“I think this would be a constitutional outrage if he tried to tinker with that.

“I do not think that has been changed since the 1860s if I am right.

“It is a bit like Trump losing the election and then challenging the result.

“I am not sure the American people would stand for that.

“I am not sure Congress would necessarily stand for that either.”

The political commentator also told Express.co.uk that Mr Biden’s “mental decline” is “highly likely” to result in Kamala Harris taking over as President of the United States during his Presidency.

He added Mr Biden will have an advantage as US President but he is not the leader that America needs. 

Mr Dale said: “Joe Biden does have an advantage in that he will have a lot of people who have been there and served under President Obama.

“So they are not coming in cold to power.

“However, Joe Biden is showing material signs of mental decline.

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“I do not think he is the leader that is needed for America at the moment.”

The political commentator added: “He does not strike me as somebody who is a decision-maker.”

“I do not see him providing leadership.

“I do think it is highly likely that Kamala Harris could take over as President at some point during a Biden Presidency.”

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Brexit deal done in DAYS as Boris phones Von der Leyen to secure trade agreement with EU

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Downing Street said there are still issues that need to be resolved as talks resumed today. But the Prime Minister and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen are poised to talk to push an agreement over the line.

Irish premier Micheal Martin fuelled hopes of a breakthrough being made within days.

He said: “I would be hopeful that by the end of this week we could see the outline of a deal.

“That remains to be seen. It’s down to political will. One must remain hopeful that a deal can be arrived at.”

But Government sources warned the assessment was “optimistic”.

MPs and MEPs are facing emergency sittings to rush through any deal before the end of the year.

No 10 said Parliament has shown that it can “act at pace” when it needs to pass legislation swiftly.

Brussels is hoping to have a pact signed off by Monday to allow legislation to be passed in the European Parliament at a special sitting on December 28.

Talks resumed online today after they were brought to an abrupt halt last week when an EU official tested positive for coronavirus.

READ MORE ON OUR BREXIT LIVE BLOG

Negotiators Lord Frost and Michel Barnier are expected to meet face to face again at the end of the week.

Mr Barnier said: “Time is short. Fundamental divergences still remain, but we are continuing to work hard for a deal.”

Fishing rights and state subsidies are the key outstanding issues holding up progress.

A No 10 spokesman said the UK has been very clear that it will become an independent coastal nation.

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“We will take back control of access to our waters,” he added.

The spokesman insisted there will not be any extension to the transition period.

Brussels sources expect a last-minute trade-off on the so-called level-playing field and reduced access to Britain’s coastal waters to help get a deal across the line.

EU Parliament Brexit representative Christophe Hansen said the bloc would have to be prepared to meet Boris Johnson’s fisheries demands in order to clinch an agreement.

The Luxembourgish MEP said: “There will be compromises to be made on fisheries.

“The status quo, that is somewhere we’re not going to land.”

Bernd Lange, the EU Parliament’s trade chief, said: “It’s already five past midnight.

“We need a text, otherwise ratification and democratic scrutiny by the European Parliament will be a farce.”

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Politics

Boris Johnson CUTS OUT during Covid live stream: MPs mock PM ‘have you pressed the button’

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One MP was left asking if the Prime Minister had “paid the electric” as his connection with the House of Commons cut off on Monday.

It came during the Prime Minister’s statement in the House of Commons as Boris Johnson set out the next stages of the Government’s fight against coronavirus.

The Prime Minister is currently working from home after coming into contact with a colleague who tested positive for the virus.

This is a breaking story…more to follow

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World News

India mystery solved: Taj Mahal built on ‘rare ground’ that revolutionised engineering

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The Taj Mahal is India’s most iconic superstructure: a mausoleum of the great Mogul Emperor, Shah Jahan’s, favourite wife, Mumtaz Mahal. Her tomb is the centrepiece of an impressive 17-hectare complex, which includes a mosque and a guest house. Although some sects of Islam do not condone the direct worship of saints as other religions do, the building has become a great pilgrimage site for Muslims the world over.

For historians and engineers alike, the Taj’s mammoth infrastructure has stunned for millennia.

Its construction began in 1632, in the Mogul capital of Agra, modern day northern India, and within a few years the shell of the Taj was complete.

Its location, on the banks of the Yamuna river, proved a particular challenge – as even today, engineers struggle to build on or near rivers for fear of a structure sinking into the ground.

The Taj’s construction secrets were laid bare during National Geographic’s ‘Secrets of the Taj Mahal’.

Here, Iranian-German architect, Hadi Teherani, explained: “Close to water, you rarely find ground solid enough to build on.

“You have to dig down until you hit hard, dry earth.

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“They (the engineers) came up with a brilliant solution to this problem, one that is still used today, in a slightly different form.

“They decided to build a well foundation – that was a revolutionary idea for those times.”

The great Mogul engineers dug deep wells below the water table – the underground boundary between the soil surface and the area where water saturates saves between sediments and cracks in rock.

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They filled these newly dug wells with rocks and mortar.

A base was then cemented into the ground, on top of which the engineers stacked stone columns.

These columns were then linked together by giant arches.

The result was a solid mountain of stone to support the foundation slab of what would become the Taj Mahal.

It was an ingenious move: not only did the structure encapsulate the beauty of its surroundings, it enabled the Taj to be protected from the currents of the river forever.

The Moguls, or Mughals, originally came from Central Asia, and ruled most of what is modern day India and Pakistan in the 16th and 17th centuries.

Its empire consolidated Islam in South Asia, spreading Muslim art and culture throughout a region that was previously predominately Hindu.

The Archaeological Survey of India, the custodian of the country’s monuments, describes the Taj Mahal as “the pinnacle of Mughal architecture”.

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‘They can sling their hook!’ Britons furious as France warns UK fishing terms WON’T change

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France has been fervently opposed to any changes to the current fishing policies in a post-Brexit trade with the UK. The hardline stance has caused havoc in negotiations, and the latest claims by the French have infuriated Express.co.uk readers.

Nathalie Loiseau, a close ally of President Emmanuel Macron, has claimed the CFP has “so far been a success”.

When questioned by Sky News’ Sophy Ridge whether it was right for British fishermen to have access to more fish, the French MEP responded: “Why should we ruin something that works?”

The exchange provoked a furious response from Express.co.uk readers, who took to the comment section to state the CFP has not been beneficial for British trawlers.

One person said: “‘Thanks’ to the common fisheries policy, we have lost almost half our fishing fleet over the past 30 years and become a net importer of fish netted in our waters!

“It is time to take back that which is rightfully ours!”

A second reader wrote: “The Common Fisheries Policy has been a huge success for the French, and other EU countries.

“It allowed them to gain control of the UK’s natural resource our fisheries.

“That is a mistake we made that is being rectified.

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“The EU and particularly the French can sling their hook into someone else’s waters.”

A third fumed: “Just illustrates how ‘simple minded’ many Eurocrats are …!!

“Suggesting the rip-off of +80 percent of our fish … could be considered … good for us.

“A success for who exactly? Certainly … not the UK.”

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Readers continued to mock Ms Loiseau’s claim the CFP has been beneficial for all states.

One person said: “The CFP decimated British fishing when it was introduced.

“We don’t give a damn now about how EU fishermen will suffer as a result of the UK leaving the EU.

“No one in the EU gave a damn when British fishermen had to sell or moor their boats while their business were closing down in droves.

“If the CFP works for the EU then let it…………just stay out of UK waters that are no longer part of the EU CFP rip off.”

A second reader wrote: “The French would say the CFP has been a success wouldn’t they, after all it is done in such a way that they get the lions share of fish caught and the UK get scraps.”

Fishing remains of the biggest hurdles to a deal between Britain and the EU, though the two sides are believed to be nearing an agreement.

Whitehall officials are confident a deal can be secured by November 30th so draft legislation can be passed.

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Matt Hancock warns Britons to sacrifice ‘until Easter’ despite Oxford vaccine breakthrough

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Matt Hancock welcomed news from Oxford University and its pattern AstraZeneca about the effectiveness of the coronavirus jab, which was found to have an overall 70 percent cover rate. The Health Secretary confirmed the Government is ready to begin vaccinations as early as December but insisted Britons might still be asked to sacrifice for months to ensure the infection rate does not spiral out of control. Speaking to the Today programme, Mr Hancock said: “If this all goes well in the next couple of weeks, then we are looking at the potential of starting the vaccination programme next month, for this Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine as well as the Pfizer vaccine.

“But in all cases, the bulk of the roll-out will be in the new year and I know people are absolutely desperate to understand the timescale of this.

“Crucially, I think we’ve got to keep the virus suppressed using mass-testing and the sorts of measures and responsibilities we have for the next few months.

“But we are looking, with high confidence now, that from after Easter, things can really start to get back to normal.”

The Government confirmed 100 million doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine had been bought but the Health Secretary said only jabs in the low millions will be immediately available for the roll-out programme.

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Mr Hancock also warned the tiers system expected to come into effect once the England-wide lockdown comes to an end on December 2 will”have to be stronger” than before.

He said: “The number of cases is now clearly starting to fall across the whole of the UK.

“In England, we come to the end of the lockdown as you know on December 2, and so we do think that we can replace the lockdown with a tiered system.

“But the tiered system, whilst lighter than lockdown, will have to be stronger than the previous tiers that were in place.”

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Brexit LIVE: Boris Johnson issues checkmate warning to EU over deal – ‘Time is up’

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The Prime Minister remains confident a deal can be secured with talks entering their final week as civil servants start to draft EU relationship legislation. With the transition period due to end on December 31st, a deal is yet to be struck between UK and EU negotiators as fishing, governance and the level playing field remain significant stumbling blocks.

Whitehall officials are confident a deal can be secured by November 30th so draft legislation can be passed.

But the EU is remaining more cautious with any deal having to be ratified by the 27 member states before the end of December. 

Whitehall sources told Express.co.uk Boris Johnson was “optimistic” on a deal but stressed any deal “needs to strictly be” in the UK’s interests.  

One told Express.co.uk: “This week is the turning point in the talks, time is running out.

“It’s essentially a checkmate, we are laying down our requests and are not backing down.”

Talks will begin virtually today after a member of Michel Barnier’s team tested positive for COVID-19 last time and could be face to face in London as early as Thursday. 

As Express.co.uk exclusively revealed on Saturday, it is hoped draft legislation could be debated before the Commons as early as next week. 

Chancellor Rishi Sunak told BBC Andrew Marr yesterday the UK should not be going for a Brexit deal “at any price”,

European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen, meanwhile, indicated that there had been “better progress” towards reaching an agreement.

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8am update: IFS expresses ‘uncertainty’ over Brexit deal 

Paul Johnson, director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS), said there was still much uncertainty about both the long and short-term impacts of a Brexit deal.

“Even the best deal we could get would have been counted as one of the hardest imaginable Brexits three or four years ago when we started to look at this,” he told the Andrew Marr show, referring to economic modelling done by the IFS.

“That sort of deal will result, at best, in the economy growing less quickly than it otherwise would have done.

“It is worth saying that, especially in the context of coronavirus, there’s just such uncertainty about what the impact is going to be, and particularly the short-term impact.”

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Brexit trade: UK set for ‘more advanced’ Canada talks to deliver ‘much more’ than EU deal

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International Trade Secretary Liz Truss has confirmed the UK and Canada have agreed to begin “more advanced” negotiations once Britain is finally freed from the shackles of the EU on January 1, 2021. On Friday, the UK finalised a post-Brexit deal with Canada to protect the flow of goods and services worth £20billion.

Boris Johnson said the extension of existing EU terms was a “fantastic agreement for Britain”.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said both would look at ways to “maximise our trade opportunities”.

The UK has now agreed trade deal with more than 50 countries around the world, worth more than £150billion.

Ms Truss said: “We have also agreed to start negotiating a more advanced trade deal next year, which will be more ambitious in areas such as digital trade, women’s economic empowerment and the environment.

“We will build on this in our presidency of the G7, working with like-minded democracies such as Canada to promote our priorities around the world.”

Writing in Sunday Telegraph, she added: “This deal will allow us to take our economic relationship to new heights.

“It also takes us a step closer to hitching ourselves to one of the most dynamic trading areas in the world.”

The International Trade Secretary added the UK would look towards joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership made up of 11 nations, including Canada, Japan and Australia.

Ms Truss explained this would give Britain access to a market which is equivalent to 13 percent of global GDP – worth around £11trillion.

In a major swipe at the EU, Ms Truss insisted “they thrive under modern, business-friendly rules which offer much more than the EU could for the industries of the future”.

She added: “Together, we would form a coalition of the willing in the fight for free and fair trade which would push back against protectionism and those who would try to subvert the world’s rules-based system.”

Over the past two years the UK has agreed deals with 53 nations worth £164billion.

Ms Truss confirmed the UK was not done yet and is working on agreements with the US, Australia and New Zealand in order to “turbocharge” industries.

She said: “We are working flat out to reach new gold-standard arrangements with the United States, Australia, and New Zealand.

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“Seizing these opportunities will bring home jobs, economic growth and investment.

“This is how we will revive our industrial heartlands, turbocharge our services and take our digital trade to the next level.”

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Joe Biden LOSES IT with CBS reporter after unscheduled probe on coronavirus and schools

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US President-elect Joe Biden lost his cool at CBS reporter Bo Erickson who asked a question on coronavirus impacting schools being open. Mr Biden was closing a meeting with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the press and photographers were being asked to leave. Mr Biden told Ms Pelosi “in my Oval Office, mi casa, you casa” before saying that was the end of the photo opportunity. 

Mr Erickson quickly used the opportunity to ask Mr Biden a question on how he plans to work with unions to ensure schools can be open.

Mr Erickson asked Mr Biden: “Mr Biden, the Covid task force said it is safe to be in class.

“Are you going to ask Unions to cooperate to bring kids back to the classroom, Sir?”

Mr Biden failed to answer the question and snapped: “Why are you the only guy who shouts questions?”

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After the incident, Mr Erickson posted the moment on his Twitter page and seen support for his actions and condemnation for the President-elect.

One Twitter user wrote: “A valid, totally calm question.

“The only shouting was their team trying to rush all media out, we need answers to both issues.”

While another agreed and said: “The guy who asked the question didn’t shout it out.

“He was very respectful to Biden, which he didn’t even answer.

“Has Biden got sensitive hearing or could he not answer the question when it was asked?”

Other social media user insisted Biden handled the situation poorly as it was a question the American population need an answer to.

One Twitter user wrote: “No questions will be taken that are unscripted, this guy is completely clueless.”

Another added: “I appreciate you trying to ascertain a simple position on a very critical issue facing all of us.

“Pathetic what the Biden team did to the full press staff in ushering them out like there was a fire in the building.

“Absolutely comical, what an incompetent person Joe Biden is.”

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