UK To Bail Out London Transport System With $1.95bn

Commuters wearing PPE (personal protective equipment) including face masks as a precautionary measure against COVID-19, travel by public transport during the evening 'rush hour', on TfL (Transport for London) Circle Line underground trains, in central London on May 14, 2020. ISABEL INFANTES / AFP
Commuters wearing PPE (personal protective equipment) including face masks as a precautionary measure against COVID-19, travel by public transport during the evening ‘rush hour’, on TfL (Transport for London) Circle Line underground trains, in central London on May 14, 2020. ISABEL INFANTES / AFP

 

The British government will pump £1.6 billion into London’s public transport system to restore services and help prevent overcrowding as people return to work, operator Transport for London (TfL) said Friday.

London mayor Sadiq Khan is now expected to restore full bus and train services, having warned they would be cut further without emergency state support, owing to the coronavirus epidemic.

But he criticised the government, which will obtain control for the period of the bailout, because of likely fare increases to offset losses incurred during the lockdown.

He accused the Department for Transport of “making ordinary Londoners pay the cost for doing the right thing on COVID-19”.

TfL informed the London Stock Exchange Friday that “an extraordinary funding and financing support package has been agreed between TfL and the Department for Transport to contribute towards TfL’s forecast funding shortfall.

“The funding package is based on the assumption that the funding shortfall will be £1.6 billon ($1.95 billion, 1.8 billion euros) for the period 1 April 2020 to 17 October 2020.”

TfL has seen a 90-percent drop in revenue from ticket sales during the seven-week coronavirus lockdown as passenger numbers slumped.

It has been paying the £600 million monthly operating bill from cash reserves but said the situation was no longer sustainable.

Khan on Thursday warned that without government funding, bus and Tube services would have to be cut to save money, as TfL tried to balance its books.

The government is urging people who cannot work from home to return to work in an easing of stay-at-home measures, while also calling for people to avoid public transport if possible.

The deal comprises a £1.095 billion grant and a £505 million loan, with the potential for £300 million more if there is still a shortfall.

TfL is a local government body responsible for the capital’s transport system, and comes under Khan’s responsibilities.

Khan has warned commuters to expect an above-inflation one-percent rise in fares, after the DfT made several caveats “in order to safeguard services in the future”.

The mayor has frozen single fares since he became mayor in 2016, although travlecard fares have increased. But he said he had “no choice” but accept the offer, “as it was the only deal the government put on the table”.

Other temporary measures include stopping free travel for children and only allowing free travel for people with disabilities and the over-60s outside peak hours.

British Virus Death Toll Now World’s Third-Worst

Britain Flag

 

Britain’s death toll from the coronavirus outbreak jumped to 26,097 on Wednesday — the second-highest in Europe behind Italy and third-highest in the world — as the government took into account fatalities outside hospital, including care homes, for the first time.

The increase came after surprise news that Prime Minister Boris Johnson had become a father again at age 55, several months earlier than expected, and just weeks after he was taken to hospital with COVID-19.

Downing Street announced that his partner, Carrie Symonds, 32, gave birth to a healthy baby boy, prompting messages of congratulation from across the political spectrum at home and abroad.

The rare good news was soured however by the additional 4,419 deaths in the overall coronavirus death toll, just as Johnson, who returned to work on Monday, is under pressure to ease a month-long lockdown.

Until now, Britain had reported only deaths of people who had tested positive for COVID-19 in hospital but there has been mounting concern about high numbers of unreported victims in the wider community.

On Tuesday, the Office for National Statistics said deaths registered in England and Wales in the week ending April 17 were running at roughly double the five-year average and were the highest weekly total since 1993.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab on Wednesday said there were an additional 3,811 deaths included in the outbreak since the start of March, on top of figures from the last 24 hours.

“They don’t represent a sudden surge in the number of deaths,” he told reporters.

According to an AFP tally from official sources at 1300 GMT on Wednesday, Britain has now leapfrogged the tolls in France and Spain and is the second-worst affected country in Europe, behind Italy’s 27,359 deaths.

The United States has the world’s worst death toll with 58,355.

Second peak

Britain has widened its testing regime for COVID-19 to care homes, the over-65s and people unable to work from home, as part of increased measures to curb the outbreak.

A total of 85 frontline workers in the state-run National Health Service (NHS) have died from the coronavirus, and 23 in social care, according to the government.

There remain questions about the provision of personal protective equipment to medics and others dealing with patients, and the availability of testing.

Raab, who has deputised for Johnson during his illness and recovery, warned the government is not yet ready to ease lockdown restrictions.

“This issue of a second spike and the need to avoid it, it’s not a theoretical risk,” he said.

“Having relaxed restrictions in Germany over the last week, they’ve seen a rise in the transmission rate of coronavirus.

“We’re in a delicate and dangerous moment. We’re coming through the peak, but we’re not there yet.”

‘Relief and joy’

Britain shut non-essential shops and services, and ordered people to stay at home except to shop for groceries and medicines, on March 27.

A review of the measures is expected on May 7, amid dire warnings about the economic impact and indications of frustration at the continued confinement.

Johnson held a lunchtime telephone call with the leader of the main opposition Labour party, Keir Starmer who has called for more clarity on the lockdown exit plan.

Starmer earlier joined well-wishers in congratulating Johnson on becoming a father again, particularly after his recent experience. Symonds also displayed COVID-19 symptoms but was not tested.

“Whatever differences we have in this house, as human beings we all recognise the anxiety the prime minister and Carrie must have gone through in these past few weeks,” he told parliament.

“I really hope this brings them incredible relief and joy.”

Johnson had to spend three nights in intensive care, and later admitted his illness “could have gone either way”.

He was present for the birth at an unnamed NHS hospital in London and would be taking some paternity leave later in the year, his spokesman said.

Johnson has at least five other children, including four with his second wife, Marina Wheeler, from whom he split in 2018.

He also had a daughter as a result of an extra-marital affair while he was mayor of London, according to a 2013 court case.

The news of his youngest child’s birth came as a surprise, as Symonds was not thought to be due for several weeks.

Both she and the baby were said to be doing “very well”.

Arsenal Manager Mikel Arteta Tests Positive For Coronavirus

Arsenal's Spanish head coach Mikel Arteta gestures on the touchline during the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and West Ham at the Emirates Stadium in London on March 7, 2020. Ian KINGTON / AFP
Arsenal’s Spanish head coach Mikel Arteta gestures on the touchline during the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and West Ham at the Emirates Stadium in London on March 7, 2020. Ian KINGTON / AFP

 

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has tested positive for the coronavirus, prompting the Premier League to announce they will hold an emergency meeting on Friday to discuss future fixtures.

Arsenal have closed their training ground as a result of Arteta’s positive test, with Gunners players and club staff who had recent contact with the Spaniard now forced to self-isolate.

“This is really disappointing but I took the test after feeling poorly,” Arteta said in a statement on Arsenal’s website.

“I will be at work as soon as I’m allowed.”

Arsenal confirmed the shock news just minutes after the Premier League had said all fixtures would go ahead this weekend despite the spread of the global pandemic.

Arsenal, due to play at Brighton in the Premier League on Saturday, said it was “clear we will not be able to play some fixtures on their currently scheduled dates”.

Arsenal’s Premier League match at Manchester City on Wednesday was postponed and several Gunners players went into self-isolation after Olympiakos and Nottingham Forest owner Evangelos Marinakis contracted the virus.

Marinakis, 52, met a number of Arsenal’s players and staff when the Gunners faced Olympiakos in a Europa League tie in February.

“Our London Colney training centre has been closed after head coach Mikel Arteta received a positive Covid-19 result this evening,” the Arsenal statement said.

“Arsenal personnel who had recent close contact with Mikel will now self-isolate in line with Government health guidelines.

“We expect this to be a significant number of people from Colney, including the full first-team squad and coaching staff.”

Arsenal are now trying to trace any other people who may have had contact with Arteta.

 Premier League emergency 

Arsenal managing director Vinai Venkatesham added: “The health of our people and the wider public is our priority and that is where our focus is.

“Our thoughts are with Mikel who is disappointed but in good spirits. We are in active dialogue with all the relevant people to manage this situation appropriately, and we look forward to getting back to training and playing as soon as medical advice allows.”

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Thursday that the government was considering cancelling sporting events in the United Kingdom, but was not ready to do so yet.

But the news of Arteta’s positive test could force the Premier League to cancel English top-flight matches.

“In light of Arsenal’s announcement tonight confirming that their first-team coach Mikel Arteta has tested positive for COVID-19, the Premier League will convene an emergency club meeting tomorrow morning regarding future fixtures,” the Premier League said.

Arsenal are the latest Premier League club to be hit by the virus.

Leicester revealed on Thursday that three of their players have self-isolated after showing signs of the virus.

Manchester City said one unnamed member of their squad, reportedly France defender Benjamin Mendy, is in self-isolation after a family member suffered a respiratory illness.

The relative is being treated in hospital and has undergone tests for the coronavirus, which can cause shortness of breath.

Chelsea reportedly cancelled training on Thursday after a member of staff showed signs of the illness.

AFP

VIDEO: ‘My Heritage Is Nigeria,’ Anthony Joshua Gives Moving Speech At Commonwealth

Heavyweight Champion, Anthony Joshua speaks during the annual Commonwealth Service at Westminster Abbey in London on March 09, 2020. Organised by the Royal Commonwealth Society, the Service is the largest annual inter-faith gathering in the United Kingdom. PHOTO: Ben STANSALL / POOL / AFP

 

Heavyweight Champion, Anthony Joshua on Monday gave a moving speech in front of the Royal Family during the Commonwealth Day celebration service held at Westminster Abbey in London.

In the speech, the world boxing champion spoke about his Nigerian roots and Yoruba culture.

“My name is Anthony Oluwafemi Olaseni Joshua. Like many of you here, I’m a child of the commonwealth I was born in Watford, and my heritage is Nigeria.

“I come from the Yoruba people, who are the largest – and some might say, the loudest – ethnic group in all of Africa. I am proudly Nigerian and I am proudly British.

“I join a long line, perhaps too long to count, of UK citizens of Commonwealth origin who’ve made enormous contributions to this great, multicultural society of ours,” he said in the video which was shared on his verified Twitter handle.

Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II talks with Anthony Joshua as she leaves after attending the annual Commonwealth Service at Westminster Abbey in London on March 09, 2020. PHOTO: Ben STANSALL / POOL / AFP

 

Joshua also advocated for work to be done to remove all sense of division across the Commonwealth.

“Let’s work to make wealth more common,” he captioned the video on Twitter.

 

He ended the heartfelt speech by making mention of what can probably be described as his favourite meals.

“So, here’s to fish and chips and egusi soup and pounded yam, to the UK and Nigeria and to the children of the Commonwealth,” Joshua said.

Fans and followers in response to his post heaped praises on him, describing him with kind words like, ‘MVP, generational talent, impressive young man.”

“He’s got brain to match his biceps,” another great fan posted on Twitter.

 

 

The professional boxer was recently in Nigeria where he visited the nation’s capital to register for the National Identity card. He also visited Sagamu, his hometown in Ogun State where he took pictures with traditional rulers and his young fans on the streets.

Chelsea Crush Everton To Cement Top Four Place

 

Frank Lampard warned Chelsea not to get complacent after they took control of the race to qualify for the Champions League with a 4-0 demolition of Everton on Sunday.

Lampard’s side won for just the second time in seven league games thanks to goals from Mason Mount, Pedro, Willian and Olivier Giroud in a masterful display at Stamford Bridge.

Fourth-placed Chelsea are in pole position to qualify for the Champions League with nine games to play.

But Lampard doesn’t want his stars to rest on their laurels just yet.

Aware that inconsistency has been the Achilles heel of his promising young team, Lampard said: “We can’t get ahead of ourselves. I’m experienced enough to know we go to Aston Villa next week, they are fighting for their lives and we have to replicate this performance.

“There’s still a long way to go. It’s still close. Even if it looks like a cushion as I sit here now, it doesn’t feel that way.

“It’s in our hands, but I’m certainly not going to jump in and say we are favourites. We have had inconsistency at times this season.”

While Lampard struck a cautious note about Chelsea’s Champions League ambitions, the Blues boss was quick to praise his players for delivering their biggest league win of the season.

It was exactly what Lampard demanded after Chelsea got back on track with their FA Cup fifth round win over Liverpool on Tuesday.

“At home yes, it was our best performance, because of the goals and the clean sheet,” Lampard said.

“In terms of performance we have been close to that a lot. We haven’t got the hard bit, the goals. Today we reached that.

“The finishing, the energy in the team, the speed of the pass, getting after the ball. We saw some really good stuff.

“It’s encouraging. You will always need your squad. We have a lot of injuries. The only way to tackle that is to work hard, play with energy and trust either other.

“I thought the whole attitude and focus of the team felt strong after Liverpool.”

Gilmour shines

Too often this term, Chelsea have dominated possession without killing off defensive opponents at Stamford Bridge.

But they tore into Everton from the start, with Mount and Pedro especially lively as they built on the platform provided by 18-year-old midfielder Billy Gilmour.

Gilmour was making his first Premier League start after a fine display against Liverpool and the Scot did everything Lampard asked of him.

“In the position where he plays, receiving the ball under pressure, he has to show balls. He’s done that, then when he played further up the field later in the game, he immediately took that on as well,” Lampard said.

Everton’s revival under Carlo Ancelotti has hit the buffers, with a run of three games without a win exposing them as frauds in the Champions League battle.

“Everything went wrong. We were too open defensively. We lost a lot of duels and with the ball we did a lot of mistakes,” Ancelotti said.

“It is not difficult to analyse this game. It is the first game when we did not compete. We have to learn from this.”

Defeats against Arsenal and Chelsea, along with a draw against Manchester United, have left Everton to focus on a Europa League berth instead.

“We never said we could qualify for the Champions League, but we can fight for the Europa League,” Ancelotti said.

Asked if he was satisfied with Everton’s commitment, Ancelotti gave a pointed pause before saying: “There are things I can analyse with you, and things I can analyse with my players.”

AFP

Bekele Wins London Half-Marathon, Breaks Farah’s Record

Ethiopia’s Kenenisa Bekele crosses the finish line to win the Berlin Marathon on September 29, 2019 in Berlin. John MACDOUGALL / AFP

 

Ethiopia’s Kenenisa Bekele broke Mo Farah’s course record as he won the London half-marathon on Sunday in a time of one hour and 22 seconds.

Bekele took 1min 18sec off the record set in 2019 by British distance great Farah, who missed this year’s edition with an Achilles injury.

Britain’s Christopher Thompson finished second, with Jake Smith third.

Sunday’s event served as a warm-up event for the full London Marathon on April 26. That race is set to see Bekele go up against Eliud Kipchoge, the reigning Olympic champion from Kenya, as the two fastest marathon runners of all time meet in the British capital.

“The new course record is a great bonus. I wasn’t focused on time today, I just wanted to win,” Bekele, three times an Olympic gold medallist on the track, told the BBC.

“I’m on schedule in my preparation for the London Marathon in April.

“There’s no question about the crowds in London being great. They were cheering all around the course and it felt like a great place to be.”

Farah decided to concentrate on the marathon having won gold in the 5,000 metres and 10,000 metres at both the London and Rio Games, but a relative lack of success on the road has seen him turn his attention back to the track ahead of this year’s Olympics in Tokyo.

AFP

Protesters Rally For Assange Ahead Of Extradition Hearing In UK

Supporters gather in Parliament Square to listen to speeches after a march in support of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange in London on February 22, 2020, as he fights extradition to the United States. 
Tolga AKMEN / AFP

 

A few hundred protesters marched across central London Saturday to call on Britain to reject WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s extradition to the United States at hearings that start next week.

A London court is to meet Monday to assess Washington’s request to hand over the media freedoms activist so he can be tried for releasing classified files in 2010 about US campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The 48-year-old Australian is facing 18 counts — 17 of them under the US Espionage Act — that could see him sentenced to prison terms of up to 175 years.

Supporters of Assange’s freedom gathered outside the Australian government’s representative office and then marched through central London for a rally outside parliament.

READ ALSO: Coronavirus: Russian-Linked Social Media Accounts Used To Spread Alarm, Says US

Some chanted “journalism is not a crime” and held up banners mocking Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

The UK government plays no formal role in the extradition case. Monday’s hearing is expected to last a week and then resume for a second session starting on May 18.

Any ruling is likely to be appealed by the losing side and Assange could remain locked up in a high-security London prison for many more months.

“I don’t really understand why Julian is in jail here,” Assange’s father John Shipton told the crowd on London’s Parliament Square.

Others attending included Pink Floyd rock group co-founder Roger Waters and Greece’s former finance minister Yanis Varoufakis.

Fashion designer and activist Vivienne Westwood wore a neon green paper halo with the word “angel” written in black marker.

Assange was “the angel of democracy,” she explained.

The case was injected with a dose of intrigue last week when the defence claimed US President Donald Trump had promised to pardon Assange if he denied Russia leaked emails of his 2016 election rival’s campaign.

US intelligence agencies have concluded that Russian GRU military intelligence agencies hacked the servers of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) in the runup to the November vote.

WikiLeaks then published the stolen emails. Assange has previously said that he received them from through his website’s anonymous file-sharing system and had no idea who obtained them first.

The DNC hack plays no role in the US case against Assange and Trump denied promising a pardon.

But the court said last week that the evidence was admissible.

AFP

‘Welcome To Anfield’, Klopp Warns Atletico

 

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp expects a very different atmosphere at Anfield will help turn his side’s Champions League last 16 tie with Atletico Madrid around after a 1-0 first leg defeat in the Spanish capital on Tuesday.

Saul Niguez’s early strike inflicted just Liverpool’s second defeat of the season in all competitions with a senior team.

The holders were frustrated by the hosts’ playacting and Polish referee Szymon Marciniak’s performance as Atletico boss Diego Simeone whipped the Wanda Metropolitano crowd into a frenzy.

“Wow, that’s energy!” Klopp told BT Sport when asked about Simeone’s touchline antics.

“I don’t think I have to do that much to be honest (in the second leg), I hope I can be focused a little bit more on the game.

“Our people will be ready. Welcome to Anfield! It’s not over yet.”

Klopp replaced Sadio Mane at half-time with the Senegalese at risk of being sent-off as Atletico players surrounded Marciniak demanding a second yellow card for the African player of the year just before the break.

“He was targeted that was clear,” added Klopp.

“Sadio played a really good first half and they only thing they wanted is to make sure he gets a yellow card.

“For me we didn’t lose, it’s only half-time, the score is 1-0 that’s all. But you need to be really strong as a ref in this atmosphere, that was obviously not easy.”

The visitors were also riled by the celebrations of Simeone and some of his players at full-time after they secured a victory that could kickstart at faltering season.

“They’ve celebrated as if they’ve won the tie after the game, so let’s see,” said left-back Andy Robertson.

“We’ve got a couple of weeks, Premier League business to take care of, and then we’re coming back to Anfield.

“We know our fans will be there, we’ll be there, so it’s up to them to come as well.”

UK Leaves European Union

 

 

Britain on Friday ended almost half a century of European Union membership, making a historic exit after years of bitter arguments to chart its own uncertain path in the world.

There were celebrations and tears across the country as the EU’s often reluctant member became the first to leave an organisation set up to forge unity among nations after the horrors of World War II.

Thousands of people waving Union Jack flags packed London’s Parliament Square to mark the moment of Brexit at 11 pm (2300 GMT) — midnight in Brussels.

“We did it!” declared Nigel Farage, the former member of the European Parliament who has campaigned for Brexit for years, before the crowd began singing the national anthem.

It was a largely good-natured gathering, aside from one Brexit supporter who earlier set an EU flag alight.

But Brexit has exposed deep divisions in British society, and many fear the consequences of ending 47 years of ties with their nearest neighbours.

Some pro-Europeans, including many of the 3.6 million EU citizens who made their lives in Britain, marked the occasion with solemn candlelit vigils.

Brexit has also provoked soul-searching in the EU about its own future after losing 66 million people, a global diplomatic big-hitter and the clout of the City of London financial centre.

– ‘Not an end, a beginning’ –

In an address to the nation, Prime Minister Boris Johnson — a figurehead in the seismic 2016 referendum vote for Brexit — acknowledged there might be “bumps in the road ahead”.

But he said Britain could make it a “stunning success”.

As he held a private party in his Downing Street office, a clock projected on the walls outside counted down the minutes until Brexit.

Johnson predicted a “new era of friendly cooperation” with the EU while Britain takes a greater role on the world stage.

“The most important thing to say tonight is that this is not an end but a beginning,” he said in a televised address.

EU institutions earlier began removing Britain’s red, white and blue flags in Brussels ahead of a divorce that German Chancellor Angela Merkel called a “sea-change” for the bloc.

French President Emmanuel Macron described it as a “historic warning sign” that should force the EU and its remaining nations of more than 440 million people to stop and reflect.

Britain’s departure was sealed in an emotional vote in the EU parliament this week that ended with MEPs singing “Auld Lang Syne”, a traditional Scottish song of farewell.

Almost nothing will change straight away, because of an 11-month transition period negotiated as part of the exit deal.

Britons will be able to work in and trade freely with EU nations until December 31, and vice versa, although the UK will no longer be represented in the bloc’s institutions.

But legally, Britain is out.

And while the divorce terms have been agreed, Britain must still strike a deal on future relations with the EU, its largest trading partner.

Both will set out their negotiating positions Monday.

“We want to have the best possible relationship with the United Kingdom, but it will never be as good as membership,” European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said in Brussels.

– ‘Goodbye & good luck’ –

Getting this far has been a traumatic process.

Britain resisted many EU projects over the years, refusing to join the single currency or the Schengen open travel area, and eurosceptics have long complained about Brussels bureaucracy.

Worries about mass migration added further fuel to the Brexit campaign while for some, the 2016 vote was a chance to punish the government for years of cuts to public spending.

But the result was still a huge shock.

It unleashed political chaos, sparking years of toxic arguments that paralysed parliament and forced the resignations of prime ministers David Cameron and Theresa May.

Johnson brought an end to the turmoil a decisive election victory in December which gave him the parliamentary majority he needed to ratify his Brexit deal.

But Britons remain as divided as they were nearly four years ago, when 52 percent voted to leave and 48 percent voted to remain in the EU.

“Rise and shine… It’s a glorious new Britain” said the Brexit-supporting Daily Express. The i newspaper, in contrast, headlined: “What next?”

In Scotland, where a majority voted to stay in 2016, Brexit has revived calls for independence.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon tweeted: “Scotland will return to the heart of Europe as an independent country — #LeaveALightOnForScotland.”

In Northern Ireland — soon to be the new EU frontier — there are fears Brexit could destabilise a hard-won peace after decades of conflict over British rule.

Irish foreign minister Simon Coveney tweeted: “Goodbye & good luck.”

– ‘Glad it’s over’ –

Johnson, a polarising figure accused of glossing over the complexity of leaving the EU, made no public appearance on Friday and avoided any official celebrations that might exacerbate divisions.

He hosted a special cabinet meeting in the northeastern city of Sunderland, which was the first to declare for Brexit in 2016, while Downing Street was lit up in the colours of the Union Jack flag.

Millions of commemorative 50 pence coins have also been issued.

It was a different story in nearby Parliament Square, where the moment of Brexit was met with cheers, the lighting of flares and balloons let off into the night sky.

“What happens now marks the point of no return. Once we have left, we are never, ever going back,” Farage told the crowd of cheering supporters.

At a “Big Brexit Bash” in Morley, northern England, Raymond Stott described the four years since the referendum as “a right cock-up”.

“I am just glad it’s all over. We will look after ourselves. We don’t need Europe,” said the 66-year-old.

Some British expatriates in southern Spain celebrated in bars but for many pro-Europeans, Friday marks a day they hoped would never come.

“Today is a day of mourning,” said Katrina Graham, 31, an Irish women’s rights activist who lives in Brussels, at a protest in central London.

At Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate, a flashmob sang the EU anthem “Ode to Joy”, from Beethoven’s ninth symphony and waved flags.

– Trade talks loom –

From Saturday, Britain will be free to strike trade deals around the world, including with the United States.

Johnson has given himself just 11 months to negotiate a new partnership with the EU, covering everything from trade to security cooperation — despite warnings this is not enough time.

He also discussed with his ministers on Friday an aim to get 80 percent of Britain’s commerce covered by free trade agreements within three years, a spokesman said.

US President Donald Trump is an enthusiastic supporter of Brexit, and one of his top envoys on Friday hailed an “exciting new era”.

“We will continue building upon our strong, productive, and prosperous relationship with the UK as they enter this next chapter,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said.

Liverpool Held At Shrewsbury As Man Utd, Man City Cruise In FA Cup

 

 

Liverpool let a 2-0 lead slip as League One Shrewsbury earned an FA Cup fourth-round replay at Anfield thanks to a 2-2 draw, whilst Manchester United and Manchester City cruised into the fifth round on Sunday.

Jurgen Klopp showed his focus is very much on a first Premier League title for 30 years as he made 11 changes to the side that won at Wolves on Thursday.

However, unlike against Everton in the third round, the German’s gamble did not pay off.

“Well deserved for Shrewsbury, it was the minimum they deserved. Congratulations to them,” said Klopp, who was forced to throw on Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino in the final stages in the search for a winner.

“We don’t have enough time to say all the things which weren’t right today.”

Despite a calm finish from 18-year-old Curtis Jones to open the scoring on 15 minutes, Liverpool never settled as Shrewsbury missed a host of chances to level before the break.

A freak own goal from Donald Love then doubled the visitors’ lead a minute into the second half, but the Shrews did not give up on their shot at shocking the European champions and were given a lifeline when substitute Jason Cummings converted a penalty.

Cummings then sent New Meadow into raptures by slotting low under Adrian 15 minutes from time.

“It was a dream come true against the best team in the world. Going to Anfield is what it’s all about,” said Cummings.

Relief for Solskjaer

United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was badly in need of a convincing performance after 2-0 defeats to Liverpool and Burnley over the past seven days and got a response with a 6-0 thrashing of third-tier Tranmere.

Many tipped the Red Devils to get bogged down on a sandy surface at Prenton Park, but a flying start thanks to a host of unlikely goalscorers ensured there was no chance of an upset.

“This game was one where everyone apart from Man United fans wanted us to lose,” said Solskjaer.

“It’s been a bit of pressure on them but they’ve enjoyed it.

“It was a difficult pitch but we went about it the right way; just worked hard, played simple but effective and played the right way.”

Captain Harry Maguire led by example by striding forward to smash home his first goal for the club before Diogo Dalot also grabbed his first United goal and Jesse Lingard curled home to make it three goals in a six-minute spell.

Phil Jones then nodded home his first United effort since 2014 and Anthony Martial’s deflected strike made it five before the break.

Solskjaer could then afford the luxury of resting Martial, Maguire and Nemanja Matic for most of the second half ahead of Wednesday’s attempt to overturn a 3-1 first leg deficit against City in the League Cup semi-finals.

Tahith Chong was one of those introduced and he was brought down by Tranmere goalkeeper Scott Davies, allowing Mason Greenwood to score United’s sixth from the penalty spot.

Empty stands annoy Guardiola

City manager Pep Guardiola hopes more fans show up at the Etihad Stadium for the derby in midweek after questioning why there were 15,000 empty seats for his side’s 4-0 stroll past Fulham.

Nearly 40,000 were in attendance to see Tim Ream’s sixth-minute red card give the Championship side a mountain to climb after he hauled down Gabriel Jesus inside the box.

Ilkay Gundogan converted the resulting penalty before Bernardo Silva’s smart turn and shot quickly doubled City’s advantage.

The visitors then held out for nearly an hour but two headers in three minutes from Jesus gave the scoreline a more accurate reflection of the English champions’ dominance.

“Hopefully more people can come than today, hopefully (they) can support us more,” said Guardiola.

“I don’t know the reason why, but it was not full.”

Queen Elizabeth II Approves Government’s Brexit Bill

 

Queen Elizabeth II gave her formal assent Thursday for Britain to end its decades-long involvement in the European Union and seek a more independent but uncertain future at the end of the month.

The head of state’s ceremonial approval of the withdrawal legislation allows Britain to leave its closest neighbours and trading partners after years of bickering and three delays.

Two top EU officials in Brussels are expected to sign the separation treaty on Friday and Prime Minister Boris Johnson — the pro-Brexit figurehead of Britain’s seismic 2016 referendum — will put his name on it in the coming days.

“At times it felt like we would never cross the Brexit finish line, but we’ve done it,” Johnson said after both houses of the British parliament ratified the withdrawal bill on Wednesday.

“Now we can put the rancour and division of the past three years behind us and focus on delivering a bright, exciting future.”

The January 31 split caps a remarkable political comeback for Johnson at one of the most difficult points in Britain’s post-war history.

He quit former prime minister Theresa May’s government in 2018 in protest at what he viewed as her pro-European separation terms.

Johnson returned as May’s successor in July last year and has since managed to negotiate his own deal with Brussels and regain the government’s control of parliament in a risky early election last month.

The rest was a formality. Lawmakers barely debated the withdrawal agreement before passing it — even though critics called it worse for Britain than the one reached by May.

Johnson will celebrate his victory by issuing commemorative coins and chairing a special cabinet meeting in England’s pro-Brexit north on January 31.

‘Absolute priority’

Johnson will now be responsible for defining the terms on which Britain trades and shares everything from data to fishing waters with the remaining 27 EU member states.

The formal talks are not expected to begin until March but the war of words is already intense.

Johnson rejects EU arguments that the end-of-year negotiations deadline is too short to reach a comprehensive deal.

The UK government is also demanding the post-Brexit right to set its own rules on politically sensitive issues such as environmental standards and workers’ rights.

EU officials say this will give Britain an unfair advantage and are threatening to retaliate with tariffs and quotas that could hit the UK auto and pharmaceutical industries especially hard.

European Central Bank chief Christine Lagarde said the bloc’s financial system was ready for the next stage.

“There can always be a risk somewhere,” she said in Frankfurt. “But I think in good conscience we have covered everything that we thought was necessary.”

Some analysts believe Johnson is prepared to pay the price of short-term economic damage in order to deliver on pledge to “get Brexit done”.

He argues that greater flexibility will help him reach a quick post-Brexit agreement with the United States and other nations that are growing much faster than those in Europe.

US officials say they are eager to strike a deal with Johnson.

An agreement “is an absolute priority for President (Donald) Trump and we expect to complete that with them this year,” US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said ahead of his arrival in London this weekend.

US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross added that Johnson would have an easier time with Washington than Brussels because “there are far fewer issues between the UK and US.”

Johnson is expected to lay out his vision for the post-Brexit agreement with Brussels in a big policy address early next month.

“Once we have left the EU in just over a week’s time we’ll be free to start having discussions with countries around the world including the US,” Downing Street said Wednesday.

Ten-Man Arsenal Hold Chelsea In Torrent Of Late Premier League Goals

 

 

Ten-man Arsenal slowed Chelsea’s charge for a Champions League place on Tuesday as Manchester City kept up their distant pursuit of Liverpool with victory at Sheffield United on a dramatic evening of Premier League football.

Newcastle improbably came back from 2-0 down to draw against Everton, with substitute Florian Lejeune netting twice in stoppage time, and Aston Villa found a last-gasp winner against in-form Watford.

Elsewhere, Southampton climbed to ninth in the table with victory against Crystal Palace while Bournemouth gave themselves hope with a 3-1 win over fellow-strugglers Brighton.

Fourth-placed Chelsea twice took the lead against Arsenal, who were reduced to 10 men after former Blues defender David Luiz took out Tammy Abraham when he was through on goal.

Jorginho put Chelsea 1-0 ahead from the penalty spot in the 28th minute but Gabriel Martinelli equalised for Arsenal in the second half.

Cesar Azpilicueta put Chelsea 2-1 up with just six minutes remaining but Arsenal levelled only three minutes later through Hector Bellerin.

The 2-2 draw leaves Chelsea six points ahead of fifth-placed Manchester United having played a game extra while Arsenal are in 10th spot, seemingly out of the running for a place in the top four.

Chelsea boss Frank Lampard was frustrated that his team had not been more clinical in front of goal.

“We could have had three or four goals today,” he told the BBC. “Having shots, crosses and lots of ‘ooh’ moments. We have to be clinical.”

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta hailed his side’s reaction.

“To do that against this kind of opponent in this stadium, I really value,” he said. “The way they have done it, with the spirit they have done it, that’s great.”

Aguero spares City blushes

Pep Guardiola’s City, with defender Aymeric Laporte back in the side, looked as though they might rue Gabriel Jesus’s squandered first-half penalty but their Argentine hitman Sergio Aguero came to the rescue.

Despite the 1-0 win, second-placed City remain 13 points behind runaway leaders Liverpool, having played two games more, and their bid to defend their title appears hopeless.

City’s French central defender Laporte has been out of action since suffering a knee injury at the end of August and he was a surprise inclusion at Bramall Lane.

Sheffield United goalkeeper Dean Henderson denied Jesus from the penalty spot about 10 minutes from half-time after a foul on Riyad Mahrez.

But City made amends when substitute Sergio Aguero, on for Jesus, tapped in from Kevin De Bruyne’s cross in the 73rd minute.

“We knew it would be a difficult place to come,” Guardiola said. “We concede one or two clear chances, nothing more than that.

“In the first half the ‘keeper was excellent with the penalty and two incredible saves. It was an incredibly good victory for us to take a step towards securing Champions League football next season.”

Southampton’s 2-0 victory against Crystal Palace, thanks to goals from Nathan Redmond and Stuart Armstrong, continued a remarkable turnaround for the club, who hit rock bottom earlier this season in a 9-0 defeat by Leicester.

“Throughout the team — the behaviour, belief — everyone is absolutely committed,” said Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuettl.

“They know what they have to do and the atmosphere is fantastic. Everyone enjoys to play.”

Watford took the lead against Villa when Troy Deeney headed in Gerard Deulofeu’s cross but the home side hit back in the second half through Douglas Luiz.

Tyrone Mings scored a dramatic late winner for Villa deep into stoppage time to end Watford’s recent revival under Nigel Pearson.

Moise Kean scored his first goal for Everton since his arrival from Juventus in the 30th minute of their match against Newcastle and Dominic Calvert-Lewin doubled the lead in the second half.

Everton were cruising deep into stoppage time but threw away the three points, with Lejeune striking twice.

Bournemouth, who had lost their previous four matches, all against relegation rivals, beat Brighton 3-1 thanks to goals from Harry Wilson, an own goal from Pascal Gross and a second-half Callum Wilson effort.

Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool are in action on Thursday at Wolves after Manchester United take on Burnley without Marcus Rashford, who could be out for three months with a back injury, on Wednesday.