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Boris Johnson’s split from Brussels echoes Henry VIII’s break with Rome | Business

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Boris Johnson’s assertion that the UK should prepare for a no-deal Brexit has left the financial markets unconvinced. Brinkmanship is the name of the game, they say. Before negotiations can be concluded there always has to be a crisis when it appears all is lost. Then both sides give a little and success is plucked from the jaws of failure.

The big banks in the early 1530s did not employ armies of economists to opine about political events but had they done so the analysts of the 16th century would probably have been saying the same about Henry VIII’s divorce from Catherine of Aragon as they are now about Brexit. Henry is bluffing. He is not really prepared to break with Rome. A schism will do neither side any good, but there will be more damage to England than to Catholic Europe.

In the end of course, there was no deal and an earlier form of Brexit went ahead. Henry became head of the church, the state nationalised the monasteries and England went its own way. The fact that capitalism developed sooner and in a less top-down way from the rest of Europe can be traced back to Henry’s determination to marry Anne Boleyn come what may.

Like Henry, Johnson would prefer a deal. Almost half Britain’s trade is with the EU. Tariffs would hit farmers and carmakers hard, even though some of the pain would be alleviated from the fall in the value of sterling that would result from no deal. Businesses could do without another economic shock when they are already struggling with Covid-19, a point that is being made volubly by employers’ organisations. The idea that ministers believe this winter will be a good time to leave the EU on WTO terms because nobody will really notice is nonsense. Britain’s economy is on course to shrink by a colossal 10% this year, according to the International Monetary Fund. That’s enough to be going on with.

Yet the markets are probably under-estimating the risk of failure. Johnson wants a deal but not at any price. If the choice is between no deal and a relatively thin deal with strings attached, there is a non-negligible chance that the prime minister will call it a day.

There are a number of reasons for that. For one thing, Johnson and the chancellor, Rishi Sunak, believe Britain will eventually thrive outside the EU whatever the short-term costs. They are sceptical about models showing Britain’s GDP would be lower as a result of a no-deal Brexit , on the same grounds that some economists are sceptical about the epidemiological models showing scarily high death rates from Covid-19. In both cases the models assume there will be no behavioural change to different circumstances.

But just as it is logical to assume that individuals will change their lifestyles when faced with a pandemic, so it seems obvious to the PM that the economy will adapt to an environment where exporting to the EU becomes harder. Incentives matter.

There’s also the need to deliver for “red wall” seats in the Midlands and the north of England. To do so, Johnson wants to use the freedom that Brexit provides in order to pursue a different sort of industrial policy.

The wrangle between UK and EU negotiators over state aid reflects the new political geography of England. There is no little irony in the fact that one Conservative prime minister – Margaret Thatcher – insisted that tough curbs on the use of state aid should be integral to the single market and another – Johnson – is ostensibly prepared to walk away from trade talks because he insists on having the freedom to intervene. But it is not just the election result. Covid-19 has changed what is politically acceptable and the Treasury’s support to workers and businesses has legitimised a more activist state.

It would be wrong, though, to assume that all vestiges of Thatcherism have been expunged from the Conservative party. Sunak supported Brexit because he thought it would give Britain the chance to escape some of the rules and restrictions that he thinks has contributed, along with the malfunctioning euro, to sluggish EU growth. The chancellor is a lot keener on free ports than he is on attempting to pick winners.


In reality, the government wants to have the ability to do a bit of both – to use subsidies and tax breaks to nurture green industries, and to use lighter-touch regulation to boost sectors – such as artificial intelligence and biotechnology – where the UK already has a presence. The EU’s insistence that Britain will get an advantage if it refuses to continue with existing rules is a tacit admission that regulation can put European firms at a competitive disadvantage with global rivals.

Finally, there is the question of which side – the UK or the EU – needs to be more afraid of the talks breaking down. It looks like a no-brainer. The UK is a country of 68 million people; the EU has a population of 445 million. No individual country is as reliant on exports to the UK as Britain is to the EU. Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator holds all the cards.

But Johnson doesn’t see it like that. Rather, he views the EU’s seeming determination to hand out a beating to Britain as a sign of weakness not strength, the actions of a bloc that has an ageing population, has lost the dynamism it showed in the first decades after the second world war and is worried that nearly five centuries on from the Reformation, history will repeat itself and Brexit will be made to work.


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Trump campaign rallies led to 30,000 cases, Stanford researchers say

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U.S. President Donald Trump addresses supporters at a campaign rally outside Raymond James Stadium on October 29, 2020 in Tampa, Florida.

Paul Hennessey | NurPhoto | Getty Images

President Donald Trump‘s campaign rallies led to more than 30,000 coronavirus cases, according to a new paper posted by researchers at Stanford.

Researchers looked at 18 Trump rallies held between June 20 and Sept. 22 and analyzed Covid-19 data the weeks following each event. They compared the counties where the events were held to other counties that had a similar trajectory of confirmed Covid-19 cases prior to the rally date. Out of the 18 rallies analyzed, only three were indoors, according to the research.

The researchers found that the rallies ultimately resulted in more than 30,000 confirmed cases of Covid-19. They also concluded that the rallies likely led to more than 700 deaths, though not necessarily among attendees.

The researchers said the findings support the warnings and recommendations of public health officials concerning the risk of Covid-19 transmission at large group gatherings, “particularly when the degree of compliance with guidelines concerning the use of masks and social distancing is low.”

“The communities in which Trump rallies took place paid a high price in terms of disease and death,” said B. Douglas Bernheim, chairman of Stanford’s economics department and a lead author of the paper, wrote.

The paper, which has not undergone a peer review yet, was published on open access preprint platform SSRN.

In response to the paper, Trump campaign spokesperson Courtney Parella said, “Americans have the right to gather under the First Amendment to hear from the President of the United States.”

“We take strong precautions for our campaign events, requiring every attendee to have their temperature checked, providing masks they’re instructed to wear, and ensuring access to plenty of hand sanitizer. We also have signs at our events instructing attendees to wear their masks,” she added.

A spokesperson for Joe Biden’s campaign issued a statement after the paper posted, saying, Trump is “costing hundreds of lives and sparking thousands of cases with super spreader rallies that only serve his own ego.”

“The worst part is that this doesn’t even capture Trump’s many superspreader events on White House grounds or the last five weeks of events across the country. How many more lives have been upended in that time? How many more empty seats are there at kitchen tables across America because of Donald Trump’s ego?” spokesperson Andrew Bates said.

The researchers said they had to overcome “significant challenges,” acknowledging that the dynamics of Covid-19 are “complex,” and “even the most superficial examination of the data reveals that the process governing the spread of Covid-19 differs across counties.”

The new research comes as the coronavirus continues to rapidly spread across the United States. The U.S. continued to set new highs for infections this week, with Friday marking a record 99,321 daily new cases, bringing the seven-day average of daily new cases to a new high at 78,738, a CNBC analysis of data from Johns Hopkins University showed. 

Trump has often been criticized for holding in-person rallies, sometimes with tens of thousands of people, during a pandemic. He has sought to downplay the virus, often tying the increase in Covid-19 cases to more testing. But public health officials and infectious disease experts dispute that claim, saying the rate of tests that come back positive and hospitalizations are also on the rise.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, said Friday that the U.S. is reporting an “extremely high and quite unacceptable” daily number of cases ahead of the winter season when people will be spending more time indoors.

“We’re in a precarious position over the next several weeks to months,” Fauci told SiriusXM’s “Doctor Radio Reports,” calling on people to continue wearing face masks, social distance and spend time outdoors over indoors as much as possible.


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U.S. reports record 99,321 new coronavirus cases as scientists warn latest surge just beginning

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The U.S. reported 99,321 new Covid-19 cases on Friday, beating its previous record set only a day prior as the pandemic worsens in nearly every corner of the nation.

“We’re at a point where the epidemic is accelerating across the country. We’re right at the beginning of the steep part of the epidemic curve,” Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the former U.S. Food and Drug Administration commissioner, told CNBC’s “The News with Shepard Smith” on Friday evening.

“You’ll see cases start to accelerate in the coming weeks,” he said, predicting the height of the country’s recent surge will be reached around Thanksgiving. Gottlieb said that “December’s probably going to be the toughest month.”

The U.S. is continuing its upward climb on what’s now the pandemic’s third peak, with cases growing by 5% or more in 43 states as of Friday, according to a CNBC analysis of data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. There are now more than 9 million reported Covid-19 cases in the United States, which added an additional 1 million cases in only two weeks, according to Hopkins.

Over the last week, the U.S. reported an average of roughly 78,738 new cases every day, the highest seven-day average recorded yet and up nearly 25% compared with a week ago. The top five records in daily reported cases have all been reached within the last eight days, according to Hopkins data.

While the U.S. is conducting record-high levels of testing, it can’t entirely explain the recent rise in infections, Adm. Brett Giroir, assistant secretary of health who leads the government’s testing effort, said Wednesday on NBC’s “TODAY” show. He added that hospitalizations are also rising and deaths are gradually following, metrics that usually lag behind climbing cases.

As of Friday, 18 states reached record-high hospitalizations based on a seven-day average, particularly in the West and Midwest — Iowa, Idaho, Indiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Utah, Wisconsin and Wyoming all hit records, according to the Covid Tracking Project.

Although some have referred to the latest peak in cases as a “third wave,” White House coronavirus advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci said in an interview with SiriusXM’s “Doctor Radio Reports” aired on Friday that the country is still grappling with its original wave of infections.

That’s because the U.S., unlike other countries, never reported an average of less than 20,000 daily Covid-19 cases at any point in the pandemic, he said. As the outbreak that originally ripped through New York and the Northeast began to decline in the spring, America’s Sun Belt states began reporting swelling outbreaks and infections rose again over the summer.

“We never got out of the real wave. We kind of went up and down within a wave,” he said. “When I hear people talk about second and third waves, it really is the original wave that just resurges up, comes down a little, and resurges up again.”

The U.S. is now facing daily case counts that are “extremely high and quite unacceptable,” Fauci said. He previously said in early August that the goal was to suppress the daily total to below 10,000 before September. Now, experts like Gottlieb predict the U.S. will report 100,000 new cases within the coming days.

“We’re in a precarious position over the next several weeks to months,” Fauci said, urging people to continue wearing face masks, practice social distancing, wash their hands, avoid crowds and spend time outdoors over indoors as much as possible.


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Coronavirus vaccine disinformation will continue

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2020 Election: Coronavirus vaccine disinformation will continue