The Increased R-Number
In the first story today, it has been announced by the government that the reproduction number, or R-number, of coronavirus has increased above 1. This is a big deal. This means that for every one person that has coronavirus, it is expected that they will pass it on to at least one other person, meaning that the virus is now spreading.
This is not among just one age group, either. It has been predicted that the R-number is above 1 for all age groups below 65. It has also been suggested that the R-number could even be as high as 1.7 in some areas. This would be a huge increase, and would further the evidence that a second-peak is not that far away.
At the moment, the number of coronavirus cases doubles every 7.7 days. The new government guidelines which place limits on the number of people who can meet indoors and outdoors aim to slow this spread and avoid a winter lockdown.
An Address from the PM
Now onto the second story today. It’s no secret that the government’s plans for the ‘Internal Market Bill’, something publicly admitted by the government as breaking international law, has been controversial – with some Tory MPs publicly expressing their discontent and disapproval of the bill. In an attempt to quell any potential rebellion, the PM spent the best part of half an hour speaking to backbench MPs, resulting in – it seems – very little change or new developments.
The meeting, which due to social distancing guidelines, took place virtually was beset with…some issues, to say the least. Mid-way through, the PM’s line dropped, leading former European Research Group chairman Steve Baker to offer to ‘pick up where the PM left off’, before Theresa May interjected with a simple ‘no’. Then, in another turn of events, Michael Fabricant began to sing his own rendition of Rule Britannia to “fill the time”…
Before anyone asks, this is what actually happened, not a Spitting Image sketch about it. It seems that satirising the meeting could be actually pretty difficult, considering how ridiculous it already was!
A Japan-UK Trade Deal
Finally, the first post-Brexit free trade agreement has been agreed, in principle, between the UK and Japan. The agreement largely replicates and rolls over existing arrangements under the EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement but does go further in certain areas – specifically when it comes to cheese, pork and malt!
When the agreement comes into force, some 99% of British goods will be able to enter Japan without tariffs or extra charges. The agreement is expected to increase trade with Japan by 15.2 billion pounds…although…this is compared to a no deal scenario where trade would be dictated by World Trade Organisation terms.
Some have heralded the agreement as the start of the UK’s journey towards joining the ‘Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership’ (CPTPP). Dedicated videos on the deal and the Trans-Pacific Partnership should be coming out over on the UK channel in the coming days.
For those of you who think the news is too long, be sure to check out Monday’s daily briefing.