Tice vows Remainers will join Brexit Party in bid to force Boris to change COVID strategy

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Speaking to Jonathan Saxty on Brexit Watch, the Brexit Party chairman said young people are finally realising their generation will have to pay for the huge cost of the coronavirus pandemic and are absolutely furious at the Government. Mr Tice said that as the Brexit Party is evolving into Reform UK, even those who did not support the Brexit vote are now aligning with their strategy on COVID-19. 

He said: “I was sad but sort of heartened to hear that (young people are furious) because we need the young to rise up.

“The truth is the Government has terrified half the nation and has made the other half furious.

“I genuinely think the divide over COVID now is potentially as divisive or worse than the debate over Brexit.

“And that’s not a good thing. We’ve got lots of furious people who happened to vote Remain who are furious with the Government and support our approach.”

He added: “Likewise, sure, there are people who supported us over Brexit who don’t think we’ve got this right.”

It comes as hundreds of people have been tested as part of a pilot mass coronavirus testing programme while new data showed the rate of infections across England and Wales appears to be slowing down.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said an estimated 618,700 people in England – one in 90 – had COVID-19 between October 25 and 31, up from 568,100 the week before.

But while the infection rate has increased in recent weeks, “the rate of increase is less steep compared with previous weeks”, the ONS said.

The latest figures came as queues built up outside new test centres in Liverpool which were opened at midday as part of the first mass coronavirus testing programme.

At Liverpool Tennis Centre, one of the six facilities which opened on Friday, people began to wait outside about 45 minutes before it opened.

The armed forces have been brought in to the city to help deliver the scheme, which uses lateral flow tests to deliver results in under an hour for people who are not showing symptoms of the virus.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said the rapid testing being piloted for the next 10 or so days in Merseyside could be a “real way forward through the crisis”.

But health experts said plans to screen the population of Liverpool for coronavirus were not fit for purpose.

A group of academics said the potential for “harmful diversion of resources and public money is vast” and warned the half a billion-pound project could be a “costly failure”.

Angela Raffle, a consultant in public health based in Bristol, said: “Experience with screening tells us that if you embark on a screening programme without having carefully evaluated it first, without a proper quality assured pathway, without certainty of test performance in field settings, without full information for participants, and without the means to ensure that the intervention needed for those with positive results does indeed take place, the result is an expensive mess that does more harm than good.

“Having looked carefully into what is being proposed, my assessment is that the current proposals for screening the City of Liverpool using SARS-CoV-2 rapid tests are not fit for purpose.”

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The Government is expected to announce on Saturday that the blanket provisions allowing all pubs in England to serve takeaway food and booze will be extended, while Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club and The Lowry in Salford are among eight cultural organisations and venues which will benefit from the latest round of coronavirus funding.

The Government said a further 355 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for COVID-19 as of Friday. There were also a further 23,287 lab-confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK as of 9am.

A total of 64,170 deaths involving COVID-19 have now occurred in the UK, according to figures produced by statistical agencies.

The ONS COVID-19 infection survey found there were an average of 45,700 new cases per day of COVID-19 in private homes between October 25 and 31, down from an estimated 51,900 new cases per day for the period from October 17 to 23.

This suggests the rate of new infections “appears to have stabilised in recent weeks at around 50,000 new infections per day”, the ONS said.

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