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Lord Frost, the Brexit minister, told the Commons Northern Ireland affairs committee that the UK and the EU were making little progress towards resolving their dispute about the Northern Ireland protocol.

He said discussions were going on all the time with Brussels about this. But he went on:

It’s happening all the time, it’s just that we are not making much progress despite all the ideas that we have put in.

We’d prefer to find negotiated ways forwards if we can. If that’s not possible, obviously other options remain on the table, as the PM said over the weekend.

The difficulty that we have had since the start of the year, or at least the end of January, is there has been a very visible weakening of consent in one community in Northern Ireland for the arrangements in the protocol and that’s obviously produced instability and uncertainty.

In her evidence to the Commons science committee about the Delta variant (see 10.14am), Dr Susan Hopkins also pointed out that new variants, almost by definition, will be more transmissible or more vaccine-immune than the variants they are replacing. She explained:

We’re living in a world of variants now, so everything we see is a variation of the original.

Actually every [variant] we see that’s going to live and not become extinct very rapidly, is either going to have a transmissibility advantage or an immune evading advantage.

All of them have mutations that we’re concerned about, but mutations alone is not enough to predict whether it’s really going to impact on our journey through vaccines and impact on the public health risk of hospitalisation.

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Read the original article at The Guardian

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