Brexit

Several of the media report on the suggestions that the UK must pay £50billion to leave the EU.

The Guardian says:

Downing Street does not accept the proposal for the UK to pay up to £50bn in a divorce settlement with the EU, Theresa May’s spokesman has said.
The £50bn bill has been widely reported as under discussion by senior EU diplomats at a European council meeting in Brussels on Thursday. It would represent Britain’s share of long-term liabilities such as pensions – one of the many issues that would need to be resolved during the article 50 talks.
But May’s spokesman rejected the £50bn figure, saying: “Negotiations have not begun and so that figure does not actually exist.” He added: “As was set out last night by my colleagues in Brussels, that is one of a range of issues that will have to be dealt with. The outcome of those negotiations will be something for the future.”
A hefty one-off divorce bill would eat into the funds that Vote Leave campaigners promised could be kept in Britain and spent on other priorities such as the NHS.

The Independent reports:

A £50bn “Brexit bill” that Britain must pay will be “one of the first issues on the table” in the negotiations, Theresa May has been warned.
Michel Barnier, the European Commission chief negotiator, has confirmed the UK will have to pay the fee for outstanding liabilities, EU leaders said.
The sum is believed to include the obligation for the UK to pay into the EU Budget until the end of 2020, as well as pensions liabilities and payments linked to loan guarantees.

The Mail claims battle lines are being identified.

Battle lines are being drawn over the shock £50billion ‘divorce’ demand from the EU – with calls for Britain to charge the bloc rent for its buildings.
The prospect of making a counter-claim against Brussels has been raised after the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier threatened to present the huge bill in looming Brexit talks.
European ministers have also been signalling a tough line against the UK, with Czech minister Tomas Prouza saying it will be o
ne of the ‘first issues’ in the looming talks.
But Downing Street played down the idea it could be so large, insisting the details of our departure package were ‘for negotiation’.

But the Prime Minister’s office has rejected the reports, says the Independent.

Downing Street has rejected suggestions that Britain will face a £50 billion “divorce” bill from the European Union – arguing that the figure has not yet been decided.
Theresa May’s official spokesperson said negotiations had not yet begun and that a figure on what the UK might pay as part of any settlement “does not actually exist”.
It was widely reported this week that Britain could face a hefty one-off bill for Brexit – a payment that could eat into the supposed budget savings promised by Leave campaigners.
European Commission chief negotiator Michel Barnier and other EU diplomats are reported to have mentioned the figure to EU leaders during a tour of EU capitals.
The ballpark number is understood to represent outstanding liabilities from the UK to the EU that will need to be cleared up after Britain leaves the bloc.

The Express reports on the ‘embarrassing silence’ following Prime Minister Theresa May’s speech in the EU capital.

THERESA MAY made a speech to EU leaders expressing her desire for a guarantee on rights for expat – only to be met with an ’embarrassing’ silence.
The PM reportedly responded to the humiliating pause by declaring “I think I’d better leave now”.
The bizarre scene in Brussels followed a cringeworthy video appeared to show Mrs May cold-shouldered by her rivals while they embrace each other.
A source told The Times about the silence: “She was very polite but it was a bit embarrassing. It was a difficult moment for diplomatic etiquette.”
The PM failed to carry out a press conference before heading back to London – such is tradition from EU summits.

The Independent has a similar story.

Theresa May said ‘I think I’d better leave now’ to other EU leaders, to break an embarrassing silence when they refused to discuss Brexit in front of her.
A witness said the Prime Minister made the remark after trying to push for a quick agreement on the future rights of British citizens in the EU, and vice-versa, at the Brussels summit.
It led to an awkward impasse, because the rest of the EU has demanded the right to exclude Britain when they discuss their side of the Brexit negotiations.
They have also insisted there will be “no negotiations without notification” – meaning they must await the triggering of the Article 50 exit clause, at the start of next year.
“It was a difficult moment for diplomatic etiquette,” one leader’s aide told The Times newspaper.

As does the Sun.

THERESA May told arrogant EU leaders “I think I’d better leave now” after being blanked at the end of a crunch summit in Brussels.
Sources revealed the PM made a brief presentation to the 27 other leaders on the UK’s Brexit position – and was met with a stony silence.
After an awkward pause in the Brussels HQ as they waited for her to go, the PM said: “I think I’d better leave now.”
An insider revealed: “She was very polite but it was a bit embarrassing.
It was a difficult moment.”

And the Telegraph

Theresa May told EU leaders “I think I’d better leave now” after they met a short speech about her Brexit ambitions with silence.
Shortly before leaving the summit in Brussels, the Prime Minister made a brief presentation to the 27 leaders on the UK’s Brexit position, highlighting her desire to guarantee the rights of migrants. According to one of the European leader’s aides, there was an awkward pause as they waited for her to leave the room before she said: “I think I’d better leave now.”

The Express claims ex-pats living on the Continent will not be able to claim citizenship in their adopted country.

BELGIUM’S Prime Minister says Britons living in the country with special ID cards won’t be guaranteed citizenship with a UK passport post-Brexit.
Prime Minister Charles Michel has rejected the option to create an exception to Belgian nationality rules for Britons after the UK leaves the EU.
Brits living in Belgium on a diplomatic ID card who are looking for nationality won’t necessarily be able to acquire it after article 50 is triggered.
Prime Minister Michel’s admission was seen by Politico on an internal European Parliament email.
Currently, British citizens are allowed to reside in Belgium as part of EU rules on freedom of movement.

Reuters also reports on the PM’s negotiations

Theresa May has got nowhere with the EU in seeking an early guarantee of post-Brexit rights for British and European expatriates, officials said on Friday after the British prime minister pushed the issue again at an EU summit.
“We cannot now do some deal quickly with her,” said one person familiar with some of May’s discussions in Brussels on Thursday. “This simply won’t work. It has to be part of a whole process.”
May briefed the summit on her plan to trigger the two-year withdrawal process by the end of March, whatever the outcome of a British Supreme Court case, officials who were present said.
She also repeated her wish to see uncertainties over the status of people living as foreigners on either side of the new UK-EU frontier settled early on. Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny said none of the other 27 responded to that.

Germany

On the Continent, the German Chancellor is looking to raise her game, says the Express

ANGELA Merkel is keen to reach an agreement on asylum reform with other European Union (EU) leaders in what appears to be a desperate power grab as the German Chancellor seeks a fourth term.
During the European Council meeting in Brussels, an unnamed diplomat revealed the 62-year-old Christian Democratic Union party (CDU) leader had wanted to reach an agreement much sooner than the June deadline that had been pencilled in.
But in response, the Maltese prime minister Joseph Muscat, who will be the chair of the council in January, said it was unlikely that an agreement could be reached in six months.
Mr Muscat said: “There’s a willingness to move positions as close as possible to one another… I will just comment saying that we’ll do our best to bring positions together.”

Scotland

And the situation north of the border is being examined closely, says the Express

THERESA May will take a “very close look” at a paper outlining options for Scotland to maintain its links with Europe, a spokesman has said.
The Scottish Government is expected to publish new research commissioned in the wake of the Brexit vote on Tuesday.
It comes after First Minister Nicola Sturgeon set up an expert panel to offer advice on securing Scotland’s relationship with the European Union (EU).
While the UK as a whole opted to leave the EU in June’s referendum, 62 per cent of Scots backed staying in the trading bloc.
Questioned about the issue ahead of the report’s release, a Downing Street spokesman said: “Obviously, we will take a very close look at the options that are put forward when they are put forward.

Turkey

Turkey’s membership of the EU is on a knife-edge, reports Breitbart

After Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz made good on his promise to veto European Union membership talks for Turkey, the country has vowed to retaliate.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Cavusoglu has slammed the actions of his Austrian counterpart during an interview with Turkish television. He said that Turkey would look to confront the alpine country and “will fight against Austria at all levels” due to the delay in Turkish accessiontalks that could lead eventually to full membership of the EU, reports
Die Presse.
Mr. Cavusoglu said on Thursday, “I will not discuss with Austria, whose parliament takes decisions against us, and whose media reports badly about us”.
The Turkish government had previously taken issue with Austrian paper
Kronen Zeitung after they reported that the Turkish supreme court had repealed legislation which effectively lowered the sexual age of consent to as low as twelve.

Domestic violence

In other news, violence in the home is being looked at closely, says the Independent

MPs have voted to pass a bill to improve domestic violence support services and provision in the UK.
The bill has now passed its second reading and will be sent to committee for further consideration, before it can receive a third reading by MPs and then become law.
MPs backed the bill by 135 votes for, and just 2 against.
During the vote in parliament earlier today, anti-feminism MP Philip Davies attempted to block the bill by speaking for over an hour against it. Campaigners saidthat while he spoke, survivors of domestic violence who were present in the gallery above the chamber, stood up and turned their backs in protest. MP Eilidh Whiteford, who introduced the bill, accused Mr Davies of acting “like a panto villain”.

Labour Party

It seems the leader of the Labour Party is looking to improve his popularity, says the Mail

Jeremy Corbyn has planned a startling change of political strategy for the new year that will see the Labour leader embrace being popular.
Party sources have confirmed plans to ramp up Mr Corbyn’s TV appearances in the hope his unpolished approach will cut through to voters if they are exposed to more of it.
Mr Corbyn will attempt to position himself as a left-wing populist to capitalise on the post-Brexit, anti-politics mood sweeping the West.
Just over a year after he was first elected as Labour leader and months after winning back his job, Mr Corbyn has led his party to historic lows in opinion polls.
His personal ratings trail so far behind Theresa May that he is comfortably outscored by ‘Don’t Know’ when voters are asked who should be Prime Minister.
Labour collapsed to embarrassing levels of support in two recent Commons by-elections in a chilling indication of the party’s support in actual votes.

The Independent also has the story.

The Labour Party is “ramping up” preparations to relaunch Jeremy Corbyn as a leftwing populist figure in the new year as the party seeks to ride the anti-politics mood following Brexit.
Mr Corbyn is expected to appear more frequently on television, and a newly bolstered team of advisers are said to be working to develop flagship policies to highlight his willingness to lead a revolt against vested interests.
Senior party officials reportedly believe the Islington North MP’s unpolished authenticity could gather support from the same anti-establishment sentiment that has heralded the popularity of the likes of Donald Trump and Nigel Farage, and believe this could bolster his chances in a potential early election.

So does the Guardian

Labour strategists are planning to relaunch Jeremy Corbyn as a leftwing populist in the new year, as the party seeks to ride the anti-politics mood in Brexit Britain and narrow the gap with the Tories.
While the Islington North MP’s politics are very different from those of Nigel Farage or Donald Trump, senior Labour figures believe his unpolished authenticity could help the party draw on the wave of anti-establishment feeling sweeping through politics.
Corbyn is expected to appear more frequently on television, and a newly expanded team of advisers are working to formulate flagship policies that would underline his willingness to lead a revolt against vested interests.
With the party languishing 14 percentage points behind the Conservatives in the latest ICM poll, and after a disastrous performance in recent byelections, Jon Trickett, the party’s election coordinator, told the Guardian that Labour was honing its message and “ramping up” preparations for a possible early election.

And Sky News

Jeremy Corbyn is set for a makeover to tap into the populist anti-establishment mood among voters and turn around the party’s poor showing in the polls.
As part of the revamped approach, the Labour leader is to make more television appearances in the hope his unpolished style will connect with people and lead to a change in Labour’s fortunes.
However, it is not without its risks given the veteran left-winger’s sometimes uneasy relationship with the media.
The shift in direction follows a drubbing for the party in two recent by-elections, which saw Labour slump from second to fourth in Sleaford and North Hykeham, behind UKIP and the Liberal Democrats, and lose its deposit in Richmond Park.

The Guardian reports comment by a senior Labour MP.

Andy Burnham, Labour’s candidate to become the mayor of Greater Manchester, has accused his party of getting its priorities over Brexit wrong by placing single market access at the top of the list ahead of controlling immigration.
The former shadow home secretary suggested the referendum result was not about putting the economy first, as the party leader, Jeremy Corybn, and a string of senior Labour colleagues have suggested, but instead a clear vote in favour of ending free movement across Europe.
Writing in the Guardian, Burnham said Labour’s “collective failure” to tackle concerns over jobs, wages, housing and schools linked to migration had contributed to the loss of the referendum.

US elections

Across the ‘pond’, questions are being asked as to whether Donald Trump could fail to be elected president, says the Express

FEARS are mounting that ‘faithless’ electors could stage an unprecedented rebellion to keep Donald Trump out of the White House. But what would happen next?
The people of America did not directly vote for the next US President but they technically voted for electors who had pledged to vote on their behalf.
Devastated supporters of Hillary Clinton have taken to the streets to call for the Electoral College to “dump Trump” by voting against him on Monday.
Only one rogue Republican elector, Christopher Suprun, has confirmed that he will break his pledge and back a ‘Republican alternative’ to Mr Trump.
But at least 20 Republican electors are currently willing to vote against Mr Trump during the Electoral College ballot, according to Harvard Professor Larry Lessig.
If there are just 37 ‘faithless’ electors then Mr Trump will not get enough votes for Electoral College approval. But what would happen next?

Russia

The threat from Russia is being considered by top civil servants, says the Times.

Russia is waging a “campaign” of propaganda and unconventional warfare against Britain, government officials have acknowledged for the first time.
Moscow is behind a concerted drive to undermine the UK through espionage, misinformation, cyberattacks and fake news, senior Whitehall figures believe.
Theresa May will chair a National Security Council session within weeks to examine Russian actions towards Britain and its allies and discuss possible responses.
It is understood that intelligence officers and senior civil servants from across government expressed concern about the growing scale of the Russian threat during a high-level meeting at the Cabinet Office two months ago.

North Korea

The unstable situation in North Korea is examined in the Star.

EUROPE is within range of Kim Jong-un’s weapons, senior government sources have confirmed. Top military officials have warned that North Korea is now able to attach nuclear warheads to missiles.
It’s long been disputed how far the rockets can travel, with tests suggesting a range of a few thousand kilometres.
But a South Korean government briefing, attended by Daily Star Online, revealed that the distance is likely to be far greater.
Lee Sang-hwa, director general of the South’s North Korean nuclear affairs bureau, briefed reporters in Seoul last month.
He cited the opinion of US general Joseph Dumford that the missiles posed a direct threat to the US homeland.
His presentation therefore argued that “Europe is also within range” and the whole NATO alliance with it.

Air strike

Thinking of flying over Christmas? Beware of the strikes, says ITV News.

More than 1,500 check-in staff, baggage handlers and cargo crew across 18 airports will strike for 48 hours from December 23.
Unite said the strike by Swissport workers is related to a long-running pay dispute.
The union has called on the management to take part in “constructive negotiations” to avoid Christmas travel disruption at the UK’s airports.
In a separate announcement, British Airways said that cabin crew will strike on Christmas Day and Boxing Day in a row over pay.

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