Boris Johnson said that “history has been made” after MPs voted overwhelmingly on Wednesday night in favour of triggering Brexit negotiations and beginning the process of leaving the EU. The Foreign Secretary called it a “momentous” night as MPs voted four to one in favour of triggering Article 50. Kenneth Clarke, a former chancellor, was the only Tory MP to oppose it. Theresa May, the Prime Minister, will today publish a White Paper formally setting out the Government’s plans for Brexit in response to the concerns of pro-European Tory MPs. However, there were further signs of division among the Conservatives as George Osborne, the former chancellor, accused Mrs May of putting Brexit ahead of the economy and warned he will join the “fight” over Britain’s future outside the EU.
Tory MPs are threatening to rebel over Brexit unless Theresa May guarantees the right of EU citizens to stay in Britain. MPs approved the first stage of the legislation to begin the Brexit process last night by 498 votes to 114, a government majority of 384. Forty-seven Labour MPs defied Jeremy Corbyn to vote against the bill, while two more shadow cabinet members resigned. One Conservative, Ken Clarke, voted against the legislation. Downing Street has been warned that a series of Tory rebellions are building before votes in the Commons next week on individual aspects of Brexit. Efforts were being made yesterday to reassure Conservative MPs that the 3.3 million EU citizens living in Britain would not be sacrificed in negotiations with the bloc.
MPs have voted overwhelmingly in favour of Theresa May triggering Article 50, meaning the Prime Minister is on track to begin Brexit negotiations with Brussels in March. By 498 to 114 – a majority of 384 – MPs backed allowing the bill to progress to the next, more detailed legislative stage. Ten Labour junior shadow ministers and three whips, who are supposed to enforce party discipline, voted against triggering Article 50 in revolt against Mr Corbyn.
Britain passed the point of no return in its historic battle to cut ties with Brussels tonight as MPs backed the Brexit Bill. The Commons endorsed the legislation by 498 votes to 114 after the government saw off a desperate bid by more than 100 Remoaners to block it. In the first of a crucial set of votes in the Commons, a ‘wrecking’ amendment that would have effectively killed the law was defeated by 336 to 100. The House then gave the Bill its second reading by another huge margin, despite the opposition from Labour MPs, the SNP and most Liberal Democrats. One Labour MP yelled ‘suicide’ as the result was read out in the chamber.
Boris Johnson hailed an ‘absolutely momentous’ day for Britain after a massive majority of MPs backed Brexit in a historic Commons showdown. A total of 498 voted to give PM Theresa May permission to start Article 50 exit talks next month with 114 trying to scupper the bid. The result, read out by The Speaker at 7.30pm, was greeted with a thunderous cheer by Tories. Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson dubbed the moment “absolutely momentous” but Labour’s Stephen Pound, a pro-Remainer, shouted, “Suicide”. Bo Jo said: “I’ve just voted three times in the House of Commons for an absolutely momentous thing – to give our Prime Minister the right to trigger Article 50 and Britain to begin the path out of the EU. “Don’t forget we may be leaving the EU treaties but we are not leaving Europe.
Theresa May is to publish a detailed Brexit plan in a white paper after winning a huge majority for the Government’s Article 50 bill in the Commons. The white paper will flesh out the Prime Minister’s big Brexit speech at Lancaster House last month and contain ministers’ negotiating strategy for leaving the EU. Its publication comes after the European Union (Notification Of Withdrawal) Bill was backed by 498 MPs to 114, a majority of 384, at its second reading in the Commons. But while most Tories are jubilant after last night’s vote, Jeremy Corbyn is facing a bitter Labour split after a fifth of his MPs, 47 in total, defied his three-line whip and voted against triggering Article 50. Less than an hour before MPs began voting, two more members of Mr Corbyn’s shadow cabinet, Rachel Maskell and Dawn Butler, quit so they could join the Labour backbench revolt.
The Brexit Bill may have been overwhelmingly backed in the House of Commons, but the House of Lords will have its say too. Crammed with cronies and friends of former Prime Ministers, the Lords has been even more pro-EU than the Commons over the years. Former Labour MP and now Peer in the Lords Peter Hain has been fast out of the gate to boast that he will be voting to block Brexit. This unelected set of politicians wouldn’t dare block the wishes of the British people to leave the anti-democratic European Union. Would they?
AN SNP-led plot to derail Brexit was foiled tonight as Article 50 cleared its first hurdle in Parliament. A wrecking amendment to the Government’s Article 50 Bill, proposed by Nicola Sturgeon’s SNP, failed to win the support of a majority of MPs. It was defeated by 336 votes to 100 votes. The SNP, led by deputy leader Angus Robertson in Westminster, were joined in their opposition to Article 50 by 50 MPs from other parties. Jeremy Corbyn saw 33 of his Labour MPs defy his order not to block Brexit, while seven Liberal Democrats, two Plaid Cymru and Green MP Caroline Lucas backed the SNP wrecking amendment. Veteran MP Ken Clarke was the sole Conservative to vote against Brexit.
The Scottish government has launched a public consultation over whether to allow unconventional oil and gas extraction – including fracking – to take place in Scotland. The four-month consultation runs until the end of May and the Scottish government then plans to make a recommendation that will go before MSPs for a vote towards the end of the year. Studies have shown Scotland’s geology, in particular a stretch of land through Scotland’s central belt referred to as the Midland Valley, could contain significant quantities of shale gas and oil, and coal bed methane. However, the central belt is also one of Scotland’s most populated regions, supporting important industries and businesses, prompting the consultation to note that the future of fracking in the area had proved “both complex and controversial”.
BREXIT has “exploded a bomb” under the EU budget which Britain could use as “leverage” in divorce negotiations, the UK’s former ambassador to the EU has suggested. Sir Ivan Rogers, who last month dramatically quit as Britain’s top diplomat in Brussels, today told MPs the UK’s vote to quit the EU had thrown the bloc’s spending plans into disarray. As one of the largest contributors to Brussels’ coffers, Sir Ivan outlined how Britain had “created a major issue” for the remaining 27 EU member states by leaving a “big hole in their budget”. Appearing before the House of Commons’ European Scrutiny Committee, the ex-civil servant outlined the problem for the EU over the UK exiting within the bloc’s seven-year budget period.
Britain’s Brexit deal with the European Union (EU) will almost certainly be reviewed by the Court of Justice of the European Union (ECJ), its chief justice has said, claiming judges could interfere and alter the settlement. Koen Lenaerts said while it was impossible to predict which aspects of any future deal might be referred to his court, Britain’s exit from the EU could be shaped under the very jurisdiction it is determined to escape. “It probably will, one day or another, end up on the docket of the Court – not because of the Court, but because of parties bringing the case,” he told Reuters in an interview. Mr. Lenaerts cited a judgment two decades ago that forced a change to EU banana trade pacts with Latin American nations, claiming the ECJ could ultimately amend any post-Brexit EU-UK trade deal in a similar way.
The EU’s top court is on a collision course with Downing Street after its president said he expects to intervene in Brexit and could even make changes to a deal. Koen Lenaerts, president of the Court of Justice of the European Union (ECJ), said he was certain that the notoriously meddlesome body would become involved in the process. The comments are likely to infuriate Theresa May who has pledged to leave the jurisdiction of the court as soon as possible. In an apparent rebuke of the Prime Minister’s declaration, the Belgian judge suggested that the court could even intervene in any trade deals struck between the UK and the EU after Brexit. Asked whether it was possible that the Luxembourg court could become involved in the departure, Mr Lenaerts said: ‘Yes, it is.’
LEADING European figures have launched a campaign to stop the rest of the EU from punishing Britain for Brexit after concluding that putting up trade barriers would be an economic “disaster”. Senior politicians within the Belgian government have published an extraordinary report calling for Brussels to pursue the continuation of free trade with the UK or face dire consequences. They concluded that an astonishing one in four jobs in the country could be under threat if eurocrats push ahead with plans to force a so-called ‘hard Brexit’ on Britain. The bombshell conclusions were reached by members of a ‘High Level Group on Brexit’, which was set up by Belgian ministers to gauge what the impact of Britain’s decision to leave the bloc will be. Their conclusions will make grim reading for some European leaders and politicians who are determined to make sure that the UK does not enjoy the same access to the single market as full EU members.
The risk of older patients being admitted to hospital can be slashed if they see the same GP on every visit to their surgery, a study has found. It reinforces the value of family doctors who know patients well and suggests GPs could be the key to reducing unnecessary hospital admissions, a problem pushing A&E units to breaking point. Researchers assessed 200 GP practices in England, tracking 230,500 patients aged 62 to 82 who had visited the doctor at least twice between April 2011 and March 2013. They found that those who saw the same GP between 40 and 70 per cent of the time had 9 per cent fewer unnecessary admissions to hospital than those who only saw the same GP less than 40 per cent of the time. And for those who saw the same GP more than 70 per cent of the time unnecessary admissions fell by a further 12 per cent.
Pregnant women will be asked to show passports and utility bills at 20 NHS hospitals as part of efforts to claw back money from overseas visitors. Computer software has been altered to allow staff to flag up patients who are not eligible for free NHS care, and receptionists will be encouraged to record immigration status when people arrive. Women not entitled to free care will be asked to pay up front under the pilot schemes, which are set to begin over the coming months. Pregnant women will not be turned away, although health chiefs have not ruled out in the future refusing non-urgent care to those who will not pay. Expanding checks to all non-emergency services is also being considered.
People are not “taking the right action at the right time” if they see someone with symptoms of a stroke, say health experts. The Stroke Association said that acting fast can make a big difference in the outcome for stroke patients. Almost a quarter of people (24%) wrongly believe that you have to wait for two stroke symptoms to appear before calling the emergency services, according to research from 2015. It comes as Public Health England have launched its Act FAST campaign, urging people to call 999 if they spot just one of the symptoms.
Applications for nursing courses have plummeted by almost a quarter in a year after the Government axed bursaries for trainees. Numbers fell by 9,990 to 33,810 in 12 months, according to figures released by the university admissions service Ucas. The change to funding means trainee nurses now have to take out a student loan rather than receive an NHS grant for their studies from August this year. Campaigners previously warned the move could exacerbate the shortages of nurses on Britain’s hospital wards. Applications for nursing courses have plummeted by almost a quarter in a year after the Government axed bursaries for trainees.
Plans for the third runway at Heathrow are to be published on Thursday as the government begins a four-month public consultation on its decision to expand Britain’s biggest airport. The transport secretary, Chris Grayling, is expected to herald the launch as a sign that Britain will be open for business after Brexit and that the government is delivering the major infrastructure the nation will need. The conditions for planning consent are being outlined in a national policy statement, the first step in enacting the decision the government made in autumn. MPs will still have to vote on the statement for it to become law.
A NIGHT-FLIGHT ban at Heathrow will be unveiled by Chris Grayling tomorrow as he puts the third runway at the heart of the Brexit plan. The Transport Secretary will kick start a 16-week public consultation on the £18 billion expansion. And he will announce proposals for a six-and-a-half hour complete ban on flights at Britain’s biggest airport as part of the “mitigation measures” for locals. Heathrow Airport also plans to pay 25 per cent above the market rate for homes that developers have to bulldoze and introduce noise caps. Speaking tomorrow, Mr Grayling will say the expansion at Heathrow is critical for Britain as it opens a “new chapter” away from the EU. He will say: “Aviation expansion provides us with a great opportunity to forge a new role in the world.
Heathrow will have to ban night flights and make legally binding promises to stick to environmental targets in order to get permission to build a third runway. The Government will today unveil details of why it backed Heathrow over Gatwick and, crucially, what concessions it expects to get from Heathrow in order to earn approval for the plan. Among these are a pledge to stop flights for a period of six and a half hours every night, as well as a commitment to hit noise targets and stick to existing limits on air quality. The Government will also say that it expects Heathrow to add six more domestic routes across the UK by 2030, with Belfast, Liverpool, Newquay, Humberside, Prestwick and Durham Tees all due to get regular services.
Night flights will be banned at Heathrow and legally binding noise targets introduced under plans to build a third runway released today by the Government. Announcing the nationwide consultation, Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said planes will also take new routes to the west London hub to minimise noise pollution. The public will be given 16 weeks to give feedback on proposals for what is deemed the first major project of the Brexit era.
Jeremy Corbyn suffered more shadow cabinet resignations last night as Labour was plunged further into crisis over its response to Brexit. Rachael Maskell, the shadow environment secretary, and Dawn Butler, the shadow equalities minister, quit their posts yesterday after they were among 47 Labour MPs who defied Mr Corbyn’s order to back starting the Brexit process. Several junior frontbenchers could also be sacked today after ten refused to vote in favour of triggering Article 50 of the Lisbon treaty, the formal process for beginning Brexit negotiations. More than 60 Labour MPs, including three whips, either voted against the move or abstained in a bigger rebellion than expected. Further resignations are expected next week when the final vote takes place.
End of the world
THE Moon is set for a “spectacular collision” with Earth, a top space boffin has warned. Jason Barnes, a planetary scientist at the University of Idaho, has revealed the Moon will eventually crash into Earth. The apocalyptic impact will destroy the satellite – and cause widespread devastation on Earth.The Moon is actually moving away from Earth at the moment. But as the Earth starts to spin more slowly in future, the Moon will be drawn inwards until the two heavenly bodies smash together. Mr Barnes said: “The final end-state of tidal evolution in the Earth-Moon system will indeed be the inspiral of the Moon and its subsequent collision and accretion onto Earth. “Eventually, [the Moon] would get so close that it would spiral inward, dissipating its orbital kinetic energy in a spectacular collision and merger with the Earth.”