Theresa May “took dictation” from the European Commission when she agreed to pay a Brexit divorce bill in her keynote Florence speech, senior sources in Brussels and EU capitals have claimed. The Telegraph understands that Mrs May included a specific pledge to “honour commitments” made during Britain’s EU membership following high-level consultations in Brussels, Berlin and other major EU capitals. Oliver Robbins, the Prime Minister’s most senior Brexit official, discussed parts of the speech with his counterparts in the EU including a promise that the UK will continue to pay €10bn-a-year to Brussels in the two years after Brexit. The pre-agreed wording was shared with EU officials before Mrs May had even showed her Cabinet a draft of the speech the day before she delivered it.
THE DIVORCE bill section of Theresa May’s Brexit speech in Florence was “dictated” by the European Commission, an EU official has claimed. The Prime Minister’s keynote speech, where she agreed to a €20billion (£17.5billion) transition period, was reportedly run past EU leaders before being announced. In the address, Mrs May sought to outline a plan for the UK’s relationship with the EU after Brexit to break negotiations deadlock. Specific wordings on the UK’s pledge to “honour commitments” was made after consultations with EU officials and leaders in other European powers. A senior EU official told The Telegraph: “The Commission pretty much dictated the section on the financial settlement. The wording was exactly as the Commission wanted in order to convince member states the UK was serious about breaking the deadlock.”
Theresa May ‘took dictation’ from Brussels when she signed Britain up to pay a Brexit divorce bill to the EU, diplomats claim. The European Commission reportedly told May to use the exact phrase “honour commitments we have made during the period of our membership” and say that no EU country “will need to pay more or receive less”. A senior EU official told The Telegraph: “The Commission pretty much dictated the section on the financial settlement. The wording was exactly as the Commission wanted in order to convince member states the UK was serious about breaking the deadlock.” Apparently EU officials were quietly pleased by the headlines last week suggesting Britain will pay a £20bn divorce bill and hoped the British public wouldn’t realise the true cost would actually be much higher. As if this wasn’t pathetic enough, Donald Tusk then came to Downing Street and said not enough progress had been made. He even made a sarcastic comment about Britain no longer having its cake and eating it. May seems to be giving into Brussels’ demands very easily and it’s embarrassing Britain.
Britain has dropped its “cake-and-eat-it” approach to Brexit, according to the European council president, Donald Tusk, but remains short of the progress necessary to reach the next phase of negotiations. Despite attempts by Theresa May to circumvent deadlock in Brussels by holding private talks with EU leaders about her latest negotiating stance, Tusk emerged from 90 minutes of discussion in Downing Street with only a slightly warmer response. “I feel cautiously optimistic about the constructive and more realistic tone of the prime minister’s speech in Florence and our discussion today,” Tusk told reporters. “This shows that the philosophy of having cake and eating it is finally coming to an end. At least I hope so.” But he insisted that the UK needed to show more willingness to settle its financial obligations and on the rights of EU citizens before the EU would be willing to enter the next phase of talks on a future trade deal.
Britain is fighting a £10 billion demand to fund the rising pensions bill for retired Eurocrats after Brexit. European Union accounts, seen by The Times before their publication tomorrow, reveal that the cost of pensions liabilities for EU officials rose by 5.4 per cent last year to €67.2 billion (£59 billion). The figure has more than doubled in the past decade. The new accounts show that the total budget liabilities of which Britain is expected to pay its share when leaving the EU have risen by 3.8 per cent, to €234.8 billion last year from €226.1 billion in 2015. This week Michel Barnier, the EU’s negotiator, said that he would not discuss Britain’s transition deal until all budget commitments made before the Brexit vote.
Britain could be on the hook for an additional £10billion in gold plated Eurocrat pensions, documents show. Papers leaked to The Times showed a growing black hole in EU funds that the UK is liable to pay before Brexit. The cost of pensions liabilities for EU officials rose last year to €67.2 billion (£59 billion) and have more than doubled in the past decade. The new accounts show that the total budget liabilities of which Britain is expected to pay its share when leaving the EU have risen to €234.8 billion last year from €226.1 billion in 2015. On average, EU officials retire at 62 and receive £46,000 a year but top-paid eurocrats can collect more than £136,000 a year once they retire.
THERESA May must start planning for Britain to quit the EU without a deal following the “arrogant behaviour” of Brussels negotiators, a senior Tory warned last night. Iain Duncan Smith said the Government should not put up with any more “mealymouthed utterances and threatening statements” from EU chiefs. The former Cabinet minister urged Mrs May to call Brussels’ bluff and threaten to walk out on the Brexit talks unless negotiations on trade start by December. “We are not supplicants begging for favours from the EU,” he said. Tensions increased over the deadlock yesterday when EU Council President Donald Tusk claimed the Prime Minister’s recent Brexit speech in Florence had not done enough to advance the negotiations any further. “I would say there is no sufficient progress yet,” the senior Eurocrat said.
European Council President Donald Tusk has said there is not yet “sufficient progress” in Brexit talks to discuss future trading relations with the UK. After meeting Theresa May in Downing Street, he said there were signs the UK now had a more “realistic” position and that the Prime Minister appears to have abandoned a “having her cake and eating it” approach to Brexit. But he said he would tell member states there has still not been enough progress towards the EU’s objectives to allow negotiations to move to discussing the future trade deal the UK desires. It follows the Prime Minister’s speech in Florence, in which she proposed a Brexit transition period of two years during which the UK would pay into EU coffers and remain in the single market and customs union.
European president Donald Tusk has rebuffed the offers made by British Prime Minister Theresa May while standing outside 10 Downing Street Tuesday, saying Britain would not be able to “have your cake and eat it”. The straightforward message of the senior Eurocrat to Britain as he departed the prime minister’s residence, having had a sit-down talk with Mrs. May was that despite her attempts to appease the European Union with a promise to keep Britain in the EU for two extra years with a transition period and to pay out an unspecified Brexit Bill, that was not enough. Because Britain had not given into enough of the European Union’s demands during the negotiations so far, there could be no chance of talks proceeding onto areas that British negotiators are most keen to discuss: trade.
Theresa May’s hope of a breakthrough in Brexit negotiations were dashed today after a top Brussels official warned not enough progress had been made to switch to trade talks. Speaking after a crunch meeting with the Prime Minister in Downing Street, EU Council President Donald Tusk said Britain needed to deliver on EU citizens’ rights and Northern Ireland before talks could move on. The Tory leader had hoped her Florence speech last week would end the stand off and allow negotiations on the future relationship to start in October. But Mr Tusk, describing Brexit as an exercise in “damage control”, said outside No 10: “I feel now we will discuss our future relations with the UK once there is so-called sufficient progress. “The two sides are working and we will work hard at it. “But if you ask me, and if today member states ask me, I would say there is no sufficient progress yet. But we will work.”
French president Emmanuel Macron made a wide-ranging speech on his vision for the future of the European Union Tuesday, in a landmark event which signifies the acceptance of the Union’s main players of an accelerated move towards a European State, with Britain being dragged along. In comments that come just months after the de facto leader of the EU Angela Merkel said she would be willing to accept a common European budget and a Europe-wide finance minister, Macron — who was ridiculed at the start of his presidency for saying he wished to rule as Roman God Jupiter — said he wanted to complete the monetary union project, started with the launch of the Euro single currency in 1999. Moves towards full monetary union and a single military have been held up for years by British opposition, but now the United Kingdom has started to withdraw from such discussions France and Germany appear to be finding a common voice on the matters.
EUROPEAN taxpayers must be prepared to cough up at least an extra £6.5 billion every year to cover the loss to the EU budget from Britain’s departure, the bloc’s finance chief has revealed. Gunther Oettinger said Brussels was facing a budget black hole of up to £13 billion after Brexit – half of which should be covered by “fresh money” from the member states. His remarks, during a speech in the Belgian capital yesterday, are likely to cause alarm in those member states like Austria and the Netherlands which are strongly opposed to paying in any more cash. The German official, who was pictured standing next to Angela Merkel on the podium at her election victory rally on Sunday, said the EU was also facing a budget shortfall due to the increased challenges it faces. He said more money would be needed for centralised border management, combatting terrorism and research and development which would require new funds on top of these needed to cover Brexit.
THERESA May has mounted a massive social media blitz on ordinary Europeans in a bid to bypass EU chiefs over Brexit. Downing Street paid for hundreds of thousands of targeted messages to Twitter and Facebook users to explain the PM’s new ‘grand bargain’ offer directly to them, The Sun can reveal. They highlight key quotes from her speech in Florence last Friday, as well as a link to the full 5,000 word text, in a bid to win ground support among the EU’s 500m citizens for a good Brexit deal. For the weekend blitz, the speech was painstakingly translated into six different languages: Polish, German, Italian, Spanish, Dutch and French. The tactic copies US President Donald Trump’s highly successful social media election campaigning in which he used forums like Twitter to bypass a hostile media. A senior government source said: “We haven’t done enough to convince ordinary Europeans that we are making real offers in the negotiations. “They only have Barnier’s spin on it all, which is badly jaundiced. “So we are taking the PM’s message to European citizens directly”.
A SENIOR eurocrat last night made the stunning admission that Brussels’ new defence policies are ultimately being used as a backdoor way of creating its own EU army. Gunther Oettinger, the bloc’s finance chief and a close confidante of Angela Merkel, said his “dream” of a euro force will be achieved incrementally through the slow entanglement of European militaries. The German eurocrat, who appeared on the podium next to Mrs Merkel as she delivered her election victory speech on Sunday, added the EU’s current defence plans are the “first step” on that journey. His frank outburst will be greeted with dismay by other senior EU officials, including foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini, who have tried to portray the ‘Defence Union’ in a more friendly light as a simple way of improving cooperation.
Jeremy Corbyn has risked reopening Labour’s Brexit wounds by arguing there will be “positives” from leaving the European Union. The Labour leader also played down the prospect of the party offering a further referendum on any Brexit deal, after London Mayor Sadiq Khan suggested it might. The comments came as a former Labour adviser attacked “the delusional thinking” at the top of the party about Brexit, putting it on a par with the Conservative approach. At the Brighton conference, frustrated Labour MPs have tried and failed to push Mr Corbyn into recognising the dangers of failing to fight to stay in the EU single market. But, in an interview ahead of his speech on Wednesday, the Labour leader once again struck an ambivalent tone about EU withdrawal.
Labour cannot win power while Jewish voters shun the party over antisemitism, a defeated candidate has warned, as allegations of Holocaust denial tarnished the conference. Mike Katz warned Jeremy Corbyn of many “difficult conversations” on the doorstep with Jewish people who were turning their backs on Labour because of the perception of an antisemitism stain. He spoke out as Tom Watson, Labour’s deputy leader, vowed the party would investigate a speaker in Brighton who said people should be allowed to question whether the Holocaust took place. Mr Watson said he was disgusted the party gave a platform to Israeli-American author Miko Peled, who told a conference fringe event there should be “no limits on the discussion”. “This is about free speech, the freedom to criticise and to discuss every issue, whether it’s the Holocaust: yes or no, Palestine, the liberation, the whole spectrum,” Mr Peled is reported to have said.
Jeremy Corbyn has been called on to investigate a left-wing group accused of producing and circulating antisemitic literature on the fringes of Labour’s conference. Labour MPs and the Holocaust Educational Trust demanded a personal intervention by the Labour leader to identify and discipline members of the Labour Party Marxists group, which disseminated a leaflet quoting a prominent Nazi. The organisation is not affiliated with Labour officially, but James Marshall, a senior figure in the group, said that all of its supporters, including himself, were card-carrying members. The leaflet handed out in Brighton discussed the “commonality between Zionists and Nazis”. It quoted Reinhard Heydrich, the Nazi architect of the Final Solution, saying in 1935: “National Socialists had no intention of attacking Jewish people.”
Labour has been threatened with a ban on holding future conferences in Brighton unless it tackles anti-Semitism. Brighton and Hove’s Labour council leader Warren Morgan said he was very concerned at “the anti-Semitism being aired publicly in fringe meetings and on the floor of conference”. In a letter to Labour Party general secretary Iain McNicol, Mr Morgan said: “As the Labour leader of Brighton and Hove City Council, I will undoubtedly face questions as to why we allow any event where anti-Semitic views are freely expressed to happen in the city, particularly on council premises. “As a Labour Party member, I expect the inquiry announced today to take firm action; as leader I will need reassurances that there will be no repeat of the behaviour and actions we have seen this week before any further bookings from the party are taken.”
The unprecedented scale of migration to Europe has been laid bare with analysis by the Pew Research Centre who have found that 20% of all asylum applications made to Europe since the mid-1980s were made in 2015/2016 alone. 1.3 million migrants filed asylum applications to EU nations, Norway and Switzerland in 2015. In 2016 the number was 1.2 million. This compares to the previous record-high of 700,000 in 1992. Germany received the highest number of these 2.5 million applications for asylum in those past 2 years, with 45% filing for asylum there. Hungary and Italy both received around 8% of applications and Sweden were the next highest with 7%. That means 1,125,000 applied for asylum in Germany in just two years, with 400,000 applying in Italy and Hungary and a further 175,000 for Sweden in a matter of years.
Some patients with bowel cancer are being denied life-saving surgery and are given end-of-life care instead, according to a new report. The study, from the charity Bowel Cancer UK, found that specialist doctors who could operate are being shut out of decisions on care, which then condemns patients to having palliative chemotherapy. More than 41,000 people in the UK are diagnosed with bowel cancer each year in the UK, with around a quarter of those (10,000 people) diagnosed at late stage 4. Fewer than one in 10 people (8%) at this advanced stage manage to survive for five years or more, compared with 98% of those diagnosed in the earliest stage. At stage 4, the cancer has spread around the body, usually to the liver or lungs. Despite recommendations that those for whom the cancer has spread to their liver (a fifth of all patients) are reviewed by a liver specialist, research suggests many are not.
Hospitals must be given a £500m bailout to cope with the coming winter crisis or face putting thousands of patients at risk, Labour has said. New analysis shows 10,000 people will be stuck for too long in A&E waiting rooms every day if the situation continues unchecked against a backdrop of growing waiting lists and cancelled operations. Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth accused Theresa May of “burying her head in the sand” over the unprecedented demand on the health service after patients faced the worst winter on record last year. Doctors’ leaders warned that the overstretched NHS was facing a strain on services in the summer months normally reserved for winter, when poor weather and seasonal flu heap pressure on hospitals and Gps. Mr Ashworth will use a speech to the Labour party conference on Tuesday to urge the Government to pour £500m into beleaguered hospitals to help boost capacity, increase numbers of doctors and nurses, and take the strain off social care services.
Victims of contaminated blood products and their families have won a ruling allowing them to launch a High Court group action seeking damages. A High Court official said that it was “appropriate” to immediately issue a group order allowing potentially 500 claimants — both victims and families of the deceased — to claim compensation together. Senior Master Fontaine made the order despite opposition from lawyers acting for the Department of Health, who argued that the application was premature. The case concerns imported blood-clotting products derived from blood plasma that caused haemophiliacs and others to be infected with HIV and hepatitis in the 1970s and 1980s and have led to the deaths of at least 2,400 NHS patients.
Hundreds of people infected with HIV and hepatitis from contaminated blood products in the 1970s and 80s are set to sue the NHS. Victims and their families have won a ruling allowing them to launch a High Court group action seeking damages. A High Court official said it was ‘appropriate’ to immediately issue a group litigation order allowing a potential 500 claimants. Senior Master Fontaine made the order despite opposition from lawyers acting for the Department of Health who argued the application was ‘premature’. The case concerns imported blood-clotting products derived from blood plasma which caused haemophiliacs and others to be infected in the 1970s and 80s. So far the scandal has led to the deaths of at least 2,400 NHS patients. The Department of Health (DoH) is named as a defendant in the case.
A new blood test that speeds up the diagnosis of heart attacks could save the NHS millions of pounds every year and cut waiting times in A&E, according to new research. The new test is much more accurate than the one currently used and could free up doctors’ time and NHS beds. Research suggests that more than two-thirds of people who go to A&E with chest pain have not had a heart attack. Despite this all of these patients undergo a blood test when they arrive at accident and emergency and again three hours later to detect any possible damage to the heart muscle. The test that is currently used works by analysing biomarkers, including cardiac troponin. Those with undetectable levels of cardiac troponin are classified as low risk and are discharged from hospital.
The risks of pregnant women taking a common epilepsy drug were kept from patients for 40 years, a hearing was told. An estimated 20,000 British children have been severely harmed because their mothers took the drug sodium valproate during pregnancy. Campaigners yesterday presented evidence to a hearing of the European Medicines Agency in London, revealing that regulators knew of problems as far back as 1973. Even the drug’s manufacturer Sanofi was open about the risks. Yet documents show UK officials decided at the time not to put the warnings on the packets for fear it ‘could give rise to fruitless anxiety’, the hearing was told. It was not until 2015 that clear warnings were published.