Art50 delay

Telegraph
Sajid Javid warned a Cabinet colleague that Brexit is likely to be delayed, a source told The Telegraph as it emerged that nearly a third of the Cabinet now believe Article 50 may have to be extended. The Home Secretary is said to have raised concerns with another minister during the last fortnight that Theresa May will run out of time to pass legislation needed for Brexit. One source claimed that during the conversation Mr Javid questioned the Prime Minister’s strategy of publicly insisting the UK will leave on March 29. The Telegraph understands that nine Cabinet ministers believe Brexit may have to be delayed if extra time is needed to finalise the terms of a deal.

Express
SAJID Javid believes Brexit will be delayed after discussing it with a Cabinet colleague, a source has revealed. The Home Secretary is the latest to join up to nine ministers who believe Theresa May will run out of time to pass legislation needed for Brexit. A source told The Daily Telegraph Mr Javid questioned the strategy behind Theresa May publicly insisting the UK will leave on March 29. Nearly a third of the Cabinet ministers have made their concerns of the delay public as they think Article 50 will have to be extended to finalise the terms of the deal.

BBC News
Senior Conservative backbencher Sir Graham Brady has told the BBC that he could accept a delay to Brexit – as long as a deal was already agreed. He said a short delay to the 29 March exit date would be acceptable if needed to get legislation through Parliament. The government says its position has not changed on the date but Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt has suggested “extra time” may be needed.

Mail
Jeremy Hunt warned Brexit could have to be delayed today as MPs’ February holiday was cancelled to try and tackle the legislative backlog caused by deadlock.  The Foreign Secretary became the most senior minister to publicly admit the UK’s departure date might have to be delayed even if Mrs May somehow manages to win approval for a deal.

EU

Express
ANGELA Merkel is ready to “go to the edge of the precipice” in order to shut down any movement on the backstop, a Brussels source has said. The German Chancellor has joined a growing list of EU diplomats who have rejected any possibility of reopening negotiations on the Withdrawal Agreement despite MPs signalling a change to the backstop could be enough to secure a deal. The source told The Times it was part of Mrs Merkel’s negotiating strategy to force Britain “to look into the abyss before a deal is done at five to midnight”, adding “that is how she works”. The German leader’s stance has been backed by senior EU politicians including Ireland’s Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, European Council President Jean-Claude Juncker and European Commission President Donald Tusk.

Telegraph
A group of top German economists has told the EU to tear up the Irish backstop and ditch its ideological demands in Brexit talks, calling instead for a flexible Europe of concentric circles that preserves friendly ties with the UK. Brussels must “abandon its indivisibility dogma” on the EU’s four freedoms and come up with a creative formula or risk a disastrous showdown with London that could all too easily spin out of control. A joint report by the influential Ifo Institute and universities across Germany and Europe warned that Brussels may be deluding itself in thinking that the EU has the upper hand in all respects or that the British will inevitably capitulate before March 29.

Telegraph
Can the European Union force Britain to pay the £39 billion Brexit bill even if there is a no deal exit? And could the final reckoning end up being even higher if the UK leaves without an agreement? On Wednesday, Brussels warned that it would expect Britain to settle its outstanding commitments to the EU in full, even if it crashed out of the bloc. In December 2017, Britain agreed to pay the financial settlement to the EU.

Telegraph
European Union judges will block legal action against Britain for refusing to pay the Brexit bill after a no-deal exit, lawyers have told The Telegraph, as Downing Street insisted it would not pay the entire £39 billion financial settlement if the UK crashes out. Downing St on Thursday said it would pay its “legal obligations” but not the full amount.

Express
EUROPEAN Union’s chiefs are urging member states to take a hard line on the UK and not to strike bilateral “mini-deals” with London out of fear of the consequences of a no-deal Brexit, EU diplomats revealed. The European Commission’s Secretary-General Martin Selmayr held talks with EU ambassadors following Tuesday’s vote in the British Parliament, which gave Theresa May the mandate to go back to Brussels to seek “alternative arrangements” to the Irish border backstop.

Independent
Europe’s top politicians set the scene for a major clash with the UK as Theresa May prepared to head back to Brussels in what was branded a “crazy” bid to reopen Brexit talks. They accused British Eurosceptics of playing a “blame game”, attacked the prime minister for wanting to unpick the deal she agreed to herself, and again reiterated that the backstop Ms May wants to change will not be rewritten.

Reuters
The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator told Britain on Wednesday that time was too short to find an alternative to the Irish border arrangement agreed in their divorce deal, as London wants, and that this deal was not open for renegotiation. With only two months left before Britain is due by law to leave the European Union, a narrow majority in the British parliament instructed May on Tuesday to go back to Brussels to revise what is arguably the most intractable part of the deal.

Guardian
Theresa May has been told by Donald Tusk that it is her job to find a solution to the Brexit impasse during what sources have described as an “open and frank” 45-minute phone call in the wake of her demands for a renegotiation. The European council president warned the prime minister that a precondition for any further talks was a concrete plan from Downing Street that could clearly command the support of parliament.

Express
BRUSSELS could tighten its grip on Britain’s departure from the bloc after a shock survey carried out at a conference in Vienna saw Europhiles demand more integration amid fears Brexit spells trouble for the EU. The annual gathering, called ‘Vienna Congress com.sult’ saw 1,200 participants scrawl thoughts and feelings about Brexit for a poll that concluded 80 percent of attendees believed it spelt disadvantages for Brussels as well as Britain. When asked “Do we need more or less Europe?”, 66 percent said yes, whereas 18 months ago during the same survey, half as many agreed with the question, with 31 percent demanding more autonomy for member states.

Westmonster
Yesterday’s speech in the European Parliament by Nigel Farage came just after both Jean-Claude Juncker and Michel Barnier stood up to dismiss any prospect of a renegotiation with the British government. He used the speech, face to face with the Barnier and Juncker, to hit back at the EU and point out how there is now “an appreciation in Britain that unelected bureaucrats in Brussels have been talking down to and humiliating the Prime Minister of our nation, and we don’t like it”. He’s right.

WTO

Independent
Local councils in England should “step up” preparations for a no-deal Brexit, the communities secretary has said.  In letter James Brokenshire said it was “essential” they were “all undertaking the necessary local planning and preparations” in case Britain left the European Union (EU) without a deal. He also urged county councils to ensure they mitigate “any short-term adverse impacts”.

Express
BREXIT negotiator Oliver Robbins has warned Prime Minister Theresa May against reopening negotiations with Brussels, over increased “risk” of a no-deal Brexit, it has been revealed. In the series of emails shown to the Telegraph, Mr Robbins expressed concerns over whether EU officials will be willing to make changes to the Irish backstop arrangement. The Brexit negotiator also dismissed the effectiveness of the Malthouse Compromise – a strategy drawn up by Tories in hopes to reunite the Conservative party and break the Brexit deadlock between Tory Remainers and Brexiteers

Breitbart
Sky Data poll has found that a no-deal Brexit is the most popular leave option, whilst a Survation poll has found voters believe the UK exiting the EU on World Trade Organization (WTO) rules is now the most likely outcome. A poll of 2,036 UK adults by SMS conducted by the commercial broadcaster on January 30th revealed that in terms of a leave option, 39 percent backed a no-deal Brexit. Just over one-third, 34 percent, backed leaving the EU with no Irish backstop arrangement, with 27 percent backing Prime Minister Theresa May’s deal with the backstop.

Guardian
EU officials fear Theresa May is setting the UK on course for a no-deal exit at the end of June because she will not have the political courage to ask for the longer Brexit delay they believe she needs. Senior figures in Brussels have been war-gaming the likely next steps by the British government, and believe a delay to the UK’s exit date of 29 March is inevitable. But they fear the prime minister’s strategy of seeking simply to survive from day to day will lead to her requesting an inadequate short three-month extension for fear of enraging Brexiters in the Conservative party.

Westmonster
A Sky Data poll has revealed that a clean, No Deal Brexit is now the most popular single option for leaving. Sky News decided to split the question into three for some reason, offering two deal options and plus No Deal. They found 39% in favour of a No Deal, compared to 34% for Theresa May’s deal without the backstop and 27% with the backstop. It would have been interesting to see the numbers if they had kept it as a straight deal or No Deal question.

Westmonster
The Belgian fishing industry would face devastation if the UK leaves the European Union without a deal, another stark reminder that Britain still has considerable leverage in these negotiations. A BBC report today showed a Belgian fishing boat, with journalist Adam Fleming on board and pointing out that “every single fish being unloaded now has been caught in British waters”. In the event of No Deal, the UK could take full control of a 200-mile exclusive economic zone

Parliament

Mail
Plans to force MPs to work on the Brexit crisis during their half-term recess descended into farce last night – after they moaned about having to cancel their ski trips. Commons Leader Andrea Leadsom announced yesterday that Parliament would effectively cancel this month’s ten-day break to help push through Brexit-related legislation. It came after Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt warned Britain may need to delay its departure from the EU to get all the relevant laws passed in time.

Independent
The cancellation of MPs’ two-week break to deliver Brexit on time has been branded a PR stunt after Conservatives were told they could still go away if they had “family” commitments. On Thursday commons leader Andrea Leadsom formally ditched the half-term recess so more “progress” can be made on preparing to leave the EU. But following a backlash from MPs who had apparently already booked holidays, chief whip Julian Smith  informed Tories they are not obliged to attend the commons if they have pre-existing engagements.

Guardian
The leader of Ukip has written to the Queen asking her to suspend parliament until after 29 March to ensure MPs cannot thwart Brexit. Gerard Batten’s letter also informs the monarch that she should never have approved the 1992 Maastricht treaty as it made her, and everyone else in the UK, citizens of the EU, and was thus unlawful and treasonous. “Your Majesty’s ministers were gravely in error and wrongly advised you,” states the letter, released publicly by Ukip.

Mirror
The leader of Ukip has written to the Queen to suspend parliament until after Brexit to stop Remainers keeping the UK in the EU. In his letter Gerard Batten also told the monarch she should never have approved the 1992 Maastricht treaty. The treaty brought the European member states closer together but Mr Batten believes it was “unlawful and treasonous”. Mr Batten took over as Ukip leader after the disastrous tenure of Sir Henry Bolton.

Labour Party

Times
Labour MPs were called “cowards and facilitators” by a party colleague yesterday for backing Theresa May’s Brexit deal after her promise of extra cash for deprived areas. Downing Street denied that the plan, revealed by The Times, amounted to “cash for votes”. However, it confirmed a “programme of national renewal post-Brexit” and the prime minister’s spokesman said that she had “a long-standing commitment” to tackling inequality between communities.

Mail
Remainer MPs launched an extraordinary assault on Labour Brexiteers today after they welcomed a bid by Theresa May to ‘buy’ support for her deal. The PM is preparing to pump millions of pounds into Leave-backing constituencies as she tries to entice wavering Opposition politicians. The ‘pork barrel’ tactic is effectively an admission that Mrs May cannot get a package through Parliament with just Tory and DUP votes.

Times
John McDonnell is demanding that Britain’s most senior civil servant opens talks about a Labour government in an early test of wills between what would be two of the most powerful figures in such an administration. The shadow chancellor wrote last November to Tom Scholar, the Treasury’s permanent secretary, asking that he and his most senior officials meet him and his team to discuss a first Labour budget.

Defence

Telegraph
Britain may not be able to expand its F-35 fighter jet fleet unless a black hole in the Ministry of Defence budget is plugged, MPs have warned. A scathing report by the Public Accounts Committee has exposed how the MoD is staring at a £7 billion funding gap, which could double over the next 10 years. Under scrutiny is the F-35 fighter jet program, which is supposed to deliver some 138 F-35 Lightning aircraft over the coming decades. Britain has already signed a contract for the first batch of 48, which are estimated to cost £9.1bn by 2025, including support such as training and maintenance.

Sun
DEFENCE chiefs have been slammed for failing to tackle a £7billion black hole in “unaffordable” plans to buy war gear. A report by MPs accused the MoD of dithering amid warnings whole kit projects will have to be canned if extra funding is not found. The 10-year Defence Equipment Plan, which includes buying jets, ships and subs, is estimated to cost £193billion against a budget of £186billion. The Public Accounts Committee’s report says action is needed now or the shortfall could swell to £15billion.

ITV News
There is a funding black hole of at least £7 billion in plans for kit for the armed forces due to Government dithering over which projects to fully finance, cancel or scale back, the Commons public spending watchdog said. In a scathing report, MPs on the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) said the Ministry of Defence (MoD) “lacks the capability to accurately cost programmes within its equipment plan” and the actual shortfall in funding could amount to £14.8 billion or more by 2028.

Council tax

Mail
Millions of families face inflation-busting council tax increases just as town halls warn of sweeping cuts to services. An audit by the Mail has found that local authorities throughout the country are planning to increase bills in April by the maximum allowable amount of 5 per cent. So far at least 13 English county and unitary councils from North Yorkshire to Gloucestershire have proposed 5 per cent hikes, which in some areas will add £75 to the average Band D household’s bill. For those in the top Band H homes, the increase will be more than £140.

Health

Mail
Every year 4.2million people die worldwide within 30 days of surgery, research suggests.  An analysis of data from 29 countries by the University of Birmingham revealed a staggering 1.23million more die after going under the knife than from HIV, TB and malaria combined. Overall, 7.7 per cent of all fatalities worldwide occur within 30 days of the deceased going under the knife – with only heart disease and stroke being bigger killers. ‘Postoperative complications’ – such as bleeding and infections – are thought to be behind most of these deaths.

Mail
A backlog of 100,000 cervical screening tests has been uncovered – just as a Government campaign is urging women to get the life-saving checks. Just a third of patients received their test results within the recommended two weeks at times last year, investigations by the National Audit Office found. Changes to testing arrangements have been blamed for the delays, which have left some waiting an agonising four months for results.

ITV News
More than 150,000 cervical screening samples have been piled up in laboratories across England waiting to be tested, according to a report. A study from the National Audit Office (NAO) found that changes to testing arrangements led to a huge backlog that is still being tackled. In March last year, 152,742 samples were waiting to be checked. By October, the figure was 98,000. The report also found that, at one point last year, only one in three women undergoing a smear test received their result within the recommended 14 days. This suggests hundreds of thousands of women have had to wait longer to find out whether they need further tests or treatment.

Education

Mail
A school has defended teaching pupils about homosexuality after religious parents signed a petition for the subject to be dropped. Up to 400 predominantly Muslim parents signed up, with some even taking their children out of the primary school. They are protesting against the No Outsiders In Our School programme, which is taught as part of sex and relationship lessons to promote LGBT equality and challenge homophobia at school.

Mail
Universities will face sanctions including fines unless they address the attainment gap between black and white students, the Government has warned. Ministers are today releasing data showing that white students are around a third more likely than black students to get a good grade in their degrees. The new Race Disparity Audit shows that only 56 per cent of black students achieve a 2:1 or first, compared with 80 per cent of their white peers.

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