Boris Johnson faces a fresh legal challenge to his Brexit plans in the same Scottish court that ruled he had acted unlawfully by proroguing Parliament. A group of 78 opposition MPs and peers which successfully challenged the Government earlier this week now wants the court to rule that it will ask Brussels for a Brexit extension if Mr Johnson refuses to do so. The Prime Minister has said he would rather be “dead in a ditch” than ask for a Brexit extension beyond Oct 31, even though an Act of Parliament now requires him to do so if he fails to agree a new deal with the EU next month.
Campaigners are taking legal action to try and force an extension to Britain’s EU membership, if Boris Johnson fails to secure a deal. Jolyon Maugham QC and Scottish Nationalist MP Joanna Cherry are behind a new case filed today, after securing a victory at the Edinburgh Court of Session yesterday which ruled suspending parliament to be unlawful. They now hope the Scottish court can be persuaded to make a bombshell ruling that a court clerk must write to the European Commission President requesting more time on 19 October, if the prime minister refuses to do so.
Out-going Commons Speaker John Bercow has threatened Prime Minister Boris Johnson with ‘procedural creativity’ to stop him ignoring an anti-No Deal Brexit law. Mr Bercow launched his all-out attack on Mr Johnson today at a lecture in London, where he compared the leader of the country to a ‘bank robber’. He warned Mr Johnson against disobeying the law by not asking for a Brexit delay from the EU.
John Bercow has threatened Boris Johnson that he will be prepared to rip up the parliamentary rulebook to stop any illegal attempt by the prime minister to take the UK out of the EU without a deal on 31 October. In a direct warning to No 10, the Speaker of the House of Commons said he is prepared to allow “additional procedural creativity” if necessary to allow parliament to block Johnson from ignoring the law. “If we come close to [Johnson ignoring the law], I would imagine parliament would want to cut off that possibility … Neither the limitations of the existing rulebook or ticking of the clock will stop it doing so,” he said, delivering the annual Bingham lecture in London
John Bercow has vowed “creativity” in Parliament if Boris Johnson ignores the law designed to stop a no-deal Brexit. The Commons Speaker also said in a speech that the only possible Brexit was one backed by MPs. A new law, passed before the suspension of Parliament, forces the PM to seek a delay until 31 January 2020, unless a deal or no-deal exit is approved by MPs by 19 October. The PM has said he would rather be “dead in a ditch” than ask for a delay.
John Bercow has warned Boris Johnson against disobeying the law by pushing ahead with a no deal Brexit on Halloween – and suggested it would weaken his ability to tackle crime. The Commons speaker said it would set a “terrible example for the rest of society” for the Prime Minister to ignore the law and fail to ask Brussels for a further delay. He said doing so would weaken Mr Johnson’s “moral force” to tackle anti-social behaviour and knife crime. And he warned Mr Johnson that Parliament would “forcefully” take steps to block him if he tried to do so.
Boris Johnson was handed a lifeline by the Democratic Unionist Party last night when it agreed to shift its red lines in a move that could help to unlock a Brexit deal. The Times understands that, for the first time, the party has said it would accept Northern Ireland abiding by some European Union rules after Brexit in a deal to replace the Irish backstop. The DUP has also said privately that it would drop its objection to regulatory checks in the Irish Sea, which it had called unacceptable as this would separate Northern Ireland “politically and economically” from the mainland.
Boris Johnson could have been handed a Brexit lifeline by the DUP who may be willing to accept Northern Ireland abiding by some European Union rules after Brexit, as part of a deal to replace the Irish backstop, it has been reported. There is speculation the PM is trying to find a way through the Brexit quagmire by proposing a Northern Ireland-only backstop, in an attempt to find a compromise with Brussels. In at tweet this evening, DUP leader Arlene Foster poured cold water on the notion they will support any deal that ‘divides the internal market of the UK’ – but this will do little to quell speculation talks are taking place to help unlock a Brexit deal.
The DUP leader has refuted reports in the Times that the party is prepared to abide by some European rules after Brexit. The newspaper said the DUP had agreed “to shift its red lines” as part of a new deal to replace the backstop. It added the party had said privately that it would drop its objections to regulatory checks in the Irish Sea. Arlene Foster tweeted the “UK must leave as one nation” and “anonymous sources lead to nonsense stories”. Mrs Foster said the party would “not support any arrangements that create a barrier to east west trade”.
The leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), the Northern Irish party which backs British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government, said the party will not support a Brexit deal that “divides the internal market of the UK”. Arlene Foster’s response came as the Times newspaper reported the DUP has agreed to accept Northern Ireland abiding by some European Union rules after Brexit as part of a deal to replace the Irish backstop, potentially opening the door to a withdrawal agreement.
EU boss Jean-Claude Juncker has dismissed Britons as “part-time Europeans” and added insult to injury by saying the choice of whether to remain in the bloc or opt out was “too complex” for them to decide. In an open interview with EuroNews the outgoing president of the European Commission laid bare his true feelings for the UK and its impending divorce from Brussels which he said represented a “tragedy” and a “failure” – albeit not on the EU’s part.
Britain was never truly part of the EU and the British just “part time Europeans”, Jean-Claude Juncker has said, as MEPs warned they would veto any Brexit deal that did not have the Irish border backstop. The outgoing president of the European Commission said: “The British were told for more than 40 years that they were in but they didn’t want to share all the policies that have been decided.” “The British from the very beginning were part-time Europeans, what we need is full-time Europeans,” he told the Euronews TV channel.
The president of the European Parliament has criticised Boris Johnson‘s suspension of the UK parliament, warning that the decision seemed to date from another era. David Sassoli told reporters in Brussels that parliaments were “the house of democracy” and that debate should not be shut down at such a crucial juncture. “I’m in favour of parliaments being open permanently, particularly when they’re deciding on the destiny of a great nation such as the United Kingdom. Everyone was very struck, I think, by the decision,” he said.
Michel Barnier has told MEPs there remain insufficient grounds for reopening formal negotiations over the Irish backstop, six months after Theresa May and the European commission closed them. In a private briefing with the European parliament’s leaders, the EU’s chief negotiator said Boris Johnson’s officials, led by his envoy, David Frost, were yet to offer any credible plan on which the two sides could build. “We will see in the coming weeks if the British are able to make concrete proposals in writing that are legally operational,” Barnier told the MEPs.
The President of the European Parliament, David Sassoli, has said there would be no Brexit agreement “without a backstop” in a statement on Thursday, arguing that the UK has brought no new proposals to the table. The new president pointed out that its 750 MEPs would have to approve any deal, which he argued must contain a form of backstop. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been arguing for the backstop, a set of measures aimed at avoiding a hard border on the island of Ireland, to be removed from the deal that was negotiated by his predecessor Theresa May.
WITH panic spreading in Brussels that Britain may leave the EU without a deal on October 31, France’s European Affairs Minister has urged for calm. Amélie de Montchalin warned Europhiles of escalating tensions if Britain leaves the bloc without a deal as good relations would need to remain between Paris and London no matter what the outcome of the Brexit process. “We have a responsibility to remain extremely calm, because we will have a future relationship,” with Britain after Brexit, Mrs de Montchalin told France Info radio, insisting that it was “not her job, nor her role,” to comment on Britain’s political life.
Mario Draghi has slashed interest rates further below zero and will restart money printing in November, seizing his last chance to kick-start the flagging eurozone economy. The European Central Bank is taking drastic action to fight the deepening slump, cutting its economic forecasts and blaming the crisis in global trade that has forced the world’s manufacturing industry into recession.
SACKED Tory rebel Sir Oliver Letwin wants to create a “zombie parliament” by delaying Boris Johnson’s general election until next summer at least if he fails to get a new Brexit deal. He warned there was a cross-party majority in favour of blocking going to the polls until our EU split is resolved — either by passing a deal or holding a second referendum. Sir Oliver, a leading architect of the law to block a No Deal, said going back to the people to vote on Brexit must come first as an election would “muddle things up”.
Any attempt by Boris Johnson to call a “People versus Parliament” general election over Brexit will be blocked by MPs, a former Tory Cabinet minister campaigning against a no-deal withdrawal predicted. Sir Oliver Letwin insisted that a majority of MPs believe that a general election has to be delayed until after crucial decisions have been reached on Brexit – either through a deal approved by Westminster or a second referendum. He backed Tom Watson, the Labour deputy leader, who has also argued that settling Brexit – and thwarting a no deal – in a referendum has to take priority over calling an election.
Jeremy Corbyn is planning a £1.6 billion tax raid on private schools if Labour seizes power, The Telegraph can disclose. A leaked shadow treasury document seen by this newspaper has revealed that Labour is discussing scrapping discounted business rates for independent schools and plans to impose VAT on fees. Under a section entitled “estimating the yield from imposing VAT on private schools fees”, the document concludes that the policy will bring in an additional £1.64bn in tax revenue annually.
Labour could back a four-day working week, John McDonnell suggested last night, despite a report commissioned by the party that warned against a cap on workers’ hours. Wage freezes followed France’s decision to introduce a 35-hour week two decades ago, the inquiry report, by the former Tory peer Lord Skidelsky, said. Asked whether Labour could back a four-day working week, an idea he described as “really interesting” last year, Mr McDonnell said: “Watch this space.” He welcomed the report, which also called for tax cuts for companies that reduced working hours and for the government to guarantee every adult a job.
Dominic Cummings has told Tory aides to ignore the conventional conference season truce as the gloves come off before an election. Boris Johnson’s chief strategist instructed special advisers to try to upstage Jo Swinson and Jeremy Corbyn, the rival party leaders, over the next fortnight with a series of high-profile events and policy announcements. The major political parties usually observe an unofficial agreement to allow each other a free run during their annual conferences. The truce generally holds.
Labour Brexiteers are much more likely to switch to Nigel Farage than the Conservatives, a study has found. Boris Johnson is hoping his robust stance on Brexit will help him snatch seats from Jeremy Corbyn in his party’s northern heartlands at an election. But polling by The British Election Study found ‘very high levels of antipathy’ to the Tories among 2017 Labour voters, regardless of how they felt about Brexit. An analysis by Paula Surridge, of the University of Bristol, showed that even among those who strongly identified as Leavers only 12 per cent rated their likelihood of ever voting Tory as 6/10 or higher.
The public no longer believes it is necessary to leave the EU to control immigration in an extraordinary turnaround since the Brexit referendum, a survey has found, Voters – including Leave supporters – said they now judge that existing EU rules provide “enough control” on incomers from the continent, without the need for the UK to pull out. Far from demanding an immigration crackdown, no less than 71 per cent support allowing EU migrants to come to the UK either to work or study – including 62 per cent of Leave voters from 2016.
The university that pioneered the most controversial type of unconditional offers for students has quietly dropped them under pressure from the government and other institutions are likely to follow suit. Birmingham University has stopped making the offers, which require no A-level grades but lock in students by demanding that they turn down all other approaches. Teachers have described these so-called “conditional unconditional” offers as bribes that leave students with no incentive to perform well in their exams.
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson yesterday told universities to stop using unconditional offers to bribe students. He will clamp down on the controversial recruitment tactics and suggested institutions could also face tighter restrictions on other entry requirements. Mr Williamson urged higher education institutions to get a grip on admissions policies and grade inflation, which risks undermining universities’ reputations.
The education secretary, Gavin Williamson, has told vice-chancellors the government expects a “deal” on academic standards and admissions in return for extending visas for international students. Addressing the Universities UK annual conference in Birmingham, Williamson linked the restoration of the two-year post-study work visas for international students, announced earlier this week, with the government’s key concerns, including grade inflation and undergraduate admissions in England. “The prime minister and I have given you what you asked for, what you wanted most. So I have to ask you for something in return. I see this as a deal, a deal between us and you,” Williamson told the assembled vice-chancellors.
The number of people convicted of rape has slumped to less than 2,000 despite nearly 60,000 complaints being made to police last year. Just 3.3 per cent of all rape claims made to authorities lead to a conviction, meaning only one in thirty complainants see the person they accuse punished. The shocking figures have led campaigners to claim that rape is being ‘effectively decriminalised’ in Britain.
RAPE is becoming “effectively decriminalised,” women’s rights campaigners warned today, as “appalling” figures show slumping prosecutions for the crime. The Crown Prosecution Service’s (CPS) annual Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) report revealed the statistics today. It showed that there were only 1,925 convictions for rape or an alternative sexual offence during the financial year 2018-19 in England and Wales.
The number of patients kept waiting at A&E departments in England reached its highest level in a decade last year, prompting warnings that pressure on the NHS would rise this winter if it faced the “perfect storm” of high demand and a no-deal Brexit. Patients kept waiting at least four hours more than trebled in the past five years. Last year only 88 per cent of patients were seen within four hours compared with 98.3 per cent ten years ago, according to the NHS’s Hospital Accident & Emergency Activity 2018-19 report.
NHS trusts are handing over more than £205m a year to the Government in interest payments after being forced to take out loans, i can reveal. Critics accused the Conservatives of “starving the NHS” by charging unreasonable interest rates on the loans they make to hospitals and other organisations which are struggling to afford their running costs. Trusts across England have paid more than £607m to Whitehall in interest over the past five years. The amount paid out is rising every year as NHS debts continue to mount; last year it could have paid the salaries of 7,500 nurses.
British Airways has begun cancelling flights before the next strike by pilots. Tens of thousands of passengers are expected to be affected by the disruption on September 27. The 24-hour walkout follows a two-day strike on Monday and Tuesday when 1,700 flights were cancelled. BA started contacting affected passengers yesterday, 15 days before the next strike. The dispute over pay involves members of the British Airline Pilots’ Association (Balpa).
British Airways pilots are reportedly planning a 10-day strike that could set the company back £400million. It is understood union chiefs are plotting the walkout in November. The planned industrial action comes as pilots remain furious over the loss of pay and travel perks, despite a boost to BA’s profits. They have already gone on strike for two days and are planning to take action in two weeks’ time.
Scientists have created a device that harnesses the cold of space to generate electricity at night. The technique offers an alternative to solar power, which works while the sun shines, by taking advantage of “radiative cooling”. During the night a surface that faces the sky will lose energy, in the form of infrared light, and reach a cooler temperature than the surrounding air. “Some of the heat effectively escapes to some place much colder: the upper atmosphere and even outer space,” said Aaswath Raman, of the University of California, Los Angeles, a co-author of a paper published in the journal Joule.