BREXIT could be at the “risk of collapse” a former UK diplomat has warned in a letter to Brussels officials. The UK has now entered the transition stage of Brexit, whereby Boris Johnson will work to conclude a trade agreement with the EU. The official end date of the period is December 31, 2020, and following that time, the UK will officially leave the EU and its regulations. However, in a letter seen by the Express.co.uk, former UK diplomat Sir Peter Marshall, an expert in multilateral diplomacy, has claimed Brexit talks could be undone due to both the political declaration and withdrawal agreement being deemed “fraudulent”. Writing in a letter to Ursula von der Leyen, Charles Michel and David Sassoli, Sir Peter insists the process of activating Article 50 – the withdrawal from the EU – would be deemed “illegal” if brought before the European Court of Justice. Primarily, once Article 50 is activated, as set out in the provisions of the treaty, it states “the Union shall negotiate and conclude an agreement with that State, setting out the arrangements for its withdrawal, taking account of the framework for its future relationship”. In contrast, as set out in the guidelines of withdrawal adopted by the European Council, “other issues still require agreement and negotiations can only progress as long as all commitments are undertaken so far are respected in full” which Sir Peter argues is in “flagrant contravention” of the provisions of Article 50.
Dominic Cummings’ fingerprints may be all over Sajid Javid’s resignation, but the former Chancellor ultimately found himself on the receiving end of the Prime Minister’s iron fist. While easy to blame the biggest scalp of Thursday’s reshuffle on an increasingly toxic “battle of the briefings” between Number 10 and 11, in fact the departure of one of the shortest serving chancellors in history speaks more of Boris Johnson’s ambitions than petty rivalries.
Furious Sajid Javid today insisted no ‘self-respecting’ minister would have obeyed Dominic Cummings’ order to sack his aides – after he quit as Chancellor throwing the reshuffle into chaos. Mr Javid broke cover after sending shockwaves through Westminster by falling on his sword over Mr Cummings’ plot for a ‘bonfire’ of all special advisers who will not meekly fall into line. Speaking to reporters outside his London home tonight, Mr Javid said Boris Johnson had told him that to stay in government he must accept the replacement of all his five-strong team.
Sajid Javid quit as chancellor in protest at a No 10 power grab yesterday and warned that Boris Johnson risked wrecking the Treasury’s credibility. The prime minister backed Dominic Cummings, his senior adviser, in demanding that Mr Javid sack his entire team of aides in the reshuffle. Instead the 50-year-old former leadership contender resigned and questioned the “character and integrity” of those around Mr Johnson. Rishi Sunak, the new chancellor, who was a junior minister under Theresa May, has accepted what Mr Javid said no “self-respecting minister” could — a joint No 10-No 11 economic team.
Boris Johnson began his fateful meeting with Sajid Javid yesterday by showering him with praise. As the two men sat in the Downing Street Cabinet room around the famous coffin-shaped table, Mr Johnson told the Chancellor he was ‘the right man for the job’. The Prime Minister set out a vision of the two men working together to ‘level up’ the economy. But then he cut to the chase – the job was on offer only if Mr Javid agreed to sack his entire team of political advisers. Mr Johnson cited a series of Treasury briefings which angered No 10, including one in which the department effectively confirmed the go-ahead for HS2 weeks before it was due to be announced.
The value of sterling shot up and UK government borrowing costs rose in response to the surprise resignation of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Sajid Javid, on Thursday. The pound jumped more than half a per cent after it emerged at midday that Mr Javid had tendered his resignation in response to a demand from 10 Downing Street that he merge his advisory team with that of the Prime Minister. Sterling, which had been trading at $1.2982 before the news, rose to $1.3041 within the hour. By mid afternoon it had extended its gains to $1.3067, putting the currency on course for its largest daily rally of the month. UK 10-year market borrowing rates – known as gilt yields – also rose from 0.61 per cent to 0.69 per cent in response to the news.
THE Northern Ireland peace deal hung in the balance last night after the PM axed its architect. Julian Smith was fired as Northern Ireland Secretary barely a month after he helped to restore power-sharing at Stormont. Ultra-loyal Brandon Lewis — previously Security Minister — was appointed as his successor. The Government’s commitment to the “New Decade, New Approach” deal was immediately questioned. Mr Smith’s relationships with parties across the spectrum had been seen as key. Mr Lewis last month failed to fully commit to the Historical Investigations Unit — part of the deal to win Sinn Fein’s support — amid fears it would reopen Troubles probes into thousands of vets.
The dismissal of Julian Smith as Northern Ireland secretary just over a month after he oversaw the resumption of the Stormont assembly has raised alarm about the loss of a minister seen as diligent and trusted at a crucial and potentially perilous time for the region. His sacking by Boris Johnson will fuel speculation that No 10 wants someone in the position who will pursue a harder line on ending “vexatious” prosecutions of military personnel involved in the Troubles.
LEO VARADKAR’S constant “bashing of Britain over Brexit” has spectacularly backfired leaving the Taoiseach (Irish PM) “washed up”, a political scientist has raged. Political expert Tom Gallagher said Leo Varadkar had paid the ultimate price at the polls for making Brexit his main focus during his electoral campaign. During its campaign, Mr Varadkar’s party Fine Gael highlighted their leader’s success in preventing a hard border on the island and keeping Northern Ireland free of checks after Brexit.
Boris Johnson has mounted a major No10 power grab with first reshuffle since the general election. Dogged by questions over who funded his £15k Caribbean holiday, the Prime Minister chucked controversial big-hitters Esther McVey, Julian Smith and Andrea Leadsom out of his Cabinet. But his bid to reshape his team span out of control with the bombshell resignation of Chancellor Sajid Javid.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson appointed former Brexit minister Steve Barclay as Chief Secretary to the Treasury on Thursday, the government said in statement. The de-facto deputy finance minister role was previously held by Rishi Sunak, who was promoted to his former boss’s role after Sajid Javid chose to resign rather than accept Johnson’s demands he get rid of his team of aides. Barclay, whose Brexit ministry job ceased to exist when Britain left the European Union at the end of last month, previously served as a junior minister in the Treasury under Johnson’s predecessor Theresa May.
Boris Johnson has finally picked a minister to oversee this year’s troubled climate change summit, appointing Alok Sharma to the role. The job has been handed to the outgoing international development secretary, who will combine it with running the business department, where he replaces Andrea Leadsom. The role of president of ‘COP26’ has been a growing controversy since Claire O’Neill was sacked – with two former Tory leaders, David Cameron and William Hague, turning down the job.
New attorney general Suella Braverman has been appointed the government’s chief legal adviser just days after unleashing a broadside against “unelected, unaccountable” judges who she accused of encroaching on the powers of politicians and threatening the supremacy of parliament. In a blogpost on 27 January, the keen Brexiteer said that parliament must seize back control not only from the European Union but also the courts. As attorney, Ms Braverman will not have direct control over the legal system, though she will oversee the Crown Prosecution Service.
Rishi Sunak’s elevation to Chancellor of the Exchequer may have been dramatic, but the 39-year-old has long been marked out as a rising star in the Conservative party. The wealthy Winchester-educated son of Indian immigrants entered Parliament in 2015, taking over William Hague’s old seat of Richmond in Yorkshire, and won first his junior ministerial role under Theresa May. The committed Brexiteer was catapulted rapidly into the cabinet as Chief Secretary to the Treasury by Boris Johnson last July. The rumours that he was likely to replace Sajid Javid – who backed Remain in the referendum – were never far from the surface.
Jacob Rees Mogg has kept his job as Leader of the House of Commons despite his offending the victims of the Grenfell Tower fire. He was forced to apologise after he said the after he said the stay-put policy issued by the fire service had limited people’s chances of survival and he would have ignored it. He told the LBC radio host Nick Ferrari that if either of them had been in a fire they would “leave the burning building” and ignore the London fire brigade.
NICOLA STURGEON has been accused of not “ending poverty” for thousands of Scots amid fears England will raid their stock, Ian Murray Labour MP has suggested. Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP are opposing the Labour’s Party’s policy to help those on the poorest incomes with free sanitary products, and it’s claimed the SNP fears England would raid the provisions in Scotland. Scottish Secretary Alister Jack MP blasted Ms Sturgeon as he insisted he “doesn’t understand what they’re thinking”. Speaking in the House of Commons, Mr Murrary said: “Labour MSP has introduced a period products bill to the Parliament to give free provision to women in Scotland.
GERMANY could be forced to pay almost a third of the EU budget following the UK’s departure from the trade bloc. Following the end of the year, the UK will cease to adhere to any EU regulations and will not pay into the budget, with Boris Johnson insisting there will be no extension to the current transition period. With the UK’s departure, the bloc faces a €75billion (£62billion) funding gap which now needs to be covered, the European Commission President has said. Politico has reported Germany could be forced to pay 32.06 percent of the new budget in order to cover the UK’s exit. Under the budget for 2021-2027, national contribution under the European Commission’s proposed sum for the Multiannual Financial Framework is €130.04billion (£108billion) annually for all EU countries.
The eurozone economy is showing few signs of the much hoped-for recovery as the industrial slump continues to crush growth and Germany remains “particularly exposed” to a coronavirus crunch in China. European Commission forecasts show GDP growth set to plod on at 1.2pc a year for the foreseeable future, with France and Germany set for an underwhelming 1.1pc in 2020, Italy stagnating at 0.3pc and even star-performer Spain slowing from 2pc in 2019 to 1.6pc this year. “Leading indicators suggest that manufacturing output may stabilise in the months to come, although an upturn is not yet on the cards,” the Commission said.
The president of the European Commission has admitted that she made mistakes in allowing lucrative contracts to be improperly handed out to consultants during her time as Germany’s defence minister. Ursula von der Leyen is at the centre of an administrative scandal over the channelling of more than €100 million of public money to external advisers, some of whom are alleged to have effectively functioned as high-ranking civil servants. She is also under pressure over the revelation that all of the messages had been deleted from two of her smartphones. German MPs say this may have destroyed evidence.
The European Union (EU) increased fines for cartels 74 per cent last year to $1.6bn (£1.2bn). Analysis released today showed that the EU was the top of the global table for cartel fines, with the amount levied increasing nearly 40 per cent from the previous year. In May, the EU Commission hit five banks, Barclays, RBS, Citigroup, JPMorgan and MUFG, with a cumulative €1.07bn (£900m) fine for operating two cartels in the foreign exchange markets. The banks involved are now the subject of a £1bn class action lawsuit being brought in London by entities affected by the rigging such as pension funds and asset managers.
One of the UK’s nine confirmed coronavirus patients attended a conference in central London last week alongside 250 people before they were diagnosed, it emerged last night. Organisers of the UK Bus Summit, which took place on Tuesday Feb 6, wrote to attendees yesterday under the instruction of Public Health England to inform them they may have come into contact with a person confirmed to have the virus. Among the speakers slated to attend the Transport Time event were MPs and industry leaders. The one-day conference was held in Westminster at the QEII Centre, one of London’s largest conference halls.
Britain’s ninth coronavirus case waited two days after becoming ill before taking an Uber taxi to an A&E unit and presenting herself at reception. Two staff members at University Hospital Lewisham, in southeast London, have been put into isolation after assessing the woman. The driver who brought her in was given the all clear to carry on taking passengers but Uber suspended his account “out of an abundance of caution”. The patient’s family was being kept under observation over concerns that they might be infected. It is believed that she did not use public transport or go to work after falling ill.
A coronavirus expert has warned the spread of misinformation and conspiracy theories could lead to more cases in the UK. Professor Paul Hunter, of the University of East Anglia’s (UEA) Norwich Medical School, said fake news leads to bad advice and people taking “greater risks” during health crises. It comes as Sir Simon Stevens, chief executive of the NHS, said on Thursday that many more people in the UK may need to self-isolate to contain the illness, which has been officially named Covid-19.
Paramedics in hazmat suits have today been filmed marching a man out of a flat in central London hours after the first coronavirus patient was confirmed in the capital. Two medics in full protective gowns, gloves and face masks got out of an ambulance and carried heavy-duty rucksacks into a block of flats in Paddington at 9.45am. One of the staff was said to have told bystanders there was ‘a confirmed case in the building’ and asked if people could refrain from taking pictures. Five minutes later they emerged escorting a man in a black hoodie out of the block before loading him into the back of the ambulance and driving off.
THE London Underground subway network could be a hotbed for coronavirus, experts warned today as the first case of the deadly bug arrived in the capital. Nine people are being treated for the killer virus in the UK amid warnings more Brits were “highly likely” to be infected. And the latest patient in the UK, believed to be a woman, is now being treated at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital in London. She is understood to have flown into the capital from China before testing positive for the bug, now officially named as the Covid-19 virus. The desperate hunt is now on for people who may have come into contact with her.
Paedophiles can access child abuse images online in just three clicks, the National Crime Agency warned yesterday. NCA director-general Lynne Owens said such material was found so easily via search engines that there was nothing to stop offending on the open web. Police chiefs across Europe have backed her demands for companies to block child sexual abuse material as soon as it is detected. It comes as investigators found that offenders can target victims over a live stream for as little as £10.
An independent review into the deaths of several babies at a hospital trust has been ordered by ministers. Heartbreaking details of more than ten preventable deaths at East Kent Hospital Trust have emerged, with 26 cases of poor care under investigation. Yesterday, the trust said it ‘wholeheartedly’ apologised to ‘every one of those families we have let down’. East Kent has been in the spotlight since last month’s inquest into baby Harry Richford – who died ‘wholly avoidably’ seven days after his birth in November 2017. Health minister Nadine Dorries confirmed the review in the House of Commons and said it will ‘leave no stone unturned’.
NHS ENGLAND is under “unprecedented strain” due to government cuts, health campaigners warned today after the latest monthly service report showed extreme bed shortages. More than 100,000 A&E patients waited more than four hours for beds in January — the highest number of “trolly waits” since records began. Of these, about 2,800 waited more than 12 hours. This is an increase of over 20 per cent and 354 per cent respectively from the same month in 2019.
Frustrated residents claim they have been threatened with violence by abusive parents who block their driveways when dropping their children off to school. Members of a Streetwatch group in Castle Bromwich, Birmingham, say they have put up with parking issues near Heathlands Primary Academy for years. But now the enraged residents say parents have started threatening violence as the parking situation worsens outside the school of around 500 pupils. Shocked locals say parents have hurled threats including ‘I’ll f****** kill you’ and have caused significant damage to their homes and cars. +5
This is a fly-tipping site so horrendous it can be seen by satellites in space. The ‘dumping ground’ in Edgware, north London, has been piled so high it can be spotted on Google Maps’ satellite view. The site is strewn with old appliances, furniture and countless pieces of litter. Residents have called it a ‘disgrace’ and urged Barnet council to address the issue. Ann Mroz, who lives nearby, said: ‘It’s shameful. We should be looking to smarten up the area, not destroy it.’