Brexit

Westmonster
Rabid Remoaners sense Brexit is on the verge of being stopped after last night’s Commons vote that means MPs can now veto the UK’s exit deal. Lord Adonis, one of the motley crew that shuffled off to Brussels to meet Michel Barnier (Nick Clegg and Ken Clarke also attended), thinks this is the first step towards defeating Brexit. He clearly has absolutely no regard for democracy whatsoever. Most MPs and Lords are pro-EU, so now they get the chance to veto the Brexit deal it means May can’t guarantee to Brussels that she could actually implement the agreement she comes to with Juncker/Barnier and Co. It’s massively weakened the PM and Britain and Lord Adonis, the undemocratic Europhile, should hang his head in shame. They are effectively seeking to overrule the British public. It is a disgrace.

Mail
A plot by diehard Tory Remainers to water down Brexit  backfired yesterday as the European Union warned Britain would have a harder exit if MPs vote down a deal. Eleven rebels backed an amendment on Wednesday that gives Parliament the power to send the Prime Minister back to the negotiating table if the Commons rejects the final agreement. Some MPs believe this would give them the chance to order the Government to return to Brussels to seek a softer Brexit, with – for example – continued membership of the single market and customs union. But at a summit yesterday, EU leaders said there would be no prospect of reopening talks if that happens, meaning the country would simply leave the bloc without a deal. Theresa May shrugged off the rebels’ victory yesterday, saying she was still ‘on course to deliver Brexit’ as she arrived for the European Council meeting in Brussels. She said: ‘I am disappointed with the amendment but actually the EU Withdrawal Bill is making good progress through the House of Commons.

Telegraph
Tory rebels have increased the chances of a “no deal” Brexit by giving Theresa May less time to negotiate a good deal for Britain, EU leaders have warned. By insisting they have a “meaningful vote” on the final deal, the mutineers have weakened Mrs May’s hand because Brussels knows anything she agrees could be overturned by Parliament. She will also have to allow time for the vote to happen, cutting short the time available for reaching a satisfactory agreement with the EU. Together, the two factors make it less likely that she will achieve the best possible deal, EU leaders said, and if Parliament rejects what is on offer Britain will crash out of the EU without a deal. Brussels will not renegotiate, meaning the vote will still be a “take it or leave it” choice.

EU

Independent
A European Union leader has warned that the UK will be unable to renegotiate a new Brexit deal if Parliament votes to reject the one struck by Theresa May next year. The suggestion that the UK could crash out without a deal if MPs refused to back what Ms May returns with comes after the Government lost a key vote in the House of Commons that saw Tory rebels team up with Labour to ensure MPs get a vote. Arriving at a European Council summit in Brussels on Thursday just hours after Ms May’s defeat, Xavier Bettel, the prime minister of Luxembourg, said the UK would not be given the opportunity to renegotiate. “No,” he told reporters when asked.  “To think Theresa May will negotiate something, we will negotiate something, and then again [Ms May] will go back to Westminster is not good for the position of the negotiations.

Sky News
MPs have been warned Brussels will not re-negotiate a Brexit deal if Parliament rejects it, as EU leaders reacted to Theresa May’s defeat on key legislation. A group of Tory rebels 
forced an amendment to the EU Withdrawal Bill on Wednesday night, as they secured their demand for a “meaningful vote” on any Brexit deal. But, despite MPs celebrating their victory over the Government, EU leaders gathering in Brussels warned the vote will complicate the Brexit process.  Luxembourg’s president Xavier Bettel suggested the UK will not be able to return to Brussels asking for a different exit deal, if it is voted down by the House of Commons.

Mail
The Irish PM today warned that Brexit trade negotiations will not start until March as he pledged his loyalty to his country’s ‘new best friends’ the EU. EU leaders are expected to rubber stamp moving on to the next phase of talks at a  Brussels summit tomorrow but Leo Varadkar said the details of the transition will need to be thrashed out before we turn to trade.  His comments came as Theresa May downplayed her humiliating Commons defeat on the Brexit Bill last night as she arrived in Brussels to pitch for an ‘ambitious’ trade deal. The PM’s authority in Brussels risks being weakened after 11 Tory rebels joined Labour to inflict a defeat on the Government and demand a meaningful vote on the deal. Mrs May admitted the loss was ‘disappointing’ but insisted ministers are still ‘on course’ to deliver Brexit for Britain.

Express
PARLIAMENT will not be able to stop Brexit even if the UK fails to get a deal with the EU, a minister has declared. EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier wants any withdrawal deal finalised by October 2018 and the Government has committed to hold a vote in Parliament as soon as possible after the negotiations have concluded. But Brexit minister Steve Baker told a Lords committee that, if the UK has not reached agreement with the bloc by that time, MPs would not get a vote. He told this morning’s meeting the UK hoped and expected to get an agreement but would not commit to a Bill or parliamentary motion on leaving in March 2019 if they failed. Mr Baker warned committee members: “The vote we have committed to is a vote on the withdrawal agreement.

Independent
Theresa May arrived in Brussels on Thursday in time to see the official launch of the programme under which European states will integrate their defences, something Britain had avidly pressed for during the 1990s, but will not be a part of as it searches for its post-Brexit future. The road to today’s Permanent Structured Cooperation (Pesco) began with the Anglo-French European Union defence accord 19 years ago. But the UK subsequently turned against extending this across the EU, holding that it may speed up the creation of an EU force, to the detriment of Nato. The European states have repeatedly found themselves having to depend on the US to be bailed out militarily in recent times. They were unable to act in the Balkan conflict in the 1990s with any effect until the US stepped in. They were also forced to ask Washington for help after running out of bombs and missiles during the bombing of Muammar Gaddafi’s regime in Libya, a campaign which had been primarily instigated by David Cameron and Nicolas Sarkozy.

Breitbart
European Union chief Donald Tusk warned Thursday of a bruising Brexit battle ahead as Britain and the remaining 27 EU countries move onto to discussions over their future trade relations. As all 28 EU leaders, including British Prime Minister Theresa May, arrived in Brussels for a summit meeting, Tusk urged the EU-27 to continue to present a united front in the Brexit talks. “Only when we are united can we successfully perform even the most difficult issues and tasks,” said Tusk, the EU’s Council President. “I have no doubts that the real test of our unity will be the second phase of the Brexit talks.” On Friday, the EU is set to give the go-ahead for talks to start on the future trade relationship, which is likely to be fraught given the potentially divisive and complicated issues at hand.

HS2

Times
Bosses at HS2 have been accused of a cover-up over unauthorised redundancy payments amid warnings of financial chaos at the heart of the £56 billion high-speed rail project. In a report published today, MPs say that officials at Europe’s biggest infrastructure project withheld emails and even doctored a presentation, apparently to disguise enhanced redundancy payments to departing staff. A cross-party committee says that £1.76 million of unauthorised payments, which had been rejected by the Department for Transport, were a “shocking waste of taxpayers’ money”. HS2 has the task of building the £55.7 billion line, which is due to carry 250mph trains between London, Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds by 2033.

Guardian
MPs have called on the government to consider legal action against the former chief executive of the public body building the new high-speed rail network, over £1.76m in redundancy payments made in direct contravention of civil service rules. HS2 Ltd, which is overseeing the £55bn project, paid a total of £2.76m to 94 individuals, while the statutory redundancy terms should have kept the bill at £1m. MPs on the public accounts committee said the payouts were “a shocking waste of taxpayers’ money”. The National Audit Office found that HS2 Ltd’s former chief executive, Simon Kirby, was emailed in April 2016 by a senior civil servant at the Department for  Transport expressly disallowing the redundancy payouts proposed. The email was not forwarded and an HR director subsequently briefed the board and executive committee that the DfT had approved the scheme. An audit later found documents had been altered in an apparent attempt to cover up mistakes.

Russia

Telegraph
Russia poses a threat to Britain’s internet access and trade because under-sea communication cables are vulnerable to the country’s navy, the head of the Armed Forces has warned. Air Chief Marshal Sir Stuart Peach today said the  Russian’s ‘modernised’ navy had the ability to disrupt the transcontinental cables and that the UK had to bolster its naval forces to counter the threat. His warning comes amid a row over defence spending and sources have pointed out that the UK currently has had no submarine-hunting maritime patrol aircraft since 2010 while ships and submarines which could also protect the cables have fallen too. The Chief of the Defence Staff gave the speech only days after a think tank said an attack on the cables would deal a “crippling blow” to security and commerce and the “threat is nothing short of existential”.

Mail
Britain’s economy and way of life are at ‘catastrophic’ risk from Russian submarine drones that can cut underwater cables, the head of the military warned last night. Air Chief Marshal Sir Stuart Peach said the vital communication cables that ‘criss-cross the sea bed’ were vulnerable to Vladimir Putin‘s forces. There are fears Russia has the capability to tap, disrupt and even sever the underwater cables that link our internet and phone networks to the rest of the world. Many of those that serve Britain are in the Atlantic. Sir Stuart said the Navy was now prioritising missions ‘to protect the sea lines of communication’ and prevent an attack that could wreak economic chaos. ‘There’s a new risk to our way of life, which is the vulnerability of the cables that criss-cross the sea beds,’ he warned.

Flu

Sun
BRITS have been urged to dose themselves with vitamin C as the country faces its worst Aussie flu epidemic in 50 years. Almost 100,000 Australians have fallen ill to H2N2 – their most severe outbreak on record – and it is set to hit the UK as people fly here from overseas. And with the flu expected to rip through schools, office and hospitals, doctors have urged Brits to take precautions in the lead up to Christmas. Dr David Jack told The Daily Star vitamin C was key to avoiding being struck down by the flu, saying: “I really don’t think you can get enough of it.” In Australia, drug manufacturers have designed super-strength vaccines for the elderly as the country experience record breaking infection figures. An average of 8,000 people die every year because of flu in England and Wales but experts have warned the number could be a lot higher this year if dangerous strains like H2N2 make it to our shores.

Star
AN epidemic of “Aussie Flu” is leaving Brits battling bugs over Christmas. It has already rampaged through schools, offices and hospitals and hit thousands of kids and adults. Over 170,000 bouts of the bug were diagnosed Down Under this year and medics are urging Brits to dose themselves with vitamin C. Dr David Jack said: “I really don’t think you can get enough of it.”  Combined with freezing temperatures this could be a deadly Christmas for Brits. With millions huddled up indoors, the disease is expected to race through families as people avoid the icy weather. And as an Arctic blast is expected to land in Britain today, forecasters have urged the nation to prepare for the coldest December on record.
But the big freeze could still thaw out just in time for Christmas. A tropical weather front could push mild weather across the country.

New world

Times
For the first time, Nasa has found a star system with as many planets as our own. It could not have done so, however, without two unlikely sources of help: Google software engineers and the decision to strip Pluto of its status as a planet. Yesterday Nasa announced that a reanalysis of the data from its Kepler space telescope, which has already found more than 1,000 planets, had identified a faint signal in a system 2,500 light years from Earth. This small planet, Kepler-90i, would ordinarily be unremarkable. Orbiting close to its star, its surface would be “sizzling hot”, Nasa scientists said, and it is not a contender for harbouring life. However, its discovery meant that its system had eight verified planets.

Star
NASA has discovered a new planet in a far off solar system – boosting hopes of finding extraterrestrial life. The space agency live streamed a press conference from Washington DC to announce a new discovery by its Kepler telescope. It confirmed its planet hunting equipment has found an entire solar system with as many planets as our own. New planets were discovered around the Kepler-90 star, which looks like our own sun. The star and its solar system were already known. But the breakthrough came when astronomers found new worlds, which was done using Google’s artificial intelligence technology. That suggests that there might be whole worlds and solar systems hiding within the data already collected, but which we hadn’t been able to notice because there is so many signals to pick through. Kepler has four-years of data from looking at the sky, and 35,000 possible planetary signals – far more than humans could ever look through.

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