TOP Whitehall officials were caught boasting to EU diplomats that Brexit will be like a KitKat with chocolate covering ties to Brussels for years to come. Bombshell tapes passed to The Sun reveal senior civil servants secretly pledging to continue spending taxpayers’ cash propping up Brussels defence and foreign projects — including the controversial “EU Army”. As part of the deal suggested by a Cabinet Office adviser, EU military officials would be based in Whitehall forever. Our revelation on Thursday night reignited the bitter war of words between Brexiteers and the Civil Service – who were accused of trying to “hoodwink” voters.
Sky News has established the Government has been signing a series of secret agreements with companies and industry groups over highly controversial outcomes of the Brexit process for Britain’s trade border. The attempt to enforce silence about outside discussions on the changes urgently required to the border after Brexit has raised eyebrows across industry. A series of non-disclosure agreements have been forced into the process of consultation with the logistics companies that actually operate the UK border, with one industry source calculating that “many dozens” have been signed.
Theresa May is warned today that her pledge of no hard border in Ireland after Brexit can only be achieved if the UK remains aligned with EU rules for the foreseeable future, in a hard-hitting report by MPs. There is “no evidence” of a technical solution to allow Northern Ireland to break free from the customs union and single market without the return of border posts and checks, their report concludes. The Government’s existing proposals are dismissed as “blue sky thinking” which would be impossible to implement before Brexit day, now just one year away. Crucially, the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee also rejects “a customs border down the Irish Sea” – requiring the entire UK to stay aligned with the EU.
There is no evidence to support the claim Britain could have a post-Brexit open Irish border without any checkpoints, according to a report by MPs. The Northern Ireland Affairs Committee examined whether it is possible to leave the single market and customs union without creating a hard Irish border. The report concludes it has been unable to find border solutions anywhere in the world which avoid physical infrastructure. It says greater technical clarity is needed to explain how the current frictionless border will continue. The Committee Chair Dr Andrew Murrison MP said: “Brexit’s success or otherwise hinges on the UK-Ireland border.
People warning that the Northern Ireland peace process is at risk because of Brexit are “almost encouraging violence”, Jacob Rees-Mogg has claimed. The leading Tory Brexiteer condemned what he called the “cynical approach” of critics warning the threat of a new hard border could bring a return of the Troubles. “Once you start proposing that violence may be a consequence of something, you’re almost encouraging violence,” Mr Rees-Mogg said. The comment came in an interview with Parliament’s The House magazine in which he said Theresa May was being “generous” in agreeing to work with the EU to find a solution to the border controversy.
SHUTTING British banks out of the Single Market will backfire and “significantly weaken” the EU, Brussels has been warned. Georges Ugeux, a former president of the European Investment Fund, branded eurocrats “naive” over their opposition to a special deal for the City. The Belgian, who was also a bigwig on the New York Stock Exchange, said EU leaders’ stance will lead to global investment in the EU drying up. His warning came as Member States inserted new language into their draft negotiating guidelines for a trade deal ruling out Philip Hammond’s plan.
A EUROPEAN Union bid to grant Eurocrats new powers to control corporation tax has sparked a bitter row among lawmakers, with some MEPs branding states “pirates” for refusing to fall into line. The new rules would grant more authority to Brussels and allow the European Commission to dictate a bloc-wide corporate tax rate, while member states would retain the ability to set their own taxes such as income tax and VAT. The European Union says the Common Consolidated Corporate Tax Base (CCCTB) rules will end aggressive tax avoidance and make taxation more transparent.
The unelected European Commission is set to approve an additional three billion euros in funding for Turkey, the second part of a deal whereby they make efforts to stem the flow of migrants from the Middle East. European Union (EU) officials made the announcement Wednesday, despite Turkey moving in an ever more authoritarian direction, periodically threatening to “flood” the EU with migrants, and acting increasingly aggressively toward Cyprus and Greece. “Today’s decision establishes the legal framework for the second tranche of €3 billion… mobilising €1 billion from the EU budget,” an EU statement announced Wednesday.
Ryszard Terlecki, a senior Polish politician and Deputy Marshal of the Sejm has said that Brexit has caused a “dramatic crisis” in the EU which could lead to its downfall. Speaking at a Europe-Ukraine Forum in Poland, Terlecki said: “The dramatic crisis that the EU establishment seems to me is not fully aware of: it is one of the most important EU countries that is leaving it and that is a huge failure of the Union. When such a failure occurs, the Union, or rather the EU bureaucracy, simultaneously it multiplies doubts, reservations and conditions with other countries that are to be adopted.” Speaking on a panel entitled: ‘Integration or disintegration, where is Europe heading?’ the senior member of Poland’s governing Law and Justice party said that post-communist countries “are very attached to their sovereignty.”
Hungary’s prime minister painted an apocalyptic view of Western Europe on Thursday, saying it was under a migrant invasion that will soon make a minority of native-born Europeans. Prime Minister Viktor Orban, speaking at a massive rally three weeks ahead of Hungary’s parliamentary election, said Western Europe has surrendered with ‘its hands up’ to a mass migration of people from Africa and the Middle East. He said: ‘The situation is that those who don’t block migration at their borders will be lost.’
JEAN-CLAUDE Juncker is facing another battle to hold on to his job in Brussels amid accusations he failed to properly scrutinise his predecessor Jose Manuel Barroso. Former European Commission president Mr Barroso has denied he lobbied his former colleagues for his new employer Goldman Sachs. Following the publication of a report from the European Ombudsman, an independent association investigating into EU institutions, he wrote on Twitter: “I have not and will not lobby EU officials”. The papers claim that his successor at the Commission, Mr Juncker, had failed to scrutinise whether the Portuguese’s new job undermined the trust the public has in the European Union.
THE Royal Navy should be bolstered to help protect British fishing waters from the “armada” of EU trawlers post-Brexit, ministers have been told. Tory Philip Hollobone said supporters of Remain and Leave were united in the need for the UK to leave the Common Fisheries Policy, which he labelled the “very worst aspect” of EU membership. Brexit minister Steve Baker said surveillance capacity will be strengthened to ensure UK waters can be patrolled and regulations enforced. Referring to when the UK leaves the EU, Mr Hollobone told the Commons: “On that day the armada of EU trawlers that have been plundering Britain’s historic fishing grounds since 1973 are not going to be happy their best years are behind them.
THE Royal Navy will be strengthened to protect the UK’s waters after Brexit, a minister from the Department of Exiting the European Union has confirmed following fears an EU ‘armada’ of fishing boats would attempt to plunder British waters after Brexit. Brexit minister Steve Baker in the House of Commons today confirmed Britain “will strengthen our surveillance capability” to enforce Britain’s rights after the UK leaves the European Union. Mr Baker also hinted at a potential funding increase for the Royal Navy as he vowed the Government will make sure the Navy has the “appropriate capacity” that is required to “patrol our waters and enforce regulations as required”.
Leaders of the four biggest powers in the Western world have taken the unprecedented step of issuing a joint demand that Russia should fall into line following the Salisbury nerve agent attack. The US, France and Germany backed Theresa May’s assessment and issued a unified statement that they believe Moscow was behind the release of a Russian-made Novichok chemical weapon in the Wiltshire city. Donald Trump also announced new sanctions to punish Russia for meddling in elections and cyber attacks, heaping pressure on Vladimir Putin and making clear the West is taking any misconduct seriously.
The West united against President Putin’s regime yesterday as America announced tougher sanctions against Moscow and joined France and Germany in an unequivocal condemnation of the Salisbury chemical attack. In an unusual joint statement, the leaders of France, Germany, the US and Britain said there was “no plausible alternative explanation” for the poisoning other than that it was the work of the Kremlin. The attempted murder of Sergei Skripal, 66, and his daughter Yulia, 33, represented “an assault on UK sovereignty” and a breach of international law that “threatens the security of us all”, the leaders said.
A rare joint statement by Britain’s allies today condemned the Salisbury spy attack as an “assault on UK sovereignty”. The damning missive by the leaders of France, Germany, the US and UK came as Prime Minister Theresa May visited the scene of the nerve agent poisoning 11 days ago. The move, near-unprecedented in recent diplomacy, shows Britain’s bid to build a coalition against Russia as relations plunge to their worst since the Cold War. The Prime Minister has been rallying global allies since she announced a crackdown yesterday, expelling 23 Russian diplomats, cutting high-level ties and boycotting the World Cup at ministerial level.
Jeremy Corbyn has defied critics in his own party and warned the prime minister against “rushing way ahead of the evidence” over the Salisbury poisoning, in what he called the “fevered” atmosphere of Westminster. The Labour leader used an article in the Guardian to urge the government to take a “calm, measured” approach – and warn against the drift towards a “new cold war” with Russia. Corbyn was criticised by some in his own party on Wednesday for what they regarded as his lacklustre response to Theresa May’s announcement of action against Moscow over the poisoning of former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, with a nerve agent.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has defended his reluctance to blame Russia categorically for the Salisbury nerve agent attack, insisting the government must avoid “hasty judgements”. Writing in the Guardian, he warns not to “rush ahead of the evidence” in a “fevered parliamentary atmosphere”. Investigators say they have identified 131 people who have potentially been exposed to the chemical used in 4 March’s attack on a former spy. Russia has denied it was involved. The US, Germany and France have backed the UK’s conclusion that Russia carried out the attack on former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter, after Theresa May said Russia was “culpable”.
FRANCE has been knocked into shape by its Nato allies, joining Britain, the US and Germany in declaring Russia “culpable” for the nerve agent poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal in Salisbury. President Emmanuel Macron has dropped his previous reasonable insistence that Theresa May’s government present “definitive conclusions” before any action was taken. Media abuse of Macron has subsided now that he is on board, but there is no end to the pursuit of Jeremy Corbyn for his serious, balanced and level-headed response to May’s declaration of Moscow’s guilt.
Jeremy Corbyn has defended his position on Russia saying we should not resign ourselves to a ‘new cold war’. The Labour leader, who has been roundly criticised for his failure to condemn the Kremlin over the nerve agent attack, has defied critics in his own party to call for a calm response. And he suggested that the government were jumping to conclusions. In an article for the Guardian he wrote: “To rush way ahead of the evidence being gathered by the police, in a fevered parliamentary atmosphere, serves neither justice nor our national security.”
JEREMY Corbyn was brilliantly put down by a member of the BBC Question Time audience in response to the Labour leader’s track record over the UK’s security and his lukewarm response to the poisoning of Sergei Skripal. A member of the audience asked: “Would the security of the UK be safe in Jeremy Corbyn’s hands if he became Prime Minister?” The audience member said with acid wit: “Corbyn has a long record of blaming Nato and the western world for any problems with the Soviet Union. “He has always been a useful idiot, one of Stalin’s useful idiot.” The audience laughed and applauded.
For the second time in 48 hours, Jeremy Corbyn stood at the despatch box and called for a “robust dialogue” with Russia. The meaning of the phrase “robust dialogue” is not immediately clear, but that within seconds Tory Minister Claire Perry had shouted “You’re a disgrace to your party!” at him is as good a starting place as any. Theresa May had just told the House that Russia’s 36 hour deadline to give a credible account of what happened in Salisbury had expired. And that they had treated the question with “sarcasm and disdain” and that action would be taken.
Sparks flew on BBC‘s Question Time tonight after the programme invited an RT presenter to air his views as a panelist. Afshin Rattansi joined Labour’s Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer, the Tory Transport Secretary Chris Grayling, Irish MEP Mairead McGuinness and actor Brian Cox. And his first act on the show was to label Yulia Skripal – the poisoned daughter of Russian double agent Sergei Skripal – a spy. Viewers were left aghast by the comment by Rattansi, from RT – previously known as Russia Today – saying he was peddling Russian propaganda, and the Cambridge-born journalist has since been on social media sharing reaction.
Anti-Muslim letters and suspicious packages received by MPs may be linked to a two-year hate campaign against mosques on both sides of the Atlantic, the monitoring group Tell Mama has warned. The “Punish a Muslim” letters sent this week bear a number of similarities to letters sent to mosques in London, South Yorkshire and the US in 2016-17, including sharing the same postmark. The new letters were received by people around the UK, and were included in suspicious packages sent to at least four Muslim MPs. Several people were taken to hospital after a “low-level noxious” substance was found inside some of the packages. Police and ambulance crews were called to Westminster on Thursday after a further package was received by Sajid Javid, the communities secretary.
The communities secretary, Sajid Javid, has become the latest MP to receive a ‘Punish a Muslim’ letter, of the kind previously sent to four Muslim Labour MPs. Police and ambulance crews were called to parliament on Thursday after a suspicious package was delivered to an office, days after investigators found four Labour MPs were sent similar packages with anti-Islam messages and a “low-level noxious” substance. Javid, who is believed to be the first Conservative MP to receive such a letter, tweeted a picture of it with the hashtag #fanmail.
Jack Straw has come out and said some groups of Pakistani men regard white girls as “easy meat” in the wake of the Telford child grooming scandal. Speaking on BBC Daily Politics, Straw said: “It goes back some of the nature of Pakistani society in the villages where these people come from, it’s very complicated, some people attribute it to Islam, that’s not the case at all. “It’s a cultural problem about the way in which this particular segment of Pakistani men in this country happen to regard white girls…they see them as easy meat.” Speaking of other scandals across the country Straw also said: “In Rotherham you’ve had these terrible examples where social services and police really covered their eyes to what was going on with disastrous consequences.” An inquiry into the Rotherham grooming scandal has identified 80% of suspects as being of Pakistani heritage.
Former New Labour Home Secretary Jack Straw has said grooming gangs are a “cultural problem” and some Pakistani-heritage men view young white girls as “easy meat”, whilst insisting that Islam is not a factor. Mr. Straw was Home Secretary from 1997 to 2001 – a time of activity for many of the grooming gangs so far discovered – overseeing an unprecedented increase in mass immigration and a continued shift towards politically correct culture within government. “Jack Straw’s former advisor said Ministers intended to ‘rub the Right’s nose in diversity’,” commented former UKIP leader Nigel Farage in response to Mr. Straw’s remarks Thursday.
A Pakistani gang sexually exploited a teenage girl, including trying to force her to sleep with a surgeon with a gold card, a court heard yesterday. Ten men are accused of plying the girl with drink and drugs in return for sex during a three-year ordeal. Now 24, the woman said she reported the abuse, which she claims started when she was 14, to police when she was a teenager. But she says action was only taken when her fiance contacted the BBC after watching a report on the Rotherham child abuse scandal. The woman told the court she would be taken to a house in Bradford where as many as 50 people could be present.
National Insurance could rise by a penny in the pound to fund a major boost in health spending. The radical plan is being examined by senior Tories looking for ways to prevent a repeat of this winter’s NHS crisis. While officially still saying there are ‘no plans’ for tax rises, Downing Street is thought to be ‘increasingly keen’ on the proposal, which would raise about £5billion a year. Tory sources say the Cabinet has accepted the need to ‘make an intervention’ on the NHS in the coming months, which will involve releasing billions in extra cash. Debate is now raging over how to raise the money. One proposal is to increase National Insurance by 1p, taking the rate paid by most workers from 12 to 13 per cent.
Junior doctors are ditching training to take career breaks or go abroad, a report has found. Stressed-out millennials are either leaving the profession or deferring training, blaming pressures of the job. An annual survey found most junior doctors now do not carry on with training after their two-year foundation programme. Less than 43 per cent of medics who finished the two years of training after graduating from medical school chose to stay in the NHS and work towards becoming a GP or specialist. This is the lowest proportion in the health service’s history and down from 71.3 per cent in 2011.
The NHS has been accused of accelerating addictions to super-strength painkillers after nearly 24 million opioids were prescribed last year, ten million more than in 2007. Figures provided by the Office for National Statistics also show that the prescribing rate of pills such as morphine, tramadol and fentanyl is four times higher in parts of northern England than in London. According to a report by the BBC, more than two million working-age people in England took a prescription painkiller that was not prescribed for them in 2016-17, with 3,700 people dying from opioid-related drug misuse in 2016, the highest number on record.