Donald Tusk has said Brexit is a ‘lose-lose situation’ for the UK and EU, just hours after Theresa May secured Cabinet approval to proceed with her deal. Speaking alongside EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier at a press conference in Brussels, the European Council (EC) president, sent a message to British people, telling them: ‘As much as I am sad to see you leave, I will do everything to make this farewell the least painful possible, for you and for us.’ Mr Tusk set out the process leading up to a Brussels summit of EU leaders on November 25 at which the UK’s withdrawal agreement will be finalised and formalised.
EU leaders said they were hoping for a “no-Brexit scenario” on Thursday as they suggested that Britain could call off the entire process if it did not like the terms of the deal. Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council, said reversing the referendum result would be the EU’s preferred outcome of the negotiations. “The EU is prepared for a final deal with the United Kingdom in November. We are also prepared for a no-deal scenario but of course we are best prepared for a no-Brexit scenario,” said Mr Tusk at a press conference in Brussels.
The European Union has admitted that plans for a minimal customs union with Britain do not go nearly as far as either side wanted for their post-Brexit relationship. Brussels will push for what is in effect a full customs union with the UK after Brexit when trade talks begin next year. This is because both sides recognise that the present arrangements, which are designed to avoid a hard border in Ireland, are “sub-optimal”. As Westminster was in turmoil, negotiators in Brussels said yesterday that the draft divorce deal had also pushed the EU to its limit after difficult splits about whether to accept the UK’s demand for temporary customs arrangements to avoid border checks in Ireland.
EU leaders have dismissed talk of renegotiating the draft Brexit deal and warned the UK’s political situation could make a “no-deal” more likely. German Chancellor Angela Merkel said there was “no question” of reopening talks as a document was “on the table”. Meanwhile French PM Edouard Philippe said there was a need to prepare for a no-deal because of UK “uncertainty”. The EU has set out a series of meetings leading up to 25 November when it plans to approve the Brexit agreement.
ANGELA Merkel warned Britain there is “no question” of renegotiating the terms of the Brexit deal. The German Chancellor insisted the withdrawal pact agreed with Theresa May is the bloc’s final offer. She said: “We have a document on the table that Britain and the EU have agreed to, so for me there’s no question at the moment whether we negotiate further.” Her intervention came after eurocrats insisted the deal is “the best we can do” and that there is no room for further compromises. Their ‘take it or leave it’ ultimatum will scotch Brexiteer and Remainer hopes that the terms of the deal could be reopened if Theresa May is toppled.
Angela Merkel has quashed hopes that the European Union could step in to rescue the Brexit agreement with further concessions. Governments across Europe have tried to shore up support for the agreement struck by Theresa May’s cabinet yesterday amid mounting concern that Britain could end up tearing itself out of the EU without a formal deal. The German chancellor said that a no-deal Brexit would be the “worst and most chaotic scenario” but clearly signalled her reluctance to yield more ground to the British side.
Populist Alternative for Germany (AfD) MP Petr Bystron has blamed the Brexit failures of UK Prime Minister Theresa May on the attitudes of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the European Union who he labelled “stubborn” and “unhelpful.” Mr Bystron, who acts as Spokesman for the Alternative for Germany (AfD) on the Foreign Policy Committee of the German Bundestag, said that much of the blame for the outcome of the Brexit negotiations rested on Dr Merkel and her government. “Theresa May’s tragic failure is in large part due to the intransigent attitude of the Berlin government under Angela Merkel, who refused to negotiate constructively with the British government.
France’s finance minister, Bruno Le Maire, has welcomed the draft Brexit withdrawal agreement but warned Paris would be vigilant on its final terms, amid mounting concern from EU member states that the UK was being given too soft a deal. An agreement was “good news for the French economy, good news for all French firms,” Le Maire told French public television on Thursday. “It’s in everyone’s interest that Brexit should go ahead smoothly.” However, he stressed France would be “cautious” over formally signing off the divorce deal to ensure it “guards French and European interests”. If the UK stayed in a customs union, as envisaged until an agreement on future trade was negotiated, “we must be sure it respects all EU rules”, he said, including on taxation and environmental standards. The deal “must not weaken our common market”.
EUROPEAN Union countries have rounded on the Italian government, saying it must fall in line after Rome refused to change its budget despite repeated EU demands. Yesterday, Italy submitted its draft 2019 budget to the European Commission with no changes to its growth and deficit projections which had previously been rejected for breaking EU economic rules. The move increased tensions between Rome and EU leaders who had demanded the Italian coalition government make changes. Today, finance ministers from France, the Netherlands and Austria all demanded Italy take “responsibility” amid fears Europe can not handle yet another crisis.
In the course of the Brexit negotiations the Prime Minister made a series of assertions and promises about the Brexit deal. In speeches delivered over the past year and a half, she repeatedly vowed to “take back control of our borders, laws and money.” Here we measure the deal published on Wednesday against Mrs May’s promises. Payments to EU: What May promised: An end to “vast annual payments” in her Tory conference speech in October 2018. What May delivered: Britain will honour all of its commitments to the current EU budget, meaning that member states will not be left to fill the gaps.
Leading Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg has submitted a letter of no confidence in Theresa May, increasing the threat of a Tory leadership challenge. The Tory MP said it was “in the interest of the party and the country if she were to stand aside”, but later insisted he was not staging a “coup” against the prime minister. Several other Conservative MPs – including Henry Smith, Simon Clarke, Laurence Robertson and Anne Marie Morris – also confirmed on Thursday they had submitted their own letters amid growing discontent over the PM’s Brexit plan.
As she stepped up to a lectern in Downing Street on Thursday evening, Theresa May described her job as a “heavy responsibility”, and the burden of high office was written on her careworn face at the end of one of the most turbulent days she has lived through. Such was her demeanour, so deep her tone, that many of those watching thought she was about to announce her resignation, but instead she promised to battle on, to stay at the crease, like her dogged cricketing hero Geoffrey Boycott.
Theresa May tonight vowed to stand and fight in a stubborn statement warning of “consequences” if she is forced from power. The Prime Minister gave a live statement to the nation from Downing Street warning of “deep and grave uncertainty” if her Brexit plan is scuppered. Brexit plans are in chaos as she faces defeat for the deal in the Commons, a Tory no confidence vote, and seven resignations over the deal – including Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab and Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey.
THERESA MAY’S “incompetent” Tory Party teetered on the brink of collapse today as her “chaotic” Brexit deal led to a wave of calls for her to quit. The PM was seriously undermined by the resignations of Brexit secretary Dominic Raab and work and pensions secretary Esther McVey, with other Tories following suit. Hard-right Tory MP Jacob Rees-Mogg called for a vote of no confidence in Ms May in outrage over her Brexit deal. In his resignation letter, Mr Raab said the regulatory regime proposed in the deal “prevents a very real threat to the integrity of the United Kingdom,” and said he could not support a deal where the EU has a “veto over our ability to exit.”
Brexiteers plotting to topple Theresa May faced a ferocious Tory backlash on Thursday night. On a dramatic day at Westminster, hardline Eurosceptics went public with their bid to oust the Prime Minister, following the resignation of Dominic Raab, Esther McVey and two junior ministers over Brexit. Jacob Rees-Mogg confronted Mrs May in the Commons before holding an extraordinary Press conference outside Parliament, saying he had submitted a letter of no confidence in her. Another 15 MPs also announced they had submitted letters in a bid to reach the threshold of 48 needed to trigger a confidence vote.
As all about him were losing their heads – and some were even blaming him – Boris Johnson cut a surprisingly restrained figure as he faced the cameras in parliament’s Central Lobby on Tuesday night, to rubbish a Brexit deal he had not even read. The leavers’ strategy of coming out fighting against the Brussels briefings in a bid to control the news agenda proved unpopular with many Tory MPs, but in the end, there was little criticism of Boris – not least in light of the events that followed. As one backbencher, previously a May loyalist, put it: “Boris showed he is capable of being sensible. His tone was measured. It showed that he has the capacity to step back and take a breath.”
Theresa May was at the mercy of her remaining Brexiteer cabinet ministers last night after being left weakened by an attempted coup and wave of resignations. The prime minister failed to persuade Michael Gove to become her third Brexit secretary as she tried to stem the flow of ministers from government. After she forced the Brexit deal through her divided cabinet on Wednesday, Mrs May suffered the worst day of her premiership as: • Dominic Raab quit as Brexit secretary, telling the prime minister that he could not support plans for an Irish backstop. • Esther McVey followed shortly afterwards, leaving her post as work and pensions secretary and accusing Mrs May of betrayal.
Brexit campaign leader Nigel Farage has celebrated the wave of ministerial resignations which have followed the unveiling of Theresa May’s draft withdrawal agreement with the European Union, saying hopes to see her deposed within a matter of days. “At last! Gosh, it’s taken them a hell of a long time, I mean they should’ve got rid of her a year ago, really,” exclaimed the veteran campaigner in an interview with Channel 5, evidently relieved. “It was perfectly obvious after her speech in Florence that she did not genuinely want to leave the European Union — that’s the speech where she started talking about opting back into part of the EU,” he recalled.
For Brexiteers, the Irish ‘backstop’ has become a dirty word, handcuffing the UK to the EU’s customs union and taking away Britain’s chance to strike trade deals around the world for the foreseeable future. When the history of Brexit is written, there will be long arguments over whether the ‘backstop’ could have been avoided, but even before the Brexit vote, it was clear that Ireland was going to present a major impediment to the UK’s departure from the EU. The backstop has its origin in the 1998 Good Friday Agreement which created an ‘invisible’ border between Northern Ireland and the Republic as part of the peace settlement between Unionist and Nationalists.
IRELAND’s deputy premier Simon Coveney says he has faith that Theresa May can navigate the “difficult days” ahead as members of her Cabinet walkout over her Brexit deal amid speculation of a leadership challenge. The Tánaiste was challenged during Dail questions on whether the deal was already doomed, given the developments in London. Mr Coveney said he had faith that Theresa May could navigate the “difficult days” ahead: “She’s resilient and she’s shown a remarkable capacity to get things done in difficult circumstances.”
Irelandwill remain an open door to the UK for EU citizens after Brexit with no mandatory passport checks on those who travel to Britain via Dublin and Belfast, it has been confirmed. After Brexit, EU citizens not already settled in the UK will be subject to immigration rules but will be able to travel to Britain via Ireland and Northern Irelanduninhibited. This is because the withdrawal dealstates the UK will respect Ireland’s continued membership of the EU and its freedom of movement rules while at the same time keeping the common travel area (CTA), which has allowed British and Irish citizens to move freely between each others’ countries since 1922.
Ireland declared victory in the Brexit negotiations on Thursday while other EU leaders cautiously welcomed Theresa May’s deal, even as Eurosceptics in Westminster threatened to bring down her Government. The front page of the Irish Times announced “Victory in London, chaos in Brussels,” while Danish paper Berlingske boasted that the “British people are beginning to understand that the EU is not a buffet.” Senior officials in France, meanwhile, said it was critical that the deal was implemented in full.
The ongoing Brexit chaos makes the case for Scottish independence stronger every day, Nicola Sturgeon has said, suggesting that she may update the Holyrood parliament on the timing of a second independence poll in a matter of weeks. Responding to a question from Scottish Greens co-convenor Patrick Harvie at first minister’s questions on Thursday, the Scottish National party leader said: “I have no doubt that Scotland will get an opportunity to choose again on the question of independence, and when it does, I am confident that it will choose to be an independent country.
SPAIN has refused to give up its claim on Gibraltar, despite the draft Brexit withdrawal agreed by Theresa May specifically protecting the British overseas territory and its people. The Brexit divorce agreement presented to Parliament by the Prime Minister, which has been met with widespread criticism, includes a protocol setting out the rights of citizens and businesses in Gibraltar but a Spanish minister said his country has not relinquished claims to the region. The overarching aim of the protocol is to, “ensure and orderly withdrawal from the Union in relation to Gibraltar.”
To paraphrase Sherlock Holmes: when you exclude the impossible, what remains, however improbable, is the answer. The only way out of the Brexit impasse is a further referendum. At some point Parliament should recognise this, and if the tactics of how it is voted upon aren’t bungled, should agree it. But the sooner the better. The Theresa May deal should not pass Parliament. It is a bad deal, a million miles away from what people were promised from Brexit; and a deal which Members of Parliament would never in a thousand years vote for if they were voting purely on its merits.
Over-65s seeking flu jabs are being turned away by GPs who say they are struggling to get hold of the vaccine. Shortages of a version tailored to older people are being reported around the country, with doctors complaining that health chiefs have not given them enough time to order supplies. GPs have accused NHS England of presiding over a “complete debacle”, but health chiefs insist that surgeries have been given plenty of time to arrange supplies of the vaccine.
NHS cancer screening is to be overhauled after a string of blunders, and a review will consider replacing one-size-fits-all checks with tests targeted according to risk factors. Checks for breast, bowel and cervical cancer are being reviewed as health chiefs acknowledge that programmes established decades ago need updating. Stratified screening that offers more frequent checks to those at highest risk while calling in others less often is likely to be among changes considered. Artificial intelligence that checks scans for cancer could also be integrated with other changes to modernise systems that rely on sending out standardised letters.
DOCTORS have warned women could be at risk of cervical cancer after an NHS blunder meant up to 48,000 failed to receive letters inviting them for a smear test. The “appalling error” saw patients miss a crucial reminder notice to book a smear test, while others weren’t sent results letters, the British Medical Association said. Officials admit 180 women were not told they had abnormal findings – and were at heightened risk of cervical cancer. NHS England said half have now been followed up and there is no evidence of harm, while the rest have been booked in for extra checks.
DRUG companies are ripping off the NHS to the tune of tens of billions pounds a year, statistics from management body NHS England revealed yesterday. They showed that companies supplying medications charged the NHS £20.2 billion last year — an increase of 10.9 per cent. The increase far outstrips inflation and is round three times higher than extra cash given to the NHS by taxpayers. Campaign group Global Justice Now condemned the increase as “exploitative” and said the government should take action to curb the companies’ blatant greed. The group says that patients are being denied access to vital drugs because of spiralling costs.
Children as young as 11 are being put on a “GCSE flight path” and taught an increasingly narrow curriculum, teachers say. Schools are preparing children for GCSEs from the start of secondary school and have an obsession with exams, meaning access to arts subjects is being restricted, according to a survey. Amanda Spielman, the head of Ofsted, spoke out last year against schools that start the two-year syllabus a year early, at Year 9, meaning that pupils decide which subjects they will study at GCSE level at the end of Year 8 when they are 12 or 13.