Brexit

Independent
David Davis has renewed his threat that Britain will refuse to pay its huge Brexit “divorce bill” unless Brussels backs down on its proposal for Northern Ireland to remain under EU rules. Nervous Conservative MPs have been sent a letter by the Brexit Secretary, insisting the Government will not cave in to the demands made in the EU’s draft legal agreement published on Wednesday. Mr Davis said the UK would “meet our obligations that we signed up to” to plug the hole in the EU budget until the end of 2020 and pay a “fair share of liabilities”. No 10 has put the bill at around £39bn, just over half of which is to meet liabilities from 40 years of EU membership, although the exact sum is uncertain. But Mr Davis insisted the bill would not be paid unless “all of the issues” of concern to Britain were resolved, to reach an over-arching withdrawal agreement. Theresa May has already rejected Northern Ireland remaining aligned with the Republic, if necessary to avoid a hard border, insisting “no United Kingdom prime minister could ever agree to it”.  

Westmonster
Brexit Secretary David Davis has threatened not to pay the divorce bill unless the EU drop their ridiculous demand that Northern Ireland remain in a customs union after Brexit. Davis wrote a letter to MPs telling them that no money will be sent to Brussels until “all the issues” we disagree with the EU on have been resolved. Theresa May will meet with President of the European Parliament, Donald Tusk, to tell him to his face where Britain stands, before returning to the UK on Friday to fill the rest of us in. Many Brexiteers are furious about handing the EU any money at all to leave, they’re also angry that the EU could essentially threaten British sovereign territory in this way – it’s time for Theresa May to stand up to Brussels and lay down the law.

Breitbart
The UK will refuse to pay the agreed so-called Brexit ‘divorce bill’ unless the European Union (EU) backs down on its attempt to force Northern Ireland to stay inside the bloc’s Customs Union. The EU’s demands on Northern Ireland have been described as an attempt to “annex” the province by critical MPs and the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), who called it “constitutionally unacceptable” and potentially “catastrophic”. The Tories rely on the DUP for votes, and the government has responded in a  strongly worded letter to Tory MPs, following the  publication of the draft withdrawal agreement Wednesday. Brexit secretary David Davis wrote that the UK would not finalise financial payments to the EU until “all the issues” of concern in the Brexit process had been addressed, 
The Times reports.

Express
THERESA May will issue a five-point ultimatum to Brussels to ensure Britain gets the Brexit deal that the country voted for in the EU referendum. In a bold speech mapping out her vision for an “ambitious” trading partnership the bloc, the Prime Minister will set out the crucial tests which any agreement must meet. And she will insist that she will only sign a deal that benefits the whole of Britain and can “bring our country back together”. Speaking at the Mansion House in London, the Prime Minister is expected to say: “The agreement we reach with the EU must respect the result of the referendum. “It was a vote to take control of our borders, laws and money. “And a vote for wider change, so that no community in Britain would ever be left behind again.” Her five tests for any final agreement with Brussels are: ensuring the result of the EU referendum is respected; wining a lasting deal; protecting jobs and security; building a a modern, open, outward-looking country and strengthening the UK.

Star
Theresa May is to spell out her aims for UK-EU trade after Brexit, declaring she hopes to agree an “ambitious economic partnership” with the bloc. In a major speech at the Mansion House, in the City of London, the Prime Minister will claim Britain will become “a champion of free trade” after Brexit. She is delivering the sixth and final “Road to Brexit” speech in a series of addresses by senior Cabinet ministers, detailing the Government’s plans for the UK outside the EU. But Mrs May has been forced to respond to the demand by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, along with rebel Conservative MPs, for the UK to remain in a customs union with the EU after Brexit. And on the eve of her speech, 
she clashed with European Council president Donald Tusk, who warned: “There can be no frictionless trade outside the customs union and the single market.”

BBC News
Prime Minister Theresa May will set out five “tests” for a future UK-EU deal and pledge to “bring our country together” in a major speech on Friday. The “deepest possible” free trade deal is “achievable” because it is in both EU and UK interests, she will argue. But it must be an “enduring solution” that respects the referendum result, protects jobs and “strengthens our union of nations”. Donald Tusk warned that “friction” in trade was “inevitable” after Brexit. The European Council president told the prime minister during talks at Downing Street on Thursday: “There can be no frictionless trade outside of the customs union and the single market.” She has ruled out continuing UK membership of the single market and customs union after Brexit and has rejected an EU plan to keep Northern Ireland in the EU customs area to avoid a hard border with the Republic of Ireland.

Mail
Theresa May will today warn Brussels that relations could break down for years if it tries to punish Britain with a bad Brexit deal. Outlining five tests against which the final deal will be judged, the Prime Minister will pledge to deliver ‘real change’, saying any agreement must ‘respect the result of the referendum’ and give the UK ‘control of our borders, laws and money’. But she will also warn that it must be fair to both sides if it is to endure, and that the worst outcome would be to ‘find ourselves back at the negotiating table because things have broken down’. In an upbeat assessment, Mrs May will say she wants to strike a trade deal more comprehensive than currently exists ‘anywhere in the world today’. Outlining five tests against which the final deal will be judged, the Prime Minister will pledge to deliver ‘real change’ in a key speech today. She spoke with Mr Tusk yesterday. 
The speech comes at a critical moment, with senior European Union figures warning that negotiations could be derailed by Mrs May’s ‘red lines’. 

Telegraph
Theresa May will set out her five tests for a successful Brexit as she warns the EU that relations will “break down” unless it respects the wishes of the British people. In a long-awaited speech in London, the Prime Minister will tell Brussels that the Brexit result was a decision to “take back control of our borders, laws and money”. She will say that the new agreement must be built to “endure” or the UK and the EU will have to go “back to the negotiating table” to hammer out new terms after Brexit. Mrs May will also make clear that the UK and the EU will initially start with the “same rules and laws” after Brexit but then diverge over time under “two separate legal systems”.

Breitbart
European Council President Donald Tusk has doubled down on demands that Northern Ireland remains tied to the European Union’s (EU) rules after Brexit, shortly before a critical meeting with Prime Minister Theresa May. In a letter sent  to Tory MPs Wednesday night, the Brexit secretary David Davis said the UK would refuse to pay the bloc the agreed Brexit “divorce bill” unless the EU backed down on the Northern Ireland issue. However, Mr. Tusk refused to back down Thursday morning, which could lead to a tense meeting with the Prime Minister later in the day. He said in a speech: “In a few hours I will be asking in London whether the UK government has a better idea that would be as effective in preventing a hard border.” “There can be no frictionless trade outside of the Customs Union and Single Market,” he added, promising “negative consequences” if the UK insisting on taking back control of trade policy.

Independent
Theresa May will vow to secure the most comprehensive trade deal “anywhere in the world” as she sets out five tests any Brexit agreement must meet. She will pledge to secure the unprecedented deal covering goods and services in her latest major Brexit speech on Friday – but has already been accused by domestic critics of proffering “empty slogans”. Even as she put finishing touches to her text, top EU politicians also claimed she can only seek a less ambitious trade deal “based on the foundation of realism”, given her refusal to compromise on key issues. It was also reported on Thursday that there is still disagreement in her Cabinet on whether her speech should offer a “binding commitment” to align with some EU rules in the future. The speech follows days in which Ms May has clashed with EU leaders over the UK’s insistence that it can keep an all but open border between Northern Ireland and the Republic, while also leaving the EU’s customs union.

Times
Theresa May has been forced to drop a pledge to make a “binding commitment” to mirror European Union rules from a speech on Britain’s future trading relationship with the bloc. The prime minister will appeal for the EU to strike the most comprehensive trade deal in the world with a warning that an unfair deal will break down, plunging both sides into chaos. Mrs May will give more detail in her speech today on how Britain would seek to mirror EU rules in some areas while choosing to break away in others. She will seek to kick-start negotiations, set to begin later this month, by setting out specific examples of which parts of the UK economy could follow which path.

EU

Express
THE EUROPEAN Parliament Brexit negotiator Guy Verhofstadt has rejected Theresa May’s concessions over EU migrants – despite the Prime Minister caving into Brussels’ demand to allow European citizens to be allowed to apply for residency indefinitely. The former Belgian prime minister said the European Parliament’s  Brexit steering group could not accept “any discrimination” against migrants who arrive during the Brexit implementation period. The rejection comes despite new Government documents revealing EU migrants arriving after March 2019 will be given a five-year temporary residence permit, more than double the length of the two-year one that was previously proposed by ministers. But Mr Verhofstadt said he was unhappy with the UK’s revised proposal, under which EU migrants who live in the UK for five years will have the opportunity to stay indefinitely.

Westmonster
The European Parliament has rejected Theresa May’s monumental concession on EU migrants at the behest of non other than the bespectacled rabid liberal that is Guy Verhofstadt. Yesterday, the Home Office published a document showing May was willing to allow EU migrants arriving in Britain after March 2019 (so during the indefinite transition period) to gain settled status and bring their families over – as long as they earn more than £18,600-a-year. This was a massive backtrack – she previously said this simply wouldn’t happen. But now the EU’s actually said her latest capitulation doesn’t go far enough. Are they joking? Verhofstadt, head of the European Parliament’s Brexit steering group, said: “We have taken note of the UK government policy statement and the clarification it provides for EU citizens who will go to the UK during the Brexit transition period and will in principle have the right to settle permanently in the UK. “However, we cannot accept that there will be any form of discrimination between EU citizens who arrive before the start of the transition and after.

Northern Ireland

Independent
Britain would refuse to enforce any new border in Ireland even if there is a ‘no deal’ Brexit, a Cabinet minister has told 
The Independent. The minister said it would be “impossible” to put a hard border in place simply because the area needing to be enforced is too great. With the EU saying this week that a border is the only option if Britain refuses to stay aligned with European customs and regulation, the minister added: “If they want to put up a border, let them try.” The Cabinet minister told The Independent: “It’s impossible to put a border in place between Northern Ireland and the Republic. “You cannot put up enough fences. It was the same in the 70s – we could never stop terrorists coming across it. Even if there is no deal, I can see no reason why we would try to enforce the border.”

Mirror
European Council president Donald Tusk has warned there can be “no frictionless trade” with the EU if the UK is outside the customs union and single market. He told business leaders in Brussels that “friction is an inevitable side effect of Brexit by nature”. Mr Tusk also said that a “hard border on the island of Ireland” is one of the “possible negative consequences” of the kind of Brexit set out by the UK’s red lines, Donald Tusk said. He continued saying: “The EU wants to prevent this scenario hence if no other is found the proposal to establish a common regulatory area comprising the union and the United Kingdom in respect of Northern Ireland. “Until now nobody has come up with anything wiser than that.”

Leveson

Times
The Leveson inquiry into the press was formally closed yesterday after ministers decided not to proceed with its second part. Matt Hancock, the culture secretary, said the government would also seek to repeal Section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act, which would have imposed draconian financial penalties on publishers that declined to join a state-recognised press regulator. The decisions were welcomed by the industry but criticised by reform campaigners. Phase two of the inquiry would have focused on relations between the press and police. It was announced by David Cameron in 2011 after the phone-hacking scandal, but the industry argued that it had become unnecessary given changes in the media landscape.

Guardian
The culture secretary, Matt Hancock, confirmed on Thursday that the government would drop plans for the second phase of the Leveson inquiry into press standards launched in the wake of the phone-hacking scandal. Hancock told the Commons: “We do not believe that reopening this costly and time-consuming public inquiry is the right way forward.” The Conservative manifesto for last year’s general election included plans to abandon Leveson 2, which was intended to examine relationships between journalists and the police. Labour  immediately attacked the decision as a breach of trust, and the inquiry chair, Lord Leveson, published a letter to Hancock and the home secretary, Amber Rudd, in which he accused the government of breaking promises made to phone-hacking victims.

House prices

Times
House prices fell at their fastest pace in almost a year last month as higher interest rates and the squeeze on incomes took their toll on the property market. Prices fell by 0.3 per cent between January and February, the first fall since last August and the steepest since April 2017, according to Nationwide. Economists had expected a small increase of 0.1 per cent. Although monthly price movements tend to be volatile, the building society said the slowdown was “consistent with signs of softening in the household sector in recent months”. The annual rate of growth slowed from 3.2 per cent in January to 2.2 per cent.

Abortions

Mail
A senior Conservative has called for a debate on reducing the 24-week time limit on abortions. Maria Caulfield, the Tory vice chairman for women, said she had ‘concerns’ about the current time limit, adding that in most of Europe abortions were not legal after 15 or 16 weeks. The former nurse said the 24-week limit was a relic of a time when such babies would not have been expected to live.  Now half of babies born at 22 weeks are viable. She called for an inquiry leading to new ‘evidence-based’ laws based on how medically-feasible it is to keep such premature babies alive. The former nurse said the 24-week limit was a relic of a time when such babies would not have been expected to live. Now half of babies born at 22 weeks are viable.

Independent
The upper time limit for abortions could be cut to reflect medical advancements that allow more premature babies to survive, the Conservative Party’s vice chair for women has suggested. Maria Caulfield, who was appointed to the position earlier this year, said the current 24-week limit was introduced at “a time when babies were not really viable at 24 weeks”. The 1967 Abortion Act made it legal for women – in Scotland, England and Wales – to have an abortion up until 24 weeks as long as it is signed off by two doctors. But when asked by the 
House​magazine whether she wanted to look again at the limit for abortions, Ms Caulfield, who is a member of the All-Party Parliamentary Pro Life Group, replied: “I think we need to have that debate. I’m not someone who’s hard and fast in any of those kind of views. But I think we do need to have that debate.

Tenners

Times
Major retailers will defy the Bank of England’s deadline for the old £10 note by continuing to accept it for weeks afterwards.  Aldi, Morrison’s and Iceland will extend the cut-off for the paper tenners, which officially go out of circulation after March 1. The move, which is likely to create confusion among shoppers, comes after Tesco and Sainsbury’s said they would be sticking to the official deadline. It comes after retailers continued to give out the old Charles Darwin £10 notes right up to the deadline because the Bank of England did not issue guidance telling them not to.  According to the Bank of England’s latest estimates about 200 million, or £2bn of the notes remained in circulation in the lead up to Thursday. 

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