Theresa May was warned by Michel Barnier last night that her Chequers blueprint for Brexit breached “fundamental” European principles and that she would need to make further concessions to reach a deal. In pointed remarks before his first meeting with Dominic Raab, the new Brexit secretary, the EU’s chief negotiator said that any deal would have to “respect” the integrity of Europe’s single market. He said that it would be a “challenge” to find common ground between the fundamental principles that defined the EU and the UK’s white paper.
EU bosses have warned Theresa May her White Paper “will not form the basis” of any Brexit plan, raising fears Britain is going to crash out of the bloc without a deal. Discussions earlier this week between UK officials and Brussels bosses are understood to have been “difficult” as eurocrats accused Britain of “cherry picking” once again, despite Theresa May making a number of concessions. Michel Barnier’s team of negotiators and his deputy, Sabine Weyand, put the knife into Britain during tense talks after Mrs May’s chief advisor Olly Robbins presented the Prime Minister’s Brexit-blueprint.
Theresa May will throw down the gauntlet to Brussels by demanding the EU “evolve their position” on Brexit, while declaring MPs will veto the bloc’s proposed Irish border solution. Delivering a speech in Belfast, the prime minister will spell out how the EU’s plan for an Irish border backstop deal is in breach of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement. Brussels has proposed, in the event no other solution is found to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland, that Northern Ireland effectively remain in the EU’s single market and customs union. The EU has made such a backstop agreement a key component of the UK’s withdrawal deal.
Theresa May is to tell the European Union it is time to drop what she feels is their inflexible view on an Irish border solution and “evolve” their position to break the impasse in Brexit talks. In a speech in Belfast on Friday she is expected to brand the bloc’s calls for regulatory alignment north and south of the border as a “backstop” solution in the event of no deal as “unworkable”, and repeat her assertion that a border down the Irish Sea is unacceptable to any British prime minister. “The economic and constitutional dislocation of a formal ‘third country’ customs border within our own country is something I will never accept, and I believe no British prime minister could ever accept,” she will say.
The EU Council President is an alcoholic who binges on gin and leaves his ambitious but unelected deputy to govern, according to explosive new claims. Jean-Claude Juncker – one of the most powerful men in Brussels – has been spotted stumbling around and unable to walk at the recent NATO summit. He has repeatedly denied claims that he is an alcoholic and insisted that his sometimes shambolic appearance is down to chronic back pain known as sciatica. But in an explosive new account, a Brussels insider says that he had heard the EU politician is ‘a little too fond of the bottle’.
THERESA MAY’s Brexit approach does not “honour” the result of the 2016 referendum in which more than 17million people voted to leave the EU, according to Remoaner Tony Blair. The former Prime Minister told BBC Newsnight the Prime Minister’s approach to Brexit was a “fallacy” and her current plan would not keep Brexiteers happy. He said: “The whole fallacy in Theresa May’s approach. “If she thinks this honours the Brexit mandate, it doesn’t honour what most people who voted for Brexit think, and we know that because they’re saying it.” He accused her plan of handing victory to “elites” and “betraying” the millions of people who voted in 2016.
THE European Union is considering plans to delay Brexit by extending the Article 50 time limit, in what Brexiteers describe as a “betrayal”. Brussels chiefs suggested the move in a desperate bid to avoid a no-deal Brexit. They fear the UK and EU will fail to strike a workable agreement within the current time limit as Brexit talks continue to falter. British negotiators have repeatedly clashed with Brussels over the Irish border issue and the cost of the UK’s exit bill. One MEP said last night: “There has been serious talk of extending Article 50, and all the EU-27 are prepared to do it.” But the MEP insisted Brussels “doesn’t want to stop Brexit” and said the deadline would only be extended for a short period of time.
Dominic Raab faced ridicule on his first trip to Brussels as Brexit Secretary as the EU flatly rejected Theresa May’s Chequers plan and mocked spelling errors in translations of the document. Senior EU diplomats made it clear that the Brexit white paper agreed at Chequers cannot form the basis for negotiations, as British sources said the EU was being “deeply unhelpful”. Mr Raab looked nervous ahead of his first meeting with Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, which was overshadowed by the European Commission announcing it was stepping up preparations for a “no deal” Brexit.
The British government is facing ridicule from German-speaking Brussels officials and diplomats after Whitehall botched an attempt to translate its new Brexit white paper into other languages. The move to provide translations of Theresa May’s Brexit plan is being seen in Brussels as an attempt to bypass the European Commission and negotiate directly with member states. But the approach appears to have backfired after claims that the translation was “unreadable” and written in strange “archaic” language featuring made-up compound words. Even the headline description of the white paper on the government’s official website contained a grammar mistake, describing it as being written in “Deutsche” instead of the correct spelling omitting the letter “e”.
Brexit contingency plans are needed to prevent a “complete meltdown” if talks with the UK fail to reach agreement by October, Brussels has warned. The European Commission on Thursday sent all member states guidelines on how to prepare for negotiations failing, while senior EU officials warned that the “volatile” political situation in the UK made the outcome of talks hard to predict. “We need to prepare for all scenarios,” the official document says, warning of potential major disruption for citizens living abroad, for goods and people trying to cross borders, as well as for businesses and consumers.
Theresa May is to put the country on a no-deal Brexit footing this summer as she prepares a series of public warnings about the impact of leaving the European Union without agreement. Consumers and companies will be given detailed advice in weekly “bundles” from the start of next week on how to prepare for “a disorderly Brexit”, under government plans. Ministers have so far refused to expand on a commitment to release 70 technical notices on “no-deal” contingencies after the Chequers agreement on the next stage in negotiations with Brussels.
Theresa May will promise today to never “dislocate” Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK, despite European plans to put a customs border in the Irish Sea. After her first visit to the Irish border since the Brexit vote in 2016, she will give a speech in Belfast to reassure the province that it will remain tied to the mainland economically and constitutionally after Britain leaves the EU. The prime minister will suggest that the onus is now on the EU to help to solve the border question rather than rely on a “backstop” stipulating that Northern Ireland will remain in “full alignment” with Brussels unless an alternative is found.
REMAIN-BACKING parties in Northern Ireland are demanding to see progress on the Irish border issue, expressing concern that at this “crucial point” of the Brexit negotiations the government has yet to grant their voters won’t lose any rights following the divorce. Ahead of Theresa May’s visit to the Irish border today, Sinn Fein, the SDLP, the Alliance Party and Green Party urged No10 to step up its game on the Irish issue. In a harsh joint statement on Brexit, they expressed their concern over the lack of “any tangible progress” on a range of matters, setting out a list of topics they want to see the negotiators deal with in the foreseeable future.
Irish prime minister Leo Varadkar was yesterday savaged over his suggestion that British planes could be banned from flying over his country’s airspace in the event of a ‘no deal’ Brexit. Even allies in Brussels warned the Irish Taoiseach against engaging in ‘tit-for-tat’ threats, pointing out the majority of lorries transporting goods from Ireland to the continent go via England. Other critics warned his suggestion would unleash ‘chaos’ across the continent. The row comes amid growing fears of a no deal scenario and what it could mean for both sides. Both Britain and Brussels announced within the last 48 hours that they are issuing guidance on how to accelerate preparations for a hard Brexit if not enough progress is made on the Withdrawal Agreement by 29 March 2019, when Article 50 ends.
Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar last night vowed to move Ireland’s Brexit preparations up a notch amid the growing possibility of a no-deal outcome to the UK-EU talks. The Taoiseach was speaking outside Derrynane House, the ancestral home of Catholic rights campaigner Daniel O’Connell, where the Cabinet decamped from Dublin. It was agreed by Irish ministers 1,000 extra people will be hired to handle new arrangements that will be required at airports and seaports. Mr Varadkar reiterated that although preparations are afoot for no deal on the EU split, he still believes it is very unlikely.
Theresa May will say it is now up to the EU to prevent a hard border in Ireland after Brexit, telling affected residents she has “done that work” with her Chequers plan. Speaking in Belfast, the prime minister will seek to calm fears about the impact of withdrawal on the province, by pledging to deliver a deal that “works for the whole UK, including Northern Ireland”. She will describe the return of border posts and checks as “almost inconceivable” – arguing her proposals for a free trade area for goods can provide the solution. But, in tough talk, Ms May will rule out further compromise, insisting it is “now for the EU to respond”.
Telegraph (by Fraser Nelson)
For two years, we have done our utmost to negotiate in good faith with the European Union. As Prime Minister I have moved as far towards its demands as I could; perhaps too far. We offered to obey an EU rulebook on goods and food, over which we would have no control. We offered £40 billion in membership fees for a club of which we would no longer be a member. At each stage, it was deemed not enough. Now, with just six months to go, we are being given only two options: surrender, or instead have confidence in Britain’s ability to thrive under world trade rules. Mr Speaker, I have that confidence. And I believe today’s vote will show that this House has it too.” The above speech is a fantasy.
Julian Smith, the Conservative chief whip, is facing calls to resign following reports he told three Tory MPs to defy pairing arrangements for a crunch Brexit vote. It comes after Brandon Lewis, the party chairman, came under intense criticism earlier this week after breaking an agreement with Jo Swinson, the Liberal Democrat MP, who is currently on maternity leave. The longstanding convention of pairing agreements dictates that if an MP on side one the chamber is unable to vote, an opponent also sits out the division to even it out. Despite earlier suggestions that it had been an “honest mistake” for Mr Lewis to vote, The Times claimed that Mr Smith had summoned Mr Lewis and two other Conservative MPs to the Commons for the knife-edge votes.
Theresa May signed off on a bonus of up to £20,000 for the civil servant who is now her top Brexit adviser, No 10 has confirmed. Olly Robbins received the performance-related payment on top of his £160,000 salary last year while he was permanent secretary at the Department for Exiting the EU. The prime minister earns £152,819. A Downing Street spokeswoman confirmed that the prime minister had agreed the payment, revealed in the department’s annual accounts, but insisted it followed a “robust process” carried out by an independent committee.
Theresa May’s chief Brexit adviser Ollie Robbins was paid a bonus of up to £20,000 – despite the chaos surrounding her exit strategy. The Prime Minister personally signed off on the money – which comes on top of his the bumper pay packet of up to £165,000 a year. Brexiteers slammed the decision to pay him the money as ‘breathtaking’ and urged a radical rethink. The shock revelation, buried in civil service accounts, comes as the PM’s Brexit strategy has been plunged into turmoil and savaged by Brexiteers and Remainers.
A ROW has broken out between Brexiteers as hardliners demand Theresa May is ousted now, The Sun can reveal. Arch Eurosceptic backbencher Philip Davies became the latest to formerly demand the PM get the boot yesterday – ignoring advice from senior Leavers to wait until October in order to “protect Brexit”. The Sun can reveal the powerful ERG bloc of Brexiteers in the Commons are privately arguing over when to get rid of Mrs May. Party grandees like ex-Cabinet Ministers Owen Paterson and Iain Duncan Smith have urged colleagues “not to play with fire” and risk a leadership election now. They have told colleagues they need leverage over the PM in the autumn as Brussels talks reach their endgame. But more hardline anti-Theresa MPs like Andrea Jenkyn believe they have 35 letters calling for no confidence in Mrs May – 13 shy of the crucial 48 needed to spark a vote.
ESTHER McVey refused to publicly support Theresa May’s Brexit plan in another blow to the Prime Minister’s attempts to restore unity in her warring party. The Work and Pensions Secretary said she was confident the Prime Minister will deliver the “Brexit that Britain voted for”. Ms McVey was asked by the Reform think tank whether she had full confidence in the Chequers plan, to which she replied: “I will say that I have full confidence in the Prime Minister to deliver the Brexit that Britain voted for.” But she would not give her backing to proposals agreed at Chequers, which Brexiteers have lambasted as being too soft.
Patients should be tracked with barcodes and hospitals must get rid of paper prescriptions, the new health secretary will urge as he tells the NHS: “Tech transformation is coming.” Matt Hancock will use his first speech since taking over last week to extol the “vast” opportunities for technology in the NHS, as well as attempting to repair relationships with NHS staff that were often frayed under his predecessor, Jeremy Hunt. He will tell an audience at West Suffolk Hospital today that “it is heartbreaking to see how undervalued you often feel”, and reassure them: “I value you. I admire you. I will fight for you and I will champion you.”
Barcodes and mobile apps will be used to track patients in an NHS revolution. In his first speech since becoming Health Secretary, Matt Hancock will tomorrow vow to invest £500million on technology to make the Health Service the most advanced in the world. Barcodes on wristbands will allow patients to be tracked as they move through different hospital departments and wards. Other advances include apps to monitor blood pressure and other vital signs at home – allowing patients to be discharged more quickly. Mr Hancock, who took over from Jeremy Hunt two weeks ago, will promise to bring NHS technology up to date.
Around 5 million British households are set for lower energy bills this winter after parliament approved a law on gas and electricity tariff price caps, energy regulator Ofgem said on Thursday. Ofgem is now required to cap prices on Standard Variable Tariffs offered by the six dominant energy providers for households using gas and electricity which studies have shown were far higher than other tariffs on offer. “The cap will tackle the amount consumers have been overpaying … which the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) found to be an average of 1.4 billion pounds a year. Some consumers could save up to 350 pounds a year on gas and electricity bills by switching suppliers,” Ofgem said.
A legal challenge to block expansion of Heathrow has been launched by a group of councils, London mayor Sadiq Khan and Greenpeace. The coalition formally notified Transport Secretary Chris Grayling of its intention to seek a judicial review of the Government’s decision to support a third runway at the west London hub. Their letter sets out the grounds of their case and requests key documents from Mr Grayling. The local authority group comprises five councils whose residents would be affected by expansion: Wandsworth, Hammersmith and Fulham, Richmond, Hillingdon, and Windsor and Maidenhead.
HOLIDAYMAKERS were last night facing a “summer of chaos” at Heathrow with passport queues getting so bad passengers are being forced to wait on the TARMAC after landing. As Britain prepared for today’s big summer getaway, airlines demanded showdown talks with Ministers over a Border Force “staffing crisis”. Industry sources told The Sun that minimum time targets for passport queues had been breached an incredible 1,300 times so far this month. Passengers from non-EU countries such as America and South Africa are experiencing wait time of up to three-and-a-half hours at the airport’s Terminal 4.
Prison should “change the lives” of criminals instead of being used solely as a tool for “punishment” and “retribution”, the Justice Secretary has said. David Gauke says inmates should be given “hope” to help rehabilitate them and stop the cycle of re-offending, as figures show 60 per cent of those handed short sentences go on to commit more crimes when they are released. His warning comes as new figures show crime is rising and police claim they cannot cope because of shrinking officer numbers. Knife crime offences have risen by 16 per cent to the highest level recorded, while the number of murders has risen by 12 per cent and robberies were up by almost a third.