The Queen was left “disappointed” with Theresa May after the prime minister declined to share plans for Brexit during her first stay at Balmoral, The Times has learnt. Mrs May stuck to her “Brexit means Brexit” line during the visit to Scotland in September rather than giving a private briefing on how she intended to negotiate Britain’s way out of the European Union, according to a source close to the monarch. The prime minister’s failure to go beyond her public remarks during the stay meant that the Queen’s relationship with her 13th prime minister did not get off to an ideal start, the account suggests. The Queen’s disappointment echoes political criticism of Mrs May’s refusal to offer a “running commentary” on the terms of Brexit.

Prime Minister Theresa May left the Queen ‘disappointed’ when she did not to share her plans for Brexit during her first stay at Balmoral, it was claimed last night. She reportedly stuck to her ‘Brexit means Brexit’ line when pressed by the monarch for details about how she intended to negotiate Britain’s way out of the European Union. An account of Mrs May’s unwillingness to speak in detail about her plans was reported by The Times newspaper which quoted an unnamed source who is said to be close to the monarch. The claim follows criticism of Mrs May for failing to give details on the terms of Brexit. Her visit to Balmoral came just two months after she became Prime Minister on July 13th. She had only been in the position for about a month before going on a two week summer walking holiday with her husband Philip to Switzerland. They returned in late August and she had only been back in parliament for two weeks before her weekend in Scotland – an annual visit by the serving Prime Minister – and so was still in the early stages of discussing plans for Brexit.

Britain faces a monumental tussle with the EU that could last years beyond Theresa May’s 2019 Brexit target and involve bitter court rows over unpaid bills, a group of academics has warned. Their report suggests attitudes in Europe towards the UK have actually hardened since the referendum, with many in the EU believing British politicians are still “living on fantasy island” in hoping for a beneficial outcome from Brexit talks. It comes as a new poll commissioned by a pro-Brexit group suggested that more than half of UK adults now want the country out of the bloc as soon as possible. A group of academics working on the ‘UK in a Changing Europe’ initiative highlighted that a crunch issue in Brexit talks will be the “divorce bill”, the measures the European Commission has indicated it will hit Ms May with once Article 50 talks begin.

Britons are overwhelmingly in favour of the Government pushing on with a full-blooded Brexit, a poll shows today – exactly six months after the historic vote. 
According to the survey, 54 per cent of people believe the Government should trigger Article 50 as soon as possible so Britain can take back control of its laws, borders, money and trade. Only 20 per cent of the 2,009 people quizzed by ICM pollsters for Change Britain disagreed. Even 42 per cent of Labour voters said they wanted to kick-start Britain’s departure from the EU as soon as possible. And only 29 per cent disagreed, despite a number of Labour MPs threatening to frustrate the process. It came as Boris Johnson used an article for MailOnline today to declare that Britain has a global influence far beyond that of any other European country.

A MAJORITY of voters want Theresa May to get Britain out of the EU as quickly as possible, an opinion poll revealed last night. Fifty-our per cent of adults quizzed in the ICM survey wanted the Prime Minister to avoid any delay in breaking ties with Brussels. And more than quarter of those who opposed
Brexit in the referendum now want the departure to proceed at the fastest possible rate so the Government can “take back control of our borders, laws, money and trade.’ The majority support for a rapid EU exit was shown in a poll of more than 2,000 voters commissioned by Change Britain to mark six months since the historic referendum vote to quit the bloc.

General Election

Jeremy Corbyn has explicitly disclosed for the first time that he will instruct his MPs to back an early general election if the Prime Minister wants to call one. In an exclusive interview wit
h The Independent, the Labour leader said his party will give Theresa May the parliamentary numbers she would need to bring about an election before 2020. The move comes as Ms May attempts to push through Brexit, one of the most difficult constitutional changes the country has ever seen, without having ever won a personal mandate at the ballot box. It also has echoes of the gutsy 2007 “bring it on” challenge that David Cameron made to Gordon Brown, another premier who had never won an election. Mr Corbyn said he was positive about improving his party’s poll ratings and its performance at the ballot box, but also risked disappointing some senior Labour MPs by dismissing the radical idea of a “progressive alliance” with the Liberal Democrats. The Labour leader said he is well aware Labour could face the prospect of a general election earlier than 2020 – despite the Prime Minister’s insistence that will not be the case.

LABOUR MPs have been compared to “rats deserting a sinking ship” amid claims dozens could quit Parliament before the next general election – handing a huge opportunity to Ukip. Copeland MP Jamie Reed, a fierce critic of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, yesterday announced he was resigning from the House of Commons in order to take up a new job in the nuclear industry.
On top of Labour’s struggling poll ratings under Mr Corbyn’s hard-left leadership, Mr Reed’s decision has sparked suggestions many more of the party’s MPs could look for work elsewhere prior to 2020. A major Labour donor this week predicted the party faces a “bloodbath” at the next general election if Mr Corbyn remains in charge, compounding predictions Labour could lose more than 50 seats in 2020.

University fees

The latest stage of a controversial rise in university tuition fees to £9,250 a year in England has been ‘sneaked out’ to avoid debate, critics claimed last night. Details of the increase, affecting more than 500,000 students, were put on an obscure government website last week without any announcement from the Department for Education. The move was condemned by Labour and Liberal Democrat MPs, who said the DfE was trying to avoid public scrutiny. Universities minister Jo Johnson announced in July that tuition fees would rise to £9,250 a year from next autumn and the increase could apply to students who have already started courses.

The Government has moved to raise tuition fees by £250 without any announcement from the Department for Education (DfE). Regulations to allow the changes, which will see fees go up to £9,250, were published earlier this week to the National Archives legislation store.The new legislation to the changes was not announced on the DfE website or in a statement to Parliament by ministers. The changes, which are set to affect 500,000 students, went unnoticed for days until they were reported by the BBC on Thursday evening. Opposition politicians criticised the nature of the announcement. Shadow universities minister Gordon Marsden accused the Government of trying to “sneak out” the plans while Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron described the approach as “shabby”.

Industrial action

Soldiers could be called in to drive replacement buses during Southern Rail strikes, it was claimed last night. The Army is said to be on standby to ensure commuters, revellers and schoolchildren can travel amid strikes planned for New Year’s Eve and January. The drastic intervention would echo the firefighters’ strike of 2002, when soldiers operated Green Goddess emergency vehicles for the first time since 1977. The news comes as planned strikes by BA cabin crew on Christmas Day and Boxing Day were suspended. Members of the Unite union were due to walk out in a dispute over pay, but after three days of talks a revised offer for some workers paid less than other staff was put forward. Union members will now decide whether to accept it. Possible military intervention in the Southern Rail dispute represents a last-ditch attempt by the besieged operator to help affected passengers.

Morning Star
PRISON officers “overwhelmingly” rejected a pay and pensions deal yesterday that had been endorsed by union leaders. The package included a provision allowing guards to continue retiring at 65 when the state pension age rises to 68. But Prison Officers Association (POA) members rejected the offer by 65.7 per cent to 33.7, with 0.6 spoiling their ballots. POA general secretary Steve Gillan said: “I urge the government not to ignore the views of our members.” The offer included consolidated pay rises of between 0.5 and 1 per cent for each of the next three years, on top of the usual performance-related increases. They also stood to receive a “recognition and retention” package totalling £1,000.

Foreign aid

Britain’s bloated foreign aid department now hands out the highest salaries in Whitehall, it was revealed last night. Pen-pushers at the Department for International Development have an average wage of more than £53,000 a year – nearly twice that of the average worker. The figures come amid controversy over how millions of pounds of aid is given to the world’s most corrupt nations – where it risks being squandered, stolen or seized by terrorists. There are also calls to switch some of the ministry’s annual budget of £12billion to Britain’s crisis-stricken social care sector. The Department for International Development, or DfID, appears to have bucked the cuts faced by many other Whitehall offices. Not only is it the best-paying Government department, it is one of only three of the 19 to recruit staff, taking on 430 since 2010 – an increase of 27 per cent.

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