Times (by Jacob Rees-Mogg)
The prime minister will, at the European Council, get an unsatisfactory deal which we shall have to endure. There is much in it to regret and it illustrates plainly that although Theresa May has negotiated throughout in a sincere, cooperative and statesmanlike fashion, the same courtesy has not been extended to her in return. The order of the day on the other side of the table has been a ‘do as I say not as I do’ approach, cherry-picking at will, reinforced by bogus declarations regarding the EU’s ‘sacred legal order’ and a determination to get our money for their problems. Nonetheless, the transition deal is done and may be seen as the torment of purgatory before the sublime bliss of heaven.
Theresa May has told EU leaders that it took “comprises on both sides” to reach the Brexit agreement struck on Monday, ahead of the 27 prime ministers and presidents formally signing off the deal on Friday. Speaking over dinner in Brussels on Thursday evening the PM told the other national leaders that she hoped the accord on the transition period would create a “new dynamic” in talks and that it would now be possible to come up with a solution to the Northern Ireland border issue. The Monday agreement saw the UK drop its opposition to implementing new EU rules during the transition period, as well as accepting full free movement rights for citizens who arrive before January 2021.
London Assembly Member David Kurten has asked London Mayor Sadiq Khan how he will marking Brexit Day, as well as quizzing Mayor Khan on when the EU flag outside City Hall will finally be taken down. Speaking at Mayor’s Question Time, the UKIP AM said: “Don’t you think that as this is the most important thing that’s going to happen in your four years of office and 17.4 million people in the country voted for Brexit and 1.4 million people in London voted for Brexit, which is more than voted for you as Mayor, 1.1 million, don’t you think that its right to celebrate this wonderful occasion when we’re getting back our independence and sovereignty from the European Union?” Khan brushed off his comment, pointing out more in London had voted Remain than Leave as well as having a dig at UKIP’s current plight. Kurten responded by saying: “Isn’t the right thing to do to mark the day we leave the European Union to take down that EU flag outside City Hall?”
Sir Vince Cable was accused of a ‘pathetic’ attempt to interfere in Brexit yesterday by falsely claiming that eight EU leaders backed a second referendum. The Lib Dem leader was humiliated after they said it was a botched PR stunt. Sir Vince, 74, faced criticism last night as opponents said he used improper tactics to impede Britain’s divorce from the EU. It came days after he faced a backlash for claiming that older Brexit voters were driven by nostalgia for a world in which ‘faces were white’. The latest furore began when he said the eight prime ministers had agreed to back a British vote on the final Brexit deal.
SIR Vince Cable has been left red-faced today after eight European Union leaders denied backing calls for a second Brexit referendum – despite a Lib Dem press release suggesting they had. The Liberal Democrat leader travelled to the continent this morning to speak with like-minded EU leaders to drum up support for a second vote at a major summit in Brussels. A press release issued by the party claimed a number of Prime Ministers from across the union had “publicly backed the Liberal Democrats call for the British public to have a vote on the final Brexit deal”.
Vince Cable has faced embarrassment in Brussels as eight liberal prime ministers denied issuing a provocative joint statement put out by the Liberal Democrats that backed a referendum on the final Brexit deal. The party said the prime ministers, including the Netherlands’ Mark Rutte and Belgium’s Charles Michel, had met Cable before the EU summit and agreed an extraordinary joint statement backing the Lib Dem policy that the British public should be given the chance to vote on whatever deal Theresa May reaches with the EU. However, shortly after the statement was released, the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe group (ALDE) of liberal parties in Europe said: “No statement has been agreed upon or released.”
European nations are clearly panicking about the UK cash cow walking out the door post-Brexit. 8 EU leaders from around the continent have backed the LibDem call for a second referendum on the terms of Brexit. But of course they would, not just because they want the British money but because that’s how the EU operates – if you don’t like the result, keep going until you get what you want.The statement made by Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel as well as leaders from the Czech Republic, Luxembourg, Slovenia, Denmark, Estonia and Finland, reads: “We regret Brexit, but acknowledge the choice made by British voters for the UK government to negotiate withdrawal.
Leaders of several European countries have shown their support for offering the British public a say on the final Brexit deal, the Liberal Democrats have claimed. As Theresa May arrived in Brussels for a crucial EU summit, Lib Dem leader Sir Vince Cable held meetings on the margins with a group of European liberal prime ministers, who “verbally agreed” to back calls for fresh referendum on the final deal. However, confusion abounded when the group representing liberal EU parties put out a contradictory statement an hour later, in which they claimed no such statement had been agreed.
Britain is set to be pulled into talks with Spain and the EU about the status of Gibraltar after Brexit, under a roadmap for future negotiations set to be agreed by EU leaders on Friday. Spain threatened to block progress in Brexit talks this week after David Davis said in passing that the Brexit withdrawal agreement would apply to the British tax haven – reigniting long-held anxieties in Madrid about the British presence there. As recently as Tuesday senior EU officials said “concerned member countries” – which later turned out to be Spain – were refusing to back the agreement in preparatory meetings for the summit.
Cabinet ministers’ ministerial aides have “almost unanimously” called on Theresa May to sack Gavin Williamson’s parliamentary aide over her criticism of the Government’s policy on fishing rights after Brexit. Aides to other ministers used a meeting of Conservative parliamentary private secretaries (PPS’s) on Thursday morning to demand that Downing Street remove Anne-Marie Trevelyan from her post. Sources told The Independent that an aide to Philip Hammond was among those leading the calls, prolonging a long-standing rift between the Chancellor and the Defence Secretary. Ms Trevelyan, Mr Williamson’s PPS, took part in a protest on Wednesday in which former Ukip leader Nigel Farage threw a tray of haddock into the River Thames.
Sky News has doubled down on their apparent perspective that Britain’s already severely depressed coastal communities should be thrown to the dogs to sate the City of London in Brexit negotiations, challenging Brexit leader Nigel Farage on the matter twice in two days. Speaking to the former UKIP leader at the European Parliament in Brussels, Sky News’s All Out Politics programme presenter Adam Boulton invited Mr. Farage to say that Britain’s fisheries were not of any importance and should be bargained away. The question prompted a strong response from Mr. Farage, calling control of Britain’s waters an “acid test” for Brexit. Discussing the clear betrayal by the British government of Fishing, Farage said Thursday morning of the coming transition period: “You’ve got a 21 month period in which hundreds more British fishermen will go out of business – that’s how serious this is. And I didn’t hear from Michael Gove anything definite that at the end of transition we’re going to take back territorial waters.”
GERMAN Chancellor Angela Merkel is demanding more EU economic integration as member state leaders head to Brussels for a major EU summit. The debate on Eurozone reforms, as well as Brexit, is expected to be one of the key topics discussed at the summit in Brussels today and Friday with EU leaders. Germany, the EU’s economic powerhouse, has long called for greater integration and Mrs Merkel is expected to call for a real economic union to be developed. Speaking ahead of the EU summit, Mrs Merkel said: “That’s much more than just the single market.” The German Chancellor has already pledged to pump more money into the EU budget. She said: “We have made it clear in our coalition that we are ready to provide more for the budget.”
The European Union’s law enforcement agency says police have smashed a Nigerian organized crime ring in one of the largest European operations against human trafficking. Europol says the Nigerian gang trafficked victims to Europe through Libya and Italy, forcing women into prostitution to pay for their journey. Spain’s Guardia Civil carried out 41 house searches in 11 Spanish cities, while Britain’s National Crime Agency mounted raids in Manchester. Europol says the criminal ring was active in multiple EU countries. A Europol statement Thursday says it blocked bank accounts that laundered more than 300,000 euros ($370,000) for the organization. It says 89 people were arrested and 39 victims rescued. The statement did not say when the operation took place.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel laid out a six-point plan this week to prevent a future migrant crisis, including a common asylum system across all European Union (EU) member-states. The German leader, who recently formed a new coalition months after last September’s election, released her six-point plan to stop another migrant crisis after many held her responsible for creating the first one in 2015. The first point involves support for the EU-Turkey migrant deal, which saw the political bloc give billions to Turkey and a promise of visa liberalisation for Turkish citizens, in exchange for keeping migrants from crossing the Aegean Sea to Greece. “I know that the EU-Turkey agreement has many opponents. But I will defend it,” Merkel said.
Russia’s spy networks across Europe were under threat last night as at least five EU countries prepared to follow Britain and expel diplomats in response to the Salisbury poisoning. The move came as Theresa May appeared to have won a battle to unify all 28 countries behind a statement blaming Moscow for the attempted murder of the former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia. Last night Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, issued a statement on behalf of its members saying that it supported the British government’s assertion that it was “highly likely” Russia was responsible and that there was “no plausible alternative explanation”.
NIGEL FARAGE has celebrated the result of the Italian election and urged Italy to continue the populist revolution started with Brexit in 2016 to bring the European Union to an end within years. Former Ukip leader Mr Farage has hailed the outcome of the Italian election as “a vote for change” after the anti-establishment party Five Star Movement gain more than 30 per cent of the votes, becoming the biggest single party in the country. Speaking to Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, Mr Farage said this election was an “important step” towards the country’s leaving the bloc. He added: “That trend initiated by Brexit and the victory of Trump is not over, it has just begun: we have seen it now with the vote in Italy. “The days of the European Union are limited: it will take five or ten years, but they are limited. “The 2016 revolution has continued: and I am very excited.”
EU leaders have agreed it is “highly likely” that Russia is responsible for the Salisbury nerve agent attack. Following a working dinner at a Brussels summit on Thursday night, European Council President Donald Tusk revealed the bloc’s member states have backed the UK Government’s assessment there is “no other plausible explanation” than Moscow’s culpability. He posted on Twitter: “#EUCO agrees with UK government that highly likely Russia is responsible for #SalisburyAttack and that there is no other plausible explanation.” Theresa May responded by saying she welcomed the fact that the European Council is “standing together” over the attempted murder of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia. She added that “the threat that Russia poses respects no borders and it is a threat to our values”.
The EU has recalled its ambassador to Moscow after leaders agreed it was “highly likely” Russia was responsible for a nerve agent attack in the UK. In a statement following an evening of talks in Brussels, the European Council of EU leaders agreed “there is no plausible alternative explanation”. PM Theresa May had said the Salisbury poisoning was “part of a pattern of Russian aggression against Europe”. Moscow denies responsibility for the attack on an ex-spy and his daughter. The EU said its ambassador to Russia was recalled “for consultations”. Former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia remain in a critical but stable condition after the attack on 4 March.
A lot of people are very angry about news that post-Brexit British passports are to be manufactured in France, including businessman Duncan Bannatyne. The founder of The Bannatyne Group and former Dragon’s Den star took to Twitter to declare that he was “so bloody made could explode” and that the government’s approach has been “STUPID”. He went on to say the prospect of UK passports being made in France was “MADNESS”. Piers Morgan also hit out on Twitter, insisting the French making our passports “is bloody ridiculous”, with Bannatyne agreeing.
East Midlands MEP Jonathan Bullock said he was disappointed the new post-Brexit passports may not be made in the UK. The British firm, which has made the UK’s passports for ten years, wants answers from the Government on reports it is set to award the contract for the new blue passports to a Franco-Dutch company. Mr Bullock said: “The new blue passport is one symbol of us voting to leave the EU. It is disappointing they look likely to be made abroad and they should be made in this country for security reasons. “Of course, this also means the loss of business to the current makers of the passports – a British company. I hope the Government will look at this again.”
Theresa May faced a furious backlash today after the Government signed a deal for a foreign firm to make Britain’s post-Brexit blue passports. Ministers snubbed a bid by by Gateshead-based De La Rue and handed the bumper contract to Franco-Dutch firm Gemalto instead. The move is expected to save £120million. De La Rue confirmed tonight it will appeal the decision – with lawyers expected to make a formal case to HM Passport Office early next week. Now the Mirror launches a campaign with the Unite union, demanding the iconic documents be manufactured in the UK. General secretary Len McCluskey said: “Instead of taking back control, the Government is doing things on the cheap. Join the Mirror’s campaign by signing our petition here.
Theresa May will not intervene to stop the new post-Brexit blue passports being made abroad – although No 10 insisted the contract had not yet been finalised. The contest to find a manufacturer is a “fair and open competition” to deliver the best value for taxpayers, the Prime Minister’s spokesman said, even if that means the work going overseas. The stance appeared to confirm that Gemalto, a Franco-Dutch firm, will grab the contract, after undercutting a bid by North-East company – to save taxpayers £120m, the Home Office said – despite the anger of some Brexit-backing MPs. Asked if Ms May would step in – after Gateshead firm De la Rue condemned the expected decision and said it would appeal – her spokesman replied: “No.”
Heathrow’s expansion bid should not be approved without tougher measures to protect communities and passengers, MPs said. More safeguards on issues such as air quality, noise, regional connectivity and airport charges are needed before the third runway scheme gets the go ahead, according to the Commons’ Transport Select Committee. It called on Parliament to support the project once its concerns have been addressed, accepting there is a case for expanding Heathrow. The committee wants a more stringent interpretation of air quality laws and for noise estimates to reflect a range of possible flight paths. A proposed night flight ban of six-and-a-half hours should be extended to seven hours and further evidence is needed that landing charges will not be hiked to pay for expansion, MPs said.
Britain should only approve Heathrow Airport’s plan to build a new runway if it keeps fees flat to protect consumers, a parliament committee said, as it made recommendations on air quality and noise ahead of a parliamentary vote. MPs will vote on whether to give the expansion of Heathrow the green light before July, but first the policy details on which they will vote must be finalised. Publishing its recommendations, the Transport Select Committee said the government needed to add safeguards to its Airports National Policy Statement to make sure passengers, communities and the environment were protected, and help ensure it finally gets built after decades of delays. “The committee’s recommendations improve the NPS and reduce the chance of a successful legal challenge,” the chair of the committee Lilian Greenwood said on Friday.
Britain is facing arctic conditions in April as two more ‘Beasts from the East’ are predicted to hit the country. Easter weekend is forecast to see the next bout of wintry conditions, with extremely low temperatures of -9C predicted in places. The second hit of cold weather is expected to strike during mid-April, according to weather forecasting models. This comes after Britons have experienced treacherous conditions during one of the coldest Marches on record which claimed the lives of ten people. A weatherman for the BBC said: ‘Some computer models are suggesting that we are going to have a blast of cold Arctic air with wind coming in from the north. ‘In this situation we do tend to get snow across northern Britain and there could even be wintry showers further south as well.
WINTER could stretch into May with another two freezing blasts on the horizon, Brits have been warned. Storms dubbed “The Beast From The East: Parts 3 and 4” are set to bring more misery after two Arctic spells paralysed the county. Easter is already forecast to be a white-out and another big chill is set to pummel the UK later next month. Amy Hodgson, of The Weather Channel, warned: “For April we expect temperatures to remain below normal.” Recent warm conditions have fooled Brits into thinking winter is over. But the brief sunshine will not last, forecasters have warned. A Met Office spokesman said the bank holiday will see many stay indoors. He added: “Temperatures are likely to be rather cold, with an increasing risk of overnight frosts. The most likely scenario currently is a spell of colder than average weather with increased likelihood of overnight frosts and a greater than normal chance of snow showers, especially in the north.”