Theresa May will tell Donald Tusk on Friday she is prepared to give ground on the Brexit divorce bill as Brussels demands a written guarantee of more money to unlock trade talks. The European Council President will make it clear to the Prime Minister that Britain must give a “no strings attached” promise of paying substantially more than the current £20 billion on offer. Mrs May, who this week won the backing of senior Cabinet ministers to make an offer that could run to 40 billion euros, has not ruled out giving the EU a written breakdown of what Britain considers its financial obligations to be, but will insist on a written guarantee of trade talks in return.
The Prime Minister is heading to Brussels for more crucial talks aimed at breaking the deadlock over the UK’s Brexit negotiations. Theresa May is meeting European Council president Donald Tusk and is expected to increase the UK’s Brexit “divorce bill” offer. But her offer – which could rise from around £20bn to up to £40bn – is conditional on the EU agreeing to begin talks on post-Brexit trade. The PM is in Brussels for an Eastern Partnership summit, where leaders will discuss moves to protect former Soviet bloc countries from the new threat posed by Russia.
The Prime Minister Theresa May is to visit Brussels today, with the European Union eyeing more cash – and still refusing to guarantee progress on trade talks. Even after reportedly upping the amount on offer to a gigantic £40 billion, the EU’s Jean-Claude Juncker yesterday still refused to commit to any progress in talks. The Telegraph report that Theresa May is ready to cave in on the Brexit divorce bill perhaps to an even greater extent, whilst Reuters take is that Brussels want to see a Prime Minister willing to endure a ‘domestic backlash’ such is their demand for a payout. After a Budget from the government that made clear billions are being set aside to prepare for the UK’s EU exit – deal or no deal – the May should be making clear that the UK is not willing to pay a huge ransom demand and that it views the no deal option with no Brexit bill as an option still very much on the table.
JEAN-CLAUDE Juncker today refused to rule out Brussels demanding more than £40 billion for its Brexit bill as he warned that there are still no guarantees of moving onto trade talks next month. The EU Commission chief said he would have to be “crazy” to divulge what sum European leaders would be prepared to accept but revealed he will discuss the settlement with Theresa May on December 4. And he appeared to make a slight verbal slip during his speech as he used the German word “rechnung” – literally meaning bill – rather than eurocrats’ preferred terminology which is “financial settlement”.
Theresa May will underline the UK’s continued commitment to European security after Brexit as she travels to Brussels to boost progress on deadlocked negotiations. The Prime Minister will hold fresh talks with European Council President Donald Tusk at a summit with Eastern European nations on Friday amid reports she is preparing to offer some £40bn to the EU to open up trade talks next month. EU officials reportedly described the meeting as a bid to agree the “choreography” of a deal, which must be agreed before the European Council summit next month to allow discussions to move on to future trade relations.
THERESA May will launch a Brexit charm offensive tomorrow when she sets out Britain’s commitment to playing a critical role in European security after it leaves the European Union. The Prime Minister will hold fresh talks on Friday with European Council president Donald Tusk during a summit in Brussels between the EU and former Soviet bloc “partner” states. With leaders from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine also due in Brussels, Mrs May will take the opportunity to highlight Britain’s continued support for the region in the face of the threat from a resurgent Russia.
PM Theresa May is to warn EU leaders to be wary of “hostile states like Russia” and pledge the UK will stay committed to European security after Brexit. In Brussels for a summit, she will say it is crucial that European countries work together to “protect our shared values and ideals”. She will also discuss Brexit with European Council President Donald Tusk. Last week Mr Tusk said the UK must show more progress on the “divorce bill” if trade talks were to begin this year. On Friday, Mrs May is expected to stress the need for a unified approach to security as the UK leaves the EU.
Any Brexit deal “must work for Gibraltar”, Downing Street has said after Spanish government sources said the UK territory might be excluded from any transitional arrangement unless there is agreement over its future status. The issue of Spain’s longstanding claim over Gibraltar has threatened to become an obstruction to a Brexit agreement after the EU said in April the territory would remain outside any trade deal if there was no agreement with Madrid over its status. On Wednesday, a senior Spanish government source said this stipulation included any deal on a transition period, intended to keep the UK in the EU’s single market and customs union for up to two years while permanent arrangements are finalised.
ANGELA Merkel is coming under increasing pressure to do a deal with her main political rivals and reform a “grand coalition” with her rival Martin Schulz as Germany remains without a government six weeks after the election. The German Chancellor, who has held the position since November 2005, has seen her power base severely weakened after talks to form a three-way coalition with the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP) and Greens collapsed last weekend. The failure to reach an agreement has exposed Angela Merkel’s political weakness and raised worries across the European Union’s members over the future of the bloc’s strongest economy.
The European Union’s unelected standing executive is growing nervous at the prospect of the budget cuts which a ‘No Deal’ outcome to the Brexit talks would entail. The Brussels-based European Commission, headed by former Prime Minister of Luxembourg Jean-Claude Juncker, is worried that losing Britain’s net contribution will trim its budget by 12.5 per cent, or 14 per cent if the UK Rebate is not taken into account — and the EU is arguing it should not be. In an effort to persuade the remaining member-states not to reduce its funding, the Commission’s Directorate-General for Regional and Urban Policy (DG Regio) has produced a ‘worst-case scenario’ report which suggests that, if Britain’s money is not replaced, regional aid for Western European member-states could be terminated entirely.
The European Union has moved one step closer to the creation of an EU Army – the same EU Army that definitely wasn’t going to happen in the run up to the referendum. Federica Mogherini, EU Foreign Affairs and Security Policy chief, as well as Vice-President of the Commission, said: “In the coming months there will be the chance to launch even more cooperative projects. We will continue to work at full speed and full determination on the European defence more broadly. The new capability development plan will point to the sectors we need to invest in.
A SECRET document prepared for pro-Europe Tory Prime Minster Edward Heath shows how the Foreign Office knew EU membership would dismantle Britain as a sovereign nation. More damningly, in line after line, the faceless Whitehall mandarins behind the astonishing briefing paper FCO 30/1048 actively welcome Britain’s decline and Europe’s predominance. The briefing paper acknowledges that Britain would in time become little more than a puppet state of Brussels, after ceding judicial and executive powers to the fledgling EU – then called the EEC. But, instead of sounding alarm bells, the authors of the paper warn ministers to hide the truth from the British public.
THERESA May was yesterday urged to increase defence spending by £20 BILLION – or risk seeing Britain booted off the UN Security Council. Furious peers lined up to berate the Government for turning a deaf ear to the needs of the military and risking the UK’s standing with our allies. Labour’s Lord Solely said defence spending should rise from the current 2 per cent of GDP to 3 per cent – taking the budget to £59 billion. He stormed: “We have a defence policy that seeks to be full spectrum but we are not putting up the necessary money to make that credible.
Philip Hammond’s cash injection for the NHS is far less generous than it looks and will be cancelled out by the growing and ageing population, says a leading financial think tank. Health chiefs at NHS England are heading for a confrontation with ministers after declaring that the chancellor’s £2.8 billion boost in Wednesday’s budget was insufficient. They are holding a board meeting next week to decide whether to step up rationing of services. One Whitehall source expressed surprise that NHS England was mounting what they viewed as an overtly political campaign to challenge the Treasury.
NHS bosses are drawing up national rationing guidelines for routine operations and prescription medicines after getting only a third of the money they asked for in the Budget. They will meet next week to consider widespread restrictions to hip and knee surgery, IVF, antidepressants and painkillers. The drastic measures follow Wednesday’s Budget, which allocated £2.8 billion to the NHS over a two-year period. Health leaders – including NHS boss Simon Stevens – had asked for £8 billion.
Labour has accused the Conservatives of breaking a manifesto pledge to increase real-terms funding for the NHS in every year of this parliament by not promising sufficient extra funds in the budget. An analysis carried out for Labour by the House of Commons library shows that despite the chancellor, Philip Hammond, announcing an extra £2.8bn in day-to-day funding, real-terms funding per head is set to fall in 2018-19, and remain flat for two years after that. Commons library calculations show spending per head rising from £2,207 in the current financial year, to £2,223 in 2018-19; before falling back to £2,222 for 2019-20 and 2020-21. But the Conservatives’ manifesto said: “We will increase NHS spending by a minimum of £8bn in real terms over the next five years, delivering an increase in real funding per head of the population for every year of the parliament.”
A SUPER-charged flu vaccine must be brought in to save hundreds of lives, the NHS has been told. The powerful jab would be more effective than the ones currently used, a panel of experts says. It contains an added ingredient to stimulate the immune system — and could save more than 1,700 lives a year. The jab is cost-effective and there are no concerns about its safety, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation has told the NHS. It contains an added ingredient that enhances the body’s immune response to the flu virus and increases the protection provided. This is particularly relevant for older people who typically have weaker immune systems and do not respond as well to conventional vaccines.
HEALTH bosses are set to hold emergency talks about the growing financial crisis in the NHS after Wednesday’s budget provided little hope for the struggling health service. Chancellor Phillip Hammond has promised to give the NHS £2.8 billion over the next three years, but this is less than half the amount health service chief Simon Stevens had said was needed. Just £350 million of that cash will be given this year to help the NHS cope with a winter crisis that many fear will be worse than last year’s, which saw A&E departments across the country close their doors and patients dying in hospital corridors. It also includes £1.6bn in 2018/19 with the rest for the following year.
Michael Gove has promised to change British laws after Brexit to recognise that animals can feel pain. Veterinarians and animal welfare groups criticised MPs last week after they voted not to include a clause about sentience — the idea that animals are aware of their emotions — in the EU Withdrawal Bill. Campaigners viewed the dismissal as a rejection of the concept. “That is wrong,” the environment secretary said, adding that the clause was “faulty” and “would not have achieved its stated aims of providing appropriate protection for animals”.
Michael Gove has promised the UK will continue to recognise the sentience of animals after Brexit and committed the Government to strengthening protections. The Environment Secretary denied a vote that took place in the Commons last week represented a weakening in protections for animals, pointing to new laws already being introduced. Mr Gove issued a statement after an outcry from animal rights groups and campaigners following the vote, which saw MPs reject bringing an EU regulation guaranteeing animal sentience into British law after Brexit. The minister said in a written statement on Thursday that changes the Government will make to UK law after EU withdrawal will include recognition of animal sentience.
Michael Gove has promised to make “any necessary changes” to UK law to recognise that animals can feel pain, after a social media campaign accused Conservative MPs of voting down proposals to accept they are sentient beings. The environment secretary issued a statement to the House of Commons insisting that it was a misconception to say Tory MPs voted against the idea that animals are sentient and feel pain. But he clarified that the government was now looking at making UK law specifically recognise animal sentience, following a row over the issue in the EU withdrawal bill.
Ministers are considering how to amend UK law to recognise animal sentience after Brexit, Michael Gove says. The environment secretary also said leaving the EU would allow the UK to crack down on puppy smuggling and the live export of animals for slaughter. Last week MPs voted not to incorporate part of an EU treaty recognising that animals could feel emotion and pain into the EU Withdrawal Bill. This sparked protest petitions and a celebrity-backed social media campaign. Reacting on Twitter, TV presenter Ben Fogle, who had been among those to criticise the government, said Mr Gove’s announcement had brought “clarity at last”.
CELEBRITIES were last night accused of pushing fake news claiming Tory MPs had voted that animals had no feelings. Ben Fogle, Sue Perkins and Rachel Riley were among the public figures spreading the reports to millions of followers on their social media feeds. Comedian and dog-lover Sue branded the Government “shameful b*****ds”. But the stars were blasted for sharing the story. The Independent website was among the first to circulate the false claim, reporting that Conservatives “rejected all scientists and voted that animals don’t feel pain”.
This week a number of stories claiming the Tories had voted that animals are not sentient beings went mega-viral. An article on the Independent website – shared thousands of times on social media – reported “The Tories have rejected all scientists and voted that animals don’t feel pain”. The Evening Standard claimed they “just voted that animals cannot feel pain or emotions”. The Indy, which has truly become one of the most downmarket trash clickbait websites around, even named and shamed the Tory MPs “who voted legislation on animals feeling pain and emotion”. These attacks were tweeted out by celebrities like Ben Fogle and Sue Perkins, politicians including Caroline Lucas and failed LibDem MP Sarah Olney, and petitions were signed by hundreds of thousands of unwitting animal lovers.
An academic was banned from giving a talk to university students after raising ‘non-conventional’ views about transgender issues. Students had invited Heather Brunskell-Evans to speak at King’s College London about the dangers of pornography and the sexualisation of young women. But the event was abruptly cancelled amid concerns that views she expressed on a radio show ‘would violate the student union’s “safe space” policy’. Dr Brunskell-Evans, a research fellow at the university, appeared on BBC Radio 4’s Moral Maze programme last week to discuss ‘defining gender’.
Capital of culture
Britain will not be allowed to host the European Capital of Culture as planned in 2023 after Brexit, despite the scheme being open to countries that aren’t in the EU, Brussels has said. The UK had been scheduled to host the capital in 2023, with candidate cities including Leeds, Dundee, Nottingham, Milton Keynes and Belfast/Derry having prepared bids at taxpayers’ expense. However the European Commission, which administers the scheme, said in a letter to the British Government reported by Politico Europe that UK access would be “discontinued” following the Brexit vote.
European Union bosses have called a halt on UK cities competing for the title of European Capital of Culture, even though five bids have already been launched. Leeds, Nottingham, Milton Keynes and Dundee were all bidding for the 2023 prize, along with a joint bid from Belfast and Derry. But they have seen their hopes ended by the European Commission, which has ruled UK entries “will not be possible” due to the Brexit vote. The prize is open to cities in countries outside the EU, although they must be either candidates to join or nations in the European Economic Area or European Free Trade Association.
The EU will not allow a British city to become European capital of culture in 2023 after Brexit, dashing the hopes of Dundee, Leeds and others that were preparing bids costing hundreds of thousands of pounds. The European commission said it would not be possible because only countries that were in the EU, the European Economic Area (EEA) or in the process of becoming members were eligible for inclusion. Downing Street said it disagreed with the decision and had begun “urgent discussions” with the commission. However, a spokesman was unable to say on what grounds the UK was objecting.