The UK wants to continue to influence the writing of parts of EU regulation after Brexit despite leaving the bloc, according to the latest plan by Whitehall officials. The latest government position paper says that “regulatory cooperation between the UK and the EU on a range of issues will be essential” to avoid damaging Britain’s economy and security. A paper released on Thursday, which focuses on data protection laws, suggests that the UK Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) could still have a say on shaping EU data protection rules in Brussels by attending regulatory fora.
The government is seeking to negotiate a deal over data sharing with Europe in which there are no substantial regulatory changes as a result of Brexit. The ambitious strategy emerged on Thursday in the last of a series of summer policy papers published by the Department for Exiting the European Union ahead of the next round of talks in Brussels on Monday. In it, the government argues that its “unique” status as a leading player in the world of electronic commerce means that it should be able to demand special treatment from the EU when agreeing future standards. Regulation of online data is an increasing international flashpoint as technology companies and national security agencies both come under fire for infringing personal privacy. Since the Edward Snowden revelations and other high-profile privacy challenges against companies such as Google, it has been a particular source of tension between the EU and US.
British data protection laws will stay closely aligned with the EU’s after the UK leaves the Union, the Government has hinted. In its latest working paper set to be released on Thursday, the Department for Exiting the European Union will outline proposals to allow personal data to continue to move back and forth between Britain and the EU in a “safe, properly regulated way”. Officials say arrangements for data protection after Brexit would be about providing “continuity” with the current rules – hinting that little is likely to change – and that Britain could in fact work “more closely with the EU”. Commenting ahead of the release of the paper, business groups said Britain already had “deep integration” with the EU on data protection and argued that a “deep level of regulatory cooperation” could continue in this area.
Prime Minister Theresa May always said she would be “ambitious” in negotiating Britain’s exit from the European Union, and government documents published this month show the scale of that ambition — wanting the closest of ties without the costs. But the new British proposals for future ties with the EU have been dismissed in Brussels as “fantasy” and no more than an “intra-UK debate”. European officials have suggested that Britain should instead stick to a previously agreed timetable for Brexit negotiations. For Britain, the release over two weeks of a series of strategy and discussion documents was intended to counter criticism that it was unprepared for the talks, and to speed up negotiations that have moved slowly over the past 14 months.
THE European Union (EU) will reject Britain’s proposals for post-Brexit customs arrangements, with one diplomatic source calling the position paper a “fairytale”. Stéphanie Riso, a senior member of the EU’s Brexit negotiating team, is due to brief the remaining countries in a Brussels meeting later today ahead of the next round of Brexit talks next week. The customs position paper laid out proposals for a transitional arrangement followed by options for a long-term arrangement which would have minimal border checks but still allow the UK to leave the customs union. This will offer the ability for the UK to secure own trade deals with countries outside of the bloc. Diplomatic sources have already given the proposals scant regard.
THE “protectionist” European Union is doomed to collapse because it has lost sight of its commitment to free trade and the beleaguered euro currency has “already failed”, a leading German economist said today. Professor Thorsten Polleit said the EU project had once been a “very wise concept” for fostering peace and cooperation but became far too politicised and is now heading in the “wrong direction” of pursuing ever greater centralisation. In an interview with express.co.uk the eminent German academic and financier urged European leaders to “start decentralising” if they want to save the bloc from oblivion and warned their efforts to prop up the single currency are doomed to fail. Professor Polleit also predicted that Britain will emerge from Brexit in better shape than the EU, because it will be able to liberalise its economy to attract greater investment and pursue genuinely free trade across the globe.
The European Union’s (EU) failure to deport the vast majority of illegal migrants arriving by boat is a “pull factor”, encouraging the treacherous journey across the Mediterranean, a Brussels official has conceded. Economic migrants crossing the Mediterranean, who have no right to be in the EU, have a 73 per cent chance they will be permitted to stay, official figure show. Since the beginning of the migrant crisis, there has been a surge of migrants from relatively safe nations, overtaking those from war-torn nations such as Syria, who were initially encouraged to come by the EU. “The inability of EU governments to enforce deportations is the biggest pull factor,” a Brussels diplomat working on migration blasted. Speaking to The Times, he added: “If people know that as illegal immigrants they have a 70 per cent-plus chance of being able to stay, even if ordered to leave, then it is hardly surprising people get into the boats.”
The EU’s failure to return migrants to their home country once they’ve been refused asylum is fuelling the migrant crisis, senior Brussels diplomats believe. Figures seen by The Times show an economic migrant has a 73% chance of remaining in the EU even if they’ve been served with an order to leave. One EU diplomat working on migration said: “The inability of EU governments to enforce deportations is the biggest pull factor. If people know that as illegal immigrants they have a 70 per cent-plus chance of being able to stay, even if ordered to leave, then it is hardly surprising people get into the boats.”
Germans who speak to each other in English have sparked the ire of one of Angela Merkel‘s finance ministers, who has branded them ‘hipsters’. Jens Spahn wrote a column in national newspaper Die Zeit which said the habit was a sign of ‘provincial self-dwarfishness’. The politician, a member of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) said Germans sometimes use English to each other in order to appear ‘cosmopolitan’ – but actually achieve the opposite. He said it was discouraging migrants from learning German.
A top EU official has launched a passionate attack on nationalists and nationalism – arguing that the ideology makes societies “weak” and is unpatriotic. Frans Timmermans, the first vice president of the European Commission, compared nationalism to alcoholism – arguing that it created a “short period of exaltation followed by a long period of headaches”. Jean-Claude Junker’s deputy argued that protectionism, the “Siamese twin” of nationalism, could “destroy the internal market and disrupt international trade” – though a Commission spokesperson later denied that he was making a veiled reference to Brexit.
Theresa May’s government is doomed to collapse and a fresh election “in the near future” is inevitable, Jeremy Corbyn has told HuffPost UK. The Labour leader said the Tory minority administration will fail before its five-year fixed term is up and Brits should have a fresh choice on their Prime Minister if the Conservatives switch leader. In an exclusive interview, Corbyn also talked up Emily Thornberry as performing “extremely well” standing in for him at Prime Minister’s Questions stand-in, as it emerged Unite boss Len McCluskey views the shadow foreign secretary as a future leader. Corbyn has remained in campaign mode since the Tories lost their overall majority in June and Theresa May was forced to strike a £2bn deal with the DUP in order to govern.
Labour could block a third runway at Heathrow over air pollution concerns. Senior party figures hinted yesterday that the leadership was preparing to oppose the plans. Allies of Jeremy Corbyn have said there is “no way” the party would support a new runway. A leaked draft of Labour’s manifesto at the last election committed the party to supporting Heathrow expansion but this was later watered down and any specific reference to Heathrow omitted. The final version said merely that Labour recognised the need for additional airport capacity in the southeast. It guaranteed the party would implement strict environmental and economic tests focusing on noise pollution, air quality, meeting the UK’s climate change obligations and supporting economic growth across the country.
ISIS has released a new propaganda video showing its fighters stamping on busts of Jesus, ripping pictures of the Pope in half and promising to come to Rome. Filmed mostly in the Philippines – where the jihadist group has been fighting a battle with the government for control of the city of Marawi – the latest ‘Inside the Khilafah’ video focuses on conflict between Christianity and Islam. The narrator, speaking with an American accent, praises ‘the truthful soldiers of Mohammed’ who have fought to conquer territory in East Asia while ISIS members are shown wrecking a church. One of the criminals – named ‘Abu Jindal’ – looks straight at the camera and says in English: ‘Remember this, you kuffar [an extremely offensive term for non-Muslims] – we will be in Rome, we will be in Rome, inshallah [god willing]’.
Net Immigration to year ending March 2017 was estimated to be 246,000, down 81,000 from 327,000 in March 2016. Immigration was still nearly 600,000. After years of uncontrolled mass immigration from the EU a slowdown in migration from the EU and an increase in emigration of EU citizens accounts for a substantial percentage of the change. John Bickley, UKIP’s Immigration Spokesman said: “Whilst any reduction in net immigration figures is to be welcomed the fact remains that a quarter of a million people (a city the size of Hull) came to the UK last year. This, together with the record levels of immigration over the last twenty years has had a massive impact on public services, such as the NHS, school places and GP appointments, never mind the implications for the nature of our society and social cohesion. The UK’s population is growing at a decadal rate 400% higher than the ’70’s – that’s unsustainable.
UK border police foiled more than 150 attempts by migrants to break into Britain from France on every day of 2016, new figures revealed today. Officials blocked 56,000 attempts to illegally travel to Kent from ports on the French side of the Channel. The figures cover attempts to break into Britain via the ports of Calais and Dunkirk as well as the Eurotunnel and Eurostar terminals. The figure is the second highest in seven years but is 25,000 lower than the peak in 2015. Today’s data emerged following a Freedom of Information request by the BBC. Dover MP Charlie Elphicke told the broadcaster: ‘It’s shocking that migrants at Calais tried to break into Britain more than 50,000 times last year.
Border police foiled 56,000 attempts by migrants to get into Britain via French ports in the last year alone – that’s 153 incidents every day. The figures show the sheer scale of the migrant crisis and emphasise how important it is that Britain takes back full control of its borders. The Home Office has of course claimed this as a resounding success, saying the figures “make it absolutely clear that our approach to securing the UK’s border is working”. A spokesperson added: “We will continue to work closely with our French counterparts to maintain border security and keep legitimate passengers and trade moving.”
Bank Holiday traffic
Britons face Bank Holiday weekend travel chaos as nine million people take to the roads, trains and skies to make the most of the forecast good weather. London Euston will be shut this weekend, while Waterloo services will continue to be disrupted and there will be no Southeastern services to or from London Bridge, Waterloo East and Charing Cross for a week from Saturday. Rail firms have ramped up warnings to passengers travelling over the long weekend with major engineering work affecting several lines, with Virgin Trains issuing an alert stating that its services will be ‘very busy’. Nine million Britons are expected to go away for the weekend – either in the UK or abroad – with forecasters warning that there will be a traditional mixed bag of weather – with a distinct North-South divide.
Leading exam boards reduced pass marks for the new GCSE maths exam to as little as 15 per cent so that enough pupils made the grade. Critics accused the education establishment of “fooling itself” about how well children were doing and called on the exam watchdog, which set the low grade boundaries, to stop “propping up” the results. Teachers were less polite, calling the pass mark pathetic. The new grades, used for the first time this year, were part of a package of reforms introduced by Michael Gove when he was education secretary.
Exam boards were yesterday accused of ‘giving grades away’ after admitting that some GCSE maths pupils could achieve a standard pass by scoring less than a fifth of the available marks. On average, those taking the new higher tier maths paper only had to get 18 per cent to achieve a 4 – equivalent to the old grade C. Entrants only had to get 52 per cent to get the new grade 7, the equivalent of an A. One exam board even gave out a standard pass to anyone who could score just 15 per cent. In 2016 candidates needed to get close to 40 per cent for a standard pass. The Government commonly refers to a ‘standard pass’ as a grade C – or the new 4 – or above. Anyone who fails to achieve at least this level in maths or English has to resit. The change this year is an illustration that the grade thresholds have had to be dramatically lowered following a toughening up of maths and English exams.
Children who have asthma, epilepsy or diabetes are being put at risk in the classroom because of falling numbers of school nurses, health experts have warned. According to new data published by the NHS, over 550 school nurses were lost over the last seven years. The fall has gathered pace in recent months, with more than a hundred posts lost so far this year. Almost a quarter of 11-15 year olds in England report have a long term illness or disability, including asthma, diabetes, epilepsy and arthritis. The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) says the loss of school nurses is leaving teachers without vital training and pupils without necessary support.
Prisons could be effectively full within four years with the number of inmates predicted to hit a historic high. Imposing longer sentences could lead to nearly 92,000 behind bars – a record in the modern era. The figure was revealed in projections for England and Wales published yesterday by the Ministry of Justice. The move will be welcomed by the Tory Right as a sign the Government is taking a harder line on law and order. But critics warned that a surge in the number of prisoners would lead to spiralling levels of overcrowding, violence and self-harm – already at all-time highs. Only last week Justice Secretary David Lidington said he wanted ‘to see prison numbers come down’.
Using a mobile phone to navigate in the car could result in a ban and a £200 fine for the driver, police chiefs have warned. A clampdown on motorists using phones to call and text that began in April also extends to using mobiles as satnavs, drivers are warned as the bank holiday exodus gets underway. Though it is not illegal to run a navigation app while driving, motorists can face prosecution if they touch the device while at the wheel. Drivers who have held their licence for less than two years can be disqualified, while the maximum penalty has doubled to £200 and six points for more experienced road-users. A spokesman for the National Police Chiefs Council said: ‘If an officer determines that a driver using their satnav hindered their ability to control the car, the driver could face prosecution.’
Motorists who use their mobile phones as SatNavs risk being banned from driving, police chiefs have warned, as millions prepare to take to the roads for the big Bank Holiday getaway. Tough new penalties, which came into force in April, were intended to clampdown on drivers using their phones to make calls and send text messages while at the wheel. But as the Bank Holiday exodus gets underway, drivers are being warned that the strict laws around mobile phones, also extend to using them as SatNavs. While it is not illegal to use a navigation app on a handheld device, drivers do face prosecution if they touch the handset while at the wheel.
Motorists using mobile phones as satnavs could be banned from driving, police chiefs have warned. New penalties were brought in this April to stop drivers using their phones at the wheel. But drivers are being warned that the laws also extend to using mobile phones as satnavs. It is not illegal to use navigation apps but motorists could be prosecuted for touching the handset while driving. The maximum penalty has doubled, to a £200 fine and six points, or even disqualification. A spokesman for the National Police Chiefs’ Council said: “If an officer determines that a driver using their satnav hindered their ability to control the car, the driver could face prosecution.”