EU

Express
BREXIT will force the European Union (EU) into reforming its mammoth spending of taxpayers’ cash as “there isn’t a single person in Brussels” who can explain how its budget is formed, a Eurocrat warned. Ivailo Kalfin, who was Bulgaria’s deputy prime minister until May and is still a member of a high-level EU budgetary group, said non-Eurozone nations like Bulgaria and Poland has lost an “important ally” when Britain vote to leave the EU last year. “The departure of Britain means certain reform for the EU. Other countries have similar ideas – we cannot just blame Britain. If the European Union doesn’t change, it will be very difficult to hold it together,” he said. Crucially, he said Brussels would have to be far more transparent about its budgets, adding: “I am still very involved with the European budget as part of a high level EU working group chaired by (former EU Commissioner) Mario Monti. “There must be much more transparently about what taxpayers are paying and what they are getting in return.

Westmonster
As Eurocrats scramble to figure out the EU’s common negotiating stance, with many saying they want to punish the UK to deter other countries from leaving, more and more politicians are coming out to back Britain. Spain’s Foreign Minister, Alfonso Dastis, told the Financial Times: “We are interested in getting a result that is good for both sides. We won’t give up that interest for the sake of strict procedural requirements.” Spain sees the UK as its closest economic ally due to trade and tourism but it also has a good reason for keeping the UK happy, believing it will quash Nicola Sturgeon’s constant whinging about another independence referendum. Spain thinks an independent Scotland would encourage the region of Catalonia so pursue its own secession. While remoaners here are trying to overturn the result, our friends across Europe are rallying behind us to make a success of Brexit.

International trade

Express
THE European Commission has conceded that the UK can have a major trade agreement similar to the one it recently signed with Canada. The European trade commissioner Cecilia Malmström has told MEPs that she also believes that a deal can be agreed more quickly than the protracted talks with Canada. The Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA) was signed in October ensuring tariff free access to the single market without having free movement or Canada paying money to the EU budget. The major concession by Ms Malmström is a sign that the European Commission’s initial hard line to Brexit was posturing and that they are desperate to maintain trade with one of their biggest markets. German car manufacturers have led the way in pressuring for a free trade deal with the UK and Prime Minister Theresa May made it a top priority. The concession by the Commission also torpedoes the arguments made by Remoaners that the UK needs to stay a member of the single market instead of just having access.

Breitbart
Both the former and current European Union (EU) trade bosses have admitted a quickly negotiated Canada-style trade deal with the UK is possible. One demand, however, is the UK drops its threat of economic retaliation. Former EU trade commissioner Karel de Gucht said a deal could be in place in a “very reasonable” time, but called on Theresa May to disavow the claim she will turn Britain into an offshore “tax haven” if the EU plays hardball and seeks to punish the UK after Brexit. However, speaking ahead of the Prime Minister’s meeting with President Donald J. Trump, a former chief White House trade negotiator welcomed the idea, suggesting the UK could become “the Singapore of the Western World” after Brexit. Cecilia Malmström, a Swedish politician and the European Commissioner for Trade, last week signalled the UK could go to the back of a “queue” of 18 nations as it tries to negotiate a trade deal with the bloc after Brexit.

Express
BRUSSELS looked on bewildered and seemingly powerless today as South Africa vowed to begin negotiating a trade deal with Britain immediately so that it will be ready to go the day after the country officially leaves the bloc. Eurocrats repeatedly refused to be drawn on whether they would attempt to punish the UK over its plans to start formal talks whilst it is still a member states, something which is strictly prohibited under EU treaties. Yesterday South African trade minister Rob Davies vowed to begin negotiations on a pact as soon as possible, stating that he wanted “a predictable trade and investment environment for mutual benefit for both parties”. He made the remarks following a meeting with Liam Fox, who revealed the pair had discussed how to “progress” Britain’s future economic relationship with one of Africa’s largest economies.

Westmonster
Despite the fact that countries are queuing up around the block to do a trade deal with Brexit Britain, Chancellor Philip Hammond has this morning vowed that the government will not start negotiating until we leave the European Union. Though this will please the Eurocrats, it doesn’t really make sense. After all, having the leverage of governments around the world wanting to do a deal with Britain massively strengthens the UK’s hand in any talks with Brussels. Yet again though, just as the government continues to implement EU law despite us leaving, we’re playing it by the book and potentially losing out. It seems frankly absurd that for the next few years as the Prime Minister travels to places like America, our country won’t be taking the opportunity to formally negotiate trade deals. The EU may not like it, but economic opportunities across the would should trump whinging from Juncker and Co.

Grexit

Westmonster
The sad, drawn-out suffering in Greece has to end at some point. Maybe that time is coming sooner than many think. Politico have an interesting piece today on murmurings from Greece, with discontent at the current financial arrangement now so great that an exit from the Euro or perhaps even the EU itself could be back on the agenda shortly. The Greek people have felt the brutality of the European Union more than anyone else as they’ve been bullied into remaining in the Eurozone despite the dire economic consequences it has had. Greece’s growing hatred for the EU is clear. To put it into context, a recent poll showed that 48% of Brits disliked the EU. In Greece, the number is 71%. Yeah, that bad.

Article 50

Express
LABOUR will table nine amendments to the Government’s Article 50 Bill when it passes through the House of Commons. Jeremy Corbyn’s party have announced they will add a series of conditions to the proposed legislation, which was introduced to Parliament today. Brexit Secretary David Davis presented the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill to the House of Commons this afternoon. It is expected to move through Parliament before Theresa May’s deadline of March 31 to trigger Article 50. The Bill follows the Supreme Court’s ruling this week the Prime Minister must first gain the consent of MPs and peers before beginning EU divorce negotiations. The short proposed Bill contains two clauses, but Labour have proposed significantly adding to its word-length with a series of conditions. These include a demand for a parliamentary vote on Britain’s final exit deal before it reaches MEPs in the European Parliament, tying the Government to an ambition to protect workers’ rights and full tariff-free Single Market access, guaranteeing EU migrants’ rights in the UK and regular consultation with all UK parliaments during the Brexit talks.

Telegraph
A shadow minister has quit after Jeremy Corbyn said that that he will force his front-bench team to vote in favour of triggering Brexit. Tulip Siddiq, the shadow early years minister, said that because the “vast majority” of her constituents voted to stay in the European Union she cannot back triggering Article 50. Mr Corbyn is now facing the prospect of two other shadow ministers resigning after vowing to impose a three-line whip on Labour MPs. Ms Siddiq said in her letter to Mr Corbyn: “The vast majority of my constituents voted last year to remain in the European Union, as did I. On the announcement of the 3-line whip on the Article 50 vote I therefore feel I have no choice but to resign from my front bench role as shadow minister for early years. “I do not support the triggering of Article 50 and cannot reconcile myself to the front bench position.”

Mirror
Shadow minister Tulip Siddiq has resigned from the frontbench in protest at Jeremy Corbyn ’s stance on Article 50. The Labour leader is facing a mounting rebellion from Labour MPs after imposing a three-line whip on the Bill triggering our exit from the EU. Ms Siddiq, the shadow children’s minister, said voting for Article 50 would be a betrayal of her constituents in London’s Hamsptead and Kilburn who voted overwhelmingly to stay in the EU. In a letter to Mr Corbyn she said: “I have always been clear – I do not represent Westminster in Hampstead and Kilburn, I represent Hampstead and Kilburn in Westminster. “I feel that the most effective place for me to counter Theresa May’s hard Brexit is from the backbenches.”

NHS

Times
Patients will be refused hip and knee replacements unless they are in so much pain that they cannot sleep or go about their daily lives, under the latest NHS rationing plans. Health chiefs in the West Midlands are using a scoring system designed to assess patients’ illness to reduce hip operations by 12 per cent and knee replacements by 19 per cent. The move is intended to save £2.1 million a year. Very obese patients would be refused surgery unless they could show that they had lost 10 per cent of their body weight or were in danger of losing their independence, the Health Service Journal revealed.

ITV News
Surgeons have hit out at the NHS over cost-cutting plans to ration hip and knee replacements to only those with “severe pain”. Proposals include slashing the number of people who qualify for hip replacements by 12% and knee replacements by 19%. This could save around £2m a year, three Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) in the West Midlands claim. It would mean only treating “severe to the upper end of moderate” cases. Obese people with a body mass index over 34 would also be forced to wait until they had lost 10% of their weight unless their problems were very severe. Patients in pain would need to have such severe levels of pain that they cannot sleep or carry out daily tasks.

Scotland

Guardian
The Scottish secretary has admitted there would be serious consequences if the UK government failed to win Holyrood’s backing for its final Brexit deal. David Mundell said he expected Holyrood would be allowed to vote on whether it consented to the so-called great reform bill with which the UK will formally quit the EU, repatriating substantial powers to Westminster and the UK’s three devolved governments. The vote on a legislative consent motion (LCM) does not give the Scottish parliament a binding veto allowing MSPs to block the bill at Westminster – a fact accepted by Scotland’s first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, and her cabinet. But if Westminster were to press ahead after Holyrood had voted it down, that would set up a fierce political battle between the UK government and the pro-independence Scottish National party and Scottish Greens, both of whom want a second independence vote.

Express
DAVID DAVIS today hit back at the “holier than thou stance of the SNP” as the Brexit Secretary highlighted how Nicola Sturgeon had previously refused to protect the rights of EU nationals.Answering questions in the House of Commons, Mr Davis faced demands to guarantee the rights of EU migrants currently living in the UK to remain in Britain once Brexit is completed. The Cabinet minister reminded MPs how the Prime Minister has called for the issue to be “a priority” in Brexit negotiations and to be agreed as early as possible in the Article 50 departure process. He also highlighted how Theresa May had already sought a reciprocal guarantee on the rights of EU nationals in Britain and UK expats living on the Continent but had been blocked by other member states. SNP MP Stuart Donaldson asked, if the Government failed to guarantee the rights of EU nationals to remain in the UK, whether ministers had estimated the impact on the UK economy and public services of the exit of EU migrants from Britain and the return of “thousands of retired British immigrants” from Europe.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email