The European Union has secretly begun preparing for Britain to leave without a deal, a senior adviser to Michel Barnier has admitted. Donald Tusk, the President of the European Council, said earlier this month that EU leaders are not working on a “no-deal” scenario and are negotiating in “good faith”. Emmanual Macon, the French President, last week accused Britain of “bluffing” by threatening to leave the EU without a deal. However Stefaan de Rynck, an adviser to Mr Barnier – the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator – conceded that preparations are underway. Speaking at the Institute for Government think tank, he said: “On advertising no deal, it is not something we want to advertise, oversell.
Brussels is making preparations for Brexit talks to collapse, an adviser to chief EU negotiator Michel Barnier has revealed. Stefaan De Rynck confirmed European leaders are working on contingency arrangements if the UK crashes out of the bloc without a deal, but said the scenario was not desired. The senior Brussels official also dismissed Brexit Secretary David Davis’s claim that Brussels will push the negotiations with the UK to the very last moment before Britain drops out of the EU. Speaking at the Institute for Government think tank, Mr De Rynck said: “There is a clear negative impact from no deal, I think that that is clear, for both sides but especially for the UK economy.
The European Union is preparing for the UK to leave without a deal, a senior official has said. Stefaan De Rynck said Brussels did not want a “no deal” scenario but it was braced for one. Mr De Rynck is an adviser to EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier. He dismissed claims by David Davis that the EU would push talks on a deal to the wire saying the bloc did not want to “add risk” to the exit process by “playing with time”. “Brexit is a process we want to manage in a calm and rational way,” Mr De Rynck told a seminar at the Institute for Government think tank in London, adding that failing to reach a deal would harm both sides.
EU officials are preparing for a Brexit “no deal”, a key aide to the bloc’s chief negotiator revealed today. Brussels, like London, is making contingencies for the UK to crash out without an agreement on a future trade deal, Michel Barnier’s adviser Stefaan de Rynck told the Institute for Government. He said: “It is not something we want to advertise, oversell. “There is a clear negative impact from no deal… especially for the UK economy, but it not a scenario that we want to work towards. “We are preparing for it, that is for sure, the 27, but it is not something we in the negotiation room want to bring in that negotiation room.”
BRUSSELS bosses last night vowed to play hardball on the question of a Brexit transition deal in a blow to Theresa May. The EU is set to limit the length of any transition to 20 months – less than the two years requested by Mrs May and her ministers. The British Government want a two-year interim period after we leave the EU in March 2019 to plan for the implementation of a free trade agreement. But EU sources told the Guardian they want the transition to end after 20 months, leading to a clean break at the end of 2020. Top negotiator Michel Barnier said earlier this week: “To my mind, it makes sense that it covers the financial period, so until 2020.” The row could hinder Mrs May’s hopes of reaching a speedy agreement on the transition deal.
A BITTER dispute has erupted between Jean-Claude Juncker’s right hand man and Brussels’ chief negotiator Michel Barnier as the EU president’s beast makes a bid to wreck Brexit. The European Union (EU) is reportedly engulfed by infighting as it emerged Mr Barnier “despises” Mr Juncker’s chief of staff Martin Selmayr. The German bureaucrat – who is believed to be behind the leak about Theresa May’s and Jean Juncker’s dinner – is said to be intent on punishing Britain for voting Leave. And he is said to be undermining rival Mr Barnier as he architects an EU punishment strategy to ensure Britain stumps up an eye-watering divorce settlement.
Anti-Brexit campaigners are poised to launch a second legal action against the government over Theresa May’s failure to offer parliament a binding vote on the deal she negotiates with the EU. The Times understands that the group behind the successful Article 50 challenge may go back to court unless ministers drop their opposition to enshrine the agreement in primary legislation. The group includes Gina Miller, the businesswoman who secured a Supreme Court victory in January, forcing the government to consult parliament over triggering Brexit. Ministers fear that giving MPs the opportunity to amend the agreement as the March 2019 deadline looms could derail the entire Brexit process.
Conservative rebels have warned the Brexit secretary, David Davis, that they are “deadly serious” about forcing concessions from the government on the EU withdrawal bill. As the leader of the House of Commons, Andrea Leadsom, announced that the key piece of Brexit legislation would come back to the Commons on 14 November, former education secretary Nicky Morgan warned Davis not to expect an easy ride. More than 300 amendments to the government’s key piece of Brexit legislation have been tabled, and Tory MPs hope to force concessions on key issues including parliament’s right to vote on any final deal. Davis was forced to appear before MPs on Thursday and reiterate his pledge to give parliament a vote, after appearing to suggest on Wednesday that it could come after Britain had already left the European Union.
David Davis has been warned by senior Tories that they are “deadly serious” about pushing the Government into enshrining Britain’s Brexit deal in law. Ex-cabinet minister Nicky Morgan told Brexit Secretary Mr Davis that Conservative rebels would not ease pressure on the Government to make the concession. The plan to force the Government to pass a further major piece of Brexit legislation was proposed by senior Tory Dominic Grieve, but was also supported on Thursday by Labour’s Sir Keir Starmer. It comes as the Government confirmed its current piece of Brexit legislation, the EU (withdrawal) Bill will finally come before the House of Commons again in three weeks after MPs from all parties made 400 attempts to change it.
DAVID Davis was warned today by pro-EU Tory rebels that they are “deadly serious” about their threat to wreck Government Brexit plans. The Cabinet minister was confronted by senior backbencher Nicky Morgan during heated exchanges in the Commons. She said she and her allies were ready to vote with Labour against the crucial EU Withdrawal Bill unless ministers legally commit to parliamentary votes on any deal. Urging ministers to make concessions, the former education secretary warned: “Can I tell him – we are deadly serious.” Her threat came after the Government confirmed that the legislation seeking to smooth the UK’s exit from the EU will return to the Commons on November 14.
The Brexit minister has said the UK will accept the jurisdiction of European courts during a Brexit transition period “certainly initially” and confirmed MPs will be allowed to vote on a final Brexit deal. A Department for Exiting the European Union (EU) spokesman said Thursday that they “expect and intend” for a parliamentary vote on a final Brexit deal to take place before exit day in March 2019. This was after David Davis, who is in charge of the department, had told a committee of MPs earlier that day that a vote might not take place until Britain has already left the bloc. The admissions could be seen as concessions to anti-Brexit campaigners.
Students from the EU could be loaned more than £13,000 a year for tuition fees by the UK after Brexit. Officials are understood to be in discussions which could lead to the offer to European students at British universities to stop their numbers plunging. Currently, they pay the same £9,250 fees as home students and have access to the same taxpayer-funded loans, which are repaid voluntarily. But this is expected to end if there is a so-called ‘hard’ Brexit, meaning EU students would be treated like international students who are charged more and have to pay upfront each term. The average cost for an international student is £13,394 a year, rising to £15,034 for laboratory subjects and £24,169 for clinical disciplines.
OVERSEAS students could be offered loans while they study in Brexit Britain – if their country agrees to a free trade deal. Ministers are looking at offering access to student loans for foreigners studying in Britain post-Brexit for the first time despite fears they may never be paid back. Talks have taken place between the Department for Education, Universities UK and the Student Loans Company, according to the Times Higher Education Supplement. Officials have discussed setting up “commercial style loans” because after Brexit EU students will lose their ability to take out loans here.
BRITISH universities are still on an anti-Brexit tirade to turn students against leaving the EU despite claiming to be bipartisan, it has been claimed. Vote Leave student campaigners were compared to Nazis while reams of senior lecturers urged their students to vote Remain. The revelation comes as academics attacked Tory whip Christ Heaton-Harris for writing a letter asking institutions for the names of professors lecturing on Brexit and details of their courses. His letter was described as “McCarthyite” and a threat to British academic freedom. However, it can now be revealed anti-Brexit bias was rife within the UK’s top universities.
Universities faced more allegations of anti-Brexit bias last night as it was claimed a student graduation ceremony was ruined by a professor using it to warn about leaving the EU. In another example of pro-Remain bias, the master of Downing College, Cambridge used his position to urge students to campaign for a second referendum to overturn the Leave vote. And a history graduate from the University of Warwick put Vote Leave posters up on campus but they were pulled down within hours with students branding them ‘racist’. The revelations follow the furore over the decision by Tory whip Chris Heaton-Harris to send a letter to higher education institutions asking what they are teaching about the UK’s departure from the EU. Since last year’s referendum, lecturers have been caught handing out pro-EU pamphlets and inviting students to meetings held by the pro-single market group Open Britain.
Lancashire has become the first council to ban the supply to schools of halal beef and lamb from animals that have not been stunned before slaughter. The decision is expected to prompt a boycott of school meals by thousands of Muslim children in the county. Twenty-seven schools with a total of 12,000 pupils in Lancashire serve meat from halal suppliers that do not stun animals. These include several Church of England and Catholic schools. Geoff Driver, the county council’s Conservative leader, had proposed the ban because he said that it was “abhorrent” to cut an animal’s throat without first making it insensible to pain.
PLANS to keep “hated” EU fishing rules in place beyond March 2019 were tonight described as the struggling British industry’s “worst nightmare”. Ministers have confirmed the bloc’s controversial quota system, the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), will be copied in its entirety into UK law as part of the exit process. The Government insists that Britain will “become an independent coastal state on the day we leave the European Union” but says Brussels red tape needs to be phased out gradually. It has drawn up a Great Repeal Bill which will transpose all EU law onto the British statute books, with MPs then set to go through each individual piece and decide what should be kept, amended or binned. Environment minister George Eustice revealed Britain will leave the CFP in March 2019 but will directly replicate the terms of the programme to “provide continuity on the day we leave”.
THE social care crisis facing Britain was laid bare by figures showing the number of over-85s will double by 2040. The Office for National Statistics said there will be 3.2million aged 85 and above – up from 1.6million. Brits of a ‘pensionable age’ will rocket by almost four million to 16million – outnumbering children. Stats chiefs said the continued increase in life expectancy meant record numbers of people were living to “very old ages”. Figures released last month showed ‘centenarians’ – Brits living to 100 and beyond – were the fastest growing age group in the country. It comes with councils claiming there is currently a £2.3billion shortfall in funding for old age care.
House of Lords
Political parties are set to be awarded a quota of peerage appointments based on their latest general election performance under radical plans for Lords reform, The Times has learnt. The recommendation will form the cornerstone of the plan to be published next week to curb the size of the House of Lords. At present it has almost 800 members and is the second-largest legislative chamber in the world after China’s national congress. The four major parts of the house — the 252 Tories, 199 Labour peers, 100 Liberal Democrats and 180 crossbenchers — will be asked to reduce the size of their bloc by a quarter to cut the Lords to about 600 peers.
The NHS has been ordered to ‘get its act together’ or risk another devastating cyber attack like the ‘WannaCry’ ransomware breach which crippled the health service in May. A damning investigation into digital crisis by the National Audit Office, found that NHS bodies had been warned as early as 2014 that their systems were vulnerable to hackers. In the months preceding the attack, NHS digital had even issued ‘critical alerts’ about the WannaCry virus, urging IT departments to update their online security systems. The NAO report, released today, found that almost 19,500 medical appointments, including 139 potential cancer referrals, were probably cancelled, with five hospitals forced to divert ambulances away after being locked out of computers on May 12.
Nearly 20,000 hospital appointments were cancelled earlier this year because the NHS failed to provide basic security against cyber attackers. The National Audit Office said a cyber-attack which crippled a third of NHS hospitals in May could have easily been prevented. NHS officials said 47 trusts had been affected – but the NAO found that the impact was far greater, and in fact 81 were hit by the attack. Sir Amyas Morse, the head of the NAO, last night warned health bosses to ‘get their act together’ to prevent attacks happening again. The Department of Health said that from next January hospitals will be subject to unannounced inspections of IT security.
Health bosses have been ordered to end the shameful rationing of cataract operations in a major victory for the Daily Mail. Hospitals have been told all sufferers must be offered surgery as soon as their quality of life is affected by vision loss. Crucially, the NHS watchdog’s rules – the first ever national guidelines – state that medics must ‘not restrict access to cataract surgery’ on the basis of sight-test scores. The move comes after the Mail’s Save Our Sight campaign showed how restrictions set by health trusts denied the operations to many until they were near-blind. Announcing the rules last night, Jeremy Hunt paid tribute to the Mail for exposing the unfair postcode lottery in eye surgery.
AN NHS hospital has pulled out of an Airbnb-style scheme to put up recovering patients in strangers’ homes after the plans faced a backlash over safety risks. Southend University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, which had been set to pilot the scheme, said it had no intention of taking part as the plans could “compromise the safety and quality of care of patients.” It comes after plans emerged on Wednesday for patients to be moved into locals’ homes as a way to ease “bed-blocking” on busy wards. In return for fees of up to £1,000 a month, hosts, who would not need any care experience, in Essex are asked to “welcome the patient, cook three microwave meals a day and offer conversation,” according to the Health Service Journal.
Immigration is placing a huge strain on the NHS reveals a report highlighting a surge in seriously ill children being admitted to hospital. Figures reveal a 14.3 per cent rise in youngsters born to immigrants being treated in paediatric intensive care since 2004 in England – when former Prime Minister Tony Blair threw open Britain’s borders to the Eastern Bloc. The former Labour leader’s relaxed immigration controls allowed an influx of migrants from 10 new EU states, including Poland and Lithuania. The number of under 15s admitted to intensive care units in England soared by almost 15 per cent in the decade after according to this new data. They have also gone up by just over two per cent in Wales. The steepest rises were among younger children up to the age of five and those with breathing or cardiovascular problems.
On two occasions this week the UK’s top counterterrorism police officer has publicly voiced his concerns about the possible threat from the far right. Mark Rowley, a Metropolitan Police assistant commissioner, inevitably focused on Islamist terrorism after four attacks this year, but he also made it clear that police would be unwise to discount neo-Nazi extremists. Resources have been diverted from investigations into war crimes and domestic extremism so that police can focus on disrupting Islamist plots but detectives have kept up their investigations into the “very concerning” activities of the far right, Mr Rowley told the home affairs select committee. He repeated his concerns the next day at the National Security Summit, speaking alongside Sue Hemming, head of the Crown Prosecution Service counterterrorism division.
Two alleged members of a banned far-right group were charged yesterday in connection with a plot to murder a Labour MP. Christopher Lythgoe, 31, the alleged leader of the neo-Nazi group National Action, will face court today accused of encouraging the murder of Rosie Cooper, the MP for West Lancashire. A 22-year-old man, who cannot be named, has been charged with the intention of committing acts of terrorism and threats to kill, Greater Manchester police said. Prosecutors will allege that the younger man sought and received permission from Mr Lythgoe to carry out an attack, The Times understands. The pair have also been charged with belonging to a proscribed organisation along with four other men.
A leader of the banned neo-Nazi terror group National Action has been charged with encouragement to commit murder of a Labour MP. Christopher Lythgoe, 31, from Warrington, was arrested as part of a major police operation targeting the banned British far-right group. It emerged this afternoon that the alleged target was West Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper. Greater Manchester Police today revealed he has also been charged with membership of a terrorist organisation. Ms Cooper, from Liverpool, who has been an MP since 2005, said: ‘I would like to thank everyone involved in this case, especially the counter-terrorism police, for keeping me, my staff and the public safe.