BREXIT doom-mongers are facing calls to apologise as figures show the economy has thrived since the EU vote. Britain’s Gross Domestic Product defied the warnings of Project Fear to rise by 0.5 per cent in the three months after the historic decision to cut ties with Brussels, according to the Office for National Statistics. The surge exceeds expectations of many City experts and contrasts starkly with predictions of recession from George Osborne and other supporters of the UK’s membership of the EU, including former prime minister David Cameron and Bank of England governor Mark Carney. And Britain’s economy was given another ringing vote of confidence yesterday when car giant Nissan announced plans for building two new models in the North-east.
In the hours before Theresa May stepped to the podium in Birmingham earlier this month to lay out her vision for a “fully independent, sovereign” Britain, she made a discreet round of telephone calls to European leaders. Her aim, according to British officials, was to head off any surprise or confusion in Berlin, Paris, Brussels and other capitals over the message she was about to deliver to hundreds of her Conservative Party colleagues. In the speech, May described the Brexit referendum in June as “the biggest vote for change this country has ever known.” She promised to trigger divorce proceedings with the European Union by the end of March next year and she rejected the notion that Britain might opt for a deal similar to those of Norway or Switzerland – two non-EU countries that adhere to the bloc’s rules on free movement of people in exchange for privileged access to its lucrative single market.
International Trade Secretary Liam Fox has said the UK must nail down trade terms with the EU in two years after Brexit talks begin, or risk getting tangled in seemingly endless negotiations. Dr Fox said if Britain completes an EU deal quickly it will more easily be granted in Brussels, but if talks drag, the terms change and it will need approval through the same painstaking process which appears to be suffocating Canada’s EU trade agreement. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau today pulled out of a scheduled summit in Brussels after politicians there failed to break their deadlock over the deal. Once Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty is triggered by the UK, officially starting Brexit talks that will set future trade terms with the EU, Britain has two years to negotiate its deal with European states.
The cost of European Union regulations for companies means that Britain is better off leaving the single market, one of the country’s most senior business leaders has said. Lord Bamford, the chairman of JCB and a Conservative peer, said that trade tariffs imposed after Brexit would be a “price worth paying” and that UK businesses will take it “in their stride”. His vote of confidence came as Britain’s economy expanded by 0.5 per cent in the three months following the EU referendum, defying the “Project Fear” predictions of a recession made by the Treasury ahead of the vote.
POLAND has tonight championed calls for Jean-Claude Juncker’s unelected EU Commission to be stripped of its powers. The country’s Prime Minister said Brussels bureaucrats have grown too big for their boots and blamed them for the popularity crisis which is threatening to sink the euro project. Beata Szydlo accused the all-powerful Commission of becoming too political and meddling way beyond its remit as Europe’s politicians wrestle to impose their visions for the future of the bloc post-Brexit. In a fiery speech the Polish PM also vowed to ignore a diktat from Brussels ordering her to reverse reforms to the country’s legal system. Insisting that Poland is a “democratic state” which will not bend the knee to bureaucrats, she pointed out that the measures were passed by elected MPs.
SNP MPs have hit out at what they called the “absurd”, “over convoluted and shamefully partisan” move towards English Votes for English Laws (Evel). The party also branded Evel “a bureaucratic, cumbersome, misunderstood nightmare”, as protests continued about the major procedural change. The changes introduced in October 2015 aim to address the so-called West Lothian question, and ensures English and Welsh MPs must consent to legislation that only affects those countries. Commons Leader David Lidington defended the changes, saying it was “a matter of justice”. But speaking during questions to the Leader of the House, the SNP’s Ian Blackford (Ross, Skye and Lochaber) said: “Yesterday the Leader of the House announced a review of last year’s change to standing orders, which implemented the absurd Evel, English Votes for English Laws, process, which disenfranchises non-English MPs. “Will the leader restore equality for MPs by removing the over convoluted and shamefully partisan Evel procedure from standing orders, and make sure all MPs in this House are equal?”
The NHS is on course to miss its target to recoup £500m every year spent treating migrant patients. The “ambitious” target for reducing the cost of treating overseas patients not entitled to free healthcare was announced by the Department of Health in 2014 to counter claims the NHS was being “overly generous”. But a National Audit Office (NAO) study says hospital trusts in England are failing to identify EU migrants who should be charged for treatment and staff face “particular challenges” collecting payment from patients from the rest of the world. Just £289m was collected in 2015-16, half of which came from 10 acute and specialist trusts in London, while a further eight trusts failed to charge migrant patients outside Europe anything at all.
The NHS is falling hundreds of millions of pounds short in efforts to claw money back from so-called health tourists, a report has found. The Government aims to recover £500 million by 2018 – but it is estimated only £295 million is likely to be paid back by overseas patients not entitled to free treatment. Half this amount is owed to acute and specialists trusts in London, the National Audit Office (NAO) said. Eight trusts – which were not named – had not charged anything at all to patients outside of Europe, meaning the true figure could be much higher. The report also found that while some trusts had a team working specifically on recouping the losses, four had no designated staff for it at all.
The government is expected to fall well short of its target of recovering £500m a year from overseas visitors treated in NHS hospitals in England. The Department of Health has “refined” to £346m its target for 2017-18, says the National Audit Office. Some £289m was paid in 2015-16; £73m in 2012-13. A new “surcharge” for non-EU patients accounts for much of the rise, but only about half of debts owed are recovered. The Department of Health said the increase showed “very good progress”. NHS Trusts in England are legally obliged to check whether patients are eligible for free non-emergency NHS treatment and to recover any costs from overseas patients.
The NHS is losing hundreds of millions of pounds as it collects just half the cash owed by foreign patients, a report warns today. Thousands of treatments, operations and services are provided to overseas visitors in the UK every year. But some hospitals recover just 15% of the money charged to non-citizens, who should pay directly for any treatment they receive here, the Whitehall spending watchdog says. It means health bosses are set to miss their target to claw back £500million a year for treating patients from overseas. The report from the National Audit Office warns: “Best available estimates suggest that the NHS is recovering around half of the amounts they charge directly to patients.” Three in four hospitals said foreign patient debt was a “very important” or “fairly important” problem for them.
Hospitals are failing to claw back hundreds of millions of pounds from health tourists, a damning report reveals today. Barely any improvement has been made on charging foreign patients for NHS treatment, despite a major crackdown four years ago. Most doctors aren’t even aware they should be charging such patients – or don’t think it’s their duty. Today’s analysis by the National Audit Office highlights how hospitals are particularly bad at recovering costs from EU residents. And it warns that the health service will fall £200million short of a target to recoup £500million a year by 2018. The analysis comes at a time when the NHS is struggling with a high deficit and problems with overspending. Only yesterday, a report by the General Medical Council claimed the ‘intense pressure’ created by a £2billion total in hospital deficits was having a corrosive effect on morale in the medical profession.
Angela Merkel has recommended that Germans who are concerned about Islamisation should play Christmas carols on the recorder to contain any possible threat. At a national congress of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party in Wittenburg the German Chancellor told supporters that it’s up to them to hold off the growth of Islam in Germany, by preserving Christmas traditions. Addressing points raised by the populist Alternative for Germany (AfD) party about Islamic law holding values that are antithetical to those of Germans, Merkel conceded: “I know that there are concerns about Islam.” The CDU politician argued that it’s up to Germans to contain Islamisation in Germany, suggesting they do so by recalling Christian traditions. “How many Christmas carols do we still know? And how many of them are we passing on to our children and grandchildren?” she asked the crowd, rhetorically.
REMAINER MP Ken Clarke has hit out at Eurosceptics remaining positive about the falling pound and has scolded the government’s reaction to the declining currency. The veteran Tory politician slammed his party for making premature policy statements at its party conference in an interview with LBC presenter Iain Dale. He said: “In my day, certainly when I had been chancellor, if my colleagues had gone out and appeared to have made policy statements that caused the pound to collapse in the currency markets I would have thought that a crisis. “I would have been extremely angry that it had been done.” He criticised cabinet members of not being “bothered” about the decline in sterling.
UKIP has teamed up with the Liberal Democrats, Greens, the SNP, and Plaid Cymru to renew demands for a fairer electoral system that allocates representation in Parliament proportional to the number of votes won. The coalition is proposing a motion to the House of Commons arguing the current First-past-the-post (FPTP) system is not “fit for purpose”, calling for the government to implement a new Proportional Representation (PR) system. The move follows a petition, demanding similar changes, receiving the backing of some 500,000 people. In 2015, the Green Party, Liberal Democrats, and UKIP won almost 25 per cent of the votes, but have just 1.6 per cent of MPs. UKIP won 3.8 million votes and won one MP, whilst the SNP won 1.5 million votes but have 56 MPs.
Ukip has backed Zac Goldsmith in the Richmond Park by-election – prompting the Liberal Democrats to taunt that he is the ‘Brexit’ candidate. Leader Nigel Farage said the party would join the Tories in deciding not to field a candidate in the December 1 vote. Lib Dem leader Tim Farron – who wants to fight the by-election on Europe – said the endorsement showed Mr Goldsmith is a ‘hard Brexiteer’ who wants Britain out of the single market. Pro-Leave Mr Goldsmith will fight the election as an independent following his decision to quit as a Tory MP in protest at the government’s support for a third runway at Heathrow Airport. The Lib Dems are confident because Richmond Park voted 60 per cent for Remain vote in the referendum. A Ukip spokesman said: ‘Zac Goldsmith has resigned on a matter of principle and Ukip admire him for having the courage to do so. Ukip have always believed that Gatwick was a preferred option to Heathrow.
UKIP has thrown its weight behind Zac Goldsmith to win the upcoming by-election in Richmond and blasted the Liberal Democrats for criticising Mr Goldsmith’s pro-leave stance Nigel Farage said his party would not contest the seat on December 1 — which prompted the Lib Dems to attack Goldsmith for backing Brexit. Announcing the endorsement, a Ukip spokesman said: “Recognising Zac as a principled man, who was fully committed to helping Britain out of the European Union, Ukip leader Nigel Farage, in conjunction with the National Executive Committee have agreed that we will not be fielding a candidate in the upcoming by-election for Richmond Park. “The Liberal Democrats are committed to overturning the result of the 2016 referendum and ignoring the will of the British people. This must not be allowed to happen.” He added: “Ukip are encouraging all of our supporters and voters to support Zac Goldsmith in his bid to become an independent MP.”
Ex-Tory Zac Goldsmith has won a controversial ally in his bid to stay in Parliament – Nigel Farage. Ukip’s leader swung behind the millionaire Brexit -backer today in a break from giving debate advice to Donald Trump. Mr Farage and Ukip’s ruling NEC jointly decided not to field a candidate against Mr Goldsmith after he quit in protest at Heathrow expansion. Instead Ukip heaped praise on the independent – calling him “a principled man who was fully committed to helping get Britain out of the European Union”. A party spokesman added: “ Zac Goldsmith has resigned on a matter of principle and UKIP admire him for having the courage to do so.
Ukip has endorsed Zac Goldsmith , the former Conservative MP who is now standing as an independent in the Richmond Park byelection, which will take place on 1 December. The party’s interim leader, Nigel Farage, said Ukip would not put up a candidate against Goldsmith, who backed leave in the EU referendum, and its supporters should vote for him to stop the pro-EU Liberal Democrats from winning the seat. Goldsmith, who was the Conservative candidate for mayor of London in May’s election, resigned as an MP earlier this week after the government’s decision to approve expansion at Heathrow, which he opposes. The Conservatives have said they will not put up their own candidate against Goldsmith. The Lib Dems, who held the west London seat until 2010, have high hopes of winning it back, thanks to their opposition to Heathrow expansion and their support for the EU. A large majority of voters in Richmond Park voted to remain on 23 June.
DAVID Cameron’s flagship plan to force all state schools into academies got its “final nail in the coffin” yesterday as ministers threw the plans out. Education Secretary Justine Greening revealed she’d ditched the education bill as Labour welcomed the canning of the “flawed plans”. The move paves the way for the Government to continue their consultation on grammar schools. It means the Education For All Bill, which was announced in the Queen’s Speech, will not now be introduced to Parliament. Lucy Powell MP, former Labour Shadow Education Secretary, said: “Forcing good and outstanding schools to become academies was always a flawed plan.
Plans to make schools become academies have been dropped in a reversal of the policy that was at the centre of this year’s budget. The government’s decision to scrap the Education For All Bill was described by critics as a “masterclass in how to bury bad news”. The U-turn was admitted by Justine Greening, the education secretary, in a brief paragraph in a written ministerial statement on further education and technical skills, and can be seen as another nail in the coffin for education policies that found traction under David Cameron and Michael Gove.
Chancellor Philip Hammond said that Thursday’s better-than-expected GDP growth showed the economy was resilient and well-placed to cope with the challenges thrown up by Britain’s exit from the European Union. Gross domestic product expanded by 0.5 percent in the July-September period, less rapid than the unusually strong growth of 0.7 percent seen in the second quarter but comfortably above a median forecast of 0.3 percent in a Reuters poll of economists. “The fundamentals of the UK economy are strong, and today’s data show that the economy is resilient,” Hammond said in a statement released after the news.
The UK economy grew by 0.5% in the three months after the Brexit vote, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has said. The figure for July to September was down from the 0.7% growth recorded in the second quarter of 2016 – the months before Britain voted to leave the European Union. But it is more robust than many economists had expected – and stronger than the 0.2% forecast last month by the Bank of England (BoE). The higher-than-expected GDP figure was driven by the services sector – which accounts for more than 78% of the UK economy – which grew by 0.2% in the three months to September.
VLADIMIR Putin is preparing for a “hot war if necessary” between Russia and the West, the former British ambassador to Moscow has warned. Sir Anthony Brenton – who spent 20 years in the Foreign Office and four years in the Russian capital – warned we are closer to World War 3 than he had ever seen. Senior Russian generals are openly talking about war with NATO, he said. The Kremlin is “hyped up” – and there is a “real threat” war could break out. Sir Anthony said: “Having dealt with Russia for more than 20 years in the Foreign Office and served as British Ambassador to Russia between 2004 and 2008, we are in the most dangerous situation in our relations I have ever seen. “In Russia all the talk is of a second Cold War – with active preparations for fighting a ‘Hot War’ if necessary.”
A WAR in space could be triggered by new satellite weaponry developed in the US and Russia, a military expert has warned. Vasily Kashin – from the Centre for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies, in Moscow – has claimed a space war could be appraoching as Russia and the US develop new anti-satellite weapons. It comes after a US Air Force general warned Russia’s growing space weaponry could overthrow American satellites by 2025. According to Kashin the Russian space surveillance station Okno as now been upgraded to include telescopes capable of detecting attacks on satellites. Kashin added: “Such a system is capable of proving the fact that a satellite can be attacked by an enemy space vehicle.”