Michel Barnier threatened to delay Brexit trade talks for months today as the EU played hardball over the divorce bill in the latest round of negotiations. The Eurocrat warned that the two sides were ‘not there yet’, and despite praising a ‘new climate’ demanded more compromise from the UK. He warned it could take ‘weeks or even months’ before he was ready to say discussions about trade could begin. Standing alongside the Mr Barnier in Brussels, David Davis struck a considerably more optimistic tone – insisting the talks this week had made ‘considerable progress on the issues that matter’. The Brexit Secretary said there had been advances on citizens’ rights and dispute resolution mechanisms.
EURO MPs are set to declare there has been no “sufficient progress” achieved in the Brexit talks in a vote taking place just a day before Theresa May makes her big speech to the Tory party conference. The EU parliament looks set to give its verdict on the state of the divorce talks to date around 24 hours before the PM takes to the podium to deliver her keynote address in Manchester. Today David Davis and Michel Barnier struck a much more upbeat tone about the ongoing divorce talks, with both men saying progress had been made even though more work remains to be done. And there has been some criticism over the timing of the MEPs vote, coming so soon before Mrs May’s big address, but EU Parliament officials insist the two events are not in any way linked. On Tuesday, October 3 MEPs will debate and then vote on a draft resolution, compiled by the EU’s Brexit coordinator Guy Verhofstadt and his steering group, which contains a number of scathing criticism of UK negotiators.
Britain has not made “sufficient progress” in Brexit talks with the EU for trade or transition discussions to begin, the EU has said – despite Theresa May’s Florence speech having created “a new dynamic” in negotiations. Speaking at the end of the latest round, EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier told reporters in Brussels that “clarity” had been reached on a number of issues – but warned that the EU-imposed starting line to move to trade talks could still be “months” away. The main stumbling block for the talks appears to still be Britain’s divorce bill, which Mr Barnier is insisting on settling before trade talks, or discussions about a transition period, can begin. David Davis at the start of the week insisted that talks about the divorce bill needed to take place alongside the transition period, but Mr Barnier hit back at the suggestion on Thursday, arguing that there was no “logical and coherent link” between the two issues that meant they had to be discussed together.
Four months of gruelling Brexit talks have failed to make enough progress for Britain and the EU to move on to trade deal discussions, the bloc’s top negotiator warned today. A major “stumbling block” is the European Court of Justice’s role in overseeing EU citizens’ rights, Michel Barnier revealed. And the final figure on the ‘divorce bill’ Britain must pay on leaving has yet to be agreed – with Barnier insisting the UK must be held to all financial commitments it made as one of the 28 member states. He said: “All commitments made as 28 must be kept as 28.” While Theresa May’s key Florence speech had injected “a new dynamic”, “we aren’t there yet with sufficient progress”, he added. The gloomy declaration paves the way for a crunch fifth set of talks starting on October 9 – the final session before a Brussels showdown of EU leaders where they will decide if talks can move onto trade, as Britain hopes.
The Brexit negotiations could be in a stalemate for months unless the UK agrees to honour all its financial commitments, the EU’s chief negotiator has suggested at the end of the latest round of talks. A “new dynamic” had been created by Theresa May’s speech in Florence last week, Michel Barnier said during a press conference with the Brexit secretary, David Davis. Both parties agreed that progress had been made, especially on the issue of citizens’ rights, but it became clear from comments in Brussels and elsewhere that outstanding issues remained. Barnier lamented that Davis was, in his own words, not yet ready to specify what past financial commitments would be met by the UK. The British government has so far only offered to ensure that no country loses out in the two years after the UK leaves in 2019, at an estimated cost to the Treasury of €20bn (£17.5bn). “The UK explained also that it was not in a position yet to identify its commitments taken during membership,” Barnier said. “For the EU, the only way to reach sufficient progress is that all commitments taken at 28 [member states] are honoured at 28.”
The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator has warned it could be “several months” before talks move on to discussions about trade. Michel Barnier hailed a “new dynamic” to negotiations following Theresa May’s speech in Florence last week. But, speaking in Brussels following the latest round of Brexit negotiations, the European Commission official told Brexit Secretary David Davis there is yet to be “sufficient progress” on key withdrawal issues. “We will need several weeks, even several months, to be able to see ‘sufficient progress’ on the principles of this orderly departure,” Mr Barnier said. The remaining 27 EU member states have demanded “sufficient progress” be reached on three issues – Britain’s possible exit payment, the Northern Ireland border and EU citizens’ rights – before negotiations can turn to discussions on a future UK-EU trading relationship.
DAVID DAVIS is considering a plan to set up a new court in Britain to settle disputes with the European Union after Brexit. The International Treaties Court (ITC) has been proposed by Lawyers for Britain, a pro-Leave organisation, as a suggestion to break the impasse with the EU’s negotiators. The new court would run in parallel to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) with both sides looking at the rulings of the other. It would decide on rulings regarding EU citizens in Britain and British subjects living in the EU but it would ensure the UK is not subject to law made in Brussels and ruled on in Luxembourg by a foreign court. The future of EU citizens in the UK has proven to be a sticking point in the talks with European Commission chief negotiator Michel Barnier insisting that the UK accepts rulings from the EU. The intransigence of Brussels has led cabinet ministers to suggest that Britain could walk out of the talks with Theresa May making ending the ECJ’s power over Britain one of her red lines.
EU leaders plan to agree to Britain’s request for a two-year transition phase during Brexit following this week’s thawing in relations. Following concessions to Brussels, the EU Council are set to expand negotiation boss Michel Barnier’s powers to “scope out” future trade and security treaties with Brexit Britain. Our revelation comes as the most intense bout of negotiations yet drew to a close in Brussels. David Davis and Michel Barnier both talked of the progress made this week. EU insiders said Britain’s plea for a two-year interim deal post 2019 will now likely be approved at next month’s meeting after ground was given by the UK on future budget payments and citizens rights. Plans are being hatched to use the October 19-20 summit, to “broaden out” Mr Barnier’s mandate to lead an “exploration” of transition talks and a “pre-scoping” of issues central to the trade and security treaties, EU sources say.
Campaigners for the rights of British nationals in Europe have urged the EU to reciprocate a “significant” offer from the government to allow them continued freedom of movement to retire or live in another country in the bloc after Brexit. They made their call after Theresa May appeared to respond to a letter they sent following her Florence speech imploring her to make a gesture that would break the logjam in talks. Under the offer, unveiled after the close of Brexit talks this week, EU citizens settled in the UK following Brexit would no longer be stripped of their rights to permanent residency if they move abroad for more than two years, for example for work or to look after an ill relative. The offer was described as a “big step forward” by British in Europe, which campaigns for the preservation of rights of 1.2 million Britons on the continent. “We are delighted,” the group said in a statement.
MORE than 200,000 EU citizens who already have permanent residence rights in Britain will not have to reapply to stay after Brexit, David Davis announced in Brussels. The concession came as “positive steps” were made over citizens’ rights in four days of Brexit talks. But the CBI and TUC united to demand swifter action. Anyone with a certificate to live in the UK, will just have to confirm it is genuine with the Home Office rather than apply all over again as feared. Last night the CBI and the TUC have combined to issue a joint appeal to Brexit negotiators to resolve the issue of future citizens’ rights as a matter of urgency. The two organisations – representing industry and trade unions – said the three million EU nationals living in the UK and one million British ex-pats in the EU had been caught up in intolerable round of “human poker”.
THE EUROPEAN Parliament is plotting to scupper the Brexit talks with a motion demanding that trade negotiations are delayed. In a “deeply cynical” move MEPs have put forward the motion apparently aimed at wrecking progress on talks. The debate next week has also been timed to coincide with the Conservative conference so many British eurosceptic MEPs will be away to defend the UK’s reputation. Tory MEP David Campbell Bannerman, a leading Brexit campaigner, blamed the European Parliament’s Brexit negotiator Guy Verhofstadt for the attack. He said: “I have always been convinced that Verhofstadt is a wrecker who wants to wreck the talks so he can recommend that the European Parliament rejects the final outcome of the talks.” He pointed out that the motion was not binding but was aimed at damaging the reputation of the UK Government.
The European Parliament has moved to block Brexit talks progressing onto trade, demanding European Union (EU) courts retain power on British soil after Brexit and the UK pays an even higher ‘divorce bill’. MEPs have drafted a resolution that opposed Theresa May’s plea for negotiations to move onto trade, claiming she and the UK have not seceded enough ground to European Union (EU) demands. The resolution commands EU leaders to not budge unless there is a “major breakthrough” on the so-called Brexit ‘divorce bill’, citizen rights, and the Irish border in the next three weeks. The parliament, the EU’s legislative arm, has a veto on the Brexit process and MEPs will vote on the resolution on Tuesday. The resolution, circulated to MEPs, also insists the European Court of Justice’s (ECJ) “jurisprudence is directly applicable and enforceable in the UK in order to guarantee the coherence and integrity of the EU legal order,” Bloomberg reports. The “ECJ must remain the sole and competent authority for interpreting EU law and the withdrawal agreement,” the paper adds, and the “transition can only be envisaged under the full jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice”.
Brussels is biding its time and will push Theresa May to make even further concessions after the Conservative Party Conference is out of the way. According to The Times, the EU will be expecting the British government to up the money amount of they are willing to hand over and for the European Court of Justice to play a part in Britain moving forward in moves that are set to infuriate Brexiteers. A Brexit bill of £40 billion has been put on the backburner as a weakened May tries to regain some momentum from the Conservative Party Conference. This stitch-up however shows once more how EU negotiators have got May and the government over a barrel, waiting to push for more money and an even less clean Brexit. The British people aren’t stupid. Brussels and May can continue to try and kick the can down the road but any continuation of the ECJ or a huge Brexit bill will likely result in a big electoral backlash from those who have had enough of these dragging negotiations.
The overhang of delayed payments yet to be made from the EU budget reached its highest ever level last year, the EU auditor said on Thursday, highlighting an ominous turn as Britain haggles over its Brexit bill. The 28 current member states, including Britain, committed to pay nearly 1 trillion euros (£892 billion) over the period between 2014 and 2020, the current EU budgetary period. But delays in some of the projects and programmes that draw down those funds mean that a hefty 239 billion euros remains unspent. Known by the French term “reste a liquider” or RAL, this overhang pushes into the next seven-year budget. But EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said that Britain is refusing to settle bills beyond 2020. Prime Minister Theresa May made that concession to pay beyond Brexit in March 2019 only last Friday in a speech in Florence aimed at unblocking talks.
MEPs in the European Parliament are pushing forward with a raft of ridiculous spending plans after Theresa May pledged to keep funnelling money into Brussels. The Parliament’s Budget Committee approved a load of crazy initiatives, including €1.5million for ‘diversity concerts’ and €800,000 for butterfly watching, according to The Sun. Once again the absurdity of Brussels’ approach to spending is there for all to see, with millions wasted each year on crazy schemes that British taxpayers have no business helping fund. Rather than submitting to demands to cough up tens of billions to the EU that will likely just be wasted, the British government need to defend taxpayers’ cash and ensure it isn’t given away to fund this type of rubbish.
A threat has mushroomed suddenly into an existential crisis. It is even more intractable than Brexit, and certainly more dangerous. The volcanic events unfolding by the day in Catalonia threaten the EU project within its core. They pose a direct threat to the integrity of monetary union. Former French premier Manuel Valls – son of a celebrated Catalan painter – warns that if this weekend’s banned vote on independence goes ahead and leads to Catalan secession, it will be “the end of Europe” as a meaningful mission. Those old enough to remember the Spanish Civil War can only shudder at TV footage of crowds across Spain cheering units of Guardia Civil as they leave for Catalonia, egged on with chants of “go get them”.
Russian experts are helping independence campaigners in Catalonia to keep websites supporting a referendum beyond the reach of the law. A criminal investigation into those promoting the illegal poll has led to the closing of 144 sites including one based in Britain and another in Luxembourg. To evade the police, separatists are enlisting experts in Russia or central Asian countries. With no agreement between Spain and these states over cybersecurity, police fear it will be impossible to close them down before the vote scheduled for Sunday. The websites are crucial for the poll’s success because they tell the 7.5 million Catalans where to vote.
ABOUT 50,000 protesters are expected to descend on the Tory Party Conference in Manchester this weekend. Two big protest marches are planned for the opening day on Sunday, as the Prime Minister and her Cabinet join 12,000 Tory Party delegates arriving for the four-day event. Increased security measures are being taken following nasty scenes two years ago when Manchester also hosted the Tory Party Conference. An estimated 30,000 people are expected to attend a march on Sunday afternoon in the city centre, organised by the People’s Assembly, an amalgam of groups opposed to austerity, who also plan a series of protest events for each day of the conference. At the same time across the city, another 20,000 are expected for an anti-Brexit march before both descend on St Peter’s Square.
FIFTY THOUSAND far-left protesters could descend on Manchester this weekend as part of days of marches, flash-mobs and events to disrupt the Tory party conference. As Conservatives gear up for their annual gathering, activists are putting their final plans in place to welcome tens of thousands to protest Brexit, austerity and the Tories. A Stop Brexit march is planned on Sunday – which is expected to gather around 30,000 people. They will hold a rally with Remainers including Alistair Campbell and Manchester MP Lucy Powell set to speak. And the People’s Assembly say that at least 20,000 will be joining them in five days of events. Saturday will see an ‘Unwelcome the Tories’ flash-mob at Manchester Piccadilly train station, followed by an anti-austerity demo on the Sunday.
Conservative Party members have put Boris Johnson in the lead to take over from Theresa May, according to a poll which suggests his Brexit gamble has paid off. Most want the prime minister to quit after Britain has left the European Union in 2019 despite Mrs May’s pledge that she will fight the next election. In a YouGov/Times survey of Tory members, who choose the party leader, Mr Johnson moved ahead of his rivals with 23 per cent. Ruth Davidson, leader of the Scottish Conservatives, and Jacob Rees-Mogg, the right-wing backbencher, were second and third favourites with 19 and 17 per cent respectively.
BORIS Johnson is in the lead to take over from Theresa May as Prime Minister, a poll suggests. Tory Party members want the PM to leave her post after Britain has completed the process of Brexit and would have Mr Johnson step into her shoes. A YouGov/Times survey of Conservative members, who select the party leader, seems to suggest members have no interest in letting Mrs May fulfil her pledge of fighting in the next election. Mrs May told the BBC yesterday: “I’m in it for the long term and there’s a job to be done and I will be fighting the next election.” The Times reports Mr Johnson moved ahead of his rivals by 23 per cent, as Ruth Davidson, leader of the Scottish Conservatives and Jacob Rees-Mogg, right-wing backbencher, came next in the list of favourites. Party members were interviewed between September 20 and 27, and five per cent showed no faith in the current PM as they wanted Mrs May to step down immediately.
BORIS Johnson is in prime position to take over from Theresa May as he wins the backing of Tory party members following his Brexit pitch, a new poll has revealed. The Foreign Secretary climbed to the top of the YouGov poll after he published his vision for Brexit, for which he earnt some heavy criticism from senior members of the Tory party. In the YouGov/Times poll, Boris led the pack on 23 per cent, followed by Scottish firebrand Ruth Davidson on 19 per cent and upstart Jacob Rees-Mogg who won 17 per cent of support. Mr Johnson made headlines when he broke rank to layout his own vision for Brexit in an article published in The Telegraph. His plan includes increased spending on the NHS, no fees for single market access, tax reforms to raise output and an immigration system which “suits the UK”.
For all the attacks on him in the media and among Remainers over the last few weeks, YouGov finds Boris is the choice of Tory members to be the next leader. Ruth Davidson is in second place and Jacob Rees-Mogg is in third. Notably David Davis is some way behind on just 11%, while the Cameroon choice Amber Rudd is completely out of it on just 6%. Hammond is on a meagre 5%. Sobering for the Remain hope Rudd, and a reminder that the anti-Boris Remain media narrative does not reflect the views of Tory members.
Grassroots activists plan to “seize back control” of the Conservative Party, which they say has “begun to resemble the remote and unaccountable European Union” in its internal governance. The ‘Campaign for Conservative Democracy’ will fight for local constituency associations to have more influence over candidate selection, and for members to have more input into party policy relative to Conservative Campaign Headquarters (CCHQ), reports the Guido Fawkes blog. “The Conservative Party has taken its core membership for granted for far too long,” said the group’s founder David Campbell Bannerman MEP. “Local associations should be made the boss again. There has been a complete centralisation of power away from local associations and the relationship between the two has been shown to be highly unsatisfactory, undemocratic and one-sided.
Jeremy Corbyn reignited a decades-old debate inside the Labour party this week when he claimed a socialist manifesto might be blocked by the European Union’s rules on state aid if the UK tried to stay in the single market. Since his election as leader, Corbyn has been reluctant to discuss the reasons for his euroscepticism, preferring instead to focus on sovereignty, and the need to accept the democratic will of the British people expressed in the 2016 referendum. But in a break with this recent reticence, Corbyn told the Andrew Marr Show the single market “has within it restrictions in state aid and state spending. That has pressures on it through the European Union to privatise rail for example and other services.” Asked to cite specific examples, he said “there are issues of state aid rules which are endlessly disputed”.
British politics could make a notable shift towards extremist nationalism when Ukip announces its new leader at its annual conference in Torquay on Friday, amid speculation the winner could be an anti-Islam activist with close links to the far right. Insiders say the party faces splits or even disintegration if this happens, two and a half years after it was the UK’s third-biggest party by vote share at the 2015 general election. The race is extremely close, with senior figures saying six of the seven candidates could feasibly succeed Paul Nuttall, whose disastrous six-month stint ended after Ukip plummeted from almost 4m votes to fewer than 600,000 in June’s election. Several insider say they fear such a tight contest could favour the limited but fervent support base of Anne Marie Waters, whose pitch is largely based on her extreme views on Islam, a faith she has described as “evil”.
UKIP…remember them? The submarine of British politics: after being briefly very visible they’ve since sunk without trace. After winning over four million votes in 2015, the party imploded after the EU referendum, sliding to just over 600,000 votes and the political weeds. Many electors seemed to feel that the clue was in the name: now Britain is leaving the EU they could safely return to two major parties with which they had greater historical and emotional connection. So as what’s left of the UKIP party faithful gather in Torquay this weekend for their annual conference, the party will be seeking to solve the most potent of political pickles: In 2017, what’s the point of UKIP? Whoever they choose will tell us much about the party’s answer.
FAR-RIGHT Ukip leadership contestant and anti-Islam campaigner Anne Marie Waters is dividing her party. As bookies say the proud Islamophobe is favourite to win the leadership bid, here’s everything you need to know? Far-right Irish political activist Anne Marie Waters is standing to be the next leader of Ukip. Campaigning on an anti-Islam platform, 40-year-old Waters has already divided the party, with many saying they will quit if she wins. Waters, originally from Dublin, describes herself as “passionately, loyally, resolutely and proudly British.” She is director of Sharia Watch UK, which has called Islam “evil”. She also launched anti-Islam organisation, Pegida UK, with former EDL leader Tommy Robinson in 2016. Pegrida UK was set up to counter what it called “the Islamisation of our countries”.
Tensions between the United States and North Korea are now so high that war is “a real possibility” that Britain must prepare for, a respected defence think tank has warned. Such a conflict would result in “hundreds of thousands” of casualties, severely disrupt the global economy, and have profound implications for the political and diplomatic landscape of East Asia, the report for the Royal United Services Institute said. “This report is not saying that war is likely. But the probability of war is an uncomfortably real prospect,” said Professor Malcolm Chalmers, who authored the report. Tensions between North Korea and the US have escalated over the past year as Pyongyang pursues a nuclear weapons programme that it says is intended achieve a “balance of power” with the US and deter an American-led regime change operation of the kind that toppled Saddam Hussein in Iraq and Muammar Gaddafi in Libya.
The US cannot launch a preventive strike on North Korea’s nuclear capabilities without provoking a wider war that would leave hundreds of thousands of people dead, Britain’s leading defence think tank said yesterday. War with North Korea is “now a real possibility,” the Royal United Services Institute (Rusi) warned in a report on the crisis prompted by the Kim regime’s rapid advances in nuclear missile technology. “If this war is launched, it will not be surgical or short,” it said. Either side could trigger conflict but there are growing indications that the Trump administration is unwilling to live with a nuclear North Korea armed with intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of reaching the US mainland.
War with North Korea is now a “real possibility” and hundreds of thousands of people are likely to be killed or injured, defence experts warned tonight. A gruelling conflict would drag on with heavy losses on both sides, according to a leading think tank’s gloomy study of the deepening crisis gripping the Korean peninsula. Combat would “not be surgical or short”, analysts feared. Pyongyang is intent on developing a nuclear missile, with Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump trading insults as the drum beat to battle grows louder. War could be triggered by either North Korea or the US but there is a growing risk the US President will decide to “resolve” the crisis “sooner rather than later”, according to the Royal United Services Institute. Britain would just a few hours at best to decide how to respond, it adds. “War is now a real possibility,” the report states.
A MAJOR “big one” earthquake that could cause cause up to £233billion ($300billion) of damage could strike California at anytime, experts have warned. The devastating earthquake that virtually flattened Mexico City, killing more than 300, has sparked fears California could be next. Experts fear a “big one” tremor greater than magnitude 7 could cause extensive damage and loss of life in the state’s southern cities. Los Angeles is said to be particularly at risk due to its proximity to an 800-mile fissure called the San Andreas fault. Seismologists believe pressure has been building up along the fault for decades, meaning a massive earthquake is long overdue. In just the past 24 hours, the US state has been rocked by 18 earthquakes, the most powerful of which measured 3.0 magnitude.