THE EU appeared to be on the retreat over Brexit after its chief negotiator Michel Barnier stepped back from his hard line stance over striking a deal with Britain. After months of prevarication and refusal to compromise, Mr Barnier has reportedly come under pressure from member state governments who have realised Britain is prepared to walk away with no deal on World Trade Organisation terms. The EU chief’s negotiator’s issued noticeably warmer words on Thursday, in an opinion piece and on Twitter ahead of Theresa May’s crucial meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday.
The EU has insisted it will not soften its strong opposition to Theresa May’s Brexit plan, amid claims that Angela Merkel is pushing for a “fudge”. Michel Barnier, the European Commission’s chief Brexit negotiator, issued a hardline message ruling out any compromise that would “undermine our single market which is one of the EU’s biggest achievements”. In an article published in 20 newspapers, Mr Barnier dismissed the prime minister’s Chequers proposals for trying to “keep free movement of goods between us, but not of people and services”. And he again ruled out her “facilitated customs arrangement”, under which the UK would leave the customs union, yet collect EU duties while being allowed to set its own tariffs.
Michel Barnier has launched his own appeal for hearts and minds in Europe by warning that Theresa May’s Brexit proposals, put forward in the UK government’s recent white paper, pose a threat to the future of the European single market. In an article published in 20 newspapers across Europe, the EU’s chief negotiator writes: “The UK knows well the benefits of the single market. It has contributed to shaping our rules over the last 45 years. And yet, some UK proposals would undermine our single market, which is one of the EU’s biggest achievements. “The UK wants to keep free movement of goods between us, but not of people and services. And it proposes to apply EU customs rules without being part of the EU’s legal order.
Theresa May is wasting her time attempting to curry Brexit favour with European leaders, the former British ambassador to France has suggested. As the Prime Minister heads to Toulon on Friday for one-to-one discussions with Emmanuel Macron, Lord Ricketts, the UK’s ex-diplomat in Paris, has claimed that there is little “chance” of her extracting concessions from the French President. Criticising the Government’s approach to the Brexit negotiations, Lord Ricketts also hit out at Jeremy Hunt, the Foreign Secretary, who he said was “going around brandishing” no deal threats which amounted to nothing more than a “bluff”.
Theresa May should not expect Emmanuel Macron to ”soften” his stance towards Brexit as she gears up for talks at his holiday retreat, a former ambassador to France has warned. Lord Peter Ricketts urged ministers against brandishing threats of a no-deal exit from the bloc, as the EU knows that warnings of walking away without an agreement with Brussels are “a bluff”. His comments came after Jeremy Hunt, the foreign secretary, told French and German leaders to intervene to prevent the UK crashing out of the EU, as he warned the prospect of no deal was “increasing by the day”. Later, an Elysee Palace offical said the meeting between Ms May and Mr Macron is “not a negotiation”, and would not substitute for a discussion with Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator, and whom has Mr Macron’s “full trust”.
Theresa May will today warn Emmanuel Macron that the EU faces a choice of ‘Chequers deal or no deal’ in autumn Brexit talks. The Prime Minister cut short her holiday in Italy to travel to the French president’s summer retreat Fort Bregancon in a bid to sell her controversial Chequers proposals to him. France’s hard line on Brexit is seen in London as a major stumbling block to a successful negotiation this autumn. In a major diplomatic push this week, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab and Mrs May have all travelled to France to make the case for a softening of attitude.
Emmanuel Macron has rejected suggestions his upcoming talks with Theresa May will form part of the Brexit negotiations. The French president will host the prime minister at his presidential retreat at Fort Bregancon, near Toulon, in the south of France on Friday. The meeting has been viewed as part of a UK attempt to go over the heads of Brussels officials with a direct Brexit plea to the EU’s national governments. However, ahead of Mr Macron meeting Mrs May, his office insisted the pair’s discussions will not be a “substitute for the negotiations” led by the EU’s Michel Barnier.
Theresa May’s hopes of prising away Emmanuel Macron from the rest of the European Union to sign up to her Chequers vision for Brexit looked tenuous on the eve of the pair’s crunch talks. But while senior Whitehall sources warned that the French president would be tough to win over, they suggested that his influence could prove vital in swaying the rest of the EU27 member states if May were successful. The prime minister has cut short her summer break in Italy to try to convince Macron, who is seen by British officials as the biggest obstacle to her plans, to soften his approach to Brexit.
ONE of Britain’s most respected former diplomats has exploded the Remainer myth that the UK would suffer shortages if it fails to get a deal with the EU. Sir Christopher Meyer, the former ambassador to the US, pointed out that international law “mandates” the seamless movement of goods at borders. He also expressed his exasperation with the ignorance and aggression of Remainers attacking the World Trade Deal option of relying on World Trade Organisation rules. Comparing their project fear campaign to the infamous Spanish Inquisition. After a series of scare stories by Remainers, including insulin supplies for diabetics drying up, lorries being trapped for hours at the borders and even sandwiches being taken off the British menu because food will not be imported, Sir Christopher Tweeted out the specific international law which proves they were all fake.
Britain’s Brexit negotiators have tapped into growing concerns in Brussels over Jeremy Corbyn’s plans for the British economy, by stressing in recent talks that the Chequers plan would tie any future prime minister to the EU’s evolving rules on state aid in perpetuity, according to EU sources. The anger of Conservative party Brexiters has focused on the plan to maintain EU regulations in relation to goods, but the UK has privately emphasised its unprecedented offer to bind future British governments’ hands on state spending as part of a deal. British negotiators have sought to exploit concerns within EU institutions that a Labour government led by Corbyn would re-establish state subsidies, giving parts of the UK’s manufacturing base in particular a competitive advantage.
Brussels is prepared to compromise on its demands for a customs border between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator signalled. Michel Barnier said that he was ready to improve his offer on the Northern Irish backstop but struck a more confrontational tone over Theresa May’s proposals for a new economic relationship with the EU. He wrote in an article published in 20 newspapers across Europe that her plan would undermine the single market and result in the EU losing control of its borders and laws.
MICHEL Barnier has hinted that the EU is ready to compromise with Britain during Brexit negotiations around the Northern Ireland border issue in a major development. Fears of a return to violence have been raised if the Good Friday Agreement is damaged by the imposition of a hard border on the island of Ireland after Brexit. Brussels had suggested a solution to the problem – a common regulatory area for goods and customs with the rest of the EU. But this has so far been rejected by the UK as “annexing” Northern Ireland.
Every single Cabinet minister’s personal rating has fallen in the first ConservativeHome members’ survey since Chequers. Michael Gove was on 73% last month, he is now on a dismal 39%. Julian Smith and Brandon Lewis deservedly plunge into negative figures following their pairing porkies. Theresa May has her lowest rating ever. ConHome say the fall in the whole Cabinet’s ratings is unprecedented: “In over ten years of surveying the top Conservative team, we have never seen anything like it.” Evidence, if it were needed, that Chequers is toxic for any Tory leadership hopeful.
The Electoral Commission has today announced that it will not be pursuing Britain Stronger in Europe (BSE) over the five last minute campaigns that Remain campaigners set up in the month before the referendum, into which more than £1 million was funnelled. They concluded that the daily phone calls co-ordinating the various Remain campaigns did not “meet the threshold for an investigation to be opened”, claiming such phone calls were merely ‘advisory’. And it gets worse… The Electoral Commission claims that videos hosted on the BSE website but paid for by one of those five late registering campaigns did not count as evidence of a ‘common plan’. Did investigators not think to ask BSE how they came across the videos?
The Electoral Commission has dismissed allegations made by Tory MP Priti Patel about the spending of pro-EU groups during the 2016 Brexit referendum. The watchdog said there was no evidence that laws on campaign spending had been breached. Ms Patel, a prominent Leave supporter, had suggested that the cost of three videos from the main Remain group, Britain Stronger in Europe (BSIE) should have been declared as “joint spending” with other groups. The alleged collaboration could have resulted in the lead group exceeding its £7m spending limit, she said. The former international development secretary, who was forced to resign last year over undeclared meetings with the Israeli government, had called on the Commission to either investigate the Remain campaign or drop its inquiry into Vote Leave for similar spending breaches.
The Electoral Commission has rejected claims that the official Remain campaign breached spending rules in the EU referendum. The watchdog said it found “nothing beyond conjecture” to support claims of undeclared joint spending between Britain Stronger in Europe and others. But it is investigating possible joint spending between two other Remain campaign groups. It was responding to a complaint from Conservative MP Priti Patel. Earlier this year, the former cabinet minister, a leading Leave campaigner, raised other allegations about the Remain campaign’s spending which were rejected by the commission.
The Electoral Commission will not investigate the Democratic Unionist party over claims it coordinated its Brexit referendum campaign spending with Vote Leave in order to break legal spending limits. The Northern Irish party, which props up Theresa May’s government in the Commons, had faced a series of allegations about its spending during the 2016 EU referendum, after it spent hundreds of thousands of pounds campaigning to leave the bloc. The DUP’s referendum spending was aided by a £435,000 donation from unknown individuals, channelled through an organisation run by a former Scottish Conservative parliamentary candidate.
Ukip’s membership has soared by 15% in a month, insiders have revealed, raising the prospect of a return to the mainstream of a party still publicly associated with Brexit, but which has recently taken a more hard-right nationalist stance. The arrival of nearly 3,200 new members in July, and a boost in the polls from around 2% to 5% or more, follows Theresa May’s Chequers plan. Senior Ukip members say they believe many people are returning from the Conservatives. This sets up a possible battle for supremacy in a party which under the leadership of Gerard Batten has talked more in recent months about Islam than Brexit, and now has close links to Tommy Robinson, the far-right activist released from prison on Wednesday. Batten, who took over in February, refers to Islam as a “death cult” and has called the prophet Muhammad a paedophile.
A Muslim woman with a “very significant degree of learning disability” was beaten and raped after she was forced to marry a cousin in Bangladesh and he was given a visa, court records show. The man was free to live with her in the Midlands despite her local council knowing she was forced to marry. He later admitted having sex with her and a court was told he was “very rough and abusive, smacking her head, shaking her, and yanking her eyelid”. She was saved after social workers became increasingly concerned for her welfare. At the Court of Protection in 2012 the woman, referred to as DD, was described as having “little language, very little comprehension of anything other than simple matters”.
The Afghan mother of an illiterate woman received gold for repeatedly marrying her off to foreign men who wanted British visas, a court was told. The victim, who has a severe learning disability and schizo-affective disorder that results in psychotic episodes, was first married in Britain in 1997, when she was in her early twenties. Her Pakistani husband was accused of assaulting her before they divorced and he was subsequently deported. The family division of the High Court was told that she was “forced into this marriage by her mother in order to secure a UK entry visa for her husband, and that her mother obtained a financial reward paid in gold for arranging it”.
Immigration lawyer and former local Labour councillor Asama Javed advised an undercover journalist there is “nothing wrong” with a father forcing a 15-year-old daughter into marriage, according to reports. The former Labour Party councillor, primary school governor, and member of Bradford Council’s fostering board was caught on video giving the advice from her office desk to an undercover reporter for The Times, who pretended to have two teen daughters, the youngest of which he was looking to force into an arranged marriage. The exposé comes after it emerged that the Home Office has been handing out visas to the ‘husbands’ of victims of forced marriage.
Turkey is facing a full-blown balance of payments crisis as foreign funds flee the country and the plummeting lira cripples companies saddled with dollar debt. The financial debacle comes as the US imposes sanctions on two Turkish ministers in an escalating political clash, demanding the release of an American pastor detained on espionage charges. The lira crashed to an all-time low of 5.09 against the US dollar on Thursday. It has fallen 35pc since mid-February, rivalling Argentina as the poster-child of the emerging market storm of 2018.
A HEALTH minister has hailed the prospects of Brexit, noting the UK’s departure from the EU could help solve the NHS’s shortage of doctors by allowing students to qualify more quickly. Medical students are currently obliged to undertake five years of training before being registered as doctors due to regulation implemented by the EU. Health Minister and Brexiteer Stephen Barclay stated the UK could reap the benefits of reduced regulation and help solve critical issues within the NHS. Speaking on The Telegraph’s Chopper’s Brexit Podcast, he said: “There are opportunities that come with Brexit – not to lower regulatory standards, we want to maintain standards – to look at how we make things more bespoke to UK needs.
Doctors could qualify more quickly after Brexit to help solve the staffing shortages in the NHS, a health minister has said. Britain’s membership of the EU means medical students have to undergo five years of training before they are registered as doctors. But after Brexit Britain will be free to set its own rules – with ministers considering options which would allow some students to qualify in less time. Stephen Barclay, a Health Minister who voted for Brexit at the referendum in 2016, said the NHS could gain advantages from leaving the EU.
A consultant surgeon who claimed he was forced to quit his NHS job after he was branded a racist for raising concerns about the work of three Asian colleagues has won a £102,000 payout for unfair dismissal. Peter Duffy, 56, who was once voted ‘Doctor of the Year’ was the subject of a letter to police which he says falsely accused him of racism and alleging all ethnic minority doctors at a hospital were ‘in fear of him.’ At the same time a meeting was held without the married father-of-three being present in which he was accused of racism by the three consultants. None of the claims were substantiated.
The new Armed Forces chief has warned against rewriting history by insisting troops did a “bloody good job” in Northern Ireland while vowing to protect veterans against “a clutch of vexatious claims”. Sir Nick Carter, the recently installed Chief of the Defence Staff, has waded into the growing row over the treatment of retired soldiers being investigated over incidents during the Troubles. Sir Nick – in his first public statements on the controversy since taking over as head of the British Armed Forces – said that troops had done an “extraordinarily amazing task” in securing peace in Northern Ireland and warned the public not to forget their role.
General Sir Nick Carter warned that a series of groundless allegations was undermining morale and risked damaging the forces’ “fighting spirit”. He was promoted from head of the army to chief of the defence staff six weeks ago. A government consultation on legacy issues from the Troubles in Northern Ireland is due to close next month. Conservative MPs have pushed for a statute of limitations to protect retired British soldiers from facing investigation and prosecution over suspicious deaths in the province. Downing Street has resisted the idea.
The new head of the Armed Forces has vowed to ‘stamp on’ bogus allegations of murder made against Northern Ireland veterans. General Sir Nick Carter said ‘vexatious claims’ over decades-old deaths of IRA suspects at the hands of soldiers during the Troubles risks undermining Britain’s fighting spirit now, adding: ‘That will not happen on my watch.’ The Police Service of Northern Ireland has sparked anger by re-examining every British Army killing during the conflict. Hundreds of former soldiers, many now in their 60s and 70s, are potential murder or manslaughter suspects.