Theresa May is facing a major Commons rebellion over a vote in the Lords to give Parliament a right to stop her walking away from the European Union in 2019 without a deal. Peers are expected on Tuesday to vote to amend legislation triggering Brexit talks to force the Government to give MPs and peers a “meaningful vote” on the outcome of her negotiations with Brussels. Earlier this week, the Lords voted for an amendment that would force the Prime Minister to guarantee the rights after Brexit of EU nationals living in the UK. Downing Street has made clear that it expects MPs to overturn any changes backed by the Lords in a series of votes when the amended Bill returns to the Commons on March 13 and March 14.
The Liberal Democrats have ordered 90 camp beds so that their peers can stay overnight in Parliament in a bid to thwart Theresa May’s Brexit plans. The party is preparing for a late-night stand-off with MPs as they seek to scupper the Brexit Bill, which gives the Prime Minister authority to begin leaving the EU. Mrs May is determined to push ahead with triggering Article 50, which starts the process of quitting the EU, in the next few weeks despite the Lords inflicting her first parliamentary defeat over Brexit on Wednesday night. But she could face a Tory rebellion in the Commons that ties her hands in negotiations – and a final push by the Lords to cause problems. Ministers hope MPs will strip out any amendments added by the Lords to dictate the terms of Brexit when the Bill returns to the Commons on March 13.
The government is determined that the bill to trigger article 50 will not be altered, even if a standoff ensues with peers who backed an amendment to guarantee the rights of EU citizens on Wednesday night, No 10 has said. However, the Brexit secretary, David Davis, was at pains to stress on Thursday that the government had a desire to make an early deal on the rights of EU citizens, including on their healthcare and pensions rights, with the hope of convincing MPs and peers to allow the bill through without the amendment when it returns to both houses. At a meeting with the Danish foreign minister, Anders Samuelsen, he said: “We’ve said very, very clearly that we want to come to a generous arrangement for everybody in the European Union. And that is not just about the right to remain which is what people mostly focus on but things like pensions and healthcare, social support, welfare as well. We want to get that all right and we want to do it soon.”
Draconian Government threats to abolish the House of Lords if it held up Brexit have been dropped – despite peers’ defiance over EU citizens’ rights. Instead, Downing Street praised the upper chamber for a “healthy and vigorous debate” after it inflicted Theresa May’s first defeat on the Article 50 Bill. Last month, Government sources warned the Lords would be abolished if it attempted to “frustrate” the Bill, which the Commons had passed overwhelmingly. One un-named Cabinet minister said peers would bring “an existential crisis upon themselves” and sign their own death warrants. The Prime Minister was said to be “sympathetic” to the idea of, at the very least, a dramatic punishment of the unelected Lords. Peers have now held up the Brexit Bill, delaying the triggering of the EU exit clause by at least one week until the middle of this month.
MINISTERS will “resist” changes to the Article 50 legislation and try to persuade MPs to reject an amendment guaranteeing the rights of EU citizens to remain in the UK. Lords last night were accused of abandoning a million Brits in Europe after they voted to guarantee the rights of EU citizens – without having the same assurances for expats overseas. Today David Lidington confirmed that the Government will fight the change – pushed through by the Lords last night. The Leader of the House of Commons said: “The Government certainly remains of the view that the Bill is straightforward, it does no more than confer authority on the Prime Minister, required by the courts, to initiate triggering Article 50 of the treaty.
The rearguard action aimed at keeping the UK inside the EU is continuing with as many as 20 Conservative MPs reported to be ready to break ranks in order to stop Brexit without the approval of Lords and MPs. Lords today are looking at ‘amending’ the Brexit Bill so that unelected Peers and MPs in the House of Commons would have to approve of any final outcome from the Brexit negotiations, whether the Prime Minister gets a deal or not. This would effectively give the pro-EU establishment a last hurrah to try and block Brexit at the last minute by arguing that the outcome of negotiations is bad and that we would be better off calling it all off. It is absolute lunacy and once again shows the unbelievable levels of arrogance that run deep in Westminster.
THERESA MAY’S government has vowed to overturn a demand by the House of Lords to guarantee the residency rights of EU citizens, it was revealed yesterday. The upper chamber defied Ms May on Wednesday night, voting with a majority of 102 in favour of an amendment which guarantees that EU nationals can live and work in a post-Brexit Britain. The government described the result as “disappointing” while its sources confirmed on Thursday that it intends to undo the changes when the Bill returns to the Commons. A No 10 spokesperson said: “The Prime Minister has made clear her intention that the Bill should be passed unamended.” He added: “It’s clear we’re disappointed the Lords have chosen to amend a Bill that’s passed through the Commons without amendment. It’s a Bill with a very simple purpose — that’s to enact the referendum result and allow the government to get on with negotiations.”
PRO-European Union campaigners yesterday threatened to drag Theresa May into fresh court battles over Brexit unless she guarantees Parliament a “meaningful” vote on her final exit deal. Meanwhile 30 Tory MPs were said to be ready to defy her in the House of Commons by supporting a House of Lords demand that the Bill to trigger Brexit be rewritten to guarantee the rights of EU nationals now living in the UK. The Government warned MPs not to try to thwart the will of the people by muddying the Prime Minister’s negotiating path. A Downing Street spokesman said: “We expect this Bill to go through unamended.
The Government’s bill to begin Britain’s exit from the European Union must be approved “unamended”, Theresa May has said. The Prime Minister’s intervention comes after a defeat in the House of Lords over protections for EU citizens. Peers defied Mrs May and voted 358 to 256 in favour of an opposition amendment guaranteeing the rights of EU nationals in the UK post-Brexit. But a spokesman for the PM said she remained “committed” to meeting the deadline to trigger Article 50 by the end of March. He said: “Our message to MPs is that we expect this bill to go through unamended. “MPs voted it through unamended and we expect that to be the case.”
The European Union is set to put pressure on the government to ensure continued access to British fishing waters for European vessels despite the mad Common Fisheries Policy being one of the major concerns of Brexiteers across the country. Leaving the EU could allow Britain to create an expansive Exclusive Economic Zone akin to that enjoyed by Norway, creating thousands of jobs by boosting Britain’s proud fishing industry. It would mark a huge revival for so many coastal communities that have been destroyed by the EU’s madness on fisheries. But now Brussels politicians warn that British seafood producers could be barred from enjoying free access to European markets without Britain’s sea resources being gifted to European fishermen. Between 2012 and 2014, an outrageous 58% of fish and shellfish landed from UK waters was caught by European vessels.
British taxpayers will help to fund a “private army” to protect MEPs as part of a record €2 billion (£1.7 billion) spending spree by the European parliament next year. Estimates seen by The Times showed the parliament’s budget rising to €1,971,883,373, an above-inflation increase of 3.3 per cent, as MEPs rush to beat cuts that are expected after Brexit. Despite voting to leave the European Union last year, British taxpayers will contribute more than €268 million (£230 million) to the bill, more than twice the annual cost of running the House of Lords. The British expense includes more than €4.5 million towards a €33.3 million pro-EU publicity campaign for the 2019 European elections.
BRITISH taxpayers will help to fund a “private army” to protect MEPs as part of a £1.7billion spending spree by the European parliament, it has been revealed. Despite voting to leave the European Union last summer, Brits will contribute more than £230 million to the bill – more than twice the annual cost of running the House of Lords. Estimates have shown the parliament’s budget is rising to £1,688,276,625.74, an above inflation increase of 3.3 per cent. The British expense will include more than £3.8 million towards a £28.5 million pro-EU publicity campaign for the 2019 European elections, despite the UK not taking part as the country would have already left.
A NEW report has revealed that Brussels’ ambitions for an EU army will undermine NATO and could see an attempt to control Britain’s military beyond Brexit. The Veterans for Britain report – Nouvelle Vague: An Audit of EU Defence Union Plans – co-authored by former Falklands commander Major General Julian Thompson and EU expert Lee Rotherham has warned that the new defence integration plans released in November 2016 constitute a threat to NATO and interference with the way the UK’s and other nations’ armed forces are administered within NATO. It points out the UK could be dragged into procurement coordination putting shipbuilding and other defence manufacture decisions in doubt even after leaving the EU, via a “defence single market”. It also points out that Foreign Office minister Sir Alan Duncan says UK “might want to be involved” in the defence arrangements.
THIS is the extraordinary moment an exasperated Jean-Claude Juncker finally snapped at MEPs whining about his landmark consultation on the future of the EU, barking: “Sh*t, what do you want me to do?” The Brussels chief lost it with representatives of the EU parliament after they attacked his plans to consult ordinary European voters on which path eurocrats should take to save the bloc from collapsing. His outburst came at the end of a gruelling hour and fifteen minute debate on the EU Commission’s highly publicised white paper, during which MEPs repeatedly called on Mr Juncker to voice his personal opinions. Eurocrats have outlined five “pathways” they believe the EU can take post-Brexit, ranging from reverting back to a simple trading bloc right through to the establishment of a full-blown United States of Europe. And whilst Mr Juncker dismissed the first of those options, saying the EU is “more than a free trade area”, he has refused to be drawn on what he thinks of the other four saying that he does not want to pre-judge the public debate.
BRUSSELS boss Jean-Claude Juncker today vowed the European Union will “never become a state” as eurocrats embarked on an unprecedented listening exercise with voters over the future direction of the EU. The EU Commission chief insisted any dreams some politicians may have of a United States of Europe are dead and buried amid voter apathy about the project and growing divisions amongst its member states on migration, Brexit and trade. He admitted that he was once a federalist himself, but said he now appreciated that ordinary Europeans will not accept the imposition of a superstate by the back door and that Brussels must allow national governments a greater say on Europe-wide policy. Mr Juncker’s remarks came after he launched an historic white paper on how to save the struggling project yesterday, which unusually consisted of a massive consultation exercise on five “pathways” for the future.
A MAJOR breakthrough was made in the Brexit impasse today as an influential group of Brussels politicians called on EU leaders to agree a “special relationship” with Britain for the future. In a crucial development ahead of the divorce talks an alliance of powerful MEPs said the bloc’s governments must secure a comprehensive trade deal with the UK as soon as possible. The bombshell move by members of the European Parliament, who are overwhelmingly europhile and have been the most outspoken critics of Brexit, was hailed by British officials as a huge coup for Theresa May. The prime minister has previously said that “no deal is better than a bad one” and has threatened to walk away from the talks if EU member states try to punish Britain for leaving.
Channel 4 News has seen a cache of secret emails which suggest the prime minister’s chief of staff, Nick Timothy, may have helped the Conservative Party break electoral spending rules in South Thanet during the general election in 2015. Tory candidate Craig Mackinlay saw off a strong challenge from former UKIP leader Nigel Farage in South Thanet. But the seat is now one of 29 where the Tories are under police investigation following allegations the party did not properly declare hundreds of thousands of pounds in campaign spending. The legal spending limit for the South Thanet campaign was a little over £15,000. The Tories spent a further £14,000 housing Nick Timothy, who had been a special adviser for Theresa May at the Home Office, at the Royal Harbour Hotel in Ramsgate, along with several other Tories. But the party insisted they were working on the national campaign, not the local campaign.
Councils are to get an emergency cash injection to fund social care and a promise of wider reform in the Budget, as the Prime Minister seeks to avert the threat of a backbench blow-up. Government sources told Sky News the Chancellor was drawing up a plan to give cash-strapped councils hundreds of millions of pounds in emergency funding to help pay for social care, with the promise of a root-and-branch review of the system later in the year. “[The Prime Minister] is looking at this in the short, medium and long term,” said one government source. Pressed in recent months by Conservative councillors over cuts to social care funding,
Handing out food to British-bound migrants in Calais has been made a criminal offence in a bid to deter refugees from arriving in the town. Natacha Bouchart, the Calais mayor, said her radical measure was aimed at keeping migrants out of the port. Miss Bouchart, of the right-wing Republicans party, said the new rules would be enforced rigorously. It follows attempts by charity groups to set up a new camp following the destruction of the so-called ‘Jungle’ shanty town last October. It attracted up to 8,000 men women and children at a time from war-torn countries including Afghanistan and Syria and was plagued by people smugglers.
Labour has lost nearly 26,000 members since last summer, according to leaked data that senior party figures believe shows the tide turning against the leadership. More than three quarters of those who left the party last year had joined it only after the 2015 general election, the figures show. Labour’s membership surged under Jeremy Corbyn when he become party leader in September 2015. The number of resignations last year was more than the total of the previous six years combined. More than 15,465 people have quit since the middle of December, slashing Labour’s membership to 528,180 last month, down from a peak of 554,000 in July last year, according to the data. The true number of people leaving is likely to be higher.
Labour has lost nearly 26,000 members since last summer, according to leaked data. The apparent shedding of card-carrying supporters has led one former chairman of the parliamentary Labour party (PLP) to warn the “tide is turning”. More than three-quarters of those to leave the party last year had joined after the 2015 general election, a period that saw membership grow rapidly under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership. Figures reported by the Times showed the number of resignations in 2016 was more than the previous six years combined, while more than 15,465 have left since mid-December. Up to 7,000 members are said to have resigned last month following Corbyn’s three-line whip on MPs commanding them to support the triggering of Article 50.
Theresa May will today tell Nicola Sturgeon to stop playing ‘games’ with Scotland’s future, warning that the UK needs to come ‘closer together’ with Brexit rather than further apart. The Prime Minister will say maintaining the Union is a ‘personal priority’ as she savages the First Minister for ‘tunnel vision’ in which she sees ‘independence as the solution to every problem’. In a scathing speech at the Scottish Tory party conference in Glasgow, Mrs May will claim that schools in Scotland are now performing worse than those in parts of Eastern Europe because of the nationalists’ ‘obsession with independence’. In an article for the Scottish Daily Mail last night, the Prime Minister gave her strongest indication yet that she will rebuff Miss Sturgeon if, as expected, she demands the power to hold a new referendum on independence.
The Prime Minister will on Friday accuse Nicola Sturgeon of treating politics like a “game” in a visit to Scotland on Friday. Speaking at the Scottish Tories’ spring conference in Glasgow Theresa May will say the Scottish Government is neglecting school standards by apparently focusing on Scottish independence as an issue. The SNP on Thursday night warned that Ms May risked further alienating Scottish opinion by presenting a “brick wall of Tory intransigence” to overtones of compromise. With the union between Scotland and England under pressure in the wake of the Brexit vote, the PM will use her visit north of the border to highlight her commitment to “strengthening and sustaining the bonds that unite us”.
THERESA May will on Friday accuse of Nicola Sturgeon of playing games with Scottish people’s lives as she hauls the SNP over the coals for a decade of scandalous “mismanagement”. In an extraordinary attack, the Prime Minister will jet into Glasgow to accuse the First Minister of sinking Scotland with her “tunnel vision” style of running the country. She will point the finger at Ms Sturgeon for putting the SNP’s obsession with independence above ordinary people’s priorities from schools to the health service. Recent figures show Scotland had plunged down global league tables for maths, reading and science with its worst performance in a decade – when the SNP came into power. And Nicola Sturgeon has consistently wielded the threat of a second independence referendum ever since last June’s Brexit vote – despite support for one among Scots plummeting.
THERESA May will accuse Nicola Sturgeon of treating politics as a “game” in a scathing attack on the Scottish National Party’s record. In a keynote speech in Glasgow, the Prime Minister will claim that the Scottish First Minister’s posturing in calling for a second independence referendum north of the border is putting livelihoods and living standards at risk. She will also allege that Mrs Sturgeon’s Scottish Government is presiding over a collapse in education standards. Mrs May is expected to tell the Scottish Conservative Conference: “As Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, I am just as concerned that young people in Dundee get a good start in life and receive the education they need to reach their full potential as I am about young people in Doncaster and Dartford. “I care as much about the dignity and security of older people on both sides of the River Tweed or the Irish Sea.”
Theresa May will use a visit to Scotland to tell Nicola Sturgeon to stop playing politics with Brexit and also condemn the Scottish National Party’s record in government on education. In a speech at the Scottish Tory conference in Glasgow, the Prime Minister will say “politics is not a game” and accuse the SNP of neglecting schools because of its obsession with independence. But the First Minister has already hit back, claiming her attempts to reach a Brexit compromise have been met by a “brick wall of Tory intransigence”. The latest clash between Mrs May and Ms Sturgeon comes as the First Minister is expected to announce plans for a second independence referendum when the Prime Minister triggers Article 50 for the UK to leave the EU later this month.
ARGENTINA has issued a fiery warning over the Falkland Islands. The Argentine government is furious over Brit troops stationed on the disputed islands using Brazilian airports. They have issued a warning to Brazil, urging ministers to stop the RAF using its airports to land flights from the Mount Pleasant military base. While the Falkland Islands are a self-governing country, Britain takes responsibility for defense and foreign affairs as well as operating a vast military operation with over 1,000 personnel. The Argentinian ministry ordered its embassy in Brazil to open negotiations with the Brazilian government and “convey concern about the situation”. It asked Brazil to refuse to allow any British aircrafts or ships from “the disputed islands” to land in their country. A statement from the Argentinan Foreign Ministry said: “The National Directorate of Air Traffic Control informed the Malvinas [Falkland Islands] Directorate that during 2016 at least six military flights were made by the Royal Air Force between Brazilian airports and Mount Pleasant.