BREXIT minister Steve Baker insisted the UK will not give away its negotiating hand in EU talks despite European Council President Donald Tusk and Brussels chief negotiator Michel Barnier claiming they want a positive relationship after the UK quits the bloc. Mr Baker, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union said a “responsible Government” had to prepare for all Brexit outcomes. Speaking in the House of Commons, he added UK negotiators would “share information” with the House but not to the detriment of talks with the Brussels bloc. He said: “A future partnership between the UK and the EU is in the interest of both sides and I am confident that we will secure a good deal. “A responsible government should prepare for all potential outcomes and we are undertaking work across a range of scenarios.
David Davis has said he will look at proposals that would allow British nationals to opt-in and keep their European Union citizenship after Brexit. The Brexit Secretary said he would “look seriously” at “associate citizenship” – and idea backed by the European Parliament to allow Brits to keep the right to live and work in the EU. The European Parliament’s Brexit chief Guy Verhofstadt has said the EU should be “generous and open” to British citizens who to want to retain the legal protections of EU citizenship and their identity as Europeans. He has also fast-tracked proposals for associate citizenship to the negotiating table by including them in the Parliament’s negotiating mandate. Over 300,000 people have signed a European citizens’ initiative calling on the European Commission to back the plans, which they say could take the form of a separate EU passport.
BRITS could be given an “opt-in” chance to retain dual EU citizenship after the UK leaves. Brexit Secretary David Davis promised to consider the idea yesterday. The proposal would allow UK nationals associate citizenship allowing them to work across the EU without having to gain a visa. It could see Brits who opt-in given a separate EU passport. Mr Davis told MPs he will “look seriously” at the idea after he discussed it with European Parliament Brexit chief Guy Verhofstadt, who proposed it. Mr Verhofstadt has put the associate citizenship plans in the European Parliament’s wider Brexit proposals and called on the European Commission to back it. Meanwhile, Mr Davis revealed the Government would publish sensitive Brexit impact papers on 58 different parts of the economy. But he vowed nothing would be published that undermines PM Theresa May’s hand in EU negotiations.
A scandal that began with a leaked “dirty dossier” of Conservative MPs’ supposed secrets led to a huge promotion for the very man who was meant to keep the Tory party’s skeletons firmly in the closet. As Chief Whip, Gavin Williamson was Theresa May’s eyes and ears: the repository of the sort of party gossip and allegations that could be used to keep MPs loyal if need be. He is also one of Mrs May’s most trusted aides, having worked behind the scenes to rally support for her leadership campaign last year. So when Mr Williamson expressed doubts to the Prime Minister about Sir Michael Fallon, the Defence Secretary, his words carried plenty of weight and Sir Michael dutifully fell on his sword. What no-one outside Downing Street expected to happen next was that Mr Williamson, having played a part in Sir Michael’s downfall, would be the man to take his job.
Theresa May has been warned that she would not survive renewed coup attempts after the promotion of her close ally Gavin Williamson to defence secretary was met with anger. The appointment of Mr Williamson, a chief whip with no departmental experience, to replace Sir Michael Fallon brought a backlash from Conservative MPs and military figures. Senior Tories also warned that the loss of Mr Williamson, 41, from Downing Street could destabilise the prime minister as she faces political challenges this month and a sexual misconduct scandal at Westminster. One minister said that in choosing a small-scale reshuffle Mrs May had limited her room for manoeuvre if further resignations were forced on her. “Are we going to have one of these every week?
Theresa May has promoted Gavin Williamson, her chief whip, to the job of defence secretary to fill the role vacated after Sir Michael Fallon resigned on Wednesday over allegations of sexual harassment. But some Conservative MPs raised concerns his appointment, arguing that 41 year old MP for South Staffordshire had been promoted too quickly and lacked the experience for the high profile post. Fallon had stepped down on Wednesday night, admitting that his conduct towards women in the past had fallen short of the standards expected of the armed forces, of which he was in charge.
Tens of thousands of people living illegally in the UK have dropped off the Home Office’s radar and been declared “absconders”, a damning new report has revealed. The study by David Bolt, the Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration found that 140,000 people have been told they face removal from the UK. Of those 80,000 people are expected to report regularly to a Home Office centre or police station so authorities can keep track of their whereabouts. This means that 60,000 foreign nationals have at some stage absconded, meaning the Government does or did not know where they are. Some of them are likely to have left the country. In December 2016, almost one in 10 (nine per cent) of those required to report to authorities failed to turn up – a total of 7,000 people.
56,000 foreign nationals scheduled for deportation have gone missing in Britain, an independent inspector has found. This includes more than 700 criminals who finished their custodial sentence and were released back into the community. The Chief Inspector for Borders and Immigration found that little was being done to track down the illegal foreign nationals and in one case a man missed 19 consecutive meetings with immigration officers before the alarm was raised. Brandon Lewis, immigration minister, said: “People who have no right to live in this country should be in no doubt of our determination to remove them. “Our priority is to progress cases towards voluntary and, if necessary, enforced departures and we have removed more than 38,600 foreign offenders since 2010.
Millions of self-employed workers have been deprived of a £148 cut to their National Insurance bills after Chancellor Philip Hammond went back on a pledge. Class 2 National Insurance contributions were due to be abolished next April. But yesterday the Government said the move would be delayed by a year. It is a blow to 3.4million workers, and was last night described as a ‘slap in the face’ for the self-employed. The policy to scrap Class 2 contributions – which currently cost £2.85 a week or £148 a year – was announced by then-chancellor George Osborne in 2016. Delaying the move will save the Government around £200million. People who work for themselves will continue to pay both Class 2 and Class 4 National Insurance contributions (NICs). The latter are charged at 9 per cent on earnings above £8,164 and 2 per cent above £45,000.
A tax cut hailed as a boost for Britain’s army of self-employed people has been shelved, in another Government U-turn. Class 2 National Insurance Contributions (NICs) were due to be scrapped next April, but will now stay in place until 12 months later, the Treasury said. The move is expected to save the Chancellor, Philip Hammond, around £200m, just weeks before a crucial Budget and as he tries to plug a yawning financial “black hole”. However, the Treasury insisted the delay was to avoid “unintended consequences for the lowest paid”, by allowing further consultation to take place. Mr Hammond has been under pressure to step back from a confrontation with the lowest-earning self-employed who would lose out from the shake-up.
The Tory government has quietly delayed a key tax reform over fears it will hike bills for some of Britain’s poorest self-employed people. Class 2 National Insurance contributions (NICs) will only be axed from April 2019, a year later than planned. The reform was announced by Tory ex-Chancellor George Osborne in his 2016 Budget. At the time, he hailed the “simpler system” as a “£130 tax cut for each of Britain’s 3million-strong army of the self-employed.” But tax experts warned some people, who didn’t make enough profit, faced paying far higher NICs to protect their access to the state pension. Anthony Thomas, Chairman of the Low Incomes Tax Reform Group, said those with profits below £5,965 a year could have to pay almost five times what they do now. That is because they would have to opt in to paying Class 3 NICs, a rise from £2.85 to £14.10 a week, he said.
A man has been charged with female genital mutilation in only the second case of its kind to be brought in Britain. The 49-year-old, who is of African descent, faces two charges under the Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003 and two alternative counts of wounding with intent. The alleged offences against a young girl are said to have happened between 2010 and 2013. The defendant, from south London, has also been charged with three counts of child cruelty, the Crown Prosecution Service announced. The case, investigated by the Metropolitan Police, is only the second to come to court under the FGM Act. In 2014, Director of Public Prosecutions Alison Saunders announced the first FGM prosecution in the UK against a doctor. Dr Dhanuson Dharmasena, 34, was accused of carrying out an illegal procedure when stitching a woman after she gave birth at the Whittington Hospital, north London, in 2012.
A 49-year-old man African man, living in South London is to face charges of inflicting female genital mutilation on a young girl between 2010 and 2013. He will appear at Woolwich crown court this morning on two offences that he “excised, infibulated or otherwise mutilated the whole or part of the labia minora” of the girl. He is also charged with alternative offences of wounding the child, and three separate counts of child cruelty. It will be only the second FGM case in the UK history, despite thousands of cases being reported every year. It’s about time the CPS started prosecuting more parents who subject their children to this barbaric crime.
A Spanish judge was poised last night to issue an arrest warrant for Catalonia’s sacked president after eight of his ministers were put behind bars and face charges of rebellion. Carles Puigdemont, who fled to Belgium on Monday and refused to answer a summons, arguing that he could not get a fair trial in Spain, tweeted: “A long and fierce repression awaits us. Imprisoning the members of a democratically elected government violates the rule of law.” Mr Puigdemont’s lawyer in Belgium hinted at a drawn-out extradition battle. “Mr Puigdemont will stay here. He has said he will fully co-operate with Belgian authorities during the procedure,” Paul Bekaert told Belgium’s Flemish state broadcaster VRT.
A judge in Madrid has jailed eight former Catalan regional ministers behind the failed independence bid over fears they will attempt to flee the country. The Deputy First Minister and seven of his senior colleagues were taken to a jail on the outskirts of the capital Madrid after appearing before the Spanish High Court to answer charges of sedition, rebellion and misuse of public funds. The region’s former leader Carles Puigdemont – who fled to Brussels with four of his colleagues on Monday – tweeted: ‘A long and fierce repression awaits us’. A European arrest warrant was issued for Puigdemont along with the four others who failed to turn up in Madrid, newspaper La Vanguardia said. Puigdemont’s lawyer said his client would fully co-operate with Belgian authorities and was expecting a drawn-out extradition fight.
The Spanish courts today jailed eight Catalan leaders and ordered an international arrest warrant for fugitive president Carles Puigdemont. Mr Puigdemont has fled to Belgium and refused to appear in court where he is facing charges of rebellion and sedition for organising last month’s “illegal” independence referendum . The state prosecutor responded by asking the national court to issue a European arrest warrant. “When someone doesn’t appear after being cited by a judge to testify, in Spain or any other EU country, normally an arrest warrant is issued,” said Supreme Court President Carlos Lesmes. Eight other Catalan politicians who were summoned to Madrid to testify on the same charges were jailed without being granted bail. The move led to further protests on the streets of Barcelona and will further inflame nationalist feelings in Catalonia where many see the courts as politically biased towards the ruling Popular Party .
Eight former members of Catalonia’s government have been jailed while they are investigated over the region’s disputed independence vote. A ninth was informed by a Spanish judge he would be freed if bail of 50,000 euros is paid. It comes as Spain’s state prosecutor seeks an international arrest warrant for Catalonia’s ousted president Carles Puigdemont and several ex-ministers. Mr Puigdemont and the four others failed to appear in court in Madrid for questioning on Thursday. The five are among 20 members of the deposed government who were summoned to face possible charges of rebellion, sedition and embezzlement. They fled to Brussels after the Spanish government dissolved the Catalan semi-autonomous administration and announced regional elections.
The Spanish authorities have jailed 8 pro-independence former Catalan Ministers and requested an arrest warrant for former President Carles Puigdemont. They face charges ranging from sedition to rebellion, and they are also looking to prosecute other former Ministers as well. The sorry state of affairs continues following an outlawed referendum in Catalonia that saw ugly scenes, with Spanish police shutting down polling stations and aggressive policing against those who did turn out. This isn’t a good look for the European Union in 2017. What happened to democracy? Surely the best way forward is a legitimate, full, free and fair referendum so that the people of Catalonia can move forward together united? Instead many in Brussels seem determined to bury their heads in the sand.
More than half (51 per cent) of NHS trust’s financial directors say patient care in their area deteriorated in the last 12 months, and waiting time targets have deteriorated slightly despite “major drives” to improve performance. 85 finance directors responded to the quarterly NHS monitoring analysis by the King’s Fund think-tank – accounting for more than a third of NHS trusts. Just 6 per cent of areas thought services had improved in that time. The King’s Fund warns that 4.1 million people are on NHS waiting lists, more than at any time since 2007. The NHS continues to miss its 18 week “referral-to-treatment” target. In August 89.7 per cent of patients on waiting lists had been waiting up to 18 weeks – compared to 90.6 per cent last year. However health secretary Jeremy Hunt did not mandate that trusts should meet the targhet this year – a decision the Labour Party claim broke the law.
A potential Alzheimer’s drug has showed signs of slowing mental decline in early trials, as well as clearing the brain plaques that are the hallmarks of the condition. Experts were encouraged by the “promising” results, while cautioning that other potential treatments that had shown similar benefits early on had failed final-stage trials. However, so few options are available for dementia patients that findings that would be unremarkable in any other disease have been welcomed. A study looking at 143 patients in the early stages of Alzheimer’s found bigger falls in levels of amyloid plaque in people who had been on the drug aducanumab at a higher dose for longer.
More than half of NHS finance directors are concerned patient care has deteriorated over the past year, a think tank has warned. With 4.1 million people on hospital waiting lists, the King’s Fund revealed 51% of finance directors had a negative outlook on the service in their area. Just 6% claimed improvements had been made in the past twelve months. Warning the seven-year squeeze on NHS and social care budgets is impacting patient care, the think tank’s quarterly monitoring report found 89.7% of A&E patients were seen within four hours in September compared with 90.6% in September last year. The NHS target is to see 92% of patients within four hours. This decline came despite a major effort to improve A&E patient performance.
Women are being diagnosed late with bowel cancer because their symptoms are being overlooked by GPs, researchers warn. They are much more likely to have their cancer picked up in A&E despite having made frequent trips to their doctor beforehand. Researchers from University College London suspect that GPs are mistaking their symptoms for gynaecological conditions or irritable bowel syndrome. Their study found that a third of women with bowel cancer – 34 per cent – were diagnosed in A&E, when it is often too late to treat. This compared to just 30 per cent of men. The researchers also found that women were more likely to have been sent away and told they didn’t have cancer by GPs.
The pharaoh Khufu still has his secrets. Deep within the Great Pyramid of Giza, above the passageways and chambers long ago plundered by grave robbers, particle physicists have found something those relic hunters missed: a “void” that has lain hidden for 4,500 years. And no one can say what it is. The last human to see this cavity was the builder who placed the stones that covered it in 2,500BC as they completed the pharaoh’s tomb. The next humans to see it did so last year, thanks to subatomic particles. The space they saw, revealed in a scientific paper yesterday, is 30 metres long and cut off from the network of tunnels already found inside the pyramid.
A long-hidden narrow void in the Great Pyramid of Giza has been found by scientists in a discovery that could finally reveal the secrets of the 4,500-year-old monument. The void stretches for at least 30 metres (100ft) above the Grand Gallery – an ascending corridor that links the Queen’s chamber to the King’s in the heart of the pyramid. It is not known why the void exists or if there are any valuable artefacts inside as it is not obviously accessible. But it has similar dimensions to the Gallery, which is 50 metres (164ft) long, eight metres (26ft) high and around a metre (3.2ft) wide. Researchers suggest it could be a ‘construction gap’ – part of a trench that allowed workers to access the Grand Gallery and King’s Chamber while the rest of the pyramid was built.