Great Repeal Bill
Britain has begun to take back control from Brussels as David Davis announced that the first EU law to be scrapped after Brexit will be a charter that helps criminals avoid deportation. Revealing details of the forthcoming Great Repeal Bill, Mr Davis told MPs that the controversial EU Charter of Fundamental Rights will be dropped on the day Britain leaves Europe. MPs cheered in the House of Commons as the Brexit Secretary told them Britain would be regaining the sovereignty it last enjoyed in 1972. He said: “A strong, independent country needs control of its own laws. That process starts now.”
Thousands of EU laws on everything from workers’ rights to the environment are to be transferred into UK law as the country gears up for Brexit. Brexit Secretary David Davis said the Great Repeal Bill would allow the UK Parliament and Welsh, Scottish and Northern Ireland administrations to scrap, amend and improve laws. It would also end the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice. But Labour warned it was being done without proper Parliamentary scrutiny. It comes a day after Prime Minister Theresa May triggered Article 50, starting the process which will officially take Britain out of the EU in March 2019.
EU rules blamed for making it harder to keep out foreign criminals and terror suspects are to be axed as part of a bid to restore sovereignty to the UK. David Davis told MPs that the vast majority of EU laws would be transferred on to the statute book in a Great Repeal Bill designed to ensure a ‘smooth and orderly’ Brexit. But he said ministers would take the opportunity to ditch the controversial Charter of Fundamental Rights, which has been blamed for hampering the fight against crime and terrorism. This was welcomed by Tory MPs, who said it was the first dividend from the vote to leave the EU but Labour said it would oppose the move.
Theresa May has been accused of a sweeping “power grab” after unveiling plans granting her ministers the ability to rewrite reams of British law without full scrutiny. The move to adopt so-called “Henry VIII” powers was slammed by opposition politicians, with those in England and Scotland vowing to derail Ms May’s legislative programme unless safeguards are introduced. Gina Miller, who defeated Ms May at the Supreme Court over Article 50, said she could launch a new challenge over the issue, while campaigners claimed the powers could see the Tories strip back protections on anything from human rights to wildlife and the environment.
Remain campaigners have threatened ‘legislative warfare’ that will grind Parliament to a halt on the massive Great Repeal Bill unveiled by David Davis today. Campaigner Gina Miller raised another headache for the Brexit Secretary by revealing she was seeking advice on a new legal challenge over executive powers contained in the plans. Mr Davis today published more details of his sweeping plans to transfer EU laws on to the UK statute book. This legislation does not delete EU laws from the statute book but changes them and means after 2019 Parliament will be free to amend or remove them at will for the first time in decades. Once Brexit is finished, EU red tape such as working time restrictions, a ban on traditional light bulbs and limits on vacuum cleaners can in future be freely changed.
EUROPEAN Union boss Jean-Claude Juncker this afternoon issued a jaw-dropping threat to the United States, saying he could campaign to break up the country in revenge for Donald Trump’s supportive comments about Brexit. In an extraordinary speech the EU Commission president said he would push for Ohio and Texas to split from the rest of America if the Republican president does not change his tune and become more supportive of the EU. The remarks are diplomatic dynamite at a time when relations between Washington and Brussels are already strained over Europe’s meagre contributions to NATO and the US leader’s open preference for dealing with national governments.
The European Union’s approach to talks which will shape its future relationship with the UK is set to be laid out by European Council president Donald Tusk. Draft guidelines are expected to be circulated to EU leaders later today, before they are amended and approved at a summit in late April. On Wednesday, the Prime Minister set out her priorities for Brexit talks in a letter which triggered Article 50. However, her hopes to discuss separation terms and a “bold and ambitious” free trade agreement at the same time have been knocked back by German chancellor Angela Merkel and French president Francois Hollande.
EUROCRATS have revealed the free movement of dogs and cats is of the “utmost importance” in Brexit negotiations. According to officials a “Hard Brexit” could see Britain being removed from its membership in the EU’s pet passport scheme when it divorces from the Brussels bloc. This could cause havoc for around 250,000 British cats and dogs taken to the EU on holiday by their owners every year, according to reports. But the European Commission has said the fate of pet travel will be a key part of the negotiation process. When asked about how high pet travel mobility ranked in the Commission’s negotiation strategy, a spokesperson, Alexander Winterstein, said: “I do appreciate the light touch. Obviously, the fate of dogs and cats, their free movement are of the utmost importance. “Not only for the European Commission, but for the Union in general and even globally.”
One of the most influential members of the European Parliament has said Europe will no longer concern itself with Britain’s interests, as he declared “I don’t care any more about the City of London”. Chair of the largest centre-right European People’s Party grouping Manfred Weber also poured scorn on Theresa May’s plan for linking security cooperation to Brexit talks as he warned of “tough negotiations” ahead. The German MEP went on to claim that Britain would find it difficult to compete and protect industries in the globalised world against big countries like China. Mr Weber was speaking as politicians across Europe worked out how to respond to the UK’s triggering of Article 50.
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has indicated that he will support parts of the U.S. breaking away as revenge for President Donald J. Trump supporting Britain’s decision to leave the European Union (EU) and predicting other countries will follow. “The newly elected U.S. president was happy that Brexit was taking place, and asked other countries to do the same,” he told at a European People’s Party conference, recalling the president’s prediction that Brexit will be “fantastic” for the United Kingdom. “If he goes on like that,” he said, “I am going to promote the independence of Ohio and Austin, Texas.” “Juncker has made a complete fool of himself,” commented Brexit campaign leader and former UKIP chief Nigel Farage in a press release.
The French President has told Theresa May talks on the UK’s future relationship with the EU must wait until after negotiations on its departure from the bloc, in a fresh blow to the Prime Minister’s plans. In a phone call this morning, François Hollande said the timetable for talks, set out by Donald Tusk, President of the European Council, must be adhered to after Ms May “presented her Government’s approach to discussions”. She has called for talks on a future trade deal with the EU to take place at the same time as divorce negotiations on Brexit. “The President indicated that the talks must at first be about the terms of withdrawal, dealing especially with citizens’ rights and obligations resulting from the commitments made by the UK,” said a summary of the call released by the Élysée Palace.
THE European Union’s Brexit negotiator may have just let slip that the Brussels bloc is about to cave and offer Britain the same deal as the annexed nation of UKRAINE. Guy Verhofstadt, Leader of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe Group, said an association agreement between Britain and the EU based on Article 217 of the Lisbon Treaty “should be the best solution”. In a speech in which he asked Theresa may of blackmail, he insisted Britain meet legal, financial and budgetary commitments. He warned agreements cutting up the single market would not be allowed. Article 217 association agreement “often replaces a cooperation agreement thereby intensifying the relations between the partners”, according to the European External Action Service. The Lisbon Treaty article, already enforced between the EU and Albania, Algeria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Chile, Egypt and several other nations, including Ukraine, states: “The Union may conclude with one or more third countries or international organisations agreements establishing an association involving reciprocal rights and obligations, common action and special procedure.”
DEFENCE Secretary Sir Michael Fallon will today join forces with his US counterpart to issue a stinging sideswipe at freeloading European allies. Fallon will hold a two day summit with Donald Trump’s new Secretary of Defense Jim ‘Mad Dog’ Mattis. The pair will again put European nations on notice – demanding they shoulder the “burden” of keeping the NATO alliance at full strength in the face of Russian aggression. Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon said: “Together we will also agree further steps to modernise NATO and ensure greater burden sharing. “That means more European members committing to annual increases in their defence spending in order to counter an aggressive Russia and tackle terrorism and cyber threats.” Fallon also reminded Europe of the strength of US and UK defence ties – certain to endure after Brexit.
More than 1million migrants are ‘in the pipeline’ in Libya hoping to cross to Europe, a senior diplomat has warned. Joseph Walker-Cousins, former head of the British Embassy Office in Benghazi, said refugees were massing in the war-torn country having fled conflict and poverty. Criminal human trafficking gangs are raking in billions of pounds charging migrants large sums to be smuggled across the Mediterranean in flimsy dinghies and boats. Mr Walker-Cousins also launched a scathing attack on the European Union naval mission to reduce the number of people making the dangerous journey and prevent deaths at sea. He said Operation Sophia – set up to stem the flow of migrants from Libya and neighbouring countries to Italy – was ‘incentivising failure’ including drownings.
The armed forces face a £10 billion funding shortfall amid escalating costs for new ships and jets, The Times has learnt. Military chiefs have quietly begun a review to find at least £1 billion a year in additional savings over the next decade from budgets that are already stretched. This includes a plan to reduce the size of the Royal Marines and remove the frontline role of one of its three commando units, while overseas training is about to be suspended. Adding to the pressure, defence industry sources said that replacement submarines for the Trident nuclear deterrent were likely to exceed their £41 billion maximum budget over 20 years.
Patients must wait longer for routine operations and go without new drugs to pay for better A&E and cancer care, the head of the NHS will say today. Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, said a target to ensure that 92 per cent of patients had treatments such as hip replacements or cataract surgery within 18 weeks would be abandoned for the foreseeable future. In a “frank recognition” that the health service cannot afford everything patients want, he is to tell staff to focus on other priorities as he sets out his plans for the next two years.
The NHS’s target of seeing 95% of A&E patients within four hours will not apply next year, the medical director of NHS England has said. Speaking to ITV News, Sir Bruce Keogh replied simply “no”, when asked if the four-hour wait target would apply. Sir Bruce’s comments came as the head of NHS England also admitted that patients will also have to wait longer for non-urgent operations as he unveiled the National Health Service’s blueprint for the next two years. Longer waits are to be expected for pre-planned operations such as joint replacements, cataract removals, hernia operations and laparoscopies. The NHS has a target that 92% of patients should be treated within 18 weeks of referral by their GP, yet this target has not been hit in more than a year.
Patients will be made to wait longer for routine operations under radical plans to prioritise cancer care, A&E departments and GP surgeries. NHS chief Simon Stevens warned patients he expects waiting times to rise as a ‘trade-off’ for improvements elsewhere. All non-urgent operations may be affected including hip and knee replacements and cataract repairs, as well as diagnostic tests and scans. Other patients face being told they do not need surgery as part of plans to increase use of alternatives such as physiotherapy. GPs are being urged to reduce hospital referrals and avoid sending patients for certain procedures no longer deemed appropriate. The proposals are unveiled today in a major blueprint for the NHS aimed at saving £1billion over two years and overhauling key areas. But to fund the plans, the NHS must cut back on certain low-priority procedures and drugs.
Patients will have to wait longer for non-urgent operations and go without some new drugs under plans to be announced today. Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, will reveal his blueprint for how the service will cope with huge clinical and financial pressures over the next two years. The plans contain measures to deal with an ageing population and growing demand at a time when the NHS budget is under huge pressure and growing at the slowest rate in its 69-year history. The measures include better co-ordinated local care, 150 new urgent treatment centres as an alternative to A&E, and extending GP services in an attempt to vacate up to 3,000 hospital beds.
National tests for seven-year-olds are to be scrapped to lift the pressure of exams on children and their teachers. Instead of sitting SATs, pupils will be assessed during their reception year when they are four or five years old. Officials said that the children should be unaware that they were being tested. The move is a sudden departure for the government, which for years has defended national testing as a key tool in making schools accountable and improving standards. Nicky Morgan, the previous education secretary, introduced even tougher tests for seven-year-olds last year, saying that they were essential to make British pupils more competitive compared with students abroad.
Controversial national tests taken by seven-year-olds in England could be scrapped under new government plans. The move follows years of pressure from teachers, parents and educationalists opposed to putting young pupils through high stakes national Sats tests. The statutory tests in English, maths and spelling and grammar, are used to monitor schools’ progress. The Department for Education is proposing a new assessment for pupils when they first start school instead. This should be done in such a way that pupils do not realise they are being assessed, the DfE said.
TORIES were yesterday accused of caving in to unions after unveiling plans to scrap Sats for seven year olds. Children will instead be assessed by teachers when they start reception at four. They will not face exams in reading, writing, maths and science until leaving primary at 11. A former Cabinet minister accused Education Secretary Justine Greening of “abandoning efforts to raise standards”. The senior Tory said: “I never thought I’d see the day when unions dictate policy to a Conservative Education Secretary.” Last night the move was slammed by campaigners and Tories who claimed Greening had abandoned the bid to improve standards in the face of union opposition. A former Cabinet Minister blasted the plans saying they confirmed the Department for Education had “abandoned efforts to raise standards”.