Brexit

Express
THERESA May today gave her strongest hint yet of a multi-billion pound “Brexit dividend” boost for the NHS and other public services when Britain quits the EU next year. During a whistle-stop tour of the UK to mark one year to go until the departure date, the Prime Minister raised the prospect of the cash saved from scrapping the annual £10billion membership fee payments made to Brussels being ploughed into cash-strapped hospitals and social care for the elderly. “There’s going to be money that we would have been sending to the European Union  that we’re going to be able to spend on priorities in the UK,” she said in a BBC interview during her series of visits in Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Sky News
Home Secretary Amber Rudd has admitted the Government is yet to decide whether the UK’s post-Brexit immigration rules will form part of trade negotiations with the EU. The remaining 27 EU member states have stated they want the future UK-EU relationship to include “ambitious provisions” for movement of citizens between Britain and the bloc. But, Ms Rudd signalled the Cabinet have yet to agree whether or not to negotiate with Brussels on future immigration rules during Brexit talks. Although Brexit negotiations are likely to be concluded in October this year, Ms Rudd also confirmed the Government will not be presenting their post-Brexit immigration plans to Parliament until “the end of the year”. She told MPs the Government will wait until the conclusions of a final Migration Advisory Committee report in September.

Westmonster
David Davis has not ruled out preferential treatment for EU migrants post-Brexit – this could be a warning alarm for Brexiteers who want to see migration reduced to manageable levels with a system that doesn’t discriminate between EU and non-EU migrants. Davis was interviewed by Andrew Neil at a Spectator event and was asked a couple of times to rule out preferential treatment for EU migrants, but refused. He said: “I’m not doing that negotiation here. There will be an end to free movement but the aim of the exercise is to run our own migration policy in our own interests and in the economic interests of the nation. We’re not going to switch off all engineers or even farm workers because the effect of that would be to damage an industry.”

Express
THERESA May is ready to keep paying Brussels up to £1.3billion a year in aid cash in a desperate effort to guarantee a soft Brexit and the Prime Minister is hoping an ongoing financial contribution will ensure better single market access for businesses operating in the bloc. But with precisely a year to go before the UK quits the EU, Mrs May risk infuriating voters keen to sever ties with the bloc. The move has angered Brexit campaigners, who said the aid payments are administered by Eurocrats without any British input. The UK currently hands over ten percent of its annual £13billion overseas aid budget to the EU. Priti Patel, a Tory MP and the former International Development Secretary, said she was “livid” at the revelation. She said: “Leaving the EU means taking back control of our laws, border and money – and that includes aid money.

Breitbart
The UK is likely to offer as much as £1.4 billion of the nation’s foreign aid budget to European Union (EU) institutions to spend after Brexit. Handing over the massive chunk of taxpayer cash to the bloc is now being treated as an explicit part of the UK’s opening negotiating pitch, 
The Times reports. Prime Minister Theresa May first hinted that the nation’s massive foreign aid budget could be used as a bargaining chip in her security  speech in Munich on February 17th. “If a UK contribution to EU development programmes and instruments can best deliver our mutual interests, we should both be open to that,” she said, whilst claiming, but not explaining how the UK could influence how it is spent.

Times
Theresa May has insisted that EU withdrawal will mean more money for the NHS and schools, despite Treasury forecasts of slower growth leading to lower tax revenues after Brexit. As she conducted whistle-stop visits to the four nations of the United Kingdom to mark a year until Brexit day, the prime minister called on Britons to “come together” to seize the “great opportunities” she expects as a result of EU withdrawal. She said that additional resources would be available for hospitals and education once Britain stopped sending “vast sums” annually to Brussels. In a BBC interview she steered clear of repeating Boris Johnson’s term “Brexit dividend” but did appear to say that cash would be freed up by Brexit.

Mail
Freelance demonstrators protesting against Brexit were paid thousands of pounds by an organisation linked to Max Mosley, it emerged yesterday. The campaigners, from a group called the Fair Vote Project, were hired to increase support for a second EU referendum during a protest in Parliament Square. 
But it has emerged the group received a £25,000 donation from an organisation called Byline Festival in which Mr Mosley, the former F1 owner accused of printing a racist leaflet, holds shares.  Byline Festival is run by Peter Jukes, who live-tweeted throughout the Leveson Inquiry into the Press, and its project director is Kyle Taylor, who previously worked for pro-Remain group Best for Britain.

Independent
Trade secretary Liam Fox has warned he will refuse to support any extension to the Brexit transition period, amid calls for more time for firms to adjust to EU withdrawal. The cabinet minister said anything more than the current proposed 21-month period set out by negotiators would not be “popular”. It comes as Theresa May started a tour of the country to talk to people and businesses in every nation of the UK to mark one year to go until Brexit. Earlier this week, British firms urged ministers to push for an extension to the transition period, claiming they need three to five years to properly prepare for Brexit. But quizzed on BBC Radio 4’s 
Today programme, Mr Fox said: “No I don’t think that’s likely to happen, I think the European Union have made it clear that that’s where they see the end of the process being.

Independent
Labour’s Keir Starmer has said his party is definitely prepared to vote down Theresa May’s Brexit deal, after a fellow frontbencher suggested the party might back it even if it lacks detail. The shadow Brexit secretary said Labour would not “step back from the challenge” of opposing the agreement, following Emily Thornberry’s comments at a think tank event. Ex-Prime Minister Tony Blair also said Labour MPs should vote against their party today, if it looks like it is going to back Brexit without knowing exactly what future relations look like. Writing exclusively for 
The Independent, Mr Starmer said: “Labour will not support a deal that fails to meet the six tests I set out last year. But, we will also not allow the UK to crash out without a deal.

Breitbart
Tony Blair has said Theresa May should continue as Prime Minister if her Brexit deal is voted down by Parliament, urging Tory MPs to block the UK’s Exit from the European Union (EU). The former Prime Minister attempted to persuade prospective Tory rebels that if they and other MPs reject Mrs. May’s negotiated deal, their party would not be ousted if they called a second referendum. Speaking at a ‘UK in a Changing Europe’ event reported by 
The Guardian, the former Labour premier said: “If she is defeated in the Commons she does not need to resign and there does not be an election. “She can simply say: ‘OK, I put the deal before parliament; they rejected it. Now it is right the people have the vote and the final say.’

EU

Mirror
Millions of EU migrants could enjoy preferential rights to come to Britain after Brexit , David Davis has revealed. The Brexit Secretary indicated EU nationals could stay front of the queue to live and work in Britain after 2020. Tory Brexiteers famously boasted the Leave vote would “take back control” of borders. But at a Q&A, Mr Davis would not rule out giving EU citizens “preferential treatment” over arrivals from the rest of the world. Instead he replied: “I’m not going to do that negotiation here”. Pressed on the detail he added: “I’m not expecting a visa arrangement between ourselves and the European Union.” 
Most non-EU nationals need a visa for a long stay in the UK.

UKIP
UKIP Leader Gerard Batten and Deputy Leader Mike Hookem have attacked a new European Union plan to develop ‘military corridors’ within the EU, describing it as “a head-on charge towards PESCO and EU Military union.” The effort to update infrastructure for military movements will be part of an on-going plan to create nine east-west and north-south ‘core network corridors’ to be completed by 2030, at a cost of over €500 billion. UKIP Leader Gerard Batten said: “This plan is just another aspect of the European Union’s intentions to create its own armed forces. “For years they have been doing this surreptitiously by means of common procurement policies, common command and control structures, and common communications systems.

NHS

Mail
Victims of a contaminated blood scandal that killed thousands in the 1970s and 1980s have told of their relief after the Government reversed a decision to refuse them legal funding to prepare for a public inquiry. Campaigners had accused the Cabinet Office of treating them ‘as cheaply and as insultingly as possible’ after learning they would be denied financial support to debate the inquiry’s terms of reference. But, in a victory for the Daily Mail which has long campaigned on behalf of the victims, the department has changed its mind following an urgent question in the Commons.  The Minister for the Constitution, Chloe Smith, said: ‘We want to make sure that all those who need to contribute to the inquiry can do so.’

Times
Patients must not expect the NHS to treat minor problems such as coughs, indigestion or dandruff, health chiefs have ruled, as they urged GPs to send people away without prescriptions. Ending NHS prescriptions for ailments that will get better by themselves or with medicines bought over the counter has been estimated to free up £97 million a year to spend on nurses and hip replacements. NHS England approved the changes yesterday but said they would save £39 million less than planned after patients deemed “socially vulnerable” were exempted. Patient groups said this would confuse people because the category does not include all those who get free NHS prescriptions, leaving it to GPs to decide case-by-case who is vulnerable enough not to pay for everyday medicines.

Sun
PATIENTS will no longer be able to get paracetamol and other over-the-counter remedies to treat 35 conditions on the NHS. Under drastic cost-saving plans doctors will be banned from routinely doling out treatment for the likes of colds, constipation, dandruff and indigestion. The crackdown – set to save almost £100million a year – apply to meds that can be bought in chemists. This includes treatments for diarrhoea, athletes’ foot, sore throats, coughs, colds, warts and ulcers. Health chiefs say they need to “prioritise” limited resources and these ailments can be self-managed or will clear up themselves without drugs. Cough mixture, eye drops, laxatives and sun creams are among the products that will no longer be routinely prescribed, following an NHS England board meeting on Thursday.

Mail
Health chiefs are investigating 30 doctors in the UK over prescribing drugs via the internet. The General Medical Council is currently dealing with the cases – which include 19 GPs – on suspicion of unsafe prescribing. Several deaths have been linked to patients obtaining strong medications this way, prompting coroners to write to health authorities at least two cases, GP magazine Pulse reports. It comes just days after the care regulator found that almost half of online GP firms are unsafe. A report by the Care Quality Commission warned many online doctors are handing out addictive painkillers and antibiotics without carrying out appropriate checks. Others failed to pass on prescription details to patients’ regular GPs while some did no checks to ensure patients were over 18 before prescribing potentially harmful medications. 

Housing benefit

Times
The government performed a U-turn yesterday on a controversial decision to scrap automatic housing benefit for people aged 18 to 21. Esther McVey, the work and pensions secretary, said the reversal of the year-old policy was designed to reassure young people that support was in place if they required it. David Cameron first announced in 2014 his plan to end automatic entitlement to the housing element of universal credit. The proposal was expected to hit 10,000 young people and save up to £95 million by the end of 2020. Critics, including several charities, warned that it could leave several thousand young people at risk of becoming homeless. After the policy’s introduction in April last year was accompanied by a series of exemptions.

Independent
A £30m fund to cut the number of people living on the street has been announced by the government, amid intense criticism of the soaring numbers of rough sleepers. But the sum was immediately dismissed as “a pitiful response to a national crisis” by Labour, who said it was swamped by cuts to money for low-cost housing. Housing minister Heather Wheeler has promised to resign if the rough sleeping problem gets worse on her watch. And the Government has been sharply criticised as unambitious, after pledging to halve rough sleeping by 2022 and eliminate it only by 2027.  Sajid Javid, the Housing Secretary, also announced a new task force, made up of rough sleeping and homelessness experts with knowledge of housing, mental health and addiction.”This winter has tragically claimed the lives of a number of people sleeping on the streets. This is completely unacceptable in modern Britain,” he said. “No-one should ever have to sleep rough and this government is determined to break the homelessness cycle once and for all.”

Independent
A U-turn will restore housing benefit for 18- to 21-year-olds, after charities protested that young people would be made homeless if they could not live with their parents. The controversial policy – first unveiled by David Cameron back in 2014 – has been dropped to “reassure young people” they will receive the help with housing costs that they need. Jobless under-22s no longer qualified for help with their rental costs, because it is “not acceptable for young people to go from school straight to benefits”, George Osborne said at the time. They should live at home instead. Housing benefit is now being swallowed up in the new universal credit benefit. Regulations will be changed to give 18- to 21-year-olds the same rights to help as older people.

Anti-Semitism

Independent
A major Brexit-supporting campaign group has provoked outrage after suggesting antisemitism in the Labour Party is a result of “Britain’s exploding Muslim population”. The Leave.EU group, which is closely connected to Ukip, posted the tweet in response to criticism that Jeremy Corbyn’s party has failed to address anti-Jewish abuse its ranks. Leave.EU claimed this was because Labour is “reliant” on the support of Muslims voters. It posted on Twitter: “Is it any wonder that Labour can’t be bothered to deal with the disgusting antisemitism in their party when they are so reliant on the votes of Britain’s exploding Muslim population? It’s a question of maths for these people, not justice!” The message was accompanied by an image showing a see-saw with a block reading “3 million Muslim votes” on one side and one saying “300,000 Jewish votes” on the other, along with the caption: “Turkeys don’t vote for Christmas.”

Times
Thirty-nine Labour MPs and peers have declared that Jeremy Corbyn’s response to antisemitism complaints is unsatisfactory in the party’s biggest rupture since the general election. Three members of the party’s front bench are among those who are angry that the Labour leader’s team is shielding his ally Christine Shawcroft from calls to resign from the ruling national executive committee (NEC). Yesterday, The Times revealed a leaked email showing Ms Shawcroft had defended a council candidate, Alan Bull, who was suspended for posting an article calling the Holocaust a hoax. Her reason was that he had a chance of winning a seat in the May elections and the complaint was a “partisan dispute”.

Sky News
Thirty-nine Labour MPs and peers have written to Jeremy Corbyn calling for him to suspend a party official for defending a candidate who posted a Holocaust denial article. Christine Shawcroft, a leading Corbyn ally, 
quit her role as chair of Labour’s disputes panel on Thursday after admitting she was “wrong and misguided” to have sent an email calling for a Peterborough council candidate to have his suspension lifted. Her admission came as Mr Corbyn insisted he is not anti-Semitic after  he said there had been 300 cases of anti-Semitism  referred within Labour since he became leader in 2015. The group of Labour backbenchers, led by Mitcham and Morden MP Siobhan McDonagh, want Ms Shawcroft to be removed from the party’s ruling National Executive Committee (NEC).

Telegraph
Labour quietly reinstated at least six councillors who posted anti-Semitic messages online, analysis shows, as a party insider told The Telegraph the complaints process is being manipulated by political factions. Evidence seen by The Telegraph shows senior party members were investigated over posts made on social media, including messages about blood libel, Zionism, linking Israel to Isis and the Holocaust and other anti-Semitic tropes.  All six were reinstated quietly by the party, raising questions about whether Labour’s process for rooting out racism is effective. It is unclear whether any disciplinary action was taken before they were cleared.

Mail
Like father, like son. This week, with Jeremy Corbyn still engulfed in the ugly row over anti-Semitism in the Labour Left, the Mail discovered a Nazi cartoon on the  Facebook page of his 24-year-old youngest son, Tommy. The image — of an arm marked with the Star of David crushing people — was put on the site earlier this month, after Corbyn Jnr, a prominent Labour activist, uploaded a post asking: ‘Why is it that I can critique my own, or any government, but criticism of the Israeli state is immediately branded anti-Semitic?’ Facebook users had replied with a host of racially offensive comments, with one remarking that ‘Hitler was a Zionist’ and another claiming that Israel is an ‘Apartheid state’ and that ‘A-S [anti-Semitism] is being weaponised to destroy any debate’.

Free speech

Westmonster
Interim UKIP Leader Gerard Batten has hit out at the banning of Tommy Robinson from Twitter, saying it’s an ‘attack on free speech’. It comes after news broke that Robinson was permanently banned by Twitter for ‘hateful conduct‘. But Twitter’s wildly inconsistent in its banning policy, as Maajid Nawaz correctly pointed out, there are Islamist groups operating with impunity on social media. And all this comes after alt-right journalists Lauren Southern and Brittany Pettibone were banned from entering the UK because of their views. It’s weird, especially when you consider the fact more than 400 ISIS jihadis have been allowed back into Britain.

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