Eurocrats are drawing up retribution plans to squeeze smaller protest parties out of the European Parliament by ensuring they cannot access the same resources as Europhiles. They have penned a report proposing a radical change to how funding is allocated which will favour large pro-EU parties but hammer start-up anti-Brussels movements – like Ukip once was. And MEPs also want to install a new, all-powerful finance chief who would dispense money to parties based on how well their policies reflect “European values”. UKIP MEP Paul Nuttall said: “The EU has lost the argument and so tries to skew the public debate by starving Eurosceptic parties of funding. “This malevolent move by the European Parliament is one of a long series in which they have tried to make it more difficult for Euro-critical parties to organise. “Thankfully, when we leave the EU we won’t have to fund this clearly scared institution at all.”
Calls are growing for Tony Blair to face prosecution over the lead-up to the Iraq war, following the Chilcot Inquiry’s report yesterday. The former prime minister was revealed to have told then US President George W Bush “I will be with you whatever”, eight months before British troops were sent into the troubled country in 2003. The report also found that Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein posed “no imminent threat”, that Mr Blair had relied on “flawed” intelligence and that diplomatic options had not been exhausted by the time the invasion began.
A group of senior MPs is calling for a vote to decide whether Tony Blair is guilty of contempt of Parliament over his decision to invade Iraq in 2003. Conservative David Davis said he will present the motion on Thursday accusing the former PM of misleading Parliament. Meanwhile, John Prescott, the then deputy prime minister, said he now believed the invasion was “illegal”. Mr Blair has apologised for mistakes he made but has said he stands by his decision and “there were no lies”.
Tony Blair faces the prospect of stripped of his privy council membership amid a cross-party bid to hold him in ‘contempt’ of parliament over the Iraq war. A motion being tabled by Tory David Davis accusing the former Prime Minister of deceiving MPs has been backed by Jeremy Corbyn and the SNP. If approved by Speaker John Bercow this week the issue could be put to a vote before the Commons goes on summer recess – potentially leading to Mr Blair being ejected from the prestigious circle of senior politician. Mr Davis said today that he had decided to put the motion forward after the Chilcot report delivered a devastating verdict on Mr Blair last week.
Staffing levels within the NHS will have to be cut if the government wants to bring NHS finances in England under control, the King’s Fund think tank has said. It says the government should be honest about NHS spending plans at a time when patient demand is rising. It comes days before a major initiative by the NHS to control spending. The Department of Health said the government wanted to make the NHS the safest healthcare system in the world. This is an important week for the financing of the health service in England, says BBC health editor Hugh Pym.
Health tourists are jumping the queue ahead of NHS patients for life-changing cataract operations, an investigation has revealed. At least 300 foreign patients flying in from countries including Nigeria and Zimbabwe have been offered surgery before British taxpayers because their condition is deemed a priority. The treatment costs the NHS up to £2,500 a time including translation costs but many patients return home and never pay it back. Yet they are being fast-tracked by doctors as their condition is deemed very complex and urgent, leading to lengthy delays for British patients.
Bad weather and uncertainty after the Brexit vote caused a massive slowdown at the tills. Now stores are aiming to lure back customers with what retail experts are saying is the most discounted market for 30 years. Maureen Hinton, of consultancy firm Conlumino, said: “Prices are normally 40% to 50% off at this time of year, but they are down at 70%.” Businesses are facing their worst trading year since the 2008 crash. Last week Marks and Spencer announced their worst profits for a decade. Analyst Richard Hyman said “structural” factors were also contributing to the crisis. He added: “There is massive over-capacity – too many stores, too many websites, too many mouths to feed.”
BRITAIN is likely to deal with Europe’s member states and not the European Commission when thrashing out the Brexit deal, the European Council has indicated. It would signal a victory for Britain’s negotiators following a battle of wills between the Council and Jean-Claude Juncker’s EU Commission, which had hoped to play a central role. It was feared that Commission president Mr Juncker would try to apply pressure for the UK to exit Europe before working out an alternative deal. One senior EU official said: “Juncker wanted Britain to leave the parking lot before programming the sat nav.” However, during a key speech by EU Council president Donald Tusk last week he suggested the UK would be submitting its formal exit bid to the Council.
ANGELA Merkel is facing a nightmare scenario after a leading German MP said Berlin needs to hold an EU Referendum. Sahra Wagenknecht called for Germany to let the people have their say on whether they want to sever ties with Brussels. The deputy vice president of Die Linke, the Bundestag’s third main party, said it would be “arrogant” to not trust the electorate with the decision. Currently, Germany’s constitution does not allow national referendums to take place, except for special exceptions.
COULD the EU invoke Article 7 if Britain drags its heels and keeps delaying the start of formal EU exit talks? EU bosses are calling on Britain to trigger Article 50 as soon as possible in order to kick off the two-year exit process and end uncertainty. Brexiteer Andrea Leadsom is also pushing for a quick exit and has vowed to use Article 50 immediately if she is elected as Prime Minister. But her Tory leadership rivals Theresa May and Michael Gove want to play for time while the UK finalises its negotiating stance on Brexit. The use of Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty will start the timer on two years of Brexit talks before Britain is expelled from the EU. There has been some talk about the EU being able to use Article 7 to speed up the process. But is this just a red herring?