The immediate consequences of a “no deal” Brexit in March could be worse for the European Union than for Britain, senior Brussels figures have said. Officials working for the European Commission have been given the task of drawing up contingency plans to be unveiled early next year in the event that Brexit negotiations collapse or fail to be ratified. Under the plans being co-ordinated by Martin Selmayr, the commission’s secretary-general, the EU would take unilateral measures to keep trade links open and aircraft flying immediately after a “chaotic” Brexit. Concern is growing in Brussels, however, over whether EU institutions could act swiftly enough. In particular officials are worried that many decisions would require the unilateral endorsement of all member states.
A No Deal with the UK would mean more chaos for the European Union – and that’s according to EU officials! The EU would struggle to respond as many decisions that would then need to be taken would require the endorsement of all member states and the European Parliament whilst open to challenge in the European Court of Justice and needing to be compatible with treaties. Messy. On top of that the European Parliament elections are scheduled for May 2019, with MEPs not meeting again post-election until July. A senior EU official has told The Times that: “It will be very difficult to co-operate.
EUROPEAN Union officials have sparked fury by introducing new rules to ban ‘strike anywhere’ matches. The matches, which can be ignited against most surfaces, are being phased out to make them safer. The controversial EU diktat, which came into force at the end of May, bans the sale of chemicals used to make the matches. Swan Vestas, the best known brand, confirmed its ‘strike anywhere’ range was being discontinued. The products are being replaced by safety matches, which can only be struck on the strip attached to the packet. Seth Davidson, 44, from Pimlico, south London, attacked the move by branding it “insane”. He told the Sunday Times: “There’s literally no harm to having ‘strike anywhere’ Swan Vestas.
THERESA May’s soft Brexit plan could cost the Tories 25 MPs and hand the keys to No 10 to Jeremy Corbyn, research shows. A polling expert claims a mini-recovery by Ukip would see as many as two dozen pro-Leave ‘marginal’ seats held by the Conservatives switch to Labour if an election was held tomorrow. These include ex-Home Secretary Amber Rudd’s constituency in Hastings as well as Southampton Itchen, Aberconwy in Wales and Middlesbrough South in the north-east. Pro-EU Tory MP Anna Soubry’s seat in Broxtowe would also fall. A report by Matthew Goodwin, professor of politics at the University of Kent, finds that Ukip are up 4.2 points in an average of all polls carried out since the PM unveiled her Chequers Brexit compromise in July. The Tories are down by an average of 4.4 points.
Theresa May’s plan for a bespoke customs deal with the European Union is based on flawed analysis described by trade experts last night as “fanciful”. Scrutiny of the proposal on behalf of The Times cast doubt over the central pledge that the vast majority of businesses would pay the right or no tariff at the border. Business experts also questioned another key part of the plan: that businesses would be able reliably to track goods to their final destination. This issue is critical to the EU, which fears the scheme could become a backdoor smuggling route into the continent.
There is rising anger inside the Conservative Party over the treatment of Boris Johnson following his criticism of the burka, with one Association President saying that Theresa May is “at best an embarassment” and that she must go. It comes after disciplinary proceedings were opened up against Boris causing Jacques Arnold, President of the Tonbridge and Malling Conservative Association to write in to The Telegraph in dismay. Jacques Arnold has said: “In 50 years of mostly voluntary service to the Conservative Party, I have never known such discourtesy and malevolence. “Theresa May has indeed created a nasty party. She is at best an embarrassment, and at worst a humiliation for our great party and country. “Enough is enough. She must go.”
President Trump’s former chief strategist Steve Bannon has warned Boris Johnson not to ‘bow at the altar of political correctness’ by apologising over his burqa comments. Johnson’s party is warring after the former foreign secretary sparked outcry when he said women who wear burqas look like letter boxes and bank robbers. Bannon defended Johnson over the controversial remarks, claiming it was simply a ‘naked pitch’ for the populist vote. Bannon, who said Johnson would be a ‘great prime minister’ and didn’t need to copy Trump and also said he was ‘ecstatic’ that Tommy Robinson had been released from prison and compared the ex-EDL leader to outspoken rapper Kanye West. Speaking to the Sunday Times, Bannon said: ‘His entire argument revolves around not wanting to ban the burqa but arguing he agrees it’s an oppressive garment and that there is no scriptural basis for in it the Koran, which is true.
THERESA May faces a surge in letters calling for a no-confidence vote if Boris Johnson is hauled over the coals for his burka jibes. Furious Tory backbenchers made the warning as the ex-Foreign Secretary’s family rushed to his defence. The party’s influential 1922 backbench committee needs just 48 letters to trigger a no-confidence vote in the PM — and MPs believe 38 have already been sent in the wake of her soft Chequers Brexit plan. The Sun on Saturday revealed Mr Johnson could be sent for diversity training. But one MP said: “Any punishment beating will be the tipping point. “People will send letters in. They can’t believe what’s happening.” The fresh backlash came a week after BoJo wrote in a newspaper column that women wearing burkas look like letterboxes or bank robbers.
Boris Johnson appears to have moved on from the row sparked by his comments on women wearing the burka after he avoided the subject in his latest Daily Telegraph column. The former foreign secretary came under fire after writing that Muslim women who wear face veils looked like “letterboxes” and “bank robbers” in his column last week. However, this week he chose to turn his attention to proposals to encourage house building – despite a week of intense debate between those defending him and those outraged by his remarks. Mr Johnson instead called for cuts to “absurdly high” stamp duty and warned of construction firms reducing the supply of new homes by “land-banking”.
THERESA May faces a vote of no-confidence in her leadership amid growing anger at her handling of the row over Boris Johnson’s burka comments. Boris Johnson sparked controversy earlier this week by saying women who wear the full-face veil looked like “bank robbers” or “letter boxes”. The ex-Foreign Secretary refused to apologise for the outspoken remarks despite pressure from Mrs May and Tory chairman Brandon Lewis. Mrs May now faces a huge backlash from her own MPs for wading into the dispute, with a possible leadership challenge looming. Cabinet ministers last night said the Prime Minister’s handling of the row had been a “total disaster” and a “cock-up”. Angry Tory MPs are said to be preparing letters to the backbench 1922 Committee demanding a vote of no-confidence in Mrs May.
A majority of Brits do not think Boris Johnson should be disciplined for mocking the Islamic burqa but do think free speech is under threat, a new survey reveals. 60 percent of people believe free speech is under threat in the United Kingdom, the ComRes poll for the Sunday Express found, after Mr Johnson was attacked for joking about the “ridiculous” garment. It found 53 percent of people do not think Mr Johnson should be disciplined for saying women in the burqa look like letterboxes or bank robbers, and 60 percent say rights to free speech have been weakened.
Boris Johnson has been accused of “courting fascism” and of “moral emptiness” by a Tory peer and former aide to David Cameron after declining to apologise for his contentious remarks about the niqab. The scathing comments come as the former foreign secretary returned from his holiday in Italy amid an escalating row within Conservative ranks over his suggestion that women wearing the religious headgear resembled “letterboxes” and “bank robbers”. Reports on Sunday claimed four cabinet ministers had privately expressed dismay at the party’s handling of the case after it was decided Mr Johnson should face a disciplinary investigation.
Britain’s largest Islamic organisation will write to Theresa May on Monday demanding that Boris Johnson be subject to a full disciplinary inquiry, arguing that no one should be allowed to victimise minorities with impunity. The Muslim Council of Britain said Islamophobic incidents had spiked since Johnson’s controversial article was published a week ago and therefore the Conservative party process needed to go beyond its initial stage. “We are hopeful that the party will not allow any whitewashing of this specific inquiry currently in process. No one should be allowed to victimise minorities with impunity,” the letter prepared by the MCB will say. Data from Tell Mama, a project that measures and monitors anti-Muslim incidents, shows a specific increase of abuse directed at women wearing niqabs and hijabs since Johnson’s column was published a week ago.
The Labour Party would use a windfall tax on rail company profits to freeze fare prices for passengers affected by disruption. The announcement by Andy McDonald, the shadow transport secretary, comes as commuters have been told to expect prices to rise by £150 next year. Economists predict that inflation for July calculated using the Retail Prices Index (RPI) will be 3.5 per cent. The July figure is used by the Department for Transport to determine the limit for price increases for regulated rail fares, which will be applied in January. The increase this year was 3.6 per cent. Over the summer there has been significant disruption to Arriva Rail North, Govia Thameslink and First Transpennine Express services.
Home Secretary Sajid Javid has suggested that Jeremy Corbyn should quit as Labour leader following controversy over his visit to a cemetery in Tunisia containing memorials to PLO terrorists. Mr Javid said that the leader of any other mainstream political party would have to go if they did the same. Questions were raised over the 2014 trip after the Daily Mail published pictures of the Labour leader holding a wreath near the graves of some of those responsible for the massacre of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics. Labour said that Corbyn had already made clear he was paying his respects to the victims of a 1985 Israeli airstrike on Palestinian Liberation Organisation offices in Tunis. But the Mail said its own visit to the Martyrs Cemetery had shown the pictures were taken in front of a plaque honouring the founder of Black September, which carried out the Munich atrocity, while the airstrike memorial was 15 yards away.
JEREMY Corbyn is set to be confronted by his biggest backers with three major trade unions to demand he acts on anti-semitism, Three unions – Unite, Unison and the GMB – want Mr Corbyn’s party to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) description. The unions have hired lawyers to examine the legal definition of anti-Semitism, according to the Sunday Telegraph. It comes as the anti-Semitism row threatens to overwhelm an embattled Mr Corbyn. The leader has been blasted by a torrent of criticism over his handling of the crisis, with Labour failing to adopt all 11 IHRA examples of anti-Semitism. The party has omitted four of the 11 examples from their code of conduct. On Saturday, a 2014 photo emerged showing Mr Corbyn holding a wreath near the Tunis graves of the terrorists who murdered Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics. Mr Corbyn claimed he was paying respects to victims of a 1985 Israeli air strike, but he was pictured 15 yards from that memorial.
The marks needed by teenagers to pass A levels could fall significantly this year as the exams watchdog protects thousands of pupils from being penalised by tougher qualifications. Ofqual has promised to smooth the transition from the old A levels to the reformed version, under which modules, resits and much coursework have been scrapped. Experts said that grade boundaries may have to be significantly lowered to achieve this if pupils had found the exams harder. They also said that proportionally more top grades could be secured by boys this year and that the soaring number of unconditional offers could bring down the number of highest grades awarded overall. Results will be published on Thursday.
Universities have come under attack for charging students thousands of pounds in tuition fees for “half-baked qualifications” on degrees that ape professionally accredited courses. Many institutions that offer degrees similar to those endorsed by professional bodies have been accused of failing to make it clear that they are unaccredited. A BSc building surveying degree at the University of Reading is accredited by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and the Chartered Institute of Building, but a degree of the same name at the University of Wales, Trinity St David is unaccredited. In a letter to Damian Hinds, the education secretary, Lee Waters, a member of the Welsh assembly, demanded the situation be addressed.
Jacob Rees-Mogg has warned the Tories they must accept more building on the green belt as it is not all areas of outstanding natural beauty. The prominent backbencher said the housing shortage is the biggest challenge facing Britain. He claimed villages across the country could each take up to 50 new houses without changing their character. Mr Rees-Mogg, who is the Tory MP for North East Somerset, said the building should predominantly be on green field sites, but said some would need to be on the green belt. His remarks come a week after Chief Secretary to the Treasury Liz Truss warned the Tories must build homes in the countryside – or they will hand power to Jeremy Corbyn. Mr Rees-Mogg said: ‘I think the biggest challenge facing us at the moment is housing. The housing market has problems – it is very expensive, mobility has declined, we need to build more houses.’
BORIS Johnson has sent a stark warning to Theresa May, branding the current housing market a “disgrace” and urging the Government to slash “absurdly high” stamp duty in a bid to drive up home ownership. The former Foreign Secretary branded the housing crisis the “biggest and most urgent” issue in the UK, and accused property developers of building poor quality homes in order to exploit desperate first-time buyers. Writing in the Daily Telegraph, Mr Johnson said: “It is not just that things were so much easier 30 years ago, when I left university and went looking for a flat. “It was only ten years ago, for heaven’s sake, that the proportion of owner-occupiers among 25-34 year old was up at 64 percent. “That figure has now plummeted to 39 percent, more than half the key generation shut out of the housing market.”
Train passengers are set to face a 3.5 per cent fare increase, as new research shows commuter satisfaction has plummeted in the last decade. News of the increase, which could equate to almost £200 a year for longer-distance commuters, comes just months after tens of thousands of journeys were disrupted or cancelled in a nationwide failure to implement planned timetable changes. Only yesterday the third successive Sunday of cancellations on Northern Rail – with 80 of 1,500 services not running – was branded “chaotic and unacceptable” by the deputy mayor of Greater Manchester. And RMT union general secretary Mick Cash called for Arriva to be stripped of its Northern franchise, accusing the company of disregard for safety and of hiring too few staff to provide a full service. The forecast fare increases were greeted with fury by commuters, as consumer group Which? revealed commuter satisfaction rates have fallen ten percentage points in ten years.
Just one in four train passengers trust the nation’s rail companies in the wake of cancellations, delays, crowded carriages and soaring fares, a survey suggests. The damning verdict adds doubt to claims from industry bosses that rising passenger numbers in recent years mean they must be doing a good job. But most passengers are effectively captive customers having suffered a ‘decade of disappointment’ and ‘unprecedented disruption’ over the last year, consumer group Which? says. Only 23 per cent of people said that they trusted train companies, analysis of official data from a transport watchdog showed. The figures have seen a six percentage point drop from last year and it means rail companies are the least trusted of all transport-related businesses, apart from car dealers.
Rail commuters have been warned to expect a 3.5% fare increase next year. This would increase the annual cost of getting to work for many long-distance travellers by more than £150. The exact fare rise will be confirmed when the July Retail Prices Index (RPI) measure of inflation is released by the Office for National Statistics on Wednesday. But economists from Investec and EY Item Club both predict the figure will be announced as 3.5%. The Department for Transport uses July’s RPI to determine the annual increase in regulated train fares, which comes into force every January. Regulated fares include season tickets on most commuter routes, some off-peak return tickets on long distance journeys and Anytime tickets around major cities.
Theresa May must slash “absurdly high” stamp duty and abandon affordable housing targets to get Britain building, Boris Johnson said on Monday, as he brands housing “the single biggest and most urgent crisis we face”. In his latest Telegraph column, the former Foreign Secretary warns property developers are operating an “oligopoly” by land-banking and building poor quality homes because they know first-time buyers are just grateful to get a foot on the ladder. In an impassioned plea to Theresa May, just days after she reprimanded him over his comments about the burka, Mr Johnson writes of the “disgrace” of the British housing market.