Downing Street has a secret plan to keep Brexit on track – but it has only been seen by Boris Johnson and three key advisers, it was claimed last night. Officials believe they have found a loophole in the law passed by rebel MPs to block No Deal. But the information is so sensitive that even members of Mr Johnson’s inner circle have not been briefed on it. The identities of the three key advisers are unknown, but it is thought they could include Mr Johnson’s right-hand man Dominic Cummings, Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay and the Attorney General Geoffrey Cox.
Boris Johnson has said he “passionately” believes he can clinch a new Brexit deal with Brussels as he gave the clearest indication yet that an agreement is close. As he heads to Luxembourg for his first face to face meeting with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker on Monday, the Prime Minister says he is working “flat out” to avoid a no deal exit. Writing in The Daily Telegraph, Mr Johnson says he wants to “get this thing done” so that Britain can emerge from Brexit “on a brighter, more cheerful, more confident and global path”.
Boris Johnson has said he believes he can strike a Brexit deal in the next few weeks – as he prepares for his first face-to-face negotiations with EU chiefs. The prime minister, writing in the Daily Telegraph, also reiterated he wants to take the UK out of the EU by 31 October – with or without a deal. On Monday, he will meet with European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker and the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, in Luxembourg to start his first negotiations since becoming prime minister in July.
The UK is not prepared to postpone Brexit beyond the current 31 October deadline, Boris Johnson is to tell European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker at talks on Monday. The lunchtime meeting in Luxembourg will be the first time the pair have met since the PM took office in July. A Downing Street source says Mr Johnson will stress he wants to secure a deal by 18 October, after a key EU summit. But if not possible he will “reject any delay offered” and leave with no deal.
An alliance of Remainer MPs are believed to be secretly plotting to revoke Article 50 to stop the UK leaving the EU on October 31. If a deal can’t be agreed between Boris Johnson and EU leaders by the Brexit date, the government has warned some MPs will try to force through new legislation to prevent departure from the Union. It is believed the alliance involves MPs from different parties and Tony Blair and Peter Mandelson are ‘pulling the strings’ behind the scenes. It came as the Liberal Democrats became a party of out-and-out Remain today, with its members voting to put a stop to Brexit without a new referendum in the unlikely event it wins the next election.
REMAINER MPs are secretly plotting to revoke Article 50 and prevent the UK from honouring the 2016 referendum result, the Government warned on Saturday night. Downing Street sources revealed even if a deal is agreed with EU leaders in October a hardline “Remain alliance” was threatening to force through new legislation to stop Brexit altogether. The newspaper did not identify the source of the leak but ran the story prominently on its front page.
EU officials have rejected Boris Johnson’s claim that “a huge amount of progress” is being made in Brexit talks, as Jean-Claude Juncker warned that time is running out. Juncker, who will stand down as European commission president on 31 October, is expected to ask Johnson to spell out his ideas for replacing the Irish backstop when the pair meet over lunch in Luxembourg on Monday. Johnson told the Mail on Sunday there were “real signs of movement” in Berlin, Paris and Dublin on getting rid of the backstop, the persistent stumbling block to a Brexit agreement.
Any delay to Brexit will cause “rancour and division” and cost Britain hundreds of millions of pounds, Boris Johnson will declare in a showdown meeting with European Union leaders on Monday. The Prime Minister will tell them that Commons manoeuvring will have no effect on his determination to lead Britain out of the European Union at the end of October. Although he insists progress is being made in negotiations, Downing Street is playing down the prospect of a breakthrough at Monday’s talks in Luxembourg with the European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker and its Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier.
Jean-Claude Juncker is not optimistic that his first bilateral meeting with Boris Johnson as prime minister will lead to a new Brexit deal, he indicated last night. Mr Juncker, president of the European Commission, was speaking after Mr Johnson said at the weekend: “A huge amount of progress is being made.” In an interview in The Mail on Sunday the prime minister claimed: “There’s a very, very good conversation going on about how to address the issues of the Northern Irish border.”
European officials have reacted with exasperation after Boris Johnson compared himself to the Incredible Hulk throwing off the shackles of the EU the day before he was due to travel to Luxembourg for talks in pursuit of a Brexit deal. No 10 struck a combative tone before the scheduled meeting with European commission president, Jean-Claude Juncker, saying the prime minister would tell him that the UK must reject any new Brexit deadline. A Downing Street source said that Johnson would “stress to Mr Juncker that, while he wants to secure a deal, if no deal can be agreed by 18 October his policy is to leave without a deal on 31 October – and reject any delay offered by the EU”.
RESPECT for the European parliament’s so-called Brexit coordinator Guy Verhofstadt plummeted to new depths today as the former Belgian Prime Minster happily accepted a “Bo**ocks to Brexit” T-shirt on stage at the Liberal Democrats conference. The politician seemed to throw out any semblance of even-handedness over Brexit as he took to the stage with Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson who’s party is hell-bent on ignoring the 2016 Brexit vote to leave the EU by revoking Article 50. Mr Verhofstadt, a prominent critic of Brexit who earlier this year featured in a behind-the-scenes documentary, Brexit: Behind Closed Doors, tweeted a picture of him being presented with the t-shirt, bearing the slogan B******* to Brexit, by MEPS Luisa Porritt and Catherine Bearder.
Guy Verhofstadt, the European Parliament’s representative in the Brexit talks, was cheered at the Liberal Democrats party conference as he hailed the end of the age of nation-states, and a new “world order” of “empires”. “The world order of tomorrow is not a world order based on nation-states, on countries — it’s a world order that is based on empires”, claimed the former prime minister of Belgium — which for its own part has a singularly unpleasant history as an imperial power. “China is not a nation, it’s a civilisation — Han,” Verhofstadt continued. “India — you know it better than I do — is not a nation.
Downing Street has moved to close down speculation that Boris Johnson could suspend parliament for a second time in order to avoid asking Brussels for another Brexit extension. Dominic Cummings, the prime minister’s adviser, floated the possibility of a second prorogation at a meeting of special advisers on Friday. One source said that he was explaining what could happen if the Supreme Court ruled tomorrow that the first suspension was unlawful. One possible outcome is that the court could order the government to retake the decision in order to facilitate a Queen’s Speech due on October 14, they said.
A number of Conservative rebels stripped of the whip by Boris Johnson are in discussions with Liberal Democrats about defecting. One of the group, Sam Gyimah, who stood to be Tory leader over the summer, joined the Lib Dems on Saturday night. But Sarah Wollaston, another Tory turned Lib Dem MP, said that several more of the 21 Tory rebels had contacted her privately to discuss crossing the floor to her party. Two former chancellors as well as Winston Churchill’s grandson were stripped of the whip in parliament though they remain members of the party.
BORIS Johnson thinks he can whittle down the number of Brexiteer Tory rebels to just eight, boosting his chances of winning a Commons vote. The PM has to put any new compromise deal he can bring back from Brussels to Parliament before it becomes law. It also emerged tonight that Europe’s leaders may insist Mr Johnson puts the template of a new agreement to MPs before the crunch EU summit on October 17 to prove he can command support. A total of 28 Brexiteer Tory MPs refused to back Theresa May’s Withdrawal Agreement for a third time on March 29. But Chief Whip Mark Spencer has told the PM that if he can win “meaningful changes” to the Irish backstop, he can squeeze the refuseniks down to “between eight and ten”.
A Labour government could reportedly consider legalising all drugs if it was recommended by royal commission. “There is nothing more important than preserving the life of our citizens,” Diane Abbott, the shadow home secretary, told The Sunday Times. “Our current approach to drugs is simply not doing that.” She said the party would “establish a royal commission to review independently all drugs legislation and policy to address related issues of public health.” Labour would then follow its recommendations, if it suggested decriminalising some or all drugs including cocaine or heroin.
The Liberal Democrats will go into the next general election promising to cancel Brexit, after delegates at the party’s annual conference overwhelmingly backed the policy. Although the party has used the slogan “Bollocks to Brexit” the Lib Dems had previously campaigned only for a second referendum. The party’s position is still in favour of that but after yesterday’s vote it will pledge that a majority Lib Dem government would revoke the Article 50 exit process without asking voters.
The Liberal Democrats have overwhelmingly approved the party’s plan of going into an election with the promise to revoke Brexit without a referendum, despite warnings from delegates at their annual conference in Bournemouth that it risked alienating some voters. Under the plan, the Lib Dems would still support a second Brexit referendum with an option of remain, but going into an election would promise to revoke article 50 if the party won an absolute majority – which is seen as highly unlikely.
Liberal Democrat members have overwhelmingly voted to cancel Brexit, should their party come to power at the next general election. Members passed the motion unamended at their conference in Bournemouth. The motion says a Lib Dem majority government would be “recognised as an unequivocal mandate to revoke Article 50 and for the UK to stay in the EU”, meaning Brexit would be stopped in its tracks without the need for a second referendum. The vote comes just hours after the party’s leader Jo Swinson pledged the same, however a vote was required for it to become party policy.
Lib Dem members have voted overwhelmingly to back Jo Swinson’s policy to revoke Article 50 and cancel Brexit if she becomes prime minister after a general election. The party approved the plan at their conference in Bournemouth on Sunday afternoon. According to the new policy, the party would interpret an election victory as an “unequivocal mandate to revoke Article 50 and for the UK to stay in the EU”. “The Liberal Democrats are crystal clear: if we win the next election, we will stop Brexit,” Swinson said. The Lib Dem leader said until there was an election she would continue to work “cross-party” to block a no-deal Brexit and support a second referendum.
Liberal Democrats should take Britain back into the EU if Brexit goes ahead, the party’s foreign affairs spokesperson Chuka Umunna has said. Mr Umunna also did not rule out joining the euro if the UK rejoined and set out a vision of the continent with an “economic core” based around Germany and a “defence and security core” led by Britain. His comments, in an on-stage conversation with Independent editor Christian Broughton, came ahead of his first keynote conference speech as a Liberal Democrat MP, in which he will brand Boris Johnson a “peddler of hate” whose populist politics threaten “the Britain we know and love”. The prime minister stands on the wrong side of a “new fault line” in modern politics dividing liberal internationalists from authoritarian nationalists, he will say.
The Liberal Democrats will campaign at the next election on a “cancel Brexit” platform, after party members approved a policy switch at their annual conference in Bournemouth. The membership gave their overwhelming support to new leader Jo Swinson, who had called for the party to offer a “straightforward” message to voters in a general election. The Lib Dems had previously supported the revocation of Article 50 – to stop the UK’s departure from the EU – following a second EU referendum. But now, when a general election is called, the party will promise a Lib Dem government will halt Brexit without a further public vote on EU membership.
THE Liberal Democrats were plunged into a race row after one of its candidates claimed people in North Devon voted to Leave because it does not have a “lot of ethnic minorities”. Kirsten Johnson, the Liberal Democrat candidate for North Devon, told BBC Radio 4 that the area is not exposed to “people from other countries”. Ms Johnson also suggested that people in North Devon voted to leave the EU because they are “isolated” and have not experienced the advantages of being in the European Union. Her comments were made at the party conference last week.
Nine patients a week are suffering from so-called ‘never event’ medical blunders on the NHS. Some 629 serious mistakes took place in hospitals between April 2018 and July this year, official NHS data reveals. The errors are officially called ‘never events’ because they simply should never happen. Cases, which effectively hit nine patients a week, included 270 ‘wrong site’ surgeries – where medics got the intended organ or limb muddled up.
More than 50 ten and 11-year-olds were convicted or cautioned for knife crime last year, according to data obtained by The Telegraph. The primary school pupils are only just above the age of criminal responsibility but will now have a serious criminal record. The figures, obtained under Freedom of Information laws by the Ministry of Justice, also show the number of 10 to 17 year olds convicted or cautioned for knife crime is at a ten-year high, up by 62 per cent to 4,103 offenders in just five years. They are significant because the incidents were deemed so serious police decided to prosecute or issue a criminal sanction.
Hundreds of thousands of crimes are being written off by police within only 24 hours of being reported. The Met, which is Britain’s biggest force, shelves 36 per cent of new cases inside a day. These include more than half of thefts and burglaries, a Daily Mail investigation reveals today. In Greater Manchester, 27 per cent of crimes are screened out this quickly, as are 28 per cent in Sussex. The practice has become increasingly widespread as overstretched forces struggle to prioritise their resources. Crimes are more likely to be dropped if they are judged as ‘lower harm’ or evidence is scant.
The government is planning changes to the law aimed at bringing in longer sentences for some of England and Wales’ worst criminal offenders. The Sunday Telegraph says the measures could affect the sentencing of murderers of pre-school age children. The government also wants violent and sexual offenders to serve at least two thirds of their terms, the paper said. The prime minister plans to use next month’s Queen’s Speech to introduce the changes, according to the Telegraph. These could be contained in a Sentencing Bill or a statutory instrument, a form of secondary legislation which can be brought in without Parliament having to pass a new Act.
Students could apply for university places after they receive their A-level results as part of a major overhaul of the admissions process. Education Secretary Gavin Williamson yesterday backed an official review by the Office for Students (OfS) to look into whether it would be fairer to scrap the current set-up where admissions are based on predicted exam grades. In a letter to the regulator, Mr Williamson said: ‘We have to fight to keep the public trust and respect in our world-leading universities and to me that means a relentless focus on quality. I’m also concerned about how some universities are recruiting students, in particular a worrying rise in unconditional offers.’
The education secretary has backed a review of higher education admissions which could potentially see university offers based on predicted A-level grades scrapped. Sixth-formers could apply for a place on a degree course after they receive their exam results as part of a post-qualification admissions (PQA) system, following a review of the system. It comes amid a surge in unconditional offers – where applicants are offered a place on a degree course regardless of their exam grades – across the higher education sector.
Households are enduring record levels of noise from planes as the number of flights has soared. The total flying in and out of UK airports has risen more than 250,000 since the beginning of the decade, said the Civil Aviation Authority. Its latest figures reveal there were 2.27 million flights in and out last year, equivalent to more than 6,200 a day. This compares to two million in 2010, meaning a rise of 13.5 per cent over eight years. Air traffic was up 55 per cent at Luton, 21 per cent at Gatwick, 30 per cent at Manchester, 24 per cent at Birmingham and 30 per cent at both London Stansted and London City. Millions face the threat of even more noise from planes overhead as major airports plan to drastically boost their capacity to meet demand.