THE House of Lords has been urged to stop “fighting yesterday’s battle” amid fears of a bid by pro-European peers to delay and weaken Brexit. “If they do try to obstruct Brexit they will be signing their own death warrant,” senior Tory MP Philip Davies warned. “The public have spoken. The elected House of Commons have ratified the decision and it would be obscene if the unelected House, full of people on generous EU pensions, sought to obstruct that clear will.” Earlier former EU Commissioner Lord Mandelson had urged the Lords not to “throw in the towel” on changing the Government’s policy on leaving the bloc. And former minister Lord Hain said he had a “mandate” to seek amendments, including keeping Britain in the single market.
Allies of Tony Blair will attempt to frustrate Brexit in the House of Lords on Monday by urging peers to rally against the Government. The former Labour prime minister, last week urged people to “rise up” against Brexit and support a new movement to keep Britain in the European Union. Lord Mandelson, one of Mr Blair’s closest allies, urged peers to defy the Government and not “throw in the towel early”. The Labour peer said he believes that the Lords can force ministers into giving Parliament a “meaningful” vote and guaranteeing the rights of EU citizens living in the UK. Lord Hain, who served as a cabinet minister under Mr Blair, will push for a vote on keeping Britain in the single market and call for the open border between Northern Ireland and the Republic to stay in place.
Peers with generous EU retirement packages were last night urged to declare them publicly before intervening in this week’s Lords debate on the Brexit Bill. More than 20 peers who worked in Brussels built up lavish EU pensions. They include Labour’s Lord Mandelson who will receive almost £35,000 a year thanks to his former job as trade commissioner. Yesterday he urged his fellow peers not to ‘throw in the towel’ on Brexit despite the clear Commons vote in favour of the Bill allowing Theresa May to trigger Article 50 – the formal mechanism for leaving the EU. The former Cabinet minister suggested that he hoped the Lords would inflict a series of defeats on the Government as the Bill passes through the Upper House. But campaigners said peers with EU pensions should publicly declare an interest. They claim many in the Lords fear they could lose their entitlements if Britain goes for a ‘hard Brexit’ and fails to agree an amicable deal with the EU.
Lord Mandelson says the public will change its mind about Brexit when it sees the dismal likely outcome to the negotiations – including no fall in immigration. The former Labour Cabinet minister also predicted the House of Lords will force changes to the Article 50 Bill this week, on the key issues of the rights of EU citizens and a ‘meaningful vote’ on the final deal. And he urged fellow peers to press the Commons hard to accept those changes saying: “I hope the House of Lords will not throw in the towel early.” On whether the public could yet swing against Brexit, Lord Mandelson said people would realise they were being offered less trade, at a high cost – and no real cut in immigration. “Is that a reasonable deal? Don’t you think the public will have something to say about that outcome when the negotiations end? I think they will,” he told the BBC’s Andrew Marr programme. Many people were having “collywobbles” about the prospects for Brexit, he insisted – despite polls suggesting voters have not changed their minds since last June.
Peers are to begin debating the bill paving the way for the start of Brexit. MPs agreed the proposed law unchanged, authorising Theresa May to inform the EU of the UK’s intention to leave. But the government does not have a majority in the House of Lords and eight amendments have been tabled by Labour’s front bench. Opposition and crossbench peers are seeking guarantees about the rights of EU citizens in Britain and the role of parliament in scrutinising the process. Mrs May has said she wants to invoke Article 50 of the 2009 Lisbon Treaty, the formal mechanism by which a state must leave the EU, by the end of March.
Peers should “not throw in the towel early” when it comes to Brexit, Peter Mandelson has said. The former Labour Cabinet minister believes the House of Lords will force changes to the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill – the legislation allowing Theresa May to formally start Brexit. Lord Mandelson, a former EU commissioner, insisted there is a “strong body of opinion” among peers over guaranteeing the future of EU nationals living in the UK and in giving Parliament a vote on the final Brexit deal. The Lords will debate the bill on Monday and Tuesday, before amendments are considered the following week. The Government does not have a majority in the upper chamber, with 252 Conservatives among the 805 peers.
THERE will be NO going back on Brexit once we start the process later this month – the Justice Secretary said today. After repeatedly being pushed on the subject this morning, Liz Truss said she believed the process of leaving the EU was “irrecoverable” once Article 50 was triggered. The Justice Secretary told the Andrew Marr Show that if there were another referendum now, she would back leaving the EU, and that the issue was now “settled”. She hit out at Remainer Lord Mandelson for backing Tony Blair’s plans to fight against Brexit. Ms Truss said that listening to the former communications director was “like the referendum never happened.” “My understanding is that it is irrecoverable,” she said in relation to triggering Article 50, and urged Lord Mandelson to stop “trying to fight yesterday’s battle” and “move on”.
The British government’s key Brexit red lines – controlling EU immigration, ending the jurisdiction of the European court of justice, calling time on further big EU budget contributions – are by now well known, set out first in speeches by Theresa May and later confirmed in a government white paper. But what of the EU’s red lines? Here we map the concerns, priorities and demands of each of the UK’s 27 negotiating partners. Some are shared, more or less, by all; others are strictly national. All will play a part in the deal Britain gets – because Brexit also means what the EU27 want it to mean. Germany has been among the most persistent and vocal of the EU27 in insisting Britain cannot “cherrypick” from the four fundamental freedoms – free movement of goods, services, capital and people – or opt out of free movement but into the single market. Angela Merkel, the chancellor, said: “If we were to make an exception for the free movement of people with Britain, it would mean we would endanger the principles of the whole internal market.”
EUROPEAN Union (EU) bureaucrats have slapped down Tony Blair’s shameless bid to block Brexit. They have urged the ex-Prime Minister to “move on” and accept Britain’s exit from the EU, with one saying: “The bus has left.” Meddling Mr Blair gave a speech on Friday urging Remainers to “rise up” and stop Article 50 being triggered. And it seems it is not just Britons who are frustrated at his intervention, with officials simply wanting Britain to get on with leaving. One senior EU diplomat said: “No one is happy about it. “But we have moved on and the last thing anyone wants now is to reopen the whole issue.” Another insisted: “It’s going to happen. It’s bureaucratically embedded.”
British attempts to “blackmail and divide” EU countries in the run-up to Brexit negotiations will lead to a disastrous “crash-landing” out of the bloc, European politicians have told the Guardian. They add that the approach being pursued by Theresa May’s government will leave the UK without a free trade deal – with perilous consequences for the country. Formal talks are due to open next month, but a trio of parliamentary leaders and a close ally of the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, say those talks risk ending in failure unless Britain changes what they say are “divide and rule” tactics. They believe the situation is further complicated by domestic hardline political and media pressure in the UK, which they argue makes compromise difficult and reinforces the feeling in London that the country will simply get whatever it wants. A leaked European parliament report seen by the Guardian goes even further, accusing Britain of trying to “move the goalposts and do away with the referee” in the upcoming international clash of negotiators once article 50 is invoked.
Panicked Jeremy Corbyn has paid for a massive secret opinion poll on his leadership as rumours grow he may quit before 2020. The Mirror has learned the under-pressure Labour leader has secretly ordered a vast opinion poll ten times the size of a normal survey to canvass views on his own future. Mr Corbyn is keeping the results of the extraordinary 10,000-person study secret from the rest of the shadow cabinet, and from senior staffers in Labour HQ. Only his closest ally, Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell , and his most senior political aides will be allowed to see the results of what is thought to be the biggest-ever opinion poll commissioned by Labour. “The whole thing is absolutely top secret – no-one is supposed to know about it,” a Labour insider said. “Even the people who signed off the contract aren’t allowed to see the questions, let alone the results. They are terrified of leaks.”
Overnight hospital beds in England have decreased by a fifth in a decade, pushing the NHS towards breaking point, doctors warn today. The British Medical Association said a lack of beds was creating bottlenecks and patients were “unfairly let down”. In a report the doctors’ union highlighted a drop from 3.8 beds per 1,000 people in 2000 to 2.4 in 2015. Between 2006 and 2015, the number of overnight beds dropped by a fifth. Bed numbers have fallen in all advanced economies over the past three decades, as improvements in healthcare have reduced the length of hospital stays and meant more conditions can be treated as day cases.
Hospitals have axed 15,000 beds in just six years, leaving wards at ‘breaking point’, a shock report reveals today. The dramatic reduction – equivalent to closing 24 hospitals – amounts to a 10 per cent fall in NHS beds at a time when the health service is under unprecedented pressure. There are now just 129,458 hospital beds available for patients at night, down from 144,455 in 2010/11. Critics say patients’ safety is at risk and blame the cuts on an NHS obsession with shifting care out of hospitals and ‘closer to home’. Health officials say patients recover more quickly if they are looked after in their own homes by GPs, district nurses and carers, but many surgeries and councils do not have the resources to care for people who would previously have stayed longer in hospital. At the same time, demand for beds is soaring due to the pressures of a social care crisis, immigration and an ageing population, with many more patients succumbing to long-term illnesses and frailty. New figures today will suggest the problem is likely to get worse. Regulator NHS Improvement will warn that despite being given a £1.8 billion cash injection from the Government last year, hospitals are on course for a £1 billion deficit by the end of this year.
Health officials have hit back at claims by the British Medical Association that the NHS is at “breaking point” as fewer hospital beds mean delayed admissions and cancelled operations. A report by the BMA says the number of overnight beds in English hospitals fell by a fifth between 2006/7 and 2015/16. It found 14.8% of patients spent more than four hours waiting for a bed after going to A&E in November 2016. In the first week of January, almost three-quarters of trusts had a bed occupancy rate of over 95% on at least one day. Labour said the report was a “wake-up call which Theresa May must not ignore”. The Liberal Democrats warned the situation was becoming “intolerable”.
The NHS is at “breaking point” with a decline in the number of hospital beds compounding the situation, according to the British Medical Association. A reduction in bed numbers has led to delays in admissions and cancelled operations, the BMA claimed. In a report, based on official statistics, almost three-quarters of NHS trusts were found to have a bed occupancy rate of over 95% on at least one day in the first week of January this year. The BMA also reported that in November 2016, 14.8% of patients spent more than four hours waiting for a hospital bed, having been seen in an A&E department. Its findings have been described by Labour as a “wake-up call which Theresa May must not ignore”. The Liberal Democrats, meanwhile, warned that the situation in the NHS was becoming “intolerable”.
The scale of the problem of illegal migration in Britain was exposed this morning by Lucy Moreton, General Secretary of the Immigration Services Union. She admitted that the scale of the problem is so large now that some illegal migrants are told simply to go to a processing centre in Croydon where they can obtain documents to get access benefits. Presumably this means they can simply then wander off to wherever the heel they like having been left to their own devices by the authorities. It exposes once more the colossal problems the UK faces with illegal migration. The current soft approach of being free to access benefits or left to do whatever they want is the perfect cocktail to encourage illegal migrants to continue coming into the UK.
Ministers risked enraging small businesses yesterday by claiming that the revolt over rate revaluations was rooted in “distortions and half-truths”. In a private letter to Conservative MPs that was passed to The Times, Sajid Javid, communities secretary, and David Gauke, Treasury minister, criticised what they described as a relentless campaign of misinformation that had gained traction in the media. An attachment to the letter, however, revealed the list of constituencies that would be worst hit by the increase in charges. It showed that some council areas would face average rate rises of more than 30 per cent, with traditional Tory seats in the home counties among those with the biggest increases.
Pounds & ounces
British manufacturers may once again be able to sell goods in pounds and ounces after the country has left the European Union, the Environment Secretary has hinted. Andrea Leadsom said the government would be free to change food labelling laws once Britain has ditched EU regulations, with manufacturers able to indicate weights in measurements such as ounces and pounds, volume in pints and fluid ounces, and sugar content in teaspoons. Speaking at the British Food Fortnight Awards, Mrs Leadsom said: “Once we have left the EU, we will get the opportunity to look at how we can change rules that will be better for the United Kingdom and whether that’s on weights and measures or issues like teaspoons, those are things for the future.” Britain has proven more resistant to metrication than other nations, maintaining miles and yards for its roads, while still selling milk, draught beer, and cider in pints. Many Brits also prefer to use imperial measurements such as feet, inches, pounds, and stones in everyday language. However, EU rules mean that most good must be labelled in metric measurements. While shops can display imperial units alongside metric ones, they cannot “stand out more than the metric measurement”.