MORE than 70 MPs last night called for a clean break from Brussels amid fears that Remain plotters could sabotage Britain’s EU exit. Seven former Tory Cabinet ministers including Michael Gove and Iain Duncan Smith were among the Eurosceptic figures supporting withdrawal from the EU’s single market and customs union to ensure the UK becomes completely independent from the bloc. And to give further backing to the campaign to ensure the EU referendum verdict is respected, a new group was launched by Tory MPs yesterday to press Theresa May to deliver on her promise that “Brexit means Brexit”. A stark statement issued by Brexit-supporting MPs said: “The UK must leave the European Economic Area and the customs union.”
European leaders have reportedly come to a 27-nation consensus thatthe UK must be forced into a hard Brexit in order to counter the rise of populist movements which could break up the European Union. Senior EU officials fear allowing Britain to exit on its own terms could empower far-right candidates in France and Germany, which represent an existential danger to the bloc. One EU diplomat told told The Observer: “If you British are not prepared to compromise on free movement, the only way to deal with Brexit is hard Brexit.
Theresa May is to reach out to business leaders by pledging an extra £2bn a year in funding for scientific research and development by 2020. In a speech to the CBI, Mrs May will outline a new fund that will back areas such as robotics and biotechnology and help commercialise new discoveries. The investment will help put post-Brexit Britain at the “cutting edge”, the prime minister is to say. Delegates will call on Mrs May to offer more “clarity” over Brexit. Mrs May’s speech to the Confederation of British Industry in London comes two days before the government delivers its first post-EU referendum budget, in the form of the Autumn Statement. She is to promise a new approach that is about “stepping up, not stepping back” when it comes to intervening in the economy.
UKIP leadership contender Paul Nuttall has told the BBC only he can “get a grip” on the party, following a series of upsets in recent months. Since Nigel Farage quit as leader, his successor resigned 18 days into the job and another contender left the party following a fracas with a fellow MEP. Mr Nuttall’s rival Suzanne Evans said she could widen UKIP’s reach, appealing to women and ethnic minority voters. Third hopeful John Rees-Evans has vowed to give more power to the grassroots. UKIP’s new leader will be announced on 28 November.
Marine le Pen
Front National leader Marine Le Pen has taken a substantial lead in the latest French presidential election poll, eight points ahead of her nearest rival. Le Pen secured the support of 29 percent of those surveyed by Ipsos, placing her a commanding eight points ahead of former President Nicolas Sarkozy, representing Les Républicains, and a decisive 15 points ahead of Parti de Gauche’s (Left Party’s) Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the Independent has reported. At the last Presidential elections in 2012, a year after taking the reins of her party, Ms Le Pen came third in the first round of the with 17.9 per cent of the vote, behind Mr Sarkozy on 27.2 percent and eventual winner Mr Hollande with 28.6 percent.
TONY BLAIR is to attempt a political comeback next year by launching an new organisation seeking to influence the Government’s Brexit policy, it was confirmed yesterday. The pro-Brussels former prime minister is looking for a new London headquarters for an institute dedicated to influencing the debate about Britain’s place in the world. He has held talks about the UK’s post-referendum future with former Chancellor George Osborne and is understood to be meeting Theresa May soon. But Brexit-supporting ministers and MPs believe the former Labour prime minister, who was a leading figure in the Remain campaign in the run up to the EU referendum, has nothing to offer the Brexit debate.
Tony Blair’s plan to make a comeback to political life by spearheading an anti-Brexit group was last night welcomed by eurosceptics who said it would increase public support for leaving the EU. Tory MPs welcomed Mr Blair’s decision to set up a new political institute that will seek to influence Britain’s withdrawal and said that the level of public anger still directed at the former Labour leader will simply embolden the Brexit movement. Last month Mr Blair told Remain voters “we’re the insurgents now” and said Britain should keep its “options open” over holding a second referendum. Eurosceptic MPs said it was a “complete win” to have a “discredited establishment figure” leading the campaign for a “hokey cokey Brexit.”
With the election of Donald Trump last week the eyes of the world have been on America. And among the news slipped out by the government while we have all been looking the other way, was a consultation on the future of the Post Office – an industry in crisis on the government’s watch. Somehow the timing of last week’s announcement seems appropriate. Among the lessons of political events this year is the fact that we cannot continue to run down public services, industries and employment standards without paying the cost. Yet this is exactly what is happening with the Post Office. In 2010 the government split it off from the profitable Royal Mail business to pave the way for privatisation without any plan for its long-term future.
Britain has a “woefully low” number of warships, which risks jeopardising the country’s defences, MPs have warned. The influential Defence Select Committee said it has “serious concerns” about funding and the timetable of a new fleet replacing frigates that are due to be decommissioned. MPs said if the fleet of warships drops below the current level of 19, the UK would lack the maritime strength to deal with threats from the likes of Russia.
The Royal Navy’s fleet of frigates and destroyers has hit a “historic low” and is in danger of falling further to a “completely unacceptable level”, MPs have warned. The Commons Defence Committee called on the Ministry of Defence to clarify how long eight new “Type 26” destroyers would be delayed for – and said officials should produce “timed production schedules” to make sure the ships did not fall further behind. The MPs also urged the Government to develop a proper strategy to ensure the UK’s defence shipbuilding workforce did not atrophy, as they said it had during periods of austerity and low shipbuilding.
Britain’s defences are at risk amid uncertainty over plans to replace the “woefully low” number of Royal Navy warships, MPs have warned. The Royal Navy has 19 frigates and destroyers, but a Defence Select Committee report says that number could fall unless there is a clear timetable set out for replacing older vessels. It says the UK could “lack the maritime strength” to meet potential threats. But the Ministry of Defence says it is investing billions in the Navy’s fleet. The committee’s report examines the MoD’s plans to modernise the Royal Navy’s escort fleet – including the introduction of two new classes of frigate and the enforced refit of engines on certain destroyers.
Britain is in danger of “sleepwalking into a social care crisis”, a former pensions minister has warned. Ros Altmann called on the government to use tax breaks to help people save for care in later life, as she said the cost of funding provision was pushing the NHS in England to breaking point. She said she warned other ministers of looming problems last year. The Department of Health said it was significantly raising the funds local authorities have access to for care. Lady Altmann, who was pensions minister under David Cameron, said the chancellor should use Wednesday’s Autumn Statement to offer incentives to help families “recognise the need” to prepare for care costs.
Four in five UK local authorities have insufficient care for older people in their area, with the shortage most acute for some of the most vulnerable in society, research suggests. The Family and Childcare Trust surveyed councils across the country and found they are struggling to meet needs amid a background of growing demand, budget cuts and recruitment difficulties. The survey is published on the same day as an undercover investigation by BBC Panorama is to be broadcast, exposing shocking neglect at two Cornwall care homes, including vulnerable people being left unattended and a nurse saying she will use morphine to “shut up” a resident. The deficit identified by the Family and Childcare Trust means more than 6.4 million people aged 65 and over are living in areas that do not have enough older people’s care to meet demand.
A DEAFENING noise that has been heard in the skies over Europe are spacequakes that mean Earth is about to be destroyed, claims astrophysicists. The strange, unexplained sound has been heard in various locations across the world, leaving people spooked as it appears to come from nowhere. It was previously dubbed the ‘Donald Trump Trumpet’, with people speculating that it was a warning of impending doom after The Donald’s shock presidential win. But after the noise shook trees in Slovakia yesterday, astrophysicists have another theory – that it is the sound of a spacequake.