MPs will debate whether to walkout of Brexit talks this week after a petition calling for Theresa May to declare an immediate no deal was signed by more than 135,000 Leave supporters. Support for the online campaign surged as Leavers baulked at Brussels’ demands, including a sky-high Brexit divorce bill. The petition, which calls for the UK to leave the EU right now, quickly soared past 100,000 signatures. And that figure is the benchmark for a Commons debate on the issue. Last week, it was revealed MPs will discuss it in Parliament on Monday, January 22.
BREXIT champion Boris Johnson has dismissed calls from business leaders for Britain to remain in the EU’s customs union after leaving the bloc next year. The outspoken Foreign Secretary hit out at Carolyn Fairbairn, head of the CBI, for saying Britain must remain in the customs union. Mrs Fairbairn claimed keeping close ties with the EU would be “best for jobs, wages and living standards” after we quit the bloc. But Mr Johnson said such a move would mean “effectively staying in the EU” because the UK would be forced to obey Brussels’ rules. He tweeted: “Makes no sense for the CBI to keep calling to stay in customs union. PM was clear in Florence speech we are leaving. “Brexit means taking control of laws, borders, money, and trade. I’m confident British business can profit from the new opportunities.” “Staying in the customs union means effectively staying in the EU: the EU *is* a customs union. “It means no new free trade deals, no new export opportunities, and no leading role in the World Trade Organisation.
A former cabinet minister has referred himself to parliament’s sleaze watchdog after being caught in a sting discussing taking payments from companies that make money from Brexit. Lord Lansley, the former Conservative health secretary, insisted he had done nothing wrong after he was filmed talking about advising Chinese tycoons on opportunities to be made from Britain leaving the European Union. Andrew Mitchell, another former Tory cabinet minister, was also caught up in the sting by Channel 4’s Dispatches programme.
THREE former Cabinet ministers have denied wrongdoing after an attempted Channel 4 “cash for Brexit” sting. The broadcaster’s Dispatches programme targeted former Tory ministers Lord Lansley, Andrew Mitchell and Peter Lilley. It used a fake Chinese investor, who wanted to pay the politicians for tips on how to make money out of Britain leaving the EU. The programme, which was titled ‘Politicians For Hire: Cashing In On Brexit’, was scheduled to air tonight, but Channel 4 last night pulled it, saying: “We are continuing to work on the film, which will be broadcast soon.” Mr Mitchell said he “smelt a rat” within minutes of arriving at the meeting. Lord Lansley has referred himself to Parliament’s standards watchdog.
Lord Mandelson has secretly offered to help Brussels in Brexit talks. In a letter to the European Commission’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier, the Labour peer pledged his loyalty to the survival of the European project. The former EU commissioner, who is in line for an annual pension of £35,000 from Brussels, said he was ‘deeply committed’ to the EU. In the letter, obtained from the European Commission using Freedom of Information laws, Lord Mandelson suggested that they held private talks at a conference they both attended in Brussels in November. He wrote: ‘I would welcome the opportunity to put some time aside for us to share some thoughts on the Brexit negotiations.
Theresa May is facing a showdown with her own MPs over her Brexit deal, with 75% of Tories wanting freedom of movement to end immediately after the UK leaves the EU. In her landmark speech in Florence in September last year, the Prime Minister confirmed she would seek an “implementation period” with the EU after Brexit day – March 29 2019 – which would see the UK continue to trade with the bloc on “current terms”. If that agreement was carried through, freedom of movement would continue during the implementation period, as would jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice (ECJ). A survey of MPs carried out in the months after the speech revealed that three-quarters of Tories think it would be unacceptable for freedom of movement to continue during a transition period, while 63% oppose the ECJ having jurisdiction in the UK after March 2019.
BRITAIN’S military prowess could still provide the key to breaking Brussels’ hardline Brexit position and secure a bumper trade deal, EU diplomats have revealed. Senior Eurocrats have told The Sun future defence cooperation will be a “very big bargaining chip” for the UK in the upcoming trade negotiations. Despite the funding black hole that has sparked a frontline crisis, Britain is still seen as Europe’s number one military power and is also renowned for having the continent’s best intelligence agencies. Many EU states, especially those bordering Russia, are worried about losing a major partner after Brexit and will push hard for close defence ties. The revelation was leaped on by Tory MPs to redouble their calls on Theresa May to increase spending on our armed forces as part on an ongoing Whitehall review into our military capability.
The French people would probably vote to leave the EU if presented with a similar choice to the Brexit referendum, Emmanuel Macron has said, arguing that the UK had taken a big risk by asking “yes or no on a very complicated subject”. In an interview on BBC One’s The Andrew Marr Show, the French president also criticised Donald Trump for calling developing countries “sh*tholes” and warned Theresa May her government could not cherry-pick benefits of EU membership. Macron was interviewed during his visit to the UK earlier in the week, during which he had held talks with May. In extracts released before Sunday’s broadcast, Macron said the UK could win a bespoke Brexit deal but it would not involve full single market access.
France would “probably” have voted to leave the EU if it had held an in/out referendum, according to the country’s leader. Emmanuel Macron attributed the UK’s decision to leave the EU to British voters’ loss of faith in globalisation and unrestricted free markets. The French President suggested there is “always a risk” with votes such as Britain’s 2016 referendum, when asking the public “just ‘yes’ or ‘no’ in a very complicated context”. Asked whether a Leave or Remain vote in France could have ended with the same result, Mr Macron told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show: “Yes, probably. Probably in a similar context. But our context was very different so I don’t want to take any bets.”
French president Emmanuel Macron has made a shock admission that the French public would “probably” vote to leave the European Union if given the chance in a referendum. The globalist poster boy made the comments during an interview with BBC presenter Andrew Marr. “You always take a risk when you have such a referendum, just ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ in a very complicated broadcast,” he told the broadcaster. “If France had had a referendum it might have had the same result,” suggested Marr.“Yeah, probably,” admitted the president — to the surprise of many observers.
European Union leaders in Brussels have drawn up a secret high-risk strategy to undermine Theresa May and exploit Westminster’s political divisions with the objective of “softening” Brexit. In a plan being co-ordinated by Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, the EU is preparing to reject British government proposals for a bespoke sectoral deal when negotiations begin in April. Instead European leaders will insist that if the government sticks to its red lines of pulling out of Europe’s customs union and single market then the EU will offer nothing more than a limited free trade agreement. Senior figures in Brussels and other European capitals believe that this would increase domestic pressure on Mrs May.
EU bigwig Donald Tusk is seemingly leading a Brussels plot to undermine the British government with the aim of watering down Britain’s exit as much as possible. That’s according to The Times, who today reveal the “high-risk” stance that will see Brussels reject the UK demand for a bespoke trade deal. The plan to exit the Single Market and Customs Union could now see the EU only offer a limited, bad deal in an attempt to soften or even potentially stop the whole thing from going ahead given that politicians in Westminster can now veto the final deal. Tusk himself recently reiterated that EU “hearts are still open” for the UK, whilst Juncker is keen to “facilitate” Britain remaining inside the European Union. As Nigel Farage has warned, the EU have clearly not given up on the concept of stopping Brexit altogether.
Britain is struggling to keep up with Russian military advances, the head of the Army will say on Monday as he makes the case for more funding. Gen Sir Nick Carter, Chief of the General Staff, will say Vladimir Putin’s aggressive modernisation of Russian forces means the Kremlin already has battlefield abilities that the UK would find difficult to match, and that we risk falling further behind. He will tell the Royal United Service Institute: “The time to address these threats is now – we cannot afford to sit back.” Gavin Williamson, the Defence Secretary, is currently involved in an ongoing Cabinet fight with the Treasury to avoid cuts to the Armed Forces. But the intervention from Sir Nick makes a strong case for increasing military funding.
Britain would struggle to withstand Russian forces on the battlefield and ministers must invest in defence or further erode the country’s ability to combat threats, the head of the army will say today. General Sir Nick Carter will point to President Putin’s ability to launch long-range missiles and deploy large numbers of combat troops swiftly, as well as the threat posed by cyber-warfare, as he uses a rare speech to warn that Britain “cannot afford to sit back”. It is highly unusual for a serving senior officer to speak so frankly about vulnerabilities and threats. The officially sanctioned intervention by the chief of the general staff appears designed to raise public awareness of the scale and urgency of the challenge.
Britain must take action now so that the Armed Forces can tackle the threat from Russia, the head of the Army warns today. General Sir Nick Carter will say Britain needs to ‘keep up’ with Vladimir Putin‘s growing military strength or see our ability to take action ‘massively constrained’. His stark words will be seen as a plea for the Ministry of Defence to be given more money ahead of a security review’s findings in the coming weeks. Last night a defence source said the chiefs would no longer ‘shy away’ from outlining the threats we face, adding: ‘We need to get our act together if we are to be a serious player on the world stage.’ It follows fears that the British military is already short of funding.
A RETIRED senior general has warned that Britain risks being dragged into an EU defence force even after Brexit through agreements signed last week with France. Major General Julian Thompson, who was a Royal Marines commander in the Falklands conflict, has told the Daily Express that three aspects of Theresa May’s deal with French President Macron at Sandhurst threatens to pull Britain into a Brussels run military force. His warning comes after the European Commission confirmed that Hawkes Associates has become the first British company to be involved in the European Defence Fund. Major General Thompson, who is now chairman of the pro-Brexit Veterans for Britain, highlighted concerns over the Anglo-French deal for Britain to engage with the controversial European Defence Fund.
The head of the British Army will warn the country’s ability to respond to Russian threats will erode if the UK does not keep up with its enemies. General Sir Nick Carter will use a speech to the Royal United Services Institute to highlight how Moscow is building an increasingly aggressive and expeditionary force that already boasts capabilities that outmatch UK forces. It comes amid widespread speculation about possible cuts to personnel and equipment amid major pressure on the defence budget. There have been calls to increase defence spending to 3% of GDP from some MPs, and reports there are plans to cut the armed forces’ strength by more than 14,000, as well as the combination of elite units of paratroopers and Royal Marines to save cash.
Theresa May will be urged by five of her most senior ministers to commit an extra £100 million per week to the NHS post-Brexit as a row over the Government’s domestic priorities looks set to dominate Tuesday’s weekly Cabinet meeting. Boris Johnson will lead the calls for the NHS to be put at the top of the Conservative agenda amid fears that Mrs May has already conceded the issue to Labour. Ministers have been told that housing, the environment and education are the three most important issues for the Government, but Mr Johnson and others will argue that neglecting the NHS will not only let patients down but will also hand Jeremy Corbyn the keys to Downing St.
Labour have unveiled plans to launch a middle class tax raid on high earners if they seize power and move into Downing Street. John McDonnell said he would impose an emergency Budget within days if his party manages to oust the Tories from power. And he warned those with private health insurance will also be told they have to cough up more under a Jeremy Corbyn government. The revelation comes after a think tank, the Centre for Policy Studies, estimated that Labour plans to renationalise large swathes of industry would cost some £176bn – slapping every household with a £6,500 bill.
Jeremy Corbyn is under huge pressure to shift party policy on Brexit as an exclusive poll for the Observer reveals a substantial majority of existing and potential Labour voters want him to back permanent membership of the EU’s single market and customs union. Four times as many Labour supporters favour that option as oppose it. The survey by Opinium also finds that more than twice as many in this group want Corbyn to support a second referendum on the eventual Brexit deal as reject it. The poll comes at a time when senior European politicians are signalling that Britain could reverse its decision to leave the EU and warning that there will be no prospect of reaping the benefits of membership from outside the bloc.
Ukip faces the prospect of trying to find a fifth leader in two years after its ruling committee unanimously backed a vote of no confidence in Henry Bolton. The national executive called on Mr Bolton to step down as Ukip’s leader, plunging the party into renewed chaos and increasing the chances of Nigel Farage, its former leader, returning to frontline politics. Yesterday’s vote followed Mr Bolton’s continued involvement with Jo Marney, a 25-year-old model, who made offensive and racist remarks about Meghan Markle, Prince Harry’s fiancée. Mr Bolton, 54, has refused to step aside, warning before the vote that the party was “probably over” if he was forced to quit. Unless he resigns, Ukip’s members will be balloted on whether he should remain in post.
Ukip chief Henry Bolton today unanimously lost a vote of no confidence in his leadership – as Nigel Farage ruled out a dramatic return to save the party. The party’s national executive voted 14 votes to nil to get rid of Mr Bolton, a former Army officer, as leader. Ukip will hold an emergency meeting within the next 28 days where members will decide whether to back the motion to oust Mr Bolton or throw him a life line. Mr Farage ruled out making another return to lead the party out of its latest crisis – telling Mail Online that he would ‘not for a moment’ think about returning. The crisis-hit party now faces the likely prospect of holding a fifth leadership contest in just 18 months amid warnings the party is now effectively dead.
Ukip’s national executive committee has unanimously passed a vote of no confidence in leader Henry Bolton after his former girlfriend allegedly sent racist texts about Meghan Markle. Mr Bolton split with Jo Marney following the scandal but admitted they were “still in touch”, albeit not romantically, after they were photographed meeting up. Mr Bolton has faced repeated calls to stand down, but has vowed to remain as the party’s leader even in the face of a no confidence vote, claiming his departure would “pull the party apart”. The committee does not have the power to remove Mr Bolton as leader, but the no confidence vote means the party’s members will now be able to decide whether to kickstart a leadership election.
Nigel Farage has said he has held talks about new anti-Brexit campaign groups, but said the idea of a Ukip successor party was not yet “on his radar”. The former Ukip-leader told The Independent he had been discussing a “cross-party” effort to try and increase pressure for a hard Brexit. It follows reports that he and Vote Leave donor Arron Banks have been planning a successor party if a crunch meeting on Sunday leads to the collapse of Ukip.
NIGEL Farage has revealed whether or not he will run as leader of Ukip again as the current party leader could face the axe. Scandal-hit Henry Bolton has faced repeated calls to quit over offensive texts sent by his former girlfriend, Jo Marney, who sent racist messages about Prince Harry’s fiancee Meghan Markle. The embattled Ukip leader has since ended his relationship with the 25-year-old model – despite reports of the pair spotted dining with each other. But Mr Bolton has vowed he is going nowhere, saying the party could not afford to have another leadership contest.
Two senior UKIP figures have quit their roles and called on Henry Bolton to resign the party’s leadership. Deputy leader Margot Parker and immigration spokesman John Bickley stood down following Sunday’s vote of no confidence in Mr Bolton by UKIP’s ruling body. The emergency action by the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) followed a row over the 54-year-old’s relationship with a 25-year-old model. Ms Parker, MEP for the East Midlands, claimed Mr Bolton’s “personal life took over the job he was elected to do”. She told BBC Radio Northampton: “It would be quicker and cleaner if he came to the conclusion he could go sooner rather than later. “This is taking time away from doing the job. This puts the party in a limbo situation.” Mr Bickley, an NEC member, later resigned his immigration brief on LBC Radio in order “to make it clear to Mr Bolton that his time is up”.
This morning has seen a number of resignations from UKIP, following on from yesterday’s vote of no confidence by the National Executive Committee. John Bickley, the party’s Immigration Spokesman, has quit his role this morning, Deputy Leader Margot Parker has also resigned from that role. As has London Controller Peter Harris. There could well be more resignations to come.
Margot Parker has resigned as UKIP deputy leader and called for Henry Bolton to step down as leader. The resignation came after the party’s national executive committee backed a vote of no confidence. Mr Bolton has left the party in “limbo” and he should go “sooner rather than later”, she told BBC Radio Northampton. The party’s immigration spokesman, John Bickley, has also now quit his role. Mr Bolton has been under fire over texts sent by his former girlfriend.
LANDSLIDES at a dangerous volcano in the Canary Islands are threatening to trigger a devastating eruption that could send tsunamis towards Spain and Britain, new research has revealed. Natural disaster experts believe the Cumbre Vieja volcano, near tourist hotspot Tenerife, could erupt within the next three years. Analysis by Dr Simon Day, of the Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction at University College London, shows the volcano has erupted roughly once every 50 to 70 years. Cumbre Vieja last erupted in 1971, meaning another violent outburst of lava could be due within the next three years, according to Dr Day. The eruption could cause a huge chunk of the volcano to collapse and crash into the ocean with the power of an atomic bomb. This impact could send a deadly tsunami, initially almost 3,000ft high, hurtling towards Spain and the UK, Dr Day said. Spain was put on high alert for another eruption last year after a flurry of earthquakes rocked La Palma, in the Canary Islands, Spain.