Customs union

Theresa May’s team have reportedly accepted that she may have to bow to parliamentary pressure to keep Britain in a customs union with the European Union.
It follows an embarrassing defeat in the House of Lords last week when peers in the upper chamber voted in favour of a customs union after Brexit and reports that around a 10 Tory MPs are prepared to vote in favour of membership in the Commons. The Prime Minister – since her Lancaster House speech in January 2017 – has repeatedly insisted that Britain will leave the customs union in order to pursue free trade deals across the world. But senior Downing Street aide told The Sunday Times that in a meeting last month it was said that the Prime Minister and her top team “will not be crying into our beer” if Parliament forces the government’s hand on the issue.

Theresa May will face calls from senior Brexit-supporting ministers to ditch her favoured option for a customs deal with the EU at a meeting this week.
David Davis, Liam Fox and Boris Johnson are to press the prime minister to abandon the plan as fears grow that she is paving the way for a compromise on the issue. They will confront her at a meeting of the cabinet’s Brexit sub-committee, scheduled for Wednesday. The ministers believe that the so-called customs partnership is unworkable and is encouraging Brussels to press for Britain to stay in a customs union after Brexit. Mrs May set out two options in her Mansion House speech last month for minimising friction to trade and avoiding a hard border with Ireland.

Theresa May could face a cabinet revolt on a customs union as peers prepare to inflict more defeats on the government over the EU withdrawal bill in a key week for the future of the UK’s relations with Europe.
Amid Brexiter threats of a leadership challenge, the former cabinet minister Nicky Morgan, who chairs the Treasury committee, said party rebels should be careful what they wished for. “This sabre-rattling is not coming from the section of the party that I represent. It is coming from the pro-Brexit section of the party and is deeply unhelpful,” she said. Government hopes of avoiding a hard border in Ireland either through technological innovation or regulatory alignment have been set back after they were rejected during preliminary negotiations in Brussels. That has led to speculation that May is preparing to concede on a customs union, which has been a red line since the prime minister’s conference speech in October 2016.

A Tory row has exploded over claims Britain will stick to EU customs rules after
Brexit . Theresa May has vowed to leave the Customs Union to let the UK sign trade deals around the world. But she faces mounting pressure to compromise to resolve a deadlock over the Northern Ireland border. The House of Lords voted by a landslide last week to explore continuing customs union membership. And senior MPs, including Tories Nicky Morgan and Sarah Wollaston, are set to force a vote on the issue in the Commons this Thursday. According to the Sunday Times, a No10 source “will not be crying into our beer” if they are forced to water down their stance by Parliament. A source close to Michael Gove added he is “not ready to roll over in Cabinet” but “recognises the arithmetic is difficult.”

Britain will leave the customs union after Brexit, Downing Street has insisted, with Theresa May and other ministers set to skip a Labour bid in the House of Commons to stop the UK leaving later this week.
The Government moved to  reassure Eurosceptic Tory MPs after weekend reports that Mrs May’s team had privately concluded that the UK could have to remain in the customs union after all. Civil servants on Britain’s negotiating team are said to favour keeping Britain in a customs’ union to avoid having to  construct a post-Brexit hard border between northern and southern Ireland.

Government sources close to Theresa May seem to have pushed back against the idea that the Prime Minister is set to sell-out on leaving the Customs Union.
A Downing Street contact has briefed the BBC and others that the government would remain committed to leave the Customs Union. This is crucial for the UK to be free to negotiate global trade deals. The source is quoted as saying: “We will not be staying in the Customs Union or joining a Customs Union.” It comes after pushback from those within government including the Housing Secretary Sajid Javid who tweeted in support of leaving the Customs Union.

THERESA May will face a showdown with senior Brexit-supporting ministers in a meeting this week, after it emerged that the Prime Minister is prepared to surrender her plans to leave the customs union after Brexit due to the possibility of a series of Parliamentary defeats over the issue.
Ministers including David Davis, Liam Fox and Boris Johnson will call for the Prime Minister to abandon her preferred option for a customs deal at a meeting of the Government’s Brexit sub-committee, which is due to take place on Wednesday. They believe a customs partnership with the EU is untenable as it will encourage Brussels to push for Britain to remain in the customs union post-Brexit. The UK will not be able to strike its own free-trade deals with countries around the world if it remains a member of the customs union, which is a point of contention for many Government Ministers.

Sky News
Theresa May is facing new conflict over Brexit ahead of a Commons debate on the customs union.
Downing Street sources have said the Prime Minister will remain committed to leaving the customs union – despite a significant defeat in the House of Lords over the issue and rumours that her position may be softening. Peers voted on Wednesday in favour of an amendment to the flagship EU Withdrawal Bill which seeks to maintain the possibility that Britain might stay in a form of customs union. The trade and customs bill will be debated by MPs on Thursday with a vote that, while not binding, will be seen as an important indicator of the parliamentary mood. Amendments to the bill were tabled by MPs Anna Soubry and Chuka Umunna, who tweeted “the Brextremists threaten May with a leadership election if she concedes on the customs union”.

LEAVING the Customs Union is a Government “red line” which will not be crossed, Downing Street sources insist.
And Prime Minister Theresa May will refuse to cave in over the policy vow, they declared. Cabinet ministers rallied round Mrs May yesterday, following weekend reports which suggested her team had admitted she may accept permanent membership of the Union if Parliament forces her hand. Communities Secretary Sajid Javid urged Tory Remain rebels to look ahead to the future. He said: “Some see the Customs Union as some kind of post-Brexit comfort blanket.

Labour Party

LABOUR’S “England problem” has been laid bare in a report from a working group set up to reconnect with their core voters, The Sun can reveal.
The English Labour Network report instructs activists to stop being ashamed of England – telling them “Englishness is not inherently right-wing”. The group launched by senior Labour figures including Jon Cruddas, John Denham and Liam Byrne last year – was set up to ensure Labour promotes English patriotism. But it found many activists believe talking about English identity could strengthen far-right extremists – and many won’t even mention England. The draft report for consultation said: “If we are honest, some Labour activists are uncertain about celebrating St George’s Day or reflecting English identity in their campaigning. “There may be misplaced fears that this will appeal to, or even strengthen, far right extremists.

Jeremy Corbyn is set to announce plans to make St George’s day a national holiday – and give the whole country the day off.
The Labour leader will introduce new national holidays to mark the patron saints of England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland if it wins the next general election. On Monday, St George’s Day, Corbyn will claim that after eight years of ‘damaging Tory austerity’ British workers deserve a day off.  Labour will ask for the support of the governments of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland so the same four holidays can be enjoyed across the United Kingdom. Under the proposals, St David’s Day (March 1), St Patrick’s Day (March 17), St George’s Day (April 23) and St Andrew’s Day (November 30) will all be celebrated with a day off. With eight public holidays, the UK has the fewest of any G20 or EU country, Corbyn will say at the annual conference of the Communication Workers Union in Bournemouth. 

Labour will introduce new bank holidays to mark the patron saints of England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland if it wins the next general election, Jeremy Corbyn is to announce.
The party leader will tell a union conference on Monday, which is St George’s Day, that Britain’s workers deserve a day off after eight years of “damaging Tory  austerity”. Labour will ask for the support of the devolved governments so that the same four holidays can be enjoyed across the United Kingdom. Under Labour’s proposals, UK-wide public holidays would be held on St David’s Day (1 March), St Patrick’s Day (17 March), St George’s Day (23 April) and St Andrew’s Day (30 November). With eight public holidays, the UK has the fewest of any G20 or EU country, Corbyn will tell the annual conference of the Communication Workers Union in Bournemouth.

Jeremy Corbyn will today reiterate his pledge to introduce a new national holiday to mark the patron saints of England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland.
He will tell a union conference on Monday – St George’s Day – that after eight years of “damaging Tory austerity”, Britain’s workers deserve a day off. In his speech, the Labour leader will also point to the Windrush scandal, claiming that the  “sickening Go Home vans” used in 2013 showed that the government’s “patriotic posturing” was a sham. Under Labour’s proposals, UK-wide public holidays will be held on St David’s Day (March 1), St Patrick’s Day (March 17), St George’s Day (April 23) and St Andrew’s Day (November 30). With eight public holidays, the UK has the fewest of any G20 or EU country, Mr Corbyn will tell the annual conference of the Communication Workers Union in Bournemouth.

Jeremy Corbyn has been forced to unfollow Twitter accounts that liken Israel to the Nazis as Labour continues to struggle with what one senior figure admitted was “sickening” antisemitism in the party.
Mr Corbyn is under pressure over his failure to do more on the issue in the wake of the Commons debate last week in which Jewish Labour MPs detailed the abuse they have received. One of those speaking out, Ruth Smeeth, was called a “Jewish whore” in an email sent moments after her intervention, The Sun on Sunday revealed. The police are set to investigate.

Social care

More than two million people are being denied social care under the Tories, new figures reveal.
Local authority-funded packages have fallen 26 per cent since 2010 – denying 400,000 people care, according to records obtained by Labour. But with an ageing population and greater demands, two million more are not having their needs met, MPs fear. Barbara Keeley, Shadow Minister for Social Care, called for instant investment. She said: “The fall in care packages clearly is the result of near 40 per cent cuts to council funding since 2010.” The figures, from the House of Commons Lib-rary and the Health Survey for England 2016, suggest care provided by 90 per cent of councils could hit crisis levels by 2022. Ms Keeley said: “Short-sighted Tory cuts to local authority budgets are seeing vulnerable people get less social care year after year, while unmet need continues to increase.


The government immigration agencies at the centre of the  Windrush scandal are “rife” with discrimination and harassment, a survey of their own employees reveals.
Official documents show staff at Border Force reporting high levels of discrimination, with almost one in four (23 per cent) saying they had experienced it. The rate is almost double the civil service average and the second highest of more than 100 government departments and agencies. Other Home Office agencies fared similarly badly. One in five Immigration Enforcement personnel said they had experienced discrimination, as did 15 per cent of employees at UK Visas and Immigration, which handles claims for residency and asylum.  The Home Office group of agencies was found to be worse than any other government department for reports of discrimination and harassment. The responses do not specify what kind of discrimination or harassment was encountered.

Prostate cancer

Shorter courses of radiotherapy for prostate cancer are safe and effective, a study has found, saving patients time and potentially reducing waiting lists.
Researchers found that higher doses of “ultra-hypofractionated” radiotherapy every other day for two and a half weeks worked as well as standard radiotherapy given every week day for eight weeks. Presenting their results at the European Society for Radiotherapy and Oncology conference in Barcelona, they said that the shorter regime freed up equipment, saving money and allowing doctors to work through waiting lists more quickly. One in eight men in the UK will develop prostate cancer. The study was presented by Anders Widmark, a senior consultant based in the department of radiation sciences and cancer centre at Umea University, Sweden.


More than four in 10 people are still using traditional county names to describe where they live, rather than more modern administrative districts.
A poll by YouGov found that 45 per cent of people used historic county names in their postal addresses despite the fact that many have been replaced by modern administrative districts. This means that, for example, people in Warrington say live in Lancashire, rather than Cheshire, or those in Birmingham are part of Warwickshire rather than the more modern “west Midlands”. Similarly people living in Enfield often say their homes were in Middlesex rather than in London, according to the research by the British Counties Campaign.

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