Brexit

Express
THE EUROPEAN Parliament is already threatening to veto the Brexit deal if the agreement does not safeguard the rights of EU citizens moving to the UK at the moment. In a draft resolution, MEPs have rejected any plans Theresa May may have for a “cut-off” date for EU migrants before the UK finally leaves the EU in 2019. It specifically to ruled out any “degradation” of the rights of EU nationals arriving in the UK over the next two years before Brexit Day itself. European Parliament President Antonio Tajani has said that MEPs will not vote for the deal unless it protects the rights of EU citizens living in Britain.  “Without this most important goal, it’s impossible for us to vote in favour,” he told CNBC last week.

Gibraltar

Telegraph
Spain has abandoned plans to stop an independent Scotland from joining the EU amid an escalating row with Britain over the future of 
Gibraltar. Alfonso Dastis, the Spanish foreign minister, said his Government will not block a future Scottish EU membership bid, giving a boost to Nicola Sturgeon. It came as Sir Michael Fallon, the Defence Secretary, suggested that Britain is ready to go to war to defend the sovereignty of Gibraltar. He vowed to go “all the way” to protect the territory.

Times
Theresa May would be prepared to go to war over Gibraltar, one of her predecessors as leader of the Conservative Party said yesterday in remarks that were criticised as being inflammatory. The prime minister led a rush to reassure the territory that its interests would be protected in Brexit talks after the UK was caught by surprise when the EU said that Madrid should be given an effective veto over how a future deal applied to Gibraltar. The reaction of some senior Conservatives was dismissed as “ludicrous”, however, after Lord Howard of Lympne compared the defence of Gibraltar’s interests to the military campaign to retake the Falkland Islands when they were seized by Argentina in 1982.

Independent
Four days after formally triggering Article 50, the Prime Minister has been forced to reiterate the UK’s “steadfast commitment” to Gibraltar, as senior figures in the Conservative caused embarrassment by suggesting the UK could go to war with Spain, as it had done with Argentina over the Falklands. Yesterday morning, a cabinet minister and a former Tory leader both appeared on television to strongly suggest Theresa May would be prepared to go to war with Spain, a Nato ally, if it used the Brexit negotiations to seek to assert sovereignty over the UK territory, something which it has at no point indicated it would do. Defence Secretary Michael Fallon told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, hosted this week by Eddie Mair, that the UK would go “all the way” to protect Gibraltar and its people’s right to remain part of the United Kingdom.

Mail
Theresa May is prepared to go to war over Gibraltar as Margaret Thatcher did over the Falklands, senior Tories claimed yesterday. Former Conservative leader Lord Howard said the Prime Minister would show the same resolve in defending Gibraltar from Spain as her predecessor did in wresting the Falklands back from Argentina following the 1982 invasion. And Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon said the UK was prepared to go ‘all the way’ to keep the Rock out of Spain’s clutches. The angry warnings follow the extraordinary bid by Madrid last week to use Brexit to ramp up its historic claim on Gibraltar.

BBC News
Gibraltar says it will not be used as a bargaining chip in negotiations over Brexit. Its chief minister Fabian Picardo says the message that “we want to stay British” needs to be clear in every capital of the European Union. In draft Brexit negotiating guidelines, the EU said any decisions affecting Gibraltar would be run past Spain. Theresa May has said the UK is “committed” to the territory and its sovereignty is not on the table. Gibraltar has accused Spain of manipulating the European Council for its own political interests. Mr Picardo said: “Let us be very clear and let the message be clear in Madrid, in Brussels and in every other capital of the European Union. “Gibraltar is not a bargaining chip in these negotiations. Gibraltar belongs to the Gibraltarians and we want to stay British.”

Guardian
The EU will not back down in its support for Spain’s demands when it comes to the Rock of Gibraltar in Brexit negotiations, senior European diplomats have said. The European council, whose members comprise the EU member states, shocked Downing Street by saying the British overseas territory could be included in a trade deal between London and Brussels only with Spain’s agreement. Early on Sunday, a former Conservative leader waded into the row by claiming that Theresa May would be prepared to go to war to protect the territory as Margaret Thatcher once did for the Falklands. In comments that were immediately criticised by Labour and the Lib Dems as inflammatory, Michael Howard said there was “no question” of Britain weakening its stance with regards to the sovereignty of one of its overseas territories.

Mirror
Theresa May should be prepared to launch a Falklands-style task force to protect Gibraltar, Lord Howard said today. The former Tory leader said the Prime Minister would show the “same resolve” in defending the Rock as Margaret Thatcher did in the South Atlantic – where tensions erupted into the 1982 Falklands War. His comments came after the EU said Spain should be given the power to veto any Brexit deal that applies to Gibraltar. Theresa May rushed to calm fears, phoning Gibraltar’s chief minister Fabian Picardo this morning after he branded the EU’s response a “slap in the face”. Defence Secretary Michael Fallon insisted the rock would be “protected all the way” and said Spain taking control of it is “not going to happen”.

Sun
BRITAIN could “cripple” Spain in a war over Gibraltar, a former Royal Navy commander has said as tensions build over the future of The Rock after Brexit. Rear-Adml Chris Parry, a former director of operational capability at the Ministry of Defence, said: “We could cripple Spain in the medium term and I think the Americans would probably support us too. “In terms of military capability we would vastly outnumber them and our capacity to do them harm is far greater. “We are significantly more powerful than them, if it came to it we are probably three times more powerful than they are.” Rear-Adml Parry told The Telegraph he didn’t expect tensions to boil over into military action, but called on the Government to invest in the Armed Forces if it plans to “talk big” over the British territory.

Welfare

Guardian
A government shakeup of welfare payments being introduced on Thursday will push a quarter of a million children into poverty while wiping thousands of pounds off payments for bereaved families, according to research. Analysis for the Guardian reveals that a family whose third child is born before midnight on Wednesday could be up to £50,000 better off over 18 years than one whose child is born on Thursday. Meanwhile, a terminally ill man has told the Guardian that his wife and children will see tens of thousands of pounds wiped off their bereavement benefits if he survives beyond this week’s welfare deadline.

Education

Times
About £1 billion will be handed out by the government to provide an extra 230,000 places in primary and secondary schools between 2017 and 2020, including expanding around nine grammar schools. There will also be £1.4 billion for schools and colleges to renovate or expand. Justine Greening, the education secretary, said that the allocations were evidence that the government was providing enough funds to keep up with increasing demand.

Mail
Nine grammar schools will expand as part of a £2.4billion education funding announcement being made today. The money will pay for extra classrooms in existing grammars, it is understood. This is separate to ministers’ plans to overturn a ban on opening new grammar schools. Education Secretary Justine Greening said today’s money would ease the school places crisis by creating more than 600,000 extra places by 2021. She said some 1,500 projects to improve and expand school buildings at grammars, academies, primaries and secondaries would get the green light.

NHS

Guardian
Labour has challenged the health secretary over the legal basis for dropping a commitment on NHS waiting times. The shadow health secretary, Jon Ashworth, wrote to Jeremy Hunt claiming the government and NHS England were acting unlawfully by accepting that the 18-week target would be missed. NHS England’s chief executive, Simon Stevens, said he expected waiting times to rise slightly as a “trade-off” for improvement in other areas such as hitting the four-hour A&E target and better cancer care. Longer waits can be expected for planned operations such as hip and knee replacements, cataract removal, hernia operations and laparoscopies. The NHS target is for 92% of patients to be treated within 18 weeks of referral. Ashworth said: “The absolute nature of this legal duty to meet the 92% is reflected in the NHS constitution.

Sky News
Shadow health secretary Jon Ashworth has questioned the legality of government plans that will see operation waiting times increase. He told Sky News’ Sophy Ridge on Sunday show he has written to Jeremy Hunt asking him to publish what legal advice he may have on the scrapping of the maximum 18-week waiting time for non-urgent consultant-led treatments. In his letter he also demands to know whether the Health Secretary plans to legislate to change the NHS constitution. The NHS target is for 92% of patients to be treated within 18 weeks of referral but this has not been met since February 2016.

Turkey

Breitbart
Turkish migrants opposed to the Erdogan regime in their homeland and now living in Europe are increasingly concerned about the radicalisation of their fellow migrants, and the potential for a “civil war” in Europe. Speaking to best-selling Austrian newspaper  Kronen Zeitung, a number of Turkish migrants living in Europe have spoken out against the fermenting political and social climate among Turks influenced by the Islamist and increasingly hardline president of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Speaking ahead of the April 16th referendum which if passed would see Erdoğan’s executive powers significantly strengthened, one Turkish migrant said freedom of expression was being stamped out in Turkey and those sentiments were spreading to Europe. Remarking that her middle-class professional relatives still in Turkey have been forced out of their jobs because they criticised Erdoğan, the woman: “Freedom of expression is no longer possible in my ex- homeland”. Claiming that the Turkish government monitored all digital communications for criticism of the regime, she remarked: “I need to be very careful in communicating with my relatives”.

Labour Party

Guardian
More than 75 Labour MPs are relaunching the centre-left Tribune group with a new mission statement designed to win back traditional supporters while appealing to voters on the centre ground. The group call for “opportunity and aspiration” to be placed at the centre of the party’s programme, and for the party to be “outward-looking in the world” with policies that put the “security of its people at its heart”. While MPs insisted the move was not in any way a challenge to the authority of Jeremy Corbyn, it will be seen as a sign of centre-left and moderate Labour MPs preparing to resist efforts to install a hardline leftwing successor to the leader when he departs. Labour has slumped in the opinion polls, even after chancellor Philip Hammond’s contentious first budget, which saw him perform a U-turn on the Conservatives’ centrepiece announcement – a hike in national insurance contributions – within days of delivering it.

Three-day weekend

Star
BRITS may be getting an extra day at the weekend, according to new plans proposed by politicians. Jonathan Bartley, the Green Party’s co-leader, announced the plans on BBC One’s Andrew Marr show. The extra day is intended to help heal inequality and also boost people’s productivity. Caroline Lucas, the other leader of the Green Party, said there was “a lot of evidence” that when people are exhausted their productivity goes down. The party has plans to include it in its 2020 manifesto and argued that it’s needed now more than ever. Ms Lucas said people were “working ever-more hours” and suffering “ever-more ill health”. She said: “What we want to do is take a step back and think what is the purpose of the economy, what kind of country do we want to be, and do we really want a future where all of us are just trying to work even harder?”

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