Theresa May has been forced to defend her Brexit plans amid claims the EU is likely to reject them. The Prime Minister insisted proposals outlined in a major speech on Friday to maintain an open border in Northern Ireland and ensure a close trading relationship with Europe were “credible”. It comes as European leaders suggested the plan would be difficult to accept because it would undermine the EU’s single market. Ireland’s foreign minister, Simon Coveney, was among those suggesting the EU may reject the plan. He told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show: “She hasn’t really gone into any more detail than we’ve already heard in terms of how she’s going to solve the problem of maintaining a largely invisible border on the island of Ireland.”
European Union negotiators will this week offer a Canada-style trade deal putting pressure on Theresa May’s Brexit ‘red lines’. The Prime Minister’s negotiating position – set out in a speech in the City of London on Friday – will come under renewed pressure as the EU produces its first guidelines on the future trading relationship. Mrs May used a BBC interview today to suggest she is willing to “negotiate” on the numbers of immigrants allowed into the UK from the EU after Brexit. Mrs May said: “We’ll be setting out our immigration rules; we’ll negotiate with the EU because obviously we want to look at what happens to UK citizens as well as what happens to EU citizens.”
Theresa May has suggested Britain’s future migration system will be a matter for negotiation with the EU, undermining previous promises to take back control. The prime minister is already consulting an independent body, the Migration Advisory Council (MAC), on how the post-Brexit immigration system will work and has repeatedly delayed the immigration white paper and bill. Some cabinet ministers are uneasy that the system will feel little different to present arrangements under EU free movement rules. Yesterday Mrs May suggested that the EU would get a say in the UK’s new system, in discussions likely to take place before the MAC issues its final report in September.
Has Theresa May just shown signs that she’s planning a total Brexit cop out on immigration? On Andrew Marr’s show this morning she hinted that immigration could be used as a bargaining chip in EU negotiations. Brexiteers voted to take back control of the borders, not have them used as some bargaining chip with Michel Barnier and Co. Also, on the ECJ, May admitted the European court’s decisions will continue to impact the UK – this doesn’t sound like total legal sovereignty… There’ll be a backlash like no other if May betrays Brexit and keeps Britain’s borders open as well as accepting ECJ rule.
Theresa May urged the EU to get on board with her ‘realistic’ vision of Brexit today – saying she was ‘being straight with people’. The Prime Minister mounted a robust defence of her crucial speech on Friday, in which she set out a blueprint for the UK to align with EU rules to secure free flowing trade. She said any free trade deal should cover financial services and Britain must retain the scope to diverge from Brussels regulations in future – but admitted there would be costs if it does. But Irish deputy PM Simon Coveney warned today that it was unlikely the EU would accept Mrs May’s ideas for ensuring there is no hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic. The speech seems to have succeeded in securing a fragile truce between Tory Remainer and Brexiteer factions – although the response from the EU has been less enthusiastic.
Brussels could reject Theresa May’s plan to ensure there is no hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic post-Brexit, according to Ireland’s deputy prime minister. Mrs May is adamant that a soft border can be maintained on the island of Ireland through technological solutions and placing no new restrictions on the cross-frontier trade from smaller businesses. But Simon Coveney has cast doubt on the feasibility of this, saying he is “not sure that the European Union will be able to support” the plan because of worries about safeguarding the integrity of the bloc’s single market. “While of course we will explore and look at all of the proposed British solutions, they are essentially a starting point in negotiations as opposed to an end point,” he told the BBC’s Andrew Marr show.
The EU is unlikely to accept the UK’s latest proposal for avoiding a “hard border” on the island of Ireland after Brexit, the Irish government has said. Theresa May has said 80% of firms would face no new customs checks between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic and others would be simplified. But Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said he was not sure it would adequately protect the EU’s market. The proposal, he said, was a “starting point” for talks not a solution. The British prime minister has ruled out the return of physical infrastructure on the border between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic after the UK leaves the EU on 29 March 2019, insisting that this commitment was “absolutely clear”.
THERESA May has warned Brussels that failure to offer Britain a trade deal that includes banking services will starve thousands of EU firms of crucial cash. The PM said it could even threaten the financial stability of the whole continent. Crunch talks on the post-Brexit trade deal begin this month. Mrs May said she will ask for a settlement that allows banks to stay in the City of London while continuing to provide their services across the EU. She said the “significant sums of money” that businesses in the other 27 member states raise through the City shows how much the bloc is dependent on London. Speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, Mrs May dismissed criticism of cherry-picking and insisted “quite a few” trade deals have included financial services commitments. But she ruled out firms keeping EU passporting rights that allows them to trade freely across the bloc, because that would make Britain a “rule taker” without any say on them.
The EU will keep its draft guidelines for a post-Brexit trade deal as short and general as possible, the Guardian understands, in order to force Theresa May to explain what the UK wants and leaving the door open for a British shift on the customs union and single market. The publication of the EU’s draft guidelines on Tuesday will be a stark moment for the prime minister, as it is made clear that a whole range of proposals made by May in her Mansion House speech on Friday are to be rejected. The document will, however, fall short of providing any kind of detailed plan, due in part to a lack of substantive discussion among the member states on the issue, but also reflecting a hope that the UK’s position would develop in time, senior EU sources said. An EU diplomat involved in drafting the position of the 27 member states said: “They will say explicitly or implicitly that the guidelines have to be short and general. If the UK position develops then we will be able to develop our response.”
Gloomy Treasury forecasts that predict Brexit will be an economic disaster are ‘flawed’, Cambridge researchers warn today. A study by the university’s Centre for Business Research raises serious questions over predictions by government officials, academic bodies, the IMF and the OECD. They say most estimates of the economic impact of the Leave vote are based on modelling that exaggerates the negative effects. The study, published today, is titled How the Economics Profession Got it Wrong on Brexit and says Treasury forecasts before and after the referendum were too pessimistic. Researchers say the assumption about the degree of uncertainty caused by the Brexit vote was arbitrary and wrong.
LABOUR has been accused of colluding with the European Union to undermine Brexit by trying to keep Britain in the customs union. A dossier compiled by the Conservatives suggests senior Labour figures have been working closely with members of the European Commission to force Britain to stay under Brussels rule in a customs union. The claim, which has been strongly denied by Labour, follows concerns that Jeremy Corbyn last week timed his speech on Brexit to coincide with a document produced by Michel Barnier which demanded Britain stayed in a customs union or separated Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK.
Theresa May will announce plans to penalise property developers who do not build homes quickly enough, as she uses a major speech to warn housebuilders they must “do their duty to Britain”. The Prime Minister will criticise developers who profit from building expensive properties rather than the quantities of new homes the country needs, telling them it is time to “step up do your bit”. She will vow to “rewrite the laws on planning” in order to help more people get on the housing ladder. The Government will also adopt a tougher approach to local councils, including setting targets on how many homes each authority needs to plan for. Key workers such as nurses, teachers and firefighters should be the priority for affordable homes, Ms May will say, and local authorities will be given powers to implement this.
The Prime Minister is to rewrite planning rules by clamping down on developers who “just sit on land and watch its value rise” instead of building homes on it. They could find it harder to get council planning permission as their past record on construction may count against them when they bid in the future, Theresa May will warn. It is part of her proposals to get more properties built and “restore the dream of home ownership” to millions across the country amid a lack of supply. Mrs May will stress she “cannot bring about the kind of society I want to see, unless we tackle one of the biggest barriers to social mobility we face today” – the lack of affordable housing. The PM will say at a national planning conference in London: “I want to see planning permissions going to people who are actually going to build houses, not just sit on land and watch its value rise.”
Councils that fail to build enough homes will lose their right to determine where new houses are placed, according to plans set to be revealed by Theresa May. So-called “nimby” (“not in my back yard”) councils have been warned that the Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government will be “breathing down [their] neck” to ensure home-building targets are met. An overhaul of planning laws will see the creation of new rules to give councils targets for how many homes they should build each year. This will take into account house prices, wages and the number of “key workers” like nurses, teachers and police officers in a given area. Higher targets will be set for areas with higher “unaffordability ratios” and any council that fails to deliver on the target will be stripped of planning powers.
THERESA May says she will “rewrite the rule book” on planning in a bid to solve Britain’s housing crisis with councils urged to get building or face the Government intervening. The Prime Minister acknowledged there is a “real problem” with the amount of new homes being created in Britain – which she will try and solve with an overhaul of planning laws tomorrow. It will see the creation of new rules to give councils targets for how many homes they should build each year, and if they fail to deliver they will be stripped of planning powers with independent inspectors taking over. The targets will take into account local house prices, wages and the number of “key workers” such as nurses, teachers and police officers in the area. And the Housing Secretary Sajid Javid has said higher targets will be set for areas with higher “unaffordability ratios”. The PM has made housing a key domestic priority as more young people struggle to get on the property ladder, telling BBC One’s The Andrew Marr Show: “We do have a real problem in this country.
COUNCILS should not be punished for the Tories’ failure to provide them enough cash for new affordable housing, Labour said yesterday before Theresa May announces her plans today. Shadow housing secretary John Healey said the Tories’ eight years of failure was “the fault of Whitehall and not town halls,” especially after it was revealed last week that the government’s housing department has returned £817 million to the Treasury. Ms May is expected to outline new policies targeting “nimby” councils that could see them have their planning powers snatched away by government if they do not meet new housing targets.
Fresh doubts have been cast over government plans to tighten voter identification measures after official figures revealed only one person was prosecuted for electoral fraud last year. A study by the Electoral Commission found just 28 allegations of someone having lied about their identity at a polling station in 2017, despite almost 45 million votes having been cast. Only one of these allegations resulted in a conviction. The man in question was fined after admitting to voting twice for Labour. The figures suggest public concern over voter fraud is overblown, and led critics to suggest “draconian” government proposals to force members of the public to show ID before voting are not justified by any evidence of a problem. The Electoral Commission received more than 1,000 emails from members of the public about electoral fraud, as well 60 letters from 47 MPs voicing concerns. However, the commission’s analysis found “no evidence” of a major problem.
Italian voters have flocked to anti-establishment, Eurosceptic parties and rejected mainstream, traditional political parties, the latest results from the country’s election indicated on Monday. The populist Five Star Movement, founded by stand-up comedian Beppe Grillo as a bombastic challenge to the established order, emerged as the big winner of the general election, in a result that will be viewed with trepidation in Brussels. With around half the ballot counted, it looked as though the Five Star Movement had won around a third of all votes, up from 25 per cent in Italy’s last general election in 2013. The Eurosceptic, anti-immigration League also performed well, according to preliminary calculations.
The anti-establishment Five Star Movement are set to be be the biggest single party in Italy according to the first exit poll – but the alliance of Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia along with the anti-mass migration Lega and Brothers of Italy could end up as the largest bloc. Averaging the ranges from RAI in Italy, the 5 Star Movement are set for around 30.5% of the vote, with the establishment pro-EU Democratic Party on 22%. The three-party bloc that includes more Eurosceptic forces however sees Forza Italia on 14.5%, Lega on 14.5% and the Brothers of Italy on 5% – for a combined 34%.
Italy faces a hung parliament this morning after populist parties surged in a general election characterised by anger over migration and a stuttering economy. With around half of the votes counted early this morning, Italy’s anti-establishment Five Star Movement was consolidating its position as the country’s biggest party with 30.7 per cent of the vote, while the anti-migrant, eurosceptic League stood at 18.8 per cent, a massive increase on the four percent it took in elections in 2013. By polling over 49 per cent together, the two populist parties showed that the wave of anti-system voting in Europe, which many observers believe sparked Brexit, has triumphed in Italy.
Italy lurched to the populist right last night, initial election exit polls suggested. The anti-establishment Five Star Movement, founded by controversial comedian Beppe Grillo, was predicted to be in first place with up to 32.5 per cent of the vote. However experts said a hung parliament was the most likely outcome after a coalition deal including former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia, and two more extreme anti-migrant parties. Their combined vote in the initial exit poll for TV channel RAI was estimated to be around 36 per cent. A centre-left alliance dominated by former prime minister Matteo Renzi’s ruling Democratic Party was projected to win around 28 per cent.
Populist leader Matteo Salvini has warned that Italy could leave the European Union (EU) after Britain if Brussels continues to refuse to listen to the public’s concerns. As Italians went to the polls on Sunday for national elections, the Lega party leader declared his support “on principle” for direct democracy, telling the British media that the Brexit referendum serves as an example for Italy to follow. “The British case is even more emblematic because it represents the first and only time so far where European citizens have had the opportunity to have a say about their membership of the European Union,” he said. “Why on earth would free people remain prisoners in a cage of absurd laws and regulation, with rigid constraints that humiliate the true needs of the people and their country?” Salvini asked, saying he was “not surprised” the British public voted to leave the bloc.
Britain’s military must stop being used as a ‘cash cow’ for overseas aid missions, the ex-Armed Forces minister says today. Sir Mike Penning warns operations such as the Royal Navy’s task of rescuing migrants in the Mediterranean are ‘draining military capabilities’. The senior Tory said the Ministry of Defence had to stop being seen as a ‘soft option’, warning that the backbone of the UK’s operational defence capability is being ‘stripped out’. Sir Mike, a former soldier who served eight years as a Grenadier Guard, also said the cash for the Trident nuclear deterrent should be removed from the defence budget to free up more cash. The former minister said: ‘The MoD has got to stop being a soft option, it needs to spend what it has wisely and stand up to those who see it as a cash cow.’
The University of Manchester has joined others in calling for new solutions to the lecturers’ strike, which continues today. Both sides of the pensions dispute, the lecturers’ union and Universities UK, will start talks mediated by Acas. The industrial action is becoming more intense with four days of strikes this week, after three days last week and two days the week before. Next week a five-day strike is planned. Another four institutions join the action this week, affecting thousands more students. Bradford University; Ruskin College; St George’s, University of London and the Institute of Development Studies needed another ballot before they could join the dispute. More institutions are asking Universities UK, which represents vice-chancellors, to reform its stance and resolve the situation.