THE Government has indicated it is willing to meet Brussels’ demands for a £53 billion Brexit bill in a bid to move negotiations on to trade, it is claimed. Theresa May has signalled her willingness to pay the huge sum, which equates to €60 billion, via officials, the Sunday Times reported. It is hoped that, by accepting the demand, talks can finally progress to Britain’s future relationship with the bloc in December. The figure is around three times higher than previously offered to cover a two-year transition period. But EU negotiators think Mrs May will hand over the money to claim a victory by starting stalled  Brexit trade talks before Christmas.

Labour is to warn ministers on Monday that they risk being held in contempt of parliament if they do not immediately release dozens of papers outlining the economic impact of Brexit. The government conceded last week that it had to publish the 58 studies covering various parts of the economy after the move was supported in a Labour opposition motion that was passed unanimously on Wednesday. While normal opposition motions are advisory, Labour presented this one as a “humble address”, a rare and antiquated procedure which the Speaker, John Bercow, advised was usually seen as binding. The leader of the Commons, Andrea Leadsom, said on Thursday that the government accepted the motion as binding, and that “the information will be forthcoming”.

BBC News
Parliament must raise its game to properly scrutinise legislative changes arising from Brexit, MPs have said. The Commons Procedure Committee said MPs faced an “unprecedented” challenge in dealing with the anticipated volume of secondary legislation as EU laws are converted on to the UK statute book. The Withdrawal Bill will give ministers powers to amend and enact legislation through use of statutory instruments. MPs said concern about these so-called Henry VIII powers was “considerable”. Ministers have rejected Labour’s claims of a power grab, saying the bill is a necessary foundation to prepare the UK for its exit from the EU in March 2019 and to provide legal certainty.


BRUSSELS is deliberately “scaremongering” over the possible costs of Brexit in a desperate bid to stop other countries from wanting to quit the club, a leading Swedish MEP said today. Peter Lundgren described European warnings about Britain being isolated and poor outside the EU as “bull***” and predicted a brighter future for the country outside the bloc.  In an interview with the Sweden Democrats MEP said others will also want to leave in a few years’ time once they see that the UK has been able to make a success of being a “sovereign” country again. And he said the EU’s attempts to portray Brexit as a “very expensive” decision underlined just how insecure it is about the prospect of more states quitting in the near future.  Mr Lundgren, whose party is currently projected in third place but has previously topped the polls ahead of next year’s general election, said Stockholm should seek a UK-style “renegotiation” of its EU membership. 

A new survey of police across the European Union has revealed that many officers feel totally unprepared to handle another large wave of migrants. citing too few personnel and resources. The report comes from a survey conducted by the European Police Union (EPU) which asked police officers from Netherlands, Germany, Spain, Croatia, Serbia and Bulgaria a variety of questions in late 2016. According to the survey, many police complained about being far too poorly equipped to deal with the migrant crisis, noting how many migrants slipped through undetected 
Die Welt reports.


The chancellor will attempt to show that the Conservatives are on the side of small businesses in his budget this month with expected changes to business rates and VAT charges. Philip Hammond is due to announce that the planned 3.9 per cent rise in business rates that kicks in next spring will be scrapped after lobbying from the CBI, the British Chambers of Commerce and British Retail Consortium. Business rates, which generate £30 billion a year, have long been a corporate bugbear because they are linked with property values and are indexed to the retail prices index of inflation, which hit a five-year high of 3.9 per cent.


Spain was plunged into fresh turmoil as tens of thousands of people took to the streets in the Basque region to protest against the government’s handling of the Catalonia crisis. Some 40,000 people marched to demand the Madrid government respects the result of the Catalonia independence referendum. That means Spain now has 2 large chunks of its territory backing calls for independence and greater autonomy – the Basque region, until recently, was fighting its own independence battle, often using violence. Right in the heart of the EU there is a country on the brink of falling apart for exactly the same reason that Eurosceptic movements have been growing across the continent – people no longer want to be dictated to, they want to be in control of their own destiny.

Sacked Catalonian leader Carles Puigdemont has turned himself in to Belgian police after Spain issued an arrest warrant for him and four ex-ministers. Belgian prosecutors, who have a European arrest warrant from Spain for Puigdemont and four of his associates, said those wanted handed themselves in this morning and that their cases will be heard by judge in Brussels this afternoon. A spokesman for the Brussels’ prosecutor’s office, Gilles Dejemeppe, said the five presented themselves to federal police and have been in custody since 9am local time. He said that they have not been arrested and that Mr Puigdemont and the four ex-ministers would be heard by an investigative judge on Sunday afternoon.

ITV News
Former Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont and four ex-advisers have been released by Belgian authorities after they handed themselves over to police as Spain seeks their return. A judge in Brussels ruled on Sunday there was no reason to imprison the five politicians, and freed them pending a court session in two weeks. Earlier, Puigdemont and four aides turned themselves into Belgian authorities after Madrid issued European Arrest Warrants last week. Despite Puigdemont’s exile, his party put him forward as their leader for the forthcoming regional elections, meaning he could lead a campaign from Brussels as he fights his extradition. Spain has sought charges of rebellion, sedition and embezzlement against the men after the now-dissolved Catalan cabinet declared independence from Spain.


Millions of NHS patients will be offered the chance to consult family doctors around the clock by smartphone as the first “virtual GP” goes live. Video consultations are promised within two hours by doctors who say that they are finally bringing the health service into the digital age. However, the project has raised fears among senior GPs that it will create a two-tier NHS, disrupting personal relationships and siphoning off fit, young patients, leaving traditional practices to deal with the frail, elderly and mentally ill. However, NHS bosses have signed off the scheme, saying that “one size does not fit all” for GP care.


Tony Blair reneged on a clear agreement to quit during his second term as prime minister, Gordon Brown has claimed in his first detailed account of the deal that the two Labour figures made before they came to power. Mr Brown said there was a concrete pact between himself and Mr Blair in 1994 to divide up their time in office, but added that it was agreed several days before their now-famous dinner at the Granita restaurant in London. “The restaurant did not survive and ultimately neither did our agreement,” Mr Brown wrote in his autobiography, My Life, Our Times. He added: “I always smile when commentators write that we hammered out a deal in the restaurant.

Gordon Brown today accuses Tony Blair of reneging­ on a famous deal to stand down as Prime Minister. In his memoirs, the former PM lifts the lid on their “Granita Pact” in May 1994, which followed the death of Labour leader John Smith that year. Mr Brown says the actual deal was hammered out days earlier and their dinner at the now-defunct North London restaurant­ rubber stamped it. He says he agreed not to try for leadership of the party to give Mr Blair a clear run, as long as­ Blair stood down during a second term as PM. He writes: “Tony reiterated he wanted me to stay as Shadow Chancellor and would give me control over economic and social policy.

TONY Blair betrayed Gordon Brown over a secret deal in which he promised to step down after his first term, it has been claimed. Mr Brown claimed in his memoirs that the two made a pact in 1994 in which Blair promised to step down early in his first term and have a partnership at the top of the party. But, Mr Brown said the media focused too much on what was said during the meal at the Granita restaurant – the so-called “Granita Pact”. He said it was just a “formality” after the agreement to give Mr Blair a free run at the leadership was hammed out in the preceding days.

Sky News
Gordon Brown has revealed his renowned talks with Tony Blair at a north London restaurant were a “formality” and not a pivotal meeting, as has long been believed. In what became known as the “Granita pact”, the pair forged an agreement in 1994 for Mr Brown to not run for the Labour leadership. In exchange, Mr Blair is claimed to have vowed to hand over the reins of power to Mr Brown in his second term as prime minister, as well as granting his chancellor control of economic and social policy. The apparent breakdown of the agreement was an infamous focus of the strain between the two men during their time at the head of the New Labour government.


Supermarkets and food giants are secretly lobbying the Government to thwart public demands for a deposit and return scheme on plastic bottles. Industry bosses have met and written to ministers setting out their opposition to making firms take more responsibility for recycling packaging waste, largely on the grounds of cost. Specifically, they detail ‘unanimous’ industry opposition to a deposit and return scheme (DRS) for plastic bottles and drinks cans. This is at odds with the public and their customers who showed 78 per cent support for a DRS in a survey last week. Among the five bodies involved in the lobbying is the British Retail Consortium.


England has slipped unnoticed into a state of deforestation, according to the Woodland Trust. A record number of trees are being ripped up by developers while planting rates are the lowest in almost half a century, the charity says. It manages more than 1,000 forests and says that a record 780 ancient woods are under threat from new homes, transport projects, quarries and golf courses. Figures from the Forestry Commission showed that only 1,900 hectares of trees were planted across England in the past two years, which was the lowest rate since 1971. The commission has not done any new planting in England since 2008 or in Wales since 1992. Most of the new planting is done by private landowners, backed by government grants.

Fox hunting

The National Trust has dropped a plan to publish the routes of trail hunts held across its land, part of new rules introduced in August that led to all 67 hunts that rode on its holdings refusing to seek a licence to do so. The trust, which is the second largest landowner in the UK, removed the rule after consulting with police amid fears it would provoke clashes with hunt saboteurs. The Countryside Alliance said “common sense had prevailed”, but Helen Beynon, who proposed a hunting ban at the trust’s AGM last month, said activists would now not be able to ensure hunts operated legally.

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