EUROPEAN countries including Germany, Portugal and the Czech Republic are intent on making the UK continue to accept unlimited EU migration as the price for access to free trade with Europe. France is said to want to go further by denying British banks and other financial institutions “passporting” rights to do business in Europe unless we allow EU citizens the right to move to the UK. Only three EU members, Denmark, Austria and Bulgaria, were thought to share Britain’s concerns about immigration, according to research by financial news agency Bloomberg. Several eastern European countries along with Greece want Britain to keep paying into the EU budget on which they are heavily reliant for support, while former Soviet states are seeking security guarantees against Russian aggression. One demand certain to be rejected by the UK is Spain’s wish for joint sovereignty over Gibraltar. A British government source hit back yesterday WED at the EU wishlist, commenting: “The UK is a major world economy and has a strong bargaining power in these negotiations.
NORWAY has threatened to torpedo one of the Government’s main Brexit options by blocking the UK from joining an elite club of non-EU countries who still enjoy access to the single market. Oslo has said it may throw a huge spanner in the works by vetoing any future UK membership of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) over fears such a large country would dominate the small group. The threat, made by a senior Norwegian minister this week, could seriously weaken Theresa May’s hand when she heads to Brussels for crunch talks over Britain’s EU exit deal. Remaining in the single market through EFTA whilst still leaving the EU – a stance known as the Norwegian model – was one of the key options on the table for post-Brexit Britain. However, membership of the club requires accessions Brussels’ four freedoms including the freedom of movement, which would have been squarely at odds with Mrs May’s promise to curb EU migration.
BRITAIN’S post-Brexit property market is booming, according to a raft of new figures. Apocalyptic warnings by the Project Fear initiative unleashed in the run up to the June 23 referendum have been proved wholly wrong. On June 9 the average property price was £297,508 – today that figure is £304,116 according to the latest Zoopla index. And more mortgages were handed out to first-time buyers in June than in any other month since 2007, banks and building societies reported yesterday. Analysis of data representing 90 per cent of the entire UK property market undertaken the day before the Brexit vote found changes since are simply the result of the usual summer slowdown in business. There were 866,179 properties for sale nationally and of these, 352,301 were under agreed offer, representing 40.7 per cent of the market, according to one of Britain’s largest estate agents Jackson-Stops & Staff. In a further sign of Britain’s Brexit boom, latest data showed average asking prices for properties on sale are up £1,040 – from £240,470 on July 25 to £241,510 on August 8.
Six in ten British voters think immigration is piling too much pressure on schools, hospitals and housing – well above the worldwide average. A study conducted across 22 countries around the globe also revealed widespread alarm that terrorists may be posing as refugees to sneak through border controls. Pollsters Ipsos MORI found that the UK is one of the countries most worried about the pressure placed on public services by rising immigration levels, with 59 per cent concerned. This compares to an average of 50 per cent worldwide. Some 49 per cent of Britons think there are too many immigrants in the UK, which is in line with most countries worldwide. Almost four in ten also say immigration has made it harder for native Britons to get a job. Just 31 per cent of those surveyed in Britain support closing our borders to refugees – but 63 per cent believe terrorists are pretending to be refugees. Across all of the countries, four in ten say that their country should close its borders to refugees entirely.
A German family have travelled to Russia to claim asylum, saying their homeland was no longer safe due to the huge migrant influx. Andre Griesbach and wife Carola drove 1,400 miles to Moscow in camper van, with two daughters and four grandchildren crammed in the back. The family said they were escaping the “German dictatorship” of Chancellor Angela Merkel, insisting Russian society was far better than their own. The family arrived in Russia on New Year’s Eve 2015 and have so far been stranded in a motel as they struggle with paperwork.
British workers on the Eurostar cross-Channel rail service will strike for seven days this month, including over a public holiday weekend, in a dispute over hours, a union said on Wednesday. Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) trade union voted for strike action from Friday August 12 until Monday August 15, and for three days over the weekend of August 27, which comprises a public holiday in Britain. Eurostar said that it would make some “small changes” to the timetable as a result.
The travel plans of tens of thousands of British holidaymakers were thrown into chaos last night by hard-line union barons and just 52 rail workers. Eurostar’s train managers sparked fury by announcing seven days of strikes – split over two of the busiest weekends of the summer holiday season. The walk-out is being orchestrated by militant bosses at the Rail, Maritime and Transport union, including one with a six-figure salary and another who has said Tories should be shot. It is the same union that is behind this week’s strike on Southern Rail and a planned walk-out on the East Coast mainline. Together, the strikes represent the biggest outbreak of industrial disputes on the railways in more than 30 years. However it emerged yesterday that just 52 Eurostar train managers out of 70 balloted RMT members had voted in favour of the action. They complain that their ‘work-life balance’ is being disrupted by too many early morning shifts.
Strikes could spread to more than ten rail networks in a wave of industrial action described as “an excuse to be militant” by ministers. In an escalation of the dispute between unions and rail executives it was announced yesterday that strikes will be staged over seven days on the cross-channel Eurostar service, threatening the plans of thousands of holidaymakers. The RMT faced criticism when it emerged that the strike was based on a ballot of only 55 train managers, although 95 per cent voted in favour.
Labour’s civil war entered a bitter new phase with Jeremy Corbyn and his deputy Tom Watson locked in a public spat about whether the party risks being taken over by hard left activists driven out in the 1980s. Watson sent the leader’s office a four-page document, based on publicly available information, detailing what he said was evidence that Trotskyists had been attending meetings of grassroots pro-Corbyn Momentum pressure group and seeking to influence the Labour leadership election. He claimed some of the individuals involved were members of other parties, including the Socialist party, the successor to Militant, whose members were expelled from the Labour party by Neil Kinnock. The evidence included reports from the Socialist party’s website of its members addressing Momentum rallies and tweets from an activist expelled from Labour earlier this year who appeared to be running phone banks backing Corbyn in the leadership race.
Labour Deputy Leader Tom Watson has revealed a document suggesting ways far-left activists can ‘take control’ of Labour Party meetings, which he says is proof his concerns of party infiltration are more than a ‘conspiracy theory’. He claims the document is being passed between members of Jeremy Corbyn -backing pressure group Momentum with links to hard-left groups. The tip-sheet, Mr Watson said, borrows from the playbook of Militant, the hard-left group which took control of Labour in the 1980s, and from a book about them by Michael Crick. It suggests making the meetings boring by flooding them with procedure, process and minutes of previous meetings, with the effect that those with “better things to do…simply no longer turn up.” It goes on to suggest posing “uncomradely questions” and questioning the motives of sitting councillors and MPs, again with the purpose of reducing the number of people attending meetings.
Labour’s appeal against the decision to give recent members a vote in the party’s leadership contest will be heard in the Court of Appeal later. The High Court upheld a legal challenge to its ruling banning anyone who joined the party after 12 January from voting unless they paid an extra £25. If Labour’s appeal fails the new joiners will increase the electorate in the contest to about half a million. Owen Smith is challenging Jeremy Corbyn in a bid to take over as leader. The pair will go head-to-head at a hustings in Gateshead in Tyne and Wear at 19:00 BST. The BBC’s political correspondent Iain Watson said it was a measure of the mutual distrust between those who support and those who oppose Jeremy Corbyn that controversial decisions were now settled in the courts, and not within the party.
The GMB union has backed Owen Smith to become Labour leader, after balloting its membership for their views. Mr Smith was endorsed by 60% of the 43,419 union members who voted, while 40% supported incumbent Jeremy Corbyn. The union is one of the biggest affiliated to the party, with about 641,000 members – and is the biggest to back Mr Smith to date. Meanwhile, Mr Corbyn has the backing of the UK’s biggest union, Unite, among several others.
The third biggest union has backed Owen Smith’s Labour leadership campaign in a fresh blow to Jeremy Corbyn. The 600,000-strong GMB has officially endorsed the former shadow work and pensions secretary in a significant boost to his campaign. Mr Smith had not been expected to win the backing of the big unions and the GMB had stood firmly by Mr Corbyn during the attempt to oust him in the wake of the EU referendum vote.
LABOUR’S civil war deepened yesterday as relations between Jeremy Corbyn and deputy Tom Watson hit a new low and former leader Ed Miliband backed challenger Owen Smith for the top job. The row between Labour’s elected leader and his deputy erupted after Mr Watson claimed that veteran “Trotsky entryists” were trying to manipulate younger party members into keeping Mr Corbyn in post in his fractious leadership contest with Mr Smith. Mr Watson said some on the hard-left saw Labour as a “vehicle for revolutionary socialism” and are “not remotely interested in winning elections”. “But there are some old hands twisting young arms in this process, and I’m under no illusions about what’s going on. “They are caucusing and factionalising and putting pressure where they can, and that’s how Trotsky entryists operate. “Sooner or later, that always end up in disaster.”
LABOUR risks becoming even more of a “laughing stock” as it emerged its party conference could be cancelled – because it has not arranged any security. Jeremy Corbyn’s party has boycotted G4S because of its links with Israeli prisons but with this year’s event in Liverpool just weeks away it has not found another one. Leaked emails to Labour’s general secretary Iain McNicol reveal the extent of the party’s problems. He has been warned that the Home Office and police could shut down the conference if an alternative is not found. The Times reports Labour approached five companies and three turned down the contract outright and another withdrew its bid after a risk assessment. This leaves one company, Showsec, but it is embroiled in a row with the GMB as it is accused of not allowing workers to unionise.
WORK to replace less than a fifth of council homes sold under the right-to-buy scheme was started by English local authorities last year, the Local Government Association (LGA) revealed yesterday. Building work started on a mere 2,055 replacement council properties in 2015-16 after 12,246 of them were sold at huge discount to social tenants — leaving just 17 per cent of like-for-like replacements promised by the Tory government in line to be finished so far — with a drop of 27 per cent in new buildings on the previous year. Defend Council Housing spokesman Paul Burnham told the Star that it was “typical” for the Conservatives to “break promises that they had tried to justify the right-to-buy scheme with.”
The BBC must not let on-air guests bamboozle viewers with inaccurate statistics, its watchdog has warned, as it finds Emma Thompson was allowed to spout climate change inaccuracies without challenge. The BBC Trust found the Oscar-winning actress was permitted to make “inaccurate statements” about temperature rises during a Newsnight appearance, without being properly interrogated. A report into the BBC’s impartiality found presenters and journalists must do more to challenge statistics and statements by celebrities, politicians and spokesmen who appear on its shows.