Brexit

Express
A PETITION to MPs calling for Theresa May to abandon the Brexit negotiations and pull Britain out of the EU immediately has attracted more than 70,000 signatures. The huge support for the demand, lodged on the official parliamentary website, has already triggered a response from the Government. It follows growing concern among many voters about the slow progress of the negotiations about the UK’s departure from the bloc and anger at the expected divorce bill of up to £39billion being faced by UK taxpayers agreed by the Prime Minister in Brussels last week. Under parliamentary rules, MPs will be expected to hold a debate on the petition if the number of signatures rises above the 100,000 mark. The petition was added to the Parliament website in September and is set to remain open for more signatures until March 2018. The huge support for the demand, lodged on the official parliamentary website, has already triggered a response from the Government.

Telegraph
Theresa May is heading to a major Brussels summit today after pro-European Tory MPs delivered the prime minister her first Commons defeat and boasted that Parliament had “taken control” of Brexit. In a sign of bitter recriminations Stephen Hammond, one of the rebels, was immediately sacked as Vice Chairman of the Conservative Paty after he backed the amendment guaranteeing Parliament a vote on the final Brexit deal. One Brexit-supporting Tory called for the rebels to be deselected and never allowed to stand as Conservatives again as they were accused of handing Labour a “victory” in the Commons. Mr Hammond was one of 11 Tory MPs who joined Labour and the Liberal Democrats on Wednesday in backing an amendment that guarantees Parliament a “meaningful vote” on Brexit. 
At least two more abstained.

Times
Theresa May suffered her first Brexit defeat in the Commons last night as Tory “mutineers” ensured that MPs must approve the terms of Britain’s departure from the EU. The move prompted recriminations from Leave supporters who accused pro-Remain MPs of trying to delay or reverse the EU referendum result by creating the opportunity to reject the terms of withdrawal at a later date. The rebels, led by the former attorney-general Dominic Grieve, won the vote by a majority of four despite a last-minute concession by ministers and heavy pressure on MPs from Tory whips to back the government. His amendment to the EU (Withdrawal) Bill was supported by 309 MPs, with 305 opposing it.

Express
THERESA May is reeling after her first major Brexit defeat as rebel Tory MPs helped push through a crucial amendment. This evening MPs voted 309 to 305 in favour of an amendment to the EU Withdrawal Bill.  This has dashed Mrs May’s plans for a take-it-or-leave-it final Brexit vote, with MPs now able to suggest new terms of Britain’s EU exit.  This will slow down the Brexit process and comes ahead of tomorrow’s key EU Summit
where the go-ahead was due to be given to talks progressing to trade.  Several rebel MPs from Mrs May’s Tory party helped push through the amendment, helped by all opposition parties. Labour leader mocked Theresa May after the result, staying the defeat was “humiliating”. Even hard-line Brexiteers including Jacob Rees-Mogg had warned the Government the controversial Clause 9, which has now been overruled, went to far.  The so-called Henry VIII powers were defended by Government ministers during an afternoon-long debate in the House of Commons today. 

Sky News
Theresa May is heading to Brussels for the third time in 10 days just hours after the embarrassment of her first Commons defeat on Brexit. After last week’s Brussels deal, the Prime Minister will urge leaders of the other 27 EU countries to move on as quickly as possible to talks on post-Brexit trade deals. But the latest talks with EU leaders come at the end of a week of setbacks since the success of her early morning dash to Brussels and Brexit breakthrough last Friday. First the Government was hit by a backlash against David Davis’s claims on Sunday that the deal was a “statement of intent” and a trade deal could be signed immediately after the UK leaves the EU. And now a Commons defeat which forces the Government to amend its EU (Withdrawal) Bill
a move which ministers claim could prolong the Brexit process has again weakened the PM’s authority.

Guardian
Conservative rebels inflicted a humiliating defeat on Theresa May in the House of Commons as they backed an amendment to her flagship European Union withdrawal bill over parliament’s right to a meaningful vote on the Brexit deal. As the prime minister prepared to meet her fellow EU leaders in Brussels on Thursday, a series of last minute concessions by ministers and intense pressure from Tory whips failed to deter 11 of the government’s MPs from voting against the leadership. Backers of amendment seven, tabled by former attorney-general Dominic Grieve, included former education secretary Nicky Morgan, former business minister Anna Soubry, and South Cambridgeshire MP Heidi Allen. MPs cheered and waved their order papers as the result of the crucial vote was read out, revealing the government had lost by 309 votes to 305: May’s first Commons defeat over Brexit. Grieve’s amendment had the effect of limiting ministers’ power to make sweeping changes to the law before parliament has approved the Brexit deal.

Mail
Humiliated Theresa May is heading to Brussels today for a crucial summit with EU leaders hours after Tory rebel MPs handed her a undignified defeat by voting to let parliament have a say on the final Brexit deal before it’s agreed. Eleven Conservative MPs last night voted to give the Commons a ‘meaningful’ vote over any Brexit agreement with the EU, despite government pleas to let ministers retain control. The rebel MPs were said to be jubilant with former education secretary Nicky Morgan boasting: ‘Tonight Parliament took control of the EU Withdrawal process’. The government was defeated by a margin of four votes, losing 309 to 305 and Labour MPs joined the rebels in cheering and applauding as the extraordinary result was announced last night.  But pro-Brexit Conservative MPs condemned their colleague’s actions arguing that it undermines the prime minister’s negotiating position with Brussels.  

Independent
Theresa May is set to arrive in Brussels for a key EU summit on Thursday having suffered a damaging defeat in Parliament over her central piece of Brexit  legislation. The Prime Minister is to use the EU event to try and make the case for moving Brexit talks on to trade negotiations quickly, but European leaders will now be left wondering if she still has the political support in London to deliver any deal. There were cheers from opposition MPs in the House of Commons when it emerged the Government had been forced to accept changes to its EU Withdrawal Bill, which it is now claimed will guarantee Parliament a “meaningful” final vote on any Brexit deal Ms May agrees. The embarrassing defeat – the first inflicted on Ms May as she pushes through her Brexit plans – came after Jeremy Corbyn ordered Labour MPs to back an amendment to her legislation proposed by ex-Conservative attorney general Dominic Grieve. The result immediately exposed deep divisions on the Conservative benches, with reports of a heavy-handed Government whipping operation creating tension, blue-on-blue clashes in the Commons and one Tory rebel sacked from his senior party position within moments of opposing Ms May.

EU

Independent
The European Parliament has voted to back a move to the next phase of Brexit  talks, as well as an amendment criticising Brexit Secretary David Davis. MPs voted by 556 in favour to 62 against for the non-binding motion judging that “sufficient progress” has been made in talks to open discussions on the transition period. The final decision on whether to move to the next phase of talks will be made by EU national leaders at the European Council in a meeting on Friday afternoon.  The European Commission also recommended last Friday that the next phase begin, following late night and early morning talks with Theresa May. The resolution passed by the Parliament however notes five outstanding areas where more progress had to be made, including the extension of coverage of citizens’ rights to future partners, a light-touch procedure for declaring settled status and the right to free movement for UK citizens currently living in EU member states. Other areas included a binding role for European Court of Justice decisions on citizens’ rights and the implementation of the Northern Ireland agreement. It also criticises David Davis for endangering good faith between the two sides in the talks after he said on Sunday that the deal was a “statement of intent” rather than enforceable.

Guardian
Scottish fishermen have raised concerns that the EU is adopting a hardline stance over quotas as a prelude to  Brexit negotiations. Annual negotiations over fishing quotas – expected to be the penultimate talks the UK participates in before leaving the EU – were concluded in Brussels early on Wednesday. The UK government welcomed the deal, while Scotland’s rural economy secretary, Fergus Ewing, described it as “broadly fair”. Two-thirds of fish in North Sea and Atlantic fisheries will be subject to sustainable catch limits next year, with increases for North Sea cod, haddock and monkfish, while catches for mackerel will see a significant restriction. But Bertie Armstrong, chief executive of the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation, which has been consistently pro-Brexit, said EU countries were “adopting entrenched views” that could adversely affect future negotiations. “Looking to the future, international law is abundantly clear that upon exit, control over the UK exclusive economic zone will revert to the UK governments. That will allow the UK to decide for our own waters who gets to catch what, where and when. But it doesn’t mean we won’t be willing to negotiate access. The difference is that it will be on our terms.

Westmonster
The EU has been plunged into total chaos thanks to Donald Tusk’s latest migration announcement – he now wants individual countries to take responsibility for the migrant crisis, saying the EU is simply there to help. Tusk basically admitted the EU’s migration policy had failed, saying: “Only member states are able to tackle the migration crisis effectively. The EU’s role is to offer its full support in all possible ways. “The issue of mandatory quotas has proven to be highly divisive and the approach has turned out to be ineffective.” It sparked furious responses from members of the European Commission, German, Swedish and Italian delegates, with Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos saying: “My position is very clear. The paper prepared by President Tusk is unacceptable. It is anti-European, and it ignores all the work we have done during the past years and we’ve done this work together. “This paper is undermining one of the main pillars of the European project, the principle of solidarity. Europe without solidarity cannot exist.”

Mail
European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker was branded ‘arrogant’ last night after he become embroiled in a criminal probe over wiretapping. Judges are investigating an extraordinary spying operation in Luxembourg when he was prime minister there ten years ago. Last night MPs expressed concern the scandal could disrupt the Brexit negotiations. Theresa May for Brexit talks in Brussels, a Luxembourg judge opened a criminal inquiry into whether officials working for Mr Juncker had ‘tampered’ with evidence. It is possible Mr Juncker himself could now be called as a witness. His officials have flatly rejected claims of a cover-up and yesterday they blamed the furore on ‘Juncker-bashing’ over Brexit. The criminal probe was launched by Luxembourg judge Eric Schammo, who will examine claims made by the principality’s former spy chief, Marco Mille, that someone in Mr Juncker’s office ‘falsified’ a transcript that is a key piece of evidence in a criminal case against Mr Mille.

Education

Times
Children are leaving school without being taught to read or write in English, it emerged yesterday, as the head of Ofsted said a resistance to British values in some communities was affecting education standards. Amanda Spielman, the chief inspector, said some schools were deliberately illegal and unregistered, operating off the radar so that they did not have to meet education requirements. 
Launching her annual report, she said children at many illegal faith schools left education with limited or no ability to read and write in English, no qualifications and no work skills. Ofsted wants greater powers to tackle them, including a new legal definition of “school” and the ability to seize inflammatory material.

Mail
A primary school claims it has to wash pupils’ dirty clothes because their families can’t afford to. Headmistress Siobhan Collingwood, who was previously accused of trying to unseat a Tory MP, yesterday said some parents were so deprived they had passed out from hunger in the hallways. Mrs Collingwood – nicknamed Red Siobhan – said that, ‘pretty much daily’, children at Morecambe Bay Primary School, Lancashire, had to use its laundry room ‘if the family haven’t got a washing machine working at home, or if they’ve not got enough money to pay for the meter’. On a local ITV report on poverty, she said: ‘We have had parents pass out in the school hall through doing without meals. ‘We’ve helped them to join in with the breakfasts that are available within school. We’ve taken them as well to food banks.’ Morecambe Bay Primary donates presents and food for pupils if they would otherwise miss out on Christmas Day.

NHS

ITV News
The NHS has launched a free app that shows how busy local services are in the hope of reducing waiting times. Called NHSquicker, the app enables people in Devon and Cornwall to view current waiting times for local emergency departments and minor injuries units, and estimates how long it would take people to get to a different treatment centres, based on their location. The app, which is available on Apple and Android operating systems, also provides information about less urgent NHS services, including GPs, pharmacies, sexual health services, dentists and opticians. The technology was launched by the Health and Care IMPACT Network, a collaboration between the NHS across Devon and Cornwall and academics from the University of Exeter. The release comes as doctors urge people to consider using alternative urgent care service if the issue is not serious or life-threatening, rather than the local emergency department, especially as hospitals become busier over Christmas and through winter.

Anti-racism

Sun
A TOP London university was forced to apologise for using term “white” about snow by hysterical anti-racism campaigners. University College London were widely mocked after saying sorry for quoting the much loved festive tune White Christmas on social media. During the cold weather on Monday uni bosses writer on Twitter: “Dreaming of a white campus?” They added: “Our campuses will be open and operating fully today so please make your way in as planned. (We can’t guarantee snow but we’ll try!)” But immediately angry students following the account branded the tweet “racist” and demanded it be taken down. The next day the uni bowed to pressure and issued a grovelling apology. Replying to their own message they shared a video of Bing Crosby singing White Christmas, adding: “We chose our words very poorly yesterday when thinking of this song.” They went on: “We’re sorry and we’ll choose our words more carefully in the future.”

Public toilets

Mail
Rail chiefs are making millions from commuters spending a penny. Network Rail raked in almost £5 million from pay toilets at 12 of the busiest stations across the UK in the past year. London Victoria has the most lucrative loos, with travellers caught short splashing out £911,528 to use the facilities. Last December, the taxpayer-funded Network Rail announced it was temporarily scrapping the 50p toilet charge at Victoria to compensate travellers for travel disruption. A spokesperson for Network Rail said: ‘We do not profit from these charges. The small charge we make for using the toilets helps to maintain them and prevents misuse such as vandalism and other anti-social behaviour. ‘Any money raised from the charges is reinvested into the railway and passenger facilities at our stations.’ Commuters at London Euston parted with £698,625 over the past 12 months. For the second year in a row, Birmingham New Street rail users can relieve themselves free of charge. But north of the border funds raised from toilet users at Glasgow Central rocketed from £207,217 in 2013/2014 to £325,109 in 2016/2017. In all, Network Rail has made more than £20 million from station pay toilets in the past four years.

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