MPs have rejected a “Norway-style” relationship with the EU as the government defeated a series of House of Lords changes to key Brexit legislation. In another marathon voting session on Wednesday night, MPs overturned remaining peers’ amendments to the EU Withdrawal Bill. Most notably, MPs dismissed a demand by the House of Lords for the government to pursue membership of the European Economic Area (EEA) as a negotiating objective in Brexit talks. MPs voted by 327 to 126 to disagree with the Lords amendment, giving the government a majority of 201.
The government has been forced to deny that a measure it quietly adopted this week effectively kills off the chances of a “no deal” Brexit and locks the UK into a tight customs arrangement with the EU. Ministers were also quick to deny that the amendment – passed without a vote – rules out the possibility of the UK adopting the future customs arrangements preferred by Brexiteers. But both Tory and Labour MPs now say the little debated measure, making illegal any “physical infrastructure, including border posts, or checks and controls”, is the most significant thing to have occurred in this week’s fraught commons Brexit debates.
John Bercow is preparing to defy his critics and stay on as Speaker for another year to ensure that MPs get the chance to vote on changing the course of Brexit. The Commons Speaker, who previously vowed to step down this summer, has told friends the government could take advantage of a new and inexperienced Speaker to force a Brexit deal through the Commons. The move will infuriate Brexiteers who have already questioned Mr Bercow’s impartiality after a “Bollocks to Brexit” bumper sticker was spotted on his car and he told students he had voted Remain in the referendum.
A year after news of the ‘Brexit’ shook the world, more countries are threatening to leave the European Union. Many more. France, Spain, Germany, Greece, Italy, Sweden, Denmark, and the Netherlands are all at risk of jumping ship. Simply put, the EU is disintegrating. This is a major geopolitical development — something seen but once in a lifetime. It’s on par with the collapse of the Soviet Union in both scope and scale. And it will have dire ramifications for the global economy. Make no mistake, the EU disintegration will make the 2008 financial crisis look like a walk in the park.
Nigel Farage today hit out at claims by a senior MEP that he took money from the Kremlin – branding the accusation a ‘baseless lie’. Guy Verhofstadt, a Brexit coordinator at the European Parliament, accused the former Ukip leader of being one of ‘Putin’s cheerleaders’. He accused Mr Farage of ‘colluding’ with the Russian despot to deliver Brexit in Britain. And he said that he is part of a ‘fifth column’ right-wing politicians who are determined to destroy Europe. But Mr Farage today tore into the incendiary claims and demanded that Mr Verhoftsdat withdraw them.
A European Union commissioner launched a scathing attack on leading Brexiteers claiming “the tide is finally starting to go out” on them and warned the European Union is “ready for the worst”. Phil Hogan, Irish European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, went as far as accusing MEP Nigel Farage and Environment Secretary Michael Gove of using “deception and lies” to mislead Britons over Brexit during the EU referendum campaign. Speaking at a conference on Brexit organised by the Irish Road Haulage Association (IRHA) at Rosslare Port on Monday, he said: “The tide is finally starting to go out on the high priests of Brexit, and not before time.
Italy has rescued more than 900 migrants amid a diplomatic row with France after it earlier turned away an aid ship with 600 aboard. The migrants arrived in Catania, Sicily, aboard the coast guard vessel Diciotti on Monday, including the bodies of a woman and a teenage boy who died. Thirteen of the 937 passengers from Eritrea, Sudan, Mali, Ivory Coast and Guinea are pregnant and 208 are minors. During the voyage to Sicily, four pregnant women and a man suffering from fever were evacuated urgently and taken to hospitals.
ITALY has hit back at France’s president after he branded its government “irresponsible” and “cynical” for turning away a rescue boat full of migrants. Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini defended the decision to reject the Aquarius vessel, which was stranded in the Mediterranean for days with 629 migrants on board. Two Italian ships are escorting the Aquarius to Spain after new Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez stepped up and offered them safe harbour.
Italy summoned the French ambassador and demanded an apology as it ramped up its standoff with Paris over migration on Wednesday. The new populist Italian government challenged France to take in more asylum seekers after French President Emmanuel Macron accused them of cynical, irresponsible behavior for refusing entry of a rescue ship with hundreds of migrants on board. In addition to summoning the French diplomat, Italy also cancelled a planned meeting between the countries’ finance ministers and warned that diplomatic relations have been compromised.
Austria’s chancellor has brought together the hardline interior ministers of Germany and Italy to form an “axis of the willing” to combat illegal migration in Europe, in a backlash against Angela Merkel’s open-door approach. The challenge by Sebastian Kurz to the German chancellor’s dominance in the bloc came three years after the crisis first threatened to damage relations between western capitals. As Austria takes control of the rotating six-month presidency of the Council of the European Union at the beginning of next month, Mr Kurz is expected, along with populist leaders in Italy and conservatives in Germany, to push for a reversal of the open approach to asylum seekers.
Ministers accused Brussels last night of treating Britain like a “hostile state” after commission officials moved to freeze British companies out of more than £350 million of contracts for the Galileo satellite system. The officials stepped in to prevent the government vetoing the latest round of contracts at a European Space Agency meeting. It also emerged that the commission had again ruled out British demands for unrestricted access to the satellite navigation system on security grounds at a meeting of EU ambassadors.
A fresh row over the UK’s involvement with the Galileo satellite programme, to which the country’s taxpayers have already paid £1bn, threatens to poison the Brexit talks after the EU shut Britain out of the project. A majority of member states have turned against the UK and voted in favour of pushing forward on the next round of contracts for the £8bn project, despite requests for a delay to allow negotiations over British involvement to progress. UK firms are being blocked from bidding for contracts. Galileo is an £8bn satellite navigation system intended to rival the US-controlled global positioning system.
THE UK has threatened to quit the EU’s Galileo navigation system after Brussels refused to give Britain full access to the scheme after Brexit. The UK has been a key player in the development of the satellite network, handing over more than £1billion towards the programme. But all 27 EU member states have backed the European Commission’s decision to limit Britain’s access to Galileo after Brexit. A new Commission document says that giving a non-EU country unlimited access would be a “change of nature” for the scheme. The revelation is likely to put a further strain on relations between London and Brussels as Brexit talks continue.
BREXIT Secretary David Davis is threatening to use “guerrilla tactics” if Theresa May agrees to Tory rebel Dominic Grieve’s amendments to the EU Withdrawal Bill, according to BBC Newsnight political editor Nicholas Watt. Mr Grieve secured shock concessions from the Prime Minister to avoid an embarrassing defeat for the Government ahead of a vote on the House of Lords’ amendments, but voted down his original amendment.
Theresa May was last night under pressure to refuse further concessions to Tory Remainers after they boasted that Leave voters would have to ‘suck it up’ and accept free movement. The Prime Minister has been locked in talks with rebel MPs after they threatened mutiny over vital Brexit legislation. But there was fury after arch Remainer Anna Soubry told MPs that mass immigration was not a problem – and urged Brexit voters to accept that it would have to continue. Mrs May later insisted she would not give way on the issue, saying she would not ‘countenance Parliament being able to overturn the will of the people’.
THE CONSERVATIVE rebel Dominic Grieve has warned Theresa May to compromise on the EU Withdrawal Bill or face another showdown in Parliament, after voting against his own amendment to secure a “meaningful vote” on the deal for MPs. Mr Grieve secured shock concessions from the Prime Minister to avoid an embarrassing defeat for the Government, and stated he is certain Tory rebels will “be able to get what we want” from the Brexit process. Speaking on BBC Newsnight, Mr Grieve commented on the Government’s concessions, stating: “There was bound to be discussion about the amendment, and that discussion was positive.
THERESA May today vowed to stop pro-EU rebels overturning the result of the Brexit referendum. The PM insisted she would hold firm in the face of Tory MPs who have threatened to wreck the Brexit bill if she doesn’t give them the compromise they were promised. Mrs May now has just five days to cobble together a solution which will please both the rebels and Brexiteers – or risk seeing the key EU Withdrawal Bill go down in flames. But she told MPs she would resist any efforts to stop Britain quitting the EU.
Theresa May is facing another fight from Tory Brexit rebels after warnings to the prime minister to stick to her promises on key legislation. Pro-EU Conservative backbenchers told the prime minister on Wednesday that if she “goes back” on a vow made 24 hours earlier she could yet suffer a humiliating reverse on the EU Withdrawal Bill. On Tuesday, the government managed to buy off potential rebels with a promise to “engage positively” with their demands for MPs to have a greater say over Brexit negotiations. Former attorney general Dominic Grieve had tabled an amendment to the bill to beef up a “meaningful vote” for MPs on the final Brexit deal.
Theresa May has been warned of certain defeat next week if she breaks her “personal” promise to give MPs a decisive say on Brexit, if she has failed to reach a deal by the autumn. Rebel Tories insisted the prime minister had “conceded” on the crucial issue in crisis talks in her office yesterday – the price for them calling off a revolt, amid dramatic scenes in the Commons. Nicky Morgan, a leading pro-EU Tory, said the rebellion over the “meaningful vote” would be relaunched next week if Ms May refused to stand by the commitment given.
Tory rebel Dominic Grieve was accused of ‘supping with the devil’ last night after he held secret talks with avowed enemies of Brexit. He was spotted slipping into the European Commission’s Smith Square HQ in London yesterday for a private meeting of campaigners set on reversing the result of the referendum. Attendees included Tony Blair’s former spin doctor Alastair Campbell and Tory and Lib Dem peers who have rebelled over Brexit. Also present were leaders of People’s Vote, which campaigns for a second referendum, Open Britain, the successor organisation to the official Remain campaign, and Best for Britain, the anti-Brexit group backed by financier George Soros.
Labour‘s sister party in Northern Ireland has warned MPs to back plans to effectively keep Britain in the UK single market or else risk the return of a hard border on the island. The SDLP has written to Labour MPs saying it is “critical” they vote for Britain to stay in the European Economic Area (EEA), ahead of a crunch Commons vote on the issue. Jeremy Corbyn has ordered his MPs to abstain on a House of Lords amendment that would guarantee EEA membership but is certain to face a significant revolt, with around 70 Labour MPs expected to defy instructions in order to back the motion.
Jeremy Corbyn suffered the biggest rebellion of his leadership last night as 90 Labour MPs defied his instructions in a crucial Brexit vote. One frontbencher quit along with five parliamentary aides after the Labour leader ordered his MPs to abstain in the Commons over whether Britain should remain in the single market. In the event 75 backbenchers supported the motion to remain in the European Economic Area (EEA) and 15 voted to leave it. Mr Corbyn and Sir Keir Starmer, the shadow Brexit secretary, had wanted the party to vote for an alternative plan, which would have kept “full access” to the single market without having the obligations of membership.
JEREMY Corbyn suffered a huge Brexit blow in the House of Commons last night as Labour MPs rebelled against his stance on the UK’s EU divorce. Six MPs quit Mr Corbyn’s frontbench in protest at the hard-left leader’s plans to keep the UK inside the single market after Brexit. Laura Smith, Ged Killen, Ellie Reeves, Tonia Antoniazzi, Anna McMorrin and Rosie Duffield all walked away from the Labour top team. Their dramatic departures came as the House of Commons threw out a series of amendments to the historic Brexit Bill by unelected peers.
JEREMY Corbyn was humiliated this evening as a string of his frontbench team resigned and almost 90 MPs rebelled against him by voting in a crunch Brexit vote. Six members of his top team quit ahead of a vote where MPs opted against staying in the European Economic Area – which would have kept Britain tied to the Single Market. Just as MPs were voting on the crunch amendment, Labour announced that Laura Smith, shadow minister for the cabinet office, and four others, had resigned.
Jeremy Corbyn suffered a huge rebellion tonight as six MPs resigned from the Labour front bench over a call for Soft Brexit . The junior frontbenchers were among 90 Labour MPs who defied their leader in a vote about staying in the European Economic Area (EEA). The so-called ‘Norway model’, which would keep benefits of the EU single market, is backed by pro-EU Labour MPs who say it soften the blow of Brexit. But it is opposed by Jeremy Corbyn because it would leave Britain shackled to EU rules with little to no power to stop free movement.
Jeremy Corbyn has suffered his biggest Brexit rebellion in the Commons as nearly 90 backbenchers defied his orders and six junior frontbenchers resigned from their roles. It follows the Labour leader’s decision to instruct his MPs to abstain on a Lords amendment to the EU (Withdrawal) Bill that would have kept Britain in the European Economic Area (EEA) after Britain’s withdrawal from the EU. In total, 74 Labour MPs voted for EEA membership while 15 voted with the government against the so-called Norway model – bringing the rebellion to 89.
Labour has backed calls for football fans to be allowed to watch matches at work during the World Cup. The Trade Union Congress (TUC) called on employers to be as flexible as possible with staff during the month-long tournament, allowing them to work from home or move their shifts to accommodate big games. Describing the World Cup as a “landmark sporting event”, TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said millions of workers around the UK would want to cheer on their national teams.
Immigration rules capping the number of foreign medics working in the UK are reportedly going to be eased to allow the NHS to recruit more staff. Sajid Javid will remove non-EU doctors and nurses from the annual 20,700 “tier 2” visa limit on non-EU workers, The Sun and The Telegraph reported. Such a move would mean that the new Home Secretary has succeeded in convincing Prime Minister Theresa May, who has committed to reducing net migration into Britain to below 100,000 after Brexit.
THE IMMIGRATION cap on foreign doctors is being scrapped by the Home Secretary – clearing the way for an NHS hiring spree. Sajid Javid will tomorrow announce that doctors and nurses from outside the EU will be removed from the Government’s ‘Tier 2’ skilled worker visa regime with immediate effect. It’s the first softening of immigration controls put in place seven years ago by Theresa May when she ran the Home Office. And it means hospitals will be able to bring in thousands more foreign health workers from the beginning of July.
The government is to relax immigration rules to allow more non-EU skilled workers into the UK. On Friday, the Home Office is expected to confirm that foreign doctors and nurses will be excluded from the government’s visa cap. The cap – introduced by Theresa May when she was home secretary – sets a limit for all non-EU skilled workers at 20,700 people a year. But NHS bosses say the rules are making it difficult to recruit enough staff. The proposed changes relate to so-called Tier 2 visas – which are used by skilled workers from outside the European Economic Area and Switzerland.
A GROUP of men who abused teenage girls – often in a car they nicknamed the “shag wagon” – have been jailed for a total of nearly 90 years. The twisted gang – aged 36 to 48 – plied vulnerable girls as young as 13 with drink and drugs at “parties” in Oxford. The eight men – branded “predatory and cynical” by a judge – have now been jailed for between seven-and-a-half and fifteen years each. Judge Peter Ross said the investigation into the gang had uncovered “systematic and widespread grooming”. He said sexual abuse had become “the norm” for the men.
Six men have been jailed for the historic grooming and rape of six Oxford teenage girls in crimes against children the convicting judge called “sinister” and “predatory”. The rape gang operated in Oxford, preying on six “vulnerable” teens, then aged 13 to 17, from 1998 to 2005 and subjected them to “hundreds of episodes of sexual abuse”, according to Judge Peter Ross. Prosecutors described it as “sexual exploitation on a massive scale”, with Judge Ross saying at the defendants’ convictions in March: “Systematic and widespread grooming, that is what this case has revealed.”
The tainted honours system was in the dock again last night after it emerged that two top awards went to people sitting on the very committees which hand them out. Kanya King, founder of a major music awards ceremony, and engineer Naomi Climer both received CBEs. And three honours went to clients of a literary agent who sits on one of the decision-making honours committees. These include historian Simon Schama, who was knighted, and author Jeanette Winterson, who was given a CBE. Last week’s Queen’s Birthday Honours were dubbed ‘rewards for failure’ after Mark Carne, the outgoing boss of Network Rail, received a CBE amid travel chaos for millions of commuters.