Brexit

Westmonster
Boris Johnson’s delivered a barnstorming Brexit speech in which he said reversing the will of the people “would lead to permanent and ineradicable feelings of betrayal – we cannot and will not let it happen”. He rubbished the assertion that Brexit is a ‘little Englanders’ mentality, tore into the EU’s lack of accountability and undemocratic nature and said it was important to take back control of the UK’s immigration system. He said: “Brexit is not nationalist, but internationalist. People fear the disruption they associate with change. It’s not un-British, but a manifestation of this country’s historic genius.” Boris said Brexit is an opportunity to make the most of the global economy instead of being ruled by the faceless Europhiles in Brussels. He said Brexit was a move for self-government, by the people, for the people. The very essence of taking back control. On immigration he said: “We will stop paying ever increasing sums to
Brussels we will be able to take back control of our borders not because I’m hostile to immigrants.

Times
Theresa May will seek to broker a cabinet deal on Britain’s future trade relationship with the European Union over dinner at Chequers a week today after her foreign secretary softened his stance. Boris Johnson said yesterday that he would support the UK aligning its regulations with the rest of the EU in some areas even after the two-year transition period following Brexit. The concession came as Mr Johnson took questions after what had been billed as his keynote address setting out the case for a “liberal” Brexit. He argued for Britain to diverge from the bloc on issues such as medical and financial innovation. “If you’re going to come out then you might as well take the advantages of difference,” he said.

Independent
A new student campaign group to stop Brexit is receiving praise after its co-founder appeared on Sky News outlining why a majority of young people want to remain in the European Union.  Femi Oluwole, a graduate who specialises in EU law, launched the pressure group Our Future, Our Choice, in an attempt to deliver the “will of the people” for “the under 55 population”.  Appearing on Sky News, the 27-year-old suggested the process of leaving the EU would still be ongoing in 2023, by which time he claimed there would be more Remain voters than Leave – suggesting enough older, pro-Brexit voters would have died to swing public opinion the other way. “It’s our (young people’s) future. Who’s going to be looking for a job in that economy?” he told presenter Adam Boulton. “Who’s going to be raising a family in that economy? Who’s going to be looking for a mortgage in that economy?”

Breitbart
Bloomberg has had to report that British factories are putting in their best showing in five years — hours after claiming Brexit Britain had fallen behind Greece to become the “Sick Man of Europe”. The initial report, which claimed Greece is “growing faster than Britain and is outperforming it in financial markets”, was embraced by the usual suspects in the so-called ‘Remain Resistance’, who have been eager to highlight any negative coverage of the post-referendum economy in order to claw back some of the credibility they lost after the “immediate and profound shock” they predicted before the Leave vote failed to materialise. The outlandish claims may have been a bridge too far, however, with even neutral commentators being prompted to come out and rubbish them.

EU

Telegraph
The European Union will demand the right to raid financial services firms in Britain after Brexit and hand its regulators sweeping new powers, as Brussels moves to shackle the City of London with red tape after the UK leaves the bloc. The three regulators, the European Supervisory Authorities (ESAs), will be given extra resources, levied in large part from British-headquartered firms, under the plans to closely police enforcement and regulation of the City. Brussels will bestow the new powers on the ESAs during the Brexit transition period, when Britain will be stripped of EU voting rights and be powerless to stop the changes.

BBC News
EU diplomats have removed a so-called “punishment clause” from a draft text of the arrangement for the Brexit transition period, the BBC understands. A footnote published by the European Commission last week suggested that the UK would lose access to elements of the European single market if it broke EU rules during the transition period. But officials have now promised new wording that makes reference to the EU’s standard infringement procedures. Brexit is scheduled for 29 March 2019. The two sides are set to begin negotiations next month on the terms of transition period after the UK’s departure, which the EU has said should last until 31 December 2020. Theresa May has said a time-limited implementation period of about two years will allow businesses to adjust to changes arising from Brexit and enable the UK to negotiate its future relationship with the EU.

Westmonster
Following Boris Johnson’s speech this morning, the EU’s Jean-Claude Juncker has desperately tried to scramble away from idea that there is a ‘United States of Europe’ in the offing. Juncker has been reported as saying: “I am strictly against a European super state. We are not the United States of America. We are the EU. This is total nonsense.” The EU President’s track record says different though of course. His ‘State of the Union’ featured a clear push for deeper integration including most notably when it came to the military. Indeed he insisted specifically that: “By 2025 we will need a functioning European Defence Union.” With others in the EU like Germany’s Martin Schulz also revealing their hand when it comes to a full United States of Europe, it seems like some in Brussels are getting a bit touchy…

Independent
The president of the European Commission should be directly elected by the voters of Europe, the position’s incumbent has said. Jean-Claude Juncker said his “dream” was that the position would become elected in the “foreseeable future” and that it could be combined with the role of the European Council president so that the EU had a single, directly elected figurehead. The proposal comes as the EU thinks about its future in light of the UK’s departure and brings forward constitutional reforms. The Commission on Wednesday also hinted that it would support new rules to withhold EU funding from countries that do not adhere to European values – such as Poland. Speaking after a meeting of commissioners in Brussels Mr Juncker told reporters: “We had a very useful debate on the future direction that the European Union is going to take.  
Whenever we talk about the EU institutions there is the problem that perhaps the EU citizens aren’t that interested by the word ‘institutions’. 

Sun
THERESA MAY and Michel Barnier hoodwinked Britain with financial “acrobatics” to mask a true Brexit bill of £90billion, smug EU chiefs boasted yesterday.  Brexit negotiators allegedly performed “math acrobatics” to keep the public figure as low as possible to help Theresa May stave off a rebellion back home. UK negotiators were stunned after eurocrats briefed German media that the tab will actually reach £90 billion. Senior EU officials boasted that they managed to pull the wool over British taxpayers’ eyes with “mathematical acrobatics”. But British sources told The Sun that the figure of  £35billion to 40billion agreed between the two sides before Christmas still stands. In a piece about EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier for German newspaper Die Welt – titled “smiling, he humiliates the British” – eurocrats gloated: “The EU has won 95 per cent of its financial demands.

Express
THE EUROPEAN Union’s next longterm budget should be bigger than the current one despite Britain’s departure according to Brussels’ budget chief setting the bloc on a collision course with remaining member states. Guenther Oettinger says the EU’s next budget, which will span between 2021 and 2027, should be increased from one percent of EU gross national income to between 1.1 and 1.2 percent. The current budget is between £124-133billion (€140-150billion) but the EU is facing a £11.5billion black hole once Britain leaves. European Commission Budget Commissioner Mr Oettinger has been tasked with drawing up the bloc’s next six-year budget minus the hefty contributions made by the UK. In a statement, the European Commission said: “The budget is vital at a time when Europe is in the midst of a fundamental debate on how the Union should evolve in the years to come.

Northern Ireland

Telegraph
Theresa May is facing a political crisis in Northern Ireland after the Democratic Unionist Party said that power-sharing talks had collapsed and suggested a form of direct rule should be introduced once again. The DUP, which props up the Conservative government in Westminster, refused to agree to Sinn Fein demands to introduce legal protections for the Irish language, and said there was “no prospect” of a deal. The crisis threatens to throw the Good Friday agreement into jeopardy and is a significant blow to Mrs May’s authority as she attempts to agree to a crucial Brexit deal over the Irish border.

Times
The Democratic Unionists blamed Theresa May for a collapse in efforts to restore devolved government in Northern Ireland as they walked out of talks and called for direct rule last night. A deal to restore power sharing to the province after a 13-month impasse was thought to be close this week, when the prime minister and Leo Varadkar, her Irish counterpart, visited Belfast. In an abrupt move, however, Arlene Foster, the DUP leader, said yesterday that there was “no prospect” of her party rejoining an executive with Sinn Fein and called for the government to impose rule from Westminster. On Monday Mrs May had urged the parties to make “one final push” to restore devolution and said she believed that a deal was imminent.

Mail
DUP leader Arlene Foster today ended talks on restoring devolution in Northern Ireland, accusing Sinn Fein of trying to hold her to ransom. Mrs Foster called on the Westminster government to intervene to set a budget and start making policy decisions held over during the 13-month stalemate. The decision to collapse the talks comes a day after Mrs Foster blasted Theresa May for making a ‘distracting’ intervention in a visit to Belfast on Monday.  The Prime Minister raised hopes of a deal by travelling to Stormont to meet the parties alongside Irish premier Leo Varadkar. But Mrs May left empty handed and Mrs Foster today said the latest round of talks had failed. Devolution has been on ice for more than a year after Sinn Fein collapsed the power-sharing executive and demanded Mrs Foster’s resignation. 

Independent
There is currently “no prospect” of an agreement to restore power-sharing in Northern Ireland, Arlene Foster has said. The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) leader called on the UK Government to reassert direct rule over the region after admitting there are still “serious and significant differences” between her party and Sinn Fein. Northern Ireland has now been without a regional government for more than a year. Ms Foster’s stark warning comes after weeks of talks aimed at breaking the impasse between the parties. It will be seen as a blow to Theresa May, who travelled to the region on Monday in an attempt to help seal a deal after it was widely reported that an agreement was close. The Prime Minister suggested at the time that only “one final push” was needed to reach a deal.

Education

Guardian
Tests to check whether eight- and nine-year-olds know their times tables will be trialled in some primary schools in England next month before being rolled out nationally. The test, which ministers hope will improve pupils’ numeracy, will become mandatory in 2020 for all year 4 students. The government says the on-screen test, which assesses knowledge of the times tables up to 12, will last no longer than five minutes and has been designed to avoid causing additional stress for children and teachers. The Department for Education sought to reassure teachers that the results would not be published and would not be used by the schools watchdog Ofsted to enforce any changes. Many teachers’ leaders remain opposed to the new test, which is being introduced just as Sats tests in maths and English for seven-year-olds are about to be phased out after complaints about the burden of stress on young children and their teachers.

Health

Telegraph
Eating too many highly-processed foods could significantly increase the risk of cancer, a major study suggests. The research on more than 100,000 adults found that every 10 per cent increase in consumption of ready meals, sugary cereals and salty snacks is linked to a 12 per cent rise in cancer risks. Such foods now make up more than half the British diet, on average, separate data shows – the highest proportion across European nations. The study warned that the “rapidly increasing” consumption of heavily processed foods seen in recent years could drive an increasing burden of cancer in coming decades. Scientists raised fears that the additives used to produce such foods could increase the risk of cancer. They urged consumers to try to eat more fresh or minimally processed foods as a “precautionary” principle. However, the research was observational – meaning it could not demonstrate whether it was the type of food itself that caused the increased risk of cancer.

Times
Eating factory-made food including cornflakes, pizza and chocolate bars every day increases the risk of cancer by a quarter, the first study of its kind suggests. Additives in ready meals, packaged snacks and shop-bought cakes may combine to trigger the disease, researchers warned last night. Cancer caused by highly processed food would be over and above the harmful effects of the sugar and fat it contains, scientists fear. The West’s increasing taste for packaged food on the go could fuel a further rise in cancer in the future, they say. French researchers studied the diets of 105,000 people, of whom 2,228 developed cancer over an eight-year period.

Mail
Eating processed food significantly raises the risk of cancer, experts warned last night. They said the disease was claiming more lives because of the popularity of ready meals, sugary cereals and fizzy drinks. The products put middle-aged women in particular danger from breast cancer, according to a study in the British Medical Journal. ‘Ultra-processed’ food – any product involving an industrial procedure – now makes up half of our diet. Packed with chemical additives, the foods bear little resemblance to home-cooked meals. And the more of them an individual eats, the higher their risk of cancer of any type. Experts believe this is because processed foods, which include packaged meat, pies, sweets and crisps, are higher in fat, salt and sugar. They also have less of the vitamins and fibre that ward off disease.

Pandemic

Mail
Humanity is ‘vulnerable’ to a pandemic that could kill millions, the chief of the World Health Organization has warned. Dr Tedros Adhanom, director general of the WHO, claims the next outbreak will have a ‘terrible toll’ on the population and economy. Fears of a pandemic have mounted lately, following the worst flu outbreak in recent years that has rocked the US, Australia, France and the UK. A plague outbreak in Madagascar last November also shook the medical community, and left them concerned it would spread across the world rapidly. While the most recent pandemic, mosquito-borne Zika virus, struck 70 countries in 2016 and took concerned scientists by surprise.  Speaking about the threat of another at the World Government Summit in Dubai earlier this week, Dr Tedros said: ‘This is not some future nightmare scenario. ‘A devastating epidemic could start in any country at any time and kill millions of people because we are still not prepared. The world remains vulnerable.’ He added: ‘We do not know where and when the next global pandemic will occur, but we know it will take a terrible toll both on human life and on the economy.’

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