Brexit

Reuters
British voters want to maintain free trade with the European Union after Brexit but also want to limit immigration from countries in the bloc, according to a survey on Wednesday. In the United Kingdom’s June 23 referendum, a total of 17.4 million people, or 51.9 percent, voted to leave the EU while 16.1 million, or 48.1 percent, voted to remain. The survey, which reflected the demographic profile of the British population and the referendum divide, is based on research conducted by independent social research institute NatCen during September and October via the internet and by phone with a panel of 1,391 people.

Star
Theresa May has vowed to start the process of taking Britain out of the EU – expected to take up to two years – in March. The Prime Minister planned to use that window to tidy up loose ends like dumping European laws presently valid here. But Supreme Court judge Lady Hale said a whole new law may have to pass through Parliament to replace the European laws we are currently bound by. This means there could be years of arguments and debates among MPs before Article 50, which begins the Brexit process, can even be triggered. A source said: “This will come as a huge blow to Theresa May. Replacing the laws could take years. In a worse case scenario it might take up to 10 years to sort all this out.”

Guardian
Pro-remain Liberal Democrat peers believe they could insert extra clauses into even the most tightly worded Brexit bill to force Theresa May to tell parliament more about her negotiating plans before she triggers article 50. With the supreme court judgment on whether the government must consult parliament before invoking article 50 – the formal process for leaving the European Union – not expected until the new year, the government is thought to be quietly drafting a basic bill that its lawyers believe would be hard to amend. But constitutional experts have told the Lib Dems there is no obstacle to adding extra clauses to such legislation, which could force the government to publish a white paper detailing how it plans to approach talks with the other EU member-states – and even offer voters a second referendum. In a statement, four Lib Dem peers who are also QCs – including Menzies Campbell and Alex Carlile – said: “We welcome the acceptance that a parliamentary bill is likely to be needed. 

Telegraph
The leaked Deloitte memo claiming that Theresa May has “no plan” for Brexit has provided joyous fodder for so-called “Bremoaners” desperate to prove that leaving the EU is impossible and unworkable, but that doesn’t make it so.  Contrary to that speculative report, there clearly is a Brexit plan being formulated in Downing Street even if the Prime Minister is resolutely refusing to say precisely how she will respond to the mountain of analysis that has been piling up on her desk since she took office.

Scotland

Express
NICOLA Sturgeon is facing a massive backlash in Scotland as it is revealed she is refusing to take control of welfare powers granted from Westminster. The under-fire SNP leader will not be able to take over the delivery of 11 benefits from the UK government after she asked for them to be deferred until 2020 to “minimise risk.” It throws Ms Sturgeon’s continued push for independence for Scotland into serious doubt as her government tries to mandate another referendum. According to minutes released following a recent meeting between the Scottish and UK governments, the SNP asked for a delay before powers contained in the Scotland Act are devolved. 

Article 50

Express
A SUPREME Court judge is facing demands that she plays no part in a ruling on Brexit amid concerns she has already declared herself as a Remainer. Concerns have been raised that any involvement by Baroness Hale in a government appeal against a High Court ruling that Parliament needs to pass legislation to trigger Article 50 will be compromised because of her past comments which appear to be in favour of the EU. Baroness Hale has, according to Brexit campaigners, compromised her position over comments made on scrapping the Human Rights Act. In an interview she said that it would mean the UK would have to leave the EU and asked “is that a price worth paying?”

EU

Express
BORIS JOHNSON has dismissed claims free movement of people is an essential part of remaining in the European Union (EU) as “b******s” – and Angela Merkel has tacitly agreed with him in a stunning U-turn. Under pressure from the British Foreign Secretary, the German Chancellor has hinted that Brussels bloc members need to “discuss further” one of the key principles of the Brussels bloc – a major U-turn from the Eurocrat. The apparent softening from Merkel could see Britain retain access to the single market and gain full control its borders – something Brussels bigwigs have previously said was impossible. Speaking at the Bratislava conference in September – an EU meeting which Britain was excluded – EU Commissioner Jean-Claude Juncker had said he “cannot see any possibility of compromising” on the issue of free movement. 

Breitbart
Almost 500 migrants arrived at the port of Catania on Wednesday after being rescued earlier this week near the coast of Libya, with the influx of refugees heading to Europe showing no signs of slowing. Hundreds of migrants, mostly men from sub-Saharan Africa, huddled under grey blankets on the deck of the Italian coast guard vessel Diciotti as they started to disembark in pouring rain. 
A second ship, the Aquarius, operated by the non-governmental group SOS Mediterranee, was due to dock at an Italian port in the next two days carrying some 120 migrants and the bodies of nine people who died trying to make the perilous Mediterranean crossing. Mathilde Auvillain, a spokeswoman for SOS Mediterranee aboard the Aquarius, said that among the migrants were a group of 23 people who were plucked from the sea on Tuesday by an oil tanker after their rubber boat started to sink. 

Independent
British people will no longer be able to travel freely to Europe without paying a “travel tax” and being forced to fill out a form under plans unveiled by Brussels. The US-style visa waiver scheme is one of the first concrete signs UK citizens will not be permitted the privileges they once had to move across European borders unhindered. The EU Commission said the system of security checks is necessary to prevent terrorist entering the Schengen open-borders area, but UK Brexit critics warned it is further evidence of the hidden cost of quitting the Union. Under the Etias system, countries from outside the EU which do not require a full visa to travel to the bloc, will now pay a five euro (£4.29) fee and complete an online form. Sir Julian King, the EU’s Security Commissioner, said: “Terrorists and criminals don’t care much for national borders. 

House of Lords

BBC News
Plans to curb the power of the House of Lords have been dropped by the government, sources have told the BBC. Former House of Lords leader Lord Strathclyde came up with a proposal to remove peers’ veto over laws – called statutory instruments – after a series of government defeats last year. Sources say plans to remove the power from the Lords, where the Tories do not have a majority, have now been dropped. Labour peer Baroness Smith said the plan was an “absurd overreaction”. The government announced its review into the workings of Parliament after defeats in the House of Lords over controversial tax credit cuts. However, one source said it had now “been dumped”. Another added: “The world has changed.”

Prisons

ITV News
Justice Secretary Liz Truss will resume talks with the prison officers’ union later today amid claims the service was “in meltdown”. Up to 10,000 members of the Prison Officers Association held protests around the country on Tuesday after talks with the Government over health and safety issues broke down. Officials were ordered back to work after the Government sought an injunction at the High Court. On Wednesday, a Ministry of Justice spokesman said: “We are committed to improving safety across the prison estate and are already taking action. “This includes tackling the use of drugs, mobile phones and drones while recruiting new staff and improving protection for staff. “The Justice Secretary already met with the POA earlier this month but would not do so again until they called off their unlawful action. 

BBC News
Justice Secretary Liz Truss will restart talks with the prison officers’ union later amid claims the service in England and Wales is “in meltdown”. On Tuesday, up to 10,000 prison officers in England and Wales stopped work over claims of a “surge in violence” among inmates. Prison Officers Association members were ordered back to work after the government won a High Court injunction. The Ministry of Justice said Ms Truss had now asked the POA to resume talks. The National Offender Management Service, which is responsible for correctional services in England and Wales, said it had contacted the POA to offer a meeting with Ms Truss on Thursday.

Guardian
The UK justice secretary, Liz Truss, has come under severe pressure from her predecessor, Michael Gove , and the chief inspector of prisons to take urgent action to cut the prison population. Gove said her power of “executive clemency” should be used to release 500 prisoners serving imprisonment for public protection (IPP) sentences who have already served more than the usual maximum sentences for their offences. Peter Clarke, the chief inspector of prisons, in a report on the 3,859 IPP prisoners currently held said Truss needed to take decisive action to reduce the numbers of those still in prison years after the end of their tariff. Gove’s backing for action on IPP prisoners was made in the 2016 Longford lecture as part of a U-turn on his refusal in office to cut the record 86,000 prison population, which he now says should be reduced over time and pragmatically. It is an inconvenient truth – which I swerved to an extent while in office – that we send too many people to prison. 

UKP Leadership

Breitbart
UK Independence Party leadership candidate John Rees-Evans has hit out at his fellow candidates after they refused to debate him on the national media, Breitbart London understands. Mr. Rees-Evans has expressed frustration at the fact that on multiple occasions, Paul Nuttall and Suzanne Evans — who describe themselves as “Team Sensible” have refused to take Mr. Rees-Evans on with an independent moderator from a news organisation. On two occasions, on the BBC Radio Five Live programme, and on the Victoria Derbyshire show, Mr. Nuttall and Ms. Evans are believed to have refused to debate if Mr. Rees-Evans was included in the programming. Five Live will now only be speaking with Mr. Rees-Evans. 

Lord’ Nigel Farage?

BBC News
Theresa May increased speculation over a peerage for Nigel Farage when she failed to confirm or deny whether the UKIP leader could expect a seat in the House of Lords. Mrs May was asked during Prime Minister’s Questions whether there had been discussions over an elevation for Mr Farage. She said: “Well all I can say to the honourable gentleman, I’m afraid, is: such matters are normally never discussed in public.” Calls for Mr Farage to be given a seat in the House of Lords have increased in the wake of the Brexit vote. All candidates for the UKIP leadership have said that if the party is given seats in the upper chamber, Mr Farage will be top of the list. Downing Street slapped down Mr Farage’s offer to be a go-between with the Trump administration this week, saying there would be no “third person” in the relationship between the Government and the President-elect.

Mirror
Theresa May stunned MPs by refusing to deny Nigel Farage is in line for a peerage today during Prime Minister’s Questions. Rumours have been flying around about the Ukip leader being a ‘go-between’ in the UK’s relationship with Donald Trump. A peerage would finally install Mr Farage in Parliament – something he’s tried and failed to achieve on seven occasions through democratic means. SNP MP George Kerevan asked Mrs May to put the rumours to rest. He asked: “Can the Prime Minister confirm or deny if there have been any official confirmations at any level regarding giving Nigel Farage a peerage?” The House erupted with laughter, but the Prime Minister wouldn’t rule it out. She said: “All I can say to the Honourable Gentleman, I’m afraid, is that such matters are normally never discussed in public.”

Independent
The Prime Minister has refused to confirm or deny whether she has discussed giving Nigel Farage a peerage. Theresa May was asked at PMQs whether there had been “any official conversations at any level” over whether to elevate the former Ukip leader to the House of Lords. Can the Prime Minister confirm or deny if there have been any official conversations at any level regarding giving Nigel Farage a peerage?” SNP MP George Kerevan asked her. Theresa May did not deny discussions had taken place, saying only, with a smile: “All I can say to the honourable gentleman, I’m afraid, is that such matters are normally never discussed in public.”

Sun
THE CHANCES of Nigel Farage being handed a peerage by Theresa May were boosted today after she refused to say if talks had taken place. She clammed up when asked about the issues and told MPs in the House of Commons today such matters were not “normally discussed in public”. Rumours the Ukip leader could join the House of Lords swirled yesterday after he hinted at re-joining the Tory party . And if the Prime Minister was hoping to shut the conversation down she instead only managed to leave the door open with her comments this lunchtime. She was asked by the SNP’s George Kerevan if there were any discussions at any level taking place about the possibility.

NHS

Sun
THE number of patients left stuck on a hospital trolley for at least half a day has trebled compared to the same time last year, shock figures revealed yesterday. Almost 400 people were stranded without a hospital bed for 12 hours or more in the first quarter of this year. The figures showed some patients were waiting for longer than a day with one patient waiting a staggering 45 hours to be admitted to a bed in a psychiatric hospital. According to NHS England more than 1,000 patients waited for more than half a day in 2015-16 compared to just over 100 in 2011-12. Analysis of the Freedom of Information figures show the number of patients waiting for four hours or more has increased by more than 300 per cent since 2010.

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