More than a dozen former Conservative ministers, including five who served in the cabinet, defied Theresa May  yesterday and rejected her plan to pull Britain out of a customs union with the EU after Brexit.
In a parliamentary defeat in the House of Lords, two dozen Tory peers defied a three-line whip to join Labour in backing an amendment to the government’s EU withdrawal bill. About a dozen Tory peers who have previously voted with the government on Brexit issues abstained.

Peers inflicted a second defeat on the Government’s Brexit Bill tonight, after they approved amendment 11, which aims to protect people’s rights post-withdrawal.
The bill amendment – a cross-party move from peers to maintain existing protections across a range of areas including health and safety, employment, equality and consumer standards was approved by 314 votes to 217 – majority of 97. It means these protections cannot be changed except by primary legislation. 

Peers have inflicted an embarrassing defeat on the government after voting in favour of remaining in a customs union with the EU after Brexit.
In a  challenge  to Theresa May’s flagship Brexit bill, members of the Lords backed several cross-party amendments  supporting continued membership of a customs union with the bloc, and protecting people’s rights after Brexit. The result will be embarrassing for the government, as ministers race against time to get the EU (Withdrawal) Bill through parliament in time to prepare for Britain’s exit for the bloc next year.

Peers have inflicted a crushing defeat on the government’s Brexit plan in the House of Lords.
Theresa May’s government suffered its first defeat in the House of Lords over the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill after peers voted in favour of a customs union amendment. The amendment would require ministers to keep the option of staying in the EU’s customs union open. In what’s thought to be the seventh largest turnout for a vote in the history of the House of Lords, peers voted in favour of amendment one by 348 votes to 225, majority 123.

Today, an amendment in the House of Lords calling for the UK to continue in a customs union with the EU passed by a majority of 123 votes. The vote, tabled by crossbencher Lord Kerr was backed by several senior Tories, as well as Labour and the Lib Dems.
UKIP Leader Gerard Batten is outraged by the result of the vote, describing it as a betrayal of the people. Mr Batten said: “The vote by the House of Lords to remain in the Customs Union is a clear betrayal of the 17.4 million people who voted Leave. Those people did not vote to be half in, half out of the EU.

THE HOUSE of Lords has dealt a major blow to Theresa May’s flagship Brexit Bill this afternoon with peers voting for an amendment which could leave the door open to future customs union membership.
The Prime Minister announced earlier this year the split would definitely involve leaving the single market and customs union so Britain is free to negotiate its own free trade deals around the world. But a cross-party alliance of Lords, including Tory rebels, put forward to an amendment to the Government’s EU Withdrawal Bill and voted by 348 to 225 in favour of changing the landmark legislation. 

Sky News
The Government has suffered a heavy defeat in the House of Lords over its policy of leaving the EU’s customs union.
Peers voted in favour of the amendment to the flagship EU Withdrawal Bill by 348 votes to 225, a majority of 123. Another, linked, amendment was approved unopposed. It seeks to keep open the option of Britain staying in a form of customs union with the EU, something Prime Minister Theresa May is against. The PM has pledged that Britain will no longer be a member of the bloc’s customs union and single market after Brexit. She argues this will allow the Government to control immigration and give it more freedom when it comes to negotiating free trade deals with other nations.

Theresa May was under pressure to reopen the issue of Britain’s membership of a customs union after suffering two big defeats in the House of Lords on the government’s key Brexit bill.
Peers backed an amendment to the EU withdrawal bill that would force the government to explain what it has done to pursue remaining in a customs union, by 348 votes to 225 – a convincing majority of 123. The government suffered a significant rebellion on the amendment tabled by crossbench peer Lord Kerr, which received the backing of 24 Conservatives, including former ministers Lord Patten, Lord Heseltine and Lord Willetts.

UNELECTED peers have provoked fury by passing a wrecking amendment in a bid to derail Brexit and overturn the will of the British people to leave the EU.
An amendment seconded by former European Commissioner Lord Patten to force the Government to make a statement on staying under Brussels rule in a customs union with the EU was backed by 348 votes to 225. The move has underlined concerns that the unelected upper chamber is packed with Remainers who oppose the democratic decision in the EU referendum and are determined to reverse the vote to Leave.

THERESA MAY may strike a post-Brexit deal on EU immigration rights BEFORE a report into the impacts of sky-high migration is ready, officials revealed yesterday.
Professor Alan Manning, the head of the Migration Advisory Committee, said he’d been told “some decisions may have to be” made before his team publishes its work in September. Home Secretary Amber Rudd last year commissioned the MAC to carry out a detailed analysis of the economic and social contributions and costs of EU citizens. She said the report would be critical to the shaping of the Government’s thinking on post-Brexit border controls.

BBC News
The dispute between the UK and Scottish governments over Brexit is reaching its “endgame” with a resolution needed in days rather than weeks, Nicola Sturgeon has said.
The first minister said she “genuinely hopes” an agreement can be reached over what happens to powers in devolved areas after the UK leaves the EU. She said ministers from the two sides are likely to meet next week. But she stressed that “we are not there yet” on a deal. The Scottish and Welsh governments have repeatedly branded the UK government’s EU Withdrawal Bill a “power grab” which threatens the devolution settlement, and have refused to recommend legislative consent unless it is amended.


Britain is still at risk of crashing out of the EU without a  Brexit deal or transition period if it does not produce a solution to the Irish border issue, the president of the European Council has warned.
Donald Tusk said Britain had “caused the problem” in Ireland by voting for Brexit and would therefore have to help solve it. His comments, made in the European parliament, come on the first day of talks between negotiators on the future relationship between Britain and the UK – something the British side has wanted since last year. “We want to use the positive momentum in these negotiations to finally settle outstanding issues such as the solution to avoid a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland,” Mr Tusk told MEPs in his report to MEPs on the March European Council summit.

Any attempt to reverse Brexit poses a threat to the future of Europe, the former French president Francois Hollande has warned, urging the European Union to push through a decision he says Britain will “live to regret”.
The 63-year-old former president who led France until last year told the Daily Telegraph that the door to Europe was now “closed” and that a prolonged Brexit divorce proceeding presented the bigger risk to the European Union. “It’s shut. The vote has taken place and nobody can question it,” he said, dismissing attempts by the Remain camp to do so.

MEPs representing the UK’s agricultural communities are “deeply concerned” that Liam Fox has underestimated how difficult it will be to get British farmers a good trade deal after Brexit, according to private correspondence obtained by 
The Independent. A joint letter from MEPs across all the UK’s main parties to the international trade secretary demands answers on how much progress Theresa May’s trade chief has made on keeping access to markets around the globe – with farmers still facing uncertainty with just a year to go until Brexit. Dr Fox previously said a Brexit trade deal would be “the easiest in human history”, but the MEPs warn that it is now becoming clear that securing a good deal not just for access to EU markets but around the world would be “complex and time-consuming matter”.

Stating that policy disagreements are causing “civil war” in the EU, France’s Emmanuel Macron said Brussels must purge “populism” from the continent.
The French president, who asserted at the weekend that there will be a huge transfer of Africa’s population to Europe in the coming years, described nationalism as “deadly” during the speech in Strasbourg. Setting out his vision of “European sovereignty”, Macron blasted what he called a “fascination with the illiberal“, insisting Brussels must be given power to preserve the EU as a “unique model” which demands “geopolitical, economic” union between nations, as well as obliging them to “respect minorities” and implement state-enforced feminism.


Plastic stirrers and cotton buds are to be banned alongside straws, Michael Gove announces today.
The move, expected to come into force as early as next year, is designed to curb “society’s addiction” to throwaway products, the environment secretary writes in The Times. The UK uses 13.2 billion cotton buds a year, more than any other member of the EU, as well as 44.1 billion stirrers and 42 billion straws, according to the World Wide Fund for Nature. A consultation on how to outlaw the items will begin this year. Industry will be given time to develop and manufacture less harmful alternatives, the environment secretary says.

BBC News
Plastic straws and cotton buds could be banned in England as part of the government’s bid to cut plastic waste.
Announcing a consultation on a possible ban ministers said 8.5bn plastic straws were thrown away in the UK every year. The prime minster said plastic waste was “one of the greatest environmental challenges facing the world”. And Theresa May will urge leaders at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, which starts later, to follow the UK’s lead in tackling the problem.

Billions of plastic stirrers, straws, cotton wool buds could be banned as early as next year, Theresa May will say today as part of a bid to rid the world of single use plastic.
The Prime Minister will use the announcement to call on all other Commonwealth countries to join in the fight against plastic pollution at the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in London. A consultation proposing a ban on single use plastic in England will be published by Environment Secretary Michael Gove later this year. The ban – which will not include plastic straws required for medical reasons – could be in place by next year, sources said.

A total ban on plastic cotton buds, straws and drink stirrers will be announced by Theresa May today.
Declaring war on our throwaway culture, the Prime Minister will unveil measures to protect the oceans. ‘We are clogging up one of the earth’s greatest natural resources with harmful plastic and – for the sake of this and future generations – we must take action now,’ she writes in today’s Daily Mail. She also praises this newspaper’s Great Plastic Pick Up campaign, which has seen 4,000 readers sign up for 200 community litter clearing events next month.

Plastic drinking straws will be banned in a government push to protect marine life, Theresa May has announced.
It follows research which shows Britain throws away 8.5 billion plastic straws every year. The Marine Conservation Society said about 70 percent of litter on beaches was made of plastic with items such as straws, cups and stirrers making up over 20 percent of the litter. And today, the Prime Minister, alongside Environment Secretary Michael Gove, will commit to a total ban on the sale of single use plastic straws, subject to a consultation to take place later this year.

Cotton buds, plastic drinking straws and other single-use plastics could be banned from sale in England next year in the next phase of the campaign to try to halt the pollution of the world’s rivers and oceans.
Theresa May hopes to use the announcement to encourage the Commonwealth heads of government to join the fight as the meeting opens formally on Thursday. “The Commonwealth is a unique organisation with a huge diversity of wildlife, and environments – so it is vital we act now,” the prime minister will say, urging all Commonwealth countries to participate.

The UK is set to ban the sale of plastic straws and drinks stirrers that blight the country’s seas and rivers, ministers have announced.
In the latest move to tackle the escalating plastic waste problem, environment secretary  Michael Gove said it is “vital we act now” to eliminate straws from use – with 8.5 billion thrown away every year.  The ban, which also covers plastic-stemmed cotton buds, is being announced at the start of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting on Thursday, where the UK will commit £61m to develop new ways of clearing up plastics.

Knife crime

Boris Johnson has warned against “going soft” on knife crime as he called for more use of stop and search powers to end the “absolute misery” it causes.
In an interview with The Daily Telegraph, the Foreign Secretary said that police had to “take knives off the streets” and “come down like a ton of bricks” on gang leaders. He acknowledged that the approach, which he deployed as mayor of London, had proved controversial but added: “By God it worked.” In a wide-ranging interview during this week’s Commonwealth summit in London, Mr Johnson also said that Britain must take a “liberal” approach to migration and attract the brightest and best.

Boris Johnson has urged Sadiq Khan, his successor as London mayor, to increase
the use of stop and search and “come down like a ton of bricks” on gang leaders in an effort to address rising knife crime in the capital. His warning against “going soft” in the face of rising violence came as a Premier League footballer urged fans to join a minute’s applause in honour of a teenage supporter who was stabbed to death on his way home from a West Ham United match on Monday night. Weapons searches nearly quadrupled in parts of the capital while Mr Johnson was mayor and led to the confiscation of thousands of knives.

FOREIGN Secretary Boris Johnson has called for more use of stop-and-search powers to end the ‘absolute misery’ that knife crime causes.
In an interview with The Telegraph, Boris said that police had to ‘take knives off the streets’ and come down like a ‘ton of bricks’ on gang leaders. He added that although his approach to the matter during his time as Mayor of London was controversial, “by God it worked.” While Home Secretary Amber Rudd was faced with calls to resign over the Windrush immigration scandal, Boris stated that Britain must be ‘liberal’ about migration and attract top talent.


Almost two-thirds of healthcare assistants (HCAs) are performing roles usually undertaken by nurses, such as giving patients drugs and dressing their wounds, in the latest illustration of the NHS’s staffing crisis.
The apparently growing trend of assistants acting as “nurse substitutes” has sparked concern that patients may receive inferior or potentially unsafe care because they do not have the same skills. Of the 376,000 assistants in the  NHS in England, 74% are taking on extra tasks, according to findings by the union Unison. In a survey of almost 2,000 mainly hospital-based HCAs across the UK, 63% said they were providing patient care with worryingly little help from doctors and nurses, and 39% said they were not confident the patients they look after were receiving safe care.

New homes

Labour will today unveil proposals to build a million “genuinely affordable” homes over a decade (Lucy Fisher writes).
Jeremy Corbyn and John Healey, the shadow housing minister, will launch a 50-point green paper on housing, which has suggested linking the affordability of accommodation to local income averages. The party has set out plans to offer central government grants worth £4 billion a year for affordable homes. It also proposes to make land available for building more cheaply by creating an English Land Sovereign Trust, which would be backed by compulsory purchase powers. The plan would mean landowners losing part of the extra value created when planning consent is granted on their land, which can lead to the price of agricultural land soaring 100-fold.

Morning Star
LABOUR will outline new definitions of affordable housing in its green paper today as well as announcing plans to build a million more social homes over 10 years for low and middle-income earners.
The party said that, in government, it would redefine the Tories’ definition of affordable housing, linking pricing to incomes social housing rent, “living rent” and low-cost home ownership. The Tory government’s current definition of “affordable housing” is rent up to 80 per cent of that on the private market. The green paper, launched by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and shadow housing secretary John Healey, outlines a new “duty to deliver” for councils to build affordable housing and a new English Sovereign Land Trust to make more land available cheaply.


GET ready to tremble in fear – it’s the end of the world as we know it (yet again).
Apparently the apocalypse is nigh once more, well according to conspiracy theorists that are well protected in their tin-foil hats. Doing the rounds recently is a voicemail which contains a bizarre automated message: “This is not a test, this is not a joke. “Over the past several years we have been wanting to send an automated voice message to people who understand and are not afraid. “One message at a time will make many know the truth. The truth that other biological beings have been walking the supreme creation that sustains life: Earth. “But as chaos comes to your planet we must show ourselves to prove that there are different ways to keep peace.

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