More than 50 MPs have launched a fresh campaign for Big Ben to chime the UK out of the EU on January 31 in a bid to overturn John Bercow’s ruling that it should be silent. The group of Eurosceptics have requested that Brexit day is added to the list of special occasions for which the Great Bell of Westminster tolls. The 160-year-old Elizabeth Tower, which houses the bell popularly known as Big Ben, is currently undergoing a £60m restoration. A lift is being installed in the tower, while the clock hands and numbers are being re-painted in their original blue.
The UK and EU are facing the possibility of a harmful no-deal Brexit if a trade deal cannot be sorted before the end of next year, the president of the EU Commission has warned. Ursula von der Leyen, who has replaced Jean-Claude Juncker in the top EU post, warned that the timeframe to complete a deal is “extremely challenging” and “leaves us very little time”. She also said a no-deal Brexit would be worse for Britain than for the EU.
Boris Johnson’s timetable for agreeing a future trade deal with the EU is “extremely challenging” with “very little time” to conclude negotiations, the European Commission’s president has warned. Ursula von der Leyen cautioned that without a trade agreement being struck by London and Brussels, both sides will again face the “cliff-edge” of the UK leaving the bloc without a settled future relationship.
The European Parliament’s Brexit co-ordinator Guy Verhofstadt has suggested MEPs could block the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement in a vote in January due to concerns over EU citizens’ rights in the UK. The Belgian MEP used his speech in the Parliament’s plenary in Strasbourg on Wednesday to suggest MEPs could decline to ratify the Brexit bill that has been agreed between the European Commission and the UK Government.
Boris Johnson‘s Brexit deal could be blocked by the European Parliament over the UK’s treatment of EU citizens, the body’s Brexit coordinator has said. Guy Verhofstadt today called for “remaining problems” with citizen’s rights post-Brexit to be solved before giving consent to the Brexit treaty. The MEP spoke today in Brussels and said he had received hundreds of letters from both EU citizens living in the UK and British citizens living abroad in Europe concerned they will be left with no immigration status.
The European parliament could block Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal over the UK’s treatment of EU citizens, its Brexit coordinator has said. Guy Verhofstadt called for the “remaining problems” with citizens’ rights to be solved before consent could be given by the parliament, which is yet to vote on the agreement. MEPs are worried that problems with the UK’s settlement scheme for EU nationals could cause problems and leave some citizens with no immigration status.
BRITAIN’S beleaguered fishermen received another blow today when European Union bosses slashed the amount of cod they can catch by 50 percent. Industry chiefs were dismayed by the decision and have criticised Brussels for failing to agree to a more gradual reduction to the legal catch. Quotas for 2020 were agreed at this year’s annual EU fisheries negotiations, which concluded in the early hours of this morning. Cod quotas will be cut by 50 percent in the North Sea, while limited quotas were agreed for cod in the Celtic Sea, Irish Sea and West of Scotland – just enough to allow the landing of accidental catch.
The British fishing industry has criticised an agreement between Norway and the EU that will see the North Sea cod quota in 2020 cut by a half. After three rounds of talks between fishing ministers from EU member states, the EU Commission, and Norway, a reduction of 50 per cent was set for next year, with the total allowable catch (TAC) at 17,669 tonnes. The move follows the latest round of scientific advice that said cod stocks in the North Sea are low and the industry must allow the fish to recover. But fishers said that while they share concerns for the sustainability of traditional species, the 50 per cent decrease does not fix other issues troubling the sector.
New Conservative MPs have rushed to sign up with the party’s hardline group of Eurosceptics, casting doubt on claims that the size of Boris Johnson’s general election victory will allow him to ignore them. Newly elected Tories outnumbered their experienced colleagues at the first meeting of the European Research Group (ERG) since last Thursday’s vote, its chairman said.
Emily Thornberry, the shadow foreign secretary, has announced that she is entering the Labour leadership race and said she had warned Jeremy Corbyn that backing a general election would be an “act of catastrophic political folly”. Attempting to move the debate on from Brexit, Ms Thornberry said that her party needed to choose a successor who was best placed to take on Boris Johnson. She said: “When the Labour leadership contest begins – and I hope to be one of the candidates – the first question shouldn’t be about their position on Brexit, or where they live in our country.
LABOUR shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry has been savaged on social media for announcing she will stand to replace Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the embattled party. Britons shared their bemusement at the news the MP for Islington South and Finsbury will battle other potential candidates for the top spot. One comment on Facebook read: “So admitting to wanting to delay the election to get her own way? So that’s how you apply to be Labour leader?
Yvette Cooper has said she will “decide over Christmas” whether to enter the race to succeed Jeremy Corbyn as Labour Party leader. The senior MP, who served in the governments of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown as well as Ed Miliband’s shadow cabinet, ran against Corbyn in 2015 but came third. “I’ve stood before, but obviously the party membership has changed a lot” she told BBC Radio 4′s Today programme on Wednesday morning. “There’s a lot of things to reflect on.
Emily Thornberry and Keir Starmer dramatically entered the battle for Labour’s top job today by condemning Jeremy Corbyn’s disastrous election strategy. The shadow foreign secretary complained that allowing the election to happen was an ‘act of catastrophic political folly’, claiming she had warned against it privately. Meanwhile, millionaire shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir highlighted his humble roots and denied he is middle class as he pitched to hardline Corbynistas.
Tony Blair today delivered a lacerating verdict on Jeremy Corbyn’s ‘comical’ leadership and branded Labour a ‘cult’ – as he finally admitted defeat on Brexit. The former PM, who won three elections, tore into his successor for turning the party into a ‘glorified protest movement’. He said the astonishing rout at the hands of the Tories last week – the worst performance since 1935 – was a source of ‘shame’, warning that Labour faces total destruction if it does not evict the hard-Left.
Boris Johnson will put the NHS at the heart of his domestic agenda as he sets out his programme for Government in the Queen’s Speech on Thursday. In a statement of intent to the nation, the Prime Minister will enshrine in law a £33.9 billion increase in annual NHS spending by 2023/24 as soon as MPs have voted through his Brexit bill. The package of legislation to boost the NHS will also include a new independent body to improve patient safety, more doctors and nurses, and the abolition of hospital car parking charges for those in greatest need.
The Queen is to set out the Conservative government’s agenda for the year ahead following last week’s decisive election win. Legislation to take the UK out of the EU on 31 January will be among more than 20 bills announced during Thursday’s State Opening of Parliament. Other measures include guarantees on extra health service funding and longer sentences for violent criminals. PM Boris Johnson says he wants to unite the UK and “level up” opportunity.
Slightly less than 10 weeks since the last Queen’s speech, the monarch will again be summoned to parliament on Thursday to outline the government’s legislative programme, with ministers hoping to push measures about the NHS and other public spending. The bulk of the speech will be familiar to those who sat through its equivalent on 14 October, when Boris Johnson’s government outlined its legislative plans despite no majority and a seemingly imminent election, which came to pass last week.
Big funding boosts for the NHS and new laws to send terrorists to prison for longer will be at the heart of the Queen’s Speech, as Boris Johnson seeks to convince voters he is turning the corner on Brexit. The State Opening of Parliament – extraordinarily, the second in just two months – will also strengthen police stop-and-search powers and give mental health patients greater control over their treatment. It will point to the UK’s future outside the EU with bills to create a new immigration system, with the ending of free movement, and to meet the prime minister’s pledge to protect workers’ rights.
Brexit and the NHS will be at the heart of the prime minister’s Queen’s Speech as he attempts to reassure voters he will deliver on his election promises. Speaking to MPs and peers, the Queen will outline plans for extra NHS and social care funding, better infrastructure and tougher sentences for criminals. Her Majesty will also announce the UK’s departure from the EU will be enshrined in law, meaning Brexit will happen by the end of 2020.
The Queen is to outline the Prime Minister’s agenda for the upcoming year following the Conservatives’ General Election win. During the State Opening of Parliament, the Queen will read out a speech prepared by the Government which will have the NHS and Brexit at its heart. Boris Johnson said he wanted to use the set-piece parliamentary occasion to push an agenda also centered on law and order, infrastructure and education.
MAIL workers will protest outside Parliament on Thursday to oppose a new wave of repressive anti-union legislation against their right to strike. The Queen’s Speech is expected to include plans to outlaw full-scale strikes by rail workers and others — adding to already draconian British anti-union laws which are the most severe in Western Europe.
Boris Johnson will announce immediate help for the high street today in the first Queen’s Speech of his ‘people’s government’. Half a million independent shops, restaurants, pubs and cinemas will benefit from a cut in business rates from April. Standard retailer discounts will rise from 33 per cent to 50 per cent – at a cost of around £320million. It comes as it was revealed that the Queen’s Speech will contain 40 bills and introduce sweeping changes targeting the NHS, the legal system and Brexit.
STRUGGLING small high street shops will see their business rates halved next year under a pledge in a jumbo Queen’s Speech. Boris Johnson will unveil a package of around 40 planned new bills that will largely concentrate on improving public services. The huge number – double the usual amount – will be passed during a marathon extended session of Parliament, expected to last two years.
Boris Johnson plans to hand judges the power to overturn EU rulings on holiday entitlement, sick leave, working hours, VAT and flight compensation. Theresa May ’s Brexit plan would have allowed only the Supreme Court to rule on judgements handed down by the European Court of Justice – a move which angered many Tory Eurosceptics. But a new clause in Mr Johnson’s withdrawal agreement would extend that pledge to lower British courts.
The government’s Brexit bill will enable more British judges to depart from previous rulings of the EU’s top court, Downing Street says. The PM’s spokesman said the Withdrawal Agreement Bill would expand this power to courts below the Supreme Court. He added this would ensure judges at lower courts would not be “inadvertently” tied to the rulings “for years to come”. But others warned the move would cause legal uncertainty.
Boris Johnson has been accused of presiding over a “chaotic free-for-all” on workers rights under new plans to allow British courts to overturn rulings by the European Court of Justice after Brexit. Downing Street confirmed that British judges would be handed powers to challenge ECJ rulings through a new clause in Mr Johnson’s Brexit legislation, which MPs will vote on before Christmas. The move would see the prime minister rip up Theresa May’s commitment to transfer all EU law onto the domestic statute books, which meant it could only be overturned by the Supreme Court or the High Court of Justiciary in Scotland.
Amsterdam was choked with columns of tractors in a zero-notice strike following the Dutch government voting to pass new green legislation that will further damage the agricultural and construction sectors. While the protest was in good humour, with Dutch Newspaper De Telegraaf reporting that farmers gave out hot coffee to the police officers on duty in the cold weather, a column of armoured vehicles deployed by the Dutch government’s military police were seen moving into position as the tractors got closer to the parliament buildings.
Child sexual exploitation
A police constable is among 16 men charged as part of an investigation into allegations of historic child sexual exploitation. West Yorkshire Police said the charges relate to alleged offences against three teenage girls in Halifax between 2006 and 2009. The alleged victims were aged between 13 and 16 at the time, the force added. One of those charged in the investigation, Amjad Ditta, 35, is a police constable based within West Yorkshire Police’s Protective Services Operations, it said.
A police officer is among 16 men charged as part of an investigation into historic child sexual exploitation. West Yorkshire Police said the charges relate to alleged offences against three teenage girls in Halifax. The alleged victims were aged between 13 and 16 and are thought to of been abused between 2006 and 2009. One of the men charged in the Protective Services Operation sting is a police constable who was working within West Yorkshire Police at the time.
More than 2000 doctors have written to Boris Johnson demanding he goes much further than his current plan to deal with the “devastating impact” of almost a decade of Tory austerity on the NHS. The letter written from some of the nation’s top doctors insists that without radical change, the pressures will see the service “hemorrhaging doctors and nurses”. There are currently over 100,000 staff vacancies in the NHS nationwide. Organised by the Doctor’s Association, it warns the Prime Minister that the NHS is “on its knees” and that it requires “urgent action” now in order to deal with the crisis.
Almost two million Britons are looking after someone with dementia, an alarming Alzheimer’s Society report shows. And that figure is set to soar by a million to 2.8million by 2035 – laying bare the country’s broken social care system. A second study from Age UK shows that in total, 3.3million over-65s now spend their retirement caring for another person – an increase from 2.7million in the past eight years. An astonishing 970,000 are over 80 – meaning one in three of all people in this age group are now carers.
Universities have been warned to stop using “clearing bursaries” and other cash incentives worth thousands of pounds to lure students on to their courses at the last minute. The Office for Students (OfS), the sector’s new watchdog, has promised to act against aggressive sales tactics, saying it wants to stop students ending up on the wrong courses at the wrong universities. This past summer hundreds of students were offered cash during the clearing process as universities sought to fill empty places and secure tuition fee revenue worth £27,750 a head.
England’s higher education regulator is urging universities to avoid using misleading adverts and financial inducements to attract students, saying it could encourage applicants to make choices that are not in their best interests. The Office for Students said offering inducements such as last-minute bursaries to fill up undergraduate courses risked students being swayed by “a sales pitch with questionable incentives” rather than academic criteria.
Donald Trump has been impeached by the House of Representatives, becoming only the third US president to suffer the ignominy and bringing him a step closer to being removed from office. Two articles of impeachment were passed over his behaviour in the Ukraine scandal – one for abuse of power and the other for obstruction of Congress. Not a single Republican voted for either article – a fact the White House seized on to portray the Democrats’ impeachment drive as motivated by political bias.
Donald Trump became the third president in American history to be impeached on Wednesday on a largely party line vote, setting up a formal trial next year in the Senate. The impeachment vote capped off a three month investigation into the president’s actions in regard to the Ukraine. The vote came at the end of a day long partisan debate on the House floor with Republicans charging Democrats with wanting to overturn the last presidential election and Democrats arguing the president tried to use a foreign power to help him win re-election.
DONALD Trump has become only the third US President in history to be impeached by the House of Representatives after a dramatic night. Lawmakers in the lower house of Congress, currently controlled by opposition Democrats, voted to approve two articles of impeachment. But as impeachment was passed, President Trump mocked the vote while addressing a rally in Battle Creek, Michigan.
Donald Trump has become the third president in US history to be impeached. The vote by the US House of Representatives to formally charge the President under the Constitution’s ultimate remedy for high crimes and misdemeanours sets up a trial in the Senate that will decide whether he remains in office. The historic vote split along party lines, much the way it has divided the nation, over the charges that the 45th President abused the power of his office by enlisting a foreign government to investigate a political rival ahead of the 2020 election.