Brexit

Times
MPs in favour of a softer Brexit than Theresa May’s deal will attempt next week to seize control of the parliamentary timetable if her withdrawal agreement is defeated for a third time. Mrs May is expected to call another so-called meaningful vote on her deal on Tuesday provided it is ruled in order by the Speaker. On Monday, before that vote, a cross-party group of MPs intend to ensure that parliament rather than the government is in control of what happens should the deal be defeated. They will table an amendment allowing MPs to run the parliamentary agenda on Wednesday, which could be used either to vote for a long extension to Article 50 or to propose an alternative form of Brexit.

May

Times
Theresa May last night tried to turn voters’ anger on to MPs who are opposing her deal before an EU summit today where leaders will decide whether to allow a Brexit delay. “You the public have had enough,” she said in an address from Downing Street designed to deflect blame for the crisis on to parliament. “You are tired of the infighting, you’re tired of the political games and the arcane procedural rows, tired of MPs talking about nothing else but Brexit when you have real concerns about our children’s schools, our National Health Service, knife crime.

Independent
Theresa May has risked the anger of MPs after she blamed them for forcing her to ask the EU for a “short delay” to Brexit. In a letter to European Council president Donald Tusk, the prime minister asked for a three-month extension to Article 50 negotiation process, pushing the scheduled date to leave the EU from 29 March to 30 June.  However Mr Tusk put his foot down, saying he would grant the delay but only if MPs backed Ms May’s Brexit deal.

Sun
THERESA May faced a desperate fight to hold her crumbling Government together last night after her request for a three month Brexit delay ignited Westminster pandemonium. Remainer and hardline Brexiteer Tories alike openly pilloried the PM for opposite reasons, as cross-party calls mounted for her to quit. Ahead of a crunch EU summit today, the PM sent a letter to EU Council president Donald Tusk at noon to ask to extend Article 50 talks until June 30 to give her one final chance to pass her Brexit deal.

Mail
Theresa May has confirmed this evening she is asking the EU for a Brexit extension until June 30 and implored MPs to back her deal before voters lose faith in Parliament. In an abrupt statement inside No.10 Theresa May said it was a matter of ‘great personal regret’ the country would not be leaving the EU on time with a deal on March 29. The Prime Minister also attacked MPs for failing to make headway with Brexit and said it was ‘high time’ politicians made a decision.

Mirror
Theresa May was today condemned for “craven” and “crisis” behaviour as she confirmed she has asked for Brexit to be delayed – but only until June 30. The Prime Minister was forced to wildly slash back the amount of time planned for an extension after a furious Tory revolt. Mrs May sent a formal letter to EU Council President Donald Tusk – exactly 1,000 days after Britain voted to leave the EU – that asks for a delay of three months at tomorrow’s Brussels summit.

Sky News
Theresa May will head to Brussels to ask EU leaders to delay Brexit, after pouring scorn on MPs for not backing her deal. The prime minister will urge other premiers to push back the date Britain leaves the bloc from 29 March to 30 June. The EU has indicated it would agree to the extension, but only if she can win parliament’s backing for the withdrawal deal next week. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn will also be in Brussels for talks with the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier, secretary general of the European Commission Martin Selmayr and a number of prime ministers from member states.

No deal

Times
Cobra, the government’s emergency committee, has taken control of no-deal planning and will start implementing contingency measures on Monday. The “command and control” structures of Operation Yellowhammer, the civil service’s worst-case Brexit planning unit, will be “enacted fully”, Steve Barclay, the Brexit secretary, told ministers this week. Previously the operation was being planned under Cabinet Office structures, but a source said that there were Cobra-level discussions which were “highly confidential”.

Guardian
Kent county council has activated no-deal plans to keep its roads, hospitals and schools open, as the government considers pulling the trigger on national contingency measures involving 30 central departments and 5,000 staff. With the country placed on a knife-edge by Theresa May’s latest Brexit crisis, the government is preparing for “any outcome” with a decision on Monday on whether to roll out the national Operation Yellowhammer contingencies for food, medicine and banking.

Sun
MORE than 3,500 troops will be put on ‘immediate’ No Deal standby from Monday if talks with the EU on a Brexit extension collapse. Sources yesterday confirmed that the Government’s ‘Operation Yellowhammer’ doomsday planning would kick into force if no new date for leaving has been agreed. It will trigger the implementation of an unprecedented ‘Command and Control’ structure in place across Whitehall. Some 3,500 troops will be ready to act within a matter of hours if Government departments need extra tanker drivers, engineers or even military sniffer dogs to help at the airport.

Mirror
The government’s official No Deal Brexit emergency plan Operation Yellowhammer will be activated on Monday, it is reported. Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay wrote to Cabinet announcing the worst-case scenario will be implemented from next week, according to the Daily Telegraph. Yellowhammer – which enables a “command and control” system to prevent runs on food, fuel and banks – could still be called off if a Brexit delay is agreed with the EU by Monday.

Westmonster
A group of pro-Brexit MPs have told Theresa May not to fear leaving the European Union on time, next week as she had often promised to deliver. May’s request for an Article 50 extension until 30th June will only be granted, the EU’s Donald Tusk revealed yesterday, if MPs vote for her deal at the third time of asking. That means a WTO Brexit is very much on the table as long as Parliament rejects May’s surrender document for a third time.

EU

Mail
Brussels dramatically raised the stakes tonight over Britain’s request for a Brexit delay ahead of a showdown summit tomorrow. EU Council chief Donald Tusk said it was ‘possible’ Theresa May’s call for a three-month extension would be approved. But he warned it would be ‘conditional’ on her deal being passed by the Commons at the third try. That appeared to significantly raise the risk of No Deal next week, although Mr Tusk suggested he would consider an emergency summit if the deal is voted down again.

Independent
The Brexit delay sought by Theresa May will be “conditional” on MPs voting to support her deal in parliament next week, the president of the European Council has said. Donald Tusk told reporters in Brussels that that extension of Article 50 would only be finalised after the House of Commons backed the controversial plan, which has already been rejected twice by MPs. “In the light of the consultations that I have conducted in the past days, I believe a short extension will be possible, but it will be conditional on a positive vote on the withdrawal agreement in the House of Commons,” he said in a press statement hours before leaders gather in the EU capital for a meeting.

Guardian
Donald Tusk has put a no-deal Brexit back on the table by saying EU leaders will only agree to a short delay if MPs back Theresa May’s deal next week, on a day of high drama in Brussels and London. After belatedly receiving the prime minister’s formal letter requesting a three-month extension of article 50, and taking a late afternoon phone call with her, the European council president admitted that success appeared “frail, even illusory” on the eve of Thursday’s summit.

Express
THERESA MAY has asked the EU for a short delay to Brexit in the hopes of finding a way to get her deal through Parliament. But with patience wearing thin, there are no guarantees. In a letter sent to European Council President Donald Tusk on Wednesday, Theresa May outlined her intentions to extend the Brexit deadline from March 29 to June 30. Mr Tusk alone cannot grant this – all 27 EU member states must agree. But in a crisis which deepens daily, there is no guarantee that any extension will be granted at all. Speaking at Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday, Theresa May told MPs she was “not prepared to delay Brexit any further than the 30 June”.

Westmonster
The chances of the European Council blocking an Article 50 extension look to be increasing, with France’s Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian insisting that they will veto a delay unless there are “sufficient guarantees about the credibility of her (May) strategy”.  Addressing the French Parliament today, Le Drian has said: “A situation in which Mrs. May would not be able to present to the European Council sufficient guarantees about the credibility of her strategy would lead to the extension request being dismissed and opting for a No Deal exit.”

Telegraph
When Donald Tusk delivered his reply to Theresa May’s request for an extension to Article 50 on Wednesday afternoon he spoke in the hushed tones of a mourner-in-chief at a long anticipated deathbed. The message was sad but clear. There was nothing more to be done. The EU had done its very best for a patient that had consistently failed to help itself, but in the end nature would now have to take its course. There could be no final dramatic intervention.

Times
European Union leaders will reject the idea of delaying Brexit unless MPs first ratify the withdrawal agreement amid fears it could lead to the unravelling of the bloc’s decision-making process. In a carefully worded response to Theresa May’s request, Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, tried to maximise the chance of the deal being passed by MPs next week while minimising disruption in the EU. “In the light of the consultations that I have conducted over the past days I believe that a short extension will be possible but to be conditional on a positive vote on the withdrawal agreement in the House of Commons,” he said.

Reuters
Britain’s request for a delay to Brexit will be rejected by the EU if Prime Minister Theresa May cannot provide sufficient guarantees that her parliament will approve the divorce deal she negotiated, France’s foreign minister said on Wednesday. The French stance was markedly tougher in tone than the public rhetoric out of Berlin, where Germany’s foreign minister said only that an orderly British departure from the European Union would solve the Brexit turmoil.

Morning Star
JEREMY CORBYN and Theresa May will be in Brussels tomorrow for separate talks with EU chiefs after the Prime Minister’s plea to postpone Brexit to the end of June met a cool reception. During Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs) today, Ms May told MPs that she had written to EU officials to request that the date of Britain’s departure be put back from next Friday to June 30. European Council president Donald Tusk responded by saying that a short extension of Britain’s membership would be “conditional” on Westminster MPs voting for her twice-rejected Brexit deal in the coming week. France, Spain and Belgium are said to be ready to veto the extension request without evidence that Parliament is ready to accept Ms May’s deal.

Labour Party

Express
JEREMY Corbyn teamed up with Tory Remainers yesterday in a fresh attempt to hijack Brexit. The Labour leader held talks with Tory and Labour MPs to thrash out a soft Brexit alternative over his customs union plan and their calls for a Norway-style exit. Mr Corbyn met Tories Nick Boles and Sir Oliver Letwin and Labour’s Lucy Powell and Stephen Kinnock. It comes as Prime Minister Theresa May’s divorce deal was dealt another blow this week as Speaker John Bercow ruled she could not bring it back for a third vote without major changes. Mr Corbyn’s spokesman said: “Jeremy Corbyn had positive and detailed discussions with Nick Boles, Oliver Letwin, Lucy Powell and Stephen Kinnock, supporters of the Common Market 2.0 model of a close economic relationship with the EU.

Telegraph
Jeremy Corbyn walked out of a cross-party meeting with the Prime Minister because Chuka Umunna was included. The Labour leader was called “juvenile after refusing to join the meeting when he saw the Independent Group MP there. Mr Umunna was invited as the spokesman of the Independent Group, which was formed last month by seven breakaway Labour MPs. Mr Corbyn is understood to have said Mr Umunna is “not a real party leader” before walking out. Sir Vince Cable, Liberal Democrat leader, said it was “rather a strange way to behave in a national crisis.”

Times
Tom Watson, Labour’s deputy leader, has become embroiled in a bizarre row with senior figures in his own party about a mobile phone. The argument began at a meeting of Labour’s ruling National Executive Committee’s (NEC) disputes panel after he refused to hand over his phone on Tuesday night. The request for the device was designed to prevent leaks from the meeting, but Mr Watson said he needed to be in touch with the Commons on a fast-moving day for Brexit. At the meeting Mr Watson also demanded to know how Derek Hatton, the former Militant firebrand, had been re-admitted to Labour.

The Brexit Party

Mail
The leader of the Brexit Party has quit after it was discovered she had posted anti-Islamic comments on social media. Catherine Blaiklock resigned from the Nigel Farage-backed party today, just two months after she founded the party with the former Ukip leader and represented the group at the European Parliament. She claimed in Twitter posts that Islam was a threat to most of society, was ‘incompatible with liberal democracy’ and a submission ‘mostly to raping men’. It is understood that the former Ukip economics spokeswoman took the decision to stand down in response to the comments having been discovered.

Express
NIGEL FARAGE has warned Theresa May of a membership surge within the newly-formed Brexit party. The Brexiteer explained his newly-legal party is picking up support from the Conservatives. He wrote in The Daily Telegraph: “The data we have suggests that while we are picking up plenty of support from the patriotic old Labour vote, it is the Conservative vote where our future support will lie. An astonishing 40 percent of Tory voters say they are likely to vote for the Brexit Party at some point.” He has also attacked the Prime Minister’s plans to extend Article 50.

NHS

Mail
The NHS staffing crisis is so critical it cannot be fixed by training more doctors and nurses alone, according to a major report. With falling numbers of GPs, the health service must consider recruiting 9,000 more physiotherapists and pharmacists to help in general practice, it said. They could look after those with ailments such as back pain and take care of repeat prescriptions, freeing up GPs to treat those most in need. The report by the King’s Fund, Nuffield Trust and Health Foundation think-tanks warned patients are facing longer delays for treatment as the NHS struggles to recruit and retain sufficient staff.

Sky News
The NHS is unable to train enough GPs and nurses to meet demand and the situation is at crisis point, leading health experts have warned. The King’s Fund, Nuffield Trust and Health Foundation said the Government would miss its target to recruit 5,000 more GPs by 2020 and the only way to cope with the growing workload was to put more pharmacists and physiotherapists into GP practices. Thousands more nurses are also needed and immediate measures must be brought in to relieve financial pressure on trainees and to support overseas recruitment, they said.

Development

Telegraph
Three-quarters (74 per cent) of residents are opposed to the creation of a new urban metropolis of 1m homes stretching from Oxford to Cambridge because of the damage it will cause to the countryside and environment. The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), which conducted the poll of residents, said it reinforced demands for a Parliamentary inquiry into the so-called Oxford-Cambridge Arc, which it claims will cover an area of countryside greater than the size of Birmingham. Only seven per cent believed the development would not damage the environment. By a majority of 59 per cent to 16 per cent, residents said they would support a scaled-back version.

Emergency services

Times
Police and emergency services are introducing technology to help 999 callers identify their exact location, even when it is dark or they are in remote countryside. The what3words system enables callers with a mobile phone to access and share a unique three-word address that can bring police or rescuers to them when they cannot easily describe their whereabouts. The system divides the world into a grid of nearly 60 trillion squares of 3m x 3m. Each has its own identifier which can be accessed using a phone’s GPS.

New Zealand

Telegraph
New Zealand will ban military-style semi-automatic and assault rifles under tough new gun laws following the killing of 50 people in the country’s worst mass shooting, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Thursday. In the immediate aftermath of Friday’s shootings at two mosques in Christchurch, Ms Ardern labelled the attack as terrorism and said New Zealand’s gun laws would change. “On 15 March our history changed forever. Now, our laws will too. We are announcing action today on behalf of all New Zealanders to strengthen our gun laws and make our country a safer place,” Ms Ardern told a news conference.

Sky News
New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern has announced an immediate ban on sales of “military-style” semi-automatic and automatic weapons like the ones used in the attacks on two mosques in Christchurch that killed 50 worshippers. “Every semi-automatic weapon used in the terrorist attack on Friday will be banned,” she said. Ms Ardern’s announcement comes less than a week after the killings, as more of the dead were being buried. At least six funerals took place on Thursday, including for a teenager and a youth football coach.

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