Brexit

Mail
Theresa May announced last night she would return to Brussels on Saturday for last ditch talks on saving her Brexit deal after failing to make a breakthrough with Jean-Claude Juncker. The emergency meeting on Saturday has been scheduled despite German chancellor Angela Merkel threatening to cancel the summit if there is no deal finalised by negotiators tomorrow.  The EU insisted ‘good progress’ was being made as the two sides try and close a deal in time for a crunch summit on Sunday – but bickering over Gibraltar, trade and fishing rights threaten to derail the talks.

Sky News
Theresa May will return to Brussels on Saturday after a meeting with Jean-Claude Juncker failed to finalise a key Brexit agreement. The prime minister held talks with the European Commission president in Brussels to flesh out a framework on the UK’s future relationship with the EU. But despite hopes of signing off on a deal on Wednesday night, Mrs May admitted there were “remaining issues”.  
She talked up the pair having made “further progress” in a “very good” nearly two-hour meeting.

Guardian
Theresa May is to make an emergency dash to Brussels on Saturday to complete the Brexit negotiations after the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, threatened to pull the plug on the Sunday leaders’ summit. As she emerged from talks in Brussels lasting nearly two hours with the European commission president, Jean-Claude Juncker, the British prime minister admitted that there were some major issues to resolve. Merkel had let it be known through her diplomats in Brussels that she was unwilling to negotiate with May on Sunday at the extraordinary Brexit summit.

ITV News
Theresa May is battling to keep her Brexit deal alive as she readies to return to Brussels for last minute negotiations. The prime minister is set to hold more talks with European Commission president Jean-Claude Junker on Saturday in a bid to try and secure a withdrawal agreement at an emergency EU summit scheduled for Sunday. After talks with Mr Juncker in Brussels on Wednesday night, Mrs May insisted she would press on to attempt to secure an agreement.

Independent
Theresa May has urged MPs to back her plans or face the prospect of “no Brexit at all” before heading to Brussels for talks with Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission. Tory MPs lined up to demand the prime minister renegotiate parts of her Brexit deal during a fiery prime minister’s questions session, where Ms May sought to sell the plan to her divided party. Earlier, senior Tories including Amber Rudd and Damian Collins opened the door to a new referendum, as the prime ministers hopes of securing a parliamentary majority appeared to fade.

Second referendum

Mirror
Theresa May today rubbished calls for a second Brexit referendum as “absolutely ridiculous”. During a feisty Prime Minister’s Questions, the leader faced further criticism for her draft Withdrawal Agreement. Caroline Lucas, MP for Brighton and former Green Party leader, said in the Commons: “Recent polls show a vast majority of people would like no Brexit at all. “The will of the people can change. The will of the people has changed. “The way forward is a People’s Vote or does she think democracy ended on 23 June 2016? “Will she therefore think the way forward is one (a second referendum)?”

WTO rules

Order-order
Last night on his new show, ITV’s Robert Peston asked the Chancellor whether May’s deal being voted down by Parliament could lead to a ‘no deal’ scenario.
If Nicky [Morgan] and Amber Rudd are right and we’re not going to get no deal, you’re spending a colossal amount of money for something that’s not going to happen…” Slapping down Amber Rudd’s assertion that Parliament would somehow “stop no deal,” Spreadsheet Phil told Peston that if the withdrawal agreement is voted down the UK would be in unknown territory, confirming that “it could be no deal.” Cabinet unity still going strong then…

Borders

Sun
BRITAIN will continue to be unable to kick out murderers and rapists after Brexit, it has been revealed. Theresa May’s draft Brexit deal confirms that Britain will be forced to accept EU nationals with criminal backgrounds for at least the next two years – and possibly even longer. Freedom of movement rules which allow anyone to come to the UK – even if they have committed crimes elsewhere – will continue to apply to the UK for the entire transition period, which doesn’t yet have a permanent end date. They can only be barred from the country if they are believed to be “a genuine, present and sufficiently serious threat”.

Fisheries

Express
FISHING laws are proving to be one of the most contentious issues in the Brexit withdrawal agreement negotiations. So what does the draft deal say? The draft agreement shows that despite years of discussions, not much progress has been made on the subject of fishing laws. The EU has repeatedly said it would only allow British seafood exporters free access to EU markets in exchange for a reciprocal agreement for EU fishing fleets in British waters. But Theresa May insists the UK will not accept a deal linking fishing waters to trade.

Conservative Party

Telegraph
Jeremy Hunt has warned Theresa May that her Brexit deal could put Britain into a “Turkey trap” and will be voted down by Parliament unless it is changed, The Telegraph can disclose.  The Foreign Secretary warned the Prime Minister that she risked consigning the nation to a fate similar to Turkey, which has been stuck in negotiations over its status with the EU for 31 years.  He is one of six Cabinet ministers who have raised serious concerns about the scale of the Tory rebellion over Brexit, with Mr Hunt suggesting that 66 Tory MPs could vote against it. 

Westmonster
It has emerged that many of those who have remained in Theresa May’s Cabinet blasted her deal when it was discussed around the table. Details have emerged of critical comments all-round from those in government. Not hard to see why so many backbench Tory MPs have already pledged to vote the deal down. The Telegraph have reported on several of the comments made including Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt referring to the deal as a “Turkey trap” that would leave the UK in a similar position to Erdogan’s country, trapping the UK in a customs arrangement.

Sun
EVEN more doubting Tory MPs abandoned Theresa May’s Brexit deal as Cabinet ministers plunged her plan to sell it into confusion. A total of 83 of the PM’s own MPs had spoken out to indicate they will vote it down next month. And a former minister on her frontbench predicted the true number is now more than 100, telling The Sun that Mrs May now has “zero chance” of it passing the Commons. 
Downing Street’s desperate effort to win round sceptical Conservatives Brexiteers as well as Remainers was dealt a fresh blow when Amber Rudd blew apart Mrs May’s claim that voting for her agreement was the only way to avoid no deal.

Mail
The pro-European Tory veteran Ken Clarke gave Theresa May a boost by announcing he will support her Brexit withdrawal agreement in Parliament. The former chancellor told BBC2’s Newsnight that the Prime Minister’s deal was ‘a bit of a dog’s breakfast’ – but backing it was better than risking a no-deal Brexit. 
The grandee said it delivered continuity for business and laid the ground for critical future trade negotiations with Europe. Support from the Conservative Party’s most high-profile Remain supporter could persuade other MPs such as Nicky Morgan and Anna Soubry to follow suit.

Breitbart
Theresa May’s newly appointed pensions secretary has moved quickly to undermine a full ‘no-deal’ Brexit, claiming Parliament will block a “no deal” exit from the European Union (EU), with the Prime Minister echoing that view just hours later. The prime minister has long insisted Brexit will happen and a “no deal is better than a bad deal”; however, Amber Rudd suggested Wednesday morning that a “no Brexit” was more likely than no deal. Addressing Brexiteer Tory rebels considering voting against Mrs May’s final deal, the new Work and Pensions Secretary said that “Brexiters may lose their Brexit” and new amendments contrary to the Brexit cause could be added if it were rejected.

Labour Party

Express
JEREMY Corbyn and Nicola Sturgeon have joined forces in a bid to derail Theresa May’s draft Brexit deal and stop the UK tumbling out of the European Union without an agreement. The Labour leader and Scottish First Minister – both of whom are strongly opposed to the Prime Minister’s agreement with Brussels – met with a delegation last night including Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell and Brexit Secretary Sir Keir Starmer.

Mail
John McDonnell yesterday boasted that Labour could seize power without an election. The Shadow Chancellor argued that the Queen should install Jeremy Corbyn as prime minister if Mrs May fails to win support for her Brexit plan. He said: ‘If it’s a minority government and they can’t obtain a majority in Parliament, usually it’s the duty of the monarch to offer to the opposition the opportunity to form a government.’

Morning Star
JEREMY CORBYN told Theresa May to “make way” for a Labour government that would negotiate a better Brexit deal in a heated Commons exchange today. The Labour leader challenged the PM to admit that the agreement she has cooked up with Brussels is never going to get through Parliament. Mr Corbyn said: “Instead of giving confidence to the millions of people who voted both Leave and Remain, this half-baked deal fails to give any hope that can bring the country together again. “Isn’t the case that Parliament will rightly reject this deal, this bad deal?

Independent
The Queen should ask Jeremy Corbyn to form a government if MPs vote down Theresa May’s Brexit deal, John McDonnell has said. The shadow chancellor claimed that, according to the UK constitution, Labour must be offered the chance to govern if Ms May is no longer able to command a majority in the Commons. Until now, Labour’s policy has been that a general election should be triggered if the government’s proposed withdrawal agreement is rejected by parliament, but Mr McDonnell admitted this would be “difficult” to bring about.

Guardian
John McDonnell has said Labour should form a minority government if Theresa May fails to get her Brexit deal through the Commons, as the prime minister prepares to travel to Brussels to attempt to strike a final agreement. The shadow chancellor said the government was in chaos, with its confidence and supply arrangement with DUP in disarray, and May’s chances of getting her Brexit proposals through parliament looking increasingly remote. “We just can’t go on like this. We just cannot go on with this instability, uncertainty that there is in government, day by day and sometimes hour by hour,” he said.

Westmonster
Labour’s Keir Starmer has backed government Minister Amber Rudd’s insistence that politicians in Westminster would block a No Deal Brexit. With the pro-EU Remainer establishment now clearly fighting to overturn the referendum result, Starmer tweeted: “Amber Rudd is right: Parliament will stop No Deal. “I hope the rest of the Cabinet was listening and will finally drop the reckless No Deal rhetoric.” Politicians who don’t believe in Brexit now trying to force a bad deal through that doesn’t deliver on the referendum result. Absolutely shameful.

EU

Telegraph
Germany has warned EU ambassadors that Angela Merkel will pull out of the Brexit summit to sign off Theresa May’s deal unless the bloc ends its infighting over the terms of the future UK-EU trade deal. The threat was made on Tuesday night, ahead of a pivotal meeting in Brussels between Mrs May and Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the European Commission, this afternoon. Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, is also expected to attend for an “afternoon tea” that aims to resolve the final barriers preventing the deal.

Times
Angela Merkel has threatened to boycott the European Union summit this weekend in a move that would scupper Theresa May’s plans to conclude a Brexit deal. The German chancellor is refusing to travel to Brussels on Sunday unless all negotiations are concluded in advance. Her demand is aimed at squabbling European governments that want to impose tough new conditions on Britain over fishing rights and “frictionless trade”. She also aims to stop eleventh-hour wrangling by Mrs May.

Express
GERMAN Chancellor Angela Merkel has spoken out for the first time today on May’s Brexit deal revealing exactly where Germany stands amid deep controversy with Spain. Germany will back an agreement on Sunday on Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union, and hopes Spain’s objection to wording over the disputed British territory of Gibraltar will be resolved imminently, Chancellor Angela Merkel said – a reaction which could shock Europe and Spain. Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said today his government would vote against the EU’s draft Brexit agreement if the included text on Gibraltar was not changed.

Express
SPAIN has vowed to block Britain’s Brexit deal unless Theresa May agrees to Madrid’s demands over Gibraltar. Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez warned he would vote against the draft withdrawal agreement unless urgent changes are made before a special summit this weekend. Leaders from the EU27 were expected to sign off on Mrs May’s deal at the emergency meeting on Sunday. But Mr Sanchez reiterated this evening that he would not support the divorce terms unless his demands over the future of the Rock are met.

Independent
The United Kingdom will “split apart” because of the pressures of Brexit, Spain’s foreign minister has warned. In an interview on Tuesday Josep Borrell said he believed there was an underlying “weakness” to the union underpinning the United Kingdom. Contrasting British separatist movements in Scotland and Ireland with Spain’s own in Catalonia, Mr Borrell told the
Politico news website: I am very much more worried about the unity of the United Kingdom than the unity of the Kingdom of Spain. I think the UK will split apart sooner than the kingdom of Spain.” 

NHS

Express
A BREXIT cash boost will help fund health care reforms that keep more patients out of hospital by treating them in their own homes, Theresa May has announced. Round-the-clock rapid response squads will be set up across the country and extra support for care home residents is being put in place. The £3.5 billion a year plan will cut needless admissions and mean more patients that do need to be treated on a ward are home sooner. Around a third of hospital patients stay in longer than they need to but it can have a devastating impact on older people, with just a ten day stay causing the equivalent of a decade in muscle ageing.

Sun
THERESA May has vowed to tackle chronic hospital “bed blocking” by sending in crack 24/7 teams of GPs, nurses and physios into the community and care homes. The PM pledged a £3.5billion ring-fenced cash injection for community care to stop OAPs languishing in hospitals longer than they need to because they can’t get the care they need. She said the bid to cut bed blocking “will mean more people can leave hospital quicker, or avoid being admitted in the first place – which is better for patients and better for the health service.” It’s hoped the radical plan will improve health, cut costs, ease staffing pressures, free up beds and cut waiting times.

Rail travel

Star
CHRISTMAS shoppers face a weekend of travel hell as Tube workers announced they are going on strike.The RMT union has announced walkouts on the Central line for December 21 and 22 over a “comprehensive breakdown in relations”. The strikes will take place between 8pm and 2am on the Friday, while workers will also walk out between 4am and 8pm on the Saturday. Nick Dent, Director of Line Operations for London Underground, said: “The further strike action called by RMT remains totally unjustified. “They are demanding the reinstatement of a driver who was sacked for failing a drugs test, something for which we have zero tolerance.

Mail
Londoners reacted with anger but little surprise today as yet another tube strike was announced – this time for the weekend before Christmas. RMT workers on the Central Line will not work between 8pm on Friday, December 21 and 8pm on Saturday December 22. The industrial action will hit the capital on one of the busiest shopping weekends of the year.  Many Londoners took to Twitter to bemoan the latest strikes, complaining that they are becoming a ‘Christmas tradition’ and joking the union must be headed by the Grinch.

Sun
THERESA May is being urged by three former Tory Ministers to spare millions of struggling Brits by scrapping plans for an “outrageous” New Year rail fare hike. Michael Fallon, Grant Shapps and Tim Loughton said the Government had to bin plans for a 3.2 per cent rise – which will add an average £100 to annual season ticket prices. They want the Government to “freeze” prices for 2019. An increase would follow one of the worst years for passenger disruption since the industry was privatised – with thousands of services cancelled or delayed across the UK.

Technology

Telegraph
A revolutionary Star Trek-style electric plane that flies silently and has no moving parts has completed its first test flight, in what is being hailed as one of the most significant advances in flight since the early experiments of the Wright brother more than 100 years ago. The battery-powered plane, which was developed and tested by engineers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the US, is not kept in flight by propellers or a turbine but by an ionic wind system. The 16ft aircraft is completely silent and colliding electrically charged air molecules provide the thrust needed to make it fly, opening the door to new generation of emissions-free passenger aircraft and silent drones.

Times
Scientists have opened a new frontier in aviation with a model electric plane that has no moving parts in its propulsion system, emits no pollution from combustion and gains thrust from an “ionic wind” of charged particles — a technology widely written off as the stuff of science fiction. The successful test of a “solid state” aircraft, in a university gym hall in Massachusetts, lasted only seconds but has been compared to the revolutionary moment in 1903 when two brothers, Orville and Wilbur Wright, made their first flight. The scientists behind the electric plane were clearly delighted.

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