RUSSIAN Twitter accounts have launched a co-ordinated attack on Ukip leader and Stoke-on-Trent Central by-election candidate Paul Nuttall on the eve of the vital vote. With the vote on a knife edge, the anonymous social media users have turned against Mr Nuttall with a huge number of negative messages and photos. The accounts had been posting Russian propaganda until this week when they all promptly switched their focus to taking down the Ukip challenger. Alex King, an independent researcher who uncovered the operation, said the campaign was coordinated using accounts unlikely to be linked to actual people. With Russia already accused of interfering with the US election last year and the 2015 UK general elections, concerns are growing this is another example of Vladimir Putin attempting to affect another vote.
A FORMER top eurocrat today told Britain it will be leaving the EU without a free trade agreement because Brexit is “not high on the political agenda” for remaining member states. Ex-European Council president Herman Van Rompuy insisted even negotiating Britain’s divorce from the bloc will be a “Herculean task” and two years to complete Brexit will “not nearly be enough”. Mr Van Rompuy, famously compared to a “damp rag” by former Ukip leader Nigel Farage, claimed Britain had “lost friends” across Europe. Revealing his expectation the UK will formally leave the EU in 2019 without a free trade deal – and with only “informal talks” on the basis of a new relationship having taken place – the former Belgian prime minister suggested a transitional arrangement for Britain beyond Brexit would be merely the “phasing out” of its EU membership. He also dismissed talk of Britain being able to sign free trade agreements with non-EU countries on its departure day.
European leaders will play “hardball” and demand “British dosh” in return for a free trade deal from the start of Brexit negotiations, the former UK ambassador to the EU has warned. Sir Ivan Rogers said the issue of Britain’s Brexit bill would be an issue from the start of negotiations and he predicted it would come to a head at a “gory” meeting of European leaders in autumn next year. Speaking to MPs on the Brexit select committee, Sir Ivan said the remaining 27 EU members would come up with a cash figure cost for a transitional deal and a free trade agreement.
MINISTERS are working on a climb down to give Parliament a veto on the PM’s final Brexit blueprint in a bid to fend off a fresh court fight. Secret talks are underway to allow MPs and peers a vote to authorise the eventual shape of Britain’s EU exit, even if it is a negotiations walk out without any deal. They were sparked by warnings from senior legal figures that Theresa May’s ultra-tight 137 word Article 50 bill is not enough to satisfy a Supreme Court ruling last month that only Parliament can sign the final exit terms. Mrs May must also upgrade her promise of a vote on any deal after two years of Brexit talks to passing a full law, lawyers insist. One Cabinet minister told The Sun yesterday: “At the end of the day, Parliament is sovereign. We have to take MPs with us on Brexit.
TIM FARRON has warned the European Parliament to stay silent over potential plans to force a second Brexit referendum – claiming it will hurt the Remoaner cause. The leftie Liberal Democrat leader claimed any attempt to try to force a second vote on the UK exit would be counter-productive. Mr Farron and his party have spent the last few months since the June 23 vote demanding a fresh poll on the terms of withdrawal. But now the Remoaner has claimed suggestions the European Parliament could refuse to ratify a Brexit deal unless voters get a say on it would hurt the cause. He said: “I don’t imagine that would actually help us get it in reality. “A referendum on the deal is the only way to conclude this process. The only democratic way to conclude it.
Boris Johnson has been taken to task by a Swedish MEP who accused the UK foreign secretary of “bad taste” and political insensitivity after he repeatedly referred to Brexit as “a liberation”, in a spat caught on camera at the recent Munich security conference. According to footage that emerged on Wednesday, Johnson was confronted about his choice of language by Anna Maria Corazza Bildt during a panel discussion on the future of the west. “I would like to tell the foreign minister of the UK that the word liberation in the history of Europe has a very strong meaning,” she said, to some applause. “In these challenging times talking about liberating Britain from the European Union is just bad taste.” A uncomfortable looking Johnson responded: “I say, come on. I have to say, I hesitate to accuse you of pomposity, but the word liberation clearly means … it’s etymologically equivalent to being freed, and I’m afraid it’s an undeniable fact that we, the UK, has been unable to do, to run its own trade policy for 44 years.
LABOUR are drawing up secret plans to work with Theresa May over Brexit — risking a fresh civil war, The Sun can reveal. An explosive leaked strategy email shows Jeremy Corbyn’s most senior aide urged to take a “constructive approach” that will risk the party “getting our hands dirty” by not voting against the PM. Insiders warn that sticking to Labour’s current position will look like they have “vacated the stage” over Brexit. Our revelation comes as it emerged the Tories were increasingly hopeful of a strong result in Stoke Central on Thursday that could knock gaffe-prone Ukip into third at the crunch by-election. Such a result would reignite Labour’s bitter civil wars and heap pressure on Jeremy Corbyn to quit.
Britain is wasting hundreds of millions of pounds subsidising power stations to burn American wood pellets that do more harm to the climate than the coal they replaced, a study has found. Chopping down trees and transporting wood across the Atlantic Ocean to feed power stations produces more greenhouse gases than much cheaper coal, according to the report. It blames the rush to meet EU renewable energy targets, which resulted in ministers making the false assumption that burning trees was carbon-neutral. Green subsidies for wood pellets and other biomass were championed by Chris Huhne when he was Liberal Democrat energy and climate change secretary in the coalition government.
A third runway at Heathrow will expose 47,000 additional homes to dangerous air pollution because more vehicles will travel to the airport, MPs have warned. The increase in cars, coaches and lorries will add to toxic nitrogen oxide fumes, which come mainly from diesel engines and are linked to the deaths of 23,500 people in Britain every year, it is feared. With doctors already calling for diesel vehicles to be taken off the road, a damning report says Heathrow’s expansion will risk the health of people living in an extra 47,063 homes. The House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee claims a third runway risks breaching air pollution limits – a key barrier to it being built. The big problem is not the aeroplanes, but the fumes pumped out by cars and trains travelling to it. The committee now reports it has ‘no confidence’ the Government can meet its target to fix the problem, of 60 per cent of all new cars being ultra-low emissions vehicles by 2030.
Heathrow expansion can only be justified if the government proves it will not breach laws on climate change and pollution, MPs say. Ministers say a third runway will not exceed environment limits. However, the Commons Environmental Audit Committee has accused the government of “magical thinking” – wishing the problem away without a proper solution. They say ministers must show the expansion will not fuel climate change. Committee chair Mary Creagh told BBC News: “There’s plenty of talk about how the government wants to solve environmental problems at Heathrow, but a total absence of any policy guarantees. “The implication of this is that they think other sectors of the economy like energy and industry are going to have to cut their carbon emissions even more so people can fly more – but the government’s been told by its own advisors (the Committee on Climate Change) that’s not possible.”
TOP BRUSSELS bureaucrat Jean-Claude Juncker has been challenged to set out a “full breakdown” of the EU’s “provocative” demand for a £50billion Brexit fee. The European Commission’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier is reported to be ready to hit Theresa May with a divorce payment of between €50 billion-€60 billion for “outstanding liabilities” when Brexit talks begin later this year. Mr Juncker, president of the European Commission, this week appeared to confirm such a bill by warning Britain of the “hefty” cost for leaving the EU. He insisted the UK could not expect a “cut-price or zero-cost” Brexit. But a Tory MP has warned Mr Juncker the EU’s “credibility” now relies on Brussels officials being able to back up such a demand by setting out “in detail” their calculations for an exit fee.
The EU is considering the adoption of a US-style electronic travel permit scheme – a move which could create a new administrative hurdle for British tourists after Brexit. Immigration minister Robert Goodwill told Parliament the EU was discussing the possibility of introducing a version of America’s Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA). Currently foreign travellers must pay a fee of $14 (£11) when they complete ESTA, an automated online system which determines their eligibility to travel to the US. “British people are now used to the US ESTA scheme and, therefore, we view with interest how the European scheme might develop and what similarities, and differences, there may be to the US scheme,” said Mr Goodwill.
NICOLA STURGEON has been warned declaring a second Scottish independence referendum without the approval of the UK Government would prove “much more complicated” for the EU. Ex-European Council president Herman Van Rompuy suggested Brussels would find it harder to stomach a vote for Scotland to breakaway from the rest of the UK if it hadn’t been authorised by Westminster. Ms Sturgeon has consistently threatened a fresh independence referendum since last summer’s Brexit vote, with the First Minister insisting Theresa May must listen to her demand for a “differentiated” exit deal for Scotland. The SNP leader has also described Scotland staying in the EU as an independent member state as the “best option” for the country. But former top EU boss Mr Van Rompuy advised Ms Sturgeon the way the SNP pushes for a second referendum would affect Brussels’ view of a possible successful vote for Scottish independence.
DUTCH MPs were today set to railroad through a controversial EU agreement despite the fact that it was rejected by an overwhelming majority of voters in a referendum. Parliamentarians in The Hague were poised to approve the highly contentious pact between Brussels and Kiev which will grant 40 million Ukrainians visa-free access to Europe. Their decision comes despite the fact that two-thirds of Dutch voters rejected the agreement in a referendum last spring, a result which establishment politicians immediately insisted they would ignore. And this week they are set to come good on their word with the majority of MPs in the lower house of the Dutch parliament expected to row in behind Brussels and approve the pact. Late last year Dutch PM Mark Rutte secured a series of concessions from other European leaders which he insists together address the concerns of people who voted against the agreement.
ALL primary school kids will be tested on their maths times tables next year, the Schools Minister confirmed today. Nick Gibb told MPs every 11-year-old will be tested on multiplication up to 12×12 online to drive up standards. Previous plans to bring them in were put on hold after Education Secretary Justine Greening called a halt to new tests. Mr Gibb told the Commons Education Committee multiplication was a “very important” part of a child’s maths knowledge. Confirming the tests would be given the go ahead next year, he said: “It was in our manifesto in 2015. We think times tables are a very important part of mathematical knowledge.” The minister said pupils are expected to actually take the tests in the spring of 2019.
Life may have evolved on at least three planets within a newly discovered solar system that is 39 light years from Earth, it was announced last night. Astronomers at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa) have detected no less than seven roughly Earth-sized worlds orbiting a dwarf star in the system, it was announced today. Scientists had previously only identified a tiny number of so-called “exoplanets”, which are believed to have the qualities needed to support life. However, the new system contains an unprecedented number of Earth-sized, probably rocky planets, and is being hailed as an “accelerated leap forward” in the search for extraterrestrial life.
Extraterrestrial life could be identified within a decade, Nasa said last night, as it announced the discovery of seven Earth-sized planets in a solar system about 39 light years away. The space agency hailed the “seven sisters” as the most exciting discovery made by its Spitzer space telescope in its 14 years of operation. Three of the planets could support life, it is believed. Thomas Zurbuchen, of Nasa’s science mission directorate, said: “The discovery gives us a hint that finding a second Earth is not just a matter of if but when. “Are we alone? We are making a leap forward to answering this question.
For centuries it has been one of the most vexing mysteries for mankind: are we, the seven billion inhabitants of this wondrous blue planet really alone, or is there life somewhere out there in the universe? Yesterday, we came a step closer to answering that tantalising question with the landmark announcement by Nasa scientists of the discovery of a new solar system that has at least three Earth-like planets — with climates that just might support life. The kind of planets that a certain ET might have called home. The discovery by an international team using advanced telescopes in space and at far-flung locations around the world has caused a frenzy of excitement among astronomers who, as a breed, are not given to hyperbole.
Obese patients will be denied hip and knee replacements and sent to swimming sessions and exercise classes in a bid to get them to lose weight. A cost-cutting scheme being imposed by two health trusts in Cheshire will refuse the operations to anyone with a body mass index above 35. Instead they will be advised to sign up for free exercise classes at the nearby leisure centre, go swimming, sign up for physiotherapy or join a weight loss club such as Slimming World. The plans are being rolled out in the South Cheshire and Vale Royal Clinical Commissioning Groups in the North West, which cover 275,000 patients in total. South Cheshire has overspent its budget by £5million, while the Vale Royal has a deficit of £3.5million. The latest proposals have been condemned by the Royal College of Surgeons who said it would lead to thousands being denied ‘life-changing surgery’.
Four in every 10 European doctors working in Britain are considering leaving the UK following the Brexit vote, a new survey has found. The British Medical Association (BMA) polled 1,193 doctors from the European Economic Area working in the UK and found 42 per cent are thinking of leaving the country, with a further 23 per cent unsure. Among NHS staff in England, 59,796 are from the European Union, according to NHS Digital, including 10,267 doctors – around 6.6 per cent of the UK medical workforce. Dr Mark Porter, the BMA’s chairman of council, said many doctors from the EU felt “unwelcome and uncertain about whether they and their families will have the right to live and work in the UK after Brexit”.
About 12,000 doctors trained in European countries could quit the UK because they feel less welcome following the Brexit vote, according to a survey of overseas medics. About two in five doctors who qualified in European Economic Area countries are considering leaving the UK in light of the referendum result, research by the British Medical Association reveals. The findings prompted alarm about an impending “disaster” in medical staffing and fears that an exodus of EEA doctors could exacerbate already significant personnel shortages in NHS hospitals. The BMA’s findings are based on a survey it undertook of 1,193 EEA doctors working in the UK. When asked if they were thinking about leaving the UK following last year’s referendum vote, 500 (42%) said yes, 309 (26%) said no, 278 (23%) were unsure, while the other 106 did not answer.
CANCER diagnosis in accident and emergency departments are three times more likely in some parts of England than others, a study found. Public Health England data shows the number of cancer diagnoses in A&E vary from 11 per cent of all cancer diagnoses in one area to 33 per cent in another. The figures – analysed by the Health Service Journal – indicate which areas are better at detecting cancers at an early stage and in primary care services. Many of the patients diagnosed in A&E would have attended for another reason. Early diagnosis improves survival chances. Patients diagnosed in A&E are likely to have more advanced cancer.