BORIS JOHNSON has incurred the wrath of Remainers after he slapped down calls for an inquiry into the 2016 Brexit referendum following the release of the Russia report. Labour MPs took aim at the Prime Minister on social media after the Government dismissed the intelligence committee’s call for an urgent investigation into “potential” Russian interference in the vote on EU membership. Speaking during PMQs this afternoon, Mr Johnson accused Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer of “flip-flopping” on Brexit as he claimed “Islingtonian Remainers” were seeking to use the report to “give the impression that Russian interference was somehow responsible for Brexit.”
Britain’s chief Brexit negotiator will offer to hold an emergency round of talks next week as the UK tries to avoid blame for any failure to agree a trade deal. Formal talks between David Frost and the EU’s Michel Barnier in London will end on Thursday with neither side believing the current deadlock will be broken this week. The Telegraph has revealed that the Government’s working assumption is now that Britain will have no trade deal in place when the transition period ends on December 31, but Downing Street said on Wednesday that the talks were not yet at “breakdown”. Boris Johnson had set a deadline of the end of July for an outline agreement to be reached, and Mr Frost is expected to make himself available to continue one-to-one talks with Mr Barnier next week to ensure everything has been done to meet the target. With neither side currently prepared to give ground on key issues including fishing rights and the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice, Number 10 wants to show that if the talks collapse it will be the EU’s fault. A source close to the negotiations said: “We wanted to get an agreement this month, but it’s clear from the EU side that’s not going to happen. That doesn’t mean we will stop talking, though.
Downing Street has hinted that a full Brexit trade deal may no longer be possible this year, raising the prospect of an economically damaging no deal in January. The prime minister’s spokesperson publicly lowered the UK’s ambitions on Wednesday, coinciding that the current goal was to find the “outlines” of an agreement. There has been almost zero movement in Brexit trade talks since the start of negotiations earlier in the year, with both sides dug in on issues like state aid, regulatory alignment, and fishing.
Downing Street sources have denied Brexit negotiations between the UK and European Union have broken down, but admit they are at an impasse. After two full days of talks in London, No 10 officials described the current state of play as neither a “breakthrough nor a breakdown”. The latest round is expected to end on Thursday without advancing on a deal. Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator, and his UK counterpart, David Frost, are in the midst of intensified discussions. A fifth round of talks will go ahead as planned next week, with another round scheduled for August unless agreed otherwise.
The United Kingdom may properly depart the European Union on December 31st, as voted for by the British people way back in 2016, as negotiations to sign a deal that would see the nation keep links to Brussels in the future falters, a British newspaper has claimed. While Britain and the EU are presently in talks to achieve an agreement on a future relationship between the two parties, progress appears to have stalled as Brussels remains wedded to an ideal that would keep Britain tied to the block — and under its control — in several areas. Likewise, the British team is keeping up the pressure on achieving a much loser relationship where London and Brussels remain close friends, but British interests are not controlled by Europe.
Over 150 more boat migrants were brought ashore at Dover yesterday, bringing the total number of migrants illegally crossing the English Channel this year to more than 3,000, a new record. On Tuesday, 159 illegal migrants, including small children, aboard 13 small vessels were intercepted while they were attempting to cross the English Channel. The migrants, who claimed to be Kuwaiti, Iranian, Syrian, Palestinian, Yemeni, Egyptian, Ethiopian, Eritrean, Afghan, Libyan, Sudanese, Moroccan, Turkish and Chad nationals, were brought ashore by the British Border Force at the port of Dover in Kent, according to the BBC. A spokesman for the Home Office said: “Of the 159 people who arrived, 136 were male and 23 female.”
URSUALA VON DER LEYEN has launched a stunning attack on Charles Michel’s pre-summit plans to enforce the European Union’s rule of law. The European Commission President lashed out at the Council chief’s “vague” proposals that led to almost 100 hours of bitter infighting between EU governments. Talks over a €750 billion recovery fund for pandemic-stricken regions and the bloc’s next seven-year budget almost collapsed amid demands for a mechanism that could cut off cash flows to EU rule-breakers, such as Hungary or Poland. The recovery fund would see the Commission borrow €750 billion on the international markets. Eurocrats would then distribute £390 billion as grants and £360 billion as low-cost loans. On the initial plans, Mrs von der Leyen said: “If you look at the original summit draft, then you can see it was vague and brought together different text blocks that don’t necessarily have a connection.
The EU has set itself up for another saga of recrimination and failure by overstating the true economic value of its €750bn (£680bn) Recovery Fund. The headline sums are large, but the systemic shock of Covid-19 is larger. The details of the accord are nothing short of shocking. Europe’s leaders cut science spending by €20bn. They slashed the green technology fund by three quarters. They excised almost every line item of technological worth or with a potent economic multiplier. They even gutted most of the €9.4bn earmarked for pandemics and cross-border health threats. The European Research Council said it could not believe what was happening. The League of European Research Universities called it a “breach of trust”. All was sacrificed for the sake of the deal itself and to secure the theological advance in the Project: a proto-EU treasury able to borrow on the global capital markets and raise its own Hamiltonian revenue streams, starting with a plastic levy.
THE European Parliament has branded parts of the bloc’s £1.6 trillion post-pandemic spending plans “unacceptable” as a huge row threatens to break out between Brussels’ most influential institutions. The Parliament’s budget negotiators raised deep concerns with the proposals signed off by EU leaders after an acrimonious five-day summit ended yesterday. After hours of bitter wrangling, they agreed on a £676billion coronavirus recovery fund and a £1trillion, seven-year budget to help deliver aid to the EU’s worst hit industries and regions. The recovery fund would see the Commission borrow £676 billion on the international markets. Eurocrats would then distribute £351billion as grants and £327billion as low-cost loans.
The Labour Party has apologised to antisemitism whistleblowers and agreed to pay damages to settle a libel case in a decision that is expected to cost it nearly £1 million. The move has caused a row with Jeremy Corbyn, the former party leader, and Len McCluskey, the general secretary of Unite, its biggest donor. Labour announced yesterday that it would pay hundreds of thousands of pounds and apologise to former staff and a journalist it defamed after a BBC Panorama investigation into its handling of antisemitism complaints last year. The party issued “unreserved” apologies to seven former party officials and John Ware, 72, the broadcaster who led the documentary, at the High Court.
Jeremy Corbyn faces legal action over Labour’s antisemitism scandal after Sir Keir Starmer turned on him and declared the party to be “under new management”. The leader and his predecessor clashed openly for the first time after the party agreed to pay “substantial” damages’ to seven whistleblowers over “defamatory and false allegations” made following a Panorama investigation. Labour also issued an unreserved apology to the former staff members and to John Ware, the journalist who presented the programme. Mr Corbyn reacted angrily, denouncing the decision to settle in court as political, rather than legal, and insisting: “Our legal advice was that the party had a strong defence.”
SIR KEIR STARMER faced a backlash today following the “disappointing” decision to pay out an estimated six-figure sum to former senior staffers who claimed defamation following a BBC Panorama investigation into allegations of anti-semitism within Labour. Jeremy Corbyn criticised Labour’s “political” decision to apologise to the ex-employees and pay damages reportedly amounting to £500,000. The Islington North MP, who was leader at the time of the 2019 BBC documentary Is Labour Anti-Semitic? said that the decision risked “giving credibility to misleading and inaccurate allegations” that the party was unwilling to investigate claims of anti-semitism. He noted that an internal party report leaked in April showed that anti-Corbyn senior Labour staffers had conspired to sabotage the party’s processes to deal with anti-semitism allegations and Mr Corbyn’s ability to win the 2017 election.
Jeremy Corbyn faces legal action after he blasted the Labour Party’s response to a major anti-Semitism row. Lawyer Mark Lewis has received fresh instructions against the former leader – just hours after the Labour Party settled a libel case that began when Mr Corbyn was in post. The row surrounds a BBC Panorama documentary, in which whistleblowers hit out at Labour’s handling of anti-Semitism claims. When it aired last summer, Labour claimed the whistleblowers had “axes to grind”. But today the party withdrew that “defamatory and false” claim, and agreed “substantial” damages to seven whistleblowers. The party also apologised to the documentary’s reporter John Ware for falsely accusing him of “malicious misrepresentations”.
Labour’s decision to pay a six-figure libel settlement to ex-staffers who claimed the party was failing to deal with antisemitism has plunged the party back into civil war, with Jeremy Corbyn publicly condemning his successor’s decision to settle the case. Corbyn’s statement caused astonishment among the litigants in the libel action, with the Panorama journalist John Ware confirming to the Guardian that he was “consulting his lawyers” and raising the prospect of another costly court battle over Labour and antisemitism. Corbyn said he was disappointed by the settlement brokered under Keir Starmer, calling it a “political decision” against legal advice, and said the decision “risks giving credibility to misleading and inaccurate allegations about action taken to tackle antisemitism in the Labour party in recent years.”
Jeremy Corbyn blasted his successor Sir Keir Starmer today over a ‘political decision’ to pay ‘substantial damages’ to seven whistleblowers over ‘defamatory and false allegations’ as Labour’s anti-Semitism civil war erupted into fresh conflict. The former opposition leader said the decision to settle a High Court case today over a BBC Panorama investigation into the party was ‘disappointing’ and claimed legal advice was that Labour had a ‘strong case’. The move by Sir Keir Starmer’s party, which also apologised to the seven, is part of a settlement aimed at drawing a line under allegations made during Mr Corbyn’s leadership that the party had allowed the overt hatred of Jewish people to fester.
BRITAIN is to slash its international aid budget by £2.9billion, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has confirmed. The cut to the foreign aid budget comes in response to the coronavirus pandemic, as the UK’s economy is expected to contract. Despite the revision to the budget, the Government will retain its commitment to spending at least 0.7 percent of Gross National Income (GNI) on international aid. At present, the UK is the only G7 country to meet the spending target which was set as a goal by the United Nations in the 1970s. The announcement of the cut comes after the Government committed last month to merging the Department for International Development with the Foreign Office.
The UK has announced a £2.9 billion cut to the international aid budget due to the effects of coronavirus. The annual spend, which currently stands at more than £15 billion, will be cut due to the contraction in the economy from the effects of the pandemic. The UK currently commits to spend 0.7 per cent of national income on overseas development projects. In June it was announced that the Department for International Development (DFID) is to be rolled into the Foreign Office, in a move some feared was a downgrading of its significance within Government.
Care home residents are finally to be allowed visitors indoors, but hugs and kisses will still be banned under new government guidance. The arrangements will be very different from those before the pandemic forced homes to ban visitors in March. Friends and family will not be able to wear hats or take flowers, but will be allowed to bring boxes of chocolates as the packaging can be sanitised. Homes will be encouraged to consider using glass or plastic barriers to screen off residents. Where possible, each resident will be limited to “a single constant visitor” whose arrival must be booked in advance.
Care homes residents in England will be allowed family visits again for the first time since lockdown started in March — but they will be limited to just one visitor. Health Secretary Matt Hancock has today given care homes the green light to start arranging visits, as long as social distancing and protective equipment rules are followed. Each resident will only be allowed a single nominated visitor, who can visit regularly as long as they book in advance and wear a mask and extra PPE if required. The move finally brings England in line with Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, where care home visits have been allowed for weeks.
Britons could have to wear facemasks in sandwich shops under new legislation set to be introduced tomorrow – but thousands of stores will not enforce the new rules. No10 may be set to perform its latest U-turn on facial coverings after confusion and mixed messages from ministers over whether customers will have to wear masks in takeaways. Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced on July 14 that wearing a face mask in shops and supermarkets will be compulsory from Friday July 24, with anyone failing to comply facing a fine of up to £100. But the new regulations will only be published on Thursday, less than 24 hours before they come into effect, and ministers were accused of not providing enough clarity last night.
FACE masks will become compulsory in takeaways and sandwich shops under laws to be introduced on Friday. It would mean customers in fast food restaurants such as McDonald’s would have to wear a face covering while ordering at the counter for a takeaway. Customers wanting to eat inside would have to sit down for table service if they wanted to eat indoors. Buying food from a counter then sitting down will be banned. McDonald’s has already announced it will reopen around 700 dine-in restaurants across the UK this week, with customers able to place their orders on a mobile app.
Official Secrets Act
Britain’s most senior police officer called yesterday for the Official Secrets Act to be “firmed up” and said the public should be concerned about the threat from Russia. Dame Cressida Dick, the Metropolitan Police commissioner, said that prosecuting those who helped hostile states was made very difficult because of the constraints of existing legislation. Her comments followed the government’s promise to give intelligence agencies more powers after a critical report on its response to the Russian threat. The Law Commission is already reviewing the Official Secrets Act, which was branded “out of date” by the intelligence and security committee. Wide-ranging recommendations, which are likely to include beefed-up sentencing, are expected this year.
Government officials have begun work to examine if a bridge could be built between Scotland and Northern Ireland, Downing Street confirmed today. Ahead of an expected visit by Boris Johnson to Scotland tomorrow, No10 said that some preparatory work the £20billion project was underway. Mr Johnson revealed in January his desire for a combined bridge and tunnel connection at the narrowest, 20-mile gap between Northern Ireland and the British mainland. But since then the coronavirus pandemic has torn a massive black hole in the UK’s finances. Asked today if any preparatory work has been done, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: ‘I think government officials have done some work on this and they continue to work on a range of connectivity projects looking into, as the PM said, road, rail, air and cross sea links between all four parts of the United Kingdom.’
MPs demanded an inquiry last night as it was revealed that £71 million of taxpayers’ cash was handed to super-rich China in just one year. Some of the aid money was used to put Chinese firms in competition with British counterparts. The revelation comes as China – which has the second-largest economy in the world and can afford a space programme – is rapidly becoming an outcast on the international stage, amid hacking, national security and human rights controversies. Beijing is threatening the UK with retaliation after Downing Street banned Chinese firm Huawei from its 5G network.
Boris Johnson is facing mounting pressure to impose sanctions on Chinese officials responsible for human rights abuses after Mike Pompeo apparently told MPs the UK has been provided with US intelligence on who to target. The US Secretary of State is said to have told a private meeting yesterday that American intelligence had been handed to the UK relating to violations committed against Uighur Muslims. Tory backbenchers and the Labour Party have called on ministers to impose sanctions on any Beijing officials who have played a role in persecuting the group in Xinjiang, north west China.
CHINA has become an “evil” empire that harvests Britons’ data through its apps such as TikTok, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has warned. Donald Trump’s right-hand man said anything posted on sites such as the video-sharing platform, run by Beijing-based firm ByteDance, “will end up in the hands of the Chinese Communist Party”. The US is considering banning TikTok — a phenomenon with fans ranging from kids to celebs. Mr Pompeo explained: “It is not possible to have your personal information flow across a Chinese server without the rest of that information ending up in the hands of the Chinese Communist Party.