A Brexit minister has admitted MPs will be asked to authorise paying up to £39bn to the EU without the guarantee of a future trade deal. Suella Braverman, a junior minister at the Department for Exiting the EU (DExEU), confessed the UK’s so-called divorce bill will be confirmed before there is any legal agreement on the future EU-UK relationship. There is currently no “conditionality” on the payment of the £39bn bill being linked to a trade deal within the UK’s draft withdrawal agreement, she added.
Downing Street has slapped down a minister who admitted the UK will be legally bound to pay its Brexit ‘divorce bill’ regardless of whether the EU agrees to a beneficial future trade deal. Number 10 insisted that “nothing is agreed until everything is agreed” after Suella Braverman said MPs would be asked to approve the payment of some £39bn months before real detail of a trade deal is known. Brexit Secretary David Davis has previously indicated that the UK could use divorce payments as leverage to win a more advantageous future trading arrangement with Brussels. It was at a select committee on Wednesday that Ms Braverman admitted the UK would be legally bound to pay the bill, while it would only be “a duty of good faith” on the EU to adhere to conditions in terms of future trade.
THERESA May has been called upon to confront Remoaner Tory rebels ahead of vital European Union negotiations at the end of June to ensure she is in the best position to deliver a hard Brexit, it has been claimed. It is understood MPs have told Downing Street and Whips those in favour of a soft leave from the bitter bloc should be stared down on the Government’s Brexit stance. The 15 amendment defeats by the House of Lords on the EU Withdrawal Bill need to be voted down to give Mrs May the best chance to securing the best Brexit for Britain, they added.
A NEW poll released today has rung an economic death knell for Project Fear, with only a minority of Britons surveyed concerned about negative consequences for the country’s economy. Put together by the Enterprise Investment Scheme Association (EISA), the poll is welcome news for Prime Minister Theresa May, who is battling division in her cabinet amid concerns about the financial costs of quitting the single market and customs union. The poll revealed only a minority of the 2008 respondents, surveyed on May 11, had concerns about the economic impact Britain leaving the European Union will have.
THERESA MAY was last night accused of looking like she does not want to quit the EU and of “kowtowing” to Brussels in a blistering assault from the figurehead of Eurosceptic Tories. Downing Street hit back after Jacob Rees-Mogg accused the PM of “abject weakness” in exit negotiations and stormed: “I fear we are getting to the point where you wonder if the Government wants to leave at all.” The boss of the powerful ERG bloc of Brexiteer MPs warned: “I’m deeply concerned that the Government is not only not backing its avowed policy at the moment, it’s deliberately undermining it.”
MPs will be forced to vote on the £39billion Brexit divorce bill before seeing Britain’s formal trade treaty with the EU. The painful confession by a Tory minister means the UK could end up forced to pay the huge sum – even if talks do not go in its favour. Parliament will have a much-trumped “meaningful vote” on the Brexit deal, including the huge divorce bill, this October. But today Brexit Minister Suella Braverman confessed that, by that point, there will only be a “political declaration” on trade. A legal treaty locking down a trade deal will only follow afterwards – and the EU is merely being told to act “in good faith”.
The UK could be legally bound to pay a massive £39 ($52) billion Brexit ‘divorce bill’, even if the European Union (EU) is uncooperative and refused to negotiate a future trade deal, a Brexit minister has admitted. The comments, from Suella Braverman, a Minister at the Department for Exiting the EU, cast serious doubt on Prime Minister Theresa May’s claim that paying the massive sum is linked to agreeing on a future trade relationship with the bloc. The EU has long threatened to block talks on trade and citizens’ rights until the bill is agreed. However, they also claim the bill is a settlement for liabilities accrued as a member and has nothing to do with the future relationship.
Britain is poised to demand the EU repays up to a £1 billion if the bloc continues to force British companies out of the Galileo satellite navigation system, The Telegraph understands. Whitehall sources said that the The Department for Exiting the Union will on Thursday publish an uncompromising paper on the Galileo project that will now raise the prospect of Britain recovering its investment in the project. The row over Galileo has become a bitter flashpoint in the Brexit negotiations which reopened in Brussels this week after moves to shut British businesses out of the €10 billion (£8.8bn) project on legal grounds.
A rift has opened up inside the European Union, with a German-backed group within the EU seeking to freeze Brexit Britain out of the Galileo satellite project – and other countries objecting. The encrypted navigation system for government and military could be switched off to the UK, putting future security co-operation in jeopardy. That has raised concern amongst the French, Swedish, Dutch and others, with EU Commission figure Martin Selmayr said to be leading the charge to block Britain, according to The Times. The British government will argue that this cut-off would be odds with what has been previously agreed.
Divisions are emerging within the EU over the European commission’s decision to exclude the UK from the bloc’s new satellite navigation system, Galileo. A number of member states are said by sources in Brussels to have become sympathetic to the British cause regarding the handling of the issue by EU officials. The commission decided last year to exclude Britain and its companies from sensitive future work on the Galileo satellite project without warning, in what EU sources have described as a “peremptory manner”. Galileo is the £8bn EU rival to the global positioning system (GPS) developed and controlled by the US.
The UK has lodged a “strong objection” to EU negotiators over plans to limit its participation in the Galileo satellite programme after Brexit. In a document seen by the BBC, UK officials warn EU counterparts the scheme could cost an extra €1bn (£876m) without their continuing involvement. Excluding the UK from Galileo, it says, contravenes the phase-one withdrawal deal agreed by both sides in December. It also warns it will hinder wider post-Brexit security co-operation. The European Commission says Brexit means the UK will have to be excluded from the Public Regulated Service (PRS), a key element of the Galileo system, after its March 2019 departure.
BRITAIN is about to launch its first counterattack in the Brexit negotiations as the UK doubles down on its threat to set up a satellite navigation programme to rival the European Unions. Until now, negotiations have mainly consisted of Britain listening to EU negotiators discuss the “consequences” of the Brexit vote and made very few tough moves in order to push for UK access into Brussels programmes. But there is a growing frustration in London, which is being mirrored in other member states, over the European Commission’s hard-nosed stance on excluding Britain from the Galileo programme, despite being one of its most trusted contributors.
A German-backed clique of Brussels officials in the European Commission is fighting to exclude Britain from the Galileo satellite project. French officials privately said they were unhappy with proposals that would block Britain from the government and military navigation system after Brexit. Other nations standing in solidarity with Britain and defending the country against Brussels officials include Spain, Sweden, the Netherlands, and the Baltic states. Led by Martin Selmayr, the commission’s top mandarin, the Brussels group is causing some concern among diplomats who believe they could be acting beyond their remit.
A German-backed clique in the European Commission has created a rift between Brussels and Paris with its plan to exclude Britain from the Galileo satellite project. French officials have privately told the commission that they are unhappy at proposals to deny the UK access to the EU-wide scheme’s encrypted navigation system for government and military users after it leaves the bloc. They have joined Spain, Sweden, the Netherlands and the Baltic states in objecting to shutting Britain out.
THE European Union could be thrown in the into chaos by a no deal Brexit after the bloc’s budget chief Gunter Oettinger suggested the Commission had no plans to leave a potential British void in the 2019 budget. Senior EU officials have long maintained “nothing is agreed until everything is agreed” when it comes to Brexit, but with nothing yet formally agreed the bloc has factored in Britain’s financial contribution into next year’s budget. Westminster and Brussels have agreed to include an implementation period into the withdrawal deal, which would see the UK continue to pay into the EU’s coffers as it if were a member until December 2020.
The EU standards watchdog is escalating its investigation into the scandal-hit rise of Jean-Claude Juncker’s loathed sidekick Martin Selmayr, who was this year made Europe’s top civil servant. Juncker sparked outrage in Feburary when he parachuted his political Chief of Staff into the hugely powerful role as Secretary General of the European Commission. There were rumours that commissioners’ support was bought. EU civil servants revolted over Selmayr’s lack of experience – the German lawyer, who has never worked in even the most junior official role, is now in charge of 33,000 non-political staff. Concerns were also voiced that Selmayr’s appointment entrenched German bias at the top of the EU.
Theresa May will ask the European Union for a second Brexit transition period to run until 2023 to avoid a hard border in Ireland. Britain will propose another transition covering customs and trade that will follow the period already agreed, scheduled to last until the end of 2020, The Times understands. The prime minister’s new proposal has not yet been tabled in Brussels and faces opposition from EU negotiators and Brexit-supporting Conservatives. The transitional deal already agreed will last from next March to the end of 2020. Britain will ask for a customs and regulatory alignment implementation period from 2021 to at least 2023 to avoid the need for infrastructure or checks on the border.
Jeremy Corbyn has been accused of “defying the will of the people” by expressing support for the unification of Ireland as he makes his first visit to Ulster as Labour leader. Unionists said Mr Corbyn was “plain wrong” in his belief that the majority of people on the island of Ireland support unification, which would mean the break-up of the United Kingdom. They also challenged him to meet families of IRA murder victims and “listen to what they have to say” following his failure to apologise for his past support for the terrorist group. Mr Corbyn will make a speech at Queen’s University Belfast.
Jeremy Corbyn wants the Irish government to have a role in Northern Ireland in the continued absence of a power-sharing agreement, he will say in a speech in Belfast. Mr Corbyn will use his first visit to Northern Ireland as Labour leader on Thursday to call on the UK government to reconvene the British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference (BIIGC), if Northern Ireland’s parties can’t reach an agreement themselves. There has been no devolved administration in Northern Ireland since the Stormont government collapsed in January 2017.
The first votes of the Irish abortion referendum will be cast later when many islanders take to the polling booths. An electorate of just over 2,000 is expected in a scattering of Atlantic outposts today as Ireland decides whether to reform some of the strictest termination laws in Europe. The poll on whether to keep the Eighth Amendment of the Republic’s constitution is being held a day earlier in some places as it will help prevent delays in transportation and counting of ballot papers. The Eighth effectively outlaws abortion in all cases unless a mother’s life is in danger and its repeal would allow the Government to introduce laws permitting the procedure in early pregnancy.
BBC DAILY Politics presenter Andrew Neil laughed when a Scottish fishing chief made a brilliant point about Brexit fishing negotiations with the EU. Bertie Armstrong, Chief Executive of the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation appeared on the BBC politics show to argue that the UK wants sovereignty over the nations “natural capital”. He said: “We do not say to the French you can put wine on our supermarket shelves but we would like some share of your grapes for that. “That is absurd but that is exactly what happens in fishing and this line of argument ‘if you want to trade in our market you must give us some of your natural capital is totally absurd’.
Police are assessing an allegation that the Speaker of the House of Commons has committed “misconduct in a public office”, in the wake of numerous claims against him of bullying. John Bercow, who has denied wrongdoing, has been accused by several former staff members of intimidating behaviour, including former Black Rod David Leakey and his former secretary Angus Sinclair. A Metropolitan police spokesman said the force had “received an allegation of misconduct in public office alleged to have taken place at the Palace of Westminster.
House of Lords
Jeremy Corbyn has signalled his intention to push for the abolition of the House of Lords with all new appointments from his party required to pledge they will vote for it in the future. His spokesman branded the upper chamber of parliament “absurd” and an “undemocratic anachronism”, as he vowed a Labour government would be committed to scrapping it. He said new members of the chamber recently appointed by the party only gained their peerages on the basis that they would back abolition in any future vote. While Mr Corbyn’s desire for an elected upper chamber has been longstanding, the latest intervention comes after a major rebellion by existing Labour peers against his policy direction on the EU single market.
Jeremy Corbyn has said any new peers appointed by his party must support Labour’s position of abolishing the House of Lords if ever offered a parliamentary vote on its future. The Labour leader, a long-time advocate of replacing the upper house with an elected chamber, has already made the pledge a condition for the appointment of three new peers announced on Friday. The trio of new peers, former Labour party general secretary Iain McNicol, campaigner Martha Osamor and socialist writer Pauline Bryan, have all signed up to the principle of replacing the Lords with a new, more democratic model.
A massive 76 per cent of voters say peers in the House of Lords are “out of tune with the will of the British people” after they voted down the government on Brexit 15 times, a poll has found. The significant loss of confidence in the upper house means that just 17 per cent of people now say it should be left unreformed, and almost 80 per cent think peers are failed politicians and cronies. The ComRes poll, conducted for the campaign group We, The People, also found that 58 per cent believe the House of Lords is “wrong” in their attempts to try and thwart Brexit and 79 per cent say the House is an “outdated throwback”.
A new poll has laid out the massive opposition to the Europhile, unelected House of Lords with 79% of Brits agreeing that the chamber is an ‘unelected throwback’. That’s according to polling from ComRes who also found that 76% believe that the Lords is out of tune with the will of the people. 79% believe that the Lords is stuffed full of ‘cronies, retired or failed politicians’. Only 17% believe the Lords should continue as it is. When it comes to Brexit specifically, 58% say it would be wrong for the Lords to try and thwart independence, with only 25% disagreeing.
Income tax will have to go up by 10p in the pound within 15 years to pay for long-term improvement in the NHS, a study says today. Health spending must increase from £154 billion today to £249 billion in 2034, or 3.3 per cent a year, just to maintain the level of service at present, according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS). However, chronic underfunding means the NHS needs even more in the short term, with the IFS suggesting an up-front boost of 4 per cent each year. If ministers want to improve the service, they must pay 5 per cent now and 4 per cent in the medium to long term.
One GP practice in six has turned away patients seeking routine appointments in the past year, a survey has found. Pulse, a magazine distributed to GPs, found that surgeries were frequently limiting appointments to emergencies. It said the average wait to see a GP was two weeks. Doctors told researchers they were offering appointments only for emergencies after finding they had no routine appointments available for four weeks. Others said they were using telephone consultations to assess whether the patient needed to be seen urgently.
JEREMY HUNT was accused yesterday of trying to “undermine the founding principles of the NHS,” as a judicial review of reforms that would open up the health service to private companies began at the High Court. The Health Secretary proposes to create so-called accountable care organisations (ACOs), which campaign group JR4NHS warns will make “radical and significant” changes to how services are commissioned and delivered. They would create “a secondary, non-statutory, non-accountable decision-maker … which will be taking decisions about what will and will not be made available free at the point of use,” the court heard.