EU

Telegraph
Michel Barnier fears that Nigel Farage and his Brexit party plan to destroy the EU after winning the European Parliament elections. The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator has issued a string of warnings about Mr Farage since the pair met in Brussels for a 2018 meeting. The European Commission refuses to be drawn into commenting on the seemingly inevitable European Parliament elections, which will be held in Britain next month unless the House of Commons finally backs the Brexit deal. Mr Barnier’s legacy and potential political future will be defined by whether the “orderly Brexit” of the withdrawal agreement prevails over a no deal Brexit.

Euro elections

Independent
The Conservative strategy for the European parliament elections is mired in confusion after No 10 refused to say it would involve a campaign launch – or even a manifesto. The UK will elect MEPs on 23 May, unless a Brexit deal can be ratified by that date, with Theresa May facing the humiliation of a historic defeat at the hands of a resurgent Nigel Farage. Asked when the Tories would respond, the prime minister’s spokesperson said there are “no plans” currently in place to launch the party’s own campaign.

Westmonster
Our very own Michael Heaver has announced he is running as a Brexit Party candidate for the European Parliament elections on May 23. The Westmonster co-owner confirmed his candidacy at the latest Brexit Party rally held this afternoon in Clacton. He will be running in his home region of the East of England. Heaver, an ex-aide to Nigel Farage has been campaigning for Brexit for over a decade and founded Westmonster to provide a much needed counter balance to the mainstream media’s anti-Brexit, tunnel-vision rhetoric.

Theresa May

Telegraph
Another Brexiteer coup against Theresa May fizzled out as the party’s senior backbenchers decided not to change the party’s rules to allow an early leadership challenge against her. However, Sir Graham Brady, the chairman of the party’s 1922 committee, said that it was time Mrs May set a date for her departure by giving a “clear roadmap” for her exit from 10 Downing Street. Under the party’s rules, Mrs May cannot be challenged until December after winning a no confidence vote last December by 200 votes to 117.

ITV News
Pressure is mounting on Theresa May to name a date to quit as Prime Minister, after an influential committee of backbenchers demanded “clarity” over what she will do if her EU withdrawal deal fails. The chair of the 1922 Committee, Sir Graham Brady, said on Wednesday it would be “a surprising response” if Mrs May suggested she might stay on as late as December this year. The threat of an imminent challenge to Mrs May’s position as Conservative leader was lifted as the committee’s executive decided not to change party rules which protect her from a no-confidence vote until December.

Mirror
Tory MPs were left deadlocked on how to break the Brexit deadlock last night after they failed to agree on whether to sack Theresa May . A meeting between top Tories about whether to change party rules, forcing her out, ended without a deal. Senior Conservatives are now expected to hold further discussions today on whether to shake up the system. The row emerged after chiefs of the 1922 Committee – which represents backbenchers – said Theresa May should face a fresh vote of no confidence by Tory MPs.

Sun
THERESA May is safe from a Brexiteer challenge after Tory bosses refused to change party rules so she can be forced out. Conservative grandees tonight voted against allowing a fresh bid to oust the PM to take place within weeks. But Mrs May will have to lay out a “clear timetable” for leaving 10 Downing Street, backbench boss Sir Graham Brady warned. Under Tory party rules, the leader can’t be subjected to a no-confidence vote until December after seeing off the last bid to unseat her four months ago.

Mail
Theresa May is safe from a Tory leadership challenge until December after the backbench 1922 Committee rejected a rule change to force her out.  Furious Tory MPs had hoped to hold a fresh vote on the PM’s leadership only four months after she survived a confidence ballot on December 12.  Current party rules mean that MPs cannot trigger another leadership challenge for at least 12 months after the last one.  The committee rejected a rule change today but has demanded a ‘clear timetable’ from the PM, who has promised to stand down before the next phase of Brexit.

ITV News
The threat of a challenge to Theresa May’s position as Conservative leader has been lifted – at least until December. Senior Tory MPs on the executive of the backbench 1922 Committee rejected calls for changes to the party’s rules to allow a no-confidence vote in the Prime Minister in the coming weeks. But the Committee is to ask Mrs May for “clarity” on how long she plans to remain PM if her EU Withdrawal Agreement fails. Under the current rules of the 1922 committee, Conservative MPs cannot mount more than one vote of no confidence in the Prime Minister in the space of 12 months.

Guardian
Theresa May has survived an attempt to change Tory party rules to make it possible to oust her within weeks, but backbench MPs have demanded a “roadmap” for her departure, in a fresh blow to her authority. Amid a growing sense of political paralysis at Westminster, Brexit-backing members of the executive of the powerful 1922 Committee were keen to change the rules that insulate the prime minister from a fresh leadership challenge until December.

Independent
Sir Graham Brady, the chair of the committee, said the issue was now “settled” and that there was “not a mood to revisit this matter in the near future”. However, he said Ms May will be asked to provide “clarity” on when she plans to step down if she is unable to get a Brexit deal through parliament. The decision of the 1922 executive was announced at a meeting of Conservative MPs on Wednesday evening. Sir Graham told reporters afterwards that the committee had decided “there should not be a rule change to remove the 12-month period of grace rule”.

WA

Sky News
Theresa May is preparing for her next Brexit battle, with a plan to give MPs a vote on the key piece of legislation to take the UK out of the European Union as early as next week. Having just survived another attempted coup on the part of her angry parliamentary party on Wednesday night, the prime minister is now getting ready to ask MPs to ratify her Brexit deal by introducing the Withdrawal Agreement Bill (WAB), which enshrines her Brexit plan into UK law, in the coming days.

Customs union

Express
BRITAIN could prosper post-Brexit by creating its own trading policy to stop getting trapped in the EU customs union, a mayor has claimed. Prime Minister Theresa May is holding talks with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn to find a way forward for her Brexit deal, which has been rejected three times by MPs. Mrs May’s spokesman said working groups from both sides were pressing on with the talks this week, including holding a meeting to discuss financial services. But some Brexiteers are concerned about Mr Corbyn’s involvement, as the Labour Party is keen for a customs union arrangement with the EU, which would mean goods travelling across national borders inside it without paying tariffs.

Express
THERESA MAY is aiming to strike a compromise with Labour that would make a customs union arrangement with the European Union part of the UK’s future relationship with the bloc. The Prime Minister has always ruled out a full customs union with Brussels as it would prevent the UK from fully being able to strike its own trade deals with other countries. But in talks with the opposition, Labour has insisted on a customs union, and recently Theresa May has started to lower her guard on this matter, hinting the two parties might be able to find a compromise.

BBC News
The US Ambassador to the UK says negotiating a trade deal post-Brexit would be “much more difficult” if the UK is in a customs union with the EU. Woody Johnson also said it would be “more challenging” for the UK “to get control of [its] own trade policy”. But he said President Donald Trump is still hopeful doing a “robust, big, very generous trade deal” with the UK after Brexit. President Trump will come to the UK for a state visit in June. He and First Lady Melania Trump will be guests of the Queen at Buckingham Palace, and attend a ceremony in Portsmouth to mark 75 years since the D-Day landings.

Times
The short-term benefits of Britain remaining in a customs union with the European Union as part of a Brexit deal would be “heavily outweighed” in the long term by higher prices and fewer opportunities on the global stage, according to a think tank. Research from the Institute of Economic Affairs warns ministers that while a customs union may help to preserve supply chains and reduce disruption after Brexit, it would leave the UK unable to strike trade deals with other markets and to develop policies in key areas such as agriculture and state aid.

Scotland

Mail
Scots should be given the opportunity to vote again on independence before the next Holyrood elections in 2021 – if Brexit goes ahead, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said today.  The SNP leader said she would try to pass plans for a second referendum into law by the end of the year – and dared Theresa May to stop Scotland voting on it again.   Speaking in Edinburgh today Mrs Sturgeon argued the current Brexit deadlock at Westminster makes indyref2 necessary, five years after she lost the last one.

BBC News
Nicola Sturgeon has said she wants to hold a second referendum on Scottish independence by 2021 if the country is taken out of the EU. The first minister told Holyrood that she would introduce legislation soon to set the rules for another vote. But she indicated that she would need the agreement of the UK government before actually holding a referendum. Downing Street has previously said it will not grant a new Section 30 order, which underpinned the 2014 referendum.

ITV News
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon vowed to hold another Scottish independence referendum before Holyrood’s elections in May 2021. In a 30-minute statement on Wednesday, the SNP leader said Brexit had changed the landscape of British politics and has paved the way to hold another vote, just years after Scots voted to remain as part of the UK. But why now, and what did she say? The “ongoing Brexit confusion” is said to be the deciding factor for Ms Sturgeon’s speech at Holyrood.

Express
NICOLA STURGEON has outlined her intentions to call a second Scottish independence referendum before the next Holyrood elections in 2021. The Scottish First Minister hit out at Theresa May’s handling of Brexit negotiations insisting it “does not serve Scotland’s interests” and “Westminster has failed”. In a fiery attack on Whitehall, Ms Sturgeon stated the “status quo is broken” and called on the Scottish people to be able to decide their own future relationship with Europe. In a statement to MSPs, she said: “A choice between Brexit and a future for Scotland as an independent European nation should be offered in the lifetime of this Parliament.

Reuters
Supporters of an independent Scotland will launch a new grassroots campaign on Thursday ahead of a possible second referendum on secession from the United Kingdom, hoping to harness Scottish voters’ anger over Brexit. Scots rejected independence in 2014 and support since then has remained stuck at around 45 percent, opinion polls suggest. But Scots also voted to remain in the European Union in the 2016 Brexit referendum, in which England and Wales voted to leave.

Independent
Nicola Sturgeon has outlined plans for a fresh referendum on Scottish independence within the next two years. The Scottish first minister claimed independence was Scotland’s “route to avoiding the worst of the damage Brexit will do” and said another vote should be held “in the lifetime” of the current Scottish parliament, which is due to end in 2021. The last referendum took place in 2014 and delivered a vote against independence. The SNP leader said she would bring forward legislation this year to pave the way for another referendum.

Guardian
Nicola Sturgeon is to introduce new legislation to stage a second Scottish independence referendum, claiming one must be held by May 2021 if Brexit goes ahead. The first minister said Brexit would have such a catastrophic impact on Scotland’s economy and Westminster’s approach to it had been so chaotic that Scottish voters must have the option to choose independence. In a long-awaited statement to the Scottish parliament on her plans, Sturgeon said the proposed legislation would set out how a new referendum would be held if Holyrood were granted the powers to stage one.

Measles

Telegraph
More than half a million British children are unvaccinated against measles, new figures show, as the head of NHS England challenged social media giants to block “grossly irresponsible” anti-vax propaganda. Sites such as Instagram and YouTube should adopt “zero tolerance” regimes, Simon Stevens said as Unicef data revealed the UK to be among the worst high-income countries for uptake of the jab. The new data, which tallies children left unvaccinated between 2010 and 2017, follows a steep rise in measles cases in England last year. The hike is thought to be a direct result of the drop in vaccinations that followed the publication of fraudulent research linking the Measles Mumps and Rubella (MMR) jab to autism by the disgraced British doctor Andrew Wakefield in 1998.

Mail
Half a million children in the UK have not been vaccinated against measles amid a rise in online ‘antivaxx’ scare stories. A global surge in the disease is being fuelled by plummeting vaccination rates, the charity Unicef has warned. Between 2010 and 2017, 527,000 children in the UK did not receive the potentially life-saving jab – with ‘fake news’ on social media partly to blame. The UK comes third in a global ranking showing the number of unvaccinated children in high-income countries.

Star
MORE than half a million children in the UK didn’t receive a crucial measles jab, putting them at risk of the deadly disease, experts have revealed. Between 2010 and 2017, hundreds of thousands of kids in Britain weren’t given the vaccine, according to an analysis by children’s charity Unicef. It comes as NHS boss Simon Stevens warned measles cases in England have quadrupled in the space of just one year. Globally, 169 million children weren’t given a first dose of the measles vaccine between 2010 and 2017, the report shows.

Sun
MORE than half a million kids have not had their measles jabs amid social media scare stories about vaccines. Cases of the deadly virus have increased almost four-fold in England over the past year following a fall in uptake. NHS boss Simon Stevens warned yesterday of a “public health timebomb”. And he called on  websites such as Facebook and YouTube to adopt a “zero tolerance” apprach to the fake posts about the dangers of vaccines.  He said users who spread the baseless content were “grossly irresponsible”. In 1998 Dr Andrew Wakefield claimed there was a link between the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine and autism.

China

Telegraph
Theresa May’s decision to allow Huawei to supply technology for Britain’s new 5G network risks handing China a “loaded gun”, the US National Security Agency has warned. The Telegraph revealed on Tuesday that the National Security Council, which is chaired by the Prime Minister, has agreed to allow the Chinese telecoms firm limited access to help build “non-core” parts of the network such as antennas. The decision came despite objections from some of her ministers including Sajid Javid, Jeremy Hunt, Gavin Williamson and Penny Mordaunt and stark warnings from the US.

Times
An unprecedented leak from highly confidential talks with senior ministers about the Chinese telecoms company Huawei has caused outrage among spy chiefs. There were calls for an inquiry after reports emerged of a meeting at which Theresa May was said to have given Huawei approval to supply technology for the next-generation 5G network despite warnings that it could compromise national security. Sajid Javid, the home secretary, Jeremy Hunt, the foreign secretary, Gavin Williamson, the defence secretary, Liam Fox, the international trade secretary, and Penny Mordaunt, the aid secretary, all raised concerns during a meeting of the National Security Council on Tuesday.

Mail
Theresa May was accused of risking links with the US last night with a decision to let a Chinese firm help build a 5G mobile network. The Prime Minister has reportedly approved Huawei’s involvement despite Cabinet ministers raising serious objections over security risks. Although it will relate only to ‘non-core’ equipment such as antennas, Tory MPs said the deal could harm the ‘special relationship’ and intelligence-sharing with Washington. It emerged last night that US officials are considering a late attempt to change the Mrs May’s mind. A source said: ‘We have our concerns and we continue to engage with UK government on the issue.’

Breitbart
Theresa May appears set to approve Chinese participation in “non-core” elements of Britain’s 5G network via Huawei, delivering a blow to the Five Eyes security alliance of Anglosphere nations, reports suggest. The British prime minister overrode the objections of Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson, Home Secretary Sajid Javid, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, Trade Secretary Liam Fox, and International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt at a meeting of the National Security Council to allow Huawei, an allegedly employee-owned Chinese telecoms giant, to develop “non-core” infrastructure for the 5G network,  according to The Telegraph.

Russia

Fox News
Russia has launched its new Belgorod submarine, which is designed to carry devastating underwater nuclear drones. Moscow’s development of nuclear-powered drones has been closely watched in recent years, amid concern that Russia could be adding a “doomsday” weapon capable of unleashing tidal waves to its arsenal. During Tuesday’s visit to a military shipyard in St. Petersburg, President Vladimir Putin viewed the departure of the Belgorod sub at the Sevmash plant in Severodvinsk in northwestern Russia via a teleconference.

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