Theresa May’s Brexit deal with the EU will be almost impossible to get out of, the Attorney General has warned amid mounting Cabinet opposition. Geoffrey Cox is said to have made clear that ministers will not be able to change the customs backstop once the UK is signed up to it. Eurosceptics are demanding an “exit mechanism” that enables the UK to break off the backstop, which will come into force in March 2021 if the UK has still not signed a deal with Brussels. It is designed to avoid a hard border with Ireland, but Eurosceptics fear that it will leave the UK in a state of “permanent vassalage” with the EU.
THE European Union could rule over the UK for years if Theresa May’s plan went through as Britain could be trapped in a “long-running” transition period, leaked Cabinet documents revealed. Shocking documents show there is a high chance Brexit will remain in name only for years. Cabinet ministers were warned Mrs May’s much-debated Chequers plan “could, in theory, lead to a long-running implementation period”. The transition period is set to last for almost two years, from March 29 2019, when the UK formally withdraws from the EU, to December 2020. However, these documents made clear Britain could be tied to the bloc for much longer than that.
MPs are far more likely to reject any Brexit deal if they are denied the chance to amend it in a proper “meaningful vote”, Theresa May has been warned. A controversial move to only allow the Commons to accept or reject an agreement with the EU – preventing any amendments – will backfire by increasing opposition, Tory rebel Dominic Grieve predicted. “If the government tries to pursue the route they are opting for, it is far more likely that the deal is likely to be rejected,” the former attorney general told an inquiry by MPs.
Theresa May was forced to rule out the European Court of Justice having the final say over Brexit disputes in future today amid fears she is making new concessions. There is due to be a balanced arbitration panel in future to settle disputes between Brexit Britain and the EU. Reports today suggest if the arbitration panel fails cases could still be sent to the ECJ in defiance of Mrs May’s promises it will never again have power in Britain. Jacob Rees-Mogg, the leader of Tory Brexiteers, demanded the PM rule out the idea in the Commons – which Mrs May did.
Theresa May has ruled out reports that the European Court of Justice will have jurisdiction over the UK in disputes about the Brexit negotiations. Responding to a question from Jacob Rees-Mogg at PMQs, May was asked whether she would “authoritatively deny” the idea that the ECJ would be the final arbiter in cases arising from Brexit. She said: “I haven’t seen those particular reports, but if they are as he has suggested then they are wrong. “We have been very clear in the work that we have been doing about ensuring that in the future the European Court of Justice does not have jurisdiction in the UK.” However reports suggest otherwise, The Sun claims UK officials have already given in to EU demands that Brexit disputes including over the £39bn pay would be overlooked by the ECJ.
Jacob Rees Mogg managed to extract a rare commitment from the Prime Minister that she is committed to “ensuring that in the future the ECJ does not have jurisdiction in the UK.” The PM will find it tricky to wriggle out of this commitment… Though it has to be said that for a vicar’s daughter she makes a lot of commitments that she doesn’t keep. Knowingly or unknowingly…
Theresa May will trigger full-scale parliamentary preparations for a no-deal Brexit in less than three weeks with a slew of legislation to prepare the country for a chaotic departure. Ministers have agreed that a schedule of detailed implementation plans drawn up in secret over the past year across Whitehall will be launched in the second week of November. In parliament, routine business will be effectively suspended and replaced with a rolling programme of no-deal Brexit legislation. At least four new bills will have to clear parliament by March 29, the day of Brexit. These include legislation to guarantee the rights of current EU citizens living in Britain and reasserting territorial control over fishing waters.
Theresa May has set a date for Whitehall to trigger a series of no-deal Brexit preparations as her government faces up to the possibility that there will be no agreement with the EU about Britain’s departure. With less than six months to go before the UK leaves the bloc, the cabinet has agreed that a flurry of activity will be triggered in the second week of November as the government prepares to crash out of the EU, informed sources said. Civil servants have also accelerated plans to lay down new laws and secondary legislation so that UK businesses and both British and EU citizens can prepare.
The European Parliament’s Brexit coordinator has rejected Theresa May’s suggestion that a deal is “95 per cent done”, as Brussels warned it will not be bounced into an agreement. Guy Verhofstadt said the withdrawal agreement needed to prevent no deal was “0 per cent done” as far as MEPs were concerned, because of the lack of a solution to the Irish border issue. “Progress on the Brexit negotiations can be 90 per cent, 95 per cent or even 99 per cent,” Mr Verhofstadt said. “But as long as there is no solution for the Irish border, as long as the Good Friday agreement is not fully secured, for us in our parliament progress is 0 per cent.”
Italy‘s government stood defiant yesterday after Brussels ordered it to rip up its budget. EU bosses have taken the unprecedented step of rejecting Rome’s financial plans for next year, escalating a weeks-long standoff. Brussels has given Italy three weeks to rework its numbers to bring the country into line with EU spending rules. It is the first time the bloc has used the strict rules to refuse a national budget since they were introduced in 2014.
The Italian government has reacted furiously to the unelected EU Commission’s decision to reject their budget, with Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini making clear that their decision wouldn’t mean the Italians would back down – and he reminded the EU of its declining popularity. Salvini responded fiercely to the EU’s veto, insisting: “This doesn’t change anything, let the speculators be reassured, we’re not going back. “They’re not attacking a government but a people. These are things that will anger Italians even more and then people complain that the popularity of the European Union is at its lowest.”
Britain is ready to hand EU nationals living here a lifelong right to return to Britain even if they go to their home country for years, a senior MEP claimed today. Guy Verhofstadt said it would be in exchange for UK citizens already living in Europe a right live and work anywhere in the bloc after Brexit. He claimed his discussions with Downing Street suggested Theresa May was open to the idea. Mr Verhofstadt was last in No 10 last month.
Donald Tusk accused Brexiteers of being ‘100 per cent responsible’ for creating the Irish border dispute that has deadlocked the negotiations with Brussels. In comments that will enrage Eurosceptics the EU Council President said the issue delaying a deal was nothing to do with Brussels. Mr Tusk has repeatedly said if Britain was prepared to stay in the EU single market and customs union the Irish border could function as it does today. But Brexiteers insist this would be Brexit in name only, leaving the UK unable to strike free trade deals around the world.
The British public should be given a Final Say referendum on any Brexit deal Theresa May strikes with the EU, the leader of the socialist group in the European Parliament has said. Udo Bullmann said “the lies of the Brexiteers” and the strength of support shown at last weekend’s march in London meant a vote now had to be on the cards. The intervention by the leader of the centre-left group of which Labour is a member, is a major boost for The Independent’s Final Say campaign. “Last Saturday we saw some 700,000 people marching in London to have a Final Say on a possible Brexit deal,” Mr Bullmann told a debate in the European Parliament on Wednesday morning.
German MEP Udo Bullmann has called on the UK to have a second EU referendum in an insulting move, seemingly trying to instruct another country to overrule a democratic result. Speaking in the European Parliament the socialist MEP, who is also a member of the left-wing SPD, called for the UK to re-run the 2016 vote, saying: “Last Saturday we saw some 700,000 people marching in London to have a final say on a possible Brexit deal and we think the British people deserve, once they have seen the measures and the consequences of this divorce, once they have seen the lies of the Brexiteers, the British people deserve to have a final say on their future.”
Nigel Farage has today used a speech in the European Parliament to hit out at the British civil service, describing those unelected figures steering Brexit negotiations around Theresa May as “the enemy within”. Pointing out how the EU had refused to contemplate a hard border for between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, Farage accused the “rogue element in these negotiations” of manipulating the issue to place an “immovable brick wall to stop us breaking free”. He said that this wasn’t the EU’s Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier but the British civil service, “Olly Robbin’s team” who have “signed up to the European dream” who are “happy to take their orders from Brussels”.
Theresa May has emerged unscathed from a packed meeting of the party’s backbench 1922 Committee after an “emotional and personal” speech reportedly won over MPs, despite doubts over her Brexit negotiating strategy. The prime minister faced a handful of awkward questions from Brexiters including Nadine Dorries, Sir Edward Leigh and Philip Davies, but loyalists said she won over the room and there appeared little sign that a leadership challenge looked more likely. Amber Rudd, the former home secretary, said that May had made an “emotional and personal” speech and won over colleagues, many of whom were angry with lurid anonymous briefings in the Sunday newspapers.
Theresa May has faced down her critics at a crunch meeting of Tory MPs, with one saying the prime minister is “not going anywhere”. Mrs May addressed the 1922 committee of backbenchers in parliament on Wednesday evening, calling for unity as she attempts to avert a reckoning over her leadership. Disquiet over the PM’s handling of Britain’s EU exit has sparked speculation a vote of no confidence could be imminent. Mrs May is facing a crucial period in her leadership, as she battles to keep her party on side and secure a withdrawal deal with the EU and get it through parliament.
Scotland’s NHS is not financially sustainable and SNP ministers and health boards must move away from “short-term fire-fighting”, a damning official audit has warned. Audit Scotland said boards are facing a funding black hole of more than £130 million this year and are increasingly relying on Scottish Government loans and one-off savings to make ends meet. SNP ministers cut health funding in real terms in 2017/18 and the Scottish Government’s future planned increases are much lower than the average over the past decade, the report said.
The NHS in Scotland is not financially sustainable and its performance has continued to decline, Scotland’s public spending watchdog warned. A new Audit Scotland report found health boards were “struggling to break even” and said no part of the country had met all of the key national targets for the service – with NHS Lothian failing to achieve any of the eight. With increasing pressure on NHS services, and rising numbers of people on waiting lists, Auditor General Caroline Gardner said “decisive action” was now needed from ministers to secure the future of the “vital and valued service”.
Britain looks increasingly likely to leave the European Union next year with no deal, Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said on Wednesday. The United Kingdom is due to exit the EU on March 29 but Prime Minister Theresa May’s talks with Brussels have stalled over a fallback plan for the border between Northern Ireland and EU member Ireland. That is stoking concern about a possible failure to reach a Brexit deal.
An Islamic school which taught that only Muslims and animals were saved on Noah’s ark has become the first to be successfully prosecuted for operating illegally. The Al-Istiqamah Learning Centre in west London marketed itself as a study centre where home-educated children had part-time tuition, but Ofsted inspectors found that almost 60 children of compulsory school age were regularly attending the centre during school hours. The case was referred to the Crown Prosecution Service after the centre failed to respond to Ofsted’s warning notice in November 2017.
A couple were found guilty yesterday of running an unregistered school in the first conviction of its kind in England. Nacerdine Talbi and Beatrix Bernhardt ran the Al-Istiqamah Learning Centre, which taught 58 pupils in an office block on a busy road in Southall, west London. The defendants claimed Al-Istiqamah was a study centre where home-educated children could have part-time tuition for £250 a month. They argued pupils had less than 18 hours per week of lessons, meaning that the centre did not have to register as an independent school.
The director and head teacher of a Muslim ‘learning centre’ for home-educated children have been fined for running an illegal, unregistered school in a landmark case. Al-Istiqamah Learning Centre in Southall, west London, was not registered as a school but taught about 60 children for five mornings a week and set homework every night. Head teacher Beatrix Bernhardt, 38, director Nacerdine Talbi, 47, and the Al-Istiqamah Learning Centre have now been convicted of conducting an unregistered independent educational institution after a three day trial.
Police forces are struggling to cope and risk becoming irrelevant, MPs warn today. In a damning exposé of the state of policing in England and Wales, MPs said forces were under ‘considerable stress’, with officer numbers slashed and vast numbers of crimes unsolved. The home affairs select committee said many crimes were never even investigated, meaning ‘policing is at risk of becoming irrelevant to most people’. The report will fuel fears that police are losing control of the streets following a surge in crime, the rise of ‘county lines’ drugs gangs and widespread concern over ‘Wild West Britain’.
Internet child sexual abuse is reaching “epidemic” levels in the UK but police forces are “woefully under-resourced” for carrying out investigations, according to a new report. The Commons home affairs committee has estimated that 80,000 people may present some form of sexual threat to children online, but warned forces are failing to meet the challenges of the digital age. It described investment in and adoption of new technology as a “complete and utter mess”, and MPs found that this also had a knock-on effect on online fraud cases, as only a tiny proportion are ever investigated.
The Government has to inject funding into policing in next week’s Autumn Budget or risk “dire consequences” for public safety, a powerful committee of MPs has warned. The Home Affairs Committee found forces are struggling to cope with falling staff numbers and outdated technology in the face of changing and rising crimes. Its inquiry found “volume” offences including robbery and vehicle-related theft are increasing at an alarmingly steep rate. While recorded crime is up by nearly a third (32%) in three years, charges or summonses have fallen by 26% and the number of arrests is also down, according to the assessment.
Millions of patients are taking drugs to reduce blood pressure that have been linked to increased risk of lung cancer. Patients who took angiotensin-converting enzyme (Ace) inhibitors were up to 31 per cent more likely to develop the disease, according to a study. Researchers at McGill University in Canada said that while the effects seemed modest, the drugs were so widely prescribed that “these small relative effects could translate into large absolute numbers of patients at risk”.
More than 2,000 GP surgeries and 200 hospitals are in areas with toxic air, a report has found. It means patients with heart and lung conditions are putting themselves at risk by visiting 2,200 GP surgeries and 248 hospitals, the analysis warns. Measurements of tiny particle pollution, called particulate matter or PM2.5, on these sites exceed World Health Organisation (WHO) levels. The tiny, invisible particles, can pass directly into the body via the lungs, causing health problems.
A second group of workers on London Underground are to strike next month over a breakdown in industrial relations, threatening travel chaos in the capital. Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union on the Central Line will walk out on November 7, it was announced today. It is the same day as a strike by the union on the Piccadilly Line in a similar dispute. RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: ‘Industrial relations on the Central Line have been at breaking point for some time now and the failure of the management to address the issues, and a conscious decision to up the ante by attempting to single out and pick off individual members of staff, has tipped the situation over the edge and has led to the announcement of strike action today.
Muslim women are learning to fight discrimination and build self-respect after being sent to deradicalisation camps in China’s northwestern Xinjiang region, state media said yesterday. The UN has said that a million Muslims are being detained in the camps, devised to “re-educate” an Uighur population seeking independence. China presents the conflict as between a legitimate national government and Islamist terrorism. Xinjiang, with a population of 21.8 million, is home to about 12 million Muslims.