Northern Ireland

The DUP has warned it will bring down Theresa May’s Government if Northern Ireland is forced to stay in the Single Market or Customs Union after Brexit.
Nigel Dodds, the leader of the Democratic Unionist Party at Westminster, said his party would vote against the Government if any of its “red lines” on Brexit were crossed. It comes as Britain and the EU are deadlocked over how to ensure that there is no hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland after Brexit. Mr Dodds told the Conservativehome website: “If, as a result of the Brexit negotiations for instance, there was to be any suggestion that Northern Ireland would be treated differently in a way.

A solution to the Brexit Northern Ireland border problem realistically 
needs to be found before the European Council summit at the end of June, the European parliament’s Brexit chief has said. Guy Verhofstadt said the October deadline Britain is working to would be “late” for a deal on the border because other issues also needed to be agreed by the autumn. Mr Verhofstadt was speaking on Wednesday morning as UK Brexit Secretary David Davis admitted that a “substantial” agreement on the future relationship would need to be reached by October to avoid MPs rejecting the plan. But Mr Davis said on Tuesday that the UK was aiming to get a deal on Ireland “agreed by October”. Speaking at a hearing of the European parliament’s constitutional affairs committee, Brexit coordinator Mr Verhofstadt said: “Our hope is that we can find in June already, an agreement on this.

Democratic Unionists will bring down the Government if  Northern Ireland is forced to stay in a customs union after Brexit, the party warned last night.
Theresa May‘s governing partners said that leaving the customs union with the rest of the UK was an ‘absolute red line’. Nigel Dodds, leader of the DUP in Westminster, said his party could never accept a deal that led to Northern Ireland being treated differently from the rest of Britain. He told the Conservative Home website: ‘If, as a result of the Brexit negotiations, there was to be any suggestion that Northern Ireland would be treated differently – in a way for instance that we were part of a customs union and a single market and the rest of the UK wasn’t – for us that would be a red line, which we would vote against the Government, because you might as well have a Corbyn government pursuing openly its anti-Unionist policies as have a Conservative government doing it by a different means.’

The head of Northern Ireland’s civil service has privately warned Downing Street that the UK’s plan for the Irish border fails to solve the major problems caused by Brexit.
In a leaked private letter to Theresa May‘s Brexit chief seen by The Independent, David Sterling said the plans in the UK’s position paper on the Irish border suffered from a number of practical problems and did not address certain “issues”. He also raised concerns that Whitehall was not engaging closely enough with local NI officials with a good understanding of issues like the Good Friday Agreement and North-South cooperation. The customs proposals, which the UK government has still been trying to sell to EU negotiators Brussels as recently as last week, were first laid out in an official position paper on Northern Ireland and customs published in August last year.

The DUP’s Leader in the House of Commons, Nigel Dodds, has warned that an government u-turn on Northern Ireland remaining in a Customs Union whilst the rest of the UK left is a non-starter that his party would vote against.
Speaking to ConservativeHome, Dodds said: “For us there is the fact that if as a result of the Brexit negotiations for instance there was to be any suggestion that Northern Ireland would be treated differently, in a way for instance that we were part of a Customs Union and a Single Market and the rest of the UK wasn’t – if there was anything like the EU’s definition of the backstop arrangements that was agreed in December – for us that would be a red line, which we would vote against the government, because you might as well have a Corbyn government pursuing openly its anti-Unionist policies as have a Conservative government doing it by a different means.”

Senior British officials privately conceded last year that the UK’s preferred solution for avoiding a hard border with the Republic after Brexit would threaten the EU’s single market and that all possible outcomes would be damaging for the province.
A series of leaked letters and briefing papers from the Northern Ireland executive – at least one of which was sent to Olly Robbins, the prime minister’s most senior Brexit adviser – lay bare the huge difficulties created by Brexit. The political “difficulty” of accepting the EU’s backstop solution of keeping Northern Ireland in the customs union and a large bulk of single market legislation was discussed. The documents even raise proposals to follow the Lichtenstein model – a set of agreements that allows that country to be in both the EU and Swiss economic area – only to conclude they are not an ideal fit for Northern Ireland.


THERESA May and her top Cabinet ministers last night agreed a high-risk plan to publish a long Brexit trade deal wish list in a bid to outmanoeuvre Brussels.
The PM’s Brexit war cabinet gave the green light to the bold bid to set the running for the summer’s tense negotiations ahead of an October deadline. The document will lay down a draft text of what Britain wants to see in the political statement with the 27 EU leaders over their future relationship with the UK. The EU outmanoeuvred Britain during divorce deal and transition period talks by laying down its own terms first, setting the agenda. But the strategy is also high risk, as Mrs May will face humiliation if she fails to win the significant majority of her public asks.

Theresa May’s government are set to lay out their demands for a trade deal with the European Union, in a document that could apparently be more than 50 pages long.
The Sun report that the government are keen to get on the front foot. No surprise given that Brussels has been able to absolutely dominate the negotiations so far. “We are not going to wait for Michel Barnier to box us in again. The PM wants us to set the agenda now, and the pace too.” That’s all fine and well but there is a critical element to this. Laying out demands means you need to be able to secure them – and you will require the leverage of being able to walk away. Have the government and Theresa May sufficiently prepared and considered this? No Deal is still better than a bad deal. And if the EU rejects the demands set out by the British government, they must be prepared to walk.


British holidaymakers will be hit with a £6 fee every time they travel to the EU after Brexit under plans drawn up by the bloc.
They will be required to provide personal details and information about their recent movements in order to enter the EU. And they will also be obliged to answer questions about any criminal history. The plan, which was signed off by EU ambassadors yesterday, will fuel concerns about how the UK and the EU will reach agreement on a highly contentious deal on cross-border travel after Brexit. The entrance fee has been proposed as part of the European Travel Information and Authorisation System, which the EU insists is primarily a way of cutting down on illegal immigration and tracking criminals. The entrance fee has been proposed as part of the European Travel Information and Authorisation System, which the EU insists is primarily a way of cutting down on illegal immigration and tracking criminals.

The European Union is moving forward with plans to charge travellers coming from countries outside the single market a €7 “travel authorisation fee” to cross into its territory, under a new system of checks designed to improve security on the bloc’s borders.
British travellers are likely to be hit by the scheme after Brexit, which is set to apply to all visa-exempt countries outside the EU, except those in the EEA/EFTA, which maintain free movement with the union.  Under the new European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) people coming into the Schengen area would need to fill out an online form ahead of their trip and apply for travel authorisation, as well as pay the fee. Theresa May has ruled out membership of the single market and said freedom of movement will end when the UK leaves the bloc – meaning that negotiating an exemption for Britain is likely to prove difficult. A spokesperson for the European Commission’s Brexit negotiating team said the scheme’s application to the UK would be part of discussions on the future relationship, where chief negotiator Michel Barnier has so far been unwilling to cut special deals for Britain.

Labour Party

The union leader Len McCluskey has accused centrist Labour MPs of smearing Jeremy Corbyn and trying to present the party as a “morass of misogyny, antisemitism and bullying”.
The general secretary of Unite, who is known as Labour’s kingmaker and whose union is its biggest donor, warned yesterday that “promiscuous critics” of the leader should expect to be censured and “held to account”. He named Chris Leslie, Neil Coyle, John Woodcock, Wes Streeting and Ian Austin among the “few dozen” MPs he said appeared to “wake up each morning thinking only, ‘how can I undermine Jeremy Corbyn today?’ ” The “Corbyn-hater MPs” were trying to “toxify” Labour and their factionalism “pollutes everything it touches”, he said in an article for the New Statesman.

Len McCluskey has accused “Corbyn-hater” Labour MPs of working in cahoots with Tory newspapers to undermine their leader, fuelling the party’s internal wars.
In a blistering attack, the boss of the powerful Unite union said the rebel MPs were “working overtime trying to present the Labour party as a morass of misogyny,  antisemitism and bullying”. He named Chris Leslie, Neil Coyle, John WoodcockWes Streeting and Ian Austin as being among “a dismal chorus whose every dirge makes winning a Labour government more difficult”. They were “smearing” a “decent and honourable man who has fought racism and antisemitism all his life”, Mr McCluskey claimed, adding: “To see Tory MPs cheer and applaud them was shameful”. The Unite general secretary said their actions made him “understand” the pressure from some on the left of the Labour party to make it easier to sack MPs. 

One of Jeremy Corbyn’s closest allies has accused Labour MPs of “smearing” the party leader over anti-Semitism.
Len McCluskey made the bombshell claim as Mr Corbyn admitted “extreme regret” over members’ anti-Jewish hatred and hired lawyers to clear a 90-case backlog. A senior Labour spokesman today said Mr Corbyn was sorry for “pain and upset” caused by anti-Semitism and does not believe claims are a smear “in any way”. Yet the Unite general secretary writes in the New Statesman magazine: “You would have to go back a long way to find such a sustained smearing by MPs of their own leader and their own party as we are seeing now.” Mr McCluskey says “vile” anti-Semitic views do exist in Labour and members voicing them “have no place” in the party.


Supermarkets and food and drink giants will today vow to kill off throwaway plastic.
In a world first, 42 household names have set a deadline of 2025 to eliminate packaging that cannot be reused. Black ready-meal trays, crisp packets, pizza bases and food pouches are all covered by the ‘UK Plastics Pact’. It represents another stunning victory for the Daily Mail’s ten-year campaign against the tide of plastic waste polluting our streets, fields, seas and oceans. Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda, Morrisons, Waitrose, Marks & Spencer, Aldi, Lidl and Pret a Manger have all signed the pact. They are joined by food and drink giants including Coca-Cola, Pepsico, Nestle, Unilever and Danone. Michael Gove backed the initiative last night. ‘Our ambition to eliminate avoidable plastic waste will only be realised if government, businesses and the public work together,’ said the Environment Secretary at the launch of the pact in London.

ITV News
Dozens of companies have signed up to efforts to eliminate unnecessary single-use plastic packaging by 2025, it has been announced.
Under the “UK Plastics Pact”, the businesses have also agreed targets to make 100% of their plastic packaging reusable, recyclable or compostable and to ensure 70% is effectively recycled or composted. The 42 firms, which include major food and drink brands, supermarkets, manufacturers, retailers and plastic re-processors, will also ensure that there is an average 30% recycled content across plastic packaging by 2025. The announcement of the pact comes amid widespread concern over the problem of plastic waste polluting the countryside and the world’s oceans where it can harm wildlife and enter the food chain.


BBC News
The UK is considering plans to launch a satellite-navigation system as a rival to the EU’s Galileo project.
The move comes after the UK was told it would be shut out of key elements of the programme after Brexit. The UK has spent 1.4bn euros (£1.2bn) on Galileo, which is meant to be Europe’s answer to the US GPS system. Business Secretary Greg Clark is taking legal advice on whether the UK can reclaim the cash, according to the Financial Times. He told BBC News: “The UK’s preference is to remain in Galileo as part of a strong security partnership with Europe. “If Galileo no longer meets our security requirements and UK industry cannot compete on a fair basis, it is logical to look at alternatives.” The row centres around whether the UK can continue to be trusted with the EU’s most sensitive security information after Brexit. The UK’s armed forces were planning to use Galileo to supplement their use of the US GPS system, but press reports suggest they will now be blocked from doing so. The US retains the more accurate and robust GPS signals for its own armed forces.


A NEW Russian “doomsday machine” could trigger 300ft tsunamis and unleash radioactive fallout rains.
Vladimir Putin confirmed the Oceanic Multipurpose System Status-6 submarine – which is reportedly capable of carrying a 50-megaton nuclear warhead – was being developed last month. Status-6 is said to have a range of up to 6,200 miles with speeds reaching 56 knots, carrying warheads within range of the US. According to a Kremlin translation of Putin’s remarks, he claimed the drone which hardly has “any vulnerabilities for the enemy to exploit”, would be able to travel to “great depths”. Putin said: “[The] unmanned underwater vehicles can carry either conventional or nuclear warheads, which enables them to engage various targets, including aircraft groups, coastal fortifications and infrastructure.” Experts fear cities along the western coast of the USA will be at extreme risk of the radioactive fallout rains. Nuclear physicist Rex Richardson told Business Insider: “A well-placed nuclear weapon in the range of 20-megaton to 50-megaton near a sea coast could certainly couple enough energy to equal the 2011 tsunami and perhaps much more.

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