The French President warned he will block a delay to Brexit unless it is based on a ‘clear objective’ rather than just a continuation of the current stalemate. Emmanuel Macron said a short delay of around two months could only be justified if there was a ‘new choice’ by the UK about what it wants from Brexit. Mr Macron is effectively saying he will only agree to an extension if MPs have voted for Mrs May’s deal in principle but still need time to pass laws implement it. His intervention, at a joint press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, comes amid mounting pressure for a long delay of up to two years. This would postpone Brexit until 2021 in theory to allow much greater progress on trade talks and an attempt to render the Irish border backstop irrelevant.
France would block a delay to Brexit unless it had a “clear objective” based on a “new choice” by the British, Emmanuel Macron has said. Speaking at a joint press conference with German chancellor Angela Merkel in Paris, the French president gave the clearest signal from an EU leader so far that there would be conditions on an extension to the Article 50 negotiating period. “We would support an extension request only if it was justified by a new choice of the British,” he told reporters.
Emmanuel Macron has said France will block a Brexit delay unless there is a “new choice” by Britain, as Spain’s prime minister said that merely postponing the no-deal deadline would not be “reasonable or desirable”. In a sign of the heightened risk of an accidental crash-landing for the UK, both leaders signalled their disapproval of Theresa May’s suggestion of a last-minute request for a two-month extension if her deal is voted down again. The French president said there would need to be a clear purpose to delaying the UK’s exit from the EU, in comments that will inevitably raise cross-party concerns among those seeking to take no-deal Brexit off the table.
Theresa May’s announcement of a series of votes to come in March has made a full, so-called ‘no-deal’ Brexit a near impossibility and Parliament voting to cancel Brexit day an almost certainty, but European leaders speaking Wednesday say they will only permit a deviation from the agreed schedule if it means the United Kingdom bringing something new to the table. France’s Emmanuel Macron and Germany’s Angela Merkel met in Paris Wednesday to discuss topics including Franco-German defence and Brexit.
Theresa May was left no room to back out of her pledge to give the commons a veto over a no-deal Brexit, after MPs voted to make it parliament’s will. MPs voted by 502 to 20 for a motion locking in the verbal promises given by the prime minister to allow votes on whether to leave the EU without a deal and delay Brexit if her agreed deal is rejected. The vote was one of several that took place in the commons, with the government also accepting a measure from Conservative MP Alberto Costa to guarantee EU citizens rights in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
More than 100 Conservative MPs defied a three line whip from the government last night, refusing to vote for an amendment confirming that there will be a vote on delaying Brexit if a UK-EU deal is not passed and No Deal is rejected. Yvette Cooper’s amendment passed by 502 to 20, and ended up effectively becoming an endorsement of what Theresa May had set out earlier in the week. Essentially, MPs will get to block a No Deal Brexit and extend Article 50. Pretty disgraceful all-round. But more than 20 Tory MP defied the government and voted against it, including former Cabinet Minister Esther McVey and Telford MP Lucy Allan.
More than a third of Conservative MPs defied a three-line whip last night to stage another significant rebellion against Theresa May’s Brexit plans. Twenty Tories, including Esther McVey, the former work and pensions secretary, voted against a government-backed amendment laid by Yvette Cooper, the former Labour minister, and designed to pin Mrs May to her pledge to give MPs the chance to delay Brexit.
Tory opposition to Theresa May’s Brexit deal softened last night as fears of a lengthy delay to the UK’s departure grew. Eurosceptic MPs, who joined forces with Labour last month to inflict a record defeat on the Prime Minister’s deal, rolled back on their demands for concessions. Writing in the Mail, Jacob Rees-Mogg says that if Mrs May can secure ‘necessary assurances’ on the controversial backstop to prevent a hard border in Ireland in the event of No Deal, ‘I would be delighted to support her deal and help avoid any delay to Brexit.’
JACOB Rees-Mogg threw the Prime Minister a lifeline yesterday by indicating that Brexiteer Tory MPs could be ready to drop their opposition to her Brexit deal. The senior backbencher suggested that his 80-strong European Research Group (ERG) of MPs might accept an “appendix” to be attached to her Withdrawal Agreement setting out legal guarantees that the UK will not be indefinitely trapped in a customs union with the EU. Mr Rees-Mogg insisted that the appendix must have “equal” legal force to the original 585-page document setting out the agreement.
ARCH Tory Eurosceptic Jacob Rees-Mogg has been accused of softening his Brexit demands to help his pal Boris Johnson become PM. Growing tensions within the 80-strong hardline Tory European Research Group erupted in public on Wednesday. The Brexiteer backbenchers are split over what changes are needed for them to back Theresa May’s revised EU exit deal. Significantly shifting his position closer to No10’s, the ERG’s chair Mr Rees-Mogg declared he would be “quite happy” for legally binding changes to the backstop to be enshrined in a new annex to the Withdrawal Agreement.
BREXITEERS have demanded that embattled Prime Minister Theresa May throw in the towel in return for them abandoning calls to scrap the Irish backstop. Leave MPs have followed Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg’s demand for the Irish backstop to be dropped indefinitely, giving Mrs May a glimmer of hope she may well succeed in getting her plan B Brexit deal through Parliament. But during the most heated Prime Ministers Questions sessions yet, she learned victory would come at a price after Brexiteers agreed she must sacrifice herself in the process.
Brexiteer MP Jacob Rees-Mogg has sounded the alarm over a potential delay to Brexit beyond 29th March, saying: “My suspicion is that any delay to Brexit is a plot to stop Brexit. This would be the most grievous error that politicians could commit.” It comes as Theresa May yesterday announced that she would give MPs the chance to block a No Deal Brexit and vote for an extension of Article 50 if her deal is voted down. Mogg responded by telling Sky News that: “If Brexit were to be delayed to change the backstop to the Malthouse Compromise that would be positive and to allow time for the legislation to get through, that would be perfectly acceptable.
Labour will table its second referendum proposal within a fortnight, John McDonnell said last night. The party’s own plan for a softer Brexit including a customs union with the EU was defeated once more in a Commons vote yesterday. Jeremy Corbyn issued an ambiguous statement in response to the defeat, saying that Labour would back a new EU referendum but also that the party would continue to push for other plans to stop Theresa May’s Brexit deal or a no-deal departure.
Jeremy Corbyn is under new pressure to fully back giving the public a Final Say on Brexit after his own version of EU withdrawal was emphatically rejected in the Commons. His vision of the UK leaving Europe was defeated by a margin of 240 votes to 323, meaning the leader will now be expected to fulfil a promise to bring forward or support a vote to approve a new referendum. The 83-vote defeat comes after Mr Corbyn told Labour MPs on Monday that he was ready to support moves to demand a public vote, having lost a string of MPs who resigned in part over his Brexit strategy.
JOHN McDonnell has revealed that the Labour Party will put down an amendment for a Brexit referendum when MPs vote on Theresa May’s deal next month. In a potential blow to Brexit, the Shadow Chancellor set out his party’s plan to try to reverse the original referendum. Depending on when Mrs May brings her vote back to the Commons, Mr McDonnell insisted on ITV’s Peston that the party would instantly put forward the amendment if Mrs May’s deal is defeated.
Jeremy Corbyn has declared Labour will back a second referendum on Brexit to end a lengthy power struggle within the party. The Labour leader formally threw his support behind the campaign for a national poll after his own alternative plan for a Brexit deal was rejected by MPs. “We will back a public vote in order to prevent a damaging Tory Brexit or a disastrous no deal outcome,” he said. Mr Corbyn declared the party would also “continue to push for the other available options” to prevent a no-deal divorce with the European Union.
Shadow chancellor John McDonnell has confirmed Labour will put down an amendment to call for a second referendum after the next meaningful vote. Speaking to ITV’s Peston, Mr McDonnell explained that Labour would push for another referendum if Theresa May’s Brexit deal was rejected by Parliament. “When the meaningful vote comes back, and we are told maybe that might be on March 12, there are rumours today [Wednesday] that it could be next week, we will see.
JEREMY Corbyn risked outrage from Labour ‘Remainers’ by refusing to officially throw support behind a second referendum – saying there were still “other options”. Shadow Brexit ministers insisted Labour would immediately back a ‘People’s Vote’ after its alternative Brexit plan was defeated by 323 votes to 240 in the Commons. Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer announced Labour would now move to the next step of backing a second referendum – telling the Commons: “If this amendment is defeated and the PM refuses to negotiate a close economic relationship, Labour will support or put forward an amendment in favour of a public vote
GRASSROOTS Tories have launched a scathing attack on Remainers’ attempts to block a no deal Brexit by accusing them of “betraying” the British people. The National Conservative Convention said attempts to “frustrate Brexit” are “unacceptable” and warned it was important for no deal to remain on the table because it “strengthens” Britain’s “negotiating position”. Outrage erupted after reports last week 30 Tory MPs were prepared to defy the Government by backing an amendment that would block a no-deal exit.
MPs from the newly-formed Independent Group has tabled an amendment seeking to pave the way for a second Brexit referendum. The move comes after Labour‘s announcement the party would back attempts in the Commons for a fresh public vote, if it fails to force MPs to adopt its own Brexit plans in a series of votes on Wednesday evening in the chamber. The fresh bid has the support of MPs in the Scottish National Party, the Liberal Democrats, and Plaid Cymru – increasing the chances of it being selected by the Commons Speaker on Wednesday morning.
Jeremy Corbyn ally Chris Williamson has been suspended by the Labour Party after it bowed to heavy pressure from its own MPs to take action in a row over anti-Semitism. Mr Williamson, 62, was forced to issue a grovelling apology today after footage showed him saying that the party had been ‘too apologetic’ over anti-Jewish abuse claims. Furious Labour MPs led by deputy leader Tom Watson had demanded he lose the whip after the party announced an investigation into his behaviour.
Jeremy Corbyn’s office directly intervened to prevent Chris Williamson being suspended from the Labour Party despite his comments on antisemitism that sparked outrage among colleagues, multiple sources have told The Independent. A string of senior Labour figures, including two on the front bench, confirmed the claims that the party’s chief whip, Nick Brown, was ready to suspend the MP until the leader’s team interceded, resulting in a temporary reprieve for Mr Williamson.
The world’s largest sovereign wealth fund is taking a 30-year bet that Britain will emerge from Brexit stronger outside the European Union. In an unexpected move, Norway’s £740 billion wealth fund said yesterday that it would increase its exposure to British companies, property and bonds regardless of the outcome of Brexit negotiations. This comes despite a 12 per cent fall in the value of its £62 billion of UK investments this year. Britain is the third largest market for the fund’s investment capital, which was built up from Norway’s oil and gas revenues.
Norway’s £740 billion sovereign wealth fund announced it will continue to invest in Britain despite uncertainty over the country’s departure from the EU. The fund – which is the world’s biggest – takes a percentage of oil and has revenues and invests it around the world. Last year, 8.5 per cent of the fund was invested in Britain – spread across equities, bonds and real estate. The fund’s CEO Yngve Slyngstad said: ‘We will continue to be significant’ investors in Britain.
British businesses will be able to continue to bid for public sector contracts around the world worth more than £1.3 trillion per year after the UK leaves the European Union. In great news (that will probably be totally ignored by the Remainstream media), the World Trade Organisation (WTO) have today confirmed that the UK will join the Government Procurement Agreement (GPA) as an independent member if the UK leaves the EU with No Deal.
Britain has struck its first deal through the World Trade Organisation for a post-Brexit world. Under a new deal struck today Britain is still part of the market for lucrative government contracts with dozens of trading partners. It paves the way for Britain to retain its place among 47 WTO countries that are involved in the Government Procurement Agreement, including the European Union’s 27 remaining members. The arrangement ensures continuity of cross-border bidding for significant government contracts, though military contracts are generally excluded.
BRITAIN has secured a deal with the World Trade Organization (WTO) to remain within the its Government Procurement Agreement (GPA) after it leaves the European Union. Britain is a member of the GPA, whose members open up their combined $1.7tn (£1.28tn) government procurement markets to each other’s firms, by virtue of its EU membership. Diplomats agreed Britain’s continuing membership post-Brexit in principle in November, saying few changes would be needed and GPA members had an interest in keeping Britain within the club.
The war on superbugs is putting elderly people at risk of dying with sepsis, experts have warned. GPs are under intense pressure to reduce the number of antibiotics they give out, in a bid to stop infections becoming resistant to treatment. The NHS offers local health boards additional payments if they bring down their prescription rates, and doctors are in turn pressured to give drugs to fewer patients.
The NHS faces a mass exodus of GPs – with 42% intending to quit, says a poll. The number of doctors wanting out has increased by a third since 2014, and increasing workloads brought on by Tory austerity are blamed. Prof Jeremy Dale, of Warwick Medical School, who conducted the poll, said: “The situation is bad and getting worse. GPs feel increasingly overworked and negative about the future.”
Vulnerable pensioners with dementia and Parkinson’s are facing crippling care bills following attempts by health officials to restrict the numbers receiving NHS funding. Under national rules, any patient with a significant health problem should have their care and nursing fees paid in full – if the condition is deemed to be the main reason they need such help. But an investigation by The Telegraph reveals that authorities are increasingly refusing to fund care.
India is preparing for war with the construction of 14,000 bunkers to protect families on the Pakistan border as Islamabad invokes the spectre of nuclear conflict, telling India ‘better sense’ is needed. Earlier today Pakistan and India said they had shot down each other’s warplanes, in a dramatic escalation of the dangerous confrontation between the nuclear-armed rivals. Pakistan said it downed two Indian jets in its airspace and captured two pilots, later amended to one: whom they then seemingly paraded – blindfolded and bloodied – for the camera.
INDIA has begun building thousands of bunkers along its border with Pakistan as fears of a nuclear conflict between the two countries grows. Tensions between the two nuclear armed states became heightened when Pakistan shot down and Indian plane and captured its pilot. The Indian authorities began building bunkers for families living along its border with Pakistan in Jammu and Kashmir state in response to what they said was artillery fire from across the border.
PAKISTAN’S Prime Minister Imran Khan called for direct talks with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi today after the Pakistani air force said it had shot down two Indian war planes. “Let’s sit together to find a solution,” he said on TV. Pakistani Major-General Asif Ghafoor said two Indian aircraft had crossed into Pakistani airspace over the line of control which divides Indian — from Pakistani-controlled Kashmir.
US President Donald Trump and North Korea’s Kim Jong-un have failed to reach an agreement at their second summit in Vietnam, but talks between the two nations will continue in the future. White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said the two leaders discussed denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula. She added: “No agreement was reached at this time, but their respective teams look forward to meeting in the future.”
US President Donald Trump walked away from a deal with North Korea today and insisted that in any negotiation you have to be prepared to walk away. British politicians, are you watching? Trump’s summit with North Korea’s Kim Jong-un finished earlier, with the US President insisting that he could have signed a deal – but the terms on offer with North Korea weren’t good enough. America, led by Trump, are looking for NK to fully denuke in return for the lifting of economic sanctions.