Brexit

Express
BORIS Johnson has declared that Brexit has become “an unstoppable express” as an opinion poll shows that nearly two thirds of voters now want the EU referendum result to be honoured in full. Writing for the Daily Express, the Foreign Secretary hails the “glorious” future ahead when the country quits the EU one year from today. “Our national journey out of the EU is almost over – and a glorious view awaits,” Boris Johnson says. His upbeat assessment of the came as an exclusive ComRes survey for the Daily Express tonight showed 68% of Britons think that those who voted against quitting the EU “should respect the majority” for leave.

Telegraph
The Brexit negotiations are now at their halfway stage, but as any mountaineer knows, the hardest part of reaching the summit is the final, punishing ascent. With most of the basic ‘housekeeping’ issues of the Brexit divorce deal now resolved, those charged with conducting the negotiations fully expect the second half of the process will be tougher than the first. So here we look at the journey travelled so far…and the potentially arduous road that lies ahead.

Times
Britain would be “humiliated” and “irrelevant” on the world stage if it were to remain in a customs union with Europe after Brexit, the Australian high commissioner said last night. Alexander Downer told an audience in London that he had “been surprised that there is any debate at all” about Britain remaining in a customs union, which would leave Brussels in charge of trade negotiations without British input. “For us in the outside world, Britain would become, at least in economic terms, irrelevant to international diplomacy,” Mr Downer said.

Telegraph
It is now one year until Britain will be at the end of the Article 50 period. This would usually mean that we’d be leaving the European Union, but for now, it’ll mean the beginning of the transition period. A lot has happened since the EU referendum. We’ve had a new Prime Minister, a General Election, a new Cabinet, and a series of clashes at the Brussels negotiating table. But public perceptions have not shifted since the vote, according to the latest polling on how people would vote if there were another EU referendum today.  Final polling before the June 2016 referendum suggested a slender lead for the Remain camp of two per cent, with the margin of error suggesting the result was uncertain.

Times
Britain is dangling the prospect of continued aid spending worth more than £1.4 billion a year to the EU to secure a Brexit deal on security. Theresa May hinted at the offer in her speech in Munich last month but aid is now being treated as an explicit part of the UK’s opening negotiating position. While the UK would insist on how it spent “the entirety” of its foreign aid budget after Brexit, the prime minister said that it may make sense to give some of it to EU bodies. “If a UK contribution to EU development programmes and instruments can best deliver our mutual interests, we should both be open to that,” she said.

Independent
Britain will be strongly in favour of staying in the EU in just three years as society changes dramatically, academics warn today – as the clock ticks down to one year until Brexit. Increasing education, greater ethnic diversity and new younger voters are poised to deliver a firm Remain majority as soon as 2021, as Theresa May’s planned transition deal is due to end. The country is expected to be 52:48 in favour of EU membership by 2021, according to the study by experts at the University of Manchester – and have a majority of 54:46 by 2026. “The Brexit majority is fragile and on the wrong side of powerful demographic pressures, with Eurosceptic social groups shrinking over time while more Europhile groups expand,” they write.

Breitbart
Australia wants to begin negotiating a new trade deal with the UK on “day one” of Brexit next year and put it into effect on January 1, 2021. Australia’s Trade Minister Steve Ciobo gave that assurance during a speech delivered in London as he called for Britain to start formal trade talks with Australia on March 30, 2019 — the same day Brexit officially starts. Mr. Ciabo paid tribute to the enduring bonds between Australia and the UK while applauding the fact that Brexit would enable the UK to do business as a “sovereign, open and free” nation.

Labour Party

Guardian
Keir Starmer has moved to reassure anxious Labour MPs that the shadow cabinet is prepared to vote against the government’s Brexit deal after Emily Thornberry appeared to suggest the agreement could be so vague her party might back it. Parliament has been promised a meaningful vote on the withdrawal agreement and the shadow Brexit secretary has laid out six tests he says the deal must meet. But Thornberry told a meeting at the Chatham House thinktank that the government was only likely to agree a vague divorce by October. “If past evidence of the last few months is anything to go on, it’s going to be a blah, blah, blah, divorce,” she said.

Telegraph
Labour will “probably” vote in favour of the final Brexit deal, a senior shadow cabinet minister has disclosed, giving Theresa May a boost as she embarks on a whistle-stop tour of the UK exactly one year before its withdrawal from the EU. Emily Thornberry, the shadow foreign secretary, said she expected the “divorce deal”, which the Government hopes to agree with Brussels by October, to pass Labour’s threshold for an acceptable arrangement. The Prime Minister had expected a major battle to get the deal through Parliament after MPs secured the right to have a “meaningful vote” on the agreement.

Express
LABOUR’S Emily Thornberry has provoked a furious row after suggesting Jeremy Corbyn’s party will vote through Theresa May’s final Brexit deal no matter what, to the dismay of colleagues like Chuka Umunna who branded her position “extraordinary and unacceptable”. Shadow  Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer has devised six tests the final agreement has to meet – widely regarded as a pretext to vote down the deal when it comes to the Commons later this year. The tests include the impossible-sounding proviso that the final EU agreement must provide the “exact same benefits” as Britain’s current relationship with the bloc.

EU

Times
Jean-Claude Juncker is guilty of a coup by “parachuting” an aide into a job as head of the European Union’s civil service, MEPs have claimed. A draft resolution of the European parliament’s budgetary control committee, which oversees the Brussels administration, has used unusually strong language to condemn the appointment of Martin Selmayr as secretary-general of the European Commission. Mr Selmayr was previously chief of staff to Mr Juncker, president of the commission. The text, which will be voted on by MEPs in a fortnight, is a blow to both men. “The European Parliament . . . states that the two-steps nomination of the secretary-general constitutes a coup-like action which stretched and possibly even overstretched the limits of the law,” said the draft document.

Breitbart
A former French intelligence official has admitted that the country cannot keep track of every individual on the terror watchlist due to a lack of resources and manpower following revelations that the Trebes attacker had been on the list. Yves Trotignon, a former agent of the General Directorate for External Security (DGSE), said that the recent terror attack in Trebes showed the strains on intelligence services to monitor individuals on the country’s terror watchlist known as the “S-File”. Radouane Lakdim, the 25-year-old Moroccan migrant behind the attack, had been on the watchlist since 2015, along with 25,000 others who range from sympathisers of radical Islamic ideology to those considered a terror attack threat, Trotignon said in an interview with 
L’Obs.

Westmonster
A high profile German MEP has blamed Merkel and Juncker for Brexit and branded the open door migration policy ‘a huge mistake’. Hans-Olaf Henkel said Brussels’ policy of ‘more Europe’ and the outright denial of any reform wanted by David Cameron in the run up to the Brexit vote were key factors in people voting Leave. He said: “Merkel and EU President Juncker were the main ones responsible for the permanent expansion of Brussels competences. In phase two, these two then denied Cameron the additional powers he was seeking over the immigration of EU citizens to the island. The third phase began on September 5, 2015, when German floodgates were opened to hundreds of thousands of refugees. That was the last coffin nail for British membership in the EU!”

Westmonster
Weakening morale in Germany, declining optimism among manufacturers, and spooked markets have put predictions of strong growth made by the Central European Bank in doubt, wire news service Reuters reports. Of the Eurozone fall, Reuters writes: “Economic sentiment in the 19-countries sharing the euro slipped for the third month in a row in March, data from the European Commission showed on Tuesday, suggesting economic growth in the bloc was not as steady as previously thought. The Commission’s Economic Sentiment Indicator fell to 112.6 in March from a revised 114.2 in February, below the average forecast of 113.4 in a Reuters poll of 34 economists.

Immigration

Times
The Home Office has lost track of more than 600,000 foreigners who should have left the UK, according to a report that lays bare Britain’s “shambolic” border checks. The government has spent £800 million on a borders system that is intended to log every entry into and departure from the country but inspectors from the immigration watchdog uncovered a catalogue of failings. Home Office staff admitted that they lacked confidence in the system, with one saying it had been “mis-sold”. An airline official described the introduction of exit checks as shambolic. In a report published yesterday, David Bolt, chief inspector of borders and immigration, found that the exit check system was so unreliable that there were no departure records for 88,000 non-EU citizens.

Guardian
Theresa May’s long-promised system of “100% exit checks” at Britain’s borders is so unreliable that it contains no departure records for more than 600,000 people who should have left the country in the past two years, a watchdog has revealed. A report by David Bolt, the chief inspector of borders and immigration, said that the system also contains a growing “unmatched pot” of more than 201,000 records of departures of people for whom there is no Home Office record that they ever entered the country. Bolt quoted Home Office staff complaining that they had been “mis-sold the programme”, that it was “rushed” and “flawed” and that inside the department there had been no comprehension of the vast and complicated nature of the data and the patterns it showed.

Health

Telegraph
A Briton has contracted the “world’s worst ever” case of super-gonorrhoea, health authorities have disclosed, as they announce measures to prevent the disease spreading. Public Health England (PHE) said it was the first instance of the infection, contracted after a sexual encounter with a woman in south-east Asia, not being cured by an antibiotic of first choice. The main antibiotic combination treatment, which involves azithromycin and ceftriaxone, failed to cure the infection. Doctors hope that one final antibiotic combination might work. The man had a regular partner in the UK – who is in the clear – and health officials are now trying to trace any other sexual partners in a bid to contain the spread of the disease, caused by the bacterium Neisseria gonorrhoeae.

Times
A sexual encounter with a woman in southeast Asia has given a British man the world’s worst instance of “super gonorrhoea” that cannot be cured with normally used antibiotics, health chiefs have said. Public Health England (PHE) said that it was the first case of the sexually transmitted disease (STD) that could not be cured with first-choice antibiotics. Doctors have long warned about resistance to antibiotics, which they say could spell the end of modern medicine. NHS hospitals are increasingly turning to colistin, the antibiotic of last resort, to treat infections. The first-line treatment for gonorrhoea is a combination of the antibiotics azithromycin and ceftriaxone.

Star
A BRITISH man has become the first ever recorded case of a strain of gonorrhoea so potent it is immune to “crucial” antibiotics. The unnamed man caught the STI earlier this year while on holiday in South East Asia. It has emerged it is resistant to bothceftriaxone and azithromycin – the two drugs the World Health Organisation recommends for gonorrhoea patients. WHO raised concerns two years ago that the STI, once known as the “clap”, could become immune to antibiotics in a “matter of years”. The man was having regular sex with a woman at home in the UK but had a one-off encounter with an Asian woman while travelling. It is unknown if the woman already had he super strain or whether it mutated.

Defence

Independent
Britain’s nuclear submarine programme has been handed an extra £600m by Theresa May in an unexpected boost for the Ministry of Defence. The Prime Minister said channelling additional funding to the new nuclear-missile carrying submarines would help keep the country “safe”, amid a deepening crisis in relations with  Russia over the Salisbury chemical weapons attack. The money is also a boost for Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson who has been pushing the Treasury to provide more funding for the British armed forces.

Sun
THE Defence Secretary has won a huge battle over more cash for the Armed Forces. Gavin Williamson’s vital victory came as the Prime Minister announced a budget boost of nearly £1billion this year alone. That includes £600milion towards a new fleet of nuclear submarines. Sources hailed Mr Williamson’s monumental “scrap” with Chancellor Philip Hammond, who had argued the defence budget should be slashed. A Whitehall source, said: “This has been a scrap and we’ve got more to come but we have now had a cast-iron guarantee of more money. “Gavin has pulled off nothing short of a miracle getting this out of the Chancellor. “This is not short-term cash, this is the promise of an increased budget for the long haul.

Skripal

Mail
Sergei and Yulia Skripal were poisoned with a deadly nerve agent left on their front door, police have revealed. The pair remain in a critical condition after they came into contact with highly lethal chemical  Novichok on Sunday, March 4. Tonight the Met Police have revealed traces of nerve agent have been found at other areas they have been investigating across Salisbury, though in lower concentrations. Dean Haydon, head of the force’s counter terrorism unit, said: ‘At this point in our investigation, we believe the Skripals first came into contact with the nerve agent from their front door. We are therefore focusing much of our efforts in and around their address.

Times
deadly nerve agent that poisoned a former Russian double agent and his daughter in Salisbury was left on the front door of his home, police revealed last night. Scotland Yard said that Sergei and Yulia Skripal were believed to have come into contact with novichok “at their home address” and the highest concentration of the nerve agent was on the front door. The door, which has a lucky horseshoe attached to it, has a protruding handle that must be pulled shut. The attackers were likely to have known it did not lock automatically and the Skripals would be exposed to the poison when they locked up.

Star
RUSSIA has issued Britain an ultimatum warning it will consider the Sergei Skripal poisoning as an attack unless the UK proves it was not involved. Vladimir Putin’s foreign ministry demanded London provide evidence it was not involved in the attempted murder on the MI6 double agent Skripal and his daughter Yulia. The pair remain in a critical condition in hospital after the attack in Salisbury, with fears they will never recover. Relations between Russia and Britain have reached breaking point over the crisis which has seen the West turn on Putin. Kremlin officials warned they will consider the Skripal incident a “massive political provocation”, with others saying the world is entering a “Cold War situation”.

Sky News
Sergei and Yulia Skripal first came into contact with novichok at their home, detectives believe. Specialists have identified the highest concentration of the nerve agent on their front door. Detectives will continue to focus their enquiries around the address in Salisbury for the coming weeks – and possibly months – as the investigation continues. In a statement, the Metropolitan Police said officers would conduct thorough searches in the areas surrounding the former spy’s semi-detached property to gather evidence and as a precautionary measure.

David Kelly

Express
EXCLUSIVE: Former Prime Minister Tony Blair blocked an inquest into the death of suspected Government whistleblower Dr David Kelly “within MINUTES” of learning the scientist’s body had been found, claims an explosive new book. Award-winning investigative journalist Miles Goslett has probed events leading up to, and after, the 2003 death. Dr David Kelly hit the headlines after he let slip to a journalist that Tony Blair’s claim that Saddam Hussein’s Iraq could deploy Weapons of Mass Destruction in 45 minutes was, at best, “dubious”. The claim was a major plank of the former Prime Minister’s argument to join the USA in an invasion of the country. The case has sparked a number of conspiracy theories that Dr Kelly was murdered by the intelligence services. Now in his new book, An Inconvenient Death – How The Establishment Covered Up The David Kelly Affair, Mr Goslett investigates the actions of the Government after Dr Kelly, 59, was found dead at Harrowdown Hill, two miles from his home in Southmoor, Oxfordshire, on July 18 2003.

World Cup

Mirror
A legal bid to stop Vladimir Putin’s Russia hosting the  World Cup this summer is being launched by activists. Campaigners warn it could be dangerous for fans travelling to the tournament as tensions mount in the wake of the Salisbury nerve agent attack. And they fear the increasingly isolated president could exploit the event as part of his propaganda war against the West. Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry today warned Russia was becoming a “rogue state”. And Theresa May called Donald Trump to praise the President’s “very strong response” to the Novichok nerve agent assault in booting out 60 Kremlin spies. Russia is coming under growing pressure over hosting the football spectacle, which kicks off on June 14. Opponents fear Putin will exploit the showpiece in the same way Hitler used the 1936 Berlin Olympics.

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