Around 1,000 migrants from Africa, Afghanistan and Iraq are sleeping rough in and around Calais, prompting a return of the so-called Jungle shanty town that was cleared last year. Despite efforts by the local authorities to disperse the hundreds of mainly single, young men, almost 18,000 attempts have been made by migrants this year to cross the Channel to Britain illegally, according to French police. François Hollande, the former French president, ordered the Jungle to be cleared last year. At its peak it contained around 7,000 illegal migrants. French judges this week ordered officials in Calais to provide running water according to humanitarian law.
A SENIOR Irish diplomat has urged Britain to be “realistic” in the Brexit talks and said ministers urgently need to come up with a more concrete negotiating position if they are to succeed. In an outspoken intervention Michael Collins, who is Dublin’s chief representative in Germany, said he wanted to see the “closest possible trade between the UK and the EU’ after 2019. But he warned that Downing Street needs to get its act together and put forward a much firmer set of demands to Brussels or else the divorce process is likely to drift into failure.
New laws giving the UK beefed up powers to impose its own sanctions against terror groups after Brexit are to be introduced by the Government. Although modelled on existing EU sanctions, the new Sanctions Bill will make it easier to cut off funding, freeze assets and block access to bank accounts. At present, the Government must “reasonably believe” a person is or has been involved in terrorism and that freezing their assets is necessary to protect the public. But under the new plans, ministers would only need to have “reasonable grounds” to suspect a person or group is or has been involved in terrorism and that sanctions are an “appropriate action”.
RELENTLESS remoaner Nick Clegg has called once again for Britain to push “pause” on Brexit – as he criticises Theresa may for trying to get the best deal for Britain. The former deputy PM has written a scathing piece on the break from Brussels in which he said Britain is not behaving as it should towards the bloc. Mr Clegg ignored the threats of punishment from MEPs and calls for Brexit blocking on the continent, instead choosing to point out the flaws in the Downing Street team. The europhile claimes the Government has just figured out a “blindingly obvious” issue with the divorce, that a “significant transition phase” will be needed.
Labour has been accused of attempting to kick Brexit into the “long grass” after Keir Starmer revealed that he planned to pile pressure on the government to keep Britain inside the single market during a transitional period. The shadow Brexit secretary made clear that he could exploit Theresa May’s lack of majority by working cross party to secure a closer economic relationship to the EU for up to three years after the formal exit. He told the Guardian he would table amendments to the EU withdrawal bill to ensure it was “possible to achieve transitional arrangements on the same basic terms – including the single market and the customs union”. Starmer said the bill in its current form was not acceptable, partly because it “dismantles the apparatus of the single market and the customs union and it extinguishes any role for the European court of justice”.
Jeremy Corbyn may force a vote on continued membership of the single market and customs union in the autumn and appeal to Tory MPs for support. The Labour leader has embraced retaining single market membership during a transition phase and the party has not ruled out backing continued membership after Brexit. Both positions could be put to the test within months with some Tories admitting that they might side with Labour to avoid a hard Brexit. Even with the support of the Democratic Unionist Party it takes only seven MPs to defeat the government if all the opposition parties are united. Any Tory considering backing a Labour amendment would be under intense pressure since they would be warned that they risked bringing down the government.
Theresa May faces a Commons showdown next month when Labour and rebel Conservative MPs join forces to try to stop Britain crashing out of the EU single market on Brexit day. The MPs plan to force a September vote to keep the UK in the European Economic Area (EEA) for several years at least, to avert fears of severe economic damage when EU withdrawal is completed in 2019. Crucially, Labour’s frontbench appears to have thrown its weight behind the move, with Brexit spokesman Sir Keir Starmer describing “transition on current terms” as essential.
THERESA MAY’s plans to quit the customs union and set up a new agency to enforce trade rules have emerged in a JOB AD. An advert on the Civil Service website reveals the Government plans a new UK Trade Remedies Organisation to oversee relations with the rest of the world after March 2019. The ad for a Digital Design Lead says the new body has to be up and running for October 2018. Critically for Brexit backing MPs it reveals Mrs May plans to introduce a ‘Trade Bill’ in September where the PM plans to outline her vision for a new ‘Global Britain’. And it confirms Britain intends to leave the customs union in March 2019 – which would allow Ministers to seek trade deals with the rest of the world. The advert states: “We are currently working on the basis that this new organisation will need to be operational by October 2018.”
The government has revealed through a job advert how it plans to tackle unfair trade after Brexit. A new body called the UK Trade Remedies Organisation will be set up to tackle allegations of unfair competition and investigate complaints. The online advert for a digital design lead said the organisation needs to be up and running by October 2018 – ahead of the UK’s exit in March 2019. The UK can then enforce its own trade rules – a job currently done by the EU. “This is a challenging deadline and the Trade Remedies Implementation Team is being formed to ensure this is effectively delivered on time,” read the advert.
MICHAEL Gove has undermined the future livelihoods of British fishermen by promising the Danes access to UK waters even after Britain has left the European Union (EU). The Environment Secretary, 49, who only recently returned to the cabinet after the general election, said during a visit to Denmark yesterday: “Danish fishermen will still be able to catch large amounts of fish in British waters, even if the British leave the EU.” He added: “Britain has no fish cutters [those employed to clean, trim and bone fish] and production facilities enough to catch all the fish in British waters. [sic]” Mr Gove previously stated under a fortnight ago that the UK would take back control of 200 miles of British fishing waters. He said on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show: “When we leave the EU we’ll become an independent coastal state and that means we can then extend control over our waters to 200 miles.”
The UK’s top universities will today publish 10 demands on EU citizens’ rights which they say Theresa May must meet to ensure higher education is not damaged by Brexit. In a hard-hitting document passed to The Independent, the 24-strong Russell Group – including Oxford, Cambridge and London universities – warn Ms May her current approach is hurting a sector which generates £73bn a year for the economy. They call on the Prime Minister to scrap her plan to make every single EU citizen apply for a new “settled status” and instead to grant an automatic right to remain to thousands of people already permanently resident here.
Theresa May is facing calls from her own ministers to sack Government trade envoys who have opposed her plans for Brexit amid accusations that they are “talking Britain down” as it leaves the EU. Six trade Britain’s 21 trade envoys have defied the Government in key votes over Brexit, including one who suggested that people who voted for Brexit are “little Englanders”. Eurosceptic ministers joined Iain Duncan Smith, Tory MP and former Conservative leader, in calling for them to be axed for “being opposed to Brexit”.
Theresa May was facing calls to sack government trade envoys who opposed Brexit from a former cabinet minister. Six of Britain’s 20 trade envoys have defied the government in key votes over Brexit, including one who suggested that people who voted for Brexit were “little Englanders”. Iain Duncan Smith, the Tory MP and former Conservative leader, told the BrexitCentral website: “It is quite absurd that at the moment the UK leaves the EU and starts to make new free-trade deals we should have as our trade representatives people who are viscerally opposed to Brexit.” The six include Rushanara Ali, a Labour MP and trade envoy for Bangladesh, who voted against triggering Article 50 to start the Brexit process.
Theresa May was last night urged to sack four British trade envoys who have spoken out against Brexit. Former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith said it was ‘absurd’ for those who were ‘viscerally opposed to Brexit’ to represent the UK during trade negotiations. David Cameron appointed a cross-party network of 20 ‘trade envoys’ in 2012 to represent the UK in emerging markets around the world. But four of them are battling to keep Britain in the EU, even though this would make it much harder to strike trade deals around the world. Labour MP Rushanara Ali, Labour peer Lord Faulkner of Worcester and the Liberal Democrat peers Baroness Northover and Baroness Bonham-Carter all voted this year to frustrate the Article 50 legislation which paved the way for Britain’s exit from the EU in March 2019.
A shortage of care home places will leave 3,000 people unable to get the care they need within 18 months, a report found yesterday. The shortfall of beds may rise to more than 70,000 within a decade because too few new care homes are being opened, it said. The report by JLL property consultants said that over the past 15 years new care home places have been made available at a rate of 7,000 a year on average – but double the number are needed to cope with the expanding population of elderly people who need residential care. It said that the shortage is worsened by care home closures. Over the past three years, 21,500 care home places have disappeared across Britain, the report found.
Ministers have been accused of ignoring warnings over the passport chaos causing misery to British airline passengers as the busiest week of the holiday season approaches. Tourists are having to queue for up to four hours at passport control because airports in some EU countries have bungled the introduction of tougher security checks. The delays continued on Wednesday with some flights half-empty as a result, and there were separate problems for British Airways passengers flying out of the UK because of fresh problems with its check-in computers. Airlines UK, the industry body for British-registered carriers, said it had written to the Department of Transport in May warning ministers of trouble ahead
British holidaymakers are facing even greater travel chaos after security staff at Barcelona airport today voted to go on strike. Tourists heading to Spain and other European countries were already facing queues of up to four hours at border controls following the introduction of new EU regulations. Today workers for the private security company Eulen, which runs the border security at Barcelona’s El Prat airport, voted for an indefinite strike beginning on August 14th or 15th. The staff have already planned a series of mini hour-long strikes beginning on Friday and continuing on Fridays, Sundays and Mondays. But they announced full-scale industrial action, supported by 93 per cent of the 360 company’s workers at the airport, following a meeting today.
HOLIDAYMAKERS suffered fresh misery yesterday as British Airways’ IT systems crashed for the seventh time in just over a year. Furious passengers faced queues of up to two-and-a-half hours to check-in for flights. The scenes at Heathrow and Gatwick mirrored those in airports across Europe — where Brits faced huge delays after EU officials drafted in tougher passport controls. And the nightmare is set to get even worse this weekend and throughout the summer as record number of Brits prepare to fly off on their holidays. The Sun’s travel editor Lisa Minot said: “What with the BA chaos, a peak weekend coming up for summer travel, and the EU security checks, it’s the perfect storm.”
EU airports have been accused of punishing legitimate British holidaymakers for trying to enter Schengen countries – meanwhile, thousands of jihadi’s enjoy free movement across the continent. Brits faced queues of up to four hours, including at Amsterdam’s Schipol and Paris’ Orly airports as the EU upped its security checks – but where are the strict checks on the Italian or Greek coasts where millions of migrants have arrived in the past few years? Airlines for Europe, the lobby group which represents airlines including BA, EasyJet and Ryanair said: “We are urging member states to end this shameful situation at the EU borders. We are also urging the European Commission to use its influence on member states to ensure adequate staffing.
Whitehall has been accused of censoring the past after civil servants refused to release a record number of sensitive documents for public access. Government departments applied to withhold 986 documents from publication by the National Archives last year, up from 460 in 2013. The documents relate to 1986 and 1987, when Margaret Thatcher was prime minister, and include official papers about arms sales to India and Saudi Arabia, as well as a visit to the Middle East by Prince Charles and Diana, Princess of Wales. The papers were due for release for public inspection under the so-called 30-year rule, but Whitehall departments can request that files stay secret if publication would undermine foreign relations or defence and security.
Housing associations and other public bodies have been told to stop hiding fire safety information following the Grenfell Tower tragedy. Elizabeth Denham, the information commissioner, said the wider repercussions from the tower block blaze, in which at least 80 people died, highlighted the need for details to be published. She urged public bodies to “go further” than simply responding to requests for information as people across the country look “for reassurance of appropriate fire safety measures to prevent further tragedies elsewhere”.
Large “tunnels” covering stretches of motorway to protect locals from dangerous levels of pollution are being considered by Highways England. The agency said in its latest air quality strategy that it is exploring the possibility of building physical canopies around main roads to soak up car fumes. In its report, Highways England says it is “investigating if we can reduce the costs to construct a canopy, which is a tunnel-like structure designed to prevent vehicle emissions reaching our neighbours”. After trialling a similar physical barrier to pollution in 2015, which initially stood at four metres high and stretched 100 metres down the M62, the agency said it is now running tests on a material that can clean the air.
Motorways face being covered by “pollution tunnels” to shield nearby homes from exhaust fumes in a plan to improve air quality. Highways England said that it was considering building tents made from pollution-absorbing materials over the busiest roads to prevent residents breathing toxic fumes. The agency said it was working on trials using a material that had the potential to absorb nitrogen dioxide (NO2), which is produced by diesel engines and causes lung disease.