Brexit

Mail
Brussels admitted yesterday that it faces an ‘explosive’ political crisis if the UK refuses to pay a multi-billion pound Brexit bill. Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, warned the fragile bloc could crumble if Britain resists demands for the settlement which, say analysts, has ballooned to around 100billion euros (£85billion). His shock admission came as Brussels added more hard-line conditions to its aggressive negotiating stance. The bloc called for EU citizens who arrive in the UK just a day before Brexit to be granted full residency rights which can later extend to their families. It also demanded that millions of EU migrants in the UK should be governed by Brussels rules for decades to come – even if this means providing better benefits than Britons receive.

Guardian
A major clash over the unrestricted right of EU citizens living in Britain to continue to bring spouses and other immediate family to live with them in the UK after Brexit is expected after the publication of the official negotiation guidelines. The EU’s guidelines state that any reciprocal deal on the rights of EU citizens in the UK must also cover “their family members who accompany them or join them at any point in time before or after the withdrawal date”. But this is likely to be challenged by Theresa May, who as home secretary, sharply restricted the ability of UK citizens to bring non-European spouses into Britain in 2012 by requiring them to meet a minimum income threshold of £18,600 a year before their spouse could join them. Conservative ministers have repeatedly said they want to extend the income threshold and introduce an English language test for the non-European spouses of EU citizens living in Britain.

Independent
British relations with the EU have hit a new low after Theresa May launched a venomous attack on European politicians – accusing them of meddling in the UK’s general election and trying to wreck Brexit. The Prime Minister spoke outside Downing Street to charge top EU figures with making threats, “deliberately” attempting to swing the 8 June vote and trying to torpedo negotiations. The ferocity of the speech stunned Westminster and sent shockwaves all the way to Brussels where senior figures remained tight-lipped in the wake of the attack, while domestic rivals accused Ms May of irresponsible electioneering and mimicking Donald Trump in “winding up” scraps with foreign leaders. Hours earlier the European Commission cemented a tough negotiating stance after new estimates emerged of the potential size of the UK’s “divorce bill” – putting it as high as €100bn (£84bn).

Times
Theresa May accused Brussels yesterday of seeking to manipulate the election result, wreck Brexit talks and damage Britain’s economy in a heightening of tensions with EU leaders. The prime minister used a statement on the steps of Downing Street to return fire after a series of hostile leaks and a warning that Britain’s divorce bill could reach €100 billion. As she sought to turn the hardening stance of EU leaders to her domestic advantage, Mrs May claimed “some in Brussels” wanted to sabotage Brexit and harm the UK while trying to “affect the result of the general election”.

Sun
THERESA May electrified the general election campaign by accusing EU chiefs of trying to fix who wins on June 8. The PM fired the extraordinary missile from No10’s steps. Aides say it was aimed squarely at meddling EU Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker and his arrogant aides. In a moment of high drama, she slammed the former Luxembourg premier and other euro elite for “deliberately timed” threats and smears on her Tory government to try to influence the election’s outcome. As the Queen gave her formal blessing for the election to go ahead, The Sun can reveal Mrs May is drawing up a “nuclear option” of immediately ending Britain’s £18bn annual Budget payments if Brexit talks breakdown, The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier cast doubt on controversial accounts of a No10 dinner bust-up last week by revealing he bonded with the PM during it over hill walking, It emerged Britain will leave the EU an hour early, as Brussels bosses set the precise time for Brexit at 00.00 Central European Time rather than GMT on March 30, 2019.

Westmonster
The EU’s Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, has said he believes that whatever the Commission decides Britain should pay, should be “incontestable” and warned that they would be prepared to take legal action if the UK refused to pay up. The row erupted after it emerged last night that EU bigwigs want to double the UK’s ‘divorce bill’ in order to pay towards French farmers and support countries which aren’t even in the EU, including Turkey and Ukraine. The Eurocrat also suggested that the European Court of Justice could step in to ensure the rights of EU citizens are upheld, as if Theresa May were planning on locking them in the Tower of London. Barnier did give Brexiteers some good news, however, by declaring that Britain will leave the EU one hour ahead of schedule, due to the fact it is calculated on Central European Time, which is one hour ahead. Well, every little helps!

Express
THERESA May has accused EU politicians and officials of trying to meddle in the General Election through threats around Brexit. Speaking outside Downing Street, the Prime Minister launched a searing attack on unelected Eurocrats for wanting Brexit talks to fail. She said: “There are some in Brussels who do not want these talks to succeed, who do not want Britain to prosper.” Tensions between the UK and the EU have heightened in recent days after a series of leaks about the upcoming negotiations. Mrs May added: “The European Commission’s negotiating stance has hardened. “Threats against Britain have been issued by European politicians and officials. “All of these acts have been deliberately timed to affect the result of the General Election that will take place on June 8.”

Gibraltar

Breitbart
Leaked documents show that Spain wants to use its veto over the application of any European Union deal with the United Kingdom to Gibraltar to force citizens of the Rock to accept higher taxes. The document, entitled Negotiations About the Exit of Britain from the EU, has been attributed to the Spanish foreign ministry. It claims that “Gibraltar has developed an extremely permissive regime in terms of taxes, customs and the establishment of companies which has practically converted it into a tax haven”. Businesses in Gibraltar pay a 10 per cent tax whilst personal income is taxed at 20 per cent, according to The Times. Spain, on the other hand, levies a 29 per cent corporation tax on businesses. Income tax varies by region, reaching a high of 56 per cent in Catalonia – a relatively productive area with a strong independentist movement.

French elections

Telegraph
Emmanuel Macron accused Marine Le Pen of wanting to drag France into “a civil war” in a highly aggressive TV debate ahead of Sunday’s second-round runoff on Wednesday night. “You talk rubbish”, “liar”, “parasite”, “you play with their anger”, the mud was flying in all directions and the two presenters were totally overwhelmed most of the time. Trailing her centrist rival by around 19 percentage points in voter intentions, it was Ms Le Pen who set the vicious tone of the two and a half hour face-off in a bid to sway several million viewers to plump for her. Dubbing him a “junior” François Hollande and the candidate of wild globalisation, Ms Le Pen said: “Your cynical choices and the shameful use of campaign arguments have revealed the coldness of the investment banker that you never stopped being.” “The studious smile has morphed into a smirk…and the darling child of the system and elites has removed his mask,” she said.

ITV News
French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron has warned there will be “civil war” if his far-right opponent Marine Le Pen is elected. In a TV debate before France goes to the polls on Sunday, both contenders sought to land damaging blows that highlighted their polar opposite visions for the country. Le Pen painted the former banker and economy minister as a servant of big business and finance, and declared herself “the candidate of the people, of the France that we love.” Saying that Islamic extremists must be “eradicated” in the wake of repeated attacks since 2015, Le Pen charged that Macron wouldn’t be up to the task. 
Macron countered that Le Pen’s anti-terror plans would play into the hands of the extremists and divide France. He added: “This is what the terrorists expect. It’s civil war, it’s division, it’s heinous speech.”

Breitbart
Anti-mass migration candidate Marine Le Pen blasted globalist Emmanuel Macron on issues of terrorism and the role of globalism on the struggling French economy in the final French presidential debate. The final debate between French presidential candidates Marine Le Pen and Emmanuel Macron was a tense affair with constant back and forth between the two candidates on a range of issues. Le Pen slammed Macron for his position on terrorism, claiming that he had no policy and his support for globalisation which she blamed for French unemployment. At the start of the debate, the two candidates spoke on economic issues from the age of retirement to the effect of globalisation on French workers. Le Pen, who is an opponent of globalisation, said that Macron, who was previously an investment banker, was only interested in buying and selling, which was often “not in the national interest.”

Westmonster
Establishment-backed French Presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron has said that if elected Prez he would be expecting the UK to be hit with a bill of at least 60 billion Euros. He made the remark during a debate with pro-Frexit Marine Le Pen, putting the bill at between 60 and 80 billion. This should be taken seriously. After all, Macron is fully backed by the EU and Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has quoted a bill of ‘around’ £50 billion himself. As David Davis himself has made clear, there is an alternative: walk away and pay nothing.

Local elections

Mail
Labour could lose more than 200 seats in today’s local elections, with pollsters forecasting significant defeats in its former heartlands of Scotland and Wales. Polls point to the party suffering major defeats to the Tories in England and Wales and the SNP north of the border. In England, Ukip is expected to lose significant ground while the Lib Dems pick up seats. The results will be seen as a major indicator of how the parties will fare in the general election on June 8. In Scotland, results are expected to follow the outcome of the 2015 general election, with Labour losing seats and control of major councils to the SNP. A recent poll by Rob Hayward, a Conservative peer and pollster, suggested Labour is likely to lose control of Glasgow council – which it has held for 30 years – in its former heartland.

Independent
The local elections on Thursday will take place in 88 councils – England will see 2,370 seats contested in 27 county councils, six unitary authorities, one metropolitan authority and two mayoralties. All of the councils in Scotland and Wales will be up for election. Some of the results will be declared in the early hours of 5 May but the vast majority will be announced in the day. A by-election in Manchester Gorton, triggered by the death of Labour MP Gerald Kaufman, was also due to take place but has now been delayed until the day of the general election. While the results on Friday will not be a direct read-across for the Westminster elections in five weeks’ time, they will provide a crucial indicator as to whether Ms May’s Conservatives are gaining traction in the three regions where the local elections are taking place.

Guardian
Labour faces a crucial test across middle England, Wales and Scotland to keep control of historic Labour county councils, in bellwether areas that could give an early picture of the scale of losses the party may face at the general election. The most keenly watched battle, as a potential predictor of the party’s fortunes in England, will be the West Midlands mayoralty, where party figures said it was “too close to call” between Labour’s Siôn
 Simon and Tory candidate Andy Street, the former boss of John Lewis. Senior Labour figures said the party’s strength was its historic base and activists in the city who could get out the vote on the day. “Labour have a far stronger base, so there is some hope,” one source close to the campaign said. In council elections, Labour is forecast to lose around 175 seats, half of them in Wales, and could lose control of all their Scottish councils. With the Tories in the ascendancy in the East and West Midlands, both Jeremy Corbyn and Theresa May launched their local election campaigns in Nottinghamshire.

BBC News
Voters are heading to the polls for local and mayoral elections in England, Wales and Scotland. A total of 4,851 council seats are up for grabs in 88 councils – all of those in Scotland and Wales, plus 34 in England, including 27 counties. Six new “metro mayors” will be elected, covering areas including Greater Manchester, the West Midlands and the West of England. Polling stations opened at 07:00 and close at 22:00 BST. Some English and Welsh councils will begin counting ballots as soon as polls close – while others will start counting on Friday morning, with results being announced throughout Friday. Scotland’s 32 councils will start their counts on Friday morning, with first results expected from midday. Most mayoral results will be declared on Friday.

NHS

Times
More than five million people could be stuck on waiting lists for NHS treatment within two years, according to leaked estimates, which prompted warnings that lives would be put at risk. The number of patients waiting more than four months for surgery could more than double to 800,000 by 2019 if the NHS does not act, internal documents show. The current overall waiting list is 3.7 million, well above the 3 million deemed “sustainable”. A rise to 5.5 million, as projected in NHS Improvement documents obtained by the Health Service Journal, equates to nearly one in ten people in England and would exceed the previous high of 4.2 million a decade ago.

Mail
Jeremy  Hunt will launch a major inquiry into why the NHS failed to stop a rogue breast cancer surgeon maiming hundreds of women. The Health Secretary wants to establish how Ian Paterson was allowed to carry out botched operations for 15 years. Paterson, 59, who was said to have a ‘God complex’, was convicted last week of harming ten patients he conned into having surgery. Lawyers believe he could have had more than 1,000 victims. NHS bosses face questioning over why they ignored the concerns of whistleblowers and failed to carry out a thorough investigation. Mr Hunt’s intervention is a huge victory for the Mail, which campaigned for all staff involved to be held fully to account. However, victims are dismayed that he has refused to hold a public inquiry.

Morning Star
LABOUR will save A&E departments pushed to the brink of closure by Tory cuts, shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth pledged yesterday. The party would kick off an urgent review of closures and halt STP cuts plans — dubbed “slash, trash and privatise” — for hospitals in England in their tracks. Overseeing the review — under a new body called NHS Excellence — would be his first job as health secretary, Mr Ashworth promised. Health bosses have drawn up STPs in secret, with the plans typically involving redundancies, fewer beds, funding cuts and the downgrading and privatisation of
services. The British Medical Association estimates that the 44 local STPs will result in £22 billion in cuts to NHS and council services by 2021.

Mail
Thousands of new mothers are left without food or pain relief in overstretched NHS maternity units, leaving many psychologically scarred, research reveals today. Moments after giving birth, they are shunted into crowded post-natal NHS wards where they receive only the most basic care during the crucial first hours of their baby’s life. As a result, a fifth of new mothers are left with mental-health problems, the research suggests. In extreme cases, women develop post-natal depression or even post-traumatic stress disorder – an illness associated with soldiers in wartime. Many decide not to have another child specifically because of the trauma they experienced after labour. Nearly one in six women say they discharge themselves early to escape the horrors of NHS maternity wards.

Guardian
The number of people in England forced to wait more than 18 weeks for a non-urgent operation could more than double as a result of the NHS’s decision to relax the obligation on hospitals to treat 92% of them in that time, a leaked document has revealed. The possibility of the backlog rising from 370,000 in February this year to around 800,000 by March 2019 is one of several scenarios sketched out in a presentation to hospital bosses by NHS 
Improvement, the service’s financial regulator. Graphs in the document, obtained by the Health  Service Journal, indicate that the proportion of patients being seen within 18 weeks could fall from the current 90% to about 85% and the total number of people waiting for planned hospital care for procedures such as hip and knee replacements and cataract removals rise sharply from just less than 4 million to almost 5.5 million. A “sustainable” waiting-list should have no more than 3 million people on it, it says. 

Mail
The number of patients enduring long waits for hip and knee surgery and similar operations will double over the next two years, NHS bosses admit. They predict that up to 800,000 patients will be made to wait 18 weeks or longer for routine surgery by 2019. Projections also show that there will be almost 5.5 million patients on hospitals’ waiting list, up from the current 4 million. Just six weeks ago the head of the NHS Simon Stevens warned patients to expect longer waits for routine surgery. Mr Stevens said the delays would be a pay-off for the health service prioritising other areas of care including cancer, GP surgeries and mental health.

Inheritance tax

Express
LABOUR is planning to slash the inheritance tax threshold from £850,000 to £425,000, suddenly lumping a massive 40 per cent charge on thousands of unsuspecting voters looking to leave property to their loved ones. Jeremy Corbyn’s attack dog and shadow chancellor, John McDonnell, told the BBC that he could even cut the figure to as low as £300,000 – the average UK house price. But there are entire swathes of Britain where house prices are astronomically higher than average, meaning untold numbers of people would have to face up to the reality of their families being significantly worse off after their death. In real terms, it would mean a house valued at £550,000 would see a reduction of around £50,000. He is hoping to reverse what he sees as “tax giveaways” introduced under David Cameron’s Conservative Party.

The Queen

Star
THE Queen has reportedly called her entire household staff to an emergency meeting today. Elizabeth II is said to have called servants from Royal residences across the country to Buckingham Palace to the meeting. They will be addressed by the Lord Chamberlain – the most senior officer of the Royal Household – as well as Her Majesty’s right-hand man, private secretary Sir Christopher Geidt, the Mail reported. The “highly unusual” meeting has sparked fears for the health of Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh. The Queen’s consort is 95 and has had serious health problems recently. The Royal Household has made no official comment on the meeting.

Mail
Speculation amongst Buckingham Palace staff is rampant this morning as the Queen’s most senior aides called her entire household to an emergency meeting today. Servants from royal residences across the country have been ordered to London and will be addressed this morning by the Lord Chamberlain, the most senior officer of the Royal Household, as well as Her Majesty’s right-hand man, Private Secretary Sir Christopher Geidt. Even her longest serving staff were left in the dark about why the meeting was being called but multiple sources said it was ‘highly unusual’ and had sparked fevered talk about an imminent announcement concerning the monarch or her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh. ‘Everyone is on tenterhooks,’ said one.

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