The pound surged today on speculation that Britain and German are ready to fudge a Brexit deal to avoid chaos next March. Sterling rose more than 1 per cent amid claims ambitions are being downgraded for the ‘political declaration’ on trade that will accompany the divorce. That could pave the way for the two year transition period to happen – effectively easing the time pressure on thrashing details of a future relationship. It is the latest sharp market movement on Brexit rumours as anxiety grows about the impact negotiations collapsing. However, the idea – which has been tagged ‘blind Brexit’ – appears to assume that Tory Brexiteers would be willing to sign off the £39billion divorce bill without knowing what the UK will receive in return.
EUROCRATS fear Britain is trying to undermine Michel Barnier by inviting Member States to a series of Brexit talks in London. EU officials have warned national capitals not to send diplomats to a number of seminars the UK Government has organised outside of the main negotiations. They suspect Number 10 is trying to isolate the bloc’s chief negotiator, who is expected to become a more marginal figure as talks turn to trade. And the increasingly defensive Commission even wants to draw up a new document telling Member States how they should respond to British overtures. But the intervention, at a meeting of EU27 diplomats last week, went down badly with some present who revealed it “caused a bit of agitation”. Eurocrats fear the seminars are an attempt to stitch together a series of mini deals, covering areas like aviation, in preparation for no deal.
The European Commission has reportedly told diplomats from EU countries not to attend a series of Brexit meetings laid on by the UK – reiterating the position that Brussels is the only legitimate negotiator. The British government is desperate to talk face to face with EU member states where it thinks it will get a better reception for its proposals than with the European Commission (EC), which has shot down proposal after proposal from Theresa May as unworkable. The UK has tried to coax them in a number of ways: most recently by translating its documents into EU languages in the hope they will be read in European capitals – and now staging a series of meetings specifically for diplomats. But at a recent meeting in Brussels, diplomats were apparently warned by the European Commission not to attend the UK-hosted briefings – with a reminder that EU national leaders had delegated all responsibility for negotiations to the EC, according to the Politico website.
The EU’s chief negotiator branded key parts of Theresa May’s Brexit proposals “dead” in a meeting with MPs, one of those present has revealed. Labour’s Stephen Kinnock disclosed on Wednesday how Michel Barnier declared “les propositions sont morte” – translated as “the proposals are dead” – during the meeting with MPs in Brussels earlier this week. The prominent Remain-supporting MP made the claim in a robust exchange with Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab, who warned Mr Kinnock against being used as part of a “pressure exercise on the government” by Brussels over the so-called Chequers plan. Speaking as Mr Raab appeared before the House of Commons’ European scrutiny committee, Mr Kinnock said: “We went to meet with Mr Barnier on Monday and I can tell you absolutely, unequivocally, without a shadow of a doubt, that Chequers is dead in the water. “Mr Barnier made it crystal clear that Chequers is completely unacceptable to the EU.”
The European Union’s chief Brexit negotiator told a delegation of MPs that Theresa May’s proposals for a future trade deal were “dead”, it has been claimed. Michel Barnier held talks with the Brexit select committee on Monday to discuss progress in the negotiations, and made it “crystal clear” that the Chequers plan was unacceptable, according to Labour’s Stephen Kinnock. During exchanges with Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab, the anti-Brexit campaigner insisted Brussels had spiked the plans. He said: “I can tell you absolutely, unequivocally, without a shadow of a doubt that Chequers is dead in the water. “Mr Barnier made it crystal clear that Chequer’s is completely unacceptable to the European Union.”
Theresa May’s Brexit plan was left mired in uncertainty after reports that the EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, told British MPs that “les propositions sont mortes” in a Brussels meeting. The Labour MP Stephen Kinnock revealed that in talks this week Barnier had declared the Chequers proposals “dead” and suggested that there was a fundamental misunderstanding in the UK about how the single market worked. “I can tell you absolutely, unequivocally, without a shadow of a doubt that Chequers is dead in the water. Michel Barnier made it crystal clear that Chequers is completely unacceptable to the EU,” Kinnock said. The senior remainer urged the Brexit secretary, Dominic Raab, and the prime minister’s Brexit adviser Olly Robbins, appearing before the European scrutiny committee on Wednesday, to accept that Brussels was not simply “sabre rattling” as a negotiating tactic. May faces a concerted campaign to “chuck Chequers” from disgruntled Tory MPs, led by the former ministers Boris Johnson and David Davis. There are also deep-rooted concerns in Brussels over her facilitated customs arrangement and common rulebook proposals.
ANGELA Merkel has dropped key demands over a Brexit deal paving the way for a breakthrough in talks. Germany has asked for less detail on the UK’s future economic and trade ties with the EU, according to Bloomberg. It comes as European Commission officials attempted to block EU27 diplomats from joining UK government “technical seminars”. The EU is concerned that any bilateral talks could derail the bloc’s Brexit negotiating strategy and allow Brussels to be sidelined at a time when both sides have admitted that a no-deal Brexit is a real possibility. The UK’s Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab has said that if there were to be a breakdown of talks, there would be various mini-deals to mitigate the seriousness of a no-deal Brexit. A diplomat from the European Commission told Politico: “We’ve explained everything that you should know, if you have more questions we’re always ready to provide answers. There’re absolutely no need to go to these seminars.”
Telegraph (by Ambrose Evans-Pritchard)
Michel Barnier has overplayed his hand on Brexit. By promoting the option of a ‘Canada’ trade deal so pointedly – both in his interview with the Frankfurter Allgemeine and in talks with British MPs – he has given the idea a new legitimacy in Westminster. ‘Canada Plus’ is springing back to life. And by trashing the Chequers plan petulantly as “insane, illegal, and fraudulent’, he has thrown Theresa May to the wolves and unleashed forces that the EU may struggle to control. David Davis will champion a 140-page “Alternative Brexit Plan” at the Conservative Party Conference this month, drafted by the Institute for Economic Affairs and City lawyers.
The promotion of Jean-Claude Juncker’s aide and enforcer to the European Union’s top civil service post damaged public trust and broke the “letter and spirit” of the rules, the European Ombudsman has found. Martin Selmayr, 47, known as the “monster” because of his ruthless and abrasive style, was appointed as the European Commission’s secretary-general in February after a murky and convoluted double promotion within the space of ten minutes. Finding four instances of “maladministration” by the commission, Emily O’Reilly recommended a more open appointment procedure after a scandal that threatens to define Mr Juncker’s political legacy.
In an exclusive report for Westmonster local Spanish campaigners have said how migrants use violent tactics to attack police and jump the border in a Spanish enclave in Morocco. In recent months hundreds of migrants have attempted to jump the border in Ceuta, a Spanish city in Morocco to gain access to Europe. Westmonster visited Ceuta and interviewed local campaigners from the new anti-mass migration party Vox, one said the migrants use “corrosive liquids, box with excrement inside to throw to the police, flamethrowers” he continued “if you see how migrants jump the fence it’s not normal people, they have military strategies.” “The police have a direct order from the Government, please don’t use violence if anyone jumps, no problem you only try to catch [them].”
A new ranking to be published today has set the UK way above European rivals as the top financial centre in Europe, only to be second behind the US worldwide. The New Financial think tank report analysed 42 different metrics from the size of financial services to the overall business environment, finding the UK and US to be way ahead of any European country. Founder and managing director of New Financial, William Wright said: “London both in terms of domestic financial activity and international financial activity is in a league of its own in Europe.”
“Scallop wars”, the conflict between Cornish fishermen and their French counterparts, appears to have been brought to a peaceful conclusion, after the French government agreed to compensate British boats for staying out of the Baie de Seine. A joint statement released by the UK and French governments on Wednesday night said “constructive” talks involving representatives of their respective fishing industries had resulted in a deal. Conservation measures aimed at restoring scallop stocks in the 40-mile stretch of waters off the Normandy coast will now be extended to British boats under 15-metres long, which were initially excluded. In return, the French government will compensate the British boats, with details to be hammered out at further talks on Friday.
British and French fisherman have celebrated progress made in negotiations to end the scallop wars in the English Channel. After lengthy discussions on Wednesday, during which the French were said to have expressed “regret” for recent skirmishes, both sides reached an agreement on the principles of a deal. No UK vessels will fish for scallops during the window in conflict, one where the French are not allowed to harvest the molluscs. Instead, smaller British boats will be compensated for their losses – but the sum is to be debated in Paris on Friday – and if both sides do not agree, the accord could be sunk. A joint statement from the UK and French governments said the talks in London had been “constructive” and a finalised deal hinges on a “reasonable compensation package”.
BORIS Johnson is set to embarrass Theresa May by addressing up to 1,000 grassroots party members at a rally on the fringe of next month’s Tory conference, it emerged yesterday. The former Foreign Secretary, who quit the Cabinet in July in protest at the Prime Minister’s Brexit plans, was understood to have accepted an invitation to address a mass meeting organised by the ConservativeHome website for Tory activists at the annual gathering in Birmingham next month. His allies expect the high-profile event could overshadow speeches by Mrs May’s team in the official conference hall. ConservativeHome said Mr Johnson would speak about “the way ahead” at the rally. His aides said the former Foreign Secretary had yet to decide on the contents of his speech. “The decision will be seen as a provocative attempt by Mr Johnson to contrast himself with Mrs May, who is a not seen as a natural orator,” the website said.
The shadow Brexit secretary, Keir Starmer, has said during a visit to Brussels that Labour would vote against a proposed EU-UK free trade deal that is now being backed by Michel Barnier and David Davis, leaving such an arrangement with scant hope of being passed by parliament. He also described as “reckless” efforts to pretend that Theresa May’s Chequers proposals were not dead, as the value of the pound leapt in response to fresh reports that Angela Merkel was open to a more vague political declaration on the UK’s future economic and trade ties in order to get a Brexit deal done.
Parliament’s ethics watchdog has launched an inquiry into controversial overseas visits made by Jeremy Corbyn before he became Labour leader. Mr Corbyn was reported to the parliamentary commissioner for standards by three different Conservative MPs during the summer over allegations that he had not properly registered trips abroad which were paid for by other organisations. Pictures had emerged of Mr Corbyn holding a wreath in front of a plaque honouring the founder of Black September, the group behind the killing of Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics in 1972, in Tunisia in 2014. The Labour leader said that he was at the cemetery to pay his respects to the victims of an Israeli air strike in 1985.
Jeremy Corbyn faced a backlash over his ‘weaselly words’ on Russian blame for Salisbury today. The Labour leader was taken to task by Theresa May, Boris Johnson and even his own MPs for equivocating over the nerve agent outrage. Mr Corbyn was widely criticised earlier this year when he resisted stating that the Russian authorities were behind the poison attack on former spy Sergei Skripal and daughter Yulia. He also previously played down Moscow’s annexation of the Crimea in 2014, suggesting that NATO was to blame for the aggression. It came as he revealed he had visited the area of Salisbury earlier this year – but critics hit out at him for failing to tell local politicians about the visit. Responding to the PM’s revelation today that two GRU military intelligence officers had been identified as responsible for the Novichok attack, the veteran left-winger said the Russian government must ‘give a full account of how this nerve agent came to be used in the UK’.
JEREMY CORBYN has been submerged in a long-running row over anti-Semitism in the Labour Party and faced a barrage of pleas from Conservative MP’s on Wednesday to “apologise”. Theresa May began Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday by demanding Jeremy Corbyn to apologise the anti-Semitism crisis that has engulfed the Labour Party. Mrs May said: “Everyone in this country should feel safe and secure in this country.“There is no place for racial hatred in our society and it is important that we take every step to tackle it.” She added: “I believe that we should all be united in our determination to tackle anti-Semitism. “So when the leader of the Labour Party stands up, he should apologise for saying that Jewish people who have lived in this country their whole lives, do not understand English irony.”
UK and China naval ships have squared off against each other in a tense standoff as Beijing warns the British to back off. The HMS Albion, a 22,000-tonne amphibious warship full of Royal Marines, passed next to the Paracel Islands — an area of disputed land in the South China Sea. Brit Royal Navy forces said it carried out the operations to challenge China‘s supposed superiority in the region, and to demonstrate its “freedom of navigation” rights. A naval source said the ship — which was on its way to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam — was challenging Beijing’s “excessive claims” in the region. China’s Foreign Ministry issued a furious ultimatum, warning the British ships to leave the area at once. In a statement, it said: “The Chinese side strongly urges the British side to immediately stop such kinds of provocative actions.”
China’s Foreign Ministry said on Thursday a British Royal Navy warship entered Chinese territorial waters around the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea without permission on Aug. 31 and that China’s navy warned the British ship to leave. “The Chinese side strongly urges the British side to immediately stop such kinds of provocative actions,” the ministry said in a faxed statement. The HMS Albion, a 22,000-ton amphibious warship carrying a contingent of Royal Marines, passed by the Paracel Islands in recent days, two sources familiar with the matter told Reuters.
Theresa May is preparing a cyberwar against Russia’s spy network after accusing two of its agents of carrying out the Salisbury nerve agent attack. Serving notice of new covert operations against the Russian military intelligence service, the prime minister said that it was a threat to “all our allies and to all our citizens” and promised to do “whatever is necessary to keep our people safe”. In a Commons statement yesterday Mrs May named two members of Kremlin military intelligence as key suspects in the poisoning of the former Russian spy Sergei Skripal, 67, and his daughter, Yulia, 34, with a nerve agent on March 4.
Theresa May last night ordered a covert war on Vladimir Putin’s spy network following calls from novichok poisoning victim Charlie Rowley urging police to bring the two suspects behind the Salisbury chemical weapons attack to justice. The Prime Minister said the security services would target the GRU, the military intelligence unit the pair work for. Cyber warfare, espionage, financial sanctions and travel bans could be used, sources said. Interpol has been put on red alert to detain the two agents, who use the aliases Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov. Mrs May warned they would be brought to Britain for trial if they ever left Russia. She blamed the Kremlin for the novichok attack on former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury in March. And she hinted the assassination order may have come directly from Mr Putin because only he has the power in Russian law to order killings abroad.
Russian military intelligence squad behind the Salisbury Novichok attack is now behaving “with impunity” to wreak chaos around the world, senior Whitehall sources have warned. Theresa May revealed the GRU, Moscow’s shadowy spy network, had plotted the nerve agent assault on Sergei Skripal on the orders of the Kremlin to “send a message” to other suspected traitors. The two senior GRU officers dispatched to carry out the attack were named as Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov – fake identities given to them by the agency, although the men’s real names are understood to be known to British authorities. Downing Street vowed to do everything in its power to “dismantle” the GRU.
A record one in 12 new cars sold in Britain last month was environmentally friendly after more motorists opted to ditch diesel engines. Figures from the motor industry showed that 8 per cent of all new registrations were for electric or hybrid models, easily eclipsing the previous high at the start of the summer. Almost 7,500 new environmentally friendly cars were sold in August, up by nearly 89 per cent compared with a year earlier. The rise was detailed by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) and coincided with the continuing collapse in sales of diesel cars. They fell for the 17th month running.