Brussels has poured cold water on Boris Johnson’s claim to have negotiated an entirely new Brexit deal with the EU, and insisted that it never reopened the withdrawal agreement for him. A spokesperson for the European Commission raised eyebrows on Wednesday by insisting that the EU had merely made “clarifications” to Theresa May’s Brexit deal and that it had not been “amended” in any meaningful way. The sensational claim is at odds with Downing Street’s presentation of negotiations: the prime minister hopes to get his agreement through parliament on the basis that it is not the same as his predecessor’s, which was rejected three times by MPs.
THE EU could be looking to add the UK and the US to its military pact, while China and Turkey could be banned from joining altogether. A draft proposal from Finland’s presidency of the Council of the EU addresses the concerns of EU member countries who want to see closer military ties with the UK and the US. The proposal also reportedly addresses worries of other countries, who fear extending involvement to non-EU member states would leave the door open for China and Turkey to get involved with EU security projects.
Boris Johnson and Brussels are on an election campaign collision-course over whether the UK must send a new European Commissioner to Brussels. Ursula von der Leyen, the European Commission’s incoming president, on Wednesday wrote to Mr Johnson tell him has to put forward a candidate to represent the UK on the EU’s executive. But Mr Johnson has long said he would not send a candidate, and has so far resisted despite other countries having send their picks. Under EU treaties, each of the EU’s 28 member states has to pick someone to join the EU’s executive in Brussels, where they take on a particular portfolio.
The incoming head of the European commission has exposed Boris Johnson’s failure to meet his “do or die” pledge to leave the European Union on 31 October, by requesting the “rapid” nomination of a British candidate to join her Brussels top team. Ursula von der Leyen has written to the prime minister asking him to propose a British candidate or candidates for EU commissioner “rapidly, in the shortest time possible”, one of her spokespeople said on Wednesday. Von der Leyen hopes to take office on 1 December, leaving barely three weeks for a British commissioner to be proposed, accepted and vetted by the European parliament. Heightening the pressure on Johnson’s government, von der Leyen has called on the UK to propose female candidates, as part of her bid to have a gender-balanced commission.
NO REASONABLE EU leader would want to follow in the UK’s footsteps if doing so meant getting snarled in a similar political crisis, a French politician has warned. Nathalie Loiseau said yesterday that Brexit had turned into a duplicitous game, stressing the December election was the only way out of the Brexit deadlock and deliver much-needed “democratic clarification”. “Brexit is a mug’s game,” Mme Loiseau, France’s former Europe minister, told the French magazine Le Point. A successful Brexit will not tempt other countries to leave the EU, she said: “Negotiating the future relationship between London and Brussels will take years.
Italian public schools will soon require children in every grade to study climate change as the unelected leftist government aims to put Italy “at the forefront of environmental education worldwide.” Italy’s education minister, Lorenzo Fioramonti, told New York Times reporter Jason Horowitz that the environmental indoctrination will be introduced as part of the students’ civics education as a sort of “Trojan horse” that will eventually “infiltrate” all courses. The environmental lessons, which will begin next fall, will be adapted to each age group, Fioramonti said.
The Green Party vowed to make this “the climate election” yesterday, saying that remaining in the EU was a means to an end. The party confirmed that it was in talks with the Liberal Democrats and Plaid Cymru about stepping aside in 50 seats to avoid splitting the Remain vote. Jonathan Bartley, the co-leader, acknowledged that some of the party’s candidates were “not so keen” on standing aside but argued that the pact could herald a “more constructive” form of politics. The Lib Dems said last night that arrangements had been made with the two other parties.
The Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru and the Greens have finalised a plan to step aside for each other in 60 seats across England and Wales in the general election. The alliance is intended to give a free run to one pro-remain party in each constituency. The agreement, which does not include Labour, covers 49 seats in England and 11 in Wales. It was made under the banner of a cross-party group called Unite to Remain, which has spent several months trying to broker the plan. A so-called progressive alliance plan, also including Labour, was attempted before the 2017 election but arrangements were only made for a handful of seats, in part because of the difficulty of getting local parties to agree.
The Liberal Democrats say they have brokered an electoral pact with Plaid Cymru and the Green Party not to field candidates against each other in at least 60 constituencies. Details of the so-called Remain alliance will be announced at a press conference on Thursday by the Unite to Remain group, which helped to engineer the deal. “We are delighted that an agreement has been reached,” said Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson. ”This is a significant moment for all people who want to support remain candidates across the country.” Ms Swinson has come under fire after she “absolutely categorically” ruled out working with Jeremy Corbyn, even if it meant delivering another referendum.
Tom Watson, Labour’s deputy leader, unexpectedly stood down as an MP on Wednesday night as Labour’s civil war over Brexit and anti-Semitism claimed its most high-profile casualty. Mr Watson quit Parliament after telling friends he felt Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party was “no longer the party that he joined”. His resignation, which will overshadow the opening days of Mr Corbyn’s election campaign, comes less than two months after members of the Labour leader’s inner circle staged a botched attempt to oust him as deputy leader on the eve of the party’s annual conference.
Labour has promised an “irreversible shift” of power and investment to working people outside the south-east of England, if they win the election. John McDonnell will pledge £150bn for schools, hospitals and housing on top of existing spending plans to be paid for through borrowing. The shadow chancellor says he will move Treasury staff out of London to ensure the regions get a fair share of it. Chancellor Sajid Javid said Labour’s plans were “fantasy economics”. In his first major speech of the election campaign, Mr McDonnell will promise “investment on a scale never seen before in this country and certainly never seen before in the north and outside of London and the south east”.
Tom Watson has quit as Labour’s deputy leader and will not stand in the general election after a series of clashes with Jeremy Corbyn on antisemitism, Brexit and the party’s direction. Mr Watson, who has been MP for West Bromwich East since 2001, insisted that the decision was “personal, not political” but he has been increasingly isolated since the 2017 general election tightened Mr Corbyn’s hold on Labour. His resignation comes barely more than a month after supporters of Mr Corbyn pushed to abolish the role of deputy leader, a move that Mr Watson said at the time was an attempted “drive-by shooting”.
A Labour government would spend £150bn on improving the country’s schools, hospitals and low-cost homes under new plans that take the party’s promised investment in infrastructure to £350bn in five years. John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, will announce the massive new spending pledge during a speech in Liverpool on Thursday. He is expected to say that a government led by Jeremy Corbyn would ramp up borrowing to launch a £150bn Social Transformation Fund to upgrade schools, hospitals, care homes and council housing after years of austerity.
Labour today pledges a massive new £150billion fund based in the north of England to fix the “human emergency” under the Tories. John McDonnell will unveil a Social Transformation Fund to “upgrade and expand our schools, hospitals, care homes and council houses” over five years. And the Shadow Chancellor will vow to move a “powerful section of the Treasury” to the north to oversee how the cash – raised through a big rise in borrowing – is spent. Mr McDonnell will make the pledge in Liverpool where he and Jeremy Corbyn will unveil Labour’s general election campaign bus brandished with the slogan ‘it’s time for real change’.
Boris Johnson compared Nigel Farage to a “candle-seller at the dawn of the age of the electric lightbulb” last night as he appealed to voters to hand him a “sensible majority”. The prime minister launched the Conservative election campaign with a rally in Birmingham at which he laid out his battle lines. Voters faced a “very stark and very clear” choice between the Tories and Labour, he said. Mr Johnson said that he had been forced to go to the country because parliament was paralysed.
BRITISH fisherman have outlined a set of demands the next Prime Minister must include in any Brexit deal with the European Union to satisfy the UK’s fishing industry. Fishing For Leave has called on the major political parties to ditch the controversial Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) from any deal with the EU and put it in their party manifesto without any “sneaky wording” ahead of the general election on December 12. The campaign group has demanded British fisherman are able to “exercise exclusive sovereignty” over UK waters following the end of any transition period with the bloc. Fishing For Leave insist how the next Government tackles the fishing industry will be an acid test for whether Brexit has been “meaningfully delivered”.
The department delivering Britain’s foreign aid could be scrapped if the Conservatives win the general election, a minister has said. Heather Wheeler came under fire after refusing to confirm a “stand-alone” department for international development (Dfid) would survive a Tory victory. The threat was raised amid ongoing suspicions that Boris Johnson has Dfid in his sights, after previously calling for it to be swallowed up into the Foreign Office. The prime minister backed a report which proposed the work of the department – set up by Tony Blair’s government in 1997 – should focus on commercial and diplomatic interests.
Ministers knew more than three years ago that HS2 could go £1 billion over budget and did not tell MPs before they approved it, secret papers show. Documents released after a long freedom of information battle show that in 2016 bosses behind the high-speed rail line admitted that there was a £1.1 billion “cost gap” between its own internal estimates and the government’s official position. Initially HS2 Ltd, the government-owned company, considered 166 savings that could be made to cut costs before producing a final list of 44 in September 2016.
Extinction Rebellion activists are planning to sue the police for false imprisonment after winning a High Court challenge over a ban on protests that brought London to a standstill. Up to 400 protesters who were arrested stand to win total compensation of about £1 million in the wake of today’s legal ruling. The direct action group said activists would be encouraged to use any taxpayer funded compensation to pay for future protests and legal cases. The case was brought by seven XR supporters, including two Labour MPs Clive Lewis, a shadow minister, and David Drew, MP for Stroud, Gloucs, where the movement was launched.
Climate change protesters could sue Scotland Yard after senior judges ruled that the police unlawfully banned demonstrations in London. Lawyers for members of Extinction Rebellion predicted that demonstrators who were arrested last month could bring actions for false imprisonment and breaches of human rights. Yesterday the High Court ruled that a senior officer with the Metropolitan Police was wrong to impose an order on the group. In ten days of protests that began on October 7, activists shut down areas around parliament and the Bank of England, and targeted London City airport and government departments.
HUNDREDS of climate change activists could sue the Metropolitan Police after the High Court ruled today that the force’s ban on Extinction Rebellion (XR) was unlawful. A blanket ban was imposed across London last month prohibiting any assembly of more than two people linked to the environmental group’s Autumn Uprising action. The decision to impose the ban, made under Section 14 of the Public Order Act, was ruled unlawful by two senior judges today — who said the force had “no power” to prohibit gatherings but could “merely impose conditions” on them.
The Met Police could be forced to pay Extinction Rebellion activists millions of pounds in false imprisonment claims after the High Court today ruled that the force’s London-wide protest banned was unlawful. Human rights lawyer Tobias Garnett, who is an activist for the group, said on the steps of the High Court that he was ‘delighted’ at the result. The Met imposed a London-wide protest ban imposed during their autumn uprising last month. The judicial review was brought on behalf of Extinction Rebellion by Baroness Jenny Jones, Caroline Lucas MP, Clive Lewis MP, David Drew MP, Ellie Chowns MEP, Extinction Rebellion and Labour activist Adam Allnut and journalist George Monbiot.
Competition for places at Oxford and Cambridge will be more intense than ever this year as both universities had a record number of applications. There were 20,155 applications to Cambridge, the first time the number has exceeded 20,000 — up 5.6 per cent on last year. Oxford has had 23,350 applications, up from 23,013 last year. The record totals come despite a dip in the number of people aged 17 and 18. The rise is in large part because of state schools’ huge efforts to get more pupils into Oxbridge, and the equal effort by the universities to encourage them to apply in an attempt to shed their reputation for privilege.
The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is conducting a propaganda war in university halls across the United Kingdom, using threats and intimidation to implement a pro-Beijing narrative on campus. The Foreign Affairs Committee has published a report on the influence that the Confucius Institute exerts on professors and students at universities in the United Kingdom. The Confucius Institute, which purports to teach Chinese language and culture, is a branch of the Chinese Ministry of Education which reports directly to the Communist Party’s central propaganda department.
Doctors could pick up signs of a brain tumour earlier thanks to a new blood test. The tumours often produce ambiguous symptoms, such as headaches or memory problems, and a scan had been the only reliable way to spot them. Now a blood test can detect chemical clues shed by brain tumours into the blood, making diagnosis quicker and more efficient. Researchers said the same technique has the potential to be adapted to other types of cancer. In tests, they were able to correctly identify more than four in five brain tumours.
An artificial intelligence system that analyses a drop of blood could help to identify patients with brain tumours. Researchers said that within 18 months the technique could be widely used in the NHS after a trial indicated a 90 per cent success rate in identifying gliomas, the most common form of brain tumour. More than 9,000 people a year in the UK have primary brain tumours diagnosed, of which about half are cancerous. Patients often report ambiguous symptoms to their GP such as headaches, memory problems and changes in personality. At present a brain scan is the only reliable way of identifying a tumour.
The hospital where a cancer patient was killed by a listeria-infected sandwich was warned its fridges were broken and too hot several days before he died, it was revealed today. Ian Hitchcock, 52, died in June after eating a contaminated meal – a scandal that appears to have claimed the lives of six people in the UK this year. Today it emerged sandwiches at Royal Derby Hospital, where Mr Hitchcock was receiving cancer treatment, were kept in ‘ineffective’ fridges that warmed the food to above 8C – an offence under 2013 food safety laws. The problem was found by experts inspecting the kitchen on June 4 and 5 where an environmental health officer said the broken fridges were serving food at illegal temperatures.
Treating poor sleepers to help them get a good night’s rest could reduce their risk of suffering a stroke or heart attack, according to researchers who have found a link between insomnia and significant health problems. Neurologists examined almost half a million people with no history of stroke or heart disease and asked if they had any of three insomnia symptoms at least three nights per week. These included having trouble falling or staying asleep, waking up too early, or having trouble concentrating during the day owing to a lack of sleep. More than ten million prescriptions are written for insomnia in Britain each year. It is estimated that one in five adults will suffer at some point.
POOR sleepers are more likely to suffer a heart attack or stroke, a study warns. Those who struggle with kip are said to be up to 18 per cent more at risk. Researchers spent a decade keeping tabs on more than 487,000 people with an average age of 51 who had no history of stroke or heart disease. They were asked if they had any of three insomnia symptoms — trouble falling or staying asleep, waking up too early or poor focus during the day due to poor sleep. Participants who had all three turned out to be 18 per cent more likely to have a stroke or heart disease than those with no symptoms. The risk increase was between seven and 13 per cent for people with just one symptom, said the Chinese study published in journal Neurology.