GERMANY has ordered Britain not to start negotiations for trade deals with non-EU members before it leaves the European Union (EU). In an intervention bound to infuriate Downing Street ministers in Berlin instructed the Government to ditch informal talks it has opened with countries including Australia and India. The unhelpful remarks came as Prime Minister Theresa May attempted to drum up support for free trade deals during the G20 summit in China. Until Britain officially leaves the bloc no negotiations with other nations can take place, according to draconian EU rules. And Steffen Seibert, a spokesman for Angela Merkels’ government, said: “As spokesman of the German government, I am not going to judge who the British prime minister holds talks with. But Mr Seibert stressed “it is clear that an EU member state cannot hold bilateral talks on free trade deals with non-EU states as long as it remains a member of the EU”. Trade Secretary Liam Fox has been tasked with striking trade deals outside of the EU, but he must avoid any legal battles with Brussels ahead of the formal two-year divorce process.
Anti-Brexit campaigners are raising money to hand out European Union flags during the Last Night of Proms: traditionally a staunchly British affair. Proms – known full as The Henry Wood Promenade Concerts presented by the BBC – are an eight week long, summer classical music concert series which culminates in the hugely popular “Last Night of the Proms”. While most of the series takes place in the Royal Albert Hall, the televised Last Night of the Proms – this coming Saturday – also includes portions in Hyde Park, the crescendo of which involves the waving of (British) Union flags, as well as the singing of Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstance, Rule Britannia, Jerusalem, and more British anthems.
It includes rousing performances of Land of Hope and Glory, Rule Britannia and Jerusalem always accompanied by a sea of union jacks, but this year’s Last Night of the Proms is also expected to offer a pro-EU backlash against Brexit. The Guardian understands activists will be outside the Royal Albert Hall in force on Saturday handing out thousands of EU flags, which they hope audience members will wave instead, or even along with, the traditional red, white and blue. Volunteers will be handing out the flags after a successful Crowdfunder campaign raised £1,175 in order to fund the protest . It began as a discussion between like-minded people on Facebook. The woman behind the campaign, who asked not to be named, said the idea was “to have a celebration of what the EU does for music”.
British Prime Minister Theresa May will meet European Council President Donald Tusk in London on Thursday to discuss Britain’s exit from the European Union, May’s spokeswoman said. It will be the pair’s first bilateral meeting since May took office in July, following Britain’s vote to leave the EU. “It will be an opportunity in part to talk about the process of leaving the European Union, how we see the upcoming months,” May’s spokeswoman told reporters. The spokeswoman said Tusk and May would also discuss issues on the agenda for the October meeting of EU leaders, including migration, trade and Ukraine. May has said Britain will continue to play a full role in the EU until it leaves the bloc, a process which will take at least two years.
A LABOUR MP launched a bid yesterday to enshrine EU employment protections in British law. The Star reported last week how the European Communities Act, which contains workers’ rights, will have to be repealed to trigger Brexit. Grimsby MP Melanie Onn presented a ten minute rule Bill to ensure that rights to annual leave, protection against unfair dismissal and equal rights for agency workers are maintained. The former trade union organiser said: “Theresa May has put the most right-wing, Thatcherite Tories into top jobs in her new government, and Brexit gives them the opportunity to abandon the employment protections people in Britain have enjoyed for decades. “My Bill will protect in British law the rights workers currently enjoy thanks to the European Union. People voted to leave the EU, but I don’t believe they did so because they want less rights or a less safe workplace.”
Former communist states are planning to exploit the fallout of Brexit with a “counter-revolution” designed to block migrant deals and assert the power of national governments over Brussels. Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, an influential diplomatic European Union bloc known as the Visegrad Group, will lobby together at a summit next week to ensure that national governments are put back in the EU’s driving seat. The summit will gather all EU leaders, excluding Theresa May, in Slovakia’s capital to forge a new vision of Europe.
Theresa May has laid out her plans for a new generation of grammar schools to Conservative MPs, saying she wants an “element of selection” for a “21st century education system”. The prime minister told the 1922 Committee of backbench Tories the education system already has “selection by house price”, according to sources who were at the meeting. On Tuesday it emerged the government was plotting to back new grammar schools when secret Cabinet papers signed by the Department for Education’s most senior civil servant were accidentally exposed to photographers in Downing Street. It followed reports last month in the Sunday Telegraph that Mrs May was planning to lift a nearly two-decade ban on the establishment of new grammar schools, allowing for a wave of new selective schools.
Theresa May has told Conservative MPs she will not “turn the clock back” on grammar schools in England, but did not rule out some expansion. The prime minister was addressing the 1922 Committee of Conservative backbenchers on Wednesday evening. It comes after a document outlining proposals to open new grammar schools was caught by a photographer outside Downing Street on Tuesday. Labour said the policy would increase social exclusion if it went ahead. The government intends to publish its plans for school reform in the autumn. Grammar schools are state secondaries whose pupils are selected by examination at age 10 to 11. There are currently about 163 in England – out of some 3,000 state secondaries – and a further 69 in Northern Ireland.
Theresa May has told Conservative backbenchers that she supports lifting the ban on grammar schools so every child can have “access to opportunity”. Two MPs who attended a meeting of the 1922 Committee on Wednesday night confirmed to Sky News that the Prime Minister argued for an overhaul of England’s school system. She told the gathering that the best state schools have become the preserve of Britain’s elite, effectively shutting out the majority of children from the best education. The sources confirmed she said, to cheers in the room: “We already have selection, haven’t we? It’s called selection by house price.”
A senior parliamentary committee is to recommend that all MPs and peers vacate both Houses of Parliament for six years to allow for urgent repairs. The report will suggest they relocate to nearby buildings, as early as 2020, to enable the £4bn restoration project. It will recommend the Department of Health’s headquarters for MPs, and the QEII conference centre for the Lords. Both Houses of Parliament would need to approve the move which is seen as the quickest and cheapest solution. Parts of the Palace of Westminster are so riddled with asbestos, frail stonework and ageing electrics and wiring, it has been said the Grade I-listed building would be knocked down if it was not protected. “The roofs are leaking. The stonework is rotting. We need to do a great deal more in fire compartmentation,” according to Lord Lisvane, formerly the most senior Commons official.
MPs and peers should abandon the crumbling Houses of Parliament for six years so that a radical refit costing up to £4bn can be carried out, an influential committee is expected to recommend on Thursday. Running repairs are constantly underway at Westminster; but a joint committee of MPs and peers was established last summer to come up with firm proposals on how a more thorough overhaul can take place – including rewiring, and updating some of its Victorian facilities. The restoration and renewal committee, which includes former leader of the house Chris Grayling , now the transport secretary, and the Labour leader in the Lords, Baroness Smith, has taken evidence from scores of witnesses, including architects and conservation experts as well as MPs and peers themselves. The committee is expected to back the findings of a feasibility report carried out by experts including consultants Deloitte last year, which suggested that MPs and peers should leave their familiar home by the Thames for up to six years.
MPs could move out of the Houses of Parliament for six years if they back a parliamentary committee’s recommendation of a temporary decant so restoration work can take place. The Joint Committee on the Palace of Westminster will on Thursday recommend that MPs move into the nearby Department of Health with peers going to the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, a committee source said. According to The Times, Prime Minister Theresa May is set to back the call, increasing the likelihood that it will happen, but it will still be subject to a parliamentary vote. The committee will recommend that the move takes place between 2022 and 2028, the source said. A study by Deloitte last year highlighted the appalling condition of the Palace of Westminster, with potentially deadly fire risks, collapsing roofs, crumbling walls, leaking pipes and large quantities of asbestos.
Dementia patients are being failed by the NHS across most of the country, an official report reveals today. Ofsted-style ratings show that 57 per cent of health boards give inadequate care. In some areas elderly patients may never receive a diagnosis. Those who do get one can go for more than a year without a check-up. Experts said the new ratings showed patients were often ‘left in the dark’ about why they had memory problems. Each of England’s 209 clinical commissioning groups was rated either ‘top performing’, ‘performing well’, ‘needs improvement’ or ‘greatest need for improvement’. For dementia, 57 per cent of areas were in the bottom two categories. Services for other health conditions were rated even worse. Seventy-one per cent of health boards did not provide an adequate diabetes service and 92 per cent failed patients with learning disabilities such as autism.
Ambulance bosses have told GPs not to dial 999 as paramedics are too busy, it emerged yesterday. Managers at a scandal-hit trust have instructed doctors to ‘think twice’ before summoning help for desperately ill patients. The extraordinary request came a year after the same ambulance service, South East Coast, secretly downgraded thousands of emergency calls in a controversial pilot scheme. The ambulance service covers a population of 4.5million people living in Kent, Surrey, Sussex and Hampshire and is struggling to cope with soaring numbers of call-outs. Managers wrote to GPs last week instructing them not to dial 999 for seriously ill patients, but ask relatives to take them to hospital instead. Doctors will summon ambulances if they believe a patient they see in a routine appointment is very seriously ill.
The TUC is stepping up attempts to make sure employment rights are not affected by the EU referendum result, amid fears workers are being “shafted”. Workers are still paying the price of the financial crisis, with wages £40 a week lower than before the crash, and they could face a fresh assault on pay and conditions as a result of Brexit, the union organisation said. General Secretary, Frances O’Grady, said she was determined to make sure unions have a voice in the negotiations taking place to prepare the UK for life outside the EU. Speaking ahead of the TUC Congress, which opens in Brighton on Sunday, she revealed she plans to meet the Prime Minister in the coming weeks and will stress the importance of defending workers’ rights. She told the Press Association: “A lot of people in Britain feel they have been shafted. Working people should not pay the price of whatever will happen following the referendum.
Police in the UK’s largest force expect their careers to be destroyed if they complain about racism, a report claimed last night. Officers fear putting their ‘heads above the parapet’ because they will be denied promotion and suffer other reprisals, it was found. Scotland Yard was accused of failing to admit to mistakes and apologise for them after complaints from ethnic minority, gay and women employees. In a strongly-worded report, the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) called on the force to overhaul the way it handles internal complaints. It criticised poor record-keeping that prevents repeated discrimination being spotted, ‘misplaced loyalty’ by officers and the weak way it handles allegations. Officials quoted anonymous staff complaining of a ‘culture of fear’ and saying they would only ever blow the whistle on racism as a last resort. The report makes for uncomfortable reading more than 17 years after Sir William Macpherson dubbed the Met ‘institutionally racist’ in his report on the force’s investigation into Stephen Lawrence’s murder.
IT’S hard to believe it’s been 15 years since the devastating terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers that killed more than 3,000 people. Now a government insider is sensationally claiming the terrorists who carried out the September 11th atrocities had help from the inside. The anniversary of the terror attack passes each year with tributes and memorials to those killed and those who gave their lives trying to help rescue survivors. But as the significance of 9/11 became apparent across the world – proving the catalyst for British-backed American military interventions across the Middle East – the desire to find out exactly what happened has become an increasingly important issue.
LABOUR leadership challenger Owen Smith could be heading for a shock win over Jeremy Corbyn due to the expulsion of thousands of hard left fanatics, insiders say.A senior former frontbencher told the Daily Express that an average of 10,000 Corbynistas from the Momentum movement and other infiltrator groups are being thrown out every week. The expulsions are making the difference which could push the Welsh Labour MP over the winning line despite a campaign beset by a series of gaffes. The leading Labour MP said: “Owen might win, narrowly, but I think he’ll do it.” Asked if it was to do with the expulsions, he added: “We’re working on it. 10,000 a week at the moment.” The comments appear to support complaints from Mr Corbyn and his team who fear that attempts to rid Labour of left-wing fanatics will harm his bid to cling to power. His hopes have also been hit by a rebellion among trade union members who are refusing to take instructions from their leaders to back Mr Corbyn.
Labour MPs erupted in fury tonight after Jeremy Corbyn suggested Britain should give up its membership of the EU’s single market. The Labour leader attacked a raft of EU rules which countries must sign up to if they want to be part of the single market, allowing them to trade tariff-free trade with the rest of Europe. Mr Corbyn accused Brussels of pushing privatisation and de-regulation in business, and said many EU’s rules should be ditched by Britain after Brexit .
But Brussels chiefs have made clear that doing so would mean the end of our single market membership – potentially hitting the British economy hard.