THERESA MAY has opened secret talks with Tory grandees about naming a departure date, it emerged. Backbench chief Sir Graham Brady revealed the PM had agreed to address powerful backbenchers about her exit in person next week following two “productive” meetings with her. Sir Graham, chair of the powerful Tory 1922 Committee, refused to go into more detail. But he said he was confident those demanding a “roadmap” from the PM about her exit date would get the answers they wanted. He separately revealed the Government hoped to put the Brexit Withdrawal Bill to the vote in the Commons before the European Elections in May 23. Sir Graham said: “The Prime Minister has already set out she would leave very soon after the approval of the Withdrawal agreement.
“There will be, one way or another, a way of getting her out in June and there will be a leadership election which will see a new Tory leader and prime minister appointed by the summer.” That is what ITV News Political Editor Robert Peston says some Tory MPs told him following another meeting of the 1922 Committee, in which the Theresa May’s departure was discussed.
With an emergency meeting set to be held on 15th June, Tory activists across the country are now readying to vote no confidence in Theresa May. The Extraordinary General Meeting being called will have one item on the agenda: a no confidence vote in May. What will be voted on is clear enough: “Almost 3 years since we voted to leave and after 2 extensions to the original departure date, we no longer feel that Mrs May is the right person to continue as Prime Minister to lead us forward in the negotiations.
British Prime Minister Theresa May has again faced calls to resign but has brushed them off, insisting the disintegration of the Conservative party and the failure to deliver Brexit aren’t her fault. After Sir Graham Brady, the Conservative boss who represents non-government Tory MPs went to the prime minister on Tuesday to ask her to set a firm departure timetable — a request that has as of yet gone unheeded — May faced a series of more direct challenges Wednesday, including from a leadership rival, and an urgent call to resign in the debating chamber from her own benches.
Theresa May is to confront MPs with votes on her Brexit deal before the European parliament elections as she fends off calls for her to quit before the summer recess. The prime minister ignored a deadline to set out a timetable for her departure before yesterday’s meeting of the 1922 Committee executive. Instead she agreed to meet the group of 16 senior Tory MPs who represent backbench interests next Wednesday. Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the committee, told reporters he expected Mrs May to respond to their demands that she depart whether her Brexit deal was agreed or not.
Theresa May plans to give MPs a fourth major vote on Brexit next week before the European elections. The PM hopes the symbolism of the poll three years after the UK opted to leave the EU will force some MPs to finally back her plan. She bought her fragile leadership extra time by agreeing to meet top Tory backbenchers next week to discuss her future. It came as cross-party Brexit talks between Labour and the Tories to try to break the impasse appeared to be on the brink of collapse.
Theresa May has bought herself another week’s grace as prime minister, hinting she will bring the EU withdrawal bill to parliament before the European elections and promising to meet a powerful backbench committee who have demanded that she set out her timetable for stepping down. After a fortnight of furious demands by Tory MPs that she give a firm date for her departure, Sir Graham Brady, the chair of the 1922 Committee, said May had agreed to meet him and the 13-strong executive of Tory backbenchers next week.
Theresa May has been given a stay of execution by her backbench MPs after agreeing to meet them next week to discuss her future as leader. The Prime Minister had been given a deadline of 4pm on Wednesday to set out a timetable for her departure, but she bought herself another week by offering to face the executive of the 1922 Committee. Sir Graham Brady, the committee chairman, agreed to the compromise when he spoke to Mrs May, but some Tory MPs were unhappy with his decision, saying he should “get on with it” and force her hand.
Theresa May will defy growing pressure from Conservative MPs to speed up her resignation, vowing to stay until Brexit is completed – however long that takes. Backbench Tories will meet later today, having given the prime minister an ultimatum to make clear she will quit No 10 by the summer in all circumstances. But her spokesman insisted she would defy her own MPs, saying: “That is the timetable she is working towards – she wants to get Brexit done.” With the likely collapse of talks with Labour, it means Ms May is attempting to cling on until at least the autumn, with the next Brexit deadline with EU not until 31 October.
Cross party talks
The compromise Brexit deal being discussed by Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn – with the UK staying in a customs union – would deliver an £80bn hit to the economy after 10 years, economists have said. People would be an average of £800 worse off, GDP would shrink by 3 per cent and there would be £13bn less a year to spend on public services, compared with EU membership, the analysis found. “It would involve significant non-tariff barriers that would hinder trade, particularly in services. That would be a material economic burden,” the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR) said.
Conservative MPs on both sides of the Brexit divide are telling Theresa May that a fresh referendum is becoming “inevitable”, as talks with Labour to break the impasse looked set to fail. The prime minister faced the warning as she suffered the embarrassment of conceding this month’s European elections will go ahead – and as her own deputy suggested the crisis would drag on until July. As cross-party talks entered their sixth week, Labour’s Keir Starmer insisted he would force the Tories to end their refusal to contemplate a Final Say referendum as the price of a deal, saying it was “crunch time”.
EXPRESS.CO.UK readers are backing Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party in their droves and turning their backs on mainstream parties at this month’s European elections, a survey has found. The exclusive poll for Express.co.uk found a massive 86 percent of online respondents planned to vote for Mr Farage’s new party on May 23 as the scale of the backlash against Labour and the Conservatives became clear. According to our results, the number of people who said they would vote Tory this time round was so small it registered as a humiliating 0 percent. Labour fared little better with just 1 percent saying they would back Jeremy Corbyn’s party at the ballot box, according to the Express.co.uk poll.
A lifelong Conservative supporter who was an early investor in music app Shazam and appeared on Channel 4’s the Secret Millionaire is the Brexit Party’s candidate for next month’s Peterborough by-election. Mike Greene, a former trustee of Peterborough cathedral and local benefactor, will fight the June 6 by-election in a bid to give Nigel Farage’s party his first foothold in Westminster. Such is the pace of activity in the new Brexit Party that Mr Greene only met Mr Farage for the first time on Tuesday night at a rally in Peterborough. All candidates for the June 6 by-election have to be declared by 4pm on Thursday.
A lifelong Tory supporter who appeared on Channel 4’s The Secret Millionaire will stand as the Brexit Party’s candidate in the Peterborough by-election next month. Mike Greene, a local benefactor and trustee of Peterborough cathedral, will fight the June 6 by-election. A victory would give Nigel Farage’s new party its first seat in the Commons. Mr Greene and Mr Farage only met on Tuesday night at a rally in Peterborough. In an interview with The Telegraph yesterday, he said: ‘The Brexit party is the only party that has absolute clarity of focus on delivering the democratic vote.
GREEN Party of England and Wales co-leader Jonathan Bartley put a second EU referendum at the heart of the party’s European election campaign at its launch in north London today. “Every MEP elected from our brilliant team of candidates will be a commanding voice calling for what this country needs now: a people’s vote,” he declared at the event in Islington. He said there were “three Remain parties,” citing the Liberal Democrats and Blairite Labour split Change UK, but argued that the other two’s support for the existing political and economic set-up meant only a vote for the Greens would be “tough on Brexit and on the causes of Brexit.”
Vince Cable has staked the Liberal Democrats’ claim to be the leading remain party in the European elections, as he unveiled a forthright new slogan for the campaign: “Bollocks to Brexit.” The phrase, previously plastered on stickers and T-shirts by ardent remain supporters, is now emblazoned across the Lib Dem manifesto for the 23 May poll – though more squeamish candidates will have the option of one that just says “Stop Brexit”. Buoyed by strong results in last week’s local council elections, and unencumbered by the nuance of Labour’s position, Cable insisted the Lib Dems were the best-equipped party to challenge the message of Nigel Farage at the poll later this month.
A plan to create the UK’s first deposit return scheme for plastic bottles, cans and glass in a bid to boost recycling rates, has been backed by green groups. The Scottish Government unveiled a proposal that includes a 20p return value for drinks containers – with all retailers in the country required to comply and accept returns. Environmentalists hailed it as a blueprint and urged ministers at Westminster to adopt similar measures south of the border to help tackle plastic waste and other forms of packaging pollution. Samantha Harding, of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), said: “We wholeheartedly congratulate the Scottish Government … we will be urging environment secretary Michael Gove to build on Scotland’s ambition and go one better, by making sure every drinks carton is also included within England’s deposit system.”
Scotland’s decision to bring in a deposit on drinks bottles and cans is a game-changer for recycling. The environment secretary Roseanna Cunningham announced in Holyrood that cans, plastic bottles and glass will be included in a deposit return scheme which could be up and running in Scotland by 2021. It’s just 20p – small change – and consumers will get it back when they return the empty. But other countries that have introduced bottle deposit schemes (DRS) have seen recycling rates double to 90% or more. Sky Ocean Rescue started campaigning for a DRS in January 2017 because the evidence is so overwhelming.
A second House of Commons is to be built a stone’s throw from Parliament so MPs can evacuate the dilapidated Victorian building ahead of a £6 billion restoration programme. A more modern version of the Commons chamber, complete with its familiar green benches, will be constructed on the site of the former Department of Health building on Whitehall. The Commons authorities have released the first architect’s images of what the new chamber and its environs might look like when it opens in the middle of the next decade. Peers are expected to have their own temporary House of Lords set up in the Queen Elizabeth II conference centre across Parliament Square from the Palace of Westminster.
A multi-billion pound renovation of Parliament has moved a step closer after legislation was tabled by the government. Efforts to safeguard the historic Palace of Westminster have been given fresh impetus by the devastating blaze at the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris last month. MPs from all parties have voiced fears of a similar tragedy unfolding at Westminster because of the state of the 19th century building and the high risk of fire.
Ministers are pressing ahead with the multi-billion pound restoration of parliament after warning the Notre Dame cathedral fire “brings home sharply” fears of a similar tragedy. Andrea Leadsom will introduce a Commons bill on Wednesday to create an Olympics-style independent body to oversee the refurbishment, which could see MPs and peers decamp from the Palace of Westminster for several years. MPs voted in favour of a “full decant” last year, following warnings the iconic structure is at serious risk from flood or fire due to plumbing and cabling going back to the 19th Century.
Images of a temporary House of Commons chamber which will house MPs during a £1.5 billion restoration of the Palace of Westminster restoration have been revealed. Parliamentary authorities plan to shift the House of Commons debating chamber and MPs’ offices into existing buildings on the northern part of the estate in Whitehall. This would allow the multibillion-pound renovation of the historic Palace of Westminster in the south, backed by new legislation being introduced on Wednesday.
Britain’s chief Brexit negotiator told his counterparts in Brussels that he wanted to become an EU citizen after Brexit, behind-the-scenes footage for a BBC documentary reveals. Olly Robbins, Theresa May’s chief EU advisor, said that he would like to take EU citizenship after Brexit, Guy Verhofstadt, Brexit co-ordinator of the European parliament, told the BBC documentary Brexit: Behind Closed Doors, which continues tonight. “Olly Robbins came to me and said ‘Guy, can I become a Belgium citizen after this whole thing because I don’t think I will return,” Mr Verhofstadt is recorded telling the programme.
Documentary maker Lode Desmet’s two-part film Brexit: Behind Closed Doors(BBC Four) offered a rare, if excruciating, opportunity to observe the course of the Brexit negotiations from Europe’s point of view. It allowed the viewer to walk a mile in the EU’s shoes or, at any rate, those of Guy Verhofstadt, the former Belgian prime minister appointed chief Brexit coordinator on behalf of the European Parliament. Desmet trailed around after Verhofstadt for two years, filming meetings of the Brexit steering group he chaired (not to be confused with those run by the European Council and the European Commission or the actual EU negotiating team led by Michel Barnier) as they experienced, at second hand, the ups and – mostly – downs of David Davis and Theresa May’s efforts to extricate the UK from the EU.
EU officials involved with Brexit negotiations privately considered aspects of Theresa May’s approach “insane” and “pathetic”, a new behind-the-scenes documentary shows. BBC camera crews were given access to Brexit officials in the European parliament to make Brexit: Behind Closed Doors, a two-part series focusing on the team around Guy Verhofstadt, the European parliament’s Brexit coordinator. It shows officials having completely lost confidence in the UK’s ability to negotiate, with frustration regularly boiling over at behaviour emanating from the government in London. In one telling scene, chief EU negotiator Michel Barnier, says his team needs someone “stable, available and reliable” on the British side to hold discussions with.
The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator is no longer negotiating anything — and yet Michel Barnier is still flying around Europe, giving speeches on the bloc’s future and meeting national leaders who will soon be nominating the next European Commission president. Under the guise of maintaining EU27 unity and continuing his consultations, Barnier, a veteran French statesman and two-time European commissioner, is conducting a not-so-subtle shadow campaign for the EU’s top job — a post he has long coveted and which may soon be within his grasp. On Tuesday, Barnier was on his way to Croatia, for a meeting with Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovi and other national officials.
Germany faces a budget shortfall of €100bn (£86bn) over the next four years as its economy slows, according to leaked government figures. Economic growth has been much slower than forecast in recent months and tax revenues are expected to fall well short of projections. That will leave Angela Merkel’s government with a gap of €11.1bn (£9.5bn) to fill in its budget for this year alone, according to leaked figures published by Bild newspaper. The European Commission cut its growth forecast for the German economy to just 0.5pc on Tuesday, compared to earlier projections of 1.1pc.
Millions of children attend schools in Britain with dangerous levels of air pollution, an investigation by The Times has found. Days after the High Court ordered a new inquest into the death of a London girl whose mother claims she was killed by exhaust fumes from clogged roads, it can be revealed that about 6,500 schools educating 2.6 million children are in areas where fine particles in the air exceed the World Health Organisation recommended limit of 10mcg per cubic metre. Fine particles, known as PM2.5, are the most dangerous form of air pollution because their microscopic size allows them to penetrate deep into the lungs and enter the bloodstream.
Child sexual abuse
Police have arrested 40 suspects over the last two months in relation to a probe into allegations of serious child sex abuse in Rotherham, detectives have said. The National Crime Agency (NCA) revealed the two women and 38 men from Sheffield, Rotherham, Leeds, Dewsbury and Maidstone were questioned over historic sexual abuse and exploitation of victims as young as 11, alleged to have taken place between 1997 and 2015. All suspects arrested or interviewed since March in relation to the NCA probe have been released or bailed pending further enquiries, detectives said in a press release.
The new web watchdog should not crack down on the Press, the Culture Secretary said yesterday. Jeremy Wright said the body must not duplicate effort by ‘trespassing’ on areas that are already well regulated. He made his intervention amid mounting fears that draconian laws designed to tame web giants will end up trampling on Press freedoms. Speaking to the Commons digital, culture, media and sport committee, he said: ‘I want to make sure we are not duplicating effort, so where there is already a regulatory structure in existence, I don’t wish to trespass upon it.
Dozens of children and teenagers needed weight-loss surgery last year as hospital admissions related to obesity increased. NHS figures show a rise of 15 per cent to 711,000 in 2017-18, with most of the patients being women. Doctors are thought to be reacting to how obesity contributes to conditions ranging from knee problems and maternity complications to heart failure and breathing difficulties. There were 10,660 admissions where obesity was judged the main cause, compared with 10,705 the year before, but twice the number a decade ago. Three quarters of these patients were women and the peak age group of admissions for obesity was 45-54.