THE Government has frozen nearly £1billion of foreign aid in a bid to stop taxpayers’ money being wasted. Mark Sedwill, Theresa May‘s new National Security Adviser, has halted spending from the “pro-democracy” Empowerment Fund set up by Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson in February. Mr Johnson had earmarked £700million of the £13.3billion aid budget to create the fund to be used as a “soft” weapon against Vladimir Putin. He wanted to use the cash to boost British interests abroad by helping allies such as the Baltic states counter the effects of Russian and Islamic State (ISIS) power, without weapons.
FOOD essentials such as bread, milk and meat will be almost 20 per cent cheaper after Brexit, a major study suggests. A new British Agriculture Policy to replace mountains of EU red tape could see the UK “unilaterally” slash import tariffs that increase consumer prices according to the Policy Exchange think tank. And they recommend giving sweeping new powers to the Food Standards Agency to review scientific evidence on sensitive issues like washing chicken in chlorine. If the FSA approves them, Policy Exchange’s report suggests British farmers could choose whether to meet EU standards after Brexit if they wish to keep selling products into the bloc, or instead match British standards and those in international markets outside the EU.
BRITAIN has a “once in a generation opportunity” to slash the cost of food and improve the countryside when it frees itself of the EU’s hated Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), a major new report has revealed. The study by the thinktank Policy Exchange has given a damning assessment of the EU’s infamous farming subsidy system which it says have raised prices in the shops, supported inefficient farmers on the continent, lessened competition and “at great expense” reduced agricultural productivity. The Farming Tomorrow report concludes that free of Brussels rule Britain can end a protectionist system which puts money into the pockets of wealthy landowners and allow for free trade deals with the rest of the world.
Theresa May has been warned that cabinet decision-making over Brexit is too slow after No 10 said that no agreement had been struck on limiting migration in future. Downing Street tried to pacify warring cabinet ministers yesterday with a fudge in which it insisted that the principle of EU free movement would end after Brexit but refused to commit itself to a specific replacement. The peace move followed days of conflicting statements. On Friday Philip Hammond, the chancellor, said that EU citizens could still come to Britain after Brexit while on Sunday Liam Fox, the international trade secretary, suggested that no decisions had been made. Boris Johnson, the foreign secretary, was also unhappy about Mr Hammond’s intervention.
Officially, at least, nothing has changed, to borrow a phrase from the Prime Minister. According to Downing Street, Monday’s briefing to journalists about Theresa May’s views on free movement and the Brexit transition period was simply re-stating the objectives she set out in her much-referenced speech at Lancaster House in January. That may be enough to convince Philip Hammond that he has not fallen out with his next-door neighbour, but to anyone else this was a subtle and precise skewering of his more extreme pronouncements on Britain’s direction of travel over Brexit. Number 10 was forced to act after Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, and Liam Fox, the International Trade Secretary, made it clear Mr Hammond had gone too far with a series of interviews last week.
Theresa May yesterday insisted the free movement of people from Europe will end on the day Britain leaves the EU in March 2019. The PM tried to quell a bitter war within her Cabinet over whether free movement could continue for several years after Brexit. It follows a warning from Chancellor Philip Hammond that a Brexit ‘transition period’ could see free movement effectively continue for up to three further years after 2019. But the PM’s spokesman said today: “Free movement will end in March 2019. “It would be wrong… to suggest that free movement will continue as it is now.” The comments appeared to be a slapdown to Mr Hammond’s announcement on Friday of a three-year transition deal after Brexit.
Free movement of EU citizens to Britain will end when the country leaves the EU in March 2019, Downing Street has said, moving to contain a Cabinet row over immigration after Brexit. As senior ministers appeared to contradict each other for days over the issue, Theresa May’s spokesman insisted there is “broad agreement” in the Government to make Brexit as smooth as possible. The spokesman said proposals for a new immigration system after Brexit will be brought forward “in due course” and added: “It would be wrong to speculate on what these might look like or to suggest that free movement will continue as it is now.”
Downing Street has sought to rein in Chancellor Philip Hammond in an apparent attempt to prevent Brexit divisions descending into a cabinet civil war. Theresa May‘s official spokesman made clear that freedom of movement will end in March 2019, despite previous indications from Mr Hammond that a similar system could continue after Brexit. The No 10 spokesman said further details of exactly how the UK will manage immigration would be published in due course, but said it would be “wrong to suggest” freedom of movement would continue unchanged. It comes amid reports of deepening cabinet splits over post-Brexit immigration, with one group of ministers led by Mr Hammond arguing for a system close to the current one and another wanting tougher controls.
The anti-Brexit faction in the government, led by reprieved Chancellor Philip Hammond, are now actively promoting confusion and uncertainty, as part of their strategy to undermine Brexit negotiations and reverse the process, says UKIP. Following the Chancellor’s statement in French newspaper Le Monde that the UK would not create a more favourable corporate tax regime following Brexit, UKIP interim leader Steve Crowther said:“Last year Philip Hammond suggested that if the UK were not well treated in the negotiations, he would adjust the UK’s tax regime to make it more competitive for attracting inward investment – leading to outrage in the EU hierarchy and Labour’s charge of turning Britain into a ‘tax haven’.
Downing Street has said that the UK will not seek an “off-the-shelf” model for a post-Brexit transitional period, contradicting the position Philip Hammond is believed to have expressed to business leaders. The chancellor has been pressing for a simple transition arrangement to maintain trading conditions with Europe for at least two years after Brexit, mirroring arrangements the EU has with countries such as Norway and Switzerland that give them access to the single market. However, on Monday a No 10 spokesman said: “There were reports last week that we were looking for an off-the-shelf model. We are not looking for an off-the-shelf model. Precisely what the implementation model will look like is up for negotiation.” It is understood that Hammond believes the UK cannot negotiate a bespoke transitional deal in the time available – nor would it make sense to enter into prolonged negotiations about a temporary arrangement.
Two-thirds of universities have admitted the Brexit vote has had no impact on their ability to recruit staff from the European Union. The finding, in a survey by the Universities and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA), comes after vice-chancellors campaigned to remain in the EU. They had claimed a Leave vote would hamper hiring of staff from the continent – currently 17 per cent of the workforce. But yesterday Universities UK, which represents vice-chancellors, said the vote’s impact on recruitment had been ‘limited’ – though they claimed it had caused anxiety.
Business leaders and politicians asked former Foreign Secretary William Hague how the UK would “get round” the EU referendum result, he has revealed. In the Daily Telegraph, Lord Hague said he was asked the question “for months… everywhere I went abroad” if “we would lose heart” about leaving. He said he explained to them that “this really is a democracy”. Lord Hague also backed a “transitional” withdrawal from the EU saying it had “immense” attractions. Lord Hague – who campaigned to remain in the EU – stood down as foreign secretary in 2014, and left the House of Commons in 2015. He wrote in Tuesday’s Telegraph: “The electorate voted to leave the EU, and therefore we leave. “What is more, the number of people who voted to do so was higher than the number of votes cast for any government in our history.
The Irish Prime Minister says he is working to “keep the door open” for Britain to halt Brexit, amid growing rows over the future border with the North. Asked if he thought there was any possibility of Britain changing its mind about EU withdrawal, Leo Varadkar said: “Well, I still hope that it won’t happen.” He added: “When it comes to my work in Brussels, working with other European prime ministers and presidents, it’s part of my remit to keep the door open, not just to the European Union, but also to the single market and also to the customs union, should they decide to go down that route. “That, I think, would be the best outcome for Ireland and Northern Ireland and Britain,” Mr Varadkar told The Irish Times.
The chance of Brexit taking place by March 2019 is “infinitesimally small”, the Archbishop of Canterbury has said. Justin Welby said domestic political wrangling will prevent the detailed work that is needed for Britain’s exit from the European Union in time for the deadline. He has called for a cross-party commission on Brexit, warning that since Prime Minister Theresa May lost her parliamentary majority in last month’s General Election there was a temptation for every disagreement to become a vote of confidence. “There are literally thousands of separate agreements to come to,” he told BBC radio.
BRITAIN must “resist the folly” of being sucked into a single European defence force, a former senior MoD minister has warned. The comments by Sir Gerald Howarth come amid concerns raised by a Brexit campaign group over the way the UK has signed up to five EU defence integration agreements over the last year. Veterans for Britain, which has many senior retired generals and admirals on its board, has raised fears that the agreements which include creating a single EU military force and cooperating on procurement could outlast Brexit. In particular the UK agreed to the Preparatory Action on Defence Research (PADR) which deals with EU directives, regulations and standards, Common Defence Policy and the current and forming legislative programme around “EU Defence Union”.
Passengers are enduring waits of up to four hours on arrival at European airports after border controls were toughened. Airports popular with British tourists are being hit by lengthy delays — some longer than the flights — because of time-consuming immigration checks on travellers combined with a shortage of border officials, it is claimed. People have been told to expect queues stretching “hundreds of metres” at airports such as Madrid, Palma, Lisbon, Lyons, Paris Orly, Milan and Brussels. The checks are imposed on entry and exit, meaning the delays affect Britons landing in Europe and also those waiting to board flights back to the UK. Some passengers have missed their flights as a result, airlines said.
New EU border checks insisted on by Brussels have left British holidaymakers queuing for up to four hours at Europe’s main airports. Airports popular with British tourists, including Paris, Madrid and Lisbon, are expected to see queues stretching hundreds of metres as the lengthy checks are imposed on entry and exit. The process is believed to have caused some travellers to miss their flights, with more chaos predicted as millions of Brits fly out for their summer holidays. The issues follow the EU’s introduction of a clamp-down on movement within the Schengen zone, reports the Times. Brussels now require passport control to carry out exit and entry checks on tourists from non-Schengen countries, including Britain.
Emmanuel Macron was told before his election that maintaining defence ties with Britain was crucial and “more important” than flawed plans for EU military integration, according to leaked emails from the French president’s campaign team. A trove of tens of thousands of emails released by Wikileaks on Monday showed senior Macron advisers arguing for continued British involvement in European defence projects while highlighting the bitter divisions between Paris and Berlin on EU defence co-operation. The behind-the-scenes advice, which dates from before Mr Macron’s presidential win in May, paints a stark contrast with the European Union’s recent claims that Brexit could open the door to a new golden age of EU defence co-operation.
Leaked emails from French President Emmanuel Macron reveal a belief that Britain is ‘too important’ to sideline to after Brexit because of its strong military. More than 20,000 messages dating back to before Mr Macron became President were released by WikiLeaks on Monday. Among them were a series of alerts from his advisers urging him to try to keep the UK involved with European defence, and it has also exposed rifts between France and Germany over a proposed European army. A key email was sent by one of Mr Macron’s ministers containing a report from a security expert on where France will stand after Brexit. It warned that France is likely to be ‘caught between the temptation to seize Brexit to advance the CSDP [the EU’s common defence plans] and the desire to maintain a critical mass of exchanges with the British, who … remain the most important and the most active country in the field of defence.’
France’s interior minister says that two centers will be set up to handle hundreds of migrants returning to the northern port city of Calais since a vast makeshift camp was shut down last fall. Gerard Collomb also said on Monday that he ordered a report looking into claims of police mistreatment of migrants after Human Rights Watch alleged police regularly use pepper spray on refugees. Earlier Monday, the Council of State, France’s highest administrative body, rejected appeals by Calais authorities against a court ruling that ordered the provision of basic facilities for migrants, like access to water and toilets. The Council upheld an order for authorities to help migrants who wish to move to shelters. Colomb said there were 350 to 400 migrants in the area. Calais wants them out.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has defended the need for immigration from the EU after Brexit, amid rising cabinet tensions over freedom of movement. Mr Hunt said any post-Brexit deal must serve the need for the NHS to recruit staff from all over the continent, adding “that is going to continue after we leave the European Union”. He backed comments made by Philip Hammond and Amber Rudd who highlighted the need to avoid an immigration “cliff edge” that could starve both the public and private sector of skills. The Chancellor and Home Secretary’s comments had sparked a round of infighting and accusations from senior Tories wanting the Government to stick to a tougher line on immigration.
Tony Blair should not face prosecution for his role in the 2003 Iraq war, the high court has ruled. The lord chief justice, Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd, and another senior judge, Mr Justice Ouseley, said on Monday that there was no crime of aggression in English law under which the former prime minister could be charged. The decision blocks an attempt by a former Iraqi general, Abdulwaheed al-Rabbat, to bring a private war crimes prosecution against the former Labour leader. The two judges recognised that a crime of aggression had recently been incorporated into international law, but said it did not apply retroactively. The offence is not on UK statute books and it was for parliament to decide whether or not to do so, their judgement noted.
A bid to prosecute Tony Blair for war crimes has been blocked by the High Court. The case was brought by a former chief of staff to the Iraqi army. General Abdul Wahed Shannan Al Rabbat has accused Mr Blair, while UK prime minister, of committing a “crime of aggression” by invading Iraq in 2003 to overthrow President Saddam Hussein. The general wanted to prosecute Mr Blair and two other key ministers at the time – foreign secretary Jack Straw and attorney general Lord Goldsmith. His lawyers asked London’s High Court for permission to seek judicial review in an attempt to get the Supreme Court, now the highest court in the land, to overturn a ruling by the House of Lords in 2006 that there is no such crime as the crime of aggression under the law of England and Wales.
TONY Blair cannot be put on trial for the Iraq War after the High Court blocked a bid by a former Iraqi army chief to bring a private prosecution against him. General Abdul Wahed Shannan Al Rabbat had accused the former Prime Minister of committing a “crime of aggression” by ordering the 2003 invasion to overthrow Saddam Hussein. He has been attempting to bring charges against Mr Blair and two other key ministers at the time – foreign secretary Jack Straw and attorney general Lord Goldsmith. Lawyers acting for him had asked judges for permission to seek a judicial review in an attempt to get the Supreme Court to overturn a previous ruling in 2006 that there is no such crime as aggression under English law. But Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd, the Lord Chief Justice, and Mr Justice Ouseley dismissed the general’s application, saying there was “no prospect” of the case succeeding.
TEFLON Tony Blair escaped justice yet again yesterday after High Court judges blocked a private prosecution against the former PM for war crimes over the invasion of Iraq. Campaigners accused the Establishment of a “concerted and coordinated effort” to exonerate Mr Blair for his role in the Iraq war in which one million people were killed. Stop the War Coalition convener Lindsey German branded Mr Blair “the most protected war criminal in the world.” However, she said: “In the court of public opinion he has long been found guilty.” Iraqi General Abdul Wahed Shannan al-Rabbat had sought a private prosecution against Mr Blair, along with then foreign secretary Jack Straw and attorney general Lord Goldsmith.
An undercover investigation by the Daily Mail today lays bare how car hire firms are heaping extra charges on to holidaymakers’ bookings. Europcar, Goldcar and Firefly, which is owned by Hertz, all added charges to bookings by a reporter in Spain. Budget and Thrifty, which is also owned by Hertz, quoted hugely inflated costs for renting a car in person – while their websites offered very similar vehicles at the same location for less than half the price. The Mail’s findings come after we revealed yesterday how tourists are being billed hundreds of pounds for repairs on hire cars which firms admitted they do not always carry out.
BRITS are being slapped with bills of hundreds of pounds for repairs on hire cars which are never actually carried out. The Daily Mail reports car hire firms Avis Budget, Hertz and Enterprise, which also owns Alamo and National, don’t always fix dents and scratches they charge customers for. They claim they accept a lower price when they sell the car instead. Meanwhile Europcar says it doesn’t always carry out repairs until it is about to get rid of a car. This costs much less as one job can take care of multiple problems for a lower price than individual repairs.