Brexit

Express
THERESA May yesterday claimed to have secured a ‘legally-binding’ breakthrough deal over the controversial Northern Ireland backstop. But ahead of the crunch Commons vote later today, MPs have hit back indicating they would not back her plan. Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn urged Parliament to vote down Mrs May’s new deal. The DUP and People’s Vote have also voice their concerns over the supposed breakthrough with Mrs May’s Northern Irish allies suggesting heavy scrutiny was still needed.

Mail
Theresa May and Jean-Claude Juncker unveiled a package of three new documents in Strasbourg last night. The breakthrough came after the Prime Minister made a dramatic dash to France for last minute talks on changing the Irish border backstop. A deal had to be done last night for MPs to vote on new documents today at the second meaningful vote to approve or reject the deal. The vote will be held at 7pm.  What are the changes to the deal?   There are three new documents that are now part of the divorce package – on top of the Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration on the Future Relationship.  None of the new documents change either of the two main ones agreed in November and which were defeated by 230 votes on January 15.

Independent
Theresa May claims to have secured significant changes to her Brexit deal in a last-minute dash to Europe just hours before she must put her plan to a critical vote in parliament. In a late night statement on Monday in Strasbourg she argued the new-look deal meant Britain could not be trapped in the “Irish backstop” so hated by Eurosceptic Tories and her DUP allies, but major doubts remain over whether it is enough to win their backing on Tuesday.

Sun
THERESA May has tonight WON legally binding changes to her Brexit deal in a bid to avoid another crushing Commons defeat. Talks went on deep into the night last night as Brexiteers considered whether it will be enough to ease their fears that the hated Northern Irish backstop would turn us into an EU colony forever.  As today’s Brexit vote remained on a knife edge, Mrs May told reporters her deal had secured the changes it needed for MPs to back her in the Commons.

Order-Order
Theresa May went to Strasbourg and pulled a unilateral declaration rabbit out of her hat. Stage-managed? Perhaps. At least Juncker was on stage with her and agreed that this was the last double act in which he would be appearing with her. You got the sense that this really is finally the end of the show. If it doesn’t work the curtain will come up on either a Second Referendum farce, Article Extension pantomime or General Election tragi-comedy… May’s statement is here, the EU’s here – review them yourself.

Sky News
Theresa May is facing the threat of another humiliating Commons defeat on Brexit despite an 11th-hour dash to Strasbourg in a bid to win an improved deal. After lengthy talks with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, the prime minister claimed she had secured legal changes to the contentious issue of the Irish backstop. Announcing her new deal in Strasbourg, Mrs May said: “MPs were clear that legal changes were needed to the backstop. Today we have secured legal changes.

BBC News
MPs will vote on Theresa May’s Brexit deal later after she secured “legally binding” changes to it following last-minute talks with the EU in Strasbourg. The PM said the changes meant the Irish backstop – the insurance policy designed to avoid a hard border in Ireland – could not “become permanent”. At a press conference with European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker, Mrs May said she had delivered what Parliament asked her to do. But Labour said the talks had failed.

Guardian
Theresa May has called for MPs to “come together” to back her deal after claiming to have secured the legally binding changes parliament wanted to ensure the EU cannot trap the UK in the Irish backstop and a permanent customs union. But within minutes of the start of a late-night joint press conference in Strasbourg, those words rang hollow, as Jean-Claude Juncker, the European commission president, conceded the EU had not agreed to the prime minister’s central demand.

Mirror
Labour’s Keir Starmer tonight savaged Theresa May’s Brexit ‘deal’ in a fiery House of Commons statement. The former Director of Public Prosecutions swept into full lawyer mode as he held aloft hundreds of pages of documents in a furious attack. He spoke after Theresa May jetted to Strasbourg for a last-ditch deal with the EU to persuade MPs to vote for her Brexit deal tomorrow night. Her deputy, David Lidington, told MPs the government had secured “legally-binding changes” that “strengthen and improve” the 585-page Brexit deal.

Times
Theresa May urged MPs last night to unite and back an “improved Brexit deal” after securing changes that she said ensured Britain could not be trapped in the Irish backstop. The prime minister and Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission, unveiled a three-part package after last-minute talks in Strasbourg before the crucial Commons vote today. Mrs May needs significant changes to the guarantees to avoid a hard border in Ireland after Brexit if she is to have any chance of winning round Tory Brexiteers and the party’s DUP allies in her second attempt to pass the divorce deal.

Star
CRUCIAL Brexit talks between the UK and EU came down to the wire, with Prime Minister Theresa May securing “legally binding” changes to her deal before today’s vote. Mrs May raced to Strasbourg, France, before MPs vote on her Brexit deal in Parliament.  The changes relate to the so-called Irish backstop, which Brexiteer MPs had argued could indefinitely lock the UK into having an open border with Ireland – an EU member state.  While the Government has said it does not want a return to a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic, it is concerned that key goals of leaving the single market and customs union would be made difficult by the arrangement.

Mail
Theresa May is back in London after claiming victory and securing ‘legally binding changes’ to the Irish border backstop after a dramatic last-minute dash to Strasbourg. The Prime Minister was seen smiling as she was swept into Downing Street in the early hours of this morning – but whether her breakthrough will convince Brexiteers and the DUP to vote through her deal is still uncertain.  Last night, at a joint press conference with Jean-Claude Juncker, Mrs May said her deal ‘delivers on the decision of the British people to leave the European Union’ and appealed for MPs to back it at 7pm tonight.

Times
MPs stopped short of calling Theresa May’s Brexit deal a major breakthrough last night, with key factions saying they would study it in detail today before deciding whether to back it. Some, including Sir Mike Penning, a former Home Office minister and Brexiteer, said that the package was enough for them to abandon their opposition and vote for her deal minutes after details first emerged. However, key voting blocs in the Commons withheld a firm judgment.

Order-Order
With speculation of a Brexit extension growing by the day, there are increasing suspicions that the UK and EU will stitch something up to avoid the hugely embarrassing spectacle of the UK taking part in the next European Parliament Elections, even if Article 50 has been extended past when the elections are due to take place in May. Farage will be the big winner – the Tories will be routed… Leave Means Leave have now served legal notice on the Government to notify them that they will be taking legal action to ensure that voters can still take part in the European elections if the UK has failed to leave by that time.

Ireland

Express
LEO VARADKAR has held an emergency meeting with Irish government officials following an 11th hour breakthrough in Brexit talks between the UK and the European Union. The Taoiseach cut short his planned trip to the US to hold bilateral talks with the EU Commission president Jean Claude Juncker. Prime Minister Theresa May flew to Strasbourg on Monday evening for crunch talks with the EU and has managed to secure “legally-binding” changes to her Brexit deal.

EU

Breitbart
European Parliament president Antonio Tajani has said that the experiences of Britain attempting to leave the EU will serve as a “deterrent” to other nations considering leaving the bloc.  Speaking to Germany’s Morgenpost, the Italian politician was asked  whether, after nearly three years since the referendum and months of negotiation with obstructive Eurocrats in Brussels, he believed other Eurosceptic member states would be inspired by the UK to leave the bloc.

Times
The EU is preparing for a delay to Brexit of at least a year, senior officials and diplomats have said. Martin Selmayr, the EU’s top civil servant and one of the key figures in recent Brexit talks, backs a delay until March next year or even longer, according to sources. During a briefing to European ambassadors yesterday he said that an extension would have to be a “one-off” and could be short if Theresa May gets the withdrawal agreement through the Commons, or long enough for “UK elections and a new government” if she fails.

Breitbart
Britain’s Parliament will almost certainly vote to delay Brexit this week, but the European Union — which must give their assent to this course of action — is expected to extract a heavy price in return, potentially £1 billion a month. The EU has long demanded a significant amount of British taxpayers’ money in return for the UK to leave the bloc essentially in name only, while still remaining inside its structures — a compromise the government hopes would satisfy both anti-Brexit politicians and the pro-Brexit public.

Westmonster
The President of the European Parliament, Antonio Tajani, has outrageously claimed that the “majority” of Brits want to remain in the European Union – and that Brexit should serve as a “deterrent” to other countries considering an EU exit. In a borderline delusional interview with Germany’s Berliner Morgenpost, Tajani says of Brexit: “The British government says: Let’s go. But the majority of the population says: We want to stay. This is shown by all surveys. I would be very happy if the British stayed in the EU.”

Express
FORMER French Environment Minister Ségolène Royale said on Sunday that “any” solution to stop Brexit would be good, as he admitted his support for the UK remaining in the EU. Ms Royale stressed voters had not been warned about the consequences of the divorce during the 2016 referendum campaign. Asked by BFM television whether a second people’s vote would be “democratic,” Mrs Royale said: “Any solution that would allow us to keep the British with us would be good.”

Trade

Guardian
The claims that British trade with the Commonwealth can make up for leaving the EU is “the nuttiest of the many nutty arguments” advanced by Brexit supporters and “utter bollocks”, the former Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd has said. In a lacerating piece for the Guardian, Rudd dismissed the claims by some Brexit supporters that the UK could strike deals with his country, New Zealand, Canada and India to soften the blow and said the UK risked undermining western values by leaving the EU in a weaker position when it left.

Labour Party

Telegraph
The scale of Labour’s deepening split has been laid bare after 160 MPs and peers including grandees and shadow ministers attended the launch of a new moderate “party within a party” led by Tom Watson. Grandees who supported Tony Blair and Gordon Brown and waged war during the New Labour years set aside their differences as they attended the meeting organised by Mr Watson, the party’s deputy leader. Leading Blairites including Lord Mandelson, Lord Blunkett and Pat McFadden attended alongside Brownites such as Mr Watson, Yvette Cooper and Lord Wood.

Independent
More than 150 Labour MPs and Lords have attended a meeting of a new group, in a bid to offset the influence of the party’s dominant left wing. The event organised by deputy leader Tom Watson was attended by 14 members of Jeremy Corbyn’s shadow ministerial team. Addressing the new social democratic Future Britain group, Mr Watson argued that the party faces its biggest ever schism unless it “restores pluralism and tolerance”.  The gathering saw followers of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown mix, having once engaged in bitter infighting, with Peter Mandelson telling the group they must “work together to save the party”.

BBC News
Around 130 Labour politicians, including around a dozen former cabinet ministers, crammed into a committee room in Parliament tonight to discuss their alternative vision for the party. The Future Britain Group – set up by Labour’s deputy leader Tom Watson – heard from former leader Lord Kinnock and former cabinet minister Lord Mandelson, among others.

Sun
LABOUR big beasts Neil Kinnock and Peter Mandelson gave a massive show of support for Tom Watson’s breakaway group last night. They urged Labour moderates to unite to defend the party’s democratic values – as 150 Labour MPs and peers met at the first meeting of the deputy leader’s new ‘Future Britain’ grouping. Other Labour MPs pleaded with Mr Watson to “save” Labour from the clutches of Jeremy Corbyn’s hard left supporters.

Workers’ rights

Independent
Labour MPs have been urged to disregard Theresa May‘s “heart-hearted” offer on workers’ rights after a new legal opinion poured cold water over her plans. Ahead of a Commons showdown on Ms May’s Brexit deal, top QC Aidan O’Neill has drafted a damning assessment of the prime minister’s proposals to protect workers’ rights, which were unveiled last week in an attempt to win over Labour MPs. The EU law expert, who was commissioned by the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB) and the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association (TSSA), argued that Ms May’s offer provides no guarantee that future EU standards will be matched when the UK leaves the bloc.

The Brexit Party

Order-Order
A taste of things to come for MPs if they vote to extend Brexit – Nigel Farage’s new Brexit Party now officially has more MEPs than UKIP. Eight UK MEPs now sit in Farage’s Brexit Party – Tim Aker, Jonathan Bullock, David Coburn, Bill Etheridge, Nathan Gill, Paul Nuttall, Julia Reid and Farage himself, ahead of Gerard Batten’s fringe UKIP rump of seven. Bullock says the Brexit Party will “fully mobilise” to take on the Tories at any subsequent European or General election if the Tories “rat” on their manifesto commitment to leave by 29 March.

Universal credit

Mirror
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) must pay out compensation to families who receive their Universal Credit late, a report declares today. The major policy shift could have helped hundreds of thousands of people who have not received their first payment on time. As of February 2018, a shocking 83% of Universal Credit claimants did not receive their first payment on time and in full. The standard waiting time for the benefit, paid to 1.6million claimants and counting, is five weeks

Channel border

Order-Order
As any self-respecting Brexit pundit will be more than happy to remind us, smart borders featuring mythological things like remote customs declarations and automated number plate checking are simply “unicorns” which aren’t likely to be possible for hundreds, if not thousands of years. They certainly won’t be suitable for any post-Brexit border crossings… Which is why French Customs have just unveiled a “smart border” – an “innovative technological solution” which will be implemented on 29 March 2019 “at all points of entry/exit to/from the Calais region and at border points from Channel-North Sea to maintain smooth circulation of your goods.”

Education

Times
Oxford University’s philosophy, politics and economics degree has helped to propel political leaders from Harold Wilson to David Cameron to power, and launched the careers of numerous journalists and commentators. Now an independent girls’ school in London has decided to cut the number of GCSEs its pupils study to nine to make room for a course in PPE. Wimbledon High School said the decision was driven in part by frustration at the limitations of the exams, which are a mammoth test of memory, but also by the desire among its pupils to learn more about the world.

NHS

BBC News
The four-hour A&E target may be dropped under plans announced by NHS England. NHS bosses have unveiled plans for an overhaul of the A&E target alongside changes to waiting times for cancer, mental health and planned operations. It said the targets were becoming outdated. But it comes after many of them have been missed for years. Instead of aiming to see and treat virtually all A&E patients in four hours, the sickest patients will be prioritised for quick treatment.

Westmonster
The NHS is to scrap the four-hour target to see patients in Accident and Emergency after the worst performance since the target was introduced back in 2004. What a remarkable coincidence. With a ridiculous population surge fuelled by mass migration that recently saw the largest annual population growth for 70 years (538,000), the health service is clearly struggling to cope. And the four-hour target is now set to be scrapped. In February, A&E performance was recorded at the worst level since records began in 2004. That terrible performance means that 330,000 patients were left waiting longer than they should have been. Solution? Just scrap the target! Absurd.

Plane crash

Times
A British environmentalist killed in the Ethiopian Airlines plane crash had just secured an international agreement to protect marine wildlife, which will now be dedicated in her honour. Joanna Toole, 36, was leading a global campaign to introduce ownership markings on fishing nets and cages to prevent them from being dumped overboard, entangling and killing animals including whales, seals and turtles.

Mail
The doomed Ethiopian Airlines jet ‘had smoke pouring from the rear’ before coming down ‘with a loud boom’ in a crash which killed 157 people, a witness has said. Gebeyehu Fikadu said he saw flight ET302 ‘swerving and dipping’ while ‘luggage and clothes came burning down’ when it crashed within minutes of take-off from Addis Ababa on Sunday morning. All 149 passengers and eight crew members on board the Nairobi-bound plane died in the disaster – the second involving a 737 MAX 8 in just five months.

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