Viv has asked me to tell you there will be no Brexit Betrayal column from her this morning as she is unwell. She hopes to have recovered enough tomorrow to resume her writing.
BORIS JOHNSON must carry out a sweeping overhaul of the Civil Service to stop pro-Brussels mandarins from sabotaging Brexit, senior Tory Liam Fox warns. In a speech to a Westminster think tank, the former Cabinet minister will say many Whitehall chiefs remain determined to keep the UK as closely tied to the EU as possible after the departure from the bloc at the end of the month. He is to urge the Prime Minister to break up key Government departments and introduce a wide-ranging Civil Service Act to shake up the Whitehall management structure.
BREXIT has taken two and a half years, but now the finish line is in sight. But could the anti-government majority in the House of Lords really block Brexit? MPs gave their final backing for Boris Johnson’s Withdrawal Agreement Bill which will see the UK implement the government’s Brexit deal last week. The House of Commons voted in support of the deal 220 to 231. Now the Brexit deal moves to the House of Lords and if peers choose to amend it, the deal will come back before MPs. But is it really possible the House of Lords could block Brexit?
The European Parliament will vote on the withdrawal agreement between the UK and the EU on 29 January at its plenary sitting in Brussels, a parliament spokesperson confirmed. The consent vote will be the last legal hurdle before the agreement comes into effect. MEPs are expected to pass the agreement, and the UK is expected to leave the EU on 31 January.
NIGEL FARAGE has expressed his outrage at the EU demanding Brexit Party MEPs remove Union flags from their desks. The Brexiteer launched a furious tirade on Twitter at the demand that came while at European Parliament in Brussels. He said: “We have just had our Union Jack flags removed from our desks in the European Parliament, by order of the President. “National symbols are now banned. Thank God we are leaving.”
Boris Johnson‘s plan for a weak free trade agreement with the EU will create a “customs border” and end “frictionless trade” with Britain, the EU has said. An internal slide presentation drawn up by the European Commission for member states ahead of the start of talks says market opening will be “limited” under the plan and that new customs checks will be implemented on British goods. The reality is bad news for UK industries like car manufacturers and supermarkets, which rely on moving parts and goods quickly across the channel without bureaucracy and time-consuming checks.
BORIS JOHNSON has been warned the EU can only offer the UK a “limited” trade deal, as Brussels cannot risk favouring Britain over other countries. In just 17 days Britain is set to officially leave the European Union, after Boris Johnson’s Withdrawal Agreement Bill has passed into law. But Brexit will not be done and dusted on February 1, as the Government and Brussels enter into crunch talks to agree a trade deal by December 31 – the end of the transition period.
The EU’s trade commissioner has suggested there could be a last-minute trade-off with Brussels offering the City of London access to European markets in return for European fleets retaining their fishing rights in British waters. The UK’s financial services sector will lose its automatic right to serve Europe-based clients at the end of the transition period and the EU will need to negotiate access to UK waters for its fishing boats.
Britain’s MEPs were called to a meeting at the EU Parliament this evening to discuss the ending of their mandates at the end of the month, how redundancies of both MEPs and staff will work, and how they need to go about shutting down their offices. Things were clearly in high spirits as Guido is informed Lib Dem and Labour MEPs went in determined to secure their pension rights. On the other hand, Farage has promised to not take a penny of his golden goodbye…
ANGELA MERKEL has a difficult year ahead of her, with only half of Germans saying they have confidence in her ability to lead their country in the latest poll. The level of trust voters have placed in the German Chancellor has dropped by five percent since last year, according to a trend barometer from Germany media group RTL-ntv. In the midst of a deepening industrial recession at home, Germans backing of political institutions is falling fast.
Veterans of the Troubles in Northern Ireland have warned Boris Johnson not to betray them after the Government suggested “legacy issues” in the province could be reopened. The Prime Minister promised before the general election to end the “unfair trials” of those who served in Northern Ireland and give them legal protection to prevent them being prosecuted. But that pledge is at odds with an agreement reached to restore power-sharing at Stormont, which could see every death in the Troubles being reviewed.
THE BREXIT countdown is officially on and the UK is on track to leave by the end of the month if the House of Lords passes the deal. But how is the Irish border likely to continue to be a thorny issue for the UK despite the delivery of Brexit? Brexit is currently one of the biggest issues facing the UK. In the December general election many voters cast their ballots based upon each party’s Brexit stance, which is why it was dubbed the Brexit election.
Boris Johnson has been urged to honour his promise to end the “unfair prosecution” of Troubles veterans as fears grow that a revived Northern Ireland assembly could force him to break the election pledge. Senior Conservative MPs raised concerns that a power-sharing deal that has led Stormont to re-open after three years contains an obligation to set up a new historical investigations unit to examine deaths in the Troubles.
The UK government’s financial offer as part of a deal to restore devolution to Northern Ireland “falls way short of what was expected”, Stormont’s finance minister has said. Conor Murphy claimed there was “much more work to be done” on agreeing a financial package to shore up a new power-sharing deal following three years of political deadlock in Northern Ireland. The Sinn Fein politician, who was appointed finance minister as part of the restored Northern Ireland Executive, called on the UK government to “ante up” following a meeting between Northern Ireland parties and UK cabinet minister Julian Smith, the Northern Ireland secretary.
Labour MPs have urged party members to seize on the historic opportunity to elect their first female leader, as the shortlist of candidates was yesterday whittled down to just one man and four women. With Sir Keir Starmer emerging from the first stage of the contest with a commanding lead among MPs, supporters of rival candidates have warned against electing a “male and pale” successor to Jeremy Corbyn.
John Bercow took a £1,000 taxi from Westminster to Nottingham and back during a spending spree in his last few months as Speaker. Mr Bercow made the trip to deliver a speech at Nottingham Trent University about how Parliament should respond to the ‘anti-politics age’. Aides said he was advised to take a taxi due to ‘heightened security concerns’. But critics said Mr Bercow’s costs defied ‘common sense’. Details of the Speaker’s official expenses obtained by MailOnline under FOI rules show that a ‘farewell tour’ of trips by Mr Bercow included a £7,000 visit to the US in May – where he gave a speech insisting MPs could still block No Deal Brexit.
Immigration rules are “overly complex and unworkable” according to the Law Commission, which recommends simplifying them in order to save the government £70m over the next decade. The regulations have quadrupled in length since 2010 and are “comprehensively criticised for being poorly drafted”, says the body, which advises ministers on updating the law. When introduced in 1973, immigration rules ran to 40 pages; they now extend across 1,100.
The world’s first living robots have been built using stem cells from frog embryos, in a strange machine-animal hybrid that scientists say is an ‘entirely new life-form.’ Dubbed ‘xenobots’ because they are constructed of biological material taken from the Xenopus laevis frog, the little bots are the first to be constructed from living cells. Researchers are hopeful they could be programmed to move through arteries scraping away plaque, or swim through oceans removing toxic microplastic.
Scientists have created what they claim are the world’s first “living robots” using cells from African clawed frogs. Researchers took cells from frog embryos and transformed them into a machine that can be programmed to work as instructed. The US-based scientists say it is the first time that humans have effectively created “completely biological machines from the ground up”.
“Biobots”, hybrid cell organisms made from from frogs, could one day be used inside the human body to fight disease and deliver drugs, experts claim. The cells had long ago forgotten they were a frog. Instead, far from a lilypad, they had become something else – not quite alive, not quite dead; not quite an organism, not quite a robot. And, brought together into a beating and unseeing clump of muscle, they did their creators’ bidding.
Big Ben will not bong for Brexit, after projected costs spiralled to half a million pounds. The issue was discussed at a meeting of the House of Commons Commission on Monday morning, but it was dismissed over financial and logistical issues. A letter, signed by 60 MPs, had previously called on the Government to allow the 13-tonne bell to ring symbolically at 11pm on Jan 31 to mark our departure from the EU.
Big Ben will not bong for Brexit because MPs have decided the patriotic chimes were not worth £500,000. The campaign for the bell to ring at 11pm on January 31 – Brexit day – had been spearheaded by Tory MP Mark Francois. But a House of Commons Commission yesterday dismissed the proposal after MPs were informed that costs had soared to half a million from an original estimate of £120,000. This was because the temporary floor which had been put in place to strike the 13-ton bell had already been removed and would need to be re-installed.
A “vaccine” for high cholesterol that would replace daily statins and save 30,000 lives over ten years is scheduled to be available on the NHS next year. The government has announced a deal with the pharmaceutical company Novartis to conduct a large NHS trial of inclisiran, which has been found by earlier studies to reduce so-called bad cholesterol dramatically. Novartis is expected to request approval this year for the drug to be given as an “add-on treatment” to those who already have heart disease and are taking statins without seeing benefits.
HOSPITALS are to trial a life-saving heart treatment said to work better than statins. Ministers revealed that 40,000 Brits will get the twice-a-year jab of Inclisiran, which halves cholesterol in two weeks with no side-effects. Statins cut bad fats by a third — but a fifth of patients complain of muscle pain and ditch them. Inclisiran works by switching off genes in the liver that stop the body breaking down cholesterol.
NHS chiefs are recommending the routine use of implantable monitors that track heart activity in patients who have suffered a stroke. The devices could prevent hundreds of strokes in those who have a high risk of suffering more, according to draft guidance from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. The monitors – which cost £1,800 – can detect atrial fibrillation, a condition which causes an irregular and often abnormally fast heart rate.
Care home residents who pay their own bills are now being charged £250 a week more than those whose fees are funded by the state, a report has found. In 30 areas of England, councils pay care home operators less than £500 a week to house those who need their bills covered because they have few savings or assets of their own. The figure means that those paying their own bills – in many cases homeowners forced to sell their house to do so – are typically paying £125 a week to subsidise those unable to cover their costs.
The United States has presented the British government with fresh intelligence warning about the risk of giving Huawei access to its 5G network in a last-ditch attempt to stop it. The dossier of evidence included allegations Huawei’s employees double up as Chinese intelligence agents. A senior US administration official last night said it would be “nothing less than madness to allow Huawei to get into next generation telecoms networks.”
American officials have warned Britain that it would be “nothing less than madness” to approve Huawei technology in its introduction of 5G across the country as they handed over new intelligence on the alleged risks posed by the Chinese company. A last-ditch attempt to persuade Britain to follow Washington’s lead with an outright ban on Huawei technology in its next-generation mobile network was mounted yesterday.
US security chiefs have handed the UK new intelligence on Huawei in a bid to deter them from the mobile giant. They insist that allowing the Chinese firm near our 5G network is “madness”.It came as Boris Johnson was on the verge of green-lighting parts supplied by Huawei to help build the new mobile phone network. No10’s thinking to allow “non-core” aspects, such as aerials, comes after the PM was warned banning the firm completely will delay 5G’s roll-out by two years.
America issued an extraordinary warning to Britain over Huawei last night, insisting it would be ‘madness’ to allow the Chinese firm to build the UK’s 5G phone network. Senior US officials handed over a classified dossier of fresh allegations against the telecoms company. It is understood the new information, likely to be technical, provides weight to America’s claim that Britain’s infrastructure could be put at ‘risk’. A decision on 5G is expected later this month during a meeting of the National Security Council.
The world’s oceans reached their highest temperature last year since modern records began more than 60 years ago. The record was broken for the third year running and scientists attributed the warmth to the sea’s absorption of most of the heating caused by human activity. John Abraham, an engineering professor at the University of St Thomas in Minnesota and one of the authors of a study on sea temperatures, said that the heat absorbed by the oceans was equivalent to “five Hiroshima bombs . . . every second, day and night, 365 days a year”.
Ocean temperatures are at their highest level since records began, a study has warned. Last year oceans were 0.075C higher than the average temperature recorded over three decades from 1981 to 2010. It would take the energy of 3.6billion Hiroshima atom bomb explosions to recreate the temperature rise, researchers said. And they found the rate of heating is accelerating – saying the findings are a clear measure of how global warming is speeding up because ‘more than 90 per cent’ of heat ends up in the oceans.
It was the Sandringham summit designed to decide the future role of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex and heal a family rift that has threatened to break apart the House of Windsor. Staff had been told to prepare Long Library, used to house a bowling alley and where, as children, Princes William and Harry would take tea while staying at the Queen’s Norfolk estate. With his father having flown in by helicopter on Sunday night, Harry, 35, was the first of the brothers to arrive, having been lobbying for a meeting before he and Meghan dropped their bombshell last Wednesday evening.
HARRY and Meghan got their way at the Royal Family’s crisis summit yesterday — but the Queen made it plain she is deeply upset they are quitting. After the Sandringham talks, Her Majesty released a statement saying the couple will be allowed to step down from their duties and spend time in Canada. But she said: “Although we would have preferred them to remain full-time working members of the Royal Family, we respect and understand their wish to live a more independent life.”
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are four times more likely to divorce in the next five years than to rejoin the Royal Family full-time as a couple, bookmakers say. It comes after crisis talks were held by the Queen at Sandringham on Monday to discuss the couple’s future after they announced they would step down as senior royals. Bookmakers are giving odds of 3/1 for Harry and Meghan to get divorced by 2025, and only offering an outside chance that the Sussexes will be reigned in and rejoin the family, with prices going long at 14/1.
Prince Harry and his wife Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, are reportedly planning a move to Los Angeles, California – once President Donald Trump is out of the White House. The British royal and the American former actress caused consternation in the United Kingdom by announcing, reportedly without giving the Queen or other senior royals more than a few minutes’ notice, that they will be walking away from many of their public duties in order to make money as something of a celebrity “power couple”.
Iran will respond severely if Britain makes “new mistakes”, the foreign ministry said last night after its ambassador to London was summoned for a dressing-down over the arrest of the UK envoy in Tehran. Hamid Baeidinejad was called to the Foreign Office yesterday over the detention of Rob Macaire, who was held for three hours after attending a vigil for those killed when a passenger jet was shot down on Wednesday by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps.
Some of Iran’s leading actors and musicians have joined sports and television celebrities in angrily denouncing the Tehran regime after its belated admission that it accidentally shot down a civilian airliner. Protests spread to universities and cities across the country for a third day yesterday after the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), faced with mounting evidence from western intelligence sources, finally admitted on Saturday that it was responsible for shooting down a Ukraine International Airlines flight last Wednesday.