Customs union

Theresa May has admitted to Conservative MPs that Brexit negotiations are at an impasse because neither of her current options for a customs deal with the EU will work.
The Prime Minister invited all 214 of her backbenchers to Downing Street to explain why she has had to go back to the drawing board in an attempt to find a replacement for the customs union. But her attempt at getting her critics on board appeared to backfire as the “technical briefings” increased fears among Eurosceptics that further delays will mean an extension of the 21-month transition period.

Theresa May confronted Jacob Rees-Mogg at a meeting with Tory MPs designed to break the deadlock over Britain’s future customs arrangements with the EU, The Times has learnt.
The pair clashed yesterday over the impact of rival plans on the Irish border, in what witnesses described as the prime minister “sending a tough signal” to hardline Brexiteers that she was not prepared to jeopardise the Union. It came after Mrs May went over the heads of her squabbling cabinet with a personal appeal to scores of backbench Tory MPs to help to settle Britain’s position.

Theresa May’s efforts to unite her divided cabinet over Brexit at a crunch meeting of top ministers is set end to in “more fudge” and “long grass”.
Ms May will use the Brexit “war cabinet” of senior figures to again try to find a way out of the standoff about what customs relations to adopt after Brexit, but senior sources say no decision will be reached. The EU wants future customs relations agreed at a summit in June, but Downing Street insiders pointed towards the October summit, when the final Brexit deal is expected to be sealed, as the moment when clarity might finally emerge.

Sky News
Boris Johnson has insisted he backs Theresa May’s stance on a customs relationship with the EU after Brexit. The Foreign Secretary spoke out after facing calls to resign for saying 
one of the two options being considered by Downing Street was “crazy”. It comes ahead of the Government’s “war cabinet” meeting on Tuesday to thrash out the proposals. The customs partnership scheme, believed to be favoured by the prime minister, would see the UK collect EU tariffs for goods coming into Britain on behalf of Brussels. But hardline Brexiteers favour a maximum facilitation, or “max fac”, scheme that would use technology and a “trusted trader” plan to reduce customs checks.

Single market

It really is Single Market Groundhog Day today. Guido can’t quite believe we are still having this argument two years on from the referendum, but it falls upon us once again to point out that, during the referendum, Nick Clegg was clear that Brexit meant leaving the single market. As was David Miliband
Their attempt today to pretend they never said this is why people hate politicians.

A leading Tory rebel has backed efforts to effectively keep Britain in the single market, in a sign of growing support for the plan among pro-EU MPs.
Former cabinet minister  Nicky Morgan said pursuing a Norway-style Brexit through membership of the Economic European Area (EEA) was the “sensible way forward” after the Norwegian prime minister indicated the country would be open to the idea of UK membership. Rebel peers in both Labour and Tory ranks defied their leaders to defeat the government on the issue in the Lords last week, meaning MPs will now vote on whether to take the plan forward.

The European Union on Monday warned Britain time was running out to seal a Brexit deal this autumn and ensure London does not crash out of the bloc next March, adding to pressure on Prime Minister Theresa May. May’s spokesman, however, said the “focus is on getting this right” rather than meeting a deadline. The EU’s Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier told 27 ministers of the bloc meeting in Brussels on Monday that “no significant progress” had been made in negotiations with London since March, the Bulgarian chairwoman of the talks said. Diplomats and officials in Brussels have raised doubts about whether the bloc and London will be able to mark a milestone in the negotiations at the summit of EU leaders on June 28-29.

David Miliband is giving a speech this morning about how we should stay in the single market. On 9 May 2016, at the height of the referendum campaign, the same David Miliband told voters that voting to leave the EU would mean leaving the single market. This is from a Stronger In press release. He could not have been clearer:
“The admission by the Leave campaign that quitting the EU means quitting the single market has let the cat out of the bag: a vote to Leave would be an unprecedented act of economic self-harm.”

Norway’s prime minister has said her country would be open to Britain joining the European Economic Area – potentially giving Britain a readymade technical solution for remaining in the single market after Brexit.
Norway’s government had previously hinted it might block British membership of the EEA because such a change would likely shift the balance of power within the trade association against Norwegian interests. But in an  interview with the Financial Times newspaper Erna Solberg suggested EEA membership was now an option for Brexit Britain.

Jeremy Corbyn has told Labour MPs that a Norway-style option cannot be considered by the party, but faces a party split after rebel Lords passed an amendment to the EU withdrawal bill which would keep membership of the European Economic Area (EEA) as an option. Speaking at a private meeting of MPs in parliament, Corbyn told them there were significant issues with the Norway-option, which could leave Britain as “rule taker” without influence at EU level. He emphasised the need to unite both leave and remain supporters, according to a senior  Labour  source. EEA membership, often described as the Norway option gives countries full access to the EU’s internal market, allowing it to trade goods with EU states without customs fees, except food and drinks which are subsidised by the EU.

On 3 July 2016, Nicky Morgan told Peston that she had 
“listened to party members” and decided that it was “important” that “somebody who wanted to leave the EU” became PM. NiMo said “it’s now up to the political class, the Westminster bubble, to realise just how people feel out in the country” as she endorsed Michael Gove for leader. This was Morgan backing leaving the single market and customs union. Gove as PM could have meant nothing else. Today she is joining Clegg and Miliband’s anti-Brexit alliance. How does that work? NiMo was fine with leaving the single market and customs union so long as she was getting a big Cabinet job.

Sky News
Former foreign secretary David Miliband has urged all parties to come together to prevent a “hard Brexit”.
Saying “Europe is Britain’s anchor”, Mr Miliband made an impassioned speech saying he is “alarmed” at the state of negotiations on Britain’s exit from the EU. Mr Miliband, an ex-Labour cabinet minister, shared a platform with Liberal Democrat former deputy minister Sir Nick Clegg and the Conservative chairwoman of the commons treasury committee, Nicky Morgan. Speaking at a Tilda Rice Mill in Rainham, Essex, the trio repeated their statement from a joint article for the Mail on Sunday that Britain was being “held to ransom” by hardline Brexiteers.

BBC News
MSPs are set to formally refuse to give Holyrood’s consent to the UK’s main piece of Brexit legislation.
The Scottish and UK governments are at odds over the EU Withdrawal Bill and what it could mean for devolved powers. Labour, Green and Lib Dem MSPs are expected to back SNP members in rejecting the Westminster bill, saying it would restrict Holyrood’s powers. The Scottish Conservatives will vote against, and have blamed the SNP for the failure to find an agreement. UK and Scottish ministers have said the door is still open to finding a deal, although both sides have admitted they remain some distance apart. The dispute centres on what will happen to devolved powers which are currently knitted into EU-wide frameworks of rules and regulations after the UK leaves the EU.

Prime Minister Theresa May’s failure to come up with a coherent Brexit stance means the United Kingdom is at greater risk of spiralling towards a “no deal” Brexit with catastrophic consequences, Scotland’s leader said. In a step that will shape the United Kingdom’s prosperity and global influence for generations to come, Britain is due to leave the European Union on March 29 next year, though the terms of the separation are still unclear.
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said she felt there was no majority for a hard Brexit in the country but that the United Kingdom was at a juncture when momentum could swing either towards a softer Brexit or a “no deal” Brexit.


Ministers are putting plans in place to block British companies from work on the EU’s Galileo satellite system, the UK Space Agency said yesterday. Companies working on satellite projects have been told that the government is likely to refuse permission for them to bid for further contracts on the satellite. This is after a hardening of position in the standoff between Brussels and London over the EU’s global positioning satellite system, which rivals the American GPS system.
British officials regard this as a test of whether they can have a security relationship after  Brexit, with the hard line pursued primarily by the European Commission being viewed as a bar to a strong future partnership.


The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, has said Britain is not being pushed out of the Galileo satellite navigation programme, but that only “a little progress” had been made in recent talks on the UK’s EU exit.
Barnier said British participation in the EU satellite programme would have to change as a result of Brexit. “The UK decided unilaterally and autonomously to withdraw from the EU,” he told an audience of foreign policy experts in Brussels. “We need to put the cooperation on Galileo between the EU and the UK on a new basis.” The EU’s rules on Galileo had been in place for a long time and were well known to the UK, he added. Earlier on Monday Barnier updated the EU27’s Europe ministers on the talks.

In news that will send shockwaves through the European Union, it looks like a governing deal between the anti-establishment Five Star Movement and the anti-mass migration Lega is on. Leaders Matteo Salvini from Lega and Luigi Di Maio from Five Star are working on a “Contract for the Government of Change” that includes a flat tax that could be as low as 15%. As Mattia Diletti, a Professor at Sapienza University at Rome, laid out: “The Italian people want this government. “They want to see something new, and I think (Italian President) Sergio Mattarella understands this.” “We are writing history and we need a bit more time,” said Five Star’s Di Maio on Sunday. A few days ago Salvini tweeted a photo of him in the negotiations, saying: “As promised, I work to the last to give a #futuro better to the #Italia.”

No significant progress has been made on any of the main  Brexit issues in negotiations between the EU and UK since March, the European Union has said. 
EU27 ministers met on Monday with the bloc’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier in Brussels to discuss the state of talks so far. “Mr Barnier informed us that since 23 March no significant progress has been made on the three pillars that we work on: withdrawal, future framework, and Ireland,” Ekaterina Zakharieva, the Bulgarian foreign minister chairing the council, told journalists at an official press conference  following the meeting. The renewed deadlock in Brussels comes as Theresa May’s cabinet repeatedly fails to agree with itself on what customs arrangement it wants with the EU after Brexit, despite publishing two options in August of last year.

BBC News
Brexit talks have made “little” progress since March, the EU’s chief negotiator has said.
Michel Barnier said there was a “risk of failure” in two key areas – Northern Ireland, and how the agreement will be governed. He said June’s EU summit was a “key rendezvous” to reach a deal that can be ratified before the UK leaves. And he defended the EU’s stance over the UK’s involvement in the new Galileo sat-nav system. The UK has played a key role in the programme’s development so far, but faces being shut out of key elements of the programme after Brexit. UK ministers are now considering setting up a rival version.


Telegraph (by Jacob Res-Mogg)
In recent weeks like-minded colleagues have suggested that I adopt a more conciliatory position as regards the Government’s Brexit negotiations.  If we were to do so it would completely undermine the heart of why we voted to leave, rendering our almost-reclaimed sovereignty a myth.  If we do not push on with firmness and tenacity the harm being done to our fishermen will continue, our powers to protect our borders will be compromised and our money will be squandered by needlessly paying the EU’s ransom upfront.
With everything in life there needs to be a balance.  Any negotiations need to be two-sided.  So when I ask questions about what the EU has compromised on I am met with silence.

BRITAIN will “choose the Union over the Republic” and leave Dublin with “a high price to pay” if Irish and EU bureaucrats keep trying to bumble Brexit, blasts Jacob Rees-Mogg.
The Brexiteer said the EU is hiding behind “faux concern” for the Irish border and using it to delay the negotiations to terrify other nations into never leaving the bureaucratic block. The Conservative MP for North East Somerset said the UK should stop taking “Brussels too seriously about the Irish Question,” and focus on securing the best Brexit for Britain. He added: “Brexiteers, like me, have done our best to be agreeable. “It is important to be clear about the border, our shared past, and our common future. “We will not impose a border.

Plain speaking DUP MP Sammy Wilson has laid into Ireland’s Foreign Minister Simon Coveney, accusing him of attempting to use the issue of Brexit to “break-up the UK”.
His comments are in response to an interview Coveney gave to the BBC’s Marr Show where he dismissed the idea of using technology as a solution for the Irish border post-Brexit. Wilson has said: “The belligerent, interfering, Brit bashing Foreign Minister of the Irish Republic has once again taken to the airwaves to demand the break-up of the UK using the impact of Brexit on the border between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic as an excuse to break-up the UK.”


The Director General of MI5, Andrew Parker, has revealed that the security services have thwarted 12 Islamist terror plots since the Westminster attack in March 2017. It shows the terrifying scale of jihadi extremism in Britain, with Parker describing speaking of an “unprecedented tempo in attack planning”. He also revealed that since 2013, 25 terror plots had been stopped thanks to the police and security services. He underlined the need for continuing co-operation with other European countries moving forward to combat the terror threat. The numbers that MI5 have revealed underline the huge challenge that security services now face. So why have the British government allowed more than 400 jihadis back from Syria?

Elderly care

The number of care homes in England has fallen by more than 700 over two years, Government figures reveal.
Campaigners described the statistics as ‘extremely worrying’, with potentially ‘disastrous’ implications for the elderly. The figures released by ministers come after a financial analysis showed 148 care home businesses became insolvent in the last financial year – nearly double the number in the previous year. The figures from care minister Caroline Dinenage show the number of residential care homes fell from 12,191 at the beginning of 2016 to 11,615 this year. Of the 576 homes lost, 453 disappeared last year. Among nursing homes, 159 were lost over the two years. In total there were 735 fewer care homes by the start of 2018.

Press freedom

The House of Lords has backed an attempt to set up a new Leveson-style inquiry days after a similar proposal was voted down by MPs.
The motion, an amendment to the government’s Data Protection Bill, won by 39 votes — 252 to 213 — yesterday, less than a week after ministers extolled a “great victory for a free and fair press” in the Commons. The government will try to defeat the Lords amendment in the Commons today. Matt Hancock, the culture secretary, said that peers had opposed the freedom of the press.

UNELECTED Lords have tried to “muzzle” press freedoms as they took “revenge” and voted for a re-run of the Leveson Inquiry, despite MPs already rejecting the idea.
The House of Commons rejected a second inquiry last week but MPs will now have to vote on an amendment to the Data Protection Bill again as the Lords have triggered a constitutional crisis. The motion passed in the Lords yesterday by 252 votes to 213, despite one senior peer slamming the plans. Lord Hunt warned colleagues not to “muzzle free expression” by restricting the press.

The government has been defeated in the House of Lords as peers backed a new Leveson inquiry into the behaviour of the press by 252 votes to 213.
The outcome puts the unelected chamber on course for a constitutional clash with the Commons, which had previously rejected a demand for a further investigation into the relationship between the media and police. The amendment would force the government to establish a new inquiry into allegations of data protection breaches by national news publishers. The government has said it will seek to overturn the decision.

The House of Lords has once again voted to establish a fresh Leveson-style public inquiry into the conduct of the media, overturning a decision made by MPs last week and setting up another showdown with the government.
Peers voted by 252 to 213 on Monday evening to back an amendment that called for a full investigation into unlawful conduct by newspapers, misuse of data by social media companies, and relations between the press and the police. “It’s an inquiry into criminality, corruption and abuse,” said Lady Hollins, a crossbench who moved the amendment, justifying the decision to reject the House of Commons’ verdict.

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