Viv has asked me to tell you that she will not be producing her Daily Brexit column today as she is unwell.
Prime Minister Theresa May has said the government will continue to plan for the possibility of a no-deal Brexit, her spokesman said on Monday. May made the comment in an internal note to staff. The European Union last week delayed Brexit until the end of October, averting, for now at least, the risk of an abrupt British departure from the bloc which investors fear would hurt the economy. May’s spokesman also told reporters on Monday that the prime minister was not thinking about calling an early national election as a way to break the Brexit impasse in parliament.
Theresa May has written to civil servants saying no-deal preparations must carry on despite a new October deadline for the UK’s exit from the European Union. An email seen by the Guardian shows that the prime minister has told government staff that plans for crashing out of the EU are necessary and will continue to be signed off by permanent secretaries. It follows criticism of May’s government for wasting money after it emerged in a leaked email to Sky News that no-deal plans were being “wound down”. In an email sent to the civil service on Monday, May clarified this point, writing that some no-deal planning would continue. Senior civil servants including the cabinet secretary, Mark Sedwill, would decide which plans could be shelved, the prime minister said.
Theresa May has written to every civil servant to tell them no-deal Brexit preparations “must continue” after a backlash over the Government’s decision to “wind down” its worst-case scenario planning. The Prime Minister sent the message to Whitehall workers on Monday morning to tell them the “necessary preparations” would carry on – but with a “sensibly adjusted” timetable. Mrs May also said that it would be up to permanent secretaries – the most senior civil servant in a department – to decide what to plan for and when. It emerged last week that the Government had shelved some of its no-deal planning “with immediate effect” after Mrs May agreed to a Brexit delay.
Theresa May must use the delay to Brexit to prepare for the next stage of negotiations with the European Union and avoid repeating the blunders made during the divorce process, a respected think tank has said. Talks on a future trade deal with Brussels will be “more complicated” than the negotiations on the Withdrawal Agreement, an Institute for Government (IfG) report said. In a highly critical assessment of the Government’s handling of the Brexit process so far, the analysis blamed Mrs May for creating the “unsustainable” split in responsibilities between Number 10 and the Department for Exiting the European Union (Dexeu), with the “secretive” approach adopted by the Prime Minister and her closest aides fuelling division.
Britain was today named as the world’s top investment destination for businesses despite Brexit, knocking the United States off the top spot for the first time in five years. The survey on corporate deal-making by consulting and accounting firm EY said Britain was the top investment destination in the world for the first time in the report’s 10-year history. The pound’s fall since the June 2016 vote to leave the European Union has made British assets cheaper, but Steve Krouskos, a global vice chair at EY, said Britain also remained an ‘open environment for foreign investors’ even in the midst of the Brexit chaos. That culture, he said, is reinforced by the English language, a skilled workforce, and a strong technology base.
A leading recruitment group has brushed aside fears that uncertainty caused by Brexit will slow the jobs market by reporting a 10 per cent rise in fees for its UK operations. The increase in net fee income in Britain, which makes up about a quarter of Robert Walters’ turnover, represents an improvement from the 2 per cent growth reported in the final three months of 2018. The company, which takes its name from its founder and chief executive, operates in 30 countries and employs almost 4,300 people.
Follow the money! According to the latest odds from bookmakers, May’s European Elections look set to be a straight fight between Labour and Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party. Sky Bet have Labour as the narrow favourites at 1/1 to win the most seats, with the Brexit Party seen as their main challengers on 11/10. Meanwhile the Conservatives are way back at 12/1. Ouch. Similar story for Ladbrokes who describe Labour as “marginal favs”, with the Brexit Party snapping at their heels and the Tories way behind on 9/1. How many Conservatives will vote for the Brexit Party to stop Jeremy Corbyn winning a national election whilst sending a pro-Leave message to MPs?
Two polls suggest UKIP and The Brexit Party hold a combined 25 to 29 per cent of Britons’ voting intentions ahead of European Parliament elections, while the establishment Labour and Conservative parties are set to “perform poorly,” according to YouGov. The YouGov poll found that “voting intention for the two main parties has fallen since 2017, and both could perform worse still at the EU parliament elections,” adding that “large swathes of Britons [are] turning their backs on the main two parties and [are] moving towards groups with harder Brexit positions.” While The Brexit Party (15 per cent) and UKIP (14 per cent) take third and fourth places respectively after Labour and the Conservatives, the research firm noted that “neither [Tories nor Labour] are far enough ahead for comfort” of the anti-establishment Eurosceptics.
Disabled people could be denied their right to vote independently and in secret in the European elections because they are being organised in a rush due to Brexit chaos, Labour has warned. Theresa May is facing a race against time to get MPs to approve a withdrawal deal by May 22 so the UK does not have to take part in European Parliament elections the following day under the terms of a Brexit delay to October 31 agreed with the EU last week. The rushed and uncertain situation left electoral administrators just four working days to order tactile voting devices which are legally required to help blind and partially sighted people vote. Labour said the timetable was “not a sufficient warning” and blamed May’s “chaotic approach to Brexit”.
Cross party talks
No 10 is feeling the pressure to pull the plug on Brexit talks with Labour and move to an alternative plan, amid warnings that the opposition is in no hurry for a deal before the European elections. With talks deadlocked and no sign that the government moving on its red lines, neither the Conservatives or Labour want to appear responsible for the breakdown in discussions. However, government sources acknowledge Theresa May is under much greater time pressure than Labour, which has little incentive to do a deal before the European and local elections that are likely to result in the Conservatives suffering heavy losses to Nigel Farage’s Brexit party.
Cross-party talks between the Conservatives and Labour to resolve the Brexit stalemate are to continue through parliament’s Easter recess, as infighting among senior Tories revealed the divisions still plaguing progress. Chancellor Philip Hammond reportedly ridiculed Tory Brexiteers including Michael Gove and Boris Johnson for engaging in a “suicide pact” during the 2016 leadership race in a speech in the US. Foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt said talks with Labour were proving “more constructive” than many had expected. “I don’t think we should rule out the possibility of getting some agreement across the House of Commons.”
Second Brexit referendum campaigners are bidding to persuade Leave voters to back a fresh poll because the next one will be different. Supporters of a so-called People’s Vote are trying to convince those who backed Leave in 2016 their concerns can be tackled by another poll. Insiders admit “project fear” tactics failed to work three years ago, and have vowed not to repeat the same messages. A 15-page report by the People’s Vote campaign admits: “We know that a new vote on Europe must be a different kind of campaign to the 2016 referendum. “It must recognise that many millions of people voted to leave the EU because Britain does not work for them.
JOHN BERCOW has abandoned plans to step down as Speaker of the House of Commons Speaker until Brexit is resolved. John Bercow, 56, has served as Speaker for ten years. He was expected to make a statement to the House when MPs returned from Easter recess on April 23 announcing his plans to make way for his successor over the summer. But now, amid the continuing Brexit crisis, he has decided he is best placed to stay in his position for the time being. Mr Bercow maintains his job is to protect and act in the interests of parliament as a whole and not the executive, and has denied all accusations of bias. There have been reports that Mr Bercow was persuaded to stay by pro-remain MPs including Dominic Grieve and Sir Oliver Letwin, but the claims have been called “complete rubbish” by those concerned. However, the move will still infuriate Brexiteers who believe he is using his position to frustrate their attempts to get the withdrawal deal through.
Three Ukip MEPs have quit to join Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party. Margot Parker, Jill Seymour and Jane Collins joined eight other MEPs elected for Ukip who have defected to their former leader’s new group. Of the 24 Ukip MEPs elected in 2014 when the party came first in the British European elections, four remain. The Brexit Party now has 11, the third highest after Labour and the Tories. Ms Seymour said that under Gerard Batten’s leadership Ukip had moved to “the extreme right”. Ms Collins said that Ukip’s attitude to women was “disgusting”. Ukip has selected 23 candidates including Carl Benjamin, who in 2016 wrote: “I wouldn’t even rape you” in a tweet to the Labour MP Jess Phillips.
Several Ukip MEPs have defected to Nigel Farage’s new Brexit Party. West Midlands MEP Jill Seymour and Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire MEP Jane Collins announced their resignations on Monday. It is understood a third Ukip MEP, Margot Parker, has also quit the party. Ms Collins said Ukip’s attitude to women was “disgusting” and said she wanted to spend the rest of her time as an MEP fighting to secure a “real Brexit”. She said Mr Farage’s new party, which he set up nearly three years after quitting as Ukip leader, is the “best way of achieving that”.
Three female MEPs have quit UKIP after the party’s leader Gerard Batten defended a candidate’s comments about rape as “satire”. Jane Collins, Jill Seymour and Margot Parker will no longer represent UKIP in the European Parliament. All three have joined the new Brexit Party, which is spearheaded by former UKIP leader Nigel Farage. Their departures mean, of the 24 UKIP MEPs elected at the last European Parliament elections in 2014, only four remain as representatives of the party. A large number of UKIP’s departed MEPs – including the three to quit on Monday – have cited Mr Batten’s leadership as the primary reason for their resignations.
UKIP’s decline has continued ahead of the European Elections, with another three MEPs joining Nigel Farage’s new Brexit Party. Jill Seymour, Margot Parker and Jane Collins have all made the move, with Seymour accusing Gerard Batten’s UKIP of switching to “the extreme right of politics”. Seymour has insisted that: “I am not walking away from the party’s original core principles, but the present party’s direction means it has walked away from me, and its original membership.” Meanwhile, Yorkshire MEP Jane Collins announced that: “I have spent much of my time as an MEP standing up for the rights of women, including the victims of industrial scale CSE in Rotherham. “It is simply impossible for me to stay in UKIP now and I will serve out the rest of my mandate as an MEP for The Brexit Party.”
Change UK, the group of independent politicians, has appealed for European parliament election candidates, but has told them they must hand over details of their social media accounts. Political parties are scrambling to assess and vet potential candidates as they face the prospect of fighting for seats in Brussels, three years after the UK voted to leave the EU. However, Change UK has yet to be told whether or not it can take part in the elections. The Electoral Commission watchdog is still processing its application to be a political party, which is necessary to field candidates
Theresa May must appoint a powerful “deputy” with agreed aims for the next stage of the Brexit negotiations to avoid the blunders of the first phase, a major study says. The government is in danger of “stumbling” into future trade talks with the EU “without a plan”, it warns – even if the divorce deal is eventually approved by the Commons. The warning comes as compromise talks between the government and Labour stalled, casting fresh doubt on the prime minister’s hopes of passing her deal and avoiding a long Brexit delay. Unless the agreement is ratified by 22 May, the UK will have to take part in next month’s European parliament elections – threatening the Conservatives with huge losses.
SENIOR Tories fear they are being infiltrated by thousands of Brexit activists joining to pick a new PM after the party’s membership swelled by a fifth. The Sun can reveal that a fresh surge of 30,000 have joined the Conservatives within the last 12 months. The influx boosted its overall numbers to more than 150,000 – at least a seven year high. While CCHQ insiders insist some of the rise is from a new recruitment drive, other party chiefs say the prospect of having a say on Theresa May’s successor is now being heavily exploited. They also suspect the ‘entryism’ threat will spiral because of last week’s new six month delay to Brexit. Under party rules designed to block leadership contests from being influenced, new joiners can only vote in them if they have been members for three months.
The Conservative Party’s membership has ballooned by tens of thousands in a year following Leave.EU’s drive to push for Brexiteers to join and vote for the next Party Leader. Around 30,000 new members have joined the Tory Party over the last 12 months, according to The Sun. And whilst Tory chiefs will of course say this is as a result of their own recruitment, it comes after Leave.EU launched a campaign urging Brexiteers to join in order to help determine who will follow Theresa May as the next Party Leader after she eventually leaves. A Conservative official told The Sun that: “We’re not going to be able to stop people joining up just to vote for a new leader now. “If Theresa resigned when she intended to, at the end of May, we could have balloted the membership within five or six weeks.
One in four NHS hospitals is routinely failing to put enough nurses on duty to keep patients safe, a damning report says. Experts warn that the lessons of the Mid Staffordshire hospital scandal have been forgotten amid a desperate staffing crisis across the Health Service. The 224-page report, funded by the research arm of the NHS, concluded that patients are routinely cared for in wards that are left at a ‘high risk’ staffing level. The report also warned that healthcare assistants – who do not have the same training as registered nurses – are being used to shore up the lack of fully qualified staff. The review, conducted by Southampton University, said a 40,000 shortage in registered nurses across England meant hospitals find it impossible to safely staff their wards. This has ‘resulted in a gradual dilution of national safe staffing policy’.
The NHS is handing out cash top-ups to doctors’ salaries in a desperate bid to stop them from retiring early. Doctors are trying to avoid big tax bills from stricter pension rules that put a cap on their saving allowances. It’s led to thousands leaving the profession early, amid a worsening staff shortage in the NHS workforce. Around ten NHS trusts have now offered to contribute cash to doctors’ pensions so they can opt out of the pension scheme, the Financial Times reports.
The cause of cancer is written into the DNA of tumours, scientists have discovered, in a breakthrough which could finally show how much disease is attributable to factors like air pollution or pesticides. Until now the roots of many cancers have proved elusive, with doctors unable to tease out the impact of a myriad of carcinogenic causes which people encounter every day. Even with lung cancer, it is not known just how much can be attributed to smoking and how much could be linked to other factors, such as living by a busy road, or inhaling pollutants at work. But now scientists at Cambridge University and King’s College London have shown that tumours hold information like a ‘black box’ pointing to the cause of disease.
CANCER leaves ‘fingerprints’ on DNA that that could help scientist nail the environmental culprits behind mysterious tumours. Doctors are building a state-of-the-art genetic library of ‘mutation’ markers – with tobacco smoke, sunlight, and air pollution identified as triggers with telltale signs. Each chemical triggers a specific change in the DNA’s structure. Scientists at Cambridge University and King’s College London exposed stem cells to dozens of known carcinogens before recording how each one altered DNA code. They hope the results could turn tumours into “black boxes” packed with information about what caused the disease.
British breast cancer sufferers are still waiting for a ground-breaking drug to be approved for the NHS almost two years after the US gave it a green light. Olaparib was also recently granted a licence by the European Medicines Agency for use in women and men with advanced breast cancer who have inherited BRCA gene mutations. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) has put the appraisal process on hold until mid-July. Olaparib works by blocking a protein on which cancer cells rely.