Theresa May will make a last-ditch appeal to EU leaders tomorrow in an attempt to rescue Brexit talks deadlocked over how to avoid a hard border in Ireland. The prime minister admitted in a bruising Commons statement yesterday that Brussels had rejected her proposals for a legally binding UK-wide customs arrangement. The EU, which has stepped up no-deal preparations, continues to insist that the formal divorce deal must include a guarantee that critics say would divide Northern Ireland from Great Britain. Dominic Raab, the Brexit secretary, travelled to Brussels on Sunday to deliver a personal rejection to his opposite number, Michel Barnier, as Mrs May was warned that she faced a full-scale cabinet revolt if she relented.
Theresa May faces a frantic 48 hours to try to save her Brexit negotiating strategy after she admitted talks had ground to a halt because of the EU’s insistence upon a Northern Ireland-only backstop. The prime minister is expected to plead with EU leaders to drop their Irish backstop proposal at a make-or-break summit dinner on Wednesday night after seeking the support of members of her cabinet on Tuesday morning. With time running out before Wednesday’s meeting, May used an emergency Commons statement to say the EU’s plan “threatens the integrity of our United Kingdom” because it could lead to the creation of a customs border in the Irish Sea.
Theresa May will try to rally ministers behind her this morning at the start of a critical 48 hours for Brexit. On Monday, the PM told MPs an agreement with the EU was “still achievable” despite apparent deadlock over the issue of the Irish border. EU officials, though, have warned no-deal is “more likely than ever before”. The clock is ticking down towards a summit of European leaders on Wednesday where it had been hoped a deal could be reached. The UK is due to leave the EU next March and it had been hoped that on Wednesday, EU leaders would agree that enough progress had been made to call a special Brexit summit in November to finalise and formalise the divorce deal.
Theresa May has been invited to speak to the 27 EU leaders at a dinner in Brussels – but she’ll have to leave before they serve the starters. The Prime Minister is expected to give an update to the leaders of the remaining member states as they sit down for a meal on Wednesday. But they won’t have a place set for her, and it’s understood she’ll depart the gathering before they dine. The Prime Minister’s spokesman said: “The PM has accepted an invitation from President Tusk to provide an update on the Brexit negotiations on Wednesday evening.
Vital meetings are being held on both sides of the Channel today which could help decide if a Brexit deal can be reached in the next few weeks. Here Theresa May will have a chance to assess the loyalty of her cabinet as they meet to discuss yesterday’s bruising Commons session. Meanwhile in Luxembourg the European Council will be briefed by the EU Commission’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier on the state of talks with the UK. Mrs May will give the other 27 Council member states an update on negotiations on Wednesday.
THERESA May today warned Brussels there won’t be a Brexit deal unless they ditch plans to carve off Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK. Speaking in the Commons, the PM said that Britain and the EU are now “not far apart” on the key question of the Irish border. She vowed to hold firm against Brussels’ bid to impose new customs controls between Northern Ireland and mainland Britain – claiming the plan is ILLEGAL. But the PM was accused of seeking a “Hotel California Brexit” after she refused to confirm the date that Britain will quit the European customs union.
A NO-DEAL Brexit is the “most likely” scenario and could happen within two weeks, as it has been revealed ministers are being instructed to start implementing plans after talks reached an impasse. Brexit negotiations appear to have reached another stalemate after talks broke down between Brexit secretary Dominic Raab and EU negotiator Michel Barnier. After an hour of talks, Mr Raab made it clear that the UK would not sign the latest draft on an agreement that EU officials worked on.
Talks between Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab and EU negotiator Michel Barnier have broken down, and ministers and civil servants have been told to have preparations for a ‘No Deal’ Brexit ready within weeks. Raab, who replaced David Davis after he resigned from his post saying Theresa May’s proposals for a deal with the EU would not really deliver Brexit, flew out to Brussels on Sunday for surprise talks amid speculation that an agreement was imminent — but they broke down after little more than an hour, according to The Times. It has been reported that the talks have reached an impasse over the EU demanding a ‘backstop to the backstop’.
The DUP’s Brexit spokesperson Sammy Wilson speaking at a Leave Means Leave rally has said Theresa May has fallen for the EU’s “con trick” over the Northern Ireland border. The MP told the crowd: “Yet now folks this a serious issue which we now have. This is being used by the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom to either keep the whole of the United Kingdom under the bondage of Brussels or else to break up the United Kingdom by cutting Northern Ireland adrift. “And that was the choice which Barnier and co have given the prime minister and she has fallen for it because she accepted their con trick.”
One of the unexpected effects of Brexit has been the big reveal that government ministers have very little understanding of, or interest in, Northern Ireland politics. The 2017 election gave the DUP the casting vote in Brexit negotiations, and they show every sign of sticking to their red lines to the very end, yet government ministers remain mystified by the DUP’s unwillingness to step back from their red lines. Most reports of the negotiations regard the DUP’s intransigence as somewhat overdone for what is basically a trade issue – and one that, truth be told, would be likely to work out to the benefit of the Northern Ireland economy.
MPs from across the House of Commons have thrown their weight behind calls for a new Brexit referendum amid faltering talks with Brussels. Almost 20 from the main parties spoke out on the need to give the British public the final say through a vote on the outcome of negotiations. It comes as hundreds of thousands of people prepare to attend the People’s Vote and The Independent’s March for the Future this weekend to push for a new referendum. Speakers announced for the march include London mayor Sadiq Khan, celebrity cook Delia Smith, businesswoman and Dragon’s Den star Deborah Meaden and MPs from all the main political parties.
EU Council President Donald Tusk today admitted the chances of a no deal Brexit are ‘more likely than ever before’ as the talks hit the buffers. But he urged both sides not to ‘give up’ and said a Brexit deal always ‘seems impossible until it’s done’. And he confirmed that Theresa May will make a last-ditch plea to EU leaders to strike a Brexit compromise over dinner on Wednesday night at a Brussels summit. It comes as the PM launched a desperate bid to win over EU leaders tonight embarking on a ring round to urge them to strike a compromise. But in a stormy session of the Commons this afternoon, she also warned there will be no deal unless Brussels drops its Irish border demands.
A Brexit deal now looks unlikely until just before Christmas after Theresa May admitted “weeks” may be needed to break the deadlock in talks with Brussels. The delay was also signalled by Ireland’s prime minister who warned of log-jammed negotiations dragging into December, increasing concern that stalled talks could simply collapse into a “disaster” no-deal situation. In a veiled swipe at Brexiteers, European Council President Donald Tusk said solving the vexed issue of the Irish border had proved “more complicated than some may have expected” and said no deal is now “more likely than ever”.
BRUSSELS chiefs last night warned a no deal Brexit is “more likely than ever before” following a fresh deadlock in the Brexit talks. EU Council chief Donald Tusk delivered the stark message to Britain as he urged Member States to further ramp up their preparations for a crash out. In a letter to EU leaders he said: “We wished for maximum progress and results that would lead to a deal in October. “As things stand today, it has proven to be more complicated than some may have expected. “We must prepare the EU for a no-deal scenario, which is more likely than ever before.”
THE EU’s Brexit strategy of demanding concessions without offering any flexibility in return is “irrational”, an economics expert has warned. Hendrik Kafsack, an economics journalist based in Brussels, told the German newspaper Franffurter Allgemeine he did not believe the UK would crash out of the EU without a deal. Mr Kafsack said Brexit negotiations are “a game of chicken” but said, despite EU scaremongering, a no-deal scenario is unlikely. Mr Kafsack, said: “From a Brussels point of view, the negotiations were and are a ‘game of chicken’ in which two cars rush towards each other, except that the European Union sits in a Mercedes SUV and the British in a mini.
Angela Merkel has spoken of growing difficulties in striking a Brexit deal as the European council president, Donald Tusk, warned that a no-deal scenario was “more likely than ever before”, following the latest derailment of talks over the Irish border. “We were actually pretty hopeful that we would manage to seal an exit agreement” but “at the moment, it looks a bit more difficult again”, the German chancellor told the German Foreign Trade Federation after the latest talks, which have largely been held in secret.
A BREXIT deal for Gibraltar is “almost complete”, the territory’s government has confirmed, leaving the Irish border issue as the final obstacle to securing a withdrawal agreement with Theresa May left with 48 hours to save Brexit. Brussels has insisted that specific divorce terms for the British Overseas Territory must be first signed off by Spain – effectively giving Spain the power to block the UK’s entire exit deal. Madrid has long complained about the Rock’s status as a British territory and attacked it over its tax rules and environmental issues as well as claiming tobacco smugglers use the territory to move cigarettes into Spain.
MPs should vote down Theresa May‘s deal to unlock talks on a better exit agreement, Nicola Sturgeon claimed today. The SNP leader warned the Government against forcing a ‘false choice’ between a bad deal and no deal on Parliament. She insisted she still wanted to cancel the referendum and remain in the EU – but said if Brexit was to happen Scotland should be allowed to stay inside the single market and customs union. Ms Sturgeon said the entire UK staying inside the free trade zone would be the ‘best’ Brexit option.
Theresa May must change her Brexit approach to include continued membership of the single market and the customs union rather than “railroading” MPs into a bad deal, Nicola Sturgeon has said. As Brexit talks hit an impasse ahead of a crucial EU summit, Scotland’s first minister urged MPs to reject any “cobbled-together agreement” and called for a Norway-style deal with Brussels, as the only “democratic compromise” that would unite different factions. Ms Sturgeon said the SNP would vote against a deal based on the prime minister’s Chequers proposals, which she described as “impractical, undesirable and undeliverable”, and she insisted the Canada-style approach favoured by Brexiteers also lacked widespread support.
A new pro-Brexit group called ‘Scots for Leave’ held a rally in Dunblane, including speakers Stephen Kerr MP, SNP Eurosceptic Gerry Fisher, Republicans Overseas’ Drew Liquerman and Chairman of Scottish Young Conservatives, James Bundy. The rally saw Scots from all over the country, as far afield as Tayside, Perthshire, Stirlingshire, Clackmannanshire, Fife, Glasgow and the Lothians, according to organisers. Tory MP Stephen Kerr told the crowd: “As the Member of Parliament for Stirling, I will stand for respect of the referendum in which the British people voted to leave the European Union. The very idea of a people’s vote is a preposterous insult to democracy.”
House of Commons
The head of the Commons standards committee is calling for John Bercow to resign as Speaker after a report said that “disturbing” allegations of sexual harassment by MPs had been “tolerated and concealed”. Sir Kevin Barron’s intervention comes after the conclusions of an independent inquiry into harassment of Commons staff were published. The report by Dame Laura Cox, 66, found that it would be “extremely difficult” for the “current senior House administration”, including the Speaker, to bring about the changes required.
Female staff in the House of Commons have been inappropriately touched, verbally abused in vulgar terms and repeatedly propositioned in an “insidious and pervasive” culture of harassment, an independent inquiry has found. Dame Laura Cox, a retired High Court judge, said there were “urgent and serious problems” in a workplace where MPs had “god-like status”, believing they would never be disciplined. Speaking to more than 200 people, including former members of staff who had signed settlements or non-disclosure agreements, Dame Laura heard allegations that staff were sworn at and belittled “almost daily” while some male MPs behaved in a predatory way.
Bullying and harassment of staff has been allowed to thrive in the House of Commons, an independent report has found. Dame Laura Cox QC, a former high court judge, was appointed by the House of Commons Commission to conduct an inquiry after a series of allegations made by MPs. In her findings she said there were “urgent and serious problems” and the Commons had allowed a culture to develop where bullying and harassment went ignored. She added that it was “difficult to envisage” how solutions could be delivered under the current senior Commons administration. “Among current and former staff alike there is an obvious pride and affection for the House and its status.
PARLIAMENT is riddled with bullies and sex pests who have been treated like “gods” for years, a damning report reveals today. Horrific incidents of “bullying, harassment and sexual harassment” have been covered up by officials who want to protect the reputation of the Commons, according to an independent review of Westminster’s culture. MPs have been caught grabbing women’s breasts and pestering them for sex, the probe finds. The report by top judge Laura Cox calls on senior officials such as Speaker John Bercow to quit – warning that Parliament will never reform without new leadership. Dame Laura was commissioned to write the report after The Sun exposed an epidemic of sexual harassment in Westminster.
Ageism could be treated like racism and become a hate crime under a review of the law to be announced by the home secretary, it emerged last night. Sajid Javid said that he had asked the Law Commission to investigate whether ageism and misogyny should be recognised as hate crimes in the same way as offences motivated by hostility based on race, religion, sexual orientation or disability. These can be seen as aggravating factors in criminal offences and lead to increased sentences.
Misogyny, ageism and a loathing of goths could be made illegal as a review into hate crime across the UK takes place. The Law Commission will look at whether offences motivated by the dislike, contempt or ingrained prejudice against women should be treated as a hate crime. It will also consider if prejudice based on age or hatred of certain subcultures, including goths or punks, would be a hate crime. The review is part of an updated government plan being published as the Home Office releases the latest annual statistics on hate crime in England and Wales.
Thousands of older people are self-harming and they are three times as likely to go on to kill themselves as younger people with similar problems, according to the first study of its kind. Self-harm has been neglected in older people because of a belief that it is a problem only for troubled teenagers and doctors must do more to head off suicide fuelled by loneliness, researchers said. Only one in eight older patients who have self-harmed is sent to specialist services and a similar number are given a dangerous type of antidepressant, the study found. Official figures show that suicide rates in men over 60 now outstrip those of the under-30s.
The nine-month delay to the Crossrail line through London could have a significant impact on HS2, a report has warned. The hold-up may also affect the construction industry’s ability to deliver other infrastructure projects including Hinkley Point C, the nuclear power plant being built in Somerset, according to analysis published by the Construction Products Association (CPA), representing manufacturers and suppliers. It said that inflation could “exacerbate” pressures on HS2’s budget, pushing the cost above the £55.7 billion forecast. Esther McVey, who became work and pensions secretary in January, is said to have told her constituents in Tatton, Cheshire, last November that the total cost of HS2 could rise to more than £100 billion.
Experts have warned Sydneysiders to expect a tsunami within their lifetime, as the threat of an ‘extremely dangerous’ wave hitting the city is ‘very real’. Sydney’s exposed harbour means there is potential for a devastating tsunami to threaten up to 1.5 million people and impact the entire New South Wales coast, according to a paper published in Nature’s Scientific Reports. The wave could be triggered by an earthquake in New Zealand, and would whip up currents in the harbour to a rapid eight metres per second. A tsunami in Sydney could flood the iconic Corso in Manly on the northern beaches and smash jetties, boats and the shoreline. The impact could be felt as far inland as Parramatta in the city’s west, almost 30km from the coast.