THE EU will push Britain to the “cliff edge” to stop it from being allowed to cherry-pick what it wants over Brexit, a former trade boss has warned. Sir Andrew Cahn, ex-chief executive of UK Trade and Investment (UKTI), expressed doubts about Britain being allowed to keep sectors like car manufacturing in the customs union after leaving the EU, while pulling others out. He spoke after International Trade Secretary Liam Fox, whose department replaced UKTI this year, signalled that the UK could remain a partial member of the customs union in a similar arrangement to Turkey. Sir Andrew, who is also a former adviser to Lord Cockfield, the Conservative European commissioner who created the single market in the 1980s, was asked what he had made of the EU’s tactics so far with the UK. He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “The EU side is doing exactly what I expect them to do.
Theresa May has accused EU leaders of failing to let their citizens living in the UK “get on with their lives” by refusing to negotiate with the Government. The Prime Minister wants to do a deal with the EU guaranteeing after Brexit the rights of their citizens already living in the UK – as long as they do the same for British expats. However, her counterparts in the EU have refused to conduct a negotiation, saying that there will be no discussion of the issue until the Prime Minister triggers Article 50, which begins formal Brexit talks with Brussels. Addressing the House of Commons on Monday, Mrs May criticised leaders such as Donald Tusk, the European Council president, for their intransigence.
ANGELA Merkel’s recently acquired reputation as Europe’s last hope for a “saviour” of liberal politics is misplaced because it is her policies which are ripping apart the bloc, a US commentator said. People fawning over the German leader as a bastion of the ‘progressive’ elite have failed to realise that her stance on austerity and migration is what has caused the populist uprising sweeping the continent. That is according to political expert Darrell Delamaide, who predicted that the demise of the European Union will unfold at an “accelerated pace” because of the blunders of the Berlin chief. The US-based commentator said the EU has reached its “tipping point” because its leaders are “failing spectacularly” to get a grip with the migrant crisis, adding that the fall of Aleppo is likely to spark a fresh surge of people to Europe’s shores.
Theresa May dropped the clearest hint yet that Britain will still pay into the EU budget after Brexit – despite being told it would be “betraying” voters. Delivering a statement on last week’s EU summit, the Prime Minister still gave little away about her Brexit strategy, refusing to tell MPs when it would be published. And she batted away questions about single market membership as inquiries about “means” when what mattered was her end game of securing “the best possible deal”. However, Ms May did appear to confirm that she is willing to continue paying into the EU budget, possibly as part of a transitional deal to cushion the exit. The move will be controversial both with hardline Brexit supporters – and with voters who were told that £350m a week more will be given to the NHS instead. Ms May was put under pressure by Conservative backbencher Philip Davies, who said funding for the EU was “one of the big issues” in the referendum campaign.
Scotland’s First Minister will today announce plans for a Norway-style arrangement to stay in the EU single market. Nicola Sturgeon believes that Scottish membership of the European Economic area (EEA) and European Free Trade Association (EFTA) will allow Scotland to make the “softest Brexit”, allowing it to remain part of the United Kingdom whilst still enjoying single market access. In a news conference later, she will reveal the full details of a Brexit battle plan entitled “Scotland’s Place in Europe”. It focuses on how Scotland can remain in the European single market after the UK leaves the European Union. Ms Sturgeon has indicated that if the proposals are dismissed by the UK Government, she will proceed towards a second independence referendum. Membership of the EEA provides for the free movement of goods, services, people and capital. Currently, Norway, Iceland and Leichtenstein have such an arrangement, which gives them full access to the single market. In return, those countries must contribute to the EU budget and accept most EU laws.
Berlin police have advised residents to stay at home after a truck ploughed in a Christmas market, killing at least nine people and hurting many more. The announcement was made on Twitter. Police also urged people not to “spread rumours about the event”. Officials have said the event will be investigated as a terrorist attack and that they have arrested the driver. Another person was found dead in the lorry, which was reportedly hijacked as it drove to Germany from Poland. Chancellor Angela Merkel was being briefed by the Interior Minister and Berlin mayor on the situation, a government spokesman said. Facebook activated its ‘Safety Check’ feature so its users in the city could identify as safe to family and friends. However, police said there were no further indications of “dangerous situations” elsewhere in the city. The authorties urged people to stay away from the area.
Europe was warned that ISIS planned terror attacks at Christmas markets 25 days before the Berlin atrocity. Police have said at least nine people died and more than 50 have been injured after a lorry ploughed through a Christmas market killing and injuring shoppers. The huge vehicle smashed into booths outside the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church in the centre of the city. Terrified market-goers have tweeted panicked images from the scene of the incident which comes an hour after the Russian ambassador was shot dead in Ankara. Around 50 people were injured in the attack as many crushed under its wheels. The truck is believed to have been doing 40mph when it ploughed into shoppers. The attack came after intelligence agencies warned in November that terrorists are planning a wave of Christmas attacks throughout Europe, targeting shopping areas and crowded market-places to maximise casualties.
AUTHORITIES in Berlin had been made aware in recent days that a Christmas market terror attack was being planned, according to reports. Following Monday’s tragedy, reports in Germany cited security sources claiming a terror attack was being planned at the festive market in the Breitscheidplatz area of the city. Reporters took to Twitter to share their claims, including Clemens Wergin, the Washington bureau chief for Die Welt. Just weeks ago the US State Department revealed it had “credible information” that Islamic State and other Islamist terror groups were plotting massacres across Europe over Christmas. It now appears the terror thugs have acted on their threats.
The Russian ambassador to Turkey was last night shot dead by an off-duty Turkish police officer at an art gallery in Ankara in ‘revenge’ for the conflict in Syria. Ambassador Andrei Karlov, 62, was shot several times from behind by a gunman shouting: ‘Allahu Akbar (God is Great). We die in Aleppo, you die here!’ He also screamed: ‘Only death will take me out of here.’ The shooter, who was wearing a suit and tie, has been identified as Mevlüt Mert Altintas, 22, a member of Ankara’s police riot squad. He reportedly fired into the air before taking aim at the ambassador. He then turned weapon on others in the gallery – injuring three – before he was shot dead in a 15-minute stand-off with police. There has been some suggestion that Altintas was linked to Turkey’s failed coup in July.
AN OFF-duty cop yesterday assassinated Russia’s ambassador to Turkey in protest at President Vladimir Putin’s brutal military campaign in neighbouring Syria. Gunman Mevlüt Mert Altintas shot dead 62-year-old Andrei Karlov at an art gallery while yelling: “We die in Aleppo, you die here.” Altintas, 22, fired at least eight times as Mr Karlov gave a speech in the Turkish capital Ankara. Speaking in Turkish and Arabic, the riot cop then shouted: “God is great” and “Don’t forget Aleppo, don’t forget Syria.” He died after a 15-minute shootout with police.
Russia’s ambassador to Turkey has been assassinated by an off-duty police officer in front of terrified witnesses allegedly in retaliation for the crisis in Aleppo. The gunman – smartly dressed in a black suit and tie – reportedly shouted “Allahu Akbar” and said in Turkish “We die in Aleppo, you die here” after shooting Ambassador Andrei Karlov in the back. The attacker was fatally shot by police after killing Mr Karlov and wounding three others in what Russia’s Foreign Ministry has called “an act of terrorism”. Mr Karlov, 62, was delivering a speech at an art gallery in the capital of Ankara when he was shot from behind in an attack caught on camera, and then shot at least once more at close range as he lay on the floor.
Russia’s ambassador to Turkey was shot dead on Monday by an assassin who told him: “We die in Aleppo, you die here.” The gunman – an off-duty policeman – opened fire at an art gallery in Ankara as Andrei Karlov was making a speech, then stood triumphantly over his body shouting “revenge for Syria and Aleppo”. Photographs taken by an Associated Press photographer who kept his finger on the shutter while others dived for cover captured the aftermath of a murder which Russia described as a “terrorist act”. The murder followed days of protests in Turkey over Russia’s role in Syria as a backer of president Bashar al-Assad and came on the eve of talks in Moscow about the future of Syria involving Russia, Iran and Turkey, which will still go ahead on Tuesday.
Police forces across Britain have stepped up security at Christmas markets this year in a bid to prevent Islamic State-inspired terror attacks such as the one in Berlin. The security services warned the UK was at risk of terror attacks on ‘large crowds of soft target civilians’ by the likes of IS and al-Qaeda during the festive season. American State Department officials have told US travellers to be vigilant when travelling to Europe – and to be particularly careful when going to Christmas events. Eleven forces are sending out anti-terrorism police patrol squads to shopping centres, transport hubs and tourist hotspots in a bid to spot extremists carrying out ‘hostile reconnaissance’.
The Russian ambassador to Turkey has been shot dead by a police officer who shouted “Don’t forget Aleppo” as he pulled the trigger. The chilling attack on Monday evening, which was captured on video, appeared to be a backlash against Russian military involvement in the Syrian civil war. Andrei Karlov was attacked at the opening of an art exhibition in Ankara by a man believed to be an off-duty Turkish police officer. Karlov was several minutes into a speech when he was shot. Footage of the attack showed a man dressed in a suit and tie standing calmly behind the ambassador. He then pulled out a gun, shouted “Allahu Akbar” and fired at least eight shots. After firing at the ambassador, the man shouted in Turkish: “Don’t forget Aleppo. Don’t forget Syria. Unless our towns are secure, you won’t enjoy security. Only death can take me from here. Everyone who is involved in this suffering will pay a price.”
Health tourists have left hospitals with £30million of unpaid bills in one year, figures reveal. At the worst-affected trusts, overseas patients are racking up debts of almost £5million annually. The amount is going up year-on-year despite repeated government promises to curb the abuse. Freedom of Information requests from 104 hospital trusts show that they are owed £29.5million from health tourists in 2015/16. This is almost double the £15.9million from 2014/15, according to details obtained by the Press Association. The figures provide the most up-to-date audit so far of the scale of health tourism – yet experts said they were just the tip of the iceberg.
Overseas patients have left the NHS with unpaid bill of almost £30 million in just one year, an investigation has found. Patients who were not entitled to free treatment on the health service owed £29,530,378 in 2015/16, according to data obtained by the Press Association under the Freedom of Information Act. More than 120 NHS trusts were asked to provide details on overseas patients who were billed for NHS care and who were exempt from reciprocal arrangements with the UK. Some 104 trusts across England responded, with the results suggesting the unpaid bill is rising year on year. Of 92 trusts that were also able to give data for 2014/15, the outstanding debt in that year came to £15,907,018. Several NHS trusts provided figures for the last four years, showing they are now owed a backlog of millions of pounds. In London, Barts is owed £10,340,322 from the last four years, while Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust is owed £5,509,733.
Overseas patients have accumulated almost £30 million in unpaid NHS bills in one year, figures show. Foreign visitors not eligible for free treatment on the health service failed to pay £29,530,378 in 2015-16, according to data obtained under the Freedom of Information Act. An investigation also found that several NHS trusts are owed a backlog of millions of pounds. In London, Barts Health is owed £10,340,322 from the past four years and Imperial College Healthcare is owed £5,509,733. Guy’s & St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust and London North West Healthcare NHS Trust are owed about £5 million each for the past four years.
England have been fined 45,000 Swiss francs for several breaches of Fifa’s rules about displaying political symbols, the sport’s governing body have confirmed. The national team wore poppies on black armbands during their match with Scotland, despite being warned not to by Fifa, costing the Football Association just over £35,000. Prior to kick-off, both teams participated in a minute’s silence and members of the armed forces lay wreaths.
OVERSEAS aid provides good value for money, the Government has insisted, after it was reported that an Ethiopian girl band is getting £5.2 million in funds to develop a media platform. The five-member group, Yegna, which aims to enhance the role of women through music and performance, will use some of the grants to develop a radio drama. The money is part of £16 million awarded to the Girl Hub project, now rebranded Girl Effect, which seeks to change how girls are valued and perceived in Ethiopian society. The Department for International Development (DfID) said: “UK aid in Ethiopia is combating forced child marriage, violence, teen pregnancy, migration and school drop-out, which are holding a generation of young Ethiopian women back.
Downing Street has slammed unions for showing “contempt for ordinary people” with strikes it said are causing maximum damage over Christmas. Theresa May’s official spokesperson said unions representing rail, airline and postal sectors had to explain the timing of strikes which would disrupt thousands of people’s lives. He also said the Government did not rule out changes to legislation, but played down the suggestion, adding that Ms May’s focus is on ending current disputes. Frances O’Grady, general secretary of the Trades Union Congress, said on Monday that the right for workers to down tools is a “fundamental British liberty”, amid current or planned actions by rail and postal workers, baggage handlers and British Airways cabin crew.
The right to go on strike is a “fundamental British liberty” and should not be restricted by the Government, the general secretary of the Trades Union Congress has said. Frances O’Grady told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that the Government had “another agenda” in its opposition to the Southern railway strike and that it wanted to undermine trade union rights further. Her warning comes as Downing Street distances itself from calls to strengthen anti-trade union laws further. Transport Secretary Chris Grayling previously said he would “not rule anything out” when it came to anti-strike laws. This year the Government passed the Trade Union Act, which introduced further red tape to make it harder for workers to down tools. But some Conservative MPs have seized upon the latest strike on ailing suburban railway networks in the south of the capital.
THERESA MAY accused union chiefs yesterday of deliberately timing strikes for Christmas. Downing Street slammed Unite, the RMT, CWU and Aslef for showing “contempt” for ordinary Brits by causing misery over the festive period. The PM’s official spokesman said: “They are trying to bring maximum disruption at Christmas. “If these strikes share one thing in common, it’s a shared contempt for people’s daily lives.” Hundreds of Post Office staff launched a five-day strike yesterday — forcing 36 branches to shut.
UNITE accused British Airways yesterday of making “misleading statements” to the media — despite promising to put an embargo on comments on cabin crew strikes. Both sides agreed to the embargo while negotiations to resolve the dispute over pay were underway, however, the airline broke the embargo and issued a statement quoting “misleading pay figures” in a bid to undermine any industrial action. Unite members in the “mixed fleet” cabin crew who joined since 2010 earn less than existing employees, and voted by 79 per cent for strike action after rejecting a pay offer, and are set to walk out on Christmas Day and Boxing Day. Unite general secretary Len McCluskey branded it “deeply disappointing” that British Airways broke the embargo with “misleading commentary to the media” while negotiations were ongoing.
FOUR asteroids will come close to colliding with Earth on Wednesday, with scientists warning that they could have the potential to “do quite some damage”. The massive objects, named 2006LH, 2010XN, 2015YQ1 and 2006XD2 are travelling close together and will thankfully miss our planet. 2006LH, the largest of the four, is travelling at 8 miles an hour and is 260 metres across – twice the height of the London Eye. It is also the asteroid that will travel closest to Earth – missing by 1.5million miles. Planetary scientist Dr Detlef Koschny, co-manager of the European Space Agency’s Space Situational Awareness division, told MailOnline: “If it were to hit it would do quite some damage. “But none of these objects have any chance to impact the Earth, so we are safe.”
MONSTER asteroids twice the size of the London Eye are on a collision course with Earth – THIS WEEK. The four huge space rocks are expected to make a “close approach” to our planet on Wednesday as they miss Earth by around 1.5million miles. Scientists say they’re not worried about the asteroids hurtling towards humanity at a mind-boggling eight miles per second. The biggest of the four is 853ft across — twice the height of the London Eye. And the closest will be close to the size of a blue whale at 46 metres wide. Planetary scientist Dr Detlef Koschny said the biggest asteroid would cause “quite some damage” if it smashed into Earth. She said it is “very rare” to see four Near-Earth Asteroids (NEA) occur on the same day. “I don’t remember that this has ever happened before,” she told MailOnline.