Brexit

Times
Businesses welcomed a “breakthrough” Brexit transition deal struck yesterday after Theresa May made concessions over the rights of EU citizens. Under the agreement, announced by David Davis and his European Union counterpart Michel Barnier, the UK will be able to sign trade agreements during a 21-month transition starting on March 29, 2019. However, Britain will be forced to give full rights to EU citizens moving to the country during that time, and the two sides still need to reach an agreement on Northern Ireland.

Independent
Britain and the European Union have agreed the terms of the Brexit transition period during which the UK will temporarily remain in Brussels’ orbit after leaving the  EU. The two sides reached a compromise, with the EU saying it would allow Britain to sign its own trade deals during the transition, and the UK caving on full free movement rights for EU citizens who arrive during the period, as well as automatically implementing new EU rules drawn up without UK input. EU chief negotiator  Michel Barnier said the arrangement was a “decisive step” towards an overall deal on an orderly withdrawal but that it remained only a step in a longer process. 

Breitbart
The United Kingdom will agree to follow all European Union rules after Brexit and keep the nation’s borders open for the duration of the transition period to 2022, with further bad news for fisheries and communities in Northern Ireland as a new agreement was reached in Brussels Monday. The European Union’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier made the announcement in a joint press conference with Britain’s David Davis in Brussels, where the pair presented what was introduced as a “legal text which constitutes a decisive step” towards a final agreement. Revealing the enormous extent to which Theresa May’s government has sold out the Brexit-voting British public, Barnier and Davis spoke on a number of key policy areas including immigration, British control over British laws, and regaining control over British fishing waters.

Times
David Davis, the Brexit secretary, and Michel Barnier, the EU’s lead negotiator, hailed a significant and “decisive step” in talks yesterday after agreeing the terms of a Brexit transition period. To help businesses to cope after March 29, 2019, when Britain will officially leave the EU, the UK will remain in a “standstill transition”, continuing in the single market under EU rules until the end of December 2020 but not taking part in decisions. The terms were agreed after both sides made progress on a withdrawal treaty but the most difficult questions were fudged, including the issue of the Irish border, with Mr Davis and Mr Barnier admitting that major obstacles remained in the months ahead.

ITV News
A Brexit transition deal has been agreed which will allow talks on the future trade relationship between the EU and UK to be triggered later this week. Brexit Secretary David Davis hailed the agreement between Britain and the European Commission as a “significant step” following talks with EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier in Brussels. Green lines on the negotiation document highlighted the areas of agreement, however, as demonstrated by the above picture, several issues are still under dispute.

Mail
David Davis and Michel Barnier today shook hands and declared they have made a ‘decisive’ step in sealing a Brexit transition deal. The EU chief negotiator and Mr Davis announced the dramatic breakthrough at a press conference in Brussels. Under the terms, the transition period will end in December 2020, while the UK has also given ground on free movement rights and fishing quota rules. However, Britain will be free to negotiate and sign trade agreements after the formal exit date next March. Gibraltar was also explicitly included in the scope of the deal.  
The hard-fought package is now set to be signed off by EU leaders at a summit later this week.

Guardian
Theresa May faced a storm of protest over a transition deal struck with Brussels after conceding a series of her high-profile Brexit demands and agreeing to the “back stop” plan of keeping Northern Ireland under EU law to avoid a hard border with the Republic of Ireland. After an intense few days of talks, the Brexit secretary, David Davis, lauded a provisional agreement on the terms of a 21-month period, ending on 31 December 2020, as a “significant” moment, giving businesses and citizens the reassurance they had demanded. Under a joint withdrawal deal published on Monday, of which 75% is agreed, the UK will retain the benefits of the single market and customs union for “near enough to the two years we asked for”, Davis said, albeit while losing its role in any decision-making institutions.

Independent
One of the architects of the Good Friday Agreement has warned that Theresa May’s failure to deal with problems posed by Northern Ireland’s border threatens to bring  Brexit negotiations “crashing down”. Writing exclusively for 
The IndependentJonathan Powell accused the Prime Minister of committing “the worst possible sin” of having “boxed herself in”. The ex-chief negotiator in Belfast  peace talks said Ms May’s approach will create a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic, laying the seed for dangerous “identity politics” that once fostered division and hatred there. In a warning to  Jeremy Corbyn, he also said Labour’s plan of “a customs union” similarly failed to negate the need for a hard border – which he said could be removed only if the UK stays fully aligned with the single market.

Mirror
Britain and Brussels have agreed the text of a Brexit withdrawal in a key breakthrough ahead of a crunch EU summit this week. The 129-page draft was published by the UK government this lunchtime after a meeting between Brexit Secretary David Davis and EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier. The pound jumped by almost 1% against the dollar as the deal was finished ahead of approval by 27 other EU leaders at the European Council. Mr Barnier said it was a “decisive step” towards agreeing a transition period – in which Britain will be able to sign new trade deals – that will last to December 2020.

Gibraltar

Express
GIBRALTAR is casting a long shadow over Brexit negotiations – with EU negotiator Michel Barnier appearing to back Spain’s bid to swipe back the Rock. Michel Barnier and David Davis appeared to be at odds over the issue of Gibraltar following today’s joint press conference held to unveil the proposed Brexit transition deal. Brexit secretary Mr Davis was clear when addressing the issue of future arrangements for the British colony once the UK quits the bloc next year. He started unequivocally that the new deal definitely included Gibraltar, adding: “We are having very constructive negotiations with Span and these will continue.” But his EU counterpart Mr Barnier was far less emphatic. 

Fisheries

Telegraph
Theresa May is facing a Brexit backlash from Tory MPs over her “abject betrayal” of Britain’s fishermen with rebels planning a fishing boat protest on the Thames. Jacob Rees-Mogg, leader of a 60-strong group of Eurosceptic Conservative MPs, and others are due to board a boat and pass by Parliament throwing fish into the Thames in protest at the alleged “sellout”. A Brexit transition deal agreed with Brussels allows the EU to maintain control of Britain’s territorial waters until the end of 2020, which protestors described as “a potential death sentence” for the British fishing fleet.

Express
JACOB Rees-Mogg is leading a group of more than 60 Eurosceptic Conservative MPs to board a boat for a second “Battle of the Thames” after the “sellout” Brexit deal struck by the Government, it has been revealed. A Brexit transition deal has been agreed with Brussels which means the EU will continue to have control of the UK’s waters until the end of 2020 which protestors are decrying as a “potential death sentence” for the British fishing fleet. MP for north east Somerset Mr Rees-Mogg has also got backing from Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson who warned the 13 Tory MPs in Scotland will oppose any Brexit deal that “fails to deliver full control over fish stocks and vessel access”.

BBC News
The UK’s agreement to keep EU fishing policies during the Brexit transition period has been described as a “betrayal” to coastal communities. Scottish Conservative MP John Lamont made the comment after Brexit negotiators hailed a “decisive step”. If the agreement is implemented, the EU will “consult” the UK on quotas and access to its waters until 2021. The Daily Telegraph says Tory critics of the deal are planning to protest on a boat on the Thames by Parliament. The paper says that prominent Eurosceptic MP Jacob Rees-Mogg is expected to board a boat and throw fish into the river in protest at the alleged “sell-out”.

Westmonster
Ruth Davidson, leader of the Scottish Conservatives, has promised to veto any Brexit deal that sells out fisheries to the European Union. “During these negotiations, we wanted to gain control over our waters from as early as the end of next year,” she said in a statement. The latest draft agreement from the EU states that until the transition period ends in 2020, the EU will continue to decide the UK’s fishing policy and that Britain will only be consulted on proposed legislation, but will lack a vote or veto. Westmonster sat down with Fishing for Leave’s Aaron Brown a few weeks back, who told us that being trapped in a transitional deal would be disastrous for British fishermen and it ‘could eradicate what’s left of the UK fishing industry.”

Mail
Theresa May will hold crisis talks with Scottish Tories today after they threatened to veto the final Brexit deal unless it secures ‘full control’ of the UK’s fishing grounds. Industry leaders criticised ministers after they accepted that the EU will be able to fix fishing quotas in British waters during the Brexit transition period. UK officials will not be in the room when the decisions are made, but Brexit Secretary David Davis insisted that Britain would still be ‘consulted’ on the quota, and said the share awarded to UK boats would not be reduced.

Express
THE IRISH government has demanded the European Union ensure the UK is not “backsliding” on a Brexit agreement over the Northern Ireland border as David Davis meets with his EU counterpart Michel Barnier today. Dublin has made clear the nation will not accept a transitional deal without renewed assurances from Britain that there can be a “backstop” arrangement, if all else fails, to avoid a disruptive “hard border” after Brexit. The meeting comes before EU leaders are expected to offer London a deal on a transition period at a summit on Friday.

Independent
Scottish Conservatives have hit out at the draft Brexit  transition deal on fishing rights, with one suggesting it would be easier “to get someone to drink a pint of cold sick” than selling it as a success.  The  Scottish Tory leader and rising star Ruth Davidson also criticised the agreement as an “undoubted disappointment” and warned she will not support a Brexit deal which fails to deliver full control over fish stocks and vessel access.  The comments follow an agreement between Britain and the EU over the terms of the transition period during which the UK will temporarily remain subject to the bloc’s rules until December 2020.

Sun
BRITAIN yesterday secured a Brexit transition deal vital to business that will also allow fresh trade talks around the globe. Brexit Secretary David Davis and EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier unveiled terms for the 21 month period intermin period after crunch Brussels talks. Business bosses told of their relief over the deal that will end fears of a cliff edge for firms, and Sterling surged on the news. But a series of concessions by Theresa May on immigration and fishing rights sparked a furious Tory revolt. Scots Tory MPs attacked the status quo agreement, that leaves UK fishermen still having their quotas set by the EU until the transition ends, on December 31, 2020.

Spy poisoning

Times
Britain received backing from the EU over the Salisbury poisoning yesterday but only after Greece weakened a joint statement at the last minute. EU foreign ministers declared the bloc “takes extremely seriously” Britain’s claim that Russia was responsible and called on the Kremlin “to address urgently the questions raised by the UK”. This did not go as far as the United States last week or a joint US, French and German declaration which said that there were “no plausible alternatives” to Russian culpability. The EU instead called on Moscow to provide full disclosure of its novichok programme to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).

Independent
The European Union has demanded that the  Russian  government hand over for scrutiny all information about the nerve agent that allegedly poisoned a former spy on British soil. At a meeting in Brussels on Monday the EU’s 28 foreign ministers condemned the “reckless and illegal” poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal and said information about the Novichok nerve agent should be handed over to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons investigation.  

Mail
Theresa May is to soft-pedal on demands for new EU sanctions against Russia  after the first cracks emerged in European unity over the Salisbury attack. The Prime Minister will discuss a range of new measures against Moscow when she convenes her National Security Council today. Possible moves, which could be announced as early as today, include the expulsion of more diplomats and the closure of a Russian trade outpost in London seen as a front for espionage. Ministers are also looking at ‘new legislation to make it hard for those who wish to do damage to our country’.

Mail
Boris Johnson vowed to crack down on corrupt Russian cash held in Britain today after talks with Nato chief Jens Stoltenberg on the Alliance response to Salisbury. 
The Foreign Secretary has been in Brussels for talks with EU foreign ministers and the Alliance Secretary General. As Britain continued to gain support for its furious reaction to the Salisbury attack, Theresa May reiterated her belief in Kremlin responsibility today as international weapons inspectors arrived at Porton Down to carry out independent tests. 

EU

Sun
EUROCRATS have opened up their plush London embassy to anti-Brexit campaigners, it has emerged. The European Commission’s £25million headquarters in the heart of Westminster has played host to secret meetings to coordinate pro-EU campaigns, it was claimed earlier tonight. And the Politico website revealed a secret anti-Brexit email chain of devout pro-EU figures like Alastair Campbell and Gina Miller as well as Labour peers Peter Mandelson and Andrew Adonis. The European Commission and Parliament both have London offices based at 32 Smith Square – just yards from Parliament.

Express
EUROPEAN Union’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier says an urgent meeting with the Council of Ministers will be held this week with an aim to “complete the draft withdrawal agreement”. Coming as UK Brexit chief David Davis arrived in Brussels for the latest stage in EU exit talks, Mr Barnier said much of the draft treaty has been agreed, heralding this achievement a “decisive step”. And Mr Barnier said of the next steps: “This will be presented by me on Friday at the invitation of Donald Tusk with Jean-Clade Juncker to the EU council of ministers.

Conservatives

Mail
A campaign to win over millennial voters and challenge ‘snowflake’ culture has been launched by a group of young Tory MPs aiming to seize the task of party renewal from David Cameron’s ‘Notting Hill set’. The ‘Freer’ campaign will make the case for free markets and free speech amongst the younger generation. The MPs said they were mobilising to win the battle of ideas as ‘socialism stalks our landscape again’ thanks to the rise of the ‘Corbynite left’. The group will be run by Lee Rowley and Luke Graham, both state-educated MPs in their thirties, who represent working-class seats in Derbyshire and Perthshire. Speaking at their launch last night, Cabinet minister Liz Truss said: ‘Whereas the Tory revolution was once fermented in the town houses of Notting Hill – now it’s the industrial towns and port cities where the call of freedom rings loudest.

Labour Party

Independent
Crisis-hit Labour councils are demanding the freedom to tax land and holidays and to build homes, schools and children’s centres from “day one” of Jeremy Corbyn  reaching No 10. The party’s local government leaders are piling pressure on Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell to reverse the “destroying effects of Tory austerity” immediately, if Labour wins power. In a clear challenge to the Labour leadership, they say cuts of almost 50 per cent to Whitehall funding of local councils has opened up a yawning £7.1bn funding gap by 2020.

Guardian
Momentum-backed Labour candidates will dominate England and Wales’ tightest marginal seat battles even though the leftwing group has won only around a third of selections overall. The leftwing grassroots group has recorded a string of victories in selection battles where Labour has the greatest chance of winning seats at the next general election, including those of the home secretary, Amber Rudd, (Hastings and Rye), the former minister Anna Soubry (Broxtowe) and the Conservative vice-chair Ben Bradley (Mansfield), which Labour lost at the last election for the first time since 1885.

Express
JEREMY Corbyn faces yet more chaos after a raft of senior Labour Party officials QUIT ahead of the expected appointment of Jennie Forby as the party’s new general secretary on Tuesday. Six high-profile party staffers have resigned in protest over the pick. Director of Governance John Stolliday and Director of Policy and Research Simon Jackson are among those leaving. Ms Formby, a Unite official, goes up against former NUT leader Christine Blower for the post. She has the support of Jeremy Corbyn, Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell and other senior party figures. It comes amid a slew of resignations and just weeks after Iain McNicol dramatically quit as General Secretary after seven years in the job.

UKIP

Telegraph
Ukip has been ordered to pay £175,000 in legal costs over a defamation case brought by three Labour MPs. The party has been told to pay the money towards the costs incurred by Sir Keven Barron, John Healey and Sarah Champion. The interim payment order by Justice Warby comes just days after Ukip’s leader  Gerard Batten issued a plea for cash for the party. At an earlier High Court hearing it was ruled that the party took a “deliberate, informed and calculated” decision to ensure that the defamation action brought by Rotherham’s three Labour MPs against a Ukip MEP should not be settled before the 2015 General Election.

Mail
UKIP is on the brink of collapse after a judge ordered the party to pay £175,000 in a defamation case brought by three Labour MPs. The party has been told to pay the money towards the costs incurred by Sir Keven Barron, John Healey and Sarah Champion. The interim payment order by Justice Warby comes at a time of financial difficulty for the party. Just earlier this month UKIP leader Gerard Batten said the party had to raise £100,000 by the end of March if it was to stay afloat.

Guardian
Ukip is teetering on the brink of bankruptcy after it was presented with a legal bill of £175,000 for its part in a libel action involving three Labour MPs in the run up to the 2015 election. If the party does not appeal, it must find the cash in the next fortnight, which may leave it unable to field candidates in the local elections in May. The party has been hovering on the edge of insolvency since its support collapsed following the resignation of Nigel Farage as leader after the EU referendum. Last month it lost a complex legal case involving its role in preventing a libel action settling before the general election of 2015.

White Easter?’

Sun
BRITS could be hit by the “Beast from the East 3” as the threat of snow returns next week – and with it the chance of a “White Easter”. The existing cold snap may be coming to an end, but snow and below-average temperatures could return just in time for the holiday weekend. BBC weather presenter Simon King tweeted: “Who likes trilogies? “When you get a sudden stratsopheric warming event like we saw in Jan, it often means you can get more than one/two/three bouts of colder weather. “#BeastFromTheEast continued?” The Weather Outlook has also indicated that we might not have seen the back of the wintry weather, with forecasts suggesting high pressure could build to the northwest in the run-up to Easter. This could bring a “renewed snow risk” – with statistically a greater chance of a White Easter than a White Christmas.

Star
BONE-CHILLING Britain is bracing for yet another Beast from the East that will leave the UK under a “White Easter”. The current cold snap that has sparked “risk to life” weather warnings is about to end, but not for much longer. Another blast of cold air from Siberia and Scandinavia is set to slam into the country again on the Easter weekend – the third in weeks. And with it will be plummeting temperatures, snow and ice that could leave an already fragile Britain crippled. BBC weather presenter Simon King confirmed every Brit’s worst fear this afternoon, confirming the “Beast from the East continued”.

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