EUROPEAN Union leaders are plotting to throw Westminster into chaos and deal blow after blow to the leadership of Theresa May in a bid to soften Brexit, Brussels insiders have revealed. The plot from the bloc’s top brass will see EU negotiator Michel Barnier refuse to give way on key goals for Mrs May’s government unless she vows to remain in the customs union. The negotiation strategy is being orchestrated by European Council chief Donald Tusk – who last week claimed the EU’s “heart” was open to Britain if it decided to reverse Brexit. However despite his rhetoric towards the UK, the top Eurocrat faces accusations of sowing discord through Westminster in a bid to scupper the people’s decision to leave. The plot will deny Britain the opportunity to broker any bespoke sectoral deals – blocking swathes of UK industry including the nation’s lucrative financial services from seamlessly operating within the EU.
The UK has already “agreed in principle” to a Norway-style Brexit transition period in which it accepts all EU rules with no power to shape them, a senior figure in Brussels has told The Independent. A key member of the European Parliament’s Brexit team said British negotiators raised no objections to the plans, which would mean accepting free movement and customs union rules, and falling under the European Court’s jurisdiction. The suggestion that Theresa May’s team has all but swallowed the transition proposal from Brussels will anger Conservative MPs, who believe it leaves Britain a “vassal state” for some two years after Brexit. Data from a survey of Tory MPs on Monday suggested three-quarters oppose a transition in which free movement for EU citizens continues. A government source told The Independent that while Ms May has set out a desire to achieve a transition or “implementation” period on “current terms”, exactly how it will work has not been decided.
Britain will be “an EU member in all but name” for years after Brexit – but unable to make any of its decisions, MEPs have declared. The influential figures tonight said they believe the UK is heading for a Norway-style relationship with Brussels during a transition period of around two years immediately after March 2019. The remarks by members of European Parliament’s Brexit steering risk prompting a fresh outcry from Tory Brexiteers. And it comes just hours after MPs debated a petition with more than 100,000 signatures to leave the EU immediately. Belgian MEP Philippe Lamberts told The Independent: “During the transition period, the UK will be a member in all but name, but it will no longer sit at the two tables where decisions are made; parliament and council. “It has to be a Norwegian-style deal, it cannot be anything else and this has been agreed in principle.”
BREXIT could be “frustrated” by the “bureaucratic” civil service because it goes so “fundamentally against the grain”, warns arch-Brexiteer and former Thatcher Cabinet member Lord Lawson. Speaking on BBC Newsnight, the Conservative Peer gave a stark warning about officials doing “everything they can” to frustrate the Brexit process. He said: “The officials will do their best to frustrate this process because, as I say, it goes against the grain so fundamentally. “But they equally realise their constitutional duty to accept the leadership of the politicians, of the Government, of the elected Government – that is our constitutional position. “And if they get the real lead, then they will follow it.” The Tory Peer also said the bureaucratic nature of the Civil Service “fits in well” with the mindset of the “undemocratic EU”.
Civil servants are doing their best to frustrate Brexit because they hate change, according to the political institution that is Lord Lawson. Lord Lawson told Newsnight: “The officials will do their best to frustrate this process because it goes against the grain so fundamentally. But they equally realise their constitutional duty to accept the leadership of the politicians, of the elected government. “Brexit is a most radical change of direction for this country. The idea that any bureaucrat could be in favour of radical change is a nonsense. Bureaucrats by their very nature loathe radical change of any kind.” It’s not the first time concerns have been raised about the Remoaning civil service – the unelected and (apparently) Europhile faceless bods pulling the strings behind the scenes.
Michael Gove has warned Theresa May that Britain risks becoming an outdated “VHS economy” if it accepts calls by big business for the UK to be closely aligned with the EU after Brexit. The Environment Secretary told Cabinet that the big companies of today may be eclipsed by businesses that don’t even exist yet as he made the case for a clean Brexit. It comes after the CBI, Britain’s biggest lobby group, called for Britain to remain in a Customs Union with the European Union after Brexit. Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, and David Davis, the Brexit Secretary, criticised the move and warned it would effectively mean Britain stays in the EU.
The German government has warned Britain that there are still “leftovers” from the previous phase of Brexit negotiations that must be dealt with if Theresa May wants a final deal. Though EU and British negotiators inked a joint text in December on Northern Ireland, the divorce bill, and citizens’ rights, the agreement merely embodied “sufficient progress” to move to the next phase of talks and left a variety of loose ends. Peter Ptassek, Germany’s top diplomat in charge of Brexit said in a statement posted on social media that he had a “friendly reminder” for the UK negotiating team. “‘Sufficient progress’ in withdrawal questions meant: we are not there yet. More work to be done,” he said. “Many Brexit leftovers will surface when EU-Commission starts drafting withdrawal agreement, e.g. text on Ireland! Point here is: Legal text has to be clear.”
FRUSTRATED Brexit supporters were urged to have “patience” last night as the Government insisted it has made progress on a good exit deal with Brussels. Both Leave and Remain MPs warned against a “no deal” Brexit. They spoke in the House of Commons’ Westminster Hall after more than 137,000 people signed a petition calling on the Government to “walk away” from EU talks. Midlands voter Jack Taylor’s petition submitted last September claimed: “The EU looks set to offer us a punishment deal. “Why wait another 18 months when we could leave right away and fully take back control of our country?” Tory Leave MP Paul Scully said national splits on Brexit could not be “healed” unless politicians recognised “there are people who feel so passionately” but no-deal would not be the right outcome.
Enoch Powell said famously that all political careers end in failure. Nigel Farage should have proved him wrong. Farage’s career should — repeat should — have ended in triumph. After all, he went into politics with just one aim and succeeded spectacularly. Up to a point. The magnificent Leave victory in 2016 was a vindication of Farage’s virtually single-handed campaign to get Britain out of the EU. Yes, others can also take credit. But Farage was the figurehead, often a lone voice in the wilderness. No one had to endure the vilification and violence directed at Farage as he took his message around the country year after year, well before Call Me Dave finally buckled and gave the people a long-overdue referendum.
There is a way of thinking about Brexit that has proven popular because it is of comfort both to the UK and to the remaining 27 member states of the EU. This is to view it as a uniquely British affair, one that realigns this country with its old traditions – in Europe, but not a direct part of it; a bridge between Europe and the US. The continental version, meanwhile, views Brexit as a liberation for the EU after putting up for decades with grumbling Brits. As one French journalist put it a day after the referendum: “My English friends, thank you for your sacrifice.” This is wrong. Far from being an isolated event, Brexit is representative of growing economic and political tensions within Europe on the matter of European integration. Look at the political tremors now shaking the EU’s keystone nation, Germany, which have even threatened the position of Angela Merkel.
Brussels will pay the costs of “settled status” residency applications for more than three million EU nationals in Britain after Brexit, in a plan said to be backed by Jean-Claude Juncker. The European Commission president will agree to pay Home Office bills of up to £230 million for EU citizens to secure their permanent residency rights in Britain, a source in Brussels said. The proposal to pick up the bill, tabled by Guy Verhofstadt, the European parliament’s negotiator, and senior MEPs as a way for the EU to win the moral high ground in Brexit talks, had been “positively received” by Mr Juncker, the source added.
Brussels could seek the moral high ground by covering the application costs of EU nationals who want to stay in the UK after Brexit, under proposals being discussed at the highest levels of the European commission. The UK Home Office has threatened to charge a £72 fee for applicants seeking so-called “settled status” in the UK, which grants them indefinite leave to remain. Applicants will have to demonstrate five years’ continuous residence and pass a criminal record test. It has emerged that the European commission president, Jean-Claude Juncker, has expressed sympathy with a suggestion that Brussels could cover the fees if the UK does not make a more generous offer during further negotiations this year.
Boris Johnson will seize the floor at a meeting of the cabinet today and demand a £5 billion annual cash injection for the health service beginning next year. Allies of the foreign secretary say that he has a “track record of winning” and will not relent on demands for a £100-million-a-week Brexit dividend until it is secured. Britain is expected to keep making contributions to the EU during a two-year transition period until 2021, but Mr Johnson believes that the extra NHS cash should be spent from March next year, when Britain formally leaves the bloc. There is no indication of how the money could be counted as a “dividend” from contributions yet to return.
Boris Johnson will use today’s meeting of the Cabinet to demand using the ‘Brexit dividend’ to give the NHS a £5billion annual cash injection. The Foreign Secretary is said to have the backing for the move from a string of ministers, including Michael Gove, Jeremy Hunt, Chris Grayling and international development secretary Penny Mordaunt. Mr Johnson, whose campaign to leave the EU promised billions of pounds in extra funding for the NHS, has raised the issue with Theresa May in private on several occasions since the 2016 referendum. But the move is being resisted by Downing Street and the Treasury. Mr Johnson’s plans to give the health service £100 million a week are being delayed to prevent him claiming a political victory, friends of the Foreign Secretary have warned.
Boris Johnson will tell cabinet colleagues that all experts are agreed on the need for an urgent financial boost for the NHS, as he warns that Conservative failure to act will result in Jeremy Corbyn winning the next election. Allies of the foreign secretary suggested that he would not stop making the argument for more money – with a particular demand for £100m extra per week after Brexit – until Theresa May concedes. They insisted the pressure was not simply about fulfilling the pledges painted on the side of the Vote Leave campaign bus. They said Johnson believed the issue was at the top of voters’ concerns and suggested he was frustrated that key advisers to the prime minister had indicated the Tories were too far behind Labour on the issue to make it worth an intense policy focus. “Boris believes that if the Tories are going to beat Corbyn at the next election they must make the NHS a top priority and deliver new funding,” said an ally. “Every poll conducted shows the NHS is top of swing voter concerns and every expert says it needs more money. The cabinet will have to act and the sooner the better.
Boris Johnson is expected to use today’s Cabinet meeting to demand an extra £100m a week for the NHS, before the UK has stopped contributing to the European Union. It is understood he wants the health service budget boosted from March next year, when the UK formally leaves the EU, although contributions to Brussels will continue during a two-year transition period until 2021. Last week, Mr Johnson reopened a row over his controversial claim that leaving the EU will save Britain £350m per week – insisting the figure was too low. Mr Johnson’s demand for extra cash comes as Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt prepares to update ministers on the NHS winter crisis and against a background of moaning from some Tories that Theresa May’s Government lacks boldness.
MILLIONS of pounds of NHS cash is being poured into the pockets of a small private consultancy firm hired to find savings through cuts in Kent — and the practice could be widespread, campaigners warned today. Investigations by health service activists Diane Langford and Julie Wassmer suggest that more than £6 million was handed by Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS (MTW) to private consultancy firm Carnall Farrar to find “efficiency savings.” They also point out that the “independent” chair of the Kent NHS body set up by the government to impose the cuts, Dame Ruth Carnell, is also a partner in Carnell Farrer. The campaigners said they had become concerned when they saw the appointment of Ms Carnall to chair the local sustainability and transformation programme (STP) board, one of 44 set up by the government to find more “efficiency savings” in local NHS services.
Ukip is refusing to pay scandal-hit leader Henry Bolton a penny in salary in a bid to oust him by penury. The move by the anti-EU party’s top panel to “starve” him out leaves their boss penniless, as he has no other form of income. The revelation comes after a vicious party civil war deepened yesterday when 16 out of 24 frontbench spokesmen walked out on Mr Bolton. In extraordinary scenes, he again refused to resign despite bosses’ no confidence vote against him on Sunday after his scandalous fling with racist 25-year-old model Jo Marney. Instead, the Ukip leader elevated the tussle of wills by vowing to get the party’s entire national executive committee sacked. Branding it “not fit for purpose”, Mr Bolton declared: “The NEC has lost the confidence of me as well as a large body of party membership.
Henry Bolton has confirmed he’s not standing down as UKIP Leader, instead he said that in the “next four weeks, I shall be calling for the coordination and mobilisation of all Leave campaigns, to ensure that the government delivers full independence from the European Union”. He said it’s time to “drain the swamp” – a reference to UKIP’s NEC that passed a vote of no confidence in him last night.
Ukip’s embattled leader refused to quit last night despite being left with fewer than half of his top team after a humiliating wave of resignations. A defiant Henry Bolton told a press conference, hastily convened on the driveway of a hotel in Folkestone, that he would continue as leader, resisting calls for his departure from his deputy leader and other Ukip spokesmen and women who resigned in protest at his refusal to step down yesterday. He vowed to purge rivals he blamed for “factional infighting” and, channelling President Trump, said he would “drain the swamp” of internal dissent. Mr Bolton, a political novice, pledged to professionalise the party when he became its fourth leader in the space of a year in September.
Mike Hookem, Ukip‘s assistant deputy leader, has become the latest frontbencher to step down in protest at Henry Bolton‘s leadership. The MEP said he was quitting after Mr Bolton refused to resign. Mr Hookem told his party leader: “Ukip is now in the preposterous situation of the leader’s private life being of more interest than the party. “In the present situation, I believe that you have no alternative other than to resign your position as Ukip leader.” He said he had resigned on Friday but not made his decision public in order to give Mr Bolton the chance to resign. Describing the situation in the party as an “almost farcical scandal”, Mr Hookem added: “I now urge Mr Bolton to stand down as a matter of priority, for the good of the party and the grassroots membership.”
Nigel Farage has suggested to chaos-hit Henry Bolton that he’s “stupid and selfish” in a cringeworthy live radio interview. The right-winger grilled his successor as UKIP leader after he refused to quit today, vowing to “drain the swamp” despite mass resignations and a looming no-confidence vote. UKIP members were left outraged last week when Mr Bolton was spotted holding hands and on the train home with 25-year-old glamour model Jo Marney – who he claimed he’d ditched her over racist messages she sent about Meghan Markle. Mr Farage, who’s become an LBC radio host since stepping down in 2016, told Mr Bolton that to many UKIP members his decision to see Ms Marney again was “the height of stupidity”. He put it to Mr Bolton that his behaviour was “a little bit cringemaking” and his refusal to step down voluntarily could be “perhaps just a little bit selfish”.
Ukip leader Henry Bolton is a “cock-led conceited ass” who is set to be expelled from the party, according a senior source. The astonishing attack on Bolton came after the under-fire leader was offered the chance to resign with dignity during a crunch meeting with Ukip’s ruling body on Sunday afternoon. Even after members of the National Executive Committee held a vote of no confidence in Bolton’s leadership, he was given the chance to step down and have the vote effectively wiped from the record in order to spare his blushes. But after considering the offer for around 20 minutes, Bolton decided to fight on, meaning the anti-EU party needs to call an Emergency General Meeting within 28 days to allow members to decide if whether to oust the leader. Since yesterday’s developments, more of Ukip’s frontbench have resigned in protest at Bolton’s leadership, including deputy leader Margot Parker and Education spokesman David Kurten. Speaking to HuffPost UK, a senior source with intimate knowledge of Sunday’s NEC meeting said: “The man’s a cock-led conceited ass.” They added: “We may well have to expel him from the party after the EGM.”
THE British Government is drawing up plans to deal with a killer tsunami that could engulf our beaches within two hours, it has been revealed. As revealed by Daily Star Online in 2017, a Canary Islands volcano threatens to send a mountain cascading into the sea and triggering a monster tsunami. The terrifying weather event would sent giant waves zooming towards Spain, the US, and the UK, potentially killing thousands along the way. And with seismic activity now soaring in the Cumbre Vieja volcano in La Palma, experts in the UK are on high alert over fears an eruption will wreak havoc on our beaches. So the Government is now said to be drawing up plans for such an event which would send two-metre waves cascading down on British seaside towns within two hours of the eruption.