THE European Union’s chief Brexit negotiator yesterday stoked up tensions ahead of crucial talks by suggesting Britain was not taking the process seriously. Michel Barnier sounded dismissive towards policy papers the UK has published this month setting out details and options on issues surrounding Britain’s actual departure from the EU and future relations with the bloc. The EU Commission envoy claimed Britain’s position on key divorce issues remained unclear and he was concerned about slow progress. He was welcoming UK Brexit  Secretary David Davis to Brussels for their third round of monthly face-to-face talks which was already fraught with frustration on both sides.

Britain’s relationship with Brussels appeared close to breaking point tonight as the EU’s’ chief Brexit negotiator was accused of an “ill-judged and unhelpful” attack on the UK. The latest round of Brexit talks descended into open hostility as Michel Barnier sniped at Britain for “ambiguity” in its stance on the so-called “divorce bill” and lectured the UK to take the issue “seriously”. Senior sources close to the talks rounded on Mr Barnier, saying he was “stuck with a headache of his own making” over the Brexit bill because of suggestions that Britain should pay to leave the EU and continue to make payments for access to the single market during a transition period. “We are not going to pay twice,” said one source.

The European Union’s chief negotiator has warned Britain to start “negotiating seriously” as the stand-off over the Brexit divorce bill intensified. Speaking before the latest round of talks began in Brussels today, Michel Barnier voiced frustration at the government’s “ambiguity” and the failure of ministers to publish a position paper on the UK’s potential financial liabilities. As the rhetoric on both sides escalated, a senior government source described Mr Barnier’s attack as “ill-considered and unhelpful”, while David Davis, the Brexit secretary, pointedly called on the European Commission to show “flexibility and imagination” in this week’s discussions.

BBC News
The European Union’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier has expressed concern about progress so far, as the third round of Brexit talks gets under way. He warned that UK “ambiguity” must be removed and progress on “separation” issues made before any talks on the future EU-UK relationship. For his part, UK Brexit Secretary David Davis said both sides had to show “flexibility and imagination”. The two men spoke at a brief media call before the talks got started. The two sides have played down the prospect of a breakthrough in this week’s talks.

Michel Barnier dismissed Britain’s raft of Brexit policy papers today as he demanded serious talks on the divorce with the EU. In a clear sign of the impasse which is leaving the negotiations deadlocked, Mr Barnier warned he was ‘concerned’ about the failure to make progress. Brexit Secretary David Davis arrived in Brussels today prepared to deliver a hard-hitting message about what Britain sees as needless delays provoked by the EU’s insistence on a two-phase negotiation. The Government is furious at Mr Barnier’s demand for agreement on Britain’s exit bill, the Irish border and citizens rights before discussing anything else.

Huffington Post
The European Union’s chief Brexit negotiator has signalled the UK needs to take talks over exiting the bloc more “seriously” in a sign discussions may hit a wall. Michel Barnier said on Monday he was worried that time was passing without progress on the terms for Britain’s departure, a sign the UK’s recent position papers on its preferred terms of separation have not passed muster in Brussels. His comments to the media came as Barnier and Brexit Secretary David Davis opened the third round of talks on the UK’s exit. Barnier’s striking comments suggest they are making slow progress ahead of the UK formally quitting the union at the end of March 2019.  

The EU’s Brexit chief has told Britain to “start negotiating seriously” in an icy start to a fresh round of talks. Michel Barnier bluntly warned Brexit Secretary David Davis he is getting “concerned” about Britain’s “ambiguity” as they kicked off their third set of monthly negotiations today in Brussels. The Tory government has spent the last two weeks releasing detailed ‘position papers’ on Britain’s relationship with the EU after March 2019. The papers include visions of a temporary customs union and a Northern Irish border free of passport checks.
But they do not include Britain’s approach to its multi-billion pound divorce bill – a key ‘separation issue’ Brussels wants to settle before building a future deal.

Ahead of another week of UK-EU negotiations the atmosphere has turned tense, with the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier lecturing the British government and the UK pushing back. Barnier has said that: “To be honest, I am concerned. Time passes quickly,” and that: “We must start negotiating seriously…the sooner we remove the ambiguity, the sooner we will be in a position to discuss on the future relationship and a transitional period.” The EU want the UK to start talking money and set an amount they are prepared to hand over for trade talks to move forward, but the British government is resisting. UK government sources have briefed that the EU’s Michel Barnier was “stuck with a headache of his own making” as he had suggested Britain may not only have to cough up a Brexit divorce bill but hand over additional funding after that as well. If Brussels continues to play hard ball, there is another option – walk away and pay no bill at all.

Sky News
The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator has said the UK needs to clarify its positions and end “ambiguity” if it wants “serious” withdrawal talks. Speaking as the third round of Brexit talks began in Brussels, Michel Barnier voiced “concern” that time was passing quickly before the Article 50 deadline. He urged for more openness from Brexit secretary David Davis on the divorce deal before future relations and a transition deal could be discussed. Mr Barnier added: “The EU 27 and the European Parliament stand united. They will not accept that separation issues are not addressed properly.”

THE EU’s Brexit negotiator Guy Verhofstadt has insisted the UK must agree to settle its divorce bill before trade talks can begin. The Belgian MEP issued the warning to Brexit  Secretary David Davis in a Twitter post as the third round of negotations began in Brussels. The UK’s Brexit bill, formally known as the financial settlement is one of the most contentious aspects of the talks. High-ranking EU sources have said it could be as high as £92bn (€100bn), in a shameless bid to punish Britain for leaving the bloc. And Verhofstadt today made clear the EU would not be willing to discuss a new trade deal with the bloc until Britain agrees to pay up. The Europhile, known for his provocative social media posts, tweeted: “With Michel Barnier to prepare Brexit negotiations. “Citizens’ rights, Ireland and financial settlement are priorities before talks about the future.”

DAVID Davis clashed with his EU Brexit talks counterpart Michel Barnier last night as the pair blamed each other for stalling. In the biggest face-to-face bust-up of negotiations so far, the French bureaucrat accused the Government of not taking the negotiations seriously. He slammed Brexit Secretary Mr Davis for not saying how much Britain will pay in a divorce bill. Brussels wants as much as £80billion. Mr Barnier dismissed the Government’s detailed Brexit planning with a grumpy two-minute statement. But Mr Davis eyeballed Mr Barnier as he told him twice he wants this week’s round of talks to address “all the issues”, not just the money.

The EU’s chief negotiator on Britain’s exit from the bloc is “concerned” about the progress of talks and has urged the UK to start “negotiating seriously”, as the third round of talks with the UK’s Brexit secretary, David Davis, began in Brussels. Michel Barnier said he welcomed the British government’s position papers, which he said had been read “very carefully” in Brussels, but standing beside Davis he added that he wanted the UK to come clean on how much it was prepared to pay in terms of an exit bill. Barnier said he thought this was not good enough: “We need UK positions on all separation issues. This is necessary to make sufficient progress. We must start negotiating seriously. We need UK papers that are clear in order to have constructive negotiations. And the sooner we remove the ambiguity the sooner we will be in a position to discuss the future relationship and to a transitional period.”

The European Union’s chief Brexit negotiator has said he is “concerned” at “ambiguity” in the UK’s approach to secession talks and called on Britain to start “negotiating seriously”. At a press conference in Brussels to mark the start of the third round of Article 50 talks Michel Barnier said it was impossible to make serious progress on negotiating the UK’s exit from the EU while the British position lacked detail. The UK Government has spent the last month issuing “position papers” laying out the British position on certain Brexit issues – but some issues, including the question of the so-called “divorce bill” for leaving, have been notable by their omission so far.  “To be honest I am concerned. Time passes quickly. I welcome the UK government’s papers, and we have read them very carefully, very carefully,” Mr Barnier told reporters in Brussels.

Labour Party

Nigel Farage has slammed Labour Leader, Jeremy Corbyn, over his continual flip-flopping on Brexit. Just weeks after campaigning on a manifesto committed to ending freedom of movement and leaving the single market, Labour have now backpeddled and want to maintain both for years after the UK formally leaves the EU in March 2019. Speaking on his LBC show, Farage said he had hoped that Corbyn, being a lifelong Eurosceptic and friend of the late Tony Benn, would “harr
y the Government to get on with Brexit and make sure it was a clean Brexit.” “I was wrong, completely wrong, because clearly there isn’t much principle at all with Corbyn, clearly he’s bowing to pressure from his backbenchers.”

Remain Tories warned their colleagues today Labour‘s policy shift on the single market meant their ‘hard Brexit‘ plan was going ‘down the pan’. After months of hesitation, the Opposition yesterday moved decisively to back continued single market membership during a transition to Brexit. The decision would likely mean Britain accepting free movement rules and paying into the EU budget until 2022 – ideas loathed by Brexit supporters. But after Theresa May’s election disaster left her without an outright majority a handful of pro-Remain Tories have the power to join forces with Labour, the SNP and others to block a hard Brexit. 

The architects of Labour’s Brexit policy have said they are ready to take a “political hit” after their plan to keep Britain in the single market after EU withdrawal exposed divisions at the top of the party. Allies of Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer  accepted their proposal would mean the party is accused of wanting to keep the EU free movement many Labour voters oppose, but said it was the “least worst option” for the economy and critical to safeguarding jobs. But others at the top of the party branded the move “unwise” and warned it would be “incredibly damaging” in Labour voting areas that had backed Brexit in a bid to reduce immigration.

Morning Star
MPs risks alienating wide swathes of the party’s voters, leading EU critic Kate Hoey has said. The Labour Campaign for the Single Market (LCSM) will launch in London next week, led by Alison McGovern, who chairs the pro-business lobby group Progress, and Heidi Alexander, who resigned from the front bench last year in protest at Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership. This weekend, Ms Alexander welcomed shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer’s transitional demand for single market membership for a period of years after Brexit. But she said this did not go far enough, demanding that Labour “must make the case for single market and customs union membership full stop.” Vauxhall MP Ms Hoey, one of Labour’s most vociferous opponents of EU membership, said the cause of remaining in the single market was being championed by MPs seeking a new “raison d’etre” because they had failed to remove Mr Corbyn as leader. “The problem is that a lot of this is being led by people in our party who thought Jeremy is hopeless and they were going to be leader,” she told the Star.

JOHN Redwood has slammed Labour’s dramatic promise to keep the UK in the single market and customs union post-Brexit, saying the party aims to “weaken” the government’s position before formal talks today. The Tory Leave supporter questioned whether the U-turn policy on the 
European Uniorepresents the Leadership’s views and said the party is “making themselves an irrelevance” on Brexit issues by “flip flopping around”.  The staunch Brexiteer said: “Presumably the aim was to try to weaken the government’s position just one day ahead of important talks with the EU, as a warm up to Mr Blair’s audience later in the week with the EU Commission on the same issue when he will doubtless want to argue for some kind of continued or watered down membership of the EU for a country which has democratically voted to leave.

Labour members should be free to choose their next leader without needing the permission of MPs, the shadow fire minister Chris Williamson has said, arguing that those who oppose changing the rules are frightened of democracy. Williamson, a strong supporter of Jeremy Corbyn, said it was looking “very, very positive” for changes to be passed at the party’s autumn conference next month to ensure candidates for the Labour leadership need only the support of 5% of MPs and MEPs instead of the current threshold of 15%. The rule change is referred to by critics as the  McDonnell amendment as it would make it easier for John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, or another candidate from the left to succeed Corbyn when the time comes.

North Korea

ITV News
North Korea has fired a missile which managed to fly over northern Japan, authorities say. The projectile passed over the island of Hokkaido before breaking up into three pieces and landing in the Pacific Ocean, according to officials in Japan. Tokyo criticised Tuesday’s launch, labelling it a “grave threat”, but insisted the country was prepared to defend itself. South Korea’s military estimated that the missile flew more than 1,600 miles from launch in Pyongyang. It comes just weeks after an exchange of threats between North Korea and US president Donald Trump, as tensions over the country’ s nuclear ambitions continue to increase. And the development also follows a similar missile exercise carried out by the rogue state on Saturday, where 
three short-range rockets were fired into the sea off North Korea’s coast.

North Korea launched its latest missile on Monday, part of a series of launches seemingly intended to express anger at a joint U.S.-South Korean missile drill currently in progress. The Monday launch reportedly passed over Japanese territory, in a significant escalation of North Korea’s provocative behavior. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Monday afternoon that the North Korean missile was detected flying toward Japan, and shortly afterward passed through Japanese airspace over the Tohoku region, which is in the northern part of the country. “We’ll take utmost efforts to protect the public,” Abe promised  after the launch was detected. Tohoku residents were urged to take shelter in a “sturdy building or basement” as the missile approached.


Britain can only deport foreign terrorists hiding behind human rights laws to two countries at a time because the process is too expensive, a long-awaited review has revealed.  Dangerous jihadists who pose a threat to national security cannot be sent back to a long list of countries including Libya, Egypt, Syria, Pakistan, Sudan, Yemen and Russia even if a guarantee of fair treatment is obtained, according to the report ordered by Theresa May.  Where assurances can be sought – as they were in the case of Abu Qatada – the process is so complicated and costly the Home Office has admitted that it can only manage negotiations with two nations at a time.  Professor Clive Walker, an international law expert who co-authored the report with David Anderson QC, the then independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, estimates that the number of foreign jihadists who could avoid deportation “probably exceeded 40”.  

New fighter

BRITAIN’S new fighter jet will “own the skies” as an RAF fighter pilot lifted the lid on the new plane. Wing Commander James Beck told Daily Star Online about the awesome power of the F-35 Lightning II. Flying at altitudes of 50,000ft and at speeds of more than 1200mph, the UK has 138 of these planes on order. F-35s will crew the Royal Navy’s new aircraft carriers HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince Wales. The planes will allow pilots to fly “anywhere” and will ensure dominance over the skies, Beck said. Speaking to Daily Star Online at HMNB Portsmouth, he said: “We will own the skies wherever we choose to. “We are not going to let the enemy dictate what we do now.”

Energy prices

Morning Star
FORMER LABOUR MP Alan Simpson accused the so-called Big Six energy companies of rigging the market yesterday after new figures revealed that households have forked out an unnecessary £7.3 billion on bills in the last five years. Families supplied by British Gas, EDF, Npower, SSE, E.ON and Scottish Power have been paying out an average of £853 more a year than they needed to in that time, Ofgem data shows. Energy provider Bulb looked at Ofgem figures and found that Big Six firms generally attract new customers by initially offering cheaper fixed tariffs. But those tariffs tend to expire within one to two years, at which point customers are usually transferred to standard variable tariffs costing up to 30 per cent more.


Councils across the country are planning to reduce bin collections to just one a month in a move affecting more than 2.5million people, sparking health fears. The scheme is being implemented in a bid to force households to recycle more – under European Union targets Britain must recycle at least half of all household waste by 2020. The figure is currently at 43 per cent. But the move, which has seen 18 councils moving or planning to move to three-weekly rubbish collections, has sparked outrage in the one million households which will be affected. Another three councils are testing out monthly collections. In January furious residents demanded ministers intervene to halt the spread of monthly collections after a pilot scheme made their lives a misery.


Morning Star
LABOUR accused the Tories yesterday of neglecting the NHS as new figures showed that the number of cancelled urgent operations had risen by two-thirds in England since they came to power. Labour health spokeswoman Julie Cooper called on the government to “get a grip” and give the NHS additional funding as NHS England data revealed that 337 urgent operations were cancelled in July 2017 compared with 299 in the same month last year — a rise of 13 per cent. Urgent operations include those that must be carried out within hours of injury to save a patient’s life, limb or organ. An operation recorded as cancelled will not have been rescheduled within 24 hours. The statistics also showed a 66 per cent rise in cancelled urgent operations compared with July 2011.

Free childcare

Tens of thousands of parents are reportedly still waiting to find out if they will receive the government’s offer of 30 hours of free childcare just days before the scheme is set to launch.  The flagship Tory election pledge is set to come into force on 1 September, and will double the current government-funded allowance.  There have been accusations of a funding shortfall and technical difficulties as many people are still yet to have had their details processed. Latest figures suggest that 82,000 parents who are entitled to the extra childcare have not been informed as to whether they have secured funding, according to a letter seen by 
The Observer. 

Thousands of places on the Tories’ free childcare scheme still hadn’t been fully confirmed just days before the deadline. The revelation is a new hitch with the flagship policy, which has already been barraged by website problems earlier this summer and repeated warnings nurseries won’t get enough funds. Three- and four-year-olds are due to get 30 hours’ a week free childcare from this Friday thanks to a landmark Tory manifesto pledge. If you’re eligible, you have until just August 31 – this Thursday – to apply. More than 200,000 parents have already applied to join the childcare scheme, generating “codes” which they can exchange for the free hours. But these codes have to be “validated” before parents can be guaranteed a place, to prove they’re eligible. A week before the deadline, the Department for Education admitted just 56% of codes had gone through the validation process.

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