The British government is pushing for continuous Brexit negotiations with the hope of breaking the Brexit deadlock – but it seems like it still all comes down to money for the greedy EU big wigs. Germany is still refusing to let trade talks develop, so negotiations remain stagnant. But continuous talks would “clear the thicket” and help push things forward, according to a UK government insider. According to The Telegraph, they said: “Three days of intensive talks is not an effective way to deal with the business, particularly at the end of the negotiation. We need to create an administrative process that gives both sides room to move.” It seems however that the EU still wants a payment of around £50bn before anything can develop, and Theresa May isn’t willing to pay that until she known what Britain will get for its money. Things are going nowhere fast. May’s already gone cap in hand to Brussels as well as the German and French governments. Time to seriously consider walking away.
A Brexit agreement with the EU would need to be enshrined in law and be subject to scrutiny and a vote by MPs and peers, ministers have conceded. Until now Theresa May and David Davis, the Brexit secretary, have insisted that parliament will only be given a “take it or leave it” vote on the overall deal, without the need for primary legislation. But behind the scenes ministers have accepted that their stance is untenable and the government will have to implement key elements of the withdrawal agreement directly into British law. The concession, which could be announced as early as next month, raises the prospect of a lengthy and divisive parliamentary showdown on the eve of Brexit.
LABOUR is leading a plot in the House of Lords to scupper Theresa May’s plans to pull Britain out of the EU rights charter. Along with the Liberal Democrats, the party is on course to force the Prime Minister’s hand in a vote on a critical amendment today. Through the proposed change to Mrs May’s Data Protection Bill, peers will move to enshrine a series of EU rights in UK law and also defeat the PM’s plan to eradicate the charter from domestic law after Brexit. The loss would be humiliating for Mrs May who, along with Brexit Secretary David Davis, was planning to use the Withdrawal Bill to take Britain out of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights. The EU Withdrawal Bill, which formally enacts Brexit, includes a clause saying: “The charter of fundamental rights is not part of domestic law on or after exit day.”
Labour is leading a plot in the Lords that is expected to inflict an embarrassing defeat on Theresa May’s plans to eradicate the EU rights charter from domestic law after Brexit. In a sign of the party flexing its muscles in the upper chamber, The Independent understands that Labour – with support from the Liberal Democrats – will force the Government’s hand in a vote on a critical amendment on Monday. The anticipated defeat would be humiliating for Theresa May and the Brexit Secretary David Davis, who are planning to use the EU Withdrawal Bill – currently progressing through the Commons – to take Britain out of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights after the UK’s exit from the bloc in March 2019. It comes as the Government faces pitched battles in Parliament as it attempts to pass multiple pieces of Brexit legislation through the Commons over the next two years.
A TRIO of Remainers fronted by former Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg were today accused of “undermining” Britain by travelling to Brussels for behind closed doors talks with the EU’s chief negotiator. Michel Barnier is due to meet with former Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg, the Labour peer Andrew Adonis and Tory big beast Ken Clarke this afternoon for hush-hush discussions in the Belgian capital. The three will also talk to the EU’s Commissioner for economic and financial affairs, Frenchman Pierre Moscovici, during a trip which will raise further fears over Remainers trying to undermine Brexit. Eurocrats today defended the pair over the meetings, saying that they had been requested by the British trio and that the bloc will only ever negotiate with the official UK Government. But eurosceptics have long feared a “Remainer coup” where prominent europhiles try to sow division in Westminster and Brussels to topple Theresa May and pursue a soft Brexit or even reversal of the referendum.
The EU’s chief negotiator held meetings with British arch-Remainers in Brussels on Monday as frustration at the deadlock in the official Brexit talks continues to mount. A cross-party group of Nick Clegg, Ken Clarke and Andrew Adonis met with Michel Barnier and EU commissioner Pierre Moscovici in the EU capital, where The Independent understands, they discussed “future scenarios” and “the direction of talks”. The delegation was organised by former Deputy Prime Minister Mr Clegg, who has known Mr Barnier for decades since they both worked at the commission. The group aims to show Brussels that the British public are not united behind Theresa May’s Brexit strategy. The British Government and EU negotiators have still not scheduled any more rounds of official Brexit talks despite nearly a fortnight having elapsed since Theresa May and Jean-Clade Juncker called for an “acceleration” of progress.
PRO-EU Tory Ken Clarke claimed he held secret talks with Michel Barnier in Brussels yesterday to “talk about cricket”. The veteran former Cabinet minister was filmed with ex-Deputy PM Nick Clegg and Labour peer Lord Adonis going in to see the EU’s Brexit negotiator. But the reason for the cross-party visit remained a mystery, as the senior trio refused to discuss it, while branding themselves “the rebels”. Critics accused them of undermining the Government’s negotiation by opening up a back channel with Mr Barnier. Grilled on why he was making the visit, Mr Clarke said: “We’re going to talk about cricket. And when asked if he was going against the Government, Mr Clarke said: “It is not against Government policy to visit Brussels”.
The European Union has denied holding parallel Brexit negotiations after a trio of Remain campaigners headed to Brussels. Former deputy prime minister Nick Clegg, ex-Conservative chancellor Ken Clarke and Labour peer Lord Adonis met with EU lead negotiator Michel Barnier and other figures on Monday. EU officials described the talks as part of Mr Barnier’s open-door approach, but stressed there is only one set of negotiations between Britain and the bloc. Asked whether he had travelled to the European Commission’s offices in the Belgian capital to stop Brexit, former MP Mr Clegg told the BBC: “If only it were that easy! We’re here just to get a better understanding of what’s going on in the talks.”
The European Union’s (EU) chief Brexit negotiator has invited leading anti-Brexit Labour, Liberal Democrat, and Tory campaigners to Brussels for talks. Veteran Tory MP Ken Clarke, former Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg, and Labour Lord Andrew Adonis described themselves as “the rebels” as they arrived to meet Michel Barnier Monday. They were dubbed “an unholy Trinity going down and desperate to undermine the democratic Brexit vote” by Nigel Farage, the former UKIP leader, after the leading anti-Brexit agitators arrived in the European capital. “Especially so, as Clegg has no electoral mandate. That Michel Barnier is even meeting them shows those in Brussels cannot be trusted in these negotiations at all,” Mr. Farage added.
Nigel Farage has written to the EU’s Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier requesting a meeting after the Brussels bigwig met with the likes of Nick Clegg and Ken Clarke yesterday. Will Barnier meet with Nigel for a dose of Brexit reality on public feeling in Britain? Farage speaks for far more than former MP Clegg and the uber-fringe Clarke…
DEPOSED Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont fled to Belgium today as Spanish prosecutors called for him to be charged with “rebellion” and jailed for up to 30 years. It comes two days after Mr Puigdemont appeared to say he refuses to be sacked and would fight on for independence as the Madrid government tried to impose direct rule on the breakaway region. The ousted regional president had vowed to turn up for work as usual despite the threat of arrest, and earlier today posted an Instagram photo of what appeared to be the Catalan government offices in Barcelona. But officials later confirmed he was in Brussels amid speculation he would claim political asylum. Five other ministers in the sacked Catalan government were reported to have travelled with him. Aides said they went to meet Flemish nationalist politicians, who support Catalonia’s independence goal.
CATALAN leader Carles Puigdemont has travelled to Brussels today after being sacked from his job as the region’s president, sources in the Belgian capital have confirmed. Mr Puidgemont made the trip just hours after the Belgian immigration minister, Theo Francken, suggested he could be offered asylum over his treatment by Madrid. The move came as prosecutors back in Spain called for the Catalan leader and his senior ministers, who orchestrated an illegal independence referendum, to be charged with rebellion. If found guilty he could be sent to jail for 30 years, prompting Mr Francken to infuriate Madrid by claiming that the separatist leader is unlikely to receive a fair trial in Spain. According to Spanish media Mr Puidgemont is meeting with senior figures in the Flemish nationalist party, which includes Mr Francken, to discuss his next moves.
GPs are to vote on quitting the NHS and going private, calling for their union to help them to develop plans for charging patients. Doctors will also vent their frustration during a conference next week at having to see more patients, insisting they should be able “to say ‘no’ without feeling guilt”. The British Medical Association (BMA) played down fears that family doctors would quit the NHS en masse. However, doctors are threatening to shut the doors to new patients in protest against rising workloads. At a conference of local medical committees (LMCs) from around the county next week, delegates from Bedfordshire will say that “a number of GPs genuinely feel that they can no longer operate within the NHS”.
NHS and social care leaders have written to Chancellor Philip Hammond to demand an end to public sector pay restraint, and asking him to step up the pace of investment in both sectors. The heads of groups representing the entire NHS, medical royal colleges and a host of UK charities have co-signed a letter to the Treasury in advance of next month’s budget. The signatories said this was an appeal to the Government to think of health and social care despite the understandable pressures of Brexit negotiations.
Family doctors have threatened to quit the NHS and go private in protest at pressures on the health service. GPs called for the British Medical Association to support practices to become private, complaining they ‘can no longer operate’ within the NHS. The issue will be debated at the BMA Local Medical Committees conference in London next week. The Bedfordshire committee called for support for GPs who ‘genuinely feel’ they cannot cope with NHS pressures. Their motion, revealed yesterday by Pulse magazine, said: ‘Given that a number of GPs genuinely feel that they can no longer operate within the NHS, conference calls on General Practice Committee England to urgently look at how these GPs can be supported to operate within a private, alternative model.’
Family doctors are set to vote on whether GP practices should be able to become a private service where they are unable to operate profitably in the NHS. A proposal put forward by leaders in Bedfordshire says that the funding provided in the NHS contract is no longer sufficient for some practices and a “private, alternative model” is needed instead. GP representatives for the British Medical Association (BMA) said this was not likely to mean leaving the NHS entirely, but suggested it could be more focused on allowing charges for private services. Currently GP surgeries are not able to charge their NHS patients for private work unless it’s part of an approved list of services, such as producing medical reports.
Resistance to reforms of the way the NHS treats foreign patients, in an attempt to end ‘health tourism’, shows Britain’s left sees it as an International Health Service – and they want to keep it that way. New rules introduced to Britain’s National Health Service (NHS) last week means hospitals will now be required to ask for proof of eligibility to gain access to non-emergency care. The NHS — a universal single-payer healthcare system funded by the British taxpayer — presently provides free at the point of access care to British residents and citizens of the European Economic Area. Yet until now hospitals generally have not asked for proof of entitlement —with a National Audit Office report finding that 42 per cent of doctors and 55 per cent of nurses were not even aware that patients from abroad were to be charged at all — leading to concerns that the cash-strapped NHS was losing as much as £2 billion a year in giving free treatment to citizens of the world.
A university free speech society has been told its inaugural speaker must submit his speech for vetting – or cancel the event. The Liberate the Debate society at the University of Sussex invited Ukip MEP Bill Etheridge to give a talk this term but their plans were disrupted by student union officials. The union said his talk about Libertarianism and free speech was deemed ‘medium/high risk’ – and could be offensive to audience members. They added that it would only be allowed to go ahead it complied with a series of measures ‘to ensure the safety of the speaker and of students’. Mr Etheridge was asked to submit a list of topics that will be discussed, as well as an advance copy of the speech so it could be checked to see if it complied with the union’s ‘zero tolerance’ and ‘safe space’ policies. Mr Etheridge said it would be ‘absolute hypocrisy’ to agree to the restrictions.
A group of UKIP councillors have defected to the Conservative Party to give the Tories control of a council. Seven of the 12 UKIP councillors on Great Yarmouth Borough Council have crossed the divide, giving the Tories 21 out of the 39 council seats. One of the seven movers, Kay Grey, said that after the EU referendum “many voters feel this is UKIP’s job done”. East of England UKIP MEP Stuart Agnew said the action was “depressing, disgusting”. He added: “Without UKIP the Tories are going to be able to get away with an unsatisfactory Brexit.” Previously the council had been under no overall control. The councillors attended their first meeting as Tories in the town hall on Monday.
The case for building a third runway at Heathrow has been “completely undermined” by new aviation forecasts published by the government, according to the boss of Gatwick. Stewart Wingate said that the information on the economic and environmental impact of a third runway turned the government’s case “on its head”. In his first comments since the analysis was published last week the chief executive of Gatwick insisted that there was a serious case for pushing ahead with a new privately financed runway at Britain’s second busiest airport. He conceded that the government could ultimately expand both because all main London airports are expected to be full by the mid-2030s.
Almost one in three construction jobs could be eliminated over the next two decades as advances in robotics and digital technology mean human builders are replaced. New research from Mace predicts 600,000 of the current 2.2m positions in the industry could be automated by 2040 as the “Fourth Industrial Revolution” turns the sector on its head. One of the hardest-hit jobs in the industry is forecast to be bricklaying, with the current 73,000 people doing the job on UK building sites expected to tumble to just 4,300. By 2040 there will be just 15,500 carpenters and internal fitters, down from 263,000 now, and the number of labourers will plummet from 127,000 to 7,500. Painters and decorators will also be driven out with just 6,500 positions expected in two decades, compared with the current 111,000 roles, according to the study’s forecasts.
HEALTH experts are warning there is “something different” about a new Black Death outbreak spreading across the world. Some 1,300 cases of the pneumonic plague, which is transmitted by air, have now been confirmed. An estimated 50 million lives were lost as a result of the Black Death epidemic of the 1300s. And now the deadly disease has spread into more African countries after taking root in Madagascar. Countries affected include South Africa, Mozambique, Tanzania, Kenya, Ethiopia, Comoros, the Seychelles, Mauritius and Reunion. So far, the virus has killed 124 people and infected around 1,300, but scientists say this figure will definitely rise. The World Health Organisation, which has been working with Madagascar’s Ministry of Health, has warned the risk of the epidemic spreading is “high”.