Brexit talks could be delayed due to an “important intervention” from Theresa May, the European Parliament’s lead negotiator has said. Guy Verhofstadt said that the next round of crunch talks with Brussels could be pushed back to the final week of September to accommodate an intervention from the Prime Minister on 21 September. It comes as the Government indicated it was ready to “intensify” negotiations as talks appeared to have stalled after EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier accused the UK of pursuing an “impossible deal”. Referring to the timetable for talks, Mr Verhofstadt told the European Parliament’s Committee on Constitutional Affairs: “Possibly the next round of negotiation will be the last week of September because apparently there will be an important intervention by the British Prime Minister in the coming days, foreseen on September 21.”
The European parliament’s Brexit coordinator has predicted that Theresa May will make an “important intervention” later this month and that the next round of divorce negotiations could be delayed as a result. Guy Verhofstadt’s comments come as expectation grows that the prime minister will make a speech on Brexit before the Tory party conference in October, which is expected to build on the position papers published over the summer. The Belgian MEP said: “Apparently there will be an important intervention by the British prime minister in the coming days, it is foreseen on the 21 September,” and said that the fourth instalment of Brexit talks could be pushed back a week. The next round of Brexit had been scheduled to start on 18 September, but Verhofstadt said it would be “a bit stupid” to run the talks during May’s announcement, so they could be delayed until the following week.
THE British Government has proposed Brexit talks do not end until an agreement over the contentious divorce bill is made. A “very senior” member of the UK negotiating team discussed the possibility of “continuous negotiations” on a rolling week-by-week basis with his Brussels counterpart, according to two UK officials. The UK initiative comes as the Government prepares for an intensive period to put Britain in the best position possible for when the European Council meet next month to evaluate the progress of Brexit talks. Four new position papers setting out the Government’s negotiation proposals in key areas affected by Brexit are set to be published before parliament breaks for recess on September 15, according to the two officials.
People who voted for Brexit made a “stupid” decision which could still be reversed by the British public, one of the EU’s most powerful officials said yesterday. Martin Selmayr, chief of staff to the European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, said it was “legally” possible for the UK to reverse its decision to leave. His comments were described as “pig headed” and he was accused of trying to meddle in the parliamentary process ahead of a week in which MPs will begin debating the EU Withdrawal Bill. The bill will come before Parliament for its second reading on Thursday ahead of a crucial vote next week at which Labour could attempt to derail the Brexit process.
BREXIT voters made a “stupid decision” and it is still “legally” possible for the UK to reverse the withdrawal from the Brussels bloc, a top EU official claimed. Martin Selmayr, chief of staff to EU Commission President Jean Claude Juncker, announced in a conference yesterday that the democratic decision to leave the EU could be stopped. Speaking in Brussels, Mr Selmayr said: “Brexit is bad, and it’s a stupid decision. The only people who can reverse it would be the British people and I am not a dreamer, I am a realist. Brexit will happen on March 29, 2019.” The German lawyer added that it would be “arrogant of us” to say the EU could force a reversal to happen. Mr Selmyar’s comments have been described as “pig-headed” and an attempt to interfere in the forthcoming Parliamentary vote on the EU Withdrawal Bill.
BRUSSELS has been thrown into a panic because its attempts to force Britain into backing down in the Brexit negotiations are not working, a senior Tory MEP said today. David Campbell-Bannerman told express.co.uk the bloc’s phased negotiating approach, which rules out all trade talks until after the divorce is settled, is “illogical and unreasonable”. He accused the bloc of acting on “emotion” rather rationale and said its obvious attempts to “punish” Britain to stop other countries from leaving “won’t wash” with ordinary voters. On the state of the talks, he said: “I think what’s happening is they are beginning to panic. This isn’t working, we’re actually pushing them up against the deadline they imposed.”
MICHEL Barnier was today branded “patronising” and “bullying” as he came under heavy criticism from all quarters over his remarks that Britain needed to be “educated” about the consequences of Brexit. The EU’s chief negotiator faced a barrage of angry rebuttals after his incendiary intervention, which has angered British politicians and also raised questions about his approach from some inside the Brussels bubble. Over the weekend Mr Barnier told a conference in Italy that it was his job to “teach the British people and others what leaving the EU means”, which was interpreted by some as a thinly-veiled punishment threat.
BRUSSELS has been accused of trying to rip off British taxpayers after one of the EU’s most senior officials said they must continue coughing up cash contributions until 2023. Gunther Oettinger, the German commissioner in charge of the bloc’s budget, said the UK will have to “fully meet its financial commitments” which stretch for at least another five years. And he insisted that there can be no prospect of a trade deal between the two parties until Britain pays up, in an incendiary intervention likely to raise the temperature of the talks further. British eurosceptics today insisted the top eurocrat’s claims were unreasonable and pointed to UK Government analysis that shows Britain has no “legal obligation” to pay a Brexit bill. Yesterday Brexit secretary David Davis conceded the UK has a “moral and practical” imperative to honour financial commitments it has made but warned Brussels it will not be bullied into paying an obscene amount.
The world’s biggest sovereign wealth fund has issued a resounding vote of confidence in the UK economy and the long-term prospects for the pound, raising its target for sterling bonds to 8pc of its global benchmark fund. Norway’s $1 trillion oil fund has advised its government to concentrate core holdings of debt into dollars, euros, and sterling, dropping Japanese and emerging market bonds altogether. “This is a very significant move. It is extraordinary that they have opted for the UK as world number three for investment ahead of China and Japan,” said Stephen Jen, a currency expert at EurizonSLJ Capital and an advisor to Asian sovereign wealth funds.
British manufacturers and retailers are reporting an upswing in sales, despite fears Brexit could hamper future growth, as the weak pound bolsters exports abroad and consumer spending at home. Retail sales increased by 1.3% on a like-for-like basis last month from August 2016, when they fell 0.9%, according to the British Retail Consortium. Meanwhile the EEF manufacturers’ organisation said there was rising demand for goods made in Britain from Europe and the rest of the world. Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, said: “August provided a welcome pick-up in retail sales across channels, with non-food returning to growth as shoppers’ attentions turned to homewares, autumn clothing ranges and the new school term.” Over the three months to August, food sales increased 1.8% on a like-for-like basis, as growth in other sales increased 0.6%.
BREXIT Britain lacks the expert manpower to forge the same amount of trade deals as the EU, Whitehall trade chiefs have conceded. Last week the PM announced Britain was hoping to “bring over” some of the 48 of the agreements that the EU currently has with countries like Canada, Switzerland and South Korea. And Mrs May announced any future trade deal the UK has with Japan will be based upon the agreement they sign with the EU. But insiders admit they will be forced to “copy and paste” to free up Britain’s limited number of trade negotiators to work on any new deals with other countries like America and Australia.
Isolated communities are fuelling an unprecedented terror threat, a senior police chief warned last night. Neil Basu said the main danger came from Islamic-State inspired extremists ‘in our midst’. In an apparent reference to illegal Islamic schools, he said ‘unregulated’ education and home schooling were a breeding ground for home-grown terror. The counter-terror chief warned of the danger from extremists in ‘segregated, isolated’ communities. He also highlighted weaknesses on our borders, calling for much stricter checks on arrivals. Warning that the terror threat would be severe for at least five more years, the Met deputy assistant commissioner said: The security services were investigating 600 extremist plots; Sixty probes have been opened in the past six weeks alone; Border checks on roll-on, roll-off ferries had become a weakpoint for national security; Stopping British jihadis fighting abroad meant they posed a threat here.
NURSING chiefs have threatened to strike over low pay as Theresa May gave a clear signal the seven year pay cap is finally over. The Royal College of Nursing said devastating strike action that could cripple the NHS this winter was on the cards unless the Prime Minister lived up to her word. Thee Prison Officers Association warned that thousands of guards would quit in disgust next year unless they got a bumper pay deal. The Sun revealed the Government will later this month confirm that the seven year cap on public sector pay will end next April. Nurses will be first in line for rises that match the rate of inflation for 2018-2019 – currently 2.6 per cent. Quizzed yesterday, the PM’s official spokeswoman would only say No.10 was aware of the “sacrifice” public sector workers had made since 2010.
Fraudsters are offering postal workers up to £1,000 a week to intercept and steal bank cards. Online adverts promise cash to tempt staff into snatching letters containing credit cards and PIN numbers, an investigation found. An undercover reporter posing as a postman met with one man who offered him money to take bank cards fraudulently obtained in the names of people on his rounds. The criminal claimed to have ‘been in the game for 30 years’ and to work with a ‘number of postmen’, including in Coventry and London. Because the cards were applied for without the customer’s knowledge, they will not know they have been taken.
The US ambassador to the United Nations told world powers last night that North Korea’s leader was “begging for war” as she urged them to unite in imposing the toughest sanctions yet on Kim Jong-un’s regime. Nikki Haley said at an emergency session of the UN security council that “the time has come to exhaust all diplomatic means to end this crisis”. Responding to the test on Sunday by North Korea of its most powerful nuclear bomb yet, Ms Haley said of Kim: “His abusive use of missiles and his nuclear threats show that he is begging for war. War is never something the US wants . . . but our country’s patience is not unlimited.”
Kim Jong-un has accused Seoul’s ‘scabby sheep’ army of being ‘puppets’ for the US – and warned South Korea‘s military can be wiped out by his ‘nuclear striking power’. In a chilling editorial, the dictator’s state-run media warned: ‘If we fire, they will die. This is the inescapable fate of the puppet warmongers.’ The latest sabre-rattling comes after North Korea announced it had successfully tested a nuclear weapon up to ten times more powerful than the Hiroshima bomb that could kill millions of people. This morning South Korea warned Pyongyang was plotting yet another ballistic test and had made a nuclear bomb small enough to fit in a long-range rocket. There are fears the tyrant may chose September 9, North Korea’s Day of the Foundation of the Republic, to carry out a spectacular new trial. The same date was chosen last year by North Korea to conduct its fifth nuclear test, marking 68 years since Kim Il-sung came to power.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is “begging for war” and the United States does not have “unlimited” patience, the UN Security Council has been told. US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said the council must adopt the “strongest possible measures” against the rogue state. The UN Security Council met in New York one day after Pyongyang carried out its largest-ever nuclear test explosion. Earlier, South Korea fired missiles into the sea to simulate an attack on North Korea’s main nuclear test site. Following weeks of growing tensions and continued defiance of the international community by North Korea, US President Donald Trump refused to rule out military action against Pyongyang, replying “we’ll see” when asked if he would attack the country.
Ukip leadership hopeful Anne Marie Waters has said she would not prevent former English Defence League leader Tommy Robinson from joining the party. Ms Waters, the director of Sharia Watch UK who co-founded anti-Islam group Pegida UK together with Mr Robinson, made her comments on Newsnight where she appeared alongside rival candidate Peter Whittle. Ms Waters, who has previously branded Islam “evil”, said she did not think Mr Robinson had any thoughts of joining the party, but that she would not be opposed if he did want to. “There is a leader’s discretion. I think I would leave it up to party members. For the record, I woudn’t lift the ban on groups such as the BNP (joining Ukip),” she said. Mr Whittle said the party’s constitution banned individuals who have been members of far-right groups, including the EDL, from being accepted as Ukip members.
A controversial UKIP leadership candidate has accused her rivals of “EU-type behaviour” by trying to “silence” her. Anti-Islam campaigner Anne Marie Waters, the founder of the Sharia Watch group, claimed “tactics and manipulation” have been used to try and stop her winning the party’s contest. A number of UKIP’s MEPs are expected to quit if Ms Waters is elected their new leader, amid concerns she and her supporters are staging an entryist bid to take over the party. Ms Waters, a former Labour activist, was barred from standing for UKIP in June’s snap General Election, despite being selected by local party members. But party bosses allowed her to stand in this summer’s leadership contest, sparking a challenge against the decision from fellow candidate Henry Bolton.
The party has posted film of its Westminster leadership hustings on YouTube.