THE European Union has not quite fully intruded into the lives of its citizens just yet as Jean-Claude Juncker has admitted he opposed the introduction of regulations over flushing the toilet. The 62-year-old Brussels bigwig told students at Belgium’s Catholic University of Louvain-la-Neuve that: “European citizens say that for this [toilet flushing], we have better knowledge than the Commissioners in Brussels.” He continued: “The previous Commissions were launching 130 initiatives every year. The number now is 23. We have withdrawn between 80 and 100 directives from the co-legislators’ table because we don’t want to regulate all aspects of the everyday life of the Europeans.”
One of Europe’s most senior foreign ministers has warned against “punishing” the UK in a Brexit deal, as shunning the bloc’s second largest economy could spell a “catastrophe” and cost hundreds of thousands of jobs. Jean Asselborn served as Luxembourg’s deputy prime minister from 2004 to 2013 under then-Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker, now president of the European Commission. He has also served as foreign minister for 13 years. He told German newspaper Der Tagesspiegel: “If the UK is not a member of the internal market then a free trade agreement between the EU and London will be needed for 2019 onwards. “The British and the EU have to go into them willing to engage, but the talks also have to be fair and transparent. It would be a catastrophe for both sides if they aren’t held in this manner.
Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the European Commission, will launch a blueprint for Europe’s survival after Brexit amid growing dissent from poorer eastern states over plans to deepen EU integration. The plan, which will be presented in a white paper at the European Parliament on Wednesday will set out five “pathways to unity” for the 27 member states who will remain in Europe after Britain leaves in 2019. The proposals have already met opposition from recalcitrant eastern EU states, led by Poland and Hungary, who fear that they will be marginalised by a new drive to revitalise Europe’s Franco-German federalist core. Mihaly Varga, the Hungarian economy minister, warned this week that “strong actors” in Europe could seek to sideline countries who decided not to join the euro, adding that this could even lead to “social unrest” among those left behind.
EUROPE is set to take its first major step without Britain as a key player tomorrow when Brussels boss Jean-Claude Juncker unveils his grand masterplan to relaunch the troubled bloc. The chief eurocrat will unveil an historic white paper on the future direction of the project in a development officials are hailing as “the birth certificate of the EU at 27”. It will include plans to tackle the growing phenomenon of populism, which is threatening to tear apart the 60-year-old bloc, by proposing a series of radical proposals for how Brussels will grow beyond Brexit. n particular the EU chief is expected to focus very heavily on unity and the much cherished idea of “solidarity” in the face of not only Britain’s decision to leave, but also increasing divisions over migration.
BRUSSELS’ budget chief has today insisted that it will be up to German taxpayers to shoulder the burden of paying for the EU after Britain leaves the bloc in 2019. Gunther Oettinger said eurocrats need even more money to tackle growing crises like migration and the fight against terror at a time when the EU is losing its third largest net contributor. He warned that the massive loss of cash set to be unleashed by Brexit cannot be offset by cuts to the ballooning Brussels budget and will have to be made up by the bloc’s richer countries instead. Just 10 of the EU’s 28 nations put more money into the project than they get out and it is extremely heavily reliant on just three – Britain, France and Germany – to keep going.
Germany and other net contributors to the EU will have to pay more into the bloc’s budget once Britain has walked out, budget commissioner Guenther Oettinger said Tuesday, insisting however that they would not foot all of the UK’s share. “I don’t think that net contributors are ready to take on all of Britain’s contribution,” Guenther Oettinger told business newspaper Handelsblatt. “At the same time, Poland and the other net beneficiaries will not accept it if help for structurally weak regions were to be cut by nine billion euros annually. “A compromise will have to be found,” he added. With new financial burdens arising from the refugee crisis, embryonic collective defence plans, and the fight against terrorism, the EU could slash traditional areas of spending, such as agriculture subsidies.
BRITAIN’s top eurocrat today insisted Brexit won’t affect the UK’s intelligence sharing with EU member states. Sir Julian King, who was appointed Britain’s European Commissioner last summer, this afternoon told MPs there was “no reason” why the exchange of core intelligence information should alter once the UK quits the EU. The former ambassador, who has taken on the European Commission’s security brief, also dismissed ex-prime minister Sir John Major’s suggestion there is a “sour” atmosphere ahead of Brexit talks. Sir Julian described Britain as a “known and valued partner” and outlined a “shared interest” between the UK and EU member states in continuing intelligence and security co-operation. He described terrorism and cyber crime as the biggest current threats to the EU.
David Davis has warned the Cabinet to prepare their departments for a hard Brexit if Britain has to walk away from vital talks without a trade deal. The Brexit Secretary told ministers they should be prepared for the possibility that the UK might fail to get a free trade deal with the EU before leaving – describing it as an ‘unlikely scenario’. But a Downing Street spokesman said the ‘overriding message was that we are ambitious about the nature of the free trade deal we will be able to agree with the EU’. Theresa May told ministers: ‘The message is we are not going to fail.’ Ministers are also now braced for a defeat over Brexit in the House of Lords, despite a last-ditch plea by the Home Secretary.
In moves that confirm the UK may not end up doing a deal with the European Union at all, Brexit Minister David Davis has told colleagues to prepare for the scenario that would see Brexit Britain revert to World Trade Organisation rules on the global stage. The prospect of the nationalistic EU cutting off its nose to spite its face is real. Whilst some heads of European governments clearly do understand the sensible rationale behind a mutually beneficial deal, many EU nationalists will be seeking to mess the UK around for a propaganda victory. We’ve already had the ludicrous demand that the UK will have to pay a divorce settlement totalling 60 billion Euros for instance. What we do know is the British public will want to see the government stand strong and waste no time. No deal is better than a bad deal. Time to get on with becoming an independent nation.
Ministers have been told to prepare Britain for a hard Brexit in two years to allow Theresa May to walk away from EU negotiations without a deal. Senior sources say that Whitehall has been instructed to upgrade the UK’s customs, immigration and regulatory agencies to ensure that “Britain can still be governed” by April 2019 when the Article 50 process will end. David Davis, the Brexit secretary, updated cabinet on the plans yesterday telling ministers that their departments needed to “understand the challenges ahead”.
Cabinet ministers have been told to draw up rearguard plans in case Britain crashes out of the EU with no fresh trade deal. Brexit Secretary David Davis has urged his colleagues to prepare for what critics have dubbed the doomsday “cliff edge” prospect of leaving on World Trade Organisation (WTO) terms – and hefty tariffs. Mr Davis insisted he believed that remained an “unlikely scenario” – after Theresa May spoke of her confidence that a free trade deal could be quickly agreed with EU leaders. However, his briefing to the weekly meeting of the Cabinet raised eyebrows, ahead of the Prime Minister triggering the Article 50 exit clause next month.
Theresa May faces a defeat in the House of Lords after refusing to write into legislation a Post-Brexit guarantee for EU citizens currently in Britain. Lords wanted a clause in Ms May’s bill to trigger Article 50 stating that EU citizens already in the UK will have the same rights to live and work here after Brexit. But a letter from Home Secretary Amber Rudd seen by The Independent says the Government will not go further than giving verbal assurances it has already given. After Ms Rudd’s letter was sent to Lords, a Labour source said: “They are going to dig in. “They are trying to buy off the vote on Wednesday, just by saying that people’s rights will be protected. Now there’s going to be a vote, it will likely end up in a Government defeat.”
The Conservative government is likely to be defeated in the House of Lords over the issue of securing the rights of EU citizens living in the UK, despite a last minute plea from the home secretary, Amber Rudd. Peers are lining up to support a Labour party amendment – which now has the formal backing of a Conservative, a Liberal Democrat and a crossbencher – calling on ministers to bring forward proposals to protect Europeans resident in Britain within three months of article 50 being triggered. Losing a vote during the committee stage in the House of Lords means the Brexit bill will have to enter a so-called ping pong between the Houses of Commons and Lords, delaying its passage into law by at least one week.
AMBER Rudd attempted to diffuse a Lords rebellion over Brexit with a pledge that ministers are seeking to swiftly agree a deal on the status of EU migrants. The Home Secretary wrote to peers to insist that the rights of EU citizens already settled in the UK to stay permanently after the country leaves the 28-nation bloc will be a “priority” in the forthcoming departure negotiations. Anti-Brexit Lords are hoping to defeat the Government on the issue today in the upper house, where Lib Dem and Labour peers can out-vote the Tories. They are seeking to amend Theresa May’s EU (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill to guarantee the rights of EU citizens. Ms Rudd’s letter said there would be no change in the rights of EU citizens without parliamentary approval. A similar letter sent by the Home Secretary to MPs last month helped diffuse a rebellion on the issue in the Commons.
Ukip’s sole MP Douglas Carswell has held secret talks about rejoining the Conservatives to fight the 2020 general election, it emerged last night, as his party considers expelling him in a row over a knighthood for Nigel Farage. The Daily Telegraph understands that Mr Carswell, who defected from the Tories in 2014, spoke to Conservative MPs to sound out whether he would be welcomed back by his old party. The idea is said to have been given a positive reception by several Tory MPs. Mr Carswell’s future is in doubt after Mr Farage and other senior Ukip figures called on him to quit over his alleged attempts to deny Mr Farage a knighthood, and faces a formal investigation into whether he did so that could end in his membership of the party being cancelled.
One of Ukip’s biggest donors threatened to stand against its sole MP yesterday as the party descended into open warfare. Arron Banks pledged to take on Douglas Carswell in his Clacton constituency in the 2020 general election. The multimillionaire insurance tycoon, 50, said that he had started looking at properties that could serve as a campaign headquarters. “I’ve had enough of the bloke. And if I say I’m going to do something, I do it,” he said. His announcement came after a longstanding feud between Nigel Farage, to whom Mr Banks is a loyal ally, and Mr Carswell, 45, flared up.
Ukip’s descent into civil war reached new levels of absurdity tonight, as claims emerged their only MP, Douglas Carswell had been in secret talks to rejoin the Tories. Carswell crossed the floor from the Conservatives to join Ukip in 2014. But senior Tory sources reportedly said last night the Clacton MP had spoken to Tory MPs to “sound out” whether he would be welcomed back into the fold before the next election. The claims came just hours after millionaire donor Arron Banks threatened to stand against the party’s only MP in the next election. A blazing row has opened up over sole MP Douglas Carswell’s failure to get former leader Nigel Farage a knighthood. Farage called for Carswell to be booted out of the party last night, in a furious column for the Daily Telegraph. But today, Banks upped the stakes, threatening to stand as a candidate in Carswell’s constituency of Clacton in 2020.
UKIP’s defence spokesman has backed growing calls for the party’s only MP, Douglas Carswell, to be expelled. Bill Etheridge insisted the party was “not at war” but demanded the Clacton MP should be removed. Mr Carswell, who defected from the Conservatives in 2014, has been at loggerheads with senior party representatives for some time – including Nigel Farage. However, tensions flared recently amid claims Mr Carswell had worked to block a knighthood being awarded to the former Ukip leader. Mr Farage hit back, claiming Mr Carswell had “sought to split and dived Ukip in every way imaginable” – calling on him to resign from the party.
Ukip’s only MP has held secret talks about rejoining the Conservatives just three years after he defected. Douglas Carswell reportedly spoke with Tory MPs to sound out whether he would be welcomed back by the party in time to fight the 2020 general election. The idea was met with approval from several Conservative MPs, reports the Telegraph. Ukip descended into open civil war last night after the party’s biggest donor vowed to stand against Mr Carswell in the next election over his alleged failure to get Nigel Farage a knighthood. Arron Banks, who has given more than £1million to the eurosceptic party, said he would stand against Mr Carswell – its only MP – in the 2020 general election.
Nigel Farage has intensified his war of words with Ukip’s only MP, Douglas Carswell, by insisting that Tory defector Carswell never really left the Conservatives. The former Ukip leader again urged colleagues to expel the Clacton MP after an extraordinary day of public backbiting in the party. Amid reports that Carswell is in talks with the Tories about switching back, Farage told the Press Association: “Did he ever leave the Conservatives? He was certainly representing them during the referendum campaign.” Farage said the MP had to go because “I don’t want my successor to have to put up with the same sabotage and division that I did.” Earlier, Carswell said he had an “amicable” meeting with Ukip’s chairman, Paul Oakden, and was happy to continue to represent the party in the Commons. He told PA: “Contrary to a lot of speculation, we had a very polite and amicable meeting. I think he has done a wonderful job as party chairman.
As many as twenty million African migrants could come to Europe in the near future, according to the new president of the European parliament. Antonio Tajani said Europe needs to do more to help asylum seekers in order to quell migration. He proposed the EU should open asylum centres in Libya in a bid to protect vulnerable refugees. At the moment, detention centers in the country violate human rights, according to the EU. Mr Tajani told Die Welt there are more than 30 centres that are run illegally by smugglers or by groups for the government. The president said that EU reception centres would provide asylum seekers with access to healthcare and would not be ‘concentration camps’. In 2017, there has been up to a 40 per cent increase in the number of migrants arriving in Italy.
The “sheer intransigence” of Theresa May’s government is nudging Scotland towards a second independence referendum, according to the SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon. Warning the Prime Minister of her “cast-iron mandate” to call another referendum, the Scottish First Minister also accused the UK government of adopting an attitude of “its way, or no way”. Writing in The Times newspaper, Ms Sturgeon said she had chosen to hold off exercising her mandate immediately to explore other options to protect Scotland’s place in Europe. “As well as justification for a referendum, there is also a cast-iron mandate,” she wrote. “Which brings me to the issue of good faith. “The day after the EU referendum, I chose not to immediately exercise that mandate. Instead I published a compromise position, Scotland’s place in Europe, which proposed a way for Scotland to remain in the single market.”
Nicola Sturgeon has accused the UK government of using Brexit to undermine devolution. In a speech in Edinburgh, the first minister said the Scottish Parliament faced a “graver challenge” after “20 years of progress”. She also warned that without compromise, a second independence referendum may become a “necessary” way of protecting Scotland’s interests. The UK government said Ms Sturgeon had completely misrepresented its position. In her address to the David Hume Institute, Ms Sturgeon argued that Scotland voting to remain in the EU while the UK as a whole voted to leave had re-opened the “democratic deficit” which fuelled demand for a Scottish Parliament in the 1980s and 1990s.
The Government signalled a screeching u-turn on changes to car insurance rules which could push up premiums for millions of drivers last night, just 24 hours after they were announced. Justice secretary Liz Truss announced on Monday that people left with severe and long-term injuries after road accidents will get more money in lump-sum payouts to fund their care. But the changes mean 36 million motorists could see their premiums increase by an average of £75 a year after the changes, due to take effect on March 20. The Association of British Insurers branded the shake-up, which could wipe millions off the profits of the country’s largest insurance companies “crazy”. Last night, Chancellor Philip Hammond promised an “urgent review” of the compensation rate after a hastily-arranged summit with insurance company directors.
THE CHANCELLOR was last night preparing to rush through emergency laws to soften the blow of a compensation payout bombshell. In a first signs of a u-turn, Philip Hammond met with insurers and said the Government would hold an “urgent” review of the formula used to calculate the payouts. CAnd he promised to “bring forward any necessary legislation at an early stage”. The meeting followed an outcry over Justice Secretary Liz Truss’ decision to force firms to cough up more for serious injury claims. Insiders last night said the Chancellor’s review may not be soon enough to prevent a staggering £4 BILLION increase in motor insurance premiums this year. The new formula used to calculate the payouts takes effect on March 20. But one insurance source told the Sun: “We’re optimistic they’re listening.” On Monday, the Justice Secretary announced changes to the so-called discount rate used to calculate compensation for serious injuries.
Train strikes are set to spread across the country after a militant trade union announced coordinated action on three railways. Long-suffering passengers of Southern Rail will now be joined in their misery by commuters using Arriva Rail North and Merseyrail in a walkout on March 13. It marks the 30th day of strike action by train guards on Southern and will mean yet more disruption for hundreds of thousands of passengers across the South East. But the walkouts – orchestrated by the Rail Maritime and Transport (RMT) union – have now spread to northern England. Arriva operates local passenger services right across the North, while Merseyrail runs services in and around Liverpool.
BRITAIN’S biggest post-privatisation rail dispute went national yesterday with a strike hitting three rail networks on the same day. Workers on Merseyrail and Northern voted to strike over driver-only operation and fears for the future of train guards. The same issue has led to numerous strikes on the beleaguered Southern network. On Northern, which is owned by German state subsidiary Arriva, 83.6 per cent of rail union RMT’s members voted to strike. Similarly on Merseyrail, 81.8 per cent of members backed walk-outs. Over 90 per cent voted in favour of action short of strike. Guards and some drivers on both networks will now down keys on Monday March 13.
A groundbreaking gene therapy treatment which boosts a patient’s own immune cells has been shown to clear disease from one third of terminal patients. US pharmaceutical company Kite Pharma released results from the first six months of its trial of the new treatment, called CAR-T cell therapy. Some 36 per cent of the 101 patients on the trial were still in complete remission at six months, and eight in 10 saw their cancer shrink by at least half during the study. “The numbers are fantastic,” said Dr Fred Locke, a blood cancer expert at Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa who co-led the study. “These are heavily treated patients who have no other options.” The treatment, which has been dubbed ‘a living drug’ by doctors, works by filtering a patient’s blood to remove key immune system cells called T-cells, which are then genetically engineered in the lab to recognise cancer cells.