Brexit

Westmonster
MPs will get the chance to veto Brexit by voting it down in the Commons, it has emerged. In order for key elements of the deal to be enshrined into law, MPs will have to vote it into legislation, meaning they could block the EU exit agreement if they wish. Remoaner MP Nicky Morgan confirmed the government was working on this “concession strategy”. It’s likely to lead to a showdown in Parliament on the eve of Brexit and could see several amendments put forward in a bid to block or delay the whole thing altogether. The Remain-backing MPs will no doubt be rubbing their hands with glee at the opportunity to frustrate the will of the people and thwart a full, clean Brexit.

Express
DAVID Davis has warned Britain’s Brexit deal will “probably favour” the EU in a shock admission as he vowed to “intensify” talks with Brussels next week. Addressing the House of Lords European Select Committee, he admitted the negotiations would go Brussels’ way when it came to the divorce bill and other issues. The Brexit Secretary has spent months locked in negotiations with Michel Barnier’s team over the UK’s settlement with Brussels. But he told peers: “In the infamous, or famous, words of the European Union nothing is agreed until everything is agreed.  “The withdrawal agreement on balance will probably favour the union in terms of the things like money and so on.  “Whereas the future relationship will favour both sides and will be important to both of us.”

Independent
David Davis has conceded in front of peers that Britain’s Brexit withdrawal agreement will “probably favour” the EU. Speaking in the House of Lords European Union Select Committee, the Brexit Secretary said: “In the infamous – or famous – words of the European Union, nothing is agreed until everything is agreed. “The withdrawal agreement on balance will probably favour the union in terms of the things like money and so on. Whereas the future relationship will favour both sides and will be important to both of us.” The frank admission came after Mr Davis told peers that the next round of negotiations with Brussels will take place next week. 

Sky News
David Davis has suggested Britain’s EU divorce deal will “favour” remaining member states as he signalled ministers are ready to accept demands to enshrine the Brexit agreement in law. Revealing the sixth round of formal negotiations will begin next week, the Brexit Secretary said the Government viewed Britain’s withdrawal agreement and a deal on the future UK-EU relationship as “inseparable”. But, speaking to the House of Lords EU Committee, Mr Davis hinted Britain might have to pay a price in the divorce agreement as he looks to strike a long-term trade deal. “In the infamous words or the famous words of the EU, nothing is agreed until everything is agreed,” he told peers. “And we see these as being linked to each other. “The withdrawal agreement, on balance, will probably favour the EU in terms of things like money and so on.

Guardian
David Davis has conceded that Britain’s Brexit withdrawal agreement is likely to favour the European Union in money terms but insisted that the future relationship would favour both sides. His comments, which could be designed to soften people up to the idea of a hefty multibillion-pound financial settlement, came after the government said it was accelerating domestic preparations by hiring 8,000 new civil servants. The Brexit secretary told a House of Lords  committee that talks with the EU would resume in the latter half of next week, and that he hoped to make a breakthrough by December that would allow negotiators to move on to Britain’s future relationship with the EU. He insisted that he was not about to make a “big offer” on the biggest sticking point so far – the size of the financial settlement – but did admit when agreement was reached it could be a sore point for the UK, although he did not put any likely figures on the table.

Express
EXITING the European single market and customs union in a “no deal” Brexit may be a boon to the UK rather than a crisis, say economic experts. The Institute of Economic Affairs has today claimed a clean break from the EU may provide more certainty for UK businesses and trade than protracted talks.  IEA chiefs argue a hard, “no deal” Brexit would implement a timeline for the UK’s departure from EU trade agreements, avoiding a scenario where a “transition period” becomes “mysteriously permanent”. The IEA in its paper ‘Putting some flesh on a ‘bare bones’ Brexit’ said: ”Leaving the single market and the customs union would put the UK in much the same position as the US or China, which both trade extensively with the EU under World Trade Organisation rules. 

Times
Ministers will spend almost £1 million a day next year preparing Britain for Brexit, it emerged yesterday as No 10 promised to do “whatever is necessary” to ensure a smooth transition from the European Union. The Brexit secretary David Davis — who yesterday admitted that the withdrawal deal was likely to “favour” the 27 remaining members financially — told the cabinet that 300 separate contingency plans were being drawn up by Whitehall departments. The plans are understood to assess the effects of hard and soft Brexit across all aspects of the economy and public life, with timelines for government action to prepare for the worst. However, The Times understands that at least some of the contingency plans acknowledge that the recommended measures will be impossible.

EU

Telegraph
Politics in Europe resembles a horror show nowadays for the Brussels elite. How terrifying it must be for them. No matter where they look, their patchwork creation is straining at the seams. Britain’s vote to leave means a huge chunk of it will go, while anti-EU forces are growing in power and influence across the rest of Europe. And now Spain is tearing itself in two after  Catalonia voted for independence. The people are defying the European elite, who wish that it could all be stitched back together again. The EU’s Frankenstein-like monster has never looked so grim. This Halloween, we decided to mark its gradual decline in a specially spooky video.

Express
CATALAN leader Carles Puigdemont today warned EU leaders they are facing the “end of the idea of Europe” if they fail to take action over Spain’s “violent and oppressive” response to its independence referendum. The ousted regional president told a packed press conference in Brussels that Madrid had violated “the very basis of the values on which Europe is founded” and that EU inaction would come “at a very high cost”.  Mr Puigdemont, who has fled Spain to avoid charges of rebellion which carry a 30 year jail term, said he would not seek asylum in Belgium but also refused to rule out a long stay in Northern Europe. However, he was immediately mocked for taking flight by Spanish MPs and senior European politicians including Brexit negotiator Guy Verhofstadt, who said he had “left Catalonia in chaos and devastation”. 

UKIP
Figures released today by the Office for National Statistics show that last year, the UK paid the European Union £159 million per week more than it received back. The total ‘membership fee’ was £363 million per week, but the net figure comes after taking into account our rebate (think of instant cashback) and EU funding (think of shopping vouchers). This means that, between the date of the referendum and leaving the EU in March 2019, the British taxpayer will have forked out – net – an incredible £22.8 billion to the European Union. UKIP’s Treasury Spokesman Jonathan Arnott MEP said: “To put these figures into context, the net membership fee alone is the equivalent of over 2 pence in the pound on income tax.

House of Lords

Times
Peerages could become honorary titles that do not allow the holder to sit in the House of Lords under plans to reduce the size of the upper chamber. The House of Lords should be slashed from its current size of more than 800 peers to meet a cap of 600 within 10 years under the blueprint published by a committee of cross-party peers. Lord Fowler, the Lord Speaker, warned that the chamber could swell to 1,000 peers, which would be “totally unacceptable to everybody”, if parties failed to back the recommendations. At present the Lords is the second largest legislative chamber in the world after China’s National Congress.

Mail
New peers should only be appointed if two others have died or retired, according to a major report on shrinking the size of the House of Lords. A review by the Lord Speaker said the size of the upper chamber must be cut by a quarter if it is to earn the public’s confidence. This would mean that, for the first time, the size of the House would be capped at 600 – and all new peers would have to retire after 15 years. All new political peers would be appointed in proportion to the previous election result – meaning that the number of Liberal Democrat peers will gradually fall if their poor electoral fortunes continue. The report calls for an accelerated ‘two-out, one-in’ retirement scheme to ensure the House falls to 600 members within a decade.

Independent
The size of the House of Lords should be capped at 600 peers within a decade, according to new proposals aimed at shrinking the bloated upper chamber. Political parties would share appointments based on their Commons showing, rather than being at the discretion of the Government, and peerages would be limited to 15 years, the long-awaited report by the Lords Speaker’s committee suggests. The plans include a ‘two out, one in’ system to speed up departures until the 600-peer target is reached and new rules to ensure no party has a majority, with 20 per cent of membership reserved for independent crossbenchers. Electoral reform campaigners said the plans were too cautious, allowing the unelected upper chamber to remain “an embarrassment for Britain”.

Guardian
The House of Lords should be reduced in size by a quarter to no more than 600 members, with new peers limited to 15-year terms, a long-awaited report into the future of the upper chamber has recommended. The report by a committee set up in December last year by the Speaker of the Lords, Norman Fowler, said that to maintain confidence in the chamber it must for the first time be given a maximum size. The Lords has more than 700 members, excluding bishops, making it the world’s second largest legislative body after China’s People’s Congress. The recommendations by a committee led by Terence Burns, a crossbencher who was formerly the Treasury’s top civil servant, says the reduction in numbers would involve a “two out, one in” policy for all parties.

NHS

Times
Doctors, nurses and other health workers accused of misconduct face faster disciplinary action in the biggest overhaul of professional regulation for more than a century, a move that has already prompted anger from unions. Proposals to merge nine regulators into three to make it easier for patients to complain have been criticised by professionals. A blacklist banning incompetent staff could also be introduced for roles such as healthcare assistants and physician associates. Ministers want to streamline “cumbersome” bureaucracy that failed to spot the Mid Staffordshire scandal, saying regulation is too legalistic, leaves patients baffled and drags out investigations for years. Mediation of disputes and less adversarial investigations could resolve problems more quickly.

Times
Pharmaceutical companies have threatened legal action against the NHS for offering patients a cheaper eye drug that could save the health service hundreds of millions of pounds. Ministers have hit back, demanding that competition regulators investigate whether collusion between the companies is blocking doctors from prescribing the cheaper medicine, a practice the companies have previously denied. The row centres on Avastin, a cancer drug that has proved just as effective as Lucentis and Eylea, two branded drugs, in treating wet age-related macular degeneration, a condition that affects 600,000 people in Britain. Avastin costs a tenth of the other two drugs but, unlike them, is not licensed as an eye treatment, making doctors reluctant to prescribe it.

Mail
Two of the world’s biggest drugs firms are threatening to sue the NHS to stop it using a treatment nearly 70 times cheaper than their medication. Novartis and Bayer made the threat against 12 health boards in Cumbria and North-East England which have advised doctors to use a different treatment for a devastating eye condition. Doctors have accused the pharmaceutical giants of trying to ‘dictate’ which drugs they can use. The NHS clinical commissioning groups want to use a drug called Avastin for patients with wet age-related macular degeneration, or wet AMD. They calculate that at £12 per injection, Avastin would save them £13.5 million a year compared to the current drugs they use –

Independent
The NHS is spending more than £97m on temporary staff and overtime to plug gaps left by a shortfall of 3,500 midwives, a report by the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) has found. This annual spend could fund 2,731 experienced “band 6” midwives, or 4,391 newly qualified midwives, according to the RCM. The college said it was little wonder that midwives are “looking for opportunities elsewhere” as the Government’s public sector pay cap has seen the average midwife’s salary “decrease in value by over £6,000 since 2010”. The figures, released under the Freedom of Information Act by 99 per cent of the UK hospitals with a maternity unit, found 27 hospitals were spending more than £1m a year on midwife cover. Nine organisations spent more than £2m.

Mail
Indigestion pills taken by millions of Britons significantly increase the risk of stomach cancer, a major study has found. Scientists say people who regularly use proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) – common drugs used to treat acid reflux – are twice as likely to develop the cancer. And if people took the drugs long-term, the risk soared, rising five-fold after a year to more than eight-fold after three years of regularly taking the pills. The scientists, from University College  London and the University of Hong Kong, suspect the pills stimulate a hormone called gastrin, which triggers the growth of cancerous cells. More than five million bottles and packets of PPIs – which include omeprazole and lansoprazole – are prescribed each year in England to treat gastroesophageal reflux, a severe form of heartburn.

Independent
Thousands of terminally ill patients risk dying in  hospital when they could be at home because of ‘unacceptable’ delays accessing urgent care support and funding, according to a study. The report by end-of-life nursing charity Marie Curie estimates 57,000 patients who are terminally ill, or progressing to a terminal stage of their illness, are not receiving timely home terminal-care support. The charity found fewer than a third (28 per cent) of NHS clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) hit national targets on providing fast-track Continuing Healthcare (CHC) support within 48 hours. Of the two thirds missing the target, a third (32 per cent) of CCGs reported patients waited more than a week, with some areas even reporting two week waits for this support.

Morning Star
LABOUR called on the government to step in with a plan to address the NHS’s staffing crisis yesterday as a new report revealed a shortage of midwives is costing the health service £100 million a year. A Royal College of Midwives (RCM) study showed the NHS had spent an astonishing £97 million on agency, bank staff and overtime last year as health bosses desperately tried to plug gaps in maternity services. RCM spokesman Jon Skewes said the report showed clearly “our maternity services are understaffed and under-resourced,” with a shortage of 3,500 midwives in England. He pointed out that the cash spent could have paid for 2,731 full-time experienced midwives or 4,391 newly qualified midwives, saying the government’s approach “smacked of short-termism.”

BBC News
More will be done to protect the NHS in England from “despicable” acts of fraud, the head of the health service’s new anti-fraud body has said. Sue Frith promised a crackdown as she released figures suggesting the yearly bill for fraud in the NHS topped £1bn. Cases include patients falsely claiming for exemptions on dental and prescription fees, and dentists charging for work they had not done. Ms Frith said the fraud takes vital funds from front line care. Ms Frith, the chief executive of the NHS Counter Fraud Agency, said it would be looking at new ways to fight the crime. The analysis by her team estimated that £1.25bn of fraud is being committed each year by patients, staff and contractors – the first time the health service has put a figure on total fraud committed itself. The sum represents about 1% of the NHS budget.

Strikes

Times
Britain’s busiest rail network will cancel more than a third of trains next week as unions stage the most damaging strike yet in a row over the closure of doors. South Western Railway, which carries 230 million passengers a year, indicated that almost 40 per cent of services would not run during a 48-hour strike from next Wednesday. It means that the equivalent of 680 out of 1,700 daily services will be cancelled, with replacement buses being drafted in on six routes. Tens of thousands of commuters are likely to suffer next week when the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) goes on strike. Two other rail routes, Southern and Greater Anglia, will be hit by the 48-hour walkout.

Mail
British Airways has resolved a long-running pay dispute with its cabin crew after 85 days of industrial action were taken.   Unite said 84 per cent of its members backed the deal, adding that staff in the so-called mixed fleet cabin crew will receive increases of between £1,404 to £2,908 by next March depending on experience and subject to inflation.  The deal also sees travel concessions and entitlements to fully participate in the airline’s 2017 bonus scheme returned to cabin crew who took industrial action.  The dispute saw cabin crew operating on long and short haul flights out of Heathrow take 85 days of industrial action earlier in the year. 

Plague

Mail
Health chiefs are desperately trying to contain a deadly outbreak of airborne plague in Africa that has prompted warnings in nine countries. More than 1,300 cases have now been reported in Madagascar, health chiefs have revealed, as nearby nations have been placed on high alert. Two thirds of those are suspected to be pneumonic – described as the ‘deadliest and most rapid form of plague’, World Health Organization figures show. The deadly disease is caused by the same bacteria that wiped out at least 50 million people in Europe in the 1300s. However, the lethal form currently spreading is different to the bubonic strain which was behind history’s Black Death. Pneumonic can spread through coughing and can kill within 24 hours. The outbreak is moving quickly, with several British holiday hotspots now deemed at risk of the epidemic spreading, including Seychelles, South Africa and La Reunion.

Volcano

Sun
ICELAND’s biggest volcano could be preparing to blast a monster ash cloud across Europe, experts have warned. The 6,591ft tall Bardarbunga volcano was rocked by four huge earthquakes last week, indicating that a massive eruption might be imminent. The earthquakes come seven years after a vast ash cloud from the nearby Eyjafjallajökull volcano ground European air travel to a halt. The earthquakes, measuring 3.9, 3.2, 4.7 and 4.7 on the Richter scale, struck the caldera region over several days last weekend. Volcano expert Páll Einarsson warned that the quakes mean Bardarbunga is “clearly preparing for its next eruption.” He told The Daily Star they were part of a series that has been “in progress for two years. “The reason for the earthquakes in this place is that the volcano Bárðarbunga is inflating, i.e. the pressure of magma in the magma chamber is increasing It has been doing this since the last eruption ended, in February 2015.

Star
ICELAND’S biggest volcano has been struck by the strongest earthquakes since it last erupted – raising fears a monster ash cloud could engulf Europe. Last week the 6,591ft tall Bardarbunga, a “powerful and versatile” volcano, was rattled by the four largest earthquakes since it last erupted in 2014. The earthquakes, measuring magnitude 3.9, 3.2, 4.7 and 4.7 on the Richter scale, struck the caldera region over several days last weekend. Another magnitude 4.1 earthquake hit the 200km long and 25km wide volcanic system earlier last week and several tremors struck in September. Páll Einarsson, a volcanology expert at the University of Iceland, said the latest quakes are part of a series that have been “in progress for two years”. Speaking exclusively to Daily Star Online, he said the volcano is “clearly preparing for its next eruption” within the next few years.

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