GUY VERHOFSTADT has warned Brexit trade talks will be “very brief” unless the UK changes its negotiating position, threatening the EU will walk away should Britain refuse to make concessions. The EU’s trade negotiator Michel Barnier said today the UK “should not kid themselves” that Brussels will give a special deal to the City of London. Now, the Frenchman’s tough negotiating stance has been backed up by Mr Verhofstadt, who led the European Parliament’s Brexit Steering Group. The Belgium MEP said: “The UK Government says no to EU standards, a far reaching fishery agreement, free movement. “But it does want zero tariffs, zero quota and full access for the City. “If this is the UK position, talks will be very brief indeed. “Michel Barnier is 100 percent right!” A briefing paper, snapped by a long-lens camera as it was taken into Downing St on Monday, suggested the UK would seek in the coming negotiations a “permanent equivalence” regime for financial services that would last for “decades to come”.
SAJID JAVID’S plans to ensure the City can maintain access to the European market after Brexit have been revealed after a photographer snapped it using a long lens. The unverified photo, which was taken outside the Chancellor’s Downing Street office on Monday, revealed “comprehensive, permanent equivalence decisions” as an opening position for Britain. But Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator, told the European Parliament on Tuesday Britain must be “under no illusion” on financial services as there will be “no general, global, permanent equivalence” with Britain. He said: “There will be no common management.”
Boris Johnson’s suggestion that Britain could trade with the EU on the same terms as Australia would amount to a no deal, the president of the European Commission has said. Ursula von der Leyen said she was “surprised” to hear the prime minister propose an “Australian-style” Brexit because “the European Union does not have a trade agreement with Australia”. Mr Johnson made the comments in a speech last week where he rejected suggestions the UK could align to EU rules to gain more market access – the bloc’s key requirement.
Ursula von der Leyen has mocked Boris Johnson’s claims to be willing to accept an Australian-style trade deal with the EU by reminding MEPs that no such agreement exists. In a speech to the EU’s parliament in Strasbourg, the president of the European commission repeatedly named the prime minister as she picked out the contradictions in his approach to the post-Brexit arrangements. Von der Leyen noted that the “Canada-style deal” referred to by Johnson as his primary goal in the coming negotiations contained tariffs and quota limits on some goods crossing the Atlantic. Both sides have said they want to avoid such costs and barriers to trade.
EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said she was “a little bit surprised” to hear Boris Johnson propose an “Australian-style” Brexit – suggesting it would amount to a no-deal scenario at the end of 2020. It comes as retail chiefs warned consumers to expect price hikes and food shortages at the end of the Brexit transition period – even if a deal is forged. It follows an admission by Michael Gove there would be trade “friction” and checks on goods at the border. The PM faced backbench Tory anger after telling the Commons HS2 had been given the “green signal”.
The EU has appeared to mock Boris Johnson’s claim that an Australian-style trade deal could be a post-Brexit model for Britain. Ursula von der Leyen, European Commission president, expressed her “surprise” at the prime minister’s comment last week that Canberra’s trading relationship may provide an acceptable framework before talks this spring. Even Australia wants a better relationship with Brussels than the present model, she said. “I was surprised to hear the UK prime minister speak about the Australian model.
EUROPEAN countries “need the British” and should not exclude the UK from international organisations out of spite, a Dutch MEP has warned. EU states cannot go it alone when it comes to developing offshore wind farms to meet climate change commitments, Frans Timmermans said, as he slammed the decision to boot Britain out of a cooperation platform. Mr Timmermans questioned why the UK had been removed from the North Sea Energy Cooperation (NSEC) platform – which is not an EU group. NSEC brings together members states France, Germany, Denmark, Belgium, Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Sweden – as well as non-EU member Norway.
Michel Barnier has told Sajid Javid not to “kid” himself as he dismissed UK demands for a deal granting British financial services access to the EU market for decades after Brexit. The blow was delivered as the president of the European Commission said the EU would trade with Britain on WTO terms if that was the UK’s choice. Mr Barnier said Brussels would reject efforts to agree a financial services chapter in the new UK-EU trade deal or a long-term deal on “equivalence”, granting the City of London access to the EU market. Equivalence decisions would be a purely unilateral decision by the European Union, the EU’s negotiator said, meaning it could be withdrawn at short notice and in some cases in as little as 30 days.
The European Union has warned ministers not to “kid themselves” over the freedom which the City of London will have to operate in EU markets in a post-Brexit trade agreement. Chancellor Sajid Javid is pressing for a deal under which the British and European financial sectors have permanent “equivalent” access to each other’s markets. The two sides have set a target of July for reaching an agreement on the issue. But Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, dashed hopes of an early breakthrough as he took a tough stance on so-called “equivalence”.
Boris Johnson’s Cabinet reshuffle on Thursday will not be “a revolution” Government sources said as ministers prepared for a limited shake-up that will see several Remainers promoted at the expense of Leavers. The Prime Minister was putting the finishing touches to a reshuffle which he hopes will decisively put the bitter three years of rowing over Brexit behind him. The scale of the reshuffle has been radically pared back since speculation of a much wider shake up in the immediate aftermath of the general election. The source added: “It is not going to be a revolution.” Remain-supporting Chloe Smith, Oliver Dowden and Lucy Frazer are all tipped to be promoted to the Cabinet at the expense of Brexit supporting ministers like Geoffrey Cox, Andrea Leadsom and Theresa Villiers.
The Labour Party could be fined up to £15m for failing to protect members’ data after reporting Sir Keir Starmer’s campaign to the information watchdog. This weekend Labour’s general secretary Jennie Formby, a leading ally of Jeremy Corbyn, made a formal referral to the Information Commissioner’s Office over an alleged breach of data protection rules by members of the frontrunner’s campaign team. It was seen by allies of Sir Keir as an attempt to undermine his campaign. However, the move could backfire after the ICO confirmed the Labour Party itself would be the focus of any investigation, since it is legally responsible for securing members’ information as the “data controller”.
Sinn Fein has demanded a vote on Irish reunification within five years as its price for entering government after missing out on becoming the country’s biggest party by just one seat following an historic election. The left-wing Republican party, which has historic links to the IRA, stunned pollsters by scooping up the largest share of first preference votes in Saturday’s ballot – but ended up with 37 seats to Fianna Fail’s 38 once back-up preference votes were taken into account. Despite being Ireland’s largest party, the result will be a disappointment for Fianna Fail – one of Ireland’s two main governing parties – as it lost six seats compared to the result in 2016.
Boris Johnson‘s Brexit deal could mean Northern Ireland operates in a different time zone to the rest of the UK for half the year, peers warned today. All EU states currently switch to summer time hours on last Sunday of March and back to Greenwich Mean Time on the last Sunday of October. However, the European Parliament has backed plans to end the twice-yearly changing of the clocks – the pattern followed by the UK – to accommodate extra daylight hours. And a Lords committee has raised concerns that Northern Ireland could end up obeying the Brussels rules because the Brexit treaty keeps the province inside the EU single market.
Northern Ireland could be forced to operate in a different time zone to the rest of the UK under the Prime Minister’s Brexit deal, peers have warned. The European Parliament voted last year in support of a proposal that would put an end to the twice-yearly changing of the clocks to accommodate extra daylight hours. Under an EU directive, all 27 states currently switch to summer time hours on the last Sunday of March and back to Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) on the last Sunday of October – a pattern the UK follows. But under a potential swap by Brussels to a “double summer time” arrangement, Lords have warned that the Prime Minister’s Withdrawal Agreement could see Northern Ireland legally obliged to be one hour ahead for six months every year.
NICOLA STURGEON hit out at Prime Minister Boris Johnson for his “personal insults” as the SNP leader said she will “insult him back”. Nicola Sturgeon was questioned over whether she was offended after a senior Government source called her a “Wee Jimmy Krankie woman”. The SNP leader was quizzed on the subject as she attended a Green Alliance conference to discuss Scotland’s plans for net zero. One reporter asked: “Were you offended at all by the slur that emanated out of Whitehall regarding the way you’re ‘Krankie’?” Ms Sturgeon said: “The next time I’m sitting in front of an audience like this I won’t have to express frustration about getting asked questions of that nature when we should be talking about the bigger purpose here.
Boris Johnson has promised the north of England that it will not have to suffer “intolerable” delays to receive a full high-speed rail network as he approved the HS2 project in full. The prime minister said that an integrated network — “High Speed North” — would be created that merged a new express line across the Pennines with the existing second phase of HS2, north of Birmingham. Addressing the Commons, he said that it would be delivered quicker than the existing plan to open high-speed lines to Manchester and Leeds by 2040.
Boris Johnson was warned that HS2 could become the ‘albatross around your neck’ by a furious Tory backbencher today as he finally declared the much maligned £100billion rail scheme will go ahead. After more than a decade of wrangling between politicians, the Prime Minister over-rode Tory anger and confirmed approval for the high-speed link in a statement to the House of Commons. Despite admitting his own concerns about the handling of the scheme so far, he said poor infrastructure had been ‘holding the country back’ for too long, and the government must act to shorten commutes and encourage investment.
At least 3,000 suspected child abusers were released back into their community by police without any conditions, putting victims at risk, according to new study. The number arrested for child abuse but then “released under investigation” without conditions rose more than ten-fold from 261 to 2,993 in just a year since reforms of bail were introduced, according to police data supplied to MPs. By contrast, the number released on police bail with legally-binding restrictions to stop them going near victims more than halved from 4,657 in 2016/17 to 2,036 in 2017/18, according to Freedom of Information requests to police forces. “This has had serious ramifications for the safety of survivors and their confidence in police to keep them and their families safe if they report abuse,” said the report by an all-party parliamentary group on child abuse led by Rotherham MP Sarah Champion.
Just 16 per cent of child sexual abuse victims say NHS mental health services meet their needs, according to a new report demanding ministers act urgently over insufficient funding for adult survivors. The All-Party Parliamentary Group on adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse – led by the Labour MP for Rotherham, Sarah Champion – heard from nearly 400 victims from across the country in its inquiry. It found that male survivors wait an average of 26 years before disclosing their abuse and that one in five did not report abuse to the police due to fear of further violence from perpetrators.
The NHS risks being overwhelmed by an old-age health crisis, the new Chief Medical Officer warns today. Chris Whitty says drastic action is needed to cope with a surge in the number of patients aged over 65. He points out that countryside districts and coastal towns with older populations are often poorly served by GPs, hospital clinics, ambulances and out-of-hours providers. In his first interview since becoming England’s Chief Medical Officer in October, Professor Whitty proposes a series of radical solutions to our ageing crisis. Professor Whitty, 53, is the Government’s top health adviser and his brief stretches from planning the response to coronavirus to drawing up key medical policies.
Coronavirus could kill 45 million people and infect more than 60 per cent of the global population if containment methods fail, a top Hong Kong medical official has warned. Professor Gabriel Leung, chair of public health medicine in the city, also said that even if the death rate reaches just one per cent, the potential spread means it could still kill thousands of people. With the global population currently at more than 7billion (7,577,130,400), that means that more than 4billion (4,546,278,240) could be infected if Professor Leung is correct. And if one per cent of those people die, that means there will be more than 45million deaths.
FIVE schools have been placed on coronavirus infection alert as teachers and pupils are told to quarantine themselves. Panicked parents pulled kids out of Cottesmore St Mary’s Catholic and Bevendean Primary School in Brighton over fears the deadly disease is spreading. Meanwhile one of the seaside city’s largest secondary schools warned mums and dads that a “member of its community” was in quarantine. Varndean School, which has around 1,300 pupils, announced that a person connected to it had been told to ‘self-isolate’ for 14 days by Public Heath England, the Daily Mail reports. Brighton has become the epi-centre of the virus after a cub Scout leader dubbed the Coronavirus “super-spreader” unwittingly brought it into the UK last month following a business trip to Singapore.
The coronavirus outbreak will get worse before it gets better, the health secretary warned today as he promised to build more isolation and treatment centres in hospitals. Matt Hancock pledged to fund any extra facilities needed by hospitals to deal with rising number of cases, saying the government had not put a cap on how much money would be available. He told the Commons that the NHS could deal with 500 cases at once in isolation units and extensive plans were in place should hospitals need to treat more. It came as two prisoners at HMP Bullingdon, a category B and C prison in Oxfordshire, were tested for coronavirus in the first suspected outbreak in a jail in England and Wales.
The coronavirus outbreak poses a ‘very grave threat for the rest of the world’, the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) has said. Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has urged countries to share virus samples and speed up research into drugs and vaccines. ‘With 99 per cent of cases in China, this remains very much an emergency for that country, but one that holds a very grave threat for the rest of the world,’ he said. Dr Ghebreyesus spoke at a meeting of more than 400 researchers and national authorities, including some participating by video conference from mainland China and Taiwan.
CORONAVIRUS could infect 60% of the global population according to Prof Gabriel Leung, the chair of public health medicine at Hong Kong University. His findings come as prime minister Boris Johnson urged Brits to remain calm after confirmed cases in the UK doubled. Health Secretary Matt Hancock today told MPs: “Dealing with this disease is a marathon, not a sprint”. He continued: “We will do everything that is effective to tackle this virus and keep people safe”.
Boris Johnson is to use a growing row over the deportation of dozens of Jamaican criminals as a battering ram against the judiciary. Downing Street hit out at the judicial review process today after a last minute court order prevented the return of 25 serious criminals to Kingston following claims they were denied access to lawyers. Government sources said the decision by the Court of Appeal and the row over the deportation flight showed why an examination of judicial review was needed. Dominic Cummings, the prime minister’s most senior aide, said the process was “a farce”.
Violent offenders could be back on the streets of Britain within 48 hours after judges blocked their deportation. The Prime Minister is understood to be ‘furious’ at the prospect of 25 serious offenders being loose. A judicial review stopped the criminals from being deported to Jamaica after claims that they had been denied access to legal advice. It means a killer, two sex offenders, a firearms offender, seven violent criminals and 14 drugs offenders remain. Boris Johnson is hoping the speed up a bid to limit the powers of individuals and campaigners to use such reviews to challenge ministers, The Times reports.
Downing Street drew fresh battles lines with the courts today after ministers were forced to remove 25 people from a deportation flight bound for Jamaica. The Appeal Court blocked the deportation of 25 offenders, including some convicted of rape, manslaughter and firearms offences, to Jamaica. Just 17 people remained on the flight, which left this morning. It follows widespread concern over the flight, which ministers had insisted was being handled properly. The judge said those detainees should not be removed unless the Home Office is satisfied they “had access to a functioning, non-O2 Sim card on or before February 3”.