EU

Sky News
The UK will “regret” its decision to leave the European Union, Brussels’ top official has warned. Things “cannot remain as they are” for the UK in its relationship with the EU once it has left the bloc, European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker said in an address to the European Parliament. Mr Juncker was cheered by eurosceptic MEPs as he referenced the UK’s departure date of March 29 2019. Responding to the small group, Mr Juncker said the time would come “when you will regret your decision”. Nigel Farage hit back shortly after. “The EU is bullying us,” he said, before urging Theresa May “to do what Trump has done and stand strong against the European Commission, against the unelected bullies”.

BBC News
The UK will come to “regret” the decision to leave the EU, European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker has warned. Addressing the European Parliament, Mr Juncker was cheered by Eurosceptic MEPs as he noted the UK’s departure was due on 29 March, 2019. In response he said the time would come “when you will regret your decision”. MEPs’ Brexit representative, Guy Verhofstadt, said the UK had to move beyond the “slogans and soundbites”. But he said that the UK and EU were “very near” to an agreement on citizens’ rights post Brexit.

Express
A SENIOR adviser to the European Commission has suggested that Britain is too small to defend itself outside the EU. Dr Nathalie Tocci, who is the special adviser to European foreign affairs commissioner Federica Mogherini, told an audience in London that the UK needs to be involved in the new European defence force. The remarks came on a day when European Commission President Jean Claude Juncker appeared to threaten Britain in a speech in the European Parliament, where he suggested that it will “regret” voting for Brexit. Speaking at a Royal United Services Institute meeting, Dr Tocci, who is director of the Institute for International Affairs in Italy, said: “There is a debate to be had in the UK about looking beyond what does it actually mean to take back control.

Express
A BRITISH MEP has scolded fellow European Union representatives for their complacency over the impact of Brexit as “Rome burns” and the bloc begins to “sink like the Titanic” under a wave of anti-establishment and populist parties. In a fiery speech during a Brexit debate this morning, Janice Atkinson blasted Brussel for plodding on with “business as usual” while Eurosceptic, anti-establishment parties gain popularity cross the continent. The independent MEP for South East England also slammed the EU as a “protectionist racket” and insisted the UK would have no problem securing future trade agreements with countries like the United States.

Brexit

Westmonster
New details out from the Office for Budget Responsibility show that the government’s plan will see Britain hand over cash to the European Union for decades to come, with parts of the Brexit bill being handed out until 2064. Overall the UK is set to hand Brussels £37.1 billion between 2019 and 2064, with £16.4 billion paid between 2019-2020, reste à liquider (budgetary commitments) accounting for £18.2 billion between 2021 – 2028 and then a further £2.5 billion between 2019 – 2064. This only takes into consideration current commitments, with the EU set to make further demands as it continues with a hardline approach when it comes to a deal. Paying the EU money into the 2060s? The British people voted to take back control of our money, not continue to fill the EU’s coffers for decades!

Breitbart
The UK will continue to pay the agreed so-called Brexit ‘divorce bill’ for almost 50 years until 2064, the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) has estimated. Publishing its assessment as the Chancellor gave his Spring Statement on the economy, the OBR said the final amount would be around £37.1 billion. The government had estimated it to be between £35 billion and £39 billion. They say £16.4 billion will be paid between 2019 and 2020, with payments continuing largely as they are now. Between 2021 and 2028, the UK will pay “reste à liquider” (budgetary commitments) of £18.2 billion, and a further £2.5 billion will be handed over between 2019 and 2064, largely pension commitments. However, according to the OBR estimates, the UK will be spending less than if it had remained a member of the European Union (EU) in 2020 and 2021, with the nation being left £3 billion better off thanks to the Brexit vote.

Times
Britain is set to pay hundreds of millions of pounds to the European Union each year until 2064, the government’s financial watchdog revealed yesterday (writes Sam Coates). The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) estimated that the total cost of the settlement would be £37.1 billion. About £28 billion will be paid over the next five years. After 2040 the UK will be paying an average of £150 million a year, which it said was 0.004 per cent of GDP, and will pay for outstanding EU pension liabilities. The calculation excludes fees the UK may pay to continue to be members of EU agencies. The Treasury said it had the EU’s permission to try to strike a deal in the future to bring forward payments.

Guardian
The UK will save no money from leaving the European Union over the next five years and could be paying its  Brexit divorce bill until at least 2064, according to the government’s independent budget watchdog. Outlining the cost of severing links with the EU, the Office for Budget Responsibility said government spending up until 2023 would have been the same if the UK had voted to remain in the 2016 referendum. On the current course assumed by the OBR, the financial settlement required to leave the EU and spending to replace European funding in the UK will cost the country just as much as full membership.

Immigration

Sun
THERESA MAY’s Brexit war committee finally agreed the terms of Britain’s historic transition phase out of the EU – ahead of a crunch meeting of EU27 ambassadors in Brussels on Thursday. The core-Cabinet sub-committee in charge of negotiations nodded through a major climb-down keeping Britain’s open borders for EU citizens until 2021. Initially the government said free movement would end when Britain officially leaves the EU in 2019, but it is set to continue throughout the “time limited” exit period. And Mrs May’s inner circle  used the behind closed doors meeting to plot how best to spin the bad news to MPs and voters.

Express
THERESA May has agreed to the EU transition deal but has backed down over the UK’s borders which will not close in 2019 but remain open until 2021, it has been reported. The Government said free movement would end in 2019 and there would be a time-limited exit period. But the Cabinet sub-committee in charge of negotiations have agreed to keep the UK’s borders open for EU citizens until 2021. In January, Brexit negotiator David Davis said there could be an “implementation phase” which would allow citizens to live and work for two years after the UK leaves the bloc – but it has now been confirmed. Eurosceptic Jacob Rees Mogg said: “[People] expected us to take back control of our borders in 2019 – not that we’d have to wait until 2021.”

Northern Ireland

Independent
The Irish Prime Minister has attacked a plan for people to register in advance to cross the border without checks after Brexit, which is being studied by Theresa May. Leo Varadkar dismissed the idea – revealed by 
The Independent – as he turned on senior UK Cabinet ministers for failing to visit the border in order to understand it better. Under the plan, anyone without clearance for “fast track movement” would have to use approved crossing points or would be “considered to have entered the state irregularly”. CCTV and cameras to track vehicle number plates would be needed at some crossing points – despite the Prime Minister’s promise that the border will continue to have no “physical infrastructure”.

Spy poisoning

Telegraph
Counter-terrorism police have opened an investigation into the “unexplained” death on British soil of an arch enemy of Vladimir Putin, just eight days after the nerve gas assassination attempt on a Russian double agent. Nikolai Glushkov, 68, the right-hand man of the deceased oligarch Boris Berezovsky, Mr Putin’s one-time fiercest rival, was found dead at his London home on Monday. A Russian media source said Glushkov, the former boss of the state airline Aeroflot, who said he feared he was on a Kremlin hit-list, was found with “strangulation marks” on his neck.

Times
Counterterrorism police were investigating last night the “unexplained death” in London of a Russian exile who was close friends with a critic of President Putin. The discovery of Nikolai Glushkov’s body was reported as the government opened an inquiry into alleged links between Russia and 14 other deaths in the UK over the past two decades. Theresa May told Moscow to explain how a nerve agent produced in Russia came to be used in an attempted assassination of a former Russian double-agent and his daughter in Salisbury.

Sun
PUTIN critic Nikolai Glushkov feared being on a Russian hit-list five years before he was found dead with “strangulation marks” on his neck. The 68-year-old Russian exile admitted feeling next on the “list” after close pal Boris Berezovsky died in 2013 from an apparent suicide. Glushkov, whose body was found late on Monday night at his home in New Malden, South West London, had been caged for five years for money laundering while deputy director of Aeroflot. He later said he was told at the time that he would be killed on his way to court, saying: “I was told the way it would happen. I would be run over by a truck”, MailOnline reports.

Guardian
Theresa May is preparing to chair a meeting of the national security council after the midnight deadline she set Moscow over the spy poisoning case passed. The prime minister is preparing to set out a range of reprisals against the Russian state, including calls for fresh sanctions, visa bans and crackdowns on Russian money in the UK. She is expected to set out plans to build a coalition of international support – from the European Union, Nato and even the United Nations – to rein in  Russia over time. May will put her proposals to the national security committee on Wednesday before briefing MPs in a statement that could set the course for UK foreign policy for years to come.

Independent
The European Union has expressed its “solidarity” with the British people and government after the poisoning of an ex-spy and his daughter on British soil, apparently using a Russian-made nerve agent. Speaking in the European Parliament Frans Timmermans, the first vice president of the European Commission, said European countries and their leaders had a “collective responsibility” to help their ally. He suggested the issue should be put on the agenda at the European Council summit in Brussels next week, where leaders will also discuss Brexit talks.

Russia

Mail
Russia last night issued a chilling warning to Britain not to threaten a nuclear power as Kremlin officials ignored Theresa May’s midnight deadline to explain how the nerve agent that poisoned a former spy found its way into Britain. As Mrs May prepared to unveil retaliatory measures against Moscow, Vladimir Putin’s officials refused to explain how Sergei Skripal was poisoned with the military-grade chemical weapon. And – in a coded reference to President Putin’s boasts about his nuclear arsenal – Russian officials warned: ‘Any threat to take punitive measures against Russia will meet with a response. The British side should be aware of that.’

Times
Russia warned Britain not to issue threats and “groundless ultimatums” as it defied a demand to account by midnight for the use of its nerve agent in the Salisbury poisoning. Theresa May is expected to tell MPs today of plans to retaliate for the assassination attempt on a Russian double agent and his daughter last week. Initial targets are likely to include allies of President Putin who have assets in Britain, Russian diplomats based in London and the Kremlin-controlled television station RT. Moscow’s embassy warned that any “punitive” action “will meet with a response” and described the ultimatum as a clear provocation.

Spring statement

Independent
Philip Hammond has delivered his first ever Spring Statement, in which he announced slightly higher economic growth than expected. The Chancellor – who has been criticised for being gloomy over Brexit – also attacked Labour as “Eeyores” for “relentlessly talking Britain down”. In contrast, he said, his approach was more akin to “Tigger”. In a short speech that was stripped of tax and spending measures, Mr Hammond confirmed an expected drop in borrowing, higher-than-predicted GDP growth and the recent elimination of the deficit on day-to-day spending. Meanwhile, Russia hit back at Theresa May after she issued an ultimatum to Vladimir Putin over the use of a deadly Russian nerve agent  against an ex-spy and his daughter.

Times
Philip Hammond promised to ease austerity in the run-up to the next election after unveiling new economic forecasts that showed marginal improvements in growth and borrowing. In his first spring statement, which lasted 26 minutes and contained no spending or tax announcements, the chancellor announced 29 consultations, many likely to result in tax-raising measures in the autumn budget. Declaring himself “Tigger-like” over the health of the public finances, he promised to use any extra headroom to raise public spending from 2020. He has in the past been called Eeyore, after the glum donkey in Winnie-the-Pooh. He reported lower-than-expected economic gains, with GDP forecast by the Office for Budget Responsibility to be up 1.5 per cent this year.

ITV News
For days the chancellor and Treasury have been dampening expectations that his spring statement, which replaces the spring budget, would be an event of tax-and-spending significance. Philip Hammond was true to his word. He was dull. The most resonant disclosure wasn’t in his speech, it was in the big OBR book that accompanies it. It showed the PM has committed to paying the pensions of EU Eurocrats till 2064, at a drain on the public purse of around €50m in that year, and €200m annually right up to 2050. That’ll have steam whistling from the ears of the more ardent Brexiteers.

BBC News
Philip Hammond has given his clearest hint yet that he is prepared to increase spending further on the NHS. The chancellor told the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg he recognised the pressures for more spending on health, local government “and other areas”. He said he would like to use any “headroom” ahead of the autumn Budget to find more cash for public services. The NHS, he said, had got an extra £9bn since 2016 but an ageing society was creating “continuous upward pressures”. The BBC understands the cabinet discussed earlier this year the possibility of tax rises to fund more spending for the NHS, even the idea of a dedicated tax backed by some Conservative MPs.

Mail
Philip Hammond delivered the strongest hint yet that he is ready to draw a line under austerity as he unveiled higher growth forecasts and lower government borrowing. Delivering his Spring Statement, the Chancellor seized on good news on the economy and tax revenues to insist there is ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ for the UK. Mr Hammond confirmed that the government’s day-to-day spending is finally heading back in the black after a decade of belt-tightening following the credit crunch. And he said he is ready to loosen the purse-strings to bolster key public services in the Autumn Budget if the finances remain on track – with up to £15billion available.

Sun
PHILIP HAMMOND today unveiled good news for the economy, promising “light at the end of the tunnel” – and hinted he will turn on the spending taps this year. Delivering the Spring Statement, the Chancellor blasted Labour “doom and gloom” as he announced the official budget watchdog has upgraded its estimates for growth. Mr Hammond even expressed optimism about Brexit as he vowed to “deliver a Brexit that supports British jobs, businesses and prosperity” by cutting a good deal with Europe. The Office for Budget Responsibility forecasts a falling deficit as well as the predicted rise in growth, prompting calls for an end to austerity after eight years.

Sky News
Philip Hammond offered the prospect of a boost to public spending later this year as he presented upgraded growth forecasts and predictions of falling inflation, debt and borrowing in his spring statement. The Chancellor declared there is “light at the end of the tunnel” after years of belt-tightening, as he rejected his “Eeyore” nickname and announced himself “positively Tigger-like” about UK’s fortunes. But, Labour accused Mr Hammond of “complacency” and a “missed opportunity” to ease pressures on public services, while the Government’s independent forecaster played down suggestions of a major improvement in the public finances.

University strike

Times
Final year exams at more than 60 universities are set to be severely disrupted after a deal to end the lecturers’ strike was rejected out of hand. Union leaders said that they would now make “detailed preparations” for 14 days of strikes to be held during the exam period of May and June. In a message to members, they called for those who were external examiners at the affected universities to “consider their position with a view to putting pressure on the assessment season”.

Guardian
Strikes at UK universities are to continue after staff overwhelmingly rejected a revised offer on their pensions. The University and College Union was forced to throw out the deal it had negotiated with university employers after members voted against it. The union will now draw up detailed plans aimed at disrupting summer examinations in an escalation of the industrial action, which is now in its fourth week. The deal, which had been reached on Monday night after six days of talks at the conciliation service Acas, was thrown out when the UCU’s higher education committee met on Tuesday after local branches had rejected it.

Solar storm

Star
EXTREME space weather could plunge the planet into darkness tomorrow. Scientists are preparing for a “geomagnetic storm” – a blast of particles from the sun’s atmosphere that disrupts the Earth’s magnetic field. The power networks could be brought to their knees by the storm, according to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. It was created last week by an explosion in the sun’s atmosphere known as a solar flare, causing charged particles from that flare to make their way to our planet. The storm’s arrival coincides with the formation of equinox cracks in the Earth’s magnetic field, which form around the equinoxes on March 20 and September 23 every year.

PLEASE NOTE THAT UKIP DAILY WILL BE UNAVAILABLE FROM 2PM TO 3PM THIS AFTERNOON DUE TO PLANNED MAINTENANCE.

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