BREXIT could be delayed by six months after a leaked memo revealed Whitehall may need 30,000 extra civil servants to work on more than 500 new projects. Theresa May confirmed that she intended to trigger Article 50 and start Brexit talks by the end of March, although the memo allegedly suggests that Whitehall civil servants are unable to cope with the huge workload and tight schedule. The document reportedly reads: “Individual departments have been busily developing their projects to implement Brexit, resulting in well over 500 projects, which are beyond the capacity and capability of Government to execute quickly.” Government departments are reportedly pushing for more staff to cope with the Brexit workload, although Philip Hammond is not expected to allow them to spend more on staff when he delivers the Autumn Statement next week.
Brexit could be delayed by months, even as long as two years, after a Supreme Court Judge suggested that “comprehensive” legislation was required to trigger Article 50. Lady Hale told an audience in Kuala Lumpur that “another question” for the court was “whether it would be enough for a simple act of Parliament to authorise the Government to give notice, or whether it would have to be a comprehensive replacement for the 1972 [EEC Accession] Act”. Sky News reported last week that the Government was preparing a short bill to push through both the Commons and the Lords to try to keep its March deadline for triggering Article 50. Labour has said it would not block such a bill in the House of Commons.
One of the world’s largest consultancy firms has insisted that a leaked memo that claimed there was no government-wide Brexit plan was meant for “internal audiences” and was not commissioned by the Cabinet Office. Deloitte issued a statement after Theresa May’s spokeswoman launched an attack on the reporting of the memo in which she said the story represented a “firm touting for business and aided by the media”. A spokesperson for the company said: “This was a note intended primarily for internal audiences. It was not commissioned by the Cabinet Office, nor any other government department, and represents a view of the task facing Whitehall. This work was conducted without access to No 10 or input from any other government departments.”
A leaked Brexit note that said Britain has no overall strategy for leaving the European Union was written without input from the government, Deloitte said on Tuesday. “This was a note intended primarily for internal audiences,” Deloitte said in a statement. “It was not commissioned by the Cabinet Office, nor any other government department, and represents a view of the task facing Whitehall. This work was conducted without access to No. 10 or input from any other government departments,” it said.
The government has prepared a short three-line bill to begin the Brexit process – so Theresa May can meet her March deadline, it is understood. Sources say they believe the legislation is so tightly drawn it will be difficult for critical MPs to amend. Ministers have drawn up the legislation in case they lose their appeal to the Supreme Court – which would force them to consult Parliament. The High Court ruled against the government earlier this month. Sources say the government would plan to introduce the bill in the Commons immediately after the Supreme Court ruling. The hope would be to push the bill through the Commons in two weeks. It would then go to the House of Lords where it is understood the government hopes peers would back down.
A “three line Bill” to kick-start Brexit has been drawn up by the Government to make it as difficult as possible for Parliament to hold it up, it has been revealed. Ministers believe the short legislation will be “bombproof” to amendments, but will comply with this month’s High Court ruling that Parliament must give its consent, the BBC reported. It is the first evidence that Theresa May is preparing for defeat in the Supreme Court, despite her spokesman insisting she is “confident” that the ruling will be overturned.
The government’s controversial £56bn high-speed rail project HS2 will be completed on time, Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has insisted. He told MPs it was “unrealistic” to say the link between London and northern England would not open in 2033. His statement came as he confirmed the route for the second phase of HS2 would go from Crewe to Manchester and the West Midlands to Leeds. Labour wants a guarantee HS2 will be delivered without delays and on budget. The first phase of HS2 is due to open in December 2026, with trains travelling at high speed between London and Birmingham before continuing on the existing West Coast Main Line. A second Y-shaped phase of HS2 will open in two stages.
A new route for controversial high-speed rail line HS2 has been revealed – but with a major city left off the map. The line will run to new stations in Manchester and Leeds from 2033 by extending planned sections to Birmingham and Crewe, Tory minister Chris Grayling announced today. But proposals to build a brand-new station in Sheffield, suggested in 2013, have been shelved, the Transport Secretary said. Instead of serving a station in Meadowhall, around four miles from the city centre, the route is now set to bypass Sheffield. HS2 trains will still run to Sheffield’s city centre station but on older track through Chesterfield, ministers suggested. Critics have warned this would mean a new housing estate in nearby Mexborough would face demolition.
EUROZONE disaster economies Italy and Portugal are facing a fresh financial crisis, after Donald Trump’s win pushed up the cost of borrowing for the fragile countries. Pressure is rising on states up to their eyes in debt, amid a staggering $1.14 TRILLION (£900bn) sell-off in global bond markets. It means the cost of servicing Government debt – sold to investors through so-called bonds – has jumped since the Republican’s shock win last week, as markets anticipate higher interest rates and rising inflation. Mr Trump is expected to implement a wide range of policies that are set to push up prices Higher inflation tends to push investors into selling bonds, pushing their price down. John Higgins of Capital Economics said: “There may now be a big fiscal expansion [in the US], which adds to the downside risks for bonds for at least two reasons. First, it would increase their supply.
Angela Merkel has suggested she is prepared to discuss the parameters of free movement of people in the European Union as Britain prepares for Brexit . The German Chancellor said the EU could not divide its four freedoms — movement of goods, capital, people and services — to allow Britain to restrict immigration while retaining tariff-free access to the market of close to 500 million people. However, she opened the possibility of discussions on the framework of the free movement of people, which became a significant issue for the 52 per cent of Britons who backed leaving the EU.
Angela Merkel has for the first time signalled that she is willing to compromise on the issue of freedom of movement in the wake of Britain’s Brexit vote. In comments seen as a significant shift, the German Chancellor suggested that the European Union needs to “discuss further” the rules around freedom of movement. It suggests for the first time that Britain may be able to gain full control of its borders while still retaining access to the single market, something that EU leaders including Jean-Claude Juncker have previously said would be impossible .
BITTER European Parliament bosses have launched a major purge of British MEPs from top posts as the UK prepares to turn its back on the bureaucratic European Union (EU), it has emerged. Senior British lawmakers could be pushed aside before the nation even triggers Article 50 – the formal process for leaving the Brussels club – if power-grabbing colleagues get their way. The attempted purge comes amid repeated calls by moany EU members who are determined to see British MEPs out of their their roles as committee chairs on the European Parliament. In just two months time, members will decide on their new president and heads of committees during the Parliament’s mid-term leadership elections.
BRITISH taxpayers will be forced to fork out to subsidise social services in Brussels’ hotbed of Islamist extremism as part of the EU’s struggling bid to combat homegrown terrorism. The Belgian government has taken its begging bowl to eurocrats as it struggles to cope with a massive influx of immigrants into the country’s capital city. EU officials have now agreed to dole out cash to provide “healthcare and social services” for immigrants in the rundown neighbourhood of Molenbeek, which is notorious for breeding and harbouring Islamist extremists. Critics tonight reacted with fury at the move and insisted that it should be up to the Belgian administration, and not other European countries, to stump up for its own immigration crisis.
Angela Merkel has conceded the European Union could overhaul its rules on migration – but only to try to keep Britain in the single market. In a major shift, the German Chancellor suggested there was room for debate on the issue of free movement in Brexit talks with the UK. Since the referendum vote, EU leaders have steadfastly warned they will not give ground to Britain on migration rules, insisting we must accept free movement of people if we want to remain in the single market, which allows trading without tariffs. But last night Mrs Merkel, the EU’s most influential figure, suggested migration rules for the bloc as a whole could be tightened so Britain is not excluded from maintaining its trading ties. It came as Boris Johnson said it was ‘b*******’ to claim free movement was a sacred tenet of the EU.
JUSTICE Secretary Liz Truss has slammed the Prison Officers Association for taking “illegal” strike action today, saying it will only make prisons more dangerous. Speaking in parliament this afternoon, Mrs Truss said that the government had been in talks with unions, but this morning her calls to resume negotiations were refused. “The union’s position is unnecessary and unlawful, it will make the situation in our prisons more dangerous,” she told MPs. “We are taking the necessary steps to end this unlawful action.” She added: “The government is absolutely committed to giving prison officer and governors the support they need to do their jobs and keep them safe from harm.”
The Tory government has won a legal action to stop an “unlawful” strike by 10,000 prison officers that halted the Jo Cox murder trial. Justice Secretary Liz Truss won the High Court injunction today after attacking fearful staff who walked out today warning of a “meltdown”. She accepted officers facing violence, suicides, escapes and drug abuse in Britain’s jails “do a tough and difficult job”. But she attacked the Prison Officers Association for giving no notice of the ‘strike’ and allegedly refusing the offer of talks this morning. “The union’s position is unnecessary and unlawful and it will make the situation in our prisons more dangerous,” she told MPs.”We are taking the necessary legal steps to end this unlawful industrial action.” In the High Court, Mr Justice Kerr heard an urgent application for the injunction to “restrain” the Prison Officers Association from “inducing any form of industrial action”.
Patients are a fifth more likely to die on wards where nurses have been replaced by untrained staff, a major study has found. It has prompted researchers to describe plans to substitute qualified NHS nurses with ‘associates’ as a ‘risky experiment’. The University of Southampton study found that replacing just one nurse with an untrained employee on a typical ward increased the chance of dying by 21 per cent. On the other hand, for every 10 per cent increase in qualified nurses on wards, the risk of death fell by 11 per cent. Earlier this month the Government confirmed plans to deploy 2,000 nursing associates in hospitals at 11 NHS trusts from January to ease staffing shortages. Dubbed ‘nurses on the cheap’, they will be responsible for the vital monitoring of patients’ breathing and heart rate to check they are not deteriorating.
There must be a huge injection of resources to fight dementia now that it has overtaken heart disease as the country’s biggest killer. The days are thankfully long gone when many victims were stuck in care homes and forgotten. But research and treatment haven’t kept up with the toll inflicted by Alzheimer’s and other variations as we live longer. If the death rates of heart disease and cancer can be made to fall, the same can happen with dementia if it is better identified and drugs are developed to halt the decline. Families forced to watch loved ones fade away then shut down know what a cruel end it is. Hopefully, future generations will be spared. Dementia robs its victims of their dignity. As science continues to advance at remarkable speed, the brain condition must become our number one medical target.
A third of patients with depression and other mental health conditions are suffering poor NHS care, according to the watchdog. One in three don’t know who to contact out-of-hours and a quarter are not being treated with dignity. The Care Quality Commission is ‘deeply concerned’ by the findings and has placed four failing health trusts under review. Around 1.7 million adults are currently receiving treatment for mental health illnesses including depression, anxiety and self-harm. But 1 in 4 will suffer from a condition to some degree in their lifetime and many will receive care for several months. Jeremy Hunt has recently pledged to make mental health a national priority amid concerns it has been overlooked, due to stigma.
NHS contracts are being “farmed out to the lowest bidder without due regard for the interests of patients”, an influential committee of MPs have warned. In a scathing report Public Accounts Committee blamed failures in the NHS’s private procurement processes on the collapse of an £800 million contract to provide social care in the east of England. The local NHS entered into the contract, in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, in a “failure of commercial acumen”, the committee’s chair said. The arrangement, with the UnitingCare Partnership, collapsed after just eight months after starting in April 2015 because the NHS and the private company could not reach a deal on costs. A £16 million cost overrun shared between the local NHS commissioners and hospitals meant that reduced services were available for patients immediately following the debacle.
RAIL union RMT warned yesterday that “cuts have left safety on a knife edge” as its members on London Underground voted overwhelmingly for strike action. Eighty-five per cent of platform and station staff backed walkouts over plans to axe 900 jobs alongside the closure of ticket offices after over 3,000 RMT members were balloted. A similar proportion of RMT members among drivers on the Piccadilly line also backed industrial action over a “wholesale breakdown” in industrial relations. RMT said the strike action was necessary to avoid a “major tragedy,” warning of the “toxic impact of the jobs cut programme” on safety.
Tens of thousands of reindeer are dying of starvation in the Arctic because extreme weather is leaving their feeding grounds covered in a layer of impenetrable ice, a study has found. More rain is falling in the Arctic in autumn because of climate change and is freezing into an ice crust several centimetres thick. Reindeer are normally able to root through snow to reach grass but they cannot break through the ice. More than 60,000 reindeer died on the Yamal Peninsula in Siberia in November 2013 after rain formed an ice crust covering 27,000 sq km, scientists from the University of Oxford found. A similar mass starvation of reindeer took place in 2006.