EU

Telegraph
Backbench Eurosceptic Tory MPs have made a behind-the-scenes bid to persuade European Union leaders to veto any delay to Brexit at this week’s Brussels summit. The undercover diplomatic initiative has been led by Tory MPs Daniel Kawczynski, Craig Mackinlay and former Cabinet minister Owen Paterson. The talks have been discussed at meetings of the European Research Group of around 60 hardline Conservative MPs. The MPs were hoping that one of the EU’s 27 remaining member states could veto Britain’s expected request to an extension to Article 50 to make it more likely that the UK leaves the EU at the end of next week.

Express
ERG members secretly calling on EU countries to veto any Brexit extension. The backbench MPs have forced through the undercover initiative led by Daniel Kawczynski, Craig Mackinlay and former Cabinet minister Owen Paterson. If one of the EU’s 27 states votes against Britain’s request to delay Article 50, the UK would likely leave the EU by the end of next week. Mr Mackinlay has held several meetings with senior members in the Hungarian government, The Daily Telegraph reported. Mr Paterson has spoken with figures in the Czech government while Mr Kawczynski spoke to members of the Polish government.

Independent
Germany and France have warned that Theresa May will need to present a “clear and precise” reason why she needs a Brexit delay when she meets EU leaders later this week if she wants to have any chance of them approving it. Michael Roth, Germany’s Europe minister, said EU member states were “really exhausted” by the UK’s approach to talks, warning the situation was “not just a game”. Meanwhile, his French counterpart Nathalie Loiseau said Ms May would have to present “something new” that did not just result in an extension of “the same deadlock”.

Independent
The EU has said Britain cannot delay Brexit without a clear plan for what happens next, indicating only an election, a new referendum or major compromise on Theresa May’s red lines will suffice. In an ultimatum, Michel Barnier said there would need to be a “new event or new political process” to secure an extension to the Article 50 negotiating period. Brussels’ intervention represents yet another blow for the prime minister, who planned to ask for a delay at this week’s European Council meeting as part of a drive to finally push through her twice-defeated Brexit deal.

Express
FRENCH President Emmanuel Macron has sensationally accused Britain of “playing for time” over Theresa May’s crumbling Brexit negotiations while also blocking her plan for an Article 50 extension. Mr Macron said the EU should not grant a delay to Brexit unless Mrs May submits a new plan to the bloc. In a statement, the young French leader also accused the UK of “procrastinating”.

Westmonster
The EU’s Michel Barnier has spelt out how a No Deal Brexit is still possible at a press conference today, declaring that the European Union is “prepared” for such an outcome. Contrary to the rubbish put about by hardline Remainers in Westminster, Barnier reminded them: “Voting against No Deal does not prevent it from happening.” That is because the Article 50 process means that the UK is due to leave on 29th March, unless an extension is agreed. That can be vetoed by one member on the European Council.

Breitbart
The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier has told the UK to “finalise preparations for no deal” after Prime Minister Theresa May announced that she is set to ask the bloc to delay Brexit. Speaking to media on Tuesday afternoon, Mr Barnier acknowledged that while last week the House of Commons had voted to take no deal off the table, “Voting against no deal does not prevent it from happening. “Everyone should now finalise preparations for a no-deal scenario.”

Guardian
Michel Barnier has suggested that the price of a long Brexit delay in the event of Theresa May’s deal being defeated again would be a soft Brexit or a “new event” such as a second referendum or general election. Speaking two days before Thursday’s crunch leaders’ summit, the EU’s chief negotiator said the bloc’s heads of state and government would want to be convinced of the usefulness of extra time, given the costs involved.

Sky News
Brussels has warned a Brexit delay is far from certain as it called for people to “finalise all preparations” for a no-deal divorce. The EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier turned up the heat with just ten days to go until the UK is due to leave the bloc and no agreement ratified yet by parliament. Prime Minister Theresa May is on the brink of writing a letter formally requesting a Brexit delay after MPs voted by a large majority to back the move. But Sky News understands she refused to tell senior cabinet ministers this morning how long she will request for the extension of Article 50 – the EU’s legal exit mechanism.

ITV News
There will be “consequences” if Article 50 is prolonged, the EU has said as Theresa May prepares to ask for an extension. The comments from the European Union come just hours after Downing Street admitted the UK is “in crisis” over Brexit. The EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier also said that any extension to Britain’s membership had to be “useful” and warned it would bring “uncertainty”.

Mirror
Michel Barnier says any long extension to the Brexit process must be linked to a ‘new event’. The EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier has said EU leaders will have to assess “the reason and the usefulness” of any request by Theresa May to extend the Article 50 withdrawal process.  Mr Barnier said: “The issue is whether, with the support of the British Parliament, the UK Government may wish to request such an extension, whether it be short or long.

Breitbart
Globalist officials in Brussels are reportedly moving to try and halt British participation in European Parliament elections in the event of a delayed Brexit, fearing UK voters would boost an already anticipated populist surge. Legislation cancelling the UK taking part in May’s bloc-wide elections comes into effect only on May 30th — the day after Britain is supposed to be exiting the EU — but that date now looks increasingly likely to be pushed back as a result of efforts from the country’s Remainer-dominated Parliament.

Express
GERMANY has sent hundreds of toilet rolls to the Queen in a bizarre act to mock a no deal Brexit. German company Hakle sent 90 16-roll packs to Buckingham Palace in a bid to ensure the Monarch has access to some in case of a Brexit-related shortage. But after the bulk was turned away from the Palace due to safety and security fears, the Dusseldorf-based firm passed the 1,440 rolls of premium paper to Woodcote High School, in Coulsdon, south London.

Brexit delay

Mail
Theresa May is preparing to abandon her plan to ask the EU for a nine-month Brexit delay after furious cabinet ministers told her the Tory party would only accept a three-month wait. The Prime Minister is now thought to be considering writing to the EU asking for a shorter extension, as Downing Street admitted last night that Britain’s departure from the European Union is at a crisis point. Mrs May was forced into a humiliating retreat after being put under severe pressure by senior ministers at a cabinet meeting last night and is now expected to write to Donald Tusk for a three month extension, rather than ask for a lengthier departure date.

Sun
THERESA May was last night on the verge of abandoning her ultimatum plan for a long Brexit delay after suffering a bruising Cabinet revolt. Allies of the PM said they expect her to now rip up her initial bid to request a nine month extension to the Brexit talks from the EU after intense pressure from her own top table yesterday. As many as 10 of Mrs May’s most senior ministers told her during a Cabinet meeting that the Conservative Party would not accept a long delay, as it would inevitably lead to a softer Brexit.

Express
BREXIT fury has erupted after Theresa May wrote to the EU begging for a Brexit delay of up to two years, according to sources at a tense Cabinet showdown. Leader of the House of Commons Andrea Leadsom is said to have torn into her colleagues saying “this is now a Remain Cabinet, not a Brexit cabinet” as she demanded Britain unshackle itself from the EU without a deal. Sources said the Cabinet meeting was fuelled by “disagreement” after the Prime Minister said she would write to the EU to ask for a Brexit  extension to possibly June 30, with provision of up delay of up to two years.

Times
Theresa May will ask the EU to delay Brexit today amid warnings from Brussels that the price of an extension could be a general election or second referendum. Cabinet ministers are expecting the prime minister to ask for the Brexit deadline to be pushed back to June 30 with the option of requesting a longer delay left open. Mrs May will then travel to Brussels tomorrow with little to offer the 27 other EU countries, all of which must agree to any postponement.

Independent
Theresa May is set to write to European Commission president Donald Tusk to lay out the government’s plan for delaying Brexit. The cabinet spent 90 minutes discussing the issue this morning but reportedly did not reach a conclusion on the possible length of the extension. It comes as European leaders signalled that they may not agree to the UK’s request for a delay to Britain’s departure from the bloc, which was originally expected on March 29. German Europe minister Michel Roth said EU leaders were “really exhausted” with the Brexit saga and demanded “clear and precise” proposals from the UK government.

Sky News
Theresa May is preparing to formally ask the EU to delay Brexit, 1,000 days since Britons voted to leave the EU. The prime minister will on Wednesday send a letter to Brussels revealing her preference for either a short or long extension of Article 50 – the legal mechanism to take the UK out of the bloc. But she could face a potential cabinet split, and the threat that such a request will be rejected. With just nine days until 29 March – the Brexit date Mrs May promised for years – she has not yet convinced MPs to ratify her deal.

Second referendum

Independent
A host of household names have agreed to fund a fleet of coaches to transport protesters to London for a major demonstration in favour of a Final Say referendum. Delia Smith, the chef and TV presenter, and actors Sir Patrick Stewart and Steve Coogan, and Armando Iannucci, creator of the Thick of It, have stepped in to help marchers attend the “Put it to the People March” from cities ranging from Liverpool and Oxford, to Manchester and Norwich.

Mail
Piers Morgan has warned hardcore Remainer Tony Blair there  would be ‘hell to pay’ if politicians forced the country into a second Brexit referendum. He grilled the ex-Labour prime minister during a Good Morning Britain appearance in which the former leader blasted claims he was plotting with French president Emmanuel Macron to force a new vote. Mr Blair, who backs a new vote that could see Britain stay in the EU, denied telling leaders to ‘hold firm’ and pressure Theresa May in to holding a new poll.

Order-Order
Polling guru Sir John Curtice told the BBC this afternoon that, contrary to what the ‘People’s Vote’ campaign are trying to claim, “the weight of the evidence is that there hasn’t been an increase in support” for a second referendum. The only way Remainers can manipulate polls to generate support for a vote is by implying that Remain wouldn’t be on the ballot paper…

Conservative Party

Telegraph
Theresa May’s Cabinet is fracturing over her plans for a Brexit delay after ministers told her she was risking “the end of the Conservative Party”. Angry ministers turned on the Prime Minister after she refused to tell them how long an extension she intends to request from the EU, leaving some suspecting she could ask for a delay of up to two years. Amid accusations that Mrs May has failed to get a grip on what she admits is a “crisis”, Eurosceptic ministers warned that a long delay would lead to a Jeremy Corbyn government and  turn Britain into a “barren land” with “gulags”.

Times
Conservative MPs trying to stop a no-deal Brexit are facing fresh deselection efforts. Party activists are attempting to pass no-confidence motions during the “AGM season” to force MPs to back a hard Brexit. On Saturday Nick Boles, a leading opponent of no deal, quit his local party after clashing with its members, although he will retain the Tory whip at Westminster. Mr Boles, the MP for Grantham and Stamford, said that he feared “our two main parties becoming extreme, becoming ideological and being captured by activists”.

WA

Independent
Theresa May will defy John Bercow and “find a way through” to stage a third vote on her twice-defeated Brexit deal next week, a cabinet minister has insisted. Stephen Barclay, the Brexit secretary, revealed the prime minister would attempt to get around the speaker’s shock ruling – that identical votes cannot be restaged after defeats – by arguing she had secured changes. One option was to insist the EU agreeing an extension to Article 50 to delay Brexit day constituted a different motion, or to agree changes that satisfied the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP).

Vote Leave

Times
Vote Leave, the pro-Brexit campaign group, has been fined £40,000 for sending thousands of unsolicited text messages as the EU referendum drew near. The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) said the group sent 196,154 messages and was unable to provide evidence that recipients had consented, as required by electronic marketing law. It said Vote Leave claimed to have deleted evidence after the referendum.

Independent
The official Brexit campaign has been fined £40,000 by the UK’s privacy watchdog after sending thousands of unsolicited text messages during the EU referendum campaign. A probe by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) found that  Vote Leave sent 196,154 text messages promoting their campaign in the weeks leading up to the Brexit vote. However, the campaign group, which was backed by Tory big-hitters Boris Johnson and Michael Gove, was unable to provide evidence to the ICO that the recipients had given their consent to receive the messages – as required by electronic marketing law.

BBC News
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has fined Brexit Campaign group Vote Leave £40,000 ($53,000) for sending out nearly 200,000 unsolicited text messages. The text messages contained a link to the campaign website alongside information about its ambitions. They were sent in the run-up to the EU referendum in 2016. The ICO said the group had been unable to prove that everyone who received the message had consented to the contact. Vote Leave said it had gathered numbers from people who had contacted it.

Order-Order
The state’s war of attrition against Brexit is continuing to grind on with the Information Commissioner’s Office today taking the decision to slap Vote Leave with a monster fine of £40,000. The ICO’s justification for the fine was that Vote Leave had violated data protection laws because were unable to prove that text messages sent to voters had been done with their consent. The reason Vote Leave were unable to prove it was specifically because they deleted their entire database after the vote as agreed with the ICO before the referendum. A truly Kafka-esque perversion of justice…

Bercow

Mail
Leading Remainers cheered John Bercow to the rafters this week, with ‘People’s Vote’ architect David Lammy MP among those celebrating the Speaker’s apparent knockout blow to Theresa May’s Brexit deal. The Labour MP said: ‘The Speaker is absolutely right to block May’s attempt to batter Parliament into a third meaningful vote.’ Meanwhile, Chuka Umunna MP – Lammy’s Labour colleague until he defected from the party last month – circulated messages saying the British public should ‘blame May not Bercow for this catastrophe’.

Employment

Times
Employment is at its highest level since records began and wages have continued to rise despite uncertainty over Brexit and a slowing economy. The number of people in work was up by 220,000 to 32.71 million in the three months to January, the highest since 1971. The Office for National Statistics said that unemployment fell by 35,000 to 1.34 million, putting the rate below 4 per cent for the first time since 1975. Economists said that the robust figures were down to the flexibility of the British labour market.

NHS

Telegraph
Hospital chief executives have attacked plans to scrap four-hour A&E targets, suggesting the moves are being politically driven because deadlines are not being met. Last week NHS England said it would test a new system, which officials said would mean speedier care for the most urgent cases. The Royal College of Emergency Medicine expressed alarm that the plans could mean most patients have no deadline for treatment, leaving millions to wait longer.

Times
Patients in half of the country are being denied cataract removal operations by NHS cost-cutting policies that wrongly suggest the surgery does not work, according to a study. People needing hernia surgery and hip replacements are also routinely refused care by “indiscriminate rationing” policies that class common treatments as ineffective, it concluded. Doctors and campaigners have condemned the policies as “wrong” and “shocking” but health chiefs said that they did not have the money to treat everyone.

Guardian
Patients who are losing their sight are being forced to wait for months before having eye cataracts removed because of NHS cost-cutting, research has revealed. The NHS has imposed restrictions on patients’ access to cataract surgery in more than half of England, figures obtained under freedom of information laws show. The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) condemned the rationing as shocking.

HS2

Times
The HS2 rail line will make the north-south divide worse by concentrating wealth in London, researchers say. A study said that 40 per cent of the benefits of the line, including shorter journey times, would go to residents and businesses in the capital — more than any other region. Researchers from the New Economics Foundation (NEF), the left-wing think tank, have called for the project to be scrapped, and the budget to be invested in smaller-scale upgrades to the existing railway instead.

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