Theresa May finally lost patience with Philip Hammond last night as Tories described the build up to the Chancellor’s Budget as the worst in memory. Downing Street was forced to rush out an announcement on school funding to off-set concerns over the lack of fanfare surrounding Mr Hammond’s Budget. The Treasury had insisted that no policy announcements would be made, however it was forced into a spectacular U-turn just hours later.
Theresa May’s relationship with Philip Hammond is close to breaking point after Downing Street took control of a last-minute Budget briefing amid fears Wednesday’s financial statement will fall flat. Number 10 ordered the Treasury to rush out an announcement on schools after alarm bells started ringing over the lacklustre build-up to the most important Budget of Mrs May’s premiership. It came after a series of botched Budget announcements and a gaffe-strewn TV interview by Mr Hammond at the weekend. One Cabinet source described it as “the worst Budget build-up in history”.
PHILIP Hammond will today give the last £4.5million of sinning bankers’ cash to help Britain’s worst wounded and scarred troops. Military charity Help For Heroes will be handed £1.5m to fund a new support programme for very seriously injured vets to boost their quality of life. It will also fund life-enhancing equipment for those suffering severe brain injuries, such as a computer controlled just by eye movement. In a second jumbo handout, the UK’s first ever specialist research centre to minimise the impact of terrible scars will get £2.95m.
Schools will be paid £600 for every extra pupil they persuade to sit maths A level as part of efforts to help Britain to compete on the world stage after Brexit, it will be announced today. Teachers at schools in the worst-performing areas are also to receive £1,000 career development grants to improve standards and close the productivity gap with other economies. Philip Hammond, the chancellor, will present the measures as part of an investment to “secure a bright future” as he seeks to reboot the government and restore his own battered political reputation in today’s budget.
Schools will be offered a £600 bounty for every extra pupil taking A-level maths to improve Britain’s skills after Brexit. Philip Hammond will unveil a package of measures in today’s Budget designed to boost education and skills, as he warns that improving Britain’s productivity is essential as the UK prepares to leave the EU. Mr Hammond, nicknamed ‘Eeyore’ by critics for his gloomy view of Brexit, will also attempt to strike a more upbeat note about the UK’s prospects as he fights to save his job.
David Davis has admitted it is possible the UK will not reach a deal with the European Union over Brexit. The Brexit Secretary said reaching a deal with the EU was the most probable outcome of the talks, but went on to say the British Government was prepared for no deal with the bloc. “Reaching a deal with the European Union is not only far and away the most likely outcome, it’s also the best outcome for our country,”
DAVID Davis issued a veiled threat to the European Union that Britain will walk away from Brexit talks if they do not progress on to trade in December. The Brexit Secretary’s words at the “Deal or No Deal” conference in Westminster came as a former minister David Jones urged the government to “stop flogging a dead horse” and suspend the talks. Mr Jones, a former Brexit minister, is one of a series of senior backbenchers who believe Britain is now wasting its time negotiating with the EU amid threats from the European Commission that trade talks will not start in December. There is also growing anger over reports that Theresa May and Mr Davis are prepared to offer £36 billion of taxpayers’ money for a divorce bill.
David Davis has said the government isn’t working towards getting an EU deal at any cost, in fact, he admitted No Deal is a possibility. The Brexit Secretary said ‘it is possible we will not get a deal’, but did say he was firmly in favour of Britain having some kind of deal in place with the EU. He said the Department for Exiting the European Union is not the ‘department for getting a deal, come what may’ and the government is preparing for every eventuality. It’s good to hear Davis suggest that No Deal is a possibility – for too long doomsayers and Remoaners have been saying Britain should shell out billions as a golden goodbye handshake to Brussels and that anything other than unfettered single market and customs union access would be a disaster. Now it’s time to turn the No Deal contingency plans into reality!
Theresa May appears to have won the backing of Cabinet Brexiteers to double the UK’s “divorce bill” offer from £20bn to £40bn. At a tense two-hour meeting of senior ministers in 10 Downing Street, Boris Johnson and Michael Gove are believed to have agreed to the move – with conditions. As a result, the Prime Minister is now poised to offer £40bn later this week if the rest of the EU is ready to move towards trade talks in December.
Despite the prime minister reportedly doubling her Brexit ‘divorce bill’ offer Monday, European Union (EU) diplomats have already indicated they are still not satisfied and could demand more cash for talks to progress. Although the government is yet to confirm reports, it is widely understood the British government has agreed to raise its offer from the £20 billion promised in Theresa May’s Florence speech to close to £40 billion. It is understood the new higher offer was discussed and agreed by members of Mrs. May’s cabinet Monday, including ministers who have previously opposed a large payout. Brussels has said it is waiting for a concrete offer.
Prime Minister Theresa May will only detail how big a divorce settlement Britain is willing to pay the EU when the bloc gives a commitment to moving talks forward, according to a plan rubber-stamped by even her most pro-Brexit ministers. The Brexit bill has become one of several hurdles to talks to unravel more than 40 years of union, with London reticent to offer too much too soon on what officials consider to be one of its strongest bargaining chips. In Brussels, British media speculation that May has won the backing of Brexit hardliners to offer more cash prompted talk among EU diplomats that a deal to unblock talks on future trade relations could be in the making ahead of a crunch Brussels summit in three weeks.
The EU is ‘insulting’ Britain by demanding a huge upfront payment before talking about trade, a senior German politician said tonight. Hans-Olaf Henkel said EU negotiator Michel Barnier was trying to get Britain to ‘name a price without knowing what you are going to get for it’. Mr Henkel, an MEP and former head of the Federation of German Industries – the equivalent of the CBI – said its view was that Britain should have the ‘best deal possible’. His comments came as Eurosceptic MPs urged Theresa May to suspend negotiations if the EU refuses to discuss trade. At a Brexit sub-committee meeting on Monday night, senior cabinet ministers agreed to offer billions more in divorce payments.
MPs have voted against a Labour bid to retain EU human rights measures in UK law post-Brexit after the Government offered Conservative rebels an eleventh-hour concession. The amendment to the EU (Withdrawal) Bill was defeated by 311 votes to 301, giving the Government a majority of just 10. Just one Conservative MP, Ken Clarke, defied the Government whip and voted for the motion to retain the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, put forward by Jeremy Corbyn. Civic organisations warned over the weekend that individual rights to privacy, equality, freedom of expression, fair working conditions, a fair trial, access to a lawyer and the protection of personal data are all in potential jeopardy if the charter is stripped from the UK state book after Brexit, in March 2019.
Conservative rebels forced ministers into a climbdown last night over their plans to remove the right of citizens to sue the government for damages after Brexit. Ministers had insisted that they would scrap so called Francovich rules that allow individuals and companies to take legal action against the government for breaching retained EU laws after Britain leaves the bloc.
Theresa May tonight bowed to Tory rebels and agreed to ‘listen’ to concerns about keeping EU human rights laws after Brexit to avoid a humiliating parliamentary defeat. Dominic Grieve, the former attorney general and prominent Remainer, led the charge in calling for the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights to be enshrined in UK law after we quit the bloc. Ten Tory rebels signed up to the change to the flagship Brexit Bill and ministers feared other backbenchers would follow them through the division lobbies if it came to a vote.
Ministers have sought to see off a potential rebellion by Conservative MPs that could have brought a first defeat over the EU withdrawal bill by partially backing down on the future status of EU human rights measures in UK law. Following another day of debate about the bill, which seeks to transpose EU statute into UK law post-Brexit, the government faced possible defeat over amendments intended to maintain the scope of the EU charter on fundamental rights. Several of the amendments were tabled by Dominic Grieve, the Tory former attorney general and a leading Brexit rebel, with speculation that enough of his fellow Tories would back some of these to inflict defeat.
Theresa May narrowly avoided a defeat over Brexit tonight as MPs voted to strip Britain out of a key EU human rights framework. MPs blocked Labour’s move to keep the Charter of Fundamental Rights in UK law after Brexit by 311 votes to 301 – a majority of just 10. Just one Tory, Ken Clarke, voted to keep the Charter. Other Conservatives and their DUP allies voted against. The Charter, which became legally binding on EU countries in 2009, guarantees everything from data protection to freedom from slavery and torture. But the Tory government had said Britain must abandon it because it is part of EU membership, and says the rights will not be lost.
THE UK is fighting with EU companies to secure “British passport rights” as fears of a takeover from Europe loom, a senior boss has warned. Martin Sutherland, the chief executive of money and security printing company De La Rue, has warned that competition from Europe could see British passports printed in EU nations. He said: “We have submitted our bid for the renewal, which is in 2019 and will last for 10 years.
EURO MPs today rejected calls from British politicians to ban Dutch boats from using a highly damaging method of fishing that critics say is decimating stocks in UK waters. The European Parliament voted down two proposed amendments to the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) that would have outlawed the highly controversial electro-pulse technique. Electrodes are are trailed along the seabed which then send high voltage electric pulses through the sediment, stunning and killing flatfish living on the ocean floor.
DUP leader Arlene Foster has issued a stern warning to politicians in Brussels and Dublin over using the issue of the Northern Irish border to “blackmail” the UK in the Brexit talks. The former First Minister accused leaders of “recklessly trying to use Northern Ireland for their own objectives” just days after Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said Dublin would try to block EU trade talks unless it received a guarantee there would be no hard border on the island of Ireland. The Irish border has become one of the key issues for Brexit negotiators amid concern that any changes to the constitutional position could undermine the peace process. In a strongly-worded statement ahead of talks in London, Ms Foster said it was “downright careless” to suggest leaving the EU would cause a return to violence not seen since the Troubles.
Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar “should know better” than to “play around” with Northern Ireland over Brexit, the leader of the Democratic Unionist Party says. Arlene Foster accused Mr Varadkar of being “reckless” as Brexit talks enter a “critical phase”. She was speaking after meeting Theresa May at Downing Street. The Irish government says any hard border with Northern Ireland should be off the table. And an EU paper recently suggested Northern Ireland would have to continue to follow many EU rules after Brexit if a hard border was to be avoided. It hinted Northern Ireland may need to stay in the EU customs union if there were to be no checks at the border.
Theresa May is hoping that her offer to double the divorce payment to around £40 billion will unblock talks – but she is facing pressure over a number of key issues still to be resolved. Among the most troubled topics at home is that of the Irish border, as she is urged to make sure that physical checkpoints or barriers to free-flowing trade are not a legacy of the EU exit. The leader of Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionists had warned the Republic and the EU not to try to blackmail the UK over the issue of the border.
A drug company faces a fine of tens of millions of pounds after it was accused by the UK’s competition watchdog of overcharging the NHS by millions of pounds for a thyroid treatment taken by thousands of patients. The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said that Concordia International had abused its dominant position after the price of liothyronine tablets rose by almost 6,000 per cent from 16p a tablet to £9.22. The drug cost the NHS £34 million last year, compared with £600,000 in 2006, despite production costs remaining broadly stable, the CMA said.
Some 675 patients have falls on NHS wards every day, a major national audit has found. Many are preventable and caused by patients not having walking frames or being unsteady from medication. Hospitals are also failing to give patients call bells to ensure they can summon staff without trying to get on their feet. The audit, by the Royal College of Physicians, established that there were 246,425 falls on NHS wards in 2015/16 – and many hospitals and trusts were failing to take basic measures to prevent them. More than half – 52 per cent – admitted they did not carry out medication reviews to ensure drugs were not making patients unsteady on their feet.
The group behind Jeremy Corbyn’s rise to the top of Labour is backing a policy to treble council tax to more than £10,000 year for people living in the largest homes. Far left activists in Bristol are proposing to increase council tax for the largest homes by 200 per cent to stop cuts to council services. The council tax changes could raise £25.8million if the owners of the top eight per cent of homes – around 15,266 households – paid the new charge. This would see those living in the most expensive ‘band H’ properties pay almost £10,800 a year, compared to the current £3,599.50 bill.
Deep Labour divisions over Brexit were exposed in the form of a bizarre three way split last night, after party whips forced MPs to vote with the Conservatives against an amendment that would keep the UK in the customs union. Former Shadow Cabinet member Ian Murray tabled a surprise amendment to the Taxation (Cross Border Trade) Bill, which would have prevented taxes being charged on imports to the UK after it leaves the EU, a move that, owing to WTO rules, would effectively have kept the UK in the customs union. Labour whips ordered MPs to vote against the amendment, which was defeated by 311 votes to 76, and saw the unusual spectacle of Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell voting with the government.
It was just before sunset when the speaker of Zimbabwe’s parliament, read out the letter in which Robert Mugabe, the world’s oldest serving head of state, said his decision to resign had been voluntary – sending MPs and Senators into a raucous cheers. “Parliament has erupted,” said Michael Carter, an MP from the Movement for Democratic Change, speaking from telephone inside the chamber, before holding up his phone to the cacophony of cheers of whoops echoing around the auditorium. Outside, as dusk gathered and street lights flickered on, the old colonial thoroughfare of Samora Machel avenue was suddenly flooded with people jumping, ululating and sobbing.
Robert Mugabe finally resigned as president of Zimbabwe yesterday after MPs from both sides of the political divide united in an attempt to impeach him and thousands vowed to sleep on the streets until he quit. His departure brings to an end a brutal 37-year rule and sparked scenes of jubilation as Zimbabweans cheered, wept and hoisted soldiers on to their shoulders, bringing traffic in the capital, Harare, to a standstill.
Deposed dictator Robert Mugabe could leave Zimbabwe as early as tonight after finally resigning the presidency after 37 years, but the military is demanding his hated wife be left behind to face prosecution. One of his Mugabe’s protection team told Mail Online: ‘From my understanding, he might leave the country tonight. The generals promised him he could leave safely. ‘The generals were insisting that Grace must be prosecuted. It was a burning issue up until today.
British defence chiefs have bought a missile shield to protect the Falklands as Argentina bolsters its air force. The Sky Sabre system, which uses the technology behind Israel’s pioneering Iron Dome mobile air defence system, is capable of intercepting short-range rockets and artillery shells and will strengthen air defences around the South Atlantic territory. The cutting-edge kit uses radar to track missiles, then software to predict the rocket’s path before deploying an interceptor missile to blow up the enemy weapon mid-air. The command-and-control network will update outdated systems already stationed on the long-disputed Falkland Islands.
FEARS are growing for the “Big One” as experts claim to have found proof a major earthquake AND a massive Tsunami is due to strike California. Researchers say the Cascadia Subduction Zone generates a major event every 200 to 530 years – and last experienced a quake in the 1700s. The study, led by scientists at the University of Texas, reckon an earthquake is more likely to strike off the coast of Washington and northern Oregon – although a large enough movement would impact the surrounding areas.