Boris Johnson has challenged Theresa May in Cabinet to introduce an amnesty for illegal immigrants in the wake of the Windrush scandal. The Foreign Secretary told Cabinet that there needs to be a “broader” amnesty for those from Commonwealth nations and elsewhere, provided they are “squeaky clean” and do not have criminal records. It comes amid a growing debate in Government over the treatment of migrants in the wake of the Windrush immigration scandal, with Mr Johnson among several Cabinet ministers urging a more liberal approach.
Boris Johnson became “very agitated and annoyed” at Theresa May in a bad-tempered Cabinet clash over immigration policy after the Windrush fiasco. The foreign secretary challenged the prime minister to agree to a wider amnesty for Caribbean immigrants from the Windrush generation. According to The Spectator magazine, the amnesty demand was designed to stop other long-standing Caribbean migrants having to produce onerous amounts of evidence to prove they had been living here for years. It goes further than measures outlined yesterday by Amber Rudd, the home secretary, to defuse the Windrush row.
Boris Johnson reportedly clashed with Theresa May on introducing a broader amnesty for long-standing immigrants in the wake of the Windrush scandal. On Monday the Home Secretary announced that Commonwealth migrants who arrived in Britain before 1973 would be able to become citizens without the documentation or fees normally required. But Mr Johnson argued that this now needs to be extended to all illegal immigrants who have lived in the UK for more than a decade and not committed crimes. The foreign secretary is understood to have been among several Cabinet ministers urging a more liberal approach to immigration.
Theresa May lacks “enthusiasm” for Brexit, Jacob Rees Mogg has said, as he accused the Prime Minister of a “betrayal of good sense” over her “cretinous” plans for a customs partnership with the European Union. The leading Eurosceptic Tory MP also warned that staying in the partnership would mean a return of duty free trade on cross-channel ferries could not happen because the UK would effectively still be in the customs union. Mr Rees-Mogg also said that peers are “playing with fire” by passing amendments which he said were attempts to overturn Brexit.
Theresa May’s preferred plan for a post-Brexit customs deal with the EU is “completely cretinous”, Jacob Rees-Mogg has said. The arch-Eurosceptic branded the proposal for a customs partnership – under which Britain would collect EU import tariffs on behalf of Brussels – “a betrayal of common sense”. The attack came as Mr Rees-Mogg, a rising favourite of Tory members to succeed Ms May, described her approach to the Brexit negotiations as “enigmatic”. He also claimed the House of Lords against further revolts over Brexit, saying: “I think their lordships are playing with fire and it would be a shame to burn down a historic house.”
Telegraph (by Nigel Farage)
I never thought the day would come when a British political figure would speak as fearlessly and bluntly about the benefits of leaving the European Union as I have been doing for 20 years. Whenever I’ve used a word like “cretinous” during a serious political discussion, I’ve been lambasted for resorting to the language of the street, I’ve been criticised for leaning towards populism, and I’ve generally been regarded as somewhat coarse. So it was a surprise on Monday when the refined figure of Jacob Rees-Mogg used exactly this term to describe the proposed customs partnership. This honest and scrupulous backbench MP, who chairs the European Research Group, addressed an Open Europe event in Westminster.
Britain will have to pay tens of billions of pounds to Brussels after Brexit even if ministers fail to strike a trade deal with the European Union, the government’s financial watchdog has said. Sir Amyas Morse, head of the National Audit Office, was giving evidence to the Treasury select committee about the December agreement in which the UK agreed to pay the EU about £38 billion over the coming years to meet its past commitments and payments during the transition period. He said: “As I understand this, the treaty . . . will pass into law in time for us to leave the EU and then will become legally binding. Therefore the payments would fall to be paid no matter what, under international law.”
The UK will have to pay its Brexit “divorce bill” of up to £39bn even if no agreement is reached on a future trade deal with the EU, the head of Whitehall’s spending watchdog has said. The head of the National Audit Office (NAO), Sir Amyas Morse, said on Tuesday that if parliament approves the withdrawal agreement in a vote in the autumn, it will become a legally binding treaty regardless of the success of separate trade talks. His remarks are a blow for Theresa May, who has said she will not pay Brussels the money if it denies Britain a post-Brexit trade deal. The prime minister told the Commons in December that the cash offer was made “in the context of us agreeing the partnership for the future”. “If we don’t agree that partnership, then this offer is off the table,” she said.
THE Government needs to take back full control from the EU by leaving the customs union or the Conservative Party will face “stark and inevitable” consequences, a top Tory MP claimed today. The worrying warning arrives a week after the Government suffered a defeat on its EU Withdrawal Bill at the hands of the House of Lords, with peers voted for amendments that aim at keeping the UK in a customs union with the EU after Brexit. Writing for The Telegraph, Tory MP for Lichfield Michael Fabricant warned Mrs May against giving in to the pressure posed by the unelected Lords.
THERESA May has been accused of “burying her head in the sand” after reports her war Cabinet will avoid discussing the customs union crisis amid fears she could fudge her Brexit red line. The Prime Minister had been expected to hold a discussion on the subject at tomorrow’s meeting – but her most senior ministers are split over the crucial issue in our EU divorce. But according to the Telegraph it is not on the agenda for gathering inside Number 10, prompting fears a decision will be delayed – handing Brussels the upper hand in negotiations.
The government’s business department is woefully unprepared for Brexit because of ministers’ “alarming” complacency on the issue, an influential committee of MPs has warned. In a blistering report, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) accused the department of having made “virtually no attempt” to prioritise the work needed to enact Brexit and claimed ministers were “operating in a parallel universe where urgency is an abstract concept”. MPs expressed “grave concerns” over what they said was the apparent complacency of the department, which is led by the business secretary, Greg Clark. The department has not yet refocused its priorities to account for Brexit, the committee said, and has failed to start the process of installing new IT systems to replace EU databases for projects such as the emissions trading scheme and the registration of trademarks.
The UK and Welsh governments have reached agreement over a long-running Brexit “power-grab” row. The agreement on changes to the UK Government EU (Withdrawal) Bill follows months of discussions. Wales’ Finance Secretary Mark Drakeford said the deal means powers in areas “currently devolved remain devolved”. Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood accused Labour of selling Wales “down the river” and capitulating to Westminster. David Lidington, UK Cabinet Office minister, said the deal represented a “significant achievement that will provide legal certainty”. The Scottish Government has rejected the latest offer, saying under the latest proposal the Scottish Parliament’s “hands would be tied”.
House of Lords
A PETITION calling for a referendum on whether to abolish the House of Lords has passed the 100,000 mark. The landmark number means the proposal must now be debated in the Lords’ sister chamber, the House of Commons, on a date yet to be decided. Fury is mounting against the unelected House of Lords after peers voted against the Government to keep Britain in the Customs Union after Brexit. And Brexiteers who fear Europhile peers will try to put the brakes on Brexit. The online petition was created by Robert McBride on February 17, meaning it has hit 100,000 signatures in barely two months. The description of the petition states: “The House of Lords is a place of patronage where unelected and unaccountable individuals hold a disproportionate amount of influence and power which can be used to frustrate the elected representatives of the people.”
A petition calling for a referendum on the abolition of the House of Lords will be considered for a debate in Parliament after receiving more than 100,000 signatures. The issue began to gain traction after Peers in the unelected upper house voted last Thursday, by a strong majority, against a clean Brexit, which was backed in the 2016 referendum by more than 17 million people. The petition says the House of Lords “is a place of patronage where unelected and unaccountable individuals hold a disproportionate amount of influence and power which can be used to frustrate the elected representatives of the people”.
JACOB Rees-Mogg has issued a thinly-veiled threat to the House of Lords, telling them they are “playing with fire” by blocking Brexit and “it would be a shame to burn the House down”. Jacob Rees-Mogg said the unelected House of Lords was risking its very existence by stubbornly attempting to disrupt the Brexit process. His comments came after a petition calling for a referendum on abolishing the House of Lords passed the 100,000 signature mark, which could trigger a debate in Parliament. Mr Rees-Mogg, speaking in the House of Commons at an event organised by the Open Europe thinktank today, said peers “have to decide whether they love ermine or the EU more”.
Peers are “playing with fire” by trying to thwart Brexit and could end up “burning down” the House of Lords, Jacob Rees-Mogg has warned. The influential Tory backbencher, who chairs the hardcore European Research Group, cautioned people could soon get “fed up” with Parliament’s upper house. He added the public will think it has “very little legitimacy” if peers keeping making amendments to the Government’s flagship Brexit laws. The comments come a day after Theresa May suffered three defeats on the EU (Withdrawal) Bill in the Lords. Many peers who oppose Theresa May’s plans say they are simply trying to secure the best outcome possible after Brexit and performing their democratic duty to scrutinise and improve legislation. Peers inflicted three defeats in one day on the Government’s Brexit Bill.
FOREIGN fishermen are receiving millions of pounds in UK Government aid at the same time as British fishermen say they are being betrayed over a Brexit deal. Aid from the UK has funded fishing projects all over the world, including Nigeria, Malawi, Nepal and Zimbabwe, it has been revealed. The news comes as the Government is accused of letting down British fishermen by failing to take control of UK waters after Brexit, as promised by the Leave campaign. Anger is brewing after a leaked Fisheries White Paper revealed the controversial quota regime currently in place will not be significantly reformed after the UK’s departure from the EU, meaning fishermen will not be allowed a larger quota. The Government has also agreed to a Brexit transition period that would keep the UK in the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) until 2021.
One of the European Union’s many unelected Presidents has again laid out the ambition for further huge expansion, with those in Brussels wanting the likes of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo and Serbia to eventually join the bloc. That of course would mean free movement of people from all of those countries within the EU. Now you might think that after Eurosceptic wins at election after election those in Brussels might be concentrating on tightening external borders or maybe even cutting their budget – but no, Tusk’s eyes are firmly on expanding the failed bloc. He tweeted today: “I have no doubt that it’s in the best interest of EU and Albania that the entire Western Balkans region is fully integrated into EU. The process will resemble more a hurdles race than a motorway. But full integration remains our common destiny.”
BRITAIN must give Brussels a clear Brexit blueprint to allow negotiations to move forward, according to the European Union chief leading the exit talks. All those involved “know where the EU stands” but “more clarity” is still needed from the UK, Michel Barnier said. In a speech in Hannover he said it was up to the Government to come up with its vision for the future that either finalised or changed the UK’s red lines. “It is now up to the UK to come up with its vision for the future, which should confirm the UK’s red lines or adapt them,” he said.
The European Union’s Michel Barnier has said Britain must accept ECJ rule post-Brexit, and he’s called for a Customs Union arrangement as well. He said: “We need an agreement on governance and the role of the Court of Justice. Without an agreement on governance, there is no credibility of this treaty for stakeholders, for business. “There will be no ambitious partnership without common ground on competition and state aid, social and environmental standards, and guarantees against tax dumping.” He focused on the Norway Plus model, a partnership under which the UK would continue to apply EU laws and guarantee free movement as well as forming a Customs Union with Brussels – this is simply unacceptable.
After more than 15 years of borrowing to meet the costs of day-to-day services such as health and pensions — its current budget — the government has finally balanced the books. Official figures show that last year Britain ran a £112 million surplus on the current budget, the first since 2001-02. Although the government still borrowed £42.6 billion in the year to March, balancing the current budget was a landmark moment: it meant that the state technically paid its way on core public services as every penny borrowed was invested in infrastructure, including roads, rail, hospitals and schools. It also meant that George Osborne’s 2010 rule on the public finances as chancellor had been delivered, albeit two years late.
Britain’s budget deficit has dropped to the lowest level since before the financial crisis, laying the ground for Philip Hammond to raise government spending on public services later this year. The Office for National Statistics said public sector net borrowing, excluding the state-owned banks, dropped by £3.5bn to £42.6bn in the last financial year, cutting the budget deficit to the lowest level since the year ending March 2007. The shortfall between how much the government spends and receives in tax was £2.6bn lower than that forecast by the Office for Budget Responsibility. Although the figures will be finalised later this year, the government’s spending watchdog said lower-than-expected local authority borrowing helped to explain much of the difference.
The Chancellor has beaten his budget deficit target of £45.2bn for the last financial year, according to official figures which also show one measure in surplus for the first time in 16 years. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said overall public sector net borrowing, excluding the effects of bank bailouts, came in at £42.6bn over the 12 months to March. This is the lowest total since 2006/7 and £3.5bn lower than the figure for 2016/17. The deficit in March alone was recorded at just £1.3bn – a 37% drop on the same month last year – aided by the strongest income tax receipts for the month in 14 years.
Jewish leaders last night lambasted Jeremy Corbyn for failing to agree on the minimum action needed to tackle antisemitism in the Labour Party. Jonathan Goldstein, chairman of the Jewish Leadership Council, and Jonathan Arkush, president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, said a two-hour crisis summit with the Labour leader was “a disappointing missed opportunity”. Mr Corbyn, however, issued a statement describing the meeting as “positive and constructive”. Mr Goldstein and Mr Arkush wrote to the Labour leader last month to set out the steps he should take to tackle antisemitism in his party.
The leaders of the British Jewish community have branded a meeting with Jeremy Corbyn a ‘missed opportunity’ to deal with anti-Semitism in the Labour party. Mr Corbyn was praised by leaders of the British Board of Deputies and the Jewish Leadership Council for his ‘change in tone’ following talks in Parliament. However they condemned his failure to take the necessary action to stamp out anti-Semitism within the Labour party. Leaders, Jonathan Goldstein and Jonathan Arkush said that Mr Corbyn’s proposals fell below the minimum that they expected. They said: ‘We are disappointed that Mr Corbyn’s proposals fell short of the minimum level of action which our letter suggested.
Jewish community leaders have hit out at Jeremy Corbyn after a crunch meeting to discuss antisemitism in the Labour Party, describing the talks as “disappointing and a missed opportunity”. Following a highly-charged meeting in Parliament, the Jewish Leadership Council (JLC) and the Board of Deputies of British Jews (BoD) said Mr Corbyn had “failed to agree to any of the concrete actions” they had demanded he take. The meeting was an attempt to defuse the row over anti-Jewish abuse in Labour, which Mr Corbyn has said he has an “absolute determination” to stamp out.
Jeremy Corbyn’s hopes of reassuring the Jewish community over his efforts to combat antisemitism have suffered a blow after Jewish leaders labelled a meeting with the Labour leader a “disappointing missed opportunity” with little achieved. In a joint statement read to the media outside parliament, the heads of the Jewish Leadership Council (JLC) and Board of Deputies (BoD) said Corbyn had failed to agree to any of their requests, set out in a letter last month. These included stronger personal leadership, a swift resolution of party disciplinary cases such as that of Ken Livingstone, and Labour adopting the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism.
Jewish leaders described a crucial meeting with Jeremy Corbyn over anti-Semitism in the Labour Party as a “disappointing missed opportunity”. Leaders said their hope of “building trust” with Mr Corbyn had been dashed after his failure to agree to any of their demands. They issued a damning statement following the two-hour meeting with the Labour leader saying that Mr Corbyn’s proposals “fell short of the minimum level of action which our letter suggested”. Referring to an article penned by Mr Corbyn, they continued: “Words in letters and newspaper articles will never be enough. “We welcome the fact that Mr Corbyn’s words have changed but it is action by which the Jewish community will judge him and the Labour Party.”
JEREMY Corbyn last night admitted that anti-Semitism was a “clear” problem in the Labour party. He apologised and accepted that officials had failed to tackle the issue although he vowed to fix it. It comes after Mr Corbyn and his supporters were linked with a series of offensive messages from within the membership about Jewish people. They included Holocaust denial, Nazi sympathising and bizarre conspiracy theories about Israel. He said: “We have not done enough fully to get to grips with the problem and for that the Jewish community and our own Jewish members deserve an apology. My party and I are sorry for the hurt and distress.
Jewish leaders have said Jeremy Corbyn’s proposals to wipe out anti-Semitism in Labour “fell short of the minimum level of action”. The Board of Deputies (BoD) and Jewish Leadership Council (JLC) said there were “disappointing missed opportunities” after a meeting with the Labour leader on Tuesday afternoon. They accused Mr Corbyn of “failing to agree to any of the concrete actions” they had proposed in a letter to him in March. The Labour leader responded by calling the two-hour session a “positive and constructive meeting”.