THE European Parliament today threw a huge spanner in the Brexit works as the leader of its biggest grouping vowed MEPs will veto Britain and Brussels’ plan for a two-year transition period. German MEP Manfred Weber, chairman of the EPP, said Theresa May’s proposal to seal an implementation period on current membership terms “will not fly” and should be roundly rejected. He told a press conference in Strasbourg the “copy and paste” model, which has met with approval from other EU leaders, is unacceptable because it would give the UK the same advantages as a member state. Under Mrs May’s plan, put forward in her Florence speech, Britain will exactly replicate the terms of the Single Market and Customs Union for a two-year period beyond March 2019.
A cross-party group of MPs have called for parliament to be given the power to veto the UK’s exit from the single market. Conservative MP Anna Soubry and Labour MPs Stephen Kinnock and Heidi Alexander joined forces on Tuesday to ask for a Commons debate be held on whether parliament should have to approve the UK’s exit from the the European Economic Area (EEA). The EEA treaty, signed in 1994, extends the single market beyond the current 28 EU members to non-EU states Norway, Lichtenstein and Iceland. The government has argued that the UK will automatically leave the EEA when it leaves the EU in March 2019.
The outcome of Brexit is up to the UK, the president of the European council has said in a speech that stressed the importance of EU unity. “It is in fact up to London how this will end, with a good deal, no deal or no Brexit,” Donald Tusk told MEPs as he reported on last week’s EU summit. The next stage of Brexit talks would be “the toughest stress test” yet for the EU, he added. “We have managed to build and maintain unity among the 27 but ahead of us is still the toughest stress test. If we fail it the negotiations will end in our defeat,” Tusk said. “We must keep our unity regardless of the direction of the talks. The EU will be able to rise to every scenario as long as we are not divided.”
European Union chief Donald Tusk warned Tuesday that talks on Britain’s departure from the EU remain the bloc’s toughest test, saying that “it is, in fact, up to London how this will end: with a good deal, no deal or no Brexit.” The European Council president renewed calls for unity among the U.K.’s 27 partners. Brexit “is still the toughest stress test. If we fail it, the negotiations will end in our defeat,” Tusk said. Debriefing EU lawmakers in Strasbourg, France on last week’s EU summit, Tusk said that “the EU will be able to rise to every scenario as long as we are not divided.” Britain is set to leave the EU in March 2019, but the Brexit talks are progressing very slowly, held up by differences over the size of the departure bill, the rights of citizens directly hit by Brexit and the status of the Ireland-Northern-Ireland border.
The Government is preparing for a no deal with the EU with over £250m having already been pledged this year for exit preparations – including leaving without an agreement – a Brexit minister has said. Steve Baker said it was “responsible” to spend to prepare for all outcomes. Speaking in a Commons debate, he said: “To support departments the Treasury has committed over £250m of new money to departments like Defra, the Home Office, HMRC and the Department for Transport in this financial year for exit preparations – including for no deal.” Mr Baker added that Government did not “want or expect a no deal outcome but we will be ready in any event”.
The European Commission president has attacked “no dealers” who he says want Brexit talks with the UK to fail. Speaking at the European Parliament in Strasbourg Jean-Claude Juncker warned that those who sought no deal had “no friends in the Commission”. Though some Conservative Brexiteers on the British side have publicly advocated a ‘no deal’, Mr Juncker appeared to allude to people in the shadows on the EU side who also wanted talks to collapse. The president’s intervention comes after details of a dinner between Theresa May and Mr Juncker were leaked to the German press – an action the Commission blamed on people who wanted to undermine negotiations.
David Davis has been accused by Cabinet colleagues of delaying the Brexit bill by failing to schedule key meetings, as it emerged the legislation will not come back to the Commons until November. The Brexit secretary is “not keeping his end of the bargain”, a furious Cabinet source told The Telegraph, amid claims he has prevented the EU Withdrawal bill from coming back before MPs. It follows claims made by his former chief of staff that Mr Davis is “lazy” and only works a three-day week. At the time Mr Davis laughed off the claims. Any delay in the Commons could make it tough for ministers to push the bill through the House of Lords and is likely to prompt fury among business leaders who have been calling for more certainty on what the final deal will look like.
David Davis will be questioned by MPs on the progress of Brexit talks amid claims that he has been moving too slowly. The Brexit Secretary will appear before the Commons Exiting the EU select committee. He has been accused of “not keeping his end of the bargain” and “not doing his prep”, according to a cabinet source quoted in The Daily Telegraph. Legislation to move current EU regulations into UK law cleared its first Commons hurdle early in September and was expected to return in October. This has not happened, however, and no date for its return has been set. Mr Davis has also been accused of failing to meet with senior MPs to smooth the way for the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill and the nearly 400 amendments that have been tabled.
Theresa May’s plan for a two-year Brexit transition period under the same terms as EU membership could face difficulty getting through the European Parliament, it has emerged. Manfred Weber, the leader of the Parliament’s largest political group, has said his party would oppose any plan that gave Britain the same benefits outside the EU as it had inside. Though Mr Weber said he was broadly in favour of a transition period in principle, the leader of the European People’s Party suggested such an arrangement could not be identical to EU membership. The statement puts the German politician on a collision course with Ms May, who has said she wants a two-year period under which the UK effectively maintains its current relationship with the EU after it leaves the bloc in 2019.
THE International Development Secretary has said that the foreign aid budget will be used to promote “Global Britain” and be used in the “national interest” to help secure post-Brexit trade deals. Priti Patel, 45, was a leading member of the Leave campaign in last year’s referendum and said the UK would use the funds to support Britain’s “national interest” as it embarked on securing various trade deals once it had left the European Union (EU). Ms Patel also said that the money would continue to support efforts to alleviate poverty around the world. She told the Commons International Development Committee: “We can absolutely use it for humanitarian, but also for prosperity, Britain post-Brexit, on trade and economic development.
Foreign aid will be spent in Britain’s “national interest” to boost post-Brexit trade, the International Development Secretary has vowed. Priti Patel said leaving the EU would allow the Government to reclaim billions of pounds of annual aid funding that is currently diverted via Brussels. It could then be used, not only for “humanitarian” work, but also for “prosperity Britain post-Brexit, on trade and economic development,” she told the Commons International Development Committee. “There are a whole raft of opportunities there where we can use that money for our national interest, or Global Britain’s interest, as well as helping to alleviate poverty around the world,” Ms Patel said.
Three-quarters of the British public – including the majority of Conservative voters – want government action now to cut the time vulnerable people are waiting before receiving universal credit benefit payments, a poll has revealed. The exclusive survey by BMG Research for The Independentshowed 74 per cent of people think the average six-week wait facing most new claimants before they get a first full payment is too long. There is growing pressure to use the Budget next month to tackle the issue, with a group of Tory MPs and even the benefit’s architect Iain Duncan Smith saying the waiting time should be shorter. Labour called a further Commons universal credit debate on Tuesday to push the Government into making changes as the new welfare system is rolled out across the country, with Work and Pensions Secretary David Gauke attacked for not attending the session.
A hundred migrants are still reaching the UK every week despite the closure of the Calais ‘Jungle’ camp, it has been claimed. Charity L’Auberge des Migrants said a similar number was arriving each week in Dunkirk and Calais, sparking fears of a new crisis in the region. Around 10,000 migrants used to live at the Jungle until the squalid camp was pulled down by French officials in 2016 to ‘solve the problems’. The port city camp was popular with migrants who hoped to try to stowaway on trucks in the hope they would reach Britain. French officials said the destruction of the camp would restore order and end Channel crossing attempts, but several charities have disputed this, although some claim the number trying to cross each week is closer to 50. In August this year, it was revealed that migrants had made 30,000 attempts to reach Britain from Calais despite costly security measures.
THE Mediterranean migrant crisis is being fuelled afresh by criminal gangs making £1million a day smuggling over tens of thousands from as far away as Bangladesh. An investigation by MPs found that while the number of war refugees from Syria crossing to Italy is going down, illegal immigrants from the poor Asian country are spiralling. The dangerous crossing from the lawless Libyan coastline will soon be dominated by trafficking gangs casting afar for new business. In interviews with migrants in Sicily, the MPs’ report for the Conservative Middle East Council discovered organised people smugglers fly them from Bangladesh to Istanbul and Dubai, and then onto Libya.
Communities Secretary Sajid Javid yesterday called for Philip Hammond to pump money into building 300,000 houses-a-year to cope with demand. He reportedly wants the Chancellor to borrow £50bn to fund it. So, Westmonster has taken a detailed look at the reasons behind the housing crisis and the practicalities of building 300,000 houses every year to cope with demand. Britain’s population is currently surging at an absurdly high 538,000 each year. 62% of this is directly due to levels of mass migration. Net migration to the UK since 2004 stands at 3,517,000 – this peaked at 332,000 arriving more than leaving the country in 2015. Since 2004, the figure of net migration into Britain from the EU stands at 1,390,000, according to Migration Watch.
A group of 12 Asian men have appeared in court today accused of 45 sex abuse offences on eight children over five years. The dozen suspects were all arrested as part of Operation Stovewood – a police investigation into sexual abuse launched after the Rotherham grooming scandal. The majority of the defendants arrived and left Sheffield Magistrates’ Court with their faces covered with masks, scarves or hoods amid protests outside. Amjal Rafiq, 38, Nabeel Kurshid, 34, Iqlak Yousaf, 33, Mohammed Imran Ali Akhtar, 36, Tanweer Ali, 36, Aftab Hussain, 38, Abid Saddiq, 36, Sharaz Hussain, 33, Salah Ahmed El-Hakam, 38, Mohammed Ashan, 33, Masaeud Malik, 33, and Waseem Khaliq, 33, appeared in the dock together.
RMT leaders have appealed to rival union Aslef calling on its members to reject a five-year pay deal that could put drivers on £75,000 a year. Aslef is urging its drivers to vote in favour on the proposal, against the wishes of RMT, with a decision due on November 8. It comes as beleaguered commuters face fresh travel chaos in the run-up to Christmas with rail workers planning more strikes. Workers at five railway operators are to strike in November in bitter disputes over the role of guards and driver-only operation of trains. Members of RMT on Southern, South Western Railway and Greater Anglia will strike for 48 hours from November 8, and for 24 hours on Merseyrail and Arriva Rail North on November 8.
A FRESH wave of strikes is due to bring much of Britain’s railways to a standstill next month — and the transport boss to blame is now being investigated for an alleged conflict of interest. Guards on Southern, Northern, Merseyrail, Greater Anglia and South Western Railway will walk out on November 8 over driver-only trains. Southern, South Western and Greater Anglia will also strike on November 9. Rail unions have accused the government of directing operating companies to convert routes to driver-only operation as a money-saving exercise. They argue the change will compromise safety, disabled access and jobs. Rail privateers insist that driver-only trains are safe.
Gatwick has overtaken Heathrow as the airport whose expansion would bring the biggest boost to the economy and least damage to the environment, according to the figures in a new official analysis. A public consultation into proposals to build a third runway for Heathrow was reopened yesterday, a year after they were endorsed by the government. The move came as the Department for Transport published updated reports on the impact of the expansion, including a revised noise analysis and new air-quality plan. The information, which was not previously available to the public because of restrictions before the general election, raises fresh doubts over Britain’s aviation capacity plans after decades of indecision.
Critically ill patients are waiting more than half an hour for an ambulance, an investigation has found. At least 225 patients with life-threatening problems waited more than 30 minutes in a three month period this year. These included patients who weren’t breathing or didn’t have a pulse. Ambulances are supposed to arrive within eight minutes. A whistleblower paramedic admitted that patients were ‘dying on a daily basis’ because the service couldn’t cope. Figures obtained by ITV News showed that a total of 7,761 seriously ill patients waited 30 minutes or more between the end of May and early August this year.
Ambulances are failing to reach dying and critically ill patients fast enough with the system at breaking point, an ITV News investigation has found. Paramedics are expected to reach the most serious emergencies – such as cardiac arrests or strokes – within eight minutes. But our research has revealed that thousands of patients in England have had to endure delays well in excess of that target, with some forced to wait for several hours. In the most severe cases of delays: a patient with sepsis waited more than four hours; a patient suffering a stroke waited one hour and 26 minutes; an unconscious patient waited one hour and 14 minutes; a patient who took an overdose waited 47 minutes.
A hospital worker sacked over his phobia of blood and needles is suing the NHS after claiming he wasn’t supported by bosses who told him he wouldn’t have to do anything that triggered his fear. Andrew Brangwyn, from Coventry, is seeking £140,000 after accusing hospital bosses of not doing enough to help him with a disability. After years of complaints the occupational therapist says he was left too afraid to visit Royal Leamington Spa Rehabilitation Hospital in case he saw bleeding patients while teaching them carpentry skills. Hospital bosses assured him he wouldn’t have to attend meetings on the ward or handle patients when collecting them for woodwork classes.
Some of the world’s richest people were braced for their financial details to be exposed on Tuesday night after a major offshore company admitted that its computer records had been hacked. Appleby, a firm based in Bermuda with offices in many tax havens, said it was in the process of warning clients that they may be implicated in a massive leak of sensitive information. It is understood the leak involves some of Britain’s wealthiest people, who were instructing lawyers and public relations companies in an effort to protect their reputations. The disclosure of the leak also threatens to call into question the status of several British Overseas Territories which can offer tax benefits to the very wealthy. If questionable activities or conduct are exposed, the British Government is also likely to face searching questions over its oversight of the territories involved.
The super-rich clients of a Bermuda-based offshore company were braced for their financial secrets to be exposed after it admitted that its computer records had been hacked. Appleby said that it suffered a leak last year “which involved some of our data being compromised” and admitted that it was “not infallible” but denied any wrongdoing. The latest leak comes nearly 18 months after the release of the so-called Panama papers, which proved highly embarrassing for leading figures in politics, business and the entertainment world. Appleby has claimed that its clients include financial institutions and FTSE 100 companies, as well as the wealthy individuals. Those affected by the leak are reported to be among the richest in the UK.
BRITAIN is set to be slashed by snow next week – and a new video has shown us where and when it will hit. The footage – with snow marked in purple – shows cold air covering the country with snow hovering above regions in Scotland and northern England in the middle of the week. The Met Office say Britain will begin to get much colder next week and will bring with it early morning frost. Its 30-day outlook says: “Next week the weather is likely to become changeable again and sometimes windy, with rain bands crossing the country, interspersed by brighter, showery weather. “The north is likely to get the wettest and windiest weather. “It will probably become a good deal colder than of late, bringing an increased risk of early morning frosts across the country. “There is also a chance of snow over high ground in Scotland, and perhaps at lower levels in the far north as the wind turns northerly.”