Britain will have to pay into the EU budget up until 2020 if it wants Europe to grant the UK reasonable terms on a Brexit transition deal, senior sources in Whitehall have told The Telegraph. The idea, which is being actively discussed by British Brexit negotiators, would require a softening of British negotiation red lines in order to buy leverage and political goodwill in talks with the EU over a future trade deal. Britain’s departure from the EU will leave a €10bn black hole in Europe’s finances which is causing significant anxiety in chancelleries across Europe, including in Berlin, which fears it will have to pick up the bill for any shortfall.
Britain could be forced to carry on paying billions into the EU until the end of the decade if it wants a favourable trade deal, it emerged last night. The UK Government’s Brexit negotiators are mulling the idea of paying the bill until 2020 to win over EU counterparts in their bid to secure a good interim deal. Brexit will blow a £8.5billion hole in Brussels finances – which is worrying bean counters across European capitals. Whitehall sources told the Daily Telegraph that offering to pay EU contributions until 2020 could be traded for a “sensible” EU offer on a transitional trade deal – dubbed an “implementation phase” by Theresa May.
Theresa May is to hold her first major showdown with Brussels chiefs since calling a General Election in a bid to strengthen her hand in Brexit negotiations. The Prime Minister will hold talks at Downing Street with European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker and the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier. Demands from Brussels for a £50bn Brexit divorce bill and the threat of a Spanish veto on the future of Gibraltar are set to dominate what are certain to be tense discussions. Mrs May is hosting a working dinner in No 10, during what EU officials describe as a “flying visit” to London by the pair, with Brexit the only item on the menu for the talks.
Labour has dangled the possibility of delaying Brexit if the exit deal negotiated with EU leaders is rejected by MPs. Sir Keir Starmer, the shadow Brexit Secretary, said a Labour prime minister would then – unlike Theresa May – “go back to the negotiating table” to try to strike better withdrawal terms. Asked if that would mean the UK staying in the EU past the March 2019 exit date, while the negotiations continue, Sir Keir replied: “We have to get the best deal we can. “We are talking about the tail-end of 2018. We would have a vote and we would go back to the negotiating table. That is the position that we want to adopt.” Sir Keir attacked Ms May’s refusal to return to Brussels if her exit terms are rejected by MPs as a stubborn refusal “for the sake of my country to go back and renegotiate”.
Arch remoaner Gina Miller’s campaign to unseat pro-Brexit Tory MPs has raised £250,000 amid fears she will target dozens of seats in the general election. The businesswoman who took the government to the Supreme Court over the triggering of Article 50 will use the raised money to support anti-Brexit candidates in the June 8 poll. She has launched a campaign called ‘Do what’s best for Britain’ which aims to stop Brexit through tactical voting. With funds that have poured in from remoaners to her gofundme page, she will prop up any candidate who wants to overturn the will of the 52 per cent who voted Leave last June.
Pro-EU campaigners have named 20 Brexit-backing MPs they hope to oust from their seats at the general election, in a last-ditch bid to derail Theresa May’s plan for a hard Brexit. The small group of mainly Conservative MPs are being targeted because they have been particularly vocal in their support of cutting all ties with Brussels, including leaving the single market. Labour’s Kate Hoey and high profile Tories including Iain Duncan Smith are on the “attack list” drawn up by the Remain-supporting group Open Britain.
A group of pro-EU Conservatives have angrily cut their ties with the successor organisation to the remain campaign after it launched a push encouraging voters to unseat prominent pro-Brexit MPs, most of them Tories. Nicky Morgan, Anna Soubry and Dominic Grieve released a joint statement saying it was “untenable” for them to support Open Britain any more after the group released an “attack list” of MPs to target, including Iain Duncan Smith and Theresa Villiers, as well as Labour’s Kate Hoey. Neil Carmichael, another Conservative who had supported Open Britain, was also reported to have withdrawn his support following the new election strategy, launched on Tuesday.
HARDLINE eurocrats have today moved to lock financial services out of upcoming talks with Britain in a move which will significantly reduce the chances of the two parties agreeing a post-Brexit trade deal. Brussels officials have added a tough new line to their negotiating guidelines which would cut the City of London off from the terms of any agreement struck after the UK leaves the bloc. The move appears to have been made predominantly at the behest of Germany and France, which are making a concerted effort to lure big financial firms away from Britain. However, an EU official with knowledge of the negotiations told express.co.uk the change had been agreed unanimously amongst the EU27. But it could anger other member states down the line if it proves to be a major stumbling block and causes delays in securing a future trading relationship with the UK.
European Union leaders will insist Britain grant permanent residence to EU citizens who arrive before Brexit in 2019 and stay five more years, according to a draft negotiating plan they will endorse this weekend. In the latest sign of the bloc cranking up pressure on Prime Minister Theresa May to guarantee full rights after Britain’s departure for the 3 million EU nationals living there, new draft guidelines include wording that diplomats said aims to head off any British move to cut immigrant numbers by forcing people out. The nine-page document, seen by Reuters on Tuesday and which officials do not expect to be significantly changed before May’s 27 EU peers sign off on it over lunch in Brussels on Saturday, was also revised on Monday to make clear there is no guarantee that a future EU-UK free trade deal will give Britain’s big financial services industry access to the bloc.
Leaders in Europe will demand that Theresa May respects the right of EU nationals who have lived in the UK for five years to acquire permanent residence in the country, in a sign of growing anger over the perceived bureaucratic hurdles being put in their way. The call will be made at a summit on Saturday, where the leaders of the 27 other EU member states are set to sign their negotiating guidelines, detailing Brussels’ opening position in the talks due to start in June. The guidelines were amended by officials on Monday to strengthen demands over Britain’s €60bn divorce bill, open the door to further cooperation on EU-UK foreign policy and law enforcement, and add a call for transparency during the talks.
Theresa May will have a face-to-face meeting this week with Jean-Claude Juncker and the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier, The Independent can reveal. The Prime Minister will meet the European Commission President and Mr Barnier at Downing Street in what is being described by European officials as a “flying visit” on Wednesday. It comes ahead of the crucial summit this weekend at which European leaders will formally adopt draft Brexit negotiating guidelines, that remain largely unchanged since they were first proposed in March.
On top of the £50 billion that Jean-Claude Juncker and his chums want to shake down Britain for on the way out of the door, The Times report that the EU also want to hit the UK for a €2 billion fraud claim. It revolves around alleged customs fraud that Brussels say the UK has allowed, with Chinese gangs apparently undervaluing imported goods via Dover and Felixstowe to avoid paying out large amounts for VAT and customs duty. EU bigwigs will reportedly demand a settlement of billions before talks on a trade deal, with one Brussels official insisting that: “This fraud is still going on and Britain knows”.
The European Union may be planning to demand the United Kingdom pay a €2 billion customs fraud charge before agreeing to a Brexit deal, on top of a mooted €60 billion “divorce bill”. According to reporting by The Times, Eurocrats believe that Britain has been serving as a gateway into the EU market for foreign crime gangs, operating mainly from China. The gangs target Britain, the newspaper believes, because the authorities allow them to declare imports at “impossibly low values”.
BREXIT negotiations may be forced to a halt as all 27 domestic parliaments of EU countries could get a say on the final deal, it has been reported. An analysis by the German parliament’s research service has revealed that Britain’s post-divorce deals could face delays as national and possibly some regional parliaments may become involved in the process, according to Politico. The 10-page Bundestag analysis, which is dated March 27, said that while Britain’s departure from the EU can be sealed by Brussels and London, a new relationship with the bloc – including any future trade agreements – would be more complex. The process may involve changing national legislation for some EU countries which would mean domestic parliament’s could get a vote on the Brexit negotiations.
Worried EU nationals have been told not to apply to stay permanently in the UK – after the Home Office was deluged with applications. Officials are instead advising EU citizens who fear for their future after Brexit to “sign up for email news alerts” about what action they may need to take in the future. The stance was immediately attacked by the Liberal Democrats as evidence that “the nasty party are back”, with a warning the Conservatives would fail to give badly needed reassurance. Worried EU nationals have been told not to apply to stay permanently in the UK – after the Home Office was deluged with applications.
Overseas aid chiefs have been secretly sacking fraudsters who are pilfering from Britain’s £13 billion development budget, a commons committee reported yesterday. MPs demanded that Priti Patel’s Department for International Development (DfiD) should do more to identify publicly individuals and organisations it punishes for fraud. The public accounts committee also dismissed DfiD’s claim that it loses just 0.03 per cent of its budget to fraudsters, saying the figures “do not seem credible, given the risks they face overseas”. The report by MPs ordered civil servants to go away and produce “better estimates”.
The government’s claims of low levels of fraud in Britain’s overseas aid budget do not seem credible given mounting evidence of missing money, the House of Commons financial watchdog has said. The public accounts committee questioned official findings on how much the Department for International Development (DfID) has lost to overseas corruption after its budget increased by more than a quarter to nearly £10bn since 2011. MPs also warned counter-fraud activities by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and British Council “do not yet match the risks they face”. The report will be seized upon by Conservative MPs, who have lobbied the prime minister to drop the commitment to spend 0.7% of its gross national income on foreign aid.
Nicola Sturgeon risks becoming a “laughing stock” over her claim that her election campaign has nothing to do with independence, Ruth Davidson has said as grassroots nationalists urged the SNP to make the link “explicit and undeniable”. The Scottish Tory leader poured scorn on the First Minister’s attempt to decouple her recent demand for a second referendum from the general election, asking “who does she think she is kidding?” She said Ms Sturgeon may have told her members not to mention “the ‘i’ word” on the doorsteps but the SNP has always used gains in previous elections to push the case for separation. David Mundell, the Scottish Secretary, said the SNP leader’s attempts to distance her general election campaign from her independence push and her personal attacks on Ms Davidson showed she was “rattled” by polls showing the Tories winning up to 12 seats in Scotland, including 10 from her party.
Nicola Sturgeon admitted today her plan to press ahead with a new independence referendum would have to be postponed until after the election. The SNP leader had vowed to outline the ‘next steps’ to force a re-run of the 2014 poll when Theresa May rejected official pleas to call one. The threat was widely seen as signalling SNP plans to hold an unofficial referendum in defiance of Westminster. But today Ms Sturgeon admitted her plot would have to wait, prompting scorn from Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson. The concession came after a bombshell poll showed support for independence has slumped to 40 per cent.
Labour will today pledge to tear up the NHS pay cap in a move that could blow a £1billion hole in the health budget. Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth will commit the party to scrapping the one per cent ceiling that has helped to prevent health trusts slipping even further into the red. He will also pledge to restore collective bargaining in the NHS, strengthening the hand of Labour’s union paymasters in negotiations. The move came as Jeremy Corbyn met with Cabinet Secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood to discuss civil service preparations for the potential transition to a Labour government after the June 8 elections.
Labour is promising to remove the Government’s harsh pay cap for NHS staff to end what it called a “recruitment crisis” threatening patient care. Wage rises for more than one million health service employees – including midwives, nurses, doctors, dentists, paramedics and cleaners – will no longer be limited to one per cent if the party wins the election, it said. Decisions would again be made by independent review bodies, Labour said – making it almost certain that pay would no longer be cut in real terms, because of rising inflation. The pledge forms part of a “three point election guarantee for NHS staff”, including a new legal guarantee of safe staffing levels and “fully funded education”.
LABOUR’S chaos over Brexit deepened immeasurably today when a senior spokesman claimed Britain could stay in the EU after all. Shadow EU exit minister Paul Blomfield provoked astonishment by insisting that last year’s referendum vote could be overturned if there was major reform in Brussels. Asked on Sky News if the UK was “definitely leaving” the bloc, he said: “Obviously if there were significant reforms that came out of these negotiations which addressed the concerns that led people to vote in the way they did last year that’s a whole new ball game isn’t it? “But in the scenario that we’re facing we’re respecting the outcome of the referendum.”
NHS staff will get higher pay and there will be no tuition fees for student nurses and midwives under a Labour government, the party is promising. Labour said the policies would help address staffing shortages in England that had become a “threat to patients”. The promises mark the first of what are expected to be a series of policy announcements on the NHS by Labour. But the Conservatives said Labour’s nonsensical economic policies would put the health service at risk. “A strong NHS needs a strong economy. Only Theresa May and the Conservatives offer the strong and stable leadership we need to secure our growing economy and with it, funding for the NHS and its dedicated staff,” Health Minister Philip Dunne added.
Theresa May has hinted that the Conservative general election manifesto will attempt to address the looming social care crisis. The Prime Minister said the country needed to “stop ducking the issue” when she was asked what her manifesto would do to address the issue on a visit to Wales on Tuesday. She pledged a “long-term solution” to the crisis but said the Government was taking transitional measures. Mrs May said: “We are and have been already working on a long-term solution and that’s what we need in this country, we need to stop ducking the issue we need to ensure we’ve got that long-term solution for a sustainable future for social care.”