JEAN-CLAUDE Juncker has today unveiled the European Union’s roadmap for 2017 as he struggles to save the bloc from the triple threat of mass migration, economic stagnation and Brexit. The EU Commission chief called for a “Europe that delivers” as he vowed to focus on youth unemployment, tax-dodging and green initiatives in the next calendar year. His new proposals come as the EU enters a make-or-break year, with bitter divisions growing between member states over a variety of escalating crises from migration to how to deal with Britain. The Commission’s new work programme, published today, contains 21 key initiatives in 10 policy areas designed to bring stability back to the lurching political project.
A TREASURY blunder has revealed Britain will reportedly be slapped with a £700million post-Brexit bill by the European Union. The leaked note – labelled “sensitive” – allegedly shows that Brussels bureaucrats were demanding a 25 per cent increase on the EU budget bill. The same error also acknowledged the Government had given up on hitting its target’s to reduce the UK’s trade deficit this year. It comes as the Chancellor’s department admitted it is set to pay more into the failing superstate next year due to the decline of the pound. All EU contributions are paid in Euros at a fixed exchange rate set on December 31. European Commission bigwigs levied a larger-than-normal bill against Britain to make up for the small bill the UK paid in March. Government officials had to fight off claims this was a cynical move by Brussels to avoid damaging the Remain campaign .
Following Britain’s vote to leave the European Union (EU), the nation has been stung with a £700 million EU budget increase, a leaked Treasury briefing has revealed. The surprise document was marked “sensitive” and intended only for Treasury ministers and officials, but was released in error on the department’s website and seen by The Times. It simultaneously revealed the Treasury has given up on hitting its targets to reduce Britain’s deficit this year, as it faces paying the huge EU bill. Brussels is attempting to impose the seemingly punitive 25 per cent increased in the UK’s monthly contribution just four months after the British people delivered the Brexit vote. A Treasury spokesman told The Times: “We just don’t recognise claims this was a political bung.”
The EU moved Tuesday to prolong border controls in the passport-free Schengen area for three months, missing an end-of-year deadline to scrap the emergency measures adopted to cope with last year’s massive migrant influx. The European Commission, the European Union executive, said it recommended for “a period of a further three months” the extension of checks at the borders of Austria, Germany, Denmark, Sweden and non-EU Norway starting in November. The EU had said it wanted to restore full functioning with no border controls across the Schengen area — which includes 22 EU countries as well as Norway, Iceland, Switzerland and Lichtenstein — by the end of the year. “We are working hard to return to a normal functioning Schengen area as soon as possible, and we have made significant progress,” European Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans said in a statement.
THE number of UK firms in “financial distress” has fallen since the Brexit vote. Experts say 15,000 fewer were under the cosh in the last quarter than in the three months to June. Building firms were among those to have bounced back best. According to the UK’s biggest insolvency firm, 248,916 firms were struggling in the three months to September. BEGBIES TRAYNOR said the figure was 263,517 in the three months to late June. Six per cent fewer firms were in “significant” distress and, of these, 92 per cent were small or medium-sized. The building sector, which shrank at its fastest rate since 2009 in the month after the June 23 vote, saw an 11 per cent drop in firms in the same boat. Begbies boss Ric Traynor said there was “a bounce back after the initial Brexit shock”. Consultancies are also picking up post-Brexit, with “significant” distress cases ten per cent down. Julie Palmer, a partner at Begbies, said law firms and management consultancies were in demand from clients seeking help “navigating Brexit uncertainty”.
British taxpayers’ foreign aid money is being wasted on “superficial” projects by some of the world’s largest aid agencies, International Development Secretary Priti Patel has warned. Speaking to The Telegraph, Ms. Patel revealed that her department will be conducting a thorough review of the programmes run by non-governmental organisations using money donated by the British people to ensure that the funds are being put to good use. Approximately 40 per cent of Britain’s aid budget – £4.5 billion last year – is handed to international institutions like Unesco and the World Health Organization. But Ms. Patel has expressed concern with how some agencies chose to use the funds. Her department is set to release a Multilateral Aid Review next month, detailing the way large agencies use aid money – and sometimes fail to get good value for the cash. “When the Multilateral Aid Review comes out, it will cover the whole spectrum of organisations,” Patel said.
PRITI Patel has vowed to “shut down” foreign aid projects wasting British taxpayers’ money and instead praised charities handing cash directly to African migrants in a bid to stop them coming to Europe. The new International Development Secretary also called for the British flag to be emblazoned across all British foreign aid packages in a show of “soft power” following the Brexit victory. Britain’s £4.5billion foreign aid budget has come under intense scrutiny as about 40 per cent is funnelled through large international institutions like the World Health Organisation and Unesco, making it difficult to account for every penny. An upcoming report called the Multilateral Aid Review is set to lift the lid on exactly which large aid agencies are not using taxpayers’ cash effectively. The last review in 2011 revealed 18 of the 42 international aid bodies Britain pays into were deemed “adequate” or “poor” value for money.
BLOWING Britain’s aid budget on post-Brexit trade deals, as suggested by a Tory Cabinet minister, would be “utterly wrong,” anti-poverty charity War On Want warned yesterday. International Development Secretary Priti Patel said aid funding to global organisations could be slashed to give taxpayers “better value for money.” She claimed that the £4 billion Britain donates to international organisations such the World Bank needs to be scrutinised more thoroughly. Ms Patel suggested that part of Britain’s £12 billion aid budget should be spent on helping the country win international favour in the wake of the Brexit vote.
Britain backed a $22 billion (18.06 billion pounds) expansion of London’s Heathrow Airport on Tuesday, ending 25 years of indecision with an ambitious plan to boost global trade links following the vote to leave the European Union. Heathrow, Europe’s busiest airport, defeated a proposal from smaller rival Gatwick to secure the first new full-length runway to be built near London in 70 years after environmental and political protests scuppered previous attempts. The long-awaited decision put Prime Minister Theresa May on a collision course with several senior politicians including her own foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, and the plan is also likely to be challenged in the courts.
Theresa May’s decision to back Heathrow expansion plunged the Conservatives into turmoil as Cabinet ministers hit out at the move and a prominent MP quit. Tory supporting councils are poised to support legal action challenging the plans and Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson insisted the scheme was “undeliverable”. Conservative bosses were forced to announce the party would not fight the by-election triggered by Zac Goldsmith in protest over the third runway.
Conservative MP Zac Goldsmith has resigned his seat in a protest against the government’s backing for a new runway at Heathrow Airport. His decision forces a by-election in his constituency of Richmond Park, where he will stand as an independent. The Conservatives said they “disagreed” with Mr Goldsmith’s decision but would not field a candidate against him. The MP and former London mayoral candidate has long campaigned against expanding Heathrow. The Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has ruled out any rethink of the policy to expand the airport. The Department for Transport says a new runway will benefit passengers and boost the wider economy by up to £61bn, creating as many as 77,000 local jobs over the next 14 years.
Conservative lawmaker Zac Goldsmith, a vocal opponent of the expansion of Heathrow Airport, on Tuesday notified the government of his decision to resign from parliament, the finance ministry said in a statement. Goldsmith, who represents a constituency near the airport, had previously pledged to quit if Heathrow was given the go ahead to expand — something which happened earlier on Tuesday. The resignation will prompt an election for his west London seat. Goldsmith, who unsuccessfully ran for London mayor earlier this year, is expected to run as an independent candidate.
The Foreign Secretary has accused Theresa May of promising the “undeliverable” as the political fallout begins from the decision to give Heathrow a third runway. Boris Johnson said expansion at the West London airport would “very likely” be stopped and “the day when the bulldozers appear is a long way off, if indeed they ever materialise”. Tory backbencher Zac Goldsmith, who was also against a third runway, has resigned as an MP after what he described as a “catastrophic” decision. The move will trigger a by-election in his Richmond Park and North Kingston constituency.
The Times newspaper has used a tiny, unrepresentative survey of UKIP establishment officials to claim grassroots favourite and frontrunner in the race to be leader, Raheem Kassam, has just nine per cent of support. The article was based on an “exclusive survey of elected UKIP councillors” conducted via the SurveyMonkey website. No more than 150 local councillors were contacted and just 91 replied. This mean that 7.64 per cent of UKIP’s 497 councillors said they supported Mr. Nuttall, supposedly justifying the headline: “Nuttall zooms ahead in Ukip leadership race”. Because of the exclusive focus on councillors, the survey is likely to be unrepresentative of those eligible to vote in the contest, which includes all party members, not just elected ones.
Labour has been fined £20,000 by the Electoral Commission for failing to declare all of its general election expenses – including the stone tablet unveiled during the campaign. The 8ft “Ed Stone”, carved with ex-leader Ed Miliband’s key pledges, was among £123,748 of payments missing from Labour’s 2015 election return. A further 33 receipts, worth £34,392, were missing, the commission said. The £20,000 is the highest fine it has imposed since it was formed in 2001. The commission’s investigation was prompted by calls from journalists asking why Labour’s 2015 general election return, published in January, did not include the stone carving, which was widely mocked after being unveiled. Its probe widened as it emerged that in addition to two payments totalling £7,614 relating to the tablet, further expenditure had not been included in the return, while receipts were missing for other items.
At £7,600, it was a lot to pay for a widely panned election gimmick – but now the ill-fated EdStone has cost Labour a lot more. Twenty thousand pounds more to be precise, after the Electoral Commission fined the party for failing to include invoices, including those for the two-tonne, limestone statue, in its spending returns. The investigation into the party’s 2015 general election spending was triggered when two payments totalling £7,614 relating to spending on Ed Miliband’s stone tablet were missing from campaign spending returns. At the time a Labour Party spokesman had said: “Due to an administrative error these invoices were not included with other items of the campaign spend.
The ‘EdStone’ has come back to haunt Ed Miliband AGAIN – by landing Labour a massive penalty from a watchdog. The Electoral Commission fined Labour £20,000 today after party chiefs broke strict rules by failing to declare the 8ft 6in pledge plinth. The landmark fine is the biggest dished out in the Commission’s 15-year history. The watchdog said Labour co-operated with inquiries but its registered treasurer – general secretary Iain McNicol – committed two civil offences under electoral law. They were not criminal offences. Unveiled in a car park in Hastings, the £7,600 Ten Commandments-like tablet with six promises “carved in stone” became a symbol for Labour’s wipeout at the general election last year. Newspapers dispatched teams of journalists in a frenzied bid to find out where the tablet was hidden after first week of May 2015. But in a remarkable oversight, when Labour filed its election spending returns the EdStone was not included.
ALIENS are trying to get in touch to tell us that they exist, according to sensational new claims by scientists. Extraterrestrial intelligence are using stars as a cosmic form of smoke signals, they claimed. An analysis of millions of stars found several hundred behaving strangely and similar to Tabby’s star – which is believed to be a fuel source for intelligent life far, far away. There appears no obvious explanation for what is going on and astronomers have concluded that they must be messages from alien life. Laval University scientists Ef Borra and E Trottier wrote in a new paper: “We find that the detected signals have exactly the shape of an [extraterrestrial intelligence] signal predicted in the previous publication and are therefore in agreement with this hypothesis.” The research paper, called Signals probably from Extraterrestrial Intelligence, will be published in the journal Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific. The pair noted that further research to confirm or deny their hypothesis is necessary, and they must watch for “alien” signals using different equipment to eliminate any outliers.