LEFT-WINGERS have launched a last-ditch bid to stop Brexit by launching a nationwide tour this summer pushing for Britain to stay in the EU. A group of leftie MPs, campaigners and trade union leaders have joined forces for the pro-EU tour, dubbed ‘The Left Against Brexit’. The campaign will visit cities including London, Manchester, Bristol and Birmingham in an attempt to change people’s opinions on Brexit. It claims the UK’s impending exit from the European Union has been “built on an agenda of racist scapegoating”. Labour MP Catherine West and Green Party co-leader Caroline Lucas are among the politicians backing the bid to thwart Brexit.
Theresa May could have to delay the March 2019 Brexit date because of the political impasse over the UK’s future outside the EU, Tony Blair will say. The former prime minister will use a major speech to hit out at both the Tories and Jeremy Corbyn‘s Labour over the state of the Brexit process, demanding a more assertive Parliament and a fresh referendum on any deal with the EU. His comments come in a speech in which he will warn about a rise of populism which risks a return to the 1930s and the danger of the West losing sight of the values which brought the US and Europe together.
Tony Blair is plunging himself into a fresh Brexit row by urging the government to postpone the date when Britain leaves the European Union. In another major intervention, the former prime minister and pro-Remain cheerleader will repeat his call for another referendum – on the terms of the Brexit deal. He is also expected to bitterly attack both Theresa May, dismissing her as a Brexit “hostage”, and Jeremy Corbyn, accusing him of neglecting to lead the fight for the future of Britain. And, in a Chatham House lecture, Mr Blair will issue a rallying call to pro-Remain Labour and Conservative backbenchers to defy their party leaders and rebel on Brexit.
The UK’s exit from the EU next March could be delayed to allow for further negotiations and the public to make the “final decision”, Tony Blair is to say. As a longstanding critic of Brexit, the former prime minister will say talks are “drifting” and may have to continue beyond next March’s exit date. Backing a vote on the final deal, Mr Blair will say people have a right to choose what Brexit “version” they want. The Brexit date is now enshrined in law after the EU Withdrawal Bill’s passage. Prime Minister Theresa May has insisted the UK will cease to be a member from 29 March 2019. Extending the Article 50 process, the two-year legal framework under which the UK is leaving the EU, to allow for more talks would require the approval of the UK government and all 27 other EU members.
BREXIT talks could take a dramatic twist this week as Brussels tries to tempt Theresa May into softening her Brexit by publicly backing her with a better deal if she does. Ahead of a crucial summit in Brussels on Thursday, ministers from the European Union have changed their draft conclusions to call on the Prime Minister to present a “realistic and workable” vision for future relations. They have also inserted an ‘evolution clause’ which could see the bloc offer a better deal on trade if the UK abandons its red lines.
The Business Secretary has been accused of participating in “Project Fear mark two” after he urged business leaders to use their influence to help soften Brexit. Greg Clark used a speech in London on Tuesday to praise the “business voice” that puts “evidence before ideology”, contrasting it with the “imagined worlds” and “speculation” of hardened Eurosceptics. A Cabinet split had already emerged after Airbus warned that it could leave the UK if Britain exits the single market and customs union without a transition deal, putting tens of thousands of jobs at risk.
The business secretary set out his vision for the softest possible Brexit yesterday and accused pro-Leave colleagues of undermining confidence in the government. Greg Clark told The Times’ CEO Summit that he would fight to avoid a no-deal scenario and push for “labour mobility” with the EU. He also made it clear that he wanted to keep a form of single market access for services as well as goods. His comments will anger Brexiteers and set up a cabinet clash when ministers meet in Chequers next week. Theresa May used her speech at the summit to patch up relations with business after disparaging remarks by the foreign secretary Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary.
Business Secretary Greg Clark was accused of ‘communicating a sense of panic’ last night as he urged big business to keep speaking out against plans for a clean break with the EU. In a revealing intervention, Mr Clark said big business could help him win the argument in Cabinet to soften the Government’s approach to Brexit. But David Jones, a former Brexit minister, told The Daily Telegraph: ‘Cabinet ministers should be informing business of what the Government is doing to ensure we get a good deal.
A nascent alliance has formed between Britain and Hungary’s right-wing populist government as Theresa May’s Brexit government searches for friends across Europe. Conservative MEPs this week voted against censuring Hungary’s government for breaching European values following its crackdown on NGOs, attacks on “Muslim invaders”, and a state-backed allegedly antisemitic campaign. Hours after the European Parliament vote, Hungary’s foreign minister did a media round slamming Brussels for its treatment of the UK, and warning that not doing a deal with the UK would be “devastating” for Europe.
Britain could end up paying up to £50bn for the Brexit divorce bill because the government has underestimated the costs of leaving, an influential group of MPs have warned. The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) said the Treasury’s previous estimates of £35bn to £39bn failed to take into account an additional £10bn of costs to the government, including £3bn towards the European Development Fund, which provides overseas aid. Cross-party MPs also tore into the prospect of a “Brexit dividend”, saying any benefit from cash clawed back from Brussels was difficult to calculate and could take years to materialise.
David Davis is known as the ‘tea boy’ by Irish ministers who insist they will only negotiate Brexit with senior civil servant Olly Robbins, it was claimed today. The dismissal of the Brexit Secretary by Dublin lays bare the state of relations between Britain and the EU. The clock is ticking for a Brexit deal with this week’s EU summit set to pass with effectively no progress. It will heap pressure on the next summit in October to come up with some kind of agreement in time for Brexit day on March 29, 2019.
The government will propose its plan to avoid a Brexit hard border with Ireland “next month”, the Northern Ireland secretary has said. After a meeting with the EU’s chief negotiator in Brussels on Monday, Karen Bradley said the issue was a matter for “the whole cabinet” and that they would meet to discuss it. The delay means the UK will only have three or four months to discuss its fully-formed “backstop” proposal with Brussels, with the deadline for a deal on withdrawal looming for October. Theresa May is set to travel to Brussels on Thursday for a meeting with European leaders, but little movement on the issue is expected. A previous plan unveiled earlier this month was criticised by Brussels as incomplete.
AN IRISH MEP has admitted the “narrative is changing” regarding Ireland’s place in the European Union, with the country set to lose billions in the next EU budget. While Ireland has the highest level of support for Brussels of any member state, Brian Hayes MEP has predicted fortunes could change in the near future with an eye-watering EU budget on the horizon. The MEP for Dublin said Ireland, which since 2014 has been a net contributor to the bloc, could shell out as much as €3 billion (£2.64 billion) for the next budget.
DITHERING Theresa May was last night told to rule out any free movement concessions in Brexit talks – or risk betraying the millions who voted leave. In its strongest attack yet, Migration Watch demanded the PM get on with publishing plans to slash low-skilled immigration from the EU. And they urged her to separate immigration policy from trade talks amid fears the PM will give way on border controls to gain greater access to the single market. They said it defied belief Brits were still in the dark about the Government’s immigration policy just nine months out from Brexit Day.
The European Union is split over Theresa May’s plan for a post-Brexit trading relationship that could mean parts of the economy staying in the single market. A draft white paper circulating in Whitehall is understood to propose binding Britain into Europe’s regulatory framework for goods. The proposal, a key demand of business, will be put to the cabinet at Chequers next week with the white paper being published on Monday. While popular with industry and regarded as key to solving the Irish border question, such an arrangement would hinder Britain from striking new trade deals. It would mean following single market rules on goods, European industrial regulations and upholding European law, possibly by joining the European Free Trade Area court.
EU leaders have given the go-ahead to key talks at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) about Britain’s post-Brexit trade status. The negotiations, green-lit by the European Council on Tuesday morning, will address the question of what proportion of EU trade quotas will belong to the UK after Brexit. The question is likely to be fraught with controversy because countries around the world stand to lose and gain economically depending on how the quotas are split up. Under international trade agreements, countries are often allocated export “quotas” by another country – which fixes an upper limit on how much product they are allowed to ship there.
THE EU’S chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier cancelled a press conference tonight, just two days ahead of a crunch European Council summit. Mr Barnier was due to give an update on Brexit negotiations at a press conference in Luxembourg at 7:30 UK time (8:30pm local time). But the Frenchman’s appearance in front of the press was called off around an hour later. EU sources told Express.co.uk that Mr Barnier was stuck in an meeting of the EU’s General Affairs Council (GAC) which was over-running.
Theresa May’s plan to protect British industry by keeping the UK in a single market for goods without respecting the free movement of people after Brexit will be rejected by an “angry” France and Germany, despite some sympathy within the EU to Downing Street’s cause, Spain’s foreign minister has said. The new Spanish government would also block such a political fix, Josep Borrell told the Guardian, ahead of both a summit of leaders in Brussels and a summer tour by the prime minister of EU capitals during which May hopes to convince leaders of her economic case. Of those member states who might see value in a deal on single market access for goods without free movement, Borrell said: “They will not win the battle. They have not enough power. Germany will say no, France will say no, Spain will say no.”
An overhaul of Labour’s rules that would make it easier for left-wing activists to marginalise MPs and councillors who criticise Jeremy Corbyn is to be voted on, according to a party source. Proposals to make it easier to replace dozens of Labour council leaders with left-wing councillors are said to be among the main recommendations of the party’s seven-month “democracy review”, which is to be voted on at conference in September. The review will propose allowing members rather than councillors to choose Labour group leaders.
Labour has suffered a rebellion after MPs backed a huge trade deal with Canada – despite it being branded “secretive” and “marred by controversy”. MPs, most of them Tories, voted 315-36 for the 2,255-page CETA deal in the House of Commons today after a debate lasting just 90 minutes. Labour’s leadership refused to back the deal – saying it was “conducted in secrecy and with minimal consultation” and had prompted huge protests on the streets. But 14 Labour MPs defied orders to abstain on the vote, and backed CETA. One, Chris Leslie, warned: “There is a danger in flirting with an anti-trade populism.”
Gavin Williamson will ask the prime minister for up to £4 billion extra a year for the armed forces at a critical meeting set for next week. The defence secretary is to pitch for the money when he meets Theresa May to discuss funding for the future shape and size of Britain’s military. The meeting comes amid tensions between the pair with Mr Williamson accused of threatening to “break” the prime minister if she refuses to increase the defence budget. Yesterday senior defence figures said that the government was putting at risk the country’s status as a global military power by giving the NHS priority over defence.
A senior civil servant, surveying media coverage over the last few days, expressed exasperation with warring cabinet ministers. He was not, for once, referring to the battle over Brexit but to an increasingly bitter stand-off over the future of British defence. “It is open season at the moment,” the well-placed civil servant said, referring to a series of stories he assumed had been planted by the defence secretary, Gavin Williamson, or his allies over the defence budget, and a series of counter-blasts by the Treasury. There are two issues at stake. One is minor and personal: Williamson’s ambition to become prime minister, which is dependent on holding on to the support of a core of Tory backbenchers for whom defence remains a top priority.
The NHS is an undistinguished if not frankly mediocre healthcare system: this is the verdict not of a claque of right-wing ideologues bent on privatisation, but the measured conclusion of four leading think tanks. “For the most important illnesses in directly causing death, it is a consistently below-average performer,” the Nuffield Trust, the Health Foundation, the Institute for Fiscal Studies and the King’s Fund conclude. So why is the NHS falling short? It is a fundamental but often overlooked question: how should we judge a national health service?
PATIENTS could face six-week waits to see their GP after doctors voted yesterday to cap the appointments they offer. Family doctors currently average 41 consultations a shift, each lasting around ten minutes, the British Medical Association annual conference was told. Dr Satish Narang told delegates Sweden’s GPs see 13 people a day, typically for 30 minutes. That rate in England would see six-week appointment waits. Dr Narang urged the BMA to agree a cap “for the sake of quality and safety of patient care”. He added: “Increasingly complex and intense consultations cannot be safely managed in ten minutes.”
Two new jails are to be built, the prisons minister announced yesterday as he said that the government would come under pressure from longer and “more brutal” sentences. Rory Stewart said that the Ministry of Justice was planning for the prison population to rise by about 10,000 to 93,000. Officials were working to a “worst-case scenario” because sentences were longer, offenders more prolific and, over the next 15 years, victims of crime were likely to demand tougher sentences for burglary and causing death by dangerous or careless driving. He said that he would like to significantly reduce “if not eliminate” sentences of 12 months or less, but admitted that this may not apply to violent and sexual offenders.
A patriotic painter who daubed St George’s cross on roundabouts in support of England this World Cup has been condemned as a ‘vandal’. Officials discouraged the graffiti artist – who has been dubbed ’rounda-banksy’ after Bristol’s famous spray-painter – after 10 flags appeared across Essex. After discouraging the ‘dangerous’ behaviour, they advised the mysterious perpetrator to stick to plastic flags. Red crosses have been painted over white roundabouts in Clacton-on-Sea, Colchester and the village of Jaywick. Restaurant manager Glenn Alligan, 45, said he was happy to see the morale boosters appear in Clacton.
Russia already has ‘destructive’ bugs hidden, lurking in British computers waiting to strike, a top spook warned last night. National Cyber Security Centre chief executive Ciaran Martin said targets for disruption by Kremlin have spread beyond the UK’s “hard infrastructure” such as energy networks to include democratic institutions and the media, he told peers and MPs. Mr Martin told the parliamentary Joint Committee on National Security Strategy: “In the last two years, we have seen a consistent rise in the appetite for attack from Russia on critical sectors, as well as diversification to other sectors they may attack.
Uber has been given a short-term probationary licence to operate in London despite criticism from a judge of the company’s “gung-ho” attitude. Magistrates gave the company permission to operate in the city for 15 months, overturning a decision last year not to renew its licence. Uber, based in Silicon Valley, admitted this week that London’s transport authority had been right to withdraw its licence but argued that it should be renewed because it had made “wholesale” reforms. The licence was awarded at Westminster magistrates’ court yesterday, despite warnings over the company’s behaviour in the past. Judge Emma Arbuthnot criticised Uber’s “gung-ho” attitude and said that its previous managers had focused on attempting to “grow the business come what may”.
Uber has won a partial victory at Westminster Magistrates’ Court in getting its London operating licence renewed. On Tuesday, a judge granted a new 15-month permit which will allow the car service to continue to operate in the city. The decision comes months after Transport for London (TfL) bosses blocked the Silicon Valley company from renewing its licence to operate for another five years, in September 2017. The taxi hailing app admitted to a judge during an appeal which began on Monday that TfL was right to have safety concerns. But Uber said the operating licence should be now renewed as it has made ‘wholesale’ reforms.