During the European Election campaign in 2014 and this year’s referendum campaign, we were repeatedly told by the Remain campaign that there was no reason to fear an EU Army. Perhaps some of those people who publicly stated that leave campaigners like myself who raised the issue of ever creeping collaboration on defence at an EU were ‘scaremongering’ should have been in the European Parliament on Monday, where there was no holding back on the EU’s aims for its own defence force. Whilst Defence Secretary Michael Fallon was loudly proclaiming that the UK would oppose any attempts to create an EU army because it could “undermine” the role of Nato, one MEP reminded Britain that ‘The NATO flag is not desired at the same level by all’. I am wholeheartedly behind a strong Nato and wish that the government had not spent the last two defence and security reviews slashing back troop numbers and equipment to a stage where it is questionable whether we could defend the Falklands and laughable to think we could withstand an attack from Russia.
The UK will oppose any attempts to create an EU army because it could “undermine” the role of Nato, Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon has said. Nato “must remain the cornerstone of our defence and the defence of Europe”, he said, ahead of informal talks with EU defence ministers in Bratislava. Sir Michael said the UK was not alone in opposing a common EU defence policy. European Parliament President Martin Schulz has said the UK would not have a veto over closer defence co-operation. France and Germany are set to make the case for increased military co-operation at the informal meeting in the Slovakian capital later.
BRITAIN will continue to fight the creation of a Euro Army amid fears it will “simply duplicate or undermine” Nato, Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon said today. Speaking at a meeting of EU Defence ministers, he said the growing threat from terrorism and migration is not enough to justify a new continent-wide force. France and Germany and Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker want an EU military command, more defence spending and joint development of assets such as helicopters and drones. But most EU members – including Britain, France and Germany – already belong to the transatlantic alliance Nato. And at the meeting in Slovakian capital Bratislava, Sir Michael said: “We agree Europe needs to step up to the challenges of terrorism and of migration. We are going to continue to oppose any idea of an EU army or EU army headquarters, which would simply undermine Nato. “Nato must remain a cornerstone of our defence and the defence of Europe.”
ONE of the European Union’s top Brexit negotiators today launched an attack on a trio of Britain’s leading Cabinet ministers. Leading MEP Guy Verhofstadt, who has been appointed by the European Parliament to lead Brexit talks, this afternoon penned a Facebook rant aimed at key members of the UK Government. The Belgian politician targeted Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, Defence Secretary Michael Fallon and International Trade Secretary Liam Fox in his social media outburst. It follows earlier comments the three ministers had made about the UK’s post-Brexit future. This morning, Mr Fallon vowed to continue Britain’s blocking of an EU army before Mr Johnson, on a visit to Turkey, insisted the Government would help the country “in any way” with its efforts to join the EU. Later, as he delivered a speech to the World Trade Organisation in Switzerland, Dr Fox signalled Britain would pursue a free trade economic agenda once it has cut ties with Brussels.
Nicolas Sarkozy would give Britain the chance to reverse the Brexit vote if he is elected president of France. Speaking to business leaders in Paris, the former French president said he would negotiate a new treaty for the European Union with Germany that could persuade Britain to remain, the Financial Times (FT) reported. The day after the result is announced in May, Mr Sarkozy said he would fly to Berlin to meet with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in order to secure her support for a draft of the new EU treaty, and then the following day he would carry on to London. “I would tell the British, you’ve gone out, but we have a new treaty on the table so you have an opportunity to vote again,” the FT reports Mr Sarkozy to have said. “But this time not on the old Europe, on the new Europe.”Do you want to stay? If yes, so much the better. Because I can’t accept to lose Europe’s second-largest economy while we are negotiating with Turkey over its EU membership. And if it’s no, then it’s a real no. “You’re in or you’re out.”
BRUSSELS chiefs Jean-Claude Juncker and Martin Schulz teamed up tonight to lay the blame for Europe’s spiralling migrant crisis squarely at the feet of EU member states. The presidents of the EU Commission and Parliament insisted they were “not failing” on the issue of refugees, but whined that they are being held back by reluctant national governments. Both men complained of a “renationalisation” of politics across the continent and said the EU was facing a crisis of disunity. But they also insisted that the recent Bratislava summit, at which Germany, Italy and France publicly fell out in spectacular style, was “not a disaster”. Asked why the EU was failing so badly to tackle the migrant crisis, Mr Juncker fired back: “Not the EU is failing, some member states.”
Labour Party conference
CHAMPAGNE-SWILLING Labour bigwigs betrayed millions of working class Britons today as they launched a covert bid to overturn Brexit. Members at the party’s swanky conference in Liverpool showed they still do not understand voters as they sneaked through a motion calling for a second EU referendum. The dynamite document, voted through on the sly, goes against the wishes of leader Jeremy Corbyn who has ordered his MPs to accept the will of the British public. But it will embolden wildly europhile backbenchers including his former leadership rival Owen Smith and London MP David Lammy, who have called for politicians to ignore the electorate and keep Britain in the EU. The little-publicised motion was passed as Labour officials from exclusive London enclaves like Islington descended on Liverpool to glug champagne and Prosecco at the party’s annual conference. Critics tonight said the brazen announcement showed that Labour now has “contempt” for the millions of working class people it is supposed to represent.
With the re-election of Jeremy Corbyn as leader unlikely to heal deep rifts in Labour, the only significant opposition that Prime Minister Theresa May looks likely to face as she plots Britain’s divorce from the EU is from her own party. Britain’s exit from the bloc, or Brexit, did not even make it onto the official agenda of the Labour party’s conference in Liverpool, where MPs were more concerned with whether Labour will survive in the future. For May, who campaigned quietly for Britain to stay in the European Union before the June referendum, it means she will be able to drive the talks without much interference from the Labour opposition. But she may face a stronger challenge from those in her Conservative Party who are pressing for a hard Brexit, or a clean break with the EU and its single market.
JEREMY Corbyn is set to deepen Labour’s rift over border controls tomorrow by signalling he would be happy for immigration to soar. Mr Corbyn will strike a defiant note, despite warnings from Labour MPs that the continuing commitment to open-door border controls is alienating voters. He is set to tell delegates in Liverpool that Labour will not promise to cut net migration. He is expected to say: “We will, instead, tackle the real issues of immigration and make the real changes that are needed.” In the leader’s keynote speech to his party’s annual conference, he is due to reject any curbs on European Union citizens coming to Britain. And today aides insisted Mr Corbyn was “relaxed” about net migration rising even higher. A spokesman said: “Jeremy is not concerned about numbers. It is not an objective to reduce immigration.” A Labour government would outlaw firms “undercutting” pay with migrant workers and spend more on public services in high migration areas. His aides said he wanted to help to “equalise” wage levels across the EU.
Jeremy Corbyn is heading for a new clash with Labour MPs by rejecting calls to back post-Brexit curbs on immigration. Ahead of his end-of-conference speech in Liverpool, the Labour leader said restricting free movement could mean Britons paying the price in tit-for-tat retaliation. Mr Corbyn said “harmonisation of wages and working conditions” across Europe – not restricting freedom of movement – was key to winning back public confidence on immigration. In eve-of-speech TV interviews, he called for a recognition that European migrant workers make a “huge contribution to our health service, our education service and many others”.
Labour “will defeat” the government’s plans to expand grammar schools in England, shadow education secretary Angela Rayner has said. In a speech to the party’s conference in Liverpool, Mrs Rayner said selection by ability “entrenches division and increases inequality”. “No child should be left out or left behind,” she said. PM Theresa May has said the ban on new selective schools has been in place too long and has held many pupils back. She says 1.25 million pupils are currently in schools which are “failing, inadequate or in need of improvement” and that the government’s plans will give every child the high-quality education they deserve to enable them to go as far as their talents allow.
The Labour party conference has backed a motion that could potentially open the door to the party supporting a second EU referendum. The little-noticed motion is at odds with the views of party leader Jeremy Corbyn, who has said the result of the 23 June vote must be respected. Though Labour members avoided a formal debate on Brexit at the conference, instead prioritising other issues, one passage in Monday’s economy debate said the “final settlement” could be put to popular vote. “[Conference] recognises that many of those who voted to leave the EU were expressing dissatisfaction with EU or national policy and were voting for change, but believes that unless the final settlement proves to be acceptable then the option of retaining EU membership should be retained,” the motion says. “The final settlement should therefore be subject to approval, through Parliament and potentially through a general election or a referendum.”
Austerity policies were a “major driver” behind the Brexit vote, Nicola Sturgeon has said, as she demanded the Chancellor uses the Autumn Statement to reverse the cuts. Scotland’s First Minister said the Government could not continue to ignore the feeling of “inequality and powerlessness” that drove thousands of people to vote to leave the European Union. She said cuts to welfare and public services in “austerity budgets” had helped to foster a sense of disillusionment that helped to triggerBrexit. And she called on the Chancellor to use his Autumn Statement on 23 November to tackle the issue.
Steel workers and trade unions erupted in fury as Jeremy Corbyn vowed to ban fracking if Labour wins the next election. The GMB and Community unions both hit out because the fledgling industry will need hundreds of thousands of tons of steel if it takes off across the UK and a ban would cost thousands of jobs. Union rep Dougie Fairbairn, who has worked at Tata in Corby, Northants, for 35 years, said he was shocked. “It has potentially put another nail in the coffin of the steel industry,” he said. “I don’t understand why they’d do this.”
Hospitals have become dangerously full and discharge patients too soon as a direct result of “political maladministration” by successive governments, according to a committee of MPs. The failure to join health and social care services means that one in five patients are at risk of either getting stuck in hospital or being released before they are fit to go, according to a report by the Commons public administration and constitutional affairs select committee (PACAC). So-called bedblocking costs the NHS in England about £820m a year, according to National Audit Office estimates. The cross-party committee is highly critical of governments down the years for allowing two public services that need to work closely together to remain separate. “At a structural level, the historic split between health and social care means that interdependent services are being managed and funded separately. We consider this to be political maladministration,” the committee says in a report about unsafe patient discharges from hospital.
Hospitals must end the ‘incredibly dangerous’ practice of discharging patients overnight, MPs have warned. They have urged Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to ensure patients are sent home between 11pm and 6am only if they are happy to leave. While there is no official data, some figures show the numbers discharged overnight could be as high as 400 a night. MPs on the public administration and constitutional affairs committee also say hospitals are ‘hurrying’ patients home long before they are ready to free up beds. Some even send ‘discharge teams’ to wards to hunt out patients who they think are fit enough to leave.
Frail elderly patients are being kicked out of hospital too soon because of NHS mismanagement and political failure, a cross-party group of MPs says. Dementia patients are among those sent home in the middle of the night to free beds in a dangerous practice engrained in the structure of the NHS, the public administration committee says. Ministers must stop patients being discharged by night to suffer harrowing experiences, MPs say in a report today, more than four years after The Times revealed the extent of the problem.
HUNDREDS of ISIS jihadis will flee towards the UK as part of “largest human missile arsenal in history”, terror boffins have revealed. It is believed waves of terrorist fighters will try to settle in the UK and other western nations as a result of crushing coalition attacks on ISIS in Syria and Iraq. The displaced jihadis will also trigger “lone wolf attacks”. FBI Director James Comey said: “There will be a terrorist diaspora sometime in the next two to five years like we’ve never seen before. “Those killers will flow out and they will try to come to western Europe. “[They will] try to come here to kill innocent people.” Comey added: “[While] the so-called caliphate will be crushed. “They will not all die on the battlefield in Syria and Iraq.” This story comes after ISIS reportedly declared “a state of emergency” a following successful coalition air strikes on the terror cult’s final stronghold in Mosul, Iraq. The Daesh supporters also lost Fallujah earlier this year . US Senator Ron Johnson said: “We’re poking the hive. “We’ve done some damage to it but the killer bees are leaving the hive. “They’re setting up new hives.”