EDWARD HEATH received a hefty financial reward before taking Britain into the EEC – the precursor to the EU – and signing away sovereignty, unearthed reports reveal. Since 1973, EU and previously EEC membership has constricted Britain’s ability to make decisions as policies and laws have often been set by people who are not directly accountable for those choices. However, Britain has finally put an end to this. As Brexiteers revel in this historic moment, unearthed reports shed some light on the man who took the country into the bloc in the first place. Former Prime Minister Edward Heath signed the accession treaty to join the EEC in 1972. However, that was just the culmination of a lifetime’s effort as the Conservative politician had already started warming to his task in 1961, when Harold Macmillan announced he had applied to join the Community for the first time. Mr Heath quickly gained the nickname of “Mr Europe” and kept pressing Britain’s cause in Brussels while championing the European aspiration at home. Despite the failure of Mr Macmillan’s negotiations, Mr Heath’s contribution was still praised.
BRUSSELS is risking crippling tariffs on a staggering €47billion (£39.8billion) of goods without a Brexit trade deal with the UK. While much of the talk over the past three-and-a-half years has been on how Brexit will impact the UK, Britain’s departure from the EU means the bloc’s businesses has plenty at stake. Bloomberg reports that previous exports from remaining EU member states to Britain revealed that of the €301.2billion (£254billion) of goods exported in 2018, €47.3 billion would be exposed to the new tariffs. This totalled around 16 percent. The comprehensive list includes around 500 items from cheese to tires, with all being subject to rates and quotas.
The European Parliament is set to approve the terms of the UK’s departure from the European Union in an historic vote on Wednesday. The 751 representatives will debate the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement in Brussels before, it is widely expected, giving their backing to the UK-EU treaty. The landmark session is set to feature valedictory speeches and even music. It will mark the final stage of the ratification process, ahead of the UK’s exit at 23:00 GMT on 31 January. The UK participated in its last meeting as an EU member on Tuesday when Foreign Office minister Chris Pincher attended the General Affairs Council.
The European Parliament is set to pave the way for Britain’s departure from the EU in a final vote on Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal. MEPs meeting in Brussels are expected to overwhelmingly back the ratification of the Withdrawal Agreement, meaning the UK will leave with a deal on Friday. It follows the completion last week of the passage of the Withdrawal Agreement Bill through the British Parliament at Westminster. The deal was formally signed by the presidents of the European Council, Charles Michel, and the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, in Brussels and Mr Johnson in Downing Street.
The automatic right of EU vessels to fish in British waters will come to an end at the end of the transition period in December 2020. That is a legal guarantee contained in the Fisheries Bill, which is published today. It says foreign vessels will have to be licensed and follow rules set by the UK if they fish in British waters. It will also make sure that any fishing will be at sustainable levels. However, for a UK fishing industry hoping Brexit will herald a new golden age, there are fears the government will “sell them down the river” in the coming trade negotiations. Fishing waters and quotas – who gets what – are likely to feature early in the talks, which aim to pull together, over the next 12 months, a comprehensive trade deal on the UK’s future relationship with the EU.
The British government said it will introduce a bill into parliament on Wednesday for legislation to end automatic rights for European Union vessels to fish in UK waters. Under the Fisheries Bill, Britain will leave the European Union’s Common Fisheries Policy at the end of the 11-month Brexit transition period on Dec. 31, giving it the power to operate as an independent coastal state. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said that would allow Britain to operate its fish stocks sustainably outside the EU. “In future, access to fish in UK waters will be a matter for the UK to negotiate and we will decide on the rules that foreign vessels must follow,” it said in a statement.
All fish stocks in UK waters will be fished at sustainable levels after Brexit, the government says, as it publishes new legislation. The Fisheries Bill gives the UK power to operate as an independent coastal state and guarantees it will quit the EU Common Fisheries Policy in December. Environment group Greener UK welcomed the focus on sustainability. But fishing is likely to be a key area of contention in post-Brexit trade talks between the EU and UK. The Common Fisheries Policy currently sets out how much British fishermen can catch and where. It also allows vessels registered elsewhere in the EU to fish in UK waters – but the new legislation will end those automatic rights of access.
Boris Johnson is set to lay out the UK’s negotiating priorities for a trade deal with the EU within a week, firing the starting gun on post-Brexit talks. Britain’s last minister to ever attend an European Council meeting paid farewell to his counterparts without pomp on Tuesday, marking the end of the UK’s participation in the regular system of ministerial meetings. Christopher Pincher paid farewell to his European counterparts with a standard-issue government line, telling a packed briefing of journalists that “while we are leaving the institution of the EU we are not leaving Europe”.
The UK will resist EU demands for the European Court of Justice (ECJ) to have a say over UK trade after Brexit – putting the two sides on a collision course in upcoming talks. Brussels wants the ECJ to have a role deciding disputes that arise in the course of trade – effectively giving it continued power over the UK. The Times newspaper reports that Downing Street regards the court as “by very definition not a neutral arbiter”. EU trade officials say they believe ECJ involvement is necessary to “ensure consistent interpretation of the agreement and secure the role of the [ECJ] in this respect”.
BORIS JOHNSON must walk away from trade talks with Brussels if it lets EU judges police a deal with the UK, a former Brexit minister said yesterday. Insisting the European Court of Justice (ECJ) settles disputes on areas covered by a trading pact would mean there is no point continuing negotiations, argues David Jones. He said: “You would be having disputes arbitrated by the court of one of the parties and it is a court that has got a political function, which is to advance the interests of the European Union.
British Airways has suspended all direct flights to and from mainland China because of the coronavirus outbreak, the airline has said. It comes after the UK Foreign Office advised against all but essential travel to the country. The virus has caused more than 100 deaths, spreading across China and to at least 16 other countries. Hundreds of foreign nationals have been evacuated from the city of Wuhan, the centre of the outbreak. The UK government is arranging to evacuate Britons from Wuhan and the surrounding Hubei province, with up to 300 British people are thought to be in the area.
The Foreign Office tonight urged Britons not to travel to China as the country struggles to contain the coronavirus outbreak. Last night cases of coronavirus overtook the total of Sars cases in 2003-04. The number of deaths reached 131, while 5,974 cases have been confirmed. On Wednesday scientists in Melbourne announced they had successfully grown a version of the Wuhan coronavirus which could pave the way for the development of a vaccine against the deadly illness. It comes as Japan and the United States began repatriating hundreds of citizens from China. Japanese officials said four evacuees on the flight from Wuhan had cough and fever symptoms and were taken to hospital.
THE GOVERNMENT has warned against all but essential travel to mainland China amid the coronavirus outbreak. The Foreign Office updated it’s travel advice in a bid to stop the fatal virus from spreading to the UK. The Government has also warned Brits in China to consider leaving as soon as possible. The Government warned: “The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advise against all travel to Hubei Province due to the ongoing novel coronavirus outbreak. If you’re in this area and able to leave, you should do so. “The FCO advise against all but essential travel to the rest of mainland China (not including Hong Kong and Macao).”
A key part of Boris Johnson’s immigration policy has been dismissed as a “soundbite” by the government’s own advisers. Alan Manning, chairman of the migration advisory committee (MAC), said that it was unclear what the prime minister meant when he referred to an Australian-style points system. “I don’t mean to be critical. Politicians during election periods have to have soundbites to summarise immigration policy but there has to come a point when you say how to translate them into immigration rules,” Professor Manning said.
Britain’s £30,000 minimum salary threshold for migrants with firm job offers should be slashed by £4,400 after Brexit to address staff shortages of teachers and NHS staff, an independent report said today. The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) outlined a package of measures it said would help cut inflows to the UK and reduce pressure on the health service and schools. It included an Australian-style points-based system, but said it should only be applied to the brightest and best migrants who want to come to the UK without a firm job offer, to create a pool of ‘talented individuals’.
COSTS of building HS2 have spiralled because transport chiefs opted to make the trains too fast. Lord Berkeley, ex-deputy chairman of the HS2 review, said up to 30 per cent could have been saved by using slower trains which don’t need such high-tech tracks. The line, from London to Manchester and Leeds via Birmingham, is now set to cost £106billion, according to the leaked review he worked on. HS2 trains will reach a top speed of 250mph — but Bullet trains in Japan and the TGV in France travel at only 200mph. Lord Berkeley told a committee of MPs yesterday: “The speed is totally unnecessarily high. Bring it down to French TGV speeds and you could save a lot of money.”
Middle-class children will be squeezed out of Oxbridge as the universities strive to meet ambitious targets to recruit poorer youngsters, the student watchdog says. There will be 6,500 more students from deprived backgrounds at top universities by 2025, according to an Office for Students (OfS) analysis. However, Oxford and Cambridge have refused to expand their total undergraduate numbers, meaning that fewer better-off bright pupils will be offered places. Private school heads, who previously supported the access targets agreed between the watchdog and universities, have now warned that they disadvantage their pupils.
Universities have agreed to meet a five-year target to increase the number of disadvantaged pupils taking up degree places. But the move by the Office for Students has prompted fears among some schools of ‘class discrimination’ against pupils from more affluent families. An analysis by the OfS suggests there should be 6,500 more students from poorer backgrounds at top universities by 2025. Oxford and Cambridge, however, have refused to expand their total undergraduate numbers, meaning fewer places for better-off pupils.
Boris Johnson faced down opposition from his defence secretary yesterday as he allowed Huawei to help to build Britain’s 5G network in a decision that drew fierce criticism from US politicians. Ben Wallace told colleagues on the National Security Council to heed the warnings of America as its strongest ally on defence and security, The Times can reveal. He is said to have described China, by contrast, as a “friend of no one” during the 90-minute meeting. A source described Mr Wallace as a “lonely voice” in the discussion that preceded the formal announcement.
Boris Johnson appears to have averted a full-blown confrontation with the White House over Huawei, after the government designated the Chinese technology firm a “high-risk vendor” and imposed a cap on its involvement in building the UK’s 5G telecoms network. The Trump administration had given a series of strongly worded warnings about the security risks in the run-up to the decision, but was preparing to soften its stance after a phone call between the British prime minister and the US president on Tuesday afternoon. Sources said that while the US remained disappointed with the decision to allow “an untrusted vendor” into the UK market, the security and economic relationship between the two countries was too important to jeopardise in a row over mobile phone technology.
Boris Johnson was fighting to contain a ferocious backlash at home and abroad last night after giving Huawei the green light to take part in the rollout of the 5G network. After months of Cabinet wrangling, the Prime Minister yesterday announced the controversial Chinese tech giant will be permitted a role – despite pressure from the US and Tory MPs to ban the firm. Under the compromise solution, Huawei equipment can be used in ‘non-core’ parts of the network. But its market share will be capped at 35 per cent. And Downing Street said it would work with allies to find alternatives in the hope of driving down the firm’s share over time.
An intelligence chief insisted yesterday that GCHQ has never trusted Huawei but has security measures it can ramp up to deal with the risks posed by the Chinese technology giant. Ian Levy, technical director at the National Cyber Security Centre, also said it was “crazy” that the UK had to choose between just three equipment suppliers for its 5G network and the market had to diversify. The NCSC, an operational division of GCHQ that focuses on digital defence, said it would develop a mitigation strategy and directly assist British telecoms operators dealing with Huawei kit. “The move to 5G is another evolution of the [mobile network] technology and our security mitigations need to evolve again,” Dr Levy said in a statement.
The BBC will today announce hundreds of job cuts across its news division as part of the corporation’s most painful cost-cutting drive in recent memory. More than 250 posts will be abolished at BBC News, The Times understands. The News at Six and News at Ten bulletins on BBC One will be affected, as will Radio 4 programmes including World At One, PM, The World Tonight and Today. Although some services face more job losses than others, no shows have been ringfenced for protection. The scale of the redundancy programme will horrify staff at a time of unprecedented uncertainty for the national broadcaster.
The BBC is to announce cuts to its news division on Wednesday as part of a cost-cutting drive. Plans to axe Victoria Derbyshire’s BBC Two programme have already been leaked, with the host saying she is “absolutely devastated”. Flagship BBC shows like Newsnight and Radio 4’s Today programme are also expected to have to make efficiencies. BBC News has to save £80 million as part of financial pressures on the corporation, including paying for free TV licences for over-75s on pension credit. It is expected that BBC Radio bulletins across different stations will share more resources.
Police have said they were misled over the dangers of smart motorways as the new roads were branded a “death trap”. A senior policing leader yesterday accused Highways England of irresponsibly pushing through the controversial project linked to 38 deaths. It came after a damning report by a group of MPs concluded that the “shocking and careless” rollout of the scheme had cost lives. The transport agency is already facing a criminal investigation after the widow of a motorist killed on a smart motorway made formal allegations of corporate manslaughter. Calls grew yesterday for ministers to halt the scheme, which converts the hard shoulder into a ‘live lane’ to ease congestion.
A senior police leader branded smart motorways a death trap yesterday as he accused highways chiefs of misleading the country over the policy. John Apter, chairman of the Police Federation, which represents rank-and-file officers, said that motorways without a hard shoulder were “inherently dangerous and putting lives at risk”. He said that the system had put an intolerable strain on roads policing and he feared that an officer would be killed. Highways England had “completely misled” the country by introducing an inferior version of the smart motorway concept than the one trialled 14 years ago, he claimed.
Smart motorways are death traps and their £6billion rollout should be halted immediately, a police leader said yesterday. John Apter, chairman of the Police Federation, said the roads were dangerous, putting both drivers and police at risk. Highways England insists smart motorways – where the hard shoulder is used as a regular lane – are safe because they have refuges for broken-down vehicles. But Mr Apter, who represents rank-and-file officers, insisted: ‘They are a death trap. The country, police and we have been completely misled about the technology. ‘A poorer system has been introduced and continues to be rolled out despite the clear dangers that they present. Smart motorways are inherently dangerous.’
Northern Rail has been voted the worst train company in the country. Only 72 per cent of passengers were satisfied with the operator’s performance over the autumn, according to a survey by the Transport Focus watchdog. The dismal score, from a survey of 28,000, is the lowest in 20 years and follows months of delays, cancellations and strikes. It came as Government sources said ministers are scheduled to confirm today whether Arriva-run Northern Rail will be stripped of its franchise.