Brexit

Independent
David Davis has warned the next round of Brexit negotiations will generate the same “public thunder and lightning” as the first phase of talks with Brussels last ye
ar. The Brexit Secretary also used an article to turn the European Union’s negotiating mantra against the bloc, claiming that it cannot “cherrypick” the terms of a free trade deal.  Britain, he added, wants the “full sweep of economic cooperation” and financial services must not be excluded from any agreement. But just last month Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, said that financial services will not be included a post-Brexit trade deal, setting the stage for a public confrontation between the UK and Brussels. “There is not a single trade agreement that is open to financial services,” he said in December. “It doesn’t exist.” In his article for the Daily Telegraph, Mr Davis said that the negotiations in the coming months will “not be straightforward”, adding: “They will generate the same public thunder and lightning we have seen in the past year. 

Express
DAVID Davis today spoke of his hopes for success in the push for a Brexit trade deal while warning of “thunder and lightning” ahead in the next round of Brussels negotiations. Looking forward to the talks over the next few months, the EU Exit Secretary was optimistic that an agreement can be achieved by October. He also admitted the wrangle would not be “straightforward” and vowed to fight Brussels attempts to “cherry pick” which sectors of the economy will be able to get full access to European markets. His remarks were being seen in Brussels as a challenge to chief EU negotiator Michel Barnier’s repeated claims that a final Brexit deal cannot include financial services. Mr Davis set out his expectations for the resumption of Brexit talks in Brussels later this month in a newspaper article. It came ahead of a major speech he is due to deliver next week detailing the Government’s objectives for the coming round of talks.

Sun
BRITAIN could reject Europe and join a trade group based in the Pacific after we quit the EU, it was reported today. The revelation comes as EU experts warn European leaders are set to fight over the terms of Brexit trade talks. Ministers working under Liam Fox have held discussions on joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership alongside countries including Japan and Australia. Britain would be the only member of the TPP not to border the Pacific Ocean in a striking statement of intent about building links with new trading partners. Other members include regional giants such as Canada, Chile and Mexico, but the US is no longer part of it after Donald Trump withdrew. Trade minister Greg Hands said Britain could join even though the other countries negotiating the deal are thousands of miles away. He told the Financial Times: “Nothing is excluded in all of this. “With these kind of plurilateral relationships, there doesn’t have to be any geographical restriction.”

Sun
BRITAIN has already held an informal summit on joining the flagship Trans-Pacific Partnership in a bold move to put rocket boosters on exports post Brexit. Trade Secretary Liam Fox’s bid would make the UK the first country in the group that doesn’t border the Pacific Ocean or the South China Sea. It is understood membership of the TPP has not yet been discussed by the UK Cabinet but British officials have floated the idea in meetings with counterparts from Australia, New Zealand and other TPP countries. Some countries from the trading group welcome the idea of another G7 economy as a member. Trade minister Greg Hands told the FT there were no “geographical restrictions” on Britain joining the 11 strong TPP group that the US left last year. He added: “Nothing is excluded in all of this. With these kind of plurilateral relationships, there doesn’t have to be any geography restriction.”

EU

Express
BREXIT backing Labour MP Kate Hoey has warned the European Union is splitting over plans for a superstate and it cannot take its survival for granted any longer. The outspoken Vauxhall politician warned the bloc was being ripped apart by those pushing for an ever closer union and east European states who want less centralised control. And she claimed the split showed Brexit was the right decision for the country, calling for Labour party chiefs to throw their weight behind it. She said: “Surely Labour must understand that the EU 27 is already changing.  “Strong forces are moving it towards a centralised financial, economic and political entity while at the same time countries such as Poland are beginning to assert their own state rights.  “For the first time the EU can no longer take its future survival for granted. “This may be hard for Remainers to accept – especially those who have built their careers on thriving in the comfortably rewarding embrace of the EU institutions.”

Westmonster
The CSU, the more conservative sister party to Angela Merkel’s CDU, has called for a hardline position on immigration as parties set out to resume coalition talks. Merkel still hasn’t been able to form a new government, after her disastrous election performance in September of last year weakened her stance in forming a coalition with smaller parties. Talks are set to resume later this week, however, the CSU has laid out a tough negotiating stance which may prevent a deal with other smaller parties. In a leaked paper seen by Reuters, the CSU are calling for Germany to spend 2% of its GDP on NATO, adopt a tougher position on migration and reject more EU integration. “We want to reduce social welfare payments for asylum seekers so that Germany does not remain the main magnet for refugees from the whole world,” said Alexander Dobrindt, a top CSU official. Talks are set to resume later this week, however, the CSU has laid out a tough negotiating stance which may prevent a deal with other smaller parties. In a leaked paper seen by Reuters, the CSU are calling for Germany to spend 2% of its GDP on NATO, adopt a tougher position on migration and reject more EU integration.

Express
BRUSSELS is to demand hikes in budget contributions for members in a bid to sustain the bloc’s spending power post-Brexit. European Union leaders are expected to discuss the next long-term budget at a summit in February. The tense negotiations will be one of the big political battles the bloc will face this year. Such negotiations have historically been a fraught process in Brussels with the €960bn 2014-2020 budget talking almost 18months and several summits to reach an agreement. The challenge is expected to be fraught as the UK’s exit leaves a €10bn hole in their budget – Britain is one of the biggest contributors to the bloc’s budget, pumping in around 11 per cent. There is also demands for extra spending on migration, and rising east-west tensions between net contributors and net receivers. 

Charter of Fundamental Rights

Independent
Labour is to force a parliamentary vote later this month on the Government’s refusal to enshrine the EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights in UK law after Brexit. Keir Starmer, the Shadow Brexit Secretary, said ministers’ analysis of how the basic rights outlined in the Charter will be incorporated into British law was “woefully inadequate”. Labour wants the provisions of the Charter to be guaranteed in full in legislation. The document is currently one of the few parts of EU law that will not be transferred into UK law when Britain leaves the EU in March 2019. The Government avoided a potential parliamentary defeat on the issue late last year after promising to undertake a “right-by-right analysis” of how the protections enshrined in the Charter will be guaranteed after Brexit. The potential rebellion was averted when Tory rebels including former Attorney General Dominic Grieve agreed to back down after receiving reassurances from ministers. However, Mr Starmer said the subsequent analysis, published last month, had failed to guarantee that basic rights will be protected.

Guardian
Keir Starmer has torn into the government’s “woefully inadequate” analysis of how the EU charter of fundamental rights will be covered by British law after Brexit, warning that essential protections will be lost. The shadow Brexit secretary said Labour would force a vote on the issue this month at the next stage of the EU withdrawal bill, as the government was still refusing to transpose the charter into UK law. The government managed to head off a rebellion on the issue by Conservative MPs, led by the former attorney general Dominic Grieve, by promising a “right-by-right analysis” of how UK law already covers the same ground as the charter on areas such as children, the environment, data and consumer rights. However, Labour and legal experts said the document showed only how UK law fell short in providing the same protections as the EU charter of fundamental rights. “The document they released fails to provide any assurance that essential rights will be protected once we leave the EU,” Starmer said. “On the contrary, it takes rights from the charter and scatters them to their original sources: the polar opposite of effective human rights protection.

Ireland

Sun
IRELAND’s PM was branded “immature” and accused of grandstanding by the DUP after he admitted he wants to see the UK break apart. Leo Varadkar said he will try and persuade unionist voters to support a united Ireland – in comments likely to enrage the DUP and Brexiteers. The country’s PM is supposed to guarantee the Good Friday Agreement, which states it is up to the people of Northern Ireland to decide whether to stay in the UK or not. But he told reporters today he is keen to see Northern Ireland join the Republic in a new state covering the whole island of Ireland. Mr Varadkar said: “In terms of a united Ireland, our constitution is clear on this. Our constitution aspires to there being a united Ireland. “I share that aspiration. But only on the basis that it is done by consent, and when it does come about I would like to see it command a degree of cross-community support.

Anti-semitism

Independent
A campaign group that was set up to protest against the expulsion of Labour  Party members for alleged antisemitism  has expelled some of its own members who it says are  antisemitic. Gerry Downing, who was excluded from Labour Against the Witchhunt (LAW), has accused the group of conducting its own witch hunt against him. He is now planning a protest at the same location as a LAW meeting on Saturday, in a bid to be readmitted to the group.  Setting up a Facebook page called “Reject Bogus Left Antisemitism”, Mr Downing accused LAW of wanting a “witch hunt [against] genuine anti-Zionists and revolutionary socialists”. He claimed the group wanted to demonstrate to Labour’s General Secretary, Iain McNicol, “that they really will never cross the line from defence of the democratic rights of Palestinians to advocating revolutionary solutions to these situations”.  Mr Downing was suspended by Labour in March 2016 after it emerged he had tweeted a link to an article on the website of the Socialist Fight group, with which he is involved. It called for Marxists to “address the Jewish Question” and claimed the “Jewish-Zionist bourgeoisie” had “played a vanguard role for the capitalist offensive against the workers”.

NHS

Telegraph
Every hospital in the country has been ordered to cancel all non-urgent surgery until at least February in an unprecedented step by NHS officials. The instructions last night – which will see result in around 50,000 operations being axed – followed claims by senior doctors that patients were being treated in “third world” conditions, as hospital chief executives warned of the worst winter crisis for three decades. Hospitals are reporting growing chaos, with a spike in winter flu leaving frail patients facing 12-hour waits, and some units running out of corridor space. Sir Bruce Keogh, NHS medical director, last night ordered NHS trusts to stop taking all but the most urgent cases, closing outpatients clinics for weeks as well as cancelling around 50,000 planned operations. Trusts have also been told they can abandon efforts to house male and female patients in separate wards, in an effort to protect basic safety, as services become overwhelmed.

ITV News
Hospitals in England have been told to delay pre-planned operations and routine outpatient appointments until the end of the month due to severe winter pressures. The move, which will hit tens of thousands of patients awaiting treatment, is an attempt to free up hospital staff and beds, according to NHS England. The deferral of non-urgent inpatient elective care – such as hip replacements – should be extended until January 31, the health body added. Officials said up to 55,000 operations could be deferred, although cancer operations and time-critical procedures should go ahead as planned. Labour accused Jeremy Hunt of “doing a Grayling”, after the Health Secretary – like his Transport  counterpart Chris Grayling – was unavailable for interviews on a day when his department came under additional scrutiny. “Patients and staff deserve better than a Health Secretary doing a ‘Grayling’, going to ground and refusing to explain the appalling downturn in standards of care this winter,” Justin Madders, the shadow health minister, said.

Times
Tens of thousands more operations will be cancelled to deal with a growing winter crisis, as one doctor apologised for “third-world conditions” at his accident and emergency unit. All non-urgent operations should be cancelled and single-sex wards abandoned until the end of the month, the national crisis team has advised. Routine appointments would also be postponed to deal with emergencies, health chiefs said yesterday, as rising numbers of hospitals urged patients to stay away because of overcrowding. Hospitals in Cornwall, Leicester and Kent have warned they are so busy that patient care and safety could be compromised, while at least two ambulance services said they had been so stretched that some patients with less serious conditions had to be taken to hospital by taxi.

Guardian
The NHS is reeling under what doctors’ leaders and hospital chiefs say is the most intense strain it has faced in decades as a result of flu, bad weather and more patients suffering breathing problems. Hospitals’ inability to keep up with the demand for care on Tuesday night prompted NHS England to tell them to take unprecedented measures to try and stabilise the service. They included cancelling outpatient appointments and day case surgery, extending an existing ban on non-urgent surgery until the end of the month and deploying consultants in A&E units to assess if patients really are a medical emergency. Amid growing evidence of chaos as the NHS’s winter crisis bites, hospitals are being forced to create makeshift wards for patients, growing numbers are declaring a black alert – an official admission that they cannot cope – and patients are waiting as long as 12 hours for A&E care. “We are seeing conditions that people have not experienced in their working lives,” said Dr Taj Hassan, an A&E consultant in Leeds and president of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine (RCEM), which represents A&E doctors.

Mail
Hospitals were last night ordered to cancel thousands of operations to try to tackle a winter health crisis. In an unprecedented move, NHS chiefs demanded radical action to free up beds and medical staff. Casualty units are under ‘extreme and sustained’ pressure with flu cases on the rise. Up to 55,000 non-urgent operations will be postponed until February, along with thousands of outpatient appointments and scans. Managers will be allowed to put patients on mixed-sex wards and consultants will be assigned to casualty units to assess patients on arrival. Anyone not judged to be seriously ill faces being turned away. Confirmed cases of flu have risen 50 per cent in a week and experts are worried about an especially aggressive ‘Australian’ strain. It was responsible for the worst flu outbreak in 50 years Down Under and has already claimed a number of lives in Ireland. There were reports yesterday of waits of up to ten hours at casualty departments and managers issued social media alerts pleading with the public to stay away.

Immigration

Telegraph
Airport blunders have potentially allowed thousands of passengers into Britain without passing through immigration checks, Home Office figures suggest. Airlines and airports could now face fines of up to £50,000 if passengers are able to bypass border control as part of a proposed Government crackdown on the issue. Ministers are currently consulting on a new civil penalty regime designed to stop travellers being “misdirected” when they arrive amid concerns it is undermining the integrity of the UK’s border. The problem has been blamed on human errors like incorrect doors being opened at arrival gates or passengers being directed to the wrong place upon arrival. Just under 1,000 passengers were not brought to immigration control in 2014 because of airport operator or carrier error. That is likely to spark concerns about airport border security levels in previous and subsequent years. The Government is hoping its plan to fine airports and airlines with lax controls will remedy the situation but the Airport Operators Association (AOA) said the proposal is “disproportionate”. A spokesman for the AOA emphasised that border security is a “top priority” for airports.

Times
Theresa May has “single-handedly blocked” her colleagues’ attempts to remove international students from immigration figures, George Osborne claimed, as speculation grew that the government will drop the policy. Ministers have warned Mrs May that she faces defeat in the Commons if the issue comes to a vote. Ruth Davidson, the increasingly influential Scottish Conservative leader, said that “including students in the figure is distortive, counterproductive and sends out entirely the wrong signals”. She added: “I hope this change happens soon.” Mrs May has repeatedly resisted calls to remove students from the official measure of immigration but the arithmetic of a hung parliament means she would almost inevitably be defeated if it came to a vote.

Easter

Times
For those determined to put the indulgence of Christmas behind them and start eating healthily it is a sight that will test their willpower: massed ranks of Easter eggs and chocolate bunnies staring back from supermarket shelves. Exasperated shoppers have expressed their anger and bemusement that Easter treats went on sale as early as Boxing Day in some stores, complaining that they had barely been given time to recover from the excesses of Christmas. The Co-op appears to have led the way with eggs and bags of chocolates on sale more than three months before Easter Sunday, which falls on April 1 this year. People have taken to social media to post pictures from the stores.

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