The EU has reportedly raised the opening price of the UK’s “Brexit bill” to €100bn (£84bn), according to new analysis of latest French and German demands. Following requests from several member states, the EU negotiators have revised their initial calculations to increase the liabilities the UK must help pay for. These include payment of farm subsidies and EU administration fees which could continue after we have officially left the union until 2020. Though the net bill will be lower than €100bn (£84bn) once the UK’s rebate is taken into account, the gross amount paid will be significantly more than the €60bn (£50.6bn) charge originally proposed by European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker in February, according to the Financial Times. The revised estimate reflects the hardening of many EU27 countries towards the UK’s demands.
The EU has hiked its opening demand for Britain’s Brexit divorce bill to a whopping £85billion, it emerged last night. Its shocking new figure – up from initial demands for a £50 billion exit deal – is to cover farming payments and EU admin costs even after Britain has left the bloc. France and Germany are leading demands for the higher divorce bill, according to the Financial Times. EU officials want Britain to pay the bill upfront before talks can begin on a new free trade deal. But the PM has stood firm and insists the two can be negotiated side-by-side.
It is widely believed in Whitehall that the leak to the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung of the supposedly car-crash Brexit dinner between Theresa May and Jean-Claude Juncker was a German government initiative to put the UK on the back foot and show who is in charge. But why, and why now? Well all the talk in Brussels is that the Germans and French have upped the money they expect from us in the divorce settlement from €60bn (£50bn) – already seen as steep in Downing Street – to an eye-watering €100bn (£84bn). Now for the avoidance of doubt, there is zero chance of May paying that in almost any circumstance that I can imagine. Even if the rest of the EU agreed to do what they currently say is unthinkable, which is to promise a generous free-trade arrangement early in the negotiating process.
Theresa May will be banned from sitting in on Brexit talks – as the EU has upped Britain’s divorce bill to £92billion (€100bn) by seeking farm payments for two years after the process formally ends. It follows the Prime Minister’s promise to be ‘bloody difficult’ in the negotiations, as tensions between the two sides continue to be strained. She will now only be allowed to discuss terms with the European Commision’s top negotiator, Michel Barnier, but not other heads of state, according to The Times. Mrs May had previously stated that she wanted to sit down with ‘presidents, prime ministers and chancellors of Europe.’ ‘It is not going to be a negotiation around a table between heads of state and government,’ a source said. ‘It was very awkward. We thought David [Davis] was in charge.’
Theresa May will be barred from negotiating the terms of Brexit with her fellow European Union leaders, senior figures in Brussels have warned. In a sign of an increasingly hardline approach, the prime minister will be prevented from joining discussions at future EU heads of state meetings, she has been told. The only person with whom she can sit down for talks is the European Commission’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier. The EU leaders’ position contradicts Mrs May’s insistence during a campaign speech last week that she would personally negotiate Brexit with the “prime ministers, presidents and chancellors of Europe”.
Theresa May has declared that Jean-Claude Juncker will be the next person to discover that she can be a “bloody difficult woman” as cabinet frustration with the EU over the early phases of the Brexit negotiations intensified. The prime minister made the comments about the European commission president after extensive details of a dinner she held with him and key negotiator Michel Barnier were leaked to a German newspaper over the weekend. May hit back over the issue during an election visit to the south-west. “During the Conservative party leadership campaign I was described by one of my colleagues as a bloody difficult woman” she told the BBC. “And I said at the time the next person to find that out will be Jean-Claude Juncker.” The prime minister said there was a lot of agreement between the UK and EU, but said the controversy over the leaks had proved that the upcoming negotiations would be “tough”.
Over the last few days when most people were busy enjoying the long Bank Holiday weekend the Prime Minister refused to definitively rule out paying the EU a “divorce bill” upfront as part of our exit from the bloc. The simple fact is that we don’t owe them a penny and there’s a pretty good case that they in fact owe us. Firstly, we have been one of the biggest net contributors to the EU ever since we joined its forerunner the European Economic Community, in fact we have been one of the very few member states to make a net contribution. Then there is our 9 billion pounds’ worth of funds in the European Investment Bank, equating to around 16% of the capital of the bank. Then of course there is our stake in the EU’s multi-billion-pound worth property empire across Europe and in fact worldwide.
His fearsome reputation is summed up by his many nicknames: Darth Vader, Rasputin and The Monster. As Jean-Claude Juncker’s chief of staff, Martin Selmayr is regarded as the power behind the throne in the Brexit negotiations to come, and the bad news for Theresa May is that he is an EU zealot determined to “punish” Britain for leaving the bloc. Mr Selmayr, the man widely accused of leaking a damaging account of Mrs May to a German newspaper, is also close to senior figures in Angela Merkel’s party, raising questions about Germany’s role in briefing against Mrs May. Tellingly, Mrs Merkel made a late addition to a speech she gave the day after Mr Juncker met Mrs May in Downing Street, to include a pointed reference to people in Britain having “illusions” about the Brexit deal.
Germany has been accused by allies of Theresa May of trying to influence the General Election by undermining the Prime Minister over Brexit talks. Allies of Mrs May believe Germany, in tandem with the EU, is embarking on a new “project fear” by repeatedly briefing against her. Senior officials in the German government and in Brussels have openly mocked Mrs May or leaked sensitive information about private meetings in what is being seen as an attempt to undermine the Prime Minister. Last week Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, also suggested Britain had “illusions” over what it could hope to achieve from Brexit.
Brexit will likely top the agenda on the election campaign trail today as the European Commission’s lead Brexit negotiator is set to face the media. Michel Barnier will likely face questions on Wednesday about Theresa May’s role in talks amid reports that the EU will not allow the Prime Minister to negotiate Brexit directly with her European counterparts. The PM would be prevented from joining Brexit discussions at future EU heads of government meetings, according to The Times. The only person Mrs May would be allowed to hold such meetings with would be Mr Barnier, the newspaper reported. Such a move would run contrary to Mrs May’s claim that she would be negotiating directly on the terms of Brexit with fellow European leaders.
BRUSSELS today ordered European countries to drop internal border checks originally introduced to bring the migrant crisis under control within the next six months. In an announcement tonight eurocrats said there was no justification for keeping police checkpoints at frontiers within the bloc and said they must be removed by the end of the year. The diktat means that Austria, Germany, Denmark, Sweden and Norway will all have to swiftly find alternative ways to police irregular movements of people across their borders. France, which has had checkpoints in place at its borders since the November 2015 terror attacks, is the only country to be exempted as it is still in a state of emergency.
The European Union says it will allow Austria, Denmark, Germany, Sweden and non-EU country Norway to prolong ID checks at their borders but want the migrant controls phased out by November. The five are members of Europe’s passport-free travel area. A year ago, as Greece struggled to maintain control of its maritime border because of the arrival of hundreds of thousands of migrants, the five introduced ID checks for security reasons. They have prolonged them for six months twice since May 14, 2016, but may only do so once more. Systematic ID checks are banned in the area, known as Schengen.
GE – UKIP
OVERSEAS aid spending should be slashed by at least £10 billion a year to free up cash for key public services in Britain, Ukip will say today. It will accuse other parties of denying voters a proper choice on how their money is spent – and leading establishment politicians of being more interested in helping people abroad than at home. Ukip will campaign to reduce aid spending from 0.7 per cent of national income – the United Nations target David Cameron insisted on hitting – to 0.2 per cent, economic spokesman Patrick O’Flynn will say in a speech in London. That would cut the budget from about £14billion a year to £4billion, with the saving increasing in cash terms as the economy grows.
Paul Nuttall has rejected claims that UKIP is haemorrhaging voters to the Conservatives ahead of next month’s General Election. During a visit to the West Midlands, the UKIP leader predicted his party will gain momentum in the polls over the next five weeks – and said they were in with a “good chance” of getting their candidates elected. In Dudley, where a clear majority of voters backed Brexit in the EU referendum, he told reporters: “We’re going to target sensibly in terms of resources and manpower.
GE – Conservatives
Conservative activists have hit out over the party’s attempts to block local hopefuls and impose candidates in a number of winnable seats in Wales and the Midlands. The party has forced local associations in four Welsh seats to accept female candidates without letting members in the constituency make a choice. These include candidates in key target seats as the Tories look to take advantage of polling suggesting that they could win a general election in Wales for the first time since 1918. The party has also faced accusations of using the snap election to put in place candidates in winnable seats in the West Midlands who have few connections with the area.
GE – Labour
It’s 36 days to the general election – and Labour began today with a bang by vowing to halt the Tories’ £22billion NHS cuts drive pending an urgent review. In return the Tories have unveiled a highly personal poster declaring Jeremy Corbyn will bring “no bombs for our Army – one big bombshell for your family.” Labour has dismissed the Tories’ talk of a £45bn bombshell as having “error after error”. But there’s more bad news for Theresa May, who insisted she’ll be a “bloody difficult woman” with Brussels. Maybe it’s Brussels that’s being difficult. Reports today suggest the EU has upped its demand for a Brexit ‘divorce bill’ from €60billion to €100billion.
JEREMY Corbyn will detonate a catastrophic £45billion “bombshell” of tax rises and Government debt if he becomes prime minister, senior Tories will warn today. In a significant escalation of the general election campaign, ministers are to publish analysis of the Labour leader’s spending commitments detailing the grim potential for a shattering black hole at the heart of Britain’s public finances. The massive gap between Labour’s spending commitments and revenue-raising plans will mean that every household in the UK could face more than £1,600 in extra taxes and debt liability by 2020, according to the research. David Davis, the EU Exit Secretary is due to go on the offensive over Mr Corbyn‘s stratospheric spending plans today. It will be the first time the Cabinet big hitter has been deployed during the campaign as Theresa May seeks to demonstrate the strength in depth in her team.
A Labour government would halt NHS plans intended to better co-ordinate local services because of concern they are a vehicle for cuts, closures and privatisation, the party has said. Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth will announce on Wednesday that Labour will halt and review all 44 “Sustainability and Transformation Plans” (STPs) currently being worked on across England if it wins the General Election. Describing them as “entirely discredited”, he will say STPs have been driven by the need to meet financial targets amid a government squeeze on NHS funding – rather than clinical need. STPs are intended to deliver more co-ordinated and efficient health and social care by requiring local authorities, hospital trusts, clinical commissioning groups and other care providers to work together.
Labour will tomorrow vow to halt the mass closure of dozens of hospitals and A&E departments drawn up by cash-strapped NHS chiefs across England. In their biggest manifesto pledge of the campaign so far, Labour will announce an immediate halt to the Tories’ £22billion NHS cuts programme which threatens to devastate vital services across the country. Up to 19 hospitals and 24 A&E units are among the cherished NHS services which could face the axe under controversial ‘Sustainability and Transformation Plans’ (STPs) proposed by local health chiefs. Shadow Health Secretary Jon Ashworth told the Mirror the plans would be stopped on Day One of a Labour Government, pending an urgent review.
GE – Greens
A second referendum on the details of any Brexit deal should be offered to voters, Green Party of England and Wales MP Caroline Lucas has said. Voters should have the option to remain in the EU if they are unhappy with the result of Brexit talks, she said. The party is also discussing electoral pacts with fellow parties in a “number” of constituencies, she added. Ms Lucas is the Greens’ only MP and the Liberal Democrats have agreed not to contest her Brighton Pavilion seat. She wants to maximise the number of MPs who will support moves for electoral reform and try to win or defend seats against the Conservative Party.
MINISTERS have been forced to publish plans for reducing illegal air pollution within the next week after the government decided not to challenge a court ruling ordering No 10 to release the plans before the election. Prime Minister Theresa May’s official spokesman said yesterday that the plans will be made public sometime between Thursday’s local government elections and the May 9 deadline imposed by a judge last week. Environmentalists won the legal challenge last Thursday against the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), which had tried to keep the draft a secret till after the election. Defra argued that a delay was necessary to comply with “purdah” rules restricting government announcements during the elections. But Judge Mr Justice Garnham ruled that the draft plan must be published by May 9.