A Brexit transition deal cannot last more than two years or it will risk being challenged in the European Court of Justice or shot down in the German parliament, the government has been warned. The strict timeline on a transition period after Brexit points to a toughening UK approach on the transition deal in which the UK will seek the right to negotiate and sign trade deals – although not finally implement them – during any transition period. “It’s now difficult to see how any interim period could go beyond two years given the threat of legal challenge,” said a senior Whitehall source with knowledge of the UK negotiating position. The UK also believes that national parliaments, including the German Bundestag, would put pressure on national governments to intervene if the transition period morphed into a de facto trade negotiation.
THE EU’s chief Brexit negotiator is earning £72,000 more than his British counterpart – and UK taxpayers are picking up a tenth of his salary bill. French bureaucrat Michel Barnier qualifies for a pay grade of between £15,000 – £18,000 a month. That puts him on gross annual salary of up to £213,000 a year – 65 per cent more than Brexit Secretary David Davis’s £141,000 wage. Unlike Mr Barnier, Mr Davis has to split his time between his government duties and representing his Haltemprice and Howden constituency. And Mr Barnier – who is employed as an official by the European Commission to negotiate Brexit on behalf of the 27 other member states – earns £63,000 more than Theresa May. Britain pays for 11 per cent of EU bureaucrat wages. Nigel Farage fumed: “Unless our government calls the Brexit Bill bluff, the British taxpayer will be subsidising these ridiculously bloated wages for years to come. “The situation is simply unacceptable. We have got to say, ‘We are leaving the EU and not a penny more for EU waste.’”
The EU’s most senior officials have sought to claim the moral high ground in the increasingly bitter saga of the Brexit negotiations, portraying themselves as the calm and well-prepared camp in the divorce proceedings. But beyond the sterile officialese, the EU side has shown that it is quite prepared to stoop to ‘dirty tricks’ in order to define the Brexit debate on its own terms. Most egregious was the near verbatim leak of a private dinner at Number 10 between Theresa May and Jean-Claude Juncker which was intended to build confidence but ended with the German press being told the UK prime minister was “deluded”. That tactic was heavy-handed even for a European Commission media spin machine that has grown used to creating its own media narratives unopposed – as it did when aggressively defining the Greek debt crisis on its own, austere, terms.
EU plotters are using social media in a bid to undermine Britain’s Brexit deal, it is claimed. Brussels’ team of top diplomats has proved adept at using social media to deal blows to the UK’s Brexit negotiations in the past six months. Streetwise political brawlers like Michel Barnier, Sabine Weyand, Donald Tusk and Guy Verhofstadt have proved dab hands at outmanoeuvring their British counterparts. Belgian Verhofstadt, the EU’s chief negotiator, has been a constant thorn in the side of Brexit Secretary David Davis. Taking the pitbull role, the 64-year-old has dealt several hefty blows to UK hopes of a good deal. In May, he tweeted: “Any #Brexit deal requires a strong & stable understanding of the complex issues involved. The clock is ticking – it’s time to get real.”
NEARLY three quarters of voters believe that hitting British taxpayers with a EU exit bill of £30 billion or more would be “unacceptable”, an opinion poll indicated last night. Seventy-two per cent of adults quizzed in the survey were opposed to the Government paying the sum to Brussels in a “divorce” fee. The ICM poll is expected to be seen as a warning to EU chiefs that Britain will not cave into financial demands for as much as £80billion during the current negotiations over a departure deal from the European bloc. It is also likely to trigger alarm in Whitehall, where officials are understood have discussed a possible compromise figure that could be as high as £36 billion.
David Davis’s negotiating team is demanding legal clarification from Brussels officials over its demands that the UK pay a substantial financial settlement as part of the process of quitting the European Union. A senior government source said British negotiators have peppered EU officials with queries about the legal principles Brussels believes should be used to calculate the final exit bill. Davis’s team have been stung by suggestions the government should have published a paper setting out its own position on the withdrawal bill – pointing out that the commission has not yet produced a paper on the border in Northern Ireland, while Britain has done so. The Brexit secretary is determined not to table a figure for the price the government is willing to pay to settle Britain’s obligations as it leaves the EU – believing that putting a figure on it would be a poor negotiating tactic.
Ahead of another week of UK-EU negotiations the atmosphere has turned tense, with the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier lecturing the British government and the UK pushing back. Barnier has said that: “To be honest, I am concerned. Time passes quickly,” and that: “We must start negotiating seriously…the sooner we remove the ambiguity, the sooner we will be in a position to discuss on the future relationship and a transitional period.” The EU want the UK to start talking money and set an amount they are prepared to hand over for trade talks to move forward, but the British government is resisting. UK government sources have briefed that the EU’s Michel Barnier was “stuck with a headache of his own making” as he had suggested Britain may not only have to cough up a Brexit divorce bill but hand over additional funding after that as well. If Brussels continues to play hard ball, there is another option – walk away and pay no bill at all.
An EU chief has delivered a brutal fresh slapdown to Theresa May by saying NONE of her Brexit papers are good enough. The frosty reception from Jean-Claude Juncker is yet another blow to Britain’s bid to discuss its ‘divorce bill’ and future trade at the same time. It comes just a day after the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator kicked off four days of talks by telling Britain to “start negotiating seriously”. As the war of words escalated today Britain refused to back down – brashly claiming talks on both separation and trade can happen by October. And Downing Street would not rule out enlisting European leaders like Angela Merkel to break the deadlock. But Mr Juncker warned an “enormous amount” of issues were unsettled and “first of all we settle the past before we look forward to the future.”
The European Commission president has criticised the UK’s Brexit negotiations, saying none of the papers provided so far are satisfactory. Jean-Claude Juncker reiterated that there would be no trade negotiations between the EU and UK until the divorce bill was settled. The prime minister’s spokeswoman said the UK was in a “good position”. But EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier said Brexit secretary David Davis had to “start negotiating seriously”. The EU has previously said that it will not discuss trade issues with the UK until it has resolved three issues.
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker says that many issues still need to be settled on the Brexit divorce proceedings between the European Union and Britain before a new relationship with London can be negotiated. The third round of high-level talks is ongoing this week and Juncker reinforced the comments of his chief negotiator that the government of Prime Minister Theresa May is too slow out of the blocks and that key separation issues need to be settled before both sides can assess a future trade and political relationship. Britain is keen to have both in lockstep. Juncker said that “we can’t mix things up” and insisted “first resolve the past before imagining the future.”
BRITISH negotiators say they have been left bemused by Jean-Claude Juncker’s confusing rant about the Brexit talks earlier today, during which the EU chief said none of the UK’s position papers were “satisfactory”. Senior UK officials admitted they were “not quite sure what point Mr Juncker was trying to make” in his odd speech, but insisted they were “quite relaxed” about his surprise intervention. At a meeting of EU ambassadors this morning the Commission president said the bloc had received “no definitive response” from the UK on the Ireland issue, despite the Government publishing a position paper earlier this month.
British officials have told their European counterparts they are keen to step up the pace of Brexit negotiations with more frequent rounds than the current timetable of one week a month. The UK call for haste comes as the third round of negotiations continued in Brussels amid tension, disagreement and a sense of stalemate. As 100 British officials sat down with their European counterparts to begin this week’s negotiations, the President of the European Commission issued a scathing assessment of progress. Speaking to a conference of European Union ambassadors, Jean-Claude Juncker echoed the pessimistic tone struck by his Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier, saying that an enormous number of issues remain unsettled.
Theresa May is preparing to go over the heads of Jean-Claude Juncker and Michel Barnier and appeal to Europe’s leaders to approve the start of trade talks with the EU this autumn. With negotiations at an impasse over Britain’s refusal to sign up to a method of calculating the so-called divorce bill Mrs May intends to use October’s European summit to make her case directly for moving the talks on. The prime minister may also approach other leaders individually before the summit. Mr Juncker, president of the European Commission, has said it is “crystal clear” that an “enormous amount” of issues need to be settled before talks on a future trade deal or transition arrangements can begin.
Theresa May is planning to turn to Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron to resolve the Brexit divorce bill dispute. Amid increasing anger over the EU’s handling of negotiations, the Prime Minister believes she can broker a deal over the payment by going directly to the bloc’s leaders. Tension increased yesterday when European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker said it was ‘crystal clear’ trade talks could not begin until the UK caves in and pays the £74billion exit settlement the EU is said to want. In a move that infuriated British officials after the hostile start to the latest round of talks, he also called Mr May’s approach to Brexit ‘unsatisfactory’. His attempt at muscling in was immediately criticised by British officials who said the EU’s stranglehold on the timetable for finding a solution may threaten a deal.While the UK has promised to pay the EU as part of a Brexit deal, officials are concerned at the bloc’s inflexibility on the issue.
Downing Street has said the government will not back away from its demand to kick off negotiations on a post-Brexit trade deal as soon as possible – even though the European commission president, Jean-Claude Juncker, flatly dismissed the idea on Tuesday. As the third round of Brexit talks resumes in Brussels, Juncker said: “We need to be crystal clear that we will commence no negotiations on the new relationship – particularly a new economic and trade relationship – between the UK and the EU before all these questions are resolved.” The EU27 have consistently said they will require sufficient progress to be made on three issues – the Northern Ireland border, the divorce bill, and the future status of EU citizens – before negotiations can move onto the future partnership between Britain and the EU. But earlier this month, the Brexit secretary, David Davis, reopened the question of the phasing of the talks, which he had previously described as “the row of the summer”.
Unelected EU Prez Jean-Claude Juncker has once again reiterated the Brussels’ hardline stance on Brexit negotiations and the fact that there will be no discussions on a UK-EU trade deal until other issues have been resolved to the EU’s satisfaction. Speaking to a crowd of EU diplomats, Juncker said today that: “I would like to be clear that I did read with the requisite attention all the papers produced by the British government and none of those is satisfactory, so there are an enormous amount of issues that need to be settled. “We need to be crystal clear that we will commence no negotiations on the new economic and trade relationship between the UK and the EU before all these questions are resolved…that is the divorce between the EU and the UK. We cannot mix these issues up.
BELGIAN fishermen have demanded the UK continues to allow their boats in British waters after Brexit to avoid a collapse in the local fish industry. Belgian fishermen have requested the UK consider allowing them to continue entering British waters to fish after the UK’s EU exit. Their plea comes only days after Environment Secretary Michael Gove announced the UK will withdraw from the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) after it leaves the European Union. Bruno Decordier, a fisherman from Ostend who has been fishing in the North Sea since 1986, said: “60 per cent of the year we fish in British waters.”
ANGRY Labour MPs have warned that the party’s u-turn over Brexit could lead to a revival of Ukip. Euro-sceptics in Jeremy Corbyn‘s ranks were furious after EU Exit Secretary Sir Keir Starmer announced a plan for keeping the UK in the European bloc’s single market and customs union. The policy switch, scrapping the support for a full break from Brussels set out in the party’s general election manifesto, has triggered a new Labour civil war over Europe. Kate Hoey, Labour MP for Vauxhall and a prominent Leave supporter during the EU referendum, told BBC Radio 5 Live on Monday: “It is very worrying to those of us that want to support the view of the British public, which was overwhelmingly to vote to leave. “This is moving towards a kind of mushy blancmange, which is really not in the interests of this country.” Miss Hoey warned that while Ukip’s vote collapsed at the last general election Labour should not be complacent.
The “shop steward” for Labour MPs has dismissed as “daft” a proposal from one of Jeremy Corbyn’s staunchest allies to give party members total power over leadership elections. John Cryer, chairman of the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP), spoke out after Chris Williamson called for the party’s MPs to have no say at all in the leadership. Mr Williamson, the MP for Derby North, said he supported plans to lower the threshold of support in the parliamentary party required for leadership candidates to be put before members, and that he would go further and abolish MPs’ and MEPs’ nominating role. Mr Cryer dismissed the comments as ludicrous.
Teachers risk being placed in an “impossible position” when setting tests in the subjects they teach, Britain’s most prestigious private schools have warned amid a row with exam boards over cheating. For the first time, leading headteachers have urged exam boards to introduce stricter safeguards after admitting some teachers are “tempted to give their pupils too much help”. It comes after Telegraph revealed that teachers at Eton and Winchester College were suspended over allegations that they leaked exam questions ahead of upcoming papers. It is thought that staff at top private schools may be over represented on exam boards – which devise the questions – as they are some of the leading experts in their subjects in the country.
Teachers should stop setting questions for A-level and GCSE papers that their own pupils take, according to a former education minister and chairman of the Commons’ education committee. Robert Halfon said there needed to be “utter transparency” in how exam boards and schools work together when it comes to setting questions. Schools should publish clearly on their websites the names of teachers who are assisting examination boards alongside the boards that they are using for their assessments, he said. The intervention comes after two leading public schools were caught up in exam cheating claims this summer. Winchester College has suspended its head of history of art, Laurence Wolff, 56, after allegations that he gave students prior information on exam questions on two papers.
Private companies operating controversial finance contracts in the NHS made profits of £831 million in six years. The billions paid by the service under private finance initiative (PFI) schemes since 1997 have already raised questions over value for money, and now research has shown that some companies are making profits of almost 40 per cent. Stella Creasy, Labour MP for Walthamstow, who previously campaigned against payday loan companies, said the study by the Centre for Health and the Public Interest think tank showed that PFI companies were “squeezing public services at great cost to the taxpayer and great profit to shareholders”.
GPs won’t be able to send patients to hospital without permission from a panel of other doctors under a controversial plan to slash costs. The NHS is rolling out a scheme that requires all family doctors in England to seek approval from a medical panel for all non-urgent hospital referrals. It covers GP requests for scores of procedures, including hip and knee surgery, cataract removals, X-rays and scans. If the panel disagrees with a doctor’s request, the patient is refused a hospital appointment. The so-called ‘peer review’ scheme is being expanded nationwide from next week following a pilot in two regions in the North East.
A new “smart bin” could spell the end of environment-conscious families spending hours sorting tins, cartons, bottles, and cardboard for recycling. The invention, which automatically sorts rubbish into recycling categories, is being trialed in Poland and is set to go on sale in UK within a few years. The bin, designed by start-up company Bin.E, recognizes different type of waste via a system positioned inside the bin which uses sensors, image recognition and artificial intelligence. Once waste is placed inside, the camera and sensors identify its type and place it in one of the smaller bins. Then it compresses the waste so it occupies less space. News of the launch comes after this newspaper revealed that more than a million households are being forced to accept bin collections every three or four weeks, because councils are trying to force them to recycle more.
One of Europe’s biggest hire car firms, Europcar, is accused of operating illegally in the UK for two years in a fresh scandal which could prompt a flood of compensation claims from customers. The firm is accused of selling long-term rental agreements which require Financial Conduct Authority regulation, during a period where it had stopped paying to hold a licence. This is a criminal offence under the Financial Services Act, punishable by prosecution and unlimited fines. If a company is found to have deliberately operated without a licence, directors can also be prosecuted and banned by the FCA. In July 2015 Europcar relinquished its regulated consumer hire agreement with the FCA which allowed it to offer rental contracts over 89 days in length.
THE world will end in little over a month, according to one rather pessimistic doom-monger. A conspiracy theorist has issued yet another warning about the possibility of a mysterious planet called Nibiru smashing into Earth. Now, you might not think Nibiru is real, seeing as it’s never been observed by scientists and is basically just a weird fantasy dreamed up by online nutjobs. But plenty of people believe in this hidden world – and claimed the recent “Great American Eclipse” herald its arrival. According to a new conspiracy theory, it will be curtains for humanity when when this gigantic alien world crashes into Earth. A Christian numerologist called David Meade said the eclipse was a warning sign. He claimed Nibiru will appear in the skies on September 23, 2017 and then crash into us. “The Great American Eclipse of August 21, 2017, is a major – huge – harbinger,” he told the Daily Star.