EU

Times
Renegotiating the backstop could mean reopening issues such as Gibraltar, fishing and the Brexit divorce bill, the frontrunner to succeed Jean-Claude Juncker has warned. Manfred Weber, an ally of Angela Merkel who is the centre-right European People’s Party (EPP) candidate to become European Commission president later this year, said that if the UK’s demand to “reopen this treaty” were agreed then “everything is reopened”. He told the broadcaster Deutsche Welle that in that case “we talk again about Gibraltar, we talk again about the fisheries policies, we talk again about how much Great Britain must pay when they are leaving the EU”.

Sky News
The risk of a “no-deal” Brexit is high following the “crushing defeat” for Theresa May’s agreement, a top EU official has warned. Sabine Weyand, the bloc’s deputy chief negotiator, claimed it was “quite a challenge” to see how MPs would now form a “positive majority” in favour of a withdrawal agreement. With the UK currently set to depart the bloc on 29 March, the “default” outcome would see Britain “crashing out” the EU without a divorce deal, Ms Weyand said.

Independent
The European Parliament will block the withdrawal agreement if British MPs try to amend it, the body’s Brexit chief has warned ahead of a series of key votes in Westminster. Guy Verhofstadt told The Independent that the EU’s legislature, which has to approve any deal, would not consent to a “watered down” agreement and that the controversial Irish backstop could not be ditched. His intervention comes as MPs look set to consider a series of amendments tabled by Brexiteers instructing the government to scrap the bits of the deal they do not like. Eurosceptic MPs have also tried to unilaterally amend the withdrawal agreement itself during the ratification process – an approach rebels are expected to repeat when the treaty soon returns to the Commons for a second vote.

Sun
BRUSSELS last night told Theresa May her Brexit deal is “NOT open for renegotiation” – just seconds after MPs backed her in the Commons. May was boosted after winning support for a new deal that means she will have to scrap the controversial backdrop.  And in a double boost, the PM saw off an attempt by Labour to rule out No Deal – widely seen as a backdoor bid to block Brexit altogether. But within seconds of the result, EU chiefs repeated their claim that it will be impossible to renegotiate the withdrawal agreement. A coordinated statement from the European Council read: “Withdrawal agreement is and remains best and only way to ensure an orderly withdrawal of the UK from the EU.

Mirror
The EU have roundly rejected the Prime Minister’s new Brexit plan just hours after MPs voted on it. Theresa May told her Cabinet the only way to tackle the impasse was to amend the 585-page, legally-binding Withdrawal Agreement signed with the EU. She whipped Tory MPs to support an amendment put forward by the chair of the backbench 1922 committee Graham Brady intending to show the EU she had support for her attempt to renegotiate the deal. A No10 spokesman revealed on Tuesday morning Mrs May is seeking alternative proposals to the ‘Irish backstop’; a time limit on the backstop; and a unilateral exit clause. But it’s understood European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker told Mrs May that the EU would not reopen the agreement before she asked the Commons to back it.

Sun
BRUSSELS last night told Theresa May the backstop is “not open for renegotiation” seconds after MPs voted to send her back to get a better deal. Council chief Donald Tusk shot down hopes of a compromise in a damning statement issued as the PM took to the floor in the Commons.  His official spokesman said: “The Withdrawal agreement is and remains the best and only way to ensure an orderly withdrawal of the UK from the EU. “The backstop is part of the Withdrawal Agreement, and the Withdrawal Agreement is not open for re-negotiation.” The remarks were echoed by French President Emmanuel Macron, who insisted the Brexit deal was “not renegotiable”. Mr Tusk’s called on the UK to “clarify its intentions with respect to its next steps as soon as possible”.

Mail
The EU shot down Theresa May’s hopes of renegotiating Brexit tonight insisting the deal on the table is already the ‘best available’. European Council chief Donald Tusk, French president Emmanuel Macron and the Irish government moved to kill off the PM’s hopes despite her emerging victorious in a series of Commons votes. The PM won approval from MPs for her plan of returning to Brussels to demand more concessions on the Irish border backstop.

Independent
The EU has rejected MPs’ latest demand to scrap the Irish backstop from the Brexit withdrawal agreement, just minutes after the Commons voted on the issue. MPs backed the so-called Brady amendment on Tuesday night by 317 votes to 301, instructing the government to ditch the controversial clause and find “alternative” ways to prevent a hard border in Northern Ireland. But less than ten minutes after MPs walked through the division lobbies in Westminster, a spokesperson for the European Council said the backstop was “part of the withdrawal agreement, and the withdrawal agreement is not open for renegotiation”.

Westmonster
A Spokesman for the European Union’s Donald Tusk has responded to votes in Parliament tonight by insisting that there is no renegotiation. Let’s see how long this line lasts, this hardline approach moves the UK considerably towards a No Deal exit.  In comments this evening, the spokesman said: “The backstop is part of the Withdrawal Agreement, and the Withdrawal Agreement is not open for re-negotiation.” MPs have backed Theresa May to achieve concessions from Brussels.

Times
The EU has refused to renegotiate the Brexit withdrawal agreement but is open to giving legally binding assurances that the Irish backstop will not be used to trap Britain in a customs union. Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, issued a statement immediately after MPs voted to back the Brady amendment, which calls for “a significant and legally binding change” to the Northern Ireland backstop. “The withdrawal agreement is and remains the best and only way to ensure an orderly withdrawal of the UK from the European Union,” Mr Tusk said.

Parliament

Telegraph
With the Brexit debate apparently deadlocked again ahead of key votes in the Commonsthere has been a flurry of excitement around the so-called “Malthouse Compromise”. This plan, hatched in secret between Tory Brexiteers like Jacob Rees-Mogg and prominent remainers like Nicky Morgan, is being sold as a breakthrough – at least within the detached confines of the Palace of Westminster. Unfortunately, the clue to viability of this two-stage ‘plan’ is not in the name: it may be a “compromise” between wings of the Tory party but it is not seen as a compromise in the eyes of the European Union.

Independent
Theresa May has salvaged one more chance to save her Brexit deal after MPs gave their backing for her last ditch bid to secure changes in Brussels. The proposal approved by the Commons means she has the Herculean task of trying to convince European politicians to reopen the Brexit deal they spent 19 months negotiating, in order to rewrite the hated Irish backstop. Within minutes of the result being announced the most senior European politicians completely ruled out any renegotiation, setting the stage for a major clash between the UK and the EU.

Sun
THERESA May will return to Brussels with the wind in her sails after winning a massive Brexit battle in the House of Commons tonight. Brexiteer MPs backed the PM’s pledge to rewrite the deal she thrashed out with the EU in a last-ditch bid to get it over the line. Pro-Brexit Tories gave Mrs May a lifeline by backing an amendment tabled by Sir Graham Brady which calls for the Irish backstop to be dropped from the deal. The victory came in a dramatic turnaround just two weeks after her deal looked dead in the water following a humiliating Commons defeat. And in a double boost, the PM saw off an attempt by Labour to legally delay our exit date and rule out No Deal.

Independent
A plan to prevent a no-deal Brexit in March by giving MPs the power to request an extension to Article 50 has failed to receive the backing of the Commons. During a dramatic series of votes in the chamber, MPs voted down the amendment – tabled by Labour’s Yvette Cooper – by 321 to 298. If passed, the amendment would have secured time for MPs to vote on a draft Bill that sought to hand parliament the power to request an extension of the Brexit negotiations if Theresa May failed to secure backing of her plans by 26 February. Moving her amendment in the chamber on Tuesday, Ms Cooper said she did not think the prime minister was “instilling confidence” or that she had a plan.

Times
Theresa May bought off the immediate threat of multiple resignations from her government with private promises to ministers that they could vote to stop a no-deal Brexit in a little over two weeks. The prime minister had been warned that up to 40 ministers could quit if she forced them to vote against measures designed to minimise the chance of Britain leaving the EU without an agreement. Amber Rudd, the work and pensions secretary, and David Gauke, the justice secretary, were among those appealing for a free vote.

Mail
Theresa May hailed a ‘way forward’ on Brexit tonight after emerging victorious from a dramatic Commons showdown where she pushed her plan past MPs and saw off Remainer bids to delay the UK’s departure. The PM triumphed in four critical votes, including defeating by 321 to 298 a cross-party amendment that would have paved the way for the UK’s departure date to be pushed back from March. There was crumb of comfort for Remainers as they won a symbolic vote urging no deal is ruled out – although it is not binding on the government.

Times
Theresa May will return to Brussels to demand concessions on the Brexit divorce deal after uniting her warring party last night to secure a Commons victory. The prime minister defeated efforts by MPs to delay Brexit and won a vote on an amendment put forward by Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the 1922 Committee of Tory backbenchers, to replace the Irish backstop guarantee with “alternative arrangements”.

Independent
Theresa May was handed a two-week deadline to resuscitate her Brexit deal last night after she caved to Tory Eurosceptics and pledged to go back to Brussels to demand changes to the Irish backstop. With just 59 days to go until exit day, MPs narrowly passed a government-backed amendment, tabled by the senior Conservative Graham Brady, promising to replace the Irish backstop with unspecified “alternative arrangements”. But within minutes of the Commons result, the European council president, Donald Tusk, announced that the EU was not prepared to reopen the deal

Ireland

Independent
Post offices in Northern Ireland are running out of Irish passport forms as Brexit fears prompt a surge in demand. As the date for Britain leaving the EU, 29 March 2019, fast approaches, the number of people looking to apply for Irish passports from across the border has increased.  The Irish Passport Service has said it will issue more forms as post offices across the country have started to run out. The branch manager of Bangor Post Office in north County Down, Kirsty Longridge, described the spike in demand as “massive”.

Express
IRISH Prime Minister Leo Varadkar has sounded a dire warning after the publication of a dire set of figures outlining the impact a no-deal Brexit would have on the Irish economy – raising the prospect of the Republic putting pressure on the EU to strike a deal with Theresa May. And with a nursing strike looming, the Taoiseach cited uncertainties over the UK’s imminent departure from the EU as he admitted his country could be in a position where it needed to find money to “save people’s jobs”. The report, published by the Irish Department of Finance, outlined the risk posed by a no-deal situation.

Conservative Party

Times
Not so long ago it would have been unthinkable: Jacob Rees-Mogg, chairman of the hard-Brexit European Research Group, sitting in a room with the arch Remainer Nicky Morgan thrashing out a plan to save the Tory party and Britain’s exit from the European Union. Despite knowing each other for more than 25 years since they met at Oxford University, the pair represent the Conservative Party’s two irreconcilable wings. Yet in “countless” meetings over eight days Mr Rees-Mogg and Mrs Morgan, with four colleagues on opposing sides of the Brexit debate, hammered out their own proposal to take back control from Theresa May.

Telegraph
Theresa May warned MPs in a speech that if they don’t vote for her deal then they risked no Brexit at all. Having spent two years saying no deal was better than a bad deal, and then in weeks close to the vote on the first draft of the deal switching to “it’s my deal or no deal”, Mrs May then landed upon “my deal or no Brexit” as her preferred line of attack before the vote. The deal was then resoundingly defeated on January 15, with 432 MPs voting against it and only 202 voting for it.

No deal

Telegraph
MPs voted to take no-deal off the table on Tuesday night as Jeremy Corbyn offered to meet the Prime Minister to discuss Brexit. An amendment tabled by Caroline Spelman, a Tory MP, rejecting no deal was passed by eight votes after a rebellion by 16 of her colleagues. Theresa May insisted that the amendment was non-binding and no-deal remained an option. “Simply opposing no deal is not enough to stop it,” she said. However Mr Corbyn said: “Tonight Parliament has voted to remove the immediate threat of crashing out without a deal on 29 March.

Labour Party

Mail
Jeremy Corbyn suffered a double humiliation last night as MPs roundly rejected his plans to delay Brexit – and he finally had to agree to talks with the Prime Minister. Fourteen of the Labour leader’s own MPs voted against a proposal – which he had backed just hours earlier – to keep Britain in the EU beyond March 29 if no deal is agreed by the end of the month. It was one of a string of defeats, with the only vote Mr Corbyn’s side winning being a non-binding expression of will that the UK should not leave without a deal. And just two weeks after rejecting Theresa May’s invitation to discuss the way forward for Brexit, he performed a U-turn and agreed to see her in Downing Street.

Times
More than a dozen Labour MPs defied Jeremy Corbyn to vote against a move to delay Brexit. In total 14 Labour MPs ignored a three-line whip and rejected an extension of the Article 50 departure process. At least two shadow ministers also abstained on the amendment, which had been tabled by Yvette Cooper, the Labour chairwoman of the home affairs committee, which was voted down by 321 votes to 298. Earlier Keir Starmer, the shadow Brexit secretary, told Labour MPs that he understood their concerns.

Foreign aid

Mail
Britain’s foreign aid spending target is unsustainable in its present form, Penny Mordaunt admitted yesterday. In a presentation to the Cabinet, the International Development Secretary pledged to overhaul how the £14.1billion budget is used. She suggested profits from the UK’s investments abroad should count towards the target of spending 0.7 per cent of national income on aid – and be spent on the health service to reduce the burden on the public purse.

Sun
AID boss Penny Mordaunt told Cabinet that the 0.7 per cent foreign aid target is “unsustainable” as she pledged a fresh bid to tear up international rules. She delivered a presentation to Cabinet colleagues on a detailed plan to tweak rules that would slash the amount taxpayers contribute to the bloated £14 billion a year budget.  Ms Mordaunt told weekly meeting – chaired by the Prime Minister – that the Government could then use the savings to boost NHS spending and “other domestic priorities”. Cabinet ministers also backed moves to use the foreign aid budget to support Britain’s Armed Forces and humanitarian missions.

Natural gas

Sun
A GIGANTIC gas field found in the North Sea off Scotland will massively boost British industry, experts say. The Glengorm field, east of Aberdeen, is described as the biggest gas discovery of its kind in a decade.  Drilling found the equivalent of around 250 million barrels of oil could be recovered from the site – about five per cent of the UK’s annual gas demand. The astonishing find has been hailed as “significant” by industry experts, who reckon the field could be producing gas within four to five years via existing rigs in the area.

NHS

Times
The health secretary has ordered NHS chiefs to reverse a decision to cancel blood donation sessions near channel ports for eight weeks around the date of Brexit. Matt Hancock stepped in after health officials said they were concerned that disruption in the area caused by a no-deal departure could prevent staff from entering or leaving. They announced that sessions in Dover and Folkestone would be suspended from two weeks before March 29 until six weeks after.

Mail
Israeli scientists claim they will develop a cure for cancer within the next year – an unlikely prospect, according to world leaders in cancer care and treatment innovation. In December, Nobel Prize winner James Allison, who helped develop immunotherapy, said: ‘Soon we’ll get close with some cancers,’ citing progress against some forms including melanoma. But, ‘the world will never be cancer-free.’  Today, Accelerated Evolution Biotechnologies Ltd in Israel claims to have proved him wrong, using a web of small protein fragments called peptides which can wrap around cancer cells like an octopus.

Mail
A pledge to make England the first country in the world to eliminate HIV will be made by the Health Secretary today. Matt Hancock is committing to reach zero HIV transmissions by 2030 by improving prevention, detection and treatment. ‘My generation grew up knowing Aids was a potential death sentence. That doesn’t have to be the case any more,’ he will tell the AIDSfree Cities Global Forum in London. The UK is already making significant progress on HIV, with new diagnoses down 28 per cent in two years.

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