JEAN-CLAUDE JUNCKER has begged EU leaders not to hold in-out referendums because he fears it will backfire and voters will choose to LEAVE. The beleaguered European Commission president gave the desperate cry to members as the EU superstate dream slips from Brussels’ grasp following Britain’s momentous Brexit vote. Terrified Mr Juncker admitted he knows European’s have a “lack of love” for the Brussels club. His desperate plea come as Austria’s presidential favourite, Norbert Hofer, threatened to hold a referendum to cut ties with the crumbling bloc if he takes power this weekend. Jean-Claude Juncker said: “We can’t deny or take away the people of Europe’s right to express their views. “Regarding referenda on EU membership, I think it is not wise to organise this kind of debate, not only because I might be concerned about the final result but because this will pile more controversy onto the huge number already present at the heart of the EU.
The UK is retraining civil servants as post-Brexit trade negotiators but is also set to “buy in” expertise from outside, a top official has told MPs. The UK’s capacity to negotiate trade deals with other countries after Brexit has been queried, with up to 100 staff needed alone for a single agreement. Oliver Griffiths said negotiators were not “mythical creatures” and current staff had many of the skills required. But he said the civil service would need to recruit “across the piece”. Whitehall is expected to have to recruit thousands – as many as 30,000 according to a recent internal Deloitte’s assessment – of civil servants to deal with the challenge of extricating the UK from the EU after June’s referendum vote. There are particular concerns about a shortage of trade negotiators, given that many of the UK’s most experienced professionals in this field are currently working for the EU – which arranges trade deals for all member states including the UK – and are not guaranteed to return.
THE Government could lose its legal bid to be allowed to trigger Brexit talks with Brussels without MPs’ backing by a thumping 11 to nil, a legal expert predicted today. The Supreme Court next week hears the Government’s appeal against the High Court’s decision that Theresa May needs a vote in Parliament before she can start formal talks with the European Union by invoking Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty. The High Court ruling against the Government was made by three senior judges. Next week in a first for the Supreme Court, all 11 of its justices will hear the case. Michael Zander QC, Professor Emeritus of Law at the London School of Economics, told legal magazine Counsel: “I would be surprised if the Attorney General and his team of supporting QCs and other lawyers have given ministers reason to hope that there was any great hope of the (High Court’s) unanimous and very strong decision being reversed. “In my view, the Government could be looking at losing 11-0.”
Theresa May is heading for an 11-0 defeat when the Supreme Court justices rule on whether Parliament must approve starting Brexit, a law professor has predicted. Professor Michael Zander QC said the High Court judges who ruled the Prime Minister could not act alone when triggering the Article 50 notice had given a “unanimous and very strong” decision. And that meant Government lawyers were unlikely to have given her “any great hope” of a different result when the Supreme Court hears the appeal next week. Professor Zander, Professor Emeritus of Law at the London School of Economics, gave his stark prediction in an analysis of Ms May’s Article 50 case in the legal magazine Counsel. He wrote: “I would be surprised if the Attorney General and his team of supporting QCs and other lawyers have given ministers reason to hope that there was any great hope of the [High Court’s] unanimous and very strong decision being reversed.
The most senior British member of the European Court of Justice has told Sky News that the ECJ has “ultimate authority” over Article 50, the formal process to divorce the EU. Advocate general Eleanor Sharpston QC said Luxembourg would not interfere with the Government’s Supreme Court appeal against a ruling that the Brexit process cannot begin without a parliamentary vote. However, she said the ECJ was “fully aware of the sensitivity and delicacy and constitutional importance of the issue” – anticipating that the Supreme Court may refer it for a hearing in the European court’s 28-member chamber of judges, which includes one British judge. When asked how quickly Article 50 could be ruled on in the event of a referral, she said: “If you look at what has happened in the past when we’ve had an accelerated procedure, the answer is probably given within four to eight months.”
ANGELA Merkel has shot down a bid by Theresa May to hammer out EU exit terms until the Prime Minister triggers Article 50. The German Chancellor’s move plunges Brexit into a Catch-22 deadlock. It came after the PM guaranteed the rights of Europeans living here in return for the same deal for Brits on the continent. But the German Chancellor has refused to strike up any deal with Ms May until she first triggers Article 50. The Prime Minister has pledged to let MPs cast their eye over an agreement before she formally cuts ties with Brussels. But a German government spokesman yesterday insisted there would be “no negotiations without notification”.
AN INVESTOR who correctly predicted Britain would leave the European Union (EU) before the referendum has now forecasted the euro will collapse. Jim Mellon, the Chairman of the Burnbrae Group, has warned the currency will become a victim in the growing anti-establishment surge which will cause the EU to fracture – all within five years. He said: “Brexit is going to be a sideshow to the problems of Europe that are becoming more and more evident. “The euro as it stands at the moment is just a very inappropriate mechanism — I give the euro between one and five years of life.” The UK’s recent Brexit vote, along with Donald Trump’s election as US President, has signalled a sea-change in global politics and populist movements around the world have gathered pace.
EU citizens in post-Brexit Britain will be banned from accessing benefits for five years, under plans published today. The blueprint – being considered by ministers – would mean migrants from the European Union would have to wait as long as non-EU nationals before being able to receive housing and income benefits. The plans would also allow a small number of low-skilled EU workers into the UK after Brexit as the economy is weaned off cheap labour. The ‘key worker’ scheme could apply in care homes and other sectors heavily reliant on foreign labour. The numbers would be ‘tapered off’ in order to give employers time to train more British workers. The policy, from think-tank MigrationWatch UK, is similar to the final package ministers are expected to draw up.
The status of UK and EU expats after Brexit can be resolved only once formal negotiations have started, the European Council president has said. Donald Tusk hit back at criticism from UK politicians over the plight of EU nationals in the UK and Britons living overseas. In a letter the 81 MPs and peers accused the EU Commission of “standing in the way” of a “reciprocal” deal. But Mr Tusk said their criticism had “nothing to do with reality”. He said Brexit – not the stance taken by EU negotiators – had created “anxiety and uncertainty”, saying the best way to “dispel the fears and doubts of all the citizens concerned” was to trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, which begins a two-year negotiation process.
Theresa May’s hopes of quickly settling one of Brexit’s most emotive issues appeared doomed last night after she was rebuffed by Angela Merkel and Donald Tusk. Mrs May is offering an early deal guaranteeing reciprocal residency rights for British expats in Europe and EU citizens living in the UK to ensure that the main Brexit talks start in an atmosphere of goodwill. That aspiration appears increasingly unlikely, however, after her offer was publicly rejected by the German chancellor and while Brussels chiefs and Tory MPs accused one another of using people as “bargaining chips”. Mr Tusk, president of the European Council, blamed Brexit voters for the “anxiety and uncertainty”.
THE European Union (EU) needs to become an “empire” with its own army and more control to take on Donald Trump, a leading liberal MEP said. Guy Verhofstadt, the EU Parliament’s chief Brexit negotiator, said the Brussels’ club needs to become more efficient as it is “always acting too little too late”. The former Belgian Prime Minister and current leader of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe warned the EU told IBTimes UK: “If Trump goes in the direction of more protectionism, we should speed up our trade negotiations with Mexico, Japan and all the other countries that we are negotiating with at the moment. “The same with defence. Let’s create a European defence union, let’s take on our responsibilities. “Let’s become an empire, an empire of the good and not of the bad.”
SNP LEADER Nicola Sturgeon has told students in Dublin she believes “Scotland will become an independent country” – despite the country’s vote to remain part of the UK just two years ago. Speaking at Trinity College Dublin, where she was awarded an honorary patronage from the university’s Philosophical Society, the First Minister said independence will come to Scotland in her lifetime. She said: “I have always believed Scotland will become an independent country and I think it will become an independent country well within my lifetime – and this may be the moment for that.” Britain’s momentous vote to leave the European Union has encouraged Sturgeon’s endless push for a second referendum, particularly if the UK opts to leave the single market.
BILLIONS more in subsidies should be sent north of the border to cover Scots’ poor health, a report by MPs suggests today. The influential Scottish Affairs Committee said Scotland’s ageing population and higher mortality rates means the Scottish Government needed a bigger share of cash from Westminster. The report suggested the current Barnett formula – which gives Scotland a higher spend per person than the UK average – should be revamped. It recommended ministers take into account Scotland’s “relatively higher mortality rates and ageing profile of its population” within existing funding arrangements. It claimed these “factors lead to significant cost pressures for the Scottish Government”.
Paul Nuttall , the new Ukip leader, has announced his party will push for an immediate “quick and clean Brexit” without the need to trigger article 50, as he set out a new direction and team for the party after replacing Nigel Farage. Nuttall, who was elected on Monday, said the new policy would be to call for instant repeal of the European Communities Act 1972, instead of Theresa May’s decision to wait until the end of March to begin two years of negotiations with the EU. Nuttall has said he aims to replace Labour by becoming the party of patriotic working people, but the new EU policy suggests he also wants to apply pressure on May to pursue Brexit as swiftly as possible. In a controversial move, he appointed Gerard Batten, one of the founding members of Ukip, to the post of his Brexit spokesman on Monday.
UKIP will campaign to “reject Article 50” and call for Parliament to repeal the European Communities Act instead to get a faster Brexit. Accusing the PM of not being genuine about wanting to deliver Britain’s exit from the EU, Ukip’s new Spokesperson for Brexit said this would “put the Government in driving seat”. Gerard Batten said today upon his appointment by the new Ukip leader, Paul Nuttall, that Mrs May’s strategy was to “delay and delay the whole process in order to fudge it”. “If she were genuine about delivering Brexit she would have triggered Article 50 the moment she became Prime Minister,” he said. “Instead nothing has been done in the last five months.”
Town halls were accused of fuelling Britain’s social care crisis last night by hoarding extra council tax revenue – instead of passing it to struggling care homes. Of the 152 local authorities in England, 144 have taken advantage of new powers to raise council tax by up to 2 per cent to fund social care. The raid on residents is set to raise £2billion for councils by 2020. But Britain’s biggest care homes operator Four Seasons yesterday claimed only half of councils it deals with passed on cash to help them cope with rising wage bills. This led to accusations from MPs that councils hit by swingeing budget cuts had been ‘hoarding cash’. One Tory MP described the behaviour as ‘shocking’.
Britain should build a new capital city in the middle or north the country to combat the north-south divide, the government has been told. Lib Dem peer Lord Greaves said on Tuesday that London should be stripped of its status as it was making the economy “unbalanced”. And Lord West of Spithead, the former head of the Royal Navy, said parliament should be placed on a ship and sailed around the country. Lord Greaves told the House of Lords today it would be a good idea that “a wholly new capital city is built somewhere near the geographical centre of the country in the midlands or the north. “And that this then provides a new city, a new centre of government for the country – taking power the powerhouse out of this congested place we are in together with a new home for parliament.”
SCIENTISTS believe they have proof of oceans deep beneath Earth’s surface – and they could be home to “aliens”. According to new research, massive oceans could be located up to 620 miles inside our planet. These mysterious bodies of water could be home to “alien” lifeforms unrecognisable to people on the surface. Steve Jacobsen, a scientist from Northwestern University in the US, said his team has found water and minerals in a diamond spat out by a volcano 90 million years ago in Brazil. He believes it proves there could several oceans worth of water beneath Earth’s surface. Jacobsen added: “This is the deepest evidence for water recycling on the planet. “The big take-home message is that the water cycle on Earth is bigger than we ever thought, extending into the deep mantle [the Earth’s core].”