As if establishment MPs hadn’t held up the Brexit process enough already, now arch pro-EU MP Hilary Benn is insisting that MPs may have to vote and give their approval once again. He chairs the House of Commons Committee on Brexit and is pushing against the ‘no deal’ route, arguing that: “Leaving the EU without a future trade deal and in doing so defaulting to World Trade Organisation rules is no less an important decision for the UK’s economic future than the terms of any future free trade agreement between the UK and the EU. It is therefore essential that such a step is not taken without Parliament having a vote on the matter.” Unfortunately for Benn and his colleagues who would still love to see the UK remain in the EU, the public are massively in favour of leaving the EU with no deal rather than a bad one.
Britain will “more than survive” if it leaves the EU without a deal after Brexit, Boris Johnson has said. The Foreign Secretary said that he believes the UK can secure a “win-win” deal and that he does not want to be “unduly pessimistic”. Philip Hammond, the Chancellor, last week repeatedly refused to endorse suggestions that the UK would be “perfectly OK” without a deal. Mr Johnson said: “It is possible to do a deal that is win-win. I don’t want to be unduly pessimistic. I think we can get a deal,” he said.
Free movement of people from the EU could continue for five more years, Theresa May warned yesterday. The Prime Minister said any Brexit deal would ensure Britain regained ‘control of our borders’. But she refused to rule out allowing free movement to continue during a ‘transitional period’ that could last three years while Britain completes the task of extricating itself from four decades of EU membership. Asked directly whether free movement would end automatically when the UK leaves the EU in March 2019, she said there would be an ‘implementation period’ to give business and government time to ‘adjust’. Brussels has already made it clear that the UK will be expected to sign up to its rules, including free movement, during any transitional phase.
Theresa May has been accused of backing away from a key Brexit promise after she appeared to concede that a trade deal with the EU cannot be signed until after the UK leaves. Opponents of a hard Brexit called on the Prime Minister to ensure that a transitional agreement was in place to avoid the risk of disruption to business if the UK makes a “cliff edge” departure from the EU without a trade deal. Speaking during a visit to Jordan, Ms May said she expected the shape of a new trade relationship to be clear to everybody by Brexit Day in March 2019, but appeared to accept that the formal conclusion of the agreement will have to wait until after withdrawal.
Free movement of people from the EU to the UK could be extended after Brexit, Theresa May has suggested. The prime minister said there would be an “implementation” phase once an exit deal had been struck, with business and governments needing a “period of time” to adjust to any new restrictions. The government insists Brexit will give the UK greater control of its borders. But Labour said Mrs May’s comments showed she was trying to “downplay expectations”. BBC deputy political editor John Pienaar says the comments clearly left open the possibility of free movement continuing, at least temporarily.
European Parliament members will vote on what terms they want from the UK as part of its Brexit settlement as they meet to thrash out what issues are “red lines” when it comes to Britain leaving the EU. MEPs will gather in Brussels on Wednesday as they attempt to establish what they want in return for backing a British exit settlement in two years. Prime Minister Theresa May has already indicated that once a deal is struck there will need to be a “implementation period” during which time adjustments can be made to comply with the terms of the deal but made assurances that “curbs on freedom of movement” would not come straight into force.
A LEADING German politician today revealed that the EU’s support for Spain over on Gibraltar is effectively a punishment in retaliation for Britain leaving the bloc. Manfred Weber said the inclusion of the Rock as a bargaining chip in the upcoming negotiations was the “outcome when you leave this family”. The influential euro MP, who is the leader of the EU parliament’s biggest grouping, said that Brexit meant the UK was now “alone” and that Brussels did not care about its interests. He made the incendiary remarks during a combative press conference in Strasbourg, where representatives are gathering to vote on their priorities for the divorce talks. Mr Weber set out seven “red lines” his EPP grouping will pursue in the talks, which include Britain paying any Brexit bill in full whilst stepping back from the EU decision making process.
Jeremy Corbyn will launch Labour’s local elections campaign amid warnings the party was facing its worse result for more than three decades. The Labour leader will try to rally the troops by promising a “real alternative” to the Tories based on saving the NHS, building more homes and better childcare. The challenge facing Mr Corbyn was underlined by an ICM poll for the Guardian yesterday which put Labour on 25% – its joint lowest rating by the polling company since 1983. The survey had the Tories 18 points ahead on 43%, the Lib Dems 11%, UKIP 11% and the Greens unchanged on 4%.
Jeremy Corbyn is facing a mutiny over Labour’s failure to expel Ken Livingstone from the party over his remarks about Hitler and Zionism. The former mayor of London refused to apologise after a disciplinary panel found him guilty of bringing the party into disrepute – but failed to expel him, instead ruling he will be suspended from holding office for a year. He will still be free to vote on party matters and attend meetings. Jewish Labour members and MPs rounded on Mr Corbyn for failing to push for a stricter punishment.
A furious row erupted inside and outside the Labour party last night after former London mayor Ken Livingstone was ‘given a slap on the wrist’ over anti-Semitic comments. Mr Livingstone – who had been suspended from the party last April over remarks saying Hitler had supported Zionism – was handed a further 12-month ban from representing Labour. He will remain a full member of the party and will still be allowed to take part in Labour votes and attend meetings. But MPs, including some from his own party’s shadow cabinet, described the move as ‘shameful’ and said the party leadership had ‘bottled it’ and should have expelled the controversial politician.
Ken Livingstone has avoided expulsion from Labour after a disciplinary panel ruled he should be suspended for another year for bringing the party into disrepute over comments about antisemitism, Hitler and Zionism. The former mayor of London, who has been a member for almost 50 years, was censured by the party for suggesting that Hitler at one point supported Zionism, and for defending the Labour MP Naz Shah over an antisemitic Facebook post for which she has apologised. Livingstone had predicted he would be expelled but his punishment was lessened because of his long history of contributions to the Labour party. The panel technically imposed a two-year suspension from holding office in Labour, of which one year has already been served. The suspension will end on 27 April next year.
Ken Livingstone has been suspended from holding office in the Labour Party for one year after being found to have “brought the party into disrepute” over a series of incendiary comments relating to Adolf Hitler supporting Zionism. However, the former London mayor will be re-instated as a member of the party, having initially been suspended pending a hearing. He will be free to vote in Labour elections and attend some party meetings. Following an 11-month suspension, Labour’s disciplinary panel – the National Constitutional Committee – reached its decision to ban Mr Livingstone for an extra year from standing for election office within Labour and attending constituency party meetings. The ruling followed a three-day hearing into his remarks.
Jeremy Corbyn lost his temper during a television interview yesterday and accused the media of being “utterly obsessed” with his leadership and failing to give Labour a chance. In a sign of the pressures he is facing, with his party on course for poor results in the local elections next month, Mr Corbyn also blamed the media for Labour’s poor standing in the polls. His anger came as he launched his party’s local election campaign in Nottinghamshire, where it could lose the leadership of the county council. He said Labour was offering a “real alternative” to the Conservatives, adding that he wanted the campaign to focus on housing, the NHS and social care.
The NHS is ‘too reliant’ on foreign staff and has failed to train enough British doctors and nurses, peers warned last night. Ministers have no strategy to ensure the health service will have the workers it needs over the coming decades, a Lords committee said. They say this failure is the ‘biggest internal threat to the sustainability of the NHS’. Peers said Britain could not continue to rely on overseas health and social care workers after it leaves the EU, when tougher immigration controls are expected to be put in place. In a highly-critical report, the Lords committee on the long-term sustainability of the NHS said the NHS is now in ‘crisis’ adding that the social care system is on the ‘brink of collapse’.
The NHS needs a long-term plan to make up for decades of government “short-sightedness”, a parliamentary report has concluded. It also needs a guarantee that funding will rise in line with GDP for at least a decade, the report added. The House of Lords Select Committee on the Sustainability of the NHS criticised a “culture of short-termism” in government, and concluded that politicians and health professionals need to take a long-term view of everything from funding to recruitment to ensure the system remains sustainable.
A “shocking lack of long-term strategic planning in the NHS “has left the health service “in crisis”, according to the findings of a new report looking at the future sustainability of the service. The House of Lords Select Committee report released today slammed the “short-sightedness” of successive governments to plan for future generations and warned that the NHS would not be able to continue in its current form. Committee Chairman Lord Patel stated: “The Department of Health at both the political and official level is failing to think beyond the next few years. “There is a shocking lack of long-term strategic planning in the NHS.”
THERESA May has indicated that she may block a proposed tax to charge diesel car drivers £20 a day in towns and cities. The proposal, which is understood to be backed by some in Government, comes after a High Court ruling forced the ministers to find new ways of making the air cleaner in cities like London. But critics have pointed out that it was just a few years ago that the Government, on the back of flawed advice by the EU, was encouraging motorists to buy diesel cars for the sake of the environment. Pressed on the issue during her trip to Saudi Arabia, the Prime Minister indicated that she understood the anger a tax would cause.
DIESEL drivers will be hit with a massive new charge as the government seeks to clamp down on emissions. The new “toxins tax” is aimed at reducing the amount of harmful pollution in British cities and could see drivers charged to enter them. Andrea Leadsom, the Government’s environment secretary, is expected to unveil plans later this week to charge diesel motorists as much as £20 a day to get into 35 major cities. Under the plans, vast areas of major UK towns and cities could be off limits to diesel drivers. The new charges are thought to apply to both private and commercial vehicles in major urban centres around the country.
Diesel car owners could get some help from the government if cities adopt new charges to tackle pollution, Theresa May has suggested. An ultra low emission zone will come into force in London in April 2019, with a £24 a day fee for some drivers. A so-called “toxin tax” of up to £20 a day is also expected to be rolled out to several other UK cities. The PM said she would “take into account” that drivers were encouraged to buy diesel by previous governments. Former Labour Chancellor Gordon Brown introduced a lower vehicle tax in 2001 to encourage people to buy diesel cars, as they were more economical and thought to be less harmful in terms of carbon dioxide emissions. But there has been increasing concern from experts that the vehicles emit dangerous levels of nitrogen dioxide, which is thought to cause thousands of premature deaths in the UK.
Crisis-hit Toshiba is being forced to buy out a French firm’s stake in the venture behind a proposed new nuclear power station in Cumbria – throwing its future into further doubt. Engie, a utility company, had a 40% holding in NuGen – the vehicle led by Toshiba to create the Moorside plant. But it said on Tuesday that it had exercised a right to sell its interest to Toshiba for $138.5m (£111.2m) because the Japanese firm’s nuclear power business, Westinghouse – due to supply the three reactors to Moorside – filed for bankruptcy protection in the US last week. The financial troubles at Westinghouse – a result of project delays, cost over-runs and allegations of accounting fraud.- have added to a slew of costs for Toshiba as a whole.
Easter Egg hunt
Theresa May has waded into a row over the decision to drop the word “Easter” from a Cadbury and National Trust “egg hunt”. The Prime Minister, who suggested she felt the slight particularly keenly because she is a vicar’s daughter, condemned the decision as “absolutely ridiculous”. But her intervention, which followed one from the Archbishop of York, appeared premature after it emerged that posters for the event were still emblazoned with the word “Easter”. The row began after the chocolate giant’s seasonal campaign run in conjunction with the Trust was called the “Cadbury’s Great British Egg Hunt” – some 300 egg hunts will take place this year at National Trust properties. Ms May told ITV News: “I’m not just a vicar’s daughter – I’m a member of the National Trust as well.
It was the unholy row about chocolate Easter eggs that prompted Theresa May to ditch her usual caution and issue a passionate and personal riposte to the National Trust. Asked what she thought about claims that the trust was “airbrushing faith” by removing the word Easter from its annual egg hunts, the prime minister “sprang into life”, according to a veteran observer of her usually meticulously measured interview style. “I’m not just a vicar’s daughter, I’m a member of the National Trust as well,” she told ITV News. “I think the stance they have taken is absolutely ridiculous. I don’t know what they are thinking about, frankly. Easter’s very important. It’s important to me.
British Prime Minister Theresa May has hit out at a major heritage group after it dropped the word “Easter” from its annual egg hunt. Mrs. May criticised the National Trust, a major charity that preserves many of Britain’s historic sites, saying she did not know “what they are thinking”. The Trust holds an Easter egg hunt that sees thousands of children search for chocolate eggs at many of its properties each year. However, this year it has been rebranded to remove any reference to the Christian feast. Chocolate firm Cadbury, which sponsors the event, said they removed it to appeal to non-Christians. “We invite people from all faiths and none to enjoy our seasonal treats,” they said.
Theresa May slammed the National Trust over claims they dropped the word “Easter” from its annual Easter egg hunt. Here’s the thing, though. They haven’t. The word Easter still appears prominently on both the National Trust’s branding and on sponsor Cadbury’s own website. The Prime Minister , a Vicar’s daughter and devout Christian, said that as a National Trust member she was outraged to hear their annual event had been rebranded ‘The Great British Egg Hunt.” Its sponsor Cadburys said it wanted the event to appeal to people of all faiths. But speaking this morning on her tour of the Middle East, the PM said: “I’m not just a vicar’s daughter – I’m a member of the national trust as well.