THERESA May’s bitter row with Michel Barnier deepened yesterday as it emerged he is drawing up a rival Brexit plan to her Chequers blueprint – to the delight of Tory Brexiteers. The EU chief negotiator pitched his offer for a far more limited free trade deal, to visiting MPs in Brussels on Monday. It would be much looser in scope to the PM’s close association agreement vision, and along the lines of Canada’s recent deal with the EU – similar to a plan that Leave supporting Conservative MPs have been pushing. Last night, both Brexiteer and Remain MPs present at the meeting lined up to maul Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab and confirm that Mr Barnier had skewered Mrs May’s Chequers plan.
THE EUROPEAN Union is preparing to give concessions to Theresa May’s Chequers proposals, but the bloc is poised to issue a stark warning that the Government needs a plan to resolve the Northern Ireland issue within weeks. The EU is expected to make twin statements at a meeting in Salzburg later this month. As well as giving some evidence of progress in negotiations, the EU is also expected to make a statement on Northern Ireland, which officials and diplomats have become increasingly frustrated over.
Dominic Raab has chided Tory Brexiters who are urging the prime minister to dump her Chequers proposals in favour of a Canada-style free-trade deal, insisting that the government will not “roll over” at the first signs of criticism from Brussels. Raab, the Brexit secretary, told MPs on their return to the Commons after the summer recess that he was surprised that some backbenchers had demanded Theresa May “chuck Chequers” after the EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, appeared to reject the plan.
Theresa May will by-pass Brussels negotiators and intensify her efforts to press EU member state leaders into doing a Brexit deal at a crucial meeting later this month. The prime minister will use the mini-summit to convince leaders that her Chequers proposals constitute a viable route to sealing a full Brexit agreement later in the year. Downing Street also passed a briefing paper to ministers rebuffing claims by Boris Johnson that the PM’s proposals are doomed. It comes just days after the European Commission’s lead negotiator Michel Barnier said explicitly in public that he is “strongly” opposed to her plans.
Theresa May suffered a fresh Brexit blow last night as the EU’s chief negotiator rubbished her trade plan. Michel Barnier told a German newspaper her proposal to keep tariffs on goods roughly the same as inside the EU but put services outside it “is not practical”. He added: “If we let the British cherrypick, that would have serious consequences: all sorts of other third countries could insist that we offer them the same deal. “It would end the single market and the European project.”
A FORMER Brexit insider said last night that defaulting to World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules would be better than the “humiliating Chequers surrender” if a ‘Canada-plus’ agreement with the EU is not reached. In the latest blow to Theresa May’s negotiating strategy, Stewart Jackson, who was special advisor to David David before his resignation in July, said Chequers deal imposes a cost that “is frankly not worth paying”. He spelt out in an article for the Telegraph why he firmly believes ‘Canada-plus’ is the ideal, but that plans for WTO deal should “reign supreme” over Chequers.
Theresa May came under further pressure to “chuck Chequers” and rethink her Brexit strategy as MPs returned to the House of Commons after their summer break. The prime minister’s plans for the UK’s future relationship with the EU came under attack from both Labour and former Conservative ministers in parliament on Tuesday, with the government warned against “self-delusion” over the viability of the proposals. Meanwhile, a Sky Data poll revealed the majority of Britons disapprove of Mrs May’s Brexit blueprint. And the mood in 10 Downing Street is likely to have darkened further with the news ex-foreign secretary Boris Johnson is planning to address a 1,000-strong rally at the Conservative Party conference next month.
Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab has brushed aside warnings about damage to the UK car industry, claiming those concerned should be “showing a bit of mettle”. He argued warnings from EU official Michel Barnier were simply a negotiating ruse, despite similar ones having been made by UK-based manufacturers like Jaguar Land Rover, Ford and BMW. The minister also accused MPs who highlighted Mr Barnier’s rejection of Theresa May’s Brexit proposals, of being “used” by Brussels against the UK government.
Former Bank of England governor Lord King has blasted Brexit preparations as “incompetent”. The Brexit supporter said it “beggared belief” that the world’s sixth-biggest economy should be talking of stockpiling food and medicines. This left the government without a credible bargaining position, he said. A spokesperson for the Department for Exiting the European Union (DExEU) said that getting a good deal with the EU was “by far, the most likely outcome”. Lord King said that “a government that cannot take action to prevent some of these catastrophic outcomes illustrates a whole lack of preparation”.
The most senior official in Britain’s Brexit ministry said on Tuesday he was confident that plans were in place for the possibility of Britain leaving the European Union without a deal. “What I am confident is that there are plans in place,” Philip Rycroft, Permanent Secretary at the Department for Exiting the European Union (DExEU), told a committee of lawmakers in parliament. “They are at a level of detail which satisfies the team at DEXEU … we are constantly monitoring those plans to make sure they are kept up to date.”
GERMAN Chancellor Angela Merkel has warned business leaders Brexit talks between the UK and EU could collapse, ahead of a crucial meeting in Salzburg later this month where European leaders are expected to comment on Theresa May’s proposed Brexit deal. Mrs Merkel made the comments at a German business conference in Frankfurt. She said: “We don’t want these negotiations to collapse. “But we also can’t fully rule that out because we still have no agreement.”
Angela Merkel has warned her country’s business leaders that the Brexit negotiations are in danger of collapse. With talks in Brussels at an impasse with just months to go before a deal needs to be agreed, the German chancellor made a rare intervention at a conference in Frankfurt. She told major players in the world of German finance on Tuesday: “We don’t want the discussions to break down. We will use all our force and creativity to make sure a deal happens. We don’t want these negotiations to collapse. But we also can’t fully rule that out because we still have no result.”
THE European Commission is in crisis after the EU’s watchdog condemned the promotion of Jean Claude Juncker’s chief of staff to the top civil service post in Brussels. A damning report said the promotion of German Martin Selmayr – nicknamed the monster – was “maladministration” and had damaged public trust in European institutions. EU Ombudsman Emily O’Reilly said the Commission had been “overly secretive” and said that it needed to review its appointment processes.
The EU has concluded its internal probe into the scandal-ridden appointment of Jean-Claude Juncker’s poisonous sidekick Martin Selmayr to the most senior position in the European Commission. The European Ombudsman found no fewer than four serious breaches of protocol and branded the Commission guilty of “not following the relevant rules correctly either in letter or in spirit”. So much for the supposed infallability of EU rules… The probe slammed the Commission’s responses to its inquiries as “defensive, evasive and at times combative”.
Steven Woolfe has today become the President of Blue Wave, a campaign initiated by the Brexit group, Leave.EU encouraging Brexiteers to join the Conservative Party. In a press release by the campaign, Mr Woolfe said: “Today, I applied to be a member of the Conservative Party. “Brexit and its success is in the hands of this government. “That is why all Brexit supporters should join the Conservative party to exert pressure both locally and nationally on Tory MPs. This government was elected on a Brexit manifesto at the last election, we need to ensure the Brexit that the 17.4m voted for is honoured.”
Boris Johnson will address up to a thousand Conservative Party delegates on the eve of Theresa May’s keynote conference speech next month. In a move that will cause discomfort, if little surprise, in Downing Street the former foreign secretary has accepted an invitation to speak at a rally organised by Conservative Home, the Tory grassroots group Aides to Mr Johnson confirmed that he had agreed to attend the event but insisted that he had not yet decided on the subject of his speech.
NINE pro-Corbyn candidates made a clean sweep yesterday in an election to Labour’s national executive committee (NEC). They are, in order of the number of votes received, Yasmine Dar, Claudia Webbe, Jon Lansman, Rachel Garnham, Huda Elmi, Darren Williams, Ann Henderson, Navendu Mishra and Peter Willsman. The NEC as it stood before the election will continue to sit and could decide today on whether Labour will adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of anti-semitism in full with all illustrative examples, including its conflation of anti-semitism with criticism of Israel.
Jeremy Corbyn has said he does not believe it is anti-Semitic to describe the creation of Israel as racist in a move which saw his relationship with the Jewish community plummet to new depths. The Labour leader called for the party on Tuesday to adopt a personal statement which would have permitted activists to describe “Israel, its policies or the circumstances around its foundation as racist”. However, he was overruled by the party’s ruling body, which chose instead to accept the international definition of anti-Semitism in full whilst acknowledging the right of Palestinians to free speech.
Jeremy Corbyn was humiliated last night after his attempt to add a 500-word caveat to the Labour Party’s definition of antisemitism was rejected by his own allies. The party’s ruling body agreed yesterday to adopt in full an international definition of antisemitism written by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) in an attempt to end a summer of disputes. The definition was incorporated into Labour’s code of conduct in July, but not all its examples were included. During the meeting Mr Corbyn proposed a lengthy statement to be published alongside the document, setting out what he believed were the criticisms of Zionism and Israel still allowed by the IHRA.
Labour’s ruling body has agreed to adopt the internationally recognised definition of anti-Semitism – but has added a “free speech clarification”. The Party say the addition ensures it will not “undermine freedom of expression on Israel or the rights of Palestinians.” But critics branded the addition an “insult” and “two steps forward, one step back.” Mr Corbyn told the party’s ruling National Executive Committee (NEC) it was important to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism and its illustrative examples in full, as part of the process of “rebuilding trust and as an act of solidarity with Jewish communities”.
Labour’s ruling body has agreed to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of antisemitism in full after a tense meeting in which an accompanying clarification put forward by Jeremy Corbyn was not accepted. The party leader withdrew his additional statement when it was clear it could not be agreed upon and instead, after a discussion that overran its allotted time by several hours, the national executive committee (NEC) approved the release of brief remarks emphasising freedom of expression on Israel and the rights of Palestinians.
Labour’s hopes of ending its summer turmoil over antisemitism have been hit by fresh criticism, despite Jeremy Corbyn bowing to pressure to recognise all internationally recognised examples. After months of prevarication the party finally announced it would adopt the full International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) document, to the relief of most MPs and activists. But it also approved a statement which “ensures this will not in any way undermine freedom of expression on Israel or the rights of Palestinians”.
France says its navy will intervene to avert a fresh “scallop war” between British and French fishermen, who have vowed to “launch another attack” if no deal is reached this week. Violent clashes erupted last Tuesday when the British accused the French of ramming their vessels, firing flares and hurling stones in a highly dangerous and illegal attack. Disgruntled French fishermen, whose UK rivals can dredge for scallops year round while they are barred from doing so during summer months, said they came under a violent counter-attack. Stephane Travert, the French agriculture and fishing minister, said he had spoken to his British counterpart and that talks between the two sides were due on Wednesday after French vessels chased their UK rivals out of the Baie de Seine last week.
Ukip has urged Britons not to join the armed forces until after Brexit because they are “under a foreign military command”. Gerard Batten, the party’s leader, was branded “ridiculous” after reacting with fury to UK soldiers on operations in Bosnia wearing the European Union flag on their uniforms. “No one should now join the British army until we have left the EU and this has all been reversed,” Mr Batten said. “Our soldiers are no longer fighting for Queen and Country but under a foreign military command. “Our ancestors, the heroes of The Armada, Waterloo, Trafalgar, Passchendaele, El-Alamein, and others too numerous to mention, did not fight so that their descendants could serve under the flag of a foreign power.”
UKIP leader, Gerard Batten has called for Britons to refrain from joining the British Army after footage was released showing British soldiers in Bosnia with the EU flag displayed on their uniform. In a press release, Batten said: “Nick Clegg once said that the idea that the EU was developing its own military was a ‘dangerous fantasy’. This news has revealed Nick Clegg to be the fantasist. “No one should now join the British Army until we have left the EU and this has all been reversed. Our soldiers are no longer fighting for Queen and Country but under a foreign military command.”
A Rotherham schoolgirl who was raped by multiple men was months later forced to have an abortion by her parents, a court has heard. Nabeel Kurshid, 34, and Iqlak Yousaf, 33, along with a third man, are accused of taking the girl, 14 at the time, to Sherwood Forest and threatening to leave her there alone unless she had sex with them. The pair are among a group of eight men from Rotherham and Sheffield who are said to have targeted girls who were ‘easy to exploit because they wanted to be loved’.
A TEENAGER from Rotherham was forced to have an abortion by her parents after she was gang raped in a forest, a court heard. The girl was driven to Sherwood Forest by defendants Nabeel Kurshid and Iqlak Yousaf along with a third man, some time between August 2002 and August 2003, a jury was told. Michelle Colborne QC, prosecuting, said the girl – who was about 14 at the time – was bitten during the alleged attack, leaving marks on her neck. She said that the girl was given cannabis and was “high as a kite”. Ms Colborne added: “Each defendant took turns in having sex with her. “She was warned she had to do what she was told or she would be left there.”
PATIENTS may have to pay to see a GP under plans to be debated by MPs. Charges could also be extended to other NHS services, including those provided by hospitals. The fees are suggested in a private member’s bill put forward by Tory MP Christopher Chope to “make provision for co-funding and for the extension of co-payment for NHS services in England”. Last night Joyce Robins, from Patient Concern, said: “This is an appalling idea. Patients who cannot afford to pay medical fees would be put off getting an appointment and their condition could get worse. “They are likely to end up in A&E when it’s too late to save them and where costs to the NHS are far higher than a GP consultation.
Children suffering leukaemia will become the first to be cured by routine NHS use of a “revolutionary” treatment that re-engineers the immune system to fight cancer. The head of the NHS said that a new front had been opened against cancer after the first of a new class of therapies was approved in record time, paving the way for “living drugs” to personalise treatment for thousands of patients. The one-off treatment appears to offer a permanent cure for some people and the NHS has accepted the need to pay for it. It costs £282,000 per patient at full price.
A REVOLUTIONARY cancer treatment that is custom-made for each patient is to be made available on the NHS for the first time. The wonder therapy costs £282,000 per patient and has been shown to cure people in trials who failed to respond to other drugs. Scientists reprogramme an individual’s immune cells in a lab before putting them back into the body. The CAR-T cells use their new powers to home-in on the disease and fight it. NHS boss Simon Stevens will today tell a conference in Manchester that he has secured an undisclosed discount on the treatment. And it means it will be available to some patients on the NHS in a matter of weeks.
THOUSANDS of children are set for a shorter week in the classroom as schools across the country close their doors early. Teachers say ditching lessons on Friday afternoons is a way to save cash. The Mirror reports at least 24 schools, including 14 in Birmingham alone, close early at the end of the week. The paper says more than 200 other heads have warned they are considering doing the same. Paul Whiteman, general secretary of the National Union of Headteachers, said it is a result of school budgets being at “breaking point”.