Brexit

Mail
Brexit could be delayed for up to eight weeks even if Theresa May   gets her deal through the Commons, it emerged last night. Cabinet Ministers have discussed pushing the date back to allow time for essential legislation to pass through the Commons. An eight-week delay would mean leaving the European Union on May 24 instead of March 29. There are several Bills – on issues including immigration and trade – which must pass through both the Commons and the Lords before we leave, as well as hundreds of other pieces of minor legislation. Two weeks ago, Commons Leader Andrea Leadsom suggested the date could be extended ‘by a couple of extra weeks’ to ensure the Bills could be passed. Last week, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said ‘extra time’ may be needed if talks with the EU drag on.

Westmonster
The vast majority of Brits disapprove of the way the government have handled the Brexit negotiations, with a record-high 80% of Brits telling ORB that they aren’t happy. Theresa May and her advisers have been far too soft in dealing with Brussels. Just 20% of those asked approve the government’s approach to negotiations. That number has never been lower. Wake-up call? The poll of 2,000 voters between February 1st – 3rd also shows that 62% of voters disagree that the ‘Prime Minister has got the right deal for Britain in the Brexit negotiations’. Just 3% of people ‘strongly agree’ that Theresa May’s deal is right for Brexit Britain. This should serve as a major dose of reality.

Independent
Theresa May is to return to Brussels on Thursday seeking fresh concessions despite the EU’s insistence that the bloc will not renegotiate the Brexit deal. The prime minister will meet Jean-Claude Juncker, the European commission president on Thursday morning, and Donald Tusk, the president of the European council in the early afternoon. May is expected to formally seek the reopening of the withdrawal agreement on the back of the passing of the so-called Brady amendment last week calling for “alternative arrangements” to replace the contentious Irish backstop.

Express
THERESA May is to meet European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker on Thursday for urgent Brexit talks against a backdrop of warnings about the “toxic” backstop plan for Northern Ireland derailing her Brexit divorce deal. Meanwhile a high-ranking German politician has said a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic will be needed in the event of a no-deal Brexit to keep chlorinated chicken out of the EU – ignoring the fact that it is not allowed in the UK either.

WTO rules

Times
Britain will avoid recession in a no-deal Brexit as the government launches a £40 billion emergency stimulus package and the Bank of England ignores surging inflation to keep interest rates on hold, according to the National Institute of Economic and Social Research. The think tank said policymakers would respond to a no deal with tax cuts and welfare spending amounting to around 2 per cent of GDP, blowing a fresh hole in the budget deficit.

Independent
Britain could avoid slumping into a recession in the aftermath of a no-deal Brexit, according to one of Britain’s leading economics forecasters. The National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR) said the blow to the economy from a disorderly departure from the EU could be softened by contingency plans being put in place by the government and by Brussels. Ministers could also reduce the impact with tax cuts and additional public spending, further limiting the damage. Britain’s oldest independent economics research institute – in forecasts likely to embolden Brexit supporters urging Theresa May to pursue a “managed no-deal” – said that economic growth would come close to zero in the first two years after a no-deal Brexit.

Irish backstop

Independent
Theresa May fired a warning shot at Brexit supporters on Tuesday, insisting there was “no suggestion” Britain would leave the EU without an insurance provision to protect against a hard border in Northern Ireland. At a speech in Belfast, May would only accept that technology could “play a part” in any alternative arrangements and that she would not countenance anything that would disrupt the lives of border communities.

Independent
Theresa May has risked a fresh backlash from eurosceptic MPs in her own party, after saying she is “not proposing” to scrap the controversial Brexit backstop. Speaking during a visit to Northern Ireland, the prime minister confirmed she would be seeking changes to the insurance policy, which is designed to prevent a hard border reforming on the island of Ireland if a trade deal cannot be struck in time.

Times
Theresa May angered Brexiteers yesterday by suggesting that she would retain the contentious backstop plan to avoid a hard border in Ireland. The prime minister made a symbolic visit to Belfast for a speech in which she restated her “unshakeable” commitment to avoiding a hard border. “The UK government will not let that happen. I will not let that happen,” she said. “There is no suggestion that we are not going to ensure that in the future there is provision for this — it’s been called an insurance policy, the backstop — that ensures that if the future relationship is not in place by the end of the implementation period there will be arrangements to ensure no hard border.”

Independent
Theresa May has risked another bitter clash with anti-EU Tories by saying she is “not proposing” to replace the Irish backstop in her Brexit deal. The prime minister appeared to go back on last week’s Commons vote – to replace the backstop “with alternative arrangements” – by saying she was only seeking “changes”. Brexiteer Tories have already warned such a compromise would be unacceptable – ruling out either a unilateral withdrawal clause or an end date to the backstop. Instead, they insist the prime minister must demand that Brussels scrap it altogether and replace it with new – unproven – technology, to avoid the return of checks at the Irish border.

EU

Independent
Ireland is in talks with the EU over a substantial Brexit emergency fund to offset the damage caused to the country’s €4.5bn (£3.96bn) food exports to Britain if the UK crashes out of the bloc with no deal next month. As Theresa May prepares for a crunch meeting in Brussels on Thursday,  officials at the European commission are already looking at continuous compensatory measures for Ireland as part of an ongoing arrangement that could last years.

Independent
The leader of the Democratic Unionist party has accused Brussels and Dublin of “intransigence” which could lead to the UK leaving Europe  without a deal. Arlene Foster, whose party’s votes are propping up Theresa May’s government as it seeks to push through a Brexit deal, said it was time for EU leaders to listen to DUP opinion or risk chaos. Her comments came as May prepared to fly to Belfast for talks on Brexit with local business people before meeting political leaders, including those from Sinn Féin. Asked on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme if her party’s hardline stance on the border backstop was making a no-deal Brexit more likely, Foster said: “Well, actually, I could reverse that by saying, through the intransigence of the European Union and the Republic of Ireland in their attitude, they are actually more likely to bring about the very thing that they want to avoid.”

Times
Angela Merkel is preparing a last-minute attempt to rescue Theresa May’s Brexit deal by pressuring Dublin to abandon its insistence on the existing Irish backstop. The German chancellor is leading EU efforts to help to convince the Commons to ratify the prime minister’s deal by forcing the Irish and British leaders to work together this week. A well-placed source in Berlin said that Mrs Merkel was “very hopeful” that the question of the backstop, which is meant to prevent a hard border with Ireland if the EU and UK fail to reach a trade deal that allows fluid movement of goods, could be solved through a combination of technology and a sophisticated customs scheme.

Express
DELAYING Brexit would give Britain the upper hand over the EU, experts have claimed.  Alberto Alemanno said if the March 29 deadline was pushed back until after the EU elections at the end of May, it would present a new opportunity for the Brexit deal to be negotiated. The elections are expected to bring more diverse voices and views into the European Parliament because of the rise of non-traditional parties across the continent. This would mean a more fragmented parliament, made up of supporters holding more anti-EU view than their predecessors.

Breitbart
The leader of a Swedish populist party that has long campaigned to get a referendum on European Union membership for the nation said Tuesday that the punitive tactics of the European Union are enough for him to reconsider wanting to leave the EU — for now. The leader of the populist, anti-mass migration party the Sweden Democrats Jimmie Åkesson made the remarks on Swedish radio Tuesday morning, saying “clearly the EU does its utmost to complicate Britain’s departure.”

Mail
The chairman of the port of Calais said he does not want to see Transport Secretary Chris Grayling again over post-Brexit plans to move trade away from the city. Jean-Marc Puissesseau accused the Cabinet minister of behaving in a ‘completely disrespectful’ manner by planning to divert sea traffic from the port. The Government has awarded contracts worth more than £100 million to provide additional cross-Channel capacity in the case of a no-deal Brexit.

Independent
The transport secretary, Chris Grayling, is no longer welcome in Calais, according to the port’s chairman, who has been angered by British plans to divert some sea traffic in the event of a no-deal Brexit. Jean-Marc Puissesseau reportedly accused the UK cabinet minister of behaving in a “completely disrespectful” manner on Tuesday. “Mr Grayling came to us in November and asked us if we would be ready. We told him ‘yes’, though we did not know as much as we know today

Mirror
Chris Grayling has been ‘banned’ from Calais, after being accused of showing “disrespect” to the French port over Brexit . The port’s chairman, Jean-Marc Puissesseau told the Telegraph the Tory Transport Secretary had given no warning of government plans to “bypass” Calais in a no-deal scenario. Mr Grayling notoriously handed the ‘no deal’ scenario contract to Seaborne Freight, a ferry company which does not have any ferries.

Express
CHRIS Grayling has been banned from Calais after a spat with the port’s chairman, who accused the Transport Minister of “disrespect” for planning to divert sea traffic from the French harbour in the event of a no-deal Brexit. Frenchman Jean-Marc Puissesseau has told Mr Grayling he is no longer welcome in Calais after he accused the Conservative Party MP of trying to bypass his agreement on a proposal to change the path of ships should Britain leave the EU without a deal.

Import tariffs

Times
Ministers have told businesses that they are considering cutting swathes of import tariffs on food and goods in the event of a no-deal Brexit. The plan would protect consumers from the effects of large-scale price rises if the government has to impose tariffs of up to 25 per cent on goods imported from the European Union. Senior business figures have said that the proposals could devastate British producers, who would face greater competition at home while remaining subject to tariffs on their exports.

Independent
Tariffs would be slashed to zero on all imports after a no-deal Brexit, under “extraordinarily damaging” plans being considered by the government. Labour said the move would trigger “serious job losses in key industries from ceramics to farming”, by unilaterally opening up domestic markets to dramatically cheaper goods from across the world

Westmonster
MRC have announced Transitional Simplified Procedures for customs if the UK leaves the European Union without a deal, a move welcomed by the British Chamber of Commerce and Brexiteer MPs. The measures will mean that lorries and goods will be able to arrive from the EU into the UK without full custom declarations at the border whilst also allowing the postponement of paying import duties. This would last for an initial period of one year to allow businesses to prepare for usual import processes. The British Chamber of Commerce responded by saying: “In the case of No Deal, it is reassuring that HMRC are introducing these Transitional Simplified Procedures.

Air pollution

Times
Parents ought to be more concerned about the damage that air pollution is doing to their children, doctors say. Nine in ten paediatricians said that dirty air was harming children they saw and that they wanted more action to fight fumes, a poll found. Unicef, which helped to carry out the survey, said that pollution was violating children’s rights and that the government should not be allowing young people to breathe dangerously toxic air for another decade. A series of studies has shown that traffic fumes can reach children before they are born, putting them at lifelong risk of asthma, pneumonia and cancer.

Independent
Zero progress has been made in reducing climate-harming emissions from the UK’s most polluting sector, according to new government figures. In 2017 levels of greenhouse gases from cars and other forms of transport did not fall at all. Campaigners accused the government of ignoring the “elephant in the room” and investing in new roads at the expense of the nation’s future climate targets.

Universal credit

Times
Half of those who seek help to claim universal credit struggle to keep up with their rent or mortgage payments despite changes introduced to speed up the benefit. Citizens Advice, which has supported 190,000 people having problems receiving universal credit, said government reforms had made no impact on the proportion unable to meet their housing costs, although other aspects had improved.

NHS

Telegraph
MINISTERS will pledge to clamp down on failing NHS managers and do more to protect whistleblowers, under new plans. New standards for health service leaders will set out standards they have to meet, in a bid to drive out bullying and incompetence. Health Secretary Matt Hancock will today promise to create “a more just culture in the NHS, starting at the top”. And he will say that for too long the NHS has made “morally abhorrent” choices in forcing whistleblowers to risk their jobs if they want to speak up about safety risks.

Times
A robot has been trained to spot the signs of worsening dementia by watching Emmerdale. Students presented Robbie the Robot with images from 13 episodes of the ITV soap opera which featured Ashley Thomas, the character who develops the condition. Robbie can now see signs of depression and aggressive behaviour, raising hopes that robots could help in care homes. They could reduce the need for costly human supervision by talking to patients or playing calming music. Robbie can also identify objects, an ability which could help ensure that patients are eating properly or taking their medication.

Mail
More than one in five people incorrectly believe dementia is an inevitable part of getting older, experts have warned. The Dementia Attitudes Monitor report reveals a worrying number of people are under the misconception that dementia is down to fate – and there is nothing they can do to minimise their risk. While genetics plays a role in the development of dementia, increasing evidence suggests lifestyle plays a major part.

Sun
A ROBOT is ready to help dementia patients — thanks to bingeing on Emmerdale. “Robbie” can now recognise 80 different human facial expressions and actions after weeks of watching the soap. Designer Ardhendu Behera said the bot is also able to play music to distract a patient who he sees is in distress. Ardhendu, a lecturer at Edge Hill University in Ormskirk, Lancs, will now get Robbie to watch Friends “to study group interactions and activities”.

Rail travel

Times
Passengers are being discouraged from using trains by poor punctuality and high prices, according to the head of the government’s rail review. Keith Williams said that rail companies and the government could no longer take it for granted that passenger numbers would increase year on year. Speaking last night, he also appeared to criticise the government’s “micromanagement” of the railways, saying that private operators were being blocked from introducing innovations.

Motoring

Times
Fully driverless cars are expected to take to Britain’s roads by the end of the year under government plans to scrap the requirement for a dedicated safety driver. A system will be introduced to allow the first advanced trials on any public road of self-driving vehicles without a steering wheel or human in control. A strict application process will apply. The Department for Transport said that the move would place Britain at the forefront of the technology.

Sun
DRIVERLESS cars could be on British roads by the end of the year under new plans announced by the Government. The bold move will also scrap the requirements that the clever motors must have a human overseer on board too. It means no human will be in control of the vehicles, even remotely. Ministers say the advanced trials — the first anywhere in Europe — will put the UK at the forefront of the technology. But the announcement sparked safety fears, coming less than a year after a woman was killed by a driverless car in America. The Department for Transport insists there will be a strict application process before companies are allowed to test the cars.

Mail
The cost of UK car insurance has shot up, but most motorists are still clueless as to why they could be paying over the odds. Today, seemingly arbitrary factors such as your marital status or job title can cause your premium to spike. Young drivers are now quoted massive premiums much higher than what their cars are worth, while being the innocent party in a car park prang means you will also end up paying more.

Ebola

Sun
A SECOND outbreak of Ebola in Congo has already killed 484 people and health workers have warned it is an “international emergency”. Nearly 500 people have died from the latest outbreak of the virus which was discovered in August last year with 785 people infected. The death rate is 61 percent. The Ebola virus has spread rapidly across the African country, sparking fears it could now spread to other countries nearby. Writing in The Lancet this week a number of health workers said the outbreak was out of control which was the second largest outbreak of Ebola in history.

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