WTO rules

Telegraph
Britain’s borders and banks are increasingly well prepared for a ‘no deal’ Brexit, softening the blow to growth and avoiding the worst of the potential chaos if no transition is agreed, Bank of England Governor Mark Carney has said. By contrast families and businesses across the EU should brace for higher borrowing costs and financial turmoil because its authorities have done less to prepare for no deal and so could cut their economies off from chunks of the crucial financial centre in London. The Bank of England has agreed to let EU institutions continue operating in the UK, ensuring British families and firms will not lose access to funds and products from firms based over the Channel.

Telegraph
The former head of MI6 and dozens of senior academics have said a no-deal Brexit would be far better for Britain than Theresa May’s “disastrous” deal. Sir Richard Dearlove said there would be “no tangible benefits” from a Brexit conducted under Mrs May’s deal, which would merely “prolong the agony”. In a letter to The Daily Telegraph, he is joined by 33 academics and business leaders who say that a no deal Brexit would offer “immediate opportunities”.

BBC News
The UK government may cut trade tariffs on between 80% and 90% of goods in the event of a no-deal Brexit, reports say. Some tariffs would be scrapped completely, including those on car parts, and some agricultural produce. However, 10-20% of key products would continue to be protected by the current level of tariffs, including some textiles, cars, beef, lamb and dairy. The government said it would make an announcement once a decision had been finalised.

Westmonster
The British government could slash as many as 90% of trade tariffs if the UK leaves the European Union on WTO terms. Now this is taking back control!  In what would be a radical step forward for a post-Brexit Britain, Sky News have been told that the Department for International Trade are likely to seek a cut on between 80%-90% of tariffs on goods if the UK exits the EU without a deal, taking back full and immediate control of trade policy in the process.

Independent
Theresa May is considering granting Conservative MPs a free vote on a no-deal BrexitJeremy Hunt says, in an apparent bid to avert mass ministerial resignations. The prime minister faces a walkout if she whips her MPs either for or against crashing out of the EU. Now the foreign secretary has revealed she is weighing up a free vote on whether to rule out no-deal Brexit – despite inevitable criticism that it would expose her as too weak to impose a collective policy on such a crucial issue.

Mail
A former head of MI6 has said a no-deal Brexit puts Britain in a stronger position than Theresa May‘s deal. In a stinging attack, Sir Richard Dearlove called the Prime Minister’s deal ‘disastrous’, adding it offers ‘no tangible benefits’ for Britain and will lead to ‘no control over EU migration’. In a letter to the Daily Telegraph, Sir Richard – alongside 33 other signatories including leading businessmen and academics – urges MPs to reject Mrs May’s deal and vote for Britain to exit the EU without a deal on March 29. It states: ‘The Withdrawal Agreement is disastrous.

Brexit

Express
THERESA May is expected to make an eleventh hour trip to Brussels this weekend to finalise an updated Withdrawal Agreement, but furious Brexiteers have said the tight timetable does not leave them enough time to look over the deal. Mrs May’s top team are locked in negotiations to meet “trouble making” Brexiter demands on preventing the UK from becoming trapped in the Irish backstop. Attorney General Geoffrey Cox and Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay are heading to Brussels today where they will present European Union negotiators with a revised copy of divorce deal text.

Mail
Ministers were warned yesterday they face a watered-down Brexit if the Prime Minister’s deal is blocked in the Commons. Chief Whip Julian Smith told the Cabinet that MPs will take the opportunity to seize control and push the UK into a permanent customs union. Theresa May has repeatedly warned that such an arrangement would prevent Britain from striking trade deals around the world.

Guardian
The chief whip, Julian Smith, has warned cabinet ministers that, if MPs reject Theresa May’s deal a second time next week, parliament would take control and force a softer Brexit. As part of attempts to win over Brexit-supporting ministers, Smith struck a pessimistic note on Tuesday about the parliamentary arithmetic, the Guardian understands. He suggested the most likely outcome if the deal were rejected again would be that MPs opt to take a no-deal Brexit off the table and extend article 50.

Reuters
Talks between British Prime Minister Theresa May’s top government lawyer and European Union negotiators to win concessions from the bloc on Brexit ended with no agreement in Brussels on Tuesday. May has sent Attorney General Geoffrey Cox to seek changes to her deal in a last-ditch bid to get it through parliament and smooth Britain’s departure from the European Union. The talks between Cox, Britain’s Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay and the EU’s Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier ended with no agreement after more than three hours on Tuesday.

Ireland

Express
LEO Varadkar has urged the Irish electorate to vote “as if there was no border” with Northern Ireland as he unveiled a shock candidate for Dublin in May’s European Parliament elections. Mr Varadkar has adopted former Westminster MP Mark Durkan into his Fine Gael party in the hope the Northern Irish politician will win a Brussels seat representing Dublin.

Mail
Brussels last night sought to reassure Britain that ‘temporary means temporary’ when it comes to the Irish border ‘backstop’. Attorney-General Geoffrey Cox, the UK top law officer, held late-night talks over dinner inside the EU Commission with the bloc’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier. He stayed overnight, although no further discussions are scheduled for today. Ahead of his arrival, Ireland’s foreign affairs minister, Simon Coveney, revealed that the discussions have been ‘building on’ extra reassurances published late last year and were focused on ensuring the backstop can never become more than a ‘temporary arrangement’.

Guardian
Jeremy Hunt has said the UK is prepared to be flexible over how to address concerns about the Northern Ireland backstop in an effort to strike a deal with the EU. The foreign secretary said Europe’s leaders were giving “positive signals” as Theresa May pushes for concessions to get her Brexit deal passed during a Commons vote next week.  Hunt, who has been part of a diplomatic push in European capitals, told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme: “The signals we are getting are reasonably positive.

Sun
IRELAND raised hopes of a Brexit compromise last night as Britain tabled a new text outlining demands for legally binding promises over the backstop. Deputy PM Simon Coveney said Dublin was ready to “ensure the backstop is temporary” as Attorney General Geoffrey Cox held crunch talks with Michel Barnier in Brussels.   But he also warned it was “too early to be optimistic” of a breakthrough this week, describing negotiations between the two sides as “difficult”.

EU

Telegraph
Emmanuel Macron, the ardently Europhile president of France, now poses a greater threat to the future of the European Union than Brexit. In an opinion piece published in newspapers across Europe this morning, the French president set out a vision for the EU’s future that will exacerbate deep divisions between the bloc’s western and eastern countries. Mr Macron, as he has done previously, took aim at Brexit and the “lies” of Brexiteers, but his real target is not Britain but the Eastern European nations that joined the EU in 2004.

Independent
The French president has launched yet another attack on Britain’s departure from the EU, accusing his neighbours across the Channel of “retreating into nationalism”. In an article translated into 24 different languages and printed in various newspapers around the continent, Emmanuel Macron issued a call to arms to EU citizens, urging the start of a “European renaissance”.  His comments come just weeks before the campaign kicks off for the European parliament elections, in which Eurosceptic and far-right forces are expected to make significant gains across the bloc.

Guardian
The European Union risks a populist-nationalist “nightmare” by the middle of the next decade unless centrists can win greater public backing for the European cause, the liberal leader Guy Verhofstadt has said. Elections this May could herald a big shake-up of the European parliament. The duopoly of centre-right and centre-left is expected to lose its majority for the first time in 40 years of direct elections although Emmanuel Macron’s La République En Marche (La REM) is expected to win seats for the first time, boosting liberal forces.

Express
BRUSSELS’ upcoming elections pose “an inviting target” for hackers, the bloc has warned in a chilling warning. The EU argues tech giants are not doing enough to protect elections and other political debates from interference. Julian King, the EU Commissioner on the Security Union, told the Irish Independent the European elections in May were “quite an inviting target if you are interested in trying to sow disinformation and interfere in democratic processes”.

Breitbart
Globalist French President Emmanuel Macron has made a direct address to the over 500 million people who live in the European Union, calling on them to support his vision of a more centralised and powerful “project” European Union which, he believes, could even entice the United Kingdom into cancelling Brexit. The plea to voters to back an enhanced European Union which would take more control over its member nation states comes just months before the continental power bloc holds elections to select Members of the European Parliament for the next five-year term.

The Independent Group

Times
The Independent Group of breakaway MPs is preparing to form a fully-fledged party after talks with the Electoral Commission yesterday, although “no specific time frame” has been set. Chuka Umunna, the ex-Labour MP for Streatham who last week became TIG’s spokesman, said the group wanted to be ready to field candidates at the next general election. TIG, which now has eight former Labour MPs and three ex-Conservatives, had been “overwhelmed by the tens of thousands of people who have signed up to our website, who have shown support for what we are doing”, he said.

Mirror
The Independent Group made the first move towards forming a political party today by holding talks with the Electoral Commission. The grouping, which is currently made up of 11 MPs from the Tories and Labour , want to become a fully-fledged party but have set “no specific timeframe” for the process. Group spokesman Chuka Umunna said the goal was to be ready to field candidates in the next general election, whenever that is held. The next scheduled contest is not until 2022, but the turmoil in Westminster politics means that an earlier election remains a distinct possibility.

Conservative Party

Guido
Guido has obtained a copy of the email sent directly to the 14 Tory members who have been suspended today by Conservative Party Chairman Brandon Lewis’s office to for posting Islamophobic or racist comments online. The suspended members are informed in no uncertain terms that they “may not participate in any Party events” and are “not entitled to represent the Conservative Party in any way” or “attend or participate in any events carried out in the name of the Party”. Summary justice undoubtedly, the Tories nevertheless showing Labour how to deal swiftly and unequivocally with racism…

Second referendum

Independent
Labour will order its MPs to vote for a backbench motion that would trigger a fresh Brexit referendum, John McDonnell has said. The shadow chancellor said the party would back an amendment being tabled by Labour MPs Peter Kyle and Phil Wilson after it dramatically shifted its policy last week to support a fresh public poll. The Labour leadership had asked for the original Kyle-Wilson amendment to be redrafted to allow the party’s MPs to support another referendum without approving Theresa May’s Brexit deal.

Calais

Mail
The French army were drafted in to patrol the port of Calais and inspect vehicles as before they made their way to Britain yesterday. In an unusual show of force, soldiers with rifles were seen checking every car – including passengers’ suitcases – before boarding the Eurotunnel to Folkestone. The stringent checks only worsened already long delays and traffic jams snarling up for miles caused by customs staff striking for a second day. It is understood employees are working to rule in order to show ‘what will happen’ when the UK is expected to leave the EU later this month.

BBC

Mail
Regulators have launched an inquiry into the impartiality and ‘depth’ of the BBC‘s news and current affairs coverage. The Ofcom probe follows bias claims from both sides of the political divide – especially over Brexit. It also comes amid growing fears that serious news coverage is ‘in retreat’ and allegations from rival news providers that the BBC uses too much ‘clickbait’ – celebrity or frivolous stories with little public service value – to lure online readers.

Knife crime

Telegraph
Sajid Javid clashed with Theresa May on Tuesday as he demanded millions more in emergency funding for police to combat the knife crime crisis. In what was described as a “testy” exchange with Mrs May, the Home Secretary argued current resourcing – including the extra £1bn announced just months ago – did “not go far enough” to help police combat record levels of knife crime. Philip Hammond, the Chancellor, appeared to rebuke Mr Javid by suggesting that the police should “prioritise” the resources they have and focus staff on “real time” cases rather than historic investigations.

Times
Children are learning in school how to stem bleeding and deliver first aid to knife-crime victims as they increasingly find themselves affected by violence. Pupils in areas where knife crime is common are being taught what to do if someone has been stabbed and how to communicate clearly with emergency services. The charity behind the scheme, Street Doctors, uses role play and visual props to explain the science behind blood loss

Mail
A suspected drug dealer with a history of carrying a blade dodged jail yesterday. Kyle Davis, 18, was given a suspended sentence despite being caught with cocaine and a knife – his second weapons offence. The case, which comes amid mounting fury at the number of teenage stab victims, will fuel concerns about soft justice for knife offenders. Davis laughed as he swaggered out of Birmingham magistrates’ court, taking a selfie on his phone to record his glee at escaping prison.

Mail
Police have ramped up stop and searches across the country after Britain’s most senior officer clashed with Theresa May over whether there is a link between police cuts and violent crime. This evening, the Metropolitan Police set up a metal detector between Piccadilly Circus and Oxford Street Tube stations tonight.  Police were pictured searching a man who allegedly refused to go through the metal detector as they try to ramp up their fight against knife crime in the capital. It remains unclear whether he was arrested.

Sun
THE Defence Secretary is ready to send in the army to help tackle the spiralling knife crime crisis. Gavin Williamson said the MoD “would always be ready to respond” as the Government was blasted for its lack of action.  Met Police chief Cressida Dick earlier said she would not rule out asking troops to help battle the menace on London’s streets. In reply, the Defence Secretary said the Armed Forces “always stand ready to help any government department”. He added: “As we look at all of this, obviously our thoughts and prayers are with those family and friends of those who have lost someone.

Express
DEFENCE Secretary Gavin Williamson has revealed the MoD “would always be ready to respond” to help tackle the rising knife crime crisis. Mr Williamson’s intervention comes after Met Commissioner Cressida Dick confessed to saying she could call on the army to stop the violence on London’s streets. The Government has been accused of a lack of action to battle knife crime. Mr Williamson told The Sun: “As we look at all of this, obviously our thoughts and prayers are with those family and friends of those who have lost someone.

Social care

Telegraph
Libraries and parks will close in a bid to fund social care services facing a multi-billion-pound funding gap, local authorities warn.  The Local Government Association (LGA) has insisted that this year councils will have to further divert funding from local amenities – including bus services, parks, filling potholes, libraries and leisure centres – to try and protect vital adult social care services. Despite council tax hikes to plug the funding black-hole and an attempt to avoid the looming of threat of “a care home crisis”, millions of older and disabled people fear that their services and care provisions.

Independent
Elderly and disabled people will have vital services cut as councils struggle to cope with a £1bn social care funding gap, town hall leaders have warned. Authorities said they faced the huge shortfall even after council tax rises are taken into account. Councils will be allowed to raise taxes by 2.99 per cent in 2019/20, and some will be able to add a further 2 per cent specifically for social care. But the Local Government Association (LGA) said the money would “do little” to improve services.

Education

Times
Cambridge University is to give less affluent school-leavers a second chance of a place if they do better than expected in their A levels. The move is designed to level the playing field for poor students, with up to 100 more such applicants likely to win places at the university if their A-level results are higher than predicted. For such students, the only option has been to take a gap year and reapply, which is not feasible for many from modest backgrounds.

Cash

Telegraph
The UK’s cash payments system could collapse in two years, the industry has warned, as the Treasury is being urged to step in to save it.  Companies which circulate, sort and distribute coins and notes say the rapid trend towards digital payments will soon render their businesses unprofitable, sources told the Daily Telegraph. At present just over a third of payments made in the UK are cash but this is set to plunge in the coming years.

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