MPs will today vote in a historic “Brexit Day” after Theresa May challenged them to respect the wishes of the people. Opposition parties and Tory rebels will be asked to commit to Article 50 being triggered by March 31 next year, which will start the process of Britain leaving the European Union. It comes after 40 Tory Remoaner MPs, led by former minister Anna Soubry, threatened to rebel and back a Labour motion calling for the Government to publish its Brexit plan in a bid to delay the negotiations. The Prime Minister and senior cabinet members turned the tables in stunning fashion last night with an amendment to Labour’s motion. “This is Brexit Day for Parliament,” Leave campaigner John Longworth said.
Theresa May has confronted rebel Tory MPs head-on by announcing a surprise vote on her timetable for triggering Article 50 today. The Prime Minister will ask MPs to back the Government’s plan on beginning the formal process of leaving the EU by the end of March 2017. She had faced the prospect of an embarrassing defeat in the Commons at the hands of Labour and Tory Remainers. They had put forward a backbench motion demanding she ‘commit to publishing the Government’s plan for leaving the EU before Article 50 is invoked’. Mrs May’s amendment to their motion came 24 hours after the Supreme Court began deciding whether Parliament should be given a vote on triggering Article 50. The Prime Minister has also agreed to reveal her plans for the Brexit negotiations before the process of leaving actually begins.
Theresa May has dramatically announced that MPs will on Wednesday be given the opportunity to vote on her timetable for triggering Article 50 and formally beginning Brexit. Just over 24 hours after the Supreme Court began considering whether Parliament should be allowed a vote on Article 50, the Prime Minister formally amended a backbench motion on Brexit. MPs will be asked to back the Government’s plan to formally serve Article 50 by the end of March 2017. Mrs May also committed to revealing the official plan for Brexit before the process begins. The unexpected announcement came after months of the Government refusing to give a “running commentary” on Brexit, or formally to allow Parliament a vote on the process. Wednesday’s vote was welcomed by both Leave and Remain campaigners, with Brexiteers backing the Prime Minister’s decision to finally tackle the issue head-on. Downing Street sources said that it was now time to “see if those who say they accept the result really do”.
Number 10 has accepted Labour’s attempt to force the prime minister to publish a plan for Brexit before Article 50 is triggered, the BBC has learned. Shadow Brexit secretary Keir Starmer put forward a motion for debate on Wednesday calling for details of the strategy, with support from some on the Conservative back benches. Now the government has tabled an amendment to win them back. But sources are not committing Theresa May to publish any specific plans. The motion will still be debated on Wednesday as part of the Opposition Day debate offered to rival parties to choose their subject for discussion in the House of Commons.
Prime Minister Theresa May will reveal more details on the government’s plans for ‘Brexit’ in a bid to fend off a backbench revolt on the issue. Labour put forward a motion in the House of Commons to be debated on Wednesday, which called for more information on the ‘Brexit’ strategy, and it is thought that up to 40 Tory backbenchers were ready to back the opposition vote before the Prime Minister’s last-minute intervention. The PM has now tabled an amendment to the motion which allows potentially rebellious Tories to support it but also explicitly backs her to trigger ‘Brexit’ by the end of March. Labour’s motion acknowledges that some elements of the negotiating position should remain secret but urges Mrs May to “commit to publishing the Government’s plan for leaving the EU” before triggering Article 50.
The government has accepted the opposition Labour Party’s call for it to set out its plan for leaving the European Union before formal talks begin, but has asked parliament to respect its Brexit timetable. It is not clear how much detail the government will give of its plan beyond its mantra that it wants “the best deal to trade with and operate within” the EU’s single market, alongside some curbs on freedom of movement. Prime Minister Theresa May had faced a rebellion among her own MPs when parliament debates on Wednesday whether she should set out her plans before triggering Article 50 of the EU’s Lisbon Treaty to begin the exit process.
THE European Union is about to be swept away by a populist tsunami with countries from Britain to the Baltics increasingly turning to nationalist parties, leading EU experts warned tonight. Analysts said the political earthquake unleashed by the financial crisis has morphed into an unstoppable anti-EU wave as wealth inequality and dissatisfaction with Brussels fuel an anti-establishment revolution. The independent website VoteWatch, which analyses the state of the bloc, said unless radical action is taken Europe will “continue its fragmentation in a downward spiral leading to its break-up”. Its dire warning comes amid a surge in support for populist parties across the continent which is threatening to engulf the euro establishment and rip the EU project apart.
The British government’s attitude towards impending talks to leave the European Union suggests that Britain’s exit will not be smooth and orderly, the head of the group of euro zone finance ministers said on Tuesday. Businesses, investors and opposition lawmakers in Britain say the government should clarify its negotiating position as ministers have made contradictory statements on key issues such as access to the single market. “It can be smooth and it can be orderly but I think it requires a different attitude on the part of the British government because the things that I’ve been hearing so far are incompatible with smooth, incompatible with orderly,” Eurogroup chairman Jeroen Dijsselbloem told reporters.
The European Union’s chief negotiator set a target of agreeing a Brexit deal with Britain by October 2018, assuming London keeps a promise to formally launch the process of leaving the EU by the end of March. Michel Barnier, at a news conference on Tuesday, said the two-year deadline for final withdrawal fixed in Article 50 of the EU treaty meant there would be less than 18 months for actual negotiations. British Prime Minister Theresa May has said she will give formal notification of Britain’s departure in March. Once a deal is struck, Barnier said, it will take some months to have it ratified by Britain, the other 27 states and the EU parliament.
The UK must reach a Brexit deal by October 2018, the EU’s chief negotiator has said. In his first public statement since taking on the role overseeing Britain’s divorce from Europe, Michel Barnier said “time will be short”. He added: “It is clear the period for actual negotiations will be shorter than two years. “At the beginning, the two years included the time for the council to set guidelines and to authorise negotiations. “At the end, the agreement must of course be approved by the Council and European Parliament. “Finally the UK will have to approve the agreement – all within the two year period. “All in all there will be less than 18 months to negotiate. That is short.” He added: “Should the UK notify by the end of March as Prime Minister Theresa May said she would, it is safe to say negotiations could start a few weeks later and an article 50 reached by Oct 2018.”
A final deal on Britain’s exit from the EU could be reached by October 2018, the European Commission’s chief negotiator says. Setting out the European Commission’s plans for the first time, Michel Barnier said: “Time will be short. It is clear that the period of actual negotiations will be shorter than two years.” Mr Barnier said if Britain triggers Article 50 by the end of March – as Theresa May has said she wants to do – an agreement would be needed by October the following year to get it through the European Parliament by March 2019. The Supreme Court is currently hearing the Government’s case for invoking Article 50 after the High Court ruled that the Government must put such a move to a vote by MPs. On triggering Article 50, Mr Barnier said: “The European Union is ready to receive the notification. We are ready. Keep calm and negotiate.”
The British government will need to put forward a new law to trigger formal divorce talks with the European Union if it loses a legal battle over who can start the Brexit process, the Supreme Court heard on Tuesday. The government is appealing against a ruling last month that it needs parliament’s assent to invoke Article 50 of the EU’s Lisbon Treaty, the first formal step towards Brexit, as opposed to using an executive power known as the prerogative to do so. Prime Minister Theresa May has said she intends to trigger Article 50 by the end of March, and the government’s fear is that going through parliament could disrupt her timetable and give parliamentarians opportunities to water down its Brexit plans.
A “FANATICAL” rabble of pro-EU campaigners were tonight branded “odious extremists” after they condemned 17.4 million Brexit voters as “fascists” in an extraordinary protest. A handful of activists from the ultra left-wing group Movement for Justice By Any Means Necessary gathered outside the Supreme Court today waving EU flags and brandishing placards calling the referendum result “racist”. They denounced supporters of Brexit as “Farage’s aggressive fascist supporters” and claimed the vote to leave was a conspiracy by the rich and powerful to “step up the racist scapegoating of immigrants”. But tonight two top Tories said they were “disturbing fanatics” who were attempting to “demonise” the 52 per cent of voters who backed leaving the European Union. The anti-integration, pro-burka group, which calls for completely open borders and the shutting down of all immigration detention centres, has vowed to protest outside the Supreme Court throughout the four-day hearing on Article 50. Its demonstrations were organised to counter a proposed march by Brexit supporters, to be led by former Ukip leader Nigel Farage, which was cancelled over fears it could be hijacked by the far-right.
BREXIT should not be held up by Scottish grandstanding because Nicola Sturgeon has no right to overrule Westminster, according to Scotland’s own advocate general arguing for the Government in the Supreme Court. Lord Keen has made the case to the 11 law lords deliberating Article 50 that the devolved powers of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland carry no weight when it comes to delaying the Government’s Brexit action. He is adamant that Westminster pulls rank when it comes Brexit, making the point that the devolved nations’ argument carries no weight. He said: “Parliamentary sovereignty can legislate at any time on any matter and that’s played out in the devolution agreement.
NIGEL FARAGE has warned “nobody” can begin to contemplate the political realignment Britain will face if Brexit is derailed. The former Ukip leader argued if Theresa May’s Government did not regain control over the UK’s borders and legislative power from the European Union, the 17.4million Britons who voted to leave would rise up against the establishment. Mr Farage was speaking after the first day of the Government’s appeal in the Supreme Court over whether Parliament is required to vote before the Prime Minister begins Britain’s formal exit from the EU. Speaking to Sky News, Mr Farage said: “If Brexit doesn’t mean Brexit, you know if we don’t get back control of our borders, the ability to make our laws, our fishing waters, all those things we clearly voted for back in June. “If those things don’t happen, then I would say this to you; if you think Brexit was a political earthquake in British politics in 2016, well then you ain’t seen nothing yet, because there would be a major realignment of British political ahead of 2020 and some results that probably would be difficult for anybody at this moment to contemplate. “Those 17.4million people meant it and they are going to go on meaning it.”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has announced she believes the full Islamic face veil or “burqa” has no place in her country and should be banned. Critics have pointed to her announcement, made at the Christian Democratic Party conference, as an attempt to shore up her conservative base after announcing she would seek another term as German leader. Having presided over the open border policies leading to Europe’s migrant crisis, the Cologne mass sexual assault scandal, a surge in migrant criminality and more, Mrs. Merkel appears to have had a swift change of heart and has called for a burqa ban “where legally possible”. Speaking as her own Christian Democratic Party (CDU) voted on whether to re-elect her as leader to go forward to challenge for the German Chancellor, Mrs. Merkel vowed the migrant crisis which has been a defining feature of her administration “should never be repeated”.
ANGELA Merkel has vowed to roll out a burka ban in Germany amid a backlash over her open door policy to migrants. Her plan to outlaw the Islamic full face covering comes as politicians call for the same in Britain. The German premier called for the move saying the “full veil is not appropriate” in Germany. And Dutch MPs last week voted to ban the burka in public places for “security reasons”. France and Belgium have already passed similar laws, cracking down on what Muslim women can wear. The Chancellor spoke out tonight as she addressed a conference of her Christian Democratic Union party. Ms Merkel told delegates: “The full veil must be banned wherever it is legally possible.”
A STUNNING threat to Greece’s Eurozone membership has been delivered by the German government. Finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble insisted Athens must implement reforms or face losing the shared currency. The country is more than €300bn (£250bn) in debt and has had three bailouts on the condition of upping taxes and slashing spending. Now Mr Schäuble’s demand for more unpopular reforms could boost support for Greece leaving the Eurozone, bringing back the scrapped Drachma. Speaking to German newspaper Bild am Sonntag, he insisted that the austerity-racked nation must reform “regardless of the debt level”. “Athens must finally implement the needed reforms,” he said. “If Greece wants to stay in the euro, there is no way around it.” Greece argues its monster debt is a barrier to growth – an argument backed by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). But the IMF has also ramped up the pressure, demanding €4.2bn (£3.4bn) of extra savings to meet fiscal targets.
Hospitals have been ordered to end “eye-wateringly high” payments to stand-in bosses after a watchdog found that salaries of more than £400,000 have become routine. Some temporary staff could avoid tax on their NHS pay under arrangements described by regulators as deeply unpalatable. Costly employees are not monitored properly and hospitals have little idea whether they are any good, according to NHS Improvement, the financial regulator. The warnings come in a letter to hospital leaders, seen by The Times. Jim Mackey, chief executive of the regulator, said that “unacceptable” payments must be replaced by promotion of hospitals’ own staff or secondments from elsewhere in the health service.
The leader of Britain’s biggest union Unite leader is to seek re-election for a further term of office from next April. Len McCluskey, 66, announced tonight he has formally stood down as general secretary. Balloting will start in March and end on April 28. Assistant general secretary Gail Cartmail is taking over as acting leader for the election period. Mr McCluskey’s current five-year term is due to end in 2018, so he is effectively bringing forward the election by a year in a timetable agreed by Unite’s executive. Mr McCluskey took the helm at the union in 2011 and was re-elected in 2013. If he wins the latest election it will be his third term of office. He said: ”I intend to be a candidate in the upcoming general secretary election and to submit my record to the vote of Unite members.
Len McCluskey, the head of Britain’s biggest union, has resigned, but will stand again in the ensuing leadership contest, triggering a fight for control of Labour’s most generous donor. The head of Unite announced on Tuesday he would try to win a third term in office after days of speculation over his future. The decision is a gamble by McCluskey and his supporters to maintain control of the union and its influence over the Labour party. Unite has 1.4 million members and has given millions of pounds to the party. Gerard Coyne, Unite’s regional secretary for the West Midlands, is expected to stand against McCluskey. His supporters say there is “everything to play for”. McCluskey’s current five-year term is to end in 2018, so he is effectively bringing the election forward a year. The 66-year-old would have come under pressure to retire if he had stayed until the end of the scheduled term.