Our pro-EU chancellor has called the bloc’s bosses ‘paranoid’, says the Telegraph.

Philip Hammond has described EU fears that a soft Brexit could encourage other countries to leave the trading bloc as “paranoia”, saying Brussels should be doing more to keep existing members rather than “punish” Britain.
The Chancellor made the comments in an interview with German newspaper Welt am Sonntag in which he branded the EU’s approach to trade talks as “backward-looking”.
Mr Hammond visited Berlin this week to call for clarity on what the EU wants from future relations and to make the case for a wide-ranging Brexit deal.
Responding to the interviewer’s suggestion that a soft Brexit might offer an incentive for the people in other countries to leave, Mr Hammond said: “I can understand that paranoia. But imagine you are running a successful, thriving club. If one member leaves, you don’t immediately panic that all the other members might leave, but are confident they will want to remain.

Breitbart also has a story about Hammond.

Downing Street has hit back at claims by the anti-Brexit chancellor, who claimed the UK could keep paying the European Union (EU) massive amounts after Brexit for access to financial markets.
Government figures were reportedly looking into a ‘tailor-made’ trade deal, with the UK remaining tied to the bloc’s financial markets, 
The Times claimed. The plan was spearheaded by German officials, and Norway currently has a similar arrangement.
Britain is a net contributor to the bloc, which is  facing a €12 billion to €15 billion hole in its annual budget after Brexit.
Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond, who initially opposed Brexit and has subsequently pushed for a ‘soft’ divorce with the UK inside the EU’s Single Market, appeared to embrace the idea.
Asked in Berlin if Britain could pay the EU for banking access, he said: “We will talk about all of these things.”
However, Michel Barnier, the European Commission’s chief Brexit negotiator, has previously insisted that no special deal on banking can be made after Brexit.
On Friday, Downing Street also seemed to dismiss the idea. “We will not be paying for market access,” a spokesman for Theresa May told 
The Times.

The Express claims that even if we pull out of Brexit now, the EU would punish us.

EUROCRATS would strip the UK of its EU opt-outs and budget rebate if a second Brexit referendum saw the country vote to Remain a member of the bloc, it has been claimed.
Talk of a second vote is rife after former UKIP leader Nigel Farage fanned the flames by claiming it would result in an even bigger majority for Leave.
But it is understood in the event of a Remain vote, Britain could expect no favours from the European Commission, and that if a referendum was held after March 29, 2019, so-called Brexit day, a Remain vote would mean having to renegotiate its EU membership from scratch.
Currently, Britain has opt-out clauses on EU asylum policy, membership of the single currency and the passport-free Schengen zone, plus an exemption from the EU’s Charter of Fundamental Human Rights, and some other policies related to crime and justice.

But some countries want to give us a good post-Brexit deal, says the Sun.

SPAIN has become the latest to join a growing list of EU countries who want to give Britain a good exit deal.
The Madrid government’s support for a minimum tariffs agreement emerged after its talks with another pro-UK country, the Netherlands.
It leaves Germany and France more isolated, as the two member states pushing to hit the UK with the toughest conditions for market access.
The countries’ two economy ministers agreed to push for a Brexit deal “that keeps Britain as close to the EU as possible”, Bloomberg reported. The Pound soared on the news.
Trading closed with Sterling at $1.37 – its highest level against the US dollar since its post-Brexit vote plunge.
On top of the Dutch, the leaders of Italy, Poland, Hungary and Ireland have all spoken out publicly to call for the EU not to punish the UK for Brexit.
But Spain is also still demanding a say on Gibraltar’s future and has been given a veto on any Brexit deal over it by Brussels.

Will this ‘transition period last longer than two years? Europeans are considering it, says Breitbart.

The European Commission is debating whether or not to extend a so-called ‘transition period’ after Brexit beyond 2020.
Originally envisioned as a two-year period after the United Kingdom leaves the European Union in name — currently intended to fall in 2019 — very little in the UK’s relationship with the EU will change during the transition.
The UK will continue to pay into the EU budget, implement new EU directives and regulations, and submit to EU management of its fisheries, the Free Movement immigration regime, and the EU court — but will likely no longer send MEPs to the European Parliament or attend meetings of the European Council.
Brexit campaign leader Nigel Farage has described these arrangements even as they currently stand as “not a deal” but “capitulation”.

The possibility of a Brexit postage stamp have been welcomed, says the Sun.

TRADE chief Liam Fox has hailed The Sun’s campaign for commemorative Brexit stamps as a “first-class idea”.
Mr Fox, the third Cabinet minister to back us, called it “a great way to mark the next chapter in our history”.
His comments heap further pressure on new Postal Services Minister Andrew Griffiths to order a rethink.
Royal Mail bosses have refused to put out a stamp to mark Brexit on March 29 next year, despite marking our EU entry in 1973. PM Theresa May then moved Margot James from the Post Services role after she branded Brexit stamps “divisive”.
Mr Fox, who joins fellow Brexiteers Boris Johnson and Michael Gove in getting behind our campaign, said: “I am massively optimistic about our future outside the EU and all the opportunities this will bring.


Meanwhile, other countries still have an eye on our fish, says the Guardian.

The EU’s insistence that quotas under the common fisheries policy for the seas around the UK will remain in force during a Brexit transition period has been backed up by the Norwegian government, dealing a fresh blow for Downing Street.
Pers Sandberg, the Norwegian fisheries minister, said he expected talks between the EU, UK and  Norway over fishing rights to be complex and likely to conclude at the end of a transition period.
Norway is not part of the CFP but has agreements with the EU to allow mutual access to waters and markets, and will play a key role in talks about a future arrangement.
On Thursday the Guardian revealed that Brussels diplomats were agreed that Britain should effectively remain governed by the EU’s CFP for at least 21 months after Brexit day while not having a role in deciding the size of catches elsewhere in Europe.
Yet, Michael Gove, the environment secretary, reportedly suggested to the cabinet last year that the UK would “take back control” of its waters on Brexit day, with new quotas on every type of fish, from herring to crabs, lobsters and cold-water prawns.

Westmonster has picked up the story.

Britain could be tied to adhering to EU fishing quotas during the so-called transition period until 2021, according to The Guardian. 
Apparently EU diplomats are agreed there should be no meddling with the current quota system that’s decimated UK coastal communities.
Basically, the EU wants to dictate to Britain what fish it can and can’t catch within its own waters, while giving it no say whatsoever on the future of EU fishing policy during the transition period.
One EU diplomat, speaking about Michael Gove’s ‘take back control of our waters’ claim, reportedly said: “We notice Gove hasn’t repeated that recently. Perhaps he has been reined in, because it isn’t going to happen.”
This isn’t Brexit, this isn’t taking back control and it’s not what the British public voted for. What dreamland are Brussels big wigs living in? It’s a classic example of how the EU is just a dictatorship in disguise. We want our waters back – now.


The flu outbreak is continuing to make the headlines in the Telegraph.

Chemists were running low on supplies of the flu vaccine yesterday amid growing fears of an epidemic if the virus continues to spread at its current rate.
People across the country were being turned from high street pharmacies who said they had run out of stock.
After reports of a shortage in Cumbria, the Daily Telegraph contacted branches of Boots across the Midlands, East of England, the South and South West, but all 10 branches had no jabs left. Last night Boots UK said the shops would today be resupplied.
Meanwhile patients in at least six areas reported that their local pharmacists had run out of stock and wholesalers were said to have increased prices as demand surged.

The Sun claims it’s the Australian strain that’s causing the most problems.

BRITS are facing an Aussie flu jab crisis as chemists are reportedly beginning to run out of vaccines.
Pharmacies across the UK have been forced to turn away patients due to a shortage amid fears of an epidemic as the virus continues to spread.
Branches of Boots in Cumbria, the Midlands, the East of England, the South and South West all reported to have no jabs left.
The company confirmed the 10 stores contacted by the Daily Telegraph were due to be restocked today, however wholesalers have reportedly pushed up prices as demand increases.
High street chemists are understood to have avoided overstocking the vaccine because the NHS only reimburses the cost of those used.

And the Star reports on the numbers affected.

Flu deaths have soared dramatically by 50% in the last seven days, with 27 reported in the last week, it was reported, according to new figures released by Public Health England.
Hospitals are bursting at the seams and are set to dramatically buckle as the Aussie and Japanese flu endemic gets worse.
This comes as Bethany Walker, 18, from Applecross, Scotland, died after contracting flu when she was struck down by pneumonia.
Ms Walker had flu-like symptoms at home and was airlifted to Raigmore Hospital in Inverness. But despite the best efforts by doctors to save her life, she tragically died last Friday.
She is the eighth person to have died in Scotland from the flu, with 85 having perished south of the border.

But the Mail says there could be an answer.

Thousands of patients are being urged to get on ferries and the Eurostar to visit a hospital in Calais as the worst winter ever tightens its grip on the NHS.
Calais Hospital, ran in partnership with health chiefs in south Kent, has launched a campaign encouraging patients to make the trip across the Channel for ‘fast care’.
It comes just a week after Prime Minister Theresa May apologised for NHS England’s controversial decision to cancel 55,000 non-urgent operations.
Recent figures have shown that hospitals in England have reached ‘crisis point’, with A&E waiting times and ambulance delays going through the roof.
French bosses are advertising the unit in the city as being just ‘five minutes away’ from the Eurotunnel exit and the main port in an attempt to tempt patients to seek GP referrals for operations across the Channel.
English signs are displayed throughout the premises and every doctor and nurse is fluent in English.

The Independent reports a Tory MP who has said the government is not telling the truth about the problems.

A senior Conservative MP has hit out at the Government’s “disingenuous” use of statistics when talking about the scale of the winter crisis affecting the NHS.
Health minister Philip Dunne claimed bed occupancy was below safe levels “on Christmas Eve” when asked about pressures by Dr Sarah Wollaston, MP for Totnes, Devon – but this was the only day that has been true all winter.
Mr Dunne, who was Jeremy Hunt’s deputy as minister of state for health until he lost his position in this week’s reshuffle, was asked to provide information on “the current bed-occupancy levels in the NHS in England”.
He said: “I can confirm to my honourable friend that, at Christmas Eve, the bed occupancy rate was 84.2 per cent, below the target of 85 per cent that we set going into this particular winter period.
“Of course the rate fluctuates daily and I do not have the figures for the most recent days.”


Are exams easier nowadays? The Telegraph reports comments that they’re not.

Degree grade inflation is down to tuition fees because students are more motivated and are working harder, a Cambridge don has claimed.
Professor Graham Virgo, Cambridge’s pro-vice chancellor for education, said that a record rise in first class degrees was not a “cause for concern”, adding that students were now more determined to “get the best job that they can”.
His remarks come after figures released on Thursday showed that 100,495 graduates left university last year with top honours, up by 40 percent in four years.
The latest statistics, published by the Higher Education Statistics Agency, have alarmed experts and the university regulator the Office for Students, which has called on the sector to take action to halt the trend.


Banking fraudsters could be given easier access to your account, says the Mail.

The ‘open banking’ revolution that encourages customers to share their details in the hope of better deals on everything from broadband to gas bills puts them at risk from fraudsters, experts warned last night.
From today, current account holders will be able to give permission for their personal data to be shared with third parties.
This will enable firms such as broadband or energy providers to tailor deals to them by analysing their spending history.
The new rules form part of sweeping data sharing reforms, which are supposed to herald a new era of competition.
However, a separate piece of legislation, called the Payment Services Directive, allows some companies who want access to a customer’s details to ask for their online username and password.


Nigel has been fined for misusing his salary, says the Guardian.

Nigel Farage is being docked half his monthly MEP salary after a European parliament investigation alleged he had misspent public funds intended for staffing his office.
The former Ukip leader, who recently bemoaned being “53, separated and skint”, will lose €40,000 (£35,500) in total, the Guardian has learned, after European parliament auditors concluded he had misspent that amount of EU funds.
Financial controllers have been investigating the role of Christopher Adams, who was hired by Farage to work in the European parliament as his assistant.
Auditors suspended Adams’ contract last year, because they were not convinced he was working for Farage on European parliamentary matters. Although paid as Farage’s assistant, Adams was also the national nominating officer for Ukip, where he was described as one of the party’s “key people”.

The Sun also has the story.

NIGEL FARAGE is being docked half his salary for nine months over accusations he misspent EU cash.
The ex-Ukip chief, who describes himself as “skint”, will be forced to pay back a £35,500 “debt” to Brussels.
Eurocrats clobbered the top Brexiteer, who earns £90,000 a year, after deciding his parliamentary assistant was actually working on party matters.
Last year they suspended the work contract of his aide, Christopher Adams, who was also responsible for selecting Ukip candidates in Britain.
A subsequent probe by parliamentary authorities concluded Mr Farage had diverted EU funds towards national political activities.
Euro beancounters will reclaim the cash by withholding half of his £7,535-a-month MEP salary between January and October.

BBC News claims the move by the parliament was ‘vindictive’.

Nigel Farage has had his MEP’s salary docked by £35,500 after claims he misspent EU funds, the BBC understands.
The ex-UKIP leader was investigated by the European Parliament over claims his office assistant had not been working on EU matters.
Half of his salary has been withheld to recoup the money the Parliament says it is owed.
The move was condemned by a spokesman for the European Parliament group which Mr Farage heads.
“There is a vindictive campaign by the European Parliament of selective persecution of Eurosceptic MEPs, parties and groups,” said the spokesman for the European Freedom and Direct Democracy group.
“This allegation is all part of their politically motivated assault.”


The Donald’ is still making the headlines in the Mail.

Donald Trump faces the embarrassment of not being invited to the royal wedding, insiders said last night.
The US President is notoriously sensitive to snubs and might have expected to be asked to attend  Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s big day.
But a Royal Household source pointedly said: ‘Although the guest list hasn’t yet been announced, there is no reason he would be invited.’
The potential snub is a second setback to Mr Trump following the cancellation of a planned visit to Britain next month.
In other US-UK developments last night:
– UK officials privately expressed their hope that the President could come to Britain at some point this year;
– Ministers are examining the idea of him visiting Scotland instead;
– The President’s claim that the lease on the old embassy in Mayfair had been sold for ‘peanuts’ was supported by documents showing the US received nearly £200million less than thought.

The Times claims he won’t come to London for ‘personal reasons’.

President Trump’s decision to cancel his visit to London was for “personal reasons” after a series of perceived slights, British officials said last night.
Mr Trump had been expected to open the new American embassy in the capital but has scrapped the visit after clashing with the mayor of London and Theresa May.
A Whitehall source told The Times that the decision came after the president was left smarting over rows including a rebuke from the prime minister when he appeared to endorse a far-right group. “I don’t think anyone believes this is an issue of policy or divergence between our countries,” the source said. A US diplomatic source said that “concerns about the optics” were “part of the menu” of issues worrying the White House.

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