Brexit

The first phase of the Brexit negotiations have ended. The Sun says:

Europe’s leaders fired the starting gun for the second half of  EU exit talks after finally declaring “sufficient progress” on divorce arrangements yesterday.
Theresa May heralded the landmark moment at a summit in Brussels as “an important step”.
The PM insisted it meant she is “well on the road to delivering the smooth and orderly Brexit that people voted for”.
But as the EU laid down its initial objectives for transition and trade talks next, a series of new flash points with London swiftly emerged.
The biggest was over the shape of the post-Brexit new relationship.
Europe’s bosses are ready only to offer “a political declaration” of future hopes — a far cry from the full trade deal Mrs May asked for in exchange for paying the £39billion.

But will the deal mean the end of our association with the EU? The Mail wonders.

Brexiteers today warned Brussels demands for a transition deal would leave Britain ‘de facto in the EU’ as Theresa May hailed agreement on her divorce deal.
All 27 remaining EU leaders signed off on Britain having made ‘sufficient progress’ on how to leave the bloc today in a major milestone on the road to Brexit.
The decision means the release of new negotiating guidelines that finally unlock talks on trade between the UK and EU after Brexit.
But the European demands controversially insist Britain must match all EU rules for the duration of a transition deal – meaning continued free movement, no signing of trade deals with other countries and keeping European court rulings.
In an apparent concession, EU sources told reporters in Brussels the UK would be allowed to negotiate trade deals with other countries during a transition – something currently banned under under EU laws – but not sign or implement them.

EU

The Express claims Brussels bigwigs have declared their intention to ‘destroy’ our PM.

BREXIT battle lines have been laid down as European Union leaders unite in their desperate quest to destroy Theresa May and her ambitions for Britain.
Theresa May flew back to London after last night’s talks, leaving the EU27 leaders to vote on whether or not to allow Brexit talks to move onto the next stage.
Mrs May was applauded by her European counterparts at a Brussels dinner last night after German Chancellor Angela Merkel thanked the PM for her efforts in Brexit talks.
And today European Council leader Donald Tusk confirmed the news, congratulating the Prime Minister as he said the EU leaders were happy with the progress made.
But the collective line from EU leaders on Brexit today is that upcoming talks will be tougher than the first phase – and Mrs May must prepare for things to get a whole lot worse after a difficult week for the embattled PM.
Spain’s Mariano Rajoy, Mrs Merkel, senior MEP Manfred Weber and EU chief Jean-Claude Juncker are among the leaders who have issued the stark warning in yet another sign of EU leaders ganging up on the PM.
And Mrs May and her Brexit Secretary David Davis have been warned that if they thought the last year since the June 23 referendum was tough, the pair may have a whole new nightmare heading for them when it comes to opening up phase 2.

The Independent claims the next phase of negotiations will be harder.

EU leaders have warned Theresa May that the second phase of Brexit talks will be harder and “more challenging” than the first, as the spotlight turns to the difficulties Britain’s negotiators will face in the coming months.
The EU27’s new red lines, released at the end of the Prime Minister’s most successful Brussels summit since taking office, show that the EU will make a series of demands already on their way to enraging hardline Brexiteers in Ms May’s Cabinet and party.
The new European Council guidelines to their negotiators show there will be no full trade talks between the two sides until next March, and that UK will be made to implement all new EU rules created by the EU27 during the transition period, without any say in drawing them up.
EU negotiators are also preparing to demand that Britain follow EU customs rules while in its two-year transition period, a move that would bar the UK from inking the third-party trade deals beloved of Cabinet ministers like Liam Fox.
The demands have already angered Tory Eurosceptic hardliners, who see negotiating trade deals around the world and freedom from Brussels regulations as key red lines in their vision for a post-EU Britain.
The second phase will be more demanding, more challenging than the first phase,” European Council President Donald Tusk told reporters in Brussels at a press conference following EU leaders’ meeting.

Westmonster points to ‘guidelines’ laid down by the EU.

New guidelines from the European Union outline how they intend for the ‘transition period’, set to go on until at least 2021, to see the UK basically remain a member of the European Union in all but name.
The guidelines make clear that: “All existing Union regulatory, budgetary, supervisory, judiciary and enforcement instruments and structures will also apply, including the competence of the Court of Justice of the European Union.”
As the United Kingdom will continue to participate in the Customs Union and the Single Market (with all four freedoms) during the transition, it will have to continue to comply with EU trade policy, to apply EU customs tariff and collect EU customs duties, and to ensure all EU checks are being performed on the border vis-à-vis other third countries.”

Trade talks will start, but when? The Independent says not until March.

Theresa May has implicitly accepted EU plans to postpone Brexit trade talks until March, amid concern that the British Government does not know what sort of trade deal it wants from the process.
Speaking to European national leaders over dinner at a summit in Brussels on Thursday night the PM accepted that “priority” should be given to talks on the transition period rather than the trade framework.
Leaks of a draft statement expected to be agreed to by the EU27 on Friday show leaders will call “on the United Kingdom to provide further clarity on its position on the framework for the future relationship” before talks about it can properly start in March next year.
While Downing Street officially still says it wants trade talks to start “as soon as possible”, Ms May’s comments represent the first time the Government has agreed to put trade on the backburner. The PM is understood to have made no serious intervention at the dinner urging the timetable – set to be agreed by the same leaders the next day – to be sped up.

The EU is already starting to lay down extra demands, reports the Express.

THERESA May was plunged into a fresh row with Brussels last night just minutes after EU leaders gave the go-ahead for the next round of negotiations.
The Prime Minister hailed their decision as “an important step” towards a “smooth and orderly   Brexit”.
But within an hour of the announcement, 
EU chiefs claimed detailed trade talks will not begin until March and demanded that Britain remains signed up to EU rules for an extra two years.
It came in a document setting out guidelines for the next round of negotiations published by EU Council President Donald Tusk.
The document said the UK must accept a continued open door to EU migrants, meddling by the EU’s Court of Justice and a ban on trade deals with other countries for a full two-year transition period after formally leaving the EU in March 2019.
Whitehall sources angrily hit back by warning that the Prime Minister would not put up with any “backsliding” or attempts to “freeze up” the talks.

And the Mirror also outlines the EU’s demands.

Theresa May suffered a kick in the teeth today despite finally agreeing a Brexit  deal as the EU said it needed “more clarity” on her vision.
Leaders of 27 nations agreed trade talks can now go ahead – but they won’t start properly until March.
European Council President Donald Tusk made the announcement after signing off a first-round deal on citizens’ rights, the £39bn divorce bill and Northern Ireland.
He told journalists in Brussels: “It is now time for internal EU27 preparations and exploratory contacts with the UK to get more clarity on their vision.
“On that basis, we should adopt guidelines and start negotiations next year.
“I trust that the unity on the EU side will continue.”
It opened an immediate rift with Theresa May who insisted Britain’s talks on its future relationship would start “straight away”.

The talks are going to be tough, says Sky News.

Agreeing a Brexit deal by the March 2019 deadline will be “dramatically difficult”, the European Union has warned.
The stark warning came from EU Council President Donald Tusk, who was speaking after European leaders agreed to move Britain’s exit negotiations onto the next phase.
“It is still realistic and of course dramatically difficult,” he said. “For sure, the second phase will be more demanding, more challenging than the first phase.”
Theresa May hailed the development as a key milestone which shows she is “well on the road” to “delivering the smooth and orderly Brexit that people voted for”.
But the Prime Minister is facing calls from Brussels for “further clarity” on what she wants Britain’s future relationship with Europe to be.

The Independent reports a further integration of defence forces.

Theresa May arrived in Brussels on Thursday in time to see the official launch of the programme under which European states will integrate their defences, something Britain had avidly pressed for during the 1990s, but will not be a part of as it searches for its post-Brexit future.
The road to today’s Permanent Structured Cooperation (Pesco) began with the Anglo-French European Union defence accord 19 years ago. But the UK subsequently turned against extending this across the EU, holding that it may speed up the creation of an EU force, to the detriment of Nato.
The European states have repeatedly found themselves having to depend on the US to be bailed out militarily in recent times. They were unable to act in the Balkan conflict in the 1990s with any effect until the US stepped in. They were also forced to ask Washington for help after running out of bombs and missiles during the bombing of Muammar Gaddafi’s regime in Libya, a campaign which had been primarily instigated by David Cameron and Nicolas Sarkozy.
But reliance on America has become increasingly uncertain with the coming of Donald Trump, who had repeatedly threatened to curtail support in retaliation against European states not spending enough on defence.

Momentum

The far-left is flexing its muscles in the Labour Party, says the Mail.

Cut Tony Kennedy and he’d bleed Labour. A working-class boy from Birmingham  who joined the party as a 20-something trade unionist, he’s stayed loyal through good times and bad, pounding pavements, licking envelopes and manning campaign stalls during nine general elections and countless local ones.
He became a councillor in 1993 and has since dedicated himself to improving the lot of his city’s poorest residents, setting up tenants’ groups on estates and securing vast regeneration grants, worth more than £120 million, for the underprivileged neighbourhoods of Sparkbrook and Aston.
Now 61, after three separate spells at the Town Hall, Kennedy — who has two children and three grandchildren — is one of Birmingham’s four assistant council leaders. But not for long. For a few days ago, the party he’s loyally served for almost four decades decided he would not be allowed to stand for re-election next year.
Instead, members in the Balsall Heath ward voted for him to be replaced on the ballot sheet by one Zhor Malik, a council worker in the city’s sports department. Doubtless he believes he can do a good job, but Malik has no obvious political pedigree or experience. His views are thought to be considerably more Left-wing than Kennedy’s.

NHS

In other news, the Mail has a story about the thousands of pounds being paid out by the NHS for doctors’ overtime.

Soaring numbers of doctors are earning six-figure sums for overtime on top of their annual salaries, an investigation has found.
At least 126 received £100,000 or more last year for agreeing to work extra hours amid sweeping NHS  cutbacks.
A total of 980 doctors were paid £50,000 or more for overtime. Average basic salaries are £84,000 a year. At the same time, hospitals are facing a growing staff crisis while waiting lists for surgery and outpatient clinics are growing ever longer.
Managers are increasingly asking staff doctors, mostly consultants, to undertake extra shifts to fill rota gaps or run additional clinics.
But due to a flawed contract drawn up 14 years ago under Labour, consultants are entitled to charge sky-high hourly rates for overtime work. Hospitals have no choice but to agree to such fees as there are few other medics willing to do the shifts.

Social care

And the Times is predicting council tax rises to pay for social care.

Council tax bills will rise significantly under plans to head off deep cuts to frontline services and ease the social care crisis.
Theresa May has been presented with a stark choice of increasing household bills now or being hit with failures in the future. She is resisting pressure from councils to scrap rules that require them to hold a local vote for the largest increases. She could, however, allow them more flexibility to increase bills when the details of the local government finance settlement are announced next week.
Philip Hammond, the chancellor, who was criticised for failing to provide extra cash for social care in last month’s budget, is said to be sympathetic.

The Times also claims social care is patchy around the country.

Older people in need of residential care face a postcode lottery in obtaining financial help.
Councils have different limits on the help they offer and variations in how strictly they apply the cap, freedom of information requests show.
Two thirds of local authorities allow residents to haggle over assistance, which campaigners say benefits middle-class families who are able to play the system.
Families negotiate with local authorities because of medical needs, which require more expensive care. A total of 125 out of 150 councils responded to the freedom of information requests made by the insurer Royal London.

Asteroid

And as usual, the Star has an apocalyptic story.

A ‘HAZARDOUS’ asteroid is hurtling towards Earth at 45,000mph and is set to reach us tomorrow, NASA confirmed.
The space rock, called 3200 Phaethon, is three-miles-wide and is expected to speed past us rather too closely for comfort.
It’s the third-largest of its kind on record to fly by our planet and will be close enough to be studied in detail by NASA.
It had previously been expected to reach Earth by Sunday but NASA instead revealed today it will hurtle past at 10pm on Saturday.
The asteroid will be around 6.4million miles away from our planet – 27 times the distance between the Earth and the moon.
NASA is gobsmacked by how close it is and will take incredibly detailed photographs of the giant rock.

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