Brexit

The focus of the Brexit negotiation has changed to Ireland, where there is conflict over whether or not there should be a ‘hard’ border between Northern Ireland ad Eire. The Times says:

The European Union has handed Ireland an effective veto over any Brexit deal, increasing pressure on the prime minister to make further concessions on the border issue.
Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, said any agreement between London and Brussels that was unacceptable to Ireland was also unacceptable to the EU.
Mrs May is due to present plans to unblock the negotiations on Monday. Sources in London and Brussels said they expected talks to continue over the weekend before the prime minister meets Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission. British sources described the meeting as a “staging post” and not a deadline, but EU diplomats warned that time was running out before a summit of EU leaders on December 14.

The Mail reports:

Ireland was handed a formal veto over the Brexit divorce deal today as Brussels chief Donald Tusk said Dublin must agree it before it is given to other EU leaders.
The EU Council President struck a tough line on a visit to Dublin and standing alongside Irish premier Leo Varadkar admitted British politicians might find it ‘hard to understand’.
But he said if the draft divorce deal Britain presents on Monday is ‘unacceptable for Ireland it will be unacceptable for the EU’ and warned: ‘The UK’s future lies – in some ways – in Dublin.’
Mr Varadkar said ‘good progress’ was being made but demanded more ‘credible’ assurances from London over how it proposed to make the UK-Ireland border work. 

Sky News says the offer must be ‘acceptable’.

The UK’s offer on Brexit must be acceptable to Ireland before negotiations can move on, the president of the European Council has said.
Donald Tusk said he had given Theresa May a deadline of Monday to make a “final offer” on the future Irish border before EU leaders decide if there is “sufficient progress” to open a second phase of Brexit talks.
The Republic of Ireland has demanded a written guarantee there will be no hard border with Northern Ireland when the UK leaves the EU.
Speaking after meeting Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar in Dublin, Mr Tusk said: “Let me say very clearly: If the UK offer is unacceptable for Ireland, it will also be unacceptable for the EU.

The Sun claimed the ball is back in the UK’s court.

BRUSSELS gave Ireland an official veto on Brexit progress tonight as it heaped pressure on Theresa May to solve the Irish border question within 48 hours.
Flanked by Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, the hard-talking EU Council chief Donald Tusk said it was Britain’s responsibility to come up with proposals to avoid the return of a hard border.
And he said Mrs May must put her cards on the table by Monday – or the EU27 heads of state will refuse to start talking about our future trading relationship with the EU. Mr Tusk said he’ll consult with Dublin before deciding if her proposals are sufficient.
Dublin wants Northern Ireland to have a special arrangement whereby it stays in the EU single market and customs union – but Mrs May insists the whole of the UK must be outside.

The Independent says the EU will follow Dublin’s lead.

Theresa May has been warned that the EU will block progress in the Brexit talks if the Irish government decides that her proposals for the border with Northern Ireland are “unacceptable”.
The European Council President, Donald Tusk, effectively handed Dublin a veto over progressing the talks onto future trade next month – the Prime Minister’s priority in the negotiations.
“Let me say very clearly. If the UK offer is unacceptable for Ireland, it will also be unacceptable for the EU,” Mr Tusk said at a press conference alongside the Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar in Dublin.
He added: “I realise that for some British politicians this may be hard to understand, but such is the logic behind the fact that Ireland is an EU member while the UK is leaving.” 

The Express calls Tusk’s decision ‘extraordinary’.

BRUSSELS boss Donald Tusk tonight delivered an extraordinary blow to Britain’s hopes of achieving a Brexit breakthrough as he gave Ireland a special veto over trade talks.
Speaking in Dublin, the EU Council president told Theresa May that “the key to the UK’s future lies in Dublin” and said other member states would back whatever it decides.
In a pointed rebuke to Number 10 he said the bloc would not agree that the thorny border issue has to be linked to future trading arrangements, somthe the UK side believed EU counterparts had privately conceded.
And he threw in a pointed jab at Brexit-backing British politicians, mocking their argument that member states will act to force through the start of trade talks soon. 

The Irish foreign minister claims an agreement is possible, says the Independent.

Irish foreign minister Simon Coveney has said that “certain parameters” will need to be agreed between Ireland and the UK, before it will allow negotiations with the EU to move on to trade talks, which could have the potential to severely restrict the UK’s ability to sign free trade deals with other countries.
Mr Coveney told the BBC’s Today Programme that Dublin would not “leap into the dark” by allowing negotiations to move on, and would insist on reassurances that the UK would not significantly deviate from EU standards after Brexit, which trade deals with other countries, particularly the US, might require it to.
He said in talks with the UK ahead of the December 14 summit, the Irish Government wants to secure “an agreed wording whereby we can agree the parameters within which we can find a solution that prevents the re-emergence of the border on the island of Ireland and all the negative consequences that flow from that”.

But the Independent claims there is no evidence to avoid a ‘hard’ border.

The Government has failed to provide any evidence that it will be able to avoid introducing a hard border between the UK and Ireland after   Brexit, an influential House of Commons committee has said.
The Exiting the EU Committee said it appeared inevitable that border checks will have to be introduced if Britain leaves the single market and customs union.
The option of allowing Northern Ireland to remain in the trading bloc when the rest of the UK leaves has been mooted but any such proposal is likely to be strongly opposed by the DUP, whose votes the Conservatives rely on in Parliament.
The Brexit committee said Government suggestions that technology could be used to create a “light touch” border were “untested and to some extent speculative”. 

The Guardian is more upbeat.

Ireland’s deputy prime minister and foreign minister has said he believes a Brexit deal on the Irish border question is “doable”, and confirmed that his government had held talks on the subject with Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist party.
Simon Coveney said a breakthrough was possible before Theresa May’s crunch meeting with Jean-Claude Juncker on Monday, when Britain has to table satisfactory offers on three issues to progress to the next phase of negotiations.
“I think it is doable … We are not where we need to be today, but I think it is possible to get to be where we need to be in the next few days,” said Coveney in Dublin on Friday.
He said Ireland needed “some movement and more flexibility than we have seen to date” but he was hopeful the impasse could be broken.

Trade

The EU could slap extra tariffs on British exports reports the Guardian.

The EU is exploring the inclusion of a “punishment clause” in any future trade deal with the UK to allow Brussels to slap tariffs on key British exports to the bloc if the UK government seeks to gain a commercial advantage by lowering regulatory standards.
In a move that would torpedo the post-Brexit plans of the British cabinet’s key Brexiters, any significant attempts by Whitehall to lower regulatory costs to British businesses in one part of the economy could be met by tariffs from Brussels on another.
An attempt to grab a larger share of the world market in aluminium, for example, by loosening regulation and reducing production costs in the UK could provoke a punitive tariff on British beef sales to the EU, a sector on which thousands of jobs rely.
In a leaked letter to the prime minister last month, key pro-Brexit ministers Michael Gove and Boris Johnson suggested that the UK could overhaul regulations in some sectors after leaving the bloc “to give the UK big advantages over EU members”.

And the Express reports a claim that the block is protectionist.

THE European Union is damaging itself by seemingly advocating free trade while actually taking a protectionist route, an MEP has claimed.
Swedish liberal MEP Jasenko Selimovic has said that despite the bloc’s rhetoric over promoting free trade it is actually pursuing protectionist policies that inflict damage and do not address the continuing rise of the extreme far right.
Mr Selimovic said: “I think we’ll damage Europe by closing it, by making it more protectionist and at the same time, not having the extreme right falling in the polls.
“We could end up with a double problem.”
Critics of the French President Emmanuel Macron pointed out he is trying to move the EU towards more protectionist policies off the back of Brexit with the UK leaving the group, with the French backed by Germany who is worried by the prospect of the rising far right.

Citizens’ rights

Still in the Brexit negotiations, the question of citizens’ rights is covered by the Independent.

Any agreement reached on citizens’ rights in the  Brexit negotiations must be ring-fenced even if the talks collapse and no deal is agreed between the UK and EU, a new Commons report has demanded.
In a report before the crucial European Council meeting – where it will be decided next month whether the Brexit negotiations can pass to the next phase – MPs on the influential Brexit committee also warned that a border between Northern Ireland and the Republic appeared  inevitable after Brexit.
The report by the committee, chaired by the Labour MP Hillary Benn, said: “We call on the Government to request, and the EU to agree, that any agreement reached on citizens’ rights should be ring-fenced when reached, and persevered even if no overall Article 50 deal is reached.”
The MPs on the Brexit committee added that if the EU negotiating team rejected such a request, then Downing Street should “make a declaration that it will unilaterally provide an agreement on EU citizens’ rights in the UK” to provide reassurances to the more than three million EU citizens living in Britain.
In these circumstances, we would expect the EU to issue a similar guarantee to UK citizens  living in EU countries,” they add.

NHS

Our health service needs yet more money, says the Independent.

Patients will have to wait longer for treatment because the additional funding awarded to the NHS in last week’s budget won’t cover health service priorities and waiting list reductions, health chiefs have said.
In a meeting today, NHS England’s board set out the principles for which services will be prioritised in the wake of the budget settlement for 2018/19.
The board said that the NHS should do “all it can” to prevent patients waiting longer than the recommended 18 weeks for non-urgent procedures, including joint operations, cataract surgeries, and fertility treatments.
Having not received the £4bn they asked for, these waiting time targets “will not be fully funded and met next year”, they said.
Prior to the budget, NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens made the unprecedented step of asking for the £350m a week pledged to the NHS by Brexit campaigners.
Health policy groups had said that a minimum of £4bn extra was needed next year to keep services running, but this was publicly refused by Chancellor Philip Hammond.

And the Mirror claims waiting times will lengthen.

Hospitals will be forced to tear up waiting time targets next year thanks to Tory underfunding, NHS chiefs have warned.
A bombshell memo said the targets “will not be fully funded and met” without more cash – leaving distressed patients waiting longer for treatment.
The admission – thought to include the 18-week wait from referral to treatment – ignites a new row between NHS chiefs and the government over health funding just a week after the Budget.
The memo to NHS England’s board said it must “be realistic about what can be expected from the remaining available funds”.

The Morning Star says the service will not meet targets.

NHS bosses admitted yesterday that the health service will not meet its waiting targets next year due to chronic underfunding.
At NHS England’s board meeting yesterday, politicians and trade unionists were shocked to find “unprecedented confirmation” in the board paper that legally binding targets will be missed — including an 18-week limit on the time people wait for non-urgent operations.
It read: “NHS constitution waiting times standards, in the round, will not be fully funded and met next year.”
Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth placed the blame squarely at Chancellor Philip Hammond’s feet.
He said: “NHS England’s unprecedented confirmation that NHS constitution waiting times standards ‘will not be fully funded and met next year’ is the direct result of Philip Hammond’s failure to give the NHS the funding it needed in the recent Budget.

And Westmonster claims the BBC have reported on the additional pressure on the NHS without mentioning the reason.

BBC’s Newsnight have – yet again – done a report on the huge increase in demand on the NHS without mentioning mass migration.
Their report last night highlighted how huge increases in funding are required, with a massive 250,000 more people using A & E every month compared to 2010.
This huge increase in population fuelled by net migration in the hundreds of thousands is amazingly ducked by the report however, mentioning a huge rise in demand – but totally ignoring the immigration aspect to the story.
The lefty show has form on this. They previously reported on how a hospital was at breaking point, seeing 100 more patients per day compared to the year before – but again no mention of mass migration adding to the huge pressure on the health service.
They also aired a special programme on the housing crisis and yup, you guessed it, the issue of mass migration was virtually ignored once again.
If you want to ease pressure on the NHS you need to control migration and bring numbers down. The  vast majority of the public know and want this. Do Newsnight think viewers are stupid?

National insurance

The Sun claims the government is about to reduce NI contributions for those with a disability.

MINISTERS launched a bid to get a million more disabled people and mental health sufferers back into work yesterday by launching moves to give a tax break to firms that employ them.
The Government announced a review into how to enact a manifesto pledge to give a one-year holiday on National Insurance Contributions (NICs) to firms.
The aim is to get one million more disabled people into work over the next decade. Currently there are 3.5million of them in work.
But the plans descended into another row after insiders claimed Philip Hammond was trying to block the move.
DWP wants the review done in time to report in the spring but sources accused the Treasury of watering down the words in yesterday’s consultation document to kick the idea into the long grass.
A source said: “The Treasury is against this. It’s not DWP that’s standing in the way of doing this, it’s not the Department for Health – it’s the Treasury.”

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