A poll for the Telegraph shows how important Brexit is to the UK’s people.

Brexit is more important to voters than keeping the United Kingdom together, an opinion poll for The Telegraph has indicated.
Sixty per cent of respondents agreed that Britain’s EU departure mattered more than stopping the UK’s break-up, while just 27 per cent disagreed.
Furthermore a majority of people said they would still vote for Brexit even if they knew it could trigger Scotland’s independence.
The results suggest there is no “buyer’s remorse” over Brexit despite a dramatic week in which the UK’s future has been called into question. 

But it seems the EU is determined to put the kybosh on talks, says the Express.

BRUSSELS chiefs are plotting to torpedo Theresa May’s Brexit strategy in an extraordinary act of self-harm which will leave Britain unable to seal a trade deal with the bloc before its departure date.
In a bombshell move eurocrats want to seek a legal lock on discussions about the UK’s access to the single market, meaning that the issue cannot be brought up during the negotiations.
Instead they intend to ensure that the two-year period allowed for under Article 50 revolves around just two issues – their £50bn demand for an exit bill and the residency rights of EU citizens in the UK.
Senior EU Commission officials today said that the strategy was designed to stop the crucial issue of trade and tariffs dominating, and admitted it could leave negotiators facing months without anything to talk about. 

… and has started making its demands, reports the Guardian.

Theresa May faces being publicly criticised by the EU if her letter triggering article 50 fails to refer to Britain’s obligation to settle its divorce bill and make an “orderly withdrawal” from the bloc.
A failure of the UK to announce its intention to act in good faith over the terms of its withdrawal, including a multibillion-pound financial settlement, is likely to receive a swift and condemnatory response, senior EU sources have suggested.
It is understood the EU’s Brexit negotiating team would expect the European council, the body that represents member states, to publicly point to the UK’s failure to offer clarity on its intentions.
It would mark the worst possible start to the negotiations, which are expected to be formally triggered in the last week of March. There are fears on both sides that intransigence and escalation of rhetoric over the withdrawal bill could lead to an early end to talks, and the UK crashing out of the EU without any sort of deal.

In the Huffington Post, erstwhile UKIP leader Diane James looks at the future for the euro.

Can the Euro collapse?
It is my opinion that it is inevitable that the single currency will break apart. This is not any Eurosceptic wishful thinking, nor do I relish the havoc that this would cause. I do believe, however, that the internal pressures within the Euro are unsolvable and this will lead to its collapse. And it is all down to the bond market.
And it has major ramifications for the UK, despite us never having been a participant.
Interest rates can be defined as the cost of money. It is also a measure of risk.
Central Banks raise rates when they want to reduce the amount of money in circulation. This can help control inflation as it cools asset price increases and deters borrowing. If the Central Bank wishes to cool the economy, it is usually via interest rates. Similarly if they wish to stimulate the economy and aggregate demand they lower interest rates.


Our National Health Service is in more trouble, says the Telegraph

The medical records of 26 million patients are embroiled in a major security breach amid warnings that the IT system used by thousands of GPs is not secure.
The Information Commissioner is investigating concerns that records held by 2,700 practices – one in three of those in England – can be accessed by hundreds of thousands of strangers.
Privacy campaigners last night said the breach was “truly devastating” with millions of patients having no idea if their records had been compromised.
GP leaders said the breach had “potentially huge implications” and could see family doctors flooded with complaints.
The investigation centres on one of the most popular computer systems used by GPs.

And the Mail reports that more beds should be available next winter.

Hospitals have been ordered to free-up between 2,000 and 3,000 beds to avoid a winter crisis next year.
The NHS watchdog has written to all trusts urging them to use new social care funding to discharge so-called bedblockers.
NHS Improvement has also compiled a list showing how many beds could be freed up at each trust if patients were discharged on time.
The worst affected hospitals could make more than 70 beds available if patients were sent home once well enough.
Bed-blocking occurs when patients remain in hospital despite being medically fit to go home because care is not ready for them at home.
But the problem has intensified in the past few years due to a drastic shortfall in social care funding.

In the Times, good news is reported.

Hundreds of thousands of people could cut the risk of a heart attack or stroke by a fifth with cholesterol-lowering drugs, a trial shows.
Patients who have already suffered a heart attack can protect against a repeat by taking a new class of medicines alongside statins, scientists concluded.
Levels of “bad” cholesterol fell by 59 per cent in patients taking evolocumab as well as statins, the international study found.
Doctors believe that this new way of fighting cholesterol is one of the most important advances against heart disease since statins came into widespread use two decades ago. Most of the million people in Britain who have suffered a heart attack could benefit but their use will depend on cost.

Nicola Sturgeon has offered to find a compromise with Theresa May over the date of her proposed referendum on Scottish independence.
The first minister said that she was willing to continue discussions after Mrs May ruled out holding a vote between autumn 2018 and spring 2019, Ms Sturgeon’s preferred timetable. It means that it cannot be held until after Brexit, and an independent Scotland would face a battle to rejoin the bloc.
Ms Sturgeon told the BBC that despite rising hostility between Holyrood and Westminster, she wanted to “try to work our way through that disagreement”.

The Guardian claims an unofficial referendum is on the cards.

Nicola Sturgeon has hinted she had other ways to force Theresa May into agreeing a compromise over a second referendum on Scottish independence.
Speaking a day after May rejected her call for the power to hold a referendum in 18 months, the first minister said there were other options open to her if May continued to refuse to pass on the powers needed to stage a legally constituted poll.
Sturgeon repeatedly refused to rule out staging an unofficial referendum in a series of television interviews on Friday, telling ITV News: “I don’t think I should be getting into Plan Bs at this stage when I am putting forward a Plan A that has such a strong cast iron mandate.”
The most dramatic option open would be to trigger a snap Scottish parliament election by resigning as first minister, forcing Holyrood to dissolve at a crucial time during the UK’s Brexit talks with the EU.

And a Scottish MP refused to rule out a second independence referendum, says the Mail.

A senior SNP official today refused four times to rule out the party calling an unofficial independence referendum if refuses to grant one.
Deputy First Minister John Swinney was repeatedly asked if the party would go ahead regardless in an effort to secure a positive vote.
The party’s deputy leader Angus Robertson fuelled speculation further by insisting the referendum would definitely go ahead.
Mr Swinney told the BBC the Westminster Government had no reason to stand in the way of a referendum between autumn 2018 and spring 2019 because the terms of Brexit would be clear.
But asked if the SNP would defy any refusal, he told the Today programme: ‘What’s clear is the Prime Minister has the capacity to change her mind.’

And a potential Labour leader has called for a continuation of the union, reports the Independent.

The man seen by many as Jeremy Corbyn’s successor for Labour leader has called for an effective split between the English and Scottish wings of the party, saying the move is needed to “save the union”.
Clive Lewis, the MP for Norwich South, told The Independent he supports the division that would end Britain’s centre-left party as it is known today, to better enable Scottish Labour to face down Nicola Sturgeon’s SNP.
His comments come amid fears that involvement of Labour’s London HQ, and more specifically Jeremy Corbyn’s office, in any new Scottish independence referendum  campaign could damage efforts to hold the UK together.

Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown has thrown his hat into the argument against independence, says the Mirror.

True Scottish patriots will reject independence and fight to stay in the United Kingdom, Gordon Brown says today.
Scots should demand £800million and powers back from Brussels as part of the Brexit deal rather than opt to quit Britain, the former Prime Minister insists.
In a return to the political frontline after a bitter week of feuding between Theresa May and Nicola Sturgeon , ex-Labour leader Mr Brown outlines a “third way” between separation and accepting current arrangements.

Sky News also reports Mr Brown’s words.

Gordon Brown will propose a “third option” of giving Scotland vast new powers in exchange for remaining in the UK.
During a speech in Fife the former PM will suggest giving Holyrood the authority to sign treaties with other European countries and set VAT.
He will also call for EU powers to be repatriated to the Scottish Parliament, Welsh Assembly and the regions – not Westminster.
That would give Scots control after Brexit of the £800m they currently contribute to the EU.

As does BBC News.

Gordon Brown is to set out a “third option” for Scotland’s future, based on more powers being transferred to Holyrood after Brexit.
The former Labour prime minister will suggest the Scottish government be given the power to set VAT rates and sign international treaties.
Control over agriculture, fisheries and environmental regulation could be transferred, he will argue in a speech.
It comes as Nicola Sturgeon is pressing for a second independence referendum.
The first minister set out her position five days ago, saying a fresh vote was necessary in the wake of last summer’s Brexit vote.
She will tell the SNP conference later that the will of the Scottish Parliament “must and will prevail” over the issue.


The waters around our island nation could become a bargaining chip in our negotiations, says the Express.

THE Government is facing increasing pressure to clarify its post-Brexit fishing policy after around 40 MPs have joined the fight to take back control of the Britain’s seas, a pressure group chief has revealed.
Alan Hastings, from Fishing for Leave, has urged the Government to ditch the London Conventions Act 1964 – an agreement which predates the UK’s entry into the Brussels bloc and which gives a host of European states access to fishing waters between six and 12 nautical miles from British shores.
Under the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), members of the European superstate are allowed to fish between 12 and 200 miles away from British coastlines but this can be scrapped when Britain leaves the crumbling Brussels bloc. 

And Scottish fishermen are in the vanguard of the fight to save British fish, says Westmonster.

As the SNP falls into civil war over whether or not Scotland should seek full membership of the crumbling European Union, Remoaner First Minister Nicola Sturgeon faces a backlash from one of Scotland’s most important industries.
Scottish fishermen are attacking the devolved administration for ignoring their complaints about the EU, which demands submission of national fishing waters to the dysfunctional Common Fisheries Policy – a mad project which has crippled fishing communities and robbed the UK of jobs.
One fisherman, from the industry worth a whopping £429m to Scotland, slammed the First Minister for being “very good at speaking about Norway when it suits herself” and told her that they should “follow the Norwegian model and fall out of Europe”.


The deal in which Turkey was given EU money to stop immigrants coming through its borders seems to be collapsing, says the Express.

TURKEY today upped its extraordinary war of words with the EU as it threatened to let 15,000 migrants a month into Europe.
In another blackmail threat interior minister Suleyman Soylu said he would “blow the minds” of Brussels leaders by sparking a fresh refugee crisis unless they cave into his demands.
Ankara has repeatedly sabre-rattled over the issue of migration in the knowledge that the EU is heavily reliant on its cooperation to control the flow of people.
Brussels and Turkey signed a landmark agreement one year ago tomorrow under all migrants arriving in Greece are sent back across the Aegean, with Europe taking in one Syrian refugee from a Turkish camp for every person returned.

The Star has a similar story.

TURKEY has threatened to “blow” Europe’s mind by sending thousands of refugees across the border every month.
Suleyman Soylu, the country’s interior minister, made the warning as he accused the European Union of “playing games” to stop Turkey from becoming more powerful.
According to Turkish newspaper Hurriyet, he said: “I’m telling you, Europe, do you have that courage?
If you want, we could open the way for 15,000 refugees that we don’t send each month and blow your mind.”
He was apparently referring to the deal between Turkey and the EU to stem the flow of migrants flooding across its border.
Ankara agreed to the measures in exchange for speeding up the talks on Turkey becoming an EU member.

As does Breitbart.

Turkey’s Foreign Minister has suggested directing tens of thousands of migrants to the European Union (EU) as a form of retaliation for European leaders blocking his government holding rallies in their countries.
We have a readmission deal. I’m telling you Europe, do you have that courage? If you want, we’ll send the 15,000 refugees to you that we don’t send each month and blow your mind,” said Süleyman Soylu on Thursday evening.
You have to keep in mind that you can’t design a game in this region in spite of Turkey,” Mr. Soylu added, according to a translation by Hurriyet Daily News.
The “deal” referred to by Mr. Soylu was struck almost exactly a year ago with the EU. Turkey promised to stem the flow of Middle Eastern migrants entering Europe in exchange for billions in aid and accelerated visa-free travel for its citizens in the bloc.

Closer to home, Fox News claims that the refugees flooding into Calais and trying to get to the UK will be cleared out again.

French authorities plan to evacuate more than half the migrants living in a camp on the English Channel.
Housing Minister Emmanuelle Cosse announced the plan Friday at the camp in Grande-Synthe, a suburb of Dunkirk, where people fleeing war and poverty in the Mideast and Africa have come in hopes of sneaking into Britain.
She says “with 1,500 people, it is impossible to manage” the camp properly. She said authorities will move asylum-seekers to special reception centers to reduce the camp’s population to 700.

But the Labour leader claims immigrants should not be blamed for problems here in the UK says ITV News.

Immigrants should not to be held to blame for Britain’s economic difficulties, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is warning.
In an address to race equality think tank, Runnymede Trust today, Mr Corbyn will say it is “vitally important” to protect Britain’s diverse society in the wake of the referendum vote to leave the EU.
Speaking in Birmingham, he will say that in “volatile times”, when people feel insecure in their jobs and about the future of the country, there is a tendency to look for people to blame.
“In the wake of the Brexit decision, it is vitally important that we value, celebrate and protect our diverse society,” he will say.

Fox News claims a religious war is brewing.

The populist politician Geert Wilders failed to score victory for his far-right party in this week’s Netherlands elections, but that hasn’t stopped Turkey’s foreign minister Mevlüt Çavusoglu from lumping all Dutch parties into the same category and declaring “wars of religion” are looming in Europe.
Many parties have received a similar share of votes. Seventeen percent, 20 percent, there are a lot of parties like this, but they are all the same,” Çavusoglu said at a rally in the southern city of Antalya on Thursday, Reuters reported. “There is no difference between the mindsets of Geert Wilders and social democrats in the Netherlands.”
According to the Turkish official, “they all have the same mindset” and that mindset is propelling Europe towards “wars of religion” in the very near future.

Labour Party

The Telegraph carries a column by former LibDem grandee Shirley Williams.

When I left the Labour party it was a political party in crisis.  They were being hijacked by the far left; governed by a weak leader; and had a lacklustre and inconsistent position on Europe. That was decades ago – although it increasingly feels like yesterday.
In 1981 I sat down in the kitchen of David Owen’s home in Limehouse. The two of us, alongside Roy Jenkins and Bill Rodgers fleshed out a document that resulted in us taking the historical move of breaking away from the Labour Party. Two months later we founded the SDP.
This was an age ago, a distant memory of a time gone by. All the more reason why I pinch myself when, week in week out, I see the same muddle of a Labour Party that led me to walk away.


The former chancellor’s appointment as editor of a national newspaper is causing ructions. The Mirror says:

Five-jobs Tory George Osborne is facing calls to resign as an MP after landing yet another highly paid role – as editor of the London Evening Standard newspaper.
The shameless former Chancellor will earn an estimated £250,000 a year running the capital’s biggest free paper, while remaining as Tory MP for Tatton, in Cheshire – nearly 200 miles away.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said: “This makes a mockery of the independence of the media.”
The shock announcement left Westminster reeling and triggered immediate calls for the moneybags Tory – who has no experience in journalism – to quit his job as a backbench MP.

The Independent is another paper calling for Mr Osborne to stand down as an MP.

Ex-Tory Chancellor George Osborne has been named as the new editor of the London Evening Standard, in a move that has prompted calls from political opponents for him to stand down as an MP.
Mr Osborne will take up his new role in early May, editing the paper an average of four days a week while continuing to represent the constituency of Tatton.
The new editor said he was “thrilled”, while proprietor Evgeny Lebedev, also owner of The Independent, called him someone of “huge political achievement, and economic and cultural authority”.
But critics claimed the move raised fresh questions over existing parliamentary systems for preventing conflicts of interest, and cast doubt on whether he could continue as an MP.
It also led to a complaint from Labour over whether the ministerial code has been breached.

The Morning Star calls him a ‘failed journalist’.

SACKED Tory chancellor and long-time failed journalist George Osborne’s appointment as editor of the London Evening Standard newspaper makes a “mockery” of media independence, Jeremy Corbyn said yesterday.
The Labour leader said the shock news proved that Mr Osborne was not focused on the needs of his constituents, because he would remain MP for Tatton, in Cheshire, while he edits the newspaper.
The clash of interests, as well as his huge combined salary for a portfolio of jobs, garnered much criticism.
He will earn £650,000 for working 48 days a year as “adviser on the global economy” for BlackRock Investment Institute, on top of his £74,000 MP’s salary and £780,000 he earned for 14 speeches since last September.

And the Guardian also reports the calls for him to resign as an MP.

George Osborne is coming under growing pressure to step down as Conservative MP for Tatton in Cheshire, after his surprise appointment as the editor of the London Evening Standard.
Evgeny Lebedev, the owner of the paper, announced the news on Twitter on Friday, saying he was “thrilled” and describing the former chancellor as “London through and through”. Osborne said he intended to remain as an MP.
But some Conservatives questioned whether Osborne could represent his constituents effectively while editing a daily paper on top of a string of lucrative jobs. Others accused him of seeking to undermine Theresa May.
One party source said MPs would be contacting their whips to express dismay.

In a comment piece, the Sun muses on why Mr Osborne has accepted the job.

GEORGE Osborne’s staggering appointment as a newspaper editor only confirms voters’ most cynical suspicion — that MPs are in it for their own enrichment.
Mr Osborne has trousered huge sums with indecent haste and from multiple jobs since his sacking as Chancellor.
He now intends to knock off at lunchtime from his lucrative role ­running London’s Evening Standard to remain Tatton’s MP in the afternoons.
That betrays incredible naivety about his new job and contempt for his current one. It is an insult to his constituents.
Voters cut their MPs some slack if they’re in Government. A backbench MP should work for them full-time, especially for their £75,000 salary.

Energy prices

The Times turns its attention to the price of gas and electricity.

A cap on energy prices will be announced within weeks to tackle an industry that “traps the poorest customers on the worst deals”, Theresa May has suggested.
The prime minister confirmed yesterday that she had lost patience with the rising bills imposed by energy providers, warning them that she was preparing to intervene. She also said that making it easier to switch provider had not been enough to fix the problem.
She added that the market was “manifestly not working” and claimed that energy prices had increased by 158 per cent over the past 15 years.

And the Sun also reports on the government’s plans.

THERESA May is to force fat cat energy firms to lower their tariffs for millions of struggling consumers next week, it emerged today.
The PM revealed she is ready to take the dramatic action during a speech to Tory party faithful in Cardiff.
She also admitted a major government push to persuade bill payers to switch providers to escape being ripped off has failed.
Until now, ministers has shied away from taking the ‘nuclear option’ of setting a cap on spiralling gas and electricity prices.
But speaking at the Conservatives’ Spring conference today, Mrs May signalled the action by saying: “Energy is not a luxury, it is a necessity of life.

The Mail claims there will be a crackdown on prices.

Ministers are poised to unveil a cap on energy prices after Theresa May yesterday promised a crackdown on rip-off gas and electricity bills.
Firms will face limits on the difference in price between their cheapest and most expensive tariffs under plans that will be finalised within weeks.
The Prime Minister said yesterday that relying on customers to switch energy suppliers to keep prices down was ‘clearly not working’.
She declared that the Government was ‘ready to step in… so that consumers get a fair deal’.


Another former prime minister is also in the news, perhaps trying to get back into politics, reports the Mail.

Tony Blair has made another return to politics to warn against populism in Europe.
The controversial ex-Prime Minister is launching a new ‘Institute for Global Change’ intended to develop new policy ideas to shore up the centre ground.
But he denied the venture was an attempt to reboot his own frontline political career or the foundations for a new party.
Mr Blair said he only wanted to ‘play a part’ in Britain’s political debate and insisted he was ‘aware of all the problems and baggage’ he brings.
Despite his protests, the intervention is significant for a former Prime Minister and it will alarm his critics across the political spectrum. 

And the Guardian also reports Blair’s attempts to fight populism.

Tony Blair is launching a “new policy platform to refill the wide open space in the middle of politics” aimed at combating a “frightening authoritarian populism” that he says is undermining the west’s belief in democracy.
The former prime minister said his new Institute for Global Change was more than a thinktank since it would aim to arm front-rank politicians with strategies and policies to rebuild the centre, and combat populism caused by a cultural and economic revolt against the effects of globalisation.
In a Guardian interview, Blair stressed he was not forming the embryo of a new party in the UK or personally returning to frontline politics, but warned that unless the political centre regained traction an ugly politics would take root, corroding liberal democracy.

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