Customs union

The Express drops a ‘bombshell’.

THERESA May is to cave into Brussels’ demands and drop one key Irish border issue that could leave the UK shackled to the EU in a bid to speed up the Brexit talks, sources familiar with the talks have revealed.
Mrs May is ready to give ground on one of the key sticking areas of the talks concerning the land border between the United Kingdom and Ireland, according to Bloomberg.
Sterling gained on the report that Britain would allow the Northern Ireland backstop, or fallback arrangement in case of failure to agree a broader deal, to have no fixed time limit.
The climbdown could see the Prime Minister accept a watered down version of Brexit to solve the Irish border dilemma and strike a deal with the EU before Britain leaves the bloc on March 29 2019, according to sources.


Elsewhere in the Brexit talks, Sky News reports that note enough progress has been made.

Theresa May has seen an EU summit pass with no Brexit breakthrough as she was hit by a growing backlash over plans to lengthen the UK’s transition period. There had been hopes this week’s gathering of EU leaders in Brussels – previously dubbed the “moment of truth” for Brexit – could overcome the impasse in negotiations. But the bloc ruled not enough progress has been made and so shelved plans for a special summit to be held next month to sign off on a deal.

Mrs May will be challenged by her party when she faces MPs on her return from Brussels, says the Times.

Theresa May has been challenged to face her party’s MPs and defend the concessions she has made to Brussels, as tensions rise over her handling of the Brexit negotiations.
The prime minister was called on to address the powerful 1922 Committee of Tory backbenchers on Wednesday by one of its members. The chairman of the committee will call a confidence vote over Mrs May if 48 MPs write to him. “I think she would be very wise to come to the 1922 on Wednesday,” one member said.
If accepted, the meeting will come amid another torrid week for Mrs May, who is expected to address the Commons on Monday before briefing the cabinet on Tuesday about the negotiations.

The Mail also reports on the showdown.

Theresa May has been told she must face Tory MP’s and defend the concessions she made to Brussels as Brexit negotiations begin to stutter.
A member of the 1922 committee of Tory backbenchers called on her to face the parliamentary body after she caved into EU demands earlier this week.
The chairman of the committee could call a vote in no-confidence in Mrs May if 48 MPs write to an anonymous campaign calling on her to ‘chuck Chequers’.
So far, it is alleged 44 letters have been sent – meaning only another four more Tory MPs need to submit a letter of no confidence to trigger a leadership election.

The Mail reports that hardliners have been told to cool it.

Hardline Eurosceptics were urged to back down last night after threatening to block the legislation needed to deliver Theresa May’s  Brexit  compromises.
Jacob Rees-Mogg, chairman of the European Research Group of anti-EU Tories, yesterday confirmed that MPs could use parliamentary tactics to try to scupper any extension to the Brexit transition this autumn.
An ERG source said ‘guerilla warfare’ against Mrs May’s plans could also extend to this month’s Budget.

The Guardian claims the country’s negotiators are ‘desperate’.

Theresa May will test the tolerance of her cabinet for fresh Brexit compromises on Tuesday, with Britain’s negotiators desperate for a breakthrough in time to convince EU leaders to convene a crunch summit next month.
With no European council formally scheduled until December, ministers are becoming increasingly anxious about the growing risk of a failure to reach a deal and the impact of continued uncertainty on the economy.
“Everyone’s still hoping for November,” said one senior Whitehall source. The foreign secretary, Jeremy Hunt, told the BBC that the government was “four weeks before the November deadline that’s been talked about”.

Conservative Party

Meanwhile, back home, Mrs May will face a rebellion from her party over proposals to extend the transition period, says the Sun.

THERESA May faces a rebellion from furious Tory MPs after her “capitulation” to Brussels over the Brexit transition period.
Brexiteers called on the PM to “get some steel” – and warned they will block any attempt to pay in more to the EU’s budget.
But Mrs May’s ally Jeremy Hunt stood up for her – claiming the only reason Brexit talks are in trouble is because of her firm negotiating strategy.
The PM said yesterday that she would consider keeping Britain tied to the EU for an extra year in order to reach a Brexit deal.

And it seems the PM is facing challenges from both wings of her party, reports Breitbart.

MPs from both the Brexiteer and EU loyalist wings of the Tory Party are turning on Theresa May over her “chaotic” mismanagement of negotiations with the bloc.
The Prime Minister campaigned against Brexit during the 2016 referendum and has made concession after concession to Brussels, but the bloc has still stonewalled her on the border between the British province of Northern Ireland and EU member-state the Republic of Ireland.
Eurocrats are insisting that, in order to keep the border free of customs infrastructure, the United Kingdom must agree a so-called ‘backstop’ which would leave Northern Ireland inside the EU’s Customs Union and, to an extent, its Single Market.

Westmonster claims David Davis is being lined up for the Tory leadership.

The Telegraph’s well-respected Christopher Hope has some interesting news this morning, backing up other rumours that former Brexit Minister David Davis could be the man to take over from Theresa May.
Hope reveals that DD could become the man to lead the UK through Brexit negotiations as the new Prime Minister. Davis resigned as Brexit Secretary in protest at Chequers and has repeatedly expressed his belief that a Canada-style free trade deal with the EU is the best path forward. We concur.


Several of the media report on a campaign being run on social media. The Independent says:

A mysterious online advertising campaign attempting to whip up opposition to Theresa May’s Brexit plan has been uncovered by a parliamentary committee.
The “sophisticated” campaign is estimated to have spent more than £250,000 in the last 10 months on Facebook adverts calling for the government to “chuck Chequers”.
There is no information on who is behind the adverts or where the significant funding is coming from.
The campaign uses micro-targeting to ask Facebook users to lobby their MP to oppose Ms May’s Chequers plan, which has been heavily criticised by Eurosceptics who claim it keeps Britain tied too closely to the EU after Brexit.

The Guardian says:

An anonymously run influence campaign has spent more than £250,000 on Facebook encouraging British voters to email their MPs opposing Theresa May’s Brexit deal.
In adverts micro-targeted to individual constituencies, voters are exhorted to “tell your local MP to bin Chequers”.
The link takes them to a localised page with a picture of their constituency and their MP’s name. A further click opens up their mail client, with a pre-written email addressed to their MP, and the campaign itself blind-copied in.
The campaign, which is estimated to have reached more than 10 million voters, was discovered by the digital campaign group 89up, which shared the details with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) select committee into fake news.

ITV News says the outfit behind the campaign could be a news organisation.

An anonymous pro-Brexit website posing as a news organisation has been secretly encouraging voters to lobby their MPs, demanding they “bin Chequers” and “secure a full Brexit”, according to evidence submitted to MPs and published on Saturday.
The website, Mainstream Network, is accused of spending hundreds of thousands of pounds on Facebook to target voters in specific constituencies and promote pro-Brexit messages, in a report by communications firm 89up given to the parliamentary fake news inquiry.


Over the Channel, the EU’s financial bosses have issued a warning, says the Express.

THE head of the European Central Bank has warned Britain and other countries outside the eurozone not to “undermine” the EU’s financial rules. Speaking to European Union leaders ECB President Mario Draghi defended Brussels’ financial regulations amid reports they are looking to tighten laws within the eurozone.
President Mario Draghi said: “There is no evidence that to undermine all the rules will lead to prosperity, but it will carry a high price tag for all actors.

Questions over the Irish border could still prove a problem, says the Independent.

A Brexit deal is 90 per cent complete but could still be sunk by the Irish border issue at this late stage, the EU’s chief negotiator has warned.
Speaking after a summit in Brussels where EU leaders discussed progress in talks, Michel Barnier said he was “still not sure we’ll get” a withdrawal agreement.
EU leaders treated Theresa May delicately at the meeting in a bid to avoid a repeat of a previous summit in Salzburg, with most offering encouraging words and suggesting a damaging no-deal could be avoided.

The Mirror also reports.

A Brexit deal is 90% complete but the Irish backstop row could still torpedo a pact, the EU’s chief negotiator warned today.
“Ninety percent of the accord on the table has been agreed with Britain,” Mr Barnier told France Inter radio.
“I’m convinced a deal is necessary, I’m still not sure we’ll get one.”
Germany’s Europe Minister Michael Roth poured cold water on the Prime Minister’s plan to extend the transition to break the deadlock.

The Brexit negotiator is still insulting us, says the Telegraph.

Michel Barnier has claimed the Brexit vote was driven by “nostalgia” in a swipe at the 17.4 million Britons who voted Leave.
The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator’s assessment on French radio drew a stinging rebuke from David Davis, who as Brexit Secretary was his British counterpart. “I wouldn’t confuse belief in the free market with nostalgia,” he shot back.
Mr Barnier also warned that “Brexit can’t be soft. It has innumerable consequences. It was chosen by the British.


But in a bit of good news, it seems that the question of The Rock has been sorted out, says the Independent.

The status of Gibraltar after Brexit has been resolved, Spain’s prime minister has said.
Speaking at the conclusion of an EU leaders’ summit in Brussels, Pedro Sanchez said the issue between the Britain and Spain “is resolved” and “will no longer be a problem” for the UK’s plans to leave the EU.
Gibraltar will leave the EU along with the UK on 29 March next year.
The status of the British overseas territory on Spain’s southern coast, and that of two British sovereign areas in EU member Cyprus, will form part of any overall divorce agreement with the EU.

Breitbart also has the story.

The UK will reach a deal with Spain on the status of Gibraltar after Brexit, Pedro Sánchez, the Spanish Prime Minister, has announced.
Speaking after the European Council summit in Brussels Thursday, he said that significant progress had been made on the issue, while other leaders said the issue of the Irish border has remained problematic.
A protocol on the British overseas territory, which borders Spain, for governing citizens’ rights and issues such as security “is already closed with the British government”, he said.


Anticipating the cancellation of Brexit, the LibDems have started selecting MEP candidates, says the Independent.

The Liberal Democrats are to begin the process of selecting MEP andidates for the 2019 European Parliament elections – despite the vote being eight weeks after Britain’s scheduled departure from the EU.
Sir Vince Cable told 
The Independent he was taking the “sensible step” in case Theresa May fails to secure a deal before March 2019 and requests an extension to the Article 50 process.
As it stands, British MEPs will cease to exist after the elections in May next year, reducing the number of elected representatives in the chamber from 751 to 705. Some of the UK seats will be redistributed to the other EU member states.


Further Brexit problems could occur in Scotland, says the Sun.

A FISHING rebellion headed by a Scottish Tory could scupper the PM’s Brexit deal.
David Mundell warned Theresa May  not to break a promise to fishermen to reclaim British waters by December 2020 as her row with her MPs deepened.
Mrs May admitted on Thursday the Brexit process could be extended to get a deal over the line – sparking fury from Eurosceptics.
She agreed to look at keeping Britain under EU rules for up to a year longer in a bid to break the Irish border deadlock.

And the proposed extension to the transition period could be in danger, reports the Express.

SCOTTISH Tories would veto Theresa May’s final Brexit deal if she extends the transition period in a bid to support fishermen.
The current divorce talks have already lead to the UK agreeing it will remain part of the EU’s Fisheries Policy as part of the withdrawal phase until December 2020.
However, one senior Scottish Tory has warned the prospect of a year extension to this “would be a red line for us”.
Insiders told The Sun: “We’ve already swallowed one extension to getting our waters back, we will not put up with another one.”

BBC News also reports the Scottish rebellion.

Scottish Secretary David Mundell has raised concerns with the prime minister over the timing of the UK’s departure from the Common Fisheries Policy.
Theresa May has said the Brexit transition period could be extended “for a few months” if needed.
But Mr Mundell has told the BBC he wants assurances any extension to the transition would not delay exit from CFP beyond the agreed date.
He said that leaving the CFP in December 2020 is “essential”.

Child grooming

Huddersfield is a bit safer now, says the Times.

Twenty men have been convicted of being part of a grooming gang that subjected girls as young as 11 to an “inhuman” campaign of rape and sexual abuse in a West Yorkshire market town.
A series of trials, which have resulted in 16 of them being jailed for a total of 221 years for offences ranging from trafficking, exploitation and drugs offences to multiple rapes, could not be reported until now. The others are awaiting sentence. A blanket reporting ban imposed a year ago at Leeds crown court has been lifted by Judge Guy Kearl, QC, the Recorder of Leeds, following a challenge by The Times and other media organisations.

And the Sun points out the connection with Tommy Robinson.

TOMMY Robinson has celebrated the jailing of Britain’s biggest grooming gang for raping, assaulting and trafficking young girls after the case saw him locked up.
The former leader of far right group the English Defence League posted a video on his Facebook page after the gang were caged for 221 years for sexually abusing girls as young as 11.
Robinson – who was jailed for 13 months after he risked derailing the trials – said: “Reporting restrictions have been lifted on the Leeds case, all 20 from the trials were convicted.

And the Mail claims Tommy celebrated.

Tommy Robinson has celebrated the jailing of 20 sex abusers – despite nearly causing their trial to collapse – after a grooming gang who targeted vulnerable girls as young as eleven in Huddersfield were jailed for a combined total of more than 220 years.
As with similar cases in a string of British towns and cities, the gang plied their victims – some of whom were as young as 11 – with alcohol or drugged them before carrying out horrific sex attacks. 


The chancellor has a bit of leeway, says the Telegraph.

Public borrowing is on track to hit its lowest level in 16 years, leaving the Chancellor Philip Hammond with the ability to sanction additional spending in his upcoming Budget.
The improvement in the public finances may make Prime Minister Theresa May’s promise of an extra £20bn for the NHS and an end to austerity more manageable for the Chancellor.
Borrowing in September this year stood at £4.1bn, nearly a billion less that the same month in 2017 and the best September figure since 2007, according to data from the Office for National Statistics.

But the Times claims he will have to cut back.

A potential spending shortfall of £100 billion in the public finances over the next five years could force Philip Hammond to cut back a £3,000 “jobs subsidy” scheme introduced by his predecessor, George Osborne.
The chancellor is looking to raise billions of pounds in this month’s budget to fund new spending commitments made on health and housing but advisers have talked of a cumulative £100 billion shortfall.
Mr Hammond did, however, receive some encouraging news yesterday after the Office for National Statistics said public sector net borrowing last month, excluding state-owned banks, fell by £800 million year on year.


With the resumption of fracking, it seems that the north west has been hit by earthquakes, says the Mail.

Blackpool has been hit by four earthquakes in two days – after fracking was restarted in the area this week.
The most recent quake occurred yesterday afternoon at an amber level on the official monitoring scale, which means ‘proceed at caution’.
Firms stopped fracking in Lancashire in 2011 after two earthquakes, and experts now fear further disturbances.
But oil and gas firm Cuadrilla started drilling again on Monday after campaigners lost a last-ditch legal battle to stop them at the High Court.


Lassa fever could spread, says the Sun.

THERE are fears a potentially fatal ‘rat fever’ that can cause uncontrolled bleeding from the mouth, nose or vagina is spiralling out of control.
Nigeria has seen an unusual spike in Lassa fever this year, with more than 140 people dying from the virus which is spread by the urine or faeces of disease-carrying rats, say experts.
Lassa fever is an acute viral haemorrhagic illness which can cause a headache, chest pain, vomiting and diarrhoea.
More severe symptoms, occurring in 15-20 per cent of patients in Nigeria, “include facial swelling, uncontrolled bleeding from the mouth, nose, vagina and gastrointestinal tract”, says the International Association for Medical Assistance to Travellers.

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