Brexit

In an exclusive report, the Express claims a plan to prevent non-EU citizens being given the same benefits as UK citizens has been blocked.

THE GOVERNMENT has sparked fury after blocking a bid to stop non-UK citizens being able to receive the same benefits and entitlements as British citizens.
The Bill would have given EU citizens the same status as overseas immigrations, and, in a bid to stop benefits tourism, would cap any entitlement they can receive at the amount they would have received in their home country.
Sir Christopher Chope, Tory MP for Christchurch, had tabled the Private Members Bill on Friday – but it was blocked in Parliament.
The leading Brexiteer says he wants to stop people from the EU having a “privileged position” compared to people from outside the EU so everyone has an even footing.

It looks like there is a majority in favour of getting out of the EU says Breitbart.

Almost 60 per cent of Brits think the government should respect the referendum result and “get on” with delivering Brexit.
In a new poll by BMG for Change Britain, respondents were asked if they agreed that “the government should get on with implementing the result of the referendum to take Britain out of the EU and in doing so take back control of our borders, laws, money and trade”.
A strong 57 per cent agreed and less than a quarter – just 22 per cent – disagree with the statement, according to the results, seen by Guido Fawkes. Twenty-one per cent did not answer the question.

And Guido also has details of the poll in Order Order.

A new poll by BMG for Change Britain has found an overwhelming majority are in favour of getting on with Brexit. 57% agree that “the government should get on with implementing the result of the referendum to take Britain out of the EU and in doing so take back control of our borders, laws, money and trade”. Just 22% disagree. Bad news for the Best for Britain crowd, 31% of Remain voters now want us to get on with leaving…
Indeed, the poll finds those who agreed with getting on with Brexit outweighed those who disagreed across all ages, classes, regions and political parties:

But there are still efforts to stop Brexit, warns Westmonster.

The big undemocratic cat is out of the bag – Chuka Umunna and his Remoaner cronies have been working together in contact with Brussels, with Remoaners describing their access to senior EU politicians as “extraordinary”.
Umunna and Co are conspiring with EU big wigs to undermine the government and shift public opinion away from Brexit, as highlighted in  this report from Bloomberg.
EU officials have been feeding anti-Brexit figures in Britain details on the Brexit negotiations, with Umunna having even told reporters information regarding the EU’s plan that even if the government didn’t yet officially know.

The question of control of our armed forces is considered by Breitbart.

Former British military officers have warned a new draft Brexit deal means control of UK armed forces could be given over to the European Union (EU) after Brexit.
A new Draft Exit Agreement, announced this week, demands the UK remain committed to the EU’s new “defence architecture” during the ‘transition period’.
As the bloc moves to rapidly expand  its coordinated defence capabilities, the draft deal also keeps open the possibility that the UK could be “bounced” into new defence arrangements during the two-year transition, the pro-Brexit group Veterans for Britain (VfB) explained.

Northern Ireland

But despite all the ‘successful’ negotiations, there are still stumbling blocks, says the Guardian.

Theresa May has been warned that she has less than three months to resolve the problem of avoiding a hard border on the island of  Ireland as EU leaders formally endorsed the terms of the transition period and its vision of a future trade deal.
Donald Tusk, the president of the European council, said he hoped agreement struck between negotiators on 75% of a draft withdrawal agreement would propel the talks, before setting a June summit of leaders as a potential make or break moment.
The EU would not be prepared to turn to drafting a political declaration that will form the basis of a future trade deal until the UK provides legally watertight answers to the question of the Irish border, the former Polish prime minister suggested.

EU

Germany’s leader has warned of further trouble ahead in the Express.

ANGELA MERKEL issued a warning Brexit negotiations would not be easy for Britain despite talks moving to the trade stage. The German Chancellor was speaking alongside French leader Emmanuel Macron at the Brussels EU summit this afternoon.
And despite conciliatory words from many EU leaders, Mrs Merkel laid down the law, warning the next stage will be “very intense” for UK negotiators.
She also insisted time was “running out” for a deal to be struck.
Mrs Merkel said: “Regarding the fact that Great Britain wants to neither be part of the Custom’s Union nor of the single market we have to negotiate a very intense free trade agreement and we will not let ourselves be divided here, but keep up this unity throughout the negotiations.

The Independent reports that the EU has agreed guidelines for the next phase of talks.

The leaders of the 27 remaining EU countries have formally signed off their negotiating guidelines for the next phase of Brexit talks – paving the way for discussions about the bloc’s future relationship with Britain for the first time.
Leaders approved the strategy on Friday morning at a meeting in Brussels, on the second day of the  European Council summit. They also officially approved the deal struck between David Davis and Michel Barnier earlier this week about the transition period.
The trade talk guidelines, which weigh in at a brief six and a half pages, state that the UK has made frictions in trade inevitable by ruling out membership of the single market and customs union.

And the Mirror says the decision was taken in a very short space of time.

Gone in 30 seconds… EU chiefs took “less than half a minute” to green light Brexit trade talks with Britain.
They approved guidelines for the negotiation of future relations with the UK after Brexit.
The text on trade, security and other issues was agreed in “less than half a minute”, according to Jean-Claude Juncker, clearing the way for the next phase of Brexit talks to get under way.
The UK is due to leave in March 2019 and negotiators want a deal in place by the end of this year.

But the Express reports that banks have been told to leave the UK.

EU regulators have told banks to prepare to QUIT the UK as the Brexit countdown begins.
Andreas Dombret of the German Bundesbank claimed this month’s transition deal will not be legally ratified until later in the year, despite it due to be signed off by EU members today.
Britain’s financial services minister John Glen hit back, instead demanding the EU offers financial firms reassurances they can carry on operating as usual during the 20-month Brexit transition deal, unveiled this week by Brexit secretary David Davis and EU negotiator Michel Barnier.

Westmonster considers the situation in the rest of Europe.

The wave of anti-establishment, Eurosceptic feeling in Italy felt through the election campaign and demonstrated by the result has carried on, with the latest poll showing Five Star and Lega as the most popular parties in the country.
For the first time the anti-mass migration Lega have overtaken the lefty PD, meaning that Italy’s two most popular parties now comprise of rising political outsiders. As a combination they now collectively poll 53%.
As negotiations go on over the composition of Italy’s next government, interesting to note that the Leaders of Five Star and Lega are the most trusted by voters and that a combination of the two is the most popular potential coalition.

Fisheries

The question of our fishing grounds has not gone away, says the Sun.

CABINET colleagues are furious with Gavin Williamson for risking delicate Brexit negotiations over fishing by threatening to send in the Navy against EU boats.
The Defence Secretary said three new £116 million Navy boats, HMS Forth, HMS Trent and HMS Medway, would be the UK’s “eyes and ears” in the Royal Navy Fishery Protection Squad.
Welcoming the addition to the fleet, he proclaimed: “The Royal Navy has a proud tradition of protecting the UK’s coastline and keeping a close eye on our fishing waters.
“With these state-of-the-art, vastly capable ships we stand ready to protect our fisheries once Britain leaves the EU.”

Labour Party

One way to get rid of potential leadership challengers is to sack them, says the Telegraph.

Jeremy Corbyn has sacked his one-time leadership rival Owen Smith after he said Labour should consider abandoning Brexit.
Mr Smith has been replaced as shadow Northern Ireland secretary after he claimed Labour had “the right to keep asking if Brexit remains the right choice for the country” as he split from official party policy.
Mr Smith had also called for the UK to remain in the single market and for the British people to be given a vote on the final withdrawal deal struck with Brussels – neither of which are Labour Party positions.

The Independent also has the story.

Owen Smith has been sacked as Labour’s Shadow Northern Ireland Secretary with immediate effect after advocating a new referendum on the final Brexit deal.
The Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn made the decision on Friday evening after Mr Smith broke ranks with the frontbench and also urged his party to remain in the single market to avoid a hard border in Ireland.
He has been replaced by Tony Lloyd, the Labour MP for Rochdale, who Mr Corbyn said is a “highly experienced” former government minister committed to ensuring “that peace in Northern Ireland is maintained and helping to steer the devolution deal back on track”. 

Sky News compares the Labour leader to Stalin.

Jeremy Corbyn has been accused of a “Stalinist purge” after he sacked Owen Smith – who challenged him for the leadership in 2016 – from the Shadow Cabinet.
Mr Smith was removed from his job as shadow Northern Ireland secretary after attacking Brexit and urging the Labour Party to campaign for a second EU referendum in a newspaper article.
He is replaced by the veteran former minister Tony Lloyd, who only returned to the Commons last year after quitting as an MP in 2012 to become police and crime commissioner for Greater Manchester.
With Mr Corbyn already under attack over his response to the Russian poisoning crisis and rows in the party over anti-Semitism, Mr Smith’s sacking threatens to reopen the civil war in the Labour Party.

The Guardian claims it was over a call for a second referendum.

The shadow Northern Ireland secretary, Owen Smith, was sacked by Jeremy Corbyn on Friday after breaking with Labour policy to call for a referendum on the final Brexit deal.
Smith, who challenged Corbyn for the party leadership in 2016, wrote  an article in the Guardian, urging his party to reopen the question of whether Brexit was the right thing for Britain – and to offer the public a vote.
Corbyn is believed to have taken the decision on the basis that Smith had not been a team player, and had repeatedly breached shadow cabinet collective responsibility on Brexit, including by calling for Britain to remain in the single market.
But the sacking, which was announced on Friday evening, is likely to inflame tensions in the parliamentary Labour party over Brexit.

Trade wars

The prospect of a trade war with the US is covered in the Times.

Britain has backed France and other EU countries taking a tough stance against Donald Trump’s threat of a trade war unless Europe gives Washington economic concessions.
Theresa May and other leaders reacted angrily after the president threatened Europe with punitive tariffs on steel and aluminium unless the US were given more favourable trade terms.
The prime minister joined Emmanuel Macron, the French president, to reject a May 1 deadline and to demand a permanent, unconditional exemption from the metal tariffs of up to 25 per cent. Instead of leaving the meeting of the European Council in the early hours of yesterday as planned, Mrs May stayed at the request of President Macron and Angela Merkel for talks on how to respond to the threats.

Heathrow

Will the third runway ever be built at London’s main airport? The Independent considers.

The Transport Secretary has brushed off a fresh warning from MPs of huge environmental damage from building a third runway at  Heathrow, insisting the expansion is “on track”.
Chris Grayling said Parliament would be asked to approve the £14bn project in a crucial vote this summer, with construction to start around 2020 after detailed design work.
“This is a project that’s on track,” Mr Grayling said, adding: “This is a really important project for us in the post-Brexit world.”
The pledge came despite a call by the all-party Commons transport select committee to slam the brakes on the expansion without tough new restrictions on costs, pollution, aircraft noise and night flights.

The Guardian reports that further safeguards are needed.

Tougher rules on night flights and keeping costs to passengers down are needed before parliament should approve Heathrow’s third runway, MPs have told the government.
The transport select committee said it believed the London hub airport’s expansion scheme should go ahead, but only after the government addressed numerous concerns over its environmental impact.
The MPs demanded more stringent safeguards on noise and air quality, as well as assurances that the cost of development would not be passed on in higher charges, which could mean higher air fares.
They proposed a minimum average of seven hours respite each night for local residents under flight paths, and increased funds to insulate their houses from noise.

Passports

Where will the new blue passports be printed? The Mail has started a petition to have them made in the UK.

The loss of British jobs caused by the decision to make the new blue UK passports abroad is a betrayal of Brexit voters, a Tory former Cabinet minister said yesterday.
Furious peers called on Home Secretary Amber Rudd to rethink giving the lucrative contract to Franco-Dutch firm Gemalto.
You can have your voice heard by signing our petition to have passports made in the UK by clicking here.
Lord Forsyth of Drumlean, who served in John Major’s Cabinet, warned UK jobs would be lost – and ministers were told national pride should force a last-minute change of mind.

Wales

The principality has threatened to break away from the United Kingdom following an independence referendum, says BBC News.

An independence referendum, national air carrier and energy grid would be created under a Plaid Cymru government, the party has said.
In a speech at the party’s conference in Llangollen, Denbighshire, Adam Price will outline what two terms of a Plaid government would hope to achieve.
Mr Price will make several proposals for a “vibrant, confident, successful nation” to be achieved by 2030.
He will also call Wales as “a wealthy country whose people live in poverty”.
Mr Price, AM for Carmarthen East and Dinefwr, will “tackle the myth” Wales is a poor nation by claiming, in terms of per capita income, it is richer than “every nation in Asia bar two, every nation in the Americas bar two, and richer than more than half of Europe”.

Russia

It seems that the EU is with the Prime Minister on Russia, says the Telegraph.

At her six previous meetings of EU leaders, Theresa May had cut an isolated figure as the bringer of unwanted problems in the name of Brexit. This time, however, the mood could not have been more different.
As the Prime Minister took her seat at the dinner table in Brussels’ Europa building, the eyes of 27 presidents and premiers were on her, and for the next four hours she was the fulcrum of a debate that would redefine the continent’s relationship with Russia.
By the next morning, ten EU countries were considering the co-ordinated expulsion of scores of Russian diplomats from their capitals. More seem likely to follow.

The Mail also reports the solidarity of the bloc.

EU leaders today hailed the ‘unprecedented’ action against Russia after the bloc announced it is pulling its ambassador out of Moscow in solidarity with Britain over Salisbury.
While five other countries across the bloc are set kick out Kremlin spies on Monday as they back Theresa May‘s tough stance.
EU Council President Donald Tusk today said: ‘In these difficult circumstances I am especially pleased that, despite tough  Brexit  negotiations, the EU has demonstrated unanimity and solidarity with the UK in the face of this attack.’
Mr Tusk said he expects ‘more than one’ EU country to boot out Russian agents on Monday.

The Mail also has a piece on the takeover of large parts of London by Russian oligarchs.

Built in the style of a French chateau, with a palatial roofline rising high over the River Thames, Whitehall Court is one of Britain’s grandest private buildings.
The imposing Victorian pile, which was once the HQ of the Secret Intelligence Services, has also provided homes to a host of famous artists and writers — including George Bernard Shaw and Oscar Wilde — society figures, political grandees, and two Prime Ministers, Alec Douglas-Home and William Ewart Gladstone.
Today, three-bedroomed flats there fetch upwards of £5 million and enjoy sweeping balcony views of the river and Big Ben. So imagine, if you will, the grandeur of two such properties, knocked together to create one vast apartment.
Actually, we don’t need to imagine. For on the seventh floor of Whitehall Court, a man called Igor Shuvalov, and his wife, Olga, have done exactly this.
Their six-bedroom pied-a-terre covers more than 5,300 square feet, and contains a dining room with two fireplaces, a sitting room with chandeliers and a grand piano, and acres of marble. In 2014, they paid £11.4 million for it, in cold, hard cash.

Air travel costs

We have all experienced the ‘extras’ loaded on to the price of a plane ticket but this could come to an end, says the Times.

Airlines are to be prevented from ripping off passengers with last-minute “hidden” fees under a government crackdown, The Times has learnt.
Ministers are drawing up measures to stop passengers being hit by unexpected charges of up to £160 to change the names on a booking, print boarding passes or check in luggage.
An aviation strategy due to be published by the Department for Transport (DfT) will contain plans to ensure that fees are clearly visible at the time of booking.

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