Brexit

EU negotiators are starting to pour scorn on the tactics of our Brexit negotiators says the Express; perhaps they’ve got nothing else in their armoury.

EUROCRATS today accused Britain of demonstrating “a lot of magical thinking” over Brexit as they slammed David Davis and his team over their approach to the divorce talks.
Senior EU officials said the UK side had shown a “lack of substance” in what they had brought to the table so far, warning there is unlikely to be any substantial progress made in the next round of negotiations.
Brexit secretary Mr Davis is set to jet out to the Belgian capital at the beginning of next week to meet with his EU counterpart Michel Barnier for what will be the third week of talks.
But at an off the record briefing in Brussels today, a senior EU official revealed there is still a “very big gap” between the two sides, particularly over the tricky issue of a divorce bill. 

The Telegraph also claims the EU has accused Davis of being ‘magical’.

The European Union has accused Britain of “magical thinking” over Brexit and warned it against using the Northern Ireland peace process as a bargaining chip in EU-UK negotiations.
Britain in turn accused the EU of failing to understand the “human cost” of the hard-won Northern Ireland peace process as a furious war of words broke out just days before negotiators meet in Brussels for the third round of Brexit talks.
One senior EU official demanded that Britain make a political commitment “where the UK accepts responsibility for the consequences its decision to leave will have on the island of Ireland.”
“The decision to leave was the UK’s decision, not the decision of Ireland and not the decision of the EU and the UK has to take responsibility for that, “the official said in Brussels.

And the Times concentrates on the potentially problematic Northern Ireland border question.

David Davis’s department has reacted angrily to European Commission claims that Britain is using the peace process in Northern Ireland as a “bargaining chip” in Brexit talks, accusing Brussels of ignoring the human costs at stake.
The EU insists that it will not start talks on a trade relationship until the UK has settled its divorce bill, guaranteed the rights of EU residents in Britain and resolved the Irish border question.
Mr Davis, the Brexit secretary, has said that avoiding a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic can be done only in the context of an agreement on trade and customs arrangements.
Negotiations begin next week and the Commission piled the pressure on yesterday.

The Express reports an EU warning.

BRUSSELS officials have warned the UK’s Brexit negotiators not to use the Northern Ireland peace process as a “bargaining chip”.
EU sources said they were “concerned” by last week’s Government document on the future of the Northern Irish border post-Brexit.
And in a bid to throw its weight around ahead of next week’s round of Brexit talks, the EU warned against using the border issue as a bargaining chip.
Theresa May has insisted the UK is committed to protecting the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, which brought peace to Northern Ireland.
But Brussels negotiations claimed the UK is trying to link the delicate issue to talks on a future trade deal with the EU. 

The Independent also covers the story.

The European Union has accused Britain of engaging in “magical thinking” over its approach to Brexit, specifically what should be done with the Northern Ireland after the UK leaves the bloc.
Briefing journalists in Brussels on Friday a senior EU official said the UK must not use the Northern Ireland process as a “bargaining chip” in Article 50 negotiations, which was set to restart next week.
The Government put out a position paper last Wednesday about how it believes the question of Northern Ireland should be solved once Britain leaves the EU.
It suggested there should be no border posts on Northern Ireland’s border with the Republic of Ireland border, which has almost 300 crossing points, but that a mix of technology and physical checks should ensure big businesses were complying with customs rules. 

And the left-wing Guardian also has its take on the negotiations.

The European Union has accused the UK of “magical thinking” over plans to create an invisible border in Ireland after Brexit, amid fading hopes of an early divorce deal this autumn.
The response came as both sides prepared for the next round of negotiations in Brussels next week, with the EU issuing a stern rebuke against using the peace process as a bargaining chip.
The Irish border is one of the top priorities and the EU wants “sufficient progress” in resolving its status, before negotiations can move on to trade – a timetable the Brexit secretary, David Davis, criticised as “inflexible”.

EU

In other Continental news, our own Nigel has Tweeted a response to the chief EU negotiator, says the Express.

NIGEL Farage has hit out at Guy Verhofstadt in a furious Twitter rant, saying the European Union official was “living in a fantasy” over greater integration over the bloc’s member states.
The former Ukip leader condemned the Brussels bureaucrat, who is also a key Brexit negotiator and the leader of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats Group in the European Parliament.
Mr Verhofstadt originally posted a message on the social networking site reading: “Terrorists know no borders. We need for a real European Intelligence & Investigation capacity.”
However Nigel Farage fired off a hard-hitting broadside in response, writing: “Only EU federalists like you can fix a problem they created with even more Europe. Stop living in a fantasy.”
The 53-year-old MEP, who has campaigned for Britain to leave the EU for 20 years, has recently highlighted the issue of the possibility that the Islamic State (ISIS) could send terrorists over in the migrant boats coming to Europe from places such as Libya in north Africa.

It seems the bloc is getting tough on asylum seekers, reports the Times.

The EU is threatening to halt development aid to countries that obstruct the return of failed asylum seekers, in an attempt to halt the flow of economic migrants across the Mediterranean.
The Times revealed this week that a migrant whose case for asylum was rejected had a 73 per cent chance of remaining in Europe, even if served with an order to leave. This is creating a powerful incentive for economic migrants to join those fleeing war and persecution on the journey across the Mediterranean.
One key factor complicating their return is a lack of co-operation from their countries of origin, mostly in Africa and Asia, which are major recipients of overseas aid.

And the Times also has an interview with a refugee.

The Eritrean refugee standing in the blazing sun, surrounded by riot police, shuddered as she felt her first real surge of fury. “I fled war in Eritrea to get here,” she said quietly in fluent Italian. “Where do I go now? Why does God punish us Christians like this?”
The 41-year-old mother and house cleaner, Hiwot, was one of 100 Eritreans and Ethiopians, most with refugee or protected status, blasted by a police water cannon as they camped in the Piazza Indipendenza.
They had set up camp, surrounded by their suitcases, after their eviction from an empty office building on the piazza that had first been squatted in by migrants four years ago.

A top German says the bloc is trying to punish the UK for leaving, says the Express.

BRUSSELS’ attempts to punish Britain for leaving the European Union by restricting trade access will fail spectacularly and only serve to highlight the growing impotence of the bloc, a leading German economist said today.
Professor Thorsten Polleit predicted that the UK will go from strength to strength after Brexit whilst the rest of the continent will continue to be stifled by EU protectionism and red tape  – something that is a “big worry for Brussels”.
In an interview with express.co.uk the respected economist compared EU membership to “serfdom” and anticipated a concerted effort by eurocrats to “punish” Britain for leaving, including an attempt to cut off favourable trade access in order to hold the bloc together.
But he warned that such a “lose-lose” approach, which would harm European economies as much as the UK, was doomed to failure because quitting the EU and reaching out int the world will be “very beneficial for Britain” in the long run. 

And a former Prime Minister has popped up seemingly in an attempt to bolster the EU, says the Independent.

European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker has arranged to meet his “good friend” Tony Blair in Brussels this week while Brexit negotiations between Britain and the EU take place across the road.
The Commission denied that the timing of the meeting was a calculated snub to Theresa May’s negotiators – despite it taking place at the same time as the third round of Article 50 Brexit talks and while Ms May’s ministers are likely to be in town.
A European Commission spokesperson on Friday afternoon announced that Mr Juncker would be “receiving Tony Blair” in Brussels on Thursday this week, when David Davis’s team will be locking horns with Commission negotiators.
The spokesperson confirmed that “current issues of current European economics and politics” – code for Brexit – were likely to feature in the discussions between the pair, among a “wide range of issues”.
There have been persistent rumours, repeatedly denied by Mr Blair’s office, that the former prime minister has ambitions to return to public life or politics.

The Express also has the story.

EU CHIEF Jean-Claude Juncker will meet his “good friend” Tony Blair in Brussels next week at the same time UK ministers will be in town to thrash out the third round of Article 50 Brexit talks.
The European Commission revealed Mr Blair will be heading to the Belgian capital on Thursday for a meeting with Mr Juncker, when the pair will discuss “current issues of current European economics and politics”.
It comes as David Davis and his Brexit  team will be in Brussels for the next round of Brexit talks.
But the Commission refuted suggestions the EU chief was snubbing Theresa May’s Brexit negotiators.
A European Commission spokesman said: “The president is in constant and regular contact not only with the current leaders, heads of state, heads of government political leaders in Europe, his current peers in the European Council; but of course also with his peers from the previous times. 

Terror attack

The Mail has an interesting story about a potential biological attack.

Paramedics are being equipped with an antidote to some of the deadliest nerve agents amid fears terrorists are plotting a chemical strike on Britain.
Thousands of frontline medics have already received the epipen-style devices that could combat VX or sarin, the as well as training on what to do in a mass casualty attack.
Security chiefs fear those inspired by Islamic State have ‘no moral objection’ to using the substances to murder and spread panic.
Malaysian police say the North Korean leader’s half-brother Kim Jong-nam was killed by the nerve agent VX at Kuala Lumpur airport in February.
VX is ten times more deadly than sarin and is considered the most dangerous nerve agent ever created. It has been classified as a weapon of mass destruction by the UN.
Propaganda posted online by the terror group urges followers to try to obtain chemical weapons.
Documents obtained by the Daily Mail reveal major health trusts are issuing nerve agent auto-injector devices to frontline staff. 

And Westmonster carries a story about terror attacks in Spain.

Islamic State has released a chilling video, promising more attacks on Spanish soil, as the Prime Minister announces he will change any laws required to combat jihadis.
The video, ISIS’ first in the Spanish language, features 22-year-old Muhammad Yasin Ahram Perez also known as El Cordobés, after the famous Spanish Matador. Perez fled to Syria with his mother and five brothers from Malaga in 2014.
Perez warns: “With the permission of Allah, Al Ándalus will be what it once was, a land of caliphate.”
He also encourages others who cannot travel to Syria to commit acts of terror wherever they are. “Jihad has no borders; Do jihad wherever you are,” he says.
To the Spanish Christians,” he adds. “Do not forget the spilt blood of the Muslims of the Spanish Inquisition. We will avenge your slaughter.”

Conservative Party

It seems the Tories may have misused electoral law, says the Times.

Police have launched a “significant” investigation into allegations that the Conservative Party’s use of a call centre for canvassing could have broken electoral law.
South Wales police confirmed yesterday that they were also looking into accusations that the party had breached data protection law.
Secret footage obtained by Channel 4 News alleged that the party employed a telecoms company in Neath, south Wales, to directly canvass voters in marginal seats with cold calls.
Staff at the call centre, whose management has confirmed that it was employed by the Conservatives, are said to have contacted voters to promote Tory candidates in at least ten marginal seats on election day, which could be illegal.

The Independent has the same story.

Police say they are carrying out an investigation of “scale and significance” into allegations the Conservative Party broke the law during the election campaign with its use of a call centre in Wales.
The investigation into the contracting of the business in Neath was confirmed in a letter from South Wales Police to Labour MP Wayne David.
Secret footage obtained by Channel 4 News suggested the Tories may have broken data protection and election laws by using Blue Telecoms to directly contact voters in marginal seats.
The Conservative Party has said it did not break the law by using the company, which it said was hired to carry out legal market research and direct marketing.
In a letter to Mr David, South Wales Police confirmed the investigation is being carried out by its economic crime unit, who have experience in dealing with “electoral integrity investigations”.

As does Sky News.

Police are carrying out a “significant” investigation into claims the Conservatives may have acted illegally by using a call centre in Wales to directly contact voters during the General Election.
The Conservative Party has denied the allegations. A spokesman declined to comment further, citing the ongoing investigation.
South Wales Police said they were carrying out an investigation of “scale and significance”.
Secret footage obtained by Channel 4 News suggested the Tories may have broken data protection and election laws by contracting the Blue Telecoms centre in Neath to directly contact voters in marginal seats.

And the Labour-leaning Guardian also runs the story.

Detectives are carrying out an investigation of “scale and significance” into allegations the Conservative party’s use of a call centre in Wales may have broken the law.
Secret footage had suggested the Tories may have breached election law by allegedly using a call centre to directly contact voters in marginal seats. The party has insisted it did nothing wrong and said the call centre was hired to carry out legal market research and direct marketing.
South Wales police wrote to the Labour MP Wayne David this week explaining that members of its economic crime unit with expertise in investigating electoral integrity and complex and serious fraud were looking into the allegations.
The letter, written on behalf of the assistant chief constable, John Drake, and seen by the Guardian, suggested the inquiry into what happened at the call centre, run by Blue Telecoms in Neath, could be protracted.

The story is also reported in the Mirror.

Police say they are carrying out a ‘significant’ investigation into a secretive call centre operating on behalf of the Conservative party in the run up to the election.
An undercover investigation at the Blue Telecoms call centre in South Wales claimed the cold-call centre broke data protection and election law.
Call centre workers at the market research firm in Neath, South Wales, read from a script as they made thousands of calls to voters in marginal seats in the weeks leading up to the election.
But the undercover probe by Channel 4 News found the script appeared to canvass for support – which would be regulated under electoral law – rather than conducting market research – which would not.

Nationalisation

It seems the decision to leave the EU has prompted a flood of applications for British citizenship, says the Mail.

The number of EU nationals applying to become British has surged since the Brexit referendum, new data reveals today.
Thousands of people from across Europe who moved to Britain under free movement rules are bidding for citizenship amid uncertainty about the rules that European nationals will face after Brexit take place in March 2019.
The number of applications has surged by 80 per cent. There were 28,502 applications for citizenship from EU nationals in the year ending in June 2017 – up from 15,871 in the previous 12 months.
The rise is in contrast to a general downward trend in the overall numbers seeking citizenship, with total applications falling by 8 per cent to 135,912.

And the Times.

Migrants from the EU are applying for British citizenship in record numbers as they seek to secure their position in the country post-Brexit.
Official figures show that the number of nationals from EU states seeking citizenship jumped by 80 per cent in the year following the referendum.
The number of applications rose to 28,502 in the 12 months to June this year, up from 15,871 in the previous year. Matylda Setlak, managing director of All 4 Comms, a Polish communications agency, said: “Many Poles are simply afraid of Brexit. Polish families want, above all, security and stability. They hope British citizenship will provide that.”

And Sky News claims that many EU citizens have decided to go back home.

The number of EU citizens applying for British citizenship has nearly doubled in the wake of the Brexit referendum, new figures show.
The 80% rise in requests comes amid uncertainty over the status of EU citizens once Britain leaves the European Union in March 2019.
This week, a different set of statistics showed 
thousands of EU citizens have been leaving the EU – bringing down the overall net migration figure.
According to a Home Office report, there were 28,502 applications for British citizenship from EU nationals in the year ending June 2017 – up from 15,871 in the previous 12 months.
Applications by citizens from Eastern European countries – among a group of 10 nations that joined the bloc in 2004 – rose by 45% to 9,841 in the year to June.
Of those, 6,179 alone came from Polish people.

The Sun also reports the hike in numbers.

The number of EU nationals applying for British citizenship has leapt 80 per cent in the wake of the Brexit vote, official figures reveal.
There were 28,502 in the year ending in June, up from 15,871 in the previous 12 months.
Professor Jonathan Portes, professor of economics and public policy at King’s College London, said: “Historically immigrants from outside the EU have been much more likely than EU migrants to apply for UK citizenship – for example the vast majority of long term migrants from India or Pakistan are now British.
“This reflects the fact that EU membership means long term residents from elsewhere in the EU have almost the same rights as Britons.
“But that will change after Brexit – so it’s not surprising many EU citizens living here are seeking UK citizenship, at least as an insurance policy.”

Education

The Times reports on the numbers of students going to university.

Private schools are encouraging more pupils to learn a trade as they move away from pushing all students towards university.
The numbers at independent schools taking Btec vocational qualifications at a standard equivalent to A levels has doubled in the past four years, analysis by The Times has found.
Head teachers said that they were increasingly advising students to take a different path from the traditional university route.
With pupils questioning whether degrees give value for money, heads said that more companies were hiring those with technical and business skills.
Independent school students are taking Btecs in subjects such as construction, animal management, engineering and agriculture to prepare for the workplace.

And the Times also reports on the performances of independent schools.

Mixed schools were the strongest performers in this year’s Independent Schools Council A-level tables, but single-sex schools were snapping at their heels.
The highest ranked school was The Perse School, in Cambridge, which caters for students aged three to 18. It was one of three schools where more than half of A-level scholars this year were awarded an A*.
Cardiff Sixth Form College, a boarding school catering mainly for international A-level pupils, had the highest results when A levels, International Baccalaureate and Pre-U scores were combined — the latter two are alternative A-level qualifications popular in some independent schools.

Royal baby?

And finally, the Star reports on a hint that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge could be expecting a third child.

THE BIGGEST hint that Prince William and Kate Middleton are expecting a third child may have just dropped. Bookmakers have had to suspend betting on an announcement being made by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge after a flurry of bets.
Coral is no longer taking bets on a third Royal baby after being inundated with bets over the last 24 hours.
Odds were as short as 1-3 before it pulled the plug.
The bookmaker is, however, taking bets on the gender of the Royal baby, whose sister would be Princess Charlotte and brother Prince George.
A boy is the odds-on favourite at 10-11, while odds for twins stand at 20-1 and 150-1 for triplets.
“This latest gamble suggests to us that Kate and William could be set to make an announcement soon that they are expecting a third child therefore we have pulled the plug on the market to allow the dust to settle,” said Coral’s John Hill.

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