Brexit

Claims that Calais could be clogged up by traffic have been refuted in Sky News.

French officials have rejected suggestions they could resort to a “go-slow” policy at the port of Calais if there is no Brexit deal.
The UK’s Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab warned on Thursday of major disruption in a “worse case scenario”, which might force firms to use other ports.
But Xavier Bertrand, president of the Hauts-de-France region, said ensuring “fluidity” of trade was essential.
Another official said closing Calais would be an “economic suicide mission”.

Breitbart also has the story.

French officials have slapped down British claims France will frustrate and “slow” trade passing through Calais in the event of a ‘no deal’ Brexit.
Dominic Raab, the UK’s Brexit Secretary, claimed Thursday there would be major disruption in a “worse case scenario”, forcing trade to shift to other ports.
He said the UK needed “to prepare for the worst-case scenario where the authorities at Calais are deliberately directing a go-slow approach by supporting a diversion of the flow to more amenable ports in other countries”.

And the prospect of Argentina having further access to the Falkland Islands is explored by Westmonster.

Downing Street has hit back at Argentina for trying to exploit a No Deal Brexit to ‘enhance’ its claim over the UK overseas territory the Falkland Islands.
The Argentine Foreign Minister Jorge Faurie told  The Telegraph: “Our planning for Las Malvinas (or as everyone else calls them the Falklands) is to have a negotiation that will enable stronger relations between the people on the islands and the people on the continent.
“And we hope that the non Brexit (No Deal Brexit) solution will enhance the possibility of that dialogue to be truly one with results.”

Could EU citizens vote in General Elections here in the UK? Westmonster has a report.

Tory MEP Daniel Hannan has said that the draft Withdrawal Agreement between the EU and UK, which is a closely guarded document, contains a clause allowing EU citizens living in England and Northern Ireland the right to vote in General Elections.
According to reports in The Guardian, a leaked WhatsApp message to other MEPs Hannan said: “I just saw an extract of the draft withdrawal agreement. Britain has decided to enfranchise all EU nationals (at least in England and NI – it’s devolved in Scotland and Wales.)

WTO

The prospect of going into the WTO quickly are questioned in the Independent.

The US and China are reportedly among 20 countries attempting to block Britain from agreeing a fast-track deal with the World Trade Organisation (WTO) on its post-Brexit terms of trade with the rest of the world.
Liam Fox, the international trade secretary, admitted several WTO members had “expressed reservations” about the government’s plan to stay on terms similar to those it still enjoys as a member of the European Union (EU). 

And Russia may take a hand, says the Guardian.

Russia is among 20 countries that are looking to squeeze a commercial advantage from Brexit after blocking an attempt by the international trade secretary, Liam Fox, to fast-track a World Trade Organization deal on the UK’s terms of trade with the world.
Whitehall is now facing “up to two dozen” different negotiations with countries over how much meat and dairy produce will be permitted into the British market and what tariffs the UK will set on imports.

Budget

Several prospective matters in the budget have been leaked. The Express says the Chancellor could warn the EU about no deal.

PHILIP Hammond could use Monday’s highly-anticipated Budget to issue a stern warning to Brussels that Britain is preparing for the very real possibility of a no-deal Brexit as the stalled divorce talks approach their December deadline.
In a shock announcement last year, the Chancellor revealed the Government had set aside a massive £3billion ‘war chest’ to prepare the country for “any outcome” after the UK leaves the EU on March 29, 2019.

In an exclusive, the Telegraph claims there will be tax cuts.

Philip Hammond is preparing to use his Budget to bring forward income tax cuts for millions to a month after Britain leaves the EU in a Brexit boost, The Telegraph has learned.
The move, which would benefit more than 30million taxpayers, will see income tax thresholds rise from April 2019 – a year earlier than planned.
The Chancellor is considering the surprise plan for his Budget after the biggest improvement in forecasts for the UK’s public finances in decades.

The Telegraph is one of the media predicting support for the High Street.

Philip Hammond will use next week’s Budget to deliver a package of relief measures for the UK’s battered high streets, including cutting business rates by a third for half a million companies.
The Chancellor is expected to say on Monday that he has listened to cries for help from the nation’s embattled shopkeepers by unveiling £900m in immediate business rates relief for 496,000 small retailers.

The Mail also has the story.

Philip Hammond will throw the struggling high street a £1.5billion lifeline in the Budget, it can be revealed today.
In a victory for the Mail, half a million small retailers will have their business rates bills immediately slashed by a third.
The Chancellor will also launch a £650million fund to help town centres adjust to changing shopping habits.
And ministers will look at relaxing planning laws to make it easier to convert empty shops into homes or offices.

Sky News calls it ‘budget love’.

Philip Hammond is to send some budget love to the high street by cutting business rates for small shops and allowing more hotels, pubs and restaurants to hold weddings.
Promising a £1.5bn boost for UK high streets, the chancellor will announce plans in the budget on Monday to cut business rate bills by a third for almost half a million small retailers.
At the same time, Mr Hammond will announce a review of marriage laws in England and Wales, simplifying rules dating back to 1836 and even allowing couples to tie the knot in the open air.

The Independent claims the relief will help business rates.

The chancellor will next week attempt to assuage fears over the future of the beleaguered UK high street with a £1.5bn package of business rates relief and town centre infrastructure spending.
Philip Hammond, delivering his Budget on Monday, is set to announce £900m of business rates relief for around half a million small retailers, saving them around a third off their bills.
High retail business rates in popular locations have long been a major source of discontent for the retail sector, with many firms blaming them for squeezing their profitability and complaining that their online rivals like Amazon do not face similar levies.

And the Telegraph claims he will help start up businesses.

Britain’s start-ups will benefit from a wave of investment from pension funds as Philip Hammond plans to unleash billions of pounds worth of cash to back promising businesses.
The Chancellor will use next week’s Budget to make it easier for pension savings to power up new industries and generate extra returns for savers.
Mr Hammond indicated a review is on the way earlier this month, promising to “ensure defined contribution pension funds are able to make longterm investment decisions, for the benefit of both their members, and the wider economy”.

The Times claims the budget will help road building.

A multibillion government plan to build hundreds of miles of roads will be announced in the budget, The Times has learnt.
Philip Hammond is expected to outline a programme to upgrade and maintain motorways and key A-roads over a five-year period by ring-fencing vehicle excise duty. It is intended to tackle serious bottlenecks while creating extra capacity on the network.
Highways England is expecting funding of between £23 billion and £28 billion from 2020 to 2025. It will be one of the biggest single upgrades of the network since the expansion of the first motorways in the Sixties and Seventies.

And the Mail says defence will be helped.

Philip Hammond is set to pump £500million into defence at next week’s Budget after Tory anger erupted over cuts to the military.
Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson has been in a long-running battle with the Treasury for more cash for Britain’s Armed Forces.
Many Tory MPs joined in demands for the Ministry of Defence to be given more money after a report warned it faces a £20billion funding blackhole over the next decade.

But a former minister claims Mr Hammond’s calculations are out, says Westmonster.

Former Brexit Minister Steve Baker has demanded that Philip Hammond’s Treasury show where their doomy economic forecasts are coming from, telling Chopper’s Brexit podcast that “we need to see the government’s workings out”.
He explained how there had been three projections on a No Deal Brexit, with Economists for Free Trade showing a +3% effect if the right things were put in place, Open Europe saying -0.5% but the Treasury forecasting way down at a negative -6.5%.
“Show us your workings Mr. Hammond”, Baker urged, pointing out that “the reputation of government economic forecasting after various rounds of Project Fear really is in the gutter.”

Order-Order also claims the Chancellor has got his sums wrong.

Spreadsheet Phil seems to have got his sums wrong on the self-employed. In this month’s budget, ‘Hollywood Hammond’ is rumoured to be planning a fresh tax raid on the self-employed that will massively backfire for the economy.
Last year, the most glamorous man in politics got his nose almost as bloodied as John McDonnell’s  when he tried to raise National Insurance Contributions for the self-employed. 
But now he seems to be back for more, with reports he’s planning to extend the cack- handed changes to self-employed IR35 tax law from the public sector to the private sector.

Second referendum

The mayor of London is one of those who have met Barnier and warned that we’re on course to vote again on Brexit, says the Independent.

The EU’s chief negotiator has been warned to make contingency plans for a second Brexit referendum, as pressure builds to give the public a final say on leaving.
Prominent Remain politicians met with Michel Barnier in Brussels this week and said it was time to start “serious contingency planning”, as 
The Independent’s petition neared one million signatures and the future of Brexit looks increasingly uncertain.
In a visit on Friday, Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, told Mr Barnier that the negotiating period should be extended so Britain could have “time to have a referendum”. 

Free speech

Our leader has criticised the ECR, says Breitbart.

UKIP leader Gerard Batten MEP has slammed the European Court of Human Rights for upholding an Austrian woman’s conviction for disparaging Mohammed, Prophet of Islam, ruling they had the right to restrict her free speech.
The woman, named as E.S. in the European court’s  judgement, had suggested the Prophet Mohammed was a paedophile due to his relationship with his wife Aisha, who was married to the religious leader aged six and consummated her marriage to him aged nine, according to most — although not all — Islamic religious writings.

Westmonster also reports on the judgement.

The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that insulting the Prophet Muhammad exceeds the limits of permissible free speech.
The case centres on an Austrian woman who said that calling the Prophet Muhammad – who married a child bride – a paedophile should be protected on the grounds of free speech.
In 2009, the woman held seminars on Islam and said that the Prophet Muhammad “liked to do it with children” and “a 56-year-old and a 6-year-old…What do we call it, if it is not paedophilia?”

Child grooming

The Home Secretary has spoken out against some of his countrymen, says the Times.

Sajid Javid has said Pakistani members of grooming gangs have “disgraced our heritage” and that there “must be some cultural connection” to their crimes.
The home secretary was criticised for his reaction to the jailing of 20 men in Huddersfield for drugging, trafficking and raping vulnerable girls.
“These sick Asian paedophiles are finally facing justice,” he tweeted last week. “There will be no no-go areas.”

New homes

A huge new city is being planned, says Sky News.

A controversial mega-development of homes, offices and roads across central England is being backed by the Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling.
Up to a million new homes could be built along the Oxford, Milton Keynes, Northampton and Cambridge arc.
A new expressway would also shorten journey times from East to West.
Government advisers say the developments are needed to safeguard the booming economies of the UK’s science and technology hub.

Breitbart also has the story.

Britain’s National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) is proposing to build a million homes between Oxford and Cambridge as immigration drives demand — but campaigners claim the plan would lead to the destruction of 67,000 acres of countryside.
The Government will respond to the NIC’s recommendations for the development of the so-called ‘Oxford-Cambridge Arc’ by Monday, triggering a flurry of protest from pro-countryside campaigners.
“If given the green light, this development will change the face of England’s countryside forever,” warned the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE).

Health

Depression is rising, says the Times.

One in ten patients has had depression diagnosed, as the condition overtakes obesity on GP records for the first time.
Depression is noted by doctors almost twice as often as it was five years ago as more attention is paid to mental health, according to official data.
It is the largest growing illness recorded by GPs, up a percentage point year on year, equivalent to hundreds of thousands more sufferers.

And the NHS continues to cancel operations, reports the Times.

A record number of children’s operations were cancelled last year, including treatments for breast cancer and broken bones.
A total of 18,647 emergency and non-emergency procedures due to be performed on under-18s were cancelled in 2017-18, according to data obtained by Labour under freedom of information laws.
Reasons included staff shortages, critical care beds being unavailable and equipment failure.

The Independent also reports on the cancellations.

There has been a 58 per cent rise in the number of children’s operations cancelled by the NHS in the past seven years, according to figures which critics warn illustrate the “cruel toll” of pressures on the health service.
Last year, a record 18,647 under-18s had surgery cancelled or delayed, with cancer treatment, pregnancy terminations and broken bones among the procedures affected.
That compares with
11,821 cancellations since the Conservatives came to power in coalition with the Liberal democrats in 2011/2012.

The Mail also carries the figures.

A record 18,600 children’s operations were cancelled last year, figures reveal.
The number has risen by 58 per cent in six years, owing to issues such as a lack of beds and staff shortages.
Figures obtained by Labour show that a total of 117,936 children’s operations have been cancelled since 2011/12.
In that year, 11,821 operations were cancelled.

Crossrail

More money has been poured in the project, says the Mail.

The controversial Crossrail project has been handed a £350million bail-out by the Government, ministers today announced.
The troubled project – which has been beset by delays and rising costs – was given the cash in the form of a loan to London‘s City Hall.
Transport Minister Jo Johnson said the cash will help inject some ‘momentum’ into the project.

The Independent claims the cash will be a loan.

The government has announced a £350m bailout to ensure there is “full momentum” behind the delayed Crossrail project.
Ministers have handed over the cash as a loan to City Hall to safeguard the multi-billion pound infrastructure project, which has been beset by delays and spiralling costs.
Announcing the bailout, rail minister Jo Johnson  said: “Today, as an interim measure, we are announcing that £350m of short term repayable financing will be made available to the mayor for the year 2018/19. 

Fracking

The hunt for shale gas was stopped, says the Telegraph.

The hunt for shale gas in Lancashire has been brought to a halt after fracking triggered a tremor which ripped through the Government’s safety guidelines.
Fracking firm Cuadrilla has been forced stop fracking for the first time since it was allowed to restart work at its Preston New Road site less than a fortnight ago.
The temporary pause will be in place for eighteen hours after a mini-quake at the site blasted past safety limits to register 0.8 on the richter scale.

The Times claims the earthquake was caused by Cuadrilla.

Fracking in Lancashire was suspended yesterday after Cuadrilla caused a minor earthquake that breached government limits.
The 0.76-magnitude tremor detected by the British Geological Survey was the largest of 17 tiny quakes to have been recorded in the vicinity of the company’s site near Blackpool since it resumed operations last week after a seven-year hiatus.
Under the “traffic light” system, the company must stop fracking for 18 hours after a tremor with a magnitude of more than 0.5, although those below 1.5 cannot be felt at the surface.

Weddings

The laws preventing weddings from taking place in the open air could be changes, reports the Telegraph.

Couples could be able to get married in their back garden for the first time under a major shake-up of 180-year-old licensing laws.
Under the current rules, which have been largely unchanged since 1836, civil ceremonies in England and Wales cannot be held in the open air or under a marquee.

And they could even take place in pubs, says the Mail.

Couples getting married usually have to wait until the reception to raise a glass to their future.
But the opportunity to do so could come much earlier on the big day if weddings are allowed to take place in pubs under a shake-up of the rules.
Chancellor Philip Hammond will announce a review of marriage law aimed at boosting the hospitality sector.
Ministers will look at axing a swathe of restrictions including a ban on alcohol being served during proceedings and on ceremonies taking place outdoors.

This could affect the cost of weddings, says the Mirror.

Wedding venues could get cheaper as pubs and restaurants open their doors in a legal shake-up promised as part of next week’s budget.
There are currently around 7,500 venues approved for civil ceremonies in England and Wales.
But Treasury officials say that red tape is stopping many smaller businesses from obtaining a licence – pushing up the costs for couples.

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