EU

Politicians on the Continent still won’t accept that the UK is going to leave the bloc permantly, according to the Telegraph.

Britain could be handed an accelerated path to re-join the European Union if it decides to reapply for membership after it has left the bloc, the European Parliament’s chief Brexit negotiator has claimed.
Guy Verhofstadt, a former Belgian prime minister and arch European federalist, said that future British governments would have a way back into Europe if they decided to reverse course after Brexit, possibly even on a fastrack.
“That is always possible,” he said in an interview in the US during the visit of Theresa May, “They can always reintroduce a request for membership of the European Union.”
“Certainly, we have enough experience to make it a little bit a faster process than what is normal,” he added.
Mr Verhofstadt’s remarks to Al Jazeera English reflect a stubborn strand of thought in Brussels EU institutions and some EU capitals that Britain will bitterly regret its decision to quit the EU and will soon be seeking a way to rejoin the club.

Westmonster also carries the Brexit negotiator’s words.

No means no. Leave means Leave. Except to the European Union, who have never been very good at accepting referendum results that don’t go their way.
We now have Guy Verhofstadt, the European Parliament’s chief Brexit negotiator, already scheming about how the UK could rejoin the EU.
This is utterly delusional stuff. As all of the polling shows that there is no Brexit regret and opposition to Brexit is going down, not up.
The British people have accepted the referendum result. So thanks for the offer Eurocrats, but we’ll be fine standing on our own two feet.

And it seems that the Greens are also plotting to have the Brexit vote changed, says the Guardian.

Three prominent Green politicians – including the party’s co-leader Jonathan Bartley – are joining a legal challenge in Dublin to establish whether Brexit can be reversed.
The ambitious, crowd-funded case is formally being taken against the Irish government but the aim is to ask Irish judges to refer the issue to the European court of justice in Luxembourg.
The question of whether it is possible to revoke the decision to trigger article 50 of the Lisbon treaty, which will formally begin the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union, has become more urgent now that Theresa May has confirmed that parliament will be given a second vote on the final shape of any Brexit deal.
The case is being led by the London-based barrister Jolyon Maugham QC, who has rights of audience in Ireland. The participation of the Green party is in keeping with its Europhile stance.

But the Express claims some of the Continental countries are refusing to join the bloc’s latest scheme.

MAJOR member states today told Brussels they have no intention of joining its highly controversial scheme to establish a European prosecutor with powers to operate over the heads of national courts.
In a humiliating snub for eurocrats the Netherlands, Sweden, Poland, Hungary and Malta all declared their intention to opt out of the contentious scheme which will hand Brussels sweeping new powers over the continent’s legal system.
Defiant Swedish politicians told stunned officials “we don’t need your help” and Holland raised concerns over sovereingty as yet another EU initiative looked set to descend into bickering and farce.
Malta and Hungary objected to the extra power the initiative would hand to Brussels over member states’ tax affairs, whilst Poland said it believed the plan could ultimately lead to the creation of an EU superstate.
Earlier today bigwigs vowed to railroad through controversial plans to set up an EU-wide prosecutor’s office despite fierce opposition from some member states.

And the Independent claims a trade agreement between the EU and the UK will take a long time.

The European Parliament’s chief Brexit negotiator has rubbished Theresa May’s pledge to deliver a new EU trade deal by 2019 as “impossible”.
Guy Verhofstadt also suggested the British people voted to leave the EU because of a Little Englander mentality. Yet he held out the prospect that Britain could choose to rejoin the bloc one day, saying, “That is always possible.”
In her Brexit speech earlier this month, the Prime Minister threatened to crash out of the EU with “no deal” if other leaders refused her demands.
However, a day later, she told MPs she would “deliver” an agreement by Brexit, to avoid inflicting punishing World Trade Organisation tariffs on businesses. “That’s what I’m committed to – and that’s what this Government is going to deliver,” she said, raising the stakes for the negotiations to come.
But Mr Verhofstadt, a senior MEP and former Belgian Prime Minister, dismissed the prospect, in an interview with Al Jazeera English. “That’s technically impossible,” he said, referring to the suggested two-year timeline.

Turkey is still talking tough on the thousands of migrants pouring across its borders, says Breitbart.

Turkey on Friday threatened to scrap a migrant readmission deal with Athens after the Greek Supreme Court refused to return eight suspects allegedly linked to the failed July coup.
“We are now considering what we are going to do,” Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said in an interview with state TRT Haber broadcaster.
“We have a readmission agreement between us and Greece, with the European Union. We are going to take necessary steps, including the cancellation of this readmission agreement,” he added.
Turkey and the EU signed last March a landmark agreement which Ankara pledged to take back all illegal migrants landing in Greece to help stem migrant flows to the EU.
The deal helped brake a massive human influx, especially from Syria, that became a hot political and social issue in Europe.
There is also an existing agreement between Ankara and Athens on the readmission to Turkey of illegal migrants.

 Article 50 Bill

Back home, the Article 50 Bill comes under scrutiny in the Express.

REMOANER MPs are rushing in dozens of amendments to the bill which would trigger Britain’s departure from the EU in a bid to derail Brexit.
A series of changes to the Government’s 137 word bill have been placed by opponents of the biggest electoral mandate in British including a “reset” clause by Scottish Nationalists which would end up with the UK staying under Brussels rule.
The plot by bitter Remoaners in Parliament who refuse to accept the will of the British people has come after the Supreme Court ruled that a bill would be required to trigger Article 50 which starts the irreversible process of Leaving.
It also comes as a court case in Dublin has opened to try and establish whether Article 50 can be reversed as Irish opponents of Brexit test if a referendum in their country could overturn Britain’s historic vote last year.
The SNP and Labour have threatened to put down 50 amendments each on the bill while the Lib Dems plan to push for a second referendum to force the UK to Remain with ministers still planning to trigger Article 50 before the end of March.

Labour Party

In other news, Jeremy Corbyn is facing a revolt among his MPs, says the Mail.

Labour veered towards all-out civil war today after a second frontbencher quit over Jeremy Corbyn’s decision to order all MPs to vote for Brexit.
In her resignation letter Shadow Wales secretary Jo Stevens said she was ‘a passionate European’ who believes leaving the EU is a ‘terrible mistake’ and will vote against the Government’s bill to start the Brexit process.
The Labour leader is braced for at least three more resignations after announcing he will impose a three-line whip on MPs to vote in favour of triggering Article 50, which will notify Brussels of our intention to leave.
On yet another day of Labour chaos over Brexit, Mr Corbyn’s office confirmed that any frontbench MP who defies his three-line whip on the vote will be sacked.
A host of other shadow ministers have vowed to rebel and vote against Brexit.

The Telegraph also reports on the party.

Jeremy Corbyn is facing fresh chaos after a second senior member of his team quit after he called for the party to back Theresa May and trigger Article 50.
Jo Stevens, the shadow Welsh secretary, is the first member of the shadow cabinet to resign as two whips also indicated they would not back the Labour leader.
The rebels have challenged Jeremy Corbyn to sack them because of their opposition to Brexit as the party hinted it could reverse its support for Article 50.
Rupa Huq, the shadow home office minister, said the consequences of her decision are “yet to come”.
While shadow transport minister Daniel Zeichner laid down a challenge to the leadership last night as he told his local paper: “They know my position and they understand exactly why I’m doing what I’m doing and it’s for them to decide what to do next.”

BBC News reports on another resignation from the shadow cabinet.

Jo Stevens has quit as Jeremy Corbyn’s shadow Welsh secretary after he forced Labour MPs to back the Article 50 bill.
The Cardiff Central MP said she believed Brexit was “a terrible mistake” and said she “cannot reconcile my overwhelming view” that to endorse the bill would make it inevitable.
She is the first member of the shadow cabinet to quit over the issue.
Party leader Mr Corbyn said MPs in pro-EU constituencies were “understandably torn” over the vote.
Her resignation follows that of Tulip Siddiq, who quit as shadow early years minister on Thursday after the Labour leadership imposed a “three-line whip”.
Frontbench members of parties are generally expected to resign from their posts if they choose to defy a three-line whip, which is the strongest form of discipline political party leaders can impose.

The Times also carries the story.

Jeremy Corbyn is facing an escalating crisis over Brexit after a shadow cabinet minister became the latest to quit over his support for triggering the exit process.
Jo Stevens, the MP for Cardiff Central and shadow Welsh secretary, said that she could not defy the majority of her constituents who voted to stay in the bloc.
Others could soon follow. Rachael Maskell, the shadow environment secretary, is said to have serious concerns about the government’s Brexit plans and will talk to constituents on Monday before making a decision about her position.

And the Guardian reports further refusals to obey the party leader.

Two Labour whips have said they will refuse to vote in favour of the article 50 bill, as the Labour frontbencher who resigned on Thursday said she felt her decision to defy the whip was “truly reflecting the will of the people”.
Jeff Smith and Thangam Debbonaire, whose constituencies strongly backed remain in last summer’s referendum, said separately they would not be voting to invoke article 50, which triggers the process of leaving the EU.
Tulip Siddiq, the shadow minister for early years, resigned on Thursday saying she could not vote for the bill. Her Hampstead and Kilburn constituents voted by almost 75% to remain in the EU.
Writing in the Guardian, Siddiq said she had received a torrent of abuse since her resignation, which she said was unfortunate but hardly surprising given the divisiveness of the Brexit vote.
ision of an MP to represent the will of her constituents is met with disgust from those who have been so adamant for our country and our politicians to ‘take back control’ and to reflect ‘the will of the people’,” she wrote.

And the Mirror claims Corbyn’s leadership is in jeopardy.

Jeremy Corbyn’s authority was on the line yesterday after a Shadow Cabinet minister joined the growing revolt over Brexit.
Jo Stevens quit as shadow Welsh Secretary in protest at the leader’s three-line whip on next week’s vote on Article 50.
The Welsh MP said leaving the EU was a “terrible mistake” and she could not vote for the new law triggering Brexit.
“Theresa May is now leading our country towards a brutal exit with all the damage that will cause to the people and communities we represent.
“There have been no guarantees before triggering Article 50 about protecting single market access, employment environmental and consumer rights, security and judicial safeguards and the residency rights of many of my constituents.
“And no guarantees for the people of Wales. Article 50 should not be triggered without these safeguards in place,” she wrote in her resignation letter.
Ms Stevens said she accepted the referendum result.

The Independent claims the party could still oppose the Bill, even though Corbyn has said he will not do so.

Labour may yet oppose the Article 50 Bill if its amendments are thrown out, the party said today.
Diane Abbott, the Shadow Home Secretary, created further confusion about Labour’s stance when she said it would “review our position” if it failed to change the legislation.
The comment appeared to raise the prospect of Labour voting against triggering Article 50 if Theresa May refuses to guarantee a “meaningful” Commons vote on her final deal.
Jeremy Corbyn sparked an internal Labour war yesterday when he announced a three-line whip to support the legislation to start Brexit, next week.
One shadow minister, Tulip Siddiq, immediately resigned and two Opposition whips said they would defy the order – despite telling other MPs to obey.
Today, another senior MP, Meg Hillier, said her London constituents were in a “rage” about Labour’s decision to support the Prime Minister’s Bill.
But Ms Abbott, a key ally of Mr Corbyn, said: “Are we going to vote with the Tories come what may? This is a question of opening the process.

Strikes

Holidaymakers may have to rethink their plans to travel, says the Times.

Dozens of British Airways flights are likely to be cancelled after cabin crew called six days of strikes in a dispute over pay.
Members of the Unite union will walk out for almost a week next month as part of a continuing row over salary rates for almost 3,000 staff based at Heathrow.
The union has staged two stoppages in the past month that involved “mixed-fleet” cabin crew working on a combination of long and short-haul flights.
One 48-hour strike led to the cancellation of 44 flights and it is likely that more disruption will be caused next month.

NHS

And the latest aspect of the crisis in the NHS is reported in the Mail

Patients are being denied hip replacements unless they can prove they have worn ‘shock absorbing shoes’ for six months.
Others are told they must have been taking painkillers four to five times a day for two months before being considered for surgery.
Health officials across England are drawing up increasingly tough rules to limit the numbers of patients eligible for hip and knee replacements.
Yesterday it was revealed that three NHS trusts in the West Midlands want to refer patients for the procedure only if their pain is so severe they cannot sleep.
The proposals by Redditch and Bromsgrove, South Worcestershire and Wyre Forest Clinical Commissioning Groups aim to save £2.1million a year and slash operations by a fifth.
But managers in trusts elsewhere have drawn up similar strict policies to limit the procedures.

Church of England

The Sun reports that the Church is covering up homosexuality.

THE Church of England has been accused of trying to get gay clergy to keep their sexuality a secret.
Its leadership is said to be pursuing a Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy.
Both gay and straight men and women training to join the priesthood should face the same questions about their lifestyle, says a report by the House of Bishops to be presented to the Church’s General Synod next month.
Singling out homosexual applicants is seen as “pastorally unhelpful”.
But the move was criticised by a gay and lesbian charity, which said it would formalise Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.
The term is a reference to US military policy between 1994 and 2011 which barred openly gay or bisexual folk but did not discriminate against them if they did not disclose their sexuality.
The report also suggests the Church should adopt a “fresh tone and culture of welcome and support” for gay people, but not change its opposition to same-sex marriage.

BBC

And Breitbart reports on a press conference at which the BBC’s chief political reporter criticised the new US President.

Invited to ask a question at a press conference celebrating the special relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom the British Broadcasting Corporation’s (BBC) political editor took the opportunity to criticise the new President.
Implying the BBC was representing the views of British citizens, the vast majority of who live in households compelled by law to fund the BBC through an annual television tax enforced with threat of imprisonment, Laura Kuenssberg went on the offensive. Directing questions at Prime Minister Theresa May and President Donald Trump after the two had spoken optimistically about the future of their two countries cooperating on matters like trade and defence, Kuenssberg asked:
“Mr President, you’ve said before that torture works, you’ve praised Russia, you said you want to ban some Muslims from coming to America, you’ve said there should be punishment for abortion. For many people in Britain, those sound like alarming beliefs. What do you say to our viewers at home who are worried about some of your views, and are worried about your becoming leader of the free world.”
The question was delivered such that it prompted President Trump to turn to his British counterpart, who had invited the BBC editor to speak, and remark: “That was your question? There goes that relationship!”

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