EU

It seems that the bloc will INCREASE it’s demand for a ‘divorce’ payment from the UK, says the Express.

BRUSSELS has catapulted the bill Britain will have to pay for leaving the European Union to the top of its Brexit agenda and will now seek to bolt on extra requirements as it scrambles to plug a massive budget black hole.
Senior EU officials today revealed that member states were “unanimous” on the fact that the UK must settle up on its financial commitments before trade talks can start and appeared to increase the potential scope of the final amount to be paid.
At a briefing to the Brussels press corps eurocrats said they had been “really surprised” by the determination of the other 27 member states to ensure that getting Britain to cough up was included as a top priority in the negotiations.  
And they hinted that the “global amount” that the UK will be billed will now include “political” commitments the UK has signed up to, which includes programmes like the Turkey refugee package which could run for years or even decades to come.
That would push the final bill beyond the £50bn being mooted and today senior EU officials stressed that they will not budge on the issue, setting themselves up for a showdown with Downing Street which has indicated it is not prepared to pay the full amount. 

The Guardian has a similar story.

EU leaders will toughen their stance on Britain paying its Brexit bills when they agree negotiating guidelines at a special summit on Saturday.
EU diplomats have agreed unanimously that Britain must settle its bills before embarking on trade talks. The position has been set out by EU leaders from the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, to the EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, but this will be the toughest statement yet from all 27 countries.
“Member states are maximalist on the budget issue, because if Britain doesn’t pay, other member states will have to pay,” an EU diplomat said. Another senior diplomat said he had never seen net payers and recipients “working so closely with each other” in a wry allusion to the perennial tensions between countries that pay most into the EU budget and those that receive the biggest grants.

The Sun describes it as ‘hardball’.

OFFICIALS in Europe are set to play hardball with Britain in Brexit talks as they insist AGAIN that we can’t talk about a trade deal without paying a divorce bill.
In a letter to the other 27 leaders today, the European Council President Donald Tusk said: “Before discussing our future, we must first sort out our past.”
Tomorrow the other member states will formally adopt their negotiating stance for Brexit.
This morning Mr Tusk said “we will not discuss our future relations with the UK until we have achieved sufficient progress on the main issues relating to the UK’s withdrawal from the UK.”
Theresa May had hoped that some talks could take place in “parallel” – but it appears that EU leaders are set to scupper her plans.

ITV News reports on today’s EU summit.

European Union leaders are attending a special summit later to formally agree their Brexit negotiating strategy.
The 27 member states remaining in the EU once the UK departs will be represented in Brussels for the anticipated ratification of the joint approach they will adopt in the forthcoming separation talks.
Draft proposals outlined by European Council president Donald Tusk were published last month.
The EU 27 are expected to remain firmly committed to a “phased” approach to negotiations.
Mr Tusk has said that before discussions on any future trading partnerships can take place, progress must be made on the UK disentangling from its ties to the EU.

And EU leaders are sure the Prime Minister will buckle under their pressure, says the Times.

European Union leaders sense that Theresa May will surrender to their divorce demands rather than walk away in a “no deal” scenario leading to a disorderly Brexit.
EU officials and diplomats have received private assurances and noted that the prime minister has dropped a pledge, made in January, that “no deal is better than a bad deal for Britain”.
Her decision to hold a general election has been interpreted by the EU as a recognition that she will need to bolster her parliamentary majority and secure her government until 2022 in preparation for a politically toxic Brexit deal.
European leaders, who meet in Brussels today, are increasingly confident that Mrs May will sign up this autumn — or winter at the latest — to divorce terms.

A former Greek minister has warned that the negotiations could be a trap, reports the Express.

YANIS Varoufakis has urged Britain not to get caught up with EU negotiations in a stark warning to the Prime Minister.
Speaking to the Telegraph, the former finance minister of Greece said: “My advice to Theresa May is to avoid negotiation at all costs.
If she doesn’t do that she will fall into the trap of [Greek PM] Alexis Tsipras, and it will end in capitulation.”
Prof Varoufakis, who spent months battling the debt collection policies of the EU-IMF Troika during Greece’s financial crisis, believes Brussels will exploit political divisions within Britain to reduce the chance of getting a fair Brexit deal.

The Telegraph reports that Northern Ireland has been pulled into the argument to use as a ‘bargaining chip’.

Brussels has been accused of an “outrageous” attempt to threaten the future of the Union by using Northern Ireland as a bargaining chip in Brexit negotiations.
European leaders are expected to agree today that Ulster would automatically join the EU if it became part of a united Ireland – raising the spectre of a break-up of the UK after Brexit.
Separately, Donald Tusk, the European Council President, has told member states that the question of Ireland’s border with Northern Ireland must be settled before trade talks can begin.
It comes just weeks after Mr Tusk stoked a row over Gibraltar’s sovereignty by saying any Brexit deal could only apply to Gibraltar with Spain’s permission.

General Election

Here in the UK, the major parties have been setting out their stalls.

GE – UKIP

The Express reports that committed Brexiteers of other parties may not be challenged.

UKIP could be prepared to stand aside in dozens of constituencies in order to help sitting MPs who are “real Brexiteers” hold on to marginal seats.
Party leader Paul Nuttall said that while
Ukip candidates would contest the “vast majority” of seats, local branches have been urged to stand aside to give a “free ride” to MPs who share their views on the European Union.
Mr Nuttall also defended his party’s controversial “integration strategy”, insisting Ukip was “not at war with Muslims”.
The Ukip leader has sparked widespread controversy with his proposal to outlaw the full-face veil worn by some Muslim women, as well as banning sharia and forcing girls at risk of female genital mutilation to face regular medical checks. 

Westmonster has a video on our leader’s announcements.

Paul Nuttall launched the party’s election campaign this morning, insisting that UKIP MPs were required for the Brexit people voted for on June 23rd.
The UKIP Leader called for cuts to foreign aid, a ban on face coverings, a proportional voting system, an English Parliament and to abolish the House of Lords.

And the Express urges voters to back the party in order to ensure the Prime Minister keeps her promises.

A LARGE group of Ukip MPs will be needed to stop Theresa May “backsliding” over Brexit, the party’s leader Paul Nuttall has warned.
Mr Nuttall, who is set to announce where he will stand this weekend, launched the Ukip election campaign with a promise that his party will provide a Tory government with a “Brexit backbone”.
In a sign of six weeks of tough campaigning to come ahead of 8 June, the launch was delayed by a group of hard Left protesters who claimed that concerns over immigration are “racist”.
But in his launch Mr Nuttall wanted to focus on the warning that “the job is only half done” with Brexit with a reminder to voters that key issues have not been resolved yet.
He warned that a “whopping Tory majority” at the 
General Election would allow Mrs May to backslide on issues such as taking back control of fishing waters and the £50 billion divorce bill being demanded by Brussels.

The Independent reports on the melee at the announcement.

Anti-racism protesters have been thrown out of Ukip’s manifesto launch event.
Paul Nuttall was due to announce the party’s platform for June’s snap general election on Friday.
One of the protesters shouted: “Paul Nuttall wants to spread division. How dare he tell Muslim women what to wear?”
It followed the launch of Ukip’s “integration agenda” which included a ban on face coverings like the burqa, as well as a plan for mandatory medical checks of schoolgirls deemed to be at risk of female genital mutilation.
According to Ukip, police have been called to remove the protesters from County Hall in central London.

The Guardian also reports on the manifesto launch.

Ukip has formally launched its general election campaign with a pledge to be the “backbone” in ensuring Britain fully leaves the EU, while promising a radical manifesto charting a future for the party after Brexit.
At the launch in London, the party leader, Paul Nuttall, said he would announce on Saturday where he will stand for parliament, and said the party would have candidates in “the vast majority of the country”.
However, he was forced to defend the new Ukip policy targeting Muslim issues against claims of racism, with two anti-racism campaigners ejected from the venue before he began speaking.

BBC News reports Nuttall’s declaration that the party’s work is not yet complete.

Paul Nuttall has said Brexit is a “job half done” and UKIP MPs are needed to “see this through to the end” as he launches his party’s election campaign.
Mr Nuttall accused the prime minister of “backsliding” on immigration and said a “whopping Conservative majority” would “put Brexit in peril”.
UKIP would fight seats across “the vast majority of the country” but would stand not against some pro-Brexit MPs.
The party won 3.9m votes in 2015 which resulted in only one seat.
Mr Nuttall said ditching the “antiquated” and “unfair” first-past-the-post voting system would be among “radical” domestic policies in a “fully-costed” manifesto which would show UKIP was not just about Brexit

GE – Labour Party

Voters are preparing to desert the Labour Party, says the Telegraph.

Nearly half of Labour voters are prepared to desert the party putting the Conservatives on course for an even bigger victory than forecast, a poll has found.
Yougov said that 48 per cent of Labour’s voters are either planning to switch their allegiance to another party or are undecided about whether to back Jeremy Corbyn.
The EU referendum had caused a “significant realignment” in British politics with Labour facing a “dramatic” drop in its support as Leave voters back the Tories and Remain voters back the Liberal Democrats.
In contrast seven in 10 of those who voted to back the Conservatives at the last election said they will support Theresa May in June.

GE – Conservatives

But the Independent reveals the Conservatives are promoting the Prime Minister over the party name.

The Conservatives have dropped their party name from some campaign materials in the north of England, images suggest.
Theresa May visited Leeds on Thursday and spoke to party supporters in front of banners reading “Theresa May: Strong, Stable Leadership in the National Interest” but including no mention of the Tories.
Party activists, meanwhile, held signs reading “Theresa May: Strong, Stable Leadership”. “The Conservatives” was only written in much smaller righting underneath, according to 
The Telegraph.
In contrast, Ms May spoke in Dudley in the Midlands earlier in the week in front of signs that read “Conservatives” and had no mention of her name.

The Mirror reports a slump in growth.

Theresa May suffered a pre-election blow today as growth slumped despite her boasts of a “strong and stable government.”
The latest GDP figures show growth slowed to 0.3% in the first quarter of the year, more than expected and down from 0.7% in the previous three months.
The downturn follows a fall in shop sales as the retail industry is impacted by “prices increasing more than spending,” the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.
Overall GDP grew by 2.1% over the last year, according to the figures.

And the Morning Star claims the NHS crisis will not be revealed before we vote.

NEW figures revealing the desperate crisis facing the NHS are to be kept secret until after the general election, it was revealed yesterday.
The latest monthly figures will be published on June 9 — not the scheduled date of June 8, the day that voters head to the polling stations. Prime Minister Theresa May was accused of a “panicked cover-up” of the crisis.
The figures are expected to expose further deterioration in provision of health treatment as the government continues its attacks on the NHS through under-funding and privatisation benefiting the Tories’ pals in the profit-hungry private sector.
Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said the public would “see through Theresa May’s latest dishonest manoeuvre” in delaying publication of the figures.

GE – LibDems

The LibDem leader has hit out at the Prime Minister over immigration in the Independent.

Tim Farron has accused Theresa May of peddling “poisonous propaganda” about immigrants that leads directly to hate crimes, as he condemned the Prime Minister’s focus on limiting the number of people entering Britain from overseas.
In an exclusive interview with 
The Independent, the leader of the Liberal Democrats said Ms May was “playing the immigration card” at the general election by sticking to her target to reduce migration despite opposition even from several of her ministers.
Mr Farron has endorsed the Drop the Target  campaign by 
The Independent and the Open Britain group against the Government’s goal to reduce net migration below 100,000 a year.

French elections

Across the Channel, one of the presidential candidates has announced that the ‘Jungle’ could be set up in Kent, says the Telegraph.

Emmanuel Macron, the French presidential favourite, says he will renegotiate France’s border agreement with the UK, raising the prospect of a “Jungle” refugee camp being set up in Kent.
Mr Macron, who will go head to head against Marine Le Pen in the final round of the election next month, said the Le Touquet treaty, under which British border guards operate in Calais, should be “back on the table”.
David Cameron warned last year that if the British border at the entrance to the Channel Tunnel in Calais was removed after Brexit, refugees would relocate to Britain.

The Guardian has the same story.

Emmanuel Macron, the favourite in the race to become the next French president, has suggested that he would want to renegotiate an agreement that allows British border police to operate in Calais.
The centrist politician, who will go head to head against Marine Le Pen in the final round of the election on 7 May, said: “I want to put the Le Touquet border deal back on the table. It must be renegotiated, especially the parts that deal with the fate of isolated child migrants.”
In an interview with the French TV channel TF1, he added: “There is no easy solution to the migrant crisis. If there was one, it would have been found.”
The politician previously raised the issue when he was economy minister, suggesting that his country could tear up the treaty if the UK left the EU.

Armed forces

The Times claims funding for our forces will now not take place until after the election.

The core plan for Britain’s armed forces will be revised after the election because of a funding crisis, The Times can reveal.
The unravelling of the 2015 defence review is a blow for Sir Michael Fallon, the defence secretary. Sources questioned whether he could remain in post after an anticipated Conservative election victory in June given the problems that he has presided over at the Ministry of Defence (MoD). They include:
• A lengthy delay in agreeing this year’s budget, which should have been finished in January but dragged into April. The Royal Navy had to receive hundreds of millions of pounds of extra cash to cover the cost of new warships and submarines.

And the Star has a picture of our newest submarine.

BRITAIN’S new nuclear-powered and cruise missile bristling £1 billion attack submarine has emerged for the first time.
HMS Audacious, a monstrous 318ft long and 7,400 tonnes, will be dumped into water for the first time at Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria.
The warships is capable of firing cruise missiles around 750 miles and is one of the most advanced vessels in the world.
Armed with state-of-the art weapon systems and a powered by a nuclear reactor, the fearsome ship is expected begin sea trials within the year.
HMS Audacious if the fourth of seven Astute class submarines being rolled out by BAE Systems for the Royal Navy.

Nuclear volcano

The Sun claims the nuclear tests being undertaken in North Korea could trigger a supervolcano.

NUCLEAR tests in North Korea could cause the eruption of a massive volcano that could wipe out populations across Asia and Europe, a geology expert has warned.
Lloyd Hamilton, a retired associate professor of geology, wrote to Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop warning her of a super eruption at Paektu Mountain “that would drastically affect the whole world climate”.
There are fears Kim Jong-Un’s missile tests could lead to a Korean War 2 as both it and the US stage military exercises amid heightened tensions.
The volcano lies active in northern North Korea, on the Chinese border and is due to explode after last erupting in 1903, the Courier Mail reported.
“Professor Hiromitsu Taniguchi from Tohoku University claims that there is a 99 per cent chance of the Mount Paektu volcano in North Korea erupting some time in the next 15 years,” Mr Hamilton wrote in an email to Ms Bishop.
“It erupted in 946 A.D killing 71,000 to 92,000 people in North Korea, China, Russia and Japan.”
He added that there are currently 1.6 million people living within 100km of Paektu Mountain.

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