Irish backstop

Signs of a possible breakthrough are reported in the Express.

THE European Union has indicated that it is prepared to compromise on the Irish backstop if five key tests are passed.
Alternative arrangements – ways of maintaining a soft border without close regulatory alignment between the UK and EU – are other options to the backstop, which was the main sticking point in Theresa May’s failed Brexit deal. Officials from the European Commission yesterday met with representatives from EU members states in Brussels to discuss a report by the Alternative Arrangements Commission. The bloc said any alternative plan would have to comply with the EU customs unions, EU principles and World Trade Organisation rules.
It must also ensure a return to a hard border in Ireland is avoided and the all-island economy is protected.
Any ideas put forward by the new Prime Minister will be measured against these five criteria.

No-deal

The front runner to be Prime Minister is still considering proroguing Parliament to get past Brexit, says the Independent.

Boris Johnson has refused to rule out suspending parliament to force through a no-deal Brexit as he stepped up his campaign to become the next prime minister.
The Tory leadership frontrunner confirmed the option was on the table after Jeremy Hunt urged him to be “straight with the people” and accused him of getting “some important facts wrong”.
It came as a senior ally of Angela Merkel savaged the former foriegn secretary by saying he “invented stories” while working as the Daily Telegraph‘s Brussels reporter – and that he “has not changed”.

A plot to stop Boris by cancelling spending has been described in the Express as irresponsible.

PRO-BRUSSELS MPs were condemned as “grossly irresponsible” yesterday after launching a fresh bid to block billions of pounds of spending on Whitehall preparations for a no-deal Brexit.
Former Tory minister Dominic Grieve and senior Labour MP Dame Margaret Beckett tabled a Commons amendment designed to prevent Treasury cash going to Government departments unless MPs specifically vote for it. Their cross-party proposal, which follows Tory leadership frontrunner Boris Johnson’s pledge to take Britain out of the EU by October 31 “do or die”, aims to make it harder for the next prime minister to pull the UK out of the EU without a deal with Brussels.

And if Boris does get into No. 10, he is said by the Times to be preparing an emergency budget.

Boris Johnson is preparing an emergency budget for a no-deal Brexit, including aggressive tax cuts, an overhaul of stamp duty and an assault on regulation if he becomes prime minister, The Times can reveal.
His team wants a series of measures to ensure that the economy is “going gangbusters” by October 31, putting Britain in the best position to leave the EU with or without a deal.
Under the plan, the budget, which is usually held in October or November, is likely to be brought forward to September. Allies of Mr Johnson said that he had offered Sajid Javid, the home secretary, the job of chancellor during a phone call at the weekend.

The budget could include tax cuts, reports Westmonster.

We could see a budget that includes tax cuts if the UK is heading towards a No Deal, WTO Brexit.
There are rumours that Boris Johnson could go for a series of measures on stamp duty and regulation to ensure Britain’s economy is “going gangbusters” by the end of October, according to The Times.
It could take place in September, with a new Chancellor. Sajid Javid’s name is now being thrown about as the potential man for the job.
Fellow Tory contender Jeremy Hunt has talked up his desire to “turbo charge” the UK economy – but said that he would only go for No Deal with a heavy heart. Brussels are unlikely to take that possibility with Hunt very seriously.
Leaving the EU without a deal is by far the most popular Brexit outcome among grassroot Conservatives.
When YouGov spoke to Tory members, 66% backed leaving the EU on WTO terms as their preferred way forward.
If he wins will Boris deliver at the end of October?

Corbyn

Meanwhile, several of the media report the Labour leader’s ‘frail’ condition.  The Times says:

Senior civil servants have become increasingly concerned about Jeremy Corbyn’s health and warned that he may be forced to stand down as Labour leader because he is not up to the job “physically or mentally”.
The future of Mr Corbyn, 70, was openly discussed at an event attended by mandarins this month amid suggestions that he has become “too frail and is losing his memory”.
They say they are increasingly worried about the prospect of him becoming prime minister because he is being “propped up” by his advisers and lacks a firm grasp of both foreign affairs and the domestic agenda.

The Mail says he is not fit to lead the country.

Top civil servants fear Jeremy Corbyn could be too frail to become prime minister, it was claimed last night.
Mandarins discussed the Labour leader’s future at an event this month as rumours mount that he is ‘losing his memory’, where one went as far to say that the 70-year-old was ‘not firing on all cylinders’.
They are increasingly worried about the prospect of Mr Corbyn becoming prime minister because he is ‘propped up’ by his advisers, according to the reports.

The Sun concurs.

JEREMY Corbyn is not fit “physically or mentally” to be Prime Minister, top civil servants claim.
The Labour leader, 70, has been accused of being “too frail and losing his memory” with fears he may be forced to stand down.
Civil servants claim he is being “propped up” by advisers and struggles to keep on top of foreign affairs and the domestic agenda, The Times reports.

And the Express claims that as he is so frail, there are others who are controlling him.

JEREMY CORBYN has been branded a “puppet” who is being “manipulated and controlled” after senior civil servants claimed he is too frail to become Prime Minister.
The civil service has warned that the Labour leader may be forced to stand down because he is no longer up to the job “physically or mentally”, according to The Times. They have also revealed their concerns about him being “propped up” by his advisers as well as lacking knowledge on both foreign affairs and the domestic agenda. Speaking to The Times a senior civil servant said: “When does someone say he is too ill to carry on as leader of the Labour Party let alone Prime Minister?

Peterborough

The closely-fought by election in Peterborough could have been fixed, reports the Express.

THE results of the Peterborough by-elections have been rocked by allegations of illegal “family voting” at 11 polling stations, as the Brexit Party calls for an investigation into the result.
The Labour Party’s Lisa Forbes won the by-election by 683 votes ahead of the Brexit Party candidate’s Mike Greene on June 6. But a new report released by election observation group Democracy Volunteers said multiple voters were seen heading into the same polling booth together at 11 of the 23 polling stations it had observed. While the report found polling station staff were quick to act, it will raise more concerns after the Brexit Party alleged illegal activity through postal votes.

And the Express also reports the launch of a legal action.

BREXIT Party chairman Richard Tice says the decision to launch a legal action against the result of the Peterborough by-election is necessary in order to re-establish “trust in the voting system”.
Mr Tice also said a major overhaul of the postal vote system was required in order to prevent electoral fraud. In a press conference on Monday, Mr Tice claimed to have evidence proving a “convicted fraudster” was working as an agent for the Labour Party, understood to be a reference to Tariq Mahmood, who was jailed for fraud for 15 months in 2008 and who was pictured with Ms Forbes and Jeremy Corbyn. Labour has dismissed the claim as “nonsense” but Mr Tice told Express.co.uk the election result had been “tainted” by the corruption allegations.

Brecon

Meanwhile, in the next by-election, some of the candidates have been ganging up on the Brexit Party, reports the Express.

REMAIN-BACKING parties are joining forces ahead of the by-election in Brecon and Radnorshire to prevent the Brexit Party from gaining its first seat in the House of Commons.
Renew Party, a political group founded in the wake of the 2016 EU Referendum, announced its intention to stand aside in the upcoming by-election to boost the Liberal Democratic candidate’s chances of victory. Julie Girling MEP, appointed this month interim leader of Renew after being a member of Change UK for just two months, said: “We aim to stand in all by-elections and have been in the process of selecting our candidate for Brecon and Radnorshire. However, I’m very pleased to see that a broad Remain coalition is emerging for this upcoming by-election.
“Renew helped broker a similar arrangement for the Peterborough by-election and were disappointed that the plan did not proceed.

Tory leadership

The two candidates are setting out their stalls to encourage Conservative voters to send them to No. 10.  The Sun says Boris is in the lead.

BORIS Johnson is on the way to Downing Street – with internal polling giving him a near “two to one” lead over Jeremy Hunt.
Sources in the Tory frontrunner’s camp claim their own estimates of Tory members’ voting intentions mirror a poll which earlier this week put Boris in front by 66 per cent to 30 per cent.
Writing in The Sun today, columnist James Forsyth reveals ‘Team Boris’ believe the margin of victory will give their man crucial momentum and help establish his authority across the parliamentary party.

The Telegraph reports on a policy on which the candidates agree.

British troops must have better legal protection with a “clear line” drawn under the past, a report backed by Jeremy Hunt and Boris Johnson has said.
The next Prime Minister must “act urgently to protect UK troops” from the risk of “unfair” legal processes, according to the new study by Policy Exchange, the think tank.
It called on MPs to amend the Human Rights Act to specify that it does not apply to any death that took place before it came into force in 2000.

Gauke

In the country, the knives are out for Remainers, one of whom has survived says the Mail.

One of the cabinet’s most prominent opponents of a no-deal Brexit has survived a no-confidence vote.
David Gauke, the pro-Remain justice minister who represents South West Hertfordshire, faced his local Conservative Association on Friday.
He tweeted his thanks to members, who voted two-to-one against the motion, which had the backing of pro-Brexit campaign group Leave.EU.
He said: ”Tonight, I argued that: We should not allow the party to be taken over by entryists. We should be a broad church. No deal would be immensely damaging to the UK.

Osborne

But a ‘has-been’ could try to get back into politics, reports the Telegraph.

He was so angry about being ejected from the Treasury by Theresa May that he later claimed he would not rest until he saw the Prime Minister “chopped up in bags with my freezer.”
Now with Mrs May’s premiership in tatters and having aligned himself with the most likely candidate to succeed her, could George Osborne be warming to the idea of a return to frontline politics?
Speculation is swirling around Westminster that the Evening Standard editor is “toying” with the idea of running as an MP again following his fall from grace in 2016 after six years as Chancellor.

Scotland

The Queen is due to celebrate in Scotland this weekend, reports Sky News.

The Scottish parliament is at a crossroads as it reaches its 20th anniversary, according to Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.
On a weekend when the Queen will join celebrations to mark the parliament’s milestone, Ms Sturgeon told Sky News there is a risk it will be taken “backwards” by Brexit.
Ms Sturgeon said: “I think the story of the Scottish Parliament over the first 20 years of its existence has been one of real success.
“Of course, like all parliaments, it’s had its ups and downs – it’s undoubtedly made mistakes.

And she’ll address the parliament north of the border, reports ITV News.

The Queen is to address the Scottish Parliament as part of its 20th anniversary celebrations.
The Prince of Wales will join his mother as she makes a speech to MSPs in the debating chamber.
The ceremony takes place almost 20 years to the day since the Parliament officially assumed its legal powers on July 1, 1999 following devolution.
Some of the young people born on that date will join MSPs to hear the Queen’s speech.
The Crown of Scotland will be brought in a procession from Edinburgh Castle to the Parliament and enter the chamber, along with the Scottish Parliament Mace, to a fanfare sounded by the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, ahead of the Queen’s arrival.

But Remainers are still working to stop Brexit there, says BBC News.

The Welsh and Scottish governments have said they will work together to try to keep the UK in the European Union.
Mark Drakeford and Nicola Sturgeon also called on the next prime minister to “change course and rule out” leaving the EU without a deal.
The first ministers are becoming “increasingly alarmed” by “hard-line rhetoric about a no-deal Brexit”.
The joint statement was released ahead of a meeting of the British-Irish Council (BIC) in Manchester on Friday.

EU

Problems are growing over on the Continent, reports the Express.

GERMAN Chancellor Angela Merkel has defied the EU elite in a sign of a growing budget split within Brussels, after Germany passed a huge cutback to save its struggling economy.
Germany will defy demands from Brussels and the European Central Bank to spend more, and instead cut nearly £3bn from its spending plans. The EU rebuke comes as Germany, which is seen as the economic engine of the European project, struggles to resolve its “weakening economy”. The president of the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW) told Bloomberg this morning that Angela Merkel would refuse the request from EU for more spending funds.

And the Express also reports ‘tense’ words between the bloc’s two main leaders.

ANGELA Merkel and Emmanuel Macron have been spotted engaged in a tense debate at the G20 summit as they look for a way to resolve the deadlock over Brussels’ top job up for grabs.
World leaders from 19 countries and the European Union are meeting in Osaka, Japan, from Friday for the annual G20 summit. The leaders of France and Germany will be hoping to hatch a plan to overcome the deadlock over the top job in the EU. The countries disagreed on who should take the role of next EU Commission president at a recent meeting following May’s Parliamentary elections, which left the EU more fragmented and the chances of reaching consensus more difficult.

The floppy-haired Belgian Brexit negotiator is still chucking insults at us, reports ITV News.

Guy Verhofstadt, the European Parliament’s chosen representative in the Brexit negotiations, has launched an astonishing personal attack on Tory leadership favourite Boris Johnson, accusing him of “false promises, pseudo-patriotism, and foreigner bashing”.
Verhofstadt, a former Prime Minister of Belgium, where many key institutions of the European Union are based, sneered that “To those of us watching from the outside, the debate between [Boris Johnson and rival candidate Jeremy Hunt] confirms that they have learned nothing whatsoever from the past two years of negotiations with the EU.”

Crime

Organised crime is not being tackled properly, says a report quoted in the Times.

The National Crime Agency and the Home Office are “flying blind” in the £3 billion-a-year fight against organised crime, and a report published today says there is no evidence it is working.
The report by the Whitehall spending watchdog said that while serious and organised crime, including modern slavery and child sexual abuse, was developing rapidly, the strategy for tackling it was hampered by bureaucracy. The National Audit Office said that there was a 36 per cent increase in identified potential modern slavery and human trafficking victims from 2017 to 2018, while the number of sexual crimes against children increased by 9 per cent.

Foreign aid

In the search for her ‘legacy’, it seems the prime minister is making big decisions, says the Telegraph.

Theresa May is to commit Britain to spending the £14 billion foreign aid budget only on environmentally friendly schemes.
Downing Street said that the promise would mean that “every penny” of UK support for developing countries will be in line with “climate change goals”.
The commitment to “greener aid” suggests that new projects could be rejected for funding if they could contribute to carbon emissions.

Global warming

And she’s still trying to cut carbon emissions, reports the Independent.

Theresa May is to tell world leaders at the G20 summit in Japan that they are “the last generation with the power to limit global warming”, as she urges them to match Britain’s commitment to net zero carbon emissions by 2050.
In a plea to the leaders whose nations produce 80 per cent of climate change gases, Ms May will say on Saturday that the world needs a fivefold increase on existing commitments to cut emissions in order to limit warming to 1.5 degrees.

Is she going to hog-tie the UK into cutting emissions?  The Guardian says she will.

Theresa May is to pledge that Britain’s aid budget will in future be spent in a more environmentally sustainable way and tell her G20 counterparts: “We are the last generation of leaders with the power to limit global warming.”
The prime minister has been keen to burnish her green credentials as she enters in her final days in office. Fresh from announcing a new target of net zero carbon emissions by 2050 – in the face of scepticism from the chancellor, Philip Hammond – May will lead a session on the climate emergency at the summit in Japan.
She will promise that in future, the £14bn overseas aid budget will be spent in a way that contributes to the transition to a low-carbon global economy, and will urge other countries to adopt more ambitious emissions targets.

Rail travel

Could we be heading back to the bad old days of rail strikes?  The Morning Star reports.

RAILWAY workers are preparing to ballot for the first national rail strike in a generation after accusing the Tories of playing “fast and loose” with workers’ pension schemes.
The RMT have begun strike ballot preparations after it said the government failed to offer “cast-iron assurances” to protect current pension arrangements.
The union is demanding that Transport Secretary Chris Grayling and all train company operators do not impose reductions in future pension benefits or significantly increase member contributions.

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