Immigration

The Independent reports a potential second Windrush scandal.

Theresa May is under mounting pressure to ditch a fresh immigration clampdown dubbed “the next   Windrush”, ahead of a crucial Commons vote next week.
Thirty-four organisations have joined forces to urge the prime minister not to repeat the blunders that sparked the scandal by preventing other immigrants from proving their right to be in the UK.
Under planned new data laws, people will be denied access to the personal information the government holds about them if releasing it would “undermine immigration control”.
Leading lawyers have warned that withholding potentially vital proof would lead to people being wrongly deported, detained or denied health treatment – in a mirror image of the treatment of the Windrush generation.

On Wednesday,  Labour and the Liberal Democrats will join forces to try to throw out the exemption, arguing it is the “first test” of Ms May’s promise to learn the lessons of the Windrush debacle.

Brexit

Mrs May is coming under pressure for a clean break from the EU, says the Mail.

Theresa May was today urged by leading Brexiteers to seize on today’s local election victories to make a clean break from the EU.
Boris Johnson said the local election results proved the Prime Minister had the backing over voters when she pledged to take Britain out of the EU customs union and single market.
The Foreign Secretary said the Tory party’s strong performance in Leave-supporting areas as evidence that the party must stick to its guns on cutting ties with Brussels.
His words were echoed by other leading Tory MPs including Jacob Rees-Mogg, leader of the European Research Group – the powerful group of backbench Brexiteers.
They said Labour’s failure to win any of its target London boroughs or make a breakthrough elsewhere are a blow to his party’s bid to keep the UK in a customs union with the  EU. 

Reuters reports on the next round of talks.

EU officials who began talks with Britain on Friday on security ties after Brexit will raise problems that diplomats say may mean cooperation against terrorism and crime will be weakened more than many expected.
Among indications that what seemed the least fraught bit of Brexit is proving trickier is a recent EU report, described to Reuters, which slams Britain’s lackadaisical use of a key EU travel and crime database – the so-called Schengen Information System (SIS). Brussels also frets that London cannot be trusted to respect the privacy of EU citizens’ data after Brexit.
While EU political leaders are as keen as British Prime Minister Theresa May on keeping the closest possible security ties between the continent and London, one of the world’s leading powers in intelligence and crime-fighting, officials have been turning up a host of legal and technical obstacles.
“This always looked to be the easy bit of Brexit, the no-brainer that everyone wanted to keep good security cooperation,” said a person familiar with Germany’s work on the matter. “But as we get into it, we’re finding more and more problems.”

Customs union

In an exclusive, the Guardian claims there’s a plan for border checks in Ireland.

A backup plan to impose border checks on trade between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK at ports and airports to avoid a hard border with the Republic of Ireland after Brexit has been drafted by senior civil servants.
Despite the Democratic Unionist party (DUP) angrily rejecting any suggestion of a border “in the Irish Sea”, a leaked paper reveals that officials have been working on a blueprint “to be deployed as necessary in the negotiation process”.
The proposal is described as “infinitely preferable” to a hard land border on the island of Ireland and the risk of a return to violence. The European Union has already rejected Theresa May’s two main proposals: maximum facilitation, which would involve some border infrastructure, and a  customs partnership, in which the UK would mirror Brussels’ customs rules and collect tariffs for the EU.
The prime minister has insisted the UK will leave the customs union and the single market. She has also adamantly ruled out the return of a hard border on the island of Ireland. The EU, meanwhile, has warned it will not tolerate a solution that undermines the single market and customs union.

But the PM has been accused of behaviour similar to Russia, says Sky News.

The dust has barely settled on the local elections, but the Prime Minister has a new battle on her hands.
Tensions rose after former cabinet minister Justine Greening accused MPs in the European Research Group of 
behaving like Russia by vetoing Theresa May’s customs plans.
She had been speaking after the 60-strong ERG 
issued an ultimatum to the Prime Minister  over the EU’s customs union.
But the group’s leader has hit back.
In an exclusive interview with Kay Burley, Jacob Rees-Mogg said they were simply encouraging the Government to keep its promises.
He told Sky News: “I have no authority to veto anything.
“I’m a backbench Tory MP.
“The Conservative manifesto said that we would leave the customs union and we would leave the single market.
“I believe that politicians should implement the promises that they’ve given in manifestos.

And Breitbart claims we’re going to have to stay in the customs union for a few more years yet.

Bureaucrats are telling the government that Britain cannot leave the EU’s Customs Union before 2023 – seven years after the public voted for Brexit.
Senior members of the Civil Service are claiming that new infrastructure allowing for relatively seamless trade between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland will take years to install.
“The estimate is that it would take five years to get the new technology up and running. Olly Robbins  [the top Brexit civil servant] said it could be done by 2022 at a pinch, but most people think that even five years is an optimistic estimate,” a Whitehall source told
The Telegraph.
“The Remainers will try to use it to keep us in the customs union for good, and they will then argue that we might as well be in the single market as well.
“The frustrating thing about all this is that Number 10 has not done the work to prepare us for leaving the customs union. It’s two years on from the referendum now — it’s not as if they weren’t warned.”

However, the Independent has revealed a plan to do the work manually until the technology can be set up.

Civil servants are preparing to carry out “manual workarounds” because they fear their IT systems will not be ready for Brexit, risking logjams at Britain’s ports.
An investigation by MPs raises the alarm over “disruption to the agri-food and chemical industries”, because of the lack of preparedness at the department for the environment, food and rural affairs (Defra).
Falling back on manual systems is likely to “impede or at least slow down imports and exports causing severe delays at the border”, their report warns.
Both Defra and the department for international trade (Dit) are facing an “impossible challenge” to get ready for Brexit, because they are “in the dark” about what they need to do, the public accounts committee concludes.
Meg Hillier, its chairwoman, called for more information from the government, saying: “The clock is ticking and there is still no clarity about what Brexit will mean in practice.”

Local elections

With the local elections over, both sides are claiming victory. The Times says:

Boris Johnson claimed that Thursday night’s council election results were a victory for his form of Brexit because the Conservatives were successful in areas that backed Leave in the referendum.
Brexiteers plan to use the result to try to push Theresa May to support their plans, amid  divisions among her cabinet over which path to take on a customs union.
The foreign secretary and other Brexiteers will use the fact that the party picked up votes in Leave areas to push for a harder Brexit inside government, with some Remain-supporting MPs openly admitting that the results presented a complication.
However, The Times understands that internal research by Conservative headquarters found that Labour’s support for a customs union was not costing the party votes
.

The Guardian reports a claim from Brexiteers.

Conservative Brexiters have seized on the party’s local election results as a vindication of their hard line on the customs union, presaging the argument cabinet ministers are likely to make next week when the Brexit subcommittee meets to try and break the deadlock.
The biggest Tory successes were outside London in areas where Labour should be challenging to win parliamentary seats. These included a win in Redditch and gains in Nuneaton, and relief in Swindon, where the Conservatives held the council in the face of a huge Labour campaign. All three council areas voted to leave in the Brexit referendum.
In a tweet celebrating the results, Boris Johnson made the Brexit connection explicit. “Jeremy Corbyn has been abandoned in many leave areas – his pledge to stay in the customs union means he is not trusted to deliver Brexit,” the foreign secretary said.

BBC News is more objective.

No clear winner has emerged from the local elections in England.
As the final election result was declared in the London borough of Tower Hamlets overnight, Labour sealed their best result in the capital since 1971.
But their failure to secure key targets such as Wandsworth saw Theresa May claiming “success” for the Tories.
“We have to do better if we’re going to be in government,” said Lady Smith, Labour’s leader in the House of Lords.
“Not much went wrong, but not as much went as well as we’d have liked,” she told BBC’s Newsnight.
Analysis suggested the two main parties were neck and neck overall in terms of national vote share – on 35% each. Last year Labour’s vote share was estimated to be narrowly ahead of the Tories.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said he was “disappointed at any places where we lost a bit of ground”.
However, he insisted it was a “solid set of results” which left the party “well placed to fight and win the next general election”.

Sky News also reports the victory speeches of both leaders.

Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn have both talked up the performances of their parties following the local elections.
Fears of a difficult set of results for the Tories proved unfounded, as they managed to hold on to a number of London councils and make gains in Brexit-supporting areas of the North and Midlands, suffering a net loss of 30 seats.
There were bright spots for Labour – including its best performance in London since 1971 and victories in Kirklees and Plymouth – but the party failed to match pre-poll expectations of widespread gains.
The Liberal Democrats saw an uptick in fortunes, gaining control of four councils and performing well in Remain-backing areas.
UKIP, meanwhile, experienced an electoral bloodbath, losing more than 120 councillors. The performance prompted its own general secretary to compare the party to the Black Death.

UKIP

Gerard Batten has opined on the elections.

The English local election results are of course disappointing to say the least. We all knew it was going to be a difficult night but we worked and hoped for the best.
First of all let me commend and thank all our former councillors, candidates, and activists who put in so much hard work over the years for the Party and the cause we believe in. These unsung heroes and heroines sacrificed their own time, effort and money in the interests of democracy. Thanks also to all the loyal UKIP voters who stayed with us at this difficult time.
There is also some good news in this election.
A preliminary estimate of sixteen councils shows UKIP achieved an average of 7.5% of the vote.
When all the results are known we hope to have achieved an average of between 5% to 7% of the vote (across the seats we contested).
If you recall, in the General Election of 2017 UKIP had sunk to just 1.8% of the vote overall or approximately 3% across the seats where we stood (378).
Recently an opinion poll for UKIP still put us on only 3% nationally (YouGov).

UKIP

The Times reports the party’s general secretary’s comments.

Ukip’s general secretary batted away claims that the party was effectively finished after comparing it to the Black Death.
Paul Oakley’s comments came after it suffered a dismal set of results, finishing with three councillors and losing well over 100. The party was comfortably overtaken as England’s fourth party by the Greens.
Ukip was defending seats won at a high point for the party in 2014, when it took 17 per cent of the vote and amassed 166 councillors as Nigel Farage stepped up pressure for an EU referendum.
Mr Oakley told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “It’s not over at all. Think of the Black Death in the Middle Ages.

The Express also carries his words.

UKIP’S general secretary has likened the party to the Black Death after it suffered a night of carnage at the local elections, but insisted it was “not all over” for the Eurosceptic outfit.
Paul Oakley made the jaw-dropping comparison during an interview on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme following his party’s disappointing night in the polls.
The Eurosceptic party has suffered near-wipeout, with dozens of councillors being axed as voters deserted them.
But Mr Oakley suggested that UKIP might “go dormant” like the plague bacillus before reappearing again in the future.
He said: “It’s not all over at all. Think of the Black Death in the Middle Ages.
“It comes along and it causes disruption and then it goes dormant, and that’s exactly what we are going to do.
“Our time isn’t finished because Brexit is being betrayed.”

Labour Party

MPs don’t like the results of the elections, says the Mail.

Furious Labour MPs today turned on Jeremy Corbyn and demanded a change in strategy after their dismal local election results.
The party failed to snatch any of its key target  London boroughs from the
Conservatives – despite hopes they could take advantage of anger over Brexit.
And they main target council of Barnet fell to the Tories amid widespread anger among voters at the Labour leader’s failure to tackle anti-Semitism.
Labour MPs today told how Jewish voters deserted their party which they have come to view as racist.
And they hit out at Mr Corbyn’s allies who tried to spin the gloomy results as a step on the road to eventual victory.
Calls for an inquest into what went so badly wrong for Labour came as  Theresa May carried out a victory lap of councils in London and the Midlands which her party had won.
And the Prime Minister taunted the Labour leader saying he had ‘failed’ and was ‘past his peak’.   

Education

In other news, the Independent reports a comment by the education secretary.

Cost pressures have made it “challenging” for headteachers to manage their budgets in schools where more is  demanded of schools than it was a generation ago, the education secretary has admitted.
Damian Hinds pledged to work with school leaders to “bear down” on cost pressures like rises in pension and national insurance contributions and to target resources at the front line.
It comes after the minister was forced into a U-turn this year after he wrongly claimed that school spending was going up.
Speaking at the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) annual conference in Liverpool, Mr Hinds said: “There have also been real cost pressures on schools, for example on pensions and national insurance. So yes, I know that it is challenging for schools, managing the budget.
“I do pledge to work with you to bear down on cost pressures as best we can, working closely with you to make sure that schools can get the best deals possible and target precious resources at the front line.”

EU

And in an astonishing story in the Independent, the EU’s top man has shown his true colours.

The president of the European Commission has defended  Karl Marx’s record as a philosopher, arguing that he is not “responsible” for mistakes and atrocities committed in his name after his death.
In a speech in the German philosopher–economist’s hometown of Trier to mark his 200th birthday, Jean-Claude Juncker said that “Marx isn’t responsible for all the atrocity his alleged heirs have to answer for”.
The theorist, whose work has been cited by political currents ranging from libertarian socialists to brutal authoritarian dictatorships, has loomed large over world politics as well as academia for around 150 years. He lived his last years exiled in London, where he authored the Communist Manifesto, his best-known work.
“Karl Marx was a philosopher, who thought into the future had creative aspirations, and today he stands for things, which is he not responsible for and which he didn’t cause, because many of the things he wrote down were redrafted into the opposite,” Mr Juncker said in a speech at a church in Trier.

It seems that Brexit is on the curriculum in Germany, reports the Guardian.

The UK government may still be at odds over what precisely Brexit means and when it will happen, but in Germany the British vote to leave the EU is already shaping the curriculum.
As part of their school-leaving exam, students of English in the southern German state of Baden-Württemberg were last week asked to elaborate the differences between the hopes connected to the British referendum, and the reality of Brexit
since.
In the written part of the 
Abitur test – the certificate of general qualification for university entrance, equivalent to the UK’s A-levels – about 31,000 students were handed a drawing by the Indian cartoonist Paresh Nath, originally published in the United Arab Emirates’ English-language newspaper the Khaleej Times in April 2016.
One of the cartoon’s panels, captioned Project Fantasy, shows a man with a bowler hat and a union flag soaring towards the skies in a UFO. The second panel, entitled The Realities, has the same man on an island encircled by four sharks, symbolising “chaos”, “trade issues”, “economic uncertainties” and “job confusion”.

Breast cancer

The Times claims women who missed their third mammogram should not have another.

Women who missed out on breast cancer screening because of an IT blunder have been urged not to attend NHS catch-up checks by doctors who say that it will do more harm than good.
Screening does not save lives overall and women have been misled into worrying needlessly, according to the medical experts.
Up to 450,000 women aged 68 to 71 were not invited to routine NHS screenings because of a failure in health service computers dating from 2009, it was revealed this week. The error has led to thousands of panicked women contacting an official helpline.

And it seems that the helpline set up to take calls from worried women is run by untrained staff, says the ITV News.

Call handlers for the Government’s breast cancer screening hotline are not medically trained and are relying on a “cheat sheet” of symptoms, it is reported.
According to the Guardian, workers have raised concerns that mistakes could be made in the handling of women’s cases as they have been given just one hour of training.
The hotline was set up on Wednesday after Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt revealed that 450,000 women aged 68 to 71 had not been invited to their final routine screening.
An independent review has been launched into the computer error, which was discovered in January but dates back to 2009 and could mean hundreds of women have had their lives cut short.
More than 10,000 calls have already been made to the hotline, which is being run by outsourcing firm Serco.

Press freedom

The fight between the government and the press continues, says the Sun.

LOCAL newspaper editors have overwhelmingly rejected moves to hold a new Leveson-style inquiry into the media.
They say a costly second inquiry will hinder reporting stories of public interest and is more about Parliament trying to muzzle the press.
None of the 68 editors questioned by the News Media Association wanted it to go ahead.
The survey found 92 per cent ruled it out completely while eight per cent were not sure.
Their call was backed by David Dinsmore, chief operating officer of News UK, parent company of The Sun.

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