Despite the lack of hard news this weekend, there is still a Brexit story, reports BBC News
Theresa May has been urged to rule out a transitional Brexit deal and ensure the UK’s full exit from the EU within two years of negotiations beginning.
Campaign group Leave Means Leave said a “clean, swift” exit should be among the PM’s red lines for upcoming talks.
It also said the UK must withdraw from the single market, customs union and common farming and fisheries policies.
On Thursday, a former top EU lawyer warned of a “catastrophe” for the UK if no interim trade accord was struck.
Jean-Claude Piris, head of the EU Council’s legal service from 1988 to 2010, said there was no way the UK could negotiate a new free trade deal with the rest of the EU in the two years set aside for determining the UK’s exit – warning it would take at least five years and probably more.
And Breitbart reports that a further legal challenge will be examined in the Supreme Court.
Britain’s Supreme Court has agreed to examine legal claims that Parliament would need to vote again on whether to leave the Common Market after Brexit.
While the most senior judges deliberate on a whether Parliament would need to vote on Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union — a decision which is expected early in 2017 — a fresh challenge is to pile on pressure for Theresa May’s Brexit plan, reports the Guardian.
Presently the British government and the European Commission — the powerful, unelected leadership bloc of the European Union that sits above the European Parliament — are agreed that upon triggering Brexit, the United Kingdom would automatically leave the Common Market and European Economic Area (EEA).
However a new legal challenge launched by four anonymous complainants claims this is not the case, and that Parliament will have to vote separately on every European institution the government wishes to withdraw from.
And the Times claims the Prime Minister could yet be forced to go to the country on the matter.
Theresa May could be forced into an early election should parliament create a deadlock over her Brexit plan, a former cabinet minister has warned.
Lord Strathclyde, leader of the House of Lords under David Cameron, said that attempts by MPs or peers to block the Brexit process would make it hard for her “not to go back to the people”.
He is one of the most senior figures to suggest Mrs May could be forced to hold an election before 2020, despite her insistence that she will not do so.
Some MPs and peers plan to use votes to keep Britain in the single market or alter the Great Repeal Bill, designed to incorporate all EU law into British legislation.
In other stories, the Mail reports that suspected illegal immigrants have been discovered near a former nuclear base.
Eighteen suspected illegal immigrants were seized after banging was heard from the back of a lorry.
The delivery truck stopped at Greenham Business Park in Berkshire – a former top-secret nuclear missile base which featured in a Star Wars film.
The stowaways were sick and needed urgent medical treatment after making it 130 miles into Britain.
UK Border Force Officers were called to Ministry Road on the business park, two miles from Newbury, after people heard ‘banging and shouting’ coming from the back of the lorry.
The 18 foreign nationals were found in the trailer and paramedics arrived to treat a number who were dehydrated and ill.
The Express has a piece in which the former UKIP leader makes predictions for 2017.
THE perfect English gentleman, Nigel Farage is decked out ready for a stroll in the countryside yesterday.
Looking natty in tweed jacket and wellingtons, the former Ukip leader was enjoying a morning in the village of Cudham, Kent.
Nigel Farage has enjoyed a remarkable 2016, capped by his nomination for Time magazine’s Person of the Year award after being the face of the historic Brexit campaign.
He seemed relaxed in the fog after an eventful few months in which he stepped down as Ukip leader and tried to boost Britain’s US ties with visits to President-elect Donald Trump in New York.
He tweeted earlier this month: “2016: First we had the Brexit deliverance, then the Trump triumph, then the Italian rebellion (Italy’s referendum on constitutional changes).
“Democracy & the rebirth of the nation state. We can all look forward to even bigger, even more dramatic shocks in 2017.”
There will be more trouble on the railways reports ITV News.
Rail passengers face further disruption into the New Year as Southern rail conductors plan a three-day strike beginning at midnight.
Passengers are being advised to check before they travel over the New Year period.
Starting New Year’s Eve, members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union will walk out for three days as the dispute over the role of conductors on trains continues.
Meanwhile Aslef is continuing with a ban on overtime in protest at driver-only trains.
Alex Foulds, Southern’s deputy chief operating officer, said: “While we will do everything we can to get passengers where they want to go, we have to warn people that journeys may be disrupted and take longer than normal.
The Times reports a potential problem in our schools.
Britain is facing a crisis in recruiting head teachers, with hundreds complaining of high pressure and insufficient pay as they quit and retire early.
One in ten schools is losing its head teacher each year, research by The Times reveals. Schools have been left without a head for up to three years, while one school employed six heads in five years and another had to advertise a vacant post seven times before finding a suitable candidate.
Some councils have seen more head teachers leaving in the past five years than the number of schools in the area.
The problems of health tourism are highlighted in the Mail.
The number of pregnant mothers travelling to Britain from foreign countries to give birth on the NHS and refusing to pay for their care has doubled in two years.
The failure by the NHS to clamp down on health tourism has led to critics branding hospital officials as a ‘soft touch’.
In 2015/16, at least 2,167 women claimed free maternity care when they were not entitled to do so, according to data obtained in a Freedom of Information request. This compares with 1,078 in 2013/14.
The majority of mothers came from outside the EU and did not qualify for NHS treatment at maternity units. The figures highlight hospitals’ inability to extract payment from health tourists who are looking to take advantage of the lack of payment safeguards.
Almost 100 hospital trusts – two thirds of those asked – provided the figures. The total outstanding bill for their care last year alone was £7.4million, The Sun reported.
And the Morning Star calls for the Health Secretary to take a stand over an ambulance service.
JEREMY HUNT should “clear out” the senior executives at a troubled ambulance service, a top trade unionist said yesterday.
South East Coast Ambulance Service (Secamb) has been accused of putting patients’ lives at risk by planning to deploy specialist care paramedics to deal with minor ailments.
Bosses at the trust, which serves Kent, Surrey, Sussex and north-east Hampshire, say their hands have been forced by “high demand” and poor response times.
Highly trained critical care paramedics (CCPs) are currently sent to respond to the most urgent 999 calls, handling incidents such as strokes, heart attacks and car crashes.
But a memo leaked to the Guardian newspaper shows the specialists will now be redeployed into the general workforce.
The Times reports a surge in people with the winter vomiting bug.
This winter’s norovirus outbreak has been the worst for five years, official figures suggest.
Public Health England said that 2,435 people had been struck down by the vomiting bug, 71 per cent more than during the same period last year, although levels were unusually low then.
The number of people affected is also 12 per cent more than the average for the same period over the past five years.
Hospitals reported 20 vomiting and diarrhoea outbreaks in the first two weeks of December, of which 13 were confirmed as norovirus and 17 led to bay or ward closures.
In the week ending on Christmas Day, outbreaks of vomiting and diarrhoea resulted in more hospital bed closures than during the same period last year.
And the Mail has a similar story.
The norovirus vomiting bug has hit more people this month than the past five Christmas holiday periods, according to official figures.
Data from Public Health England shows reports of the illness have reached 2,435 – 12 per cent more than the average for the same period over the past five years.
In the week ending on Christmas Day, the outbreaks of vomiting and diarrhoea resulted in more bed closures than during the same period last year – rising from an average of 559 beds closed per day to 699.
Hospitals reported 20 outbreaks of norovirus in the first two weeks of December – 17 of which led to bay or ward closures and 13 of which were confirmed as the bug.
So far this season, there have been 163 hospital outbreaks reported.
The Mail reports on development around our major cities.
Ministers are being urged to impose a ban on green belt development until after Britain has left the EU so that housing forecasts can be reduced to reflect lower immigration.
Tory MPs fear that, unless ministers agree to ‘pause’ development now, huge swathes of green belt land could be bulldozed to house EU migrants who will not have the right to come to the UK.
Official forecasts suggest 5.3million new homes will be needed in England over the next 25 years, with immigration accounting for 37 per cent of new demand.
But, with Theresa May pledging to end free movement, critics say these figures should be reviewed.
Fears over a terror attack have prompted security to be beefed up in London, reports the Mail.
Three thousand officers will be on duty in London for the New Year celebrations as security is ramped up across the UK over fears of a terror attack.
Major cities have increased security at big events following the Berlin Christmas market massacre last week, which killed 12 people when a lorry ploughed through a crowd of people.
Extra police will be drafted in for New Year due to heightened fears of a terror attack.
The Metropolitan Police revealed they will have 3,000 officers on duty on Saturday.
Today, security barriers were erected at Trafalgar Square in London.
Scotland Yard said its plan was ‘not the result of any specific intelligence’.
Detective superintendent Phil Langworthy, the Met’s spokesperson for New Year’s Eve, told the Evening Standard: ‘It is an exciting time of year and we want all who come to central London to have a good time.
‘Officers have been planning for several months for New Year’s Eve, and that plan remains under constant review. This is not as a result of any specific intelligence.
‘Officers will be out and about to deter criminals and keep crowds safe but we need you to do your bit to look after yourself and those around you as well.
Your phone and computer could be legally hacked now, says the Sun
POLICE now officially have the ability to hack into your phones and check your browsing history after the Snoopers’ Charter came into force on Friday.
The new law forces internet service providers to keep a record of all the websites you visit, and all the apps you use for 12 months.
The data can subsequently be collected by law enforcement under the legislation, which is officially called the Investigatory Powers Bill.
Critics have labelled the law a privacy disaster, but the government claims it is essential for conquering terrorism and organised crime in the UK.
The new legislation has replaced the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act, which a number of local authorities were accused of abusing to snoop on Brits feeding pigeons, or failing to clean up dog poo.
The Snoopers’ Charter was passed by the House of Lords in November, after they dropped an amendment which would have forced the media to pay court costs for both parties in cases concerning hacking allegations.
The Sun reports on our declining high streets.
HIGH streets face 30,000 job losses in 2017 – shops’ worst toll for five years – with household names risking going bust due to price hikes, record online spending and giant discounts.
Some 30,000 retail job losses were forecast in 2017, beating 2016’s total of 26,052 job cuts to be the worst annual jobs toll since 2012’s 48,142, the Centre for Retail Research said.
The first job losses are expected in weeks.
Household names are at risk of going bust, analysts said, while other big chains are expected to shut hundreds of stores to focus on booming internet shopping.
2016 saw BHS fold – with 11,000 jobs lost – along with Austin Reed, Staples and American Apparel.
Struggling Marks & Spencer, which employs 71,000 people, has cut 525 jobs, while staff fear job losses after the Sainsbury’s takeover of Argos.
Wickes owner Travis Perkins plans to axe 600 jobs, under-fire Sports Direct has seen profits slump 57 per cent and Dixons Carphone forecasts tough trading.
Entertainment chain Game, which has more than 3,000 staff, and womenswear retailer Bonmarche, which has 1,900 staff, are battling to recover after profit warnings.
And, as ever, the Star has a chaotic prediction for 2017,
A MASSIVE blue comet will fly over the Earth on New Year’s Eve with some claiming it will spark a “year of chaos”.
The arrival of Comet 45P could be a sign of chaos to come in the New Year, according to Christian conspiracy theorists.
Wild and bizarre claims suggest that the massive space rock could break apart as it zooms around the Sun.
They fear the comet will split into a number of lethal rocks that slam into the Earth and cause catastrophic earthquakes.
Others claim the comet is an omen which could herald the second coming of Jesus Christ in the year to come.
Pastor Paul Begley, who boasts 166,000 YouTube subscribers, said: “Prophetic sign? Possibly”.
He quoted the following passage from The Bible: “There will be signs in the Sun and Moon and stars and on the Earth distress of nations in perplexity because of the roaring of the sea and the waves.
“Men’s hearts will faint them for fear for looking after those things which are coming upon the earth, for the powers of heaven will be shaken.”
And a UKIP councillor has been honoured in the Queen’s New Years Honours.
Cllr Peter Reeve who represents Ramsey on Cambridgeshire County Council, Huntingdonshire District Council and Ramsey Town Council has received an MBE.
Peter has served his community since 2009 and has undertaken a great deal of work in the local community including campaigning for reopening of public toilets and promoting new business.
He has been elected deputy leader of the independent group of the Local Government Association (LGA) twice and is also deputy chairman of the association, and he is also the party’s spokesman on local government.
Peter said: “This is a truly unexpected honour which is incredibly humbling. I recognise that this honour represents not just my strong belief in rolling up your sleeves and making a difference in your own community but it also reflects the hard work and contribution made by all of the volunteers and teams who work along side me.”
UKIP leader, Paul Nuttall MEP stated “Pete is one of our longest serving Councillors and has an insatiable work ethic. He rolls up his sleeves and gets the job done. Pete is a great role model for how public service really can make a difference to real people’s lives. I am sure that he will continue to be as dedicated and successful for many years to come.”