Brexit

Looks like the PM might be starting to play hardball in her EU negotiations says the Express.

THERESA May will launch into her toughest round of Brexit negotiations yet on Monday – warning that if the EU refuses to budge on divorce payments they will play into the hands of the super hard-liners.
The Prime Minister is expected to plead with fellow 
EU leaders to soften their stance on Britain’s ‘divorce bill’, saying a continued stalemate would effectively leave her under massive political pressure to simply walk away.
The fifth round of 
Brexit talks ended in deadlock this week as EU diplomats insist Britain increases its initial up-front offer of £20billion to break with Brussels.
Many EU diplomats suggest a figure of £90billion.

The Independent reports that at the moment the talks have stalled.

The first phase of Brexit talks has run out of road with no further rounds of meetings currently scheduled between British and European officials, despite continuing deadlock on key issues.
Officials on both sides confirmed that there were no meetings with the other side currently scheduled, despite widespread recognition that sufficient progress will not be judged to have been met to move to trade talks following next week’s European Council meeting.
Though further talks are expected to be scheduled following the meeting, there is an increasing recognition in Brussels that negotiations are at a crossroads.
European Council President Donald Tusk warned this week that if the deadlock were not broken by the end of the year then both sides would have to “think about where we are heading”. 

The Independent also reports that domestically, the Tories are planning to shut down an anti-Brexit rebellion.

Ministers are considering a further round of Brexit legislation in a major concession aimed at quelling a Conservative rebellion over  Theresa May’s EU withdrawal plans, The Independent can reveal.
Among options being explored are additional bills to deal with specific policy areas, like those already announced on immigration or trade, but also a major piece of legislation enshrining the final withdrawal agreement in British law.
It comes in response to deep concerns among Conservative MPs over sweeping powers being granted to ministers as part of the Brexit  process, which allow them to change existing laws without full scrutiny in Parliament.
But the move also brings tricky political problems – Labour will claim it as victory having called for more primary legislation, while Tory Brexiteers will not stand for anything threatening to complicate or delay EU withdrawal.  

EU

On the Continent, the Express claims we are being targeted by disinformation.

THE EU is conducting a Soviet-style “disinformation campaign” to destroy public support for Brexit, Conservative MPs claim.
EU officials are spreading propaganda to stoke up opposition to Brexit in the UK, two former cabinet members say.
The claims come after the Commission’s chief spokesman accused the UK of creating a gap in last week’s talks by being unavailable on Wednesday.
UK sources said the claim is “completely wrong” and that talks took place on Wednesday.
Former Northern Ireland Secretary Owen Paterson said: “This looks like a Soviet-style disinformation campaign designed to weaken Britain’s resolve.
“The claims they are making are without merit and designed to whip up the opponents of Brexit in the UK.”

And the Mail reports that, despite claims to the contrary, the bloc’s negotiators want the UK punished for having the temerity to leave.

Brussels’ chief negotiator would be ‘happy’ for Britain to fall out of the EU on ‘hard Brexit’ terms to punish it for leaving, it was claimed last night.
A senior diplomatic source said former French minister Michel Barnier, who is handling the talks with Brexit Secretary David Davis, believes Britain must be seen to ‘pay a big price’ for quitting.
A new war of words erupted as former Tory Cabinet Minister Michael Forsyth accused Brussels of ‘Al Capone’ tactics over its demand for Britain to pay a massive divorce bill.
The diplomatic source said: ‘The idea of avenging Britain for damaging the EU by leaving resonates with Barnier.

The Express also reports the chief negotiator’s comments.

EU CHIEF negotiator Michel Barnier would be “happy” for Britain to leave the EU on “hard Brexit” terms in order to punish the country for voting to leave, it has been reported.
A senior diplomatic source said that former French minister Mr Barnier believes the UK must be seen to “pay a big price” for leaving the EU.
The diplomatic source is reported to have said: “The idea of avenging Britain for damaging the EU by leaving resonates with Barnier.
“He has an old-fashioned view of Anglo-French relations based on mutual suspicion and ancient rivalry.
“He thinks if negotiations result in a hard Brexit it will be worse for Britain than the EU, but so be it.
He is not working for that, but if that is what Britain wants he would be happy with it.”

The Guardian claims trade talks could be imminent.

EU plans to offer Britain a detailed vision of a future post-Brexit trading relationship by Christmas, if sufficient progress has been made on the divorce bill by then, have been thrown into doubt following a meeting of diplomats from the 27 member states.
Leaked documents suggested earlier last week that European leaders would present an agreed position on a transition period and a trade deal in December, should the UK make further concessions.
That promise was expected to be made at a European council summit this week, where leaders are likely to rule that insufficient progress has been made at this stage on the opening withdrawal issues of citizens rights, the financial settlement and the Irish border, and so trade talks would be delayed.
However, it is understood that at a meeting of key diplomats on Friday evening, EU member states discussed weakening the language in the draft statement about their intentions in December, to give themselves greater flexibility in how they respond when they assess the rate of progress.

Scotland

It seems the Scots are watching our negotiations carefully, says the Independent.

Support for a second independence referendum in Scotland could surge in the event of a no-deal Brexit, an expert on Scotland’s relationship with the EU has said.
Kirsty Hughes, director of the Scottish Centre on European Relations (SCER), has said a hard or no-deal Brexit could “potentially be a trigger…for a new independence referendum“.
In a new SCER paper, Brexit Uncertainty, Scotland and the UK in 2018, Dr Hughes considers four Brexit scenarios and their impact on Scotland.
The paper predicts that support for independence could surge in the event of a no-deal or hard Brexit, and that the parties who oppose tumbling out of the EU without a deal might come to power in the event of an early general election in 2018 or 2019.

Northern Ireland

And in Ireland, Sky News a ‘hard border’ between the north and the republic is on the cards.

A hard border is inevitable if Britain leaves the customs union and politicians need to stop “sugarcoating” the truth, Ireland’s main opposition leader has said.
Speaking to Sky News, Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin also attacked Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson for his “unhelpful” rhetoric and for misleading the British public.
Mr Martin said: “The implications for the peace process are very real, and extremely damaging for the economic and social fabric of the island of Ireland.
“I think politicians have been over-doing the sugarcoating.
“Talking about frictionless borders – language that is incompatible with a hard border and Britain outside the customs union, you cannot have both.”
On the Foreign Secretary, Mr Martin said: “I think there is a time, when you are in public office, that you need to talk sense to the people and not consistently play political games.”
Asked whether he was misleading the British public, the Fianna Fail leader replied: “I think he has. He’s not telling it straight.

Hammond

Meanwhile, our Chancellor is still under fire, reports the Telegraph.

Theresa May must tell the Chancellor to change course on Brexit or be sacked, the MPs propping up her Government have warned.
Senior DUP parliamentary sources told the Telegraph they were “deeply concerned about Philip Hammond’s behaviour” following a string of episodes that could suggest he was “trying to frustrate the negotiating process”.
The extraordinary intervention will add significant pressure to the Prime Minister amid growing calls from within her own ranks to replace the Chancellor over his apparent reluctance to spend money on preparations for no deal with Brussels.
On Saturday Michael Gove, the Brexit-supporting Environment Secretary, was being touted as a possible successor to take the helm at the Treasury and oversee next month’s budget.

But the Times claims his budget next month is going to be a corker.

Philip Hammond is proposing a “revolutionary” budget next month that will make “a big offer to the nation” on housing, tax and borrowing to try to save his job and prop up Theresa May after her party conference disaster.
Plans for a “safety first” budget have been abandoned after ministers concluded this was the “last chance” this year to “reset” public views of the government. The chancellor has asked his cabinet colleagues to come up with “bold” solutions and is prepared to consider easing austerity to boost housebuilding.
No 10 has asked for ideas to tackle “intergenerational fairness” after young people flocked to Labour at the last election. That has led Hammond to investigate the possibility of offering lower tax rates for young people.

The Sun also has the story.

EMBATTLED Philip Hammond is planning a daring Budget to boost Brexit — and save his job.
The Chancellor accepts he must make bold changes to get Britain in shape for leaving the EU.
And after a chaotic week, he knows his job is on the line if he fails to deliver on November 22.
MPs have hit him with demands, including putting aside cash in case of a “no deal” divorce.
Bosses believe a cut in air passenger duty, which costs business £212million a year, would help forge new post-Brexit trade links.

The Mail claims he’s got to be right.

Philip Hammond has been warned by No 10 Downing Street that next month’s Budget ‘has to be perfect’ – because a defeat on any of its measures could lead to the downfall of Theresa May.
The loss of the Government’s majority in the snap Election means the Chancellor is plotting a ‘safety first’ statement on November 22 – drawing up crowd-pleasing policies such as a crackdown on the tax-dodges used by multinational tech giants.
He is also examining ways to squeeze more out of motorists, including a possible hike in levies on diesel vehicles.
Mr Hammond is likely to face a backlash from big businesses if he targets them, with firms already privately complaining they have been ‘squeezed enough’ as part of an agenda which bosses describe as ‘Corbyn lite’.

Will he survive? The Times speculates.

Philip Hammond has lost the support of senior ministers who backed “remain” in the European referendum, adding to pressure on Theresa May to fire her chancellor in the next cabinet reshuffle.
Two senior remainers in the cabinet have joined prominent Brexiteers in arguing that Hammond should be moved when the prime minister changes her top team.
They are angry that the chancellor’s repeated gaffes are damaging their case that Britain should not force a dramatic rupture with Brussels. Their fury was stoked by Hammond’s performance last week, when he branded the EU “the enemy” and was forced to retract his comments within an hour.
One of the senior ministers told The Sunday Times: “Philip is an inept political operator in quite a crowded field.”

Although businesses want him to stay, says the Independent.

Business leaders have rallied to the defence of Philip Hammond, in the face of a clamour among Brexiteers for him to be sacked by Theresa May.
The Chancellor provoked fury among Brexiteers last week when he told the Treasury Select Committee he would not authorise the release of public funds to prepare Britain for a “no deal” Brexit scenario in 2019, “just to make some demonstration point”.
This prompted one of his predecessors, Lord Lawson, to accuse Mr Hammond of engaging in Brexit “sabotage” and say the Prime Minister ought to remove him from the Treasury at the next Cabinet reshuffle.
The JD Wetherspoon’s boss Tim Martin similarly accused the Chancellor of being a “blocker”, and the 
Daily Mailcalled him “treacherous”.
But Mr Hammond has the backing of the Confederation of British Industry lobby group. The CBI’s president, Paul Drechsler, said: “Business wants to see the Government united and working together in the national interest in these challenging and turbulent times.

Social care

In disturbing news, the Times reports injuries in care homes.

More than 100 vulnerable and elderly people are suffering serious injuries in care homes every day, new figures reveal. Reports of serious injuries collated by the regulator, the Care Quality Commission (CQC), show a rise of 40% in five years.
The injuries include broken bones, infected pressure sores and burns.
Serious injury notifications for every care home in England rose from 26,779 in 2012 to 38,676 in 2016. The CQC has prosecuted homes with the most serious failings, including a £190,000 fine for a provider in West Yorkshire last year after a resident broke his neck and died in a fall from a shower chair, and a £24,600 fine for a residential home last February after a woman fell against an uncovered radiator.

NHS

And it seems the NHS is paying for patients to stay in hotels, says the Times.

NHS trusts are spending up to £900,000 a year putting patients up in hotels with rooms costing as much as £209 a night.
Patients have been accommodated in luxury hotels including the Hilton,
Millennium and Guoman chains. Bills for one patient last year exceeded £7,000.
The Dutch chief executive of one trust with high patient hotel bills has questioned the practice, saying that at his large hospital in Amsterdam they “did not spend a penny” on hotels.
Professor Marcel Levi, who in January took over as chief executive of University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (UCLH), said: “We pay for hotel accommodation for patients — patients who have an early appointment next day; patients who need to stay a bit longer.

Pensions

Women’s state pensions comes under the spotlight in the Independent.

Theresa May faces the humiliation of a Commons defeat, as the Democratic Unionist Party prepares to side with Labour in a debate on women’s state pensions, The Independent  can reveal.
A petition on the issue has now gained enough signatories to be debated in the Commons, but the DUP has said it will vote against the Conservatives if they continue to refuse “justice” for the women, who have been hit by sharp accelerations in the state pension age.
The stance opens up the deepest crack yet in the controversial “cash for votes” deal, which has propped up the Prime Minister in No 10 since her general election debacle.

Forensics

And the Mail has a somewhat disturbing story about the veracity -or otherwise – of forensic evidence.

Rogue scientists may have tampered with forensic evidence in more than 10,000 cases – raising fears that innocent people could languish in jail for up to another five years after being falsely convicted for serious crimes, including rape and murder.
Experts are now painstakingly going back over the vast number of blood tests that it is feared have been doctored by employees at Randox Testing Services.
The full extent of the scandal is vastly greater than the 484 cases originally claimed by police in February when The Mail on Sunday exclusively revealed how evidence had been manipulated.
Up to a quarter of the affected samples were used in trials for serious crimes such as rape and murder.

Poppies

It seems a peace campaign has infiltrated a teachers’ union, says the Telegraph.

Peace campaigners have been accused of “indoctrinating” children, after Britain’s largest teaching union promoted a scheme to sell white poppies ahead of Remembrance Sunday.
The Peace Pledge Union (PPU), a pacifist organisation, will this week formally launch a new campaign for schools across the country to endorse white poppies.
It comes after the PPU exhibited for the first time at this year’s National Union of Teachers (NUT) conference, where it signed up over 100 teachers to its inaugural teacher network.
The PPU, which grew out of the conscientious objectors movement in the First World War, aims to challenge what they see as the “glamorisation” of war through the sale of red poppies.

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