Gibraltar

The surprise inclusion of The Rock in Brexit talks is covered by most of the media.  The Telegraph says:

Gibraltar is “not for sale”, Boris Johnson declared last night as the Tory leadership reacted furiously to an alleged “land grab” by the Spanish.
The Foreign Secretary told the Telegraph that the British territory will not be “traded” or “bargained away” during Brexit talks.
He was joined by Downing Street, Tory MPs and the party’s leader in the European Parliament who universally declared the UK’s support for Gibraltar.
It followed the surprise decision by EU leaders to mention a Spanish veto over any future trade deal involving Gibraltar in its framework for Brexit talks.

The Times reports the government is split.

Spain’s attempt to use Brexit to launch a new grab for Gibraltar has caused a bitter government split, amid claims that Theresa May and David Davis were hoodwinked by Madrid into betraying the people of the Rock.
Senior government sources accused Spain of going “behind our backs” by persuading the European Union to make Gibraltar’s future status an issue in the Brexit negotiations.
The Sunday Times has learnt that Fabian Picardo, the chief minister of Gibraltar, repeatedly lobbied ministers to ensure in the prime minister’s letter triggering article 50 that the Rock would participate in any future trade deal between the UK and the EU.

The Independent quotes the Foreign Secretary.

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has said the UK will stand up for Gibraltar, in the wake of what the territory called “unacceptable” lobbying from Spain over Gibraltar’s future as part of the Brexit negotiations.
On Friday, documents published by the European Council showed that decisions affecting Gibraltar would be referred to the Spanish government. The small territory in southern Spain voted overwhelmingly to remain part of the UK in a referendum in 2002. In last year’s EU referendum, 97 per cent of its citizens voted Remain.
Gibraltar’s chief minister Fabian Picardo said Spain’s lobbying for its interests over Gibraltar was “unacceptable.”

As does the Sun.

BORIS Johnson has pledged to defend Gibraltar from any attempt at a Spanish land grab during Brexit talks.
The Foreign Secretary called the Rock’s chief minister Fabian Ricardo to dispel fears that EU negotiations could jeopardise the future of the British territory.
On Friday the European Council hinted at handing Spain an effective veto over what aspects of Brexit will affect Gibraltar — a move that blindsided British officials.
Draft guidelines published by EU leaders contained a clause suggesting the Brexit deal will not apply to the territory without “agreement between the kingdom of Spain and the UK”.
But Bojo has said he is having none of it.

The Guardian claims the EU is backing Spain.

The EU has put the future of Gibraltar at stake in the coming Brexit negotiations, in effect backing Spain in its centuries-old dispute with the UK over the British overseas territory.
After lobbying from Spanish diplomats, the EU’s opening negotiating position for the Brexit talks presents the British government with the choice of reaching agreement with the Spaniards about Gibraltar’s future or exposing its citizens to economic peril by pushing “the rock” outside any EU-UK trade deal.
“The union will stick up for its members and that means Spain now,” a senior EU official said. Residents of Gibraltar, which Spain has sought to reclaim almost since it was ceded to Britain in 1713, voted 96% to remain in the EU.

Sky News quotes Mr Johnson as saying The Rock will not be sacrificed.

Boris Johnson has pledged that Gibraltar will not be sacrificed in Brexit negotiations and rejected claims that it could become a “bargaining chip”.
The Foreign Secretary hit out after Labour’s Sir Keir Starmer urged ministers to block attempts by the EU to give Spain a veto on Gibraltar’s future.
“Gibraltar is not for sale,” Mr Johnson told The Sunday Telegraph. “Gibraltar cannot be traded. Gibraltar will not be bargained away.”
He added: “The policy of the Government remains fixed and firm. The sovereignty of Gibraltar cannot be changed without the express consent of the UK and the people of Gibraltar.”

The top man on The Rock has given Breitbart an interview.

The Chief Minister of Gibraltar has given a series of interviews expressing disgust at the European Council accepting a Spanish veto over its EU relations in the upcoming Brexit negotiations, vowing that the Rock will be “even more British” after Brexit.
Fabian Picardo explained that “Spain is employing her unhealthy obsession with Gibraltar and bringing it to the table of [what is] a very complex negotiation already” in an interview with Sky News.
“The United Kingdom hasn’t singled out any particular nationality or any particular issue for specific discriminatory treatment … But what the European Council has done by appearing to accept, at least for now, the Spanish position in relation to Gibraltar, is to allow Spain to single out unnecessarily and discriminate against the British people of Gibraltar.

Brexit

The Express claims there’s a conspiracy among remoaners in Parliament.

THE Liberal Democrats have held secret talks with Tory rebels in a bid to ambush the Government over Brexit.
Staff working for MPs from both parties have drawn up a battle plan as Lib Dem leader Tim Farron threatened to wage legislative warfare against the Government’s Great Repeal Bill, described by critics as a “power grab”.
The meeting last Friday came just days after Remainers hinted they could form a “centrist” party as Jeremy Corbyn dooms Labour to history.
Tory MP Anna Soubry, Mr Farron and former Lib Dem chief Nick Clegg are among those said to be considering trying to create a viable force.
Allies of George Osborne have also reportedly floated the idea of bringing like-minded MPs together under a “Democrats” banner.
Mr Farron has said his party would “grind the Government’s agenda to a standstill” unless “proper and rigorous safeguards” are given over the Great Repeal Bill.

Swexit

The Express claims Sweden could follow the UK out of the EU.

SWEDEN is ready to follow Britain’s example and quit the European Union by the end of this decade amid widespread dissatisfaction about the direction the project is heading in, a leading eurosceptic MEP has told express.co.uk.
Peter Lundgren, from the right-wing Sweden Democrats, said anti-EU forces were growing in Stockholm and predicted there will be a Brexit-style referendum on the country’s place in the bloc within a few years.
His party, which is currently leading in the opinion polls, plans to renegotiate Sweden’s membership terms before putting them to a public vote if it wins power in next year’s general election.
And he revealed that many voters in the Scandinavian country, which has resisted calls to join the euro, are alarmed by the direction the EU is heading in and now want to quit.

Terror alert

Terrorism could return to the UK, reports the Telegraph.

Britain’s airports and nuclear power stations have been told to tighten their defences against terrorist attacks in the face of increased threats to electronic security systems.
Security services have issued a series of alerts in the past 24 hours, warning that terrorists may have developed ways of bypassing safety checks.
Intelligence agencies believe that Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) and other terrorist groups have developed ways to plant explosives in laptops and mobile phones that can evade airport security screening methods.
It is this intelligence which is understood in the past fortnight to have led the US and Britain to ban travellers from a number of countries carrying laptops and large electronic devices on board.

Blue passport

In what it bills as an exclusive, the Sun reports the possible return of the traditional British blue passport.

BLUE passports could make a return in 2019 after a re-design was ordered by Ministers.
A £500 million tender has been sent out by the Home Office for firms to produce the new secure identification as we leave the EU.
Campaigners are urging the burgundy passport, emblazoned with the European Union, be ditched in a sign of regaining our powers back from Brussels.
The old-style Navy blue document were phased out in 1988 but could now make a return following Brexit.
The successful firm would produce 6 million passports annually with the contract running for more than a decade.
Tory MP Peter Bone last night said: “A new re-designed passport is one of the advantages of not being part of the EU super-state.
“Having got back our national independence, we can express that by having our own passports again.
“When I go round the streets that’s what people want to see and the fact that we’re getting on with it now is absolutely right.
“If we’re having a new passport, let’s have it blue.”

Westmonster has picked up the story.

In a huge boost for all who believe in the UK’s independence, plans are afoot for the return of the non-EU British passport.
One of the trademark lines during the referendum was Nigel Farage’s call to arms on this very subject, pointing out that the current British passport’s first two words were ‘European Union’.
The EU passport is a sign of the UK’s total open borders that give all access to the country.
But now it seems that finally, in a £500 million project, dark blue British passports will be making a comeback.
We voted to get our borders back, our passports back, our country back. Bit by bit, we’re getting there!

Electoral law

The Guardian reports that democracy could be undermined by new technology.

An urgent review of “weak and helpless” electoral laws is being demanded by a group of leading academics who say that uncontrolled “dark money” poses a threat to the fundamental principles of British democracy.
A working group set up by the London School of Economics warns that new technology has disrupted British politics to such an extent that current laws are unable to ensure a free and fair election or control the influence of money in politics.
Damian Tambini, director of the media policy project at the LSE, who heads the group made up of leading experts in the field, said that new forms of online campaigning had not only changed the ways that political parties target voters but, crucially, had also altered the ability of big money interests to manipulate political debate. “There is a real danger we are heading down the US route where whoever spends the most money is most likely to win. That’s why we’ve always controlled spending in this country. But these controls are no longer working.”

Euro

Westmonster claims the euro is doomed.

The view from this side of Channel looks increasingly sunny as the rising possibility of Frexit along with the collapse of the Euro spells economic doom for continental Europe.
Now that Article 50 has finally been triggered, the markets seem to have settled on a value for the pound.
Sterling barely budged on Wednesday when the Prime Minister’s letter was delivered to Brussels, rising ever so slightly on Friday as traders began to price in the possibility of an out-and-out Eurosceptic manning the Eurozone’s second largest economy in the form of French Presidential contender Marine Le Pen. The UK looks like the safer bet, it usually does.
The pound’s lower value is already reaping massive benefits for the economy. According to the ONS, Britain’s trade deficit narrowed significantly over the last three months of 2016 as exports grew on the back of a weaker pound.

NHS

The Times reports that GPs surgeries could close.

Dozens of GP surgeries across the country are threatened with closure after the NHS increased its property service charges by up to 1,000%.
Hundreds of surgeries that rent premises from the NHS have been hit by the increased charges. Practices say they may have to close or else cut back on nurses and doctors. Some surgeries that have refused to pay the invoices have been sent letters threatening legal action and the use of debt collection agencies. The demands are being made by NHS Property Services (NHSPS).
NHSPS is a limited company owned by the Department of Health. It is headed by Elaine Hewitt, a former BT executive, who was paid more than £265,000 in 2015-16, including a bonus of more than £65,000.

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