Brexit

The Labour Party has come out fighting Brexit, against the result of the referendum, says the Times.

Labour will unite with Tory rebels to force Theresa May into giving MPs a binding vote in parliament on the final European Union deal.
Sir Keir Starmer, Labour’s Brexit spokesman, today warns the prime minister that unless she accepts six changes to the EU withdrawal bill, his party will throw its weight behind Tory rebels.
The threat will come as a blow to the government, which is trying to quell a potential rebellion amid fears that more than a dozen of the 300 amendments tabled have sufficient Tory support to defeat the government.
The bill, which transposes EU law onto the UK statute book, was due to be scrutinised by MPs this week — but has been temporarily removed from the parliamentary calendar.

The Independent claims Labour will demand a veto on the deal.

Labour would back Tory rebels to force Theresa May to give MPs a veto on the final Brexit deal, Sir Keir Starmer has said.
The Shadow Brexit Secretary said his party would back a Tory revolt unless Ms May accepted a number of changes to the delayed Brexit bill, which will transfer EU law onto the domestic statue books after Britain withdraws from the bloc.
The ultimatum will come as a blow to the weakened PM who is trying to shepherd the flagship legislation through the Commons despite losing her Tory majority during the general election.
Sir Keir accused of stalling the bill’s progress over fear of defeats as Tory backbenchers joined opposition parties in tabling more than 300 amendments and new clauses to the so-called repeal bill.

Sky News also has the story.

Labour will team up with Tory rebels in an attempt to secure a veto for MPs on the final Brexit deal negotiated by Theresa May, Sir Keir Starmer has said.
The shadow Brexit secretary has laid down six changes he wants to the repeal bill (formerly known as the European Union Withdrawal Bill).
They include a demand for Parliament to be given final approval of any exit agreement.
Writing in the Sunday Times, Sir Keir said the Government had withheld the legislation for two weeks running because it fears defeat on at least 13 amendments.
He urged ministers to end the “paralysis” by working with all sides to make his recommended changes.

BBC News outlines the six changes demanded by Labour.

Labour will back Conservative rebels over Brexit unless the prime minister accepts changes to its repeal bill, the party’s shadow Brexit secretary says.
Sir Keir Starmer wants six changes to the bill, which aims to transfer EU legislation into British law.
If these are not accepted Labour will back Tory rebels in an attempt to force a vote on the final EU deal, he said.
The government said it would listen to MPs about possible improvements to the bill but would not let it be “wrecked”.

And the Guardian claims this is the reason the Bill has not gone to Parliament as scheduled.

Labour will join forces with Tory rebels in an attempt to force Theresa May into giving MPs a veto on the final Brexit deal, Keir Starmer has said.
The shadow Brexit secretary demanded six changes to the “paused” repeal bill, formally known as the  European Union (withdrawal) bill, including parliament being given final approval of the exit agreement.
Starmer said the government has unexpectedly withheld the legislation from the House of Commons for two weeks running because it fears defeat on at least 13 amendments at the hands of Tory rebels.
He said it was clear that ministers could not proceed with the bill as it stood and threatened to “work with all sides” to get his changes made unless ministers adopt them and end the “paralysis”. 

The Mail is a little more upbeat about the trade talks, but only if the UK pays up.

Brexit deal could be agreed as soon as Christmas – but only if the UK pays £48bn,  EU leaders said on Friday.
In a meeting held after Theresa May attended a Brussels summit, EU leaders gave the order to prepare for a trade deal.
However the talks will only go ahead if the Prime Minister agrees to pay the eye-watering sum, according to reports.
An unnamed senior diplomat told The Sun that leaders would accept £30billion for future commitments. Along with the 18billion offered for the transition period between 2019 and 2021 this would amount to £46billion.
News of the possible deal comes after  Emmanuel Macron threw cold water on hopes of a  Brexit  breakthrough – warning that the UK’s divorce bill offer was not even ‘halfway’ to what the EU wanted.

The Morning Star also has details of the EU’s demands.

THERESA MAY was told by European Union leaders yesterday that she must be willing to pay more for Britain to leave the bloc before any discussions on future trade can go ahead.
French President Emmanuel Macron suggested that the EU should receive £36 billion.
He dismissed an earlier offer of £18bn from Britain’s Brexit team, saying that it would not even take them “halfway” to negotiations.
Mr Macron also said Ms May had not mentioned the possibility of a no-deal outcome when she addressed EU leaders over dinner on Thursday evening. He indicated that the idea could be “bluffing” by “secondary players.”

Westmonster says the EU is demanding the PM doubles her offer.

With talks continuing to proceed at a snail’s pace, the European Union are now reportedly demanding that Theresa May more than double her opening gambit of £20 billion to advance talks further.
£48 billion has been named as the magic number by The Sun, with the likes of French President Emmanuel Macron dismissing out of hand May’s financial offering thus far.
It comes amid increased talk of No Deal, with  Brexit Secretary David Davis set to ramp up preparations for such an outcome.
That provoked a reaction yesterday in Brussels, with Macron insisting many never even mentioned No Deal, and EU Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker insisting that he “hates” the idea of such an outcome.

The Express has an interesting story about the prospect of getting an independent voice on the negotiations.

BRITAIN has not ruled out calling for an independent tribunal to settle the Brexit divorce bill, sources said last night.
It came after French President Emmanuel Macron dismissed an unofficial offer of £20billion by Theresa May during last week’s summit, claiming “we are not halfway there”.
It is understood the EU has pegged Britain’s obligations to at least £60billion.
Last night sources close to Brexit Secretary David Davis said they were viewing the option of convening an ad-hoc tribunal as a way to break the log-jam and move on to trade talks.
The idea was backed by Professor David Collins, an international law expert, who said the financial settlement issue could be resolved within “one to two months” of a tribunal convening.

And the Mail claims the EU has told Mrs May she needs to get tough with her foreign secretary.

Theresa May has been told by Brussels that she needs to ‘face down’ Boris Johnson if she wants to start trade negotiations with the EU by the critical Christmas  deadline.
The Prime Minister left a summit of EU leaders on Friday buoyed by their promise to start preparations for trade talks – on condition that she finally offers an acceptable sum for the ‘divorce bill’.
The supportive noises were part of an orchestrated effort by the EU to buttress Mrs May’s domestic position by putting a positive gloss on the deadlock.
They dread Mrs May being weakened so much that she is ousted by a hard Brexiteer such as Mr Johnson, who would be happy for the UK to crash out of the EU without a deal.

But an avid Remainer is now conceding that Brexit can’t be stopped say several of the media. The Independent reports:

Conservative former chancellor Ken Clarke has said he believes there is now no way to prevent the UK leaving the EU.
The staunch Remainer said there was “little doubt” that Brexit would take place and argued a second referendum on any deal would be “folly”.
Mr Clarke told an audience at the Scottish Parliament’s Festival of Politics that a “no deal” scenario with the UK crashing out of the EU was “very unlikely”.
His comments came after an exclusive poll for 
The Independent revealed that three quarters of the British public believe negotiations with Brussels are going badly, while other surveys have shown the majority of voters would now oppose Brexit.
Asked if he thought there was any way Brexit could be averted, Mr Clarke said: “I’m more pessimistic than most people who were Remainers. I don’t think there is.

The Express also reports the former chancellor’s words.

CONSERVATIVE former chancellor Ken Clarke has said he believes there is now no way to prevent the UK leaving the EU.
The staunch Remainer said there was “little doubt” that Brexit would take place and argued a second referendum on any deal would be “folly”.
Mr Clarke told an audience at the Scottish Parliament’s Festival of Politics that a “no deal” scenario with the UK crashing out of the   European Union was “very unlikely”.
Asked if he thought there was any way Brexit could be averted, he said: “I’m more pessimistic than most people who were Remainers. I don’t think there is.

The Express also has a piece claiming that ‘no deal’ is not the disaster some are painting it.

BREXIT ‘no deal’ could become a reality if the European Union (EU) refuses to back down on the divorce bill, but it may not be as cut throat as first imagined.
It was thought headway may finally have been made when the remaining 27 EU members agreed to prepare for trade talks at the EU Summit yesterday.
But confusion still remained as leaders including French President Emmanuel Macron demanded more money from Britain, saying the offer of €20billion was “not even half way” to what he was after.
And as Theresa May faces difficulties to control her party at home, she may need to turn tough, to avoid her rivals turning on her.
There are three possible paths for the negotiations, a deal, a negotiated no deal, or a spiteful no deal.
Ministers say reaching a trade deal is the most likely option, particularly as Britain and EU regulations are already the same, so there is less to negotiate than normal.

EU

Meanwhile, over the Channel, Eurocrats have admitted their expenses could cause consternation says the Express.

EUROCRATS should be able to keep their expenses secret to stop public outrage making their jobs difficult, an EU lawyer has claimed.
Last year around £400 million (€450 million) was spent on MEP’s salaries, travel and office costs.
Now a lawyer for the bloc has warned releasing details of how the public money used by eurocrats would put “big pressure” on them.
The lawyer said: “If everything was visible it would impose a big pressure on MEPs” and they wouldn’t be able to do their job properly.
“If everything was under discussion by journalists in a time where everything is discussed on Twitter,” MEPs would be unable to exercise their “free mandate,” the lawyer later suggested.

Universal Credit

The criticism of Universal Credit seems to have got to the Prime Minister, says the Telegraph.

Theresa May is on the brink of a major climbdown over Universal Credit payments, having been warned it could become her “poll tax”.
In a significant shift in tone, ministers are understood to have signalled that they are looking at ways to reduce the waiting time for the Government’s new benefits scheme from six weeks, with backbenchers pushing for a reduction to one month.
It follows interventions by Sir John Major, the former prime minister, as well as some of Mrs May’s own MPs, who warn that the system is undermining her pledge to champion “ordinary working-class” families.
Mrs May defended the scheme only four days ago during Prime Minister’s Questions, insisting that “it is a system that is working”.

The Archbishop of York’s intervention may have had something to do with it, says the Times.

The Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, today calls on the government to reduce the six-week payment delay faced by universal credit claimants that he warns is punishing the poorest who have “nothing to fall back on”.
His intervention comes amid reports that ministers are ready to reduce the waiting time, with some MPs pushing for it to fall to one month. Downing Street sources last night confirmed the issue was being “looked at”, although no decision had been made.
In an article for The Sunday Times, Sentamu, the Church of England’s second most senior figure, claims poor people fear universal credit because it “assumes everyone has a nest egg which will tide them over as they wait a minimum of 42 days for payouts”.

And the Independent claims there could be a U-turn.

The Government is believed to be on the verge of a U-turn over Universal Credit  following public pressure and a threatened backbench rebellion.
Ministers are understood to be preparing to announce the waiting time for the first payment of the new benefit will be reduced from six weeks after thousands of vulnerable people were left destitute and in some cases having to rely on food banks.
One of the Tory MPs threatening to rebel, Stephen McPartland, said he believed critics of the new benefit were “very, very close” to finding a solution.
Opposition MPs as well as some on the backbenches, charities and campaign groups have all warned that the roll-out of the benefit is contributing to rent arrears and in extreme cases making people homeless, as well as forcing already poor people into debt.

The Sun says we’re in for ‘major concessions’.

THERESA May is set to make major concessions on Universal Credit amid fears it could be her “poll tax”.
Ministers are ready to reduce the waiting time for Universal Credit payments from six weeks following opposition from Tory MPs, it’s been claimed.
Tory MP Stephen McPartland claims critics of the flagship benefit reform said they were “very, very close to getting a resolution”.
Rising debt and rent arrears concerns have been raised as the roll-out of the policy continues.
He said Work and Pensions Secretary David Gauke has found it “very difficult” to justify the wait inside the parliamentary party to potential rebels.

Catalonia

Meanwhile, over in Spain, it seems the government is waving the big stick, says the Telegraph.

Catalonia’s leader accused Madrid on Saturday of waging the “worst attack” on his region since dictator Francisco Franco after the central government took drastic measures to stop it from breaking away.
In a televised announcement, Carles Puigdemont said Madrid was failing to respect the rule of law after Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy announced he would move to dismiss Catalonia’s separatist executive, take control of regional ministries and call elections. The premier said he had no other choice faced with the threat to national unity.
Puigdemont said the measures were “incompatible with a democratic attitude and do not respect the rule of law,” calling on the regional parliament to meet over the crisis.

The Sun claims the regional government could be dismissed.

CATALONIA’S government is on the verge of being sacked after the Spanish prime minister requested special powers to impose direct rule and remove its regional authority.
Mariano Rajoy needs the permission of Spain’s parliament to exercise the legal measures which he wants to use to curb the region’s power, dissolve the government, and call a national election within six months.
The decision follows a partial referendum held in the eastern region of the country earlier this month that saw violence break out as police dragged voters out of polling stations.

If approved, Mr Rajoy said his actions would restore the law, make sure regional institutions were neutral, and guarantee public services and economic activity as well as preserve the civil rights of all citizens.

The Catalonians aren’t happy, says ITV News.

Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont has responded to Spain’s plans to sack Catalonia’s leaders and take control of the region as an “attack on democracy”.
Spain announced the unprecedented plan which also involves calling a new local election by using previously untapped constitutional powers to take control of the region that is threatening to secede.
Catalonia’s president Carles Puigdemont responded by making a veiled independence threat, telling lawmakers to come up with a plan to counter Spain’s “attempt to wipe out self-government.”
Puigdemont called the plans by Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy an “attempt to humiliate” Catalonia and an “attack on democracy.”

And the Morning Star highlights a proposed march in London today.

PRO-DEMOCRACY campaigners will march in solidarity with Catalonia and against Spanish repression and authoritarianism in London today.
Organisers of the demonstration are calling for the British government to condemn the violence by the Spanish state against “peaceful civilians” and demand the immediate release of political prisoners.
Leading separatist activists Jordi Sanchez and Jordi Cuixart, who head the Catalan National Assembly and Omnium Cultura respectively, were denied bail on Monday after being arrested on charges of sedition in the run-up to the independence referendum two weeks ago.
They are both accused of using mass mobilisations to prevent police officers from following a judge’s orders to stop the referendum, which had been ruled illegal by Spain’s constitutional court.

Christmas rail travel

Aiming to get away at Christmas? If you’re going by train, check out the Mail.

Journey times are set to double during 11 days of work over the festive period, when five out of seven major rail routes are closed.
Passengers are expected to attempted more than 20 million journeys, with flyers also facing chaos as train services bound to Gatwick and Heathrow airports are cut over the fortnight period.
It is feared the works will bring the ‘worst ever’ disruption to Christmas journeys as Paddington Station in London faces closure.

Or the Star.

TRAVELLERS face the “worst ever” Christmas delays as railway works cause chaos.
Five of seven mainline train routes will be closed across 11 days of work during the holiday fortnight.
Major delays are expected, with some journey times doubling as passengers attempt to make more than 20million journeys.
Festive air passengers will also be hit as services to Gatwick and Heathrow are cut.
Rail industry experts have branded the Christmas works schedule the “worst ever”.

Gazumping

The Telegraph has a story about cutting the stress of home buying.

Gazumping could be outlawed and estate agents given formal training under government plans to reduce the “stress” of home-buying.
Ministers today announce proposals to prevent sellers accepting higher offers following an agreement to sell, and create financial penalties for buyers who pull out of purchases and cause chains to collapse.
Professional training for estate agents is also being considered in order to raise standards across the industry, as well as possible ways to speed up the process of buying and selling, sources said.
The proposals are intended to bring Britain into line with other countries, such as the US, which are seen to have quicker and far more efficient home-buying processes.

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