Customs union

The Prime Minister is standing firm over the main stumbling block in negotiations with the EU, says the Express.

THERESA May is digging in her heels and refusing to budge over plans to enter a hybrid customs union with the European Union after Brexit.
Brexit ministers say they have told the Prime Minister her hopes for a system which would see the UK collect EU import tariffs on behalf of the bloc is unworkable and will never been accepted by Brussels.
Ardent Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg this week branded the plan “completely cretinous” and said it would effectively result in Britain staying in the single market.
Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, has also ruled out the possibility of it working.
Mrs May’s team of has urged her to rethink her customs union plans on eight separate occasions, according to The Sun.
But she reportedly has no intention of abandoning her idea.

But the Times warns that she is still on shaky ground.

Theresa May has been told she could be ousted like Margaret Thatcher unless she sacks her chief Brexit negotiator, Oliver Robbins, and ditches his plan to bind Britain into a customs partnership with the EU.
David Davis, the Brexit secretary, has told May that she should ignore Robbins and start listening to her ministers instead — a move that the mandarin has interpreted as an attempt to get him fired.
Davis also staged a showdown with May’s chief of staff, Gavin Barwell, last weekend, after The Sunday Times revealed that her aides had “war-gamed” whether he would resign if the UK stayed in a customs union with Brussels.

Rudd

The Home Secretary continues to be verbally attacked. The Times says:

Amber Rudd was facing fresh calls to quit last night as leaked cabinet papers showed she is backing plans to water down control of Britain’s borders after Brexit — eroding support for the beleaguered home secretary with Tory MPs.
The documents outline plans to create a “labour mobility partnership” with Brussels in which EU migrants would be given preferential access to benefits, healthcare and the UK jobs market — undermining claims that free movement would end when Britain leaves the EU.
Details of the plans emerged with Rudd’s career hanging in the balance after she misled parliament about Home Office immigration removal targets.

The Sun reports that she has been forced to face MPs again.

EMBATTLED Amber Rudd faces a high-stakes public clash over immigration removal targets with her most senior civil servant.
Furious MPs have recalled the Home Secretary to explain why she failed to read a memo on her department’s deportation goals.
They will also haul her permanent secretary Sir Philip Rutnam before a powerful Commons committee to quiz him over who knew what.
It means the pressure on Ms Rudd to quit is unlikely to diminish yet – and could even get worse.
Labour’s Yvette Cooper, who chairs the home affairs committee, has ordered the pair to give further evidence.
She said: “We have obviously been given inaccurate information to Parliament twice now. This is a serious concern and I am calling Amber Rudd to come back and give further evidence to the committee.

A full investigation into immigration is being called for. The Mirror reports:

Labour have urged Theresa May to launch a full inquiry into the immigration scandal engulfing Amber Rudd ’s Home Office.
Senior Opposition figures accuse the Home Secretary of losing control of her department, breaching the ministerial code and misleading the public.
They say the Windrush row has “exposed something rotten” at the heart of the Government and are demanding that Ms Rudd either resign or be sacked.
Meanwhile the furore escalated further as ex-Immigration Minister Brandon Lewis was caught up in it amid claims he lied about what he knew.
In an explosive letter to the PM, Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott said: “Serious questions remain over what the Home Secretary was told about targets for removals.

But the Home Secretary’s career is still in the balance says the Mail.

Amber Rudd feels ‘hung out to dry’ by Theresa May over the  immigration storm threatening to destroy her career, her allies have told The Mail on Sunday.
The Home Secretary is fighting for her political life this weekend after a series of damaging leaks over her handling of the Windrush saga, which has seen post-war Commonwealth citizens who came to Britain singled out for deportation.
Ms Rudd will be forced to explain to the Commons tomorrow why she denied knowing about her department setting migrant removal targets – only for a memo to then emerge showing that she had been copied in to the details of just such a policy.
It has led to Labour calls for her resignation and growing disquiet among her colleagues.
But allies of Ms Rudd complain that she has been left isolated by No 10 and let down by her officials at the Home Office.
One said: ‘Amber has been caught in a s*** sandwich. There has been no support from Downing Street, either politically or in terms of communications.

The Independent reports she’ll be back to the House of Commons tomorrow.

Amber Rudd has been summoned back to parliament after twice  appearing to give MPs false information.
She is due to give a statement in the House of Commons on Monday, in which she is likely to apologise again for claims she made about the government’s use of deportation targets.
Yvette Cooper, the chair of an influential parliamentary committee, said she had also asked the beleaguered home secretary to answer MPs’ questions amid “serious concern” over the accuracy of her previous statements.
Ms Rudd is facing continued calls to resign over her handling of the
Windrush  scandal.
Ms Cooper said she had asked Ms Rudd to reappear in front of the Home Affairs Select Committee to explain why she had appeared to be unaware of her department’s numerical targets for deportations.

Brexit

The House of Lords is still trying to undermine the result of the referendum, says the Telegraph.

Peers are preparing a fresh attempt to block Britain’s departure from the European Union in the House of Lords on Monday, it has been claimed.
Lord Callanan, a Brexit minister, said a Labour amendment due to be debated would remove the Government’s power to negotiate with Brussels, handing it instead to Parliament.
Labour said the amendment would ensure a “meaningful role for Parliament” in the approval of a deal with the EU, adding to an amendment already forced on the Government by pro-Remain Tory rebels in the Commons.
But Lord Callanan said: “Those who want to overturn the referendum call this the ‘no Brexit’ amendment.”

The Sun calls them ‘shameless’.

SHAMELESS peers will launch their most flagrant bid yet to block Brexit tomorrow.
They hope to derail the EU Withdrawal Bill with a deluge of wrecking amendments.
Remainers see the crucial Lords vote as their biggest chance to halt the process or force a second referendum.
They plan to bog down the government by erecting “roadblocks” to a swift and clean departure.
Lord Newby, leader of the Lib Dem peers, wants to insert a clause in the Bill to guarantee a fresh in-out referendum if Britain fails to clinch a good Brexit deal.
His amendment – which rides roughshod over the will of 17.4million who voted to leave – is backed by Lord Butler, the former head of the civil service.

The Guardian claims some members of the House of Commons are also involved in trying to stop Brexit.

Theresa May is facing another major rebellion over Brexit amid a cross-party move to kill off any attempt to crash out of the EU without a deal.
A group of MPs and peers has been carefully crafting new laws that will hand parliament guaranteed powers to soften any deal and send the government back to the negotiating table.
Tory sources already think there is enough support in the Commons for the plan, which they believe would end the threat of a “no deal” outcome. The move is being described by senior figures as one of the most significant amendments of the Brexit process.
Ministers have previously warned that should the deal negotiated with the EU be voted down by parliament, Britain could simply leave the bloc with no agreement.
However, the cross-party group’s proposal ensures that if the agreement were voted down, parliament could alter it and ask the government to reopen EU talks.

The Independent reports on further concessions that the Prime Minister could make to the EU.

Britain is set to make an offer to the EU on future immigration which would see arrangements “very similar” to current free movement rules put in place after BrexitThe Independent has learned.
UK negotiators would like to put the proposal forward to coincide with a
European Council summit in June, in a bid to break a deadlock in Brexit talks.
The plan would see a high level of access to the UK for EU citizens in the future, but would leave the British government power to halt it in certain circumstances.
But it is likely to enrage hardliners who would see anything even mildly like free movement as a betrayal of the 2016 referendum result – on Saturday cabinet minister David Davis, who has fought for a harder Brexit, was reported to be on the brink of resigning over the UK’s apparently softening position on EU withdrawal.   

Labour Party

The official opposition is still having problems, says the Mail.

Jeremy Corbyn was plunged into a new anti-Semitism row last night after The Mail on Sunday discovered that his official  Facebook page is littered with vile slurs against Jews.
Among more than a dozen shocking posts were claims that ‘supremacist Jews’ have taken over Labour and are playing ‘victims’ by talking about being ‘massacred by Hitler’.
Others accused Jews of being the ‘biggest problem facing the world for centuries’ and said the ‘Zionist lobby’ controlled British politics.
Last night Jewish leaders reacted with horror to the ‘poisonous’ posts and said Mr Corbyn’s failure to remove them exposed his claims to be tackling the problem as ‘hot air’.

And several of the media report findings that Russia tried to swing the last General Election Labour’s way. The Times says:

The first evidence of Russian attempts to influence the result of the general election by promoting the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, has emerged in a ground-breaking investigation into social media by this newspaper.
Our research, in conjunction with Swansea University, discovered that 6,500 Russian Twitter accounts rallied behind Labour in the weeks before last year’s election, helping supportive messages to reach millions of voters and denigrating its Conservative rivals.
Many of the Russian accounts can clearly be identified as internet robots — known as bots — that masqueraded under female English names but were in fact mass-produced to bombard the public with orchestrated political messages.

Sky News has picked up the story.

Thousands of Russian Twitter accounts posted pro-Labour messages in the run up to last year’s general election, it has been claimed.
Many of the 6,500 accounts are said to have been ‘bots’ that tweeted using female English names, but were in fact mass-produced accounts pumping out messages in support of Labour and Jeremy Corbyn.
The claims are made by the Sunday Times, which carried out research in conjunction with Swansea University.
Nine out of 10 messages from the Russian accounts backed Labour’s campaign, according to the report, which also claims 80% of the automated accounts had been created in the weeks before the July vote.

The Express also reports on the ‘bots’.

RUSSIA influenced the UK 2017 General Election by using thousands of Twitter accounts to help Jeremy Corbyn in the closing stages, it has been claimed.
Around 6,500 Russian accounts tweeting supportive messages for Labour and denigrating the Conservatives, according to an investigation in The Sunday Times in conjunction with Swansea University.
Many of the accounts were internet “bots” using English names programmed to bombard voters with orchestrated political messages, according to the paper.
The findings echo claims made of Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election in support of Donald Trump.

The Mirror says Conservative rivals were targeted.

Russia tried to influence the result of the general election by promoting Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn using thousands of fake Twitter accounts, it was reported last night.
Research by Swansea University in conjunction with a Sunday newspaper uncovered 6,500 Twitter accounts that rallied behind Labour in the weeks before last year’s election helping supportive messages reach millions of voters and vilifying Tory rivals.
Many of the Russian accounts can be clearly identified as internet robots known as bots that masqueraded under English female names and were in fact mass produced to bombard the public with orchestrated political messages.
Labour dismissed the report saying that it was not aware of receiving any support from automated bots during the campaign.

In another story about the Labour Party, the Telegraph highlights candidates with criminal records.

A councillor who spent two years in prison for possession of heroin and another who was convicted of falsely claiming council tax benefits are standing as Labour candidates in this week’s local authority elections.
Would-be councillors being fielded on Thursday include Balbir Sandhu, who was imprisoned in the Eighties over a drugs offence, and Ali Salamat, who was fined after a court heard that he failed to notify his council of earnings he received as a taxi driver.
The pair are among a series of Labour candidates who have past convictions.  They also include Andrea McKenna, a candidate previously found guilty of misusing a blue disabled parking badge.

And the Times claims the party’s candidates ‘routinely’ abused their opponents.

Labour candidates standing in this week’s local elections have routinely hurled vitriolic abuse at opponents online, despite Jeremy Corbyn’s promise to embrace a “kinder, gentler politics”.
An investigation by The Sunday Times has uncovered a series of insulting tweets and Facebook slurs from Labour candidates.
The abusive messages include tweets by Tony Cottier, the Labour candidate for the Bebington ward on Wirral council, who described the Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg, a devout Catholic, as an “Opus Dei c***” in March last year.
He also tweeted that Theresa May was a “heartless, blithering bitch” while watching BBC1’s Question Time debate shortly before the 2017 election. On the same day, he joked about a voter, who did not support Corbyn, dying from a “massive coronary”.

Education

University students taking drugs are being punished says the Times.

The number of students disciplined by universities for drugs has risen by 40% in just two years.
Britain’s student drug-discipline hot spots include the universities of Kingston, Nottingham, Essex and Sussex, each of which has punished more than 200 students for drugs offences since 2014-15. Sanctions include fines, behaviour contracts or, more rarely, suspension and expulsion. Yet other universities, such as Leicester and City, University of London, did not take disciplinary action against a single student for drugs in that time.
The figures, from freedom of information requests, come as one institution announced plans to become Britain’s “first drug-free university”. Sir Anthony Seldon, vice-chancellor of Buckingham University, said his students would have to sign a contract promising not to take drugs on university property.

And the Times also reports a shortening of the school week to combat teachers’ stress.

Parents at nearly 90 schools are grappling with having to pick up their children early as head teachers quietly plan to move to a 4½-day week to save money and — in some cases — cut teachers’ stress, writes Sian Griffiths.
Twenty-four schools, including six in Birmingham, are already closing at lunchtime on Friday, and a further 64 across England and Wales are consulting on plans to do so, according to a survey for the National Association of Head Teachers.
Heads are reluctant to speak about the move, because they fear that some may use it to condemn teachers as lazy, “knocking off early on Friday afternoon”, said one source.

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