Brexit negotiations

Despite the starting pistol not having been fired yet, the media are full of the plans by both sides to win the forthcoming referendum.

The Telegraph asks: Why is the Prime Minister in such a rush to push this referendum through?

As we watch the continuing farce of David Cameron’s forlorn bid to negotiate “a new relationship” for Britain with a “reformed EU”, only two things can be said with any certainty about what is going on. One is that the crisis-racked EU now looks such a weird and dysfunctional entity that, if we were not already in it, the vast majority of the British people would not vote to join it. But the other is that, on present showing, when Mr Cameron’s referendum comes, most people would be likely to vote, without any obvious enthusiasm, for Britain to stay in.

This is partly because of the fear, promoted by the “In” camp as virtually their only argument, that, if we were to leave, we would somehow “lose influence” and be excluded from trading with the single market. But it is due even more to the failure of the assorted “Out” campaigners to get their act together and come up with a properly worked-out and positive vision of how well Britain could thrive as an independent nation – while still retaining completely free access, as other independent countries have, to the single market.

The Independent claims the Prime Minister is close to deal with our European Union on migrant benefits

David Cameron is closing in on an emergency “stopgap” deal with Brussels that will enable him to claim a victory in his renegotiation and endorse a vote to remain in the European Union.

The deal would allow the UK to stop paying in-work benefits to new European migrant workers for a one-off period of up to four years, beginning after the referendum. The Prime Minister is confident that the basis of an agreement can be struck with the European Council president, Donald Tusk ,during Downing Street talks late on 30 January, paving the way for a final deal at a summit of EU leaders next month followed by an in-out referendum on 23 June.

But Mr Cameron will insist that the EU’s current proposal – giving countries the power to apply for an “emergency brake” on migrant benefits when a welfare system is under strain – needs to be “significantly strengthened”. The PM will call for the restriction to apply in the UK “immediately” after the referendum, restricting migrant workers’ access to tax credits and social housing. Jean-Claude Juncker, the head of the European Commission, has proposed an initial two-year brake which could be renewed for another two years.

But the Mail claims this is just a ‘stopgap’ deal and Cameron is being ‘fobbed off’ by Brussels .

David Cameron was last night accused of being ‘fobbed off’ by Brussels after signalling that he is prepared to hold the EU referendum with only a ‘stopgap’ agreement over benefits.

The Prime Minister is due to meet European Council president Donald Tusk at a No 10 dinner to thrash out a draft deal over the UK’s demands for concessions.

But although Mr Cameron has pledged he would stop all EU migrants coming to the UK from claiming in-work benefits for four years, No 10 admitted yesterday that he was prepared to accept a watered down ‘emergency brake’ on the payouts – if Britain could prove its welfare system was overrun.

The Independent claims Tory rebels are seeking to delay the vote.

Conservative Eurosceptics are plotting to join forces with Labour and the Scottish National Party to delay the EU referendum.

They are worried David Cameron will try to push through a referendum in June, which they believe will give them too little time to convince the public that the UK would be better off leaving the EU. Eurosceptics would prefer a September poll, allowing them to get better organised – there are currently damaging divisions over tactics and personnel in the main Out organisations.

It is expected that the date of the referendum will be set by the Government and approved by a committee of MPs selected by party whips. Mr Cameron’s team could make sure this is dominated by MPs supportive of remaining in the EU following the Prime Minister’s renegotiation settlement.

However, the Eurosceptics want to force this to a debate of all MPs by showing another panel, the statutory instruments committee, that there is strong support for a debate in the Commons. If they can then get enough Labour support, the Conservative rebels could defeat the Government, meaning Mr Cameron would have to return with a later referendum date.

The BBC has a similar story.

David Cameron will suggest changes to a proposed “emergency brake” on in-work benefits for EU migrants when he meets the European Council president later.

EU officials have suggested Britain could use the brake for up to four years, but would have to prove public services were under excessive strain.

It could be imposed within three months of the UK applying, if EU states agree.

But Mr Cameron will tell Donald Tusk he wants the brake in force straight after the EU referendum, with no time limit.

The prime minister will meet Mr Tusk at Downing Street to finalise a package of measures to put to EU leaders ahead of a summit, to be held from 18 to 19 February.

As part of his attempts to renegotiate the UK’s membership of the EU, Mr Cameron had proposed denying in-work benefits to all EU migrants until they had been in the UK for four years.

However, EU leaders rejected this and proposed the “emergency brake” as an alternative.

As does ITN.

Discussions about a proposed ’emergency brake’ on EU migrant benefits look set to top the agenda when David Cameron meets with European Council President Donald Tusk to hold key EU renegotiation talks on Sunday.

Mr Cameron said last week that the latest proposals from Brussels on his EU reform agenda were “not good enough” after talks with senior European Union figures over the offer of an “emergency brake” on immigration from other EU states.

The Sunday Times reports that the proposal will be considered by the EU.

DAVID CAMERON will today demand that an “emergency brake” on paying benefits to EU migrants begins the day after the referendum.

During crucial talks in Downing Street, the prime minister will insist that the level of migration to the UK is sufficient to trigger a ban on state handouts until they have been working in Britain for four years.

The plan, which was dismissed by Eurosceptics as a “stopgap solution”, will see Cameron insist that the restrictions remain in place for up to seven years while a permanent fix is found. During that time, the government will seek an EU treaty change to enforce a permanent ban or a change in domestic law to prevent British people from claiming until they have been working for four years. The latter would ignite fury at home.

Migration

The other main story in the papers today is the deepening migrant crisis.

The Telegraph reports a meeting to be held this evening.

David Cameron will force a showdown with the European Union over migration on Sunday night, against the backdrop of an escalating refugee crisis.

He will hold talks over dinner at No 10 with Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council, in an attempt to thrash out a plan to take control of the migrant flow from Europe.

The Prime Minister will demand an immediate block on benefit payments to EU migrants as the price for Britain voting to stay in the EU.

But government sources admitted this so-called “emergency brake” on payments would be just a “stop-gap” measure.

It would fall short of the permanent reform to migration rules that Mr Cameron originally wanted.

The Guardian claims Cameron has raised the stakes in the row with the EU.

David Cameron is to demand the right to use emergency powers to ban EU migrants from claiming in-work benefits from the first day after the planned in/out referendum, in a dramatic move that threatens to cause new deadlock with Brussels.

At a crucial meeting in Downing Street on Sunday night with Donald Tusk, president of the European council, the prime minister will insist he will not sign any deal under which the UK will have to wait months, or years, to address what he says is a migration crisis.

The prime minister will also say the so-called “emergency brake” proposal for curbing immigration, put forward by Brussels last week, is totally inadequate as a long-term plan. He will say he wants an entirely different, permanent solution instead of what he will call a “stopgap” mechanism.

Cameron’s demand to pull the “emergency brake” immediately after a referendum could scupper the plan at birth, as EU officials say it would probably take months or years before it can be enshrined in European secondary legislation.

And Liam Fox claimed that terrorists could enter Britain among the refugees, says the Telegraph.

The former defence secretary urged voters to reclaim Britain’s “sovereignty” in the EU referendum, in order to protect the border as the European migration crisis grows.

In the strongest attack from a senior Tory so far on the Prime Minister’s pro-Europe campaign, Dr Fox told the Telegraph it was “beyond ridiculous” for David Cameron to claim that EU membership improved national security.

He said Europe posed many threats to the UK, from the economic turmoil in the Eurozone to a repeat of the scenes in which gangs of migrants assaulted women in Cologne on New Year’s Eve.

It could even be worse, with Jihadists entering Britain among the crowds of refugees in future, he said.

The Mail reports that the number of Muslims living in the UK has topped 3 million for the first time.

England is home to more than three million Muslims for the first time ever, new figures show.

The number in the country has doubled in just over a decade as a result of soaring immigration and high birth rates.

In some parts of London, close to half the population are now Muslims, according to detailed analysis by the Office for National Statistics obtained by The Mail on Sunday. On current trends they will be the majority in those areas within a decade.

Half of those following Islam in England and Wales were born abroad while more are under ten years old than in any other age group, indicating their numbers will grow still further in generations to come.

And the Express claims all EU migrants get free NHS treatment as soon as they arrive.

AN NHS loophole is allowing EU health tourists to access hospital care for free as soon as they enter the UK, doctors have claimed.

Health service guidelines, which once required would-be patients to have lived in the country for six months, are allegedly being abused by EU residents – with some claiming hundreds of thousands in medical aid.

Doctors revealed the shocking loophole after NHS rules changed to allow EU nationals who are “ordinarily resident” in the UK to access complex therapy and cancer treatments – which can allegedly be done by quoting a friend or relative’s address.

Breitbart reports that Turkey is demanding more money to stem the flow of migrants into the EU.

A much-vaunted deal between the European Union and Turkey to stem the flow of migrants across the Mediterranean is in doubt as Turkey has suddenly demanded a far higher sum of money in return for doing more to prevent migrants crossing its borders. Ankara has said it now wants €5 billion rather than the previously agreed €3 billion.

As European leaders faced mounting criticism from their own citizens for allowing unlimited numbers of migrants to enter Europe, they in turn pressurised Turkey to do more to stop people from leaving its shores. By late November a deal had been struck between the EU and the Eurasian state: Turkey would do more to enforce its borders and improve conditions for Syrian refugees within its country; in turn the EU would hand over €3 billion to help cover the costs.

Negotiations over the figure were fierce – Turkey demanded €3 billion a year; the EU countered by promising that sum over two years, to be paid out piecemeal as conditions are met, leaving the final sum vague. To sweeten the deal, they also promised to look again at Turkey joining the EU.

Luton riots

Another story which receives some coverage is the clash between Muslims and people from the far-right of politics.

The Mail reports that the far-right group calls itself a Christian Patrol.

The deputy leader of far-Right group Britain First has led a ‘Christian patrol’ through the streets of Luton, insulting the Muslims who live there.

Brandishing large white crosses, the group – led by Jayda Fransen – is seen on video marching through the Bedfordshire town.

She rounds upon a Muslim woman, who is out with her two young children, telling the shocked mother that the reason she has to cover herself from head to toe is because ‘Muslim men cannot control their urges’.

Ms Fransen also tells a local shopkeeper Mohammed is a ‘false prophet’ in the video, which has been viewed almost two million times on YouTube.

The Sun calls them Nazis.

FAR-RIGHT ‘Nazis’ clashed with anti-fascist protesters at a service station where a coach was defaced with a swastika drawn in blood.

Anti-fascist groups were headed for Dover to protest against the National Front when their coaches were attacked by right wingers at Maidstone.

Riot cops were called after violence was reported at junction 8 on the M20. The service station was closed for a time.

Protester Andy Warren wrote: “Bumped into a coach of fascists on the way to Dover, their coach and one of ours smashed.”

Breitbart claims it has exclusive pictures of the riot.

Around 100 hard-left militants and 100 Neo-Nazis took to the streets of Dover in the South East of England today, ostensibly to wage war on the streets over their differing views on the Calais Jungle camp and the ongoing migrant crisis.

But the two groups had very little to say on the issues themselves, with the left-wing militants intent on provoking violence at a march led by the National Front, initially billed to be in support of British truckers being attacked and threatened in Calais, France, by migrants.

The Labour Party’s Diane Abbott, the Shadow Secretary for International Development, attended for 10 minutes early on in the day, to egg on the hard-left militants. The National Front-led protest is charged with using the case of British truckers as a “front” issue by which to assert their nationalism.

Both sides of protesters came armed, with many even pulling the cobbles and bricks from the streets to hurl at their opponents as police attempted to control the two groups.

There is also coverage on YouTube.

Corbyn

The Mail claims Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has been given 99 days to prove he can win.

Jeremy Corbyn was last night given a 99-day ultimatum by a rebel Labour MP: prove you are a winner or face a leadership challenge.

Senior Labour MP Michael Dugher said Mr Corbyn must lead the party to success in key elections throughout Britain on Thursday, May 5.

MPs on all sides will meet in Westminster the following Monday, 99 days from today, to discuss the results.

And Mr Dugher says if Labour flops, Mr Corbyn will have to abandon his Left-wing policies – or be forced out.

The Express claims that Corbyn faces showdown with trade unions over ‘EU in’ stance

LABOUR leader Jeremy Corbyn was heading for another showdown with trade unions last night as a new campaign group said it had the support of thousands of members to fight to get Britain out of the EU.

Trade Unions Against the EU was established to “smash the myth that Brussels represented social reform and protected jobs”.

Despite being a Eurosceptic when he was on the backbenches, Mr Corbyn has fallen into line with Labour’s official position to stay in the EU regardless of what reforms David Cameron wins in his negotiations with Brussels.

The group said it was in talks with the rail union RMT over funding and said it had already secured financial commitments from union members across the country.

The RMT has declared it will support a British exit in the inout referendum, which could take place as early as June.

Electoral reform

The Independent reports that five left-leaning parties may get together to force an alternative voting system after the next election.

Negotiations raise prospect that up to five left-of-centre parties could agree on a fairer Westminster voting system

The SNP, Greens and Welsh nationalists have united to call for an electoral pact with Labour and the Liberal Democrats to agree sweeping changes to the voting system for Westminster elections.

In a letter published in The Independent on Sunday, the leaders of the three left-of-centre parties call for an agreement on electoral reform to be included in each of their manifestos in 2020.

Town hall cuts

The Independent reports that many of Tory backbenchers are preparing to rebel over plans to cut the handouts to local councils.

David Cameron is facing the prospect of a major backbench Tory rebellion over planned cuts to town hall budgets, amid claims that rural areas are being unfairly targeted.

Up to 50 MPs are understood to have signed a letter demanding changes to the Government’s proposed settlement with local government, which was published last month.

Senior backbencher Graham Stuart, the former chairman of the Education Select Committee, has been named by a number of Tory MPs as the “shop steward” leading the “rural resistance” to the cuts.

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