Brexit Bill

With amendments to the Bill let to be laid before the House of Commons this week, the Telegraph claims eurosceptics within the government have plans.

Tory Eurosceptics have claimed that 27 Tory MPs are preparing to “wreck” the Brexit Bill this week by backing Labour and Liberal Democrats amendments.
In an apparent attempt to pre-empt any rebellion, one of the most influential Tory Eurosceptics went public with his fears on Saturday.
Steve Baker, chairman of the pro-Brexit European Research Group, released a statement claiming he had identified 27 Tory MPs preparing to rebel.
However the comments were rejected by numerous pro-EU Tories who said the number was “exaggerated” and suspected an attempt to pressurise them to stay quiet.

And the House of Lords could throw a spanner in the works, says the Express.

THE HOUSE of Lords could force Theresa May to delay triggering Article 50 for a year.
If peers cannot agree over the Brexit Bill the House of Commons will be forced to use the Parliament Act to pass it without their consent – but only after 12 months has passed.
The Prime Minister would then be unable to start Britain’s exit negotiations until March 2018. The loophole emerged as peers expressed concern over the Brexit timeline.
Baroness Altmann, who voted Remain, said that while her colleagues respected the result of the Referendum and the supremacy of the Commons, many felt the debate was being “rushed”.
The former pensions minister said: “The role of the Lords is to scrutinise and advise the Commons.
The Lords surely has a role to play and there are many across all parties who are concerned at the rushed timetable.

The Sun has a similar story.

BREXIT-bashing peers are plotting to de-rail Theresa May’s timetable for quitting the EU.
A rebel alliance of Remainers have teamed up in a bid to block the PM’s departure plan when it goes to the Lords next week.
They are threatening to vote it out unless she bows to the demands to move back her March 31 deadline for pushing the exit button.
All 104 Lib Dem peers are hellbent on delaying the process – and it will only take 30 Tories to inflict a defeat on the government.
Mrs May faces her first showdown this week as 27 Tory MPs threaten to wreck her plans by backing Labour and Lib Dem amendment.
Many are furious at what they see as too little time to discuss the plan before the Brexit button is pushed in just over 50 days’ time.
But former Chancellor Lord Lamont warned: “The threat to the Government’s timetable is potentially greater in the unelected House of Lords. The scope for mischief is there.”

Banking

In the City of London, it seems a bank is looking for new premises, says the Express.

A US banking giant has reportedly begun its search for a new base in the City of London, indicating high confidence from financial institutions in the run-up to Brexit.
According to reports, Bank of America Merrill Lynch has hired property agents CBRE to seek out ideal sites in London as large as the 500,000 square feet in which its European base currently operates.
The possible move is likely to increase faith that London can remain the financial hub of Europe once the Brexit process is complete.
This comes in stark contrast to warnings from Remoaners and the Project Fear campaign of last year that claimed an exodus of financial services out of London to cities such as Paris or Frankfurt would happen to ensure the access of firms to the European single market.

EU

Across the Channel, Europeans are looking at allowing Britons ‘associate membership’, says the Independent.

Britons could be offered “associate citizenship” of the European Union after Brexit even if Theresa May blocks the plan, the MEP who drafted the proposal has said.
Associate citizenship” remains a “realistic” ambition and Brussels should make it available to UK nationals even if the British Government vetoes the plan during negotiations, Charles Goerens said.
Commenting in the wake of the Government’s Brexit White Paper, he said he was increasingly hopeful that his proposal would be offered to the UK once it quits the bloc.

In November, The Independent revealed that a plan for “associate citizenship”, proposed by Mr Goerens, was being considered by the European Parliament.
It would allow UK nationals who applied for EU citizenship to work anywhere inside the union as well as giving them a vote in European Parliament elections – while retaining their British passport.

The Express reports a Tory MEP saying the EU could collapse following Brexit.

BREXIT, Britain’s leaving the European Union, could spark a fundamental restructuring of the bloc, according to an MEP.
Daniel Hannan, Conservative MEP and Brexiteer, has said that the UK’s exit from the EU could tempt other Eurosceptic countries such as Italy and Poland to break away from close political integration and form an “outer tier” with nearby countries such as Morocco, Israel, Ukraine and Iceland.
The loosely-linked alliance would avoid being closely knit but unite over certain issues such as trade, defence and political co-operation, Mr Hannan, the MEP for the south east of England, wrote in The Daily Telegraph.
He said the plan should be attractive to the Brussels leaders calling for greater integration following Donald Trump’s warnings over Nato and the European project, as it gives refuseniks a chance to leave on friendly terms.

Defence

In other news, it seems our defences are lacking, reports the Times.

Britain has been left with gaping holes in its defences, with warships so noisy that Russian submarines can hear them 100 miles away, drones costing £1bn that have not entered frontline service 12 years after being ordered and light tanks that are too big to fit into transport aircraft.
A Sunday Times investigation has uncovered equipment failures and bungled procurement deals as concerns grow that the armed forces would be unable to defend Britain against a serious military attack.
The Sunday Times can disclose that:
■ The navy’s £1bn-apiece Type 45 destroyers can be detected by submarines at a distance of up to 100 miles as they sound like a “box of spanners” underwater, according to Rear Admiral Chris Parry, a former Ministry of Defence (MoD).

The story is also in the Sun.

BRITAIN’S military defences have been left with gaping holes including warships so noisy Russian subs can hear them 100 miles away and light tanks which are too big to fly anywhere, according to an investigation.
An investigation by the Sunday Times has uncovered huge equipment failures and bungled procurement deals – including spending £1billion on drones which haven’t entered frontline service 12 years after being ordered.
Now there are fears the armed forces would be unable to defend Britain from an attack after the damning information was revealed.
General Sir Richard Barrons, a former commander of Joint Forces Command, called for the government to “re-bench” the armed forces against the threat of a resurgent Russia.
He told the Sunday Times: “You are dealing with a legacy of iterative hollowing out, which has reached a point where the frog has boiled.”

Immigration

Will Brexit cut immigration? Impossible says a former cabinet minister in the Guardian.

People who backed Brexit in the belief it would lead to a cut in immigration into the UK were voting for something that is in effect impossible, a former member of David Cameron’s cabinet has said.
Stephen Crabb, a former work and pension secretary, said that Theresa May urgently needed to outline a new set of values for a post-Brexit immigration system, or the public may face a rude awakening.
“For many, a vote for Brexit was indeed a vote to take back control and return to Westminster the full tools to cut immigration,” Crabb said in a
n article for the Guardian.
“The problem is that, set against the popular expectation that Brexit means cutting immigration, there is nothing on the horizon to suggest that achieving any significant reduction is achievable or even desirable.”
Crabb argued the fallout from US president Donald Trump’s “toxic immigration decree” had increased the need for a clearer definition of British values towards immigration.

The Independent also has the story.

People who voted Brexit with the aim of reducing immigration could be in for a “rude awakening”, according to Conservative MP Stephen Crabb.
The former party leadership contender said “Brexit will not mean a cut in immigration after all”.
Immigration was one of the most significant issues in the EU referendum and many voters opted for Leave on the premise that the number of people coming to the UK would be reduced.
Writing in the
Guardian, Mr Crabb said serious cuts to immigration were impossible and called for EU nationals to be protected.
“There is nothing on the horizon to suggest that achieving any significant reduction in immigration is achievable or even desirable,” he said.

Terror

It seems London could be targeted by terrorists, says the Sun.

LONDON is on the brink of a major terror attack and keeping the capital safe is becoming “increasingly difficult”, mayor Sadiq Khan has said.
In a chilling warning, the senior Labour politician said cuts to police budgets and “evolving” threats mean the danger of an attack has risen even in the nine months since he took office.
In an interview with MailOnline, Mr Khan, 46, said also said the Trump travel ban was a propaganda win for ISIS.
“The reality is that if you look at other global cities, Berlin, Istanbul most recently, but Paris and other parts of the world. Our global cities are targets for terrorist,” he said.
His comments come just a day after a suspected jihadi terrorist was shot dead near the Louvre in Paris.

The Star also reports the threat.

THE threat of a terror atrocity happening in Britain is on the up and keeping people safe is becoming “increasingly difficult”, according to Sadiq Khan.
Mr Khan revealed budget cuts to policing had seen a rise in the risk of terror atrocities happening in the capital.
He added Donald Trump’s stance on Muslims would only increase the chance of young Brits being radicalised through ISIS propaganda.
Capital cities like Berlin, where a truck was ploughed into a busy Christmas market, and Paris, where gunman descended on an Eagles of Death Metal concert, have been rocked by recent terror assaults.
Only a few days ago, a knifeman stormed the Louvre museum screaming “Allahu Akhbar”.
And Mr Khan admitted that London would be a target for Jihadis due to its global status.

NHS

The problems in our health service are highlighted in the Morning Star.

THE government are “failing to protect our NHS for the future” Labour warned yesterday as shocking figures revealed a staffing crisis in the health service.
Under guidance introduced by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, NHS trusts in England are expected to cap the rates paid to temporary staff working through agencies.
From April 2016, the cap was set at 55 per cent above the basic rate of pay. Anything above this could only be paid on “exceptional safety grounds.”
The cap has been breached an astonishing 2.7 million times in the last nine months, fresh figures from NHS England revealed yesterday.
And figures from college admissions service Ucas showed applications for nursing courses are down a staggering 23 per cent as cuts to the NHS bursary take effect.
Keep Our NHS Public spokesman Alan Taman told the Star: “The NHS is being starved of cash yet having to fill staff places at crippling expense because, guess what, people are voting with their feet.”

In Scotland it seems that NHS patients are doing a lot of bed-blocking, says ITV News.

Some patients in Scotland wait more than a year to be discharged from hospital even though they are clinically ready to leave, new figures obtained by the Scottish Liberal Democrats have shown.
The longest delay affected a patient in Dumfries and Galloway, who was kept in hospital for 508 days in 2013/14.
Freedom of information requests by the party revealed the longest periods of delayed discharge in Scotland for health and social care reasons between 2013 and 2016.
Delays for health and social care reasons include patients waiting on a care home place, social care support to enable them to live in their own home, and those waiting on a needs assessment to be conducted.
Delayed discharges of more than a year were also recorded in Fife and Highland health boards, while waits of more than six months were found in Ayrshire and Arran, Grampian, Greater Glasgow and Clyde, Lanarkshire, Shetland and the Western Isles.

Conservative Party

The Guardian reports that the Tories are hoping to raise cash from the Article 50 Bill.

A copy of the article 50 bill apparently signed by Theresa May is to be auctioned off at a Conservative party fundraising event.
The Guardian has seen emails showing that a signed copy of the European Union (notification of withdrawal) bill, which MPs voted on this week, was acquired by a Westminster councillor for an auction at the inaugural Regent’s Dinner, organised by the West End ward Conservatives.
Amber Rudd, the home secretary, will be speaking at the event, for which tickets cost a minimum of £85. It is not known whether she is aware of the auction prize.
The West End ward chairman, Michael Case, who is also deputy chair of the Cities of London and Westminster Conservative Association, refused to confirm or deny whether the emails were accurate, saying it was a “private event”. A spokesperson for May also refused to comment and would not be drawn on the existence of the autographed bill.
But in an email promoting the event, which was leaked to the Guardian, Case wrote about a “fantastic prize” that had been acquired by a Tory councillor, Paul Church. The email read: “Paul has managed to secure us a copy of the European Union notification of withdrawal bill (aka the article 50 bill) signed by the prime minister, Theresa May
, herself!”

Housing

More homes are to be built by the Government for rent, rather than to buy, reports Sky News.

Theresa May will this week put Generation Rent at the heart of her plans to “fix the broken housing market” with plans to increase the number of affordable rental homes.
Ditching David Cameron’s plan to turn “Generation Rent into Generation Buy”, the Prime Minister will instead focus on dealing with the high cost of renting in an admission that the UK’s booming housing market has left home ownership out of reach for millions of people.
The Government is to change planning rules to enable councils to build more rental homes, and will launch a consultation on how to encourage developers to build more affordable private rented properties. It will also announce new measures to ensure families have better access to long-term tenancies.
“We understand people are living longer in private rented accommodation which is why we are fixing this broken housing market so all types of home are more affordable,” said Sajid Javid, the Communities Secretary.

Labour Party

The Guardian muses on the future of The Black Abbott.

Diane Abbott’s future in the shadow cabinet was in doubt on Saturday night after she failed to guarantee that she would vote to trigger Brexit negotiations in the Commons this week.
The shadow home secretary missed a vote last Wednesday, citing a migraine, after Jeremy Corbyn imposed a three-line whip on his MPs to support a government bill to trigger article 50. Corbyn’s attempts to impose discipline on his MPs had little effect at any level of the party. About 47 Labour MPs voted against the bill at its second reading on Wednesday.
By the weekend, three shadow cabinet members who had joined the rebellion had resigned. Three party whips and 10 other frontbenchers in more junior roles, who had opposed their leader, were waiting to learn whether they would lose their jobs. Most attention was focused on Abbott, a close Corbyn ally. A spokesman for her was unable on Saturday night to confirm that she would definitely back Corbyn, saying only “her office expects her to vote” in line with the whip when she is back.

Council tax

Looks like our council tax is going up by more than inflation, says the Times.

Millions of householders face the biggest rise in council taxes for a decade as local authorities across the country revealed this weekend that they propose to increase bills this year by nearly 5%, three times the rate of inflation.
One in three of the country’s biggest councils that have already drawn up their proposed rises have opted for the maximum 4.99% that is allowed without holding a referendum, a Sunday Times survey reveals.
Hampshire, East Sussex, Wiltshire, Bristol, Nottingham and Leeds are among those taking advantage of Theresa May’s decision to let them increase bills to raise money for social care.
The average band D council tax bill in England last year was £1,530. A price rise of nearly 5% would mean an extra £76.

even in the Prime Ministers constituency, says the Guardian.

In her first speech as prime minister last year, Theresa May pledged to govern for those who found themselves “just about managing” to survive financially. With Britain’s overstretched and underfunded social care system at breaking point, she can add the council in Maidenhead, her Berkshire constituency, to that growing list.
The Conservative-run royal borough has not raised council tax for almost a decade, but this year residents will have to pay the maximum 3.95% increase allowed without a referendum of the sort planned by neighbouring Surrey county council. This, say town hall bosses in Maidenhead, is enough to ensure it does not have to cut any of its social care services. But even on May’s doorstep in this prosperous corner of Berkshire, the warnings from senior council figures are stark: Surrey is “the canary in the coal mine” and a complete rethink of Britain’s social care model is needed – fast, they say.

End of the world

We can always relay on the Star to give us an apocalyptic story.

NOT enough is being done to save Mankind from annihilation, it has sensationally been claimed by a team of Oxford University experts.
The team outlined three of the biggest threat to humanity – disease pandemics, extreme climate change and nuclear war – saying there is a “dire need” for them to be addressed.
The warning was presented in a brand new report from the world-class university’s Future of Humanity Institute (FHI), which is part of its Faculty of Philosophy.
They came to their explosive conclusion after interviewing a number of experts in the three threats discussed.
But despite the looming threat of an all-out nuke war as relations between the world’s superpowers appear strained, they say the biggest risk is actually disease epidemics.

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