Brexit

We are now well into the journalistic ‘silly season’ where news is scarce. However, the Brexit negotiations are covered by many of today’s papers, including the Telegraph.

Britain is prepared to pay up to £36 billion to the EU to settle the so-called Brexit divorce bill, the Sunday Telegraph can reveal.
Senior Whitehall officials have concluded that such an offer – the first time a precise figure has been proposed – is the only way to break the current deadlock in negotiations.
However, the UK will only agree to pay the €40 billion sum it if the EU agrees to negotiate the financial settlement as part of a deal on future relations, including a trade deal.
There separate sources in Whitehall and government with knowledge of the UK’s negotiating strategy confirmed the figure, dismissing previous reports that Theresa May would agree to a £50bn bill as “too high”.

The Express has picked up the story.

THE UK will pay no more than £36billion to the EU in order to settle the Brexit divorce bill, sources have revealed.
Three senior Whitehall officials have claimed the Government is willing to break the deadlock in negotiations by offering a take it or leave it deal.
A senior Whitehall source told The Telegraph: “The 27 say they can’t knock off the bits of their ‘bill’ until the very end – but politically we can’t move on money until the 27 member states start to show compromise.
“We know (the EU’s) position is 60billion euros, but the actual bottom line is 50billion euros.

And Sky News.

There are claims the UK is prepared to pay €40bn (£36bn) to settle its divorce bill with Brussels – but a senior government source has denied the reports.
The Sunday Telegraph says it has spoken to “three separate highly placed sources” who confirmed a plan in which the UK would pay €10bn a year for three years after leaving the union in 2019.
The newspaper said this would constitute a down payment on a sum which would total €40bn.

The Times claims the offer would include payments due to be made until the UK leaves the bloc.

Britain is reportedly ready to offer the EU a €40bn (£36bn) divorce settlement linked to a post-Brexit trade deal when negotiations resume later this month.
The proposal, which could break the current impasse in talks, would see the UK continue to pay into the EU budget until 2021 as part of a “downpayment” on the final bill.
In the proposed deal Britain could be making net payments to the EU of £10bn a year for up to three years, according to The Sunday Telegraph.
EU negotiators have said that sufficient progress must be made on the rights of EU citizens in Britain and vice versa, the so-called “Brexit bill” and the Irish border problem before discussion can move on to the future trade relationship.

The Express claims the PM will be standing firm.

THERESA MAY will not be pushed into a soft Brexit, her former right-hand man has said.
Nick Timothy, author of the Conservatives’ disastrous general election manifesto, said in an interview that despite pressure from within her Cabinet, said the Prime Minister would not compromise on her Brexit “red lines”.
“The fundamental things that the country voted for, that we will leave the EU, control immigration, that the court of justice should have no jurisdiction in this country, that we should stop paying membership fees – I’m confident that those things will end,” he said. 

The Express there will be two position papers published.

THE UK is prepared for Brexit and will publish two “position papers” that will document a smooth transition from the EU, Government officials have revealed.
If the proposals are agreed by the Cabinet then a paper clarifying a transitional customs agreement and a second one outlining the “solution” to the Northern Ireland border issue will be published the week of August 14.
The official told Politico: “There is a cranking up of the machine into another gear. There is an awareness that we have to get to the European Council having shown seriousness.”
Theresa May would reportedly like to reach an agreement on the rights of EU citizens who want to stay in the UK.

EU

Over on the Continent, the Independent claims an EU bigwig reports that there is unlikely to be a second referendum.

A former head of the European Commission has said a second Brexit referendum may be “impossible” for the UK, despite hopes from some Labour and Liberal Democrat MPs that the decision to leave the EU could still be reversed.
Romano Prodi, who served as president of the Commission from 1999 to 2004, warned that the UK risks committing economic “suicide” unless the Government is prepared to be flexible in its efforts to reach a trade deal with the EU.
With the Brexit negotiations apparently moving slowly and the clock ticking on the UK’s exit, Mr Prodi, a former Italian Prime Minister and economist, weighed into the debate.

The prospect of EU armed forces is covered by the Express.

EURO MPs have drawn up terrifying plans for a complete EU army, navy and air force which could be deployed by Brussels without consulting member state parliaments.
In a dossier compiled by the liberal ALDE grouping, which is headed by Brexit negotiator Guy Verhofstadt, MEPs call for “EU integrated military forces” to intervene on behalf of the bloc across the globe.
They say Brussels needs “autonomous” military capabilities which would have their own budget, be under the direct command of eurocrats and wear the EU ensign into battle. 

And a top Tory MEP has claimed the country will not have the same rights to the single market as it does now, says the Independent.

The leader of Theresa May’s Conservatives in the European Parliament has admitted the UK will not have the same access to the single market after Brexit as it enjoys now.
Ashley Fox MEP said it is inevitable Britain will lose ground in exporting goods and services to the continent, admitting there are some “disadvantages” to quitting the bloc. Speaking to 
The Independent he also said he believed the EU was set to do everything in its power to ensure that the UK is not in a better position outside the union.
It comes as Theresa May is set to face a cross-party push from Tory and Labour MPs to ensure the UK remains in the single market during a transition to new trading arrangements, a move backed by British business.

Is the country’s Brexit negotiating stance deliberate? Maybe, says the Express.

EUROPEAN Union officials are claiming British negotiators are purposefully adopting a chaotic approach to Brexit talks as part of a cunning ploy to make more time before they railroad the discussions.
For years UK delegates within the EU had built up a reputation as ruthless, meticulous international operators, at odds with the apparently aimless drift emanating from Number 10 during the early talks.
A picture taken last month seemed to sum it up – Britain’s chief Brexit negotiator David Davis sitting empty-handed across a table from counterpart Michel Barnier, who was holding a tidy bundle of briefing notes.
But now suspicious eurocrats are coming to the conclusion that the chaos is merely an illusion and that Britain is lulling Mr Barnier and co into a false sense of security.

Farage

And our own former leader is currently talking about returning to politics, says Westmonster.

Nigel Farage has hailed President Donald Trump as a “conservative hero” and tore into Britain’s Conservative Cabinet over Brexit in a speech made in Washington DC yesterday.
“I think the great Brexit betrayal has already begun,” Nigel told the American audience.
“I’m hearing British Ministers speaking about fisheries, speaking about financial contributions, speaking about immigration and frankly doing so in a way that is backsliding, is gutless and is weak and I think we’re gonna get Brexit but we may finish up in two years time with Brexit in name only.
“And all I can tell you having spent 25 years of my life fighting for the cause that everybody said was literally impossible, was bonkers, was barmy, could never happen. All I can say is that if Brexit is frustrated then I would have absolutely no choice personally but to throw myself back into the frontline fight of British politics to make sure that we do really, really get it.”

Foreign aid

There is a bit of news that does not involve Brexit. The Sun reports on foreign aid in the South Pacific.

TAXPAYERS are forking out £317,000 in aid to save coconuts in the South Pacific.
The cash is being spent on projects in Samoa, Fiji and Papua New Guinea just in case crops vanish.
Tory MP Peter Bone blasted the “waste of money”.
He stormed: “My constituents will think it is nuts. It brings the whole programme into disrepute.”
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is behind the investment in the South Pacific International Coconut Genebank.
It forms part of the UK’s colossal £13billion annual aid bill.

Travel chaos

Going on holiday? Travelling is not going to be much fun over the next few weeks. The Telegraph covers air traffic.

Holidaymakers are braced for the worst delays at airports yet with a fresh wave of industrial action set to exacerbate problems caused by new passport checks.
Border staff at Barcelona airport will carry out a series of hour-long strikes on Sunday following a breakdown of talks on Friday night.
Their decision threatens queuing misery for hundreds of British passengers travelling to the country.
It also comes amid existing chaos for passengers travelling back from popular European destinations following the introduction of more stringent passport checks.

The Times covers the prospect of families being fast tracked through passport control.

Families visiting Britain this summer are to be offered fast-track entry to show that the country is “open for business”.
The Registered Traveller Service (RTS), which is available to passport holders from selected non-European Union countries including America, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and Singapore, allows accelerated entry through ePassport gates or the EU passport lane.
Until this month only adults have been able to take advantage of the scheme, which costs £70 a year and has been predominantly used by business travellers.
Now the Home Office has announced that it will extend the arrangement this month to include children.

On the roads there’s further chaos, says the Sun.

THOUSANDS of holidaymakers endured travel hell today with 15-mile tailbacks on motorways, engineering works at London’s Waterloo station and “three-hour” passport queues at British airports.
On the roads, the M4 was shut for five hours after a three-car pile up near Cardiff, while incidents on the M5 and M6 also caused hours of delays for frustrated drivers.
Four people were injured including one seriously after the smash between J30 and J32 on the Eastbound carriageway at around 6pm.
The road was closed both ways before eventually reopening at 11pm, with traffic queuing for several miles.

And the Star covers rail problems.

THREE weeks of severe disruption to rail services has begun at the UK’s busiest station.
Nearly half of London Waterloo’s platforms were closed today until August 28 to enable a major engineering project to take place.
There is a significant reduction in South West Trains services from popular commuter locations such as Woking, Guildford and Surbiton.
Some stations are closed and others will be much busier than normal.
An average of 270,000 journeys are normally made to or from Waterloo every day.
The project to extend the station’s platforms will allow longer trains to operate on suburban routes from December.

Elections

The problems of double voting are highlighted by the Times.

Police chiefs have been issued with new guidance to help them uncover and prosecute election cheats amid claims that thousands of students may have voted twice to try to put Jeremy Corbyn into Downing Street.
The Electoral Commission, which last month said it was investigating “troubling” evidence of illegality on polling day, has issued “additional dedicated guidance on double-voting” for the use of police forces.
The news comes after Chris Skidmore, a Cabinet Office minister, wrote to Assistant Chief Constable Gareth Cann, the National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) expert on electoral fraud, demanding action be taken against cheats.

Green energy

And the Telegraph is looking at the price of keeping energy sustainable.

Green taxes which are blamed for adding up to £150 to every power bill will not be cut as the result of a government review of rising energy bills announced today.
Dieter Helm, an Oxford academic and critic of wind and solar power, has been hired to lead the official review of energy bills – but has been told he cannot suggest any “detailed” changes to green taxes.
Last week British Gas blamed the taxes for a huge rise in electricity bills for three million of its customers.
Electricity prices will increase by 12.5 per cent, adding £76 to the typical annual bill, from next month for British Gas’s customers.
The company said the cost of green subsidies levied on bills has created “significant pressures” and suggested that it had no choice but to respond by raising prices.

The Independent reports a review of energy prices.

The Government is to launch an independent review into energy prices with an ambition of achieving the lowest household costs in Europe.
The review will explore the “whole electricity supply chain” and look at how the UK can meet green targets while also keeping bills down. It will be led by expert Professor Dieter Helm who has advocated carbon taxes, but also criticised government intervention to reduce greenhouse gases.
Business and Energy Secretary Greg Clark said: “We want to ensure we continue to find the opportunities to keep energy costs as low as possible, while meeting our climate change targets, as part of the industrial strategy.

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