Members of the British government have indicated that they may be ready to launch formal negotiations to leave the European Union in late January or February next year, Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny said on Wednesday. Prime Minister Theresa May has ruled out giving formal notification this year of Britain’s intention to leave the European Union under Article 50 of the EU treaty, but has not given any clear guidance of her intentions beyond that. Kenny’s comments echo those of European Council President Donald Tusk who at a meeting of EU leaders in Bratislava on Friday said May had signalled a similar timeframe for setting in motion the two-year countdown to Britain’s exit. “At the discussion in Bratislava, the feeling was that it should not be delayed too long so the impression that I get is sometime towards the end of January, February and that’s been referred to me by members of the British government themselves,” Kenny told a news conference.
MARGARET THATCHER’S former economic adviser has urged Theresa May to give the EU until Easter to negotiate a Brexit trade deal – with the UK to then “simply walk away” in the event of no agreement. Patrick Minford, who helped craft areas of Mrs Thatcher’s economic policy during the 1980s, is backing a “full Brexit” in the wake of Britain’s historic vote to quit the EU on June 23. The Cardiff University academic argued no exit trade deal at all with the EU, while “simply leaving for unilateral free trade” outside of the bloc’s Single Market, would be the best Brexit result for the UK economy. Professor Minford, an ex-Treasury adviser, spoke at a lunch where he launched his new publication titled ‘ Trading Places: Consumers v Producers in the New Brexit Economy ’. A long-time supporter of Britain cutting its ties with Brussels, Prof. Minford suggested the Prime Minister sets a three-month deadline for the EU to agree a Brexit trade deal with the UK once Article 50 – the leaving mechanism of the EU’s Lisbon Treaty – is triggered. It is widely-expected Mrs May will invoke Article 50 early next year.
Britain has no regrets about its decision to leave the EU, the country’s top polling guru said today. Prof John Curtice dismissed claims of ‘buyer’s remorse’ among the 52% who backed Brexit and said there is no public appetite for a second EU referendum . “Very few minds have been changed – there are very few signs of regret,” Prof Curtice said. Giving his verdict on public attitudes three months on from the referendum, Prof Curtice also revealed most Brits have two red lines in the looming Brexit negotations. Polls show 79% of people want an end to the free movement of people from Europe after we leave. And an even higher proportion – 81% – say Britain must stop paying into the EU budget.
British troops are facing a fresh wave of criminal investigations into alleged abuse after the Ministry of Defence quietly set up a new inquiry into soldiers’ actions in Afghanistan, The Telegraph has learnt. The allegations include those from a Taliban bombmaker who claims his arrest and detention for 106 days was illegal, despite troops’ belief that he would make bombs designed to kill British soldiers if they released him. So far, criminal investigations into British soldiers have focused mainly upon their actions in Iraq. But new figures obtained by the Telegraph show that more than 550 historic allegations of war crimes in Afghanistan are now under investigation by a special police unit set up by ministers.
Theresa May has vowed to oppose what she described as an “industry of vexatious allegations” against British troops during the Iraq war. The prime minister told reporters in New York all allegations would be investigated but said steps had been taken to tackle abuse of the system. More than 1,500 allegations of murder, abuse and torture by British troops are being handled by the government-established Iraq historic allegations team (Ihat), which May said would be completed by the end of 2019, after a review of the system by the former director of public prosecutions Sir David Calvert-Smith. May told reporters travelling with her from the UN summit in New York: “We should be absolutely proud of the fact that we have in our armed forces men and women who are willing to put themselves on the line for our safety and do things that most of us would not contemplate being willing to do in terms of our own safety. They put themselves on the line.
The Ministry of Defence is facing a judicial review over alleged lack of support for troops facing accusations of abuse during the Iraq War. A firm of solicitors have been instructed by a number of service personnel facing allegations following a Government-appointed investigation. Theresa May has declared her opposition to what she described as an “industry of vexatious allegations” being levelled against British troops. An inquiry being carried out by the Iraq Historic Allegations Team (IHAT) has led to more than 1,500 claims of murder, false imprisonment and torture, amid recriminations about the way it is being conducted.
A British soldier facing prosecution over the drowning of an Iraqi teenager has accused the Army of ‘betraying its finest’ by leaving him to be ‘hounded’ over the death. The serviceman is one of three – including a decorated major – who have been pursued by the courts for 13 years over the death of Said Shabram. Said, 19, drowned in the Shatt al-Arab river near Basra, southern Iraq, after allegedly being forced into the water at gunpoint by British troops in 2003. The Iraq Historic Allegations Team (Ihat) recommended prosecution even though a military investigation in 2006 cleared the men, two of whom are still serving. The soldier, who spoke anonymously, said the Army has ‘failed in its most basic duty of care’ by leaving them unsupported. Speaking to the BBC Radio 4 Today programme, the man said: ‘The reality of 21st Century warfare is now that anyone in the world, even our enemies, can make any allegation against British forces no matter how absurd, and the British Government and Army will stand and watch in utter indifference as it destroys their lives and careers.
David Miliband, seen by his supporters as Labour’s lost leader, claims the party under Jeremy Corbyn has not been as far from power since the 1930s. In a devastating attack, he said Mr Corbyn had made Labour unelectable and betrayed working people with his half-hearted campaigning in the EU referendum. Mr Miliband, beaten by his brother Ed in the 2010 leadership election and now an international charity boss, made his attack hours after voting closed in the latest contest. Writing in the bible of the left, the New Statesman, Mr Miliband said: “The main charge against Jeremy Corbyn is not just that his strategy is undesirable because it makes the party unelectable.
Thanking grassroots supporters who look set to keep him in charge of the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn seems unruffled by accusations from fellow MPs that his left-wing agenda will never deliver election victory. The veteran campaigner is almost certain to see off what his supporters call a “disgraceful” coup attempt by the party’s more centrist establishment and win re-election on Saturday, a break with the centre-left path that is mirrored across Europe. “We, all of us, have mounted a most incredible campaign, mobilised a lot of people and we’ve actually changed the political discourse in this country,” Corbyn said to cheers from volunteers helping him in central London on the last night of his campaign to retain the leadership of the party. It has been a bitter struggle for the heart of Labour in which both sides have cited the need to heal the deep divisions in British society exposed by the dynamite public vote in June to leave the European Union.
Former foreign secretary David Miliband has claimed the Labour Party is “unelectable” and has not been further from power since the 1930s as part of a stinging attack on Jeremy Corbyn. The one-time favourite for the Labour leadership branded Mr Corbyn’s “half-hearted” campaigning for Britain to remain in the European Union “a betrayal of millions of working people”. However, should Mr Corbyn beat challenger Owen Smith in the leadership contest, he has insisted that his leadership style is unlikely to change. Voting in the leadership battle closed on Wednesday and Mr Corbyn is the favourite to win.
JEREMY CORBYN’S campaign raised concerns yesterday over the funding of a secretive group devoted to deposing the Labour leader. Saving Labour, which has placed adverts in national newspapers calling for Mr Corbyn’s resignation, has refused to reveal the identity of its leaders or its source of funding. But it was revealed by the Times that another shadowy anti-Corbyn group, Labour Tomorrow, has channelled £114,460 to Saving Labour this year. Labour Tomorrow is led by former home secretary David Blunkett and has received donations from hedge fund manager Martin Taylor, Lib Dem peer Matthew Oakeshott and steel workers’ union Community. A Jeremy for Labour spokesperson said the details of the “opaque” funding system devised to protect the identity of Saving Labour’s supporters was “quite disturbing.”
David Miliband has said the Labour Party has “never been further from power” in a stinging article that also blames his brother Ed Miliband for the “result of choices” that have damaged the left in Britain a way that was not inevitable. Writing in the New Statesman, Mr Miliband said the Labour Party was “at the margins” of politics as a matter of choice. “The shift from the mainstream to the margins has not been the product of a series of unfortunate accidents. That would be a reason for sorrow. Yet frustration or anger is more appropriate, because the political situation of Labour is the product of a series of choices,” the former Foreign Secretary said.
Jeremy Corbyn’s ex-wife has defected and voted for Owen Smith in the Labour leadership contest, she revealed today. As a bitter Labour leadership contest draws to a close today, Jane Chapman slammed her ex-husband for having old fashioned politics and questioned: ‘Are the politics of the 1970s relevant to the 21st Century and to post-Brexit Britain?’ Professor Chapman, who was married to the Labour leader for five years in the 1970s, backed Mr Corbyn for the top job a year ago out of ‘loyalty’. But she said Mr Smith – who is widely expected to lose heavily when the results are revealed on Saturday – was ‘younger’, ‘more media savvy’ and ‘more flexible’.
The NHS should be given a “Brexit bonus” of £5 billion per year after both the Leave and Remain camps promised more money for the health service in the run up to the referendum, the former health secretary has said. Speaking as a guest speaker at the NHS Providers annual lecture, Lord Lansley said: “At the referendum, on one hand the public were told that staying in would mean a strong economy and more money for the NHS. “On the other hand the public were told that leaving would mean redirecting the EU budget and more money for the NHS. “So for political reasons, both campaigns told the public that whatever was going to happen in the future there would be more money for the NHS. So the public have a right to expect it.
The NHS should get a “Brexit bonus” of £5bn a year, former Conservative Health Secretary Andrew Lansley has said. Speaking at the NHS Providers annual lecture, Lord Lansley said the public had a right to expect extra funding, which should be in place by 2019-2020. He also called for ministers to commit to spending 7% of GDP on the NHS. In the run-up to June’s EU referendum, Leave campaigners said the £350m a week the UK paid into the bloc’s budget would be spent on the NHS instead. The figure proved contentious during the campaign, with Remain supporters arguing that figure did not take into account money the UK got back from the EU in grants, subsidies, and the British rebate.
Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy has insisted that Britain must take responsibility for the thousands of migrants in the “Jungle” camp at Calais. Meeting local residents, he vowed to “fix the problem” of the camp by the end of 2017 if his campaign to win back the presidency next year is successful. Mr Sarkozy is among seven candidates for the Republican nomination. But his campaign’s focus on immigration has been dogged by controversy. Mr Sarkozy has taken a hard line in a bid to secure right-wing support, say commentators. But he has been mocked for insisting in a speech on Monday that immigrants to France should accept that “once you are French your ancestors are the Gauls”.
Migrants and riot police clashed in Calais yesterday as Nicolas Sarkozy visited the town — allowing him an opportunity to increase the pressure on the UK to accept thousands of asylum seekers. The former president of France suggested that he would force Britain to open a migrant centre to treat asylum claims from those trapped in Calais if he is re-elected head of state in May next year. His words set the scene for a showdown with Theresa May if he does indeed return to power.