BRUSSELS today dropped a Brexit bombshell on British negotiators by insisting the UK will have to effectively pay double contributions to the EU when it quits the bloc. In a move bound to further antagonise the UK side in the talks senior EU diplomats revealed they will demand ongoing budget payments linked to a transitional deal separately to the divorce payout. Such an arrangement would mean British taxpayers double-funding the bloc, as they would be covering its costs beyond Brexit through both the financial settlement and a separate contribution. Brexiteers today ripped into the EU for playing a “silly game” over its financial demands and said the UK had a right to point to the decades of huge net payments it has made to the project.
BREXIT talks face their biggest crisis so far today after a bitter row broke out between the EU and the British over a Brussels bid to trouser billions of our assets. Furious British negotiators tore apart the EU’s demands for a multi-billion divorce bill as they clashed faced-to-face for the first time over money. The extraordinary ding-dong plunged relations to a new low ahead of Brexit Secretary David Davis’s latest showdown with his EU counterpart Michel Barnier today. In a heated meeting at the European Commission British civil servants spent more than three hours “picking apart their legal argument” for a divorce bill that Brussels insiders have estimated at up to £80billion. One insider said EU negotiators had kept adding extra costs to the divorce bill as if they were decorating a “Christmas tree”.
Those representing Brussels in the Brexit negotiations were apparently left ‘flabbergasted’ after British negotiators scrutinised and pushed back against the European Union’s demand for a whopping €100 billion. Tensions continue to build according to The Telegraph, with one EU source telling them that: “Everyone was completely flabbergasted that this young man from Whitehall was saying that the EU’s preparation on the financial settlement was ‘inadequate’. It did not go down well.” After a whole bunch of time wasting by the EU, discussions over the amount of money they expect the UK to hand over finally took place and Britain’s scrutiny of a huge Brexit bill apparently took the EU by surprise. Financial scrutiny is a rare thing in the hallowed walls of the EU, after all.
Both the UK and EU have expressed frustration at the pace of Brexit talks amid disagreement over the size of the UK’s “divorce bill”. EU negotiator Michel Barnier said the UK did not feel “legally obliged to honour its obligations” after Brexit. He said “no decisive progress” had been made on key issues, following the third round of talks. But Brexit Secretary David Davis said the UK had a “duty to our taxpayers” to “rigorously” examine the EU’s demands. And he urged the EU to be “more imaginative and flexible” in its approach. During a joint press conference, Mr Barnier acknowledged there had been some “fruitful” discussions on the issues surrounding the relationship between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, but he struck a pessimistic tone overall. He stressed that he was “impatient… I am not angry… I am impatient and determined” about the progress of negotiations, adding that “time is flying” and the EU was willing to intensify the “rhythm” of talks.
ANGRY looking Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier today revealed that Britain and the EU have made virtually no progress in this round of the divorce talks. During a fiery press conference briefing the Frenchman accused the British of rejecting his proposals for a Brexit bill and trying to undermine his negotiating mandate from the other 27 EU members. He told a packed room in Brussels that the UK was taking a “nostalgic” approach to the negotiations and insisted his number one priority was maintaining the “integrity” of the bloc. In response an increasingly frustrated looking David Davis struck an equally downbeat tone, admitting there were “still significant differences to be bridged” on a huge range of issues. Both men said they were prepared to intensify the level of the talks and agreed that the “quality” of the eventual deal struck between Britain and the EU is “more important than the timing”.
The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator was forced to deny being “angry” at a heated press conference as David Davis accused the European Union (EU) of not being “pragmatic” and described deep disagreements between the parties. Speaking after the conclusion of the third round of Brexit negotiations, the Commission’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier said there had been “no concrete progress” on key areas and frequently spoke of “consequences” for the UK after leaving the EU’s Single Market and the Customs Union. He also insisted he and his team would not move “one iota” from the Brexit mandate given to him by the other 27 member states, including the demand that EU courts make decisions on citizens’ rights.
British and EU negotiators have reached agreement on only five minor issues out of dozens that need to be resolved during the Brexit negotiations. Despite two days of intensive talks that David Davis, the Brexit secretary, described as high stress, almost all the dividing lines that were left at the end of July remained unresolved. These include disagreements over money, Northern Ireland and the role of the European court, as well as smaller, apparently equally intractable problems. So what has been agreed and where has progress yet to be made?
The EU chief Brexit negotiator has said there has been no “decisive progress” on key issues in talks with the UK, criticising the UK for demanding the “impossible”. Michel Barnier said the two sides are still “quite far” away from being in a position to begin talks on future trade arrangements – which the UK is hoping to begin next month. Mr Barnier was speaking alongside Brexit Secretary David Davis after a third round of talks in Brussels over Britain’s departure from the EU. He said there had been some fruitful discussions but struck a critical, pessimistic tone – at times openly scolding the Government.
The EU’s Brexit chief has savaged Britain’s “impossible” demands and warned “time is flying” in a nightmare end to four days of talks. Michel Barnier accused top Tory David Davis of failing to honour his obligations over Britain’s divorce bill as the pair clashed in an ice-cold press conference in Brussels. Brexit Secretary Mr Davis insisted he was being “pragmatic” and there had been “concrete progress” on several issues in the third round of talks on leaving the EU. He said: “The UK’s approach is substantially more flexible and pragmatic than the EU. We urge the EU to be more imaginative.” But Mr Barnier took a dramatically different tone – accusing Britain of “nostalgia” and warning there had not been “sufficient progress” to let EU leaders open the crucial next stage of talks, on Britain’s future relationship, in October. Mr Barnier – who was forced to deny being “angry” – blasted British officials for spending three hours taking apart the EU’s plan for a divorce bill line-by-line yesterday.
The UK’s approach to Brexit is nostalgic, unrealistic and undermined by a lack of trust, the EU’s chief negotiator has said in his strongest criticism of the UK’s stance at the talks so far. In a tense press conference alongside his British counterpart David Davis after the third round of exit talks in Brussels, Michel Barnier was scathing about the UK’s approach to the financial settlement, citizens’ rights and hopes for future access to the single market. He said some of the recent British proposals showed “a sort of nostalgia in the form of specific requests which would amount to continuing to enjoy the benefits of the single market and EU membership without actually being part of it”. His remarks drew an acid response from Davis, the UK’s Brexit secretary, who remarked that Barnier should not “confuse a belief in the free market with nostalgia”.
Michel Barnier has slammed no “decisive progress” on Brexit talks in Brussels in a fractious joint press conference with David Davis in Brussels. European Commission chief Brexit negotiator Barnier said issues of “trust” remain behind himself and Brexit Secretary Davis, before accusing the UK of a “sort of nostalgia”. He also went on to say the two sides are still “quite far” away from being in a position to begin discussions on future trade arrangements in October. Barnier admitted there had been “fruitful” discussions on how Britain’s divorce from the bloc would affect Ireland and Northern Ireland, but struck a pessimistic tone overall. At a frosty joint press conference, Barnier said: “We did not get any decisive progress on any of the principal subjects.”
Liam Fox has insisted that Britain will not be “blackmailed” into agreeing on a Brexit divorce bill as the price for starting trade talks. The International Trade Secretary said it was in the interests of both Britain and the EU to begin talks on the final Brexit deal straight away, after a week in which the two sides reached deadlock over the way forward. David Davis, the Brexit Secretary, accused Brussels on Thursday of risking the welfare of millions of Europeans because of its dogmatic insistence on agreeing the size of the divorce bill before discussions can begin on a UK-EU trade deal. There are now serious questions about whether talks on a trade deal will start in October, as originally planned.
Government frustration with the Brexit talks have boiled over with Liam Fox accusing Brussels of trying to “blackmail” the UK into agreeing a Brexit bill. Speaking about the European Union’s insistence on agreeing a bill before moving on to trade talks, the International Trade Secretary told ITV News: “We can’t be blackmailed into paying a price on the first part [the divorce bill]. His comments came as the EU’s negotiator Michel Barnier said there had been no “decisive progress” on key issues relating to Britain’s withdrawal from the bloc.
The UK must not allow itself to be “blackmailed” by the EU over its Brexit settlement bill in order to start trade talks, International Trade Secretary Liam Fox has said. He said a bad Brexit deal would damage both British and European companies. Businesses have become impatient with the slow progress of the Brexit negotiations, he added. The latest Brexit talks have stalled over the failure to reach agreement on the UK’s so-called divorce bill. Both the UK and EU have expressed frustration at the pace of the talks. The UK wants to begin trade talks as soon as possible, but Brussels insists that discussions about the future relationship can begin only once “sufficient progress” has been made on the arrangements for withdrawal – including the “divorce fee”.
LIAM Fox has accused the European Union of attempting to blackmail the UK into agreeing a Brexit bill before trade talks can begin. The Trade Secretary’s comments follows claims by EU’s chief negotiator Michael Barnier there had been no “decisive progress” in Brexit talks. Mr Fox told ITV News: “We can’t be blackmailed into paying a price on the first part. “We think we should begin discussions on the final settlement because that’s good for business, and it’s good for the prosperity both of the British people and of the rest of the people of the European Union.” The Trade Secretary also told Sky News: “I think there is frustration that we have not been able to get on that longer term issue, that we’re stuck on this separation issue and we’re not able to get onto the issues that will matter in the longer term for the future prosperity of the UK and the people of Europe.
The international trade secretary, Liam Fox, has ratcheted up the government’s war of words with the EU over Brexit by saying Britain will not be “blackmailed” into paying an excessive exit settlement to speed up a deal. Fox’s comment follows a tense press conference in Brussels on Thursday after the third round of exit talks, in which the EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, accused the UK of being mired in “nostalgia” rather than taking a realistic approach. Speaking in Tokyo on Friday, where he is accompanying Theresa May on a trip focused on post-Brexit trade, Fox was asked by ITV news whether it was time for Britain to agree on the much-disputed departure settlement with the EU, hastening progress towards the second, trade-focused part of the process. “We can’t be blackmailed into paying a price on the first part,” Fox said.
TONY Blair’s meeting with EU chief Jean-Claude Juncker has been branded a “kiss of death for nation state democracy” in a furious response to the ex-PM’s arrival in Brussels. The former Labour prime minister arrived at the Commission’s Berlaymont building in the Belgian capital at 11am for intimate talks with the powerful eurocrat. Formally, the agenda for the meeting is about the Middle East, Libya and the ex PM’s foundation as well as “current issues of European economics and politics”. However, there was a cloud of secrecy surrounding the meeting. Nigel Farage blasted the meeting, telling Express.co.uk: “That was Juncker’s kiss of death for nation state democracy.”
CHIEF Remainer Tony Blair has greeted fellow Europhile Jean Claude Juncker with a kiss in Brussels today. The pair will have a cosy meeting just metres away from where David Davis and Michel Barnier will be hammering out the EU divorce settlement. The former premier has been accused of “betraying Britain” with the catch-up today. Tories are furious at the timing of the private cosy-up – coming at the same time as David Davis’ crunch meeting with Michel Barnier. And it comes just hours after Mr Juncker dismissed Britain’s Brexit lengthy planning papers as not “satisfactory”. The Luxembourger bureaucrat also said there was no chance of opening talks on a post-Brexit trade deal until the UK Government agrees to pay a multi-billion divorce settlement. But Tory MP Charlie Elphicke said: “Juncker tried to blackmail us into paying Brussels billions. “Blair should be standing up for Britain, not surrendering to the EU.”
Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair has met with European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker for private talks, as the UK attempts to negotiate its exit from the EU. Juncker greeted the Iraq War architect — now an ad hoc leader of the movement to reverse the 2016 vote to Leave the European Union — with a kiss branded “[the] kiss of death for nation-state democracy” by Brexit campaign leader Nigel Farage, the Telegraph reports. “Blair’s interference and desire to sell out our country never stops. The Remaniac-in-chief has no position or power anymore, only delusions,” he added. The former Labour leader, once tipped as a future President of the European Council, has previously argued that it is “absolutely necessary that [Brexit] doesn’t happen, because I think every day is bringing us fresh evidence that it’s doing us damage”.
Tony Blair will today privately inform EU President Juncker that Labour is ready to change sides and help the EU undermine Theresa May, in a bid to bring the government down, according to UKIP’ interim leader Steve Crowther. In a deal between the warring Blairite and far-left wings of the party, facilitated by Shadow Brexit Secretary Sir Keir Starmer, the two sides have agreed to sacrifice the party’s commitment to Brexit in a bid to damage the Conservative government. “We know that the anti-Brexit wing in Labour have been mobilised in the past few days. Tony Blair’s visit to President Juncker has been carefully choreographed with Keir Starmer’s announcement of a policy U-turn, and Labour outlyers floating the prospect of a reversal of Brexit”, said UKIP interim leader Steve Crowther today. “Starmer has a foot in both camps, but is absolutely committed to the UK remaining within the EU, and keeping freedom of movement for the whole of Europe.
The European Union is demanding billions of pounds after Brexit for aid to Africa, loans to Ukraine and environmental projects across Europe including bridges for wildlife. With Brexit talks becoming increasingly hostile, Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator, said yesterday that Britain’s refusal to honour long-term spending commitments made before the referendum was damaging trust. It “would not be fair” if the remaining 27 member states were forced to make up the shortfall left by Britain’s withdrawal from the seven-year EU budget round that ended in 2020, he said. During a heated press conference, David Davis, the Brexit secretary, accused Brussels of claiming legal obligations from Britain that were not “real”.
Britain is being asked to continue funding the EU’s foreign aid programme after Brexit, it emerged last night. The EU’s demand for a £90billion ‘divorce bill’ was branded ‘absurd’ as details of the claim emerged at a press conference in Brussels. Its chief negotiator Michel Barnier said there had been ‘no decisive progress’ at the third round of Brexit talks this week. He then revealed some of the EU’s financial demands, including that funding for foreign aid, green projects and refugee programmes continues after Britain has left. It also emerged the UK could be asked to keep paying into the EU’s coffers during any ‘transitional deal’. Mr Barnier suggested he would try to block progress on a new EU-UK trade deal unless Britain agrees to meet the demands.
French president Emmanuel Macron has rubbished claims he will soon begin Brexit talks with the UK because of problems with the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier. In a show of EU unity, Mr Macron said: ‘I want to be very clear and reiterate our backing of only one negotiator and only one mandate.’ It follows claims that Mr Macron could start Anglo-British trade talks as early as October because of increasing frustration at Mr Barnier’s dealings with the UK. During a press conference with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte in Paris on Thursday, Mr Macron said: ‘The only negotiator is Michel Barnier and I would like to clear up ambiguities regarding false information that was spread.
The French president has personally rejected a reported British plan to bypass the EU’s official Brexit negotiators and hold trade talks directly with member states. Emmanuel Macron said European Commission chief negotiator Michel Barnier was the only point of contact for the EU side in Brexit negotiations – after reports in the British eurosceptic press that the UK would try and strike a deal with France and Germany directly. British officials in Brussels have voiced frustration about the flexibility of the Commission’s negotiating position – arguing that Mr Barnier has not been given a broad enough mandate to compromise.
EUROPEAN federalists have seized Brexit to push for ever greater integration, with France now backing “transnational” voting in a bid to create a Europe-wide constituency. Critics have accused the European Union of attempting to abolish individual nation state’s democracy and creating even more Brussels red tape under the proposals. The plans would fill the gaps left by British MEPs after Brexit and create a European constituency of 25 seats which would sit alongside the national and regional ones. Candidates would get elected through Europe-wide lists, presented by the European political parties as Brussels continues to throw its weight around. And already Europhile French President Emmanuel Macron has backed the plan which was first proposed by former president of the Union of European Federalists Andrew Duff some years ago.
British pensioners who have retired to other EU countries will continue to have their healthcare paid for by the NHS post-Brexit, after a deal in principle was agreed by negotiators in Brussels. In one of the few advances made in discussions about EU citizens’ future rights, the Brexit secretary, David Davis, said there had been agreement on four key areas, including reciprocal healthcare for British and EU retirees affected by Brexit. “This is good news for British pensioners in the EU,” he said. Other areas of agreement included protection for “frontier workers”, those who live in one EU member state and work in another. This would include people who live in the UK and commute to Europe, or Britons settled in one country, for example Germany, who commute to work in another, say Luxembourg.
Europe’s biggest airlines are conspiring to punish UK rivals after Britain leaves the EU. In a move that would result in rocketing fares and fewer flights for British passengers, some of the Continent’s biggest carriers are advocating a tough post-Brexit aviation deal. Leaked briefing documents seen by the Daily Mail show they want British airlines to be treated as ‘third country citizens’ in a move that would severely reduce the number of routes they can operate within the EU. Germany’s Lufthansa, French-owned KLM and TAP Portugal are among the foreign carriers that have backed the briefing – which pushes for the UK to lose its coveted ‘cabotage’ rights that enable airlines to fly freely in and around the EU. EasyJet, Jet2 and Monarch would not be able fly within or between EU countries. The European airlines are also pushing for the UK to be granted an aviation agreement similar to those of Israel and Morocco, conferring only ‘third party’ status.
An investigation was tonight ordered into the private school cheating scandal as ministers suggested that teachers could be banned from setting exam questions. Schools minister Nick Gibb confirmed that Ofqual had begun an inquiry following revelations reported by The Daily Telegraph which saw at least four leading public schools investigated over allegations of malpractice. It came as the exam board at the centre of the disclosures admitted that the scandal could have involved other schools as it urged parents or teachers with information to come forward. It also admitted for the first time that pupils had passed on the inside information to friends at other schools, raising fears that the true scale of the cheating is greater than originally thought.
The cheating scandal in private schools has prompted the exams regulator to launch an inquiry, the schools minister has said. Nick Gibb said the action was required following the ‘unacceptable’ incidents at Eton and Winchester to uphold the ‘integrity of the exam system’. Ofqual announced yesterday it would review the rules allowing serving teachers to take part in writing and reviewing question papers. Top teachers are often invited to help write exam papers as they are considered ‘subject specialists’.
One in three “sick notes” handed out by GPs are now for mental health problems, amid soaring levels of anxiety across Britain, official figures show. The new data – from the first such investigation across the NHS – reveals that in total, more than 5 million people are being signed off work every year. Mental health and behavioural conditions were the most common reason by far, making up 31 per cent of cases, with a 14 per cent rise in notes relating to anxiety and stress in one year. The Royal College of Psychiatrists said the figures were “alarming,” urging employers to do more to help support staff struggling with common mental health problems such as depression.
A third of nurseries fear going bust because of the Government’s new childcare scheme. From today, most children aged three and four are entitled to 30 hours a week of free care. But nurseries say that Whitehall funding does not cover the cost of providing the places. Increasing financial pressures – including higher business rates and the impact of the national living wage – have already forced 25 to shut in the past two months. And a study shows that 38 per cent of nurseries expect to be driven out of business within a year under the strain of the new childcare scheme. Half say they will have to raise their fees and charges.
Children from families most in need will receive a startlingly low proportion of government spending on early years education and childcare, a report warns. The report, which was published on Thursday by Labour MP Lucy Powell and the Social Market Foundation (SMF), found that a mere £250m worth of the extra £9bn of spending over the next five years will reach the most disadvantaged UK families. It also found that the government’s new childcare spending will largely be enjoyed by the wealthiest parts of the population. The SMF figures showed that around 75% of the spending will go to families in the top half of the population by income. The report in particular criticises the government’s 30-hour-a-week offer for free childcare for infants aged three and four years, which is to begin operating nationally next month.
A THIRD of nurseries could go bust because the Government’s new childcare scheme leaves them severely out of pocket. Most children aged three and four will be entitled to 30 hours a week of free care from today paid for with council grants. But nurseries say the funding does not cover the cost of providing the places. The average grant is just £4.95 an hour – roughly £1 less than is needed for costs alone – and over half of the 390,000 parents eligible have applied to take part. A Pre-school Learn Alliance (PLA) study found 38 per cent of nurseries expect to be driven out of business within a year under the strain of the government’s plan. Higher business rates and the national living wage have already forced 25 nurseries to shut in the past two months.
The Government’s bold offer of 30 hours a week free childcare has been described as “chaos” on the day it comes into force in England. The Pre-school Learning Alliance, which has 14,000 members, says a funding shortfall means nurseries across England are struggling make it work. Chief Executive Neil Leitch told Sky News: “The government’s total refusal to tackle, or even acknowledge, the fundamental problem of early years under funding has left providers across the country struggling to find ways of delivering the offer that won’t force them out of business.” “Every week we’re hearing of more and more childcare providers being forced to shut down as a result of the 30 hours. This simply cannot continue.”