Downing Street has disputed a suggestion by Philip Hammond that the UK could keep paying into the EU budget after Brexit in exchange for British banks getting privileged access to European markets. The Times revealed yesterday that government figures in EU capitals were examining ways to tailor a trade deal that includes financial services if Britain keeps making substantial payments to the bloc — despite the chief negotiator Michel Barnier’s insistence that the EU could only offer an agreement that excluded banking. The chancellor appeared to embrace the idea. Asked in Berlin if Britain could pay the EU for banking access, he said: “We will talk about all of these things.”
THERESA May has vowed Britain will not pay the European Union for access to its financial services market after Brexit. It emerged on Wednesday Germany would demand “substantial” payments to EU budgets if UK financial firms wanted to operate in Europe. It was claimed Brexit negotiators would have to choose between Swiss and Norwegian models to get access for business. Both models would involve the UK continuing to pay into EU coffers. Philip Hammond last night refused to rule out paying in to the EU in exchange for market access for UK firms, saying: “We will talk about all of these things.” But through her spokesman, the Prime Minister said: “We will not be paying for market access.”
The UK will be asked to make substantial indefinite contributions to the EU budget after Brexit in exchange for British banks having access to Europe’s financial markets, under plans being considered in Brussels. German government officials told the Bloomberg news agency that a trade deal with the UK could only include financial services if the UK makes payments to Brussels and continues to follow EU law. The stance risks enraging Conservative Brexiteers, including Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, who have made the end of payments to the EU budget after Brexit a red-line – but insisted the City would still be able to prosper once Britain has left. Any payments would be on top of the £39bn divorce bill agreement by Theresa May, a figure that only covers existing British liabilities.
CRUNCH talks between Theresa May and top finance chiefs are taking place on Thursday, with the Prime Minister hoping to reassure the City it will be protected in a Brexit trade deal. Bosses from HSBC, Barclays, Goldman Sachs, Aviva and Prudential will be among those meeting Mrs May and Chancellor Philip Hammond in Downing Street. The talks come amid fears financial services could be left out of a trade deal, leading to thousands of City job losses. EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier has warned any agreement will not include the sector which employs 2.2 million people in Britain and accounts for more 10 percent of GDP. But the Government believes Brussels will back down if companies on both sides of the Channel look likely to lose out.
The national debate over whether Britain should have a second referendum on EU membership has been set alight after Brexit architect Nigel Farage signalled he supported the idea. Lord Mandelson was among senior Remain-backing politicians who leapt on his intervention, arguing it confirmed growing support on all sides of the debate for giving Britons another say. But Conservatives hit out at the ex-Ukip leader as a trouble maker, accusing him of seeking to disrupt Theresa May’s Government and the Brexit negotiations. Until now calls for a second referendum have come only from certain Remain-backing political figures, with others shying away from any suggestion they are questioning the validity of the 2016 referendum. But Mr Farage’s bombshell comments, in which he said he was “reaching the point of thinking that we should have a second referendum” are the first time a staunch Brexiteer has come close to backing the idea.
BREXIT is seen as a political fact in the EU and there is no call for a second referendum in Brussels, the Eurogroup president has revealed. Jeroen Dijsselbloem has deflected fresh calls for a second referendum on Brexit on the back of Nigel Farage’s shock comments saying it is not on the agenda for EU nations who want to move on to a deal. He said: “I haven’t heard anyone in Brussels argue for a second referendum. “I think people in Brussels are waiting to hear what the UK Government wants to have in the final deal. What does it look like? “We’re asking for clarity on that so we can move forward.
Arron Banks, the co-founder of the Leave.EU campaign, has backed Nigel Farage’s suggestion that there should be a second referendum on Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union. The businessman accused Theresa May’s government of “backsliding” on the issue and said the UK must “act radically now” or it would “sleepwalk into a faux Brexit”. “The only option now is to go back to the polls and let the people shout from the rooftops their support of a true Brexit,” Mr Banks added. His comments come after former Ukip leader Mr Farage suggested a second vote would put an end to “whinging and whining” by Remain supporters and “kill” the debate for a generation.
A significant shift in opinion against Brexit is revealed in an exclusive poll for the Mirror tonight. The ComRes survey shows that if there were a second referendum, 55% would vote to remain in the EU and 45% to leave. This would overturn the June 2016 referendum result which saw the country vote by 52% to 48% in favour of Brexit . The poll of 1,049 people was conducted today in the wake of Nigel Farage’s suggestion that there could be a second referendum. It directly contradicts Mr Farage’s claim that the Leave vote would be “very much higher” the second time round. The poll also found there was lukewarm support for the former UKIP leader’s stance, with 43% in favour of a re-run and 51% opposed.
BREXITEERS have reacted with shock and fury after Nigel Farage said he would consider a second referendum on leaving the European Union this morning. The former Ukip leader said on The Wright Stuff this morning a second vote could be an opportunity to “kill off” Remainer protests “for a generation”, warning otherwise “the Cleggs, the Blairs, the Adonises will never, ever, ever give up”. But Nigel Farage‘s proposal was panned by a number of Brexiteers this morning, who said Britain had already voted on leaving the EU and a second referendum was unnecessary. Comedian and prominent Brexit supporter Lee Hurst said: “Please no, you’re wrong here Nigel Farage. “Voter apathy will provide a Remain win. You of all people should know the EU has done this time and time again. “I no longer vote now as I’m sick of the whole ‘democratic’ process.”
Breitbart London Editor in Chief Raheem Kassam has broken with Brexit campaign leader Nigel Farage over his “warming” towards a second referendum on EU membership, to silence Remainer saboteurs. “We voted, as you know, for Brexit, on the 23rd of June 2016,” the former adviser to Farage explained to listeners on Breitbart News Daily, in a segment which can be listened to in full below. “We voted to Leave the European Union, get our sovereignty back, get immigration controls back, get the rule of law back… and since then, we’ve had a government that is run by people who campaigned to Remain in the EU effectively trying to thwart or slow-roll this process,” he continued. “And today, Nigel Farage went on television to stave off people saying there’s ‘Bregret’, and the United Kingdom wouldn’t vote in the same way if it voted today, and said: ‘I think it absolutely would, it would vote in a greater measure to Leave the European Union today than it did in 2016.’
Leave.EU’s political consultant Gerry Gunster has had his say on Nigel Farage’s comments on another Brexit referendum, Gunster said: “In my 25 years of running referendum campaigns, any winning campaigns that have been called for a re-vote have matched or exceeded the original margin of victory. I concur with Mr. Farage that the ‘percentage that would vote to leave next time would be very much bigger.’ If this issue is called for a second vote — and it is done within a short window of time and with the original referendum language — I do believe the result will stand. “In terms of voter behaviour, referendum fatigue has set in with a lot of ‘Remain’ voters because the arguments of pending doom after the Brexit vote have been widely discredited. ‘Leave’ voters will feel a sense of betrayal and derailment of democracy as a result of their original votes being discounted. This will motivate, inspire, and drive them to come out in record numbers again.”
Nigel Farage had to backtrack last night after suggesting that he could support a second EU membership referendum. The former Ukip leader, who leads the party’s bloc in the European parliament, had said he was close to supporting another vote to “kill off” the Remain campaign for a generation. However, hours after suggesting that a second vote would put an end to “whinging and whining” by opponents of Brexit, he stressed: “I do not want a second referendum.” A YouGov poll for The Times this week found that voters were more likely to oppose a second EU referendum than support one. Thirty-six per cent said that there should be a new vote with 43 per cent opposed.
Henry Bolton has reiterated his and his party’s opposition to a second referendum. “UKIP policy on a second referendum remains unchanged. The party opposes a second referendum.” “I am convinced that the Leave side would win a second referendum, should one be held, with an even larger majority than before. Many remain voters can now see that the campaign led by the then Prime Minister and Chancellor as deliberately misleading. We have also seen greater investment and growth in a number of sectors since the summer of 2016. We are already seeing the benefits of leaving the European Union. “None the less, to hold such a referendum would be to call into question the decisive importance of the largest democratic exercise ever held by this country and the unambiguous mandate the people gave the government on that day – the mandate take us out of the European Union. Such a second referendum would set a precedent for revisiting any democratic decision made in future; it would undermine the fabric of our democratic principles and would weaken the clarity and effectiveness of democratic decision.
The EU will resist any renegotiation of fishing quotas in the seas around the UK for the proposed two-year transition period after Brexit, the Guardian has learned. Brussels diplomats are agreed that Britain should effectively remain governed by the EU’s common fisheries policy during the transition but should not have a role in deciding the size of catches elsewhere in Europe. Michael Gove claimed last year that the UK would “take back control” of its waters after Brexit by exiting the common fisheries policy (CFP), which gives member states fishing rights between 12 and 200 nautical miles off the UK’s coastline.
The European Union is planning to spend one billion euros on supercomputers to help with research into creating artificial intelligence and fighting climate change. Brussels officials said Europe was “lagging behind” on supercomputers, noting that none of the world’s top ten most powerful machines were in the EU. The European Commission is proposing that the sum be allocated for the systems in the upcoming EU budget, with the aim of building two “world class” “pre-exascale” machines capable of 1,000,000,000,000,000,000 calculations per second, and another two mid-range machines in development. Funds would also be allocated for the development of future computers faster than anything currently in existence, as well as infrastructure to help shift data between member states.
THE Brussels dream of a federal Europe took a step closer to becoming reality today when four southern member states backed the proposal to replace Britain’s MEPs with EU-wide candidates. Following a meeting of the Southern European Union countries in Rome yesterday, Cyprus, Malta, Greece and Portugal joined the influential France, Spain and Italy in lending their support the creation of transnational lists ahead of next year’s European election. Guy Verhofstadt, the Brexit coordinator for the European Parliament and leading critic of Britain’s decision to leave the EU, tweeted his delight at the news. He wrote: “It would strengthen the democratic dimension of the EU. We have one more year to make it happen. Let’s make Europe more democratic together!”
BANKS have begun running unprecedented immigration checks on customers to help Ministers track down and deport thousands of illegal migrants. The Home Office said high street giants had begun verifying the immigration status of savers behind 70million accounts. The Government believes as many as 6,000 illegal migrants could be booted out of the country as a result. New legislation was introduced at the start of the year to impose the duty on banks and building societies. The move comes just weeks after Border Force union officials claimed staff are so stretched they have “no way” of tracking down hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants working on the black market. They panned the Government for effectively outsourcing immigration enforcement work to private companies and landlords who face fines unless they check whether tenants have a right to be in the country.
The Government will today hand banks a secret list of illegal migrants suspected of hiding in the UK and order that their accounts be closed in a bid to force them out of the country. Writing for the first time since her appointment in today’s Daily Telegraph, Caroline Nokes, the new immigration minister, says she will not “turn a blind eye” to people who abuse the system because they drive down wages and put pressure on public services. It is a significant extension of Theresa May’s plan to crack down on illegal immigration and make it difficult for people without a visa to build a life in the UK following the introduction of similar measures for landlords. The Home Office hopes to catch over 6,000 illegal immigrants with British bank accounts in the first year, an impact assessment revealed.
Banks and building societies have started checks on up to 76 million current accounts in the biggest extension of Theresa May’s plan to create a “hostile environment” for illegal immigrants in the UK. The Home Office said that about 6,000 illegal migrants and failed asylum seekers were likely to be identified in the first year of the policy, with an estimated 900 annually after that. Under the policy, banks and building societies are required to check the immigration status of all current account holders against details of known illegal migrants held by the authorities. An illegal migrant found to be operating an account will be reported to the Home Office.
Military chiefs have drawn up a plan to cut the armed forces by more than 14,000 and combine elite units of paratroopers and Royal Marines to save money, The Times has learnt. The three sets of proposed cuts presented to Gavin Williamson when he took over as defence secretary from Sir Michael Fallon can be revealed today. The proposals — described by a Whitehall source as “ugly, ugly or ugly” — include cutting the army by 11,000 soldiers and losing 2,000 Royal Marines and sailors and 1,250 airmen. The total size of the regular armed forces is about 137,000. The army has a target size of 82,000 but at present it numbers fewer than 78,000.
THERESA May has been urged to rebrand National Insurance as National Health Insurance — used only to fund the health service. Former minister Nick Boles’ plans to ringfence more funding for the NHS have been backed by influential Tory 1922 chairman Sir Graham Brady. Mr Boles, who has battled cancer twice, said the public would accept a rise to National Insurance in order to pay for the NHS. Sir Graham said it was a “long-term challenge” and he “might well” back a so-called health tax. He added: “It was a very interesting proposition to use what has always been in a sense misnamed the National Insurance Fund and make it a National Health Fund, I thought it was a very interesting idea and I certainly would be very interested to look at it more closely.”
Thousands more patients went to hospital with flu last week after cases rose 50 per cent in seven days, leading to renewed calls for compulsory vaccination for frontline NHS staff. Family doctors also saw more than 20,000 patients with flu as the Royal College of GPs said that cases had “taken off”. They have urged people to stay away from surgeries because there is no treatment. About 4,000 patients went to hospital with flu last week, four times last year’s level. There were 233 new outbreaks, predominantly in care homes, and 27 deaths in England. In Scotland Bethany Walker, 18, who had planned to study midwifery, died on Friday at Raigmore hospital, Inverness.
A mother has today revealed her heartache after her 18-year-old daughter died from one of the deadly flu bugs currently sweeping the UK. Bethany Walker, of Applecross in Northern Scotland, passed away from pneumonia, which was triggered by the virus, last week. Her devastated mother, Heather Teale, posted an emotional reaction on Facebook to say she was ‘broken’ and the ‘bottom has fallen out of my world’. She added: ‘Life will never be the same again. Bethany, I love you to the moon and back, I always have and I always will, you were the best daughter I could have ever wished for and I will always be the proudest mum in the world.
A&E figures have hit a record low for the second time in under a year, as hospital chiefs warn the government of a “watershed moment” for the NHS. On average, trusts managed to see 85.1 per cent of emergency patients within four hours in December – equalling January 2017’s all-time low. The target of 95 per cent has not been met since July 2015. It comes as the heads of more than 60 emergency departments warned Theresa May that patients are “dying prematurely” in the corridors of A&E units. And NHS Providers – the trade body which represents NHS services – wrote a letter to Health and Social Care Secretary Jeremy Hunt calling for a £153 billion increase to the NHS budget by 2023.
Britain spends a larger proportion of its income on foreign aid than other major Western countries, figures have shown. It is now one of only seven countries around the world to meet the target to spend 0.7 per cent of its national income on overseas aid. The figures were compiled by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, which represents industrialised nations. The target itself was set by a United Nations resolution in 1970. Britain’s aid budget of 0.7 per cent of GDP recorded in 2016 is more than double the average proportion of 0.32 per cent seen across the OECD. And it is far higher than the levels given by countries such as France and Australia. The aid target – made law by David Cameron and backed by Theresa May – has seen spending soar to £13.4billion.
US president Donald Trump said he would not travel to the UK to open the new American embassy next month, blaming the “bad deal” to relocate it. Theresa May was the first world leader to visit Mr Trump in the White House, and the US president accepted at the time an invitation for a state visit. But that idea was fairly swiftly pushed into the long grass, given the scale of expected protests and opposition within the UK. A petition against a state visit gained more than a million signatures last year. Mr Trump was then reported to be considering a “working visit”, with some publications reporting that a date had been set for the end of February. The visit was due to coincide with the opening of the new US embassy, at Nine Elms on the banks of the Thames in south London.
President Trump has cancelled his plan to visit the UK next month for the official opening of the new United States embassy. Mr Trump said he had changed his mind about the trip because the new home of the US’s diplomatic mission in London was such a “bad deal”. He wrote on Twitter: “Reason I cancelled my trip to London is that I am not a big fan of the Obama Administration having sold perhaps the best located and finest embassy in London for “peanuts”, only to build a new one in an off location for 1.2 billion dollars. Bad deal. Wanted me to cut ribbon-NO!”
Donald Trump has scrapped plans to visit Britain next month. The US President was expected to make his first trip to the UK since entering office, but Government officials have been told he has gone cold on the idea. No new date has been offered, raising the prospect of a major diplomatic snub. One senior source suggested Mr Trump – who was expected to officially open the new US embassy in London – cancelled because he was unhappy about the arrangements and the scale of the visit. But Mr Trump tweeted overnight: ‘Reason I cancelled my trip to London is that I am not a big fan of the Obama Administration having sold perhaps the best located and finest embassy in London for “peanuts”, only to build a new one in an off location for $1.2billion. Bad deal. Wanted me to cut ribbon – NO!’
Donald Trump has reportedly cancelled plans to visit the UK next month. The US President was expected to make his first trip to Britain since entering the White House in January last year, but Government officials have been told he has temporarily shelved the plans. According to insiders, no new dates have been arranged – which is set to increase tensions within the Special Relationship between the UK and the US. Trump had been expected to visit London next month to open the new £750million US embassy. However, sources say the US leader has grown increasingly annoyed that “the red carpet treatment” was being scaled back as resentment against his arrival grew.
LATE music legend Elvis Presley has been pictured alive and well at his Graceland home on the anniversary of his birthday, his fans have sensationally claimed. Mega fans of the King of Rock and Roll are convinced the late American music star has been caught on camera at a ceremony celebrating his 83rd birthday. Dozens of Elvis fans from across the world flocked to his famous Graceland compound, in Memphis, Tennessee, on January 8, 2018, to mark the occasion. In a live stream from the bash, eagle-eyed conspiracy theorists claim to have spotted the singer among the crowd – despite his death on August 16, 1977, aged 42. Intriguing footage of a mysterious grey bearded man lurking in the background of a cake-cutting ceremony is at the centre of the extraordinary claims.