Peers and MPs are today set to back a historic vote paving the way for Brexit after a Conservative rebellion melted away. A small number of Tory Remainers could abstain or vote against the Government on the Bill giving Theresa May the power to begin the process of leaving the EU. But insiders say there will not be enough to thwart the process, while senior figures in the unelected House of Lords indicated they would not block the will of the Commons. Brexit Secretary David Davis urged MPs not to ‘tie the Prime Minister’s hands’ by backing wrecking amendments passed last week by the Lords. If MPs and peers reject all amendments today, it is understood the Queen could give Royal Assent tomorrow morning, meaning the Bill would be passed into law. That would free up Mrs May to trigger Article 50 – starting the two-year period of negotiation before Brexit – as soon as tomorrow. She has vowed to invoke Article 50 before the end of this month, meaning Britain will exit the EU by March 2019 at the latest.
The Foreign Secretary has said it would be “perfectly OK” for Britain to fail to negotiate a trade deal with the EU and crash out of the bloc on the hardest World Trade Organisation terms. Boris Johnson criticised “apocalyptic” warnings that the approach would spell disaster and said Britain’s “robust economy” would allow it to make trade deals with the rest of the world to compensate. His comments come after The Independent revealed that Treasury officials believe such an episode would trigger an “economic shock” and have “the most negative long-term impact” on the UK of all the ways of doing Brexit. George Osborne, the former Chancellor, said this month that such an eventuality would be the “biggest single act of protectionism in the history of United Kingdom” and that “no amount of trade deals with New Zealand” were going to make up for it. But Mr Johnson appeared undeterred, telling ITV’s Peston on Sunday programme: “I think that actually, as it happens, we would be perfectly OK if we weren’t able to get an agreement, but I’m sure that we will.”
Ministers believe MPs will reject the two changes made to the Brexit bill in the House of Lords when they debate it for the second time later. Peers want to guarantee the rights of EU citizens in the UK and ensure Parliament has a vote on any deal. The EU Withdrawal Bill could complete its final stages if both Houses of Parliament agree the text of the bill. PM Theresa May could then trigger Article 50, which formally starts the Brexit process, as early as Tuesday. BBC chief political correspondent Vicki Young said she thought it likely that MPs would overturn the Lords’ amendments to the bill, and did not expect peers to try to block the bill any further. This could mean it is all “done and dusted by midnight” on Monday, she said.
Britain’s road to Brexit is set to pass a significant milestone with Parliament expected to finally grant the Prime Minister the legal right to trigger formal EU exit negotiations. David Davis, Brexit Secretary, has encouraged MPs to leave the Brexit bill unchanged, despite the House of Lords amending the legislation. Theresa May’s EU (Notification of Withdrawal) bill is to return to the House of Commons on Monday with two amendments. The first calls for protection of EU nationals living in the UK and the second demands that Parliament be given a “meaningful” vote on the final divorce deal struck between the Government and the EU.
Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has said the UK will be “perfectly OK” even if the European Union (EU) refuses to conclude a bilateral agreement with it after Brexit – although he added he is sure an agreement will be made. “We would be perfectly OK if we weren’t able to get an agreement, but I’m sure that we will,” he told ITV’s Peston On Sunday. “Our partners and friends around the EU desperately want this thing to work. They don’t want more misery; they don’t want to fall out with the UK”, he said. The Foreign Secretary’s comments come just days after Hungarian foreign minister Péter Szijjártó warned the EU that seeking to “punish” the British people for backing Brexit would be a “suicidal strategy”, liable to drive UK business abroad to the United States and growing economies around the world. “We need to avoid a situation whereby the EU goes to the back of the line for Britain”, he said. “Losing such a partner and giving it away to others would be a suicidal strategy.” The UK has been laying the groundwork for raft of new trade agreements once it is out of the EU, which does not allow member-states to conduct their own trade policy. David Davis, the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, assured the public that “The whole of Whitehall; every single [government] department” was working on a contingency plan in case a UK/EU agreement cannot be negotiated.
Theresa May will demand a £9billion refund from the European Union as she negotiates on Britain’s Brexit bill. The Prime Minister will say Britain is entitled to have its holdings in the European Investment Bank (EIB) returned. Ministers have dismissed claims made by the EU’s negotiators that the UK will face an exit bill of around 60 billion euros (£53billion). The Government is confident it can reduce the size of its Brexit bill. One Minister recently said he thought the bill would be about a third or a quarter of the EU’s current demand. Legal opinion circulated among Ministers says the EU’s demands for the cash are ‘wholly without merit in law’ and that it is ‘hard to see any credible basis upon which the UK could be said to be obliged’ to pay for pensions liabilities, loans guarantees and other projects.
Brexit negotiators are confident they can dramatically reduce the size of any bill for leaving the EU, according to legal documents circulated in the Department for Exiting the European Union. It has previously been suggested that the UK might have to pay around £50bn to the EU after Article 50 was triggered, to plug the deficit in its budget the departure will cause. The document was drawn up by Martin Howe QC, a founding member of Lawyers for Britain, a group of lawyers who campaigned for Britain to leave the EU in last year’s referendum. It advises that the demand for payments into the European budget after Britain has left the EU is “wholly without merit in law”, and that it is “hard to see any credible basis upon which the UK could be said to be obliged” to pay for the deficit. Mr Howe believes that a key point of leverage is the UK’s funds in the European Investment Bank (EIB). The UK has a 16 per cent share of the €63.3bn capital of the bank, amounting to €10.1bn (£8.8bn).
NIGEL Farage is embroiled in a heated political spat with Downing Street after accusing the Tories of launching a secret plot to stop him from becoming an MP. The former Ukip leader has handed Number 10 a detailed dossier which allegedly shows evidence that the Conservative Party battled to stop him from winning the key seat of Thanet South. But he also alleges that Douglas Carswell, the party’s only MP, passed confidential Ukip data about local voters to the Conservatives in a bid to beat Mr Farage. The evidence came from Mr Farage’s most senior aide, election strategist, Chris Bruni-Lowe who has produced computer logs which allegedly showed that Mr Carswell had repeatedly accessed details of Ukip backers in Thanet South. It also comes a month after The Daily Telegraph alleged that that Mr Carswell held secret talks about rejoining the Conservatives to fight the 2020 general election.
Nigel Farage has piled the pressure on Downing Street over a growing electoral fraud inquiry by giving police a dossier about the Tories’ battle to stop him becoming an MP. Police, who are investigating whether the Tories broke spending laws when they defeated Mr Farage in the 2015 Thanet South campaign, interviewed one of his most senior aides, election strategist Chris Bruni-Lowe, this month. Mr Bruni-Lowe’s evidence included the astonishing claim that the party’s only MP, Douglas Carswell, passed confidential Ukip data about local voters to the Conservatives to help them defeat Mr Farage. If the police probe leads to criminal charges, it would force a new vote in the constituency – giving Mr Farage the chance to finally win a Commons seat. He has pledged to stand again if the investigation results in a by-election.
The Queen is throwing open the doors of Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle to Commonwealth leaders as the UK looks to forge new trade relations ahead of Brexit. Prime ministers and presidents from more than 50 countries will gather for meetings in the royal residences during a summit next year. It will be the first time the buildings have been included in the list of venues for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (Chogm). The decision was made following discussions between Number 10 and the palace. The announcement came as Boris Johnson pointed out the Commonwealth will soon overtake the EU in terms of the size of its economy. He said it illustrated how important it is to get good trade deals with the Commonwealth, and how the UK can survive outside the EU. He told ITV’s Peston on Sunday: ‘It is a stunning fact that when the UK joined the Common Market back in 1973, the 28 countries then had about 38 per cent of global GDP. The Commonwealth then was about a quarter of that. ‘The EU and the Commonwealth in GDP, in output terms are now roughly level-pegging and the Commonwealth is growing far faster.
Nicola Sturgeon will threaten to derail Brexit by setting out plans for a second independence referendum unless Theresa May offers Scotland a special deal. The Scottish First Minister could name the date she intends to hold a new referendum as early as this week, The Telegraph understands, if Mrs May does not bow to her will. Ms Sturgeon has previously hinted that autumn 2018 would be a suitable time to call a referendum. The ultimatum is expected to be delivered on Monday morning with the intention of influencing a Commons vote on Monday on MPs being given a “meaningful” say on the final deal offered to Britain by the EU. She also wants to pile pressure on Mrs May just 24 hours before the Prime Minister hopes to be in a position to formally trigger Article 50.
Speculation was growing last night that Nicola Sturgeon would call a second Scottish independence referendum this week and name the date for a ballot. The Scottish first minister could use the Article 50 legislation that is expected to clear parliament today as a springboard for tabling a second plebiscite. While Britain as a whole backed Brexit, Scotland voted to remain. She has previously hinted that autumn 2018 would be a promising time to hold another vote on the future of the Union. Ms Sturgeon had been expected to make a statement on independence at the SNP conference later this week, but reports last night indicated that she was planning to get out in front of Theresa May, who could trigger Brexit as early as tomorrow.
Nicola Sturgeon is today tipped to unveil demands that threaten to frustrate Brexit. Scotland’s First Minister could add to Britain’s constitutional complexity by reprising her insistence for another referendum on Scottish independence. She is expected to insist the Westminster government strives for a deal for Scotland in its negotiations with the EU. Scottish journalists have been summoned to a press conference at her official residence in Edinburgh, Bute House. Miss Sturgeon will use the event to heap pressure on Theresa May ahead of the Prime Minister triggering Article 50. The threat of a new independence referendum could strengthen the resolve of rebel MPs to back anti-government amendments. UK ministers are increasingly resigned to granting Scotland a second referendum.
Scottish Liberal Democrats leader Willie Rennie has said he would vote to block holding another independence referendum. Mr Rennie said holding another poll would be “divisive, unhelpful” and not good for Scotland’s future. His comments contrast to Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who said on Saturday that another referendum would be “absolutely fine”. Nicola Sturgeon has repeatedly warned a fresh vote is “highly likely”. Speaking on the BBC’s Sunday Politics Scotland programme, Mr Rennie said: “We stood on a platform last May when we said we would oppose independence and oppose another independence referendum. “You and others have criticised me and our party before for not sticking to our word. We’re going to stick absolutely to our word on this.”
The pro-EU Scottish National Party are seeking to throw a spanner in the Brexit workers by lining up a second referendum on independence from the UK. Nicola Sturgeon and the Scot Nats are demanding a separate EU deal for Scotland and according to The Telegraph could even name the date of the referendum next week. Sturgeon will be speaking on Monday morning with the intention of bamboozling the government into a state of panic that seeks to force their hand. The government are unlikely to budge and nor should they. For Scotland to be given special treatment would be totally unfair and fuel growing resentment in England. A Clean Brexit must be delivered by a government focused on delivering. If establishment elements want to derail the process then perhaps rather than another referendum, we should be looking at another General Election.
Jeremy Corbyn said it would be “absolutely fine” for another vote to be held on Scottish independence. Corbyn said he did not think that Westminster should seek to block another referendum if Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon insists on holding one, the Press Association reported. His comments come amid persistent speculation that Sturgeon is about to demand a Section 30 order from Westminster, allowing a legally binding vote on Scotland’s place in the UK to be held. She has repeatedly warned a fresh ballot is “highly likely” after Scots voted to remain in the European Union and the UK as a whole voted to leave. Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale has made clear her opposition to another ballot on the issue being held, with Scots having voted to stay in the UK by 55% to 45% in September 2014. When asked if a second independence referendum appeared inevitable given the gulf between Sturgeon goal’s of keeping Scotland in the single market and Theresa May’s plans for a UK wide hard Brexit, Corbyn told Press Association Scotland: “If a referendum is held then it is absolutely fine, it should be held.
Theresa May has appointed an anti-subversion minister as she makes the integrity of the next election a national security priority. Ben Gummer, a Cabinet Office minister, is leading “broad efforts within government to protect the integrity of UK democratic life” after concerns that Russian cyberattacks, fake news and money could destabilise democracy. Experts at GCHQ have also offered to test the computer networks of political parties to see whether they can withstand “hostile cyberactivity”. The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), an offshoot of the intelligence agency, has asked parties to attend technical seminars to protect Britain’s democracy. They will also be offered advice from the Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure, a branch of MI5.
The foreign secretary has said there is “plenty of evidence” that Russia has the ability to disrupt British politics with cyber-attacks following reports that intelligence officials are to brief political parties on how to defend against hacking from Moscow. Boris Johnson, due to meet his Russian counterpart in the coming weeks, said there was no doubt Moscow had been up to “all sorts of dirty tricks” in relation to political interference. Johnson accused Moscow of bringing down French TV stations, hacking the US Democratic National Convention, and suggested it might have engineered an attempted assassination of Montenegro’s prime minister. The former London mayor’s comments follow a Sunday Times report that said GCHQ had written to Britain’s major political parties with advice on how to block hacking.
Attacks by Russian hackers could threaten British democracy, GCHQ has warned politicians. The spy agency’s computer security chief has written to political parties offering advice on preventing hacks, according to The Sunday Times. US intelligence officials have accused the Kremlin of using cyber-attacks to influence the November election. But Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said there was so far no evidence of successful attacks in the UK. In a letter to politicians, Ciaran Martin, chief executive of GCHQ’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), said: “You will be aware of the coverage of events in the United States, Germany and elsewhere reminding us of the potential for hostile action against the UK political system.
Ambulance trusts are paying staff more than £2 million in overtime a week as crippling vacancy rates and surging demand push the service towards breaking point. More than £700 million has been spent on overtime by ambulance trusts over the past six years, according to figures seen by The Times. The annual outlay has increased by nearly a fifth. A National Audit Office report published in January revealed that the number of calls and NHS 111 transfers to services rose from 7.9 million in 2009-10 to 10.7 million last year. It also found that only one ambulance service in ten was meeting crucial response targets, compared with nine in ten three years ago, while one in ten paramedic posts was vacant.
An investigation by Channel 4’s Dispatches found 25,000 – or 42% of – European NHS workers could be off within five years of us leaving the EU. The health service employs 140,000 people from overseas, including 60,000 from the EU. These include 13,307 workers from Ireland, 7,451 from Poland, 6,325 from Portugal, 7,199 from Spain, 5,299 from Italy, 2,992 from Romania 2,750 from Greece, 2,412 from Germany, 1,451 from Holland and 1,424 from France. Some 66% of foreign staff said they were worried about their career in the UK, the survey of NHS trusts found. The findings raise fears about the ability of the NHS to maintain staffing levels at a time when there are more than 20,000 nursing vacancies in England. Recruitment specialist Barry Pactor said: “The EU has been essential to top up the big gap in the number of nurses in the UK. “We’ve seen a huge reduction in the number of nurses from EU countries applying to work in the UK, as much as a drop of 90%. “I don’t think it’s all down to Brexit, over the past 18 months there’s been considerable number of changes, I think Brexit is another big piece on top.”
SHOCK claims have emerged saying that the Vatican shared secret time travel technology with the CIA in the 60s – and now British intelligence may have it too. Earlier this week, a WikiLeaks release claimed that the CIA are using our TVs and smartphones to listen in on everyday conversations. But what the Australian hacker did not reveal is any of the technology that the CIA can use to manipulate time. Underground researchers are concerned about the “hidden truth” that the world’s most powerful governments have access to time travel and that the public “deserve to know”. Now a time travel insider has told the Daily Star Online that such abilities – known as “quantum access” – are being revealed in light of recent data leaks but “the public is only waking up to it”. Author Alfred Lambremont Webre, author of a number of books on time travel, exclusively told Daily Star Online: “This leaked WikiLeaks information does not include the secret programs that permit humans to travel backwards and forwards in time.” “Quantum Access are deep secrets of the sort that WikiLeaks has not to date chosen to access and reveal.” But as a self-professed “whistleblower”, “researcher” and “a person who has been a target of time-travel”, Webre believes that now is the right time for him to speak out.