The EU has piled further pressure on Britain to settle its “divorce bill” and the fate of EU citizens after Brexit – demanding answers within five days. Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, also ridiculed Boris Johnson’s claim that the EU could “go whistle” over the multi-billion pound exit settlement. “I’m not hearing any whistling, just the clock ticking,” Mr Barnier told a Brussels conference – underlining where the power lies, in his view. The second round of the withdrawal negotiations will get underway next Monday, bringing Mr Barnier face-to-face with Brexit Secretary David Davis again. But the chief negotiator said he wanted clarification “before the beginning of the second round” – making clear he was willing to work through the weekend to make progress.
BREXIT negotiator Guy Verhofstadt today insisted Britain must accept it needs to pay a divorce bill to leave the club after foreign secretary Boris Johnson said the bloc could “go whistle”. The former Belgian prime minister said it was unhelpful that British ministers had not yet indicated they have accepted there will have to be a financial settlement as part of the negotiations, adding that doing so would speed up the process. He urged that “this uncertainty must disappear the fastest possible” and suggested the EU Parliament may look to make a nuisance of itself over the key issue of whether ‘sufficient progress’ has been made in the first part of the talks.
Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, gave a bravura performance at his press conference ahead of next week’s Brexit negotiations in Brussels. Goaded by Boris Johnson’s remark to Parliament that the EU’s financial demands were “extortionate” and the EU could “go whistle” for its €100bn, the Frenchman reacted with a combination of irritation and menace. “I am not hearing any whistling,” he said after a dramatic pause filled only by the the hum of air-conditioning, “just the clock ticking.” The ticking clock refers to the 2-year Article 50 process, but more specifically to the first phase of those negotiation which are due to conclude in October – the point at which the EU decides if ‘sufficient progress’ has been made to move on to the future relationship.
The EU’s top Brexit negotiator has said there are still major differences between the EU and UK on the rights of EU citizens living in Britain. “The British position does not allow those persons concerned to continue to live their lives as they do today,” Michel Barnier said. Mr Barnier said the European Court of Justice (ECJ) must have jurisdiction to guarantee citizens’ rights. He also said it was essential that the UK recognise its financial obligations. If Britain did not accept it had some financial obligations, there would be no basis to discuss other issues, he said.
Michel Barnier, the European Union’s chief Brexit negotiator, issued a sullen response to Boris Johnson after he agreed that Brussels can “whistle” for the 100 billion euros it is said to be demanding. The Foreign Secretary made the offending remarks in Parliament responding to a characteristically combative question from Tory backbencher and long-time Brexit campaigner Philip Hollobone: “Since we joined the Common Market on 1 January 1973 until the date we leave, we will have given the EU and its predecessors, in today’s money in real terms, a total of £209 billion,” he pointed out. “Will the Foreign Secretary make it clear to the EU that if it wants a penny piece more, it can go whistle?”
The shock of Brexit and Donald Trump’s rise is forcing Europe to tackle the deep problems that drove Britons to vote Leave, the EU’s most senior officials have admitted. Just as polls begin to signal the UK may want to stay in the union, the European Commission’s chief strategists said the bloc now realises it must fundamentally change to remain relevant to people’s lives. Writing exclusively for The Independent, Jean-Claude Juncker’s top officials argue the EU is becoming more open, democratic and is certain the future “must not be fudged or decided behind closed doors”. They directed their message to the British people as Mr Juncker prepares to announce new details of how Europe will transform over the next decade and after a string of member state leaders signalled the door is still open if the UK wishes to be a part of the new future.
Jeremy Corbyn will tell the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator that he is ready to take up responsibility for negotiating Britain’s withdrawal from the EU if there is a change in government. In a meeting with Michel Barnier in Brussels, he will promise that Labour would avoid the “megaphone diplomacy” employed by the Conservatives. The meeting comes just a day after Mr Barnier slapped down Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson for saying the EU could “go whistle” for a divorce payment from the UK, telling him: “I’m not hearing any whistling, just the clock ticking.” Mr Barnier will also meet Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones for private talks ahead of the second round of formal negotiations in Brussels next week. But he stressed that he will negotiate only with the UK Government.
Jeremy Corbyn will meet the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier in Brussels and vow that Labour is a “government in waiting” ready to negotiate Brexit. It is the first meeting between the leader of the opposition and the key EU figure in Brexit talks, and comes just a day after Mr Barnier hit back at Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson for his suggestion that the EU should “go whistle” over a multi-billion financial settlement. Mr Corbyn criticised the Tory approach to the negotiations, saying: “In contrast to the Conservatives’ megaphone diplomacy, we will conduct relations with our European neighbours respectfully and in the spirit of friendship. “Our strong links with our European sister parties gives Labour an advantage in reaching an outcome that works for both sides”.
JEREMY Corbyn would roll over and “surrender” to the EU if he was in charge of Brexit negotiations, a leading Conservative MP has claimed. James Cleverly launched a scathing attack on the Labour leader after it was announced that the Islington North MP, along with Remoaners Nicola Sturgeon and Welsh Labour leader Carwyn Jones, would have seperate meetings with the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier in Brussels next week. Mr Cleverly said: “Jeremy Corbyn wouldn’t negotiate in Brexit talks, he would surrender. He has made clear Labour would accept any deal on offer – even if it was designed to punish Britain. “Labour have had at least nine different plans for Brexit since last year’s referendum and are still hopelessly divided on the fundamental questions such as controlling our borders and our laws.
British taxpayers could be made to fork out up to £2million so the EU can set up a glamorous new base in Paris before Brexit, it has emerged. Despite criticism of its spending, the European Parliament plans to plough millions into developing an existing building into a sprawling headquarters in an upmarket area of the French capital. Documents reveal EU bosses want to spend around £5.2million every year to create a status symbol dubbed the ‘House of Europe’. Officials said the huge rental cost and £10.4million on renovation were worthwhile because the location is highly prestigious.
Theresa May is facing the threat of a humiliating parliamentary defeat over Brexit after Labour warned that it would vote against her flagship “great repeal bill” unless she makes significant concessions. With only a few Conservative rebels needed to inflict defeat on the prime minister, the shadow Brexit secretary, Keir Starmer, told the Guardian he was “putting the government on notice” and demanded changes on matters from parliamentary scrutiny to workers’ rights. Starmer’s move to exploit the prime minister’s weakness – and formally reject her entreaties for Jeremy Corbyn’s party to work alongside her – came as the government faced further setbacks over its approach to Brexit.
MPs must “work together” on Brexit, the minister in charge of the UK’s EU exit has said, as he publishes a bill to convert EU law into British law. The legislation, known as the Repeal Bill, will ensure the same rules apply in the UK after Brexit, while giving UK parliaments the power to change them. Brexit Secretary David Davis said he will “work with anyone” to make it a success, but he faces opposition. Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron told the government: “This will be hell.” Labour vowed to vote against the legislation unless there were significant changes to the details previously set out. The Conservatives are relying on Democratic Unionist Party support to win key votes after losing their Commons majority in the general election.
THERESA May has declared “the world is waiting” for Brexit – as she revealed EU leaders are now warming to a good trade deal with Britain. The PM spoke to The Sun ahead of the unveiling today of the Great Repeal Bill – the first Brexit law to start its historic passage through Parliament. She dubbed the huge bill’s introduction today as “the biggest Brexit day yet”, as it will be “the point at which people see that we mean business”. Mrs May also disclosed that positive responses in private from the bosses of many of the 27 other member states stand in stark contrast to “strident comments” from the EU Commission and MEPs in Brussels. And she named France, Belgium and the Netherlands as particularly encouraging, as the countries physically closest to the UK with the most to lose.
BRITAIN will be able to leave the European Union with “maximum certainty, continuity and control” under key legislation being published today, Brexit Secretary David Davis has promised. He dubbed the EU Withdrawal Bill – known more usually as the Repeal Bill – “one of the most significant” ever to come to Parliament. The legislation aims to ensure the greatest possible continuity for individuals and companies when Britain actually leaves the EU, by the end of March 2019. It will repeal the Act of Parliament which first took Britain into the European Economic Community in 1973 and will end the supremacy of EU law over British courts. Where appropriate, it will convert EU law into Britain’s, to let businesses and individuals continue operating as before on the day Britain leaves, with no sudden change, although Parliament could then move to amend regulations MPs no longer back.
THERESA May was last night warned to expect “hell” as opposition parties gang up to delay the Repeal Bill severing ties with Brussels. Lib Dem leader Tim Farron vowed to “work across party lines” to block and frustrate legislation introduced before Parliament today. Referring the row over Article 50 – the act needed to kick-start Brexit in March – Mr Farron said the government hadn’t seen anything yet. And he told the PM the Lib Dems were keen to be as rebellious as Tory MPs were in 1992 over the Maastricht Treaty. He stormed: “We have been learning the lessons of Maastricht and I am putting the government on warning. “If you found the Article 50 bill difficult, you should be under no illusion this will be hell.”
Remainers within Theresa May’s government may have persuaded her to accept continued submission to the European Court of Justice as the price of a deal with the EU, as negotiators demand Britain stay within the courts for years after the official Brexit date. The Prime Minister’s position in 2016 was that “We are not leaving [the European Union] only to return to the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice. That’s not going to happen.” But the Government is now considering a so-called transition deal which would see the Luxembourg-based court continue to hold sway over Britain for a “limited time”, according to reports. “The transition rules could involve the ECJ for a limited time. That’s a matter for negotiation,” said a spokesman for the Prime Minister on Monday.
Health chiefs stand accused of putting lives at risk by sending cars to 999 emergencies instead of ambulances. The rapid response vehicles help bosses hit arrival time targets. But the cars can carry to hospital only patients well enough to sit in the back seat. Despite this, East of England Ambulance Service used the cars for 42 per cent of its most serious call-outs in April. A year earlier the figure was just 31 per cent. The situation is ‘perverse in the extreme’, according to Norman Lamb, Lib Dem MP for North Norfolk, which is covered by East of England. ‘It looks very much like the trust’s focus has been on hitting targets rather than maximising patient safety,’ he said.
Gibraltar has responded with fury after the King of Spain failed to acknowledge the territory’s right to determine its own future in an address to Parliament. The monarch said he wanted a “dialogue” between Madrid and London on the status of The Rock in a snub to Gibraltar’s own democratically elected Government. The omission prompted Fabian Picardo, Gibraltar’s Chief Minister, to warn that the issue of sovereignty is “not up for discussion or negotiation” as he accused the King of “seeking to ignore” the wishes of the people who live on The Rock. Tory MPs reacted angrily to the King’s address saying that the future of the territory is “none of his business”. However, they did not carry out a threat to walk out as he was speaking.
DAMIAN GREEN has assured the House of Commons Gibraltar will remain British in a swipe directed at the King of Spain, who arrived in the UK for a three-day state visit. The First Secretary of State insisted the wishes of the people of Gibraltar would be “respected” after King Felipe VI called for a negotiated handover of the Rock last year. It comes after Tory Brexiteer Andrew Rosindell asked if the cabinet minister, standing in for Theresa May at Wednesday’s Prime Minister’s Questions, would ask his party leader to remind the monarch of the UK’s stance. The Romford MP asked: “I know that the First Secretary will be delighted to see that Parliament Square now displays every flag of every British overseas territory to welcome the King of Spain this week – including the flag of Gibraltar.
The King of Spain has said he is confident his country and the UK can find a solution on Gibraltar “acceptable to all involved”. King Felipe raised the controversial topic as he addressed MPs and peers at the Royal Gallery in the Houses of Parliament, outside which the flag of Gibraltar was on display. Conservative MPs had threatened to walk out of the speech if the monarch laid claim to the territory during his speech, but his considered remarks did not see this happen. King Felipe said in the traditional address to both Houses of Parliament that Britain and Spain have a long-shared history and have often “stood shoulder to shoulder” as friends, partners and allies in the best interests of both countries.
The King of Spain raised the prospect of a negotiated settlement over Gibraltar yesterday, but his diplomacy triggered an angry riposte from the disputed territory. Felipe was speaking to MPs and peers at the beginning of a three-day state visit to the UK with his wife, Queen Letizia — the first by a Spanish monarch for 31 years. In the traditional address to both Houses of Parliament, he said Britain and Spain have a long shared history and have “frequently stood shoulder to shoulder” as friends, partners and allies. “It is just as true, however, that during our rich and fruitful history there have also been estrangements, rivalries and disputes,” he said.
Gibraltar’s chief minister today warned that territories cannot be traded ‘like pawns in a chess game’ after the Spanish King hinted at ‘new arrangements’ for the Rock. King Felipe suggested the future of the UK’s overseas territory could be up for debate in an audacious speech to Parliament. But Fabian Picardo hit back saying the will of Gibraltarians must be respected and the territory remain ‘100 per cent British’. Spain has long tried to stake a claim to the territory which lies on Spain’s southern tip, but the territory has voted resoundingly to stay British. Mr Picardo said Gibraltar wants friendly relations with its neighbours, but have ‘no desire to form part of Spain or to come under Spanish sovereignty in any shape or form’.
Britain’s new aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth will go “straight to the bottom of the ocean” in any future hostilities unless more maritime patrol planes are bought to protect her, retired RAF leaders warn. In a letter published in Thursday’s Telegraph, former senior officers say that the current plan to buy nine aircraft is not enough and at least three more are needed. The letter from four former RAF officers with significant maritime aviation experience comes as the new warship costing more than £3bn has recently begun trials in the North Sea. Britain axed its troubled Nimrod patrol plane programme as part of the 2010 cost-cutting defence review. The Ministry of Defence announced in 2015 that it will order nine Boeing P-8 submarine hunting planes, with the first coming into action to defend the carriers and Trident from 2019.
A huge spot has appeared on the sun that could send dangerous solar flares down to Earth. The sunspot, dubbed AR2665, is 74,560 miles (120,000 kilometres) wide – big enough to be seen from Earth. Experts have warned that the spot is large enough to produce ‘M-class’ solar flares, which can cause radio blackouts on Earth, knock out communications satellites and create radiation storms. Nasa‘s Solar Dynamics Observatory first detected the huge spot last week, and it appears to have lingered through to this week. Sunspots are darker, cooler areas on the surface of the sun, caused by interactions with the sun’s magnetic field. They tend to appear in regions of intense magnetic activity, and when that energy is released, solar flares and huge storms erupt from sunspots.
NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory has detected a massive sunspot called AR2665 that’s 74,560 miles wide – about 19 times bigger than Earth. Sunspots are dark regions which are cooler than the surrounding areas and are known to produce solar flares. And the spot could be about to release a deadly ray of radiation towards Earth.“Flares are our solar system’s largest explosive events,” NASA said. “They are seen as bright areas on the sun and last from mere minutes to several hours. “A solar flare is an intense burst of radiation coming from the release of magnetic energy associated with sunspots.” Another recent scientific revelation suggested the Sun is potentially entering its final phase of life and could be set for a catastrophic explosion any minute.