The European Union’s Jean-Claude Juncker, unelected President of the European Commission, gave a rambling State of the Union that less than 1,000 people across Europe chose to watch on YouTube. As Juncker got started, less than 500 people were watching. A whole host of propaganda was beamed in alongside Juncker as he spoke, including claims on jobs and investment. Centralisation was on the agenda of course, with a new proposal to merge the jobs of European Council President and European Commission Prez for a new super duper EU President. They just love ever-more centralised control in Brussels. Photos were beamed in of Europe in fairly bizarre scenes.
Jean-Claude Juncker has been accused of proposing “the blueprint for a United States of Europe” with vast centralised powers to be agreed at a special summit the day after Brexit. The European Commission president insisted that Britain would be quick to regret its decision to leave as he used his annual “state of the union” address to urge the EU to move on. Leaders of the Netherlands and Denmark warned that Mr Juncker was overreaching in response to Brexit with plans for a single and more powerful EU president and for Bulgaria and Romania to join the barrier-free Schengen travel zone. The leader of the Conservatives in the European parliament accused the Luxembourger, 62, who will step down in 2019, of making a power grab.
ARROGANT Euro chief Jean Claude Juncker told Britain we’ll regret Brexit – before detailing his extraordinary vision of a Brussels-controlled EU super-state. The famously thirsty Commission President – dogged by persistent rumours over his boozing – left critical MEPs open mouthed as he spelled out plans for an unprecedented power grab to “unite” Europe. He signalled Brussels should seize greater control over corporation tax and VAT across the bloc, create a European ‘FBI’ and an EU Army by 2025. The bureaucrat added that he wanted more member states should adopt the Euro and the passport-free ‘Schengen’ zone expanded to include Romania and Bulgaria. He spoke of his desire for the EU to expand beyond 27 countries post-Brexit by welcoming in western Balkan states such as Serbia.
The European Commission president has said Britons will “soon regret” Brexit during a state of the union address in Strasbourg. Jean-Claude Juncker added Europe would “always regret” the Brexit vote, but insisted “we will keep moving, because Brexit isn’t everything”. During the address, he spoke about securing new EU trade deals with New Zealand and Australia, ruled out Turkey becoming a member and said a new migrant deportation policy would be proposed by the end of September. Mr Juncker proposed a summit on 30 March 2019 – the day after Brexit takes place – in the Romanian city of Sibiu to map out the future of the EU with just 27 states.
JEAN-CLAUDE Juncker has delivered his much-anticipated State of the Union speech with a snub to Britain by insisting the European Union (EU) will move towards greater integration despite Brexit. The EU chief, who began speaking at 8am this morning, set out his 12-month masterplan to steer the troubled bloc through the escalating refugee crisis and reform the eurozone. The European Commission president refused to make Brexit the defining issue of his address at the European Parliament in Strasbourg as he instead focused on the EU’s future without Britain. Keen to push ahead with his masterplan, billed as the biggest reboot in the EU’s history, Mr Juncker ratcheted-up the federalisation of the 60-year-old bloc’s core economies. The Brussels boss has also called for EU integration in the face of rising populism after Britain voted to sever ties with the bloc ahead of crunch elections in Italy, Sweden, Hungary and the Czech Republic, where eurosceptic parties are gaining momentum.
Jean-Claude Juncker has declared that the “wind is back in Europe’s sails” in an at times deeply personal State of the Union speech in which he gave his vision for the future of the European Union after the UK makes its “tragic” departure in 2019. The European commission president said he would always deeply lament the UK’s decision to leave the EU. “This will be a very sad and tragic moment in our history, we will always regret this”, he said before responding to heckling from Nigel Farage, by retorting: “I think you will regret this soon, I might say.” Calling for a special summit in Romania on the 30 March 2019, the first day of an EU of 27 member states rather than 28, Juncker said he hoped the continent would “wake up” that day to a new more unified bloc.
Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the European Commission, has called for the European Union (EU) to rapidly push ahead with the creation of an EU army. In his ‘State of the Union’ address to the European Parliament Wednesday morning, the boss of the EU’s unelected executive branch confirmed that the EU will create a “European Defence Union” by 2025. “And I want us to dedicate further efforts to defence matters,” he said. “A new European Defence Fund is in the offing. As is a Permanent Structured Cooperation in the area of defence. “By 2025 we need a fully-fledged European Defence Union. We need it. And NATO wants it,” he claimed. Before last year’s referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU, many prominent anti-Brexit voices dismissed the idea of an EU army. The UK vetoed similar proposals in 2011, and David Cameron and the Ministry of Defence (MoD) continued to deny an EU army was possible for years.
BRITISH politicians this afternoon sounded the alarm about EU boss Jean-Claude Juncker’s bold plans for the future of the bloc, saying they amount to the creation of a European superstate. Tory MEPs said the powerful Commission chief was on the march “towards a United States of Europe” under which there will be “no tolerance for deviation from EU rule”. They warned the ambitious raft of proposals contained in Mr Juncker’s landmark State of the Union speech would, if implemented, bring about the death of national democracy in Europe. Member states have already baulked at some of the more radical plans, including the abolition of the role of EU Council president – the most senior eurocrat representing individual countries’ concerns.
It was the biggest and boldest speech that we have seen from a European leader since the days of Jacques Delors. As the EU Commission President swept aside the issue of Brexit and the pesky Brits to set out his plans for a centralised EU state, I could not help feeling relieved that we had left in the nick of time. Even the most fanatical of European federalists could not believe their ears as Juncker called for a more active foreign policy that removed the veto rights of every nation. This is to be backed-up by a full EU defence union by 2025. The European army so easy dismissed by Nick Clegg and others as a fantasy is now becoming a worrying reality. Juncker’s claim that all this was supported by NATO is simply a cover for the deep anti-Americanism that is never far from the surface in Brussels.
BREXIT negotiations are “not going the way we might hope”, the former Governor of the Bank of England declared on BBC Newsnight. Lord Mervyn King stressed that he did not think it reflected any potential impacts of Brexit but the economist is worried that Britain does not appear to have a “fall-back position”. He said: “I don’t think that the negotiations are going in the way we might hope.” The former Bank of England boss said that he had highlighted the importance of making sure that the other side know you have a fallback position when entering into negotiations. Lord King said: “If you are entering negotiations it is actually very important to make sure the other side of the table knows that you have a fallback position that you are capable of delivering. That requires you to make clear to the public what the position is.
Theresa May will fly to Florence next week to set out her vision of post-Brexit Britain in her most important speech about the EU since January. Downing Street announced that the Prime Minister would speak in Italy on Friday, September 22 and had chosen the venue to show that Britain was “leaving the EU but not leaving Europe”. Mrs May is expected to give fresh details about the future relationship she wants with the EU, but will not talk about how much money the UK is prepared to pay for the so-called “divorce bill”. It will be her most substantial intervention in the Brexit process since her speech at Lancaster House in London nine months ago, in which she set out the broad principles of the Government’s negotiating position.
Theresa May will try to break the deadlock in the Brexit talks next week with a major speech setting out her vision for a new deal with the EU. The Prime Minister will travel to Florence next Friday to deliver an ‘update on Brexit negotiations’ amid fears they are close to stalling. Mrs May will confirm that Britain is to leave the EU in March 2019. And she will state that the existing system of free movement will end on that day. But she is expected to strike a more conciliatory tone on the controversial issue of the divorce bill, which Brussels is demanding before any talks on a future trade deal can begin. Ministers have rejected demands from Brussels for a payment of £90 billion.
THERESA May will reveal her post-Brexit vision for Britain in Italy as the fourth round of divorce negotiations looms. The Prime Minister is thought to be seeking to take control of the UK’s EU exit amid warnings that previous talks have led to deadlock. The September 22 speech, in which she is expected to outline Britain’s future relationship with the European Union, will take place in Florence just three days before Sir David Davis and Michel Barnier continue talks in Brussels. Downing Street revealed the traditional trading city of Florence was chosen to host the event because of its symbolic significants as the “historical heart” of Europe. Number Ten confirmed Mrs May will seek to give an “update on Brexit negotiations so far” and “underline the Government’s wish for a deep and special partnership with the European Union once the UK leaves the EU”.
Theresa May is set to deliver a high-profile speech next week on the status of Brexit negotiations and her plans for the UK’s future outside of the EU. The address, to be held in Florence on 22 September, is likely to be seen as a bid to break the deadlock in divorce talks, which resume in Brussels three days later. The negotiations are faltering, with the EU saying after the latest round last month that there had been “no decisive progress” on key areas. And European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker has questioned Brexit Secretary David Davis’ commitment to the talks, new documents have revealed. On Wednesday, he said Britons will “soon regret” Brexit. EU officials say they cannot move on to discuss a future relationship until “sufficient progress” has been made on three priority issues: the rights of expatriates, the Irish border and a financial settlement, or “Brexit bill”.
Theresa May will travel to Florence next week to make a major speech on Brexit, in a bid to kickstart stalled talks with the EU. She is expected to give European dignitaries her view on the state of Brexit talks and “assist” her negotiating team in nudging discussion on to critical future trading relations. Government sources told The Independent the speech on September 22 should be seen as a “curtain raiser” to both the next round of Brexit talks and the October meeting of Europe’s national leaders, which will decide if “sufficient progress” has been made to begin trade talks. The Prime Minister’s intervention in the historic Italian merchant city comes after the last round of talks ended with the EU, claiming Britain was “backtracking” on commitments and as Ms May’s negotiators continue to push for talks to advance on from withdrawal issues – inducing the settling of the UK’s financial obligations.
A speech by Theresa May billed as an important moment in the Brexit negotiation process is to take place in Florence next week, Downing Street has announced. May will speak in the historic Italian city on Friday 22 September “to update on Brexit negotiations so far”, the prime minister’s spokesman said. “She will underline the government’s wish for a deep and special partnership with the European Union once the UK leaves the EU,” he said. News of the planned address emerged just over a week ago when Guy Verhofstadt, the European parliament’s Brexit coordinator, said the next round of UK-EU talks on the subject would most likely be delayed as May planned to make an “important intervention” on the issue.
Employment has soared to a record high while joblessness has hit a 42-year low, signalling a fresh humiliation for the architects of Project Fear. In a report that confounded warnings of a jobs bloodbath after the Brexit vote, the Office for National Statistics said the number in work has risen by 379,000 since the referendum. Meanwhile, the jobless total has fallen by 175,000 to 1.46million, slashing the unemployment rate from 4.9 per cent at the time of the vote to 4.3 per cent now. Although subdued wage growth alongside rising prices continues to pile pressure on family finances, analysts described Britain as ‘a great job-creating machine’. Brexit supporters hailed the report as a sign that the UK continues to prosper, making a mockery of warnings of economic meltdown issued by former chancellor George Osborne and Bank of England governor Mark Carney.
UK unemployment fell by 75,000 in the three months to July, bringing the jobless rate down to 4.3% from 4.4% in the previous quarter. The rate remains at its lowest since 1975, but a squeeze on real incomes continues, according to the Office for National Statistics figures. Wages in the period were 2.1% up on a year earlier, little changed from the previous months’ growth rates. With inflation hitting 2.9% in August, wages are failing to keep up. In real terms, wages have fallen by 0.4% over the last year. Matt Hughes, a senior ONS statistician, said: “Another record high employment rate and a record low inactivity rate suggest the labour market continues to be strong.
The Conservatives have suffered a defeat in the Commons on a Labour motion calling for higher wages for NHS staff and an end to the public sector pay cap. It comes after the Democratic Unionist Party – responsible for propping up Theresa May’s Government – earlier signalled the party would support Jeremy Corbyn’s motion. While the motion is non-binding and would not require a change in Government policy it is evidence of the fragility of the Prime Minister’s deal with the Northern Irish party made in the wake of the inconclusive general election result. It marks the first time DUP MPs have voted in a way to pressure ministers since the party agreed its confidence and supply arrangement with Ms May. Making a point of order, Jonathan Ashworth, the Shadow Health Secretary, said the Government did not divide on the vote because they would have lost the motion brought forward by Labour.
Theresa May has suffered a major embarrassment in the House of Commons after the Democratic Unionist party backed Labour motions in favour of increasing NHS pay and against a rise in tuition fees. Labour’s motions passed on Wednesday without being pushed to a vote after it became clear the government had no majority to oppose the call for an end to the public sector pay cap for NHS workers nor the £250 a year increase in student fees. It is the first example of the DUP breaking with May since they struck a confidence and supply agreement to vote together on crucial legislation after the general election. The motions fell outside the Tory-DUP deal as they were not binding, but their passage was nevertheless a symbolic victory for Labour and a sign that there is no longer a majority in the House of Commons for many of the austerity policies introduced by the Conservatives.
Theresa May suffered an embarrassing defeat today, after the DUP backed a Labour move to scrap an increase in tuition fees. Labour forced the government’s increase of the cap on tuition fees by £250 a year to a vote. MPs unanimously voted to scrap the increase, as ministers refused to oppose it. Labour say the vote should be binding and kill off the increase – but the government and Commons authorities insisted it was only symbolic. But it was an embarrassing defeat for the Prime Minister on student fees, which the DUP campaigned against ahead of the election. Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner said the House had voted “unanimously to revoke” the change, and called on Education Secretary Justine Greening to “immediately give effect to the will of this House and reverse the rise in tuition fees.”
THE DUP defied their Tory allies yesterday after they backed a Labour motion in favour of increasing NHS pay. Labour’s proposal won before it even went to a vote as it became clear that the Tories would lose in their bid to oppose calls to end the unfair public-sector pay cap. The embarrassing defeat for PM Theresa May was the first time that the DUP broke with its new allies after the two parties struck an £1 billion confidence and supply agreement to vote together on key pieces of legislation after the general election. The Commons unanimously approved the nonbinding Opposition Day motion on NHS pay.
The Government has avoided embarrassing Commons defeats by allowing two opposition motions to pass – after the DUP said it would side with Labour. The first motion called for the pay cap for NHS staff to be lifted immediately; the second was on blocking a rise in tuition fees. Both non-binding motions went through on the nod, with the Government abstaining. The Conservatives had faced the prospect of losing both votes as the Democratic Unionist Party, which props up Theresa May’s minority government, had announced it would vote with Labour. It would have meant the first defeat for the Government since it took over after the General Election – a symbolic defeat that would have nonetheless highlighted Mrs May’s vulnerability.
Theresa May has been urged to change the law on aid spending after it emerged that Britain cannot use its £13 billion aid budget to help its overseas territories devastated by Hurricane Irma. MPs said it was “ludicrous” that rules set by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and enshrined in UK law prevent aid money going to Anguilla, the British Virgin Islands and the Turks and Caicos Islands. Under OECD rules the island nations are classed as too wealthy to qualify for overseas aid, even though their economies have been shattered along with their buildings and infrastructure. The Conservative MP James Duddridge, who until last year was a Foreign Office minister with responsibility for the Caribbean and British Overseas Territories, said: “It is absolutely essential we change these rules.
A “ludicrous” law means Britain’s £13bn foreign aid budget can’t be spent helping overseas territories devastated by Hurricane Irma. Countries such as Anguilla, the British Virgin Islands and the Turks and Caicos Islands were all obliterated by the freak weather and are now relying on British support. But despite giving £4m to North Korea and millions in aid to India, a country with nuclear weapons and a space programme, these tiny islands are deemed “too wealthy” to be granted any help. Boris Johnson gave a remarkably vague response to the disaster: “There are things we are going to have to do in the long term to make this island more economically self-sufficient and even more resilient, and we will certainly be thinking about that.”
UK territories devastated by Hurricane Irma cannot tap into the £13billion foreign aid budget because they are ‘too wealthy’. International rules mean Anguilla, the British Virgin Islands and the Turks and Caicos islands cannot get handouts despite being flattened by the storm. Set by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, the rules are blamed for hampering the relief effort in the islands. India and China, which have booming economies, would be ‘poor’ enough to receive help, however. North Korea is also on the OECD’s approved list. The Government has committed £57million for disaster relief for islands hit by Hurricane Irma – but this must be found from separate funds and Whitehall departments.
Lucky to be alive, 153 migrants land in Romania yesterday after being rescued from an overcrowded boat that threatened to capsize in the Black Sea – the perilous new route into Europe. The pre-dawn drama, in which 53 children were saved, fuelled fears that the crossing from Turkey to eastern Europe was becoming increasingly popular with unscrupulous North African traffickers. At least 627 migrants have been caught in rickety vessels heading to Romania this year – almost ten times the number intercepted over the past two years. Experts believe the total is soaring as other nations crack down on the routes migrants traditionally take across the Mediterranean to Italy and Greece.
Over 150 migrants, including 56 children, were rescued from a ship on the Black Sea by the Romanian coast guard as those seeking to get to Europe increasingly seek to use the new route. It represents confirmation that Romania is now viewed as a new destination for people trying to enter Europe illegally. Hundreds of people from Syria and Iraq have also been caught recently on boats trying to get to Romania via Turkey but have been rumbled by the Romanian coast guard. It once again underlines the huge dangers of weak border security in Europe. Though the Romanian authorities have discovered and stopped some boats, how many more are now passing through unchecked?
RUSSIAN military drills involving thousands of soldiers and nuclear weapons are feared to be a “trojan horse” to invade Europe. Thousands of Russian troops, tanks and military kit has been moved into Belarus in eastern Europe for massive war drills designed to terrify the west. NATO believes the week-long exercises, codenamed Zapad, will involve more than 100,000 troops and nuclear-capable ballistic missiles. Western military officials fear that Russia may use the drills, which kick off tomorrow, as a “Trojan horse” to invade Poland and other Baltic states. Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland have all raised concerns of a possible invasion, with NATO sending 4,000 troops to defend their territories.