BRUSSELS was plunged into Brexit turmoil today as the EU parliament vowed to override Jean-Claude Juncker’s hand-picked negotiator and seek its own talks with Britain. Scorned MEPs said Frenchman Michel Barnier has “no mandate” to make a bargain with the UK on their behalf and instead prepared to unveil their own list of Brexit demands. In a furious warning shot influential German politician Manfred Weber warned Europe’s leaders they would be “well advised to listen to” the EU parliament, which has the power to sink any exit deal. The conservative MEP also described the task of uncoupling Britain from the rest of Europe as “mission impossible” and said it will “create a lot of damage, especially for the Brits”. His outburst marks the escalation of a growing turf war within Brussels over who will take control of the Brexit talks, with parliamentarians feeling sidelined in the process. The European Council, made up of the 27 leaders, and Mr Juncker’s Commission have stitched together a pact designed to give themselves primary influence in the negotiations. The Brussels boss personally appointed Mr Barnier, a former French agriculture minister, to lead the delicate negotiations over Britain’s future relations with the EU.
Britain is preparing to demand a substantial share of European Union assets worth more than €150 billion in the attempt to cut the cost of the Brexit divorce bill. Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator, is understood to be preparing a list of up to €60 billion of liabilities, including spending commitments signed off by Britain before the referendum that will be owed by the UK when it officially leaves in 2019. However, officials in Whitehall are understood to be drawing up their own list of EU financial assets and the government thinks that it is entitled to a significant share. Bruegel, an independent think tank in Brussels, made the first attempt to estimate the scale of these assets yesterday, placing them at €152.5 billion.
The scale of Britain’s task in negotiating a successful Brexit has been underlined by a cross-party report from the French senate vowing that the UK must not be allowed to leave the EU in a better-off position than it is now, and if necessary a withdrawal without an agreement has to be considered. The report also rules out sectoral agreements giving some UK industries privileged access to the EU single market. The document – the product of an eight-month inquiry chaired by the former French prime minster Jean-Pierre Raffarin – also vows that the talks on the UK’s future relationship with the EU cannot start until the terms of the divorce have been completed. It also suggests that the UK will lose many of its jobs in the City since the euro area cannot allow the City to oversee euro-trading once the UK has left the EU. As many as 200,000 jobs are at stake the report says, pointing out that half of those working in the City of London are EU citizens.
The European Union is planning on giving Britain a bad deal post-Brexit, a German MEP has revealed. David McAllister, dubbed “Merkel’s man in Brussels”, warned the UK would be “worse off” once it had left the crumbling club ahead of impending negotiation talks. The Christian Democratic Union member said Theresa May must be willing to “accept our rules” if she wanted the best possible deal with the EU. Speaking to BBC Essex on Wednesday, he said: “Whatever the future relationship with the UK and EU might be, it will be under the terms and conditions that must fall short of full membership. “You can’t be better off outside the EU than inside the EU – now we’ve just got to wait and see what the British Government is asking for.” The politician said the basis of any deal would come at a cost to keeping the EU’s rules. “I believe in the end, a new relationship with the UK and the EU will be a free-trade agreement but we can’t talk about the content at the moment because it will depend if the UK is ready to follow our rules and share our values,” he said.
EUROPEAN politics descended into jaw-dropping farce today as France began legal proceedings against the EU for formally adopting its new budget in Brussels instead of Strasbourg. In a move the most mischievous of script writers could not have penned Paris complained to the EU’s own court over what it sees as an unacceptable snub by eurocrats. France is jealously defensive of the EU parliament’s second base in Strasbourg, insisting that MEPs go through the laborious process of relocating their entire operations there once a month. European politicians have repeatedly voted to abolish the ridiculous travelling circus and centralise operations in Brussels, but the French have a veto on the issue creating an impasse. One prominent French MEP described his own government’s move as “pathetic and absurd” and said it neatly encapsulated why the EU is suffering a popularity crisis with citizens.
The European Union is reportedly concerned that “English Champagne” and “British Parma ham” could flood into the continent after Brexit. The protected status of foodstuffs would end for Britain once the country leaves the EU, according to an official report, meaning that British companies could rename products. Paradoxically, the protected status of British foodstuffs, such as Cornish pasties and Cheddar cheese, would be preserved by EU countries. There are 1,150 products given “geographical indication” (GI) status across the EU’s 28 countries, 59 of which are British. The European parliament’s agriculture committee expressed concerns that the food naming laws would be thrown into turmoil in a document seen by the Guardian.
The European Union is concerned that British companies could violate protections given to the names of thousands of European products – such as parma ham and champagne – while the protected status of foodstuffs such as West Country Farmhouse Cheddar Cheese is retained after Brexit. The European commission has given “geographical indication” (GI) status to 1,150 products, meaning companies can only use the name of a locality in their marketing if the product is from that area. When the UK leaves the EU, it will no longer need to abide by the directives and could, for example, rename some English sparking wine as English champagne, or ham as English parma ham.
The European Commission has threatened Britain with court action and hundreds of millions of pounds in fines for persistently breaching EU limits on air pollution. In a move described as shameful for the UK, the commission sent a “final warning” yesterday, accusing the country of failing to address breaches in 16 areas, including London, Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds and Glasgow. Britain is one of five EU countries served with the warning over illegal levels of nitrogen dioxide, which causes heart and lung diseases. Diesel cars — representing a third of those on British roads — are a big source of NO2. Air pollution from sources including road traffic, industry, farming and construction sites is linked to the early deaths of about 40,000 people a year in Britain.
Britain has been sent a final warning to comply with EU air pollution limits for nitrogen dioxide (NO2) or face a case at the European court of justice. If the UK does not show Brussels how it intends to comply with EU law within two months, a court hearing with the power to impose heavy fines could begin later this year, as the Guardian revealed last week. Seb Dance MEP, the Labour party’s environmental lead in the European parliament, told the Guardian: “Thousands of lives are lost each year yet the British government simply sits on its hands and does nothing. If the threat of hefty fines and legal action is not enough, then what on earth will compel the government to act when we leave the EU?” The Liberal MEP and environment committee member Catherine Bearder, said: “Lesser mortals have to face the long arm of the law, why shouldn’t the government? We know that London has been busting the regulations for years and that means there are people dead who shouldn’t be. Real lives are being damaged here, because the government won’t implement the law that its ministers willingly signed up to.”
BRITAIN has been given a “final warning” by the European Commission after persistently breaching air pollution limits. The UK has been accused of failing to address breaches in 16 areas, including London, Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds and Glasgow. The move came as Chancellor Philip Hammond was urged to launch a £4 billion scrappage scheme that pays Brit drivers £2,000-a-time to trade in their ‘dirty’ diesels. Fuel campaigners and MPs are demanding Philip Hammond back a five-point plan to improve air quality – and compensate hard-working motorists now being penalised for the car they drive. The proposals are circulating Whitehall and backed by senior figures in the Department for Transport. Under the plans, as many as 1.9 million motorists would be able to trade-in ageing diesel cars on the road for 10 years or more for at least £2,000. Some £1 billion of funding would come from the Treasury – out of the £30 billion pocketed from fuel duty and VAT each year.
The European Commission has sent a “final warning” to the UK over breaches of air pollution limits. It said limits had been repeatedly exceeded in 16 areas including London, Birmingham, Leeds, and Glasgow. Germany, France, Spain and Italy were also served with warnings over nitrogen dioxide levels. The commission said if countries did not take action within two months it could take the matter to the European Court of Justice. Nitrogen dioxide comes from sources including factories and vehicles, particularly diesel engines.
The hopes of British fishermen that the UK can win its “waters back” after Brexit are expected to be dashed by the European parliament, despite the campaign promises of Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage, a leaked EU document reveals. MEPs have drafted seven provisions to be included in Britain’s “exit agreement”, including the stipulation that there will be “no increase to the UK’s share of fishing opportunities for jointly fished stocks [maintaining the existing quota distribution in UK and EU waters]”. The document, obtained by the Guardian, adds that in order for the UK and EU to keep to commitments on sustainable fishing – contained within the United Nations stocks agreement – “it is difficult to see any alternative to the continued application of the common fisheries policy”.
BRITAIN’s post-Brexit freedom to boost trade with developing nations should allow the Government to scrap its controversial foreign aid target, Ukip have claimed. In a new research paper published today, Ukip’s parliamentary resource unit have pored over the Government’s multi-billion yearly spend on overseas development aid (ODA). In 2015, £12.1billion of UK taxpayers’ cash was splurged on foreign aid as part of the Government’s legal commitment to spending 0.7 per cent of Gross National Income (GNI) in other countries. But Ukip claim large parts of the spending was handed to untracked organisations, dished out in middle-income countries such as Pakistan, and much of the money put at risk of misspending and corruption.
BRITAIN’s mammoth overseas aid budget should be slashed to just £2.5 billion – Ukip claimed tonight. In a policy paper, the party said too much of the current £12 billion budget wasn’t being spent on development – but was being used to “fund political advocacy”. Ukip added that scrapping the law forcing the UK to pay 0.7 per cent of economic output in aid would free up billions for public services here. Ukip Foreign Aid spokeswoman Lisa Duffy said spending £2.5 billion would still enable the UK to play its part in emergency relief and contribute to fighting disease. She said: “For too long our government has prioritised ineffective aid spending over its basic obligations to British citizens. “This has to change.”
Armies of criminal gangs are helping thousands of migrants make their way through Europe under the radar by supplying fake documents, a damning report has revealed. In a brutal assessment, the EU’s border agency warned that officials are struggling to control vast networks of people traffickers who are fuelling the migration crisis. Despite the arrest of more than 1,200 smugglers in the last year, officials said the underground industry is booming. Concerns about the passport-free Schengen area were laid bare as figures revealed 11,000 migrants were found with forged documents last year having already gained access to Europe. As well as helping migrants to reach the EU, the report said that a burgeoning black market had developed to help illegal immigrants achieve citizenship once they had gained entry.
EUROPE is finally set take tough action to shore up its disastrously weak borders after MEPs said they had learned the “tough lessons” of Angela Merkel’s migrant madness. Eurosceptics said they were vindicated following years of being called xenophobes and racists as euro politicians were poised to approve a major security crackdown. Tomorrow MEPs will vote on a package of no-nonsense proposals which will bring in automatic checks on all people travelling in and out of the bloc by land, sea and air. The measure will target both EU and non-EU citizens and is designed to help the bloc combat the twin threats of Islamist terror and uncontrolled immigration. During a debate on the proposals at the EU parliament in Strasbourg today eurosceptics said it was madness that European authorities do not already know who is coming in and out of the continent.
Frontex, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, has admitted that search-and-rescue (SAR) missions in the Mediterranean Sea are strengthening criminal migrant smugglers’ business model and increasing total drowning deaths. The Frontex Risk Analysis for 2017 admits that:
…Both border surveillance and SAR missions close to, or within, the 12-mile territorial waters of Libya have unintended consequences. Namely, they influence smugglers’ planning and act as a pull … Dangerous crossings on unseaworthy and overloaded vessels were organised with the main purpose of being detected by EUNAVFOR Med/Frontex and NGO vessels. Apparently, all parties involved in SAR operations in the Central Mediterranean unintentionally help criminals achieve their objectives at minimum cost, strengthen their business model by increasing the chances of success. Migrants and refugees – encouraged by the stories of those who had successfully made it in the past – attempt the dangerous crossing since they are aware of and rely on humanitarian assistance to reach the EU. The end result is that crossings to Italy reached an all-time high of 182,000 in 2016, with an attendant rise in drowning deaths: 5,083, as compared with 3,777 in 2015 and 3,279 in 2014.
Marine le Pen
If Marine Le Pen wins France’s presidential elections in May, all talk of punishing Britain for the outrage of Brexit will become irrelevant. French diplomacy will pirouette overnight under a National Front (FN) leader. The Élysée Palace will seek an Entente Cordiale with the British, offering a bilateral alliance on new foundations. It will then be the European Union that faces an existential choice: whether to reinvent itself as a loose federation of nation states, or succumb to galloping disintegration “What is the point in punishing a country? It is senseless, unless you think the EU is a prison, and you are condemned if you escape. I want to rebuild our damaged relations with the United Kingdom,” she told the Daily Telegraph. “A people decides its own destiny. You cannot force a country to do something that is against its own interests, or against the democratic process,” she said.
Muslim voters in Stoke are being warned they will go to hell unless they vote Labour at the upcoming by-election. The text message was sent to members of the seven percent Muslim community in Stoke Central and demanded that they vote for Labour’s Gareth Snell, in a bid to stop Ukip from winning. The controversial text, which has been circulated via WhatsApp by Labour activist Navid Hussain, even states that voting for the Liberal Democrats’ Muslim candidate, Dr Zulfiqar Ali, will result in the ‘anti-Islamic Ukip’. It rants: ‘Will you be able to answer for this in the Grave and on the Final Day??? “I helped the Enemies of Islam because…”‘ The message was received by local Ukip activist Tariq Mahmood, who described the attack on his party and candidate Paul Nuttall as ‘outrageous’ to The Sun. The Lib Dems have reported the texts to the police and elections watchdog.
In an act of shocking desperation, it has been revealed by The Sun that a Labour activist in Stoke has sent out messages claiming that UKIP hates Muslims, is a racist party and wants to privatise the NHS. The text message sent out by Navid Hussain shows just how desperate the Labour Party are becoming during this by-election campaign as their disastrous pro-Remain candidate Gareth Snell faces stiff competition from UKIP Leader Paul Nuttall. Other messages have gone out in Stoke aimed at Muslim voters aimed at painting UKIP out to be an extremist party, claiming that “every racist is voting for UKIP”. Dirty tactics from a dying party in a desperate bid to cling on.
Donald Trump’s defence secretary has told Nato allies that they cannot take America’s commitment to aid their security for granted unless they are prepared to increase military spending. “No longer can the American taxpayer carry a disproportionate share of the defence of western values. Americans cannot care more for your children’s future security than you do,” James Mattis told Nato defence minsters in Brussels behind closed doors yesterday. “America will meet its responsibilities but if your nations do not want to see America moderate its commitment to this alliance each of your capitals needs to show support for our common defence.” He said that ministers must adopt a plan this year that sets dates for governments to meet the Nato target.
Thousands of elderly patients are effectively bedbound due to a desperate lack of care at home, a report warns today. An estimated 140,000 are struggling with getting out of bed – yet aren’t receiving any help. A report by Age UK says social care is on the brink of ‘complete collapse.’ Figures show that an estimated 1.2 million over-65s are not being given help with daily tasks including bathing, dressing and eating meals. This has increased by 18 per cent since last year and is 48 per cent up on 2010, as a result of increasing cuts to social care budgets. But within that 1.2 million group is an estimated 140,000 who are so frail that without care they are almost bedbound. They struggle to get out of bed, walk across the room, bathe, dress, eat or go to the toilet.