THERESA May has been sent an ultimatum by senior figures in politics, business, the law, medical research and the military demanding that she ends the Brexit negotiations with Brussels on Friday unless the EU agrees to discuss trade. A letter signed by 25 prominent Brexiteers, including senior Tory MPs, has urged the Prime Minister to embrace “no deal” as a positive step for Britain and start preparing for life outside the EU on World Trade Organisation rules. The senior figures from politics, business, economics, law, science and the military call for “decisive action” to dispel the “highly damaging” levels of uncertainty facing businesses across the country. The letter, organised by Leave Means Leave, sets out how the UK economy can benefit from a clean break from talks if the UK has enough time to prepare. It is signed by senior politicians including former cabinet ministers Lord Lawson, Peter Lilley, John Redwood MP and Owen Paterson MP and Labour MPs Kate Hoey and Graham Stringer.
Britain must be prepared to walk away from the EU and stop negotiations if European leaders do not agree to trade talks at a crucial summit on Thursday evening, senior figures behind the Leave campaign warned on Wednesday night. In an open letter to the Prime Minister, four former Cabinet ministers, as well as MPs, business leaders and academics demanded she “formally declare” that Britain will leave the EU and conduct trade deals via the World Trade Organisation. The warning from the Leave campaign comes after the EU talks became deadlocked and amid fears the beleaguered Prime Minister will be humiliated at a key summit of EU leaders in Brussels. Sources in Brussels have told The Telegraph that EU leaders will tell Mrs May Britain must agree to pay some money into the EU budget until 2023, rather than 2021 under the current offer, before there can be any movement on trade talks.
The debate and votes over hundreds of amendments to the crucial EU Withdrawal Bill look to have been delayed until next month, perhaps as late as the middle of November. It comes as the whips struggle to contain multiple Conservative rebellions. The legislation, formerly known as the Great Repeal Bill, has been the subject of hundreds of amendments from MPs concerned about the constitutional and economic implications of the Government’s current approach to Brexit. In what one organiser called “cross-party working on an unprecedented scale”, a dozen amendments already have the names of 10 Tory MPs, while some have as many as 13 MPs. Labour backbenchers have coordinated their work with Tory backbenchers, the Lib Dems, nationalist parties and peers.
The EU Withdrawal Bill may not now be discussed in the House of Commons until after the Autumn recess, sources have told the BBC. The law is designed to transfer EU law into UK law ahead of Brexit. It is facing stiff resistance from some Tory rebels as well as from the opposition parties. One official source said it was not yet back in the house of Commons because there simply “is not enough political agreement yet”. MPs return from Autumn recess on 13 November. The government said the bill was not being delayed because a date had never been set. But BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg said the expectation in Whitehall had been that the bill would be back in the House of Commons straight after the party conference season if the government was to have any chance of getting it through Parliament by the Spring.
A SPECIAL summit called by Jean-Claude Juncker the day after Brexit in 2019 has mysteriously been postponed. The European Commission President requested Donald Tusk set up the meeting of the remaining 27 European Union to draw up the future of the bloc the day after Britain is scheduled to leave on March 29 2019. But it has been delayed until May, as revealed in an agenda Donald Tusk sent out yesterday, leading people to question whether this is a sign the EU doesn’t think Britain will make the cut off date. A spokesperson for European Council President Mr Tusk said: “President Tusk has taken up the suggestion to hold a meeting of leaders as the UK leaves the EU. It will take place on 9 May 2019. “The EC welcomes this and is happy its agenda setting role has once again been confirmed.”
European Union leaders at a crunch summit dinner are set to rebuff Theresa May’s appeal for trade talks while they seek to publicly talk up her efforts in the Brexit negotiations because they fear that the prime minister’s domestic weakness will leave her unable to make vital concessions on Britain’s divorce bill. The German chancellor, Angela Merkel, will lead European leaders in Brussels on Thursday in seeking to put the best gloss on their refusal to widen the talks, according to diplomatic sources. “There are ways to say it kindly and encouragingly or less kindly and less encouraging,” said one senior EU diplomat. The member states are acutely aware that the prime minister needs to come out of the summit with her dignity intact if she is to get her cabinet and party to accept concessions on the divorce bill, estimates of which vary from about €60bn to €100bn (£54bn to £90bn).
Jeremy Corbyn will meet the top EU Brexit negotiator and other key European politicians in Brussels on Thursday and say Labour is ready to lead talks. His meetings with chief Brussels negotiator Michel Barnier and European Parliament President Antonio Tajani come as Theresa May heads to a meeting of EU nation state leaders in a bid to kick-start stalled Brexit talks. The Labour leader will also see some European prime ministers, in meetings which he hopes will help move Brexit talks forward. It follows increasing engagement between the EU and Mr Corbyn and his team, with Brussels officials now taking seriously the possibility that the Labour leader could at some point win an election and take charge of the UK’s negotiations.
JEREMY CORBYN will be in Brussels today to discuss Labour’s priorities for Brexit with EU politicians and negotiators. This comes after PM Theresa May and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker agreed to “accelerate” efforts to strike a deal but offered little sign of tangible progress following their working dinner in the Belgian capital on Monday. The EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier warned last week that the discussions remained “deadlocked,” mainly over Britain’s leaving fee. Labour said that the government’s plans for Brexit were in “paralysis” amid speculation that the Brexit Bill will be delayed again. Mr Corbyn would be attempting to break the stalemate between Britain and the EU during his visit with shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer and shadow international trade secretary Barry Gardiner.
Jeremy Corbyn will meet the EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, in Brussels on Thursday, as he seeks to exploit Tory division over Brexit and present Labour as a better negotiating team. As well as Barnier, Corbyn will hold bilateral meetings with three EU prime ministers, as Britain’s negotiating partners try to gauge the balance of power over Brexit. Corbyn, who will be accompanied by the shadow Brexit secretary, Keir Starmer, and the shadow international trade secretary, Barry Gardiner, said: “As the government’s splits and Brexit bungling become ever more damaging, Labour stands ready to take up responsibility for the Brexit negotiations.”
Britain is fighting a Brussels “rip-off” that adds up to €7 billion (£6.25 billion) to the Brexit divorce bill by inflating the cost of pension liabilities for retired European Union officials. A demand for Britain to pay its share towards the rising cost of Brussels pensions is the main sticking point blocking trade and transition talks to prevent a no-deal scenario, it can be revealed. Experts and diplomats told The Times that the amount demanded by the EU for pension liabilities, about €11 billion, is unfairly high because the wrong rate is being used to calculate it. If future staff contributions and historical investment rates are used to calculate the pension liabilities, Britain’s share falls to as little as €3.5 billion.
BREXIT talks are being held up because cash grabbing Eurocrats are negotiating for even more money to boost their overinflated pensions, it has been revealed. The bloc are adding an extra £6billion demand to their vast Brexit bill to account for the inflated cost of pension liabilities for retired eurocrats. But experts and diplomats have told the Times the amount currently being demanded is being calculated with an unnecessarily high rate as the bloc attempt to bleed the nation dry in negotiations. The current total pension liability bill the bloc are demanding is set at roughly £9.8billion – but if staff contributions and historical investment rates are used in calculations the figure falls to as little as £3.5billion.
THE European Parliament’s boss has sparked a fresh Brexit row by branding the PM’s £20billion offer for a transition deal “peanuts”. Theresa May offered to pay the jumbo sum of taxpayers’ cash into Brussels coffers for two years from 2019. But ramping the rhetoric ahead of a crunch EU summit on Brexit tonight, MEPs’ president Antonio Tajani told BBC Newsnight: “We need our money back, as Mrs Thatcher said 30 years ago. “Twenty billion is peanuts. “The problem is 50, 60, this is the real situation.” Mrs May is refusing to give in to Brussels demands to write a £50billion divorce bill cheque for Britain’s future commitments on top of the £20billion transition offer.
EU heads of government will deliver another rebuff to the Prime Minister today by refusing face-to-face discussions to break the deadlock in the Brexit talks. Theresa May will try to bypass the stalled negotiating process by appealing directly to her counterparts in the other 27 countries, at a summit dinner in Brussels. She will hope to engage them “in a discussion” to end the impasse, a senior UK government official said, ahead of the EU leaders’ own Brexit talks in Britain’s absence. But The Independent has learned that the EU will stick to its strict rule that negotiations must be carried out only with Michel Barnier – the European Commission’s chosen representative. The Prime Minister would be invited to raise her offer on Brexit, but there would be no discussion afterwards, a spokesman for the European Council’s presidency said.
BRITAIN has received a double Brexit boost as it emerged Germany wants an ambitious trade deal with the UK and Hungary warned of “tragic consequences” if the EU takes a hard line. A leaked document suggests Angela Merkel is bluffing when she claims that talks are in danger of collapsing. Her officials have secretly been planning for a “close partnership” between the UK and Europe, Bloomberg revealed. The paper includes proposals for a “comprehensive free-trade accord” – exactly what Britain is seeking from the EU. The deal Germany wants would include security, counter-terror operations, energy, farming and freedom of aviation. The leak from Europe’s most powerful country suggests Britain will have little trouble getting a deal despite tough talk from Brussels negotiators. And EU bosses also face pressure to speed up talks with the UK after an intervention from Hungary’s foreign minister who urged Eurocrats to cut a deal with Britain for their own good.
THERESA May’s hopes of a Brexit deal were boosted yesterday when leaked documents revealed that German officials are already working on proposals for “comprehensive free-trade” between Britain and the EU. Policy papers from Chancellor Angela Merkel’s foreign ministry in Berlin called for a “balanced, ambitious and far-reaching” trade agreement to cover the UK’s future relationship with Brussels. The leak suggested that pressure for a deal is building from the most powerful country in the EU despite the apparent deadlock in the Brexit negotiations over the size of multi-billion Britain’s divorce payment. Whitehall insiders described the signal of support for a “comprehensive free-trade accord” in Germany was a “positive development” ahead of a crunch EU summit today.
EU migrants who arrive in the UK over the next 18 months will be entitled to stay in Britain permanently after Brexit, The Telegraph has learned. British officials believe that the issue of citizens’ rights is “done and dusted” after conceding that all migrants who arrive in the UK by March 2019 will be entitled to stay without restrictions. The Prime Minister previously suggested that she could make the cut-off date for EU migrants March of this year, when she triggered Article 50 and formally opened Brexit negotiations. The UK has now dropped that threat. British officials also believe that they have persuaded Brussels to give up a demand for EU citizens to be given the right to bring spouses and other relatives to the UK after Brexit.
Germany is seeking a ‘comprehensive free trade accord’ with the UK after Brexit, a leaked document revealed last night. Berlin is playing hardball in public, insisting it is not interested in such a deal unless the UK offers written guarantees it will make a ‘divorce payment’ of up to £90 billion. But a draft paper by the German foreign ministry suggests Berlin is privately anxious to secure a ‘comprehensive’ trade deal with one of its largest trading partners. The four-page document states: ‘We share the UK’s desire to secure a close partnership with the EU after its exit that covers economic and trade relations.’ The revelation came as Theresa May prepared to travel to Brussels today for crunch talks with EU leaders on the state of the Brexit negotiations;
Islamic State and other terrorist groups are planning to target aircraft as they aim to carry out another major attack on the scale of 9/11, a top US security official said. Elaine Duke, acting US Homeland Security Secretary, said the groups were using smaller attacks to raise money and “keep their members engaged”. “The threat is still severe,” she said in London after meeting Home Secretary Amber Rudd. “The terrorist organisations, be it Isis or al-Qaeda or others, want to have the big explosion like they did on 9/11. They want to take down aircraft, the intelligence is clear on that. Britain and Europe have seen a string of crude attacks, from the ramming and stabbing attack on London Bridge to the homemade bomb in Manchester.
Islamic State and al-Qaeda are still plotting to bring down an aircraft and carry out an atrocity on the scale of 9/11 even though their recent focus has been on smaller crude attacks, a US official said yesterday. Elaine Duke, acting secretary of homeland security, said that lower level plots, such as vehicle or knife attacks, enabled the groups to keep up their visibility and create terror. “The threat is still severe,” she said. “The terrorist organisations, be it Isis or al-Qaeda or others, want to have the big explosion like they did on 9/11. They want to take down aircraft, the intelligence is clear on that.”
Islamic State fanatics and other terror groups are planning another massive attack on the scale of 9/11, a top US security chief warned today. Elaine Duke, Donald Trump’s acting Secretary of Homeland Security, said jihadists were using crude knife and van attacks to keep their members engaged and their finances flowing as they plot another ‘big explosion’ similar to the September 2001 atrocities. Speaking at the US embassy in London, she said intelligence is pointing to extremists plotting to take down planes to inflict mass civilian casualties. Mrs Duke said ISIS is currently in an ‘interim’ period focusing on a much bigger endgame. The security chief, who has served three US presidents, said: ‘The terrorist organisations, be it ISIS or others, want to have the big explosion like they did on 9/11. They want to take down aircraft, the intelligence is clear on that.
Universities must pledge to uphold free speech on campus or face being blacklisted by the new higher education regulator, the government will announce today. It will force universities to challenge the culture of so-called safe spaces and to answer for the behaviour of student unions that “no platform” controversial speakers. Jo Johnson, the universities minister, said any that failed to protect freedom of speech could be fined, suspended or ultimately deregistered by the new Office for Students (OfS) in an extensive reorganisation of the sector. He told The Times that all universities would have a statutory duty to make the commitment in their governance documents as a condition of registration with the OfS.
Universities that allow students to ban controversial speakers could be fined for not preserving free speech, the Government will announce today. Jo Johnson, the universities minister, said protests over speakers such as Germaine Greer were ‘preposterous’ and the prominent feminist has ‘every right’ to speak. He will say that the newly-created Office for Students will have the power to fine, suspend or even blacklist institutions for failing to protect free speech. ‘Freedom of speech is a fundamentally British value which is undermined by a reluctance of institutions to embrace healthy vigorous debate,’ he will say. ‘Our universities must open minds not close them. Our young people and students need to accept the legitimacy of healthy vigorous debate in which people can disagree with one another.
Just one hospital in England has hit its targets for cancer, operations and accident and emergency over the past year, it was claimed today. Growing demand is leaving the NHS struggling to serve patients, with Luton and Dunstable NHS Trust in Bedfordshire the only service to have achieved its goals. England, Wales and Northern Ireland have not hit any of their three targets for 18 months, while Scotland has only had success with its A&E goal in the last year. Hospital staff told the BBC, which conducted the research, of their concerns over shortages of doctors and nurses, a lack of money and insufficient room in A&E. It was also revealed that one in nine patients now wait longer than four hours to be seen in A&E – and the chances of this have more than doubled in four years.
Catalonia is facing an unprecedented move by Madrid to seek a suspension of the region’s autonomy this morning, unless separatist leader Carles Puigdemont abandons his bid for independence. Mr Puigdemont, who sparked Spain’s worst political crisis in decades by holding a banned independence referendum on October 1, has been ordered by Madrid to say by 10.00 am (9am BST) whether or not he is unilaterally declaring a split from Spain. The government of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy says it will trigger Article 155 of Spain’s constitution – a measure that would allow it to start imposing direct rule over semi-autonomous Catalonia – unless Mr Puigdemont backs down. Catalonia is deeply divided over whether to break away from Spain as Puigdemont has repeatedly threatened since the referendum, but the wealthy northeastern region is proud of its autonomy in one of the Western world’s most decentralised nations.
Catalonia’s leader called for dialogue with Spain and a meeting with the country’s prime minister, complying with a Monday deadline to respond to a request from the central government to state explicitly whether the regional president had declared independence. But Carles Puigdemont’s letter, released about two hours before the deadline was set to expire, didn’t clarify whether he indeed had proclaimed that Catalonia had broken away from Spain. The central government had explicitly asked him to respond with a simple “yes” or “no” to that question. Instead, Puigdemont replied with a four-page letter seeking two months of negotiations and mediation. “The priority of my government is to intensively seek a path to dialogue,” Puigdemont said in his letter. “We want to talk … Our proposal for dialogue is sincere and honest.”
You know how it is, it’s 10pm, you’re a self-important Economist journalist sitting on Twitter, and you decide to set up a new political party to stop Brexit. Berlin correspondent Jeremy Cliffe, a former intern to Chuka Umunna, says he has the plan to make Britain the world’s largest economy within 18 months: reverse Brexit, join the Euro, join the EU army and make Ken Clarke the next European Commission president. Other key manifesto pledges are to share Trident with Germany, raise inheritance tax and move Britain’s capital from London to Manchester. Don’t laugh, he’s actually serious…
The left-leaning Economist’s Berlin bureau chief enjoyed a brief stint in political leadership Tuesday evening, giving his new concept the Radical party a soft launch on social media, before immediately stepping away from the idea. Giving his anti-Brexit, pro-Britain joining the Europ currency and European army, and high tax party a name, logo, and Twitter account, journalist Jeremy Cliffe boasted he was getting 45 emails from interested potential members a minute, reports Westminster political gossip blog Guido Fawkes. Yet just hours later, the hapless journalist was apparently forced out of his own party, possibly by his employer, as he said in a statement: “It is also clear from the — entirely unanticipated — scale of this unplanned experiment that taking this forward would not be compatible with my job as Berlin Bureau Chief for The Economist.”