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News review – Thursday 7 December 2017

Brexit

Telegraph
Jean-Claude Juncker fears Theresa May’s Government could collapse next week if Brexit talks remain deadlocked, The Telegraph has learnt. The European Commission president will extend the deadline for Mrs May to settle a dispute over the Irish border to the eve of an EU leaders’ summit next Thursday to maximise her chances of success. It comes as Mrs May’s own MPs warned her she could be toppled “within weeks” if she comes back from Brussels next week without an agreement that trade talks can begin. Meanwhile, Leo Varadkar, the Irish prime minister, revealed on Wednesday night that Mrs May hoped to offer a new version of the Irish border agreement either later that night or on Thursday. 

Mail
The EU leadership is worried Theresa May‘s government could be toppled if she fails to make a breakthrough in  Brexit talks by next week. EU Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker, desperate to avoid seeing hard-Brexit-backing Boris Johnson take power, will extend the deadline for May to find a solution on the Irish border to next Thursday to boost her chances.  It comes as Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said May had told him she was planning to get back to him with a fresh offer on the border by tonight. But the pressure for May is on, with one EU official telling The Telegraph: ‘Mr Juncker wants to support Mrs May to avoid the collapse of her government.  ‘He is prepared to meet her at any time, including on days next week in the run up to the European summit.’  Another source said there was ‘wiggle-room’ to change the controversial wording in the agreement concerning the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic, that caused talks to fail on Monday.

Guardian
Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, has told member states that the British government has just 48 hours to agree a text on a potential deal or it will be told that negotiations will not move on to the next stage. Barnier informed EU ambassadors that Downing Street had told him a potential solution was being worked out that could possibly satisfy both Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist party and the Republic of Ireland, but that it had yet to be signed off by any of those involved. Another meeting of diplomats of the 27 member states has been pencilled in for Friday evening, should the UK find an agreement with the DUP on a solution to avoiding a hard border on the island of Ireland. There were signs that progress was being made towards a deal to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland. At a press conference the Irish prime minister Leo Varadkar  said Theresa May told him she would come back with fresh proposals late on Wednesday or Thursday.

Telegraph
A new EU referendum would still be too close to call, new polling reveals, despite increasing frustration at the way in which Brexit negotiations are being handled. Research by the What UK Thinks organisation, which is linked with polling expert Professor John Curtice, shows that the UK public is becoming more pessimistic about the consequences of Brexit – with Leave voters being the most likely to change their minds. Despite this shift, however, the polling also found that there has been no movement towards staying in the EU – showing that increased pessimism about the negotiations isn’t shaking people’s overall belief in Brexit. In February 2017, some 33 per cent of people thought that the UK would get a good deal out of the Brexit negotiations, compared to 37 per cent who thought there would be a bad deal.

Express
THERESA May’s Government is on the verge of collapse unless she breaks the deadlock on the Irish border issue, according to Jean-Claude Juncker. The European Commission President is desperate to keep Theresa May in power amid fears that a leadership coup could disrupt the  Brexit process and allow a more hardline Brexiteer taking over from her, it has been revealed. It comes as the PM’s own MPs warned she could be overthrown “within weeks” if she does not return from Brussels next week with an agreement that trade talks can begin. Speaking to the Telegraph, one EU official said: “Mr Juncker wants to support Mrs May to avoid the collapse of her Government. He is prepared to meet her at any time, including on days next week in the run up to the European summit.” The question over the Irish border is preventing Brexit talks from progressing to the next stage, Mr Juncker will extend the deadline for Theresa May to settle the dispute to the eve of an EU leaders’ summit next Thursday.

Independent
Philip Hammond has contradicted his own deputy by insisting the UK will pay its £45bn Brexit “divorce bill” even if no trade deal is struck with the EU. The Chancellor said it was “inconceivable that we would walk away from obligations”, regardless of the success or failure of the final negotiations. “That would not make us credible partner for future international agreements,” he told the Commons Treasury Select Committee. The stance will alarm Tory MPs who believed they had won a guarantee from Theresa May that tens of billions would only be handed over if a trade deal follows. It also directly contradicted his own deputy, Treasury Chief Secretary Liz Truss, who pledged – just seven days ago – that payment was “contingent” on Brussels delivering a trade deal. Mr Hammond also confirmed that the Cabinet had not agreed, or even discussed, an “end state position” for what it hopes to achieve when trade talks finally begin with Brussels.

Times
Britain must pay an exit bill of about £40 billion even if it does not get a trade deal with the EU, Philip Hammond said yesterday. The chancellor angered Eurosceptics by telling the Treasury select committee that Britain should honour its obligations regardless of the progress of Brexit negotiations. The payments are likely to be spread over 40 years. He told MPs: “I find it inconceivable that we as a nation would be walking away from an obligation that we recognised as an obligation. That is not a credible scenario. That is not the kind of country we are. Frankly, it would not make us a credible partner for future international agreements.”

Express
PHILIP Hammond was rebuked by Downing Street last night after suggesting the Government could still pay a multi-billion EU divorce fee even if Britain quits the bloc without a trade deal. In an outburst that threatened to reopen the bitter Cabinet rift over 
Brexit, the Chancellor claimed walking away from “obligations we have entered into” would be “inconceivable” whatever the outcome of the talks about the future relationship between the UK and Brussels. His outburst irritated Euro-sceptic Tories, who say British taxpayers should not pay anything unless EU chiefs are willing to agree a trade deal, and triggered alarm among Theresa May’s officials. Philip Hammond spoke out at a hearing of the Commons Treasury Committee. Asked by an MP if paying the exit fee was “contingent” up a future trade relationship, the Chancellor said: “I would find it inconceivable that we as a nation would be walking away from an obligation that we recognised as an obligation; that’s just not a credible scenario, that’s not the kind of country we are and, frankly, it would not make us a credible partner for future international agreements.”

Independent
A hard Brexit would have an “infinitely” bigger impact on the UK than the EU, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte has said. Speaking in Dublin, where he met Irish premier Leo Varadkar, Mr Rutte underlined the importance of securing a good deal on the issue of the Irish border, saying it was “essential”. However, he said the other two major issues in Brexit negotiations – the UK’s settlement bill and guarantees of citizens’ rights – were equally important. Achieving enough progress to allow talks to progress to their second phase, which concerns the UK’s future relationship with the EU, was difficult but achievable, he added. The Irish border has proved to be a sticking point in talks, but Mr Varadkar said on Wednesday evening that Theresa May had told him she would propose suggestions to Brexit negotiators in the next 24 hours to try to break the impasse. British negotiators hoped to have achieved sufficient progress to convince EU leaders to agree to talks progressing when the meet at the European Council summit on 14 and 15 December.

BBC News
Theresa May is under increasing pressure from all sides to break the impasse in the Brexit talks. The DUP says there is “work to be done” if it is to agree to plans for the future of the border with Ireland. Irish PM Leo Varadkar said he was willing to consider new proposals and suggested the UK might put something forward later. Ambassadors of the 27 EU member states are understood to be “waiting for something from London”. On Monday, Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party – whose support the PM needs to win key votes at Westminster – objected to draft plans drawn up by the UK and the EU. The DUP said the proposals, which aimed to avoid a “hard border” by aligning regulations on both sides of the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, were not acceptable.

Sun
DAVID Davis’s allies have launched a fresh bid to make him PM by trying to line up a ‘dream ticket’ with younger Tory rising stars. Supporters of the Brexit Secretary have seized on Theresa May’s latest Brexit woes to start building another plot to oust her One of the closest – former chief whip Andrew Mitchell – is organising discreet drinks evenings with him and new generation Tory MPs. Three of the newly elected high-flyers invited to one soiree last week were Tom Tugendhat and James Cleverly – both tipped as future party leaders – as well as highly respected rookie Gillian Keegan. Several were told Mr Davis is ready to run as Tory leader alongside them. Under the ‘dream ticket’ plot, Mr Davis would take over as Prime Minister from beleaguered Mrs May, but only for a few years.

Reuters
Britain will guarantee rights for as yet unborn children who join EU parents after Brexit and accept EU judges’ rulings on such rights, according to a draft European Parliament resolution seen by Reuters on Thursday. The document, drafted on Monday for a vote next week before an EU summit that may launch talks on a future EU-UK free trade pact, also confirms that British Prime Minister Theresa May has secured agreement from Brussels that British citizens in the EU will be able to live freely in any member state after Brexit. The resolution was prepared on the basis of an agreement May was about to sign on Monday before objections from her allies in Northern Ireland forced a postponement due to concerns on a plan to keep “regulatory alignment” between the province and the EU “to ensure no hardening of the border on the island of Ireland”.

Ireland

Independent
Theresa May says she will not explain how the UK will prevent a hard Irish border until later in the Brexit  negotiations – despite facing an EU deadline to do so by the end of the week. The Prime Minister faced Labour taunts that her strategy was a “shambles’ after the collapse of her hopes of a breakthrough deal on Monday, when the Democratic Unionist Party vetoed her plan. It leaves Ms May with just days to convince EU leaders that a hard border – with customs checks and posts – can be avoided, in order to move the talks on to future trade. But, she told MPs: “To those Labour members who shout how – that’s the whole point of the second phase of the negotiations. “Because we will deliver this – we aim to deliver this – as part of our overall trade deal between the United Kingdom and the European Union “And we can only talk about that when we get into phase two.”

Momentum

Guardian
A rift has widened within the Labour party over the selection of its local councillors, after the Momentum chief Jon Lansman called for a rerun of every candidate selection in London, claiming that sitting Jeremy Corbyn supporters were excluded from shortlists “for no good reason”. Lansman, 60, the founder of Momentum, provoked anger after he signed an online petition by the Ealing branch of the grassroots group and promoted it on Facebook. The petition, which has more than 580 signatures, said “Labour party members across London have significant and serious concerns regarding the fairness, inclusivity, transparency and therefore validity” of recent selection processes. It demanded that potential candidates excluded from selection “on spurious grounds” be reinterviewed and reassessed for suitability for selection.

EU

Express
THE EUROPEAN Union’s executive is preparing to sue Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic after they refused to host asylum-seekers, according to sources. The European Commission, which is led by Jean-Claude Juncker, is believed to be stepping up a legal case against the trio after they declined to shelter asylum seekers. All three countries have also refused to take in any refugees under the bloc’s mandatory quota scheme, disputing the fact it was adopted by a qualified majority vote and citing security concerns.  Despite a drop in the number of refugees seeking asylum in Europe following tighter border controls and a range of EU-funded projects to discourage migration to Europe, the three Eastern European countries have maintained their hardline stance against allowing more migrants to settle. They claim the mainly-Muslim refugees have no place in their predominantly Christian societies and cite security concerns following a series of terror attacks carried out by Islamist militants in western Europe.

NHS

Times
Cancer patients and people with severe mental illness are going without essential medicines because of shortages that have cost the NHS £180 million in six months, The Times has learnt. At least 100 drugs have been affected by supply problems, forcing health officials to approve temporary price rises of up to 4,000 per cent to boost stocks. The NHS is spending more than £50 million a month overpaying for the medicines but pharmacies are still running out for days at a time and turning patients away. Ministers are now investigating amid fears that the market is being manipulated to drive up prices. Pharmacists have complained that there have been cases where a drug in severe shortage becomes available immediately when a higher price is granted.

Times
Some hospitals are heading into winter almost 99 per cent full, with health chiefs warning that patients will be at risk because there is nowhere to put them. Hospital bosses say that the dilemma of overstuffed wards are keeping them awake at night, with one in ten beds blocked in some hospitals because elderly patients cannot be sent home. Routine operations will be cancelled and patients with minor problems sent home quicker as part of concerted NHS efforts to avoid a repeat of last winter’s chaos, which led to long delays in A&E. A report today by hospital chiefs says they are already at full stretch, warning that they would struggle if a flu outbreak led to an influx of patients.

Plastic

Times
The United Nations has called for deposits on plastic bottles in a resolution pledging to stop pollution of the oceans. The resolution, agreed unanimously yesterday, calls for greater action “to prevent and significantly reduce marine pollution of all kinds” by 2025. It encourages the use of “container deposit schemes” to address the “high and rapidly increasing levels of marine plastic litter and the expected increase in negative effects on marine biodiversity”. The UN resolution will increase pressure on the government to proceed with a deposit scheme on drinks containers. Michael Gove, the environment secretary, called last month for evidence on how a deposit scheme could work in England. The Scottish government has said it intends to introduce such a scheme and Wales is considering one.

BBC News
The end of the era of throwaway plastic has been signalled by UN environment ministers meeting in Kenya. They signed off a document stating that the flow of plastic into the ocean must be stopped. Scientists welcomed the statement, but were unhappy the agreement was only based in principle, with no firm targets or timetables. Ministers say it’s a milestone because it shows governments, industry and the public that a major change is needed. Vidar Helgesen, Norway’s Environment Minister, has been leading the UN debate on plastic pollution. He told BBC News: “What we came here with was the need for action. The starting point was aiming for zero emission of marine litter. So it’s effectively a breakthrough for zero emission of plastic into the ocean.” He admitted that this was really only the start of action against plastic litter.

Black hole

Independent
Scientists just found a very huge, very young supermassive black hole. As far as we know, it shouldn’t be able to exist, and it just might re-write our understanding of the early universe. It is the most distant black hole ever seen by scientists. And it is so far away that we are seeing something that formed when the universe was only five per cent of its current age – something that scientists say shouldn’t be able to happen. Our understandings of the formation and beginnings of the universe suggest that a black hole with such a huge mass shouldn’t actually have been able to form, scientists say. “This is the only object we have observed from this era,” said Robert Simcoe, the Francis L. Friedman professor of physics at MIT’s Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research.

Star
A SUPERMASSIVE black hole has left scientists questioning beginning of life. Astronomers have found the monster black hole, nearly as old as the universe itself, chewing through clouds. The phenomenon is so big, that it is currently 800 million times the mass of the sun. Boffins believe that the central mass of the black hole existed when our universe was only 5% of its current age. The astronomer who discovered the phenomenon, Eduardo Banados said: “The particular quasar is so bright that it will become a gold mine for follow-up studies and will be a crucial laboratory to study the early universe. “We have already secured observations for this object with a number of the most powerful telescopes in the world. More surprises may arise.” Quasar J1342+0928 comes from a time known as the dark ages, where a spontaneous eruption was believed to create the Big Bang.

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Debbie
About Debbie (646 Articles)
Debbie has been a journalist for longer than she cares to admit! She has been freelance for the last 15 years and is an associate editor on UKIP Daily, specialising in covering the morning press each day.

7 Comments on News review – Thursday 7 December 2017

  1. “The end of the era of throwaway plastic has been signalled by UN environment ministers meeting in Kenya. They signed off a document stating that the flow of plastic into the ocean must be stopped.”
    Instead of introducing a ‘deposit scheme’ which is just going to add to product costs and increase bureaucracy (trust me, watch prices of everything that comes in plastic containers increase, with no effect on the amount of plastic in the oceans), why don’t the UN find out how and why this waste is ending up in the seas?
    Perhaps if people could be educated to dispose of their litter responsibly, our streets, public transport and beaches would see less rubbish strewn everywhere, and yes that does include plastic bottles.

  2. This is a blatant affront by the EU:
    https://www.express.co.uk/news/politics/889310/Brexit-news-EU-sets-May-deadline-midnight-Sunday-sufficient-progress
    And do note well that it’s “EU Officials” who are correcting M Juncker, not that man himself.
    Civil Serpents (see my article yesterday) are everywhere, and it’s they who run the show – not even M Juncker, never mind Ms May.

  3. Thank you, Julian, for your kind comments. I hope you don’t consider I concentrate too much on Brexit, but especially at the moment, negotiations are at such a critical phase. I hope I’m a typical Kipper in that my main reason for supporting UKIP is to get us out of the EU.

    • Debbie

      In my eyes you always concentrate on several important issues each day. At the moment, many of us, especially kippers, are worried about the way Brexit is being handled. That said, it might be more accurate to say ‘mishandled’.

      You do an excellent job of reporting the news. Long may you continue.

      Please accept my thanks as well.

      Kind regards.

      • Thank you Brenda. I try and include a bit of ‘quirky’ news as well – today it’s a black hole; as if this earth-shattering news is going to make a blind bit of difference to any of us!

  4. Debbie, congratulations on your work — every day this is one of the first things I turn to o the web to catch up with things that are going on. Thank you.

    JF

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