David Davis bowed to European demands that Britain agree the principle of its multibillion-pound Brexit bill before talks on a new trade agreement can begin, as formal negotiations got under way in Brussels yesterday. In a significant climbdown, less than a month after declaring that the sequencing of the talks would be “the row of the summer”, Mr Davis changed tack and signed up to the main principles of the EU’s position. Michel Barnier, the commission’s chief negotiator, warned Britain that he was “not in a frame of mind to make concessions” and that the consequences of Brexit would be “substantial”.
Britain caved in to the EU on the opening day of the Brexit talks, when it agreed to settle its “divorce” before trying to negotiate a future trade deal. In a major defeat, Brexit Secretary David Davis was forced to drop his central demand for the two strands of the negotiations to be staged in parallel, within hours of arriving in Brussels. Last month, Mr Davis vowed to wage the “row of the summer” to secure immediate talks on a free trade agreement – predicting an early collapse if the EU refused to give way. But both sides have now agreed to set up working groups on EU citizens’ rights, the size of Britain’s “divorce bill” and borders – but not, crucially, future trade.
Tory David Davis has crumbled on the very first day of Brexit negotiations, as he was forced to agree to the EU’s timetable. EU Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier revealed the pair had agreed to a “two phase” Brexit, with the terms of divorce agreed first, followed by talks on future relations with the EU. Mr Davis, the Brexit Secretary, had previously insisted the two sets of talks would be held in parallel. But in a press conference at the end of the first day of talks, Barnier said it made sense to discuss the “orderly withdrawal” of the UK first. He said “sufficient progress” would have to be made on the first phase of the talks before moving on to future trade deals. But he said once the EU decided sufficient progress had been made, the remainder of the talks could take place in parallel. Mr Davis denied he had caved on his first day, insisting the timetable was consistent with the government’s Article 50 letter.
British negotiators have capitulated to key European demands for a phased approach to Brexit talks, agreeing to park discussions on free trade until they have thrashed out the cost of the multibillion-euro UK divorce settlement. Putting a brave face on a concession that may further strengthen the tactical dominance of the EU, the Brexit secretary, David Davis, insisted his initial retreat remained consistent with long-term government strategy. “It’s not how it starts, it’s how it finishes that matters,” Davis said in Brussels after the first day of formal talks. “Nothing is agreed until everything is agreed.” Previously Davis had threatened to turn the issue into the “row of the summer” in a bid to avoid being held to ransom over the divorce settlement. He had hoped for talks on trade to run in parallel with divorce discussions.
Britain and Europe locked horns over the thorny issue of the so-called “Brexit bill” on day one of the talks to begin Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union. After initial pleasantries for the cameras at the European Commission headquarters in Brussels, David Davis, the Brexit secretary and Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator and their teams were soon at loggerheads. One of the biggest disagreements in the coming talks came to the surface after UK negotiators questioned the legal rationale for the €100bn gross settlement that the 27 EU members states are demanding from the UK. “They question that there is a legal basis for an exit payment,” a senior EU official told Reuters, reflecting EU nervousness that Britain will not pay up enough to cover the €10bn euro per year black hole that will be left in EU budgets after Brexit.
MICHEL Barnier tonight warned Britain he is in no mood to make concessions during the Brexit talks, saying the UK would have to pay the “substantial consequences” of its decision to leave the EU. The usually cool-headed Frenchman showed flashes of anger as he was asked what concessions he had been prepared to make to his British counterpart David Davis during a frantic opening day of talks. In response Mr Barnier, who is the EU’s chief negotiator, launched into a furious tirade against the Brexit decision but also insisted that the rest of Europe had no desire to “punish” the UK for choosing to quit. His outburst came at the end of an evening press conference which began in more jovial fashion, with the pair announcing great progress had been made on the structuring of the talks and citizens’ rights.
The EU’s chief negotiator said there would be “substantial” consequences from Brexit after the first round of talks with the UK. Michel Barnier said he was “not in the frame of mind to make concessions or ask for concessions”. UK Brexit Secretary David Davis said talks got off to a “promising start”. The UK appears to have conceded to the EU’s preferred order for the talks which will mean trade negotiations do not begin immediately. Mr Davis and Mr Barnier gave a joint press conference after day one of the talks in Brussels. The initial focus will be on expat rights, a financial settlement and “other separation issues”.
The Government wants Brexit to usher in a new era of freedom of movement – as long as you strap into a space rocket. The Queen’s Speech on Wednesday will include three bills designed to funnel investment into major transport infrastructure designed to help Britain boom after leaving the European Union. One will focus on growing the space sector and would allow satellites to be launched from the UK for the first time, as well as develop scientific missions and manned vertical rockets. A second would help people switch to greener and cheaper electric cars by making it easier to access charging points around the country.
THERESA May’s government will pledge to boldly go in the Queen’s speech with a transport plan for Britain promoting space travel, high speed rail and electric cars. Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has announced that the two year parliament will be asked to pass three bills to put Britain on the cutting edge of high skill technology after it leaves the EU. One bill will put Britain at the heart of new spaceflight technology, allowing UK companies to compete in an international market and generate highly-skilled jobs and giving others the chance to get licences for spaceflights. The UK space industry is worth £13.7bn to the economy and satellites support over 38,000 jobs. The global market for launching satellites is estimated to be £25 billion over the next 20 years. A second bill will set off the next stage of High Speed 2 connecting the Midlands to the North West.
Internet giants will face increased pressure to tackle online extremism as EU leaders are expected to back a drive for tougher web regulation. Boris Johnson will be among EU foreign ministers meeting to consider measures to ensure there is “no safe space for terrorists” to plot attacks and share radical material online. It comes in the wake of recent terrorist attacks in the UK and France. The PM has urged Google, Facebook and Twitter to take down terrorist content. It follows Theresa May’s agreement of measures with G7 leaders in April and a new plan with French President Emmanuel Macron last week.
Two-thirds of Europeans believe the EU should take a hard line with the UK over Brexit, according to a survey. Sixty-five per cent of those questioned in Belgium, Germany, Greece, Spain, France, Italy Austria, Hungary and Poland said the EU, while trying to maintain a good relationship with Britain, should not compromise on its core principles. The Chatham House-Kantar survey showed just 18% of people in the nine countries – compared with 49% of people in Britain – believed the opposite; that the European commission should aim to keep the UK as close as possible, at the expense of its principles, during the talks, which began on Monday.
Germany’s National Defence Commissioner has insisted that “in the end, there will be a European Army”. Hans-Peter Bartels made his position crystal clear: “We are currently disorganised, technically fragmented and duplicate structures unnecessarily. “We do not want to go down the solitary national path any more. Not in Germany, not in the Netherlands, not in the Czech Republic and not in Italy.” It has become increasingly apparent that the European Union has big military ambitions which it wants to realise soon. A joint defence fund has been set up and there have even been murmurings from some in Germany about EU nuclear weapons. This would represent a huge conflict with NATO whilst potentially giving huge military power to unelected EU figures.
Finsbury Park attack
Supporters of Islamic State seized on yesterday’s attack against Muslims to call for retaliatory violence on the streets of Britain and elsewhere in the West. Within hours of the north London attack, online accounts run by outlets with links to the terrorist group spread images online of the carnage. This was accompanied by a post in English by a channel on the app Telegram called War News — Ummah News, a known supporter of Isis, that tried to generate outrage that Darren Osborne, the man believed to be behind the Finsbury Park attack, was not shot dead by police unlike, for example, the London Bridge killers.
SECURITY at Britain’s mosques needs to be urgently stepped up following the Finsbury Park terror attack, the Muslim Council of Britain said yesterday. The council, representing 500 mosques, schools and Muslim associations, said the deadly attack was “the most violent manifestation” of Islamophobia. “It appears from eyewitness accounts that the perpetrator was motivated by Islamophobia,” said MCB secretary general Harun Khan. “Given we are approaching the end of the month of Ramadan and the celebration of Eid with many Muslims going to local mosques, we expect the authorities to increase security outside mosques as a matter of urgency.” London Mayor Sadiq Khan said the Metropolitan Police had deployed more officers to patrol around mosques.
The mayor of London urged Theresa May to reverse police cuts when he visited the scene of the Finsbury Park attack. Sadiq Khan, responding to London’s third major incident in little more than two weeks, denounced plans to reduce the budget of the Metropolitan Police. “I’ve been saying for thirteen months I’m concerned about the resources the Met police and others have,” he said. “My message to the government is, the plans you have to make the further cuts of £400 million: don’t do it. “My message to the government is, the plans you have to change the police funding formula so London loses more money: don’t do it.
LONDONERS of all faiths have come together at a defiant vigil for victims of the Finsbury Park attack, which has killed one and injured nine others. People gathered outside the mosque which is just yards from where the horror unfolded as worshippers were leaving Ramadan night prayers just after midnight on Monday. The suspected terror attack saw Muslim pedestrians mown down with a hire van – leaving bodies strewn across the pavement on Seven Sisters Road in North London. Wellwishers from all background packed the streets to show support for those caught up in the chaos and vowed “love will win, terror will lose”.
Muslim leaders have spoken out against the media for fuelling Islamophobia, following a deadly attack on a north London mosque. In the hours after a van was driven into worshippers as they finished late night prayers, local leaders and members of the Muslim community warned about rising anti-Muslim sentiment. “Hatred against Muslims is unacceptable as well,” Miqdaad Versi, assistant secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain, told Sky News. “We have national newspapers spreading hate and talking about how less Islam is the answer to terrorism that we face right now. “These people are spreading hate against Muslims and people might be responding to that hate, talking about less Islam, and [something like this attack] may be the result.”
The Finsbury Park attack has taken place against a rising backdrop of Islamaphobia in Britain and the targeting of Muslims. Finsbury Park has one of the most diverse communities in the capital – all faiths live side by side. Mosques were today promised greater protection, as police reported an unprecedented anti-muslim backlash. There’s been a spike in hate crime following the London Bridge attack, with police saying they have recorded five times as many incidents than in the same period last year. Following the attack on the 6th of June there were 20 incidents reported in London compared to an average of three attacks a day last year.
The leader of a hard-line, ‘Khomeinist‘ Islamist group was invited onto the BBC Monday, using the opportunity to label prominent journalists and a reformist Muslim as “hate preachers” who he said are to blame for the Finsbury Park terror attack. Massoud Shadjareh is the chairman of the so-called Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC), which has been accused of supporting Hezbollah terrorists and organised the anti-Semitic al-Quds day in London this weekend, where many Hezbollah terror flags were flown. Mr. Shadjareh has also criticised the prosecution and deportation of Finsbury Park Mosque’s most famous preacher, Abu Hamza al-Masri, the virulently pro-jihad, anti-Western, militant who praised the 9/11 attacks.
Nasa says it has found more evidence to suggest we are not alone in the universe. The US space agency revealed on Monday 10 new rocky, Earth-sized planets that could potentially have liquid water and support life. The Kepler mission team released a survey of 219 potential exoplanets – planets outside of our solar system – that had been detected by the space observatory launched in 2009 to scan the Milky Way galaxy. Ten of the new discoveries were orbiting their suns at a distance similar to Earth’s orbit around the sun, the so-called habitable zone that could potentially have liquid water and sustain life. Kepler has already discovered 4,034 potential exoplanets, 2,335 of which have been confirmed by other telescopes as actual planets.
NASA has discovered more than 200 new planets and 10 of them are the right size and temperature to sustain life. The distant worlds were discovered by the planet-hunting Kepler telescope which, in four years of searching, has discovered 49 planets in the so-called Goldilocks zone. This is the area around a star which is considered neither too hot, nor too cold, to sustain complex life. Commenting on the discovery Kepler scientist Mario Perez said: “Are we alone? Maybe Kepler today has told us indirectly, although we need confirmation, that we are probably not alone.”
NASA has discovered “hundreds” of new planets – including 10 like Earth that could support alien life. The Kepler Space Telescope has discovered 219 new so-called “exoplanets” – planets outside our Solar System – NASA announced today. Of those, 10 are thought to be “rocky and raw” – like Earth. They are within the so-called “habitable zone” of their star – meaning they could support life. The 10 new Earth-like planets are the right temperature for liquid water to pool on their rocky surface. Liquid water is thought to be key to the existence of life. Kepler, a telescope which is flying through space, has spotted a total of 4,034 possible exoplanets – including the 219 announced today – in its four-year mission so far. Of these, 2,300 have been confirmed as planets – the others may be some other kind of celestial body. Around 50 of the planets are a similar size to Earth and are in the so-called “Goldilocks zone” – a distance from their star that is not too hot and not too cold for water to be present.