A FURIOUS euro MP today branded his own project a “laughing stock” over Brussels’ refusal to grant Britain its fair share of EU assets during the calculation of the Brexit divorce bill. Philippe Lamberts, the influential president of the Greens grouping, said it was “obvious” that the UK was entitled to cash back for its decades of contributions and accused eurocrats of losing credibility over the issue. Senior EU officials have said that Britain has “no right” to a single penny of the bloc’s assets because the club is a separate legal entity and everything it owns belongs to Brussels, not the member states. But top British figures including Boris Johnson and David Davis have insisted that the UK will submit a claim to its share of the European empire, which UK officials estimate is worth almost half of the proposed Brexit bill.
A middle way should “easily” be negotiated between Britain’s claims to have no divorce bill to settle when it leaves the EU and Brussels’ position that the country could owe as much as €100bn, the leader of the largest group in the European parliament has said. In the first significant sign of a willingness on the EU side to compromise on the highly contentious issue, Manfred Weber, chair of the centre-right European People’s party, of which Angela Merkel is a leading light, suggested the bloc could be open to reducing its initial demands. Weber said the UK’s need to fulfil its commitments in the EU budget up to the point it leaves in 2019 formed a “solid basis” from which to start the talks. But he appeared to suggest Theresa May might be able to reduce Britain’s total bill by pointing to its share of the bloc’s £130bn assets, which would include buildings, investments and even its generous wine cellar.
BRITAIN has held meetings with a European Union (EU) member state behind Brussels back, in a move set to outrage eurocrats. The Minister of State at the Department for Exiting the European Union David Jones was in Luxembourg to meet with the nation’s leaders, including finance minister Pierre Gramegna. The meeting seems to go against European Union demands the bloc’s Brexit negotiations should only be handled by Brussels bosses including Michel Barnier and Guy Verhofstadt instead of individual member states. EU member states explicitly agreed to avoid going it alone, while Luxembourg’s official government response insisted Britain must not be able to “cherry pick” during exit talks. But Mr Jones met with the finance minister, members of parliament and representatives of Luxembourg’s financial sector behind closed door on April 24, according to Luxemburger Wort.
JEREMY Corbyn has hinted he would surrender to the EU’s outrageous demand for a €100bn Brexit “divorce bill” if he becomes Prime Minister. The Labour leader indicated he is willing to pay up to quit the bloc despite senior Government figures insisting we owe Brussels nothing. He said the UK “must honour” its legal obligations on “long-term investment projects”, but qualified it by saying any other demands from the EU for money would be open to negotiation. Mr Corbyn refused to say if he would agree to demands for the UK to settle its accounts before talks on a new trade deal will start. And he said he would sit down with Brussels negotiators to agree a programme on “day one” of a Labour government. It comes after Boris Johnson insisted the divorce bill, now potentially as high as £85 billion, would only be agreed once everything was agreed.
Trade with Europe
The European court of justice has raised a ray of hope for British trade negotiators with a surprise ruling that will make it harder for national parliaments to block key components of any future post-Brexit deal between the EU and the UK. In a long-awaited test case that had been expected to complicate the Brexit process, the court instead ruled that EU officials had exclusive powers to negotiate international trade deals without ratification by national and regional parliaments. Ratification is still required in specific areas, such as inward investment and dispute resolution, but the definition of the EU “competences” is much broader than had been expected. The ECJ ruling stems from a request by the European commission to rule on its authority over a trade deal between the EU and Singapore, but the case took on much wider importance after the Brexit vote.
A future trade deal between Britain and the EU would not necessarily need the unanimous approval of all member states after a landmark ruling by the European Court of Justice. In a surprise decision that could smooth the way to a post-Brexit trade agreement, the court imposed legal limits on the power of individual countries to block EU-wide trade deals. It had been asked to rule on whether the EU had the power to approve a trade agreement with Singapore or whether individual countries could veto it. It had previously been thought that any free-trade agreement between Britain and the EU, including a transitional arrangement, would require the ratification of every member state.
The EU’S top court has paved the way for a swift post-Brexit trade deal by significantly reducing the ability of national parliaments to stand in the way of an agreement. In a surprise ruling, the European Court of Justice said Brussels could negotiate the deal without a need for lawmakers in the bloc’s remaining countries to ratify it. The decision will come as a huge relief to the Government who feared that agreement could be stalled for years if judges handed a wide-ranging veto to member states. Instead, the Luxembourg court gave EU leaders the power to pass a free trade agreement by majority vote without the risk of blocks by stubborn parliaments. The landmark decision was welcomed by experts who said that it increased the chances of the UK and Brussels reaching a quick agreement.
A EUROPEAN court ruling giving 38 national and regional parliaments around the continent the power to veto a key trade deal further proves the British people were right to vote to leave, pro-Brexit campaigners said. But the landmark judgement was also seen as a potential boost to hopes of Britain being able to strike a swift new Brexit pact with the EU – as well as making the UK an even more attractive option for other countries to trade with. The European Court of Justice in Luxembourg said parts of a trade deal struck with Singapore in 2013 need ratification in every member state and cannot be agreed by the EU Commission alone. That paves the way for politicians in one of the continent’s many assemblies to block it, in a re-run of last year’s chaos when Belgium’s Walloon regional parliament nearly sank an EU deal with Canada after seven years of talks.
Unlikely to have the power of veto over a future Brexit trade deal with Britain, a new court judgment has indicated. Ruling on an investment and trade deal between the EU and Singapore, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) said the EU maintains “exclusive competence” over areas ranging from foreign investment to intellectual property rights and environmental standards. The ruling, which strips national parliaments of their assumed say on large parts of trade deals, could mean there are fewer chances for EU member states to hold up a trade deal between the EU and UK. The European Commission has said it wants to settle the Article 50 Brexit deal and separation terms before doing a trade deal, which would govern the relationship going into the future. The case went to the ECJ after the commission asked the court to test its authority on negotiating trade deals with Singapore.
Fury erupted last night over a decision by European judges that could make it harder for Britain to agree a free trade deal with the EU. The European Court of Justice ruled that the terms of the EU’s free trade deal with Singapore must be backed by 38 national and regional parliaments across the bloc. The decision to give each body a veto sets a worrying precedent for Britain’s hopes of signing a post-Brexit trade deal before we leave in spring 2019. Tory MEP Amjad Bashir fumed: “This shows why we are right to be leaving. With so many hoops to jump through, Brussels may never strike a trade deal again.” But Lib Dem foreign affairs chief Tom Brake said the ruling had left the Government’s claims of an easy UK-EU trade deal in “tatters”. In a report published today the influential Institute for Government (IfG) says Britain can become a “powerful and “independent” player in global trade – but only if the civil service radically reforms the way it works.
Jeremy Corbyn has been accused of planning to “bankrupt Britain” with a manifesto that would ramp up debt by £250 billion and stage the biggest tax raid the country has ever seen. The Labour leader announced plans for £48.6 billion of extra annual spending commitments paid for by high earners and businesses that would saddle the country with its biggest tax burden since 1950. His manifesto pledges were immediately picked apart by one of the country’s leading economists, who suggested the tax plans might only raise £20bn, leaving a £28.6bn annual shortfall. Mr Corbyn, who revealed he would nationalise the UK’s water companies, in addition to the railways, Royal Mail and National Grid, admitted he could not give any figures for how much his 1970s-style nationalisation project would cost.
Labour’s tax raid on the country’s 1.3 million highest earners could raise less than half the £4.5 billion claimed by the party, experts said last night. The policy was announced by Jeremy Corbyn as part of plans to raise £48 billion through tax increases. The Labour Party manifesto urged voters to stop the “rich getting richer” and back a vast public sector spending programme. The party faced questions, however, amid confusion over the proposed nationalisation of the water industry and warnings that income tax rises for those earning £80,000 or more would fail to yield the projected funds. Mr Corbyn also made an unscripted commitment to unfreeze benefits, which aides struggled to square with the published plans.
JEREMY Corbyn is prepared to open the floodgates to migrants as part of a deal with the European Union. Despite promising that free movement will end when Britain leaves the EU, the Labour manifesto has revealed that if the party defies the polls and wins the election it will negotiate away controls on immigration with Brussels. A line in the hard Left manifesto read: “New rules [on immigration] will be equally informed by negotiations with EU and other partners, including the Commonwealth.” Labour also plans to hide thousands of immigrants by removing foreign students from the official figure contrary to internationally set measurements. During the manifesto launch at Bradford University, Mr Corbyn launched an impassioned defence of high levels of immigration – which he refuses to set an annual cap. He said: “Free movement that currently exists within the European Union, obviously at the time we leave the European Union that free movement doesn’t continue.
Labour’s manifesto was unravelling last night as experts warned the party’s £49billion spending spree was fatally flawed. Jeremy Corbyn wants to finance it with a massive tax raid targeting businesses and the middle classes. The Labour leader yesterday insisted the sum raised would exactly match the extra spending. But the Institute for Fiscal Studies warned he might miss his target by as much as £30billion. The independent think-tank said this was because firms might slash investment while wealthy individuals could move abroad. The IFS, whose work formed part of the basis for Labour’s manifesto costings, said Mr Corbyn’s plan would raise the tax burden to the highest level since the post-war 1940s. The Tories suggested Labour’s spending plans could cost as much as £95billion and would ‘bankrupt Britain’.
Jeremy Corbyn’s biggest trade union backer has said he does not believe Labour will win the election but would have fought a successful campaign if it keeps 200 seats, although that would be the party’s worst result since 1935. The intervention by Len McCluskey, the general secretary of Unite, overshadowed the launch of Labour’s election manifesto, which set out £50bn spending pledges and higher rates of tax for those earning over £80,000 and £123,000. The union leader blamed a hostile media for the scale of the task of turning around the leader’s image in the minds of voters, but added that Corbyn would have succeeded even if he won slightly fewer seats than the 229 the party held in the last parliament.
LABOUR’S manifesto plans were rubbished by independent experts within minutes as it was claimed the party faces a £30billion budget black hole if it is elected. Jeremy Corbyn today vowed to hike state spending by 10 per cent, which he claims will be fully paid for by new taxes on big business and the rich. If the levies raised as much as Labour wants, Britain would face its largest tax burden since the 1940s. But economists warned today that the tax hikes would be unlikely to raise enough to pay for the additional spending – leaving a hole in the national accounts of up to £30billion. Mr Corbyn announced plans for £50billion more day-to-day spending on childcare, free university tuition and other handouts.
LABOUR leader Jeremy Corbyn officially launched the party’s progressive and fully costed manifesto yesterday — receiving praise all round. Proposals include increasing public investment, a higher national minimum wage, ending the 1 per cent public-sector pay cap, limiting salaries of the highest-paid private and public-sector bosses, and higher taxation on the very wealthy. Spending totalling £48.6 billion would fund the party’s priorities that include pumping £6bn a year into schools, investing £7bn in the NHS and social care, scrapping tuition fees, and free primary school lunches for all children. Policies would be funded by increasing taxes on corporations from 19 to 26 per cent by 2021 and individuals earning more than £80,000 a year, to raise the almost £50bn that is needed.
Tony Blair’s mentor says that if Jeremy Corbyn loses the General Election and refuses to step down, the Labour right and centre will form their own party. And, says the former Prime Minister’s long-time election agent, John Burton, he would join it. It was Mr Burton who chose the fresh-faced young Mr Blair as the candidate for Sedgefield, the collection of pit mining villages in County Durham, the last Labour safe seat to choose a candidate for the 1983 election. Blair went on to credit Burton with providing him with the anchor in working class opinion and thought that he, the Fettes educated Hackney lawyer, struggled to access.
Labour will pledge £5billion a year to create a universal childcare service for every family in Britain. In a landmark pledge Jeremy Corbyn will vow to extend 30 hours-a-week of free nursery care – currently only promised to working parents – to every family regardless of their circumstances. The massive entitlement, bringing the value of state-backed childcare to £12.5bn a year, would be available from the day every child turns two years old until they start school, even if neither parent is in work. Labour said an additional 1.3million kids across Britain will benefit from the policy if the party wins the election on June 8. The spectacular pledge – only hinted at in last week’s leaked manifesto – will be the centrepiece of the party’s official election manifesto, to be launched at a glitzy event in West Yorkshire on Tuesday.
Almost one in three people aged 80 or older is not receiving adequate help with basic daily tasks that they struggle to perform themselves, the largest charity for the elderly has claimed. Age UK estimates that nearly 800,000 people are not getting suitable care for activities such as getting out of bed, dressing, going to the bathroom or eating. The charity, which looked at essential living tasks confronting the 2.6 million “oldest old” aged 80 or over in England, said that 926,000 of this group had difficulty with at least one daily living activity and 794,000 received help that did not always meet their needs. About 591,000 of those aged 80 or older had no help, it said.
Doctors, academics and public health officials have called on the Conservative Party to include in its general election manifesto a commitment to spend £350m a week on the NHS, in keeping with the notorious posters of the Vote Leave campaign. In an open letter organised by Vote Leave Watch and the Healthier In campaign, the group of medical doctors, academics and public health experts say that for the mandate of the referendum to be respected, the Conservatives “must promise in their manifesto to spend £350m extra per week on the NHS once Britain leaves the European Union.” They continue to say that “failing to do so would reveal the hollowness of their pledge”. Labour’s Chuka Umunna, chair of Vote Leave Watch, said that failure to deliver the promise would show the Conservatives to be “a cynical shower of hard Brexiteers”.
COLLEGE lecturers across Scotland are staging a 48-hour strike ending today in a long-running dispute over equal pay. Members of the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) union claim that Colleges Scotland has broken a national agreement which saw the suspension of strike action last year in return for an uplift in pay. College bosses promised members last year that they would pay lecturers in all colleges the same, ending the current situation where teachers are paid different sums for the same job. But the agreement has not come to fruition, forcing members to resume industrial action, the union said. Paisley West College lecturer Mick McShane told the Star: “The strike is as solid as ever and getting stronger, the public support has been overwhelming. “Management are trying underhand tactics to break the strike but it is clear that they’re running scared.