Brexit

A US spokesman has claimed we have received very little from Brexit, despite all the concessions the Prime Minister has made, says the Express.

BRITAIN must take a tougher stance on Brexit after the EU secured a series of UK concessions and “offered little in return”, a senior trade expert has warned.
Shanker Singham, a former US trade adviser has said the UK needs a “paradigm shift in mindset”, to “start acting like the independent nation that we are about to become.”
Mr Singham, who recently set up a new trade unit at the free-market Institute of Economic Affairs think tank, said: “We must move from a mindset where UK negotiators think the EU and UK are basically trying to sort out a problem that the British electorate has given them, but are now on opposite sides of the table in a trade negotiation.
“The EU does not always have UK interests at heart as they have already demonstrated in a number of ways, most recently with respect to the manner in which our negotiations in the World Trade Organisation are concerned.

The Guardian claims that behind the scenes there are trade negotiations.

Concerns that the Legatum Institute, the libertarian thinktank that advocates a hard Brexit, is playing a behind-the-scenes role in shaping Britain’s future trade policy have been heightened after claims that it has enjoyed greater private access to trade ministers and civil servants than any other body.
Newly released figures show that, in the last quarter of 2017, members of the institute had five one-on-one meetings with the Department for International Trade.
Three of its meetings were with Greg Hands, the trade minister, and two were with Antonia Romeo, the department’s permanent secretary. All with Hands were listed as “to discuss the development of UK trade policy”. Those with Romeo were listed as “update on thinktank”.
Campaigners complain that the UK’s post-Brexit trade policy is being determined with little oversight from MPs, leaving it vulnerable to lobby groups pushing an agenda drawn up by powerful business interests.

And the Telegraph claims the Electoral Commission is biased against Brexit.

Confidence in the elections watchdog was evaporating last night as it emerged that almost half of its board have made public statements criticising the pro-Brexit campaign or backing calls for the result to be overturned, despite strict impartiality rules.
An investigation by The Sunday Telegraph found that four of the Electoral Commission’s 10 commissioners, including the chairman, had made pronouncements on Brexit since the referendum – all of them backing Remain.
The body’s code of conduct states that commissioners must “act at all times” to “uphold its impartiality”.

EU

The Telegraph is reporting that the bloc is planning its own super yacht.  UKIP Daily does not comment on whether this is an April Fool or a genuine example of the EU’s profligacy.

European Union officials are working on secret plans for a new “bateau de commerce” to secure new post-Brexit trade agreements, The Sunday Telegraph can disclose.
The new ship – dubbed “le trade yacht” – will ferry key European Commission figures to trade negotiations as the EU tries to rebuild its own ties with non-EU countries, particularly the Commonwealth, after Britain leaves.
Europa is modelled on the secret designs for the new Royal Yacht Britannia, which were developed by the Ministry of Defence after she was controversially decommissioned by Tony Blair’s government in 1997.
A share of the estimated £350million cost of the new EU trade yacht will be added to the £37billion Brexit bill.

But the Express also carries the report.

THE European Union is planning to shell out millions for a “trade yacht” to carry key European figures to negotiations with non-EU countries and is planning on adding the cost onto the Brexit divorce bill, it has been revealed.
The ship dubbed “le trade yacht” is designed to secure post-Brexit trade agreements with countries outside the EU, and particularly the Commonwealth, it has been reported.
A share of the estimated £350million cost of the new yacht will be added to the £37billion Brexit bill that the UK must already pay to leave the EU, Brussels sources said.
An EU source said last night: “Now the Brits are gone, Europe can rule the waves.”
The yacht will have 27 bedrooms for national leaders, the world’s longest floating bar and a lifeboat called “Article 50”.

The Independent claims the EU’s top negotiator has an alternative ambition.

The most senior Tory in Brussels has accused the EU’s chief Brexit  negotiator of seeking to delay the final Brexit deal so that he can be in the “limelight” when candidates are picked for the next president of the European Commission.
In an interview with The Independent, the leader of the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) group in the EU parliament said Michel Barnier had “no interest in finishing negotiations early” because he fancied himself for the bloc’s top job and needed to be a part of the “political theatre”.
Syed Kamall, a Conservative MEP, said he expected EU negotiators would also delay striking a withdrawal agreement to intensify pressure on the UK, potentially leaving less time for Westminster to assess and approve the final treaty.
The ECR group leader, who backed Brexit ahead of the referendum despite working closely with David Cameron, further suggested that the EU did not want to solve the Irish border question quickly because it would provide a shortcut to a future EU-UK trade deal. He argued that Spain was bluffing and playing to its domestic voters by raising the status of Gibraltar in negotiations.

Spain is still making headlines over Gibraltar, says the Express.

THE NUMBER of illegal intrusions by Spanish government ships into British waters around Gibraltar has soared, fuelling fears that Madrid is flexing its muscles as the UK prepares to quit the European Union.
UK government figures reveal there were more than 600 incidents over the past year.
That represents an increase of 39 per cent over the previous 12 months.
Spanish vessels entering British territorial waters around the Rock have been a source of continuing tension between London and Madrid, which lays claim to the strategically important territory at the mouth of the Mediterranean.
A former governor of Gibraltar has highlighted the “great anxiety” felt by residents because Britain is leaving the EU.
Speaking at Westminster last week, Lord Luce underlined the concern at Brussels giving Spain a veto on any Brexit deal applying to Gibraltar.

Labour Party

Jeremy Corbyn doesn’t seem to be handling his party well at the moment, says the Mail.

Jeremy Corbyn faced a revolt from women Labour MPs last night over claims his party has failed to take action against a male MP accused of wife-beating.
A meeting of Labour women MPs – attended by ex-Labour deputy leader Harriet Harman – backed calls to suspend the politician from the party after he allegedly used violence against his wife on repeated occasions. Ms Harman advised colleagues at the meeting of the women’s Parliamentary Labour Party that the complaint against the MP could be taken up with the Labour leader, his Chief Whip Nick Brown and party officials.
But sources say there were also threats to ‘shame’ the party leadership into taking action by making their call public if the Labour whip was not removed from the MP concerned. Women MPs were told the alleged wife-beater had been reported to Labour HQ but officials had failed to act.
One source said: ‘The allegations against the man are horrific. There is no way he should be an MP and the party cannot just sit on its hands and do nothing.’

And the Times shows just how much anti-semitism and misogyny is being put out by the party.

This montage shows the Labour leader with some of the anti-semitic, violent and misogynistic comments taken verbatim from the pro-Corbyn Facebook groups exposed by The Sunday Times.
Jeremy Corbyn faces a damaging new anti-semitism scandal as a bombshell dossier reveals the full extent of anti-Jewish, violent and abusive comments on Facebook groups mobilising his most fervent supporters.
Twelve senior staff working for the Labour leader and the shadow chancellor, John McDonnell, are members of groups containing anti-semitic and violent comments, including praise for Adolf Hitler and threats to kill Theresa May, the prime minister.
The most comprehensive investigation  conducted into 20 of the biggest pro-Corbyn Facebook groups — numbering 400,000 members — found routine attacks on Jewish people, including Holocaust denial.
The dossier was compiled over two months by whistleblowers working with The Sunday Times in the groups, who gained access to restricted membership groups.

Sky News has claimed that a top party donor has quit.

One of Labour’s biggest private donors has left the party, saying he no longer feels “any affinity or connection” with it.
Sir David Garrard accused the party leadership of failing in its response to the “most blatant acts of anti-Semitism”.
He has donated about £1.5m to Labour since 2003 – but Sir David claimed the party he had supported “no longer exists”.
Labour’s current leadership had in effect “supported and endorsed” acts of anti-Semitism, Sir David told The Observer.

Migration

Another Brexit backtrack is reported in the Times.

Migration rules will be watered down to make it easier for EU citizens to stay in Britain — despite warnings that mafia-style gangs will try to exploit the system.
A leaked Home Office document reveals that a scheme to register the 3.5m EU citizens already in the UK is likely to be “targeted by organised criminality, fraudulent or abusive applicants” and ministers have “no clear picture on the number of staff required” to make it work.
The paper reveals that the government is “removing the requirements” which dictate that those seeking permanent residency status need to show they have sickness insurance and work that is “genuine and effective”.

And the Express reports a quiet dropping of a major election promise by the Tories.

THERESA May’s long term plan to cut net migration down to the “tens of thousands” does not even get discussed among the party any more, senior Tories have reportedly claimed.
In 2010 former Prime Minister David Cameron claimed he would cut immigration down to below 100,000 with “no ifs, no buts”.
And last year Theresa May stood by the pledge, claiming she would have achieved the task “by the end of the five-year parliament” in 2020.
Now senior party insiders have claimed the topic is barely raised within Whitehall.
One cabinet minister told the Sun: “No one’s talking about it anymore.
“There’s no way 100,000 will be in the Immigration Bill – and I can’t see it being in the Manifesto when it comes to the next Election.”
Meanwhile sources have claimed the Government is hopeful voters will be happy knowing the UK will be in “control” of its own borders.

Education

Following the NUT conference, the union could call its members out on strike, says the Times.

Schools could be hit by strikes after teachers voted yesterday to pursue action for an immediate 5% pay rise.
Delegates attending the annual conference of the National Union of Teachers (NUT), the biggest teaching union, voted for a strike ballot amid growing fury at “fat cat” salaries paid to the leaders of some academy trusts.
Tomorrow, they are expected to vote for further action to oppose plans to bring in tests for five-year-olds.
Teachers earn £37,400 on average, rising to £41,900 in London, according to official figures. The highest-paid academy chief, Sir Dan Moynihan of the Harris Federation in London, enjoys a salary of £430,000, while John Tomasevic, of the Torch Academy in the East Midlands, gets £265,000.

Sky News also has the story.

Teacher strikes over pay have moved a step closer after two major unions voted in favour of industrial action to secure wage hikes.
Members of the NASUWT union, meeting at its annual conference in Birmingham, voted unanimously in favour of considering the use of rolling industrial action if the Government fails to ensure a better pay deal for workers.
Meanwhile in Brighton, the NUT section of the National Education Union (NEU) committed to balloting its members for strikes if its demands over pay are not met.
The two unions represent the majority of teachers who belong to a union.
Teachers are calling for a pay rise to tackle issues with recruitment and retention in the profession.
Schoolchildren across the country could face disruption if walkouts were to go ahead.

The Guardian also reports the plans.

Britain’s two major teaching unions have started the clock ticking on industrial action for schools in England and Wales after votes at conferences in Birmingham and Brighton.
Delegates at the National Education Union (NEU), the section of the newly merged union formerly known as the National Union of Teachers, backed a motion in Brighton to proceed to a ballot of members over possible strikes.
Meanwhile, delegates in Birmingham at the NASUWT teachers union unanimously agreed to support industrial action if the government maintains its cap restraining pay increases for teachers.
Both unions heard impassioned speeches on the need for pay rises to compensate teachers for years of austerity, and to stem the flow of teachers leaving the state sector because of heavy workloads and more attractive options elsewhere in the labour market.

And the Independent claims school discipline is tantamount to child abuse.

A zero-tolerance approach to discipline in schools amounts to “child abuse”, teachers have claimed.
Extremely strict behaviour policies unfairly punish working class children who may not be as focused in class or as well-behaved because of difficult circumstances at home, teachers have suggested.
The remarks came as the NUT section of the National Education Union (NEU) raised their concerns about the state of children’s mental health at their annual conference in Brighton.
Jonathan Reddiford, from North Somerset, said he felt ‘zero tolerance’ behaviour policies in schools were a “key cause” for mental health problems among young people.
He added that it was “incredibly harsh” to exclude pupils for misbehaving and he said using strict behaviour policies with vulnerable children was “nothing short of child abuse”.

NHS

An Alzheimer’s drug may soon be available on the NHS, says the Times.

People with Alzheimer’s may soon be able to get an extra drug on the NHS to help them remember grandchildren’s names and stay in their own homes.
Guidelines by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice), to be published in June, are expected to say that patients can have the drug, memantine, in addition to treatments they are already taking. At the moment, patients must choose between memantine and one of a group of three other drugs.
Wendy Burn, president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said: “Although the drugs are not a cure, they do slow down deterioration. Research shows that patients who have access to both drugs do better than those who only have one.

Council tax

Tax on second homes comes under the spotlight in the Guardian.

The owners of nearly 100,000 empty or second homes in England are paying reduced or no council tax on their properties despite the cash crisis facing local authorities, it has emerged.
Almost 80,000 empty houses have been enjoying council tax deductions, according to official government figures seen by the Observer, with nearly half of the properties having no council tax applied to them at all. Owners of more than 19,000 second homes were also given money off their council tax bills.
Some of the councils awarding the highest discounts are now moving to end the giveaway. It comes after ministers announced new powers last week for local authorities to charge double the rate of council tax on homes left empty for two years.
Cheshire West and Chester council, which had 2,562 discounted empty homes – the highest in the country – has moved to stop the discounts after admitting they were costing it £1.4m a year. Many of the beneficiaries were private landlords.

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