Customs union

Express
BRITAIN remaining in the customs union or any version of it after Brexit will see chances of entering “realms of gold” across the globe hugely crippled, said Boris Johnson.
The  Foreign Secretary issued a stark warning following his visit to South America, saying that being bonded by laws regulating the EU’s customs union would prevent the UK from signing ambitious new trade deals and advantageous partnerships. Speaking after his visit to Peru, he said Britain has become too “Eurocentric” and, by favouring trading with France and Germany, is missing out on opportunities with countries like Peru. Mr Johnson also said: “The opportunities are vast.

Guardian
Boris Johnson has stressed the need for the UK to come “fully out” of the EU customs union if the UK is to be a global trading nation.
Johnson said his recent trip to Latin America – during which he urged the prime minister to “get on with it” and take Britain out of the customs union “as fast as is reasonably possible” – made it clear that potential trading partners wanted the UK to leave the EU tariffs arrangement. Writing in the Telegraph, Johnson said: “Now is our moment not to be less European – we can do a great free trade deal with the EU that will benefit both sides – but to be truly global again.” He said it was time to create deals with the “dynamic countries” he had visited “but our Latin American partners are emphatic: if this is to work, we must come fully out of the EU customs union”. If the UK is to be a “valid trading partner, then we must take back control – as the PM has said – of our tariff schedules, and do deals that are unhindered and uncomplicated”.

Guardian
Eurotunnel has issued a stark warning that UK businesses and consumers will face serious economic costs if the government adopts either of the post-Brexit customs models being considered by Theresa May’s government.
The intervention by the Channel tunnel operator, coupled with a claim by the company that the necessary technology to prevent delays at the borders may not be ready until several years after Brexit, will add to growing pressure on Theresa May to face down hardline Brexiters by keeping the UK inside the EU customs union. With just weeks to go until the prime minister faces a series of crucial votes on Brexit in the House of Commons, the head of HM Revenue and Customs, Jon Thompson, sent shockwaves through Whitehall last week when he revealed that British companies would face an additional bill of around £20bn a year in extra bureaucracy if the so-called “max fac” border option, backed by the leading Brexiters Boris Johnson and Michael Gove, was adopted.

Telegraph
Staying in the customs union, or any version of it, will leave the UK unable to form new partnerships across the globe, Boris Johnson warns.
Speaking after his visit to Peru, Chile and Argentina the Foreign Secretary says there are “realms of gold” to be won with new trade deals but these can only be negotiated if the UK is able to offer “unhindered and complicated” opportunities.  And he warns the prospect of complex arrangements, tied to existing agreements with the EU, would make it more difficult.  His latest remarks come just days after Mr Johnson warned the Prime Minister she must not betray the country by keeping the UK in the customs union.

EU

Express
IAIN Duncan Smith has blasted the “childish bullying” of the European Union, which he said was evidence that “there is fear” in Brussels that post-Brexit Britain could triumph over the EU.
The former Conservative Party leader said that Britain had to stop “begging” their European counterparts and start demanding instead. In a fierce rebuke to the state of the Brexit talks, Iain Duncan Smith said the recent hostile tactics from Brussels was an attempt “to hide” their own fear of the UK beating them. There is growing concern among Brexiteers that Britain has given up too many red lines and allowed the EU to dictate the talks. 

Telegraph (by Iain Duncan Smith)
When the British people voted to leave the EU, they didn’t just turn politics on its head in the UK. They also called into question the whole European Project – this ever-onward march, driven hard by a central bureaucracy, aimed at creating a United States of Europe.
Since that point the EU Commission, aided by meetings with hardcore UK Remainers, have included in their core strategy, the strong possibility that the UK could be forced to accept Brexit in name only. This would mean remaining in the Single Market and Customs Union whilst accepting the authority of the European Court of Justice. To do this, the EU believes they simply need to sit tight and obstruct the process.

Sun (by Trevor Kavanagh)
THERESA MAY’S negotiating style is to turn up at crucial Brussels summits already looking defeated, only to emerge covered in kisses and startled by apparent victory. On closer inspection we discover she has merely won time to impale herself more deeply on the EU hook.
The PM is likely to repeat this performance at next month’s crunch EU summit, where final decisions over Britain’s future relationship with Europe will be signed. Mrs May will be offered brightly wrapped “concessions” which appear to honour her “Brexit means Brexit” promise. Unwrapped, they will reveal Brexit actually means Remain. Abrasive Leave campaign mastermind Dominic Cummings warned last week: “It’s a train wreck. The Government has no credible policy and the whole world knows it. “Whitehall’s real preparations are for the continuation of EU law and the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice.

Express
THE UK must sever all ties with the EU after Brexit including plans of joining a European army to avoid a situation in which Britain can never fully leave the bloc, according to an ex-MI6 spy chief.
The London School of Economics professor Sir Richard Dearlove is calling on the Prime Minister to reject plans for an EU Army. It follows a new study which reveals Whitehall officials are working with EU counterparts to keep the UK paying billions into defence projects. The report says “participation of any kind is structurally prescribed to be integration, not cooperation”. Sir Richard said: “We must cut free from real and present dangers of continuing entanglement and subordination to the EU after Brexit.”

Brexit

BBC News
The food and farming industry wants assurances from the government that it will still be able to recruit enough staff from the EU after Brexit.
The demand came as part of a manifesto drawn up by more than 100 organisations across the industry and sent to the PM. It urges the government to publish a white paper setting out its immigration plans “as a matter of priority”. A government spokesperson said those in the sector would be able to recruit EU citizens until December 2020. Those in the farming industry have previously raised concerns about the impact of leaving the European Union on agricultural labour, which is often short-term, flexible and seasonal.

Jacob Rees-Mogg

Times
Jacob Rees-Mogg accused Theresa May yesterday of making a huge number of compromises to Brussels in return for nothing as he called on the prime minister to take a much tougher line in withdrawal negotiations.
Describing her as the “most impressive and dutiful leader” that Britain has ever had, the prominent Brexiteer said that she had nonetheless made errors in her negotiating strategy. The chairman of the influential European Research Group of Conservative backbenchers said that the prime minister needed to threaten non-payment of the  Brexit divorce bill and be stronger in facing down Brussels. “On our side we’ve made a huge number of compromises, and on the other side nothing has come in return,” Mr Rees-Mogg told The Andrew Marr Show on BBC One.

Independent
Jacob Rees-Mogg has criticised Theresa May over her handling of Brexit
negotiations, calling the prime minister’s stance on the Irish border “an error” and “a mistake”. The arch Brexiteer said Ms May was wrong to refuse to play hardball with Brussels by daring it to set up a hard border in Northern Ireland if there is no Brexit withdrawal agreement. He also criticised the cabinet’s decision to approve a “backstop” option that would see Northern Ireland fall under the same regulations as the rest of Europe for a time-limited period if no other deal is reached, describing it as a “real problem”. Mr Rees-Mogg has previously urged Ms May to “call their bluff” during negotiations and argue there will only be a hard border after Brexit if the EU creates one, thereby giving Brussels sole responsibility for finding a solution to the problem. He said: “Ireland has said it doesn’t want a hard border, the UK has said it doesn’t want a hard border and the EU itself has said it doesn’t want a hard border – so frankly it’s up to Brussels if it wants to start putting up border posts. We should call their bluff.”

Westmonster
Jacob Rees-Mogg is being urged to ‘strike now’ by Eurosceptic Tories and ramp up the pressure of Theresa May over Brexit.
Members of the European Research Group, which he chairs, are said to have urged him to ‘show some steel’ and do all he can for force May into enacting a Hard Brexit. Mid Derbyshire MP Pauline Latham said: ‘No more Mr Nice Guy, Jacob. Show some steel.’ They believe they have the numbers to crush the Remoaners and because Jeremy Corbyn is currently an MP light thanks to the Lewisham East by-election, Tories want Mogg to force the issue and demand a Commons vote ASAP, securing a clean break from the EU. It comes as it emerges that Mogg has just bought a £5m house right near Parliament, with rumours that he’s going to use it as a campaign HQ…which he’s denied.

Guardian
Jacob Rees-Mogg has urged Theresa May to revive her threat to leave the EU without a deal if Brussels continues to take an uncompromising approach in the Brexit negotiations.
Rees-Mogg, the chair of the European Research Group, which represents about 60 of the most pro-Brexit Conservative MPs, used an interview on Sunday on BBC One’s The Andrew Marr Show to claim that the UK could be more intransigent because it was in a much stronger negotiating position than people realised. Despite being the favourite among Conservative members to be the next party leader, he said he had no wish to replace May in No 10 – but did not unequivocally rule it out. He told Marr he was concerned the UK was losing out in the talks because the concessions were “all very one way”. He s he did not want May to walk out of the process but suggested the government should offer an ultimatum.

Mail
Jacob Rees-Mogg arrived at TV studios today flanked by his lookalike 10 year old son Peter.
The Tory backbencher and his Mini Me arrived at the BBC studios early this morning before Rees-Mogg senior was interviewed by Andrew Marr. Peter was dressed identically to his father in a dark suit, tie and smart shoes. In his interview, Mr Rees-Mogg told the Prime Minister to threaten the EU with cancelling Britain’s £40billion Brexit divorce deal to secure a trade deal.  The Brexiteer ring leader warned the negotiations so far have been ‘all one way’ but insisted Britain retrained a strong hand in the negotiations.

Economy

Telegraph
Britain’s economy is surging ahead, rebounding rapidly from a slow start to the year according to an index of economic indicators by experts at Goldman Sachs.
GDP growth could hit 0.5pc in the second quarter, the investment bank believes, shrugging off a 0.1pc slump in the first quarter. The investment bank has created the index using public and private data, which suggest the UK is on track for growth of 0.4pc. This ­
 indicates the slowdown was caused by “erratic and idiosyncratic” factors including the snow, said Andrew Benito, UK economist at Goldman Sachs. He believes there could be an extra recovery on top of that as corporate investment growth and exports pick up.

Express
REMAIN-backing banking giant Goldman Sachs has been forced to admit Britain’s economy is surging ahead faster than expected despite previous indications from the bank’s boss that Brexit would be ruinous for Britain.
The bank’s chief executive had even called for a second Brexit referendum to “make sure consensus was still there” less than six months ago. But the same investment bank which last year was calling Brexit “a tough and risky road” has today admitted that Britain has been growing in 2018 faster than they previously forecast in their own reports. Goldman Sachs’ experts said GDP growth could hit 0.5 per cent in the second quarter of the year, a 0.1 per cent more than the growth they had foreseen.

Italy

Mail
Italy’s premier-designate has told the president he has been unable to form what would have been western Europe’s first populist government.
A presidential palace official said that Giuseppe Conte ‘has given back the mandate’ to try to form a government that President Sergio Mattarella gave him four days earlier. Mr Conte said he tried his hardest to form the country’s next government and had full cooperation from would-be coalition partners, the populist 5-Star Movement and League parties. The University of Florence law professor said he ‘gave the maximum effort, attention, to carry out this task with the full collaboration’ of the 5-Star Movement and League. Mr Conte, who has no political experience, received the mandate last week from the pro-European Mr Mattarella. Assembling a Cabinet acceptable to both Mr Mattarella and the populist partners foundered on League leader Matteo Salvini’s insistence on a Eurosceptic economy minister.

Breitbart
Italian President Sergio Mattarella announced his rejection of Italy’s populist coalition government Sunday evening in what is being billed as one of the worst days in Italian political history.
Mattarella’s move is being widely interpreted as a rejection not only of the government but of the national will as expressed in democratic elections, and massive demonstrations are expected Monday. The Italian president was reportedly under heavy pressure from Brussels, Berlin, and other centres of European power to abort the eurosceptic government, which they viewed as a threat to European stability. In the March 4th national elections, Italians voted overwhelmingly for anti-establishment parties, with the Five-Star Movement taking the largest share, followed by the eurosceptic and anti-mass immigration League. Since neither party had the necessary parliamentary seats to form a government, the leaders of the two groups — Five-Star’s Luigi Di Maio and League’s Matteo Salvini — worked together to form a coalition government, working through their differences and hammering out a 58-page unified political program last week.

NHS

ITV News
A review has been launched to eliminate the gender pay gap in medicine, which sees male doctors paid over £10,000 more than their female counterparts.
Male doctors receive an average £67,788 in basic pay, compared with £57,569 for female doctors – a difference of £10,219 or 15%. The NHS has an overall gender pay gap of 23% despite the fact that it employs far more women than men. This is because the number of highly paid male doctors is a much bigger proportion of the male NHS workforce than female doctors are of the female workforce. To tackle this inequality, Health and Social Care Secretary Jeremy Hunt has launched an independent review to be led by top doctor Professor Jane Dacre. Reasons why there are more men at the top of the career ladder in medicine include that taking time out for maternity or carer responsibilities can affect the opportunities women get for career or pay progression, as consultant training takes time and pay progression rates are based on time served.

Abortion

Telegraph
Theresa May is under increasing pressure to change the law on abortion in Northern Ireland after scores of her own ministers called on her to back a vote on the issue.
Anne Milton, the skills minister and former deputy chief whip, became the latest to back a free vote in the House of Commons after Ireland voted to allow women access to abortions this weekend. Other ministers have called for a referendum, but the Prime Minister is in a difficult position because any change in the law would be strongly opposed by the DUP, the party on which she relies for her Commons majority. Arlene Foster, the DUP leader, warned the decision will be for Northern Ireland alone, not politicians in Westminster.

Mirror
New pressure is being heaped on Theresa May after Tories demanded she allows abortion in Northern Ireland – despite her DUP allies opposing it.
MPs want the Prime Minister to decide where her loyalties lie after Ireland voted for reform – while Northern Ireland retains some of the strictest abortion laws in Europe. Only women whose lives or serious health are at risk can get abortions in Northern Ireland, forcing thousands to travel desperately across the Irish Sea each year. Several prominent Tories including the Equalities Minister have now renewed demands that women in Northern Ireland win the right to abortion. Another minister has broken ranks today to call for a free vote on the issue – where MPs are not whipped by party – in parliament. Tory education minister Anne Milton added: “I feel quite strongly about it. I think it should be a free vote.”

BBC

Mail
Licence fee payers are footing the bill for a series of BBC  music festivals headlined by US mega-star Taylor Swift.
BBC Biggest Weekend concerts are being held in four cities across the UK over the Bank Holiday weekend, with more than 175,000 tickets on sale to the public at £18 each. The events were initially marketed by the corporation as an unofficial replacement for the Glastonbury Festival, which is not on this year. Yesterday’s festival in Swansea featured a headline performance by Taylor Swift, one of the world’s most in-demand pop stars. British singer Rita Ora also performed a headline set. A post on her Instagram page yesterday showed her next to private jet on the tarmac at Cardiff airport, 42 miles from the festival site at Singleton Park, Swansea. The BBC would not confirm how it paid for the headliners’ concert fees and travel costs, which are expected to run into to the millions.

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