International trade

The UK has secured more than £15billion of extra foreign investment since the referendum, ministers announced last night as they hailed the “clear vote of confidence in the UK”. Liam Fox, the International Trade Secretary, said his department, which was set up following the Brexit vote, has reached deals on more than £15.2 billion worth of foreign direct investment in sectors including property development, infrastructure and renewable energy. It is understood that billions of pounds worth of other foreign deals will be made in the coming months but cannot yet be publicly disclosed.

Liam Fox has rejected claims that Brexit will hit investment in Britain by insisting that his department has secured more than £16.3 billion in foreign direct investment since the summer. The international trade secretary faces accusations that he will have little to do for two years while Britain remains inside the EU, which limits Britain’s abilities to sign its own trade deals. Critics have also warned that Britain could be a less attractive venue for investment after it leaves the bloc. However, Dr Fox said that his Department for International Trade had brought in billions of investment in the past five months across sectors including property development, infrastructure and renewable energy.

BRITAIN’S push for Brexit has helped attract an extra £16.3billion in foreign investment in UK businesses, new figures revealed last night. Data from Whitehall showed that the newly-formed Department for International Trade has assisted in securing a string of deals to boost jobs and economic growth since the historic vote to leave the
EU. Small firms and industries outside London in key sectors of the economy including property development, infrastructure and energy have been the big winners, the statistics confirmed. Officials insist the surge proves that Britain is “an attractive place to invest and do business” as Theresa May prepares to formally apply for the country to cut ties with Brussels next year. News of the extra investment came after the FTSE 100 Index recorded a new all-time closing high of 7,120.26 yesterday. And a survey of the UK’s largest businesses by Deloitte earlier this week found that confidence had reached the highest level in 18 months. 


A fresh legal challenge has been launched against Britain leaving the single market and the European free-trade bloc after Theresa May triggers Article 50. 
Pressure-group British Influence are aiming to prevent ‘hard Brexit’ with a High Court bid that would force a parliamentary vote on leaving the single market even after it leaves the EU. The group has already filed judicial papers on behalf of four claimants, separate to the Supreme Court bid led by Gina Miller demanding MPs must vote on triggering article 50. British Influence, which claims to be pro-Brexit, aims to prove that Britain is a party to the free-trade agreement in its own right, so could not be forced out by Brussels when it leaves the EU. 

A fresh set of legal challenges asserting that the UK will remain within the single market and the European Economic Area after Brexit have been lodged at the high court. A group of four anonymous claimants – who are a mix of overseas, EU, EEA and UK nationals – have joined a judicial review of government plans to leave the EU, alleging that separate parliamentary approval is needed to quit the EEA. The new challenges issued on Thursday will consolidate the case already initiated by Peter Wilding and Adrian Yalland. Wilding runs the pro-single market organisation British Influence. The government and the European commission insist that the UK departs the EEA at the moment it leaves the EU. But article 127 of the EEA agreement requires contracting parties, which include the UK, to give at least 12 months’ notice before leaving, the claimants point out. That, they maintain, implies a separate departure process from the one in article 50 of the EU treaty that has been disputed in the supreme court.


The chairman of Veterans for Britain, a military pressure group which campaigned for Brexit during the EU referendum, claims that the Government has signed up to advanced European military and security integration plans which are tantamount to “the UK joining the single currency in its last two years of EU membership”. “The plans use all means at the EU’s disposal to encroach on every single area of UK defence planning,” warned Major-General Julian Thompson, a decorated veteran who led 3 Commando Brigade during the Falklands War and served as land commander for the British forces charged with liberating the islands. “Policy, procurement, funding, intelligence services, command structure and defence research are all appropriated by these EU plans,” he claims, cautioning that “completely unnecessary” proposals for participants to establish “defence autonomy from NATO” will disincentivise funding for the American-led alliance and undermine it.


Thousands of pests including cockroaches and rats have been found in NHS hospitals in each of the last five years as the cost of tackling them has spiralled, new figures show. Data obtained by the Press Association under Freedom of Information laws shows there were nearly 5,000 pest control call-outs by NHS trusts to hospitals in England in 2015/16 – equivalent to around 13 a day. The areas where pests have been sighted included maternity wards, children’s intensive care units and operating theatres. The amount of money hospitals spent on treating pests reached nearly £1.1million in the year to March 2016 and the overall figure is likely to be far higher as 87 of around 150 trusts responded to the request. Some refused to say how much they had spent, citing private finance initiative (PFI) deals or that the information was ‘commercially sensitive’.

The NHS will be powerless to carry out vital safety checks on European doctors if Theresa May opts for a ‘soft Brexit’, the medical regulator has warned. The General Medical Council told MPs that if Britain stays in the EU single market, it will be unable to test properly the competence and skills of doctors from the Continent. Brussels bans the safety checks saying they violate freedom of movement rules. The GMC said if the Prime Minister accedes to Remainers’ demands to stay in the single market, it will still have to abide by the ban. It added that if the UK leaves the single market, the NHS will be free to ‘enhance patient safety’ with ‘rigorous assessments of [doctors’] knowledge and clinical skills’. Brexit supporters will use the GMC’s argument to bolster their case that British patients can be kept safe only with a complete break from the EU. 
The regulator revealed it has drawn up tests for EU doctors which could be used if Britain does leave the single market. 

Morning Star
THOUSANDS of pests including cockroaches, maggots and rats have been found in maternity wards, children’s intensive care units and operating theatres in NHS hospitals over the last five years as cuts to services bite. Data obtained under an FoI request revealed yesterday that there were 4,885 pest-control callouts to hospitals in England in the year to March 2016, up from 3,880 callouts in 2015-16. The figures show that NHS trusts forked out more than £1 million on pest control in 2015-16 but the overall figure is likely to be far higher as less than two thirds of trusts had responded so far. The majority of trusts outsourced their pest-control to profit-hungry private contractors such as Rentokil, ISS Facility Services and Medirest and paid for regular inspections as well as ad hoc callouts to pest sightings.


David Cameron has emerged as a frontrunner to be the next secretary general of Nato after reports he will be nominated by Theresa May. The former prime minister is reportedly being lined up by the UK Government as a candidate to replace the current secretary general, former Norwegian prime minister Jens Stoltenberg, when he steps down in 2018 or 2019. Michael Fallon, the Defence Secretary, has previously said the UK will play a bigger role in Nato to make up for its withdrawal from the EU. Cabinet sources said they want to find a prominent role for Mr Cameron, who resigned in June after losing the EU referendum. One senior Cabinet minister told the
Daily Mail: “We’ve got to find a role for him – he has so much to offer. We have got to get him batting for Britain again.” Allies of Mr Cameron suggested he would be interested in the role. 

RUMOURS of David Cameron taking on a top NATO position have been met with fury by his critics – who argue the former Prime Minister would be “uniquely unsuitable” for the role. Sources within Whitehall claim the Mr Cameron is being lined up to become the group’s next Secretary General, with supporters declaring he still has much to offer and should be “batting for Britain again”. However, Ukip have quickly voiced their anger at the suggestion, claiming he should not represent the UK in such a position due to his actions while at Downing Street. UKIP Defence spokesman Bill Etheridge said his poor defence record should rule him out of the role – and accused him of only being attracted by the huge salary. Mr Etheridge said: “David Cameron is uniquely unsuitable for the role as Secretary General of NATO. “His savage cuts on Defence spending led to the UK budget falling below NATO’s target of 2% of GDP for the first time ever.

Voter fraud

A man has phoned into a radio station and admitted, live on air, that he had committed electoral fraud during the Brexit referendum. Umi, from Hackney in London, told LBC he had used both his and his brother’s vote on 23 June — committing the offence of personation. The man said: “I was fired up for the Brexit vote so I did go for, like, cheating, and took my brother’s vote and voted on his behalf. I’m serious.” He added: “He’s registered to a different house. I wouldn’t be able to do it in the same polling station. He wasn’t in the country. “You go in and you say, ‘What’s your name, yeah, that’s my name,’ door number, that’s it.” It came during a discussion of an anti-voter fraud scheme due to be tested in the 2018 local elections. Prosecutions for personation must be brought within 12 months of the alleged offence being committed. Presenter Katie Hopkins, whose programme airs on Sundays, asked him: “Did you ask your brother, ‘What would you like to vote for?’ or did you just vote the way you fancied?” 
Umi replied: “I voted for both Remain. But we didn’t win.”


BRITAIN’S only nettle beer brewery – forced to close after getting stung by EU tax laws – is preparing for a Brexit re-launch. Former Royal Marine Miles Lavers launched Cornish Stingers beer seven years ago using an old English recipe. 
But he then discovered Brussels was a right pain. Customs officials warned his tipple could not be a beer under EU rules because it did not contain malt. Instead it was classed as “made wine” – the same category as alcopops – adding a whopping 10p duty to each £2.50 bottle. Miles, 51, who had built up a brisk pub trade, was hit with a £9,260 bill for back-taxes and had 2,280 bottles impounded. He was forced to stop production and claim benefits, later taking part-time decorating and building jobs. However he moth-balled his brewing equipment and continued his foraging business – selling wild plants, herbs and seaweed to chefs. Now Brexit has given Cornish Stingers the chance to grow again. Miles, of Helston, Cornwall, has bought some land to harvest nettles and other wild produce.

It might feel like there is never enough time, but Earth has gained 27 seconds since the 1970s, an astronomical quirk which is causing a headache for timekeepers. On New Year’s Eve, experts at the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) in Teddington, London, will add a leap second to UK time to account for the fact that the Earth is now spinning more slowly. Immediately before midnight dials will read 11:59:60 as clocks around the world pause for a second to allow the Earth’s rotation to catch up with atomic time. The first leap second was added in 1972, so it will be the 27th time it has been added to clocks in history, meaning that everyone has gained 27 seconds over the past 44 years. 
Dr Leon Lobo, of NPL’s time and frequency group, said: “Most people won’t even noticed, although everyone will probably be celebrating New Year a second too early this year. “People might also notice problems with mobile phone networks as they work on atomic time, and with the increased traffic on New Year’s Eve, there could be potential issues. “Inserting a leap second is necessary because Earth is wobbling and slowing down and over time that divergence could cause problems.”

Tomorrow night, the ten-second countdown to 2017 will take 11 seconds. Across Britain the clocks will reach 23:59:59, a second will elapse and bottles of bubbly will be popped to welcome the new year — but, this year, it will be premature. Only by the time the champagne corks hit the ground will the new year have truly arrived. A leap second is to be inserted into the world’s time standard — and, technically, midnight tomorrow will happen twice. In the atomic clocks that keep the world’s markets running and planes flying, this change will be relatively simple, if inconvenient. Tomorrow night their outputs will read 23:59:59, then — a rarely used setting — 23:59:60, before finally hitting 00:00:00.