THERESA May has been urged to reject the EU’s demands for curbs on Britain’s ability to negotiate global trade deals during the Brexit transition period. Campaigners last night called on the Prime Minister to stand up to Brussels bureaucrats trying to put the UK in an “unacceptable” position. The Brexit Phase 1 negotiation document insists the UK must be bound by “sincere co-operation” during the two-year transition period. According to pro-Brexit pressure group Change Britain, this clause limits the UK’s freedom to strike bold trade deals around the world. The group’s chair, former Labour Party MP Gisela Stuart, said: “The EU’s current proposal includes a devious clause that will tie the hands of the UK, and threatens to leave us in perpetual transition.
Britain should walk away and see how the EU does without the money, says an EU diplomat as cracks begin to open up in Brussels. It comes after Barnier revealed his bizarre and unreasonable Brexit transition stance: He wants Britain to remain in the single market and customs union, accept ECJ rule and free movement of people and be subject to any new EU rules and regs without having a say in the making of those decisions. But what’s really wound up other EU countries and opened up massive cracks in Brussels is Barnier’s insistence on a so-called punishment clause that would allow Brussels to ground aircraft and block trade if the UK failed to obey EU rules during the transition period. The foreign EU diplomat told the Telegraph: “Could anyone accept these terms? If I was Britain I would be tempted to say ‘no’ – walk away and then see how the EU does without the money.”
Billionaire financier George Soros has pledged another £100,000 to his anti-Brexit campaign after he said that engineering a “mere reversal” of the EU referendum result is not enough. Mr Soros, and his OSF Foundation, will say today that they match smaller donations to the Best for Britain campaign up to the value of £100,000 as part of a plan to “accelerate” his campaign to stop Brexit. Best for Britain has urged people to come forward to help the group create a ‘Fight Brexit Fund’. By last night £45,000 had been pledged in donations of less than £100. Mr Soros said: “I am happy to take the fight to those who have tried to use a smear campaign not arguments to prop up their failing case.” The cash is on top of his decision to hand £400,000 to the Best for Britain campaign.
George Soros will give up to £100,000 more to an anti-Brexit campaign group in a show of defiance after being criticised for his involvement in UK politics. The Hungarian-American billionaire announced last night that he would match any donations given to the Best for Britain campaign under £100, up to a maximum of £100,000. A crowdfunding campaign launched after last week’s controversy over his initial £400,000 donation has already raised £59,625. Mr Soros, 87, told The Guardian: “I am happy to take the fight to those who have tried to use a smear campaign, not arguments, to prop up their failing case.” Writing in The Mail on Sunday, Mr Soros said that he had “never made any secret” of his opposition to Brexit.
BILLIONAIRE investor George Soros is to pump another £100,000 into campaign group Best for Britain to accelerate his effort to stop Brexit after he came under heavy criticism for interfering in the democratic will of the people, it has been revealed. The move comes after it was reported that Mr Soros was donating £400,000 to the campaign group to stop withdrawal from the EU. Best for Britain has now revealed Mr Soros’s OFS Foundation has also pledged to match crowd-funding to the campaign of up to £100,000. He accused critics of a maligning him, saying: “I am happy to take the fight to those who have tried to use a smear campaign, not arguments, to prop up their failing case.”
Billionaire investor George Soros is to pump a further £100,000 into the anti-Brexit campaign. The move comes after Mr Soros drew fire from Brexiteers when it emerged he was donating £400,000 to the campaign group Best for Britain to try and halt withdrawal from the EU. The group has now revealed Mr Soros’s OFS Foundation has also pledged to match crowd-funding to it of up to £100,000. The group’s CEO Eloise Todd said Brexit could still be stopped by a meaningful vote in Parliament.’The UK’s future with the EU is not a done deal, there is still a vote to come and people across the country deserve to know the truth about the options on the table: one of which is staying and leading in the EU.’
George Soros has moved to defy his critics over his £400,000 donation to the pro-EU campaign group Best for Britain by pledging an additional £100,000 to support efforts to fight Brexit. The billionaire investor’s Open Society Foundation (OSF) is set to match a crowdfunding campaign set up in the wake of attacks on Soros, which has already raised more than £50,000 since his support was revealed on Wednesday last week. Soros, who has given much of his personal wealth to OSF, said his money was directly linked to the campaign against him in the rightwing press, where a Daily Telegraph article accused him of a secret plot to stop Brexit and described him as “a rich gambler … accused of meddling in nation’s affairs”. “I am happy to take the fight to those who have tried to use a smear campaign, not arguments, to prop up their failing case,” Soros told the Guardian.
A cabinet minister yesterday claimed EU member states are unimpressed with the tough rhetoric of Brussels’ chief Brexit negotiator. International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt accused Michel Barnier of lacking pragmatism as diplomats warned his hardline stance could drive Britain away from talks. Mr Barnier last week warned the EU could reject Theresa May’s request for a two-year transition period if ‘substantial’ disagreements over its terms remain. He has been accused of trying to take advantage of the UK by imposing a so-called ‘punishment clause’ that would allow the EU to sanction Britain at will until 2020. Asked if she thought a transition period was a given, Miss Mordaunt yesterday told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show: ‘My personal view is I do because it’s in our interest and it’s in the EU’s interest, so I think common sense will prevail.’
MICHEL Barnier is facing a rebellion from EU states after angering them with his aggressive Brexit demands. Cabinet minister Penny Mordaunt spoke out against the EU’s chief negotiator to reveal the 27 national members are more “pragmatic” than his hard line. It also emerged the veteran French politician faced a grilling from the states’ ambassadors on Friday over his threat to slap punishment sanctions on the UK for any transgressions during the post-Brexit transition period. Brussels sources have claimed Mr Barnier will be forced to drop the sanctions clause from the transition deal, in what would be a humiliating U-turn for him. One said of the ambassadors’ grilling: “There was a general feeling that something was wrong”.
Philip Hammond has been sidelined from a series of major “road to Brexit” interventions by Cabinet ministers over the next fortnight as Theresa May seeks to agree a cross-Cabinet vision for Brexit. Theresa May and Boris Johnson, David Davis and Liam Fox – the three leading Cabinet Brexiteers – will all give key note speeches on the UK’s EU withdrawal stance over the next three weeks, but the Chancellor will not take part. The decision to exclude Mr Hammond forced David Gauke, the Justice secretary to deny that there was “any kind of plot to gag a particular faction of ministers”. One Remain-supporting Government minister told The Telegraph he thought Mr Hammond was not required because his message on Brexit was not “nuanced enough” and “I don’t think even he would pretend that presentational skills are at the top of his list”.
Pro-European Tories could join forces with Labour MPs to block Theresa May’s vision of Brexit, a leading “mutineer” has warned. Anna Soubry, a former business minister who is at the forefront of efforts to soften the government’s plans for Brexit, insisted that there was a majority in the Commons against leaving the single market and the customs union, both cornerstones of the government’s policy since January last year. Ms Soubry said that the prime minister’s stance on the two issues was a “huge mistake”. She told The Andrew Marr Show on BBC One: “Not only is it bad for our economy but it also fundamentally undermines the [Northern Ireland] peace process that was achieved and this is really important.
Arch-Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg is growing in popularity as a replacement for Theresa May, exclusive research for The Independent reveals. The darling of the Tory right is now the public’s second favourite as the “best prime minister”, should the current, besieged occupant of No 10 be forced out. Mr Rees-Mogg’s rise has left rivals including Chancellor Philip Hammond, Home Secretary Amber Rudd and Ruth Davidson, the Scottish leader, trailing in his wake. Men and voters over the age of 55 in particular are warming towards the outspoken critic of Ms May’s Brexit policy, the polling by BMG Research shows.
A Boris Johnson speech this week laying out his vision of a “liberal case” for Brexit will be followed by five more speeches from cabinet ministers as Theresa May seeks to present a united front after weeks of Tory infighting. The foreign secretary’s speech, first revealed by The Times last month, faces being eclipsed by other Brexit speeches, including two by the prime minister, designed to put “meat on the bones” of the plans for Brexit. On Wednesday Mr Johnson will try to ease the fears of Remain voters. On Saturday, Mrs May will give a speech on security ties to Europe at the Munich Security Conference.
Labour is facing an inquiry from a watchdog after barring straight white men from an equalities conference. Those attending the Young Labour conference in March must self-define as one or more of: black, Asian and minority ethnic (Bame), a woman, disabled, and lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT). A Conservative MP has referred the event to the Equalities and Human Rights Commission. Labour said that there was no point in straight white men attending because the conference’s aim was to elect equalities representatives. The issue comes weeks after the commission said that Labour was guilty of “unlawful discrimination” for offering Bame members discounted tickets to its East Midlands regional conference.
A LABOUR conference on equality has been reported for discrimination after men, white and straight people were banned from it. Young Labour, who are organising the gathering next month, have insisted only BAME, disabled, gay or female party members can attend. Tory MP Andrew Bridgen has asked the Equalities and Human Rights Commission to rule on whether the edict is legal. The row comes just two weeks after Jeremy Corbyn’s party was found guilty of unlawful discrimination over another conference. Labour’s bid to charge black and ethnic minority members £10 less to attend its East Midlands Conference and hear the hard left leader speak was deemed wrong by the watchdog. MP for North West Leicestershire Mr Bridgen said: “Labour are a divisive Party who want to divide people into victim groups.
The Prime Minister will travel to Northern Ireland today as efforts to restore devolved government at Stormont reach a critical stage. Her Irish counterpart, Leo Varadkar, is also expected in Belfast, fuelling speculation that a deal on power-sharing could be imminent. In a statement, Downing Street said Theresa May “will take part in a series of meetings with the political parties… and encourage them to reach a resolution for the benefit of the people of Northern Ireland”. “She will make clear that the UK government remains fully committed to the restoration of power sharing devolution and the Belfast Agreement,” it added. Mrs May is expected to tell the parties that she believes progress has been made and to reiterate that both governments will continue to work with them to see agreement reached.
Theresa May and Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar are to visit Belfast later for talks with the Stormont parties. It comes amid speculation the DUP and Sinn Féin are close to agreeing a deal to restore devolved government. Several previous rounds of talks between the two parties have failed to break the deadlock. Northern Ireland has been run by civil servants since the power-sharing executive made up of the DUP and Sinn Féin collapsed in January last year. The late Martin McGuinness pulled Sinn Féin out of the coalition, objecting to the DUP’s handling of a scandal over green energy scheme. Mrs May last visited Northern Ireland in May when she toured the Balmoral Show ahead of a snap general election. Since then she has struck a parliamentary deal with the DUP and has faced criticism for adopting a hands-off approach to the deadlock at Stormont.
Parents are being urged to take sick children to pharmacists instead of to GPs or A&E departments under controversial new NHS advice. Health officials said millions of families could get help more quickly and save NHS resources if young children with minor illnesses were taken to their local chemists. But major charities raised fears that parents could struggle to identify potentially lethal symptoms, putting their children in danger, as they tried to ease pressures on the health service. The advice from NHS England comes after the death of a teenager with flu, whose parents had delayed seeking treatment in response to NHS pleas to avoid needless A&E visits. Today’s campaign, aimed at five million parents with children under the age of five, says 18 million GP appointments and 2.1 million A&E visits are being taken up by patients with conditions that could have been treated at home.
A health service campaign to divert parents of the under-fives from GPs to pharmacists must come with caveats to prevent potentially deadly cases of sepsis being missed, campaigners warned. People will be urged to go to high street pharmacies to seek help with minor illnesses rather than their doctor or local A&E to save £850 million a year. Coughs, colds, tummy bugs and teething can all be dealt with by pharmacists using over-the-counter remedies, NHS England will say in a television advert and accompanying social media campaign. There are 18 million GP appointments and 2.1 million visits to A&E every year for conditions that could be dealt with at home, costing £850 million.
Ukip leader Henry Bolton has stated he still has “strong affections” for his ex-girlfriend Jo Marney, despite the revelation she sent racist messages about Meghan Markle. In January it emerged that Ms Marney had made highly offensive comments about Prince Harry’s fiancee and black people. The leaked messages resulted in her being suspended from the party, and Ukip’s ruling national executive committee backing a motion of no confidence in Mr Bolton. The party leader had previously said the romantic side of their relationship had ended, but the pair were pictured together days after declaring the romance was over. Asked by Andrew Marr on his BBC1 show if he was “still in love” with Ms Marney, the former army officer said: “There are strong affections there yes.”
Ukip leader Henry Bolton has admitted he still has “strong affections” for ex-girlfriend Jo Marney. The embattled party chief faces a no-confidence vote next weekend, over his relationship with Marney, after it emerged she had sent racist Facebook messages about Prince Harry’s fiancee Meghan Markle . He has previously said he had put an end to the relationship. But he was spotted with the 25-year-old glamour model in a Folkestone bar five days ago. Asked by the BBC’s Andrew Marr whether the relationship was still “live”, Mr Bolton refused to deny it, saying: “That’s not the point.”He claimed the messages sent by Marney, which she has admitted to sending, were “doctored” by the person who released them.
UKIP leader Henry Bolton is confident he will win the backing of his party in a vote of members next weekend, he told the BBC’s Andrew Marr. Mr Bolton suggested he was still in a relationship with Jo Marney, whose racist texts about Meghan Markle sparked a no-confidence vote in him. “There are strong affections there, yes,” he told Andrew Marr. But he said the party had to reform under his leadership or continue to be on the sidelines in the Brexit debate. “I am getting a huge amount of support from around the country because the membership know what’s been going on within the party for a very long time and they know I am not responsible for that,” he told Andrew Marr. “They know that factionalisation needs to be dealt with if the party is going to professionalise and be effective.”