Customs union

Express
BRITAIN will tell Brussels it is willing to stay in the EU customs union beyond 2021 as the government ended up with another stand-off over the contentious issue in the Brexit debate.
The Brexit “war cabinet” broke up without an agreement early this week as ministers continued to openly challenge the post-EU withdrawal trade agreement but settled on a new “backstop” to avoid a hard Irish border. Despite the disapproval of lead Brexiteers Boris Johnson and Micheal Gove, the ministers signed off the plans on Tuesday. The news immediately concerned Eurosceptics with Jacob Rees-Mogg saying: “The risk of the Government using all its mental energy on the fallback position is that they create a position that is more attractive than a permanent deal.

Telegraph
Britain will tell Brussels it is prepared to stay tied to the customs union beyond 2021 as ministers remain deadlocked over a future deal with the EU, the Telegraph has learned. The Prime Minister’s Brexit war Cabinet earlier this week agreed on a new “backstop” as a last resort to avoid a hard Irish border, having rejected earlier proposals from the European Union. Ministers signed off the plans on Tuesday despite objections from Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, and Michael Gove, the Environment Secretary. A pro-European Cabinet source said that Mr Johnson and Mr Gove were “outgunned” during the meeting and reluctantly accepted the plans.

Express
THERESA May has been told to make a customs union decision now or the UK will end up playing into the hands of the EU and never leave.
Tory Eurosceptics expressed frustration as the so-called Brexit war Cabinet failed again to come to an agreement on a decision about what to do as an alternative to staying in the customs union. Eurosceptics fear continuous delays will result in the UK never leaving the customs union and playing right into the hands of the EU.

Breitbart
Brexit secretary David Davis has thrown the Prime Minister’s favoured ‘customs partnership’ into doubt, claiming it could, in fact, be illegal according to international law, as he backs a clean Brexit instead.
The plan supported by Theresa May would see the UK collecting tariffs on goods for the European Union (EU) once they are inside the UK, before paying them back in an attempt to keep borders open with the nations inside the Customs Union, but without being a member. However, it is illegal to discriminate between domestic and imported goods inside a nation, World Trade Organization rules insist, for example.

Ireland

Times
Theresa May and her Brexit “war cabinet” have agreed a new fallback position on the Irish border that could preserve elements of the customs union if Britain cannot strike a deal on its preferred post-Brexit trading plan.
Ministers including Boris Johnson, Michael Gove and David Lidington discussed the “backstop” plan for Northern Ireland that will come into force if Mrs May’s blueprint for customs arrangements collapses. Mrs May has rejected an EU version of the backstop that would have guaranteed no infrastructure on the Irish border and committed the UK to maintaining regulatory alignment between Northern Ireland and the Republic. This would have meant that Northern Ireland and mainland Britain had different rules and raised the prospect of a border in the Irish Sea.

Express
THERESA May has been accused of surrendering to IRA terrorists by staunch Leaver Labour MP Kate Hoey after the Prime minister vowed to never put hi-tech cameras on the border post-Brexit.
Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley was lambasted by Brexiteer Ms Hoey during the cross-party European Scrutiny Committee. It came after Ms Bradley told MPs the threat of violence meant it would be impossible to implement a “physical infrastructure” on the Northern Irish border. Ms Hoey scalded: “Are you saying we might not consider putting up or using cameras away from the border because of some blackmailing and threats by dissidents who might actually decide that they are going to start killing people?

Scotland

Independent
Theresa May has paved the way for a constitutional crisis by refusing to amend her Brexit plans, despite their rejection by the Scottish parliament.
Pleas by the SNP for the government to step back from “breaking the 20-year-old devolution settlement” were rebuffed by the prime minister, who vowed to plough ahead. Holyrood voted to withhold consent from the key EU (Withdrawal) Bill, when Labour, Green and Lib Dem MSPs joined SNP members in rejecting the legislation by 93 votes to 30. Westminster can override the opinion – triggered by Edinburgh’s claims of a London power grab – but it would spark the biggest political crisis since the Scottish Parliament was set up in 1999.

Morning Star
“SHAMBOLIC” Tory posturing means that the Brexit dispute between the Westminster and Holyrood governments could end up in the Supreme Court, Labour said yesterday.
Last night, the Scottish Parliament denied consent to Theresa May’s EU withdrawal Bill in a row over the devolution of powers from the bloc. MSPs voted 93-30 in favour of rejecting the Prime Minister’s legislation. The move will not block Westminster’s blueprint, but it means Westminster is now set to push through laws against the wishes of Holyrood for the first time.

Brexit

Express
OVERSEAS investors will be invited to pump billions into dozens of British business projects as trade ministers prove that Britain will thrive after Brexit. Liam Fox, Secretary of State for International Trade, will invite foreign firms on Thursday to submit bids for financing £30billion worth of projects.
Foreign investors will be offered the chance to fund 68 projects, across 20 sectors of the economy. Opportunities will be available in a number of sectors, including technology, housing, and retail. A lot of them will be outside London, as the Government attempt to show the world’s sixth largest economy is more than just its capital city. More projects will be added in the coming months.

Reuters
Trade secretary Liam Fox will invite overseas investors on Thursday to submit bids for financing 30 billion pounds of projects to help the world’s sixth-largest economy cope with the upheaval of leaving the European Union. Britain is trying reinvent itself as a global trading nation and improve economic ties with countries outside Europe as the government prepares to leave the EU next year.
Investors will be offered the chance to fund 68 projects across 20 sectors of the economy, including technology, housing and retail, and many of the projects are outside London in less affluent parts of Britain.

EU

Westmonster
A leaked copy of the Five Star/Lega governing agreement in Italy has shown that the coalition is likely to be massively sceptical of the European Union and Euro membership moving forward.
The pair wanted to look at re-opening treaties. And an explicit mechanism to leave the Euro to regain “monetary sovereignty”. They are also looking at revising budget contributions to the EU as well as requesting €250 billion in debt relief. Though they have stressed that this was an old draft that has since been updated, it shows an interesting frame of mind from the insurgent forces. In a statement the pair have said today:  “The spirit must be to return to the pre-Maastricht setting in which European states were moved by genuine intents of peace, brotherhood, co-operation and solidarity.” This coalition could prove quite the headache for Brussels!

Mail
Up to 4 million British people cannot get the work they want because of cheap foreign labour, a report has claimed.
MigrationWatch said businesses were ‘getting away’ with insisting they could not recruit local workers because they had a ‘virtually unlimited’ pool of low-paid  EU migrants. A paper by the think-tank said there were about 1.5 million Britons looking for jobs and another million who worked part-time but struggled to find full-time employment.  But official figures did not take into account those who wanted to increase their hours, for instance boosting their time at work from 16 to 20 hours, or who were looking for a second job to top up their income.

Independent
Thousands of skilled foreign workers with job offers in the UK were denied entry due to Theresa May’s “arbitrary” visa scheme, it has been revealed.
More than 6,000 visa applications from professionals including scientists, IT specialists and doctors were refused over a period of just four months between December and March. The refusals were the result of an annual limit of 20,700 so-called Tier 2 visas introduced in 2011 while Ms May was home secretary.

Sun
BIG business was slammed for ignoring up to four million “underemployed” Brits – because they have an unlimited number of EU workers on tap.
Migration Watch said firms were not doing enough to hire British workers or tailor recruitment to local needs because they know they can fly in people from member states across the Continent. It claimed record job figures were masking a huge problem of Brits working part-time but wanting full-time roles, or those on shifts desperate for longer hours or overtime. There are nearly 1.5 million unemployed Brits looking for work and available for work, but a further 2 million who want more hours. Another 214,000 want a second job to earn more cash while 274,000 want a new job with more hours.

Express
THE European Parliament has put in motion plans to keep British officials after Brexit, a leaked internal note from a top staffer has revealed.
The Parliament’s Secretary-General Klaus Welle described British staff as “valued members of the EU civil service and of our European team” in the email sent in a bid to reassure the administration of the future after Brexit. British officials will be able to keep their European Parliament jobs after Brexit, Mr Welle wrote in the memo seen by Politico. He added the Parliament’s administration will “not require British officials to resign on the ground that they will no longer have the nationality of a member state”.

House of Lords

Independent
The House of Lords has defied the government by passing proposals to maintain EU eco-standards after Brexit, inflicting yet another defeat on Theresa May’s withdrawal plans.
Peers accused ministers of using Brexit to water down environmental protections currently in place due to Britain’s EU membership, and of proposing they be replaced with a “toothless imitation”. But the government denied the accusations and insisted their own proposals would strengthen protections, while supportive peers accused those behind the defeat of trying to derail Ms May’s Brexit legislation.

Sun
BRUSSELS is stalling in Brexit talks because of the unelected House of Lords’ attempt to wreck Theresa May’s flagship EU exit legislation, ministers have been warned.
Front-line UK negotiators have reported back to Downing Street that their EU counterparts are stonewalling until they see how many of the peers’ 15 changes that rip up the UK’s Brexit policy are supported by MPs. One minister told The Sun: “As we warned, the EU are now negotiating with Parliament not us and they are playing for time while they see what MPs say.”

Guardian
Peers have inflicted a 15th defeat on the government’s key  Brexit bill, underlining the acute political challenge Theresa May faces in seeking a deal that both parliament and her warring ministers can live with.
The latest amendment, aimed at bolstering environmental protection after Brexit, was carried by 294 to 244 votes on Wednesday. Peers argued that enforcement measures proposed in a consultation document published last week were inadequate and that the environment had been subordinated to housing and economic growth.

Express
THE EU is trying to stall talks in the hope the unelected House of Lords will destroy Theresa May’s Brexit Bill and potentially dilute the final deal when the UK leaves the bloc, according to British negotiators.
Brexit negotiators have claimed their EU counterparts are delaying talks to see how many of the Lords’ 15 changes to Mrs May’s flagship policy are supported by the Commons. A minister said: “As we warned, the EU are now negotiating with Parliament not us and they are playing for time while they see what MPs say.”

BBC News
The government’s flagship Brexit bill is to return to the House of Commons having suffered a total of 15 defeats in the Lords.
Brexit Minister Lord Callanan said he had “a tremendous sigh of relief” as he wound up proceedings. Labour urged Theresa May to take a “pragmatic view” of all the changes proposed by peers. The 15th defeat came on the issue of environmental protection standards after Brexit. Peers voted by a majority of 50 to say the government should set up a body to maintain EU standards.

Bercow

Independent
A probe into allegations John Bercow bullied members of staff has been blocked by MPs.
The Commons Standards Committee voted three-two against allowing Parliament’s watchdog to investigate the claims. The Commons Speaker has emphatically denied allegations he bullied former private secretaries Angus Sinclair and Kate Emms. Andrew Bridgen, a Conservative MP, asked the parliamentary commissioner for standards, Kathryn Stone, to investigate whether Mr Bercow had broken the MPs’ code of conduct. Ms Stone sought the opinion of the standards committee – made up of MPs and lay members from outside Parliament – on whether an investigation fell within her remit.

Mirror
A probe into allegations Commons Speaker John Bercow bullied staff has been blocked by MPs.
The Commons Standards Committee voted three-two against allowing Parliament’s watchdog to investigate the claims. Mr Bercow has emphatically denied allegations that he bullied former private secretaries Angus Sinclair and Kate Emms. Tory MP Andrew Bridgen asked Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards Kathryn Stone to investigate whether Mr Bercow had broken the MPs’ code of conduct.

Sun
COMMONS watchdog MPs sparked fury last night by blocking a probe into John Bercow bullying claims.
The Standards Committee used an obscure rule that says allegations from more than seven years ago must be voted on by the seven MPs in charge. Only five voted and three, Tories Sir Christopher Chope and John Stevenson plus Labour’s Kate Green, were against an investigation into the Commons Speaker. One Tory MP fumed: “They should rename the committee the Double Standards Committee. It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.

Guardian
An inquiry into allegations that the Speaker of the House of Commons
bullied members of staff has been blocked by MPs. The Commons standards committee voted three to two against allowing parliament’s watchdog to investigate the claims against John Bercow. Bercow has emphatically denied allegations that he bullied his former private secretaries Angus Sinclair and Kate Emms.  Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen asked Kathryn Stone, the parliamentary commissioner for standards, to investigate whether Bercow had broken the MPs’ code of conduct.

NHS

Times
Patients were put at risk of cancer and other serious harm because of a botched £330 million NHS
outsourcing deal, the spending watchdog has found. An attempt at cost-cutting has led to more than two years of chaos in back-office services for GPs, opticians and dentists, the National Audit Office said. Dozens of women were wrongly told that they no longer needed cervical cancer screening and incompetent staff may have been allowed to carry on practising, the report concludes. The outsourcing company Capita and NHS England are still bickering about the deal, leading to failures including a backlog of half a million patient registrations, the NAO warns.

Railways

Times
The transport secretary was under pressure to act over at least four struggling rail operators last night after announcing plans to renationalise services on the east coast main line.
Chris Grayling was warned that other companies were in trouble after failing to improve rail services or attract enough passengers, amid suggestions that the entire privatised system must be overhauled. Those in the firing line include Northern Rail, South Western, Transpennine Express and Greater Anglia. Mr Grayling announced yesterday that Virgin Trains East Coast would be stripped of its franchise next month, the third time in little over a decade the operator on the line has collapsed.

Express
A CORBYNITE MP was left stunned as he was informed that nationalised railways in France are in fact just as expensive as private routes in the UK while appearing on BBC Newsnight.
When grilled on why Labour wanted to adopt a nationalisation system similar to the one that is failing in France, Shadow Transport Secretary, Andy McDonald, stumbled when he didn’t know that fares in France are just as high as the UK. Emily Maitlis asked the MP why hard-working commuters would want “huge industrialisation, €60billion (£52billion) debt and fares the same as here”.

Star
RAIL services on the East Coast Main Line will be brought back under public control as Virgin Trains have its contract terminated.Rail bosses have said they are “surprised and disappointed” that the Government chose not to award it a new deal.
Stagecoach, which owns 90% of the Virgin Trains East Coast franchise, will no longer run services on the London to Edinburgh route. Trains will be run by the Department for Transport through an operator of last resort. Stagecoach pledged to “work constructively with the DfT and the OLR in the weeks ahead to ensure a professional transfer to the new arrangements”.

Crime

Westmonster
worrying pattern of soft justice continues to emerge in Britain, with new analysis showing that the number of criminal charges has fallen despite the number of  recorded crimes surging in England and Wales.
The BBC have found that in 2016 – 2017, 527,000 charges were brought forward. That’s down by 65,000 when compared to 2014 – 2015. In that same period crime rose considerably, with recorded incidents rising by around 750,000. There are some examples that are particularly concerning. For instance recorded crime relating to violence against the person has soared massively, but charges have decreased between the two periods. In the words of West Yorkshire Police Chief Constable Dee Collins: “My officers and staff, I think do a fantastic job with the resource that we have, but I realise that we are letting some people down.

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