European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker will say on Wednesday that Britain should not expect EU negotiators to soften demands as they try to conclude a Brexit divorce treaty but he will reaffirm an offer of a close future partnership, a senior EU official said. The EU chief executive will touch only briefly on Britain’s impending withdrawal from the bloc in a keynote State of the European Union address to the European Parliament, he said. And he dismissed suggestions that EU leaders might rejig their instructions for chief negotiator Michel Barnier when they meet May in Austria next week.
Dominic Raab has been reprimanded by Michel Barnier after the EU’s chief negotiator discovered the British government had written to the 27 other member states asking for side negotiations on transport in the event of a no-deal Brexit. The Brexit secretary was confronted by Barnier during their most recent meeting in Brussels over correspondence sent in recent days to EU capitals by the Department for Transport. The letters had asked the member states to prepare to engage with the British government in side deals on aviation and haulage.
Brexit ‘chaos’ in Britain will save the EU by deterring other countries from leaving the bloc, a senior MEP taunted today. Guy Verhofstadt, who is representing the European Parliament in the Brexit talks, pointed to a fall in support for quitting the EU in Denmark. Right-wing populists have also fallen far short of expectations in Swedish elections in recent days, while liberal parties topped the polls. He claimed Brexit had provoked a ‘resurrection of attachment to the EU’ by reminding people of the benefits of pooling power.
The European Parliament’s Brexit coordinator has claimed the “chaos” of the UK’s exit from the bloc will stem the rise of populist Euroscepticism on the continent and make Europeans ‘attached’ to the Brussels bureaucracy once more. “If we do not care, [the European Union] will disappear. Nothing is forever,” Guy Verhofstadt said in an interview given Sunday. He also revealed he is seeking an alliance with French President Emmanuel Macron’s political party, La République en Marche, for the European elections in May in an effort to fight populist resistance to the bloc’s expansion.
EUROPEAN Union Brexit negotiator Guy Verhofstadt has mocked Brexit and said the UK’s decision to quit the bloc has sparked a “resurrection of attachment to the EU”. The MEP, a long-term fan of greater European integration said the chaos of the Brexit process has sounded a warning for eurosceptic countries. Speaking to Ouest France, he said: “Fortunately, we have Brexit. It illustrates the populist wave but it has also provoked a resurrection of attachment to the EU. “In Denmark polls clearly say that people do not want to jump ship any more. We see the difficulties, the chaos created by Great Britain’s exit.”
Hungary’s PM Viktor Orban has accused the EU of “insulting” his country, as its parliament began considering disciplinary action against Hungary. MEPs are debating whether his right-wing government’s policies on issues like migrants pose a threat to the EU. It comes just months after the European Commission took the step of launching similar proceedings against Poland. However, this is the first time parliament has tried to use the power, known as Article 7.
After the first time a Swedish election has been monitored by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), observers have expressed “shock” at the nation’s “undemocratic” system. Danish delegate Michael Aastrup Jensen, who has previously monitored elections in Russia and Eastern Europe, told Berlinske: “In all the many election observations I’ve been on, I have not seen anything that comes close to how undemocratic the Swedish voting system is.”
Theresa May is facing a potential leadership challenge within days after 50 Tory MPs met on Tuesday night to discuss how to get rid of her. Brexiteers plotted to force a no confidence vote in the Prime Minister, which could come before the Conservative Party Conference at the end of this month. Leave supporters are so determined to kill off Mrs May’s controversial Chequers plan for Brexit that they are now prepared to oust her if she refuses to change tack.
Theresa May’s premiership was under fresh pressure last night after Tory MPs met in private to discuss how to oust her. Around 50 MPs spent nearly an hour war-gaming ways and means of getting rid of the Prime Minister at a gathering of the European Research Group (ERG), the Press Association understands. A number of MPs told how they had already submitted letters of no confidence to Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the 1922 Committee, and others discussed plans to follow suit.
Conservative MPs have held an open discussion on how to oust Theresa May from Downing Street, according to Sky sources. About 50 MPs are thought to have gathered for a private meeting to discuss how to remove the prime minister. Many of them are still unhappy with her Brexit strategy despite EU negotiator Michel Barnier suggesting a deal could be reached by the start of November. Sky News understands that opposition towards Mrs May has increased over the summer recess, and former Brexit minister Steve Baker has warned she faces “a tremendous amount of political crisis and rupture” if she does not ditch her Chequers plan for leaving the EU.
Conservative MPs opposed to Theresa May’s Brexit plan have met to discuss how and when they could force her to stand down as prime minister. About 50 members of the European Research Group (ERG) openly discussed “how best you game the leadership election rules,” a source said. Later, the Eurosceptic MPs are to unveil what they say is a solution to the Northern Ireland border issue. They have been under pressure to come up with alternative Brexit plans. One MP present at the meeting on Tuesday evening said the group considered “possible scenarios over the Autumn” depending on the deal the prime minister did or didn’t get with the EU, BBC political correspondent Jonathan Blake said.
Hardline Conservative Brexiteers are struggling to persuade colleagues to support their open defiance of Theresa May’s Chequers plan, sources have said. Amid divisions on the right of the party over the approach to take on Chequers, a number of backbench Brexiteers have distanced themselves from the position of the ultra Eurosceptic European Research Group (ERG) . One accused the group of taking a “nothing is ever quite enough” approach and several predicted the scale of opposition to an eventual deal would be smaller than the ERG predicted.
Boris Johnson today savaged Theresa May‘s Brexit plans – and warned the crunch talks are ‘verging on the humiliating’ for Britain. The ex foreign secretary defied pleas from his allies to keep a low profile and attended the launch of a Brexiteer economic plan billed as an alternative to Chequers. Sat in the front row surrounded by leading Tory Brexiteers, Mr Johnson said the PM’s Chequers plans would leave the UK a ‘vassal state’ and cripple economic innovation.
Boris Johnson has branded Theresa May’s Brexit blueprint “substantially worse to the status quo” during an event designed to highlight benefits of a no-deal Brexit. Asked whether he was confident the prime minister’s plan, which he resigned over, was “equivalent to the status quo”, the former foreign secretary said: “That seems to me to be a particular economic risk in Chequers that makes it substantially worse to the status quo.” His remarks came after the former Conservative leader William Hague warned Britain faces the “most serious constitutional crisis” for a least a century if Ms May’s deal is eventually blocked in the Commons.
Boris Johnson broke cover today, refusing to deny he’ll challenge Theresa May for the Tory leadership if she won’t budge on her Brexit plan. In his first appearance in the Commons since he was linked to ex-Tory aide Carrie Symonds, he called on Mrs May to scrap her Chequers plan. He said the Prime Minister’s proposed deal would be “substantially worse than the status quo” – urging her to roll back to the original plan laid out at Lancaster House.
The London Assembly has moved to push for a vote on “reversing” Brexit, keeping the UK locked in the European Union (EU). The 25-member body, elected to scrutinise Mayor Sadiq Khan, demanded he “join the campaign for a ‘people’s vote’ on the final terms of Brexit… leaving open the option of reversing the result of the referendum”. In the capital, around 200,000 more people voted to leave the Brussels bloc in the referendum than the number who voted for Mr Khan, including first and counted second votes, in the Mayoral elections.
Philip Hammond says the UK will reject what has been dubbed a “blind Brexit”, which the EU increasingly sees as the only possible way to strike a withdrawal deal. The Chancellor said the compromise – avoiding outright rejection of the Chequers proposals, by agreeing only a vague outline of a future trading relationship – would not be acceptable. Asked, for example, if the UK would settle for a deal stating the two sides would merely “work towards some sort of common rule book”, he insisted firm agreement on such a key plank of Theresa May’s Brexit plan was needed.
Economists for Free Trade have published their study into a No Deal, World Trade Brexit and insist that such an outcome would lead to a “significant uplift in UK economic growth over the next 15 years, raising Treasury revenues by £80 billion, enabling a combination of higher public spending and lower taxes”. The report, which is backed by Jacob Rees-Mogg, also dismisses Remainer scare stories about a No Deal Brexit saying: “Armageddon-style predictions that the EU would freeze out British goods by refusing to recognise them as complying with EU standards in breach of WTO rules and in a worse way than it treats any other non-EU country are simply not realistic.”
Arch-Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg said the UK is “leading by example” in breaking free from restrictions set by the EU, as anti-EU populist movements gain prominence across the bloc. The European Research Group Chair railed against current Brexit plans, set out by the Prime Minister’s Chequers deal, which means the UK will still come under the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice throughout the 21 month transition period which will come after the country formally leaves the EU in March.
Walking away from the European Union (EU) with a clean, ‘no deal’ Brexit will boost the UK economy by £1.1 trillion over 15 years, an influential group of MPs led by Jacob Rees-Mogg will argue. In a report, the 60-strong European Research Group will point out that breaking free of the protectionist bloc’s heavy regulation could slash the price of goods like food, disproportionately benefiting poor and working-class people. They will lay out why they think there is nothing to fear from leaving the bloc on World Trade Organization (WTO) rules, and why they see many opportunities to open up trade with the rest of the world, free of the EU trade policy.
PROPOSALS for breaking the Brexit negotiation deadlock over the Irish border will be unveiled today by leading Tory Eurosceptics. Jacob Rees-Mogg’s European Research Group is expected to unveil a detailed plan showing how the UK and the EU can avoid the need for new border infrastructure including strict customs checks for crossings between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic after Brexit. Customs officials could check goods bound for export to the Republic in Northern Ireland before the border, the report is expected to say.
FARMERS who protect the countryside will get priority for state subsidies after Brexit, Michael Gove is expected to say. The Environment Secretary will unveil a system of “public money for public goods” to replace the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy which enriches well-off landowners. The Agriculture Bill, which will be introduced in Parliament on Wednesday, is the first piece of legislation to detail exactly how any one sector of the economy will change after Brexit.
The UK’s biggest landowners will see the payments they receive from the public purse fall sharply from 2021 in what would be the biggest shake-up of farming for decades. From 2021, a new system rewarding farmers for the public goods they provide will be phased in until 2027 when the last payments based on the amount of land farmed will be made. In place of the £3bn a year farmers currently receive under the EU’s common agricultural policy (CAP), farmers will be expected to sign environmental land management contracts detailing their commitments to protecting habitats, improving flood management and enhancing air and water quality.
FOOD prices will tumble after Brexit making supermarket shopping more affordable for millions, families were promised last night. Economists said consumers would immediately feel the benefit with expensive tariffs scrapped on a host of non-EU products like cheese, beef, fruit and coffee – cutting the cost of a basket of groceries. They confidently predicted Brexit would leave households with more money as free trade deals forced the Consumer Price Index measure of inflation, which jumped to 2.5 per cent in July, to plunge.
More than 100,000 NHS jobs are unfilled and vacancies are increasing, according to the hospital regulator. Experts said that there was a risk of a national emergency because of “a long-term failure in workforce planning”. The figures are part of a performance report from NHS Improvement in which it said that the underlying deficit in hospitals was £4.3 billion. Some 11.8 per cent of nursing posts were not filled between April and June, a shortage of nearly 42,000. In London, which had the highest vacancy rate, the figure was 14.8 per cent. In England 9.3 per cent of doctor posts were vacant, a shortage of 11,500.
Older people will not be fully protected against one of the main flu strains expected this winter because health chiefs say that the ideal vaccine does not exist. Hundreds of lives will be saved by using a boosted vaccine that is expected to offer better protection to people with weaker immune systems, according to Public Health England. However, it has only been able to find a booster jab that protects against three strains of flu, rather than the four-strain vaccination that younger people will be given.
The Prime Minister has come under pressure to abolish hospital parking charges amid a growing backlash from the public. A petition calling for a ban signed by more than 26,000 people has been handed to Downing Street. Campaigners have described car parking charges at NHS hospitals – which can cost up to £4 an hour – as a ‘stealth tax on the sick’ and their relatives. The charges rake in tens of millions of pounds a year for the Treasury while also generating bumper profits for private parking firms recruited by the NHS to run them.
Tens of thousands of students are graduating from British universities without basic maths or literacy skills, a global figure in education suggested yesterday. England has almost the highest proportion of graduates in school-leaver jobs of any developed country, and many are in those jobs because they lack basic numeracy and literacy, according to the education director of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, which published its annual education report. Andreas Schleicher said at its launch in London that questions should be raised about quality assurance at British universities.
One in four graduates in England are in non-graduate jobs as many lack basic school-level maths and English skills, a damning new report has found. Analysis by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) showed 28 per cent of people with degrees are in low-skilled jobs – one of the highest proportions in the world. Researchers said part of the reason was because those people lacked very simple numeracy and literacy skills, despite having been to school and university.
The plan for the struggling East Coast Main Line trains risks making the route even worse, according to MPs. The transport select committee will say in a report today that Stagecoach and Virgin “bear prime responsibility” for a “naive” bid but that the transport department had encouraged “overbidding”. The line has been renationalised but a public-private organisation will be formed combining train and track operations. MPs say that similar proposals have failed elsewhere. The next chief executive of Oxfam GB will be Dhananjayan Sriskandarajah, who is the secretary-general of Civicus, a global alliance of civil society organisations.
SHADOW Chancellor John McDonnell yesterday backed a new wave of strikes as unions threaten to bring Britain to its knees. In an echo of the dark days of the 1970s, the hard-Left politician has pledged to join railway workers on the picket line if they launch winter strikes in support of guards on trains. Mr McDonnell told train bosses to wake up and understand the anger felt by staff. Pressed on whether a “winter of discontent” could be looming on the railways, he said: “We will see what industrial action takes place.
Britain should adopt a new high-tech version of ID cards to tackle fraud, illegal immigration and welfare abuse, according to Amber Rudd, the former home secretary. In an article for The Times Red Box she claimed that a digital form of ID would “improve the public services we all rely on and help keep us safer”. Critics said that there were “massive privacy and security implications”, with the government’s dismal record on major IT projects raising doubts about the safety of personal data.
A plastic-eating fungus discovered on a rubbish dump in Pakistan could be adapted to destroy waste on land and oceans. The possibility of breaking down plastic waste within weeks rather than hundreds of years will be highlighted today when the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew publishes its first report on the world’s fungi. Experts from around the world will gather at the internationally renowned gardens in west London this week to discuss the future of research into the conservation and use of fungi. Scientists working on a rubbish dump in Islamabad found a fungi whose enzyme broke down plastics such as polyester polyurethane.