Customs union

Breitbart
Theresa May has attacked the leading Brexit-backing Tory Jacob Rees-Mogg in front of other MPs according to reports, slamming his support for a clean Brexit, outside the Customs Union with the Irish border open.
The Prime Minister is reported to have “confronted” Mr. Rees-Mogg, with The Times describing it as a “clash”, as well as quoting sources who said Mrs. May was “sending a tough signal” to Brexiteer Tories. All 315 backbencher Tory MPs had been called to a “technical briefing” at Number 10, in which Mrs. May’s chief of staff explained her perception of the pros and cons of the two main customs options.

Westmonster
The British government’s approach on Brexit continues to drag on at a snail’s pace, with a decision still yet to be made on customs and Brexit Minister David Davis warning that the soft ‘customs partnership’ with the EU that Theresa May favours could actually be illegal.
Davis has apparently warned the PM that the customs partnership could be illegal under international law and so may be challenged, which could lead to staying in the Customs Union completely. The Times quote a source as saying that: “In that scenario you’d end up staying in the Customs Union because you’d have no other choice.”

Express
THERESA May has faced fresh backlash over her proposed customs partnership with the EU after Brexit Secretary David Davis stated the option may be illegal under international trade law.
Mr Davis, who is opposed to the customs partnership option, is believed to have told the Prime Minister that the customs arrangement could run into legal trouble. He also warned Mrs May that it would be too late for the Government to reverse the plan if the Cabinet chose the option and issues did arise, which could pave the way for the UK remaining in the customs union. A Government source commented on the issue, stating: “In that scenario you’d end up staying in the customs union because you’d have no other choice.”

Westmonster
In a wake-up call for the government, new ICM polling for The Guardian  has shown that leaving the Custom Union lock, stock and barrel is the most popular choice, and the public do not want to see the transition period extended.
35% of the public agree with the statement that: “It is very important to leave the Customs Union properly, so the UK can strike its own trade deals.” By comparison, only 24% want to stay in the Customs Union. A further 26% want a compromise, but it means the most popular approach is for a full Brexit. When it comes to the transition period set to last until 2021, 43% opposed to extending the period, with 38% in favour.

Breitbart
A clean Brexit taking the UK out of the European Union’s (EU) Customs Union, is the public’s favourite option in relation to customs checks and trade after the UK’s divorce from the bloc, a survey has found.
Responding to a new ICM poll  for The Guardian, 35 per cent agreed that “it is very important to leave the customs union properly, so the UK can strike its own trade deals”. This, as the paper points out, is the position associated with Brexiteer Tories like Jacob Rees-Mogg, the MP who leads the pro-Brexit, 60-strong European Research Group, as well as foreign secretary Boris Johnson and environment secretary Michael Gove. Less than a quarter, or 24 per cent, agreed that “is very important to stay in the customs union, so firms can trade with the EU more easily”.

Ireland

Times
Theresa May’s decision to challenge Jacob Rees-Mogg over the future of Northern Ireland comes amid mounting nerves in Number 10 about the future of the union after Brexit.
Downing Street and key ministers have been shown polling from October that suggests opinion in the province is drifting towards a united Ireland. Another finding suggests leaving the EU with no deal on the border could shift voters in Northern Ireland decisively in favour of leaving the United Kingdom and joining the Irish Republic. Tory MPs are actively discussing the findings, with Brexiteers furiously rejecting the findings and insisting any future border poll on a united Ireland would be winnable.

Express
THERESA May has warned Jacob Rees-Mogg not to be so naive over the possibility of Northern Ireland quitting the UK to form a united Ireland, telling the Brexiteer a shock Irish border vote result is a real possibility.
Jacob Rees-Mogg  had told Theresa May he had “no doubt” the UK would “win” any hypothetical Irish border referendum before comparing it with the 2015 Scottish independence vote. But Mrs May quickly “slapped down” the Tory MP, sources have revealed, telling him in no uncertain terms the two situations are not comparable and the UK “cannot be confident” at holding the six counties.

Brexit

Mail
Theresa May will publish a 100-page dossier setting out the Government’s 
 Brexit  vision in detail next month in a bid to kick-start flagging trade talks. The White Paper will be the biggest Government statement on Brexit since the 2016 referendum, setting out plans on everything from trade, transport and fishing to data protection and security co-operation. The decision to press ahead with the document represents a victory for David Davis, who has been arguing for months that the UK needs to get on the front foot over Brexit. Mr Davis told ministers yesterday the White Paper would include ‘detailed, ambitious and precise explanations of our positions… it should set out what will change and what will feel different outside the EU’.

Independent
Theresa May has pledged to publish a white paper setting out “precise explanations” on key aspects of Britain’s Brexit vision.
Brexit secretary  David Davis hailed the promised document to come next month as “our most significant publication on the EU since the referendum”. Aides have indicated it will cover future trade, financial services regulation and clearly establish the UK’s position on the vexed issue at the heart of withdrawal negotiations – future customs relations. The paper is an attempt to get on the front foot in Brussels amid fears that EU negotiators too often set the agenda, to reassure Tory MPs that Ms May has a coherent plan and give civil servants a framework upon which to take decisions.

BBC News
The government says a White Paper setting out its Brexit position will be its “most significant publication on the EU” since the 2016 referendum.
It will include “detailed, ambitious and precise explanations of our positions”, Brexit Secretary David Davis told colleagues. Ministers have yet to settle a debate about managing post-Brexit customs. Labour said it was “deeply disturbing” that ministers “still cannot agree on the most fundamental Brexit issues”. The paper will be published ahead of June’s key EU summit. Extending to more than 100 pages, it will involve reaching agreement with almost every government department.

Guardian
Theresa May has announced plans to publish, ahead of a critical Brussels summit next month, a Brexit white paper setting out her priorities for Britain’s future relationship with the European Union.
In an attempt to get on the front foot in negotiations, the government will for the first time present a “detailed, ambitious and precise” explanation of what it hopes the final deal will deliver. The blueprint is expected to include a plan for a customs relationship that avoids re-establishing a hard Irish border, although the prime minister’s cabinet remains bitterly divided over how best to achieve this. However, Whitehall insiders suggested there was no formal commitment to agreeing one of the two options, or to including details on the “backstop” plan for the border, by the time EU leaders meet for the summit in June.

Scotland

Mirror
The UK faces a constitutional crisis after the Scottish Parliament rejected a key Brexit law.
MSPs refused to give their consent tonight to the EU Withdrawal Bill , Theresa May’s bid to ensure Brussels laws continue after Brexit Day in 2019. Tory ministers say the Bill is essential – but they have been embroiled in a row with devolved governments, who fear they’ll be deprived of power. Now the Prime Minister must choose whether to accept tonight’s 93-30 vote, plunging herself into a Brexit crisis, or ignore it, plunging herself into a constitutional crisis. Westminster has never before introduced laws on devolved areas without the approval of the Scottish Parliament.

Express
LABOUR and the Liberal Democrats have been accused of “giving succour” to Nicola Sturgeon’s crusade for independence as Holyrood rejected key Brexit laws.
Scottish Tories hit out at other Unionist parties for siding with the SNP and Greens in formally refusing consent to Theresa May’s flagship EU Withdrawal Bill. They blamed the Scottish Government for a failure to find an agreement following a compromise reached with the Welsh Labour Government. But MSPs voted by 93 to 30 that the Scottish Parliament “does not consent to the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill”.

Times
Theresa May has made clear that she will push on with her flagship Brexit legislation despite failing to win the backing of the Scottish parliament.
MSPs voted by 93 to 30 yesterday to withhold Holyrood’s consent from the EU Withdrawal Bill, the key piece of legislation paving the way for the UK’s departure from the European Union next year. The Scottish parliament’s approval is not legally necessary for the bill to become law, as Westminster can disregard Holyrood, but such a move would provoke the biggest political rift between the two institutions since devolution in 1999.

Mail
The Scottish Parliament today voted down crucial Brexit-related legislation – sparking fears of a constitutional crisis. MSPs at Holyrood have formally refused to grant consent to the EU Withdrawal Bill by 93 votes to 30.
It is the first time the devolved Parliament has withdrawn its stamp of approval for legislation coming from Westminster.   They blocked the crucial legislation from being passed amid a row whether powers returned to the UK from the EU should be handed to Edinburgh or London. Despite the vote, Scottish Brexit Minister Mike Russell has vowed this will ‘not be the end of the process’.

Independent
The Scottish parliament has voted against backing Theresa May’s key piece of Brexit legislation, paving the way for a constitutional crisis.
Politicians at Holyrood refused to grant consent to the EU Withdrawal Bill, meaning Downing Street may have to take the unprecedented step of overruling the Edinburgh assembly to make Brexit happen. There is still a chance that Westminster and the Scottish National Party administration may strike a deal in a row about powers returning to the UK from Brussels after withdrawal. It comes amid stalemate in Brussels Brexit talks, in efforts to pass the withdrawal bill and others through parliament and in the cabinet’s attempts to compromise on what kind of future customs relations to seek.

Guardian
The Scottish parliament has voted against Theresa May’s
Brexit  legislation by a large margin, putting the UK on the brink of a major constitutional dispute. Holyrood rejected the UK government’s EU withdrawal bill by 93 votes to 30 on Tuesday after Labour, the Liberal Democrats and Scottish Greens backed Nicola Sturgeon’s decision to oppose proposals on post-Brexit power sharing set out in clause 11 of the bill. The vote is not legally binding but it will force the prime minister to make a high-risk decision to impose those power-sharing plans on  Scotland or make further concessions to the Scottish government to avoid a crisis. Imposing powers on Scotland would be unprecedented and fuel Sturgeon’s demands for a second independence referendum, potentially providing the Scottish National party with a further justification for staging one.

Economy

Telegraph
Britain’s economy is entering a “menopausal” phase after passing peak productivity, a deputy governor of the Bank of England has suggested.
Ben Broadbent compared the current slowdown in growth and wages to a lull at the end of the 19th century, when the height of the steam era was over but the age of electricity was yet to begin. Today’s economy could be experiencing a similar trough as it passes the boom of the digital era and awaits the next big breakthrough, possibly with artificial intelligence.

Times
A deputy governor at the Bank of England has been criticised for saying that the economy has entered its “menopausal” phase, having passed peak productivity.
Ben Broadbent compared the performance to the lull at the end of the 19th century between the ages of steam and electricity. He predicted another technological rebirth, perhaps around artificial intelligence. Mr Broadbent told The Daily Telegraph that the cause of Britain’s productivity woes, which have lasted nearly ten years, was uncertain but has led to unremarkable tax receipts and less money for public spending.

Employment

Sun
THE unemployment rate has fallen to its lowest level since 1975 – despite Project Fear’s scaremongering about huge job losses after Brexit.
The number of people out of work dropped 46,000 to 1.42million, latest Office for National Statistics figures revealed yesterday. Employment is also at the highest since records began in 1971 with 75.6 per cent in a job. Numbers in work rose 179,000 to 32.34million, with 2,000 people finding work each day. The plunge in unemployment – to just 4.2 per cent – comes as the number of EU nationals working in the UK fell for the first time in eight years. In the three months to March there were around 2.29million EU workers — down 28,000 on the same period last year.

Express
SINCE THE EU referendum there are more people in jobs than ever before with the employment boom the largest since records began, despite Remoaner insistence the UK economy would be worse off outside of the EU.
Before the vote in 2016, Chancellor George Osborne said that up to 820,000 jobs could be lost if Britain decided to leave the EU. But, almost two years later, the workforce has grown to 32.34million – the highest since records began in 1971, according to the Office for National Statistics. More than half a million of these are jobs that have been created since the referendum in June 2016. A total of 609,000 more people are in employment since Britain voted to leave the EU. Since the start of this year, more than 2,000 jobseekers have found work each day, on average.

Mail
More Britons are in work than ever despite predictions of huge job losses in the event of a vote for Brexit.
Official figures released yesterday showed that employment is at a record high, with more than 2,000 people finding work every day. The workforce has grown to 32.34million – the highest level since records began in 1971, according to the Office for National Statistics. The total has risen by 609,000 since the referendum of June 2016. Before the vote George Osborne claimed up to 820,000 jobs could be lost within two years if Britain chose to leave.

Sky News
Theresa May has bowed to pressure to spell out her Brexit strategy more clearly by promising to publish it in a detailed Government dossier.
Downing Street has announced that the Prime Minister confirmed to her Cabinet that the Government is producing a white paper on its proposed future relationship with the EU. But the announcement came with the PM’s feuding ministers still no nearer to reaching an agreement on the crucial issue of customs policy after the UK leaves the European Union. According to No 10, David Davis told the Cabinet at its weekly meeting that the white paper would be the Government’s most significant publication on the EU since the referendum two years ago.

NHS

Mirror
NHS chiefs have been forced to hand over £55,000 to a whistleblowing doctor who they tried to stop having his day in court.
The humiliating legal bill is part of an astonishing saga that looks set to last four years and cost taxpayers more than £200,000. Dr Chris Day, 32, said his career was “destroyed” after he raised fears over a short-staffed intensive care unit in 2014. Yet he was blocked from taking his claims to an employment tribunal after NHS training body Health Education England (HEE) argued it wasn’t his employer. The Court of Appeal reversed that decision, and Dr Day’s case finally came to an initial tribunal yesterday. There, HEE revealed it is changing its policy in future to say it does employ medics like Dr Day under the law.

World Cup

Times
Police have warned England fans not to display the flag of St George at the World Cup in Russia next month because it risks being seen as “imperialistic” and “antagonistic”.
The head of football policing said that the flags have become a “trophy of choice” for hooligans from rival countries. Deputy Chief Constable Mark Roberts,of the National Police Chiefs’ Council, said that he was acutely aware of the worsening diplomatic situation after Russia was accused of carrying out the Salisbury poisonings. Mr Roberts will lead a team of officers to Russia to work with local police and security services to protect up to 10,000 travelling England fans.

Mail
England fans are being urged by police not to display St George’s flag at the
World Cup in Russia because it could bee seen as ‘imperialistic’ and ‘antagonistic’.  Deputy Chief Constable Mark Roberts, the head of football policing, said the flags were the trophies of choice for hooligans from rival countries. It comes after Russian hooligans attacked England fans in 2016 and posted pictures of dozens of ‘captured’ St George’s flags.  Mr Roberts, of the National Police Chiefs’ Council, added that he was acutely aware of worsened diplomatic relations following the Salisbury spy poisonings. 

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