Michel Barnier has placed the European Union on a collision course with the UK ahead of the start of post-Brexit trade talks after he ruled out a special deal to protect the City of London’s ability to trade on the continent. The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator said if the UK leaves the European single market – as Theresa May has long maintained that it will – then the country’s crucial financial services sector will lose the right to trade freely. Mr Barnier’s comments are likely to be seen as a major blow to Mrs May’s hopes of striking the bespoke deal with Brussels that she has targeted. It came amid reports that the Prime Minister is planning a third major Brexit speech in which she will set out her post-Brexit vision for the UK. David Davis, the Brexit Secretary, recently said the UK could seek a “Canada Plus Plus Plus” deal with the aim of combining the trade elements of the deal done between Brussels and Ottawa with extra provisions to include arrangements for financial services.

THE European Union’s chief negotiator has struck a blow to Theresa May’s bespoke Brexit deal by ruling out any “special arrangement” for the City of London if it leaves the Single Market, it has been revealed. Michel Barnier announced he was not open to a free trade agreement including financial services. He said: “There is no place for financial services. There is not a single trade agreement that is open to financial services. It does not exist.” He described the position as a result of “the red lines that the British have chosen themselves”. He added: “In leaving the single market, they lose the financial services passport.” Mr Barnier made clear that the EU will respond firmly to any deviation from the framework of single market regulations which might give the UK a competitive advantage through lower taxes or weaker standards.

Downing Street has dismissed a warning from the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator that there will be no special deal for the City during future trade talks. Michel Barnier struck a blow to Theresa May’s hopes of a bespoke deal with Brussels, when he said there was “no place” for financial services in any post-Brexit trade deal. In a briefing after the first full Cabinet discussion of future relationship with the EU, her official spokesman hit back at the claims, saying the Government was “confident” of a good deal for financial services. Asked about Mr Barnier’s comments, the PM’s spokesman said: “As we’ve said throughout, we are confident at negotiating a deep and special economic partnership that will include a good deal for financial services. “As we’ve always been clear, that will be in the EU’s best interests as well as ours.”

MICHEL Barnier has irritated EU leaders by going beyond his brief to mount a series of attacks on Theresa May’s Brexit trade deal hopes. Ministers have been told that senior Brussels figures – including EU Commission boss Jean Claude Juncker  – are “not happy” with their chief negotiator for his unauthorised rants. In his latest outburst, the veteran French politician insisted there would be “no place” for the City’s world-leading financial services. That is despite Mr Barnier being told by the EU to wait until they are ready in March before he is given official instructions on what the 27 member states are prepared to agree with with the UK. The Sun has also seen that Mr Juncker was so irritated by Mr Barnier’s hard line that he sidelined him to handle divorce deal talks with Mrs May personally. And the EU Commission boss’s powerful chief of staff Martin Selmayr also said to be having regrets at pushing for his key appointment.

THE BBC has been accused of being “institutionally biased” against Brexit after new analysis revealed that its flagship political programme had more twice as many Remain supporters as Leavers. The analysis seen by the Daily Express shows that BBC Question Time had 85 Remainers on its panel between January and July 2017 compared to just 36 Brexit supporters, even though leaving the EU has dominated most of the discussions. From the 24 shows only one had a majority of Leave supporters and 22 had a majority of Remainers.

Terror threat

Counter-terror police have arrested 4 men on suspicion of terrorism offences, police said. The homes of the 4 men, 3 from Sheffield and 1 from Chesterfield, were raided this morning – witnesses reported hearing an explosion during one of the dawn raids. Now a bomb squad has reportedly been called to the property in Chesterfield. Press officers at the North East Counter Terrorism Unit confirmed to Westmonster that the threat was ‘Islamist’ and ‘imminent’ but could not say exactly what it was targeting. The arrested men are aged 22, 31, 36 and 41 and they’re currently in custody at a West Yorkshire police station – their properties are still being searched. A statement on the North East Counter Terrorism Unit’s website said: “We recognise that local people may have concerns as a result of this activity. We would ask people to remain alert but not alarmed and we are grateful for the assistance and understanding of people locally.”

Police have raided five homes as part of an anti-terror operation to foil a suspected Christmas terror plot. Loud bangs were heard as an army bomb squad was deployed following a raid in Chesterfield and there were also operations by counter-terror officers in three parts of Sheffield. Three men aged 22, 36 and 41 were detained at different addresses in Sheffield and a 31-year-old was held in Chesterfield. The Independent understands the four men are suspected of preparing for an imminent terror attack, which would be the 10th thwarted by security services so far this year. The unnamed men have been taken to a police station for questioning.

BBC News
Action has been taken against an alleged Islamist terror plot in the UK that could have happened at Christmas, counter terrorism sources say. Four men were arrested early on Tuesday in South Yorkshire and Derbyshire. An Army bomb disposal team cordoned off a street in Chesterfield where a 31-year-old man was arrested. Nearby homes were evacuated. Three other men aged 22, 36 and 41 were arrested in the Burngreave and Meersbrook areas of Sheffield. All four suspects were detained on suspicion of being concerned in the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism under Section 41 of the Terrorism Act 2000. They have been taken to a police station in West Yorkshire for questioning. The cordon in Chesterfield was later lifted.

Net immigration from the EU plummeted to its lowest level for three years – with just 9,000 moving to the UK in three months this year, new figures reveal. Experts said the Brexit vote has prompted the sharp fall in the figures as more Europeans look to move back home. The Office for National Statistics said that from April to June this year 39,000 EU nationals moved to Britain, but 30,000 left. This means that net immigration from the EU stood at just 9,000 for the three months – the lowest the ONS began publishing the figures in early 2015. The ONS did warn that there are big seasonal fluctuations in how many EU migrants move in and out of Britain – as many come to the UK for seasonal work.

North Korea

NORTH Korea is a “massive threat” to Brits amid fears Kim Jong-un is developing nukes which could strike the capital, the Defence Secretary has warned. Gavin Williamson branded the Hermit Kingdom a “real danger” and insisted the UK must “step up” to deal with the tyrannical regime. And he claimed the threat was a “global problem”, as US President Donald Trump blasted the “nuclear menace” posed by Pyongyang. But Mr Williamson insisted Britain would “never hesitate” to deal with military aggression when quizzed about whether the UK is preparing for an attack.