Theresa May aims for “frank and open” discussions with Angela Merkel on Wednesday about Britain’s eventual departure from the European Union. The new Prime Minister will make her first overseas trip when she travels to meet the German chancellor before heading to Paris on Thursday for talks with French president Francois Hollande. Speaking ahead of the trip, Mrs May said she aimed to deliver a clear message to her European counterparts that Britain hopes to strengthen relations with countries once it has left the EU.
Discussions about the UK leaving the EU must be “frank and open”, Theresa May has said as she prepares to embark on her first tour of European capitals. The prime minister will have a working dinner with Germany’s Angela Merkel on Wednesday before talks with France’s Francois Hollande on Thursday. Mrs May said maintaining strong trading links in Europe was vital to ensuring the UK “made a success” of Brexit. Before the trip, Mrs May will face her first Prime Minister’s Questions. She will cross swords with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn in the House of Commons for the first time at just after midday in what will be the last PMQs before Parliament breaks up for the summer recess on Thursday.
The Prime Minister will not start the formal process of divorcing the EU this year, the High Court has been told. Government lawyers told judges considering a legal challenge over Brexit that Theresa May had made it clear she did not plan to trigger Article 50 before 2017. The timetable was set out as a British hairdresser launched his case to try to prevent the Prime Minister starting the formal process of leaving the EU without putting it to the vote in the House of Commons.
IMF officials were labelled ‘clowns’ with ‘serious credibility problems’ last night after saying the British economy will grow faster than Germany and France in the next two years – only weeks after its doom-laden warnings about Brexit. After saying that leaving the European Union could trigger a UK recession, the International Monetary Fund now expects the British economy to grow by 1.7 per cent this year and 1.3 per cent next year. That is weaker than the 1.9 and 2.2 per cent growth forecasts before the referendum, but the UK is still set to be the second-fastest growing economy in the Group of Seven industrialised nations this year – behind the United States – and third-fastest next year, behind the US and Canada.
The race for control of Britain’s Labour Party narrowed on Tuesday as lawmaker Angela Eagle withdrew, leaving incumbent Jeremy Corbyn up against a challenger promising a second Brexit referendum. Labour’s left wing and its more moderate factions have been locked in a power struggle ever since Britain voted to leave the European Union on June 23, with critics saying Corbyn had not worked hard enough to prevent the Leave camp’s victory. Eagle, formerly the party’s top business spokesperson, withdrew from the leadership contest after private tallies showed she had received less support than rival Owen Smith at the halfway stage in the nominating process. “It is in the best interests of the Labour Party that we now come together so we can have one candidate,” she told reporters.
Labour is set for an all-male leadership contest after Angela Eagle withdrew to offer her support to Owen Smith as a “unity candidate” to take on Jeremy Corbyn. Ms Eagle, who was first to challenge the Labour leader’s position on July 11, stepped down after it became apparent that Pontypridd MP Mr Smith was set to outstrip her in the race for nominations from MPs and MEPs.
In the last two weeks Owen Smith has gone from someone who one MP described as “just playing games” to being the official challenger to Jeremy Corbyn. Can he pull off a far bigger ask of actually beating him, and demolishing Mr Corbyn’s mountain of membership support? On his side is, finally perhaps, unity among the vast majority of Labour MPs and MEPs. Angela Eagle dropped out with dignity so that there would be only one candidate. Owen Smith was warm in his tribute to her tonight and dropped heavy hints about campaigning side by side with her in the next two months to smooth the way for senior MPs to work together.
Angela Eagle is quitting the race to challenge Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of the Labour Party. It means Owen Smith is the only remaining contender to face Mr Corbyn. Ms Eagle, Mr Smith and their supporters had been gathering nominations from Labour MPs and MEPs ahead of a deadline at 5pm on Wednesday. Mr Smith has obtained nominations from 88 Labour MPs and two MEPs, easily passing the threshold of 51 required to get on to the ballot paper.
NHS England has employed a private company to “cleanse” GPs’ patient lists, targeting those who have not had an appointment for more than five years. Under the plans, people in this situation will be sent two letters asking them to respond but if they do not reply saying they wish to remain registered with their GP, they will be axed from the surgery’s list. The idea is to find out whether patients have moved away from the area, left the country or died. GPs are paid an average of about £136 for every patient on their list and the NHS’s plans, which will be led by private company Capita, aim to cut costs.
Millions of patients face being dropped by their GP for being too healthy. They will be axed if they have not seen a doctor in five years and fail to respond to two written warnings. The measure is aimed at freeing up space on surgery lists as well as saving public money. In some areas patients are being written off after just a year. NHS bosses say cash is being wasted paying GPs for ‘ghost’ patients who have either died or moved away. But MPs and campaigners say the crackdown will penalise patients who avoid making a fuss, especially middle-aged men and the elderly.
A scheme that discriminates against healthy people by axing patients from surgery lists if they have not visited their GP for five years will harm safety, campaigners have warned. Doctors’ and patients’ groups have said the cost-cutting measure also risks leaving elderly and vulnerable people accidently deprived of primary care. NHS England has employed the outsourcing company Capita to begin a process of “list cleansing”, with the aim of cutting costs by ensuring accuracy over which patients are using which services.
THE former First Minister for Scotland Alex Salmond had some words of advice for Theresa May – not to “mess with the people of Scotland”. Mr Salmond said he predicted that Scottish independence is inevitable and warned that the new Prime Minister would cave into pressure from Holyrood for a fresh referendum on independence if Nicola Sturgeon felt that was in the best interests of Scotland. Ms Sturgeon, the incumbent First Minister for Scotland, has previously stated that she will do what is necessary to protect the country’s position in the European Union (EU) after the UK voted for a Brexit on June 23. Mr Salmond compared Mrs May’s stance on Scottish independence to previous Tory prime minister Margaret Thatcher, who he said “wasn’t known as a friend of Scotland”.
THE European Union’s flagship trade deal with Canada was on the brink of collapse today after a Germany political party sued Brussels over its implementation. Centre-left Die Linke has launched legal action to block the controversial Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) pact, saying it is unconstitutional under German law. The party’s attempt to torpedo the hated deal is just the latest in a series of devastating trade blows for the EU, which is unravelling following the Brexit vote. And it reveals once more the cavernous differences opening up between different member states which have effectively rendered the European project unworkable. Earlier this month Canada’s despairing Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland asked: “If the EU cannot do a deal with Canada, I think it is legitimate to say who the heck can it do a deal with?”
FAMILIES raising funds to put Tony Blair in the dock and secure justice for their relatives killed in Iraq smashed a £50,000 target for legal fees within hours yesterday. The Iraq War Families Campaign Group, representing the 179 service personnel who were killed in the rush to follow the US into military action, extended their target to £150,000 after the overwhelming display of support. The group launched the appeal in the wake of the Chilcot report’s damning conclusions that Britain went to war based on “flawed intelligence” about Saddam Hussein’s proclaimed weapons of mass destruction. A cross-party group of MPs is also planning to put a resolution to the Commons holding Blair in contempt of Parliament for his conduct in the run-up to the Iraq war.
A question mark has been placed over the future of David Cameron’s target of reducing net migration to “tens of thousands” by the next election, with the new prime minister, Theresa May, set to head to Germany for talks about Britain leaving the EU. Doubts about the target arose after the new home secretary, Amber Rudd, would only say her goal was to bring it down to “sustainable levels”. Her refusal to endorse the specific target provides a hint that it may at some point be dropped by May, a former home secretary, despite a promise in the Conservative manifesto to reduce net migration to below 100,000 before 2020.
The failed Tory pledge to cut net migration to the ‘tens of thousands’ is on the verge of being scrapped, two senior Cabinet ministers suggested yesterday. New Home Secretary Amber Rudd, who is in charge of Britain’s borders, twice refused to back the controversial policy. She said only that the Government was committed to reducing immigration to ‘sustainable levels’.
Liz Truss, the new justice secretary, promised to continue Michael Gove’s “radical” jail reforms yesterday, as a damning report revealed a surge in violence behind bars. Peter Clarke, the chief inspector of prisons, warned Ms Truss that a clear strategy was needed to deal with psychoactive substances in jails that had helped to push up assaults by a third. Mr Clarke said that levels of violence and staff shortages were at their worst for at least ten years with incidents of self-harm, self-inflicted deaths and apparent homicides all higher last year.