Brexit

Westmonster
The British government’s huge commitment of a £40 billion Brexit bill might not be final – there is apparently a plan to hold back cash if the European Union fails to deliver a bumper trade deal for the UK. There is a potential contingency plan to not hand over money if Brussels continue to drag their feet and fail to deliver, according to Bloomberg. Let’s not forget that the vast majority of the British public are against a bumper payout for the EU, with a poll back in November showing that 71% of Brits are against a £40bn bill. The revelation that three British officials have briefed that the UK might cut financial contributions to Brussels is welcome.

Sun
THE Cabinet is stuck in deadlock over whether to follow new EU rules after Brexit just 24 hours before a Chequers showdown, The Sun can reveal. The 10 senior ministers on Theresa May’s inner Cabinet have held a series of smaller meetings in twos and threes over the last week to try to end a bitter standoff, The Sun can reveal. But the PM’s hopes of avoiding a big dust up during the crunch away day on Thursday night have been dashed after they have still failed to agree. Just a month away from the start of formal talks for a trade deal, Mrs May has set a deadline of Thursday night for her top team to agree what to ask the EU for. But Brexit Secretary David Davis admitted today that the PM’s negotiations committee will now have to be “locked in a room all day” before they strike an agreement.

Independent
Britain could withhold payment of its Brexit divorce bill if the EU doesn’t give it a trade deal, David Davis has suggested. The  Brexit  Secretary was asked about reports of a “secret plan” to withhold the payment agreed in December and said the issue was “bound up into one” with talks on the UK’s future relationship. “Secret plan – as announced by the Prime Minister,” he told reporters in a question-and-answer session after a speech in Vienna. “We have been very plain that the withdrawal agreement follows Article 50. Article 50 says the withdrawal agreement has to take into account the future relationship. They’re bound up in one, they’re not a separate issue.”

Telegraph
Boris Johnson described Brexit as “a mess” during a private meeting with senior German officials, European Union sources have claimed. Mr Johnson is understood to have been referring to the complex Brexit negotiations rather than the British decision to leave the bloc, which he campaigned for in the referendum. During unminuted talks in Berlin, the foreign secretary is alleged by Brussels sources to have urged the Germans to turn Brexit into an economic opportunity.  However, 
The Telegraph understands he was rebuffed by the German government, which has repeatedly stood behind Michel Barnier and resisted any attempts to go over the European Union chief Brexit negotiator’s  head. 

Express
BORIS Johnson betrayed his own Brexit campaign by calling it “a mess” in a private meeting with senior German officials, European Union sources have claimed. The Foreign Secretary is alleged to have urged the Germans to turn Brexit into an economic opportunity during un-minuted discussions in Berlin. Mr Johnson is understood to have been referring to the continual and complicated Brexit negotiations rather than the vote to leave the EU overall, as he campaigned for the decision in the referendum. Sources in Brussels say the MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip was rebuffed by the German government, which has repeatedly stood behind European Union chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier and resisted any attempts to go over his head.

Mail
Sixty-two Tory MPs have written to the Prime Minister, warning her not to water down Brexit. Details of the letter emerged last night as senior ministers prepared to hold eight hours of talks at Chequers in a bid to thrash out an agreement on the Government’s demands to Brussels. Theresa May has summoned members of her Brexit ‘war cabinet’ to her country retreat in a bid to resolve tensions over Britain’s future relationship with the EU. The letter from the European Research Group, led by Jacob Rees-Mogg, made clear that Eurosceptics will not tolerate any backsliding. It warns Mrs May it is vital she secures ‘full regulatory autonomy’ as part of any divorce deal, leaving Britain free to set its own laws without Brussels interference. They warned the UK will be ‘legally barred’ from striking free trade deals if it remains in the single market or customs union.

Independent
Conservative MPs have written to Theresa May calling on her to pursue a hard Brexit ahead of a crunch meeting of senior Cabinet ministers. More than 60 MPs have written to the Prime Minister to set out their demands for the next stage of talks.  In the letter, Conservative MPs warned the UK must have full control over their laws after Brexit and must not become a “rule taker”. They also also argue for “full regulatory autonomy” for Britain after Brexit. The letter was sent by the European Research Group (ERG), which is made up of Tory Eurosceptics and chaired by Jacob Rees-Mogg, and was signed by 62 MPs, including former cabinet ministers Priti Patel and Iain Duncan Smith.  It states that Britain must not be stopped from negotiating and signing trade deals during any transition period and suggests “taking control” of World Trade Organisation tariff schedules that regulate trading. “The UK must be free to start its own trade negotiations immediately,” the letter adds.

Times
Theresa May has been told by more than 60 Conservative MPs that they will no longer support her Brexit plans if members of the cabinet agree tomorrow to keep Britain too closely aligned to the European Union. The demands were set out in a letter from the powerful European Research Group (ERG) and delivered to Downing Street on Friday. It was signed by four members of the government, four former cabinet ministers and a serving Tory vice-chairwoman. Senior ERG figures including Jacob Rees-Mogg, its chairman, were summoned to see Mrs May yesterday to discuss the contents. A leading Tory MP who supports a softer Brexit position said that the ERG plans “must be resisted” and it would be madness to agree to their demands.

Guardian
More than 60 backbench Conservative MPs have sent Theresa May a list of hard Brexit demands ahead of a crunch meeting, triggering a furious reaction from colleagues who branded the letter a “ransom note”. As dozens of members of the party’s European Research Group added their names to the correspondence setting out their expectations for Brexit with “full regulatory autonomy”, other Tory politicians hit back. Nicky Morgan, an advocate for a soft Brexit who chairs the Treasury select committee, said: “This isn’t a letter, it is a ransom note. The ERG clearly think they have the prime minister as their hostage.”

Mail
Official forecasts of a major hit to the economy from leaving the EU are flawed, a report says today. It challenges leaked Whitehall analysis that predicts Brexit will mean much lower growth. Instead, the 20-page study from the Economists For Free Trade group says UK output could be 4 per cent higher after 15 years.  The latest figures come ahead of a Cabinet meeting tomorrow to decide Britain’s negotiating position on post-Brexit trade. Eleven senior ministers will convene at Chequers – the prime minister’s country residence – to try to reach an agreement. 
The report will provide ammunition for pro-Leave Cabinet ministers such as Boris Johnson and Michael Gove, who favour greater divergence from Brussels rules. Pro-Remain ministers, including Chancellor Philip Hammond, want to keep the UK in close alignment with the EU after Brexit.

Express
A GROUP of leading economists have revealed that civil servants inputted the wrong data into a Brexit impact study with the result that it suggested leaving the EU would damage the economy. A detailed investigation by Economists for Free Trade has shown that when Government policy on Brexit and its key objectives are used then the British economy will in fact grow by between two and four per cent better than if the UK had stayed in the EU. The Alternative Brexit Impact Assessment has now been passed on to Cabinet ministers to inform the crucial discussion of the Brexit sub-committee on Thursday. It also reveals that a “no deal” scenario gives Britain a £651 billion boost while the EU would lose £507 billion.

EU

Sun
European Parliament chiefs are preparing to offer Britain “privileged” access to the single market – but only if we sign up to EU rules. In the first sign of a break with the approach of European Commission negotiators, sources revealed senior MEPs are thrashing out their own proposals for a future deal. A 60 page document reveals a plan to allow Britain to retain “privileged” access to the single market. As part of a broad association agreement that would also commit Britain to respecting the European Court of Justice in certain areas, and agreeing to regulatory alignment in others.

Westmonster
The EU needs to respect national sovereignty and stop trying to force countries to take in a quota of migrants, according to the Polish PM. Mateusz Morawiecki said his country was doing more than enough to help with the migrant crisis, specifically by taking in loads of Ukrainian refugees and by funding relief efforts on the Syrian border. He also said the EU has ‘run out of gas in terms of ideals’. He told Der Spiegel: “They no longer have a roof over their heads and they have often lost family members. This kind of refugee is not even recognised in the West. After our interview, incidentally, I will fly to Lebanon, where I will visit a refugee camp and take considerable financial support along with me.

Express
THE future of the European project could be at risk if Brussels steam ahead with plans to punish the continent’s poorest regions by cutting handouts in a bid to plug the budget black hole left by Brexit, European Union chiefs have been warned. As eurocrats count the cost of life without Britain, they have proposed swingeing cuts to funding for the union’s flagship cohesion policy as a way to plug a £11.5billion gap once the UK exits.  But Europe’s poorest regions fear Brussels bureaucrats are on self destruct as they warn harsh cuts could destroy the EU.  The Czech Republic is one of those nations after receiving €22.1billion during the EU’s previous budget cycle – a figure likely to be slashed in the coming weeks.

Scotland

Mail
Nicola Sturgeon has rejected a Westminster offer to immediately devolve all powers returned from the EU to Scotland. Ministers in Westminster had hoped offering to hand over all 111 powers over devolved issues such as fishing and agriculture would end the impasse.  The veto leaves London and Edinburgh deadlocked over Brexit and throws into new doubt whether Theresa May‘s flagship Brexit legislation will be law. The Scottish Government has objected to a demand some powers not being handed over until ‘common frameworks’ had been set up to ensure the smooth functioning of the England-Scotland border.

Breitbart
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has argued that Scotland needs to open its borders because Scottish people in history have moved abroad. In a column citing figures from a Scottish government report described as “disingenuous” by Britain’s foremost migration policy watchdog, the SNP leader claimed a reduction in migrant numbers post-Brexit would be “catastrophic” for the economy in Scotland. “Today is designated by the United Nations as ‘World Social Justice Day’,” writes Sturgeon in a piece for the 
Evening Times, noting that the globalist organisation has dedicated this year’s theme to promoting mass migration under the title of “Workers on the move”.

Northern Ireland

Mail
Senior DUP MPs today endorsed claims from some Brexiteers that the Good Friday Agreement that brought peace to Northern Ireland had failed. Jim Shannon and Sammy Wilson said Sinn Fein’s refusal to form a power-sharing executive proved the 1998 peace accord no longer worked.  The claim came amid warnings from Brexiteers the peace accord was being manipulated by Republicans who wanted a unite Ireland after Brexit.  In an update to MPs in the Commons, Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley said she would soon have to take steps to set a new budget for the province from London. She hinted fresh elections could be ordered in an attempt to end the 13-month stalemate and insisted the Government wanted to preserve the Good Friday Agreement.  

Sky News
The Northern Ireland Secretary has delivered her strongest warning yet that some form of direct rule will be imposed on the country. Karen Bradley announced that the UK Government “intends to take steps to provide clarity” on a Stormont budget. “This is clearly not where I want to be, but I have no other choice,” she said. Ms Bradley made the admission in Parliament, on the first day it reconvened since 
talks to re-establish an executive in the devolved assembly broke down. She said Northern Ireland “needs certainty and clarity” as it edged towards its 14th month without a government.

Child sex abuse

Westmonster
The number of potential child sex abuse victims in Rotherham has been revised upwards to 1,510, according to the National Crime Agency. That’s an increase from the initial estimate of 1,400 victims from a report back in 2014. This NCA inquiry has discovered an even larger scale of abuse, with 110 suspects identified and trials listed for this year. Of those suspects, 80% are of Pakistani heritage according to The Guardian. So many young girls have had their lives destroyed by sex grooming gangs, yet sadly a former victim  recently spoke out to express her belief that young girls were still being groomed in Rotherham. The scale of child abuse that has gone on in English towns and cities is a national disgrace.

Times
More than 1,500 children are thought to have been targeted and abused in the Rotherham sex-grooming scandal, it was revealed yesterday. The National Crime Agency (NCA), which is investigating past sex crimes in the town, said it had identified even more potential victims than were estimated by the 2014 inquiry. Officers said yesterday that the NCA inquiry, Britain’s biggest child exploitation investigation, now had 110 “designated suspects” and 1,510 potential victims of child sex crimes between 1997 and 2013. Eighty per cent of the suspected offenders were men of Pakistani origin and 90 per cent of the victims were white British girls aged from 11 to 18, they said.

Breitbart
The number of victims of Rotherham grooming and rape gangs has risen even higher than the 1,400 figure which shocked the nation in 2014, the National Crime Agency (NCA) has revealed. The revelations come as millions of pounds continue to be pumped into an independent review of the mass sex crimes in the town, with hundreds of officers still expanding their work on the scandal. The 2014 report by Professor Alexis Jay exposed how largely Pakistani-heritage, Muslim men had systematically exploited 1,400 mostly white girls in the northern town between 1997 and 2013, whose abuse was largely ignored by authorities due to political correctness. Now, the NCA independent inquiry has found that the number of victims over the same time period is more like 1,510. At least 1,300 of them female, they added.

Mail
The number of victims of child sexual exploitation in Rotherham has grown to more than 1,500 victims and detectives have identified 110 ‘designated suspects’ in the scandal. An initial figure of 1,400 sparked a national outrage, but the National Crime Agency (NCA) has now said at least a hundred more underage victims have been added to their list. The NCA is conducting a huge investigation in the South Yorkshire town following the revelations in the 2014 Jay Report that children were groomed and abused there. Professor’s Alexis Jay’s report sparked national soul-searching when it revealed that the large scale exploitation undertaken by gangs of largely Pakistani-heritage men had been effectively ignored by police and other agencies for more than a decade. Eighty percent of the suspects are said to be Pakistani and 90 percent of the victims are white girls.  

Star
BRITAIN’S version of the FBI says the investigation into sex gangs in Rotherham is now the biggest of its kind in history. The National Crime Agency already has 144 crack detectives hunting down perverted monsters in the town. But it is struggling to cope with the huge scale of abuse and wants another 100 officers. Operation Stovewood has so far identified 1,510 victims and 110 suspects involved in sex crimes dating back 21 years. But the agency admitted yesterday that the cases were so complex officers have only had time to probe 17% of them. 
Most attacks were carried out by Asian gangs, with 98% of victims white girls aged 11 to 18 who had been plied with drugs and booze. Similar cases involving men with mainly Pakistani backgrounds in Rochdale inspired the BBC drama Three Girls starring Maxine Peake. Officers involved in Operation Stovewood, which has cost £10million since its launch three years ago, found one girl had been abused by 30 different men. Others were trafficked around the country, with one even being sent to Pakistan to be raped, and several had babies.

The City

Times
Jeremy Corbyn’s threat to make the City of London a “servant” of industry risks ruining a national asset, finance chiefs said last night. The Labour leader vowed that he would be the first prime minister in 40 years to stand up to the “unfettered power of finance” and to curb its “out-of-control gambling” as he attacked Britain’s biggest exporting industry. The finance and banking sector accounts for more than £5 of every £100 of tax raised, experts said. Mr Corbyn used a speech to EEF, the manufacturing body, to tell the City to expect radical change from a Labour government. “There can be no rebalancing of our distorted, sluggish and unequal economy without taking on the unfettered power of finance,” he said.

Independent
Jeremy Corbyn will vow to strip the City of London of its dominance in the UK, before accusing the financial sector of having a “pernicious and undemocratic” control over British politics. The Labour leader will argue in a major speech that the City’s growth has had a destructive impact on the “real economy”, as he pledges to swing the UK back towards an industry based model. He will also say that in government, Labour would use new powers to prevent a hostile takeover of engineering firm GKN. Speaking at the conference of EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation, on Monday Mr Corbyn will declare that the finance sector needs “a fundamental rethink” and the next Labour government will make it “the servant of industry not the masters of us all”.

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