Brexit

Westmonster
A new poll has revealed that despite the constant whinging from Remoaners, the British public do not fear a No Deal Brexit. The Hanbury Strategies poll for Politico asked: “The government believes that a No Deal Brexit would mean there would be less money to spend on public services. Which of these statements do you agree with the most?” 48% of those questioned said they thought that No Deal would mean less money for public services – and that it isn’t a price worth paying. But 31% said they didn’t think No Deal would mean less money for public services, and a further 21% said that it would be a price worth paying: a combined 52%.

Order-Order
A
Hanbury Strategy snap poll for Politico following the Budget has found that there is a 52% – 48% split on whether no deal would be a problem for public finances or not. 48% of the country agreed with the statement that “No Deal will mean there will be less money for public services – and it is NOT a price worth paying.” Whilst 52% of the country believe that “No Deal” either “will mean there will be less money for public services – and it is a price worth paying” or “won’t lead to less money for public services.” Nothing has changed…

Sky News
David Davis has predicted that “terror will win” in the Brexit negotiations. Revealing his opinion on the outcome of talks with Brussels, he guessed Britain would succumb to the “irrational fear” of a “no deal” divorce. The former Brexit secretary thought a deal would be struck but it could be brought down in parliament. Negotiations are due to begin in earnest after MPs vote on the budget later this week. A summit of EU leaders in December is seen by the bloc as the last practical point for a deal to be agreed.

Express
CHANCELLOR Philip Hammond declared ‘“austerity is coming to an end” as he delivered his 2018 Budget speech on Monday. But why has Mr Hammond not revealed the true cost of a no-deal Brexit? The clock is ticking for the UK to strike a deal with the European Union before the country leaves on March 29, 2018. If no withdrawal agreement is made, consumers, businesses and public bodies will have to deal with the consequences of leaving the EU immediately, rather than having a 21-month transition period. Chancellor Philip Hammond read out the Government’s plans for next year’s tax and spending in the House of Commons on Monday.

Telegraph (by Jeremy Warner)
No deal appears to be unacceptable to Parliament; it therefore cannot happen except by accident. Chequers, or some watered down version of it, may equally be unacceptable to a majority in Parliament; Labour will presumably vote against anything the Government proposes, and together with Tory rebels, who regard Chequers as a sell-out, could therefore defeat it. It may also be unacceptable to Brussels if no way around the Irish border issue can be found. So does that leave the Norway option as the only practical way through this constitutional and political minefield?

Independent
The UK and Norway have agreed a deal to protect the rights of each-others’ citizens after Brexit even if there is a no deal.  Citizens of both countries will be able to legally remain residents abroad even if there is no withdrawal agreement between the UK and EU. The announcement was made at a summit in Oslo, which Theresa May attended on Tuesday to discuss cooperation with Nordic and Baltic leaders. “Prime Minister May and I agreed that Norway and UK will put in place a comprehensive citizens rights’ agreement,” Erna Solberg, the Norwegian prime minister said.

Times
A “Norway for now” plan favoured by some Conservative MPs to prevent a no-deal Brexit was yesterday rejected by Norway itself. In recent weeks senior Tories, including Brexiteers and Remainers, have signalled their support for the “Norway option” as an alternative to the Chequers plan favoured by Theresa May, who yesterday delivered the first address by a British prime minister to the Nordic Council in Oslo. Under the Norway option Britain would replace EU membership by becoming a temporary member of the European Free Trade Association (Efta) after Brexit until a solution can be found to the Irish border issue.

Westmonster
Norway’s Prime Minister Erna Solberg has poured cold water on the prospect of the UK joining the EFTA/EEA bloc for a period, a move some MPs have suggested. Tory MP Nick Boles has spearheaded the idea, which would keep the UK inside the Single Market and Customs Union for now, with the ambition of later switching to a different arrangement. This would plainly not deliver on the referendum result and would mean open border mass migration would continue, whilst killing off any prospect of being truly independent. Theresa May was today in Oslo with the Norwegian PM who was asked about the UK making such a move, and said: “If you asked us if we would welcome Britain, we would welcome any good co-operation with Britain.

Express
ALMOST 95,000 people have signed an online Government petition to stop a second Brexit referendum and “ensure democracy rules”. The petition has been launched by Ronald Mitchell and comes following 700,000 people protesting in central London and demanding a “People’s Vote”. The petition, which at the time of writing has been signed by 94,345 people, said: “Although not legally binding the referendum on whether we stay of leave the EU carried out on the 23rd June 2016 was the clearest indicator of the will of the electorate. “At that time our Prime Minister David Cameron assured us that the result of the referendum would be carried out. “We must ensure democracy rules.”

BBC News
Holyrood’s constitution committee has called on Scottish and UK ministers to resolve the “impasse” over devolution and consent “as a matter of urgency”. A new report from the group said MSPs should not give their consent to the UK Trade Bill while the dispute continues. The Scottish government is furious that the EU Withdrawal Act passed despite MSPs refusing to give it their backing. And they have resolved not to put any more Brexit bills forward for votes at Holyrood until the row is resolved. Constitution committee convener Bruce Crawford said the schism “needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency”, and before the Trade Bill completes its passage through Westminster.

Trade

Express
JEREMY HUNT is set to announce a radical departure from Foreign Office tradition by opening up ambassadorships to business leaders in a bid to boost post-Brexit trade. The Foreign Secretary will deliver an address to the Policy Exchange think tank on Wednesday, in which he is expected to announce close to 1,000 new diplomatic jobs will be created both within the UK and abroad. Many of the top diplomatic roles will be open to non-civil servants, adopting a US-style model for the UK’s diplomatic service. Mr Hunt is expected to say: “The strength of our network is its professionalism, which has given us what I believe is the finest diplomatic service in the world. “But we must never close our eyes to the approaches and skills of other industries.”

Ireland

Express
THE IRISH government is drawing up plans for a hard Brexit which would involve increased checks along the border with Northern Ireland and the revival of checkpoints not used since the dark days of the Troubles – with one source claiming preparations were “a lot more advanced” than was being acknowledge publicly. Both Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney are on record as saying there is no planning being undertaken for a return to a hard border, but an investigation carried out by the Irish Examiner has suggested preparations for “all eventualities” are under way.

Independent
The Democratic Unionist Party has withdrawn its threat to vote down the Budget, saying it will give Theresa May “another chance” to protect Northern Ireland in her Brexit deal. However, it warned there would be “other opportunities” to defeat the prime minister – and potentially topple her from power – if its red lines over the Irish border are crossed. The DUP thrust Ms May’s future into doubt earlier this month with a dramatic threat to join with opposition parties to defeat the Budget resolutions, on Thursday. Budget votes are viewed as an issue of confidence in a government – meaning defeat would have triggered calls for a general election.

Guardian
Senior loyalist paramilitaries have warned the Irish government to “tone down” its rhetoric on Brexit because the perceived “Brit-bashing” risks harming peace and reconciliation in Northern Ireland, the Guardian has learned. Leading figures in the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) told Irish officials that talk of frontier posts being attacked by republicans in the event of a hard Brexit, or of a border down the Irish Sea, was “winding up working-class loyalists”, according to sources close to the leaders. In a recent meeting with Dublin officials, they said the Irish prime minister, Leo Varadkar, was alienating even those loyalists who voted to stay in the EU, by using images of a border post bombed during the Troubles to reinforce Dublin’s insistence on a backstop.

Times
The number of British residents applying for Irish passports has nearly doubled since the EU referendum as people secure the right to move and work freely in the bloc after Brexit. Details of the surge came as the immigration minister warned that Britons travelling in Europe could face long delays in airport queues if there is a no-deal Brexit. People with Irish parents or grandparents are entitled to apply for an Irish passport. The country’s embassy in London received 44,900 applications from January to June, putting this year on course to be the busiest so far of the post-Brexit rush, official figures released yesterday showed.

BBC News
The number of British applications for an Irish passport has boomed following the UK’s vote to leave the European Union. Some UK residents are entitled to an Irish passport if their parents or grandparents were born in Ireland. In 2015, the year before the Brexit vote, more than 46,000 applications were lodged from Britain – excluding Northern Ireland. By the end of 2017 that number had nearly doubled to 81,000. In an earlier version of this story, the BBC wrongly reported there had also been a surge in the number of rejections of British applicants. A discrepancy between the number of applications made and passports issued through the London embassy amounted to some 15,000 people.

IRA

Sun
THE prime suspect in the IRA’s Hyde Park bombing will finally face justice next year. John Downey, 66, did not attend an historic first hearing at London’s High Court yesterday and was not even represented. But lawyers for the victims’ families were told a trial to hear their civil claim against the IRA man was now set for October 2019. It will seek to prove once and for all that Downey was behind the 1982 central London atrocity which killed four Household Cavalry soldiers at a military ceremony. And if they win, Downey could be forced to hand over tens of thousands of pounds in damages.

GE

Mail
Theresa May today denied she is paving the way for a general election after the Chancellor splurged £100billion on tax cuts for millions of workers and bolstering the NHS in the Budget. The Prime Minister tried to quell speculation that the country could go back to the polls if she manages to strike a Brexit deal – saying an election is ‘not in the national interest’. The comments, as she attended a conference in Oslo, came as Philip Hammond defended his Budget bonanza, which put hundreds of pounds in the pockets of workers by raising the basic and higher tax thresholds. The financial package saw Mr Hammond open the spending taps to pour money into the NHS, social care and defence – but he could now miss his target for putting the government’s books in the black by 2025.

Independent
Theresa May has denied she is preparing to hold another general election, stating that another vote would “not be in the national interest”. The Prime Minister is visiting Norway for a meeting with Nordic and Baltic leaders where she is set to discuss Brexit and other matters, such as strained relations with Russia. Asked about fresh contest to break the Brexit deadlock at a press conference in Oslo with her counterparts from Nordic and Baltic countries, the Prime Minister said: 
No. We are not preparing for another general election. That would not be in the national interest.” Some observers believe that the Budget announced by Philip Hammond on Monday resembled a pre-election budget, with accelerated income tax cuts and some other popular measures. Fresh elections could be tempting because the Prime Minister lacks a majority in the House of Commons, meaning there is a good chance any Brexit deal she negotiates could be voted down.

EU

Independent
The centre-left parties of EU countries are on course to win less than 20 per cent of the vote in the upcoming European Parliament elections, a record low for the EU’s social democrats. A study conducted by Italy’s Cattaneo business school found that the parties of both of the centre-left and centre-right could cede so many seats in May that they would lose their combined majority in the EU legislature. It is the once dominant socialist group in Brussels, however, that is set to suffer the most humiliating losses – from which far-right and nationalist groups are set to benefit.

Child grooming

Mail
A police investigation sparked by the child abuse scandal in Rotherham is now investigating more than 400 suspects, it emerged today. The National Crime Agency, often called ‘Britain’s FBI’, is conducting a huge investigation after a 2014 report found more than 1,000 young girls had been abused in the South Yorkshire town.  Scandals have since engulfed other towns and cities, including Newcastle, Telford and most recently Huddersfield, with a series of similar gangs jailed. Vulnerable young victims were typically given drugs and alcohol before being passed around between men of Pakistani heritage to be raped and sexually assaulted at will.

Breitbart
Less than 20 percent of the identified 1,523 known victims of historic grooming and rape in Rotherham have been engaged by police. After a jury at Sheffield Crown Court found seven men, six Pakistani-heritage, one of Yemeni-heritage, guilting of the historic sexual abuse of five vulnerable underaged girls in the Yorkshire town, the National Crime Agency, likened to the U.S.’s FBI, also announced that Operation Stovewood has resulted in just 14 successful prosecutions. “There are currently 22 separate investigations under the Stovewood umbrella, with 147 suspects identified and more than 290 complainants engaging with officers,” the NCA said.

Foreign aid

Sun
BRITAIN’S foreign aid spending is getting a bigger boost than schools in the Budget as it passes the £14billion mark for the first time. Data buried in the Budget document said our foreign aid budget will go up by an extra £230million next year and by £190 million in 2019-20. This is £20million higher than the £400million extra given to schools to buy “little extras they need”. The boost in foreign aid spending will take the total amount we splurge overseas to more than £14billion for the first time. The higher spending is because the foreign aid budget is linked to Britain’s national income and higher-than-expected growth pushed this figure up.

NHS

Telegraph
Jail sentences for those who attack paramedics and casualty nurses are set to double in a bid to tackle record levels of violence against staff. Matt Hancock, Health Secretary, will today announce a “zero tolerance” strategy on violence against NHS staff, as he details plans to speed up prosecutions of those who abuse staff. Latest figures show that more than 15 per cent of NHS staff have experienced violence from patients, relatives or the public in the last 12 months – the highest figure for five years.

Independent
Philip Hammond is facing a backlash for failing to find the £3bn urgently needed to repair crumbling hospitals in his Budget. The ‘significant’ risk in the NHS maintenance backlog has doubled from £1.5bn in 2014/15 to £3bn last year, analysis by the House of Commons Library found. Health bosses say this work “must be addressed with urgent priority in order to prevent catastrophic failure”. Scores of serious incidents have already occurred due to building deterioration – including patients having to sleep in coats in freezing wards, operations being delayed due to leaks on to operating tables and blocked drains causing sewage to seep into clinical areas, according to research by Labour.

Education

Times
A university that specialises in teacher training will no longer make unconditional offers because they have led to applicants underperforming at A level. St Mary’s University in southwest London said that the change meant that no student applying for entry next autumn would be offered “a free pass”. The university is the second this month to announce that it will no longer make unconditional offers. The University of Chichester, which also specialises in teacher training, said it feared that they demotivated students. This month The Times revealed that in January the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (Ucas) will name the institutions that make the most unconditional offers and are behind the rapid growth in pupils winning places with no A-level requirements.

Plastic

Times
Recycling companies have condemned the chancellor’s three-and-a-half-year delay in introducing a tax on virgin plastic, saying that the commitment was too vague to lead to investment in better recycling facilities. In the budget Philip Hammond announced that plastic packaging containing less than 30 per cent recycled plastic would be taxed from April 2022. Simon Ellin, chief executive of the Recycling Association, which represents recycling companies, said that the industry had been hoping for a swifter incentive to justify building more recycling plants.

Monarchy

Mail
As her heir, the Prince of Wales will be the first to know of his mother’s passing. He will probably be at her deathbed, unless she dies suddenly or unexpectedly. On his mother’s death, Charles will be king immediately. His siblings and children will kiss his hands. Then constitutional government will kick in. The Prime Minister will need to be informed immediately of the passing of the head of state. That job will fall to the Queen’s private secretary, Sir Edward Young, who will go to a secure telephone line and tell the PM: ‘London Bridge is down.’

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