Brexit

There’s a brand new demand from the EU. The Express reports:

BRUSSELS’ member states are demanding Prime Minister Theresa May grants them access to Britain’s fishing waters to prevent a hard border in Northern Ireland.
EU nations say they will refuse to give the green light to a tariff-free customs deal with Britain unless European boats are allowed to fish in UK waters.
The demand comes amid fears from the EU’s remaining 27 states that Brussels accepting terms in Mrs May’s Withdrawal Agreement could end up costing them the upper hand in trade negotiations.
The Prime Minister is plotting to secure a UK-wide customs union as part of a backstop plan to stop a hard border in Ireland – a plan she turned to after the EU threatened to take control over Northern Ireland and coax it away from Great Britain, a move rejected by the DUP.

Sky News reports on a growing movement.

In the past few weeks, Tory MPs have publicised their Brexit concerns in an unusual way.
First a trickle, then a couple of dozen, and at last count 51 Conservatives have made online pledges for “StandUp4Brexit“, a Twitter campaign opposing a deal along the lines the prime minister outlined at her country home this summer.
Last week saw its most high-profile signing – Boris Johnson, joining other former cabinet ministers in opposing any deal in which they fear Britain may stay in the customs union and remit of the European Court of Justice oversight indefinitely.

Second referendum

Plans for a second referendum are now called ‘Final say’, says the Independent.

Voters in every Labour area now support a Final Say referendum on the Brexit outcome, new research shows, piling fresh pressure on Jeremy Corbyn to back the idea.
The huge survey also found that a majority of Labour supporters in the Westminster seats the party holds back staying in the EU – despite claims that traditional supporters are still pro-Brexit.
It has prompted one senior Labour backbencher in a Leave-voting constituency to join the campaign for a fresh public vote, while a second said he was close to the same decision.

The Guardian reports the mood in Labour seats.

A majority of voters in all seats held by Labour support a second referendum on Brexit, according to an analysis released by the People’s Vote campaign as it steps up its lobbying of opposition MPs.
The campaign commissioned a YouGov study based on polling of 26,000 people in the hope of persuading Labour MPs to vote for a second referendum if May’s Brexit deal is rejected and the party cannot force a general election.
The effort is aimed in particular at Labour MPs in constituencies that supported leave, many of whom still say that the primary message they hear from constituents is they want the UK to get out of the European Union as fast as possible.

Ireland

Hope for the future of the Irish border question is reported by the Guardian.

The British and Irish governments have signalled that a Brexit deal is very close after a flurry of official talks and visits on both sides of the Irish border, and a positive statement from the Democratic Unionist party after a separate meeting with the Brexit secretary.
Simon Coveney, Ireland’s deputy prime minister and foreign affairs minister, and David Lidington, the UK Cabinet Office minister, said on Friday evening that recent progress in negotiations could resolve the backstop imbroglio and produce a deal this month.

And the Independent claims the EU could be backing down on the issue.

The EU’s Brexit negotiators are said to be preparing a compromise on the Northern Ireland border issue, which it is hoped will break the deadlock in the floundering talks.
Brussels is reportedly willing to include plans for a “bare-bones” customs union in the Brexit withdrawal agreement – a measure which would ease the need for checks at Irish sea ports.
Both sides have agreed in principle that a customs union – perhaps temporary – between the UK and EU could help prevent the checks, which the UK wants to avoid at all costs.

The Mirror is also upbeat about the situation.

The leader of the DUP Arlene Foster said the UK and the EU are close to a deal that will work for Northern Ireland.
The DUP leader has been famously pessimistic in her assessment of the talks so far – suggesting the dial has finally shifted.
She told reporters at Stormont following talks with Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab: “Goodness, we have been here on a number of occasions and I think we are close a deal that will work for Northern Ireland, that is what we want.”
It comes as the EU seemed to shift its position on the post-Brexit customs arrangement.

EU

The bloc has more problems, reports the Express.

ITALY could be preparing to “volcanically” threaten the European Union and trigger a new Eurozone crisis should its Eurosceptic Government opt-out of the bloc, British businessman Jim Mellon claimed.
The British businessman also suggested the European Union is exploiting the Brexit negotiations to avoid having to address the “volcanic” threat Italy poses to the bloc.

The Express also reports an Italian chief’s warning.

ITALY Interior Minister Matteo Salvini hit back at the European Union for “threatening” the country to change its 2019 budget proposal, urging Italians to take to the streets to signal Rome “will kneel no longer.”
The Italian Deputy Prime Minister dismissed calls from the EU for “clarifications” on Italy‘s new budget proposal.
Matteo Salvini lashed out at Brussels, calling on Italians to march down the streets on December 8 to signal their unity and support for their ministers’ economic policy.

And France has it’s problems, says the Express.

FRENCH President Emmanuel Macron has warned Europe could experience “dismemberment” as a result of “nationalist leprosy” in a dramatic outburst during which he compared the current political situation in Europe to the turmoil that followed the end of the First World War.
Mr Macron made the provocative comments during an interview with French newspaper Quest France.
He claimed: “Europe is facing a risk; that of dismemberment through nationalist leprosy and being pushed over by external powers.
“In a Europe that is divided by fears, nationalist assertion and the consequences of the economic crisis, we see almost methodically the re-articulation of everything that dominated the life of Europe from post-World War One to the 1929 crisis.”

Breitbart reports problems in Czechoslovakia.

The Czech Prime Minister has revealed his nation is looking to pull out of the United Nations’ (UN) migration pact, as the European Commission blasted Austria for withdrawing from the agreement earlier this week.
Andrej Babiš, who recently compared Europe to ‘Asterix’s besieged village when he stated citizens in the bloc must “have the right to defend our borders, our lifestyle, our heritage and our culture” against mass, third world migration, indicated Thursday he would recommend the Czech Republic withdraw from the compact.

And BBC News has an interesting story of the EU’s post-Brexit plans.

The European Union plans to have a 29-strong team of diplomats in London to represent it after Brexit.
It will be called a “delegation” – not an embassy – and will be part of the EU’s foreign policy arm, the European External Action Service (EEAS).
There will also be a mission with five staff in Belfast to oversee the implementation of the withdrawal agreement in Northern Ireland – if there is a Brexit deal.
The plans will be discussed next week.
They will be presented for approval by ambassadors from the 27 remaining EU countries on Wednesday.

Labour Party

Meanwhile, back home, the official opposition is facing fresh challenges, says the Independent.

Scotland Yard has launched a criminal investigation into allegations of antisemitic hate crimes within the Labour Party.
Specialist officers looking through a leaked internal dossier of cases began a
n inquiry into some of the allegations, the Metropolitan Police said in a statement.
Detectives have already sought “early investigative advice” from lawyers working with the Crown Prosecution Service.
The investigation is centring on a folder of paperwork compiled by Labour Party staff on cases of alleged antisemitism by Labour activists and members.

Sky News also reports the investigation.

Police have begun an investigation into allegations of antisemitic hate crimes within the Labour Party.
The investigation relates to a leaked dossier handed to Metropolitan Police commissioner Cressida Dick by LBC Radio in September.
The Met is now seeking “early investigative advice” from the Crown Prosecution Service.
In a statement on Friday, the Met Police said: “The complainant alleged that the documentation included evidence of antisemitic hate crimes. The contents have been examined by specialist officers.

The Express claims there’s a rift in the party leadership.

MAJOR divisions are beginning to emerge within the Labour Party amid shock claims Jeremy Corbyn would back Theresa May’s Brexit deal – exposing fresh rifts in the party’s leadership amid key Budget votes this month.
Andrew Murray, who advises Mr Corbyn part-time and is chief of staff to Unite Union boss Len McCluskey, is believed to be pushing for Labour to back the Prime Minister to avoid a no-deal outcome.
The stance has provoked a furious reaction from senior Labour figures in the Shadow Cabinet, with Diane Abbott intervening to say Mr Corbyn would face protests if he supported Mrs May.

LibDems

The LibDems are running out of money, reports Order-Order.

Guido hears that gallows humour has been in order at Lib Dem HQ today following the news that 25% of staff are set to be made redundant, with disgruntled staffers reportedly sending round a parody of the infamous note Liam Byrne left David Laws in the Treasury in 2010 using Vince Cable’s signature instead. While Guido has sadly not been able to procure the precise version doing the rounds in Lib Dem HQ, he has mocked up a copy for your viewing pleasure nonetheless, featuring Vince’s notoriously minimalist signature.

BBC News has picked up the story.

The Lib Dems are cutting staff at their London headquarters, a move they said would allow more resources to go into fighting Brexit and future elections.
The party confirmed jobs would go as part of an internal reorganisation.
Speaking on a visit to Edinburgh, leader Sir Vince Cable said there was no black hole in the party’s finances but it had to live within its means.
The Guido Fawkes website said one in four of its staff may leave and all had been offered voluntary redundancy.

The Independent claims the party is cutting staff.

The Liberal Democrats are cutting staff at party headquarters as their leader stressed the need to “live within our means”.
Speaking in Edinburgh, Sir Vince Cable said there was no “black hole” within the party finances but said a lot of restructuring was having to take place.
He said: “We’ve been campaigning on Brexit, our resources have been going into that and some of the general activities have been cut back. All political parties have had this problem. It doesn’t affect our effectiveness as a political movement although obviously it’s difficult for the individuals if we’re having to scale back and there are fewer jobs.”

Foreign aid

Breitbart reports on a further waste of our foreign aid.

Millions of pounds’ worth of British international aid is being appropriated for organised criminals by corrupt foreign officials, according to reports.
The revelations come as the National Crime Agency (NCA) — devised as Britain’s answer to America’s Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) — and the Home Office under Sajid Javid unveil their National Strategic Assessment of Serious Organised Crime and their long-term plan to tackle it, respectively. 

Climate change

MPs are unhappy that the budget did not make any provision for climate change, says the Independent.

MPs and the heads of environmental organisations have written to Theresa May saying the Budget presented to parliament on Monday is an “unforgivable betrayal of future generations”, due to its “worrying lack” of policy to combat climate change.
Green Party co-leader Caroline Lucas and six other MPs, including Labour’s Clive Lewis and former Lib Dem leader Tim Farron signed the letter, which says “pushing policymaking into the long grass of Brexit at this stage represents an abject failure to govern in the interests of the people you are elected to serve.”

Fracking

Shale gas is coming, says the Times.

The first shale gas for seven years has begun to flow at a fracking site in Lancashire that has had minor tremors in recent weeks.
The energy company Cuadrilla said yesterday that it had extracted small amounts of gas from the Preston New Road site after it began operations last month. Cuadrilla first extracted shale gas near Blackpool in 2011 but it was stopped after triggering a tremor with a magnitude of 2.3.

But will fracking continue? BBC News speculates.

Fracking is controversial, this much we know. But the government has ratcheted-up tensions with plans that could see shale gas projects fast-tracked in future.
Those tensions were particularly apparent this week at a packed out parliamentary debate.
Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrat and SNP MPs lined up to lambast the proposals and call for a rethink.
It comes as Cuadrilla announced that it had produced the first natural gas from its site in Lancashire.

Fuel

Petrol prices are not falling with costs, says the Times.

Drivers are being ripped off by almost £2 on a tank of petrol as retailers fail to pass on a drop in the wholesale price of fuel, according to research.
The RAC said that the wholesale cost of unleaded dropped by 3.5p a litre in October but the pump price remained unchanged at 130.6p. It means that the average cost of filling a 55-litre tank in a family car stayed at £71.84 when it would have been £1.92 less if retailers had reflected the lower wholesale price.
The lower wholesale price of petrol was caused by an 11 per cent fall in the price of oil during October. Diesel rose for the fourth month in a row, from 134.5p to 136.9p.

ITV News also has the story.

Drivers lost out as fuel retailers refused to cut petrol prices last month despite a drop in wholesale costs, a motoring firm has claimed.
RAC Fuel Watch data shows there was a 3.5p per litre fall in wholesale prices yet petrol started and finished the month at 130.6p per litre.
This means the average cost of filling a 55-litre family car with petrol has stayed at £71.83 when it would have been nearly £2 cheaper if retailers had reflected the lower wholesale prices on forecourts, according to the research.
Diesel saw its fourth consecutive monthly price increase, rising from 134.5p to 136.9p, making the cost of a 55-litre tank £75.30.

Asylum seeker

The question of asylum seekers not telling the truth about their age is covered by the Times.

All teenagers in a GCSE maths class should know that 15 x 2 = 30. This knowledge proved useful at a school in Suffolk, where pupils raised concerns that one of their classmates appeared to be twice as old as he claimed.
Stoke High School in Ipswich has reported concerns to the Home Office that one of its pupils who claims to be 15 may be much older, after classmates posted a photograph of him on social media with the caption: “How’s there a 30-year-old man in our maths class?”
The year 11 pupil is understood to be seeking asylum and to have enrolled at the school this year to take his GCSEs.

The Mail claims the ‘boy’ is being investigated.

A 15-year-old alleged asylum seeker student is being investigated by the Home Office over claims he may actually be a 30-year-old man.
The schoolboy, from the Middle East, started at Stoke High School in Ipswich, Suffolk, having arrived in the UK unaccompanied earlier this year.
The pupil, who is now in Year 11 and studying for his GCSEs, is alleged to have told classmates that he is far older than his age on his documents.

The Sun says he might have lied about his age.

A SCHOOL pupil is being investigated by the Home Office after parents claimed he lied about his age and is in fact a 30-year-old man.
One student at Stoke High School in Ipswich took a picture of the individual wearing uniform in a year 11 lesson, adding the caption: “How’s there a 30 year old man in our maths class”.
The pupil claims to be 15 years old, however other students told their parents he may be much older than he says he is.

Rail travel

There’s going to be trouble on the railways over Christmas, says the Telegraph.

Commuters will be hit by one of the biggest Christmas and new year rail shutdowns, which is expected to partly cut off two of Britain’s busiest airports.
Network Rail is reported to be planning 330 engineering projects between Christmas and new year, an increase of more than 30 per cent on last year. The works to upgrade the ageing system will affect services on major lines including the West Coast, Great Western, Great Eastern, the Midland Main Line and the main route into Merseyside.

The Times claims the shutdown could hit air travel.

One of the biggest shutdowns on the railways is set to partially cut off Britain’s busiest airports over Christmas, with passengers given as little as six weeks’ notice of work on some routes.
Network Rail is planning 330 engineering projects between Christmas and the new year, 25 per cent more than last year. It will affect lines including the West Coast, Great Western, Great Eastern, Midland Main and the main route into Liverpool. The worst chaos will be around London, where Paddington, Victoria, Euston and Liverpool Street stations will partly shut down.

White Christmas

But for those staying at home, we might be treated to a white one, says the Sun.

THE odds of white Christmas have been slashed with one forecaster predicting festive snowflakes this year.
Bookies Ladbrokes have now cut the odds from 5/2 to 9/4 any that part of the UK sees snow on December 25.
Alex Apati of Ladbrokes said: “Punters are dreaming of a white Christmas and a drop in temperatures has forced us to cut odds on exactly that.”
The Oddschecker website, which compares odds, says bookmakers have predicted Aberdeen is the city the most likely city to have a white Christmas.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email