Brexit

Could Barnier have gone too far? The Prime Minister will lay out her plans over the next few days, says the Express.

THERESA MAY sets out her “road map” for Brexit today amid growing pressure from backbenchers not to cave in to the bullying demands of Brussels.
Pledging to make the UK a “truly global, free-trading nation”, the Prime Minister will spearhead a series of keynote speeches in the coming weeks to underline her positive vision for a post-Brexit Britain.
The fightback comes as around 100 Eurosceptic Tory MPs, led by “Brexiteer-in-chief” Jacob Rees-Mogg, are preparing to step up the pressure on Mrs May to honour the 12-point plan she laid out in her original landmark Lancaster House speech on Brexit.
The group is understood to be in talks over sending Mrs May a letter calling for Britain to break all ties with Brussels once we leave on March 29, 2019.
It comes after the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier last week warned there will be no transition at all unless we bow to Brussels rules during the two-year implementation period. His outburst infuriated Downing Street, with one Cabinet minister calling them “the usual intimidation tactics the EU Commission is famous for”.

The Independent also reports Mrs May’s plans.

Theresa May will seek to clear up confusion about her  Brexit plans in a major speech by the start of next month, Downing Street says.
The decision to make a showpiece address – which the Prime Minister had appeared to back away from – is revealed as No 10 confirmed an “away day” for warring cabinet ministers at Chequers.
That get-together will aim to somehow achieve a consensus between ministers seeking to hug the EU close after Brexit and those demanding a clean break from the single market  and customs union.
The scale of the task was underlined this week, when a two-day meeting of the inner Cabinet broke up with no agreement on trading rules, immigration or the Irish border.

And the Sun claims she is about to refuse to pay our annual fee to the bloc.

THERESA May is ready to pull the plug on Britain’s EU payments if we are forced to obey new directives in the run-up to Brexit.
The PM has told aides she will only cough up our full contribution if we retain our veto powers.
She will hammer out her “no say, no pay” warning as she gives her clearest vision yet of life outside the EU.
Mrs May will set out her stall in a major speech dubbed “Road to Brexit” within the next few weeks.
It will be the grand finale in a series of six keynote addresses by senior ministers detailing the end state once Britain has left.
The fine details will be hammered out at a Cabinet away day in Chequers at the end of next week.
But the PM has made it clear she will have no truck with Brussels bullying tactics and is ready to dig her kitten heels in.

A member of the House of Lords and former Remainer is urging the government to leave the Customs Union, reports the Express.

A REMAINER Lord and former minister for trade policy has urged Theresa May’s Tory rebels to steer the UK towards a “bright future” by leaving the Customs Union after Brexit.
Mark Price of the House of Lords has rubbished claims by  Remain-backing Chancellor Philip Hammond and Home Secretary Amber Rudd that the UK should form “a form of customs agreement” to maintain the “frictionless trade” between Britain and the EU.
Lord Price, who “spent the best part of the last two years travelling the world as Minister of State for Trade and Investment and then Trade Policy”, backed Theresa May as he insisted the staying in the union is “not the best way forward”.
Writing for the Telegraph, he said: “I am in little doubt that the UK can have a bright future if we steer in the right direction. That future is not as a member, full or associate, of the single market.

The Times reports that the PM is planning to continue with the EAW.

Theresa May will pledge to keep Britain closely tied to the EU for security reasons this week as she launches a final push to settle the UK’s blueprint for Brexit.
The prime minister will use a speech in Munich on Saturday to announce that Britain will remain part of the European arrest warrant and Europol, the EU’s law enforcement agency. She will make the case that the arrest warrant has kept British citizens safe and demonstrates that the UK can benefit from continued close co-operation with Brussels.
In 2016-17, 196 people were arrested using the warrant after a request from this country, up from 150 the year before.
May will make a “big offer” to the EU to continue security co-operation, including vital British intelligence.

And in a piece by the International Trade Secretary Liam Fox, the Sun reports that millions of pounds are being used to fight Brexit.

EARLIER this week it was reported that huge sums of money are pouring into a new campaign to fight Brexit.
Best For Britain is planning a massive media operation with the sole aim of overturning the referendum result and keeping Britain in the EU.
They have every right to do that, but in response I’d like to make my own case about what’s “best for Britain” based on the reality of what we’ve seen since the referendum.
I won’t need to rely on slick marketing, and it won’t cost me a penny, because I can simply point to the facts.
In 2017, we saw the highest level of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) projects into the United Kingdom in our history — a vote of confidence in the future from real investors.
We also saw that exports of our goods increased by 15.9 per cent and services rose by 11.6 per cent to  £617billion in the year to October 2017.

Europe

Meanwhile, across the Channel, Barnier’s attitude is dividing the European nations reports the Telegraph.

The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator has “fractured” the coalition of 27 countries by dramatically stepping up his aggression towards Britain, the Telegraph has been told.
Diplomats from multiple EU countries have questioned whether “anyone” could be expected to accept terms put forward by Michel Barnier last week, with one suggesting to this newspaper that in the same position they would “walk away and then see how the EU does without the money”.
A Whitehall source said that French figures had expressed particular anger at the “lack of consultation” on a draft document published by Mr Barnier on Wednesday which included a so-called punishment clause that would allow Brussels to ground aircraft and block trade if the UK failed to obey EU rules during the transition period.

And the Times reports that the new German government is not very happy with the French President’s plans.

The champagne is still on ice in Paris as French diplomats come to grips with the fact that the new German coalition government is not going to join up to President Emmanuel Macron’s soaring vision for Europe.
Macron set out his wish for a common budget, a finance minister and a parliament for the 19 members of the eurozone, in a speech at the Sorbonne last year.
“Those who want to go further, faster, must do so without being stopped . . . faced with these challenges the Franco-German impetus will be decisive,” he said.
But the young French leader has run into the sands of coalition politics in Germany, despite his personal chemistry with Angela Merkel.

Conservative Party

Back home, it seems that the Continental press is sure a certain backbencher will become the next Prime Minister, says the Express.

OUTSPOKEN pro-Brexit MP Jacob Rees-Mogg has been sensationally tipped to replace Theresa May as Prime Minister… by a leading German newspaper.
In an article published today, the Berliner Morgenpost describes the outspoken backbench MP as a “beacon of hope” for Brexit activists.
The paper also claims the Prime Minister’s “time is running out” because Mr Rees-Mogg is garnering widespread support from Tory voters.
His position as head of the influential European Research Group (ERG) means he is making “May’s life really difficult”, the article adds.
Members of the ERG have repeatedly urged Theresa May to p
ursue the hardest Brexit possible by fully cutting ties with the European Union.
Mr Rees-Mogg pledged his support for Mrs May earlier this week, saying he hopes she remains PM for a “very long time”.

And the Telegraph claims the Tories are about to seize control of the selection of prospective MPs.

Theresa May is facing a grassroots revolt over a planned overhaul of the Conservative Party’s rules, which senior activists claim will “seize power” from Tory associations and lead to increased “dictation from the centre”.
Under proposed changes to the party’s constitution, local members will lose an enshrined right to select their own prospective MPs, with power vested in a central committee instead.
In a letter to the Prime Minister this weekend, senior activists warn that the “cavalier” reforms amount to a power grab by the party’s London headquarters and will lead to the Tories losing grassroots members.
David Campbell Bannerman, a Tory MEP and patron of the Campaign for Conservative Democracy, said the changes to candidate selection would allow associations to be “steamrollered” in the manner of “panicky” selections made ahead of last year’s election.

The Guardian reports a ‘growing revolt’ among party donors who are unhappy at the way the PM is handling Brexit.

Theresa May is facing a growing revolt among party donors, with one senior backer warning that the Tories will be “decimated” at an election unless the prime minister ends her indecision and shows leadership.
With mounting accusations across the party that May is dithering over Brexit and lacking an inspiring domestic agenda, Sir John Hall, the former owner of Newcastle United, told the 
Observer that the prime minister was facing a make-or-break period of her premiership.
The north-east businessman, who has given the  Conservatives more than £500,000 since 2007 and helped fund May’s snap election, said the prime minister needed to make clear where she wanted to take the country, even if doing so led to her removal.
“She’s got to take the bull by the horns and say, ‘this is the road we are going. Do your damnedest – if you want to vote me out, vote me out’,” he said. “But we have to appear stronger. And we have to appear that we are going to make change, because we are not even looking at domestic affairs.

Momentum

A branch of the Labour Party is being investigated over bending the rules, says the Times.

Momentum, the Jeremy Corbyn supporters’ group, was last night accused of “laundering money” through a front organisation to get round campaign rules and spend up to three times more than the legal limit at last year’s general election.
As a “non-party campaigner”, Momentum was limited to spending £39,000 directed at getting voters to support Labour before the poll. In its official return to the Electoral Commission, Momentum declares spending of £38,743.
However, The Sunday Times has established that pro-Labour campaign spending of a further £60,590 was declared by an organisation called The World Transformed, which registered with the Electoral Commission nine days after the election was called.

Education

Elsewhere in the news, the Times reports cheating in exams.

Teachers cheat in exams nearly as often as pupils but escape with far lighter punishment, according to figures that OCR, one of the country’s leading exam boards, tried to suppress.
The scandal has come to light after the information commissioner ordered OCR to answer questions from The Sunday Times.
Education experts said this weekend that the revelations were “shocking” and called for cheating teachers, who often act as examiners and invigilators, to be sacked. They said cheating in exams was like “taking drugs in athletics”.
Nearly 2,300 “malpractice” offences were committed by staff in schools, colleges and other centres offering OCR exams between 2012 and 2016. More than half were cases of “improper assistance” to youngsters sitting tests.

Armed forces

And the Star claims the MoD is trying to sort out a hole in its budget.

A TOP-LEVEL nuclear submarine may be scrapped or delayed if the Ministry of Defence (MoD) drastically tries to plug a massive £21 billion budget black hole.
The stunning revelation comes as a Royal Navy document showed plans that the Astute class sub could be pushed back, or even “cancelled”.
If the MoD decides to scrap the new vessels it mens only six, instead of eight, of the £1.6bn “hunter-killers” would be able to protect the UK from foreign threats, including Russia.
In the document, seen by the Daily Express, senior commanders said: “In the long term the delay (or cancellation) will ease the pressure on manning, but we must not be seen to welcome this situation. Any loss of capability will impact on operations.”
Another part of the document added: “To delay (or cancel) of AST 7 will have a significant impact capability.”
The shocking plans emerged one week after MPS warned against the Government’s plans to axe Britain’s two amphibious vessels, and the knock-on loss of up to 2,000 Royal Marines, as part of plans to plug the budget deficit.

NHS

The government is looking at funding for the NHS and social care but the Independent reports the opposition is not having any of it

Labour has rejected growing calls for a cross-party body to solve the NHS and social care funding crisis, warning it will be kicking the controversy “into the long grass”.
The Opposition has insisted instead that all that is needed to rescue health services is “a government with the political will” to end their punishing funding squeeze.
The decision – revealed in an article for 
The Independent  by Jon Ashworth, Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary – is the first time the party has come out against the push for cross-party collaboration.
Behind the scenes, some senior Labour MPs have embraced the idea, which also has the backing of some key Tory figures and the public backing of the Liberal Democrats.
Jeremy Hunt, the Health and Social Care Secretary, has said he is “open to all discussions with colleagues” as he tries to persuade Downing Street to put in place a 10-year NHS funding settlement.
And a proposal to go further by setting up a fully-fledged Royal Commission has been put forward by the right-wing Centre for Policy Studies think-tank.

The Guardian claims a poll result shows taxpayers willing to pay more for the NHS.

Almost two thirds of voters back putting an extra 1p on income tax to solve the funding crisis engulfing the NHS  and social care, a new poll for the Observer has found.
The Opinium survey found that 65% would be happy to pay an extra penny in the pound ring-fenced for health and social care, even after being shown what the increase would actually mean for their personal tax bill.
It found that the NHS and health was the priority issue for voters, with 68% of voters identifying it as important. Brexit was in second place on 42%, with immigration a concern for a third (33%) of voters.
By an overwhelming margin, voters think the NHS is underfunded (77%), while most think the police (66%) and schools (59%) also require more money. When asked which party they most trust to manage the NHS, Labour has a 14 point lead (39% to 25%).
It comes with a debate raging about how to plug the extra funding needed for the NHS. Boris Johnson has been among those pushing for a cash injection to coincide with the UK’s exit from the European Union.

Channel bridge

And finally, a plan for a cross-channel bridge has not been totally rejected, says the Telegraph.

Boris Johnson’s plan for a bridge across the channel has received a major boost after Eurotunnel bosses requested a meeting with British officials about a second crossing between the UK and Europe.
In a letter to the Prime Minister, seen by the 
Telegraph, the French Chief Executive of Eurotunnel said he is “very interested” in a second fixed link and would be “delighted” to start discussions.
The note from Eurotunnel Chief Exec Jacques Gounon states: “The idea of a second fixed link is something that we regularly consider in our long term plans and we would be delighted to engage with your officials to explore the possibility further.”
A source at the company said demand is rising and a second connection will be required as economies on both sides of the channel grow.

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