Customs union

The Prime Minister has been threatened with rebellion in the Commons unless she gives in to demands over the customs union, says the Express.

THERESA May faces a rebellion in the House of Commons if she fails to extend the UK’s membership of the EU’s customs union to give the UK Government sufficient time to develop an effective long-term customs arrangement, a former minister has warned.
Nick Boles, former Business Minister, said if Mrs May was unwilling to extend the UK’s membership of the customs union he would be prepared to force a vote on the issue in Parliament in a bid to add his plan to the EU withdrawal bill.
He said: “I am encouraged by reports that the Prime Minister is exploring an extension to the UK’s participation in a customs union after the end of the transition in December 2020.
“I hope this will become the government’s preferred policy.”
However he sent a warning to the Prime Minister, saying: “But if it does not, I am ready to lay amendments to the withdrawal bill and am confident of securing significant support from pragmatic colleagues who, like me, want to see a Brexit that works.”

The Guardian also has the story.

A new Commons rebellion to keep Britain in the EU’s customs union for years after Brexit is being prepared by a former Tory minister.
Nick Boles, a former business minister, said he wanted Britain to remain in the customs union until early 2022, allowing more time to come up with a viable long-term plan.
He said that, if the government did not formally adopt the idea of extending Britain’s membership, he was prepared to force a vote on the issue by attempting to add his plan to the EU withdrawal bill, currently working its way through parliament.
His comments come soon after Theresa May made a major breakthrough by convincing her cabinet to back a plan under which Britain could stay inside elements of the EU’s customs union and single market.

General Election

And the Times raises the possibility of a snap General Election.

Conservative MPs are preparing for another snap general election as they fear the Brexit deadlock will become insurmountable for the prime minister.
Some have spoken to their local party associations asking to be readopted as prospective parliamentary candidates in readiness for an autumn election.
The back-bench MPs acted after meeting Theresa May last week for a private Brexit briefing as she tried to stop a row over Britain’s future customs relationship with the European Union tearing the party apart.
But far from being reassured by meeting the prime minister, they left Downing Street convinced that another election could be around the corner.

EU

Italy is about to throw a spanner in the works of the EU, says the Times.

Italy is about to throw down the starkest challenge to the European Union since the Brexit vote by vowing to break its budget rules and deport half a million illegal migrants.
The pledges — the most radical by any government in western Europe — have been agreed by leaders of the two anti-establishment parties that aim to form a new coalition in Rome. They amount to an earthquake under the foundations of EU policy since the financial crisis of 2008 and the migrant surge of 2015.
On Friday night the promises were approved by 94% of the 44,700 members of the Five Star Movement who voted in an online poll.

And the bloc is just about to set up its own army, reports the Express.

THE EU is set to move one step closer to the creation of a so-called EU Army today when a top commissioner unveils a new £17billion defence scheme today.
Brussels has accelerated its EU Army project since the Brexit vote, with Guy Verhofstadt stating in September “we need it and NATO wants it”.
Elżbieta Bieńkowska, the European Union’s industry commissioner, is today travelling to Stockholm, Sweden, to meet top defence chiefs from the Aerospace and Defence Industries Association of Europe.
She is expected to unveil a £17 billion fund – including £5.5 billion set aside solely to aid military mobility through Europe.
Ms Bieńkowska will announce: “The EU is ready to invest €13 (£11.37) billion in Europe’s defence sector post-2020. This is a game changer.

Labour Party

Will Labour back a second referendum? The Express reports it might just.

SENIOR Labour figures have backed or failed to rule out a second EU referendum at least 40 times in recent months, according to new analysis. Tories accused Jeremy Corbyn’s party of preparing the ground for a dramatic U-turn, despite aides claiming the Labour leader is not.
Four Merseyside MPs, and Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson, signed an open letter demanding a referendum on the final Brexit deal with Brussels last week.
Five Labour MPs from the North East called for one earlier this month. Although shadow Northern Ireland secretary Owen Smith lost his job for backing a new vote, this hasn’t happened to other senior figures.

Brexit

The Guardian reports the possibility that the environment could be at risk.

The United Nations has warned the government that Britain’s reputation is at risk over plans that would significantly weaken protections for the environment after Brexit.
In a stern intervention, Erik Solheim, executive director of the UN’s environment programme, called on the environment secretary Michael Gove to honour his promise to deliver a “green Brexit”, ensuring the environment would not suffer from Britain’s EU departure.
The warning comes after proposals to protect the climate after Brexit were dismissed as “toothless” by green campaigners. Under the plans, the new post-Brexit watchdog would not have the power to take the government to court over breaches of environmental standards. At the moment, the government is answerable at the European Court of Justice (ECJ), which often forces ministers to act.
Campaigners have warned that the current plans would leave Britain with a weaker system for enforcing environmental safeguards than those maintained in the United States by Donald Trump.

But the Sun reports the savings if we don’t have to elect MEPs.

BRITISH taxpayers are set for a Brexit windfall thanks to no longer having to elect MEPs.
Scrapping next year’s European Parliament ballot will save the UK £109 million, according to official figures.
The saving comes on top of the cash we will recoup on our membership fee as national authorities have to fund the contests themselves.
European elections are held every five years and see the UK send 73 MEPs to the parliament in Strasbourg.
The last one, which took place in 2015, saw a turnout of just 35.6 per cent and yielded a bumper result for Ukip.
Europeans will go to the polls in May next year, by which time Britain will already have left the bloc.

And ‘Project Fear’ is further dismissed by the creation of jobs in the car industry, says Breitbart.

New technology is expected to add 320,000 jobs to the British car industry by 2030, contrary to claims Brexit and mass automation would lead to big lay-offs.
The Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI) said that “embracing technology” would see the sector create a raft of new jobs related to 3D printing, analytical engineering, and cyber-security among other roles — and should prompt significant investment in training for young people.
“Employment in the motoring sector has increased by 11.9 per cent in the last year,” noted IMI chief executive Steve Nash.
“This highlights how the industry is providing a positive landscape for people searching for a new career.”

Ireland

But there could still be problems over Ireland, says the Independent.

The Irish government does not want a border down the Irish Sea separating Great Britain from Northern Ireland, a senior lawmaker from the country’s governing party has said.
Neale Richmond, the Fine Gael senator who chairs the body’s Brexit committee, said Brexiteers had mischaracterised the country’s approach to solving the border question.
His comments come a day after Taoiseach Leo Varadkar met with Theresa May at a summit on Sofia, where he warned that there was a “serious” possibility of the UK quitting without a deal.
EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier has said there would likely be customs checks between Great Britain and Northern Ireland if the so-called “backstop” of keeping NI in the customs union and single market took effect.
But Mr Richmond on Friday morning said the UK should negotiate “the absolute best alignment” with the EU that means there was no border anywhere.

The Express says there’s an attempt to get Ireland to leave the EU.

BREXITEERS launch a bid today to convince Irish voters to join with the UK in leaving the European Union. The move is an attempt to go over the head of the pro-EU Irish prime minister Leo Varadkar.
A list of “top 10 reasons Ireland  should leave the EU” will be raised with Irish MPs at a joint meeting in Sligo, Ireland, next month.
It comes amid growing calls for Prime Minister Theresa May to get a grip on what will happen to customs after 
Brexit.
A number of ministers are understood to have reacted badly to the announcement last week of a 100-page Brexit White Paper, amid warnings over a proposal to keep Britain tied closely to the customs union beyond the end of 2020.

And Breitbart reports a call for the UK to remain in the customs union.

The Irish Premier called for the UK to remain tied to the European Union’s (EU) Customs Union, as Theresa May prepares new Brexit proposals that she says will keep the bloc happy and the Irish border open.
The Prime Minister reportedly wants to keep the UK aligned to the Customs Union, and claims that being locked to many of its rules will not hinder the UK’s ability to control trade policy and strike new deals.
She is expected to unveil the new details of the “backstop” option to EU leaders in two weeks’ time, 
The Times reports.
According to the plan, the UK would collect EU tariffs during the transition period, which has been agreed to last two years.

Bercow

The Speaker has been described in less than flattering terms in the Sun.

A FORMER aide to Speaker John ­Bercow yesterday described him as “psychopathic” — and blasted MPs for not investigating bullying allegations.
The ex-worker, who claims to be among staff bullied by Mr Bercow, said: “I’m furious.
“His behaviour needs investigating at the earliest opportunity. It’s difficult to comprehend why anyone would stand in its way.”
The five MPs on the Commons standards committee this week voted three to two against allowing Parliament’s watchdog to investigate the  bullying claims.
Mr Bercow allegedly called Cabinet Minister Andrea Leadsom a liar after she accused him of insulting her, it was claimed yesterday.

FGM

There have been no prosecutions for mutilating girls, says the Times.

Britain is one of the only countries in Europe where not a single person has been convicted of female genital mutilation (FGM), a report will reveal tomorrow.
Quilliam, the counter-terrorism think tank, says it is a “national scandal” that nobody has been jailed for the illegal procedure.
FGM is the partial or complete removal of the external female genitalia for a non-medical purpose. It is usually performed on young girls, leading to enduring physical and mental health problems.
There were 1,030 newly recorded cases of FGM in the UK from October to December last year, according to official figures from NHS Digital.
Muna Adil, the report’s author, said: “We have all this data but we have no action. This is our best-kept secret.

Plastic

Plastic that can’t be recycled is to disappear, says the Independent.

Firms who package goods in unrecyclable plastic  will be hit with massive costs under plans to drive its use “out of existence”, The Independent can reveal.
Whitehall insiders believe the proposal – effectively a tax on non-reusable plastic – will have a greater impact on the government’s drive to abolish all plastic waste by 2042 than any other measure.
A source close to the proposal told 
The Independent it would make the cost of using unrecyclable plastics “so exorbitantly high” that companies would simply conclude they are no longer worth it.
At the same time the measure will create a lucrative funding stream to pump into new UK recycling capacity for plastics that can be reused.
It follows a string of announcements from environment secretary Michael Gove as he stakes out green issues as Conservative political territory, with campaigners encouraged to push for progress in other areas too.
The Independent is campaigning for a 25p “latte levy” on disposable coffee cups, for example, which are almost impossible to recycle effectively.
But officials believe the real route to radical change on plastics is the new-look scheme now being devised at Mr Gove’s department.

Brothels

What do MPs do in their spare time? The Sun has an idea.

HUNDREDS of prostitutes are working in pop-up brothels near Parliament, a report has found.
On one website alone nearly 400 women were selling sex within a mile of London’s Westminster.
The All-Party Group on Prostitution accused hotels and B&Bs of indirectly profiting from the vulnerable women.
MPs also said sex crime gangs exploited women on an “industrial scale”.
They now want ministers to crack down on sex trafficking and online ads for prostitutes.
Eastern European women are exploited the most, cops told the probe.
Labour’s Gavin Shuker said: “A revolving door of vulnerable women, mainly from Eastern Europe, are being supplied by trafficking gangs into residential properties and hotels in order to be sexually exploited by UK men.

Education

Is it right that young children should be taught about transgenderism? The Mail reports.

Children as young as four are being asked by their ‘trans-friendly’ primary school to inform on anyone calling transgender pupils by the ‘wrong’ pronoun.
The policy at Arbury Primary in Cambridge states that it is ‘illegal’ to call someone ‘he/she’ or ‘it’ against their wishes.
The school also urges parents of children who no longer identify as their biological gender to consider changing their name by deed poll.
Arbury holds assemblies to celebrate a child’s ‘transition’ from a boy to a girl or vice versa, has introduced a gender-neutral uniform, and allows children to use lavatories of whichever sex they ‘assign’ themselves to.
The warning on ‘misgendering’ comes on the school website. A brightly coloured page entitled How To Be Trans Friendly features cartoons of smiling children surrounded by rainbows.

Immigration

The Mail reports on ‘Sir Humphrey’s’ comments.

It’s the kind of Civil Service gobbledegook that could have come straight from TV political satire Yes Minister.
Home Office targets for deporting illegal migrants are now being officially termed ‘locally determined performance metrics’, The Mail on Sunday has learned.
The bizarre phrase is deemed less toxic by officials eager to distance the department from its ‘hostile environment’ immigration policy, according to a source.
The move follows the resignation last month of former Home Secretary Amber Rudd after she mistakenly claimed immigration removal targets did not exist.
She had been under pressure after it emerged that Windrush migrants – encouraged to settle in the UK following post-war labour shortages – had been threatened with deportation as illegal immigrants. It has since emerged that some have been deported.

Elderly care

The Times reports on the prospect of money being diverted from childcare to elderly care.

Children are suffering as a result of the drive to improve the healthcare of the elderly, according to the leader of Britain’s paediatricians.
Professor Russell Viner, president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH), said the UK’s child mortality rate was among the worst in Europe and children have been “squeezed out by the rush to focus on the elderly”.
Commenting on an intense preoccupation with dementia and “bed blocking”, he said: “There is only so much government attention. Attention has shifted elsewhere and children have been moved out of the spotlight.”

Ebola

The deadly disease could be spreading, reports the Times.

The Department of Health is deploying a UK rapid response team to the Democratic Republic of Congo in a bid to contain the Ebola outbreak in the country. 
The risk to health posed by the outbreak has also been raised to “very high” by the World Health Organization (WHO). The risk assessment is specific to DRC where a total of 45 Ebola cases have been reported in the last two weeks, including 25 deaths.
The wider global risk is currently judged “low” and WHO experts concluded on Friday that the outbreak did not yet constitute a “public health emergency of international concern”.

Russia

Laundering Russian cash could be a growing problem, says the Times.

A rising Tory MP warns that government inaction on laundering is a gift to Putin and has let rich Russians think they own Britain.
The Tory chairman of the foreign affairs select committee has launched a withering attack on the government’s failure to tackle the effect of Russia’s “dirty money” on Britain, ahead of the publication of a damning report this week.
Tom Tugendhat, one of the Conservative Party’s brightest hopes, criticised the UK’s “lethargic response” to Russian money-laundering and organised crime that has been enabled by London’s financial and property markets.
The MP said the government had failed to deal with oligarchs who cleaned their illicit wealth by buying townhouses in Belgravia and Mayfair, while also allowing Russian companies to raise money in London despite being under sanctions.

And the clean-up of Salisbury following the Russian nerve attack could cost a lot of money, says the Times.

Britain is expected to spend “tens of millions of pounds” on decontamination after the poisoning of a former Russian spy with a nerve agent in Salisbury.
The disclosure follows the discharge of Sergei Skripal, 66, from hospital last week after the former Russian intelligence officer was poisoned with novichok on March 4.
The attack also left his daughter Yulia, 33, and a police officer in intensive care. Yulia was discharged from hospital on April 9 and Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey went home in March.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said most decontamination costs in Salisbury related to the deployment of military officials who specialise in sampling and disposing of hazardous waste.

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