Archive for the ‘Italy’ Category

‘My case was hushed up’: Victim of clerical abuse seeks justice from Vatican

Although time has moved on, Arturo Borrelli cannot forget. He was 12 years old when he met Father Silverio Mura, his religious education teacher at his school, near Naples in the south of Italy. “One day he invited me to come to his house. I accepted. Once inside, he asked me to come closer. He kissed me. A violent kiss. […] I was in shock,” Borrelli recalls. It was the beginning of a long series of sexual abuses that Borrelli says would go on for more than four years. In 2010, he broke his silence and denounced the priest. But Father Mura was merely moved to another parish in the region, where he continued to work with minors. Since Borrelli pressed charges, 10 other people have denounced the same priest. FRANCE 24’s Natalia Mendoza caught up with Borrelli near the Vatican in Rome, where the victim of sexual abuse has come to seek justice.

How Brexit affects Italy – and its Eurosceptical politicians

elisabeth alberHow will Brexit affect Italy’s businesses, its citizens and its political landscape? Elisabeth Alber (Eurac Research) explains that while the country now has an avowedly Eurosceptical government, Italians have mixed feelings towards the EU. It is unclear how many Italians have been living in the UK, but Italy’s hopes of attracting them back seem to have been fruitless.

Brexit will undoubtedly affect the EU’s Member States in different ways, but trying to quantify or even just schematise the impact it will have is immensely challenging. In a 2018 study, the European Committee of the Regions assessed the likely impact of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU on regions and cities in the EU27. Some Italian regions figure among those EU regions that could be most affected by Brexit, especially in the sectors of machinery, textile and furniture (for example, Emilia-Romagna, Tuscany and Marches).

giuseppe conte

Italian PM Giuseppe Conte at the European Parliament, February 2019. Photo: European Parliament via a CC-BY-4.0 licence: © European Union 20XY – Source: EP.

Italian businesses

The results of the study confirm what Italian businesspeople have said ever since the referendum: Brexit impacts the Italian (export) economy. With Brexit, Italy becomes the third biggest economy in the EU. However, given its political instability, this is only a theoretical promotion. Businesses are therefore looking for their own solutions to deal with the implications of Brexit.

Not only does Brexit impact Italy’s economy, it also creates uncertainty for the large number of Italian citizens living and working in the UK. According to the Italian embassy in London, many Italians are revising their plans to stay in the UK, or have already left. However, the desired reverse brain drain has not materialised, because the Italian labour market is not able to attract Italians leaving the UK. In general, it is difficult to estimate how many Italians live in the UK and to grasp what they intend to do. This because not all of them are registered as Italians residing abroad. By law, Italians residing abroad or intending to do so for a longer period are obliged to register, but not all of them do so, mainly so as not to lose basic rights in Italy.

The coalition government

While Italy’s Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte stresses the need for an orderly Brexit and acts as a mediator in the tense relationship between Italy and the EU, his two deputies, Luigi Di Maio and Matteo Salvini, do not miss any chance to enter into open conflict with the EU. The populist coalition government, sworn in on 1 June 2018, aims at a drastic revision of Italy’s longstanding pro EU-policy and the underlying principles and frameworks of the EU’s set-up. Unlike preceding governments, the current government formed by the anti-establishment party Five Star Movement (Movimento Cinque Stelle – M5S) and the right-wing party League (Lega) is anything but EU-friendly. Both deputy Prime Ministers, Luigi Di Maio (M5S) and Matteo Salvini (Lega) personally support referendums on fundamental questions about the EU, though they are not currently on the agenda. Back in 2016, neither leader hesitated to congratulate the UK’s political elites and electorate for being so courageous in, on the one hand, consulting the electorate over such an important question, and on the other starting the process of regaining sovereignty over the country’s own fate. In social media posts, they stressed that Euroscepticism had at last picked up steam, and that Italy should follow the UK’s example in using referendums for fundamental decision-making.

Academic and political analysts

Academics and political analysts barely addressed the question of whether direct democracy was the right remedy for political disenchantment – partly because the media failed to draw attention to the issue. They have mainly confined themselves to evaluating its implications for UK’s parliamentary sovereignty, and on Italy. The chance to start a debate on how to renew decision-making processes within the EU and its Member States was missing, in part because of the political turmoil that characterised Italy between 2016-2018 (constitutional referendum on 4 December 2016 – resignation of Matteo Renzi as Prime Minister – 64th Government under Paolo Gentiloni – general elections on 4 March 2018).

Public opinion

In most western EU Member States, the public reacted with incomprehension to Brexit. This was not the case in Italy. According to data from 2016, Italians showed understanding for the UK’s desire to withdraw from the EU (Poli 2016). Figures from the November 2018 Standard Eurobarometer 90 (European Commission 2018) confirm the mistrust of Italians for the EU, but do not reveal to what extent Italians support the coalition government’s narrative on the EU. In short, the level of trust and mistrust remains unchanged in comparison with the spring 2018 survey.

When asked what the EU should worry about most, Italians rank migration, unemployment and economy at the top, while nationally, Italians rank unemployment first, then migration and the economy. Interestingly, Romania and Italy are the only states where one in five respondents are against the principle of freedom of movement (overall, a large majority of EU citizens are in favour of it). Respondents in all EU Member States (strongly) support the use of the single currency (a new high since 2004!). In Italy, 63% support the euro. This is a rise of two percentage points compared to spring 2018. Asked whether they feel they are citizens of the EU, Italians are among the citizens with the lowest figures. Only 59% of the respondents answered positively.

A variety of contradictory narratives

The analysis of Italian narratives on Brexit and the EU shows that there is no clear answer to the question of how friendly or hostile to the EU Italian stakeholders are. At present, views and insights are subject to populist reflexes, and Brexit is discussed on the margins. In theory, the coalition’s Eurosceptical roadmap is already drawn up. In practice, the governing parties are running the gauntlet between their own political crises in Rome, and those with Brussels. A variety of contradictory narratives is the outcome and reconciling them seems impossible. Much will depend on the outcome of the EU parliamentary elections on 26 May 2019.

The post represents the views of the author and not those of LSE Brexit. It summarises the results of the research project The Brexit and EU Member States (case study Italy) led by the Department of Political Science of the University of Erlangen-Nürnberg. Elisabeth Alber analysed more than 1.000 media entries (from 2016-2018) and assessed views and insights of Italian stakeholders on Brexit, and the EU. The detailed results are published in German (Elisabeth Alber, “Italien und der Brexit: Europapolitische Ansichten und Einsichten im Triennium 2016-2018”, in: Thorsten Winkelmann/Tim Griebel (Hrsg.), Der Brexit und die Krise der europäischen Integration. EU und mitgliedstaatliche Perspektiven im Dialog, Nomos, Baden-Baden, 2018, 177-189).

Elisabeth Alber is Senior Researcher at the Institute for Comparative Federalism in Eurac Research.

Sunday papers – 17 February 2019

Sunday papers – 17 February 2019

Project Fear

The EU is getting desperate.  Its plan to send us food aid is revealed in the Express.

THE EU is planning to send food aid to feed Britain’s poor in the event of a no deal Brexit, sources in Brussels have revealed.
The bizarre European Commission plan involves sending food parcels to British food banks for the needy from the EU’s wine lakes and food mountains of surpluses produced by the protective measures in the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).
Tory Brexiteers last night branded the proposal “the last throw of the dice of Project Fear by EU blackmailers” hoping to scare Britons’ into changing their minds and remaining. There was also a warning that it indicates that the EU might try to illegally block food being sold to Britain if it leaves without a formal deal.
The revelation came as a major new report by leading economists has attacked the “misleading” UK Treasury economic models which are at the heart of many of the Project Fear claims.
Meanwhile, tourism chiefs pointed out the potential benefits of Brexit and said that the end of EU rules could provide the industry with a massive boost.
The revelation about food parcels from the EU emerged at an event in Brussels last week where EU bureaucrats working for the Commission’s international development department were present.

Deals in a number of areas post-Brexit have been agreed, reports the Mail.

BREXIT scaremongers were exposed as hoaxers last night after their warnings of No Deal chaos were finally demolished.
EU chiefs have secretly agreed measures to ensure transport links with Britain are maintained, The Sun on Sunday can reveal.
British planes will continue to fly into Europe and lorries can drive on the continent, even if we leave without an agreement on March 29.
Two announcements slipped out by Brussels late on Friday expose “Project Fear” predictions of pandemonium as myths.
One will allow UK-based airlines to continue providing scheduled flights. The other will let road hauliers, coach and bus firms carry goods and passengers across the EU.
The contingency plan drawn up by the European Commission is on the condition that the UK offers the same rights to the EU.
Former Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab said: “It is welcome that the EU wants to agree reciprocal arrangements for a No Deal.
“This pierces the Project Fear myths and shows that the UK and EU can work sensibly together.”

But civic serpents are still trying to overturn the referendum decision reports the Express.

TODAY, we see the efforts of supposedly neutral civil servants issuing anti-Brexit propaganda, still hoping to reverse the referendum decision.
We have had the Treasury and ‘Cross-Whitehall’ report, arguing that any Brexit at all, including the government’s proposed deal, would be worse than Remaining. Then the Bank released its ‘Brexit crisis scenario’, an implied forecast of how bad No Deal would be. It has since reiterated that No Deal would likely cause a recession. These are deceitful propaganda efforts and terrible economics.
Contrary to Project Fear, Brexit means big gains for the economy, from free trade with rest of the world, reducing prices and boosting competition; better regulation, in technology, energy, and financial services – all key to our future growth prospects; an end to subsidised unskilled immigration which costs £3500 pa for each unskilled worker; ending paying large amounts into the EU budget.
Together, these will add about 0.5 percent a year to our growth rate, totalling a 7 percent boost to GDP by 2035.

Even the neutral Reuters  is reporting there will be no problem with security following our withdrawal.

Britain’s exit from the European Union will not affect security cooperation with its NATO allies France and Germany, given the growing external threats to the continent’s stability, the intelligence chiefs of the three countries said on Friday.
“The chiefs … said that all three services would continue to be close allies in jointly protecting Europe from threats such as Islamism, terrorism, organised crime or cyber-attacks,” the heads of Germany’s BND, France’s DGSE and Britain’s MI6 said in a rare joint statement.
“This would also hold true… in view of Brexit,” they said after meeting at the Munich Security Conference.


Meanwhile, it seems the bloc is facing problems when we leave.  The Telegraph says:

EU leaders are threatening their economies and risking defeats in forthcoming elections by edging the UK ­toward a no-deal Brexit, says Liam Fox.
In an interview with The Telegraph, the International Trade Secretary says the “very reasonable” change MPs had requested to Theresa May’s Brexit deal was a “strange thing on which to hang much of the economic well-being of the people of Europe”.
A rejection of Britain’s demands would risk recession across the continent, following the shrinking of Italy’s economy last year, he claims. Ministers warn a no-deal exit will cause disruption on both sides of the Channel.

And the Times says:

Dark economic clouds gathering over the EU are raising the stakes for European leaders as they prepare to negotiate with Britain over Brexit plans.
While Ireland and Holland have already reported an influx of companies relocating away from the UK, both are highly exposed to a no-deal Brexit that threatens to wipe out any gains from relocations.
The Dutch government unveiled a furry blue mascot dubbed the “Brexit Muppet” last week to inform businesses how to prepare for Brexit. Yet even with careful planning and information campaigns, Holland faces a €10bn decline in trade, according to an analysis by the country’s Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis.

Politically, Westmonster claims that Italy is on the verge of leaving the EU.

The Economic Spokesman of the governing Lega party has stated that Italy should quit the European Union unless it does not reform. An argument some Brits made for years, before realising the only way out is to exit the bloc. Anti-EU sentiment is rising across Europe.
Claudio Borghi, who is also Chairman of the Budget Committee, said of reform after May’s European Elections: “I think this is the last opportunity.”
He also said: “Either we succeed in changing (EU) now or we will have to Leave.”

And the Yellow Vest movement is ready to start a revolution, says Breitbart.

Gilets Jaunes (Yellow Vest) movement member Christophe Chalençon announced that the anti-establishment movement has “paramilitaries” ready to overthrow the French government.
Mr Chalençon made the claim following an interview with Italian media this week after being asked about his meeting with Five Star Movement leader Luigi Di Maio earlier this month BFMTV reports.
Despite the interview being over, the cameras kept recording and published the remarks of Chalençon who said, “I know I’m risking a lot, I can get shot in the head anytime, but I’ll be at the end of my convictions, because if they put a bullet in my head, Macron will be placed in the guillotine.”
“We have come to such a point of confrontation, that if they kill me, he is dead too because the people come back to the Elysée and they will dismantle everything… There are many of us like that,” he said, and added: “We have paramilitaries who are ready to intervene because they also want to bring down the government.”


In the Telegraph, Ambrose Evans-Pritchard claims he has heard whispers from Brussels about the Irish backstop.

The leaks from Brussels have begun. Unnamed EU “diplomats and officials” have floated the subject of a temporary opt-out for Ireland in a no-deal Brexit.
Dublin will not have to erect customs infrastructure or police the outer limits of the single market immediately. There will be a transition.
Officials told Reuters that Ireland will ultimately face checks on its own exports to Europe or face being kicked out of the EU customs union if it refuses to put up a trade border against Northern Ireland in the event of a no-deal.
“If there is no physical border, the customs checks would have to take place on all goods coming from Ireland,” said one.

The economy

The Mail reports that the chancellor is preparing for talks with the EU to fail.

Chancellor Philip Hammond has set up a secret bailout fund in an operation codenamed Project Kingfisher – so the British economy can be jump-started if talks with Brussels collapse, The Mail on Sunday can reveal.
Plans seen by this newspaper disclose the establishment of a short-term fiscal stimulus package designed to prop up the UK’s manufacturing and industrial sectors in the event of a No Deal departure from the EU and the disruption that would follow.
Ministers have been ordered to draw up top-secret lists of specific firms and sectors they believe will most need the cash and submit them on paper to the Treasury to avoid embarrassing leaks.

And the retail market is strong, reports Westmonster.

Retail sales for January bounced back strongly in 2019, following a fall in December. As Westminster obsesses over Project Fear, businesses and the public are getting on with it.
Data from the Office for National Statistics shows that retail sales grew by 1%, which equates to year-on-year growth of 4.2%. This way above the 0.2% and 3.6% forecasts from a Reuters poll of economists.
Year-on-year prices also slowed to 0.4%, the slowest pace of growth since November 2016.
As Rhian Murphy, from the ONS, explains: “Clothing stores saw strong sales, luring consumers with price reductions, with food sales also growing after a slight dip after Christmas.
This follows on from inflation dipping down to 1.8% and the highest wage growth since 2008. What are hardline Remainers and many pundits so grumpy about?

The Brexit Party

Nigel’s new party claims an influx of members, reports the Mail.

NIGEL Farage’s new Brexit Party has signed up 100,000 members – just a week after it was formally registered.
The former Ukip leader admits to being astounded by the race to join before he has staged an official launch or opened an office.
More than 35,000 people applied for membership in the first 24 hours after the new organisation was recognised by the Electoral Commission. And about 10,000 people a day have been flocking to get involved ever since.
Mr Farage is ready to lead the party if Theresa May decides to delay Brexit by extending Article 50 beyond departure day on March 29.

Conservative Party

Theresa’s desperate, says the Times.

Theresa May made a desperate appeal for unity this weekend as a leader of the party’s hardline Eurosceptic wing warned that continuing with her Brexit deal risked splitting the Conservative Party.
The prime minister wrote to all 317 Tory MPs yesterday urging them to back her deal by sacrificing “personal preferences” to unite in the “higher service of the national interest”.
The letter was sent hours after The Sunday Times received leaked WhatsApp messages revealing that Steve Baker, the deputy chairman of the 100-strong European Research Group (ERG), told colleagues that May’s Brexit negotiations with Brussels were a “complete waste of time”.

BBC News claims her letter says the hand of history will be on all their shoulders.

Theresa May has urged Conservative MPs to put aside “personal preferences” and support a Brexit deal in the Commons.
In a letter to all 317 Tory members of Parliament, the prime minister said “history will judge us all” over the handling of Brexit.
It comes after the government suffered a defeat in a vote on its strategy.
Mrs May says in the letter she will return to Brussels to meet European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker next week.
She will also speak to the leaders of every EU member state over the coming days, she says.

The Sun calls the letter ‘desperate’.

THERESA May last night told her warring party to unite and deliver Brexit and warned: “History will judge us.”
The PM issued a dramatic appeal for Tories to bury their differences and put the national interest first.
She cautioned that the split in their ranks risked stopping Brexit  altogether or wrecking people’s lives with a “no deal” departure.
Mrs May’s plea for unity came in a letter sent to all 317 of her MPs as Britain’s future rests on a knife-edge.
In it, she admitted being disappointed at last week’s Commons defeat  but stressed she is determined to secure a deal that can win the day.

The Mail claims the letter speaks about the ‘national interest’.

Theresa May has issued a desperate plea to Conservative MPs to unite and deliver on Brexit, urging her party to ‘move beyond what divides us’ and sacrifice ‘personal preferences’ for the national interest.
The Prime Minister’s rallying cry follows another tumultuous week in Westminster which saw tensions in the party reach boiling point, with one minister accusing Eurosceptic colleagues of ‘treachery’.
Mrs May, in a letter to all 317 Conservative MPs after her Brexit plans suffered a humiliating Commons defeat on Valentine’s Day, said the result was ‘disappointing’ but vowed that the Government would continue its work to secure changes to the Irish border backstop.

The Telegraph reports that two ministers who might succeed Mrs May will be going to the US.

Two cabinet ministers touted as front runners to succeed Theresa May are planning a joint trip to the US, to attend a conference previously addressed by Margaret Thatcher.
Michael Gove, the Environment Secretary, and Liz Truss, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, are due to speak at the annual AEI World Forum, run by the American Enterprise Institute, a Washington-based group that champions free markets.
The trip has prompted colleagues to speculate that the pair have formed a new alliance ahead of Mrs May’s departure.
A Tory source said: “It’s curious that at a critical time for Brexit negotiations, two Cabinet Ministers are spending their time shmoozing with the US.

With the Telegraph’s ‘cash for access’ story, one wonders if the Tory Party is getting a bit short of money.

The Conservatives are ­facing new “cash-for-access” claims after offering ­business figures private meetings with the Chancellor and other finance ministers in return for substantial donations to the party.
Individuals working in the City were being offered membership of a “Chancellor’s Group” that Tories said had the “overt patronage of the Chancellor” and offered the chance to “discuss topical issues” with key finance ministers, go to post-budget briefings and get “monthly updates on the economy.”
The price of the donor club was set at £25,000 a year and came weeks after the party was reportedly placed on an election footing by its chief executive.

Labour Party

Corbyn is under fire in the Mail.

Jeremy Corbyn has been accused of betraying the party’s Brexit policy by the delegates who wrote it, as they demand he finally backs a Final Say referendum on Brexit.
The delegates from around the country have sent a letter to the Labour leader, directly charging him with failing to implement the plan carefully formed and approved by conference last year.
In a stinging rebuke they remind him that he promised “policy will be made by Labour members, not the leader”, but then go on to say, “the complete opposite now appears to be happening”.


Private school fees could rise, reports the Telegraph.

Private schools are facing a £100million “stealth raid” by the Government to fund teacher pensions in a move which could lead to significant rises in fees.
The Department for Education has revealed that from September employer’s contribution for teachers’ pensions will rise from 16.48 per cent of their salaries to 23.6 per cent.
The change, which comes into force in September, will cost private schools an extra £110million from 2019-20 and nearly £200million the following year.
Private schools are now faced with either pulling out of the teachers’ pension scheme, making them less attractive to new teachers, or raising fees.

Waste collection

Monthly rubbish collections could be a thing of the past, reports the Times.

Every household in England is to benefit from a weekly food-waste collection, under government plans to be revealed this week. The proposals include plans for free collection of garden waste, which many families pay to have taken away.
The standard rubbish collection, the so-called “black bags”, will remain the same.
The move comes after a poll by the research company YouGov last year found that 69% of people in the UK supported the idea of councils offering a separate caddy for food waste to be collected weekly. At present, large amounts of the waste put into black bags is old food and vegetable peelings.


Properties compulsorily purchased for the high speed rail track may have been significantly undervalued, reports the Mail.

A couple who believe their home has been grossly undervalued by HS2 are launching a landmark legal case against the company running the controversial rail scheme.
Trevor and Justine Palin say their house is worth at least £60,000 more than HS2 has offered to pay for it under a compulsory purchase order for the proposed line.
The couple are planning to take the company to the High Court in a case which could pave the way for hundreds of other homeowners in a similar situation to take legal action.

Inheritance tax

ITV News reports on the prospect of changes to inheritance rules.

Ministers are considering a shake-up of inheritance rules to reflect changes in society, such as fewer marriages and an increase in step-families.
A consultation has been launched asking for the public’s view on how the law can be made fairer when it comes to dividing an estate on someone’s death.
It asks what rights cohabitants should have and whether step-children should have the same inheritance rights as biological or adopted children.
Opinions are also being sought on whether anyone convicted of murder should be removed as executor for their victim’s will.


It seems the Russian who spied for the UK has not quite got over his poisoning, reports the Times.

The former MI6 spy who was poisoned in a botched assassination attempt by Russian agents in Salisbury has suffered a deterioration in his health and is being treated by doctors, The Sunday Times can reveal.
Sergei Skripal, 67, who along with his daughter, Yulia, 33, was poisoned with the nerve agent novichok last March, is under medical supervision amid concerns that he is unlikely ever to recover fully from the chemical attack which assaults the nervous system.
The former colonel in the GRU, Russia’s military intelligence agency, and his daughter were in a critical condition when they were admitted to Salisbury District Hospital after the attack.

The post Sunday papers – 17 February 2019 appeared first on Independence Daily.

News review – Thursday 13 February 2019

News review – Thursday 13 February 2019


THERESA May faces a revolt by Tory Brexiteers tonight following growing concerns the UK’s withdrawal from the EU could be delayed. Up to 80 Tory backbenchers are threatening to refuse to back the Prime Minister in tonight’s Commons vote on a Government motion endorsing her push for a revamped Brexit deal. The MPs allied to the European Research Group, chaired by senior Tory Jacob Rees-Mogg, claim the motion effectively rules out a no-deal Brexit. Several Cabinet ministers were also understood to be considering quitting if a lengthy delay in the withdrawal process is agreed.

Sky News
The government could be facing another embarrassing parliamentary defeat, after a group of Tory Eurosceptics suggested they were ready to rebel in a Brexit vote later today.  The motion asks the House of Commons to “reiterate its support” for what was agreed in a previous set of votes two weeks ago. In that vote MPs passed an amendment requiring the Prime Minister to seek changes to the Irish backstop in fresh negotiations with Brussels, but also saw a majority for an amendment that ruled out leaving the EU without a deal.

Theresa May is braced for another damaging defeat in the Commons on Thursday after Tory Eurosceptics accused her of ruling out a no deal Brexit. The European Research Group of Conservative Brexiteers says it cannot support a Government motion being put to a vote on Thursday after describing Mrs May’s position as “madness”. Senior sources within the ERG said the group would abstain, and with Labour expected to vote against the motion, it will mean yet another Brexit defeat for Mrs May just 43 days before Britain is due to leave the EU.

A pro-Brexit faction of Prime Minister Theresa May’s Conservative Party will not back her motion in parliament on Thursday that seeks renewed backing for her Brexit plan, the BBC’s political editor reported without citing sources. The government refused to alter the motion to meet the demands of the European Research Group (ERG) of pro-Brexit hardliners, the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg said. “Brexiteer group haven’t decided yet if they will abstain or vote against but they won’t back govt – either way, another reminder May just can’t rely on her backbenches,” Kuenssberg tweeted.

Brexit Central
A big row is brewing this morning over the motion that the Government has tabled for tomorrow’s full day of debate on Brexit in the Commons, which the eurosceptic MPs in the European Research Group have told government whips they cannot support. With MPs having expected a neutral, anodyne (albeit amendable) motion to be tabled, instead the Government yesterday tabled a motion that endorses the approach to Brexit as agreed by amendments passed by the Commons on 29th January.

BBC News
MPs are to debate and vote on the next steps in the Brexit process later, as Theresa May continues to try to get a deal through Parliament. A series of amendments – designed to change the direction of Brexit – will be considered in the debate, which is expected to be a routine procedure. But BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg said the PM could be facing another defeat. Some Tory Brexiteers are refusing to back the government, she said. No 10 insists

Hardline Brexit supporters are threatening to inflict yet another Commons defeat on Theresa May because they fear the government is effectively ruling out leaving the EU with no deal. Members of the Tory European Research Group are unhappy with the wording of a No 10 motion because it endorses parliament’s vote against any Brexit without a withdrawal agreement. The motion for debate on Thursday simply affirms “the approach to leaving the EU” backed by the Commons on 29 January, when an amendment was passed in favour of an attempt to replace the Northern Ireland backstop with “alternative arrangements”.

The Tory truce over Brexit stands on the brink of falling apart tonight as Theresa May faced another bruising Commons defeat by hardline Brexiteers. Eurosceptic MPs were furious they are being forced to vote on a Government motion that they claimed would commit her to avoiding a no-deal Brexit. The vote, while not legally binding, gives MPs another chance to have their say on the Prime Minister’s Brexit plans. They will be asked to confirm they still back the approach to leaving the EU that was passed by a stormy Commons on January 29.

Yahoo News
Theresa May is facing a fresh attempt by a cross-party groups of MPs to prevent a no-deal Brexit if she fails to reach an agreement with Brussels by mid-March. Labour MP Yvette Cooper and Tory former minister Sir Oliver Letwin are among the group, which have said they are ready to table an amendment enabling Parliament to force ministers to seek a delay if there is no deal in place.

Theresa May has dismissed the row over her chief negotiator saying she plans to threaten MPs with a “long” delay to Brexit as something “overheard in a bar”. However, the prime minister again failed to rule out extending Article 50 – which Olly Robbins is alleged to have floated, if MPs still refuse to back her deal by the end of March. The SNP said it showed Ms May’s claim she is ready to crash out of the EU if necessary had reached the “end of the road” because she had been “rumbled by your own loose-lipped Brexit adviser”. Brexiteer Tories are furious after Mr Robbins was quoted as saying: “Extension [of Article 50] is possible but if they don’t vote for the deal then the extension is a long one.”

THERESA May has today been forced to deny that she’s secretly planning to delay Brexit after a bombshell ‘leak’ revealing the PM wants to run the clock down. Last night Theresa May’s chief Brexit negotiator was overheard in a bar saying she will threaten MPs with a huge delay if they don’t back her deal next month.  Olly Robbins said he expected the PM to take Brexit talks right down to the wire next month, ITV revealed. And then she would present MPs with a simple choice between backing a revised deal or extending the Article 50 process for a significant period of time beyond March 29.


THE EU is colluding with Theresa May’s Government to carry out “delay tactics” to put pressure on the UK Parliament and force MPs to accept the Withdrawal Agreement out of fear of a no-deal Brexit, it has been claimed. Chances of seeing the changes to the backstop wanted by the MPs and the UK leaving the EU on time are getting slimmer by the hour, as Whitehall and Brussels are collaborating on running down the clock, according to EU officials. The EU looks is poised to add small concessions on the Irish border backstop only on the summit taking place on March 21, days before March 29, Brexit day.

The British government is “pretending to negotiate” with the European Union and has not presented any new proposals to break the Brexit deadlock, according to EU officials. Theresa May’s de-facto deputy, David Lidington, and the Brexit secretary, Stephen Barclay, met senior EU officials and MEPs in Brussels and Strasbourg this week, but the talks yielded no obvious results. The British side thinks a crucial process has begun and hopes progress will have been made by 27 February when MPs are expected to have another crunch Brexit vote. However, on Wednesday night European council president Donald Tusk said the EU27 was still waiting for proposals.

Guy Verhofstadt has called Italy’s President Giuseppe Conte a “puppet” of the populist deputy prime ministers and said the country was suffering from “political degeneration.” The remarks came during a heated exchange in the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, on Tuesday after President Conte, an independent, gave a speech where he said that the EU had “lost contact” with Europe’s people and demanded Brussels come to a permanent solution to the migrant crisis, according to Politico. Leftist and progressive MEPs launched attacks on Conte, with socialist grouping leader Udo Bullmann saying that Italy was heading “into political and economic isolation.”

Huffington Post
European governments are being warned that Britain may in future hold back military help for EU countries if there is a no-deal Brexit, HuffPost UK understands. Officials have told foreign diplomats that while Theresa May is fully committed to maintaining strong defence and security ties, future governments could be less willing to support new missions in the EU like the current deployment of troops to Estonia, on Russia’s border.


Sinn Féin has urged Theresa May and Ireland’s taoiseach Leo Varadkar to plan for a referendum on a united Ireland in event the UK crashes out of the EU without a deal. Mary Lou McDonald, the Sinn Féin leader, which has seven seats in Westminster, made the same call in an hour-long meeting on Wednesday with the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, as part of a campaign to lay the grounds for a border poll to decide the future of the island. “In the event there is a no-deal Brexit then the Irish question looms very large, because if that happens there will be an absolute imperative, a democratic imperative, to put the issue of Irish unity to the people by way of referendum,” McDonald said.

Labour Party

Jeremy Corbyn is facing up to 10 resignations from Labour’s top team if he fails to push the case for a new Brexit referendum, it has been reported.   Shadow chancellor John McDonnell has insisted that the option of a new Brexit poll remains on the table as he admitted that Labour’s preferred scenario of a snap general election is looking unlikely. Labour has tabled an amendment to the Government motion requiring Mrs May to either put her deal to a Commons vote by February 27 or allow Parliament to take control of the process. And now anti-Brexit Labour MPs, junior shadow ministers and grassroots members have told The Guardian they are prepared to resign if Mr Corbyn does not also lend his support to a pro-referendum amendment later this month.

Labour discord over Brexit has re-emerged after Jeremy Corbyn’s office and senior shadow minister Sir Keir Starmer took different positions on the best next steps for the party. The leader’s spokesman was forced to reiterate that pushing for a new election is the party’s preference after Sir Keir indicated that a compromise deal or a new referendum were the “only credible options now left”. It follows claims that Sir Keir was left angry when the leader’s office removed a line from a Labour letter to Theresa May giving support to a people’s vote.

A SHOCK poll has revealed trust in Jeremy Corbyn has dramatically dropped from 40 percent to 11 percent. Following the poll results, Prime Minister Theresa May launched a scathing attack against Mr Corbyn today – saying he has destroyed his reputation with Brexit failures. In Wednesday’s PMQs Mrs May accused Mr Corbyn of “playing politics” and being unable to decide if he wants Brexit or a second referendum. Mrs May said: “People used to say he was a conviction politician – not anymore.” The Tory poll revealed 40 percent of the UK used to think the leader of the Opposition was a man of his word.

Jeremy Corbyn faces up to 10 resignations from the Labour frontbench if he fails to throw his party’s weight behind a fresh attempt to force Theresa May to submit her Brexit deal to a referendum in a fortnight’s time, frustrated MPs are warning. With tension mounting among anti-Brexit Labour MPs and grassroots members, several junior shadow ministers have told the Guardian they are prepared to resign their posts if Corbyn doesn’t whip his MPs to vote for a pro-referendum amendment at the end of the month. Corbyn has been struggling to balance the conflicting forces in his party over Brexit, as the clock ticks down towards exit day on 29 March.

The shadow Brexit secretary, Keir Starmer, has called for tough rules to swiftly kick out antisemitic Labour members, following rows at a shadow cabinet meeting over the party’s backlog of complaints. The deputy leader, Tom Watson, clashed with the party’s chair, Ian Lavery, at a shadow cabinet meeting on Tuesday which was entirely dedicated to the subject. Watson accused the Liverpool Wavertree branch of “bullying” its MP, Luciana Berger, who has also been subjected to antisemitic abuse. Lavery criticised Watson for calling for the branch to be suspended, sources said. Labour’s general secretary, Jennie Formby, revealed on Monday that 673 complaints alleging antisemitism against party members had been made in the past 10 months, resulting in 12 expulsions.

Ferry contract

Theresa May’s bid to defend a £14m Brexit ferries contract fell apart spectacularly today after she was accused of misleading PMQs. The Prime Minister claimed “proper due diligence” was carried out on Seaborne Freight  – the firm dropped at the weekend after signing a deal to provide ferries, despite having no ferries. But her evidence involved naming three firms behind the checks – without mentioning what those firms actually did. People instantly started quoting the respected and independent National Audit Office, which confirmed Deloitte “did not make a formal assessment of Seaborne financial stability.”

Theresa May has come under renewed pressure over a botched no-deal ferry contract handed to a firm which had no ships. The decision to award the £13.8m deal to Seaborne Freight was widely mocked at the time, and transport secretary Chris Grayling faced calls to resign over the matter amid claims that he misled MPs about whether taxpayers’ money had been spent on the contract.  The prime minister also faced anger from MPs after her top Brexit aide was overheard describing plans to offer MPs with a last-minute choice between her deal and a “long” delay.

Much to everyone’s surprise, Jeremy Corbyn actually asked a vaguely coherent set of questions on a big issue of the day at PMQs today, going on the attack over Seaborne Freight. However, in his excitement it appears that Corbyn may have actually got his facts seriously wrong, with Craig Mackinlay writing to Corbyn to challenge him over whether he misled the House with his claim that the Government’s decision had increased Thanet Council’s budget deficit by “nearly two million pounds”. Bizarrely, the Mirror decided to make an underwhelming ‘Thug Life’ meme purely on the basis of Corbyn’s facial reaction when Mackinlay challenged him at PMQs.

Council tax

Almost all councils in England plan to increase council tax from April and three-quarters intend to raise it above 2.75%, research reveals. The maximum rise allowed without a local referendum is 2.99%. Similar proportions plan to raise charges and fees. Despite council tax bills soaring, many residents face further cuts in services. Most councils warned that they would be reducing a range of services, from adult social care to libraries and recycling. The annual survey by the Local Government Information Unit thinktank found that cuts were increasingly visible and that after eight years of austerity – which has cost English councils 40% of their central funding – half of councils felt cuts were now “negatively affecting relationships with citizens”.

ITV News
Almost all local councils in England will increase council tax over the next year as a new survey seen by ITV News shows local government finances reaching breaking point. In a sign that some councils can no longer protect core services for the vulnerable from cuts, nearly a third of councils intend to reduce adult social care and a quarter to reduce children’s services. Last year Northamptonshire council declared bankruptcy and a number of other councils threatened collapse as local councils of all political colours struggled with a reduction in funds from central government and rising demands for social care.


THERESA May personally pledged to bring back a draft law to crackdown on female genital mutilation as she slammed the veteran Tory MP who blocked it last week. Sir Christopher Chope last week used parliamentary procedure to halt the draft law sponsored by fellow Tory MP Zac Goldsmith passing through Parliament.  The bill proposed a change to child welfare laws that would have allowed courts to protect children at risk of FGM. It was intended to stop young kids being taken abroad by their parents to undergo the horrific and permanently damaging procedure.


John McDonnell provoked a furious backlash last night when he described Winston Churchill as a ‘villain’. The Shadow Chancellor was accused of ‘blackening the name’ of the country’s ‘greatest hero’ in comments made during an interview in Westminster. Asked at the event hosted by the Politico website whether Sir Winston was a ‘hero or villain’, he replied: ‘Villain. Tonypandy.’ This was a reference to the Welsh mining village where Churchill ordered in troops to help police quell riots in 1910.

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell has branded Winston Churchill a “villain”. The Labour heavyweight made the comment in reference to the the way Britain’s wartime leader dealt with striking Welsh miners while home secretary in 1910. Mr Churchill’s decision to send troops to support police quelling riots in Tonypandy has long been a subject of historical debate. In a question and answer session with the Politico website, Mr McDonnell was asked: “Winston Churchill, hero or villain?”


Doctors have accused the Government of neglecting heart failure patients after a study found survival rates have barely improved in nearly 20 years. The terminal condition – which is often mistaken for asthma or mere old age – currently affects more than 920,000 people in the UK. But despite medical advances in treating many serious conditions, including cancer, experts at the universities of Oxford and Birmingham warned that the chances of dying from heart failure have hardly changed since 2000 as it ‘has not been a priority area in Government policy or funding’.


Italian mozzarella producers are challenging their British counterparts to a grand taste-off after being stung by claims that British-made cheese is better than their own. There is a small but growing band of buffalo mozzarella farmers in the UK, who stand to benefit if a no-deal Brexit strangles the import of food from the continent. The gauntlet was thrown down by the Italians after one proud producer of buffalo mozzarella in Hampshire claimed that his cheese was not just equal to the iconic Italian original, but superior.

The post News review – Thursday 13 February 2019 appeared first on Independence Daily.

The EU looks like the Soviet Union in 1991 – on the verge of collapse | George Soros

In May’s European elections, anti-EU forces will be on the rise. Those who want to preserve the union’s values must wake up

Europe is sleepwalking into oblivion and its people need to wake up before it is too late. If they don’t, the European Union will go the way of the Soviet Union in 1991. Neither our leaders nor ordinary citizens seem to understand that we are experiencing a revolutionary moment, that the range of possibilities is very broad, and that the eventual outcome is thus highly uncertain.

Most of us assume the future will more or less resemble the present, but this is not necessarily so. In a long and eventful life, I have witnessed many periods of what I call radical disequilibrium. We are living in such a period today.

Continue reading...

News review – Monday 11 February 2019

News review – Monday 11 February 2019


Express  (by Patrick O’Flynn)
A SORE tooth is enough to put anyone in a bad mood. A sore Tusk, however, is a temperamental event on an altogether bigger scale. And there is no doubt Donald Tusk, President of the EU Council of Ministers, was feeling very sore when he made his spectacularly undiplomatic outburst against Brexit campaigners, wondering what “special place in hell” lies in wait for us. Tusk is usually a cool character. So while many observers were swept up in the reaction to his remarks, others asked themselves what had brought them about and what the outburst tells us about the pressure on the Brussels high command as Britain’s March 29 leaving date looms. The trail, fascinatingly, leads back to a plot to stop Brexit spearheaded by none other than former PM Tony Blair. EU insiders tell me that Tusk allowed himself to become convinced Brexit was going to be overturned after a plan was constructed between senior Brussels figures and British pro-Remain politicians, led by Blair, that seemed to be working perfectly. Part of the plan involved Brussels playing hardball in negotiations, so that the deal Theresa May was able to put in front of MPs was profoundly unappetising. That advice to Brussels was relayed by a stream of pro-Remain visitors from the heart of the British establishment.

SECRET talks have begun between the UK and EU to prepare the way for a managed no-deal Brexit, sources in Brussels have claimed. It is also understood that the World Trade Organisation has opened the door to a route for the EU and UK to continue trading on an interim basis in the event of no deal being reached by March 29. The revelations come as leading pro-Brexit lawyers have warned that extending Article 50 would be a “blackmailer’s charter” for the EU. Senior figures in Brussels have said that officials at UK Rep – the British embassy in Brussels – have been “putting out feelers” for extending Article 50, but “only to deliver a managed no-deal”.

Theresa May has agreed to hold fresh talks with Jeremy Corbyn’s over his plans for a soft Brexit that would keep Britain tied to the Single Market after Brexit and locked in a customs union with the EU. In a letter to the Labour leader, the Prime Minister did not rule out Mr Corbyn’s demand for a “permanent” customs union although she said it would present a “negotiating challenge”. She also agreed to talks on Mr Corbyn’s call for “close alignment” with the Single Market, as well as committing to asking Parliament if it wishes to follow EU rules on workers’ rights and environment standards​.​

Theresa May opened the door last night to a soft Brexit by engaging with Jeremy Corbyn on a customs union in a move that puts her at risk of losing the support of members of her cabinet. In a letter to the Labour leader, the prime minister suggested that their parties hold further talks on the issue of a permanent customs union in an attempt to win support from Labour MPs for her Brexit plan. She also offered guarantees on environmental and employment laws, addressing more of the opposition’s central demands.

Theresa May will offer MPs the chance to copy EU rules on workers’ rights after Brexit as she bids to win Labour support for her withdrawal deal. The Prime Minister’s move will be seen as an olive branch as she desperately seeks backing for her pact after its crushing Commons defeat last month. The Tory leader is set to deny MPs a fresh “meaningful vote” until next month – edging closer to the March 29 withdrawal deadline.

BBC News
Theresa May has responded to Jeremy Corbyn’s letter setting out his five demands for a Brexit deal. The prime minister queried his call for the UK to stay in a customs union with the EU – but welcomed more talks with Labour on a Brexit agreement. Mrs May wants the two parties to discuss how “alternative arrangements” to the Irish backstop – a commitment to avoid a hard border – could work. She did not reject any of his conditions outright in her reply.

Theresa May has effectively ruled out Labour’s ideas for a compromise Brexit plan, shutting off another potential route to a deal as business groups warned that with less than 50 days to go the departure process was entering the “emergency zone”. The prime minister’s formal response to Jeremy Corbyn’s proposal, in a letter to the Labour leader, stressed her objections to keeping the UK in some form of customs union, saying this would prevent the UK making its own trade deals. But in an apparent renewed bid to win over wavering Labour MPs, May made a concession on environmental and workers’ rights, discounting Corbyn’s idea of automatic alignment with EU standards but suggesting instead a Commons vote every time these change.

British Prime Minister Theresa May has rejected the idea of targeting a customs union with the European Union, pouring cold water on hopes from some that she could shift her Brexit policy to win over the opposition Labour Party. Britain is due to leave the EU on March 29 but has yet to find a deal which is acceptable to both Brussels and lawmakers at home, raising the prospect of a disorderly exit that could damage the world’s fifth largest economy.

THERESA May is planning to take Brexit to the brink after delaying the do-or-die Commons vote on her deal until next month. The Government yesterday promised MPs they will get another chance to vote on Brexit options on February 27.  But Housing Secretary James Brokenshire said that would not necessarily be the crunch Meaningful Vote on the PM’s deal. The further delay risks triggering an exodus of Remainer ministers who last month gave the PM a two-week deadline to secure a breakthrough.

Labour Party

Tom Watson appeared to edge the Labour Party closer to backing another Brexit  referendum yesterday in breach of its present policy. Mr Watson, Labour’s deputy leader, suggested the party could support a fresh public vote if the cross-party talks between the opposition and government fail. He told BBC One’s The Andrew Marr Show: “It seems to me we’re now at the point where we can have meaningful talks to get a deal between the main political party leaders or the only way to break the impasse is a public vote, and that remains our policy.”

Rebel Labour MPs targeted by Downing Street are being warned that their constituencies could lose £1.1bn a year within a decade if they back Theresa May’s Brexit deal. Analysis of Treasury figures for the People’s Vote campaign found the 32 constituencies such as Wigan and Hartlepool could be hit by a total annual loss of £970m in economic output and some £100m in agricultural subsidies and structural funds within 10 years of leaving the EU.

Labour has launched a bid to FORCE Theresa May not to delay her crunch Brexit vote until the last minute. Just 47 days before we leave, the party will this week try to bind the Prime Minister to let MPs have their say no later than February 26. It comes amid reports she plans to run down the clock to just 72 hours before exit day. The PM might have to stitch up agreement at an EU summit on March 22. That could be followed by a Commons statement on Monday 25 March – and a final vote by MPs only after that.

LABOUR has piled the pressure on Theresa May after vowing to force the Prime Minister to put her Brexit deal to a second crunch vote in in the House of Commons before the end of the month. In an interview with The Sunday Times, Shadow Brexit Secretary Sir Keir Starmer warned Labour will try to stop Britain leaving the European Union without an agreement by using a Commons amendment to require Mrs May to hold another ‘meaningful vote’ by February 26.


THE government has won Brexit victory after signing a deal ensuring trade between the UK and Switzerland continues uninterrupted after Britain leaves the European Union. International Trade Secretary Liam Fox put pen to paper on the deal in the Swiss capital Bern yesterday, saying the agreement provides a “solid foundation” for a post-Brexit trading relationship.

Sky News
The government will today sign a trade deal with Switzerland, heralded as the most significant such agreement in the run-up to Brexit. The deal, known as a trade continuity agreement, will guarantee future trading terms between the two countries once the UK has left the EU. It will be signed, in the Swiss city of Bern, by International Trade Secretary Liam Fox and the Swiss federal councillor Guy Parmelin.


BRUSSELS has sparked fury by stopping member states agreeing arrangements with the UK to provide healthcare to expats in the event of a no-deal Brexit, according to an official memo. A Government document seen by the Daily Telegraph claims Brussels is refusing to let EU countries engage with each other so health arrangements for British nationals in the bloc can be put in place. Currently, European Union citizens with a right to live in the UK can claim benefits in the country just like British nationals do.

Italy is drawing up emergency plans to safeguard financial stability and keep trade with the UK flowing even if there is a no-deal Brexit, if necessary through a bilateral deal between Rome and London. The country’s insurgent Lega-Five Star coalition is increasingly worried that a mishandling of the EU’s Brexit crisis could push Italy’s fragile economy into a dangerous downward slide and risk a funding crisis for its sovereign debt at a treacherous moment.

An influential economic research centre has warned that 100,000 jobs could be put at risk in Germany if the UK leaves the EU without securing a deal.  The study by the Halle Institute for Economic Research found that jobs in the car industry would be particularly vulnerable to the uncertainties created by Britain tumbling out of the EU without securing a favourable trading relationship.

A no-deal Brexit would jeopardise at least 100,000 jobs in Germany and up to 50,000 in France because of a slump in exports, according to a study. Economists have calculated that 15,000 workers in the German car industry — roughly one in a hundred — could be made redundant if formidable trade barriers sprang up with Britain. The blow would be felt in much of the world but fall most heavily on high-tech manufacturing centres such as Wolfsburg, the home of Volkswagen, and Böblingen, a suburb of Stuttgart where Siemens and IBM are leading employers.

A vicious street brawl between rival “yellow vest” factions has highlighted bitter divisions among the anti-government protesters as the speaker of the National Assembly warned of a culture of violence engulfing French politics. Dozens of far Right supporters and ultra-Leftists taking part in yellow vest protests fought with fists, rocks and sticks in the eastern city of Lyon on Saturday night. The violence was seen as further evidence of widening splits in the leaderless grassroots movement.

A new report from a French magazine claims that at least 150 Gilets Jaunes (Yellow Vests) activists have their phones tapped by the French government and are being tracked online. The report comes from weekly political magazine Le Point, which says that French security services agents have been tracking the Yellow Vest protestors and listening to their phone conversations, building on prior similar claims by Le Canard Enchaîné, the satirical weekly which broke a scandal involving former presidential candidate Francois Fillon, France-Soir reports.

Foreign aid

TAXPAYERS in the UK are footing the bill for a £2 million road safety project which includes funding a driving simulator in China – the world’s second-largest economy which already received a staggering £47 MILLION in British aid. The ambitious research project, which it has been warned will “drive Brits up the wall”, is based at the University of Southampton and focuses on ways to reduce road traffic accidents around the globe.


The £56 billion earmarked for HS2 may have been better spent on other projects, according to the former head of the rail watchdog. Stephen Glaister said that the budget for Europe’s biggest infrastructure programme could have been invested on upgrades to railways in the Midlands and north of England. A survey of more than 2,000 people published today found that only 12 per cent believe the new line represents “good value for taxpayers’ money”.

A growing Cabinet revolt is threatening to sink the HS2 rail link. Ministers are alarmed by the project’s spiralling costs and are ‘increasingly minded to kill it off’, says a senior source. Initially put at £33billion, the budget is thought to have soared to more than £60billion. Treasury insiders admit the scheme is being added to an audit of major capital projects in which its future will be assessed ‘from scratch’. This means funding could be squeezed or stopped.


Tens of thousands of women with a family history of breast cancer would benefit from annual NHS checks, according to a study. Health chiefs have been urged to consider screening such women from 35 after the study concluded that this would find almost twice as many tumours at an early stage while halving the number that had already spread by the time they were detected. Lives are likely to be saved by spotting these cancers earlier and the extra screening would not create a significant risk of healthy women getting needless treatment, researchers said.

UP to 86,000 women in their thirties with a family history of breast cancer should receive annual mammograms, say researchers. A study at 34 UK screening centres found the checks for those aged 35 to 39 at moderate or high risk spotted smaller tumours compared with those not tested. Earlier diagnosis also meant the cancer  was less likely to have spread. NHS screening is meant to start at 40 for women known to be in danger.

Up to 950 files relating to the contaminated blood scandal were removed by Whitehall officials, an investigation has found. Although most have since been retrieved, at least 45 documents are still missing and unaccounted for. The files were ‘checked out’ by civil servants from the Department of Health and, oddly, the Department for Education at intervals over the past three decades. Campaigners believe they contain evidence that will incriminate officials over what they knew and when.

Doctors must be trained to question computer diagnoses as treatment becomes increasing automated, an NHS review has concluded. The rise of artificial intelligence (AI), apps, wearable devices and genetic analysis in medicine poses a serious risk of harm unless there is proper oversight, warns the US academic Eric Topol. His review, ordered by the government, says that within 10 to 20 years doctors will be using prescribing apps to treat patients, AI will interpret scans, robots will carry out surgery and algorithms will predict who will get ill.


A head teachers’ union is supporting plans by thousands of teenagers to walk out of lessons on Friday and join global protests over climate change. Secondary pupils in at least 30 British towns and cities will down their pens for three hours at 11am to demand action from the government. The Youth Strike 4 Climate puts schools in a difficult position. Taking a hard line on striking pupils could undermine teachers’ efforts to engage young people with politics. However, granting a day off would set a precedent and schools could be liable for their pupils’ safety at the rallies.

A band of veteran militant green activists are fuelling a campaign to encourage thousands of children to skip school. On Friday, thousands of pupils will walk out of lessons across the country in a mass protest over climate change. Children as young as nine will be taking part in the day of action – which is being quietly supported by some teachers – while organisers say the strike is the beginning of a wave of youth protests of increasing intensity.

Sky News
The MP who leads the education select committee has said GCSEs should be scrapped. Robert Halfon wants to replace them with a baccalaureate, taken at 18, that offers more access to vocation-based technical and creative skills, alongside traditional academic learning. The Conservative MP for Harlow will use a speech to education professionals at the Cabinet War Rooms in London to say England’s education system needs a radical overhaul.

More children will be able to attend grammar schools in the next three years as almost 3,000 new places will be created. However the £50million fund for new classrooms will focus on schools that prioritise poorer pupils – to stop them becoming too ‘socially exclusive’. Announcing the extra cash today, schools minister Nick Gibb will say grammars are now ‘returning to their original social mobility agenda’ after decades of being colonised by the middle classes.

Children at Britain’s largest group of not-for-profit nurseries will spend hours a day playing outside, even in the rain, and the chief executive wants others to follow suit. The London Early Years Foundation, which has 37 nurseries, will give children aged two to five a daily minimum of two hours’ gardening, looking at nature or just playing outside under its experimental new curriculum.

Armed forces

Britain must be ready to use “hard power” and increase the “mass and lethality” of its armed forces to combat growing aggression from Russia and China, the Defence Secretary will say on Monday. Gavin Williamson will warn the UK will be seen as “little more than a paper tiger” if it talks tough but walks away from global crises and he will make the case for military-led intervention to stand up to countries which “flout international law”.

The aircraft-carrier Queen Elizabeth, with two squadrons of F-35 stealth fighters on board, will be sent into disputed waters in the Pacific in a display of “hard power”, the defence secretary is due to announce in a major speech on Britain’s military strategy in the post-Brexit world. Gavin Williamson will declare the UK “may have to intervene” in future to confront aggression from countries like Russia and China who “flout international law” and are “resurgent” in rebuilding their armed forces.

The post News review – Monday 11 February 2019 appeared first on Independence Daily.

Saturday papers – 9 February 2019

Saturday papers – 9 February 2019


Remainers haven’t finished with Mrs May yet, says the Times.

A cross-party group of MPs determined to prevent a no-deal Brexit will make another attempt to wrest control from Theresa May next week, sympathetic ministers have been told.
The alliance, led by Yvette Cooper, the Labour chairwoman of the home affairs select committee, and Nick Boles, the former Tory minister, is expected to ask MPs to vote to put parliament in charge for three days at the end of this month. That would give Mrs May two weeks to get her deal through the Commons before MPs forced her to delay Brexit by asking the European Union for an extension to Article 50.

Huffington Post says their intention is to block a no-deal.

MPs are poised to launch a fresh attempt to delay Brexit and block a no-deal when the Commons votes on Theresa May’s strategy in next week’s Valentine’s Day showdown.
A Tory ex-minister and senior Labour MP involved in cross-party talks said it was “highly likely” and that there was a “substantial consensus” there will be another vote on an amendment designed to give parliament the power to stop a no-deal Brexit.

But the ‘crunch’ vote could be delayed, says the Guardian.

A crunch vote in which MPs could force Theresa May’s hand on Brexit  is set to be delayed until the end of the month or even later, it has emerged, as the prime minister travelled to Dublin for urgent talks with fewer than 50 days left to departure from the EU.
Under the timetable agreed by the government, May must either present a revised Brexit deal to the Commons on Thursday, which appears unlikely to happen, or else table a motion to which MPs can add amendments.


The prospect of a united Ireland is examined by BBC News.

Several cabinet ministers have told the BBC a no-deal Brexit could lead to a vote on Irish unification.
One senior minister said the prospect is “very real” and very much on the prime minister’s mind.
A second cabinet minister warned the government risked “sleepwalking into a border poll”.
And a third cabinet minister said there was an understanding in government that a vote on unification would be a “realistic possibility” if the UK leaves the EU without a deal next month.
“If we are party to creating an environment of chaos, disruption and uncertainty – that could move the dial”, the source said.

WTO rules

The EU is not ready for WTO rules, says Westmonster.

Whilst the anti-Brexit Project Fear squeals grow louder in the British media, much of the impact of a No Deal across Europe has been largely ignored. After a No Deal the UK would be able to act unilaterally in its own interests. Even some of those in Brussels concede that an EU response to such a scenario could be more troublesome, requiring agreements subject to veto and the small matter of European Elections in May.

Westmonster goes on to say perhaps they’ve started to get their act together.

French business is playing last-minute catch up over the prospect of a hard Brexit amid increasingly plaintive calls from government and trade bodies to act or lose out to European and global rivals. As many as 30,000 French companies export to the UK, and 3,300 have British-based operations, according to government figures.


Following Tusk’s ‘hell’ comment recently, the Express reports the British plan is ‘insane’.

BRUSSELS has labelled Theresa May’s Brexit plan “insane” as she heads to Dublin to thrash out backstop discussions with Ireland’s Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.
Mrs May will have dinner with Mr Varadkar, who has refused to negotiate Brexit tonight. Mr Varadkar has said he is willing to “share perspectives” over the withdrawal agreement but insisted any formal negotiations must take place with the entire European Union.

But it seems that any plot to stop Brexit will be unacceptable to France, reports the Sun.

THE Remainer plot to kill off Brexit was dealt a blow today as France threatened to veto any delay to our EU departure.
A group of MPs are preparing to relaunch their campaign to postpone Brexit by up to a year.
Next week the Commons could back a motion drawn up by Yvette Cooper which would delay Britain’s leaving date if we’re heading for No Deal.
But even if MPs do vote for the controversial amendment, every single EU country would have the right to veto it.

It appears France and Italy are not best buddies, says the Telegraph.

Relations between the two countries have hit a low ebb, with France claiming they are at the lowest point since the end of the Second World War.
The catalyst for the latest row was when Italy’s deputy prime minister met with members of the “yellow vest” protests. France recalled its ambassador to Italy in protest.
“For several months France has been the subject of repeated accusations, unfounded attacks and outlandish claims,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.

At least someone in the EU realises the bloc needs to change, reports the Express.

THE European Union (EU) needs to urgently change if it to stand a chance of competing in a “contest of systems” with China and the United States, Angela Merkel’s successor has said.
Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, who was voted in as the Christian Democratic Union leader in December, cast doubt on Europe’s ability to compete with the global superpowers and called for a push on artificial intelligence in order to cope with the “challenge” of keeping up.
Ms Kramp-Karrenbauer’s concerns come as she pushes calls for a European Army in response to growing global instability caused by sabre-rattling superpowers.

The Brexit Party

Nigel’s new party could grow, says the Express.

THOUSANDS of Conservative members are set to defect to a new Brexit party backed by Nigel Farage.
The Brexit Party was officially recognised by the Electoral Commission today, meaning it can field candidates at elections. Former Ukip leader Mr Farage has thrown his weight behind the party, vowing to stand in the European Parliament elections in May if the UK has not left the EU by then.

The Telegraph also reports the party switch.

Thousands of Conservative members are likely to defect to a new Brexit party which was officially recognised on Friday by the electoral regulator, its backers claim.
The Electoral Commission on Friday formally recognised the Brexit Party as an official organisation which will allow it to field candidates at elections.
Nigel Farage, the former Ukip leader who is supporting the party, said “the engine is running” and he stood “ready for battle” to fight the Tories and Labour if European Parliament elections are held on May 23.
Political space for a new anti-EU party has been created by the lurch to the right by the UK Independence Party.

The party could attract Conservatives, says the Mirror.

A new Brexit party backed by Nigel Farage got the go-ahead today after it was registered with the Electoral Commission.
The group, called The Brexit Party, could attract Conservative activists disillusioned with Theresa May ’s handling of EU withdrawal.
It could be thrust into the spotlight if EU departure is delayed from its scheduled date of March 29, with ex-UKIP leader Mr Farage likely to seek a return to frontline politics.

Breitbart reports he could stand again.

Britain’s Electoral Commission has officially recognised the Brexit Party as an official and legal political party in the United Kingdom, which Brexit leader Nigel Farage has said is a force to fight back against the betrayal of the 2016 referendum.
Eyeing the growing likelihood of the British government betraying the will of the British people and failing to pull the United Kingdom out of the European Union — either wholly or in part — the new party will focus campaigning on making sure Britain leaves the political bloc.

The Independent says he will stand again.

A new Brexit Party has been officially recognised by the electoral regulator – and Nigel Farage has said he will stand as one of their candidates if the UK’s departure from the European Union is delayed.
The new party, which Mr Farage has put his weight behind, has been granted permission by the Electoral Commission to participate in upcoming elections.
It will be “mobilised” if Britain’s scheduled date of leaving the European Union – 29 March – is delayed by politicians.

And he could lead the new party, reports Sky News.

Nigel Farage has hinted at becoming leader of the Brexit Party after it was officially approved.
The Eurosceptic party was formally recognised by the Electoral Commission on 5 February, allowing it to field candidates at upcoming elections.
The former UKIP leader said he would stand as a candidate for the new party in May’s European Parliament elections if Brexit is delayed.
He said the party, which publicly launched on 20 January, “has my absolutely full support”.

Conservative Party

The Sun reports that the Tories could be wiped out at the locals in May.

THERESA May has been warned that the Tories face a local election wipe out if Brexit is delayed by more than a few weeks.
The ongoing deadlock with the EU has led many to expect the Article 50 exit talks will have to be extended beyond the March 29 deadline.
But local government bosses and Cabinet ministers have warned No10 as well as the Tory party’s chairman that its vote at the council polls on May 2 will be decimated if they are seen to have broken the key Brexit promise.
That gives the PM just a five week extra window to wrap up Brexit and pass all necessary new laws, and 12 weeks in total from now.

Back to Brexit and Mrs May has been warned her WA could still fail in the Commons, says the Telegraph.

Theresa May has been warned by a group of Tory MPs attempting to break the Brexit deadlock that the Northern Ireland backstop is a “monumental” issue that will not be resolved with a “few cursory tweaks”.
Three former Cabinet ministers who helped draw up a Brexit “Plan C” known as the “Malthouse compromise” say it appears the Prime Minister has “forgotten” the fact that her Brexit deal was defeated by 230 votes in the Commons last month.

ITV News also has the story.

Theresa May has been given a warning by senior Tories that the “monumental” problems with her Brexit plan cannot be solved by “cursory tweaks”.
The Prime Minister is seeking changes to the backstop measure to prevent a hard border with Ireland but was told by former Cabinet ministers that may not be enough to win support in Westminster.
The ex-ministers – Remainer Nicky Morgan and Brexiteers Iain Duncan Smith and Owen Paterson – have been taking part in talks to find an alternative to the backstop following a Commons vote in favour of replacing the measure.

And the Independent warns some of May’s ministers could quit.

Theresa May is returning to Westminster facing ministerial resignations after she left talks with EU leaders over her Brexit deal empty-handed.
With another vote in the Commons due next week, a minister said colleagues on Ms May’s own front bench are ready to quit if there is no breakthrough in talks with Brussels.
She was told on Thursday by a string of EU chiefs that the controversial backstop in the withdrawal agreement was not up for negotiation – and that she should instead change her red lines to win Labour support and take the deal over the line.

Labour Party

The Morning Star claims Labour’s plan is the only one likely to be approved in Parliament.

JOHN McDONNELL pressed Theresa May today to back Labour’s five demands – as it’s “the only way she will get a Brexit deal through Parliament.”
He described Labour’s plans on Brexit, which include leader Jeremy Corbyn’s letter to the PM that set out the demands, as a “traditional British compromise.”
The five demands include a permanent customs union, close alignment with the single market, alignment with EU rights and protections, commitments on participation in EU agencies and funding programmes and agreements on the detail of future security arrangements.

The party’s anti-semitism row won’t go away, reports the Times.

Jeremy Corbyn faces a backlash from Labour’s most prominent women after his top team were accused of bullying a heavily pregnant Jewish MP.
John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, caused outrage after suggesting that Luciana Berger should declare her loyalty to the party to see off a no-confidence vote tabled by local members a day after she challenged Mr Corbyn over his handling of antisemitism.

The Mirror says the no-confidence motion has been shelved.

A no-confidence motion in a Jewish Labour MP was scrapped tonight after claims she was targeted for criticising Jeremy Corbyn over anti-Semitism.
Luciana Berger, who is eight months pregnant, faced a vote of no confidence by her local constituency party in Liverpool next week.
But the plan was axed and the meeting cancelled in what sources close to the Labour leadership described as “the right decision”.

The Guardian also has the story.

A no-confidence motion in the Labour MP Luciana Berger has been withdrawn and a meeting to discuss her future has been cancelled after it emerged that one of her key opponents within the local party called her a “disruptive Zionist”.
The decision follows a heated row over the Wavertree MP’s status in the party, with critics claiming she has been disloyal to Jeremy Corbyn and her defenders pointing to persistent antisemitic abuse.

It seems activists in the Labour MP’s constituency have been criticised, says the Independent.

No confidence motions in Labour MP Luciana Berger have been withdrawn after activists in her local constituency backed down following widespread condemnation of their move.
Ms Berger, who has suffered anti-Jewish abuse and been a vocal critic of Jeremy Corbyn’s handling of antisemitism, is the subject of two motions of no confidence tabled by party members in Liverpool Wavertree.
Their actions received widespread criticism and deputy leader Tom Watson, described the behaviour of the activists as “intolerable”.

Westmonster reports the Labour leader’s popularity – or lack of it.

Jeremy Corbyn’s personal approval ratings have gone through the floor. The bad news comes as he calls for a permanent EU Customs Union and ‘close alignment’ with the Single Market. That isn’t what 17.4 million voted for, Jezza.
An Ipsos Mori poll today finds that the Labour Leader has a -55 net satisfaction rating. That is astonishingly bad, with Theresa May on -25.
Just 17% of voters are now satisfied with Corbyn, and an incredible 72% of voters are dissatisfied with him. Only 44% of Labour voters are happy with him. Ouch.


Fishing discards have not stopped, says the Guardian.

Public backing for a ban on discarding edible fish at sea has been thwarted by the reluctance of the fishing industry and the government to put an end to the wasteful practice, the House of Lords has found.
Discards were officially banned in January, after a five-year phase-in period, but the practice appears to have continued, with the government failing to take action, said a Lords EU energy and environment subcommittee report.

Knife crime

More knife crime is reported in the Mail.

Armed police have shut down Bond Street station and arrested five people after an armed robbery on nearby Oxford Street.
A Met Police spokesperson said officers were called to the busy station after the victim of the robbery told them the men had weapons.
The suspects were arrested shortly after by armed officers inside the station who found a firearm and a knife after carrying out searches on them.

ITV News reports the rise in knife crime.

Teenagers accounted for more than 1,000 admissions to hospital with knife or sharp object wounds last year – and the number is rising, data suggests.
Figures for England show the number of hospital admissions among the age group has jumped 54% from 656 in 2012-13 to 1,012 in 2017-2018.
Admissions for knife and sharp object injuries – such as glass – including across all age groups have gone up by almost a third (30%) since 2012, from 3,849 to 4,986 last year.
The data shows people aged 20 to 29 accounted for more than 1,900 of the 4,986 cases noted in 2017-18.
Those aged 10 to 29 made up 60% of the cases.


A single Tory MP has been able to quash a bill to stop young girls being ‘cut’, says the Times

A Conservative MP was accused of “appalling” behaviour by one of his colleagues yesterday after he blocked a bill designed to protect children from female genital mutilation.
Sir Christopher Chope, who faced widespread condemnation last year for objecting to a law to ban upskirting, caused the termination of a debate on a cross-party attempt to toughen the law on FGM. As he had done before, the Tory backbencher shouted “object” when the bill was presented to the Commons for its second reading.

The MP faced criticism, reports the Mail.

Tory MP Christopher Chope was facing a fresh wave of anger today after blocking legislation protecting girls from genital mutilation.
The veteran Conservative shouted ‘object’ to prevent the progress of a Bill allowing the courts to issue protection orders if they think a child is at risk from FGM.

The MP has also voted against ‘upskirting’, reports the Guardian.

The Conservative MP Christopher Chope, who gained notoriety after he blocked a bill to make upskirting a criminal offence, has used the same parliamentary tactic to halt a planned law making it easier to protect girls from female genital mutilation (FGM).
The Tory backbencher shouted “object!” when the bill was presented to the Commons for its second reading.
Under Commons procedure, a series of such bills are read out at the end of business without debate, and pass to the next stage only if no MP present verbally objects. If they do, the bill has to be presented again for second reading, in this case on 15 March.

He is a ‘disgrace’ says the Mirror.

A Tory MP has been branded a “disgrace” and a “dinosaur” after holding up a law to protect young girls from Female Genital Mutilation.
Sir Christopher Chope shouted “object” to the law clearing a key hurdle without debate – the same tactic he used for a law against upskirting last year.
He was branded “appalling” by fellow Tory MP Zac Goldsmith, who had been steering the Children Act (Amendment) (FGM) Bill through the Commons, as Tory chiefs faced calls to strip him of the party whip.

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