Archive for the ‘Pollution’ Category

Hitachi pullout leaves UK nuclear plans in tatters

Hitachi said Thursday that it is scrapping its nuclear projects in the U.K. — dealing a devastating blow to Britain’s energy policy.

The Japanese company has been developing the $28 billion Wylfa Newydd nuclear plant in north Wales and has a second site at Oldbury in South Gloucestershire, England. But it said that failure to strike agreement over funding with the U.K. government would bring those projects to an end.

It comes two months after Toshiba announced its withdrawal from the NuGen nuclear project in Cumbria. That leaves only three of the planned six new nuclear power plants in Britain unaffected. Only one — Hinkley Point C — is under construction, although that project is beset by cost overruns and delays.

“This triple blow has escalated into a full-blown crisis,” said Labour Shadow Business Secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey.

“The economics of the energy market have changed significantly” — Greg Clark, U.K. business secretary

The pullouts undermine U.K. plans to build new nuclear power stations to replace aging plants reaching the end of their lifespan in the coming years. They also add to the chorus of criticism that supporting nuclear power makes no economic sense as the cost of renewable power plummets. The U.K. has been a vocal nuclear advocate at a time when other countries are shying away from the technology.

Greg Clark, the U.K.’s secretary of state for business, energy and industrial strategy, on Thursday explained to parliament where the negotiations had run into trouble. He said the government had offered to take a one-third equity stake in the project, offered a guaranteed price of no more than £75 per megawatt hour and had considered providing all of the required debt financing. However, Hitachi still balked at the terms.

“Despite the best efforts of everyone involved the parties have not been able to reach an agreement to the satisfaction of all concerned,” Hitachi said in its statement. “As a result, Hitachi has decided to suspend the project at this time.”

The company added that “further time is needed to develop a financial structure … and the conditions for building and operating the nuclear power stations.”

Hitachi will take a 300 billion yen ($2.8 billion) hit from the project freeze.

Sticking with the atom

Clark insisted that “nuclear has an important role to play in the future energy mix.” The government said Thursday it is “reviewing alternative funding models for future nuclear projects and will update on these findings in summer 2019” when the government plans to outline its approach to new nuclear in a white paper.

“If new nuclear is to be successful in a more competitive energy market, it’s clear that we need to consider a new approach to financing future projects,” Clark told MPs.

But the pro-nuclear argument is increasingly difficult to make thanks to the falling costs of renewables, storage and other clean energy solutions. According to the government, the cost of offshore wind halved over the last two years to £57.50 per MWh, and further cost decreases are expected.

France’s EDF negotiated a guaranteed fixed price for electricity from Hinkley Point C of £92.50 per MWh, adding to the controversy around the £20 billion project.

Clark said that the “positive trend” of falling renewables costs “has not been true when it comes to new nuclear” and instead costs of constructing nuclear plants have increased due to tighter safety regulation and other factors.

U.K. Business Secretary Greg Clark | Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

In 2017, renewables overtook coal and gas as the main source of electricity production in the U.K., rising to a record 29.3 percent, according to government statistics. Nuclear made up a 21 percent share, and gas 42 percent.

“The economics of the energy market have changed significantly,” Clark said. That’s raising questions about whether backing costly and risky nuclear energy is the way forward.

“They’re incredibly expensive, and they’re quite risky to build,” said Jonathan Marshall, head of analysis at the U.K.-based Energy & Climate Intelligence Unit. That’s why companies such as Hitachi are “pushing for the government to take a bigger stake” to reduce borrowing from banks or capital markets, and therefore lower borrowing costs, he added.

The latest setbacks are spooking the industry.

Tom Greatrex, chief executive of the Nuclear Industry Association and former Labour MP, called the news “disappointing, and very concerning.” He warned that the “urgent need for further new nuclear capacity in the U.K. should not be underestimated, with all but one of the U.K.’s nuclear power plants due to come offline by 2030.”

The government said the developments don’t raise energy security concerns, although the departure of the two Japanese companies leaves China in a leading position to develop the U.K.’s new nuclear builds.

Europe’s nuclear industry association Foratom is closely watching developments in the U.K., which has long been a vocal member of the bloc’s pro-nuclear camp.

The turmoil in the UK.’s nuclear plans are also being tied to the Brexit debate, as officials warn that politicians and civil servants simply don’t have the capacity to handle the crisis of quitting the EU along with planning the U.K.’s clean energy future.

“Hitachi’s decision —  the result of a civil service that is distracted by Brexit, a complete lack of political leadership and global investor nervousness — leaves that [nuclear] strategy in tatters,” said Andrew Adonis, a Labour member of the House of Lords and former chair of the National Infrastructure Commission, on Saturday.

Europe’s nuclear industry association Foratom is closely watching developments in the U.K., which has long been a vocal member of the bloc’s pro-nuclear camp. The lobby is keen to push the message that nuclear power will have to play an important role in the EU’s energy mix if it’s to cut greenhouse gas emissions to net zero and align its climate goals with the Paris Agreement by 2050. It’s also calling on governments to rethink financing support and investment strategies to attract investors and reduce capital costs for nuclear projects.

“Currently, from an investor’s perspective, the unsustainable design of the electricity market in the European Union and a severe lack of a predictable investment framework have a negative impact on new investments in nuclear capacity, which we can also observe in the case of the Wylfa project,” Foratom said earlier this week.


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News review – Monday 14 January 2019

News review – Monday 14 January 2019

Leavers

Mail
Twelve former Conservative ministers have called on Parliament to ‘unlock a better future’ by voting down Theresa May‘s Brexit deal.  In an open letter the ex-ministers including Boris Johnson and David Davis said it was ‘right to vote down this bad deal’ and said Britain should have the ‘confidence’ to leave on WTO terms.  Writing separately, Mr Johnson warned MPs against ‘ludicrous parliamentary jiggery-pokery’ designed to thwart Brexit.  It comes as Theresa May launches a last-ditch bid to save her deal, warning there are only 24 hours left to save Brexit from being stopped altogether.

Express
THE UK will really take back control of its borders only by chucking Theresa May’s “flawed” Withdrawal Agreement and leaving the European Union without a deal, former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith said. Mr Duncan Smith lashed out at Mrs May’s deal, saying it will plunge Britain into a “Brexit In Name Only purgatory”. His fear is the UK will be turned into a rule-taker rather than a rule-maker by Mrs May’s deal, which would not give the control of the borders Brexiteers hoped for when they voted Leave. Appealing for Britain to leave the EU on March 29 without any strings attached, Mr Duncan Smith said: “Only by leaving the EU on WTO terms can the UK fully take back control of its borders and deal with these issues.

Mirror
Twelve Conservative ex-ministers have written to Tory MPs urging them to vote against the Prime Minister’s deal in a bid to save Brexit. The group, including Boris Johnson and former Brexit secretaries David Davis and Dominic Raab, said doing so may encourage the EU to come back to the negotiating table.  If Brussels refuses to reopen talks then MPs should be prepared to leave without a deal, they said in a letter. Over 1,000 words long and reportedly sent to every Conservative MP, the letter also rejects Theresa May’s warning that Brexit may not happen at all if her deal is chucked out.

Sun
TWELVE ex-ministers have written to all Tory MPs calling on them to vote down Theresa May’s deal tomorrow in a 24-hour battle to save Brexit. The dozen, including Boris Johnson, demand in their Plan B letter that the PM issue the EU with a final ultimatum for a better deal when hers is voted down on Tuesday – and then leave without one. The senior figures call on the PM to ask EU leaders to free Britain from a never-ending Irish backstop.

Express
AN AMENDMENT to Theresa May’s Brexit blueprint presents an eleventh-hour “opportunity” for Britain to secure better terms from the EU, Brexiteer David Davis has declared. In a humiliating defeat for ministers, opposition MPs backed by Tory rebels voted to force the Government to present a Brexit ‘plan B’ within three days if the Prime Minister’s deal is killed in the Commons. But former Brexit Secretary Mr Davis said the amendment also allows Britain to “go back to the EU with our best and final offer”. Writing in the Sunday Times, he said it is “time for the UK to call the shots”, insisting there is still time to demand a zero-tariff trade deal from Brussels.

Telegraph
A dozen former Conservative ministers including Boris Johnson, David Davis and Dominic Raab are urging Tory MPs to vote down Theresa May’s deal and leave the European Union on World Trade Organisation terms. The group – including eight former Cabinet colleagues of Theresa May – urges the Prime Minister to have one last go at persuading the EU to drop the Irish backstop which threatens to keep the UK in the customs union indefinitely. The news came as Tory MPs will on Monday raise concerns about a secretive committee run by unelected officials with the power to write new laws affecting Britons for years after Brexit as a result of Mrs May’s deal.

Mail
Voters appear to be just as split on Brexit as MPs – with nearly as many people wanting no deal as a second referendum.  With just two days to go until a crunch Commons showdown on Theresa May‘s plan, polls have underlined the depth of divisions in the country. Research by YouGov for the anti-Brexit Best for Britain campaign found 43 per cent want another national ballot if the PM’s package is defeated, as seems inevitable. But 37 per cent were in favour of crashing out of the bloc without a deal in March, despite a wave of dire warnings about the consequences.

Breitbart
Brexit campaigner Nigel Farage has hit back at MPs who are attempting to stop the UK leaving the EU on March 29th without a deal, saying that nearly 500 MPs had already agreed to do just that in event of a no-deal. Mr Farage made the comments after it was revealed that Remainers are plotting to overturn Parliamentary protocol in efforts to stop the UK leaving on WTO terms should Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal be voted down on Tuesday — which is the most likely scenario. “This is something I don’t think has really been focused on,” the Leave Means Leave co-chairman said on his Sunday LBC Radio show.

Remainers

Mail
Theresa May is facing a fresh headache as Europhiles on her backbenches gang up to seize control of Brexit. Pro-Remain Tories were last night accused of plotting to re-write parliamentary rules to put them in the driving seat if the Prime Minister is defeated in the Commons tomorrow. Former Attorney General Dominic Grieve will today team up with Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable to publish draft legislation revealing how they could push for a second referendum.

Mail
Full details of a plot by rebel MPs to seize control of Brexit can be revealed today. If Theresa May loses tomorrow’s crunch vote, authority for drawing up a new negotiating blueprint could pass to a panel of senior backbenchers, the Mail understands. The liaison committee, which is dominated by Remainers by a margin of 27 to nine, would be charged with coming up with a proposal supported by MPs. The Prime Minister would then be required to go to Brussels to negotiate for it – in all likelihood creating a much softer Brexit. The dramatic move would mean tearing up the Commons rule book – giving backbench MPs the power to propose legislation instead of the Government.

Sun
REBEL MPs are poised to seize control of Brexit if Theresa May’s plans hit the buffers on Tuesday, it’s been reported. It has emerged if the PM loses tomorrow’s key vote plans will be passed to a liaison committee which is dominated by Remainers. The panel of senior backbenchers would then be responsible for drawing up any new Brexit legislation. It could see MPs try and extend – or maybe revoke – Article 50, meaning Britain would not leave the EU on March 29 as planned. A Cabinet minister told the Daily Mail the move was a “copper-bottomed, bullet-proof plan to sink Brexit which relies on the fact that Government has no majority and that the Speaker will bend the rules.”

Westmonster
Politicians dead set against a proper Brexit, and in particular the UK leaving the European Union with No Deal, are set to launch what has been described as a ‘coup’. In what amounts to a worrying series of developments, The Sunday Telegraph report that a third of Cabinet Ministers would resign to stop a No Deal Brexit. Remainers still determined to stop a clean break with the EU as favoured by a clear majority of Conservative members. Some Ministers want Theresa May to sell-out totally and go for a permanent Customs Union with Labour MPs, something that would kill global trade deals stone dead.

Theresa May

Huffington Post
Parliament is more likely to block Brexit than allow Britain to crash out of the EU without a deal, Theresa May is set to warn as she delivers a rallying cry to MPs to back her withdrawal agreement. The Prime Minister will use a speech to factory workers in Stoke-on-Trent on the eve of the critical Commons vote on her exit plan to ask MPs to consider the “consequences” of their actions on the faith of British people in democracy. She will warn that trust in politicians will suffer “catastrophic harm” if they fail to implement the result of the referendum

Times
Theresa May will launch a last-ditch appeal to Brexiteers to back her today, warning them that staying in the EU is now more likely than their preferred option of leaving with no deal. The prime minister will intensify the pressure on MPs with a speech in a pro-Leave seat, attempting to limit her expected defeat when parliament votes on her withdrawal agreement tomorrow. She will tell pro-Brexit MPs that last week’s Westminster drama showed they were likely to be outflanked by members seeking to thwart Britain’s exit altogether.

Mirror
Theresa May will use a last-ditch speech to claim Brexit is MORE likely to be blocked than proceed with No Deal – if MPs vote down her pact. In a desperate plea, the Tory leader will try and rein in Brexit-backing Tories less than 36 hours before facing the biggest defeat since WW2. Brexiteers believe that by blocking the deal in a Commons vote on Tuesday night, they could enable a No Deal Brexit on March 29. But MPs have warned they will use House of Commons procedure to try and stop that from happening

Sky News
The UK is now more likely to stay in the European Union than to leave without a deal, Theresa May will say in a speech. Addressing workers at a factory in Stoke, where 69.4% of voters backed Leave, the prime minister will also say that if the referendum result is not honoured, people’s faith in politics will suffer “catastrophic harm”. When the people are asked to decide something, their response carries a “profound significance”, she will add. Speaking the day before MPs vote on her withdrawal agreement, the PM will claim that some in Westminster will use “every device available to them” to “delay or even stop Brexit”.

ITV News
The prime minister will make a powerful speech on Monday – in the heart of Brexit UK, Stoke-on-Trent – that MPs “all have a duty to implement the result of the referendum”, because failure to do so would wreak “catastrophic harm” on “people’s faith in the democratic process and their politicians”. Coming as it does from the most important and powerfully elected politician in the UK, this dramatic claim is worthy of careful consideration.

Independent
Theresa May will travel to the Leave stronghold of Stoke-on-Trent on the eve of the crucial vote to warn MPs that blocking her deal risks stopping Brexit altogether. The prime minister is expected to say that public faith in the democratic process and in politicians would suffer “catastrophic harm” if the referendum result is overruled. Addressing workers at a factory in Stoke, which voted 69.4 per cent in favour of Brexit, Ms May will argue on Monday that parliament has a duty to honour the decision of the British people.

Second referendum

Telegraph
Pro-EU MPs will raise the stakes on Monday in the battle over Brexit by publishing draft legislation to force a second referendum that could reverse the result of the 2016 vote. A cross-party group of MPs, including Dominic Grieve, the former Conservative attorney general, wants Theresa May to give Parliament a greater say in deciding how Britain leaves the European Union. It comes after reports emerged at the weekend of a planned “coup” by unnamed senior MPs to grab control of the parliamentary timetable by allowing backbenchers’ legislation to take precedence over the Government’s.

Independent
Senior MPs are set to take the first steps in parliament towards a fresh Brexit referendum this week. As Theresa May faces defeat on her withdrawal agreement on Tuesday, MPs from the Conservatives, Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the SNP have drawn up legislation that would deliver a Final Say on Brexit. The two bills – to establish the legal framework for a referendum and decide what is on the ballot paper – could be put forward as early as Wednesday, The Independent  understands.

Morning Star
JEREMY CORBYN said today that he is seeking a general election to reunite a divided Britain and renegotiate a Brexit deal, as opposed to a second referendum. He also warned that Theresa May faces a vote of no confidence in her government “soon” if, as expected, her Withdrawal Agreement is rejected in a parliamentary vote due tomorrow. Article 50 may have to be extended if his party came into power to allow for Ms May’s unpopular deal to be renegotiated, the Labour leader said on BBC1’s Andrew Marr Show.

Bercow

Mail
Theresa May’s fate could rest in the hands of Speaker John Bercow as Remainer rebels plot to tear up the Commons rule book in order to stop Brexit going ahead. Mr Bercow could effectively end the Prime Minister’s career if he allows a ‘coup’ bid to go ahead that could see the government stripped of control over business in Parliament. The move – which No10 believes is being orchestrated by former ministers Oliver Letwin and Dominic Grieve – could happen within hours of Mrs May’s Brexit plan being defeated on Tuesday, as seems inevitable.

Sun
SPEAKER John Bercow hurled insults at aides and binned their advice when they tried to warn against anti-Brexit bias, it was claimed yesterday. He allegedly bawled them down and declared: “I’m not interested in what a gaggle of clerks has to say.”  The astonishing clash came two hours before he ripped up the Commons rule book to allow rebel MPs the chance to frustrate Britain’s exit from the EU. Mr Bercow’s most senior official attempted three times to advise him that allowing a highly controversial vote would be a breach of procedure – but he stubbornly refused to listen.

EU

Times
Brussels expects Britain to ask for an extension to Article 50 to allow Brexit to be delayed if the House of Commons rejects Theresa May’s deal tomorrow, The Times has learnt. EU officials anticipate more parliamentary political turbulence for the prime minister after the expected request to extend the two-year exit process, which would delay Brexit day for months beyond March 29. Based on confidential diplomatic contacts with Olly Robbins, Mrs May’s lead negotiator, EU officials know that the government has already fallen significantly behind on its parliamentary timetable.

Guardian
The EU is preparing to delay Brexit until at least July after concluding that Theresa May is doomed to fail in getting her deal through parliament. The country’s 29 March deadline for exiting the EU is now regarded by Brussels as highly unlikely to be met given the domestic opposition facing the prime minister and it is expecting a request from London to extend article 50 in the coming weeks. A special leaders’ summit to push back Brexit day is expected to be convened by the European council president, Donald Tusk, once a UK request is received. EU officials said the length of the prolongation of the negotiating period allowed under article 50 would be determined based on the reason put forward by May for the delay.

Express
THE EU is ready to delay Brexit until July after concluding Theresa May’s hopes of getting her withdrawal agreement through the Commons are doomed to failure, Brussels officials have admitted. Top eurocrats Jean-Claude Juncker and Donald Tusk are unlikely to bail out Theresa May at the last minute despite promising to do everything they could to help get her Brexit deal through Parliament this week. Meanwhile, in a possible sign that the tide is beginning to turn in favour of Theresa May’s controversial exit plan, Tory MPs including Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown and Sir Edward Leigh said they would support the Government in the meaningful vote on Tuesday.

Health

Times
Doctors could be able to identify middle-aged patients heading for a heart attack ten years before it happens by using a test that costs a few pounds. High-sensitivity troponin testing scans blood for a protein released by the heart muscle when it is damaged. It is already used in most A&E departments to check whether patients complaining of chest pain have had a heart attack but it has now been approved as a predictive test.

Pollution

Times
Air pollution is costing Britain hundreds of millions of pounds more in damage to health than ministers had previously admitted. The government’s air pollution strategy, published today, includes for the first time the full costs of childhood asthma, heart disease and other debilitating conditions caused by toxic air. The strategy says the measures it contains will cut the health costs of air pollution by £1.7 billion a year by 2020 and £5.3 billion by 2030.

HS2

Times
HS2 may be forced to cut the number of trains it runs an hour in an effort to stop costs spiralling. The government-controlled company building the high-speed line is examining whether to reduce the maximum by almost a fifth to 14 trains an hour in each direction. It would lower the capacity of the line by the equivalent of 8,800 passengers an hour during peak times. If implemented the decision is likely to renew questions over the value of the project, with one of the main justifications for building the line being to increase trains between London and northern cities.

Mail
HS2 may have to run slower and less frequent trains to slash costs, its chief executive has admitted. The state-backed firm overseeing the high-speed line is mulling over plans to limit the speed of trains by 30mph. It is also considering reducing the number of services per hour by a fifth, from 18 to 14 each way, which would cut the capacity of the line by the equivalent of around 8,800 passengers per hour during peak times. Last night one campaigner warned that it is ‘quite conceivable’ that some journeys to Birmingham on the high-speed line may be slower than at the moment.

Moon

Sun
A RARE super wolf blood moon has been the harbinger for wacky theories about the Bible predicting the end of the world. The stunning moon appears only 28 times in a century with the next appearance on January 21 and its strange colour has given rise to number of prophecies of doom.  Some see the blood moon as a fulfilment of biblical prophecy and a string of apocalyptic books have been published about the phenomena.

The post News review – Monday 14 January 2019 appeared first on Independence Daily.

The aliens are coming. And they’ve caught us with our pants down | James Felton

Radio signals could be a sign of extraterrestrial life. But, with Brexit and Trump, could they have chosen a worse time to call?

Earlier this week, astronomers announced that they had observed repeated bursts of radio waves coming from deep space, with some experts suggesting this could be evidence of alien life. Is this it? Could extraterrestrials finally be trying to contact us? I hope not.

Related: Mysterious fast radio bursts from deep space ‘could be aliens’

Continue reading...

News review – Thursday 10 January 2019

News review – Thursday 10 January 2019

Brexit

Express
THERESA May is facing calls to stop Parliament from blocking a no-deal Brexit by holding a general election immediately after the UK is scheduled to leave the European Union. The Prime Minister is widely expected to lose a crucial vote on her much-maligned divorce deal next week, but a high-stakes strategy which reportedly has the backing of Brexiteers could see her outmanoeuvre MPs demanding no-deal be taken off the table. The plan could see the Prime Minister use her powers to call a national vote for April 4 – just six days after Brexit Day on March 29. This would have the effect of dissolving Parliament for 17 working days before polling day, meaning no MPs would be sitting to oppose the Government’s no-deal contingency plans from coming into force, MailOnline reports. Mrs May is said to be under huge pressure from senior ministers to stand up to rebel MPs in her own party who have threatened to bring down the Government if it forges ahead with a no-deal Brexit by supporting a motion of no confidence from the opposition benches.

Times
Theresa May’s Brexit strategy was in tatters last night after Tory Remainer rebels opened talks with Labour over an alternative to her deal. The prime minister suffered another Commons defeat yesterday and will now be forced to produce a plan B within three days of Tuesday’s meaningful vote, which she is expected to lose. It also emerged last night that Mrs May was holding her own private meetings with Labour MPs to try to secure their backing. John Bercow, the Speaker, outraged ministers by overruling advice from officials in order to help an alliance of rebel Tories and opposition MPs to inflict the defeat, the second for the government in 24 hours.

Mirror
Theresa May is set to be forced to reveal her Brexit Plan B within just three days after she lost a damaging Commons vote. MPs voted 308-297 to make the Prime Minister return to Parliament by January 21 if her Brexit deal is defeated next Tuesday.  That would give her just three working days to come up with a plan. It is the second time in two days the government has been defeated over Brexit in the House of Commons. Last night, MPs inflicted the first Budget Bill defeat since 1978 when they voted 303-296 for a “guerrilla war” bid to block a No Deal Brexit .

Express
A “WOBBLY” Theresa May was “not convincing anyone” when she met with no-deal-hating Labour MPs on Tuesday in a desperate bid to win them over ahead of their January 14 vote on her Brexit deal, it has been claimed. The Prime Minister held a crisis charm offensive in the Boothroyd Room of the House of Commons. It was a last ditch attempt to curry favour with a group of mostly Labour backbenchers. Numerous MPs have spoken to criticise Mrs May over the meeting.

Mail
Remainers today said it is nearly inevitable that Brexit will be delayed – as Theresa may suffered her second humiliating Commons defeat on 24 hours.  MPs passed an amendment by 308 votes to 297 to force the PM to come up with a Plan B within days if her package fails to get through in a showdown next week.  It paves the way for MPs to give the government instructions on what they want to happen next – meaning they could block a no deal or demand another referendum.

Independent
Theresa May is on a fresh collision course with Brussels after the government said it would give MPs the chance to override a key part of the exit deal agreed with the European Union. In a new bid to win over Tory rebels, ministers announced they would support moves to ensure parliament is given a vote in 2020 on whether or not to enter the controversial Northern Ireland backstop. That could see MPs vote to block the UK entering the backstop, even though it would be legally bound to do so under the terms of the withdrawal agreement.

Sky News
Theresa May is considering backing an amendment that would keep EU rules on pay and conditions, health and safety, and environmental standards in an attempt to shore up support for her Brexit deal. It follows a second House of Commons defeat for the prime minister within 24 hours as MPs moved to force her to reveal her Brexit plan B sooner, if her EU divorce deal is rejected next week. Government sources told the Press Association that enshrining EU standards on workers’ rights was under consideration in order to get at least some labour MPs on her side.

Guardian
Theresa May’s room for manoeuvre should her Brexit deal be rejected next week was further constrained on Wednesday night, after the government  lost a second dramatic parliamentary showdown in as many days. An increasingly boxed-in prime minister must now set out her plan B within three working days of a defeat next Tuesday, after the rebel amendment passed. There were furious scenes in the House of Commons as the Speaker, John Bercow, took the controversial decision to allow a vote on the amendment, tabled by the former attorney general Dominic Grieve. A string of MPs, including the leader of the house,  Andrea Leadsom, repeatedly intervened to question the Speaker’s approach.

Mail
Theresa May is being urged to stop MPs blocking a no-deal Brexit by the ‘nuclear option’ of dissolving Parliament while it takes place. The PM is on track for a catastrophic Commons defeat next week on the package she has thrashed out with Brussels – with attention already focusing on what happens next.  MailOnline understands she is under massive pressure from senior ministers to face down Tory rebels who are threatening to kill off the government in order to avoid crashing out of the EU. More than a dozen Conservatives MPs have made clear they would back a no-confidence vote and force an election if Mrs May tried to leave without an agreement in place.

Independent
Theresa May is being urged to wield her powers as prime minister to ensure Brexit is forced through – regardless of whether there is a successful vote of no confidence against her government. Brexiteer ministers have indicated that even if the no-confidence vote planned by Labour goes against her, it would be in her gift to set the date of an ensuing election after Brexit day on 29 March. One cabinet minister backing the plan told The Independent it would mean Ms May could steer the country out of the EU with or without a deal before going to the polls in early April, adding: “The public are saying, ‘just f***ing get on with it’.”

WTO rules

Breitbart
Deputy Calais Mayor Jean-Marc Puissesseau has dismantled scare stories that Britain will have to reroute freight or that there will be massive delays at ports in the event of a “No Deal” Brexit. “We have been preparing for a ‘No Deal’ Brexit [for] one year in Calais. From the 29th of March, we will be ready,” Mr Puissesseau told Mishal Husain on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Wednesday. “When [France’s transport minister] came to Calais, we told him we would be ready. “As Great Britain has decided not to check any trucks in export and not to check any trucks in import, we will not check the trucks more than we are doing today [for illegal migrants].

Westmonster
A Conservative Association has broken ranks and declared that its members now clearly favour a No Deal Brexit. The Rochester and Strood Conservative Association revealed that three-quarters of members are in favour of leaving the EU without a deal. Just 16% back Theresa May’s deal. They tweeted: “Rochester and Strood Constituency Conservative Association members 76% are in favour of WTO Brexit. 16% in favour of May’s Withdrawal Agreement.”  This is broadly in line with the opinion of grassroots Conservatives nationally.

Breitbart
The Chief Executive of NHS England has confirmed that Britain should not face any shortages of medicine after Brexit, despite scaremongering by EU loyalists. Asked if he could say “there won’t be any shortages of medicines” on the Today programme on BBC Radio 4, top administrator Simon Stevens confirmed that, “as the Health Secretary said… if everyone does what they are being asked to do, particularly around the transport and logistics infrastructure, then yes that will be the case [that there will be no shortages].”

Bercow

Times
Senior government figures plotted revenge on John Bercow while clerks declared the Speaker “patently out of order” after he rejected their advice on a pivotal Brexit ruling yesterday. Mr Bercow ignored the counsel of Sir David Natzler, the clerk of the House, when he tore up precedent to allow MPs to vote to force the government’s hand on the Brexit timetable. Mr Bercow stunned ministers by allowing amendments to a business motion that set out the government’s Commons timetable for Brexit.

BBC News
John Bercow has been accused of “unilaterally changing” parliamentary rules in the wake of a row over a government Brexit defeat in Parliament.  Critics of the Commons Speaker say he broke with precedent and ignored the advice of officials when he approved a vote on the PM’s “Plan B” response, which ministers lost by 11 votes. Commons leader Andrea Leadsom said his actions were “extremely concerning”.

Breitbart
Members of Parliament have challenged Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow for allowing a vote on an amendment intended to derail a “No Deal” Brexit, in what may be construed as a breach of Commons precedent. It is widely expected that Prime Minister Theresa May’s EU Withdrawal Agreement will be voted down next week, which would leave No Deal as the default Brexit option. Current rules dictate that Mrs May would have to make a statement within 21 days on the Government’s plan of action, with a Commons vote in the following seven days.

Telegraph
John Bercow seized control of the Brexit process from Theresa May and handed it to MPs as the Prime Minister suffered her second humiliating Commons defeat in as many days. The Speaker ignored legal advice, and Parliamentary precedent, to allow a vote that gives Mrs May just three days to present a Plan B for Brexit if she loses the “meaningful vote” on her deal next Tuesday. MPs voted by 308-297 for an amendment that was tabled by Tory arch-rebel Dominic Grieve and backed by 16 other Conservatives, including former ministers Sir Oliver Letwin, Justine Greening and Ken Clarke.

Times
Yesterday’s session of prime minister’s questions was a low-key affair compared with what followed. With most of the cabinet, including Theresa May, still in their seats, waves of Conservative MPs railed at John Bercow’s decision to allow a vote on Dominic Grieve’s amendment, punctuated by the occasional defence from a pro-EU Conservative or a Labour MP. The opening salvo came from an unusual quarter.

Mail
John Bercow was accused of anti-Brexit bias last night after helping secure a major Government defeat in the Commons, just weeks after being branded a ‘pure and simply bully’ by a senior Tory whip. The Speaker has clashed with Conservative colleagues repeatedly in the last month over his conduct in the House.  This week, he tore up parliamentary procedures and over-ruled his own officials to permit a vote designed to tie Downing Street’s hands. His decision led to a stand-up row behind the scenes with Tory chief whip Julian Smith, who accused him of trying to frustrate Brexit.

Sun
A FRESH Commons clash between John Bercow and the Government erupted last month after a frontbencher branded him a “pure and simple bully,” The Sun can reveal. Footage shows the Government’s deputy chief whip Christopher Pincher fixing the Speaker with a firm stare before calling him a “bully” three times after he lectured Commons Leader Andrea Leadsom over procedure.  Mr Pincher then muttered “terrible man” while the Government chief whip Julian Smith shook his head in disgust.

BBC News by Mark D’Arcy
Boom! After a humdrum, almost completely unrevealing Prime Minister’s Questions, the Commons erupted over Speaker John Bercow’s decision to allow an attempt to change the rules for the resumed “meaningful vote” debate. This is no mere technicality. The amendment proposed by former Attorney General Dominic Grieve would require the government to come back within three days, rather than 21, to debate the implications of not having a Brexit deal – if the prime minister’s deal is indeed voted down next Tuesday. Under the previous rules, that debate would be kicked back to late February, with the Brexit clock ticking remorselessly in the background.

Labour Party

Mail
Labour appeared to be ready to push for a delay to Brexit tonight as  Jeremy Corbyn demanded a general election and his Brexit spokesman is said to have advised him that a second referendum might be the only way to prevent no-deal. Shadow Brexit Secretary Sir Keir Starmer said earlier that he doubted whether the process of leaving could be completed by March 29 if MPs rejected Theresa May‘s deal next week. Sir Keir has now reportedly warned Corbyn that a second referendum might be the only way to prevent the government steering Britain on a crash course towards no-deal.

Independent
Jeremy Corbyn will say a general election is the only way to heal the deep divisions caused by Brexit, in a speech where he will insist Labour could negotiate “a better deal” with the EU. The Labour leader will step up pressure on Theresa May to call an election to break the Brexit deadlock and declare that “the real divide is between the many, who do the work, create the wealth and pay taxes, and the few, who set the rules, reap the rewards and so often dodge taxes”.

BBC News
A general election is the most democratic way of breaking the Brexit deadlock, Jeremy Corbyn is to argue. The Labour leader will tell activists in Yorkshire that only a government with a “renewed mandate” will get public support for a withdrawal deal. His party will oppose Theresa May’s deal next week, and push for a vote of no confidence if it is rejected by MPs. The PM is considering trying to win over some Labour MPs to the deal by offering extra protection to workers.

South Thanet

Times
A Conservative Party official has been found guilty of falsifying expenses during the 2015 election campaign to stop Nigel Farage becoming an MP. Marion Little, 63, who was described by a judge as a “friend to prime ministers”, authorised spending above legal limits in the South Thanet constituency. The MP for the seat, Craig Mackinlay, was cleared of breaking election law at the same trial. “I await a statement from the Electoral Commission, the CPS and Kent police as to how they justify millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money in pursuing me in a political show trial,” he said.

NHS

Telegraph
Four in 10 NHS organisations do not have a grip on their spending, a damming report suggests. The study by the National Audit Office (NAO) shows a steep rise in the number of organisations missing financial targets and failing to balance the books. The head of the watchdog said he was shocked by the “unacceptable” failings which were risking taxpayers’ money and public confidence in services.

Times
The first new drug designed to treat migraines in 20 years has been rejected by the NHS medicines watchdog on cost grounds. Charities representing the millions of migraine sufferers in the UK said that they were disappointed by the decision from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice). It had been hoped that erenumab, made by the pharmaceutical company Novartis under the brand name Aimovig, would become available on the NHS to half a million people who suffer chronic migraines at least every other day.

Pollution

Times
Pollution on the London Underground is up to 49 times higher than the national average on the street, a study has found. Passengers were exposed to far worse pollution on the tube than at the side of busy roads because of poor ventilation and the age of stations, according to research commissioned by Transport for London. It quoted papers that showed levels of particulate matter (PM) were 492 micrograms per cubic metre of air (mg/m3) at Hampstead on the Northern Line, the deepest station on the network.

Education

Telegraph
Grammar schools are sending more black and minority ethnic (BME) students to Cambridge University than all the other state schools in the country combined, a new analysis reveals. Children from the most disadvantaged 20 per cent of households are more than twice as likely to get a place at Oxford or Cambridge if they live in an area with grammar schools, according to the report. The paper, published by the Higher Education Policy Institute (Hepi), examines the impact of selective schooling on state educated pupils’ progression to top universities.

Armed forces

Sun
TORY MPs yesterday launched a fresh bid to free British troops of hated human rights laws. A draft law introduced by former British Army officer Leo Docherty calls for the British Armed Forces to be exempt from prosecution under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). Currently soldiers can be chased years after they finish serving over breaches to the Human Rights Act 1998, which incorporated the convention into UK law. Mr Docherty warned that it paralyses troops on the battlefield as they fear being prosecuted for their actions years later.

Telegraph
The RAF’s new stealth jet is expected to be declared ready for combat in time to counter the “resurgent Russian threat”. Gavin Williamson, the Defence Secretary, is thought to say today that the F-35B Lightning, the latest addition to the RAF’s fighter jet fleet, is capable of launching combat missions. Details of what the ‘Initial Operating Capability’ (IOC) entails is expected to be announced by the Secretary of State later today at RAF Marham, Norfolk, the home to the F-35s and the Tornado, the RAF’s workhorse since the 1970s.

Times
A Ministry of Defence IT modernisation programme that provides “mission critical” services is about £210 million over budget and more than two years late, according to a leaked report. The global connectivity programme that underpins almost every significant information service used by the department is in trouble, an independent 43-page review that has been obtained by The Times concludes. In 2015 Fujitsu, the IT services provider, was awarded a five-year contract.

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