Posts Tagged ‘brexit comments’

Brexit #News – live: Senior Conservatives meet to discuss Theresa May’s future as PM faces Commons onslaught

Senior Conservative backbenchers are expected to regroup today and decide whether to press ahead for changes to the party's rule book to enable an early leadership challenge to Theresa May. It comes ...

Ann Widdecombe stands for Farage’s Brexit #Party in #European elections

Photograph: Ken McKay/ITV/REX/Shutterstock Lifelong conservative Ann Widdecombe has returned to frontline politics to stand as a candidate in Nigel Farage’s Brexit party in the European elections. The ...

Daily Briefing: Scotland eyes post-Brexit future

LONDON (Reuters) - Scotland’s first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, is due to make a long-awaited speech this afternoon setting out “a path forward” for Scotland and making explicit reference to ...

Brexit: Theresa May’s approval ratings with Tory members hit record low, survey suggests – live news

Rolling coverage of the day’s political developments as they happen, including Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn at PMQs

Jeremy Corbyn will also be attending Lyra McKee’s funeral, Sky’s Amber de Botton reports.

Jeremy Corbyn will also attend Lyra McKee's funeral today.

Here is the statement that Lyra McKee’s family issued yesterday ahead of her funeral. It includes this:

We would ask that Lyra’s life and her personal philosophy are used as an example to us all as we face this tragedy together. Lyra’s answer would have been simple, the only way to overcome hatred and intolerance is with love, understanding and kindness.

“Lyra’s answer would have been simple, the only way to overcome hatred and intolerance is with love, understanding and kindness.” (Family of Lyra McKee)

Continue reading...

Stephanie Reynolds: Brexit and the (Not Quite) Constitutionalised Status of EU Citizenship

Since its formal introduction in the Maastricht Treaty, EU citizenship has laid claim to a constitutional status. The Union Treaties – long described by the Court of Justice as the EU’s constitutional texts – explicitly confer the status of Union citizenship on all nationals of the Member States. The asserted significance of this was subsequently confirmed in the seminal Grzelczyk judgment, in which the Court famously declared that EU citizenship was ‘destined to be the fundamental status of nationals of the Member States’.

UK withdrawal from the EU – and the consequent uncertainty surrounding the residence rights of the Union citizens living there – has, however, thrown into sharp relief the weakness of Union citizenship’s claims to a fundamental, constitutionalised status. As the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights recently highlighted, almost three years after the Leave vote those EU citizens already living in the UK are still at risk of being denied the residence and equal treatment entitlements that were likely to have been central to their decision to exercise their free movement rights during the UK’s EU membership.

In truth, however, the disconnection between EU citizenship’s promises and its delivery far pre-dates the referendum. At the Union-level the ongoing links between free movement rights and economic activity mean that they have never been enjoyed equally across the EU citizenry. On the domestic side, national legislation, as well as administrative implementation, rarely reflect the ambition of ‘financial solidarity between nationals of a host State and nationals of other Member States’, visible in the Grzelczyk decision.

Interestingly, beyond the important question of the loss of residence rights post-withdrawal, it is Brexit itself that has exposed the long-term, ongoing internal weaknesses in EU citizenship’s purportedly protective rights offering. In the specific context of securing the rights of those already living in the UK, it is the UK’s political constitution and not Union citizenship that has offered some (albeit limited) protection. For this to suffice, however, a much closer scrutiny of post-Brexit residence security mechanisms is needed, particularly as regards their administrative implementation.

Post-Brexit residence insecurity: exposing the long-term gaps in the EU citizenship framework

Article 21 TFEU confers free movement rights on all nationals of the Member States by virtue of their personal status as EU citizens, rather than as a by-product of their activity as workers. And yet, this provision is also explicitly ‘subject to the limitations and conditions laid down in the Treaties and by the measures adopted to give them effect’. This raised questions, when EU citizenship was first introduced, about whether there would be a continuing distinction between the free movement rights of workers and non-economically active EU citizens. Article 7 of the Citizens’ Rights Directive (CRD) confers extended residence rights on workers by virtue of this economic activity. By contrast, non-economically active Union citizens must be self-sufficient and have comprehensive sickness insurance to access this entitlement. This has a knock-on effect for accessing the social assistance that can make a personal right to free movement possible in practice. While workers automatically reside legally under the CRD and so also trigger equal treatment provisions, an application for social assistance by a non-economically active Union citizen could suggest that they are not self-sufficient, not residing legally under the Directive and so not entitled to equal access to social assistance.

Admittedly, in its early post-Maastricht case-law, the Court of Justice held that, given Union citizenship’s basis in the Treaties, these requirements were subject to the principle of proportionality, and that a ‘certain degree of financial solidarity’ was expected between Member State nationals ‘particularly if the difficulties are temporary’. However, the Court has nevertheless long accepted that an application for social assistance can indicate that a non-economically active Union citizen is no longer residing legally in their host State, which would mean that she/he is also not entitled to equal access to social assistance. This already casts doubt on EU citizenship’s constitutionalised ‘fundamental status’. As O’Brien argues Union citizenship instead offers, at best, ‘a right to have restrictions applied proportionately’. And, as she notes, even this has crumbled in the Court’s more recent case-law, in which it has prioritised the requirements of Article 7 CRD over the once overarching free movement rights contained in the Treaties. Member States, including the UK, have been permitted to impose ‘right to reside’ tests, whereby Union citizens must reside in accordance with the CRD in order to access social assistance. The Court has then increasingly found individualised proportionality assessments to be unnecessary.

The UK has long taken advantage of these gaps in the EU citizenship framework, exposing Union citizens to residence insecurity far before the Brexit vote. Its Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations largely confer residence rights on ‘qualified persons’, namely EU citizens who reside in accordance with the CRD, while the Social Security (Persons from Abroad) Amendment Regulations also make access to benefits contingent on a ‘right to reside’ in line with that Directive. In 2014, the UK government announced a minimum earnings threshold, which introduced an administrative presumption that anyone working for fewer than 24 hours a week at minimum wage should not be categorised as a ‘worker’ and so would not be able to access social assistance. Meanwhile, the Court of Appeal held that applications for permanent residence by non-economically active EU citizens could be refused where they could not provide evidence of fully comprehensive sickness insurance [FK (Kenya) [2010] EWCA Civ 1302].

Ultimately, then, far before the referendum there was a disconnection between the promises of Union citizenship and their delivery, both at the EU and the domestic levels. The ongoing distinction between the rights of workers and those of non-economically active Union citizens exposed groups of individuals – children, unpaid carers, the homeless, and those in precarious work to the risk of losing residence and equal treatment rights. Yet much of this was masked by the overarching constitutional claims of Union citizenship. This was particularly the case because, prior to the referendum it was commonly only those citizens who sought social assistance or to avoid removal who were confronted with these issues.

Following the referendum, in the absence of unilateral commitments to Union citizens’ residence security from either the UK or the EU, a high volume of EU citizens living in the UK began, understandably, to make applications for permanent residence under the CRD despite the fact that this entitlement is itself contingent on the continuing application of EU law. Now, Union citizens who had previously enjoyed more secure residence in the UK and not had to interact with the Home Office – for instance, those in permanent, well-paid work – found themselves facing challenges that had in fact existed for some time. For example, an application for permanent residence by a doctor who had worked continuously in the UK for the past 3 years could be rejected on the basis that she hadn’t provided evidence of comprehensive sickness insurance during the prior 2 years, when she was a student. This situation, and the issuing of ‘please leave’ letters (seemingly in error) by the Home Office garnered the attention of both the press and social media.

The UK parliament then turned its attention to the residence security of EU citizens living in the UK. Several amendments to the EU (Notification of Withdrawal) Act 2017 on the issue were proposed. However, by replicating the existing Union citizenship framework, these amendments were unlikely to have addressed the core risks to residence security and, ultimately, were not passed in any case. Nevertheless, as is common within the UK’s political constitution, the consequent pressure on Government was of greater significance. The Government subsequently announced that its EU Settlement Scheme would confer settled status on EU citizens who had been factually resident in the UK for 5 years, without it being necessary to demonstrate legal residence in accordance with the CRD. Accordingly, non-economically active EU citizens – or those who had been so in the past – would no longer have to provide evidence of comprehensive sickness insurance. This would seemingly also reduce the administrative burden on those who had had several employers to provide evidence of each job and of retention of worker status or sufficient resources and comprehensive sickness insurance for the periods in between employment. Indeed, the Government committed to using its own HMRC data to provide automatic proof of residence.

Papering over the cracks: ongoing issues with the EU Settlement Scheme and the Withdrawal Agreement

Of course, it might be argued that EU citizenship has therefore had a more subtle constitutionalising effect on proceedings. The practical consequence of EU free movement law is the residence of around 3 million Union citizens in the UK – who moved here in reliance on a legal framework that will cease to have effect on Brexit day – the residence security of whom the Government has come under political pressure to protect. More significantly, the Government has committed, in its White Paper on Legislating for the Withdrawal Agreement, that should any future UK parliament decide to repeal the citizens’ rights part of the Withdrawal Agreement (should this be adopted), ‘Parliament must activate an additional procedural step’. Whilst clearly not going as far as to entrench EU citizens’ rights, this commitment arguably seeks to find a compromise between their importance and the sovereignty of Parliament.

On the EU side, citizens’ rights were one of the Union’s three negotiating priorities on which sufficient progress had to be made before it would proceed to the second phase of negotiations. As well as the ongoing supremacy and direct effect of relevant Union norms under Article 4 of the Withdrawal Agreement, it also contains additional commitments on citizens’ rights. For example, pursuant to Article 158, UK courts could continue to refer questions on the citizens’ rights part of the Agreement to the Court of Justice in the eight years following the end of the transitional period.

Yet the specifics of EU citizenship, as a fundamental status conferring free movement rights on all nationals of the Member States, has not been the decisive factor here. Article 50 TEU does not contain any explicit instruction to the European Council to include citizens’ rights within the negotiating guidelines. Moreover, the Withdrawal Agreement itself largely replicates the rights – and therefore the ongoing problems – operating under the CRD. Indeed, when the Commission was asked about the fact that the UK’s commitment to waive the comprehensive sickness insurance requirement was unilateral and non-binding, the Commission stated that ‘we seek to protect the rights as they stand under current EU law, nothing more, nothing less’. And of course, Article 50 explicitly allows for a ‘no deal’, an ongoing possibility, which would mean the UK would be under no international obligation to provide even the problematic residence entitlements available under the Withdrawal Agreement.

As the Joint Committee on Human Rights has highlighted, the UK government would also face no domestic obligations. Any Legislating for the Withdrawal Agreement Bill, and the primary legislation on citizens’ rights that it would introduce, would become irrelevant upon ‘no deal’. While the Government has said this is not a problem since it is committed to the EU Settlement Scheme, the scheme is implemented through statutory instrument as an appendix to national immigration rules and so does not benefit from the level of protection offered by an Act of Parliament. Meanwhile, as the Joint Committee rightly points out, the Immigration and Social Security Coordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill ends free movement rights in the UK into the future whilst making no reference to the rights of already resident EU citizens, leaving them at risk. Consequently, the Committee proposes an amendment to the Bill whereby any exercise of powers under the Bill by the Secretary of State must ‘protect the acquired rights of those persons who, prior to Exit Day, benefitted in the UK, from right of free movement of persons under EU law’.

And yet, deal or no deal, both the Legislating for the Withdrawal Agreement White Paper and the Committee’s suggested amendment to the ISSC Bill overlook the real issue: that of administrative implementation.

The need for greater scrutiny of administrative implementation of EU citizens’ rights

The key issues for citizens’ residence security in the UK post-Brexit largely mirror those already in play before the vote, namely the need to demonstrate legal residence in line with the CRD. The additional step outlined in the White Paper only conditions Parliamentary repeal of the residence rights contained in the Withdrawal Agreement, not the more generous approach to residence security offered by the EU Settlement Scheme. Similarly, the Joint Committee’s proposed amendment to the ISSC Bill simply refers to free movement rights ‘under EU law’. Should Government decide, once more, to require legal residence rather than factual residence, neither of these mechanisms would stop it.

More importantly, even if the EU Settlement Scheme remains in place in its current form, there is a real need for scrutiny of its administrative implementation. Though the Scheme claims to focus on factual residence, the means by which Union citizens can demonstrate this fact still largely relate to economic activity. For instance, applicants are able to link their application to HMRC data, which will provide evidence of their residence. While this might work for those in permanent work, unpaid carers, for example, will not benefit. Though the Government has said applicants will also be able to rely on DWP records, the operation of the ‘right to reside’ test means that those not categorised as workers are unlikely to have been able to access the benefits that would generate this data. Those in precarious work will also face a heavier administrative burden, since they will have to provide evidence of residence during gaps in their HMRC profile. Much of this additional evidence is also linked to economic activity: P60s, P45s, mortgage or rental payments and utility bills. This will present problems for victims of domestic abuse, who are less likely to have control over domestic finances, not to mention for children, who by simple virtue of their age will lack an economic paper trail. Though the Scheme foresees some other forms of evidence, such as GP letters, these are limited, and only cover the month of the appointment, which, needless to say, raises the evidential challenge when trying to demonstrate 5 years’ residence. While the Government says this is unproblematic because affected individuals will be offered ‘temporary settled status’ until they accumulate the necessary years, these ongoing requirements risk making ‘temporary settled status’ a perpetual one.

Worryingly, there is the real possibility that much of this will go unnoticed. Political pressure to bring about change to longstanding issues with EU citizenship rights only came about after the referendum when more privileged categories of Union citizen began to be affected and voice their experiences. At present, ongoing problems with the use of HMRC data, amongst other things, are continuing to affect high-profile applicants, raising awareness of current problems with the Scheme. However, these cases concern applicants with good access to societal voice whose long-term residence in permanent work highlight issues with what should be relatively straightforward aspects of the Scheme. Ongoing scrutiny of application outcomes, once these more high-profile problems have been ironed out, is essential. Of course, EU citizens in the UK have also become mobilised by the referendum result, with campaigns groups such as the3million paying attention to the cliff edges for a wider range of Union citizens that are created by a Settlement Scheme that still largely focuses on economic activity as proof of residence. It is crucial that these additional stories are heard.

Thus, though the legislative safeguarding of EU citizens’ residence security is important, proper scrutiny of administrative implementation is even more vital. Of course, pursuant to Article 159, the Withdrawal Agreement requires the UK to establish an Independent Monitoring Authority that would be empowered to conduct inquiries concerning alleged breaches of the Citizens’ Rights part of the Withdrawal Agreement. Once again, however, since that Authority would be established under the Withdrawal Agreement, it would presumably only have the power to consider strict adherence to the rights available under the Agreement itself and not the more generous entitlements that appear available, on paper, under the EU Settlement Scheme. If these additional rights turn out to be restrictive in practice, it appears there is little about the fundamental status of Union citizenship that can resolve the problem. Political focus on the Scheme is therefore critical.

With thanks to Eleanor Drywood, Mike Gordon and Thomas Horsley for their comments on this post.

Stephanie Reynolds, Senior Lecturer, School of Law and Social Justice, University of Liverpool

(Suggested citation: S. Reynolds, ‘Brexit and the (Not Quite) Constitutionalised Status of EU Citizenship’, U.K. Const. L. Blog (24th Apr. 2019) (available at

Splintered Spain: Bitter divisions over Catalonia ahead of general election

It's a familiar drill for Spanish citizens. For the third time in four years, they're being asked to vote in a general election. And if you think four's a crowd, polls indicate the return next Sunday of the far-right after nearly four decades. The splintering of the political landscape began with the financial and real estate crisis a decade ago. How did we get from the left-wing Indignados anti-austerity movement to xenophobic right-wing nativism? How did moderate Spain become so entrenched?

News review – Wednesday 24 April 2019

News review – Wednesday 24 April 2019

Cross party talks

Theresa May has been told by Cabinet ministers that she should end talks with Labour “immediately” and focus on overhauling her Brexit deal and winning round the DUP. Ministers including Chris Grayling, the Transport Secretary, Gavin Williamson, the Defence Secretary, and Liam Fox, the International Trade Secretary, are said to have warned that the talks are “damaging” the Government and the party. The Prime Minister defended the continuing talks with Labour, saying that while many in Cabinet disagreed with the ongoing discussions “we have to govern in the national interest” and “this course of action is what the country expects of us”.

THERESA May yesterday accused Labour of deliberately dragging out cross-party talks being held to try to find a consensus on the way forward for Brexit. In a sign that the discussions have hit an impasse, the Prime Minister told her Cabinet that the timetable for the UK’s departure from the EU had become a key sticking point between the two sides. She is also understood to be concerned Labour will wreck crucial Brexit legislation in the Commons to block her EU withdrawal deal for a fourth time.

Theresa May is preparing to challenge Labour to support the legislation needed to achieve Brexit if cross-party compromise talks break down. In a high-risk strategy, the prime minister is considering introducing the bill that would give effect to Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union within weeks. The move would effectively decouple the withdrawal agreement, which Labour largely supports, from the plan for a future relationship, to which it is demanding changes.

Theresa May has accused Labour of dragging its heels in the bid to find a cross-party compromise to deliver Brexit, even before the talks resumed after Easter. “The discussions with Labour have been serious but had also been difficult in some areas, such as in relation to the timetable for the negotiations,” the prime minister told her cabinet. No 10 fears Jeremy Corbyn does not share Ms May’s desire to avoid next month’s European parliament elections – which would require an agreement within days.

THERESA MAY will return to Parliament today to kickstart talks with the Labour opposition in hopes to break the Brexit deadlock before the forthcoming European elections. The Prime Minister has struggled to reach an agreement in cross-party talks, and faces increasing pressure from MPs to secure a Brexit deal before the European elections on May 23.


EU COMMISSION President Jean-Claude Juncker warned of “fake news” around next month’s European elections as he revealed his fears for the upcoming vote. The EU boss claimed there were moves from member states and countries outside the bloc to manipulate the May elections where eurosceptics are expected to gain ground. Mr Juncker told German newspaper Funke Mediengruppe: “I can see an attempt to rig the European Parliament elections.


Theresa May is planning to bring her Brexit deal back for another vote – even as Tory MPs plan to change the rules of their party’s leadership elections so they can oust her. The 1922 Committee of backbench Conservative MPs met last night but discussions on whether a time limit banning successive leadership votes should be changed from a year to six months was said to be was ‘inconclusive’.

CABINET ministers are urging Theresa May to abandon Labour talks and force a fourth Commons showdown on her Brexit deal next week instead. Time is running out for the PM to avoid having to hold euro elections, with the poll to elect MEP on May 23 – four weeks tomorrow. As cross party talks to pass the EU agreement began again yesterday after the Easter break, frustrated Mrs May accused Labour of dragging its feet.

Theresa May is preparing to give MPs a vote on the key piece of legislation enacting Britain’s exit from the European Union next week, as negotiations with Labour continue. The prime minister will discuss Brexit with her cabinet colleagues, with government sources suggesting one likely way forward is to table the withdrawal and implementation bill (WAB) in the next 10 days.

Theresa May

THERESA MAY ‘loyalists’ launched a fierce bid to save her from the sack yesterday as rebel Tory MPs called for her head. Livid Ministers tore into senior Tories on the powerful 1922 backbench committee over their demand to rip up party rules to force a new no confidence vote in the PM this June. The demand was due to be voted on at a crisis meeting of the 18-strong Committee late last night. Brexit-backing 1922 executive Nigel Evans said he would be “delighted” if the PM quit NOW given the Brexit chaos – and said there was a growing “clamour” for her  resignation.

EMBATTLED Theresa May was facing a triple assault on her leadership today amid growing dismay over her handling of Brexit. She is expected to be told she must step down as Prime Minister by the end of June or Conservative MPs will change the party rules and force her out. Mrs May could also be challenged with an unprecedented vote of confidence this week as Tory grassroots anger boils over.

Pro-Brexit Conservatives are continuing to up the pressure for Theresa May to go sooner rather than later. Though we’ve been hearing this for a while, surely she must go soon?  Dinah Glover, a Tory Chairman in the East End of London, has told ITV News: “She does need to go now. And we need to reset the negotiations, set a different course. We do have an extension until the end of October which actually could be used positively. “But I think with Mrs. May its not going to be used positively.”


A VOTE of no confidence has been tabled in Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow, with MPs accusing him of not being impartial during the Brexit process. Furious Conservative MP Crispin Blunt tabled the motion after writing to all MPs asking for support, adding he would not publish the names of backers unless they hit three figures in order not to expose them to “retribution” by the Speaker.

Change UK

Rachel Johnson could become the fourth member of the Johnson family to become an elected politician after she was unveiled on Tuesday as a Change UK candidate at the European Parliament elections. The national newspaper columnist and former reality television personality could follow her Conservative MPs brothers Boris and Jo Johnson, as well as her father Stanley – a former Conservative MEP – into elected office.

Boris Johnson’s sister, a former BBC broadcaster and John Major’s health secretary will all stand for Change UK in next month’s European elections, but the party’s launch yesterday was marred when one of its candidates was forced to stand down within hours over comments about Romanians. The pro-Remain party announced its MEP hopefuls from almost 4,000 applicants at a campaign launch in Bristol yesterday. Rachel Johnson, Gavin Esler, a former Newsnight presenter, and Stephen Dorrell, a cabinet minister from 1994 to 1997, were among dozens of candidates on the stage.

Boris Johnson‘s sister Rachel and ex-BBC star Gavin Esler today revealed they will stand for Britain’s new remain party in the European elections next month. Heidi Allen, interim leader of Change UK, set up by The Independent Group of MPs known as the TIGgers, launched their EU campaign in Bristol today.    Rachel Johnson will stand in the South West region – where Jacob Rees-Mogg’s sister Annunziata will represent Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party – and has already taken a veiled swipe at her Brexiteer brother, who wants to be the next Tory leader.

New centrist party Change UK could back the government in a no-confidence vote to avoid a damaging general election, its interim leader has said. Former Tory MP Heidi Allen said an election was “absolutely the last thing” the country needs during the Brexit chaos, as she launched the party’s campaign for the upcoming European Parliament elections, Her comments came as Theresa May faced pressure to name her departure date from frustrated Tory MPs after promising to resign once she had overseen the first stage of the Brexit process.

Morning Star
GAFFE-PRONE centre party Change UK has scuppered its claim to represent a new politics by choosing Boris Johnson’s sister as a candidate for the European elections, Labour MPs have said. Change UK – The Independent Group announced today that Rachel Johnson would stand for the party in south-west England next month. Ms Johnson cemented her super-posh credentials by editing The Lady, a women’s magazine popular with aristocrats, where she often wrote about her love of Agas – a brand of luxury cooker.

BBC News
Change UK has launched its campaign for the European Parliamentary elections, with 70 candidates including journalist Rachel Johnson – sister of Tory MP and leading Brexiteer Boris Johnson. The party – formerly known as The Independent Group – is made up of 11 MPs who quit Labour and the Tories. They are preparing for the European election as the latest Brexit delay means the UK may have to take part.

The anti-Brexit party Change UK has launched its European elections campaign, revealing a slate of 70 candidates that includes Boris Johnson’s sister, seasoned politicians disillusioned with their parties, and people completely new to politics. Rachel Johnson said she was standing to make sure Brexit did not wreck the chances of a bright future for her children and other young people, and that her decision to stand was not an attack on her Brexiter brother.

Heidi Allen MP launched the “Remain alliance” Change UK (CUK) party Tuesday, heralding the string of MEP candidates “from every background” including a yoga instructor, a former BBC journalist, and top politician Boris Johnson’s sister. One notable member of the new MEP candidates for the anti-Brexit party is Jessica Simor QC, who worked in the legal team that forced the Government to seek Parliament’s permission to invoke Article 50, the mechanism for leaving the EU.

The Brexit Party

Nigel Farage has seized on the words of a prominent Labour peer who wants to stop Brexit as he targets Labour heartlands with his new Brexit Party. The former Ukip leader said yesterday that he would repeat “every day” the words of Lord Adonis, a former cabinet minister and adviser to Tony Blair who is now standing for Labour in the European elections. Mr Farage pointed out that Lord Adonis had said: “If you’re a Brexiteer, I hope you won’t vote for the Labour Party”.

Ann Widdecombe has defected from the Conservatives to Nigel Farage‘s Brexit Party. The former minister has been a member of the Tory party for 55 years, but has been put her retirement on hold to ‘campaign vigorously’ for Farage’s party in the upcoming European elections in May. Widdecombe was earlier rumoured to be considering leaving the party after she campaigned hard for Brexit and was appalled by the failure to deliver on the Article 50 commitment to leave on March 29.

Conservative Party stalwart Ann Widdecombe has sensationally quit – to rejoin frontline politics with the Brexit Party. The 71-year-old has been a staunch Tory for 55 years – serving as Shadow Health and Home secretary. But now she has joined Nigel Farage’s fledgling party on a mandate to hurry up and get Britain out of the EU. Ms Widdicombe told the Express: “The public needs to send a very clear message and that is we expect the vote to be respected so just get on with the job of getting us out of the EU. “If I am elected in Brussels my message to (Jean-Claude) Juncker and company will be very simple, very loud and very clear. Nous allons (we go).”

Nigel Farage sent another strong message to establishment Labour and Conservatives today as his new Brexit Party unveiled their latest candidates for the European Elections including a nurse, a veteran, and a businessman. Mr Farage spoke at the event, during which five new MEP candidates were announced, saying how much the Brexit Party has grown since its launch on Friday, April 12th. The party now reports having over 67,000 registered supporters, with a registration fee of £25-a-head meaning the party may now be holding as much as £1.5 million in membership subscriptions alone.

NIGEL Farage yesterday vowed to go after voters in the Labour heartlands as he unveiled his star line-up of MEP candidates. War hero James Glancy and former Tory aide and smoked salmon millionaire Lance Forman are among the five hopefuls running for the Brexit Party. Mr Farage tore into Britain’s MPs for “betraying” the referendum and warned his new party will rock Westminster, as he addressed the launch in London.

Nigel Farage has said his new Brexit Party could thwart a second referendum if it is successful in the upcoming European elections. The former Ukip leader made the threat as he unveiled a fresh slate of candidates for next month’s poll, which includes a former communist and an ex-commando, who has fought in Afghanistan. The leading Brexiteer also vowed to target Labour voters in the party’s heartlands in south Wales, the midlands and the north of England, where he hopes to capitalise on Jeremy Corbyn’s equivocation over Britain’s withdrawal from the EU.

More United

More than 50 MPs from seven parties have formed a group to tackle issues “ignored” because of Brexit. The More United network includes Nicky Morgan, the Conservative former cabinet minister; Jo Swinson, deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats; and David Lammy, a Labour former minister. It “is not and will not become a political party”, it said. The organisation was established after the EU referendum in 2016 with the backing of Lord Ashdown of Norton-sub-Hamdon, the former Lib Dem leader, to support politicians regardless of affiliation.

Huffington Post
More than 50 MPs have launched a cross-party movement to work together on “issues ignored because of Brexit”. The ‘More United’ group, dubbed ‘politics for the Netflix generation’, features politicians from seven different political parties, including Labour, Tory, SNP, Lib Dem, Green, ChangeUK and Plaid Cymru. The new network, which includes leading MPs David Lammy, Nicky Morgan, Jo Swinson and Caroline Lucas, will help fund candidates who campaign on poverty and homelessness, responsible technology, mental health and urgent climate dangers.

St George’s Day

Politicians from all sides dutifully wished the nation a happy St George’s Day yesterday, but there was one snag. They all got the date wrong. The Church of England has confirmed that the feast has been pushed back to next Monday because of a clash with Easter week. April 23 is the usual date each year for the feast of St George, the patron saint of England, but church rules state that no feast days should be marked during Easter week. If a saint’s day falls during Easter week, it is “translated” to the following week.

The Labour Party has been left red-faced after posting a St George’s Day message on the wrong date. The official Labour Party Twitter account posted “Happy St George’s Day! With the next Labour government, we’ll celebrate the patron saint with a bank holiday — and bank holidays for St Patrick, St David and St Andrew too” a day early, on April 22nd. Clearly realising their error it was soon taken down, only to be reposted earlier today.


The home secretary, Sajid Javid, is under mounting pressure to head off an immigration scandal that MPs have warned could be “bigger than Windrush”. About 34,000 foreign students have had their visas cancelled or curtailed and more than 1,000 people were forcibly removed from the UK as a result of the English language testing scandal, which involved the government accusing tens of thousands of students who sat a Home Office-approved test of cheating. The Guardian understands that students who took the test of English for international communication (Toeic) five or more years ago are still being targeted by immigration enforcement officers and being taken to immigration detention centres ahead of enforced removal from the UK.


Theresa May has given the green light to a Chinese telecoms giant to help build Britain’s new 5G network despite warnings from the US and some of her most senior ministers that it poses a risk to national security. The National Security Council, which is chaired by the Prime Minister, agreed on Tuesday to allow Huawei limited access to help build parts of the network such as antennas and other “noncore” infrastructure.

Theresa May has defied security warnings from senior Government ministers and allowed controversial Chinese telecoms giant Huawei to help build Britain’s new 5G network. The National Security Council, which is chaired by the Prime Minister, yesterday gave the green light to give Huawei limited access to help construct sections of the network such as antennas and non-essential infrastructure.


One in ten road building schemes promised as part of the biggest upgrade of the network in a generation could be scrapped for financial reasons. Highways England said that plans to improve 11 main roads would be paused indefinitely because the investment could no longer be justified. A third of the upgrades would be delayed, possibly for five years, for fear of overloading the network with too many works at the same time.

Rail travel

Standing on long train journeys will be effectively banned under radical proposals by Virgin Trains to force all long-distance passengers to book a seat before boarding.  Train companies are currently often obliged to accept walk-up fares, meaning they have no control over the number of people getting on a particular train unless it is deemed unsafe. But under the plans for airline-style fares with one fare available at any given time for any one service, walk on tickets and open returns will be phased out.

Rail passengers should not be allowed to board long-distance trains without a reservation, according to Virgin Group.  The firm said inter-city services should use Eurostar’s model of requiring customers to book a ticket and a seat for a particular train.  Operators are often required to accept walk-on fares meaning they have little control over passenger numbers. Companies are also obliged to stick to rigid timetables which results in them running trains even when demand is low.

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