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News review – Wednesday 12 December 2018

News review – Wednesday 12 December 2018


Theresa May

ITV News
The threshold needed to trigger a vote of no-confidence in Theresa May has been exceeded after more than 48 Conservative MPs submitted letters to Sir Graham Brady. ITV News Political Editor Robert Peston said it was possible the no-confidence vote could be held on Wednesday. It follows reports of a wave of new letters amid anger at the way Mrs May dramatically put on hold the crunch Commons vote on her Brexit deal after admitting she was heading for a heavy defeat.

Sky News
Theresa May will face a vote of no confidence

Full statement from Sir Graham Brady:

The chairman of the backbench 1922 committee of Conservative MPs said: “The threshold of 15% of the parliamentary party seeking a vote of confidence in the leader of the Conservative Party has been exceeded.  “In accordance with the rules, a ballot will be held between 1800 and 2000 on Wednesday 12th December in committee room 14 of the House of Commons.  “The votes will be counted immediately afterwards and an announcement will be made as soon as possible in the evening.  “Arrangements for the announcement will be released later today. 

WTO trade

Theresa May will be put under pressure at her cabinet meeting today to start planning for a no-deal Brexit, with ministers around the table expecting a vote on her future to be called within hours. Cabinet members are set to push the prime minister to step up preparations for a hard Brexit as some claim that she has repeatedly stalled spending decisions to prepare for such an outcome. Mrs May faces intense speculation about her future after her decision on Monday to pull the vote on her Brexit deal to seek last-minute improvements from the EU.

Conservative leadership

Theresa May has been plunged into crisis over Brexit – with speculation mounting that she could be ousted. Potential candidates for the leadership have begun setting out their stalls even while the Prime Minister is in office. And after she was forced to pull a Commons vote on her Brexit deal, she is looking more vulnerable than ever. A leadership contest can be forced in two ways – either Mrs May quits, or she’s challenged. If she resigns, candidates will put themselves forward. Tory MPs whittle them down one at a time to just two people, in votes each Tuesday and Thursday. Then the final two will go head to head in a vote by the Tories’ 100,000-or-so members. If she’s challenged, it’s a lot harder for a leadership contest to happen.

Sajid Javid has touted his commitment to social mobility and Boris Johnson has compared his weight loss to the Brexit preparations as contenders to succeed Theresa May prepare their pitches for the top job. The home secretary and the former foreign secretary have used The Spectator to set out their views on Brexit and their party’s future, a decision which will doubtless be interpreted as preparation for a leadership contest. Mr Javid, seen in Westminster as the favourite among ministers to succeed Mrs May, told the magazine that the Conservative Party stood, in a word, for opportunity.

The beauty contest for the Tory leadership should Theresa May be forced from office began in earnest last night. Boris Johnson and Sajid Javid both appeared in the Tory-supporting Spectator magazine to make highly personal interventions as they vie for the top job. Their move comes as Mrs May faces the prospect of a no confidence vote in her leadership as early as this morning. The former foreign secretary used a column in the Spectator to open up about his recent weight loss – an intervention which is widely seen as laying the ground for a leadership bid.


SENIOR Tories last night called for Britain’s £39billion EU divorce fee to be cancelled after Brussels chiefs rejected Theresa May’s plea for a better Brexit deal. Eurosceptic MPs were furious when European Commission chief Jean–Claude Juncker insisted: “There is no room whatsoever for renegotiation.” The top Eurocrat’s rebuff was delivered as the Prime Minister came up against a wall of resistance on a whistlestop European tour seeking to win fresh concessions to assuage MPs blocking her deal. Leading Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg, responding to the intransigence from Brussels, said: “If there is no room for renegotiation then we leave without a deal and do not pay the EU £39billion.”

Theresa May’s pleas for changes to the Brexit divorce deal were publicly rejected by Europe’s leaders on her tour of continental capitals yesterday. The prime minister was rebuffed by German, Irish and Portuguese leaders as well as the EU’s two most senior officials after crisis talks in Brussels that were held before a critical European summit tomorrow. Mrs May dashed to The Hague for breakfast with Mark Rutte, the Dutch prime minister. Last Friday he had said that the deal on the table was “the bottom of the can. You really do not get anything better.”

Theresa May’s frantic tour of European capitals ended in fresh humiliation tonight after the EU bluntly dismissed her call for more Brexit concessions. The Prime Minister begged EU leaders to bail her out of a mounting crisis as she desperately tried to win changes to her Brexit deal to buy off Tory rebels. It came amid frenzied speculation at Westminster that Mrs May faces a fresh bid from Brexiteers to oust her from Number 10. Senior Tory sources claimed that the 48 letters needed to kick off a no confidence vote in the PM had been reached – putting her premiership in jeopardy. EU president Jean-Claude Juncker dealt a heavy blow to the PM’s plans when he said there was “no room whatsoever” for re-opening talks.

Theresa May today pleaded with EU leaders for reassurances the controversial Irish backstop will only be temporary as she desperately tries to salvage her Brexit deal.  The PM embarked on a whirlwind tour of Europe today as she begged her fellow leaders to make major changes to the deal so she can buy off her Tory rebels. She met Dutch counterpart Mark Rutte for breakfast in the Hague, and held crucial talks with Angela Merkel in Berlin and later held talks with Donald Tusk. And she will later meet with Jean-Claude Juncker later today as they desperately try to find a way through the mounting crisis.
But she received a distinctly cool response from EU leaders who warned there is ‘no way’ the Withdrawal agreement can be changed. 

There is “no room whatsoever” to renegotiate the Brexit deal, the president of the European Commission has said, ahead of Theresa May’s trip to Brussels to seek concessions.  Speaking in the European Parliament on Tuesday Jean-Claude Juncker said re-opening the withdrawal agreement “will not happen”. He said the best the prime minister could hope for was “further clarity and further interpretations without reopening the withdrawal agreement” when she meets EU leaders in Brussels this week. Ms May is desperate to gain concessions from the EU on the deal she struck last month after it was given an overwhelmingly hostile reception by MPs.

Jean-Claude Juncker has said there is “no room whatsoever” for renegotiating the Brexit deal as Theresa May returns to Brussels in an attempt to reopen talks. The prime minister embarked on a frantic round ofdiplomacy with other EU leaders on Tuesday to try to salvage some concessions, but the European commission president reiterated that Brussels would not revisit the withdrawal agreement. 
Junker offered May only additional “clarifications and interpretations” of the contentious backstop solution, designed to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland.

Theresa May will meet Leo Varadkar in Dublin today as the British prime minister continues her charm offensive against European Union leaders in an effort to break the Brexit deadlock. Her plea for changes to Britain’s Brexit divorce deal was rejected by European leaders yesterday during her tour of continental capitals. Mrs May has been repeatedly rebuffed before a European summit tomorrow by German and Portuguese leaders as well as the EU’s two most senior officials after crisis talks in Brussels. In the Dáil, the taoiseach gave a sense of the message he is expected to deliver to Mrs May.

BRUSSELS is set to pile the pressure on Theresa May to switch tack to a softer Brexit in return for greater assurances on the backstop. Euro Mps will push for the UK to accept a Norway-style trading relationship as the best way to avoid the hated border solution ever coming into force. Their demand came as eurocrats and EU leaders told the PM in no uncertain terms they will never reopen the terms of the backstop. German MEP Manfred Weber, who is in the running to be the next Commission president, said he would push for a “Norway Plus” deal to unblock talks. He said: “We can clarify again that hopefully the backstop will not be needed in the future.

Second referendum

Liam Fox hinted at the prospect of a new referendum on Brexit today as he warned campaigners any poll would not have Remain on the current terms on the ballot. The International Trade Secretary risked irritating No 10 by accepting the possibility of a new vote despite Theresa May repeatedly ruling it out. Mr Fox accused campaigners demanding a vote of seeking to re-run the 2016 referendum to get the ‘right’ result. And he said ‘any further referendum’ would not have the ‘status quo’ on offer because the EU was constantly evolving to ‘ever closer union’. Mr Fox also warned campaigners there was not enough time to deliver a referendum before exit day on March 29, 2019, in a piece for the Telegraph today.


The SNP today vowed to to put down there own confidence motion to bring try and topple Theresa May if Jeremy Corbyn refuses to by the end of the day. Nicola Sturgeon said that if this vote does not succeed in forcing a general election, she wanted Labour to go on to support a second referendum. And Ian Blackford, the party’s leader in Westminster, repeated the threat, as he appeared next to the Lib Dems, Greens and Welsh nationalists Plaid Cym
ru. The parties have all written to the Labour leader to demand that he calls the crunch vote in Mrs May. 

Labour has not costed any of the alternative policies it has proposed for today’s Scottish budget. Derek Mackay, the finance secretary, will unveil his draft budget with no clear sign of where he will find the required support from opposition parties to pass the document in the new year. Labour has produced a video summarising its pre-budget demands, which include increased funding for councils; a £5 per week increase in child benefit; a freeze on rail fares; a women’s health fund; £10 million for discretionary housing payments; and a £20million community policing fund. Last year the party set out a fully costed alternative to the Scottish government’s offer but sources told The Times that would not be repeated this year.


Mail (by Andrew Pierce)
On Monday, as he left the Commons after Theresa May‘s humiliating climbdown over the Brexit withdrawal deal, Jeremy Corbyn stopped by the Speaker’s chair. To the astonishment of several onlookers, the Labour leader addressed its beaming occupant, John Bercow. ‘Thank you for all your help,’ he said. The gushing praise confirmed the Tories’ worst fears: Bercow has abandoned all pretence of impartiality and is manipulating Commons procedures to undermine the Government on Brexit at every possible turn. Minutes earlier, Bercow had accused Mrs May of being ‘deeply discourteous’ in pulling the ‘meaningful’ vote on the Government’s deal scheduled for that evening. In an extraordinary reprimand directed at the PM, the Speaker urged ministers to put the decision to delay it to an MPs’ vote.


Emmanuel Macron’s bid to buy off France’s “gilets jaunes” protesters with instant budget handouts threatens to blast through eurozone’s fiscal limits, fatally damaging his credibility as the champion of the European project and the guardian of French public accounts. The package of short-term measures announced in a theatrical mea culpa on Monday night leaves President Macron’s putative “grand bargain” with Germany in tatters. He had pledged root-and-branch reform of the French economy and a restoration of spending discipline after 11 years in breach of the EU’s Stability Pact. The calculation was that Berlin would in return drop its long-standing opposition to fiscal union and shared liabilities.

Yellow Vest protesters demanded even more concessions from Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday even after he caved in to their demands for more pay and lower taxes with a £9billion spending splurge on Monday night. Thomas Miralles, a Yellow Vest spokesman in the southern Pyrenees-Orientales department, said Macron had failed to listen to protesters and vowed to come to Paris this Saturday for his first demonstration in the capital. Meanwhile thousands of students angered by Macron’s education reforms joined the Yellow Vests on the streets for a ‘black Tuesday’ of unrest, further complicating matters for the French President.

President Macron’s €10 billion hand-out appears to have bought him respite from a month of violent protests, but at the cost of busting his budget and shattering his credibility in Europe. The government confirmed that the financial measures offered by Mr Macron in a television address on Monday night, including a €100-a-week rise in the minimum wage, would knock a hole in the 2019 budget and “temporarily” breach the EU’s deficit ceiling of 3 per cent of national income. The European Commission said it would be keeping a close eye on France, a humiliating statement in the light of Mr Macron’s previous pride in returning to fiscal rigour.


The NHS‘s lack of cyber security is ‘alarming’, experts have warned after they discovered huge gaps in spending and training across the health service. Too few experts could put the NHS at risk of another cyber attack like last year’s £92million WannaCry disaster in which 20,000 hospital appointments were cancelled. Spending on cyber security varies wildly between hospital trusts around the country, with some spending as little as £238 and others £78,000. 
On average the health service employs just one qualified cyber security expert for every 2,582 employees, and a quarter of trusts don’t have any at all.


Britain must shift away from a peacetime mentality and embrace the innovation associated with wartime to combat rapid technological change and an array of national threats, the head of the military has said. General Sir Nick Carter, 59, warned last night that instability was the defining condition of the age and threats were “diversifying, proliferating and intensifying very rapidly”. In his first lecture as chief of the defence staff at the Royal United Services Institute, he said that, alongside threats posed by Russia, China, Iran and terrorist networks such as Islamic State, population change heralded trouble. Mass migration was “arguably an existential threat to Europe” compounded by populism and nationalism, which had a “bellicose nature”, he said.


Wages grew at their fastest pace in a decade in the three months to October and the number of people in work has reached a record high, official figures show. Regular pay, excluding bonuses, grew by an average of 3.3 per cent in the period, up from 3.2 per cent in the three months to September, according to the Office for National Statistics. After adjusting for inflation, regular wages grew 1 per cent in the October period, a level not reached since the final quarter of 2016. Wages have been growing faster than inflation for nine months. After a decade of wage stagnation analysts said that the tightness of the labour market was beginning to cause sustained pay growth.


Thousands of men with suspected prostate cancer will avoid invasive biopsies after the treatments watchdog ruled that they must first be offered MRI scans. Experts say that the guidance could allow up to 40 per cent of men who need a diagnosis to avoid a biopsy, which is potentially painful and has unpleasant side-effects. The ruling from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) is the first formal recommendation for the technology in any country. While many hospitals offer multiparametric MRI (mpMRI) as a first-line test for men, 50 per cent of patients miss out, according to the charity Prostate Cancer UK. 
About 130 new prostate cancer cases are diagnosed daily in the UK.


Cuadrilla has been forced to pause fracking after the strongest earthquake to date caused by its operations was felt over a wide area. A 1.5 magnitude tremor happened at about 11.20am yesterday after several smaller tremors earlier in the day. It was the biggest of more than 30 tremors caused by Cuadrilla since it began fracking at Preston New Road, Lancashire, in October. Under the government’s “traffic light” system, designed to prevent more serious earthquakes, the company has to stop fracking for 18 hours after a tremor of more than 0.5. It was the second tremor to be felt at the surface, following a previous one of 1.1 magnitude on October 29, according to the British Geological Survey (BGS).

Rail travel

If all had gone to plan, the first paying passengers to travel through Crossrail’s 13-mile tunnels, 40 metres beneath the streets of central London, would have been climbing aboard this month.   The ambitious scheme, one of the biggest infrastructure projects in Europe, is projected to add £42bn to the economy and bring 1.5m extra people within a 45-minute commute to central London. But on Monday, after a series of delays and setbacks, authorities confirmed it is likely to run billions of pounds over budget and they can no longer say with any confidence when it will be ready to open.

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Religion as a tool of colonialist power in WWI

As leaders from all around the world gathered to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of a war meant to end all wars, the aftermath of the bloody conflict nevertheless continue to resonate in many parts of the globe today.

Author and researcher Hanief Haider traces some of the trends and maneuvers from the pre-World War I era, such as Great Britain’s use of religious fervor to influence affairs in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), which persist today.

In all of this, the Palestinian issue has been slowly marginalized from mainstream discourse by Western media while it pursued its neoliberal agenda in the MENA region.

There is a belief among some that the United States was using religious fundamentalism in partnership with Saudi Arabia only from the late 1970’s to achieve its geopolitical objectives in the MENA region.

But this manipulation of the Abrahamic religions goes further back in history when the Irish revolution broke out in 1916.

Northern Ireland was predominantly Protestant but they were linked to English capital by acquiring dominance in vital industries like cotton, linen and shipbuilding towards the end of the 19th century.

Unwilling to lose this lucrative base of capital investment, the English Tories were prepared to condone and assist the open rebellion of Ulster Loyalists in order to prevent Irish independence.

Mainstream media even up till now portrays the 1919-1921 War of Independence as an anti-Protestant sectarian war, which was not the case. Protestants who found themselves in predominantly Catholic districts were not specifically targeted.

Even Protestants among the working class were in favor of independence.

In their 2013 book Hidden History: The Secret Origins of the First World War, historians Gerry and James McGregor say that age-old religious animosities were deliberately stirred in order to coerce the Protestant majority in the north into a state of potential conflict with the predominantly Catholic South.

Both were armed by the London elite with weapons purchased in Germany.

If civil war had broken out then Germany would have been blamed using the English press as the elite’s bullhorn for propaganda.

Author and philosopher Raoul Martinez also sheds light on how the British government repealed press taxes in the latter half of the 19th century thus making the newspapers dependent on corporate advertisers.

Corporate advertisers favored papers that supported their interests as well as the foreign policy objectives of the government of the day.

It was none other than the Manchester Guardian (now Guardian) paper that opened the road for Zionist leaders like Chaim Weizmann to have access to high-ranking politicians in Britain.

These connections at the top of the British political and media hierarchy paved the way for the divisive Balfour Declaration of 1917.

Not only was the famed editor of the Guardian Charles Prestwich Scott and his staff motivated by the strategic importance of the Suez Canal but also impressed by Weizmann’s anti-Russia tirade which opposed the Sykes-Picot agreement of 1916, says historian Norman Rose in his 1986 biography of the Jewish nationalist leader.

Another paper that was as equally committed to the Balfour Declaration as the Guardian was the London Times. Both their editors were opposed to the 1939 White paper that addressed Arab concern over immigration and landlessness among Palestinians, adds Rose.

Colonialism at war

On the eve of World War I, dominant colonial power in the Middle East Great Britain found itself under pressure from her colonies for self-rule, as was the case with the de facto Irish colony.

To stave off German influence and military power in the region, the Arabs were lulled into believing, in exchange for military assistance against Germany, independence would be granted.

Instead of independence Britain and France came up with the Sykes-Picot agreement seen by many as the spoils of the war.

As the geo-political writer FW Engdahl puts it:

“Sykes Picot placed the most educated and most developed areas of the Arab world which were hungry for independence into the grips of the European colonial powers thus sowing a mistrust and hate towards the West that lasted until the 21st century”.

Great Britain was given Palestine (declared a homeland for foreign Jews); Iraq (oil); Kuwait (oil); Western Iran (oil); Sudan (oil); and Egypt (Suez Canal). France in turn got Lebanon and Syria.

Rule over the Arabian Peninsula before discovery of oil was given to the Arab family of Bin Saud which followed a strict puritanical form of Islam called Wahhabism that dates back to the mid-18th century, which spread forcibly in Shia regions of Oman, into Qatar, Kuwait and Bahrain, and much later Yemen.

Arm of influence

To ensure continued control over lucrative trade channels like the Suez Canal and valuable natural resources like crude oil, the British directly chose and installed in power corrupt and ruthless despots dependent on British financial and military backing.

They were handpicked despots who used the most reactionary form of the Islamic religion as their legitimacy to suppress any and all dissent coming from secular, national forces and international communism.

In Palestine, the British installed the corrupt Hajj Amin al-Hussaini – an anti-Semite – to the post of Grand Mufti of Jerusalem despite his lack of knowledge on Islam.

It was rather for his role in the anti-Jewish riots that followed after the Balfour declaration of 1917, argues Robert Dreyfuss in Devil’s Game – How the United States Helped Unleash Fundamentalist Islam.

These riots were investigated by numerous British-led commissions and they concluded the reaction by the indigenous population was due to economic and political grievances against the British mandate coupled with unchecked Jewish immigration and land purchases.

Parallel to the rise of al-Hussaini was the nurturing of David Ben Gurion by the British. Although Ben Gurion rose through the ranks of Labor Zionism his ideological outlook was not far from the revisionist Zionists.

The Zionism that leaders such as Theodore Herzl and Chaim Weizmann espoused was relatively liberal where the Jewish state would be secular and democratic and the Jews would not have special privileges.

In The Fate of the Jews – A People Torn Between Israeli Power and Jewish Ethics, historian Roberta Strauss Feuerlicht says that to the right of Herzl and Weizmann were the more conservative Revisionists that celebrated the wars and conquest of ancient Israel as well as the barbarities and inequities that went with it led by the Russian journalist Zev Jabotinsky.

The Revisionists wanted the entire ancient Israel from the Nile to the Euphrates.

End of Britain’s Mandate

The distinction between Ben Gurion and the Revisionists was not that he was a territorial minimalist while Revisionists were territorial maximalists but rather that he pursued a gradualist strategy while they adhered to an all or nothing approach, says Israeli historian Avi Shlaim.

The ‘liberal’ faction of Zionism waned slowly after World War Two. Their disappearance was hastened by Britain’s decision to reverse its decision to partition Palestine as part of the Peel Commission’s 1937 recommendations.

The 1939 White Paper also curtailed Jewish immigration which were viewed as appeasing the Arab states and Muslim world, seen as vital allies in the conflict with the Axis powers of Germany and Italy at the time.

These developments were catastrophic for both the indigenous Arabs and the British Mandate. It was catastrophic as it strengthened the Revisionists’ hand and some became radicalized to the point of attacking British institutions in Palestine.

Among these Jewish fighters, labeled terrorists by the British, were two members that would eventually lead their country – namely Menachem Begin and Yitzhak Shamir – in later years underscoring the drift of the Zionist political movement to the extreme right which exacerbate the struggle for Palestinian nationhood in later years.

Dreyfuss argues that this ‘betrayal’ by Britain – reneging on promises made to various Zionist leaders – did not stop it and France from using the new state of Israel as a stalking horse to topple the Egyptian leader Gamal Abdel Nasser in 1956 over his move to nationalize the Suez Canal Company after the USA and Britain withdrew financial aid for the Aswan High Dam power project.

Not only did Britain and France find an ally in a right-wing Israeli government to protect its interests but in the background the Muslim Brotherhood was nurtured. The Muslim Brotherhood was founded by an Egyptian Hassan al-Banna in 1928 with a grant from the same Suez Canal Company Nasser nationalized later.

The message of the Muslim Brotherhood soon spread to other countries where the secular nationalist forces together with international communism became a threat to British interests and the pliant authoritarian leaders and monarchs it installed.

The Muslim Brotherhood

Nasser’s actions against British and French interests made him a hero in the eyes of oppressed people everywhere in the Middle East. It split the nascent Palestinian movement between the Islamists based in Gaza, who Nasser tried to crush in Cairo, and the nationalists who allied with Nasser’s vision of Arab nationalism.

Support for the Muslim Brotherhood started declining as the secular, nationalist and communist forces started gaining strength in numbers.
But the Muslim Brotherhood received a massive boost when Israel captured both the West Bank and Gaza in the Six Day War of 1967.

Hamas founder Sheikh Yassin was imprisoned by Nasser but later freed by the Israelis. Under Israel’s watchful eyes, the Muslim Brotherhood begun to lay down their infrastructure with mosques and charity organizations in the occupied territories.

Israel’s formal support for the Islamists occurred after 1977 when the far-right parties came to power in Israel. Menachem Begin who revolted violently against the British over the 1939 White paper became Israel’s prime minister.

Israel’s support for the Muslim Brotherhood extended to other countries like Syria. Animosities intensified after 1973 when President Hafez al-Assad proclaimed a secular constitution for Syria that described the country as democratic, popular and socialist.

Violent Islamist demonstrations soon followed.

When Lebanon’s civil war erupted in 1975- due to Israel’s maneuvers against the ethnically plural state – it drew in Syria which sent troops into Lebanon to protect Christians against predominantly Muslim Palestinians which were better armed and trained, says Patrick Seale in his 1990 book Assad: The Struggle for the Middle East.

This did not go well with the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood which carried out assassinations, bomb attacks and other violent actions across Syria until it was violently put down in Hama in February 1982.

The Brotherhood implodes

It is often debated that for a movement to carry out such sophisticated operations against a state known for its security apparatus, the Muslim Brotherhood must depended on support from both Jordan and Israel.

But beginning in 1981, the Muslim Brotherhood began to self-destruct. It attacked countries which were once its sponsors or sympathizers by first assassinating President Anwar Sadat of Egypt – a one-time supporter.

According to Stratfor Worldview Assessment, it threatened the Saudi monarchy from within demanding popular elections and accountability after the fallout of the 1991 Gulf War.

It is worthy to mention that it was the Saudi Kingdom which used the Ikhwan as a bulwark against Nasserist pan-Arab socialist ideas decades earlier.

Lastly, the Muslim Brotherhood turned against Israel when the first Intifada broke out in 1987 through its armed wing Hamas attacking civilian targets like buses and markets with suicide bombers.

News review – Tuesday 11 December 2018

News review – Tuesday 11 December 2018


Theresa May will beg European leaders today to rescue her Brexit deal after becoming the first prime minister for at least 70 years to pause a vote on a major international treaty. Mrs May pulled the meaningful vote on
her Brexit deal yesterday afternoon, hours after Downing Street and cabinet ministers insisted she would push ahead, admitting to MPs that it would have been lost by a “significant margin”. She then flew to the Hague ready for talks today with Mark Rutte, prime minister of the Netherlands, who has proved helpful to her over Brexit. After that she will visit Angela Merkel in Berlin before holding talks with the European Commission in an attempt to rescue her agreement.

BBC News
Theresa May will meet European leaders and EU officials later for talks aimed at rescuing her Brexit deal. She will hold talks with Dutch PM Mark Rutte and Germany’s Angela Merkel after postponing a Commons vote on the deal. The UK PM has said she needs “further assurances” about the Northern Ireland border plan to get backing from MPs. European Council President Donald Tusk insisted the EU would “not renegotiate” but said leaders would discuss how to help “facilitate UK ratification”.

Sky News
Theresa May has headed back to Europe in a desperate bid to win concessions from EU leaders after her Commons retreat over her big Brexit vote. The embattled Prime Minister is meeting the Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte in the Hague before talks with the German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin. But back at Westminster, Labour is attempting to pile more embarrassment on the Government by staging a symbolic emergency debate condemning the vote u-turn.

Theresa May is to embark on a frantic round of European diplomacy in a final attempt to salvage her Brexit deal and her premiership after a chaotic day in which she pulled Tuesday’s scheduled meaningful vote in the face of overwhelming opposition. The prime minister will meet the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, in Berlin on Tuesday to seek “further assurances” to ensure that the Northern Irish backstop would never come into force, although No 10 warned a rapid breakthrough was unlikely.

Jacob Rees-Mogg today ramped up his bid to oust Theresa May as leader – branding her Brexit U-turn a ‘humiliation’ which has left her deal ‘defeated’. The Tory MP and leading Brexiteer said Conservatives are fed up at the feeling of ‘drift’ and total lack of direction coming from No10. He branded the Government a ‘mess’ and said the PM’s decision to pull the crunch vote on her Brexit deal has increased the likelihood the UK will crash out of Brussels with no deal. And he laid the blame squarely at Mrs May’s feet – saying the Brexit deal was her policy and she must take responsibility for it.

JACOB Rees-Mogg has launched a stinging attack on Theresa May and her Government, raging it has been a “humiliating day” for the UK, which now looks “foolish” to the world after she delayed the vote on her Brexit deal. The Brexiteer’s furious outburst comes after the Prime Minister told a packed House of Commons earlier today in a fiery session she is delaying the vote on her Brexit deal. She was set for a crushing defeat in Parliament, with her Brexit deal expected to be unanimously voted down from all sides.

LIVID Tory MPs have vowed to mount a fresh coup to oust Theresa May after her Brexit deal stood on the verge of collapse. Party grandees are already looking at speeding up a snap leadership contest after she dramatically pulled the landmark Commons vote. The Prime Minister delayed it for fresh talks with Brussels but was warned by the EU it will not renegotiate the hated Irish backstop. Downing Street is braced for a no-confidence vote in the PM any time now. Mrs May yesterday became the first PM for at least 70 years to pause a vote on a major international treaty.

Theresa May has sparked anger across the Commons by refusing to say when MPs will vote on her Brexit deal, as she prepared to head to Brussels to plead with EU leaders for further concessions. The showdown was dramatically delayed, almost certainly until the new year, after the prime minister admitted a Tory revolt meant she was heading for a crushing defeat “by a significant margin”. But condemnation of Ms May for pulling back rose when Downing Street failed to set a new timetable for the vote, arguing it depended on when she could “get the assurances” from the EU to pass the deal.

The message from No 10 could not have been clearer. As Michael Gove had confirmed on the radio in the morning, the vote on the Brexit deal was definitely “going ahead as planned”. At 11.07am on Monday, the Prime Minister’s spokesman was eager to quash speculation of the vote being delayed, telling journalists who asked whether Theresa May was confident of winning the vote a bold “yes”. Half an hour later, Mrs May was telling her Cabinet the exact opposite. She had “listened to colleagues” and decided it would be “in the best interests of the country” to go back to Brussels “immediately” to get a better deal.

Theresa May has refused to ditch her deal, committing only to some minor tinkering with the hated EU backstop arrangement – though Brussels are unlikely to take her serious as she also laid into the prospect of walking away without a deal. 
May confirmed that there would be no vote on her deal on Tuesday as scheduled because the “deal would be rejected by a significant margin”. She explained that the vote would therefore be deferred. Kicking the can down the road.

Parliament will on Tuesday hold a three-hour emergency debate on Prime Minister Theresa May’s decision to defer a planned vote on her Brexit deal, Speaker John Bercow announced following a request by the opposition Labour Party. It cannot be right that the government can unilaterally alter the arrangements once the government has agreed on a timetable, without the house being given the opportunity to express its will,” Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said.


Ireland has ruled out reopening negotiations on Theresa May’s Irish border backstop proposal. Reacting to the postponement of the vote on the Brexit deal, Leo Varadkar, the Irish prime minister, said that it would not be possible to renegotiate one aspect of the withdrawal agreement without reopening all of it. While Ireland appreciated the challenge facing Mrs May, it insisted that there could be no backtracking on the deal reached last month between Britain and the EU.

The Brexit deal struck between Theresa May and the EU cannot be renegotiated, the Irish prime minister has said – as Theresa May’s chief negotiator is spotted getting off a train in Brussels. Leo Varadkar issued the warning as news broke that Downing Street wants to postpone Tuesday’s planned vote on the withdrawal agreement for fear MPs will reject it. The withdrawal agreement, including the Irish backstop is the only agreement on the table. It’s not possible to reopen any aspect of that agreement without reopening all aspects,” Mr Varadkar told reporters in Dublin.

Labour Party

Jeremy Corbyn last night stood accused of shying away from his threats to bring down the Government after he ignored calls from his own MPs to table a vote of no confidence in Theresa May. After the Prime Minister confirmed she was pulling the vote on her deal, dozens of Labour MPs and peers signed a letter to demand Mr Corbyn try to force an election. The leaders of the Lib Dems and the Scottish and Welsh nationalists also urged him to do his ‘duty’.


The European Commission ruled out any renegotiation of the Brexit agreement on Monday, dealing a blow to Theresa May who has promised to extract more concessions from Brussels. The Prime Minister cancelled the “meaningful vote” on her Brexit deal but insisted she would go to Brussels and demand “reassurances” over the Irish border backstop to get the agreement through Parliament. A spokesman for the commission said: “We have an agreement on the table. This deal is the best and only deal possible. We will not renegotiate.

European leaders last night warned Theresa May that they would not reopen negotiations on Britain’s withdrawal agreement and would step up preparations for a no-deal Brexit. Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, said the EU was prepared to discuss “how to facilitate” the UK’s ratification of the agreement but not the substance of the deal itself. Privately, EU diplomats said Brussels might be prepared to agree to a “clarification” of the withdrawal agreement either as a separate “political declaration” or a “letter of intent”. This could set out the ambition to ensure that the Irish backstop never came into effect but it would not be legally binding.

Donald Tusk tonight warned the EU will not renegotiate the Brexit deal just hours after a humiliated Theresa May said she was pulling the crunch vote on her plan so she could hold a fresh round of talks. The EU council president said ‘time is running out’ and made it clear the bloc is not willing to change the legal text of the agreement, including the controversial Irish border backstop.  

The president of the European Council has ruled out renegotiating Theresa May’s Brexit deal and its controversial backstop at a scheduled summit in Brussels later this week. Donald Tusk said leaders would discuss the agreement struck last month at a meeting and that leaders were “ready to discuss how to facilitate UK ratification”. But he warned that the bloc would use the meeting to discuss no-deal planning “as time is running out”.

The European Union’s Donald Tusk has made a mockery of Theresa May’s plan to go and renegotiate tinkering with the backstop, tweeting: “We will not renegotiate the deal ,including the backstop”. It reflects the way in which Brussels have walked all over the British government who instead of preparing for No Deal, are consistently talking it down. Capitulation rather than negotiation. Tusk said today: “I have decided to call #EUCO on#Brexit(Art. 50) on Thursday. We will not renegotiate the deal, including the backstop, but we are ready to discuss how to facilitate UK ratification.


British fishermen have reacted angrily to claims that French trawlers are carrying out an “invasion” of UK waters. A fleet of 16 French boats began fishing for bass off the coast of Cornwall while British trawlers were trapped in port because of bad weather, it was claimed. Ian Lott, from Maritime Media Services, said: “I can see this turning into a conflict, the French fishing fleet has invaded our shorelines and British waters.” Andy Wheeler, from the Cornish Fish Producers Organisation, said the French “invasion” was a result of their bigger boats being able to better withstand the conditions.

FRENCH fishermen sparked outrage after a fleet of trawlers “invaded” British waters. At least a dozen boats were spotted just a few miles off the Cornish coast early on Sunday. They took the opportunity to trawl our side of the Channel while smaller British boats were moored up in stormy weather. But they retreated yesterday as furious local crews prepared to confront them. Trawler skipper Derek Meredith, 50, based in Brixham, Devon, said: “Why should we allow them in our waters if they don’t let us in theirs?”

British trawlermen have threatened to start ‘stoning’ French crews after the ‘biggest ever invasion’ of trawlers in British waters. The conflict was sparked when around 16 French fishing crews brazenly swept in to catch sea bass just metres from the UK shore over the weekend. But the aggressive angling has led to further Anglo-French water tensions which could lead to a repeat of scenes earlier this year. 


French president Emmanuel Macron tonight announced a range of dramatic Socialist-style financial concessions to struggling workers so as to end an ‘economic and social state of emergency’. In a TV address lasting 12 minutes, he said a month of rioting and blockades justified a €100 (£90) increase in the minimum wage, taking it to €1498 (£1360). This will not ‘cost anything to the employer’, said Mr Macron, and will be accompanied by all taxes and other charges on overtimes being scrapped.

FRENCH president Emmanuel Macron tonight caved in to rioters announcing a range of dramatic financial concessions to workers to end an ‘economic and social state of emergency’. In a 12-minute TV address he announced a new £90 increase in the minimum wage – pushing it up to £1,360 a month – following a month of protests and blockades. This will not “cost anything to the employer”, pledged Mr Macron, and will be accompanied by all taxes and other charges on overtimes being scrapped.

President Emmanuel Macron addressed the French nation Wednesday, promising a 100 euro a month increase in the minimum wage, tax-free overtime pay, and year-end bonuses following the Yellow Vest protests. The French leader immediately denounced the violence of the Gilets Jaunes (Yellow Vests) at the beginning of his speech, saying “The events of recent weeks in France and overseas have deeply troubled the nation.


Having a child may raise a woman’s risk of getting breast cancer before age 50 by 80 percent, a new study suggests. Giving birth – especially more than once – has long been thought to help protect women against breast cancer by making changes to mammary gland cells that make them less susceptible to cancer.  But the relationship between age, childbearing and breast cancer is a complicated one.  A new study from the University of North Carolina warns that women who have children, especially after age 25 may actually be at a higher risk of breast cancer earlier on and won’t glean the protective effects of childbearing for some 20 years. 

HAVING children raises breast cancer risk for younger women by up to 80 per cent, a major study reveals. Motherhood is known to protect against the disease by altering levels of key hormones which feed tumours and reducing the risk of breast cells mutating. But after analysing data on almost 900,000 women, experts found this effect only kicks in once they approach their 60s. Before then, becoming a mum raises the chances of breast cancer by up 80 per cent compared with those without kids.

Rail travel

Rail passengers travelling over
Christmas are set to endure festive misery with ‘major’ engineering works taking place on most routes over the festive period. Commuters using the London terminals of Victoria, Paddington, Liverpool Street, Euston and St Pancras will all be disrupted – as well as those at Liverpool Lime Street. Some 25,000 engineers are carrying out more than £148million of upgrades for Network Rail with some of the work beginning as early as Sunday, December 23.

The crisis-hit Crossrail project has been delayed indefinitely as bosses warn that the project could require an extra £1.7bn funding injection, according to transport executives and politicians.  The flagship new Elizabeth Line that will run east-west through London was originally due to open this month. Now the company has admitted it does not know when it will open. “It has now become clear that more work is required than had been envisaged to complete the infrastructure and then commence the extensive testing necessary to ensure the railway opens safely and reliably,” Crossrail said in a statement.

The opening of Crossrail is set to be delayed again as Transport for London admits the new £15 billion rail link will not open in autumn 2019 and could require a further £2 billion funding boost.  It follows a shock announcement earlier this year in August from TfL that the project would be delayed by nine months as ‘more work is required than had been envisaged.’ An independent report by auditors KPMG found problems with the project announced in August are likely to cost up to £2 billion. 

Morning Star
ROSSRAIL may be delayed further and could require a £2 billion funding boost, Transport for London (TfL) announced today. More time is needed to complete the stations and tunnels and carry out safety and reliability testing for the new east-west railway, TfL said. The transport body said “more work is required than had been envisaged” when a revised opening date of autumn 2019 was given in August.

Crossrail could now cost almost £3bn more than budgeted, and the opening of the rail line across London is set to be further delayed until at least 2020. A fresh bailout announced on Monday by the mayor, Sadiq Khan, and the Department for Transport (DfT), includes loans of up to £2.05bn to London. It means the final bill for Crossrail could reach £17.6bn, instead of the £14.8bn it was expected to cost as recently as June.


Asbestos can be found in a staggering nine out of ten NHS hospitals, an investigation has revealed. A Freedom of Information request found that 198 out 211 trusts have the cancer-causing substance in their buildings.  And 352 people have attempted to sue the health service for related diseases in the past four years, figures show. Asbestos is a naturally-occurring material that was commonly used as an insulator between the 1950s and 70s. 

The number of old people being diagnosed with sexually transmitted infections is at an all-time high, figures have revealed. Over-65s in England were diagnosed with 14 per cent more STIs in 2017 than in 2016. Even people over the age of 90 are being treated for the illnesses, with dating apps, better health and drugs such as Viagra keeping them sexually active for longer. Figures from Public Health England showed the number of over-65s who caught common STIs rose from 1,411 in 2016 to 1,608 in 2017.

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Yellow Vests: Macron to address nation on crisis after new weekend of clashes

French President Emmanuel Macron will address the country on Monday as he seeks to placate “yellow vest” anti-government protesters who wreaked havoc in Paris this weekend.

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The fourth weekend of riotous protests in France as part of the Yellow Vests movement drew global attention, particularly from other world leaders.

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Several thousand people demonstrated in Paris on Saturday in a “March for the Climate” largely overshadowed by violent clashes taking place elsewhere in the French capital. “Yellow vests, green vests, we are all angry”, the Paris crowd chanted.

In the run-up to Christmas, businesses take a hit from ‘Yellow Vest’ protests

The ‘Yellow Vest’ protest movement in France has hit businesses hard. In the crucial shopping weeks leading up to Christmas, retailers have been told to close up shop, petrol stations have run dry and tourists have been avoiding the capital.
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