Posts Tagged ‘FRANCE’

‘Air Cocaine’ smuggling trial opens in the south of France

A high-profile French trial over the evocatively named Air Cocaine drug smuggling scandal began Monday in Aix-en-Provence after six years in the making.

Vatican envoy to France under investigation for sexual assault

The Vatican’s envoy to France is being investigated for sexual assault after he was accused of molesting an official at the Paris mayor’s office during a ceremony last month, a judicial source told AFP.

Spate of anti-Semitic acts sparks outrage in France

A tree planted in a Paris suburb in memory of a young Jewish man who was tortured to death in 2006 has been chopped down, authorities said Monday, confirming the latest in a series of anti-Semitic acts in France.

News review – Monday 11 February 2019

News review – Monday 11 February 2019


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Labour Party

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Foreign aid

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


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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Armed forces

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

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

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

Saturday papers – 9 February 2019

Saturday papers – 9 February 2019


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

WTO rules

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Brexit Party

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

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

The Telegraph also reports the party switch.

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

The party could attract Conservatives, says the Mirror.

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

Breitbart reports he could stand again.

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

The Independent says he will stand again.

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

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

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

Conservative Party

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

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

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

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

ITV News also has the story.

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

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

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

Labour Party

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Guardian also has the story.

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

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

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

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

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


Fishing discards have not stopped, says the Guardian.

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

Knife crime

More knife crime is reported in the Mail.

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

ITV News reports the rise in knife crime.

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


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

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

The MP faced criticism, reports the Mail.

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

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

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

He is a ‘disgrace’ says the Mirror.

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

The post Saturday papers – 9 February 2019 appeared first on Independence Daily.

News review – Friday 8 February 2019

News review – Friday 8 February 2019

‘Project after’

Britain will cut taxes and slash tariffs under secret plans drawn up by officials to kick-start the economy in the event of a no-deal Brexit.  Sir Mark Sedwill, the Cabinet Secretary, has led a cross-departmental team examining the “economic levers” that can be used to make Britain more competitive. The plans, which have been drawn up under the codename “Project After”, include a series of aggressive policies to help the UK “steal a march” on the European Union.  The most significant measures include cuts to corporation tax and VAT along with further tax relief to encourage more business investment.

Civil servants are preparing a ‘Doomsday list’ of radical tax and tariff cuts amid warnings the economy faces its worst year since the financial crash. The plans, dubbed ‘Project After’, are being drawn up to minimise the shock of a No Deal Brexit in March. One Whitehall source called the project, marshalled by Cabinet Secretary Mark Sedwill, a ‘Doomsday list of economic levers’ that the Government could pull to stimulate the economy.


Theresa May was accused of taking Brexit “down to the wire” by setting an “insane” timetable for a deal to be agreed as talks stalled in Brussels on Thursday. Donald Tusk, the European Council President, said there was “still no breakthrough in sight” as Mrs May returned home with little more than an agreement to “take stock” at another meeting before the end of the month. As she arrived in Brussels, Mrs was asked if she was in “hell”, but her meeting with Mr Tusk had more of an icy chill about it as they failed to see eye to eye.


France would oppose any British request to delay Brexit if London was simply delaying making a decision, but could agree if London presented a credible political solution, a French government official said on Thursday.  The warning came as British Prime Minister Theresa May held talks in Brussels with European Union leaders to plead for a change to the divorce deal she negotiated last year in the hope of getting it through the British parliament.

Stony-faced Theresa May kicked MPs’ Brexit vote back as far as MARCH  today after struggling through “robust” talks with Brussels. EU chief Jean-Claude Juncker rebuffed her bid to reopen talks on the 585-page Brexit deal – including a controversial ‘backstop’. So the pair have now arranged further talks – but only “before the end of February”. And questioned today, a No10 spokeswoman refused to rule out putting a revised deal to MPs in March – which would be just weeks before the UK leaves the EU on March 29.

Labour’s plan

Senior EU MEP Guy Verhofstadt today claimed that Theresa May is not even seeking to replace the backstop and that in meetings today “she assured us there will be a backstop”.  Verhofstadt also attacked the prospect of a No Deal Brexit as “irresponsible” and welcomed Jeremy Corbyn’s push for a permanent EU Customs Union. Now there’s a surprise! The only place he said the EU was looking to make changes are in the non-legally binding Political Declaration. This is a terrible deal. The UK PM cannot go along with such a stitch-up and Brexiteer MPs surely will not sign off on this.

Donald Tusk twisted the knife again during today’s brutal Brussels face-off as he told Theresa May that Jeremy Corbyn’s new plan for Brexit ‘could be a way out of the current impasse’.  A grim-faced Prime Minister returned to London tonight having achieved little beyond a new round of talks starting on Monday. Her demand the legally binding Withdrawal Agreement be reopened was blocked. And she faced a new blow as the EU Council President backed Mr Corbyn’s new position.

THERESA May is considering Jeremy Corbyn’s Brexit proposals, sparking fears that the UK’s departure from the EU could be derailed. The Prime Minister is looking at the Labour leader’s Brexit blueprint but there are “considerable points of difference”, according to a senior official in Mrs May’s office. Mr Corbyn today set out his five-point plan – including a permanent customs union with the EU – in a letter to the Prime Minister. The Downing Street source said: “It is welcome that the Leader of the Opposition is engaging in this. “It is important that we continue to hold discussions to find a way forward to deliver Brexit

Sky News
The EU’s Donald Tusk has told Theresa May that Jeremy Corbyn’s Brexit plan offers a “promising way out” of the current Brexit stalemate, according to Sky sources. It comes after the Labour leader set out his five demands for backing the government in a letter to the prime minister, including establishing a customs union with the EU and alignment with the bloc’s single market. Mrs May said she confronted Mr Tusk over his “special place in hell” jibe as she held “robust but constructive” talks with EU leaders in Brussels. The prime minister told the European Council president, who hit out at “those who promoted Brexit without even a sketch of a plan to carry it out safely”, that his comments were “not helpful and caused widespread dismay” back home.

DONALD Tusk has ignored Theresa May’s demands to renegotiate the Irish border backstop and thrown his weight behind Jeremy Corbyn’s vision for a soft Brexit. The European Council President said Labour’s plan to remain in a customs union with the EU “would be a promising way out” of the current impasse, Sky News reports. Mr Corbyn today set out the terms under which his party would support Mrs May’s deal – including remaining in a “permanent and comprehensive” customs union and close alignment with the single market.

BBC News
Jeremy Corbyn’s letter setting out his party’s demands for supporting a Brexit deal has been welcomed by the European Parliament’s Brexit co-ordinator. Guy Verhofstadt said “the broadest possible majority” was needed for a Brexit deal in the UK. An EU source said European Council President Donald Tusk said the letter was a “promising way” out of the impasse, in talks with the PM. But Mr Corbyn’s stance has upset Labour supporters of another referendum.

The Brexit negotiations are being pushed to the brink by Theresa May and the EU, with any last-minute offer by Brussels on the Irish backstop expected to be put to MPs just days before the UK is due to leave. In strained talks on Thursday, during which Donald Tusk suggested that Jeremy Corbyn’s plan could help resolve the Brexit crisis, Theresa May and the European commission president, Jean-Claude Juncker, agreed to hold the next face-to-face talks by the end of February.


The European Union will push negotiations to the brink of no-deal, having rejected Theresa May’s pleas for change to the withdrawal agreement yesterday. The prime minister’s requests for “legally binding changes to the terms” of the Irish backstop were rebuffed repeatedly after she held talks in Brussels with Jean-Claude Juncker, Donald Tusk and other senior EU officials. “Still no breakthrough in sight. Talks will continue,” Mr Tusk, the president of the European Council, said. According to officials Mrs May suggested three options for changing the backstop: a time limit on its operation, which is her preferred choice; alternative arrangements, including the use of technology to avoid a hard border in Ireland; and a unilateral exit clause.

Prime Minister Theresa May and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker had “robust” talks Thursday morning, which as promised by European leaders beforehand did nothing to advance the two parties towards a Brexit agreement. The British leader was pictured giving the top Eurocrat a stern glare as the pair shook hands Thursday morning, a move likely calculated to communicate a business-like attitude to British watchers of the talks. Nevertheless the negotiations, which were arranged after Britain’s Parliament voted against Theresa May’s deal and asked her to renegotiate, ultimately less resembled a negotiation and more a simple refusal by Europe to budge.

THERESA May will today warn EU leaders that “legally binding” changes to her Withdrawal Agreement are the only way to prevent the UK quitting the bloc without a deal. In a series of talks with EU chiefs in Brussels, the Prime Minister will insist that she will not allow the country to be “trapped” into a customs union as part of the backstop to keep the Northern Irish border free of checks. Downing Street insiders say Mrs May is braced for a flat refusal to her request from European president Jean-Claude Juncker and other key EU figures. But they believe the discussions will begin a burst of negotiations that they hope will see the EU make the concessions needed to agree a deal that can be approved by Parliament.

Theresa May visits Brussels today but no-one (on either side) expects she will come away from her trip with a single substantive concession to advance the Brexit debate. With just 50 days until Brexit, you might expect that both sides would be going at negotiations hammer and tongs to get a deal, but the reality is that Brexit has now reached a political impasse. This is no longer about technical negotiations (we had two solid years of those) but about the belief on both sides that the other is failing to confront the hard political choices that the reality of Brexit presents.

Brexit architect Nigel Farage has said that Brussels bureaucrats are “scared” of a no-deal, clean Brexit because of the cost to European manufacturers and the looming eurozone recession. When asked on Sky News on Wednesday if he were offended by European Council President Donald Tusk saying there was a “special place in hell” for Brexiteers, the Leave Means Leave vice-chairman said, “No, not particularly. They’re scared, they’re rattled. They really worried. “I was in the parliament last Wednesday, I said that their arrogance and the behaviour of the unelected elites was driving British public opinion towards a WTO ‘No Deal’ Brexit. “And I saw the fear in Juncker’s face, in Barnier’s face, and it was interesting — before that comment, what Tusk was saying what that we must not have a no-deal Brexit.

Brexit is likely to be the first departure of many from the European Union, hence why Brussels are currently doing all they can to preserve their crumbling Union. Don’t believe us? Just look at what’s happening in France right now. The latest Ifop poll has support for Frexit at 40%. Not bad given that few politicians in France openly advocate exiting the EU. One who does it pro-Frexit MEP Florian Philipott writes for Westmonster today: “Brexit is a wonderful opportunity for the United Kingdom but I think Frexit will be even better for France. “We are suffering from the Schengen agreements and the effects of the Euro, a currency unsuited to our economy.”

France is set to challenge a controversial gas pipeline project between Germany and Russia in the first sign of a rift between Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel. Less than a month after the French and German leaders signed a new friendship treaty and pledged closer cooperation to great fanfare, France announced on Thursday that it is backing a bid to bring Germany’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline under EU regulations. The move puts Mr Macron’s government on a collision course with Germany, which has been trying to prevent the move in Brussels.


The French government have recalled their Ambassador for Italy amid increasing friction between Emmanuel Macron and Italy’s anti-establishment government. France’s Foreign Ministry claim that: “France has been, for several months, the target of repeated, baseless attacks and outrageous statements. Adding: “All of these actions are creating a serious situation which is raising questions about the Italian government’s intentions towards France.” “Having disagreements is one thing, but manipulating the relationship for electoral aims is another,” a French statement read.

France recalled its ambassador to Italy on Thursday amid rising tensions after Italy’s deputy prime minister met with French anti-government protesters and Italian leaders made critical public comments about French President Emmanuel Macron’s government. French Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Agnes von der Muhll said the ambassador was being brought back for “consultations” and urged Italy in a statement to work to restore friendly relations worthy of “our common destiny.” Italian Deputy Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio met with supporters of France’s yellow vest protest movement running as candidates for the European Parliament.

Labour Party

Luciana Berger, a prominent Jewish MP, has been threatened with deselection by hard-Left constituency members over her criticism of Jeremy Corbyn and his handling of Labour’s anti-Semitism row. Labour MPs on Thursday night rallied behind Ms Berger, who has been subjected to a torrent of racist abuse in recent weeks, as it emerged that supporters of Mr Corbyn have begun laying the groundwork for ousting her. It comes after the Liverpool Wavertree MP this week hit out at the Labour leadership over its failure to rid the party of anti-Semites, warning that abuse directed at Jewish members was increasingly “going unchecked”.

Luciana Berger faces a no-confidence motion from her local Labour Party for criticising Jeremy Corbyn’s handling of the party’s antisemitism crisis. The Jewish Chronicle reported that Ms Berger, a prominent Jewish MP, was facing the censure motion in her Liverpool Wavertree constituency on February 17. The motion accuses her of “continually using the media to criticise the man we all want to be prime minister”. Ms Berger has been an outspoken critic of the party’s failure to deal with antisemitism in its ranks and has said that the party’s “disgusting” antisemitism was “going unchecked”.

Jeremy Corbyn is facing a furious backlash from pro-EU MPs after making no mention of a fresh referendum as he set out Labour’s fresh Brexit terms. The Labour leader’s letter to Theresa May comes as the prime minister attempts to negotiate new concessions with the EU in her first visit to Brussels since her deal was defeated by a historic margin in Westminster. But Mr Corbyn’s demands provoked anger from Remain-supporting backbenchers who were hoping to persuade the leadership to give its unequivocal backing to a Final Say referendum – one of the policy options on the table since the party’s conference.

Jeremy Corbyn is battling to calm a growing Labour civil war over his refusal to support a fresh Brexit referendum, as some of his MPs threatened to quit the party in protest. The Labour leader was forced to justify his intentions after his new offer to help Theresa May deliver Brexit triggered accusations that he had torpedoed his party’s policy of keeping a public vote on the table. Amid growing tensions, Mr Corbyn wrote to party members to insist that party backing for a Final Say referendum remained an option – hours after furious Labour MPs accused their leader of helping enable Brexit.

A trade union affiliated with the Labour party has claimed that Jeremy Corbyn’s party could lose an additional 45 seats in a snap election if it fails to take an anti-Brexit position, in a leaked report. The report, drawn up by the transport union TSSA and including extensive polling, was sent to the leftwing pressure group Momentum. It appears to be an attempt to pile pressure on the Labour leader over Brexit. It claims that “Brexit energises Labour remain voters” disproportionately, and warns: “There is no middle way policy which gets support from both sides of the debate.” The Guardian understands that while the report was sent to Momentum, it was not commissioned or requested by the group. Sources inside the party stressed that there were risks from turning either way on Brexit – and other polls showed a different picture.

Labour’s strained unity over Brexit shattered today after Jeremy Corbyn told Therssa May his price for supporting her deal a Norway-style relationship. The Labour leader wrote to the Prime Minister setting out changes she could seek to the political deal on the future UK-EU relationship to get his support. Crucially the changes Mr Corbyn wants are not to the legally binding Withdrawal Agreement – meaning a version of them might be achievable in Brussels. Remain supporting MPs reacted with horror to the plan, which is designed to appeal to some Tory MPs and show voters Labour is willing to compromise to get a deal.  Former leadership contender Owen Smith even suggested he could quit Labour altogether if the party helps deliver Brexit.


Lancaster University is opening a campus in Germany in an attempt to protect itself from the impact of Brexit. While other universities have signed tie-ups, partnerships and joint research projects with EU universities since the referendum in 2016, this is the first campus to be started from scratch, and will open this year in Leipzig. It will offer degrees in business and management, accounting and finance, software engineering, and computing for up to 2,000 students. These were the skills that the government of Saxony said its economy needed, and formed part of the negotiations.

Universities are failing to get significantly more poor students and state school pupils through their doors. Data on the proportion of students from state schools and “low-participation neighbourhoods” in 2017-18 shows that little has changed in four years. The proportion of new arrivals at universities who attended state schools was 89.8 per cent in the last academic year, down 0.2 percentage points on the previous year and the same as in 2014-15. Fifteen institutions took less than 70 per cent of their intake from state schools.


ITV News
Trucks in supermarket car parks will offer lung cancer checks under a new scheme to be rolled out across England. Hundreds of thousands of people are to be screened over the next four years, as part of an NHS drive to catch the disease early and improve chances of survival. The £70 million initiative, which includes 10 projects nationally, will target areas recording the highest death rates for lung cancer. Around 600,000 people are expected to benefit over the next four years, and an estimated 3,400 cancers could be detected as a result, NHS England said. “Catching more cancers early is a cornerstone of the NHS Long Term Plan to save a further 55,000 lives a year and targeted lung health checks is one of the first projects to roll out following publication,” Cally Palmer, national cancer director at NHS England, said.

The post News review – Friday 8 February 2019 appeared first on Independence Daily.

Sexual abuse defamation trial: Former French Green Party chief regrets silence

Former officials of France’s Green Party (Europe Ecologie Les Verts) say they should have acted earlier on reports of sexual misconduct by an ex-lawmaker accused by six women of harassment and abuse.
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