Posts Tagged ‘Scotland’

Secret Brexit deal could threaten scotch whisky

Spirit is under threat from US imports in classified talks to remove barriers to trade

A post-Brexit trade deal with the US could mean whiskey galore for the UK.

But while drinkers might be celebrating, this could be bad news for scotch whisky distillers who are being warned that their industry faces a glut of imports from US producers if trade barriers come down once the UK leaves the EU.

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Saturday papers – Saturday 19 May 2018

Saturday papers – Saturday 19 May 2018

UKIP Daily offers the Duke and Duchess of Sussex every good wish on their wedding day.

After that, this site becomes a wedding-free zone.


Tory MPs are getting tough with the Prime Minister, says the Express.

THERESA May has been told she needs to ditch the EU talks and go for a “quick no deal”.
Brexit MPs have warned the Prime Minister that patience is running out over the protracted negotiations with Brussels trying to exploit the Northern Ireland border to keep the UK tied to the customs union and single market.
After a series of meetings with MPs this week ahead of a summit in the Balkans, the Prime Minister has been warned that she needs to follow her own claim that “no deal is better than a bad deal”.
Walking out of talks and going to World Trade Organisation rules will also save Britain £40 billion in divorce fees which the UK agreed to if the 
EU makes a final deal.

Westmonster quotes a DUP spokesman.

Theresa May should ‘dig her heels in’ and play hardball with Brussels because EU big wigs will back down, says DUP’s Brexit spokesman Sammy Wilson.
He told The Telegraph: “When the PM has stuck her heels in, as she did in December, they changed the agreement. As she did in March, when they said they wouldn’t accept the legal agreement, they backed down.
“She should learn from that. Stand up to them. They need the deal, they will back down. Do this kind of thing where you sway with the wind you will come off worse.”


Jacob Rees-Mogg should be the Conservatives’ next leader, says Westmonster in a column by Daniel Kawczynski, Conservative MP for Shrewsbury and Atcham

Last Monday evening I had the pleasure of introducing Jacob Rees-Mogg at a Reignite event in London attended by around a hundred mainly students. The popularity of this event, notably that so many students would leave their revision books in the middle of exam season, has reinforced in my mind that there is only one person to succeed Theresa May as Party Leader and as Prime Minister – and that man is Jacob Rees-Mogg.
It is essential that, once the Brexit process has been completed, the Conservative Party must be led with someone who has a clear, concise view of what a post Brexit Britain should look like, has the support of both MPs and Party members and has the skills necessary to take the fight to the Labour Party.

Customs union

But Brexiteers are in for a fight over the customs union, says the Times.

Eurosceptics are preparing to fight to make sure Britain is tied to the EU’s customs union beyond the end of 2020 only on a short-term basis as it emerged that there are limits to the type of trade deals possible under the plan agreed by the cabinet this week.
Senior cabinet figures expect a series of difficult meetings of the Brexit war cabinet in the next three weeks about what kind of immigration system Britain will offer after Brexit and the level of divergence from the single market. These matters need to be settled before the European Council meeting at the end of June.


And the Irish Taoiseach has added to the pressure, says the Mail.

The Irish premier has warned Britain must keep some ties to the single market with Brexit in order to avoid a hard border with the Republic.
Theresa May has drawn up new plans to keep the whole of the UK aligned with the EU customs union after Brexit if no deal can be done to keep a soft Irish border.
The PM is expected to unveil the new details of the ‘fallback option’ to EU leaders in a fortnight’s time.

The Independent reiterates the rejection of a border in the Irish Sea.

The Irish government does not want a border down the Irish Sea separating Great Britain from Northern Ireland, a senior lawmaker from the country’s governing party has said.
Neale Richmond, the Fine Gael senator who chairs the body’s Brexit committee, said Brexiteers had mischaracterised the country’s approach to solving the border question.
His comments come a day after Taoiseach Leo Varadkar met with Theresa May at a summit on Sofia, where he warned that there was a “serious” possibility of the UK quitting without a deal.
EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier has said there would likely be customs checks between Great Britain and Northern Ireland if the so-called “backstop” of keeping NI in the customs union and single market took effect.

Breitbart also reports the Irish call.

The Irish Premier called for the UK to remain tied to the European Union’s (EU) Customs Union, as Theresa May prepares new Brexit proposals that she says will keep the bloc happy and the Irish border open.
The Prime Minister reportedly wants to keep the UK aligned to the Customs Union, and claims that being locked to many of its rules will not hinder the UK’s ability to control trade policy and strike new deals.
She is expected to unveil the new details of the “backstop” option to EU leaders in two weeks’ time, 
The Times reports.
According to the plan, the UK would collect EU tariffs during the transition period, which has been agreed to last two years.


The Scottish first minister is also causing problems for Mrs May, says the Express.

THERESA May has slammed Nicola Sturgeon’s opposition to the Brexit Bill as she claims the SNP leader is only objecting to it so she can break up the United Kingdom and seek independence for Scotland.
Speaking at the Welsh Conservative conference, Mrs May called on all UK politicians to support her legislation if they believed in the “integrity” of Britain.
The Prime Minister criticised Nicola Sturgeon, saying: “And the only First Minister in the UK who still opposes the Withdrawal Bill is the only First Minister who wants to break up the United Kingdom – Nicola Sturgeon.


On the other side of the Channel, Barnier has his own ideas, says the Telegraph.

Brussels is likely to reject Theresa May’s plan to keep Britain tied to EU customs rules beyond 2021 because it believes the backstop clause to prevent a hard Irish border can only apply to Northern Ireland and not the whole UK.
“The European commission has always understood it as applying to Northern Ireland only,” an EU source told The Telegraph, “It has always said that Northern Ireland is a unique situation”.
Brussels is now waiting for a formal offer from Mrs May in writing but is likely to point to language agreed in December’s UK-EU joint report that says any Irish border deal cannot “pre-determine” any wider agreement on the future relationship between the two sides.

But the bloc has its own problems, says Westmonster.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has told Parliament that Central and Eastern European countries are Europe’s future because of Western Europe’s failure to get to grips with mass migration.
Orbán said that countries can only run when they have long-term plans, and in his view, the economic centre of Europe was shifting to the east, as eastern economies continued to show solid signs of strong growth.
“In 1990, Europe was our future and today we are Europe’s future,” he declared.
“We are the fastest growing region of the Union.”
Migration also played a part of this, according to the Hungarian firebrand, who said that Europe had been threatened by migration and mass migration for many years.

Westmonster also reports the surge in anti-Europeanism.

The number of Italians who would vote for the Eurosceptic, anti-mass migration Lega party has surged since the election.
Lega were backed by 17% at Italy’s General Election in March, which was already a big increase in support for the party.
But now a new poll has shown the party, led by Matteo Salvini, has surged to 25% as they negotiate with the Five Star Movement over a governing agreement that looks close to completion.
That makes Lega the second most popular party, with the anti-establishment Five Star on 32%.

Could Italy be the next country to leave the EU? The Sun reports.

BRUSSELS fears Italy will be the next to quit the EU — after two anti-union parties formed a Government.
The Five Star Movement and Northern League vowed to end austerity and blitz migration.
They also demanded a review of Brussels’ spending curbs that limit budget deficits to three per cent of GDP.
Italy’s new Government also wants to renegotiate its debt — the EU’s second highest after Greece — and increase public spending.


Back home, the Speaker of the House of Commons is still in the news, reports the Telegraph.

John Bercow allegedly accused Andrea Leadsom of being a liar in the Commons after she confronted him over claims he had described her as a “stupid woman”.
On Wednesday Mr Brecow allegedly described Mrs Leadsom, the Leader of the House of Commons, as a “stupid woman” and muttered that she was “f —— useless”.
The Telegraph has learned that Mrs Leadsom returned to the Chamber on Wednesday afternoon after being told by MPs about the alleged comments by Mr Bercow.
In an exchange overhead by MPs, she confronted Mr Bercow over his alleged comments and asked him for an explanation.
He allegedly responded by calling her a liar.

And there may now be an investigation, says the Times.

Theresa May has intensified pressure on John Bercow by calling for an investigation into claims that he called a female minister a “stupid woman”.
The Speaker of the House of Commons was accused of having made the disparaging remark about Andrea Leadsom, the Commons leader, under his breath in the chamber on Wednesday. He was also reportedly overheard calling her “f***ing useless”.
The prime minister’s official spokeswoman said: “We have seen the alleged remarks. Clearly they are unacceptable. If there is an official complaint made it should be properly investigated.”

The Independent reports on the pressure on Bercow.

Theresa May has heaped pressure on speaker John Bercow following accusations that he referred to a female cabinet minister as a “stupid woman” in the Commons.
The prime minister’s official spokeswoman told reporters Ms May believes that if the words had been used, they are “unacceptable” and should be investigated.
The remark allegedly came after a debate on Wednesday, when Mr Bercow is said to have berated cabinet minister Andrea Leadsom.
It also comes after an inquiry was blocked by MPs, in the wake of other allegations that Mr Bercow bullied two former staff members from the Speaker’s Office.

The Mirror claims his words were ‘unacceptable’.

Theresa May yesterday piled pressure on Commons Speaker John Bercow as she blasted his “unacceptable” comments to senior minister Andrea Leadsom.
He was claimed to have muttered that she was a “stupid woman” and “f****** useless”.
The PM’s spokeswoman said: “We have seen the alleged remarks and clearly the Prime Minister thinks they are unacceptable and if an official complaint is made it should properly investigated.”
Asked if Mrs May had full confidence in the Speaker, she added: “The Speaker is elected by MPs so questions of confidence are for Parliament.”

Sky News also has the story.

Theresa May regards an alleged verbal attack on a senior minister by the speaker as “unacceptable”, Downing Street has said.
John Bercow is reported to have called Commons Leader Andrea Leadsom a “stupid woman” after launching a tirade against the government in the Commons on Wednesday.
A Number 10 spokeswoman said Downing Street was aware of the alleged remarks, adding: “Clearly the prime minister thinks they are unacceptable. If an official complaint is made it should be properly investigated.”
Sources close to Ms Leadsom have told Sky News she will not be making a formal complaint as she is “entirely focused on getting the bullying and harassment processes up and running”.

House of Lords

Looks like the PM has started to appoint more peers, says the Independent.

Theresa May has been accused of “hypocrisy” after appointing nine new Conservative peers to the House of Lords, including several ex-ministers, despite vowing to end the practice.
The prime minister sent six former MPs – three of whom sat in the cabinet – to the upper chamber, which flies in the face of her claims that senior politicians should not expect automatic ennoblement.
Announcing the appointments on the eve of the royal wedding was branded “frankly pathetic” by critics, who called the prime minister “cynical” for seeking to sneak out the news when it would receive little attention.
Controversial appointments on the Labour side  include Martha Osamor, who has been embroiled in the party’s antisemitism scandal, and also the DUP’s William McCrea, a Presbyterian minister who once called for airstrikes on the Republic of Ireland.

Sky News goes into detail.

Nine Conservatives are among 13 new peers appointed to the House of Lords in a move some have described as an attempt to boost the Government’s support for Brexit.
It comes after 15 recent defeats in the Lords over the Brexit withdrawal bill.
Among the life peerages are the former secretary of state for social security and vocal Leave campaigner, Peter Lilley, former communities secretary, Sir Eric Pickles and former chairman of the Treasury Select Committee, Andrew Tyrie.
Liberal Democrat Leader in the Lords, Dick Newby, said“This is a cynical response from Theresa May to losing a string of votes in the Lords in recent weeks, and is a desperate bid to quell opposition to the Conservatives’ reckless Brexit.

The Guardian points out the timing of the announcement.

Theresa May has on the eve of the royal wedding nominated nine new Tory peers, including the former cabinet ministers Sir Eric Pickles and Peter Lilley and handed one to Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist party as she tries to bolster her party’s fragile position in the House of Lords.
Four other former Tory MPs are to be elevated to a chamber which has defied May’s government on 15 occasions over Brexit, in an afternoon announcement that has prompted accusations that No 10 was trying to use Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding to bury the news.
The full list of Tories includes Sir Edward Garnier, Sir John Randall, Sir Alan Haselhurst and Andrew Tyrie, all former MPs. May’s other nominees are Diana Barran, Catherine Meyer, the founder of Action Against Abduction who is married to former US ambassador Sir Christopher Meyer, and Amanda Sater, a former party deputy chair.

BBC News claims it’s an attempt to get her policies through the House.

Downing Street has nominated nine new Conservative peers, including a number of former ministers, to sit in the House of Lords.
Among those put forward for a peerage are former communities secretary Sir Eric Pickles and former trade and industry secretary Peter Lilley.
The move follows a series of government defeats in the Lords, where Theresa May does not have a majority, over Brexit.
The Democratic Unionists will get one new peer while Labour will get three.
The Lib Dems, which have more than 100 peers in the unelected chamber, said it was a “desperate bid” by Theresa May to quell opposition to her Brexit policy.

Huffington Post points out that the Labour leader has also made nominations.

Theresa May has appointed nine new Conservative members of the House of Lords and handed another peerage to her DUP allies.
Jeremy Corbyn has also given seats in the Lords to former Labour general secretary Iain McNicol and veteran anti-racism campaigner Martha Osamor.
With 244 members of the Lords, the Conservatives Party has the most peers.
However the government does not have a majority in the 780 member chamber and has suffered a series of damaging defeats on its Brexit legislation over the past few weeks.


In other news, Westmonster claims its easy to get a passport.

The BBC has produced an interesting report showing just how easy it is for migrants wanting to come to Europe illegally to obtain valid passports and identity cards.
A pair of reporters, posing as a Syrian couple, posted on several Facebook groups – some of which have over 5,000 active members, saying they were looking to buy illegal documentation to travel within the EU.

Within hours, the reporters had received almost a dozen responses with people offering to supply them with documents and travel papers. The fake couple then met with a broker in Istanbul who told them he had genuine passports, which he had purchased from refugees who had obtained them and subsequently left Europe.


It seems cancer could be treated with a combination of two widely available medications, says the Sun.

CANCER patients could stop it spreading by taking Viagra and having the flu jab, a study suggests.
The unusual mix slashed the disease’s escalation in mice by 91 per cent, researchers found.
It appeared to boost the immune system’s ability to mop up cancerous cells left behind after surgery to remove a tumour.
Tests found mice which only had surgery were left with 129 cancerous spreads.
But those that received Viagra and the flu jab Agriflu had just 11.

Train travel

Timetable changes are not being welcomed by passengers, says the Times.

Thousands of rail passengers risk being stranded in the biggest shake-up of train timetables in decades.
Passenger groups warned that some departure times would be altered by up to half an hour while other stations would lose services altogether during the overhaul of 100,000 rail services over the course of a week.
The changes, introduced from tomorrow, follow a number of major track upgrades and the introduction of hundreds of faster trains on to the network.

And the Mail claims disabled passengers may not be helped by staff.

Southern Rail’s parent company has been slammed for advising staff not to help disabled people on and off trains if it risks making them late.
A staff booklet issued by Govia Thameslink Railway instructs workers: ‘Do not attempt to place people of reduced mobility on a train if there is a possibility of delaying the service’.
It has sparked fury among rail union bosses who have branded it an ‘insult to disabled people’.


The Times reports ‘computer says no’.

Tens of thousands of victims of online fraud are having their cases dismissed by a computer algorithm, as police officers refuse to guarantee that a human being will investigate thefts of less than £100,000.
Figures obtained by The Times suggest that more than half of cases reported to the UK’s national reporting centre for online crime are deemed not worthy of further investigation by an “automated scoring matrix”.
The algorithm assesses factors such as whether bank details of scammers have been provided. Only crimes with a value of £100,000 are automatically passed to human investigators, who then decide whether the case should go to the local police.

Police cuts HAVE led to an increase in crime, says the Times.

The nation’s most senior police officer has said she is certain that government cuts to the force budgets have played a role in the soaring level of violent crime in the UK.
Cressida Dick, the Metropolitan Police commissioner, said for the first time since taking office that cuts made during the prime minister’s tenure as home secretary had played a role in the rising levels of murder, knife and gun crime on Britain’s streets.
Ms Dick has been granted an extra £110 million, which she said she intends to plough into a recruitment drive that should bring in at least 500 extra officers.

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News review – Thursday 17 May 2018

News review – Thursday 17 May 2018

Customs union

BRITAIN will tell Brussels it is willing to stay in the EU customs union beyond 2021 as the government ended up with another stand-off over the contentious issue in the Brexit debate.
The Brexit “war cabinet” broke up without an agreement early this week as ministers continued to openly challenge the post-EU withdrawal trade agreement but settled on a new “backstop” to avoid a hard Irish border. Despite the disapproval of lead Brexiteers Boris Johnson and Micheal Gove, the ministers signed off the plans on Tuesday. The news immediately concerned Eurosceptics with Jacob Rees-Mogg saying: “The risk of the Government using all its mental energy on the fallback position is that they create a position that is more attractive than a permanent deal.

Britain will tell Brussels it is prepared to stay tied to the customs union beyond 2021 as ministers remain deadlocked over a future deal with the EU, the Telegraph has learned. The Prime Minister’s Brexit war Cabinet earlier this week agreed on a new “backstop” as a last resort to avoid a hard Irish border, having rejected earlier proposals from the European Union. Ministers signed off the plans on Tuesday despite objections from Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, and Michael Gove, the Environment Secretary. A pro-European Cabinet source said that Mr Johnson and Mr Gove were “outgunned” during the meeting and reluctantly accepted the plans.

THERESA May has been told to make a customs union decision now or the UK will end up playing into the hands of the EU and never leave.
Tory Eurosceptics expressed frustration as the so-called Brexit war Cabinet failed again to come to an agreement on a decision about what to do as an alternative to staying in the customs union. Eurosceptics fear continuous delays will result in the UK never leaving the customs union and playing right into the hands of the EU.

Brexit secretary David Davis has thrown the Prime Minister’s favoured ‘customs partnership’ into doubt, claiming it could, in fact, be illegal according to international law, as he backs a clean Brexit instead.
The plan supported by Theresa May would see the UK collecting tariffs on goods for the European Union (EU) once they are inside the UK, before paying them back in an attempt to keep borders open with the nations inside the Customs Union, but without being a member. However, it is illegal to discriminate between domestic and imported goods inside a nation, World Trade Organization rules insist, for example.


Theresa May and her Brexit “war cabinet” have agreed a new fallback position on the Irish border that could preserve elements of the customs union if Britain cannot strike a deal on its preferred post-Brexit trading plan.
Ministers including Boris Johnson, Michael Gove and David Lidington discussed the “backstop” plan for Northern Ireland that will come into force if Mrs May’s blueprint for customs arrangements collapses. Mrs May has rejected an EU version of the backstop that would have guaranteed no infrastructure on the Irish border and committed the UK to maintaining regulatory alignment between Northern Ireland and the Republic. This would have meant that Northern Ireland and mainland Britain had different rules and raised the prospect of a border in the Irish Sea.

THERESA May has been accused of surrendering to IRA terrorists by staunch Leaver Labour MP Kate Hoey after the Prime minister vowed to never put hi-tech cameras on the border post-Brexit.
Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley was lambasted by Brexiteer Ms Hoey during the cross-party European Scrutiny Committee. It came after Ms Bradley told MPs the threat of violence meant it would be impossible to implement a “physical infrastructure” on the Northern Irish border. Ms Hoey scalded: “Are you saying we might not consider putting up or using cameras away from the border because of some blackmailing and threats by dissidents who might actually decide that they are going to start killing people?


Theresa May has paved the way for a constitutional crisis by refusing to amend her Brexit plans, despite their rejection by the Scottish parliament.
Pleas by the SNP for the government to step back from “breaking the 20-year-old devolution settlement” were rebuffed by the prime minister, who vowed to plough ahead. Holyrood voted to withhold consent from the key EU (Withdrawal) Bill, when Labour, Green and Lib Dem MSPs joined SNP members in rejecting the legislation by 93 votes to 30. Westminster can override the opinion – triggered by Edinburgh’s claims of a London power grab – but it would spark the biggest political crisis since the Scottish Parliament was set up in 1999.

Morning Star
“SHAMBOLIC” Tory posturing means that the Brexit dispute between the Westminster and Holyrood governments could end up in the Supreme Court, Labour said yesterday.
Last night, the Scottish Parliament denied consent to Theresa May’s EU withdrawal Bill in a row over the devolution of powers from the bloc. MSPs voted 93-30 in favour of rejecting the Prime Minister’s legislation. The move will not block Westminster’s blueprint, but it means Westminster is now set to push through laws against the wishes of Holyrood for the first time.


OVERSEAS investors will be invited to pump billions into dozens of British business projects as trade ministers prove that Britain will thrive after Brexit. Liam Fox, Secretary of State for International Trade, will invite foreign firms on Thursday to submit bids for financing £30billion worth of projects.
Foreign investors will be offered the chance to fund 68 projects, across 20 sectors of the economy. Opportunities will be available in a number of sectors, including technology, housing, and retail. A lot of them will be outside London, as the Government attempt to show the world’s sixth largest economy is more than just its capital city. More projects will be added in the coming months.

Trade secretary Liam Fox will invite overseas investors on Thursday to submit bids for financing 30 billion pounds of projects to help the world’s sixth-largest economy cope with the upheaval of leaving the European Union. Britain is trying reinvent itself as a global trading nation and improve economic ties with countries outside Europe as the government prepares to leave the EU next year.
Investors will be offered the chance to fund 68 projects across 20 sectors of the economy, including technology, housing and retail, and many of the projects are outside London in less affluent parts of Britain.


A leaked copy of the Five Star/Lega governing agreement in Italy has shown that the coalition is likely to be massively sceptical of the European Union and Euro membership moving forward.
The pair wanted to look at re-opening treaties. And an explicit mechanism to leave the Euro to regain “monetary sovereignty”. They are also looking at revising budget contributions to the EU as well as requesting €250 billion in debt relief. Though they have stressed that this was an old draft that has since been updated, it shows an interesting frame of mind from the insurgent forces. In a statement the pair have said today:  “The spirit must be to return to the pre-Maastricht setting in which European states were moved by genuine intents of peace, brotherhood, co-operation and solidarity.” This coalition could prove quite the headache for Brussels!

Up to 4 million British people cannot get the work they want because of cheap foreign labour, a report has claimed.
MigrationWatch said businesses were ‘getting away’ with insisting they could not recruit local workers because they had a ‘virtually unlimited’ pool of low-paid  EU migrants. A paper by the think-tank said there were about 1.5 million Britons looking for jobs and another million who worked part-time but struggled to find full-time employment.  But official figures did not take into account those who wanted to increase their hours, for instance boosting their time at work from 16 to 20 hours, or who were looking for a second job to top up their income.

Thousands of skilled foreign workers with job offers in the UK were denied entry due to Theresa May’s “arbitrary” visa scheme, it has been revealed.
More than 6,000 visa applications from professionals including scientists, IT specialists and doctors were refused over a period of just four months between December and March. The refusals were the result of an annual limit of 20,700 so-called Tier 2 visas introduced in 2011 while Ms May was home secretary.

BIG business was slammed for ignoring up to four million “underemployed” Brits – because they have an unlimited number of EU workers on tap.
Migration Watch said firms were not doing enough to hire British workers or tailor recruitment to local needs because they know they can fly in people from member states across the Continent. It claimed record job figures were masking a huge problem of Brits working part-time but wanting full-time roles, or those on shifts desperate for longer hours or overtime. There are nearly 1.5 million unemployed Brits looking for work and available for work, but a further 2 million who want more hours. Another 214,000 want a second job to earn more cash while 274,000 want a new job with more hours.

THE European Parliament has put in motion plans to keep British officials after Brexit, a leaked internal note from a top staffer has revealed.
The Parliament’s Secretary-General Klaus Welle described British staff as “valued members of the EU civil service and of our European team” in the email sent in a bid to reassure the administration of the future after Brexit. British officials will be able to keep their European Parliament jobs after Brexit, Mr Welle wrote in the memo seen by Politico. He added the Parliament’s administration will “not require British officials to resign on the ground that they will no longer have the nationality of a member state”.

House of Lords

The House of Lords has defied the government by passing proposals to maintain EU eco-standards after Brexit, inflicting yet another defeat on Theresa May’s withdrawal plans.
Peers accused ministers of using Brexit to water down environmental protections currently in place due to Britain’s EU membership, and of proposing they be replaced with a “toothless imitation”. But the government denied the accusations and insisted their own proposals would strengthen protections, while supportive peers accused those behind the defeat of trying to derail Ms May’s Brexit legislation.

BRUSSELS is stalling in Brexit talks because of the unelected House of Lords’ attempt to wreck Theresa May’s flagship EU exit legislation, ministers have been warned.
Front-line UK negotiators have reported back to Downing Street that their EU counterparts are stonewalling until they see how many of the peers’ 15 changes that rip up the UK’s Brexit policy are supported by MPs. One minister told The Sun: “As we warned, the EU are now negotiating with Parliament not us and they are playing for time while they see what MPs say.”

Peers have inflicted a 15th defeat on the government’s key  Brexit bill, underlining the acute political challenge Theresa May faces in seeking a deal that both parliament and her warring ministers can live with.
The latest amendment, aimed at bolstering environmental protection after Brexit, was carried by 294 to 244 votes on Wednesday. Peers argued that enforcement measures proposed in a consultation document published last week were inadequate and that the environment had been subordinated to housing and economic growth.

THE EU is trying to stall talks in the hope the unelected House of Lords will destroy Theresa May’s Brexit Bill and potentially dilute the final deal when the UK leaves the bloc, according to British negotiators.
Brexit negotiators have claimed their EU counterparts are delaying talks to see how many of the Lords’ 15 changes to Mrs May’s flagship policy are supported by the Commons. A minister said: “As we warned, the EU are now negotiating with Parliament not us and they are playing for time while they see what MPs say.”

BBC News
The government’s flagship Brexit bill is to return to the House of Commons having suffered a total of 15 defeats in the Lords.
Brexit Minister Lord Callanan said he had “a tremendous sigh of relief” as he wound up proceedings. Labour urged Theresa May to take a “pragmatic view” of all the changes proposed by peers. The 15th defeat came on the issue of environmental protection standards after Brexit. Peers voted by a majority of 50 to say the government should set up a body to maintain EU standards.


A probe into allegations John Bercow bullied members of staff has been blocked by MPs.
The Commons Standards Committee voted three-two against allowing Parliament’s watchdog to investigate the claims. The Commons Speaker has emphatically denied allegations he bullied former private secretaries Angus Sinclair and Kate Emms. Andrew Bridgen, a Conservative MP, asked the parliamentary commissioner for standards, Kathryn Stone, to investigate whether Mr Bercow had broken the MPs’ code of conduct. Ms Stone sought the opinion of the standards committee – made up of MPs and lay members from outside Parliament – on whether an investigation fell within her remit.

A probe into allegations Commons Speaker John Bercow bullied staff has been blocked by MPs.
The Commons Standards Committee voted three-two against allowing Parliament’s watchdog to investigate the claims. Mr Bercow has emphatically denied allegations that he bullied former private secretaries Angus Sinclair and Kate Emms. Tory MP Andrew Bridgen asked Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards Kathryn Stone to investigate whether Mr Bercow had broken the MPs’ code of conduct.

COMMONS watchdog MPs sparked fury last night by blocking a probe into John Bercow bullying claims.
The Standards Committee used an obscure rule that says allegations from more than seven years ago must be voted on by the seven MPs in charge. Only five voted and three, Tories Sir Christopher Chope and John Stevenson plus Labour’s Kate Green, were against an investigation into the Commons Speaker. One Tory MP fumed: “They should rename the committee the Double Standards Committee. It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.

An inquiry into allegations that the Speaker of the House of Commons
bullied members of staff has been blocked by MPs. The Commons standards committee voted three to two against allowing parliament’s watchdog to investigate the claims against John Bercow. Bercow has emphatically denied allegations that he bullied his former private secretaries Angus Sinclair and Kate Emms.  Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen asked Kathryn Stone, the parliamentary commissioner for standards, to investigate whether Bercow had broken the MPs’ code of conduct.


Patients were put at risk of cancer and other serious harm because of a botched £330 million NHS
outsourcing deal, the spending watchdog has found. An attempt at cost-cutting has led to more than two years of chaos in back-office services for GPs, opticians and dentists, the National Audit Office said. Dozens of women were wrongly told that they no longer needed cervical cancer screening and incompetent staff may have been allowed to carry on practising, the report concludes. The outsourcing company Capita and NHS England are still bickering about the deal, leading to failures including a backlog of half a million patient registrations, the NAO warns.


The transport secretary was under pressure to act over at least four struggling rail operators last night after announcing plans to renationalise services on the east coast main line.
Chris Grayling was warned that other companies were in trouble after failing to improve rail services or attract enough passengers, amid suggestions that the entire privatised system must be overhauled. Those in the firing line include Northern Rail, South Western, Transpennine Express and Greater Anglia. Mr Grayling announced yesterday that Virgin Trains East Coast would be stripped of its franchise next month, the third time in little over a decade the operator on the line has collapsed.

A CORBYNITE MP was left stunned as he was informed that nationalised railways in France are in fact just as expensive as private routes in the UK while appearing on BBC Newsnight.
When grilled on why Labour wanted to adopt a nationalisation system similar to the one that is failing in France, Shadow Transport Secretary, Andy McDonald, stumbled when he didn’t know that fares in France are just as high as the UK. Emily Maitlis asked the MP why hard-working commuters would want “huge industrialisation, €60billion (£52billion) debt and fares the same as here”.

RAIL services on the East Coast Main Line will be brought back under public control as Virgin Trains have its contract terminated.Rail bosses have said they are “surprised and disappointed” that the Government chose not to award it a new deal.
Stagecoach, which owns 90% of the Virgin Trains East Coast franchise, will no longer run services on the London to Edinburgh route. Trains will be run by the Department for Transport through an operator of last resort. Stagecoach pledged to “work constructively with the DfT and the OLR in the weeks ahead to ensure a professional transfer to the new arrangements”.


worrying pattern of soft justice continues to emerge in Britain, with new analysis showing that the number of criminal charges has fallen despite the number of  recorded crimes surging in England and Wales.
The BBC have found that in 2016 – 2017, 527,000 charges were brought forward. That’s down by 65,000 when compared to 2014 – 2015. In that same period crime rose considerably, with recorded incidents rising by around 750,000. There are some examples that are particularly concerning. For instance recorded crime relating to violence against the person has soared massively, but charges have decreased between the two periods. In the words of West Yorkshire Police Chief Constable Dee Collins: “My officers and staff, I think do a fantastic job with the resource that we have, but I realise that we are letting some people down.

The post News review – Thursday 17 May 2018 appeared first on UKIP Daily | UKIP News | UKIP Debate.

Scotland had to reject the EU withdrawal bill. It was a power grab | Ruth Wishart

Holyrood’s vote was not another independence bid, but a move to ensure Brexit does not undermine Scotland’s existing devolved powers

Twenty years ago the often lugubrious face of the late Donald Dewar broke into a satisfied grin as he read out the first line of the Scotland Act at the Commons dispatch box: “There shall be a Scottish parliament.” “I like that,” he added. And eight months later he gave an impassioned speech to the inaugural meeting of that parliament in Edinburgh in which he referred to the restoration of a national legislature as “the day when democracy was renewed in Scotland”.

This morning, the day after that parliament overwhelmingly rejected the EU withdrawal bill in its current form, it’s worth remembering that Dewar’s Labour party was godfather to devolution, and that he campaigned alongside the SNP, the Lib Dems and the Greens to deliver the yes vote that brought it into being. And that Labour, alongside the Lib Dems, formed the first coalition administration in 1999. It helps explain why every party at Holyrood bar the Tories voted to reject this UK legislation, all agreeing that it would strike at the heart of the devolution settlement. Tellingly, that perceived disempowerment formed the centrepiece of Tuesday’s debate.

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Scottish government urged to cast aside Brexit ‘bickering’

Holyrood’s vote against EU bill has sparked unnecessary row, says Scottish secretary

The Scottish secretary has accused the Scottish government of manufacturing an “unnecessary row” over Brexit after Holyrood voted to reject the EU withdrawal bill.

David Mundell said he was frustrated and disappointed after Holyrood decided by a large majority to withhold its consent to the EU bill because it could allow UK ministers to impose policies on Scotland without Holyrood’s agreement.

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News review – Wednesday 16 May 2018

News review – Wednesday 16 May 2018

Customs union

Theresa May has attacked the leading Brexit-backing Tory Jacob Rees-Mogg in front of other MPs according to reports, slamming his support for a clean Brexit, outside the Customs Union with the Irish border open.
The Prime Minister is reported to have “confronted” Mr. Rees-Mogg, with The Times describing it as a “clash”, as well as quoting sources who said Mrs. May was “sending a tough signal” to Brexiteer Tories. All 315 backbencher Tory MPs had been called to a “technical briefing” at Number 10, in which Mrs. May’s chief of staff explained her perception of the pros and cons of the two main customs options.

The British government’s approach on Brexit continues to drag on at a snail’s pace, with a decision still yet to be made on customs and Brexit Minister David Davis warning that the soft ‘customs partnership’ with the EU that Theresa May favours could actually be illegal.
Davis has apparently warned the PM that the customs partnership could be illegal under international law and so may be challenged, which could lead to staying in the Customs Union completely. The Times quote a source as saying that: “In that scenario you’d end up staying in the Customs Union because you’d have no other choice.”

THERESA May has faced fresh backlash over her proposed customs partnership with the EU after Brexit Secretary David Davis stated the option may be illegal under international trade law.
Mr Davis, who is opposed to the customs partnership option, is believed to have told the Prime Minister that the customs arrangement could run into legal trouble. He also warned Mrs May that it would be too late for the Government to reverse the plan if the Cabinet chose the option and issues did arise, which could pave the way for the UK remaining in the customs union. A Government source commented on the issue, stating: “In that scenario you’d end up staying in the customs union because you’d have no other choice.”

In a wake-up call for the government, new ICM polling for The Guardian  has shown that leaving the Custom Union lock, stock and barrel is the most popular choice, and the public do not want to see the transition period extended.
35% of the public agree with the statement that: “It is very important to leave the Customs Union properly, so the UK can strike its own trade deals.” By comparison, only 24% want to stay in the Customs Union. A further 26% want a compromise, but it means the most popular approach is for a full Brexit. When it comes to the transition period set to last until 2021, 43% opposed to extending the period, with 38% in favour.

A clean Brexit taking the UK out of the European Union’s (EU) Customs Union, is the public’s favourite option in relation to customs checks and trade after the UK’s divorce from the bloc, a survey has found.
Responding to a new ICM poll  for The Guardian, 35 per cent agreed that “it is very important to leave the customs union properly, so the UK can strike its own trade deals”. This, as the paper points out, is the position associated with Brexiteer Tories like Jacob Rees-Mogg, the MP who leads the pro-Brexit, 60-strong European Research Group, as well as foreign secretary Boris Johnson and environment secretary Michael Gove. Less than a quarter, or 24 per cent, agreed that “is very important to stay in the customs union, so firms can trade with the EU more easily”.


Theresa May’s decision to challenge Jacob Rees-Mogg over the future of Northern Ireland comes amid mounting nerves in Number 10 about the future of the union after Brexit.
Downing Street and key ministers have been shown polling from October that suggests opinion in the province is drifting towards a united Ireland. Another finding suggests leaving the EU with no deal on the border could shift voters in Northern Ireland decisively in favour of leaving the United Kingdom and joining the Irish Republic. Tory MPs are actively discussing the findings, with Brexiteers furiously rejecting the findings and insisting any future border poll on a united Ireland would be winnable.

THERESA May has warned Jacob Rees-Mogg not to be so naive over the possibility of Northern Ireland quitting the UK to form a united Ireland, telling the Brexiteer a shock Irish border vote result is a real possibility.
Jacob Rees-Mogg  had told Theresa May he had “no doubt” the UK would “win” any hypothetical Irish border referendum before comparing it with the 2015 Scottish independence vote. But Mrs May quickly “slapped down” the Tory MP, sources have revealed, telling him in no uncertain terms the two situations are not comparable and the UK “cannot be confident” at holding the six counties.


Theresa May will publish a 100-page dossier setting out the Government’s 
 Brexit  vision in detail next month in a bid to kick-start flagging trade talks. The White Paper will be the biggest Government statement on Brexit since the 2016 referendum, setting out plans on everything from trade, transport and fishing to data protection and security co-operation. The decision to press ahead with the document represents a victory for David Davis, who has been arguing for months that the UK needs to get on the front foot over Brexit. Mr Davis told ministers yesterday the White Paper would include ‘detailed, ambitious and precise explanations of our positions… it should set out what will change and what will feel different outside the EU’.

Theresa May has pledged to publish a white paper setting out “precise explanations” on key aspects of Britain’s Brexit vision.
Brexit secretary  David Davis hailed the promised document to come next month as “our most significant publication on the EU since the referendum”. Aides have indicated it will cover future trade, financial services regulation and clearly establish the UK’s position on the vexed issue at the heart of withdrawal negotiations – future customs relations. The paper is an attempt to get on the front foot in Brussels amid fears that EU negotiators too often set the agenda, to reassure Tory MPs that Ms May has a coherent plan and give civil servants a framework upon which to take decisions.

BBC News
The government says a White Paper setting out its Brexit position will be its “most significant publication on the EU” since the 2016 referendum.
It will include “detailed, ambitious and precise explanations of our positions”, Brexit Secretary David Davis told colleagues. Ministers have yet to settle a debate about managing post-Brexit customs. Labour said it was “deeply disturbing” that ministers “still cannot agree on the most fundamental Brexit issues”. The paper will be published ahead of June’s key EU summit. Extending to more than 100 pages, it will involve reaching agreement with almost every government department.

Theresa May has announced plans to publish, ahead of a critical Brussels summit next month, a Brexit white paper setting out her priorities for Britain’s future relationship with the European Union.
In an attempt to get on the front foot in negotiations, the government will for the first time present a “detailed, ambitious and precise” explanation of what it hopes the final deal will deliver. The blueprint is expected to include a plan for a customs relationship that avoids re-establishing a hard Irish border, although the prime minister’s cabinet remains bitterly divided over how best to achieve this. However, Whitehall insiders suggested there was no formal commitment to agreeing one of the two options, or to including details on the “backstop” plan for the border, by the time EU leaders meet for the summit in June.


The UK faces a constitutional crisis after the Scottish Parliament rejected a key Brexit law.
MSPs refused to give their consent tonight to the EU Withdrawal Bill , Theresa May’s bid to ensure Brussels laws continue after Brexit Day in 2019. Tory ministers say the Bill is essential – but they have been embroiled in a row with devolved governments, who fear they’ll be deprived of power. Now the Prime Minister must choose whether to accept tonight’s 93-30 vote, plunging herself into a Brexit crisis, or ignore it, plunging herself into a constitutional crisis. Westminster has never before introduced laws on devolved areas without the approval of the Scottish Parliament.

LABOUR and the Liberal Democrats have been accused of “giving succour” to Nicola Sturgeon’s crusade for independence as Holyrood rejected key Brexit laws.
Scottish Tories hit out at other Unionist parties for siding with the SNP and Greens in formally refusing consent to Theresa May’s flagship EU Withdrawal Bill. They blamed the Scottish Government for a failure to find an agreement following a compromise reached with the Welsh Labour Government. But MSPs voted by 93 to 30 that the Scottish Parliament “does not consent to the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill”.

Theresa May has made clear that she will push on with her flagship Brexit legislation despite failing to win the backing of the Scottish parliament.
MSPs voted by 93 to 30 yesterday to withhold Holyrood’s consent from the EU Withdrawal Bill, the key piece of legislation paving the way for the UK’s departure from the European Union next year. The Scottish parliament’s approval is not legally necessary for the bill to become law, as Westminster can disregard Holyrood, but such a move would provoke the biggest political rift between the two institutions since devolution in 1999.

The Scottish Parliament today voted down crucial Brexit-related legislation – sparking fears of a constitutional crisis. MSPs at Holyrood have formally refused to grant consent to the EU Withdrawal Bill by 93 votes to 30.
It is the first time the devolved Parliament has withdrawn its stamp of approval for legislation coming from Westminster.   They blocked the crucial legislation from being passed amid a row whether powers returned to the UK from the EU should be handed to Edinburgh or London. Despite the vote, Scottish Brexit Minister Mike Russell has vowed this will ‘not be the end of the process’.

The Scottish parliament has voted against backing Theresa May’s key piece of Brexit legislation, paving the way for a constitutional crisis.
Politicians at Holyrood refused to grant consent to the EU Withdrawal Bill, meaning Downing Street may have to take the unprecedented step of overruling the Edinburgh assembly to make Brexit happen. There is still a chance that Westminster and the Scottish National Party administration may strike a deal in a row about powers returning to the UK from Brussels after withdrawal. It comes amid stalemate in Brussels Brexit talks, in efforts to pass the withdrawal bill and others through parliament and in the cabinet’s attempts to compromise on what kind of future customs relations to seek.

The Scottish parliament has voted against Theresa May’s
Brexit  legislation by a large margin, putting the UK on the brink of a major constitutional dispute. Holyrood rejected the UK government’s EU withdrawal bill by 93 votes to 30 on Tuesday after Labour, the Liberal Democrats and Scottish Greens backed Nicola Sturgeon’s decision to oppose proposals on post-Brexit power sharing set out in clause 11 of the bill. The vote is not legally binding but it will force the prime minister to make a high-risk decision to impose those power-sharing plans on  Scotland or make further concessions to the Scottish government to avoid a crisis. Imposing powers on Scotland would be unprecedented and fuel Sturgeon’s demands for a second independence referendum, potentially providing the Scottish National party with a further justification for staging one.


Britain’s economy is entering a “menopausal” phase after passing peak productivity, a deputy governor of the Bank of England has suggested.
Ben Broadbent compared the current slowdown in growth and wages to a lull at the end of the 19th century, when the height of the steam era was over but the age of electricity was yet to begin. Today’s economy could be experiencing a similar trough as it passes the boom of the digital era and awaits the next big breakthrough, possibly with artificial intelligence.

A deputy governor at the Bank of England has been criticised for saying that the economy has entered its “menopausal” phase, having passed peak productivity.
Ben Broadbent compared the performance to the lull at the end of the 19th century between the ages of steam and electricity. He predicted another technological rebirth, perhaps around artificial intelligence. Mr Broadbent told The Daily Telegraph that the cause of Britain’s productivity woes, which have lasted nearly ten years, was uncertain but has led to unremarkable tax receipts and less money for public spending.


THE unemployment rate has fallen to its lowest level since 1975 – despite Project Fear’s scaremongering about huge job losses after Brexit.
The number of people out of work dropped 46,000 to 1.42million, latest Office for National Statistics figures revealed yesterday. Employment is also at the highest since records began in 1971 with 75.6 per cent in a job. Numbers in work rose 179,000 to 32.34million, with 2,000 people finding work each day. The plunge in unemployment – to just 4.2 per cent – comes as the number of EU nationals working in the UK fell for the first time in eight years. In the three months to March there were around 2.29million EU workers — down 28,000 on the same period last year.

SINCE THE EU referendum there are more people in jobs than ever before with the employment boom the largest since records began, despite Remoaner insistence the UK economy would be worse off outside of the EU.
Before the vote in 2016, Chancellor George Osborne said that up to 820,000 jobs could be lost if Britain decided to leave the EU. But, almost two years later, the workforce has grown to 32.34million – the highest since records began in 1971, according to the Office for National Statistics. More than half a million of these are jobs that have been created since the referendum in June 2016. A total of 609,000 more people are in employment since Britain voted to leave the EU. Since the start of this year, more than 2,000 jobseekers have found work each day, on average.

More Britons are in work than ever despite predictions of huge job losses in the event of a vote for Brexit.
Official figures released yesterday showed that employment is at a record high, with more than 2,000 people finding work every day. The workforce has grown to 32.34million – the highest level since records began in 1971, according to the Office for National Statistics. The total has risen by 609,000 since the referendum of June 2016. Before the vote George Osborne claimed up to 820,000 jobs could be lost within two years if Britain chose to leave.

Sky News
Theresa May has bowed to pressure to spell out her Brexit strategy more clearly by promising to publish it in a detailed Government dossier.
Downing Street has announced that the Prime Minister confirmed to her Cabinet that the Government is producing a white paper on its proposed future relationship with the EU. But the announcement came with the PM’s feuding ministers still no nearer to reaching an agreement on the crucial issue of customs policy after the UK leaves the European Union. According to No 10, David Davis told the Cabinet at its weekly meeting that the white paper would be the Government’s most significant publication on the EU since the referendum two years ago.


NHS chiefs have been forced to hand over £55,000 to a whistleblowing doctor who they tried to stop having his day in court.
The humiliating legal bill is part of an astonishing saga that looks set to last four years and cost taxpayers more than £200,000. Dr Chris Day, 32, said his career was “destroyed” after he raised fears over a short-staffed intensive care unit in 2014. Yet he was blocked from taking his claims to an employment tribunal after NHS training body Health Education England (HEE) argued it wasn’t his employer. The Court of Appeal reversed that decision, and Dr Day’s case finally came to an initial tribunal yesterday. There, HEE revealed it is changing its policy in future to say it does employ medics like Dr Day under the law.

World Cup

Police have warned England fans not to display the flag of St George at the World Cup in Russia next month because it risks being seen as “imperialistic” and “antagonistic”.
The head of football policing said that the flags have become a “trophy of choice” for hooligans from rival countries. Deputy Chief Constable Mark Roberts,of the National Police Chiefs’ Council, said that he was acutely aware of the worsening diplomatic situation after Russia was accused of carrying out the Salisbury poisonings. Mr Roberts will lead a team of officers to Russia to work with local police and security services to protect up to 10,000 travelling England fans.

England fans are being urged by police not to display St George’s flag at the
World Cup in Russia because it could bee seen as ‘imperialistic’ and ‘antagonistic’.  Deputy Chief Constable Mark Roberts, the head of football policing, said the flags were the trophies of choice for hooligans from rival countries. It comes after Russian hooligans attacked England fans in 2016 and posted pictures of dozens of ‘captured’ St George’s flags.  Mr Roberts, of the National Police Chiefs’ Council, added that he was acutely aware of worsened diplomatic relations following the Salisbury spy poisonings. 

The post News review – Wednesday 16 May 2018 appeared first on UKIP Daily | UKIP News | UKIP Debate.

The Guardian view on Brexit and devolution: wanted – joined-up thinking | Editorial

Brexit is not only about the hard/soft argument. It is also about who gets the last word in the different nations of Britain

Britain’s Brexit argument began life as a dispute between remaining in the European Union and leaving it. After the vote to leave in 2016, that original dispute has gradually been overlaid by the battle between a hard and soft Brexit. The House of Lords debates on the EU withdrawal bill, which have significantly softened the bill, and which come to an end on Wednesday, can best be understood in that hard/soft context. When the bill returns to the Commons (Conservative factions are still squabbling over the terms) the arguments will continue along this same hard/soft axis.

However, hard/soft is not the only axis. In the devolved nations there is a different issue. This asks which should have the final word on Brexit: Westminster or the devolved governments – and in what combination? The answers differ in each devolved country. Though Northern Ireland voted to remain in the EU, its unionist leaders have backed Theresa May for a hard Brexit. After initial objections to Mrs May’s centralist approach, the Welsh government won concessions that were reflected in a government climbdown; it has now struck a deal. The Scots, however, said those were insufficient, so dispute still rages unresolved there. On Tuesday the Scottish parliament voted overwhelmingly to reject the Brexit bill altogether, with the Conservatives dissenting.

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