News review – Tuesday 12 February 2019

News review – Tuesday 12 February 2019

Brexit

Breitbart
Theresa May and her Remainer civil servants secretly sabotaged an offer made by the EU Council President Donald Tusk of a free trade deal exit from the EU because all they ever really wanted was Brexit In Name Only. Of the many things I’ve heard about the Establishment’s outrageous scheming to scupper Brexit this is by far the most damning – and it deserves much wider coverage. It was Martin Durkin (director of Brexit: the Movie) who drew my attention to it. Steve Baker MP is a member of the (ardently pro-Brexit) European Research Group. He was also – till he resigned in protest at Mrs May’s handling of the Brexit negotiations – a minister in the government’s Department for Exiting the European Union (DEXU). Baker made his revelation at the end of last month while appearing before an MP committee, in which he criticised the “governing class” for its deliberate attempts to thwart Brexit in defiance of the Referendum vote.

Guardian
Theresa May hopes to convince the House of Commons on Tuesday to give her another fortnight’s grace to keep pushing for changes to the Irish backstop – despite the insistence of Michel Barnier that it is Britain that must compromise. With 45 days to go until Britain is due by law to leave the EU, with or without a deal, the prime minister will address MPs about progress in the Brexit talks, No 10 announced on Monday. She is unlikely to signal any shift towards a closer future relationship with the EU.

Mail
Michel Barnier today vowed that the EU will not make any more concessions on the Brexit deal – insisting the UK must give ground. The chief negotiator launched a combative attack on the ‘negative’ British stance ahead of a meeting with Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay.   Meanwhile, Luxembourg PM Xavier Bettel jibed that the UK was actually a ‘disunited kingdom’, accusing Eurosceptics of only being willing to say ‘no, no, no’. The intervention came as Theresa May desperately battles to find a way through the political deadlock, with less than seven weeks to go until the exit date.

Guardian
Michel Barnier has said “something has to give” on the British side of the negotiations if the Brexit impasse is to be broken. The EU’s chief negotiator insisted there was no question of Brussels giving in to Downing Street’s demands on the Irish backstop. “We’re waiting for clarity and movement from the United Kingdom,” Barnier told reporters after talks in Luxembourg with the country’s prime minister, Xavier Bettel.

Express
THE UK will fork out the full amount of the Brexit divorce bill if it doesn’t want to lose its face, an EU chief shockingly claimed. European Commissioner for Agriculture Phil Hogan said Britain’s credibility would be dealt a massive blow if it “reneged” on its promise of paying the £39bn divorce bill. When asked about the possibility of Britain leaving the EU without a deal and without paying the exit bill, Mr Hogan told Politico: “Well that’s actually part of the divorce settlement, and I haven’t seen any divorce settlement actually ratified by the courts without actually observing or implementing the commitments already made.

Customs union

Telegraph
Theresa May has said she will not allow Britain to be part of the Customs Union  after Brexit following a backlash by Eurosceptic MPs and ministers. Downing Street attempted to defuse the row after the Prime Minister failed to rule out further talks on a customs union in a letter to Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader. Liam Fox, the International Trade Secretary, described Labour’s plan as a “dangerous delusion”, while Boris Johnson, the former foreign secretary, accused Mr Corbyn of trying to trap Mrs May into a “toxic” Brexit.

Express
THERESA May has hit back at Jeremy Corbyn’s demands for a soft Brexit, criticising Labour’s plan for a customs union and questioning the party’s commitment to ending free movement. The Prime Minister said she was “not clear” why the Labour leader was pushing for a continued customs union which would block Britain from striking its own trade deals. And she questioned whether Mr Corbyn’s call for “frictionless” trade would mean remaining in the single market and reneging on Labour’s commitment to end free movement.

Times
Senior Conservative Brexiteers warned Theresa May today that she must never negotiate with Labour on the party’s proposal for Britain to remain in a customs union with the European Union. Liam Fox, the international trade secretary, described Labour’s plan as a dangerous delusion and warned that it was “not workable”, while Boris Johnson accused Jeremy Corbyn of trying to trap the government in a toxic Brexit. The comments reflect concern among Brexiteers that Mrs May is preparing to concede too much ground to Labour in an attempt to win cross-party backing for her deal with Brussels.

Independent
Labour has called for MPs to be given a vote on a customs union with the EU, warning that Theresa May must be willing to shift her red lines if she wants her   Brexit deal ratified. The call by shadow Brexit secretary Keir Starmer came as the EU said there could be no progress until Britain moved its position, as UK ministers headed to Brussels on a mission to convince the bloc otherwise. Speaking on a visit to Dublin to meet with the Irish government, Mr Starmer said there was a majority for a close economic relationship “if you are prepared to try and find it”.

Guardian
Theresa May is to update MPs on her Brexit progress on Tuesday, a day earlier than previously announced, No 10 has said, while stressing the prime minister had completely ruled out Jeremy Corbyn’s proposal of a departure deal involving customs union membership. “We are absolutely clear on this: we’re not considering Jeremy Corbyn’s customs proposals; we’re not considering any proposals to remain in the customs union. We must have our own, independent trade policy,” May’s spokesman said.

Reuters
European Union Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said on Monday British Prime Minister Theresa May should endorse a permanent customs union with the bloc – as proposed by the opposition Labour party – to break the impasse over their looming divorce. Barnier told a news conference in Luxembourg that time was “extremely short” to conclude a deal before Britain is due to leave the bloc on March 29.  He then met UK Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay for what both sides said were “constructive” talks in Brussels late on Monday.

Conservative Party

Sun
THERESA May is preparing to resign as PM this summer so she can influence who succeeds her, Cabinet ministers now believe. Under the suspected plan, Mrs May would call time on her Premiership shortly after finally delivering Brexit.  She will then set out a timetable for a new Tory leadership contest to end at the party’s annual conference in October. At least two senior figures in the Cabinet have come to that conclusion from hints the PM has personally given them, The Sun has been told. Mrs May’s suspected  thinking is that by going at a time of her own choosing and in a position of relative strength, she will be able to have some say over who the next Tory leader will be.

Mail
The Prime Minister will quit her job in the summer – just weeks after Brexit – according to members of her inner circle. The Conservative leader will call the leadership contest shortly after leaving the European UnionThe Sun reports, but remains hopeful she can pick her replacement to prevent a successful Boris Johnson bid. According to Cabinet ministers the Prime Minister has hinted to them personally she will trigger a Tory leadership race to end at the party’s annual conference in October.

Express
THERESA May is likely to resign as Prime Minister this summer, Cabinet ministers believe. Sources revealed that Mrs May will duck out after delivering Brexit and hopes to influence who succeeds her. The two senior figures suspect the resignation after the PM dropped them subtle hints, The Sun has been told. It is thought Mrs May’s chosen departure will give her the power to have some say over who the new Conservative leader will be. The plan is to spark a new Tory leadership contest which will end at the party’s annual conference in October.

Times
Theresa May would win a working majority if a general election were held today, according to YouGov modelling for The Times that correctly predicted the 2017 hung parliament. Labour is pushing for a general election but the new research suggests that this would backfire, with Jeremy Corbyn’s party losing 12 seats and the Tories gaining four. The shift would take the Tories to 321 seats, just enough for a working majority. There are 650 seats in the Commons but Sinn Fein’s seven MPs do not take their seats and the Speaker is not counted.

Mail
Theresa May would stay in power and win more seats if a general election was held today, a new poll shows. Labour’s push for an election would backfire because the Tories would win a working majority despite Brexit chaos, the research suggests. According to YouGov modelling that correctly predicted the 2017 hung parliament, Jeremy Corbyn’s party would lose 12 seats and the Tories would gain four. Such a result would take the Tories from 317 seats at the last general election to 321 – just enough for a working majority. Labour would drop from 262 to 250 seats.

Labour Party

Independent
Jeremy Corbyn vowed to “defeat” the European Union after accusing it of suppressing the British economy in a tub-thumping rally speech before he became party leader. The Labour MP claimed the EU had worked in cahoots with “the world’s bankers” in creating unemployment and called on all those campaigning for “peace, justice and socialism” to oppose the bloc. The emergence of the film follows that of another last week, in which Mr Corbyn warned of the EU becoming a “European Empire” which was creating a “military Frankenstein”.

Mail
Jeremy Corbyn called for the European Union to be ‘defeated’ in an explosive rally speech, it was revealed last night in previously unseen footage. The Labour leader lumped the EU in with bankers, describing them as ‘united in suppressing the economy and creating unemployment’. In comments which may give an insight into his real views, he told a Left-wing rally in 2010 that he would not be ‘silenced by these people’ but would ‘defeat them’.

Anti-semitism

Times
Almost 700 Labour members have been reported for antisemitism in the past ten months, with 12 expelled from the party. Another 44 quit when presented with evidence of the allegations against them, Jennie Formby, the party’s general secretary, said last night. Dame Margaret Hodge, a senior Labour MP who has been a victim of antisemitism, said that she did not believe the figures and that she had submitted nearly 200 complaints of serious abuse by party members since October.

Telegraph
Labour has received nearly 700 complaints of anti-Semitism in the past nine months but has expelled just 12 party activists, it was revealed on Monday.    Jennie Formby, the party’s general secretary, has bowed to the demands of MPs and published data which for the first time exposes the true extent of Labour’s anti-Semitism crisis. The disclosure has prompted a furious backlash among MPs, who have accused the Labour leadership of “shocking cowardice” after they failed to turn up to a meeting in Parliament to address their concerns.

Mail
Labour has expelled just 12 members for anti-Semitism after almost 700 accusations against party members it emerged tonight. Party general secretary Jennie Formby released the figures to MPs tonight a week after infuriating them by saying racism was impossible to eradicate entirely. Labour insisted the number of anti-Semites found equate to less than 0.1 per cent of members. But the figures are likely to fuel claims amid some Labour MPs that leader Jeremy Corbyn has been too slow to react to the anti-Semitism crisis.

BBC News
The Labour Party has received 673 complaints in 10 months alleging acts of anti-Semitism by its members. A letter from the party’s general secretary, Jennie Formby, revealed the figures after she was pushed by MPs for specific details. She said 96 members were immediately suspended from the party for their conduct between April 2018 and January 2019, and 12 were expelled. But in a letter, a group of MPs said there was still a lack of information. Labour has struggled to contain a long-running row over anti-Semitism.

Independent
Labour MPs have attacked the party leadership’s response to antisemitism after senior officials admitted that only 12 of almost 700 reports of alleged anti-Jewish abuse had resulted in members being expelled. MPs and peers used their weekly meeting to condemn Jeremy Corbyn and party bosses after Jennie Formby, Labour’s general secretary, emailed MPs with data on investigations into antisemitism. The figures revealed that of 673 cases of members reported for alleged antisemitism between April 2018 and January 2019, almost a third were dropped without further action.

EU

Westmonster
Anti-EU and Eurosceptic forces are set to make up a chunky bloc of the next European Parliament after May’s EU elections, according to the European Council on Foreign Relations. In a new report, they claim that “anti-Europeans on their way to winning more than one-third of seats in the next European Parliament” meaning that “the stakes in the May 2019 election are unusually high”. In a breakdown of the projected results, the study finds that 132 ‘far-right’ MEPs are set to be elected which would be 19% of the chamber overall. This group includes 29 MEPs elected representing Italy’s Lega plus a further 24 for the Five Star Movement.

Telegraph
Eurosceptic parties are on course to take a third of seats in May’s European Parliament elections and could form alliances to destroy the EU from within, new research has claimed. Anti-establishment parties from across the EU could band together to block or curb EU legislation if they win 33 percent of the 751 seats, the European Council on Foreign Relations think tank warned in a report published on Monday. The surge for anti-EU and anti-globalist parties could wreak havoc with the bloc’s foreign and trade policy, as well as paralyse migration policy and efforts to prevent an illiberal drift in some EU countries.

Independent
The growth of anti-EU parties in the European Parliament elections in May could “paralyse” the bloc in a range of policy areas, a stark report seen by The Independent has warned. Nationalist, eurosceptic, and far-right parties could bring about a “qualitative change” in the union after winning a third of seats, according to the European Council on Foreign Relations, a pro-EU think tank. The result would give the populists significant influence in the union and the ability to block some legislation, says the study, which is set to be released on Tuesday.

Mail
George Soros has called for pro-Europe voters to wake up before the continent ‘sleepwalks into oblivion’ ahead of the looming European elections. Writing in an article for business website MarketWatch, billionaire businessman Soros said the EU faced going the way of the Soviet Union if people didn’t act to save it.  ‘Europe is sleepwalking into oblivion, and the people of Europe need to wake up before it is too late,’ Soros wrote. ‘If they don’t, the European Union will go the way of the Soviet Union in 1991.

Another new party

Express
JUST days after Nigel Farage unveiled his new Brexit Party, vowing to put up candidates in future European elections in the event of any delays to Article 50, a campaign group bankrolled by multimillionaire financier Jeremy Hosking is planning to launch a separate political party of its own in a bid to ensure Britain’s smooth departure from the bloc. Mr Hosking confirmed his intentions as Brexit Express launched a nationwide billboard advertising campaign urging the public and politicians to back no deal as the only way to get a good deal from the EU.

Universal credit

ITV News
Food bank use has increased due to the universal credit roll-out, Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd has admitted. Ms Rudd said it was “absolutely clear” there had been issues with the roll-out and said people being unable to access money “led to an increase in food bank use”. Labour MP Sharon Hodgson (Washington and Sunderland West) had asked about the impact of the roll-out during Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) questions in the Commons.

Mirror
Universal Credit HAS pushed people to food banks, the Tory welfare chief admitted today. Amber Rudd accepted a link between soaring food bank use and the hated benefit shake-up in a House of Commons statement. But she insisted things had improved since the “initial rollout” of the six-in-one welfare system. The number of emergency food parcels handed out by the Trussell Trust charity has soared from 61,000 in 2010/11 to 1.3million last year. It marks a change in tune from the DWP.

Sky News
People placed on the government’s flagship benefits scheme have been driven to food banks because of it, the work and pensions secretary has suggested for the first time. Amber Rudd said it was “absolutely clear” there were “challenges” with the rollout of Universal Credit. She added that the “main issue” behind a spike in reliance on food banks may have been claimants not being able to access welfare support quickly enough.

HS2

Mail
Andrea Leadsom has ratcheted up pressure on the Prime Minister to ditch HS2, expressing fears that the business case for the rail link ‘may no longer exist’. In the latest sign of mounting opposition to the scheme at the heart of government, the House of Commons leader revealed growing concerns about spiralling costs. Downing Street yesterday insisted HS2 is on track and on budget. But a letter written by Mrs Leadsom to HS2’s boss Mark Thurston outlined the ‘absolute dismay’ felt by some of her constituents in South Northamptonshire.

Armed forces

Times
The ministry of Defence is to procure two civilian passenger ferries or cargo vessels and convert them into warships, the defence secretary has announced. Gavin Williamson also revealed today that he would buy off-the-shelf drones to create swarm fleets that can interact with the military’s highly sophisticated F-35 multirole stealth fighter jets. The budget assets will be the first items bought from his department’s multimillion-pound transformation fund that aims to modernise the armed forces.

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