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"News from the Brexit Cliff Edge" 29th Apr 2019

News Highlights

Welcome to the Brexit Cliff Edge

Brexit - stockpiling hits record levels

Goldman Sachs says a dragged-out Brexit is doing deeper damage to the UK economy

  • Britain's economy has underperformed other advanced economies since 2016, losing nearly 2.5% of GDP, relative to its pre-referendum growth path, in part due to lower business investment

Brexit's financial turf wars enter a new phase

  • UK intransigence has sent $1 trillion of bank assets and 5,000 jobs across the English channel and the Irish Sea, to date. The EU is planning to build high regulatory walls to protect itself from a 'potential rogue state neighbour' and is preparing to make fund managers trade top UK stocks on European soil rather than in London

Credit rating agencies S&P and Fitch warn the UK's credit rating is still at risk from a No Deal Brexit

U.S. tech start-ups about to IPO cite Brexit as a risk to their businesses

  • Uber, Slack and Dropbox are just some of the many billion-dollar start-ups freaking out about the potential economic consequences of Brexit

Home Office chaos and incompetence is leading to unlawful detentions, according to whistleblowers

  • Decisions on whether an applicant can stay, meant to last six months can take 2 years, leaving them in limbo and unable to work or rent property. Home Office staff personal performance targets encourage asylum rejections, without proper scrutiny. Inadequate training of staff often leads to deportations of people with good cases to remain

Govt planning to make EU students pay higher tuition fees to study at English universities

  • Future EU students at universities in England will no longer have the right to pay the same tuition fees as home students, in highly controversial plans being drawn up by the government.

Nicola Sturgeon - 'It is time for Scotland to become independent'

The heat is on Jeremy Corbyn

Local elections this week, European elections May 23rd

The UK political crisis is a poor advert for leaving the EU - survey finds

  • A Kantar survey across the EU asking people how they would vote in an In/Out referendum found that across almost all countries the percentage of pro-Europeans has risen since the Brexit turmoil in the UK

Remain v No Deal on the ballot paper

Walk away and don't look back in anger

  • BBC's Katya Adler says the EU would let the UK walk away if no deal was found by the new October deadline

Tory chiefs warn MPs and activists they will be kicked out if they back Nigel Farage

  • An Opinium poll showed that support for the Tories has slumped to 14% ahead of next month;s European elections. The worry must now be that some fed-up candidates may consider jumping ship to the Brexit Party, instead of waiting to be pushed

Farage upsets Oldham with a speech saying town is split on racial lines

  • Addressing an audience of young libertarians in Lock Haven University in Pennsylvania, Nigel Farage told them 'I could take you to a town called Oldham where on one side of the street everybody is white and on the other side everybody is black. The twain never meet, there is no assimilation. Whole streets in Oldham of people who have lived in my country for over 30 years who don't speak a word of the English language. These folks, are divided societies in which resentments build and grow.'
  • In Sussex properties displaying Liberal Democrat, Labour and Green Party posters have been vandalised, in attacks thought to be linked to Brexit. The houses targeted in Lewes had the words 'traitors' and 'hypocrites' spray painted on their exterior walls
  • Thousands of EU nationals living in the UK could inadvertentaly lose their right to take part in the upcoming European elections because of widespread confusion over how to register and many have yet to receive their polling cards
  • Nigel Farage told LBC interviewer Ian Dale that his new Brexit Party has received one very big donation and lots of smaller ones. Farage, when pressed for a name, refused to say who the large donation was from - which is potentially against election funding rules
  • The Brexit Party's latest recruit, Ann Widdicombe, slammed women pension campaigners who opposed the raising of the state pension age for women, as 'self-indulgent and entitled' - up to 3.9m women are thought to be affected by the changes
Economic Impact
Brexit: Stockpiling increases to record level
Manufacturers stockpiled goods at the fastest pace on record during the three months to April as the danger of a no-deal Brexit loomed large and sent business confidence tumbling. An unprecedented number of companies in the sector amassed inventories of raw materials and part-finished goods, as well as completed products, the CBI said in its latest industrial trends survey. A balance of 39 per cent of businesses reported a rise in stocks of raw materials compared with three months ago, while the reading for unfinished products was 21 per cent and finished goods 25 per cent.
Brexit could leave England as 'economic basket case' - MP warns
It is in Scotland's interests to prevent Brexit turning England into an "economic basket case", SNP home affairs spokeswoman Joanna Cherry has insisted. The MP argued even if Scotland were to be independent it would be better for the country to "keep England as close as possible to the single market and customs union as possible". UK Prime Minister Theresa May has so far refused to consider either of these options as she tries to win support for her Brexit deal at Westminster. Ms Cherry said: "Despite the fact that I think Brexit is a disaster for the United Kingdom, I think it is in the interests of Scotland and the SNP to keep England as close as possible to the single market and customs union as possible. "It will make it easier for us to be independent if England is in the same overall union and market for us."
Goldman Sachs says dragged-out Brexit is doing deeper damage to UK economy
Goldman Sachs said in a note to clients that its base scenario was the divorce deal would be ratified by May 22 but that there was a risk of Britain's exit being delayed until much closer to the new October 31 deadline. "The politics of Brexit have become more protracted and, as a result, the side-effects of Brexit on the UK economy have intensified," Goldman said in a note entitled "Brexit — Withdrawal Symptoms". "From both a top-down and a bottom-up perspective, Brexit has taken a toll on the UK economy — even though it has not yet happened," Goldman said. It said Britain's economy has underperformed other advanced economies since mid-2016, losing nearly 2.5pc of Gross Domestic Product relative to its pre-referendum growth path, in large part due to weaker investment.
Goldman Sachs says dragged-out Brexit is doing deeper damage to UK economy
Britain’s protracted divorce from the European Union is hurting the world’s fifth largest economy as dwindling company investment, signs of a looming labour market shock and poor productivity hinder growth, Goldman Sachs said.
Warren Buffett ready to buy in Britain regardless of Brexit
Billionaire investor Warren Buffett has said he is “ready to buy something in the UK tomorrow”, handing a big endorsement to Britain ahead of Brexit. “We welcome the chance to put money out any place where we think we understand and sort of trust the system,” the 88-year-old told the Financial Times in a broad-ranging interview. “We’re never going to understand any other culture or the tax laws or the customs as well as the US, but we can come awfully close in Britain.”
Brexit's Financial Turf War Enters A New Phase
Rarely have policymakers seemed so keen to snap the links that connect global markets, even at the risk of economic self-harm. Theresa May’s dogged pursuit of a Brexit that takes Britain out of the European Union’s single market and customs union is an obvious own goal, considering the City of London’s global position. The U.K.’s intransigence has already sent an estimated 800 billion pounds ($1 trillion) of bank assets and 5,000 jobs across the English Channel and Irish Sea. Meanwhile, the EU’s plans to build high regulatory walls to protect its markets from a rogue neighbor have also led to some head-scratching propositions from Brussels, such as potentially forcing fund managers to trade top U.K. stocks on continental European soil rather than in London
S&P and Fitch warn UK rating still at risk from a no-deal Brexit
Britain’s credit rating remains at risk of a further downgrade despite the extended deadline for its departure from the European Union, ratings agencies S&P Global Ratings and Fitch Ratings said on Friday. S&P said its negative outlook reflected the risk of sustained economic weakness and a hit to government finances if Britain lost access to EU markets, investors took fright or sterling’s status as a reserve currency came under pressure. Fitch and S&P both have a AA rating on British government debt.
RBS profits sink as bank warns of Brexit uncertainty
RBS profits fell in the first three months of 2019, it revealed a day after its chief executive announced his intention to resign. Ross McEwan yesterday announced he would step down after five-and-a-half years at the helm, saying he had achieved his strategy to refocus the bank after its £45.5bn government bailout. However, today the bank warned that ongoing Brexit uncertainty will pile further pressure on profits this year, sending shares down 5.5 per cent to 236.3p in early trading.
Administrative Fall Out
Fewer Brits choosing EU countries for holidays, travel firm says
Fewer British holidaymakers have booked a summer holiday inside the European Union this year amid continuing Brexit uncertainty, Thomas Cook says. The travel firm says almost half (48%) of the holidays it sold up until the end of February were to non-EU destinations, up 10% on last year. Despite this, the firm says Spain is still its most popular destination. Its findings chime with separate Post Office figures showing currency sales for long-haul destinations have jumped.
US startups publish warnings about Brexit in S-1s before their IPOs
Uber, Slack, and Dropbox are just some of the buzzy billion-dollar startups freaking out about the potential consequences of Brexit.
Home Office ‘chaos and incompetence’ leads to unlawful detentions, claim whistleblowers
Whistleblowers also allege that: a) Decisions on whether an applicant can stay in the UK, supposed to take six months, frequently take two years. During this time, applicants are in limbo, unable to work or rent property. b) People who have sought asylum are frequently unlawfully detained for up to six weeks in immigration removal centres. c) Personal performance targets indirectly encourage employees to reject applications without fully examining whether people have the right to remain in the UK. d) People with a strong case to remain in the UK are deported because of poor decisions made by insufficiently trained staff. e) Flights for deportations are frequently cancelled when asylum seekers protest on board and pilots refuse to fly
RBS sees profit challenge ahead amid Brexit uncertainty
Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) has warned continued Brexit uncertainty is "likely" to make income growth more challenging for the bank. The part-nationalised lender used its first quarter results, which showed a fall in profits, to say that while it was maintaining its outlook for 2019 it was particularly concerned about delays in business borrowing decisions. A collapse in business investment because of Brexit fog has been cited as a major drag on the economy - now set to be extended until up to 31 October following the UK's failure to secure domestic agreement on a withdrawal deal. RBS reported a 16% decline in operating profit before tax to just above £1bn from £1.2bn in the same period last year. Attributable profit before tax, which reflects one-off costs, came in at £707m. That was a fall of 12%
“Brexit does split families” - anxious EU citizens unconvinced by Home Office reassurance
Brexit may have been re-scheduled for Halloween, but cross-party talks appear once again to have hit an impasse. Acutely affected by this perennial Brexit limbo are the 3.8 million EU citizens living in the UK, now having to apply to remain in a country that for many has been their home for decades. Laure Olivier-Minns, a French national who has lived and worked in the UK for over 30 years, is one of the many EU citizens who has felt forced to make the unimaginable decision to leave her life and British family behind in the UK, due to the increasing hostility of post-referendum Britain. We sat down in a cafe in Nantes, the hometown to which she recently returned, where she told me that her trust in her adopted country is gone.
Brexit planning provokes considerable accountancy recruitment
Brexit has generally been positive for hiring, especially across public practice recruitment with growth plans in regional areas implemented by the Big 4 and Top Ten firms, with most now open to their employees working across various locations. 2018 was broadly a positive and successful year for the accountancy profession. Jobs registered supported this with a healthy split between replacement and expansion hires, as well as specialist roles within tax especially buoyant anticipating the impact of Brexit.
UK factories stockpile for Brexit at fastest pace in at least 60 years - CBI
With Brexit looming, British factories stockpiled over the last three months at the fastest pace since records began in the 1950s, and they’re increasingly downbeat about their prospects, a survey showed on Friday. The Confederation of British Industry’s (CBI) quarterly survey added to signs that Brexit and a slowdown in the global economy has lumbered manufacturers, who account for 10 percent of the British economy, with a headache. Expectations for export orders in the next three months fell to their lowest level since mid-2009, when Britain was reeling from the global financial crisis.
Brexit planning provokes considerable accountancy recruitment
Brexit has generally been positive for hiring, especially across public practice recruitment with growth plans in regional areas implemented by the Big 4 and Top Ten firms, with most now open to their employees working across various locations. 2018 was broadly a positive and successful year for the accountancy profession. Jobs registered supported this with a healthy split between replacement and expansion hires, as well as specialist roles within tax especially buoyant anticipating the impact of Brexit.
The Government Is Planning To Make EU Students Pay Higher Tuition Fees To Study At English Universities
Future EU students at universities in England will no longer have the right to pay the same tuition fees as home students, in highly controversial plans being drawn up by the government. BuzzFeed News has learned that education secretary Damian Hinds is proposing to withdraw home fee status and financial support from EU students starting courses in the 2021/22 academic year, whether Britain leaves the union with a deal or without.
Brexit 'will hit older, less-skilled workers'
Brexit may have disappeared from the headlines thanks to a talks extension, but that doesn't mean we have dodged a bullet - it's just that the day of reckoning has been postponed. There was relief last week from the Department of Finance when it presented its economic forecasts that the delay meant the economy would not experience an immediate sharp stop.
EU students to pay more to study in UK under Brexit plan
EU nationals living in the UK are being urged to use European elections next month to protest over a government proposal to make future students from the bloc pay more to study at English universities. Damian Hinds, education secretary, is proposing to end the preferential status enjoyed by EU students for courses starting in 2021-22, whether Britain is scheduled to leave the union. The proposal, first reported by BuzzFeed News, was not denied by the Department for Education and has already attracted criticism that the government is willing to hobble its thriving universities by turning away international talent. “Another dreadful idea from this dim-witted government,” said Gavin Esler, a former BBC journalist and a candidate for the Change UK party in next month’s European Parliament elections.
Political Shenanigans
Nicola Sturgeon: Time for Scotland to become independent
Nicola Sturgeon has declared it is "time for Scotland to become independent" and called on the SNP to make sure there is a "surge" in support for leaving. Addressing her party's conference in Edinburgh, Scotland's first minister said events since the last Holyrood elections "have shown, beyond any doubt, that for Scotland the Westminster system is broken". Referring to Brexit, Ms Sturgeon said that if the UK "cannot be persuaded to change course" and reverse it, "Scotland must". She added: "We must have the choice of a better future. Scotland must have the choice of an independent future."
Nicola Sturgeon says world is facing a climate emergency
Nicola Sturgeon has said she believes the world is facing a climate emergency and pledged to speed up efforts to achieve zero carbon emissions. Following similar moves by the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, this weekend, the Scottish first minister said she was declaring the emergency because the science showed global warming was worsening. She told the Scottish National party’s spring conference in Edinburgh that if the UK’s expert advisory committee on climate recommended more urgent action to cut CO2 emissions in a report later this week, her government would act.
Nicola Sturgeon calls for SNP to ensure 'surging' support for independence
Nicola Sturgeon has declared it is "time for Scotland to become independent" and called on the SNP to make sure there is a "surge" in support for leaving. Addressing her party's conference in Edinburgh, Scotland's first minister said events since the last Holyrood elections "have shown, beyond any doubt, that for Scotland the Westminster system is broken". Referring to Brexit, Ms Sturgeon said that if the UK "cannot be persuaded to change course" and reverse it, "Scotland must". She added: "We must have the choice of a better future. Scotland must have the choice of an independent future."
@Channel4News “If the UK can’t be persuaded to change its course, Scotland must.”
“If the UK can’t be persuaded to change its course, Scotland must.” First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon tells the SNP Spring Conference that she plans to pass legislation for a second independence referendum by the end of 2019.
Nicola Sturgeon keeps Indy vote option even if no Brexit
Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has refused to rule out pursuing an independence referendum, even if Brexit does not happen. Ms Sturgeon had already announced she wants a so-called 'Indyref 2', citing Britain's exit from the European Union as the reason. In an interview with Sky News ahead of her SNP party's spring conference, she declined to say whether or not she would drop plans for a referendum if Brexit did not take place.
U.K. Conservatives Still Seeking Brexit Deal Before EU Election
Theresa May is still pursuing a Brexit deal that would get the U.K. out of the European Union before elections next month.
Time has run out. Labour must seize its last chance to take a stand on Brexit
Over the next 48 hours, a battle will take place that will settle the future of the Labour party – and arguably the country. Is Labour to be the party of Europe in uncompromising opposition to the rise of an ugly, hard-right, English nationalism? Or will it continue to temporise over Europe, so enabling the centre of political gravity to shift towards the English nationalist right?
Labour could sign up to Brexit deal without a second referendum, shadow minister says
Labour could sign up to a Brexit deal without a fresh referendum attached if the government makes significant concessions in the ongoing talks, the shadow business secretary has suggested. In a blow to pro-EU supporters, Rebecca Long-Bailey said the party was not “hugely prescriptive” on its terms, when asked if the inclusion of a public vote was a “red line” for Labour in the negotiations. Ms Long-Bailey, who has attended cross-party talks alongside shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer and shadow chancellor John McDonnell, said meetings had been “productive” with discussions about workers’ rights – a key ask for Labour.
Conservative Party Faces Losing More Than 800 Seats In Local Elections Amid Brexit Backlash
A polling expert has predicted the Conservative Party will lose more than 800 local council seats as at faces an electoral backlash over Brexit as senior Tories acknowledged the party faces a “difficult night”. Voters prepare to go to the polls in England on Thursday against expectations of a hammering and fears that worse could follow in May 23′s European elections. Election pundit and Tory peer Lord Hayward said he expected the Conservatives to lose more than 800 councillors and “marked losses of control of authorities”. “The Tories are at an historic high for a governing party after nine years in power,” he said. “A fall from that level is therefore inevitable at some stage and it will come this year - with force.” He suggested that Labour would gain around 300 seats from the Tories and the Liberal Democrats 500.
Labour takes sizeable poll lead over Tories as Brexit Party surges, ahead of European elections
Labour has taken a seven-point lead over the Conservatives ahead of the European elections, a new poll has found. A study by Opinium put Labour on 33 per cent, the Conservatives on 26 per cent and the insurgent Brexit Party on 17 per cent, when the public was grilled on how they would vote in a general election. The Liberal Democrats were on 6 per cent, with Ukip, the Green Party and the new centrist party Change UK all on 4 per cent. In a fresh headache for Theresa May, the former Ukip leader’s new party was neck and neck with Labour on 28 per cent for next month’s European elections, while Tory support collapsed to 14 per cent in the 23 May contest. Support for the Brexit Party ahead of the European elections has surged from 12 per cent in the past two weeks, with voters apparently flocking to it from Ukip.
Labour hints at backing Brexit deal without promise of referendum
Labour is prepared to sign up to a Brexit deal with the government without the promise of a referendum attached if cross-party talks make significant progress in the coming days, one of the party’s negotiators has said. With talks set to resume on Monday, Rebecca Long-Bailey, the shadow business secretary, made clear that if Labour’s Brexit demands were met, she would not expect the party to insist it be put to a public vote. “Our party policy has always been that firstly we want to get a Brexit deal that puts our economy and living standards first and protects our environmental protections, workplace protections, health and safety standards,” she said.
2019 European elections: Tories aim not to have to fight campaign
Brandon Lewis has refused to say when the Tories' European election campaign will launch, saying his priority is not to have to fight them at all. The UK is due to elect new MEPs on 23 May, after Brexit was delayed amid continuing parliamentary deadlock. Several parties have launched their campaigns already but Conservative chair Mr Lewis told the BBC his focus was on next week's local elections. The UK is due to leave the EU on 31 October, or sooner if a deal is agreed
Labour set to retain 'equivocal' referendum position
A concerted attempt by Labour MPs and MEPs to engineer that their party would campaign unambiguously for a “confirmatory” Brexit referendum in the EU elections looks set to flop. Instead Jeremy Corbyn’s preferred position of characterising a new public vote only as an option is likely to prevail, because he seems to have retained the backing of most of the leaders of the big trade unions. The decision on how strongly to push for a referendum, and how Labour’s position on it should be worded in its manifesto, will be taken at a crunch emergency meeting of the party’s ruling NEC on Tuesday. I am told by senior party sources that in talks last Tuesday with the leaders of the so-called five big trade unions - Unison, Unite, the GMB, Usdaw and the CWU - only the GMB signalled a strong preference for a confirmatory referendum to be upgraded from an option to a clear policy preference. Unison and Usdaw are in theory aligned with the GMB on this, but sources close to Corbyn do not believe they will vote against the Labour leader’s preferred and more ambiguous referendum formulation in a couple of days.
Conservatives in for 'difficult night' in local elections
The Conservatives are in for a "difficult night" in Thursday's local elections, a senior party figure has admitted. Deputy chairwoman Helen Whately admitted the poll will be a chance to "kick the government", amid predictions of a backlash over the delay to Brexit.
Lib Dems accuse Change UK of 'petty tribalism' after anti-Brexit party rejects electoral alliance
Lib Dem leader Sir Vince Cable urges Change UK to ditch "petty tribalism" and form an electoral alliance. Cable has failed to persuade the new anti-Brexit party of former Conservative and Labour MPs to form a pro-Remain alliance for the upcoming European elections and beyond. Supporters fear this refusal to cooperate will split the Remain vote and hurt anti-Brexit parties. Cable told Business Insider that an electoral alliance was "common sense" and that millions of Remain voters would feel "angry and betrayed" if parties did not work together. Lib Dem Tom Brake hit back at Change UK suggestions that Lib Dem members should quit the party and join Change UK.
'Hold Wales independence vote if no further Brexit poll'
Wales should hold an independence referendum if Brexit happens without a further EU poll, Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price has said. People could then choose between an independent Wales at Europe's "heart" or a "forgotten second-class region in a dying British state," he said. The independence call goes further than his party conference speech in March. Polling for BBC Wales has put support for independence at less than 10% since 2011. Mr Price said Wales should hold a "new national conversation" about the country's future whatever happens with the UK's departure from the European Union
Farage's Brexit Party spends big on Facebook ads
The Brexit Party of arch-eurosceptic Nigel Farage outspent both the Labour and Conservative Parties on political advertising ahead of the European elections during the Easter break, according to data published by Facebook. The Brexit Party, which is campaigning for the UK’s withdrawal from the EU at the earliest opportunity, spent £11,523 on Facebook ads between April 14 and April 20, a figure that dwarfs the £6,646 and £6,251 spent by the Labour and Conservative parties respectively, across the same period. Meanwhile, Change UK, a new party established by pro-EU advocates only begun advertising on Facebook on Tuesday, and has so far spent considerably less.
The Observer view on the Labour manifesto: get off the fence, Mr Corbyn
Jeremy Corbyn put honesty and integrity – the idea of doing politics in a different way – at the heart of his pitch for the Labour leadership four years ago. That makes Labour’s long-standing failure to clarify whether or not it is decisively in favour of a confirmatory referendum on any Brexit deal all the more depressing. Ambiguity remains the name of the game as we approach the European elections in just a few weeks. A draft campaign leaflet that was leaked last week did not even mention a referendum, pledging that Labour would seek “a better deal with Europe” after Brexit.
Support for EU membership above 80% in most member states amid Brexit mess
Support for remaining in the EU stands at well over 80 per cent in the majority of member states, a new continent-wide poll has found – with Britain’s political crisis apparently a poor advert for leaving. The survey by Kantar asked people how they would vote in an in-out referendum and found that Luxembourg (94 per cent), Portugal (92 per cent), Ireland (91 per cent), and the Netherlands (91 per cent) had the highest support for EU membership out of the 28 countries in the bloc. Apart from the UK the highest level of support for leaving was in the Czech Republic, where 66 per cent supported Remain and 34 per cent Leave. Italy was close behind as the next most Eurosceptic country, with 72 per cent Remain and 28 per cent Leave. Austria and France were the third and fourth most Eurosceptic.
Labour: Government still refusing to move on Brexit red lines in cross-party talks
There appears to be no end to the Brexit deadlock in sight, with Labour again accusing the government of refusing to budge on its red lines in cross-party talks. Shadow business secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey told Sky News there needed to be "hard and fast" progress in the discussions, which will continue this week. She also denied suggestions from the Conservatives that her party was stalling, saying "we're certainly not dragging our heels". Ms Long-Bailey told Sophy Ridge on Sunday: "Honestly I think the discussions so far have been productive, they've gone into a lot of detail, there seems to be a willingness on both sides to move towards some form of consensus.
Labour frontbencher Rebecca Long-Bailey refuses to say if second referendum is a 'red line' if government agrees to party's proposals
A Labour frontbencher today refused to say if a second referendum is a “red line” for the party if the government meets its Brexit proposals. Talks between the Conservatives and Labour are set to resume this week in an effort to find a solution to the stalemate. When shadow business secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey was asked on Sky News’ Sophie Ridge on Sunday whether a second poll was one of the party’s demands in the talks, she said Jeremy Corbyn and his team were "not being hugely prescriptive on the minute detail of specific elements because we are willing to compromise and we are willing to be flexible".
2019 European elections: Tories aim not to have to fight campaign
Brandon Lewis has refused to say when the Tories' European election campaign will launch, saying his priority is not to have to fight them at all. The UK is due to elect new MEPs on 23 May, after Brexit was delayed amid continuing parliamentary deadlock. Several parties have launched their campaigns already but Conservative chair Mr Lewis told the BBC his focus was on next week's local elections. The UK is due to leave the EU on 31 October, or sooner if a deal is agreed. This means the UK must now hold European Parliament elections on 23 May if it wants to avoid leaving the EU without a deal. But if agreement can be reached among MPs before 22 May, the UK could cancel its participation in the elections.
No-deal Brexit option should be on ballot paper says second referendum backer
The option of a no-deal Brexit should be on the ballot paper in a second referendum, the interim leader of Change UK has suggested. Heidi Allen said she felt that the choice should be offered to voters as to some people it represents a "clean Brexit" - but added that an option to "remain as we are" must also be included. Ms Allen, who quit the Tories in February to join the Independent Group, also said the new party had to be about more than just Brexit. In an interview with The House magazine, Ms Allen said she has "some sympathy" for allowing a no-deal option on the ballot paper in a second referendum.
Here's Why Brexit Wasn't Followed By Frexit, Swexit Or Nexit
Instead of becoming a harbinger of the EU's demise, the United Kingdom descended into political chaos and became a cautionary tale for other EU countries. Isabell Hoffmann, who tracks opinion in the EU for Bertelsmann Stiftung, a German independent foundation, says Brexit hasn't hurt the EU's standing — it's helped it. "We do see a Brexit effect in the numbers when it comes to support for the European Union," says Hoffmann. "Actually, they go up in a significant manner, and they stay up ever since." That support is up by 10 percentage points since the 2016 referendum, she says. "There are now roughly 70 percent of people who'd say 'we would vote for our country to stay in the European Union.' "
Brexit: Irish backstop could undermine EU standards, report says
A new report, commissioned by the German Green party and seen by the Guardian, will exacerbate concerns in Berlin over the small print of the withdrawal agreement in its current form. As the dust settles after months of chaos in Westminster, suspicions are growing on the other side of the Channel that the backstop could in fact be the very opposite: a brilliant deception device constructed by crack UK negotiators, which would allow a more reckless British prime minister to undermine the EU’s green and social standards while still keeping access to the European single market.
Brexit Party candidate 'sick and tired' of Leave voters being branded 'racist' and 'homophobic'
A candidate for Nigel Farage's Brexit Party has said he's 'sick and tired' of Leave voters being branded 'homophobic' and 'racist' by the media. Louis Stedman-Bryce, a black openly gay man, announced his candidacy for the party on Thursday at a press conference in Manchester. Speaking at the conference, he said: Our democracy has been betrayed by the media’s portrayal of the type of person that voted for Brexit. The perception out there is that we’re white, we’re homophobic, we’re definitely racist and we didn’t know what we voted for. I stand before you as a gay black man and I can definitely tell you I know what I was voting for when I voted for Brexit. Stedman-Bryce, who is a property investor, will head up the EU's Parliamentary Election campaign in Scotland, reports Pink News.
Why the European Parliament elections will be the most European yet
With both the Far Right and the Pro-European political parties gearing up to fight the European elections in May, The Economist believes it looks set to be the most 'European' election to date
Hammond optimistic of finding Brexit compromise with Corbyn's Labour
Chancellor Philip Hammond said on Friday that he was hopeful of clinching a Brexit compromise with the Labour Party to allow the ratification of Prime Minister Theresa May’s thrice-defeated divorce deal.
Gavin Esler: In just 10 minutes I knew I had to run as an MEP
Esler hadn’t been interviewed for a job since he applied to be North America Correspondent at the BBC in 1989. Over Skype, Heidi Allen “with two or three other people in the room” asked him questions. “‘Why do you want to do it?’ and so on.” It lasted around three-quarters of an hour. “I didn’t think I would get it,” he adds. But at six o’clock on Easter Sunday he answered the phone to Chris Leslie, who said they would like him to run, at the top of the list.
Triumph for Extinction Rebellion as protests spark huge surge in ‘climate change’ web traffic
Alanna Byrne, a press coordinator for Extinction Rebellion, said the protests were “hugely successful” and they were pleased with the way the “message has travelled”. “Most of the feedback that we’ve had has been very positive, and even the right-wing press has been covering us pretty well,” she added. She also claimed that the protests were justified, despite criticism of the organisation’s techniques. “People have to understand that this is urgent and we have to act now,” she said. “We think the government has to do their part and take action now as well. We’re really sorry to the public for being disruptive – but at the end of the day if we don’t cause this temporary disruption now, the disruption in the future is going to be horrifying.”
2019 European elections: Lib Dems stand on 'stop Brexit' message
The Liberal Democrats have launched their European election campaign with an "unambiguous" pledge to stop Brexit. Leader Sir Vince Cable accused the Conservatives and Labour of a "stitch-up" and said a "people's vote" was the only way to end the Brexit "paralysis". He added it was "a pity" that fellow Remain-backing party Change UK had not agreed to running a combined campaign. The UK is due to leave the EU on 31 October, after Brexit was delayed, amid continuing parliamentary deadlock.
BBC's Katya Adler WARNS EU could let UK 'walk away' with no deal if October deadline met
BBC Europe Editor Katya Adler has claimed the European Union may just let the UK walk away from the bloc without a Brexit deal if an agreement is not reached before the end of October.
Brexiteer Conservatives are KILLING the Union claims former Theresa May aide
Mr Wilkins said Prime Minister Theresa May had gone back on her election pledge to bring back the former Conservative and Unionists party name. Speaking on BBC Newsnight, he argued that Mrs May had not stuck to that pledge. When quizzed by the show’s host Emily Maitlis, Mr Wilkins said: “The Prime Minister talked about going back to the real name of the party and made it a central plank with a lot of narrative. Ms Maitlis then asked whether this meant she had forgotten about the union, he added: “There is a big element in the Conservative Party who would like it to be an English national party, with a Scottish version, a Welsh version. “But for them, Brexit and ideally no deal Brexit in their eyes is far more important than maintaining the union.”
Inside the dark world of the Tory whips and their dirty tricks
In a party so ill-disciplined that top secret decisions like Huawei landing Britain’s 5G contract get leaked to the Telegraph, it is perhaps no wonder Government whips have had their work cut out of late. As the MPs responsible for making sure as many members of their party as possible vote the way Theresa May wants, it is fair to say Brexit hasn’t brought out the best in the current crop of whips. Reports of dirty tricks and skullduggery lie at the heart of an aggressive campaign to persuade Tories to back the Prime Minister’s widely unpopular withdrawal agreement. Yesterday Johnny Mercer, the Conservative MP for Plymouth Moor View, once again accused the Government’s enforcement officers of skullduggery
Nearly 90 MPs And MEPs Demand Labour Backs Second Referendum In Euro-Elections
Amid growing frustration among the party’s pro-EU rank and file that the leadership will block any campaign for a second vote. HuffPost UK understands trade union figures met today and jointly agreed to press Jeremy Corbyn to include the words “confirmatory vote” in the manifesto for the June 23 poll. But while the leadership was ready to agree the phrase would be in Corbyn’s foreword, it would be banned from the main body of the manifesto, sources have said. Unite, arguably the labour movement’s most influential union, was not at the meeting. A draft leaflet for the Euro-elections, passed to HuffPost UK on Thursday, suggested the party had decided on a pro-Brexit stance, trumpeting a “better deal with Europe” and making no mention of a second referendum.
I'm An EU Citizen And NHS Nurse – Here's Why I'm Standing For Change UK
Brexit has turned our lives upside down and I had two options: to sit down and wait for my fate to be delivered to me, or fight for my rights and my beliefs. I choose to stand up.
Extinction Rebellion: Climate change protesters to stand in European elections
Environmental activists who participated in the recent Extinction Rebellion protests have announced they are standing in next month’s European elections. Nine candidates are running to be MEPs under the banner of Climate and Ecological Emergency Independents – including seven in London and two in the south-west England region – having been “inspired” by the disruptive demonstration across the capital. In a statement, the collective said they wanted to see Europe reach net zero carbon emissions by 2030 and have new citizen assemblies set up to give ordinary people a voice in shaping environmental policy.
Kit Malthouse: Don't pin blame for Brexit chaos on local Tories
While some ministers have found themselves cast into relative obscurity by the Brexit debate, Kit Malthouse planted himself squarely in the middle of it. In January the housing minister brokered a compromise plan formed by an extraordinary coalition of pro-EU and stridently Brexiteer Tories. For a brief period it appeared that the plan could give Theresa May a lifeline in the form of a Brexit plan that might just break the Commons impasse. But the Prime Minister chose not to adopt it as a new negotiating position with the EU. Now, Mr Malthouse, 52, who was a councillor for eight years in Westminster, is concerned that the “unedifying” mess in Westminster could harm the Tories in this week’s local elections
Labour to decide on Brexit public vote on Tuesday, says Corbyn
Labour’s ruling body will decide on Tuesday whether the party will campaign for a public vote on any Brexit deal, Jeremy Corbyn has said on the campaign trail in leave-voting Peterborough. Almost 90 Labour MPs and MEPs, including a number of frontbenchers, wrote to the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) to demand that its European election manifesto include a “clear commitment to a confirmatory public vote on any Brexit deal”. However, Corbyn declined to guarantee the commitment. He stressed that he was not a dictator and that the matter would be for the NEC to decide.
Corbyn launches bid to declare a national climate emergency
Labour will this week force a vote in parliament to declare a national environmental and climate change emergency as confidential documents show the government has spent only a fraction of a £100m fund allocated in 2015 to support clean air projects.Jeremy Corbyn’s party will demand on Wednesday that the country wakes up to the threat and acts with urgency to avoid more than 1.5°C of warming, which will require global emissions to fall by about 45% from 2010 levels by 2030, reaching “net zero” before 2050.
'Young people have the power to swing these elections' says one of the youngest candidates
23-year-old Carmen Smith is one of the youngest candidates standing for any party (Plaid Cymru) in the European elections. Here she writes why she thinks young people have the power to swing the election.
Heidi Allen: “The fact people are trying to pick holes shows we must be a bit of a threat”
Ever since she railed against George Osborne’s welfare cuts, Heidi Allen’s relationship with the Conservatives looked fragile. After months of feeling disillusioned with her adopted party, she helped to form The Independent Group. Now interim leader of the rebranded Change UK, the South Cambridgeshire MP is hopeful for success at the European elections – but says Brexit cannot be everything that her party’s about. She talks to Sebastian Whale
Vince Cable: Let’s train our guns on breaking Brexit and create a new brand of politics
The fact that European elections are happening at all is testament to the dismal failure of Brexiteers to have any real plan for how to deliver what they promised. They now seek to blame Remainers for not “falling in line”, as though we should somehow have ceased to believe what we do because a narrow majority of others disagreed. Yet the real reason Brexit has been delayed — and may well be cancelled — is that those who advocate it cannot agree on what it should look like. The whole project has run into the sand, as it deserved to.
SDLP 'want to demonstrate politics work'
The SDLP leader has urged politicians to show those who murdered journalist Lyra McKee that "politics does work ... to have a Brexit committee to deal with the fallout from the UK leaving the EU.
Pro-Brexit newspaper puts spin on 8% Remain poll lead
A survey has found that Remain now have an 8% lead over Leave, but one newspaper has put a pro-Brexit spin on its headline. The European Parliament Spring Eurobarometer polls people Europe-wide for attitudes towards the union. It found that while 45% of UK respondents would vote to remain today, just 37% would vote to leave, giving Remain an 8% lead. The other 18% of respondents were unsure.
Brexit Party Threatens Tories and They Aren't Even Fighting Back
Nigel Farage is back, doing what he does best: Terrifying Conservative members of Parliament. Theresa May’s deeply divided Conservative Party can’t agree on how to tackle the threat posed by the veteran anti-EU campaigner and founder of the new Brexit Party -- a threat one Cabinet minister described as existential.As long as the Tories fail to deliver Brexit, the minister said, Farage will strip them of votes. The first test of that will be on May 23, when the country is likely to take part in an election to the European Union’s parliament -- even though Britain voted to leave the bloc three years ago.
Political Setbacks
May MISERY: Prime Minister has ‘KILLED’ Brexit– 'Tories a smoking RUIN', expert claims
Political commentator John Rentoul claimed Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is likely to become Prime Minister at the next election thanks to the Government’s failure to leave the EU. He said in The Independent that the Government promised the referendum three years ago but has failed to deliver Brexit. The co-author of Tony Blair’s biography also said that Corbyn is likely to win the next election because the Tories are “done for”.
‘Running out of time’ - EU expert issues damning statement on May’s latest extension
Although Mrs May has managed to buy some valuable time to get her Brexit deal through, the UK is only just coming to the end of the beginning of the whole process. Dr Simon Usherwood, deputy chair at The UK in Changing Europe think tank, has argued that with every extension, the UK is cutting into the crucial transition stage of the Brexit negotiations. The deputy chair has insisted that although every extension avoids the possibility of a no deal Brexit, it will also make it much harder for the Government to come to an agreement over the upcoming transition stage.
Tory chiefs warn MPs and activists will be kicked out if they back Nigel Farage
Tory chiefs have warned MPs and local activists they will be kicked out of the party if they back Nigel Farage in the European elections. The threat came as a poll shows Theresa May’s troops faces a hammering as Brexit voters desert her in droves. But some fed-up candidates vowed to jump ship instead of waiting to be pushed if the party goes ahead with the heavy-handed tactics. An Opinium poll showed support for the Tories has slumped to just 14 per cent ahead of next month’s the EU elections.
Exclusive: New IRA says Brexit helps it to recruit
The group said Britain’s leaving the EU had given it a chance to recruit supporters. “Brexit has forced the IRA to refocus and has underlined how Ireland remains partitioned. It would be remiss of us not to capitalise on the opportunity,” said one of the dissidents. In the interview, which followed months of secret contacts with republican dissidents north and south of the border, the leadership said the shooting of the 29-year-old journalist in the Creggan area of Londonderry 10 days ago was an accident that occurred in the midst of a riot and described her death as “shocking” and “something that did nothing to further any cause”.
Angry Labour activists threaten European election campaign boycott
Leading Labour activists are warning Jeremy Corbyn that they could boycott the party’s campaign for the European elections unless it backs a confirmatory referendum on Brexit, as pressure mounts on the leadership to support a fresh public vote. The warnings come before a crucial meeting on Tuesday of Labour’s deeply split national executive committee (NEC) at which the wording of the party’s European election manifesto is due to be decided.
Don't take out your Brexit frustrations on our hard-working Tory councillors
Once you get going you will find that canvassing in a British high street is as enjoyable as any other contact sport – and even more exciting, in the sense that you can never be entirely sure who is going to be on your side. As you weave from shop to shop in a kind of rolling maul, you develop an instinct about the members of the public who loom into your path. Sometimes you need to deploy the old side-step; sometimes you palm them off with another member of your team. But most times you will want to commit wholeheartedly to the tackle – thrusting out your garish campaign bumf, clasping their hand, and inquiring joyfully whether you can count on their support.
Now Ukip candidate who said he 'wouldn't even rape' a Labour MP says it's OK to sexually abuse boys
Police are examining sickening statements about child abuse made by a highly controversial Ukip candidate. Carl Benjamin was formally adopted by the party as a candidate for the European elections last week despite fury over his remark that he ‘wouldn’t even rape’ a Labour MP. Now a senior Ukip source has told The Mail on Sunday that they have passed a dossier to Wiltshire police containing deeply offensive remarks made by Mr Benjamin, an online ‘vlogger’ from Swindon who calls himself ‘Sargon of Akkad’.
Major parties across Europe are dying. Unless we deliver Brexit, Tories and Labour could be next
The onset of the banking crash, the squeeze on living standards and the austerity policies required by euro membership played a big part. Voters expected one or other of the two main parties to be able to reverse the economic decline and became disillusioned with both when they discovered that they did not have the power to do so within the EU. Even in Germany, where the economy did relatively well, the two main parties have suffered. Mrs Merkel’s centre-Right CDU lost out badly from backing higher levels of immigration. Many voters also resented Germany having to pay the bills of other eurozone members.
Farage raises hackles in Oldham by saying town is split on racial lines
He is supposed to be fronting a campaign to propel his Brexit party into the European parliament. But Nigel Farage abandoned Europe at the weekend and flew to the US to give a speech where he claimed entire streets of Oldham in Greater Manchester are split along racial lines. Addressing an audience of young libertarians at Lock Haven University in Pennsylvania, Farage said Oldham was a “divided society”. He told the Young America’s Foundation: “I could take you to a town called Oldham in the north of England where literally on one side of the street everybody is white and on the other side of the street everybody is black. The twain never actually meet, there is no assimilation. Whole streets in Oldham of people who have lived in my country for over 30 years who don’t speak a word of the English language. These, folks, are divided societies in which resentments build and grow.”
‘Traitors’: Homes with Labour, Lib Dems and Green posters vandalised in suspected Brexit-related attacks
Properties displaying Liberal Democrat, Labour and Green Party posters Sussex have been vandalised, in attacks thought to be linked to Brexit. The houses targeted in Lewes had the words “traitors” and “hypocrites” spray painted on their exterior walls. “The vandalism includes damage to property and the public footpath,” a spokesperson for Lewes Labour Party said in a statement. “The recent vandalism appears to follow a national trend of anti-social behaviour against political posters and individuals who are involved in local democratic political activity.” Campaigning is in full swing across the UK, where local elections will be held on 2 May.
European elections: Confusion over voter registration could stop thousands of EU citizens from casting ballot, campaigners warn
Thousands of EU nationals living in the UK could inadvertently lose their right to take part in the upcoming European elections because of widespread confusion over how to register, campaigners have warned, amid reports some European citizens are yet to receive their poll cards. Existing rules stipulate that EU citizens must both register to vote and sign a special “UC1” form stating that they will note vote anywhere else in the EU, by 7 May. But confusion has arisen because the UC1 form must be resubmitted before every election – even if the European national intending to vote has already signed and submitted that form previously, for example before the 2014 poll.
My England is in a mess. Scotland’s case for splitting away is stronger than ever
Viewed cynically, Sturgeon’s manoeuvre is reducible to picking a fight with Westminster over a referendum the UK government is unlikely to allow, so as to buy time, avert people’s eyes from the question of what the party has actually done with power, and assist the SNP’s chances in the 2021 Scottish elections. One big tension sits under everything: the fact that even if independence looks more logical than ever, the politics of actually pulling it off could not be more complicated.
Who is funding the Brexit party? Asks LBC's Ian Dale
Who is funding the Brexit Party (22m 50 secs) Farage looks awkward and intially says "we've done this all via the website" but when pressed admits "we've received one big donation" - refusing to say who it is. Rules say he must reveal it - so why not reveal it now?
Patrick Mercer: Former Conservative MP explains why he now backs Nigel Farage and Brexit Party
Now, however, that’s all changed. It’s worth remembering that David Cameron only called a referendum because of the gathering Ukip storm – he had to do something to defuse the prowling ‘fruitcakes’ if he wanted to keep his party together and his own hand in No 10’s sweetie jar. Sadly, for him, he underestimated the passion of people like my wife and the resonance of Farage’s cause.
Andrew Adonis’s staggering Brexit U-turn exposes him as an unprincipled chancer
Andrew Adonis’s staggering Brexit U-turn finally exposes him as the definitive ­example of all those unprincipled ­chancers now rotting ­British politics. Once a Lib Dem, he became an unelected Labour peer, a staunch Blairite, then a Brownite. Then he became the Tories’ infrastructure chief. Then came his deranged crusade to reverse Brexit and his unhinged social media attacks on Leavers and even neutral civil servants planning for Brexit. He told Leavers not to vote Labour. Now, though, he’s a Corbynista MEP candidate, suddenly batting for a “sensible”, “socialist” Brexit. No wonder “people’s vote” Remainers are outraged at their former figurehead’s betrayal.
Brexit revolt as Scottish Tory voters back Farage
Scotland is poised to elect an MEP from Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party as voters abandon the Scottish Conservatives, according to a poll for The Times. Ruth Davidson’s party faces losing its only representative in the Strasbourg parliament, analysis of the research by YouGov found, as nearly 40 per cent of voters who backed the Scottish Tories two years ago switch to Mr Farage’s new group. The survey, the first to be conducted after Nicola Sturgeon announced her intention to hold a second referendum on Scottish independence, also found increased support for secession, with 49 per cent of Scots preparing to vote Yes, compared to 45 per cent in YouGov’s last poll for this newspaper in June. The research suggests that the SNP is on the verge of doubling its European politicians from two to four, according to Sir John Curtice, an election expert.
Brexit uncertainty 'affecting MPs' mental health'
The ongoing climate of Brexit uncertainty has led to a "testing time" for MPs with some of them reaching "almost breaking point", a Lancashire politician has said. Ribble Valley MP Nigel Evans said the political situation was affecting some members' mental health, and admitted to waking up at 4am "thinking about Brexit". He told the BBC: "It's probably having an impact on MPs more than they would care to admit." The Mental health charity MIND has reached out to MPs and is offering help and support.
Brexit BLUNDER: Theresa May risks making ‘ILLEGAL’ move if she cancels £100m EU elections
MEP Change UK candidate and senior barrister, Jessica Simor has said “stopping the EU election at the last minute would likely be illegal”. Ms Simor claimed that if the Prime Minister cancelled the EU elections, she could face legal action from EU citizens residing in the UK. Yet, Mrs May has repeatedly claimed she has until May 22 to cancel the election.
Facebook prepares for EU election interference ahead of vote in May
Facebook is preparing to tackle interference campaigns aimed to misinform and manipulate voters ahead of the EU's elections in May. Last year the company acknowledged that social media could have a damaging impact on democracy and admitted it was "too slow to recognise" Russian attempts to interfere in the US presidential election. To protect its users from similar interference in the upcoming EU elections Facebook has announced a new range of fact-checking features.
Remainers: don’t panic about European elections. Just participating is a win
There is only one risk here for remainers – that a big win for the Brexit party could spook some Labour MPs into voting for May’s package after all. But provided the Labour vote holds up, and indicates that MPs’ seats are safe, this risk ought to be minimal. In any case, most analysts will be observing not the number of seats allocated but the share of ballots cast. Farage will do well, but it seems unlikely that the Brexit party, Tories, Ukip and the DUP will collectively gain more than 50% of the vote. Indeed, the biggest story of the election is likely to be the humiliation of the Conservative party. Given that this is the party responsible for delivering Brexit, its drubbing in a national poll is unlikely to harm remainers. Even if the government lurched towards no-deal, parliament would not allow it and the EU would not insist on it.
Tommy Robinson's MEP campaign will be an utter failure – but I know first-hand where his real danger lies
Turning up to a “forgotten” neighbourhood, bringing food and promising to tackle supposed threats, is a classic tactic of wannabe authoritarians, from Weimar Berlin to the former Yugoslavia on the eve of civil war. So the crowd get burgers, and a modicum of attention and a kind of “lovebombing” takes place – creating a strong emotional bond between followers and a leading figure. On the surface, this is about seeking electoral success, but there’s also the goal of building a street movement among those who feel ignored and disenfranchised. The campaign video was hell-bent on stirring divisions. It even spoke of politicians who don’t “breathe the same air” as his supporters.
Ex-housing tsar Roger Scruton says the 'witch hunt' of people on the political right is worsening
Sir Roger Scruton has said that the 'witch hunt' of people on the political right is getting worse, following his dismissal over his comments on Islamophobia. former government advisor has expressed his concerns around the silencing of a 'conservative voice', as he challenged remarks he made to the New Statesman publication last month. The 75-year-old had been dismissed as a housing tsar following the interview, with Downing Street then accusing him of making comments which were of a 'deeply offensive and completely unacceptable' nature. The former Chairman of the Building Better Building Beautiful Commission has now said the way his views were presented in the magazine were such as to 'cause some kind of scandal'.
UKIP refuses to dump candidate who used vile racial slurs including the n-word
Carl Benjamin, aka Sargon of Akkad, repeatedly used the words "n****r" and "spic" in a 2015 video - yet UKIP claim he's fighting "political correctness" and will not kick him off the party's ticket in the EU elections
The Tory leak of Huawei’s role in the UK’s 5G network confirms that Theresa May’s government is doomed
You don’t have to be a detective to deduce that the most likely leaker was a cabinet minister who wants to succeed May (which reduces the list of suspects to 28)
Nigel Farage faces voter backlash after Ann Widdecombe slams pension campaigners as ‘self-indulgent and entitled’
Protests are now planned outside her remaining dates on her Strictly Ann tour following her remarks on a BBC show. Widdecombe, 71, is top of Farage’s Brexit Party’s south west region list ahead of the European Parliament elections next month. The former Tory MP said: “I’m sorry I’m going to be blunt here, it is unreasonable, self-indulgent and entitled to think that you can retire at the same age with a much longer life expectancy at the state’s expense.” The controversy surrounds the transition to equal pension age with campaigners saying many women only found about the change months before they were due to turn 60. It means many have had to carry on working for an extra five or six years. Up to 3.9 million women are thought to be affected by the changes, according to the Women Against State Pension Inequality (Waspi) group. There is going to be a judicial review of the alleged mishandling of the case to be held at the High Court in June.
SNP votes for Scotland to quickly adopt new currency if it leaves UK
The Scottish National party has voted to establish an independent currency “as soon as practicable” if Scotland were to leave the UK, as activists rejected a more cautious timetable put forward by the party leadership. In a narrow victory for the grassroots, the party conference agreed by 52 votes to amend part of a wide-ranging economic blueprint, created by the party’s sustainable growth commission, to allow for a new currency to be fast-tracked and “ready for introduction as soon as practicable after Independence Day”.
Public thinks EU referendum was bad idea, says poll
More than half the public – 55% – now think it would have been better never to have held the EU referendum given the difficulties of reaching an agreement on Brexit, according to the latest Opinium/Observer poll. Strikingly, more Conservative voters (49%) now think the referendum was a bad idea than believe it was the right thing to have done (43%). Among Labour supporters, 72% believe it would have been better never to have staged the vote, while 18% say it was worthwhile. The Conservatives are down 3 percentage points on 26% compared with a fortnight ago and continue to trail Labour (also down 3pts on 33%) by seven percentage points. Nigel Farage’s newly formed Brexit party, meanwhile, has established itself in a clear third place on 17%, having been included in the national poll for the first time.
Brexit: Labour to redraft European Parliament election leaflets
Labour is redrafting European election leaflets after accusations of ignoring a pledge to hold a further Brexit referendum, the BBC has been told. They will now refer to the party's preparations for a general election, with a referendum if necessary to avoid what it calls a "bad Tory deal". Jeremy Corbyn says Labour's ruling body will make a decision on Tuesday about backing a public vote on any deal. About 100 Labour MPs and MEPs want such a promise in the party manifesto. They wrote to members of the national executive committee before it meets on Tuesday to decide on the manifesto.
Brexit deadlock not local elections on mind of Conservative voters
With local elections a week away the campaign remains dominated by the deadlock over Brexit painting a bad picture of the Conservatives
@BBCNewsnight Labour MP Janet Daby, one of the 90 MPs and MEPs calling for the party to make clear its backing for a second vote, says it “would be very difficult” to hand out a leaflet that does not mention any commitment to another public vote
Labour MP Janet Daby, one of the 90 MPs and MEPs calling for the party to make clear its backing for a second vote, says it “would be very difficult” to hand out a leaflet that does not mention any commitment to another public vote
Nicola Sturgeon is trying to tear our country apart, the BBC can't keep giving her an easy ride
The BBC must institute a dramatic overhaul of its attitude towards Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP now that Scotland’s First Minister has thrown her troops into another referendum battle to break up Britain. She can’t be permitted to get away again with the easy ride she enjoyed at the hands of Martha Kearney on the Today programme. There’s no certainty that there will be another referendum but with Ms Sturgeon’s officials – all members of the British civil service, remember – preparing the ground for such a vote, she must now be treated as a frontline British politician, with all the attendant ferocious scrutiny of her views, policies and record.
Forget Andrew Adonis’s U-turn on Brexit. It’s Labour that should really make one
The Labour leadership is pushing opportunity into the jaws of defeat, given its overwhelmingly pro-European base. The international commission of Labour’s national policy forum, which includes trade unionists, MPs and constituency reps, has just voted unanimously that Labour’s EU election manifesto should pledge to hold a confirmatory referendum. On the same day, the Huffington Post obtained a draft Labour leaflet for the European elections saying that Labour would go ahead with Brexit and seek “a better deal with Europe”, with no mention of a confirmatory vote. It reported that neither Keir Starmer nor the head of the Labour MEPs, Richard Corbett, were consulted on the leaflet’s content. If that is the case, it is plain outrageous
Twitter bans Tommy Robinson and Ukip candidate Carl Benjamin's campaign accounts
Twitter has banned the Euro election campaign accounts of Ukip candidate Carl Benjamin and far-right extremist Tommy Robinson. Ukip today refused to dump Benjamin after a video emerged of him using a variety of racial slurs. Benjamin, a vlogger who calls himself “Sargon of Akkad”, had already been banned from Twitter in 2017 for violating the platform's rules on targeted abuse. And Robinson, whose real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, was permanently banned in March 2018 for violating its rules on "hateful conduct". Benjamin rose to notoriety after Tweeting a message to Labour MP Jess Philips, saying "I wouldn't even rape you."
Alastair Campbell warns Labour over Brexit referendum
Alastair Campbell says he would find it difficult to vote Labour in the European elections if the party does not pledge to hold a referendum on the Brexit deal. Tony Blair's former director of communications, a supporter of the People's Vote campaign, told Nick Robinson's Political Thinking Podcast that it would be an "error of catastrophic proportions" for Labour not to give the public the final say.
Brexit: Corbyn facing fresh pressure to commit to second referendum after ‘furious’ MPs condemn leaked leaflet
Jeremy Corbyn is under growing pressure over his party’s position on a second Brexit referendum after a leaked draft of a campaign leaflet included no mention of a Final Say vote. The Labour leader faced an angry backlash over the flyer, with MPs saying it had triggered “complete meltdown” in the party and left pro-EU MPs “utterly furious”. As the row deepened, 75 MPs and 14 MEPs wrote to Labour’s governing body to demand that “a clear commitment” to another referendum be included in the party’s manifesto for next month’s European parliament elections. Mr Corbyn’s top team is split on whether Labour should support a second referendum. Several senior shadow cabinet ministers want the party to support a public vote on any Brexit deal passed by parliament, but Mr Corbyn’s inner circle say he only supports a referendum on the government’s deal or to avoid a no-deal outcome. Other shadow ministers oppose another public poll entirely
Gibraltar glee at Brexit chaos: Rock's chief vows to get 'wasted' if EU exit blocked
The Rock’s chief minister Fabian Picardo said Brexit “is more stalled than we could imagine” as he predicted Britain’s exit from the Brussels club could be stopped altogether. Describing his relief if Britain remained in the EU, he joked: “If there is no Brexit I will get so wasted and I will invite the mayor of La Línea and my friends from here and from Gibraltar to celebrate with me.”
Brexit Party candidate claimed Tory Islamophobia was 'made up by the left'
A Brexit Party candidate has sparked a backlash after claiming Tory Islamophobia was “made up”. Salmon tycoon Lance Forman said the row was invented "by the left" to distract from anti-Semitic racism in Labour. In Twitter messages from 2017 to 2018, he also said Islamophobia was "reactive" and "not enough Muslims are standing up for the Jews". And he described Jeremy Corbyn as a Nazi and "fascist", saying: "It's undeniable." Labour claimed the comments were "disgraceful, racist and bigoted" while the Muslim Council of Britain said "dismissing evidence of Islamophobia" must not be tolerated.
With his money-grubbing speeches, Boris Johnson cheapens our politics
What does a person say in two speeches that is worth £160,000? Do they vomit gold? This is the amount that Boris Johnson made last month. He made a speech for the India Today conference and he got £122,990. Accommodation and transport provided of course. On the day Theresa May lost the second Brexit vote in the House of Commons he gave a speech for £38,250 to Citigroup Global Markets Ltd. Johnson is certainly taking advantage of the more liberal rules about income and interests now that he is no longer a minister.
Tories face 'catastrophe' at May 2 local elections, says leaked Lib Dem briefing note
The Tories face a bruising kick in the ballots as voters desert them at next week’s local elections, a leaked briefing has revealed. An internal Lib Dem memo predicts a “catastrophe” for Theresa May ’s party when swathes of England hold council polls on May 2. More than 8,300 seats are up for grabs, half of them Conservative. The same set of seats was contested four years ago, when David Cameron led the Conservatives to a shock general election triumph, delivering the party’s first parliamentary majority for 23 years.
The dangerous allure of a fudged Brexit
During Mr Johnson’s brief and ignominious spell as foreign secretary, officials reported that his response to inconvenient facts was to cover his ears and hum the national anthem until the bearer of the bad news had departed. Nothing has changed.
A phoney war between old and young is no way to secure the Conservatives' future
It’s rare, nowadays, to come across a Conservative who isn’t trying to be the next leader of the party. Theresa May has been an inspiration, insofar as most of her MPs think they could do a better job. So a mass audition has started, with speeches outlining grand visions for the future. Almost every time, we hear how the party’s biggest problem is winning back young voters. But how? This is where the ideas run out. It’s a bit of a problem. For most of the last 15 years, the Tories have been anxiously trying to look slick, modern and vigorous – only to see a pensioner, Jeremy Corbyn, waltz off with the youth vote.
Trade Deals/Negotiations
Britain calls China's Belt and Road Initiative 'vision'
Speaking at a summit in Beijing on China’s programme to re-create the old Silk Road joining China with Asia and Europe, Hammond said the BRI must work for everyone for it to turn into a sustainable reality and he offered British expertise in project financing. “The Belt and Road Initiative has tremendous potential to spread prosperity and sustainable development, touching as it does, potentially 70 percent of the world’s population, a project of truly epic ambition,” Hammond said. “The U.K. is committed to helping to realise the potential of the BRI and to doing so in way that works for all whose lives are touched by the project,” he added. “The BRI is an extraordinarily ambitious vision,” Hammond said. “To turn that vision into a sustainable reality, it must work for everyone involved.”
Japan warns that no deal Brexit must be avoided at all costs at Brussels summit
Shinzo Abe, Japan's prime minister, has said that a no deal Brexit must be avoided at all costs at a summit with European Union chiefs in Brussels. Mr Abe said that Japanese companies needed a predictable business environment to continue their operations in the UK before calling on the EU and Britain to ensure a smooth Brexit. Standing alongside Jean-Claude Juncker., the president of the European Commission and Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council, Mr Abe said that Japanese firms had invested in Britain because it was a "gateway to Europe".