Posts Tagged ‘Theresa May’

Stop being ‘defeatist’ about Brexit and be inspired by Trump, Britons told by US ambassador

June 22, 2018
By Christopher Hope, Chief Political Correspondent
The Telegraph
Woody Johnson, right, says Britain should be inspired by what Donald Trump has done
Theresa May should take “inspiration” from Donald Trump in the Brexit negotiations and cast off Britain’s “defeatist” attitude, according to the US ambassador to the UK.

Interviewed for a new Channel 4 documentary,  Woody Johnson questioned why the UK was “so nervous” about the prospects of leaving the EU, a process that in his view need not present a “major challenge”.

His comments come soon after Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, told a group of Tory donors that if Donald Trump was in charge of Brexit “actually you might get somewhere” .

It came as Philip Hammond, the Chancellor, insisted the Treasury was not the “enemy of Brexit” but rather the “champion of prosperity for the British people outside the EU”.

Mr Hammond also accused Brussels of making a land grab for the City and harbouring an “ambition to force the location of business into the EU”.

On Thursday Sajid Javid, the Home Secretary, admitted that hardened criminals from EU countries could be given the right to live and work in the UK because EU rules prevent the Home Office carrying out blanket criminal records checks in foreign countries.

Brexiteers claimed the immigration deal for EU citizens living in Britain, unveiled by Mr Javid, was too generous as it emerged that almost 4 million people could apply for so-called settled status – 600,000 more than previously thought. They will also be able to bring family members including boyfriends and girlfriends of more than two years’ standing.

Mr Johnson – who took up his post last November – said nervousness about Brexit had surprised him, adding that “as an American I’m just not used to hearing that”.

a man wearing a suit and tie© The TelegraphHe said: “The thing I want to get at more than anything else is an attitude that I feel I don’t see enough in this country and that is a confidence for where you are heading, light at the end of the tunnel with Brexit.

“The British have always been experts and great business people, great business minds, so to see this defeatist attitude towards Brexit is a bit sorrowing for me, when I read nothing in the papers about anybody having a positive attitude towards Brexit or towards the future.

“As an American I’m just not used to hearing that. Don’t be pessimistic, have faith, how can a country with this great a history, this great a language, this great a legal system, this great a presence and not be successful?”

Turning to the US President, Mr Johnson said: “When you look at Donald Trump and what he has done, maybe take some inspiration and actually do some of the things he has done.

“I mean he turned something round in one year, he has got three per cent growth. We had a point and a half last year, this is three per cent – that is trillions of dollars. Two million new jobs. Records set in each month. African American employment at an all-time high.

“I’m super confident about the relationship between the US and the UK. I’m very confident about our future together, I’m very confident about what happens after Brexit.

“I don’t think that is a major challenge, why are we so nervous? We don’t have the confidence in ourselves? We’ve got the best people right here to do it. That is my take on my first months here.”

Officials in the UK and Washington are just starting to plan Mr Trump’s overnight stay in the UK on July 13 next month, when he will meet the Queen and Mrs May, the Prime Minister.

Donald Trump wearing a suit and tie© The TelegraphBut Mr Johnson is overheard during the new documentary discussing staging Mr Trump’s first state visit to the UK with Sir Mark Sedwill, the UK’s National Security Adviser in May or July next year.

During a conversation at the embassy’s opening earlier this year, Mr Johnson asked Sir Mark when he would like Mr Trump to visit. Sir Mark replied: “Either in late May or in July, that would be a state visit.”

Sir Mark then added: “Let’s plan for a series of visits in his first term. Let’s do it one by one. When do you want a state visit, when do you want other visits?”

After the ambassador suggested “a state visit may be next Spring”, Sir Mark said – wrongly – that “next year is the 75th anniversary of VE Day”, which actually falls in 2020.

Sir Mark said: “That would be worth having him here for, the key thing is getting him here.” Mr Johnson replied: “Let’s get him here once. Once you get it then you know what you are dealing with.”

The US ambassador urges the security adviser not to let “fear” about the visit “hold you back”.

Sir Mark added: “So, I think for him to be the first big visit after Brexit … This is a Brexit President.”

© gettyMeanwhile Jean Claude-Juncker, the European Commission President, said in a speech that Britain outside the EU was a country that does not “yet know that they are small” .

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2018/06/21/stop-defeatist-brexit-inspired-trump-britons-told-us-ambassador/

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Theresa May Seeking Budget Cuts From Defence Secretary, MoD, British Military?

June 21, 2018

‘Shockwaves’ at MoD as PM challenges defence secretary to justify spending plans

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© Getty

George Parker and David Bond in London 


Theresa May has asked Gavin Williamson, the defence secretary, to justify Britain’s role as a “tier one” military power, throwing Ministry of Defence plans to modernise the armed forces into disarray just weeks before a crucial Nato summit.

At a tense meeting this week, the prime minister said Mr Williamson needed to rethink the capabilities needed to be a modern military force and focus more on Britain’s cyber warfare capability to meet new threats, including Russia.

Senior officials said Mrs May’s intervention created “shockwaves” at the MoD, with some claiming she appeared to be questioning Britain’s role as a global military player. “People have their head in their hands,” said one official.

Downing Street acknowledged that Mr Williamson’s plans had been challenged by Mrs May in Tuesday’s meeting but dismissed suggestions that she was arguing for a reduction in Britain’s military status.

“It is categorically untrue to suggest that the UK’s current position as a leading defence nation is somehow in question,” a spokesman said. “The prime minister is strongly committed to the United Kingdom’s armed forces and to maintaining their strength and their ability to deter and where necessary defeat the threats we face.”

MoD officials are urgently working on a paper that will set out what it means to be a top-tier power alongside the US, Russia, China and France.

Although there is no formal definition of what constitutes a tier one power, the MoD has interpreted it as having a full spectrum of military capabilities, including an independent nuclear deterrent and a navy, army and air force capable of being deployed anywhere in the world.

Mr Williamson has fought a high-profile campaign in Whitehall for more cash for the armed forces as the MoD faces a funding shortfall of up to £20bn over the next decade. But in the “trilateral” meeting, he faced resistance from Mrs May and Philip Hammond, the chancellor.

According to one official briefed on the talks, Mrs May’s doubts were raised near the end of the meeting, after General Sir Nick Carter, the new chief of the defence staff, set out the threats the UK is facing, with a particular focus on Russia.

Gen Carter detailed the capabilities required to meet those threats and touched on some of the cost implications, prompting the prime minister to raise the question of tier one status and request a fuller review.

“The PM was simply asking, ‘Are you sure this is the right way to proceed’?” said a second government official with knowledge of the meeting.

On exercise with the British Army as it battles for funds

Mrs May said this week that the NHS is the government’s “priority” and Mr Hammond has told colleagues that the plan for £20.5bn in extra health spending by 2023 will mean tighter settlements for other departments in a spending review next year.

The chancellor will on Thursday say in his annual Mansion House speech that he is committed to reining in borrowing and sticking to his fiscal rules, including raising taxes “a bit” to pay for higher NHS spending.

Mr Williamson is pressing for more cash and wants to make an interim statement on his “modernising defence programme” before next month’s Nato summit, at which President Donald Trump is again expected to demand US allies boost military spending.

But the pushback by Mrs May and Mr Hammond has put the statement on hold. “More work needs to be done,” said one senior official. The modernisation review is scheduled to conclude in the autumn.

Britain is one of only five Nato countries which meet the alliance’s spending goal of committing 2 per cent of gross domestic product to defence. The current UK defence budget stands at £37bn a year.

Britain is also committed to spending a further £178bn on new defence equipment over the next 10 years — but the MoD’s budget remains under strain and Mr Williamson and military chiefs are seeking more.

The shift in tone from the prime minister comes after hopes were raised that defence would be granted extra money beyond the current commitment to increase the MoD’s budget by 0.5 per cent above inflation each year.

Earlier this week a report by the defence select committee called for ministers to raise defence spending to nearer 3 per cent of GDP.

On Wednesday, General Mark Carleton-Smith, the new head of the army, said sacrificing conventional war fighting capabilities to pay for new capabilities like cyber was “flawed”.

In a speech to the Rusi land power conference in London, Mr Carleton-Smith said it was wrong to believe that “the answer lies somehow in disruptive technology and the quicker we can field those technologies the less useful the traditional measures of combat power become as indicators of national power”.

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Theresa May Faces Big Vote on Brexit — Could determine British currency values

June 20, 2018

A Big Day for May, and Sterling

The currency’s fate is entwined with Wednesday’s Brexit vote in Parliament.

Bloomberg
Big day for May. And the pound.

Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

It was only two months ago that the pound was back to its pre-Brexit referendum levels versus the dollar and the Brexit process was largely on track. But times have changed, and so has the currency pair.

With a fall of eight percent since the peak in April there is a risk that sterling picks up unstoppable downward momentum. Much of sterling’s descent is due to dollar strength — but not all of it.

As the U.K.’s economic recovery has faded, so have investor expectations that the Bank of England can raise interest rates.

Image result for mark carney bank of england

After Governor Mark Carney dashed hopes for an increase in the first half of the year, a mixed bag of data in the second quarter leaves the odds for a move in August finely balanced. Thursday’s policy decision is sure to be a non-event. The central bank has been forced to sit on the sidelines.

Apart from the dollar, what’s most important for the pound is politics. Wednesday’s “meaningful vote” in Parliament could give lawmakers the power to stop Prime Minister Theresa May from falling back on a no-deal Brexit. The decision could be seismic for the currency.

Allowing the legislature to have a say pretty much removes the no-deal option from the government’s bargaining table with the European Union, and severely ties its hands. Sterling normally reacts positively to hints of a softer departure from the bloc. But were this vote to pass, it would be the most important legislative failure of May’s tenure. That loss of control of the divorce proceedings would give investors serious concern about the outlook for U.K. Plc.

It could get worse. If the political fallout resulted in a leadership challenge, the disarray would be toxic for the currency, not least because there seems to be nobody who could replace her with the full backing of the Conservative Party. Sterling could easily fall below $1.30. A decline to the mid-$1.20s — the lowest range the currency’s seen since the referendum — couldn’t be ruled out, and that would be fatal for confidence in every sense.

However, if May scrapes through again, sterling ought to recover some ground. Regaining the heights of April might be too much to hope for given that we’ve yet to see a confirmed successful divorce plan, but a return to the mid $1.30s seems a reasonable expectation.

A wildcard would be if BOE policy makers clearly signaled on Thursday their determination to raise rates. But Carney’s credibility is so shot, it’s hard to see who would believe him.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.

To contact the author of this story:
Marcus Ashworth at mashworth4@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story:
Jennifer Ryan at jryan13@bloomberg.net

https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2018-06-19/get-ready-america-china-trade-war-s-coming-for-your-hip-pocket

British PM’s Brexit plans set for Lords defeat, teeing up showdown

June 18, 2018

Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit plans face rejection by parliament’s upper chamber on Monday, setting the stage for a confrontation with rebel lawmakers later in the week which could rock her minority government.

Ministers are seeking approval for the final wording of the legislation that will end Britain’s membership of the European Union next year. However, they have fallen into a row with pro-EU Conservative lawmakers who want parliament to have a say in the exit process if talks in Brussels fail to reach an acceptable divorce deal.

This threatens May’s authority over her divided Conservative Party, and underlines the balancing act she has to pull off to keep those who want a “softer” Brexit onside, without upsetting those in favor of a clean break with the EU

On Monday, the House of Lords will debate different proposals for a “meaningful” vote – the role parliament will play if lawmakers reject a deal that May negotiates with the EU, or if she fails to agree an exit deal at all.

Talks between May and the pro-EU rebels on a compromise plan broke down last week at the last minute, leaving two similar but crucially different proposals on the table.

Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, people sitting

Ministers have so far agreed to give parliament a symbolic vote on the government’s strategy if its initial exit deal is rejected, but not to give lawmakers the power to force changes to its plan.

Speaking before the vote, foreign minister Boris Johnson reinforced the government’s view that discussion of the meaningful vote was hypothetical as ministers were confident of getting a deal with Brussels that parliament will approve.

“We are absolutely confident that we will deliver a Brexit deal that … would be good for the UK, good for our European friends and partners. We’re going to get on and do it,” he told reporters.

The rebels are holding out for more assurances, warning that they could bring down the government. Ministers are digging in and refusing to give ground for now.

A spending pledge for Britain’s public health service by May has also irritated some pro-EU lawmakers, who question the government’s assertion that the new funding is part of a “Brexit dividend” – money saved by leaving the bloc.

May’s Conservatives do not have a majority in the unelected House of Lords, and with the opposition Labour Party deciding to back a rival proposal, the government faces defeat when the debate begins some time after 1400 GMT.

That would tee up a showdown when the legislation returns to the lower House of Commons for a vote on Wednesday. This will be crucial for May’s attempts to resist a move seen as a step toward a softer Brexit, meaning closer ties to the EU on issues such as customs and regulations.

Both houses must agree the final wording before it can become law, but results in the lower house, where May rules with the support of a small Northern Irish party, are more consequential for her leadership.

Failure to keep her party in line would signal trouble for several other contentious pieces of legislation needed to prepare for Brexit, including on central issues such as trade and customs policy.

Additional reporting by Tom Miles in Geneva; editing by David Stamp

Reuters

UK Healthcare: PM Promises an additional £384 million per week into the NHS after Brexit — Also promised £20bn a year as a 70th “birthday present” for NHS

June 17, 2018

Theresa May has agreed to pour an additional £384 million per week into the NHS after Brexit – exceeding the amount mooted by the official Leave campaign and effectively locking the UK into leaving the EU.

The boost for the health service, which the Prime Minister will set out in a speech on Monday, is intended to mark the 70th anniversary of its creation, partly by drawing on the “Brexit dividend” that will arise from the country ceasing payments to the EU.

Writing in The Sunday Telegraph, Jeremy Hunt, the Health Secretary, who campaigned for Remain during the 2016 referendum, says the Brexiteer pledge of extra funding for the NHS “can now unite us all”.

In a heavily criticised slogan, the Leave…

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Read the rest:

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2018/06/16/350m-extra-week-nhs-hunt-announces-theresa-may-locks-britain/

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BBC News
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NHS gets £20bn ‘birthday present’ — PM says

The NHS in England is to receive an extra £20bn a year as a 70th “birthday present”, the prime minister has said.

Theresa May is expected to detail where the additional health service funding will come from on Monday.

However, she told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show the boost will be funded partly by a “Brexit dividend” available once the UK stops paying into the EU budget.

Labour said the government had failed to fund the NHS properly and was relying on “a hypothetical” windfall.

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In her BBC interview, Mrs May said the increase will exceed the £350m-a-week extra promised by Leave campaigners during the EU referendum campaign.

The spending plan means the £114bn-a-year budget will rise by more than 3% a year on average in the next five years.

That will mean by 2023 the budget will be £20bn a year more than it is now once inflation is taken into account.

But crucially the plan just covers front-line budgets overseen by NHS England.

About a tenth of the overall health budget is held by other bodies for things such as training and healthy lifestyle programmes, including stop smoking services and obesity prevention programmes.

The BBC understands these will be protected, but beyond that it is unclear what will happen to them.

The 2015 spending review – the last time a five-year settlement was announced – saw these budgets cut to help pay for an £8bn increase in NHS England’s budget.

The deal has been reached after a series of meetings between the chancellor and Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt and NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens in recent weeks.

They had been locked in negotiations after Prime Minister Theresa May promised there would be a long-term settlement agreed this year.

‘Superhuman efforts’

With the NHS celebrating the 70th anniversary of its creation in July, there had been a desire to see something announced before then.

Mr Hunt said this had been achieved, giving the NHS a “fitting birthday present for our most loved institution”.

He added: “It recognises the superhuman efforts made by staff over the last few years to maintain services in the face of rapidly growing demand. But it also presents a big opportunity for the NHS to write an entirely new chapter in its history.”

Labour’s shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said: “Today’s announcement confirms that Theresa May has failed to give the NHS the funding it needs.”

“Labour would have invested nearly £9bn extra this year in the NHS and social care, while asking the wealthiest and big corporations to pay their fair share of tax,” he said.

Instead, he said, the government was asking patients to rely on “a hypothetical Brexit dividend”.

The announcement means extra money will also be made available for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, although it will be up to the Welsh and Scottish governments to decide how that is spent.

The infamous red Brexit bus during the referendum campaign with Brexiteer Boris JohnsonImage copyright GETTY IMAGES
The PM references the controversial £350m a week claim seen on a bus used during the EU referendum campaign

Is this being paid by the Brexit dividend?

Alongside the five-year funding plan, ministers are expected to announce a new 10-year vision will be drawn up for the health service.

Details of this and how it will be carried out are expected to come in a speech by Prime Minister Theresa May on Monday.

But in her BBC interview, to be aired on Sunday, Mrs May claimed the funding boost is partly coming from a “Brexit dividend”.

“Some people may remember seeing a figure on the side of a bus a while back of £350m a week in cash,” she said.

“I can tell you that what I’m announcing will mean that in 2023-24 there will be about £600m a week, more in cash, going into the NHS.

“That will be through the Brexit dividend. The fact that we’re no longer sending vast amounts of money every year to the EU once we leave the EU.”

But Mrs May also acknowledged that “as a country” more will need to be contributed.

She did not spell out that would require tax rises, although a recent report by the Institute for Fiscal Studies said they would be needed as it was hard to imagine the money could be found from economic growth or raiding other areas of government spending.

Presentational grey line

Analysis: By Alex Forsyth, BBC Political Correspondent

It was one of the most contentious pledges of the Vote Leave campaign: a claim emblazoned on the side of the Brexit battle bus that leaving the EU would mean an extra £350m a week for the NHS.

The figure was widely discredited, but Theresa May has deliberately raised it again – suggesting this funding package will more than meet the campaign promise.

Not all of the extra NHS cash will come from the so-called Brexit dividend; there will be tax rises too. But in linking the funding to leaving the EU, the prime minister is not only trying to prove her commitment to the health service – but to Brexit as well.

That will no doubt please those in her party pushing for a clean break from Brussels; but may anger those seeking to retain close ties with the EU. The prime minister is once again walking the tightrope of divided Tory opinion.

Presentational grey line

Is this more than expected?

There has been a lot of speculation that Mr Hunt – supported by Mr Stevens – had been pushing for close to 4% a year extra.

This was the figure many in the health service had said was needed to get services back on track and to improve waiting times.

Reports have suggested the Treasury were initially offering less than 3%.

So the 3.4% average appears to be a compromise between the two camps – and is close to the 3.7% average increase the NHS has seen if you look back over the last 70 years.

Government health spending chart

The final picture is somewhat clouded by the lack of clarity about what will happen to the wider health budget.

What it does mean is that the five-year funding plan announced in 2015, which was meant to see the budget increase by £8bn above inflation by 2020, has been effectively ended two years early.

And that comes after ministers agreed in autumn 2017 to top that up by another £2.8bn.

‘Don’t forget social care’

Ian Dalton, head of NHS Improvement, a regulator in charge of monitoring performance in the health service, said: “This settlement is good news for the NHS, those who use it and those who work for it.

“It will enable the dedicated staff in our NHS to go on improving the care we can offer the patients.”

But Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers, which represents NHS trusts, said the settlement was the “minimum” that was needed.

“After almost a decade of austerity, the NHS has a lot of catching up to do.”

He also pointed out that the government needed to work out what it was going to do about social care run by councils.

Ministers have promised the system, covering care homes and help at home, will be reformed soon to ensure there is better access to services.

Niall Dickson, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, which represents healthcare organisations, said the announcement “isn’t a bonanza by any means” and that it fell short of the of the 4% extra-a-year figure an independent report had suggested was needed.

However he added: “It’s a lot better than we’ve been used to over the last few years.”

“The truth is that in spite of this welcome extra investment we will face hard choices and we need an honest debate about what the NHS can and cannot do,” he said.

https://www.bbc.com/news/health-44495598

How Tory rebels are leading Britain towards ‘Brexit in name only’

June 16, 2018

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Downing Street fears that a moment of genuine danger for Brexit is just days away

Next Saturday, tens of thousands of Remain supporters are expected to descend on London for what is billed as the biggest ever pro-European protest march.

They will demand a “people’s vote” on the final Brexit deal – in other words a second referendum, with the ultimate aim of stopping Brexit.

With just 286 days to go until Britain formally and legally leaves the EU, it might be assumed that their angry cries will be carried away on the wind.

Yet there is a growing nervousness in Downing Street that a moment of genuine danger for the Brexit process is just days away.

A highly-organised pro-European machine, lubricated by the cash of the financier George Soros, believes it is closer than at any…

Read the rest:

The Telegraph:

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2018/06/15/tory-rebels-leading-britain-towards-brexit-name/

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Theresa May could be forced to accept a soft Brexit thanks to this little-noticed amendment

By Adam Bienkov
Jun. 14, 2018, 2:57 AM 3,009
Business Insider

theresa may juncker

Theresa May and Jean-Claude JunckerGetty


The UK parliament passed an amendment to the EU withdrawal Bill which commits Theresa May to avoid a hard border or any new “checks and controls” between Northern Ireland and the Republic.
Some MPs believe this will force May to effectively stay within the single market and customs union after Brexit.


The government last night gave into rebel demands to hand MPs an effective veto on May’s Brexit deal.
Conservative Brexiteers fear Britain is heading for “BINO” (Brexit in Name Only.)

LONDON — On Tuesday night MPs passed a little-noticed amendment to the EU Withdrawal bill, which many MPs now believe could effectively force Britain to stay in the single market after Brexit.

The Lords amendment number 25, which was voted through by MPs last night, states that the UK government must not do anything which is incompatible with the Northern Ireland Act 1998.

Specifically, government ministers must not act in any way which would cause “physical infrastructure” or any kind of “checks and controls” on the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic.

What is the Northern Ireland Act 1998? The Northern Ireland Assembly was established as a result of the Belfast Agreement of 10 April 1998. The Agreement was the outcome of a long process of talks between the Northern Ireland political parties and the British and Irish Governments.

UK House of Commons

@HouseofCommons
Commons accepts Lords amendment 25 to the#EUWithdrawalBill as amended.


This amendment prevents new border arrangements in Northern Ireland and require that ministers must, when exercising powers under the Bill, act in a way that is compatible with the Northern Ireland Act 1998.

According to the act, as now amended:

“Nothing in [sections of] this Act authorises regulations which … create or facilitate border arrangements between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland after exit day which feature physical infrastructure, including border posts, or checks and controls, that did not exist before exit day and are not in accordance with an agreement between the United Kingdom and the EU.”

It is hard to see how the government can adhere to the principle of this amendment without either:

a) Retaining current EU customs arrangements and trade regulations across the UK, or:

b) Installing a hard border in the Irish sea.

At the very least, the amendment places a requirement on the UK government to negotiate a deal with the EU which closely mirrors current arrangements, if not replicating them in their entirety.

And as May and her government have repeatedly ruled out doing anything which would threaten the integrity of the UK, then it is hard to see how this won’t point towards Britain accepting anything but the softest of soft Brexits.

As Ken Clarke told MPs during today’s debate on the bill in the Commons:

“Effectively we are going to reproduce the customs union and the single market and the government will not be able to comply with yesterday’s legal obligation unless it does so.”
This interpretation was also endorsed by Labour’s Shadow Brexit secretary Keir Starmer.

Coming as it does alongside the government’s surrender to rebel demands for a Brexit deal veto, all the stars now seem to be rapidly aligning towards Britain seeking a very soft Brexit.

Or as some nervous Conservative Brexiteers are now calling it — “a Brexit in name only.”

http://www.businessinsider.com/this-brexit-bill-amendment-could-force-britain-to-stay-in-the-single-market-customs-union-2018-6

May’s control of EU withdrawal rests on knife-edge vote

June 16, 2018

PM aims to quell rebellion by pro-European Tories but next week’s vote will be tight

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© AFP

By George Parker, Political Editor

Theresa May will try to face down pro-European Tory rebels next week, knowing that her ability to control the end game of Brexit lies in the hands of just 14 very disgruntled members of her own party.

David Davis, the Brexit secretary, is privately confident that Mrs May can see off a rebellion when MPs debate the EU withdrawal bill next Wednesday. But the margins are tiny and much hangs on the outcome.

The row centres on attempts by pro-Remain Conservatives to secure the right to stop Mrs May taking Britain out of the EU without a deal, an outcome which they believe would be economically catastrophic.

Dominic Grieve, the former attorney-general, tabled an amendment to the EU withdrawal bill that would have given MPs the power to stop a “no deal” exit from the EU before Brexit day on March 29, 2019, and then instruct the government on what to do next.

Tory Eurosceptics believe that Mr Grieve and other pro-Remain Conservative MPs would simply instruct Mrs May to extend the two-year Article 50 exit process, putting Brexit on hold. “Why don’t they just admit that’s what they want?” said one Tory critic.

A good week for Brexiters

In recent months, when faced with a choice, Mrs May has sided with those favouring a “soft Brexit”, whether in supporting a transition deal, the payment of a £39bn exit fee or leaving the door open for Britain to stay in a quasi-customs union.

Mr Davis threatened to resign last week after Mrs May published a so-called “backstop plan” for the Irish border, which could see Britain stay in the EU’s customs territory for an indefinite period of time.

But this week Mrs May appeared to redress the balance, presiding over a set of victories in the House of Commons that overturned 14 amendments to the withdrawal bill made by the House of Lords — some of which were seen by Eurosceptics as designed to thwart Brexit.

“Winning votes feels good,” said one ally of Mr Davis. “There has been quite a lot of that this week.”

Remainers could strike back

But Mrs May’s victories could come at a heavy cost. In the most tightly contested vote of all — the amendment on the so-called “meaningful vote” on Brexit — Mrs May only won after offering last minute concessions to about 15 Tory pro-European rebels.

The rebels claimed Mrs May had promised at a meeting that the Commons would have an ultimate say over a “no deal” Brexit. Mr Davis’s team insists that no such undertaking was given.

In the event, MPs rejected the original Lords amendment to the bill by 324 votes to 298, a majority of 26. That means that when the bill returns to Commons next Wednesday, only 14 Tory MPs would have to switch sides to defeat Mrs May.

Neither side is certain how the vote will go, but the bitterness that has been injected into relations within the Conservative party has made the situation more volatile. Anna Soubry, a former business minister, has claimed the government’s behaviour has been “unforgivable”.

MPS focus on amendment vote

For the Brexiters next week’s vote is a vital moment. Mr Davis set out three “red lines” for the government: that parliament must respect the EU referendum result; that it must not undermine Mrs May’s negotiating strategy; and that it should not usurp the role of the government in negotiating international treaties.

Eurosceptics fear that if Mr Grieve and his colleagues have their way, Brussels will simply play the negotiations long, present Mrs May with a deal that parliament cannot accept, and then wait for MPs to put Brexit on hold.

The government’s proposed amendment would require a minister to give a statement on why no deal was possible, with parliament simply voting to “take note” that the statement had been made: MPs could not amend the motion to require Mrs May to postpone Brexit.

Mrs May would therefore, in theory, be able to make good on her claim that “no deal is better than a bad deal” and lead Britain out of the EU without any agreement, with all the consequent chaos that might entail.

Senior Tories want Mrs May to be in a position where she simply presents Tory MPs with a simple “take it or leave it” choice: accept the deal she has done with Brussels or face an immediate general election — and the prospect of a Labour government led by Jeremy Corbyn.

https://www.ft.com/content/18b77a50-70a1-11e8-852d-d8b934ff5ffa

Theresa May poised to give NHS £4bn-a-year boost funded by Brexit dividend, borrowing and income tax

June 15, 2018

Theresa May visits Frimley Park Hospital in Surrey

Theresa May visits Frimley Park Hospital in Surrey

The Telegraph

heresa May is poised to give the NHS a £4 billion-a-year boostfunded by borrowing, income tax and a Brexit dividend, the Daily Telegraph has learned.

The Prime Minister is on Monday expected to announce that she will boost NHS funding by around 3 per cent a year as part of a “multi-year” settlement to mark its 70th anniversary.

She is expected to say that the rise will be funded in part by a “Brexit dividend” – one of the Leave campaign’s central pledges during the EU referendum.

Ministers are also considering freezing the thresholds for the personal allowance, the rate at which people start paying income tax, and the threshold for the 40p rate from April 2020.

In the past the approach has…

Read the rest:

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2018/06/14/theresa-may-poised-give-nhs-4bn-a-year-boost-funded-brexit-dividend/

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From November 19, 2017

Philip Hammond dismisses NHS chief’s call for £4bn emergency cash injection

The chancellor told the BBC that heads of public services always predict ‘Armageddon’ in the run-up to a budget

The chancellor, Philip Hammond, on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show.
 The chancellor, Philip Hammond, on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show. Photograph: Reuters

Philip Hammond has dismissed calls from the head of the NHS for an emergency cash injection of £4bn, as he said people running public services always predict ”Armageddon” before a budget.

The chancellor hinted the NHS could get more money to cover the cost of ending the public sector pay freeze for nurses and other workers.

But he downplayed the need for the £4bn cash injection demanded by Simon Stevens, the health service chief.

He also accused Stevens of failing to meet his side of a bargain in which he pledged to turn around the NHS in return for an extra £10bn by 2020.

Hammond told the BBC’s Andrew Marr: “That plan is not at the moment being delivered. We need to get it back on track … in the run-up to budget, people running all kinds of services, government departments come to see us and they always have very large numbers that are absolutely essential, otherwise Armageddon will arrive.

“I don’t contest for one moment that the NHS is under pressure. We have been doing some very careful work with the Department of Health, with the NHS, to look at where those pressures are, to look at the capital needs of the NHS, to look at where the particular pressure points around targets are. And we will seek to address those in a sensible and measured and balanced way.”

The idea that the NHS got what it requested has been previously disputed by Stevens, who said earlier this month: “As I have told parliament on many occasions, for the next three years we did not get the funding the NHS had requested. So 2018, which happens to be the 70th anniversary of the NHS, is poised to be the toughest financial year.” The turnaround plan was also based on the government sorting out the crisis in social care, which has not happened.

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1:07
 There are no unemployed in UK, says Hammond – video

The chancellor’s restraint towards the NHS likely to disappoint Conservative MPs who are looking for bold measures they can sell to voters at a time when Labour is ahead in the polls.

His plans to put housebuilding at the heart of the budget, with measures to encourage 300,000 new homes a year, were also met with disappointment after he said it could be done without building on the green belt or “pouring money in” to the problem.

Opposition parties dismissed his measures as “derisory” and lacking in bold action to stimulate housebuilding, after Hammond suggested his target could be reached mostly by changes to the planning system.

The chancellor set out his ambition for 300,000 new homes – an increase of around 50% on current levels – in the media over the weekend, indicating it would form a central plank of his budget on Wednesday.

He is expected to provide £5bn for housing schemes and underwrite loans worth tens of billions but stopped short of agreeing with Sajid Javid, the communities secretary, that the UK should borrow up to £50bn to invest in housing.

Challenged by the BBC about whether he had a big vision to solve the problem, the chancellor said there was no single silver bullet and progress would come from a series of measures combined.

He rejected the idea of building on the green belt, which would infuriate Conservative heartlands in the south-east.

“We’ve set out some very clear and strong protections for the green belt and we have committed to them, and we are going to maintain them but there are lots of things that we can do including ensuring that the very many planning permissions that are being granted now are actually built out,” he told ITV’s Peston on Sunday.

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/nov/19/philip-hammond-dismisses-nhs-chiefs-call-for-4bn-emergency-cash-injection-budget

Brexit Postponement May Be an Option If Talks Get Messier

June 14, 2018

Senior European Union officials have informally discussed whether the U.K. might need to stay in the bloc past March 2019 if Brexit negotiations don’t accelerate over the summer.

With work on keeping the Irish border invisible effectively at an impasse and discussions on the foundations of a future trade deal barely out of first gear, officials in Brussels have privately questioned whether the talks will finish on time, three people familiar with the conversations said. A deal is needed if the U.K. is going to get the 21-month post-Brexit transition period.

Image result for Brexit, photos

A move to extend the deadline, which Article 50 of the EU Treaty sets at two years after a formal notice to leave the bloc, would have to be requested by the U.K. and agreed to unanimously by the 27 remaining EU governments. While officials acknowledge that an extension is still unlikely, they don’t think the rest of the bloc would oppose the move as long as the prolongation was for a short period, for example two months, according to the people, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the talks are private.

Any postponement would be a dramatic development, with Prime Minister Theresa May staking her reputation on Britain leaving the bloc on March 29, 2019. Confusion over the extent to which U.K. lawmakers won the right on Tuesday to force negotiators back to the table in the final weeks before Brexit day only adds to the sense that discussions might need more time.

Detailed Outline

Negotiators are racing to finalize the Brexit separation treaty and provide a detailed outline of the two sides’ future relationship in areas such as trade, financial services and security cooperation. They aim to conclude a deal in October so that the British and European parliaments have enough time to scrutinize and ratify the agreement.

Among the concerns on the EU side is that there still won’t be an accord by the time EU leaders hold a summit on October 18-19.

“There are a number of different scenarios that could arise if we’re in a ‘no deal’ situation,” Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said in an interview with broadcaster TV3 on Monday. “For example, it is possible to extend Article 50, to allow more time for negotiations to take place.”

Officials on both sides acknowledge there is still a huge amount of work to do over the summer months. The two sides are “talking past each other” on many issues, particularly on the Irish border backstop solution — an obligatory part of the withdrawal agreement — and even preliminary work on the future relationship is making little progress, Ivan Rogers, former U.K. ambassador to the EU, told lawmakers on Tuesday in London.

‘Not Ready’

Conservative lawmaker Phillip Lee, who on Tuesday quit his government post to vote against the government in Parliament, said in his resignation statement that “if Brexit is worth doing it is worth doing well.” The government should “recognize the U.K. and EU are not ready for Brexit and pause, extend or revoke Article 50 so that we do not leave before we are ready,” he added.

While the EU might be willing to accept a short, time-limited extension of the negotiation period, governments are unlikely to allow a lengthy prolongation, the people said. There are two reasons for that: the determination to keep pressure on the U.K. to decide what it wants; and the long list of other problems that EU leaders know they might have to deal with next year, including the ongoing fight with President Donald Trump over trade and the rise in populism in the region.

Bloomberg

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-06-14/brexit-postponement-said-to-be-an-option-if-talks-get-messier

Theresa May Completes Negotiations with Conservative Rebels — “Parliament will have a vote if no deal is possible.”

June 14, 2018

Negotiations appear to have concluded between the government and Conservative rebels on the so-called meaningful vote amendment.

May’s office hasn’t yet given its version of the agreement.

Tory Rebels Say They Won Power to Prevent No-Deal (3:24 p.m.)

“I am delighted we have reached an agreement with the government,” says Tory lawmaker Stephen Hammond. “Parliament will have a vote if no deal is possible, either when that occurs or by Feb. 15. The intention was never to bind the prime minister’s hand. The intention was always to secure a vote for parliament in the event of no deal — and this has been secured.”

A pedestrian walks across Westminster bridge towards the Houses of Parliament in London, U.K. Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe

The details are still partial and the document hasn’t yet been published. But rebel lawmakers say they are happy with the agreement and they think it does give them the power to stop the government walking away without a deal.

May’s office hasn’t yet given its version of the agreement.

What’s at stake here is how much power Parliament has in the final phase of Brexit. The more power Parliament has, the less likely it is that Britain will tumble out of the EU without any divorce deal: Businesses see that as a chaotic worst-case scenario.

May has said that no deal is better than a bad deal. And many pro-Brexit Tories, including some ministers, are dismayed that she hasn’t done more to prepare the country for the possibility of crashing out without agreement.

Some of the most ardent Tory euroskeptics — again including ministers — say there is nothing to fear from doing so.

But there is a majority in Parliament for maintaining closer ties to the EU, a softer Brexit than the government is pursuing.

“Dominic Grieve should be hailed a hero for what he has achieved for democracy,” rebel Tory lawmaker Anna Soubry says on Twitter. “Deal or no deal Parliament will have a meaningful vote and to be clear there will be no hard #Brexit when the EUWithdrawal Bill is passed.”

Mid-February Deadline (2:47 p.m.)

The full details of the amendment haven’t been published. But one person familiar with the discussions said that if no Brexit deal has been reached by mid-February, then Parliament will get a vote on the way ahead.

Deal Done (2:32 p.m.)

The prime minister is said to have agreed a deal with rebels in her Tory party over the “meaningful vote” clause in the EU Withdrawal Bill, according to a person familiar with the negotiations. The agreement comes after a tense round of horse trading.

On Tuesday, May averted a potentially devastating defeat by convincing the group — who were prepared to vote her down — to discuss new wording of what it would take for Parliament to grab control of the Brexit process.

Almost There (1:30 p.m.)

May and the group of pro-EU rebels –who agreed not to vote against her on Tuesday in order to change the wording on the amendment — are said to be close to a deal, according to a person familiar with the negotiations between the two sides.

MP: May Won’t Survive Rejection of Final EU Deal (12:27 p.m.)

As the government tries to draft a legislative amendment on whether Parliament should get a veto over the government’s Brexit deal, and what powers it should have after that, one Tory lawmaker is arguing the question is irrelevant.

Tom Tugendhat, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, told Sky News that if the vote on a deal were to be lost, “frankly there is going to be a new government.”

This is an argument that’s privately made by government officials, that it would be impossible for May to stay in place if the deal she reaches with Brussels were voted down. And to some extent it’s one also accepted by leading Tory rebel Dominic Grieve.

But Grieve says these are the circumstances he wants to avoid: a deal voted down with weeks to go until Britain leaves the EU, the prime minister resigning, and the governing party unable to agree what its policy is.

Dealing with this in an “ad hoc way,” he said on Tuesday, would be “infinitely more damaging” than establishing a procedure now.

Davis: New Amendment to Be Published Today (10:29 a.m.)

Davis says the Brexit compromise amendment being negotiated with Tory rebels, including Dominic Grieve, on the so-called meaningful vote will be published later today. Asked if it will give Parliament control in the event lawmakers reject the final Brexit deal, Davis tells him to “wait and see.”

The rebels thought they might reach agreement on the amendment last night, but this morning said they were still waiting.

Baker: Preparation for No Deal to Be More Visible (10:11 a.m.)

“Over the coming weeks and months, our preparations for what is an unwanted contingency will become increasingly clear,” Brexit Minister Steve Baker tells lawmakers. But he also says he’s increasingly confident of the U.K. getting a good Brexit deal.

Davis Says Parliament Can’t Instruct Negotiations (9:52 a.m.)

Davis says the government cannot accept amendments to Brexit bill that allow Parliament to instruct it on steps to take in an international negotiation. This would be “constitutionally unprecedented,” he says.

Earlier:
Brexit Bulletin: Rebels Everywhere
‘Disingenuous’ and ‘Insulted’: Labour’s Brexit Divisions ExposedPound Beats Euro for Aberdeen as Brexit Compromise Lowers Risks
Grieve Says Hopes to Finalize Compromise Brexit Amendment Today
Expletives, Rebels and a Walkout: Brexit Sours U.K. Parliament

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-06-14/may-said-to-clinch-amendment-deal-with-rebels-brexit-update