Barr to discuss executive privilege in Russia report: spokeswoman

U.S. Attorney General William Barr plans to address whether executive privilege was invoked by the White House in the Russia report to be released on Thursday and also elaborate on Justice Department communications with the White House over the past se…

U.S. Attorney General William Barr plans to address whether executive privilege was invoked by the White House in the Russia report to be released on Thursday and also elaborate on Justice Department communications with the White House over the past several weeks, a Justice Department spokeswoman said on Thursday.

UKIP leader says Nigel Farage’s new group ‘not a proper political party’

War of words escalates between former and current UKIP leaders.

The leader of UKIP hit out at Nigel Farage and his new Brexit Party, saying it is “not a proper political party.”

Speaking on the day of UKIP’s European election campaign launch, Gerard Batten told Sky News that the Brexit Party was a “vehicle for one man.” He added: “All you get from Nigel is rhetoric,” and said UKIP “don’t just say ‘leave means leave,’ we tell you how we would do it, how it would work, what it would look like.”

“We stand for a clear unimpeded exit, unconditional, unilateral withdrawal,” Batten said. “No ifs, no buts, leave and leave according to the way we say it should be done. So they can send a message to Westminster.”

At the election campaign launch, Batten called UKIP “the real party of Brexit.”

Among the UKIP MEP candidates are Carl Benjamin, who once tweeted that he “wouldn’t even rape” Labour MP Jess Philipps, and Mark Meechan, who was fined for teaching his dog to perform a Nazi salute.

Farage had taken a shot at UKIP earlier Thursday, tweeting that his former party has “just 3 MEPs. The Brexit Party has 16. The lurch towards extremism has destroyed UKIP.” The 16 MEPs are all ex-UKIP members who quit the party.

Batten — who has described Islam as a “death cult” — told Sky that UKIP was putting up 1,400 candidates in the U.K. local elections on May 2, adding: “The Brexit Party doesn’t have any candidates, because it’s not a proper political party.”

Farage’s new party has not put forward candidates for the local elections but has announced a number of candidates for the European ballot, including Farage himself and Annunziata Rees-Mogg, sister of Tory Brexiteer Jacob.

Election polling from Wednesday put the Brexit Party out in front. A YouGov poll, commissioned by the People’s Vote campaign, put the Brexit Party on 27 percent, with Labour on 22 percent and the Conservatives on 15 percent. New pro-second referendum party Change UK was on 6 percent, behind fellow pro-EU parties the Greens and the Lib Dems. UKIP was on 7 percent.

Henry Hill: Hunt urges May to repair relations with DUP as leadership hopefuls woo Ulster allies

Also: Dugdale wins lawsuit against cybernat blogger; devolution row as English hospitals shut out Welsh patients over funding; and a week in SNP bad news.

Hunt urges May to repair relations with the DUP

In a telling sign of how crucial a role the Northern Irish party still has to play for the Tories, one of the leading contenders to succeed Theresa May has urged her to repair relations with the Democratic Unionists.

Jeremy Hunt urged the Prime Minister to “rebuild” the party’s “coalition” with the DUP, according to the Daily Telegraph, whilst speaking in Japan.

This comes in the same week as a Times report that Boris Johnson and his leadership campaign team had also met with the Democratic Unionists. He met with Arlene Foster and Nigel Dodds, the DUP’s overall and Westminster leaders, for 40 minutes as part of a process a source described as candidates paying ‘homage’ to the Northern Irish party.

Johnson has ground to make up with the DUP, who reportedly voted down the Prime Minister’s Withdrawal Agreement after interviewing himself and Dominic Raab and concluding that they were insufficiently committed to avoiding divergence between the Province and the mainland after Brexit.

Meanwhile relations between May herself and her putative allies appear to be deteriorating yet further. This week the DUP reiterated their demand for the Prime Minister to tackle the so-called ‘backstop’, whilst Sammy Wilson clashed with the Prime Minister in the Chamber over her conduct of the negotiations.

Yesterday Emma Little-Pengelly, the DUP MP for Belfast South, wrote for this site about their opposition to scrapping free TV licences for the over-75s, in a clear signal as to the sort of demands they will have for renewing the pact.

Dugdale wins defamation case against cybernat blogger

Kezia Dugdale, the former leader of the Labour Party in Scotland, has successfully seen off a lawsuit brought against her by a hard-line nationalist blogger, the Guardian reports.

Stuart Campbell, better known by his pseudonym ‘Wings over Scotland’, brought a £25,000 against the MSP after she accused him of homophobia in a column for the Daily Record newspaper. He had alleged that Oliver Mundell, the MSP son of Scottish Secretary David Mundell, was “the sort of public speaker that makes you wish his dad had embraced his homosexuality sooner.”

Even before the outcome, the matter was at the centre of controversy after Labour refused to support her – today’s Times has her saying that she “cannot forgive” the Party for its decision to sever its legal aid to her. The Daily Record stepped in to support Dugdale in its place.

It remains to be seen whether this disillusion will affect her long-term position in the party. Dugdale’s partner is an SNP MSP, and at least one Scottish Labour watcher suspects she will defect – especially after previous comments appeared to cast doubt on her professed opposition to independence.

Welsh patients barred from English hospitals in devolved funding row

Devolving healthcare always had the potential to break up a UK-wide National Health Service, but the reality of that is starting to hit home amidst a furious row over funding.

The Times reports that Countess of Chester Hospital has started to refuse admission to Welsh patients because, due to decisions made by the Labour administration in Cardiff Bay, they bring in less funding than their English equivalents. This despite Wales reportedly receiving £1.20 in NHS funding for every £1 England receives, according to the Welsh Conservatives.

Hospitals are paid a fixed fee for every patient they treat. In England this was recently increased, but Cardiff Bay opted not to follow suit, meaning the funding gap between the two broadened to about 8 per cent per patient. This is an acute problem for hospitals such as Countess of Chester, which is just minutes from the border and usually receives one fifth of its patients from North Wales.

Resentment that England is effectively subsidising Wales, whose own hospitals do not perform as well, has apparently been bubbling for some time, but rising waiting lists mean that Countess of Chester is now confident it can fill its beds without Welsh patients. If Wales continues to pay less it could have broader implications for other Welsh patients currently sent for specialist treatment in Liverpool or Bristol.

Suffice to say, it is typical of the devocrat approach that they want the power to pinch pennies whilst still shifting costs out onto a Union-wide safety net. They should not be allowed to do so.

A week in bad news for the SNP

With Brexit still failing to deliver the long-prophesied boost for independence, the weight of time is beating down on the Nationalists more than ever. Nicola Sturgeon faces a mounting list of problems, notwithstanding the looming prospect of Alex Salmond’s trial.

First, as Kenny Farquharson details in the Times, she faces a revolt from her once uber-disciplined grassroots over the SNP’s post-independence currency plans. After their proposal for a currency union was scotched during the 2014 referendum, the new and extremely-cautious line is that Scotland would use the pound independently until some very strict tests were met about setting up a new currency.

Perhaps conscious of how Gordon Brown killed off British membership of the Euro with similar tests, Nationalist activists are pushing for a much more ambitious and rapid transition to a Scottish currency ahead of the upcoming party conference. Any compromise will muddy the waters on what remains one of the key weaknesses in the independence case – the broader question of which she apparently plans to address after Easter.

In other news: an anti-racism worker has received £17,000 in compensation after being wrongfully dismissed by a key adviser to the First Minister; a senior SNP MSP has been accused of spreading ‘fake news’ on a Russian-backed propaganda station; and Sturgeon herself has been accused of being out of step with her party on transgender rights.

Top Congressional Democrats call for Mueller to testify publicly

The top Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate on Thursday called on Special Counsel Robert Mueller to testify publicly about his investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and whether the Trump campaign colluded with R…

The top Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate on Thursday called on Special Counsel Robert Mueller to testify publicly about his investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia.

MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION on the need to inspect vessels transporting hazardous goods more thoroughly – B8-0237/2019

MOTION FOR A RESOLUTIONpursuant to Rule 133 of the Rules of Procedureon the need to inspect vessels transporting hazardous goods more thoroughlyMireille D’Ornano Source : © European Union, 2019 – EP

MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION
pursuant to Rule 133 of the Rules of Procedure
on the need to inspect vessels transporting hazardous goods more thoroughly
Mireille D’Ornano

Source : © European Union, 2019 - EP

Trump adviser visits Moscow for Kremlin talks

Fiona Hill, an adviser to U.S. President Donald Trump, visited Moscow this week and discussed bilateral relations with Kremlin aide Yuri Ushakov, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Thursday.

Fiona Hill, an adviser to U.S. President Donald Trump, visited Moscow this week and discussed bilateral relations with Kremlin aide Yuri Ushakov, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Thursday.

New poll puts Brexit Party in lead for European Parliament elections

A new poll by YouGov puts the new Brexit Party led by Nigel Farage in first place for the European Parliament elections, which are due to go ahead in the UK on 23 May if the Withdrawal Agreement has not been ratified. The poll, conducted between 14 and 16 April in Great Britain, shows the Brexit Party leading with 27%, followed by Labour with 22% and the Conservative Party in third place with 15%. The Green Party was on 10%, Liberal Democrats, 9%, UKIP, 7%, Change UK, 6% and the Scottish National Party and Plaid Cymru together on 4%. 

Meanwhile, a separate YouGov poll for The Times also puts the Brexit Party in the lead on 23%, Labour on 22%, the Conservatives on 17%, the Greens on 10% and Liberal Democrats on 9%. Change UK was on 8% and UKIP, 6%. The poll was carried out between 16 and 17 April. 

The Daily Shakeup will be back on Tuesday, April 23. In the meantime, the Open Europe team wishes Happy Easter holidays to all of our subscribers!   

The post New poll puts Brexit Party in lead for European Parliament elections appeared first on Open Europe.

New poll puts Brexit Party in lead for European Parliament elections

A new poll by YouGov puts the new Brexit Party led by Nigel Farage in first place for the European Parliament elections, which are due to go ahead in the UK on 23 May if the Withdrawal Agreement has not been ratified. The poll, conducted between 14 and 16 April in Great Britain, shows the Brexit Party leading with 27%, followed by Labour with 22% and the Conservative Party in third place with 15%. The Green Party was on 10%, Liberal Democrats, 9%, UKIP, 7%, Change UK, 6% and the Scottish National Party and Plaid Cymru together on 4%.  Meanwhile, a separate YouGov poll for The Times also puts the Brexit Party in the lead on 23%, Labour on 22%, the Conservatives on 17%, the Greens on 10% and Liberal Democrats on 9%. Change UK was on 8% and UKIP, 6%. The poll was carried out between 16 and 17 April.  The Daily Shakeup will be back on Tuesday, April 23. In the meantime, the Open Europe team wishes Happy Easter holidays to all of our subscribers!   

Sources: YouGov, The Times

  • Senior UK Official: Technological solution for Irish border "would take years to implement"

    The Director General for Border Co-ordination at HM Revenue and Customs, Karen Wheeler, said, “There is no technology solution which would mean that you could do customs controls and processes and not have a hard [Irish] border…If there was, trust me, we would have found it.” She told businesses in a speech this week that there are technologies which can assist with automated customs processing or tracking goods, adding, “Many of them would take years to implement and there is no border in the world which has a full package of all of these technologies.”

    This comes as the European Commission’s Secretary General Martin Selmayr told ARTE broadcaster, “Let’s be very clear – if there is no Withdrawal Agreement there will be a hard border” on the island of Ireland. 

    Sources: Belfast Telegraph, BBC News

  • Germany reduces 2019 growth forecast to 0.5%

    The German government has lowered its growth forecast for 2019 to just 0.5%. German Minister for Economic Affairs Peter Altmaier said yesterday that this was a “a wake-up call” for the German economy, adding that politicians needed to think about how they could stimulate growth.

    This comes as the European Union has released a list of the US products it could hit with new tariffs, as part of a dispute over subsidies given to aircraft maker Boeing. The list covers $20bn of imports into Europe each year and hundreds of different items, ranging from dried fruit to ketchup, fish, tobacco, handbags and suitcases. 

     

    Sources: FT, DW, Guardian, Sky News

  • Horizon Europe programme to initiate in January 2021

    A majority vote in the European Commission yesterday guaranteed that the Horizon Europe programme will be fully operational by January 2021. Horizon Europe is a €100 billion research and innovation programme that will replace the Horizon 2020 initiative and continue until 2027. European Commissioner Carlos Moedas said, “From the left to the right to the middle, every one of you converged to this agreement and to the fact that we can really change the lives of scientists and researchers, and our children’s future.”

    Sources: Carlos Moedas, The Progressives, European Commission

The post New poll puts Brexit Party in lead for European Parliament elections appeared first on Open Europe.