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BBC: New EU referendum would break faith with Britons, May to warn MPs

New EU referendum would break faith with Britons, May to warn MPs 16 December 2018 Related TopicsBrexit Image copyright AFP Holding another referendum on the EU would "break faith with the British people", Theresa May will warn MPs. Former PMs John Major and Tony Blair are among those urging a new referendum if MPs cannot agree on a way forward. But the prime minister will argue that it would do "irreparable damage to the integrity our politics" and would "likely leave us no further forward". Last week she called off a Commons vote on her Brexit deal, admitting it was likely to be heavily rejected. Mr Blair said last week that while he admired Mrs May's determination to get her deal through, with so many MPs opposed to it there was "literally no point in carrying on digging". Brexit: A really simple guide What happens if MPs reject Brexit deal? Reality Check: How could new referendum work? He said after 30 months of negotiation and the government in "a mess", giving the final say to the people would become the "logical" outcome if every other option were to be exhausted. But Mrs May will tell MPs on Monday: "Let us not break faith with the British people by trying to stage another referendum. "Another vote which would do irreparable damage to the integrity of our politics, because it would say to millions who trusted in democracy, that our democracy does not deliver. "Another vote which would likely leave us no further forward than the last. "And another vote which would further divide our country at the very moment we should be working to unite it." Please upgrade your browser Your guide to Brexit jargon Enter the word or phrase you are looking for Search On Sunday she said Mr Blair's backing for another referendum was "an insult to the office he once held" and risked undermining Brexit negotiations. The prime minister is due to update MPs on last week's European Council summit, where she made an appeal to EU leaders to help get the deal "over the line". She went to Brussels at the end of a week in which she delayed the Commons vote on her Brexit deal, having been warned it would be rejected by a significant margin, and then went on to survive a vote of no confidence in her leadership by Conservative MPs by 200 votes to 117. Media playback is unsupported on your device Media captionConfused by Brexit jargon? Reality Check unpacks the basics. She had been seeking legal assurances over the controversial "backstop" plan to prevent a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic, if no trade deal is reached. But EU leaders told her the negotiated withdrawal agreement was "not open for renegotiation", although some clarification was possible. 'Dead in the water' Mrs May said on Friday that her talks with EU leaders had shown that "further clarification and discussion" was possible and that the UK would be "working expeditiously over the coming days to seek those further assurances I believe MPs will need". But Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said her deal was now "dead in the water" and the prime minister had "utterly failed in her attempts to deliver any meaningful changes". Labour says it will put pressure on her to hold the vote on it this week. The government says the vote will now be held before 21 January. Media playback is unsupported on your device Media captionLiam Fox: 'How do we tell the SNP that they can't have another referendum on independence?' On Sunday, senior Tory Brexiteer Liam Fox told the BBC that unless MPs' concerns were addressed, the deal was unlikely to get through the Commons. If it could not, he suggested: "Parliament would have to decide on the alternatives." He suggested giving MPs a free vote could be one option. There were reports in the Sunday newspapers that two of Mrs May's key allies were planning for another referendum, in the event that her deal cannot get MPs' backing. Both men - Downing Street chief of staff Gavin Barwell and Mrs May's de facto deputy David Lidington - distanced themselves from the reports. Mr Barwell tweeted: "Happy to confirm I am not planning a 2nd referendum with political opponents (or anyone else to anticipate the next question." View the full article

BBC: Brexit: What happens next may have to be put to MPs' vote - Fox

Brexit: What happens next may have to be put to MPs' vote - Fox 16 December 2018 Related TopicsBrexit Image copyright AFP If Theresa May's Brexit deal isn't passed by MPs, then Parliament might have to decide what to do next, cabinet minister Liam Fox has said. The senior Brexiteer said the PM's deal was unlikely to pass through Parliament unless the backstop issue was resolved. He said one option could be a "free vote" for MPs. One option being widely suggested is another referendum - but Mr Fox told the Andrew Marr Show this was unlikely and would not "heal division". Other options backed by different groups of MPs include leaving without a deal, another referendum, or Norway or Canada-style alternative deals. Norway has a very close relationship with the EU but is not a member, while Canada has an extensive trade deal with the bloc. New Brexit poll 'logical outcome' says Blair Reality check: Another EU referendum Education Secretary Damian Hinds has also suggested "flushing out" the levels of Parliamentary support for different Brexit options. But he told BBC Radio5Live's Pienaar's Politics a straightforward count of who has spoken for or against different options would reveal there was not a majority for any of them. And Lib Dem MP Tom Brake, who is part of the anti-Brexit "Best for Britain" campaign, said: "When even Dr Fox does not rule out free votes and encourages the idea of indicative votes in Parliament, the Brexit project is clearly in jeopardy." Analysis By BBC political correspondent Chris Mason What we are witnessing is a bursting out in public of conversations that have been happening for a while, at a senior level, in private. They can be summarised like this: 'What on earth do we do next?' One idea, now floated by three cabinet ministers in public, and others privately, is a series of so called "indicative votes". These would flush out Parliament's view on a range of options which could include different models of Brexit: something akin to Norway's relationship with the EU for instance, or Canada's looser one. Another referendum and no deal are other possibilities. Some ponder doing this before the vote on the prime minister's deal, in the hope it highlights that her plan is the only workable Brexit deal achievable now. "Things are not as hopeless as they look," one cabinet minister told me. But when I wished them a merry Christmas and a happy new year, that word 'happy' was met with a wry smile. None of this is remotely straight forward. On the possibility of another referendum, International Trade Secretary Mr Fox said one could result in a narrow Remain win on a lower turnout, in which case, "People like me will be immediately demanding that it's best of three - where does that end up?" It comes after Theresa May accused former Labour PM Tony Blair of undermining Brexit negotiations by calling for another referendum amid continuing calls for one to be held to solve the impasse over the UK's exit from the European Union. Mrs May met EU leaders on Thursday - after postponing a Commons vote on the withdrawal deal she has negotiated, fearing its heavy defeat. The government says the Commons vote will go ahead in January, as talks continue with the EU on the issue of the Irish border "backstop". Media playback is unsupported on your device Media captionConfused by Brexit jargon? Reality Check unpacks the basics. The backstop is an "insurance policy" in the withdrawal deal to prevent the return of a hard border with Northern Ireland if no trade deal is reached - but many of Mrs May's MPs say they cannot support it, arguing it would keep the UK tied to EU rules indefinitely and curb its ability to strike trade deals. EU leaders have said the deal is "not open for renegotiation" - but that there could be some further clarification. Mr Fox said talks would continue over Christmas and the new year about how the backstop could work "in a way that is acceptable to both sides". He said it was "clear" that the EU understood the problem, and it was now a question of finding a "mechanism" that would remove MPs' concerns, without which, he suggested it would not be worth putting it to a Commons vote "knowing it would be rejected". If the deal could not get through the Commons, he said: "Parliament would have to decide on the alternatives." On Saturday, former minister Jo Johnson accused Mrs May of delaying the vote by MPs as a way of "running down the clock", effectively forcing MPs to decide between backing her deal and exiting the EU with no deal since time would have run out. Media playback is unsupported on your device Media captionTony Blair tells Today the EU would help the UK remain if it was "prepared to think again" Meanwhile, Labour frontbencher Andrew Gwynne told the BBC his party would be trying to bring the MPs' "meaningful vote" on the deal forward to this week. The Labour leadership is under pressure from other opposition parties to call for a vote of no confidence in the government. But Mr Gwynne said: "We can't move to the next stage until Parliament has decided whether or not to back the prime minister's deal." Asked whether his party would campaign for Brexit under a Labour deal if there were to be another referendum, he said: "Let's wait and see. These things are moving very quickly. "We are a democratic party and we will put our decision to the party members in a democratic way before we decide what the next steps are." On Thursday about 10 Labour MPs met David Lidington - who is Mrs May's de facto second-in-command - to argue for another public vote. Sources close to Mr Lidington said it was "pretty standard stuff" and he was not "planning for or advocating a second referendum". Please upgrade your browser Your guide to Brexit jargon Enter the word or phrase you are looking for Search Labour's official position is to argue for a general election if Mrs May's deal cannot get through the Commons but to keep all options open if that doesn't happen - including another referendum. Anti-Brexit Labour backbencher Chuka Umunna told the BBC it was time to "clear the decks" and hold the MPs' vote on the deal before moving on to "consider the other options". He said there was no majority for another referendum in the Commons at the moment but said: "I think the position of members of Parliament will change, according to what happens." View the full article

BBC: Theresa May condemns Tony Blair's new Brexit vote call

Theresa May condemns Tony Blair's new Brexit vote call 16 December 2018 Related TopicsBrexit Image copyright Getty Images/PA Theresa May has attacked one of her predecessors - accusing Tony Blair of "undermining" the Brexit talks by calling for another referendum. She called his comments an "insult to the office he once held" and said MPs could not "abdicate responsibility" to deliver Brexit by holding a new poll. Mr Blair said MPs might back a new vote if "none of the other options work". It comes after Labour MPs who support the idea met Cabinet Office Minister David Lidington to make their case. About 10 MPs met Mr Lidington on Thursday to argue for another public vote and make it clear there was no other government plan they could support. But many senior Labour figures are deeply uneasy about endorsing another referendum. And the government is opposed to any further referendum, saying the public made a clear choice when they voted in 2016 to leave by a margin of 51.9% to 48.1%. Kuenssberg: An issue of trust Theresa May's week in charts Reality Check: Does Brussels blink? New Brexit poll logical outcome - Blair BBC political correspondent Chris Mason said Mrs May's criticism of Mr Blair was striking for its anger. Mrs May said: "For Tony Blair to go to Brussels and seek to undermine our negotiations by advocating for a second referendum is an insult to the office he once held and the people he once served. "We cannot, as he would, abdicate responsibility for this decision. "Parliament has a democratic duty to deliver what the British people voted for." She added that there were "too many people who want to subvert the process for their own political interests - rather than acting in the national interest". Media playback is unsupported on your device Media captionTony Blair tells Today the EU would help the UK remain if it was "prepared to think again" MPs were due to vote on Mrs May's Brexit deal on Tuesday, but it was postponed when the prime minister admitted it would have been "rejected by a significant margin". After postponing the vote in Parliament, Mrs May travelled to Brussels to make a special plea to EU leaders, in a bid to make her deal more acceptable to MPs. However, the EU said there could be clarification but not renegotiation. Many of Mrs May's MPs are concerned that the "backstop" - which is aimed at preventing a hard border in Northern Ireland - would keep the UK tied to EU rules and limit its ability to strike trade deals. Media playback is unsupported on your device Media captionTheresa May: 'If we are to leave with a deal this is it' Meanwhile, in an interview with the Sunday Telegraph, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt has said the UK will "flourish and prosper" even if it leave the EU with no deal. "We've faced much bigger challenges in our history," he said. "But we shouldn't pretend that there wouldn't be disruption, there wouldn't be risk, and there wouldn't be impact and that's why as a responsible government we have to make all the preparations necessary." He also said he wanted a "crack" at succeeding Mrs May after the PM takes the country through "this challenging next few months". His comments come after Mrs May made it clear she would step down before the next general election - due in 2022. View the full article

NCA: Smugglers sentenced to 18 years for high purity heroin conspiracy

Return to News 14 December 2018 Two members of an organised crime group who smuggled “high purity” heroin into the UK hidden in industrial meat mincing machines and clothing items sent over from Pakistan have each been jailed for 18 years. Asghar Khan, 48, and Rashad Mahmood, 52, both from Walsall, but born in Pakistan, were sentenced today (Friday 14 December) at Birmingham Crown Court. Khan (left) and Mahmood (right) The pair imported heroin into the UK from Pakistan using a legitimate cargo company which sent the parcels by air freight. Border Force officers discovered 20 kilos of heroin hidden in three separate consignments which forensic examinations revealed was 62% pure. This is more than double the usual street purity of the drug found in the UK - and had a potential street value of more than £2.5 million. NCA officers uncovered the sophisticated scheme by Mahmood and Khan to import large quantities of high-purity heroin during between September 2014 to April 2015 in which at least four consignments were sent to the UK. Two of the drugs consignments were intercepted at Birmingham airport. On opening the parcels in the cargo area Border Force officers discovered heroin in a number of hidden sewn-in compartments along with items of women`s clothing. The last consignment came by freight into Manchester airport as part of a consolidated load. Border Force officers examined the consignment and found positive indications of heroin inside the packages which contained large industrial meat mincing machines. Investigators found a series of welded metal blocks within the motors of the machines containing the heroin. After linking the consignments of drugs from both airports, NCA officers began an investigation. Khan was first arrested in 2014 after attempting to collect the second consignment and was arrested again, along with Mahmood, in April 2016 on suspicion of conspiracy to import controlled drugs. Dawn Cartwright, NCA Operations Manager, said: “Mahmood and Khan were convicted after overwhelming evidence against them and both played a leading role in the importation of at least four consignments. “We have punched a major hole in this OCG in what Her Honour Judge Henderson called "an exemplary investigation". “Drugs fuel further crime, exploitation and violence. Working with our partners we will make sure drug dealers are stopped and punished.” Share this Page: View the full article

BBC: May: Still work to do on Brexit deal

14 December 2018 Related TopicsBrexit Media playback is unsupported on your device Media captionA quiet word in your ear...but what did Theresa May say to EU's Juncker? Prime Minister Theresa May has said there is still "work to do" to reassure MPs that the Brexit deal agreed with the EU but that it "is possible". Speaking after EU leaders stressed the deal was "not open for renegotiation", she said she had discussed with them the need for "further clarification". She admitted having a "robust" discussion with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker. He urged more clarity from the UK after "nebulous and imprecise" debate. View the full article

NCA: Carlisle man wanted over £7m drug haul

Return to News The National Crime Agency (NCA) are appealing for information on the whereabouts of a Carlisle man wanted in connection with an attempt to import Class A drugs worth more than £7 million into the UK. On 21 November 2016, a lorry arriving at Dover from France was searched by Border Force who discovered a purpose-built concealment in the trailer. Inside, officers found packages of cocaine weighing over 90kg. If cut and adulterated the drugs would have had a potential street value of £7.2 million. Following an NCA investigation, the driver of the lorry, Lee James Hartness, aged 47, was charged with importing Class A drugs and a summons was sent in August this year for Hartness to attend court. However, he failed to appear at the hearing and a warrant was issued for his arrest. Two accomplices, brothers Glen and Andrew Harrison, were bailed and are due to stand trial at Canterbury Crown Court in February 2019 in relation to a second importation attempt. NCA Branch Commander Matt Rivers said: “Two years ago Lee Hartness arrived at the Port of Dover and a significant amount of cocaine was seized from his lorry.” “Hartness failed to attend his court hearing earlier this year and despite our extensive inquiries we have not yet been able to locate him.” “We are appealing to members of the public who may know the whereabouts of Hartness, or have any information that can help us find him.” “I would like to remind anyone helping Hartness, or frustrating our attempts to locate him, they could find themselves being arrested.” Hartness is a white British male, 6 feet tall and of medium build, and speaks with a northern accent. Both his arms are heavily tattooed with Japanese flower designs and he has a dragon and serpent tattoo on his chest. He is known to have connections in Carlisle, Newcastle upon Tyne and Northern Ireland. Anyone with information on Hartness’ whereabouts should contact the National Crime Agency on 0370 496 7622 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111. Share this Page: View the full article

BBC: Pressure mounting on Theresa May from Tory MPs

Pressure mounting on Theresa May from Tory MPs 11 December 2018 Image copyright PA Tory Brexiteers have told the BBC they are increasingly confident they will have enough support to trigger a no-confidence vote in Theresa May. However, there is no official confirmation that the threshold of 48 letters from Tory MPs has been reached. Several sources, including a cabinet minister, have told the BBC they believe 48 letters have been submitted. The BBC has also been told that senior backbencher Sir Graham Brady has asked to see the PM on Wednesday. Sir Graham Brady, the chair of the backbench 1922 committee to whom MPs have to address their letters, would make no comment. Downing Street sources are playing down an imminent move and say they have had no contact from Sir Graham. Kuenssberg: Is PM about to face a confidence vote? Mrs May has spent the day meeting EU leaders and officials in The Hague, Berlin and Brussels, in efforts to salvage her Brexit deal - which faces major opposition in Parliament. Her decision to delay the vote on the terms of the UK's withdrawal from the EU, which had been due to take place on Tuesday, has caused anger across the party. The prime minister is due to travel to Dublin on Wednesday after hosting a weekly meeting of her cabinet and facing Prime Minister's Questions. View the full article

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