Home Blog Page 307

Read Britain’s ARTICLE 50 LETTER in full

0

On 23 June last year, the people of the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union.

As I have said before, that decision was no rejection of the values we share as fellow Europeans. Nor was it an attempt to do harm to the European Union or any of the remaining member states. On the contrary, the United Kingdom wants the European Union to succeed and prosper. Instead, the referendum was a vote to restore, as we see it, our national self-determination. We are leaving the European Union, but we are not leaving Europe – and we want to remain committed partners and allies to our friends across the continent.

Earlier this month, the United Kingdom Parliament confirmed the result of the referendum by voting with clear and convincing majorities in both of its Houses for the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill. The Bill was passed by Parliament on 13 March and it received Royal Assent from Her Majesty The Queen and became an Act of Parliament on 16 March.

Today, therefore, I am writing to give effect to the democratic decision of the people of the United Kingdom. I hereby notify the European Council in accordance with Article 50(2) of the Treaty on European Union of the United Kingdom’s intention to withdraw from the European Union. In addition, in accordance with the same Article 50(2) as applied by Article 106a of the Treaty Establishing the European Atomic Energy Community, I hereby notify the European Council of the United Kingdom’s intention to withdraw from the European Atomic Energy Community. References in this letter to the European Union should therefore be taken to include a reference to the European Atomic Energy Community.

This letter sets out the approach of Her Majesty’s Government to the discussions we will have about the United Kingdom’s departure from the European Union and about the deep and special partnership we hope to enjoy – as your closest friend and neighbour – with the European Union once we leave. We believe that these objectives are in the interests not only of the United Kingdom but of the European Union and the wider world too.

It is in the best interests of both the United Kingdom and the European Union that we should use the forthcoming process to deliver these objectives in a fair and orderly manner, and with as little disruption as possible on each side. We want to make sure that Europe remains strong and prosperous and is capable of projecting its values, leading in the world, and defending itself from security threats. We want the United Kingdom, through a new deep and special partnership with a strong European Union, to play its full part in achieving these goals. We therefore believe it is necessary to agree the terms of our future partnership alongside those of our withdrawal from the European Union.

The Government wants to approach our discussions with ambition, giving citizens and businesses in the United Kingdom and the European Union – and indeed from third countries around the world – as much certainty as possible, as early as possible.

I would like to propose some principles that may help to shape our coming discussions, but before I do so, I should update you on the process we will be undertaking at home, in the United Kingdom.

The process in the United Kingdom

As I have announced already, the Government will bring forward legislation that will repeal the Act of Parliament – the European Communities Act 1972 – that gives effect to EU law in our country. This legislation will, wherever practical and appropriate, in effect convert the body of existing European Union law (the “acquis”) into UK law. This means there will be certainty for UK citizens and for anybody from the European Union who does business in the United Kingdom. The Government will consult on how we design and implement this legislation, and we will publish a White Paper tomorrow. We also intend to bring forward several other pieces of legislation that address specific issues relating to our departure from the European Union, also with a view to ensuring continuity and certainty, in particular for businesses. We will of course continue to fulfil our responsibilities as a member state while we remain a member of the European Union, and the legislation we propose will not come into effect until we leave.

From the start and throughout the discussions, we will negotiate as one United Kingdom, taking due account of the specific interests of every nation and region of the UK as we do so. When it comes to the return of powers back to the United Kingdom, we will consult fully on which powers should reside in Westminster and which should be devolved to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. But it is the expectation of the Government that the outcome of this process will be a significant increase in the decision-making power of each devolved administration.

Negotiations between the United Kingdom and the European Union

The United Kingdom wants to agree with the European Union a deep and special partnership that takes in both economic and security cooperation. To achieve this, we believe it is necessary to agree the terms of our future partnership alongside those of our withdrawal from the EU.

If, however, we leave the European Union without an agreement the default position is that we would have to trade on World Trade Organisation terms. In security terms a failure to reach agreement would mean our cooperation in the fight against crime and terrorism would be weakened. In this kind of scenario, both the United Kingdom and the European Union would of course cope with the change, but it is not the outcome that either side should seek. We must therefore work hard to avoid that outcome.

It is for these reasons that we want to be able to agree a deep and special partnership, taking in both economic and security cooperation, but it is also because we want to play our part in making sure that Europe remains strong and prosperous and able to lead in the world, projecting its values and defending itself from security threats. And we want the United Kingdom to play its full part in realising that vision for our continent.

Proposed principles for our discussions

Looking ahead to the discussions which we will soon begin, I would like to suggest some principles that we might agree to help make sure that the process is as smooth and successful as possible.

i. We should engage with one another constructively and respectfully, in a spirit of sincere cooperation. Since I became Prime Minister of the United Kingdom I have listened carefully to you, to my fellow EU Heads of Government and the Presidents of the European Commission and Parliament. That is why the United Kingdom does not seek membership of the single market: we understand and respect your position that the four freedoms of the single market are indivisible and there can be no “cherry picking”. We also understand that there will be consequences for the UK of leaving the EU: we know that we will lose influence over the rules that affect the European economy. We also know that UK companies will, as they trade within the EU, have to align with rules agreed by institutions of which we are no longer a part – just as UK companies do in other overseas markets.

ii. We should always put our citizens first. There is obvious complexity in the discussions we are about to undertake, but we should remember that at the heart of our talks are the interests of all our citizens. There are, for example, many citizens of the remaining member states living in the United Kingdom, and UK citizens living elsewhere in the European Union, and we should aim to strike an early agreement about their rights.

iii. We should work towards securing a comprehensive agreement. We want to agree a deep and special partnership between the UK and the EU, taking in both economic and security cooperation. We will need to discuss how we determine a fair settlement of the UK’s rights and obligations as a departing member state, in accordance with the law and in the spirit of the United Kingdom’s continuing partnership with the EU. But we believe it is necessary to agree the terms of our future partnership alongside those of our withdrawal from the EU.

iv. We should work together to minimise disruption and give as much certainty as possible. Investors, businesses and citizens in both the UK and across the remaining 27 member states – and those from third countries around the world – want to be able to plan. In order to avoid any cliff-edge as we move from our current relationship to our future partnership, people and businesses in both the UK and the EU would benefit from implementation periods to adjust in a smooth and orderly way to new arrangements. It would help both sides to minimise unnecessary disruption if we agree this principle early in the process.

v. In particular, we must pay attention to the UK’s unique relationship with the Republic of Ireland and the importance of the peace process in Northern Ireland. The Republic of Ireland is the only EU member state with a land border with the United Kingdom. We want to avoid a return to a hard border between our two countries, to be able to maintain the Common Travel Area between us, and to make sure that the UK’s withdrawal from the EU does not harm the Republic of Ireland. We also have an important responsibility to make sure that nothing is done to jeopardise the peace process in Northern Ireland, and to continue to uphold the Belfast Agreement.

vi. We should begin technical talks on detailed policy areas as soon as possible, but we should prioritise the biggest challenges. Agreeing a high-level approach to the issues arising from our withdrawal will of course be an early priority. But we also propose a bold and ambitious Free Trade Agreement between the United Kingdom and the European Union. This should be of greater scope and ambition than any such agreement before it so that it covers sectors crucial to our linked economies such as financial services and network industries. This will require detailed technical talks, but as the UK is an existing EU member state, both sides have regulatory frameworks and standards that already match. We should therefore prioritise how we manage the evolution of our regulatory frameworks to maintain a fair and open trading environment, and how we resolve disputes. On the scope of the partnership between us – on both economic and security matters – my officials will put forward detailed proposals for deep, broad and dynamic cooperation.

vii. We should continue to work together to advance and protect our shared European values. Perhaps now more than ever, the world needs the liberal, democratic values of Europe. We want to play our part to ensure that Europe remains strong and prosperous and able to lead in the world, projecting its values and defending itself from security threats.

The task before us

As I have said, the Government of the United Kingdom wants to agree a deep and special partnership between the UK and the EU, taking in both economic and security cooperation. At a time when the growth of global trade is slowing and there are signs that protectionist instincts are on the rise in many parts of the world, Europe has a responsibility to stand up for free trade in the interest of all our citizens. Likewise, Europe’s security is more fragile today than at any time since the end of the Cold War. Weakening our cooperation for the prosperity and protection of our citizens would be a costly mistake. The United Kingdom’s objectives for our future partnership remain those set out in my Lancaster House speech of 17 January and the subsequent White Paper published on 2 February.

We recognise that it will be a challenge to reach such a comprehensive agreement within the two-year period set out for withdrawal discussions in the Treaty. But we believe it is necessary to agree the terms of our future partnership alongside those of our withdrawal from the EU. We start from a unique position in these discussions – close regulatory alignment, trust in one another’s institutions, and a spirit of cooperation stretching back decades. It is for these reasons, and because the future partnership between the UK and the EU is of such importance to both sides, that I am sure it can be agreed in the time period set out by the Treaty.

The task before us is momentous but it should not be beyond us. After all, the institutions and the leaders of the European Union have succeeded in bringing together a continent blighted by war into a union of peaceful nations, and supported the transition of dictatorships to democracy. Together, I know we are capable of reaching an agreement about the UK’s rights and obligations as a departing member state, while establishing a deep and special partnership that contributes towards the prosperity, security and global power of our continent.

BREAKING: ARTICLE 50 TRIGGERED in Brussels

0

The Prime Minister has triggered Article 50 after her letter to European Council President Donald Tusk was delivered by Ambassador Sir Tim Barrow in Brussels.

Under the terms of the Lisbon Treaty the UK will now leave the EU two years from today, and a tough period of negotiations begins with the EU27, nine months on from the referendum vote to leave.

After marking out hard lines on future payments to the European Union and the influence of EU law after Brexit, the text of the Prime Minister’s letter is expected to offer some room for manoeuvre in negotiations.

Theresa May struck a note of conciliation, refusing some calls from her Brexiteer backbenchers for an immediate “cut off” of rights such as permanent residence for new EU migrants.

However, the European Commission, Council and Parliament have signalled that “EU law must apply until Brexit day” – when Britain officially leaves.

The European Parliament, which can veto an UK-EU deal, is next week expected to make the guarantee of full EU citizen rights a red line.

The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier met in Valletta with the Maltese PM Joseph Muscat, the current holder of the EU presidency. He said it was “day one of a very long and difficult road”.

The Commission also chose the morning of the Article 50 declaration to formally block a key merger between the London Stock exchange and its German counterpart the Deutsche Borse.

Some influential commentators believe this decision was a key test of the EU27s attitude to negotiations with the UK.

Read more – Sky News

BREAKING: EU response to Article 50 LEAKED

0

THE EU is ready for “constructive” Brexit negotiations as Theresa May prepares to trigger Article 50.

A draft response to Theresa May’s letter, which will be handed to European Council President Donald Tusk this afternoon, reveals the remaining EU27 wants to have the UK “as a close partner in the future”.

Britain’s ambassador to the EU Tim Barrow will deliver the letter of several pages at about 12.20pm today.

They think it will offer a positive tone on talks and recap the Prime Minister’s 12 point Brexit plan.

At about 12.45pm, the Donald Tusk will respond, followed by Brexit negotiator Guy Verhofstadt, European Parliament President Antonio Tajani, President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker and Joseph Muscat, the current president of the EU council of members.

It is thought Brexit leaders will make four succinct points starting with “We regret that you’ll leave but we are ready” for negotiations.

The EU27 will clarify the next step which will see all remaining member states agree on the political guidelines for the European Commission, which will lead Brexit talks.

The EU27 leaders will meet on April 29 at an extraordinary European Council summit to agree a mandate for chief negotiator Michel Barnier and clear the way for talks to begin in earnest in May.

In a warning shot, the leaders are expected to say “the Union will act as one” in a continued pledge of unity in an attempt to dissuade London from targeting individual member states in an effort to secure the rights of EU nationals.

The Prime Minister has repeatedly vowed to seek the earliest possible agreement to secure the status of EU nationals living in the UK and that of UK nationals living in the EU.

The statement is expected to end with a promise to be constructive as Brussels prepares to rebuild itself with 27 members and get on with Brexit.

A draft of the European Council statement seen by Euractiv says: “These guidelines will set out the overall positions and principles in light of which the Union, represented by the European Commission, will negotiate with the United Kingdom.”

The draft says the bloc will act “as one” and focus on the status of EU nationals as a priority, saying: “Therefore, we will start by focusing on all key arrangements for an orderly withdrawal.

“We will approach these talks constructively and strive to find an agreement. In the future, we hope to have the United Kingdom as a close partner.”

The draft adds if talks fail the European Council would make sure that the “European Union is ready for such an outcome even though we do not desire it”.

British Ambassador to the European Union Tim Barrow arrives at the EU Council in Brussels
A leaked copy of the European Parliament declaration sees the EU warn the PM that a transitional deal should take no longer than three years.

The leaked draft says Brexit is “an unprecedented and regrettable event” and stresses Britain’s exit from the bloc “must be arranged in an orderly fashion so as not to negatively affect the European Union, its citizens and the process of European integration”.

Mrs May is warned a future relationship agreement between the EU and the UK “can only be concluded once the United Kingdom has withdrawn from the EU”.

Revealing their hand, the European Parliament draft warns if Britain attempts to negotiate free trade deals with other countries while still a member of the EU, then any future discussions of a trade deal with the bloc will be stopped.

Last night Mrs May signed the letter to start the exit process and she will address the House of Commons later today.

The PM will tell the Commons she will represent “every person in the UK”, including EU nationals, when she takes to the negotiating table.

She will say: “It is my fierce determination to get the right deal for every single person in this country.

“For, as we face the opportunities ahead of us on this momentous journey, our shared values, interests and ambitions can, and must, bring us together.

“We all want to see a Britain that is stronger than it is today. We all want a country that is fairer so that everyone has the chance to succeed.

“We all want a nation that is safe and secure for our children and grandchildren.

“We all want to live in a truly global Britain that gets out and builds relationships with old friends and new allies around the world.

“These are the ambitions of this Government’s plan for Britain. Ambitions that unite us, so that we are no longer defined by the vote we cast, but by our determination to make a success of the result.

“We are one great union of people and nations with a proud history and a bright future. And, now that the decision has been made to leave the EU, it is time to come together.”

Key EU figures agreed to enter into Brexit talks in a “positive spirit” during a series of telephone calls with Mrs May on Tuesday evening.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Mr Tusk and European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker said the UK would remain a “close and committed ally”.

On Thursday, a white paper will be produced on the Great Repeal Bill, the legislation that will turn four decades of EU regulations into domestic laws.

Read more in The Express

MASSIVE BREXIT DAY SIGNS projected onto White Cliffs Of Dover

0

IT’S finally here . . . the most momentous day in Britain’s modern history.

Today, Theresa May will officially tell the EU: We’re off.

Once the PM’s letter triggering Article 50 is delivered to EU Council president Donald Tusk at 12.30pm there is no going back.

Brexit will be underway, and with it our tricky two-year extrication from Brussels’ grip and the plotting of a new course towards a better, more prosperous future.

As a paper that has railed against EU excesses for so long, helped keep Britain out of the disastrous euro and campaigned fiercely for Leave last year, The Sun is of course delighted.

We have enormous optimism about our country, controlling our own laws and borders and trading independently with the vast and fast-growing nations of the wider world for the first time since the 1970s.

But we have no illusions that negotiating our exit will be easy.

Nor do we expect the sneering, divisive rage of hardcore Remainers to subside once Article 50 is irreversibly served. But we say this to them:

Mrs May voted Remain too.

Yet she is assailed round the clock by opposition parties and lobby groups making absurd demands as they clamour for attention or relevance.

The Scottish Parliament has backed a new independence referendum. The Northern Ireland assembly has collapsed.

Labour has six conditions they insist Mrs May must meet.

Brussels has already dismissed the biggest as impossible.

Ukip, self-styled “guard dogs of Brexit”, have their own demands (but no MPs).

Ferry passengers cheered and waved as The Sun made the White Cliffs of Dover shine with British pride last night. Lorry driver Luke Blackburn, 28, of Basildon, Essex, said: “It’s a massive message for a massive moment in British history. Trust The Sun to come up with such a cheeky stunt.”

Ex-pharmaceuticals worker Geoffrey Woodward, 75, of Milton Keynes, said: “It just goes to show some people still have something Britain nearly lost — national pride.”James Dowrish, 22, saw our 30m by

James Dowrish, 22, saw our 30m by 20m light display from the beach and said: “It’s a smart way to say goodbye.”

The diehard Remainers of the Open Britain group have theirs too — bizarrely pretending Mrs May runs Vote Leave instead of a Government seeing through the referendum in the only meaningful way, by leaving the single market and customs union.

Some Remainers, their apocalyptic rhetoric at a comical crescendo, still believe Brexit can be stopped.

After 12.30 they are howling at the moon.

Is any of this conducive to the PM getting the best deal for Britain?

We have enormous optimism about our country, controlling our own laws and borders
Isn’t that what we all should want?

Politicians must not spend two years talking our chances down, leaping on every snippet of bad news and screaming abuse and threats at our PM and negotiators.

It will only embolden the EU’s and damage our prospects.

It is vital we get behind Mrs May as she holds constructive negotiations leading to a mutually prosperous friendship with our former EU partners.

We are not leaving Europe, merely Brussels’ trading club.

We will still be friends, neighbours, workmates, tourists to each other’s lands.

Increasing numbers abroad admire ­Britain for backing Brexit.

So far we have mainly heard threats from Brussels.

They will need far more maturity for talks to work.

That may only happen when national leaders take over.

And in 2019, politicians WE elect will control our future.

If the Government says immigration needs to fall it will be more able to cut it.

If we need more migrants with certain skills, it can make that happen.

That was the point, to “take back control”.

Today it begins for real — and we can’t wait.

Read more in The Sun

BREAKING: Theresa May SIGNS ARTICLE 50 LETTER and starts Brexit process

0

Theresa May has tonight signed the letter to EU President Donald Tusk informing him that the UK is triggering Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, the formal method of leaving the 28-member bloc.

The letter was due to be conveyed to Brussels by diplomats tonight to be handed to Mr Tusk by Britain’s ambassador to the EU Sir Tim Barrow at lunchtime tomorrow.

It starts a two-year process that will see the UK leave the EU on March 29, 2019.

The decision on free movement means tonight raised fears of a rush to beat the deadline.

A Government source insisted the Prime Minister had not avoided an early confrontation with Brussels in order to smooth the opening of negotiations.

‘We have not ducked anything,’ the source said. ‘The fact is that we have not got a reciprocal deal on the rights of citizens abroad so we cannot set a date for the start of a new system.’
Another source said the Home Office was concerned about the practical difficulties of enforcing a cut-off date before the introduction of a new post-Brexit immigration regime.

In a statement to MPs tomorrow, Mrs May will say now is the time for the country to ‘come together’ to achieve the best possible Brexit deal.

She will say the public should be ‘no longer defined by the vote we cast, but by our determination to make a success of the result’.

‘We are one great union of people and nations with a proud history and a bright future,’ she will say.

‘And, now that the decision has been made to leave the EU, it is time to come together.’

The Prime Minister will pledge to represent ‘every person in the UK’, during talks with Brussels, including diehard Remain voters and 3.2million EU citizens living here.

Setting out her ambitions for the negotiations, she will pledge to make the UK stronger, fairer and more secure.

‘It is my fierce determination to get the right deal for every single person in this country,’ she will say.

‘For, as we face the opportunities ahead of us on this momentous journey, our shared values, interests and ambitions can, and must, bring us together.’

Sources said the letter to Mr Tusk would set out the ‘broad principles’ of Mrs May’s negotiating aims, without getting into the detail.

Theresa May’s letter to Donald Tusk invoking Article 50 will be handed over at around 12.30pm.

This is the point of no return and will trigger two years of frantic diplomacy and negotiations.

Within 48 hours, the EU will issue its first response and the 27 remaining members are set to meet in late April.

The first major summit is likely to be later in the spring – but talks could be limited by pending elections in Germany.

The final deal is expected to emerge by the end of next year in time for a series of votes on ratification Brussels, London and around Europe.

If the talks collapse at any point in the two years, Britain could face leaving the EU without a deal at all.

The document is expected to confirm that Brexit will involve the UK’s departure from the EU’s single market, because membership would mean accepting free movement and EU court rulings.

Mrs May is expected to demand that trade talks are conducted in parallel with wrangling over the terms of the UK’s exit. EU leaders have warned of a £50billion divorce bill.

The Prime Minister will call for an early agreement guaranteeing the rights of 3.2million EU citizens living in the UK and 1.2million British citizens in Europe.

Government lawyers have warned that any cut-off prior to the end of Britain’s EU membership would face court challenges.

Sources said a date is unlikely to be set until a deal has reciprocal citizen rights have been agreed.

The European Parliament today threatened to block a final Brexit deal if the UK tried to introduce such a ‘cut-off’ before its full departure from the EU.

A resolution setting out MEPs’ demands will be voted on next week and will include a provision for ‘non-discrimination’ against EU citizens in the UK.

A source who has seen the document said: ‘The Parliament will demand that EU free movement law is applied until the day the UK leaves.’

The Article 50 process has never been used before. Ministers believe that, after today, the UK’s departure from the organisation it joined in 1973 will be irrevocable.

In theory, the two-year Brexit talks could extended by a year if every country in the EU agrees. But ministers believe they can strike an agreement within the two-year deadline, even if some form of ‘transitional arrangement’ continues to govern aspects of trade for another two or three years beyond 2019.

Mrs May telephoned Mr Tusk, along with German chancellor Angela Merkel and European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker tonight to confirm she will trigger Article 50 on Wednesday.

A Downing Street spokesman said: ‘In separate calls, they agreed that a strong EU was in everyone’s interests and that the UK would remain a close and committed ally.

‘They also agreed on the importance of entering into negotiations in a constructive and positive spirit, and of ensuring a smooth and orderly exit process.

Mr Tusk will set out the EU’s ‘draft negotiation guidelines’ by the end of the week before sending them to the 27 remaining states for consultation.

EU leaders will meet on April 29 at an extraordinary European Council summit to agree a mandate for chief negotiator Michel Barnier and clear the way for talks to begin in earnest in May.

Tomorrow, a Government white paper will be produced on the Great Repeal Bill, the legislation that will turn more than 40 years of EU regulations into domestic laws.

Read more – dailymail.co.uk

 

Sadiq Khan to Theresa May: Guarantee EU citizens can REMAIN in the UK after Brexit

0

LONDON Mayor Sadiq Khan has called on Theresa May to provide an “immediate cast-iron guarantee” European Union (EU) nationals can stay in the UK after Brexit.

The Labour mayor said Europeans in Britain, and Britons living in the EU, should not be used as “bargaining chips” during Brexit negotiations which will be triggered tomorrow when Mrs May sends an Article 50 letter to Brussels.

He tweeted out a two-minute video featuring several EU nationals who have made the capital their home.

The EU nationals say how much they love the city, how it has given them endless opportunities and how everybody was very welcoming of them when they first arrived in the country.

Accompanying the clip, Mr Khan, tweeted: “Ahead of Article 50 I’m calling on the PM to give an immediate cast-iron guarantee to EU nationals that they can stay in the UK after Brexit.

“I want a pledge protecting the 3.3m EU citizens who currently live in Britain to be given as soon as Article 50 is triggered.

“It is unacceptable for EU nationals in the UK and UK nationals in the EU to be used as bargaining chips in Brexit negotiations.”

The London mayor was fresh out of a meeting with European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker in Brussels when he released the three tweets at 3.40pm.

He has been on a campaign this week to get the “best” deal for Britain during Brexit negotiations.

Earlier today he told Brussels chiefs they would be making a “major mistake” if they pushed the UK into a “hard” departure.

A bad deal, or no deal at all, would be a “lose-lose” situation in which jobs, growth and living standards across Europe would be damaged.

During a major speech to EU bosses Mr Khan reiterated the Prime Minister should not use EU nationals living in the UK as a “bargaining chip”, but give them a “cast-iron guarantee” tomorrow they could remain after Brexit.

He said: “My city is not only the beating heart of Britain’s economy, but the single most important organ for growth across Europe.

“I say this with friendship and all due respect – but a bad Brexit deal that hurts London would hurt the European Union too.

“Now is the time to be confident in the European Union, and to act with confidence. There is no need – as some have suggested – for the EU to send a message, or to instil fear, by punishing the UK.

“Because, a proud, optimistic, and confident institution does not secure its future by fear.”

Read more in The Express

EU will BLACKMAIL BRITAIN and block Brexit deal if EU arrivals until 2019 can’t stay

0

MEPs will block any Brexit deal unless EU citizens who move to the UK up to 2019 are granted the right to stay and work, the European Parliament’s chief negotiator has said.

Guy Verhofstadt vowed to fight any attempt by Britain to set tomorrow – the day for triggering Article 50 – as the “cut-off date” for the free movement of people.

Both the Parliament and the Commission’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, are concerned by reports that No 10 will designate 29 March 2017 as the landmark date.

If so, EU nationals moving to the UK for the next two years, until Brexit is completed, would have weaker rights than those already in the UK – even if the rights of existing citizens are eventually guaranteed.

A five-page resolution setting out the Parliament’s red lines – to be voted on next Wednesday – will rule out any “degradation” of the rights of EU nationals arriving in the UK over the next two years.

Speaking to The Independent, Mr Verhofstadt warned Theresa May that imposing the cut-off date would be the wrong way to start the negotiations, which will begin after tomorrow.

“Any unilateral decision to curtail the rights of EU citizens in the UK, while the UK remains a member of the EU, would be contrary to EU law and we would oppose such a move vigorously.”

The Prime Minister has said the future rights of the three million EU nationals in the UK – and of around one million British ex-pats living in the EU – will only be settled on a reciprocal basis, as part of the Brexit negotiations.

EU citizens in UK victims of ‘political games’, says Guy Verhofstadt

However, government sources have briefed previously that setting 2019 as the cut-off date for any agreement would spark a rush of EU citizens seeking to enter the country before then.

Now the European Parliament’s resolution will insist on “equity, reciprocity, symmetry and non-discrimination” for all EU nationals – for as long as Britain remains a member state.

MEPs have the right to veto any deal between the EU and the UK when talks come to a close – and Mr Verhofstadt has already threatened to exercise that right, if necessary.

Gianni Pittell, the leader of the socialist bloc in the European Parliament, also confirmed that MEPs would not accept discrimination between EU citizens.

“We have heard that Theresa May is considering a cut-off date as the notification date,” he told The Guardian newspaper.

“We completely disagree on this and we believe that the British citizens and those from the other 27 states are EU citizens until the day of the divorce. During this period the UK is a member state with full rights and obligations.”

The warnings come just hours before Sir Tim Barrow, the UK’s permanent representative to the EU, delivers the historic letter from Ms May to start the exit process.

At 12.30pm, the clock will start ticking on the two years of talks allowed under Article 50 of the Treaty of Lisbon.

The resolution is also expected to insist that Britain’s withdrawal agreement be enforced by the European Court of Justice – which is certain to inflame hardline Brexit supporters.

Further resolutions are likely to be issued at key moments in the talks, to strengthen the hand of Mr Barnier in his talks with David Davis, the Brexit Secretary.

Read more in The Independent 

BREAKING: Scottish Parliament votes to APPROVE Scottish Independence Referendum

0

Nicola Sturgeon’s call for a second referendum on independence for Scotland has been formally backed by the Scottish Parliament.

MSPs voted by 69 to 59 in favour of seeking permission for a referendum before the UK leaves the EU.

Ms Sturgeon says the move is needed to allow Scotland to decide what path to follow in the wake of the Brexit vote.

But the UK government has already said it will block a referendum until the Brexit process has been completed.

Prime Minister Theresa May, who met Ms Sturgeon for talks in Glasgow on Monday, has repeatedly insisted that “now is not the time” for a referendum.

Her Scottish secretary, David Mundell, has said that the timescale could include “the Brexit process, the journey of leaving and people being able to understand what the UK’s new relationship with the EU is, so they can make an informed choice if there was ever to be another referendum”.

Follow reaction to the vote on Holyrood Live
What happens next?
Ms Sturgeon, the Scottish first minister, told a debate ahead of the Holyrood vote that she was not seeking confrontation with the UK government, and only wanted “sensible discussions”.

She said: “My argument is simply this: when the nature of the change that is made inevitable by Brexit becomes clear, that change should not be imposed upon us, we should have the right to decide the nature of that change.

“The people of Scotland should have the right to choose between Brexit – possibly a very hard Brexit – or becoming an independent country, able to chart our own course and create a true partnership of equals across these islands.”

She added: “I hope the UK government will respect the will of this parliament. If it does so, I will enter discussion in good faith and with a willingness to compromise.

“However, if it chooses not to do so I will return to the parliament following the Easter recess to set out the steps that the Scottish government will take to progress the will of parliament.”

The two-day debate in the Scottish Parliament started last week but was suspended as news of the terror attack at Westminster emerged.

MSPs were asked to mandate the Scottish government to take forward discussions with the UK government on the details of a section 30 order, which is needed to make a referendum legally binding.

Ms Sturgeon is expected to make the formal request for a section 30 later this week – after Mrs May formally starts the Brexit process by triggering Article 50.

Scottish voters rejected independence by 55% to 45% in a referendum in 2014, but Ms Sturgeon believes the UK voting to leave the EU is a material change in circumstances which means people should again be asked the question.

Responding to the Holyrood vote, Mr Mundell again insisted that it “simply wouldn’t be fair to hold a referendum during the Brexit process” as people would not yet know what the future relationship between the UK and EU will be.

He added: “We are not entering into negotiations on whether there should be another independence referendum during the Brexit process. We don’t have a crystal ball as to how long that process will take. We don’t recognise, for example, 18 months as being a key point in the journey.

“It will be a journey that will involve the negotiations with the EU, it may be a journey that involves transitional measures, it may be a journey that involves significant implementation time.”

Read more – BBC.co.uk

Nicola Sturgeon HUMILIATED in Parliament as Tory leader tells her to SIT DOWN

0

NICOLA Sturgeon was left speechless after she was sensationally told to “sit down” by Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson during a fiery debate in Scottish Parliament on Tuesday.

Holyrood has continued to consider “Scotland’s Choice” before MSPs vote on whether to seek a second independence referendum later this evening.

It’s expected the SNP, with the support of the Scottish Greens, will win Tuesday’s vote, paving the way for Ms Sturgeon to forge ahead with her bid to break up the 300-year union.

However, the nationalist was left red-faced as she tried to intervene for a second time during rival Ms Davidson’s passionate pitch to parliament.

The Tory MSP argued most people did not want another “divisive” referendum campaign as she argued the SNP continued to complain about the powers it does not have.

Alluding to a meeting between Ms Sturgeon and the UK prime minister on Monday, Ms Davidson accused the First Minister of “spinning” their talk for the rationale for an independence referendum.

Interrupting Ms Davidson for the first time, the SNP leader said: “The prime minister said to me very clearly yesterday, it’s her intention for the exit terms and also a comprehensive free trade deal to be agreed before March 2019.

“Can I take from Ruth Davidson’s comments today that she thinks I should mistrust the word of the prime minister?”

Ms Davidson immediately shot back that she would not take any lessons from the First Minister.

As Ms Sturgeon tried to interrupt again, the Tory leader retorted: “Sit down… I think I’ve answered the First Minister’s question, I will not take another intervention.”

Clearly gobsmacked, Ms Sturgeon returned to her seat, as Ms Davidson argued no matter how good the Brexit deal, Ms Sturgeon would push for an independence referendum anyway.

“At this moment we should be pulling together, not hanging apart,” she continued.

“I think the First Minister knows the proposal she’s putting forward today can’t work, it’s not fair to the people of Scotland, but that’s not the point.”

“Because this is not the plan of a reasonable government, it’s the SNP cooking up the same old recipe for division.”

One wrote: “Ruth Davidson slaps down Sturgeon in Scottish parliament debate. Love it.”

Another added: “Ruth Davidson refuses to take another intervention from Sturgeon and tells her to sit down. Go Ruth!”

A third quipped: “Ruth Davidson just gave Sturgeon the ‘talk to the hand’ sign and said ‘sit down!’ – very amusing.”

Read more in The Express

Germany threatens to TAKE BRITAIN TO COURT if we don’t pay £50bn Brexit bill

0

Germany has warned it will take Britain to the International Court of Justice if it refuses to pay its £50bn Brexit ‘divorce bill’.

A second threat to launch a legal battle at The Hague was revealed in a leaked strategy document prepared for Wolfgang Schäuble, Germany’s finance minister.

Mr Schäuble’s department is convinced that Britain is “not only politically but also legally obliged to pay its debts”, The Times reported.

“Great Britain pays for its share just like the other member states,” the paper says – insisting that must happen at the start of the Brexit negotiations.

Britain is bound by the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, signed in 1970, which governs what happens when states terminate treaty commitments, it said – with any disputes heard at The Hague.

Earlier this month, a Dutch newspaper revealed a draft EU plan to go to the International Court if Britain tries to walk away without meeting its huge historic and future liabilities.

“In that case it is: see you in The Hague!” it quoted an EU official – in response to suggestions that Britain will try to avoid any exit bill.

Theresa May has threatened to leave with “no deal” if necessary, with Government lawyers arguing Britain could then avoid paying out.

But a lengthy battle at the International Court would hold up attempts to reach a new trade agreement with the EU, if it insists on settling the controversy over money owed first.

Last night, Brexit Secretary David Davis toughened the Government’s stance, suggesting Britain had a right to walk away without paying a penny.

“I don’t know about £50bn, I’ve seen £40bn, £50bn, £60bn, I’ve seen no explanation for any of them,” Mr Davis told BBC’s Question Time programme.

“We’ll of course meet our international obligations but we expect also our rights to be respected too. I don’t think we’re going to be seeing that sort of money change hands.

“That is nothing like what we’re talking about here – indeed the House of Lords committee on this subject reckoned that that was zero only a few weeks ago.”

A Government spokesman quoted by The Times dismissed threats of a legal challenge to force Britain to pay a Brexit divorce bill.

“We have also been very clear that when we leave the European Union, decisions over where UK taxpayers’ money is spent will be made inside the UK,” he said.

The paper drawn up for Mr Schäuble also says Britain must make a “financial contribution” if it wishes to retain access to the EU single market.

It reveals that Germany fears a “hard Brexit” could trigger a financial crash, with the country’s financial regulator working on ways to offer a transitional arrangement to Britain as a solution.

The document is sceptical that the EU and the UK can agree a new trade deal in the two-year timetable that starts with the triggering of Article 50 tomorrow.

Read more in The Independent