Brexit: Third customs model devised ahead of cabinet talks

Theresa May at EU leaders summit in Brussels on 29 June 2018Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Mrs May hopes to resolve cabinet splits on Brexit at a meeting this week

Downing Street has produced a third model for handling customs after the UK leaves the EU, the BBC understands.

Details of the new plan have not been revealed publicly but senior ministers will discuss it at Chequers, the prime minister’s country retreat, on Friday.

Ministers have been involved in heated discussions recently as they tried to choose between two earlier models.

Tory backbencher Jacob Rees-Mogg says the PM risks a revolt if the type of Brexit she promised is not delivered.

Theresa May hopes to resolve cabinet splits on the shape of Brexit at this week’s cabinet meeting.

The prime minister has said the UK will then publish a White Paper setting out “in more detail what strong partnership the United Kingdom wants to see with the European Union in the future”.

It follows last week’s summit in Brussels where European Council president Donald Tusk issued a “last call” for the UK to agree its position on Brexit, saying the “most difficult” issues were unresolved and “quick progress” was needed if agreement was to be reached by the next meeting in October.

BBC political correspondent Chris Mason says Downing Street hopes it has now found its way out of a bind on customs, the issue central to the practicalities of the UK’s future trading relationship with the EU, and a significant part of finding a solution to maintaining an open border with the Republic of Ireland.

‘Do things better’

The UK is due to leave the EU on 29 March 2019, and negotiations are taking place on what their future relationship will look like.

Image caption Jacob Rees-Mogg said Eurosceptic MPs would reject a deal that did not amount to a clean break

The government had talked publicly about two potential customs options.

One, a customs partnership, would mean the UK applies the EU’s own tariffs and rules of origin to all goods arriving in the country, intended for the EU.

The other, known as maximum facilitation or max-fac, aimed to employ new technology to remove the need for physical customs checks where possible.

Our correspondent says the government has now deemed both options practically or politically undeliverable.

But Mrs May must sell her plans to her Brexiteer backbenchers too and some are nervous that she is watering down her intentions.

Writing in the Daily Telegraph, Mr Rees-Mogg said he and other members of the 60-strong group of Eurosceptic Tory MPs he leads, known as the European Research Group (ERG), would reject a deal that did not amount to a clean break with the EU.

A deal which restricts the UK’s ability to make trade agreements with other nations or control migration could not be accepted, he said.

Mr Rees-Mogg said Mrs May had declared the UK would leave the single market and the customs union and “must stick to her righteous cause and deliver what she has said she would”.

The government must seize a “great opportunity to do things better” rather than being in a “tremulous state that sees Brexit as mere damage limitation”, he added.

On Saturday, it was revealed that Environment Secretary Michael Gove physically ripped up a report on Mrs May’s then preferred option for a new customs partnership with the EU.

He was said to have been “livid” as he felt the government document downplayed his objections to the proposal.

Speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, James Brokenshire, the secretary of state for local government and housing, said there were “strong views” on both sides but predicted Friday’s away-day would yield a “clear direction” from the UK.

Writing in the Observer, Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the 1922 committee of backbench Conservative MPs, urged cabinet ministers to unite behind Mrs May, warning the party was risking the “disaster” of a Labour government led by Jeremy Corbyn if it did not.

EU students get post-Brexit fees promise

lectureImage copyright Getty Images
Image caption There are 135,000 EU students in UK universities – with their status to remain unchanged for at least another year

EU students at universities in England will continue to be treated the same as home students in the first intake after Brexit.

Education Secretary Damian Hinds says EU students starting in autumn 2019 will pay the same tuition fees as English ones and their access to support will be unchanged.

This status will last for the duration of their degree courses.

Mr Hinds said he wanted to provide “clarity and certainty”.

The Scottish government has already made a similar commitment to EU students starting in Scottish universities in autumn 2019 – which will mean they will continue to pay no tuition fees.

No ‘cliff edge’

For universities, worried about their student numbers and finances, it means there will be no “cliff edge” for recruitment from the EU immediately after Brexit in March 2019.

It might also be seen as a conciliatory gesture, ahead of negotiations in which the UK’s universities hope to maintain access to a share of 100bn euros (£89bn) of EU research funding.

The education secretary also repeated the prime minister’s promise that tuition fees in England will be frozen at £9,250 while a review is being carried out.

But the interest rate on fees will continue to rise in the autumn to 6.3%.

There are about 135,000 EU students in UK universities and vice-chancellors recently called for “urgent clarification” about the status of EU students who might apply for courses beginning in autumn 2019.

So far there is no long-term decision or reciprocal deal on how UK students in the EU, or EU students in the UK, will be treated post-Brexit.

If EU students were to be classified as overseas students, their fees would be much higher which could deter them from studying in the UK.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption UK universities are waiting to find out about future access to EU research funding

It would also be likely to make it more expensive for UK students in EU universities, such as in the Netherlands.

But the education secretary has announced a guarantee for EU students applying to universities in England for 2019-20, that they will continue to have “home fee status” beyond the UK’s departure from the EU.

This stretches out funding until the summer of 2023 for those on three-year degree courses.

For those applying from the EU in following years, the level of fee is likely to depend on wider Brexit negotiations.

Universities in Northern Ireland currently charge EU students £4,160 per year in tuition fees and £9,000 in Wales – but their plans for 2019-20 have yet to be confirmed.

‘Matter of urgency’

EU students in the UK are most concentrated in Russell Group universities, London institutions and in Scotland.

At University College London there are more than 4,400 EU students – almost 10% of its total. The University of Edinburgh has 3,600 EU students, about 11% of its total.

The London School of Economics has almost 2,000 EU students, representing almost 18% of its students. Cambridge has more than 2,500 EU students, about 13%.

Top 10 UK universities with the highest proportion of EU students

  1. University of Aberdeen
  2. London School of Economics
  3. Imperial College London
  4. Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh
  5. School of Oriental and African Studies, London
  6. University of the Arts, London
  7. University of Cambridge
  8. University of Essex
  9. King’s College London
  10. Edinburgh Napier and University College London

Universities UK warned the government in June that it was a “matter of urgency” that students from the EU should be given information on future fee levels, otherwise it would put at risk their “great economic and academic value”.

The government has now provided this reassurance for at least the first year after Brexit.

“Students from the EU make an important contribution to the universities sector and it is a testament to our system that so many students from abroad choose to come and study here,” said Mr Hinds.

“Today we are providing clarity and certainty on their fees for the duration of their courses.”

Cheryl and Liam Payne announce split

Liam Payne, CheylImage copyright Getty Images

Singers Cheryl and Liam Payne have announced they are splitting up after more than two years together.

The former Girls Aloud star, 35, and One Direction member, 24, confirmed the decision in posts on social media.

The couple have a son, Bear, who was born in March last year.

They said they were “sad” to make the announcement, and it had been a “tough decision to make”, adding: “We still have so much love for each other as a family”.

Cheryl tweeted: “Bear is our world and we ask that you respect his privacy as we navigate our way through this together.”

Payne posted an almost identical message to his 33m followers on Twitter.

Newcastle-born Cheryl started her career on ITV’s Popstars: The Rivals in 2002 as one of the members of Girls Aloud. She then went on to launch a solo career and became a judge on The X Factor in 2008.

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In 2016, the twice-married star, who was born Cheryl Tweedy, said she wanted to be known just by her first name.

Her relationship with Payne began after her divorce from French restaurateur Jean-Bernard Fernandez-Versini. She was previously married to the former England footballer Ashley Cole.

Payne, originally from Wolverhampton, has gone on to forge a successful solo career after One Direction decided to take a break in 2015, with his song Strip That Down being streamed globally more than a billion times.

In March, Payne admitted he and Cheryl had relationship “struggles”, amid tabloid press reports about their life together.

High Street woes hit 22,000 jobs in 2018

Poundworld shopImage copyright Getty Images
Image caption Poundworld went into administration last month

Nearly 22,000 jobs have been hit on the UK’s struggling High Streets this year.

BBC 5 Live’s Wake Up To Money has been tracking shop closures and retail administrations and found that more than 7,000 people have lost their jobs.

A further 9,500 roles are due to go through planned shop closures, while 5,100 are in doubt at Poundworld, which is in administration.

In the past six months, about 1,200 shops run by major chains have either shut or are at risk of closure.

To put that in context, a report by PwC and the Local Data Company found 4,000 High Street shops opened last year and 5,800 closed, causing a net loss of 1,700.

Sluggish sales, competition from online and rising costs have been blamed for the changing landscape.

High-profile failures such as Maplin and Toys R Us have been followed by a string of closure plans from High Street stalwarts such as Marks & Spencer, House of Fraser, Carphone Warehouse, New Look and Carpetright.

This trend is set to continue. On Thursday, the new owners of Homebase said 300 head office staff would go and store closures are expected.

Meanwhile, The Original Factory Shop is planning to close more than 30 shops, while N Brown, which is behind brands such as Jacamo and Simply Be, wants to retreat from the High Street altogether.

Zain Venturi spent three years at a Maplin shop in London until it closed earlier this month. He has switched career and is now working as an IT engineer.

He said: “I was on the shop floor and we could see what was happening before management could. The guys at head office did not understand what the customers wanted. Shopping has changed and they weren’t in tune with what’s happening.”

He added: “Those most affected were working in the shops. I’m lucky, I can talk and people buy into that, but if you can’t you’re going to have issues.

“Everything that happens in life opens up an opportunity – hopefully something more financially rewarding.

“I’m not the only one who found something paying more, quite a few others went into the IT field. It was such a nice place to work so it stopped you from pushing yourself out there.”

Image copyright Getty Images

The national unemployment rate is still at a 40-year low, at just over 4%, and the most recent official figures show 2.92 million people were working in retail in March.

That’s up on 2.87 million a year earlier, but the Recruitment and Employment Confederation has seen retail vacancies fall in recent months.

It publishes a monthly report based on information from 400 recruitment agencies around the country. Retail vacancies continued to rise until March, but that growth has since stalled.

REC policy director Tom Hadley said: “Every sector is showing more demand apart from retail. That does show there are jobs in other sectors and that’s a note of encouragement.

“Some people are happy to stay in roles where you’ve got a customer service element, such as leisure of hospitality. We are seeing people make the transition into the care sector, where there is a big demand for staff.

“The rest of the jobs market is showing strong demand, so it’s a good time to take stock of your options.”

Newspaper Headlines: PM ‘warns Brexit bullies’ and William’s Middle East peace ‘mission’

Sunday Times front page - 01/07/18
Image caption The Sunday Times says Theresa May has told cabinet plotters she will not be “bullied out of office” by colleagues opposed to her Brexit plans. The paper also features glum-faced photos of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi after Portugal and Argentina were knocked out of the World Cup.
Sunday Telegraph front page - 01/07/18
Image caption The Sunday Telegraph reports Donald Trump’s national security adviser John Bolton has held a secret meeting with senior backbench Conservative Eurosceptic MPs. He stressed the US president’s enthusiasm for Brexit and his belief that the US and UK can agree a trade deal.
Sunday Mirror front page - 01/07/18
Image caption Prince William is vowing to make it his lifelong mission to bring a “just and lasting peace” to the Middle East, according to the Sunday Mirror. The paper quotes a senior royal source as saying he was so moved by his trip to the region he wants to play a significant role in finding solutions.
Observer front page - 01/07/18
Image caption The Observer reports a study on education which suggests reforms under the Tories appears to have fuelled in inequality in the schools system. Its main picture is of France’s Kylian Mbappe who announced himself in the World Cup by scoring twice in his team’s 4-3 win over Argentina.
Sunday Express front page - 01/07/18
Image caption The Sunday Express says the NHS in England is on the brink of a “healthcare revolution” – thanks to technological developments. The service’s innovation chief tells the paper of plans for supplies to be delivered by drones and for smartcards carrying patients’ genetic data.
Mail on Sunday front page - 01/07/18
Image caption The Mail on Sunday leads on an internal BBC staff survey which found the corporation has more than 400 transgender staff. Its headline suggests the BBC’s director of diversity was “stunned” by the findings – but a spokesman denies that was the case and says the paper’s claims the survey was secret were wrong as the figures were published in last year’s annual report.
Sunday People front page - 01/07/18
Image caption The Sunday People leads with a story about a student who says she was kidnapped and forced to be a drugs mule.
Daily Star Sunday front page - 01/06/18
Image caption The Daily Star Sunday reports a former Love Island contestant believes the reality TV show is “faked” – claiming producers asked for scenes to be reshot and suggested topics of discussion. Tyla Carr appeared on the show last year.

Government infighting over Brexit makes many of the front pages – with the man who represents Conservative backbenchers, Sir Graham Brady, calling on warring cabinet ministers to unite.

Writing in the Observer, the chairman of the 1922 Committee says the current disunity could allow Jeremy Corbyn to take power.

Image copyright Getty Images

According to the Sunday Times, Theresa May has a defiant message for hardline Brexiteers: “Oust me if your dare.”

It says she will present the cabinet with a plan to keep Britain closely aligned to EU rules on the sale of goods when they meet at the prime minister’s country residence in Chequers.

At the same time she’s made it clear she will not be “bullied” out of office unless rebels can muster the support of 159 Tory MPs needed to bring her down.

The Sun on Sunday depicts the Chequers meeting as a Cluedo game, warning Mrs May is risking a “bloodbath”.

Elsewhere, the lead in the Sunday Telegraph reveals senior Tory Eurosceptic MPs have been trying to forge alliances with the Trump administration.

It says they held a secret meeting with John Bolton, Donald Trump’s national security adviser. He stressed the president’s enthusiasm for Brexit and his belief that America and Britain could agree a trade deal two years after the UK leaves the EU.

Meanwhile, several papers report that Jeremy Corbyn is facing pressure from members of the trade union, Unite, to change his Brexit stance.

The Sunday Mirror reports the results of a survey which finds that six out of 10 Unite members think Britain would be worse off outside the single market – even though Labour favours quitting. The paper believes the results will infuriate the union’s general secretary Len McCluskey who is a close ally of Mr Corbyn.

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The Sunday Mirror’s lead story says that Prince William has vowed to make it his lifelong mission to bring a “just and lasting peace” to the Middle East.

Image copyright Getty Images

The paper has learned from a senior “Palace source” that the prince was deeply moved by his trip to Israel and the Palestinian territories.

As a result he is said to be determined to help solve a problem that has stumped a series of world leaders.

Body-cams for paramedics

The website of the Mexican paper, La Jornada, highlights the dangers faced by reporters covering the country’s election.

It says Mexico’s National Commission of Human Rights has called on the regional authorities to guarantee the safety of journalists on polling day. It also covers the killing of a reporter two days ago, who was shot at least four times in a nightclub in the state of Quintana Roo.

Several of the papers report that paramedics are to be issued with body cameras as part of a crackdown on violence against NHS staff.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt hopes their use will increase the number of prosecutions.

The Sunday Express says last week paramedics in Hampshire were attacked using bricks while responding to a 999 call.

Plastic cutlery and plates could soon be banned, according to the Sunday Telegraph.

The paper has learned the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is offering a contract for research into the economic, environmental and social impact of such a measure.

The paper notes that France already intends to remove the items from sale in two years.

Rhapsody in bleu

Finally, “Don’t Cry 4-3 Argentina” is the headline in the Sunday People and the Sun on Sunday as they cover France’s victory over the South Americans in the World Cup.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Kylian Mbappe is a new global superstar, says the Sunday Times

The French sports newspaper – L’Equipe believes the match was one of the craziest in the history of their national side.

There’s also lavish praise for the French teenager, Kylian Mbappe, who scored twice.

It was his “day of glory”, says Le Monde.

The Observer, which puts a photo of the 19-year-old on its front page – describes him as a “rhapsody in bleu”, while the Sunday Times believes a new global superstar has been born.

Winter Hill: Moorland fires declared major incident

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Media captionThe Winter Hill blaze has spread over Lancashire moorland

A major incident has been declared after two “rapidly developing and aggressive” moorland fires merged.

Greater Manchester Police said blazes on Winter Hill and Scout Road near Bolton have combined as a result of increasing wind speed.

The force told pedestrians and motorists to stay away from the scene.

Crews worked through the night tackling the flames, and Lancashire fire service said “full firefighting operations” resumed at 04:30 BST on Sunday.

Image copyright LFRS
Image caption Six fire engines were at Winter Hill from Saturday night into the early hours of Sunday

It comes as crews from around the country have joined firefighters and the Army to deal with a separate fire at Saddleworth Moor in Greater Manchester, which started a week ago.

Along with the Winter Hill and Scout Road blazes, it has blanketed the region in smoke and ash. People in nearby areas have been asked to keep doors and windows closed.

‘Exceptionally challenging’

The Winter Hill blaze, which started on Thursday near a major TV transmitter, is smouldering across a 1.9 sq miles (5 sq km) area.

A 22-year-old man, from Bolton, was arrested on Friday on suspicion of arson with intent to endanger life.

Lancashire fire service area manager Tony Cook said “very intensive firefighting” was taking place at the scene.

He said crews were doing shuttle runs in appliances to get water to the flames while others manually try to beat the fire out.

Fire break trenches are also being dug to try to protect local buildings and a helicopter has been dropping water to help douse the flames.

Image copyright LFRS
Image caption A helicopter has been dropping water over the plume at Winter Hill

Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service said on Saturday it had 28 fire engines tackling the moorland fires.

There were approximately 120 personnel on the moors, split between seven areas of wildfire in Tameside and Winter Hill.

Assistant chief fire officer Dave Keelan said: “This is an exceptionally challenging time and I am proud of the hard work and brave commitment of our firefighters.”

Image copyright PA
Image caption Soldiers have been drafted in to help tackle the fire near Saddleworth Moor

About 100 soldiers from the 4th Battalion, Royal Regiment of Scotland, were sent from their Yorkshire barracks on Thursday to aid firefighters in Saddleworth for an initial 48-hour deployment.

Their presence has been extended until Monday afternoon following a request by Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham.

Image copyright LFRS
Image caption The Winter Hill blaze stretches over 1.6 sq miles (5 sq km)
Image caption A trench has been dug around one family’s home

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Govia Thameslink ‘could lose franchise’ over rail chaos

Govia Thameslink trainImage copyright PA

Rail operator Govia Thameslink faces being told it will be stripped of its franchises unless performance on its services in the South East of England rapidly improves, the BBC understands.

Passengers on its Thameslink and Great Northern trains have faced more than a month of disruption following the introduction of new timetables in May.

A source said the government could begin the process within weeks.

Meanwhile, commuters are to set receive compensation worth a month’s travel.

Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) – which also runs Southern and the Gatwick Express services – changed the time of every train on its timetable on 20 May.

Passengers were warned of disruption before the changes were brought in, but the implementation of the new timetable saw some services withdrawn and further cancellations without any warning.

Since then, GTR chief executive Charles Horton has resigned and Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has faced calls to stand down – as MPs from across all parties voiced their concern at the disruption caused in their constituencies.

‘Last chance saloon’

Passengers have been venting their anger on social media, while last week a memo leaked by the RMT union revealed that extra security staff were at stations to protect staff from “unhappy customers”.

Image copyright Damien Stephenson
Image caption Passengers have been venting their anger on social media

But there is also frustration within government that while Northern, which encountered similar problems in the North of England, has introduced an interim timetable, Govia Thameslink’s equivalent is still a fortnight away.

“They are now in the last chance saloon,” a government source told the BBC.

Mr Grayling had previously announced there would be compensation for commuters and an inquiry into what went wrong, saying there had been “major failures” by the rail industry.

A spokesman for Govia Thameslink refused to comment on the reports about the possible loss of the franchises, instead choosing to re-release a statement in which it said it was “sorry for the disruption”.

GTR had added it rescheduled every train in its franchise in an attempt to improve rail efficiency but it was a “hugely complicated task” and involved re-training drivers on new routes.