Brussels HOLDS BACK cash owed to Britain

Theresa May failed to get her Brexit deal through Parliament (Image: GETTY)

EU CHIEFS are holding back cash owed to Britain and other current member states over fears Theresa May will stop pouring money into the bloc’s coffers in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

The Prime Minister’s Brexit deal committed then UK to keeping up its EU payments until the end of the current budget cycle in 2020. But Brussels fears the Prime Minister’s failure to get the withdrawal agreement through Parliament could see the Government cancel the direct debit and spark a cash crunch across the EU. And to limit the impact of such a potential shock to the bloc’s finances, the European Commission has asked employees to be more cautious with new spending in the first months of the year and leave a cushion for later in 2019.

A European Commission spokesman said: “In light of the current state of affairs, and as a precautionary measure, the agreed 2019 budget is being made available progressively to spending departments — the bulk of it upfront and a small proportion to be released in the course of the year.

“It is the Commission’s duty to ensure the sound financial management of the EU budget.

“Beneficiaries whose projects have already been signed will not be affected — all legal and contractual obligations will be honoured. This precautionary measure only concerns new projects.”

Britain is still one of the biggest net contributors to the EU’s budget, which finances everything from agricultural subsidies to regional programs and research projects.

Some European institutions fear devastating post-Brexit budget cuts as it remains unclear who would step in to plug the gap if London stopped making payments.

Karl-Heinz Lambertz, president of the European Committee of the Regions, said: “With so much uncertainty clouding the UK’s departure from the EU, we need to prepare for the worst to cushion the blow Brexit could have on its regions and cities.”

9.44am update: Majority thinks Corbyn wrong to snub May invitation

The majority of the public think Jeremy Corbyn is wrong to snub Theresa May’s offer of Brexit talks unless she rules out leaving the EU without a deal, according to a Sky Data poll.

The poll found 51 percent said the Labour leader was wrong not to negotiate with the Prime Minister with 25 percent saying he is right and 25 percent unsure.

Mr Corbyn has urged Labour MPs not to engage with the Government until the threat of no deal is removed, with Mrs May responding that the demand is an “impossible condition”.

The Sky Data poll found although Labour voters back Mr Corbyn, they are divided on the issue – with 45 percent saying he is right, 35 percent wrong, and 20 percent don’t know.

Jeremy Corbyn

Most people thinks Jeremy Corbyn is wrong to snub Theresa May’s Brexit talks (Image: AFP/GETTY)

9.30am update: Sterling soars to two-month high agains the euro

The pound reached a two-month high against the euro today as Sterling continues to remain firm in the face of ongoing Brexit uncertainty.

Sterling smashed through the €1.140-barrier during the early hours of trade before slipping down again briefly, but still holding well above €1.130.

The last time the pound soared through €1.140 was back in November 2018.

The pound is trading at €1.1377 against the euro early doors and was at $1.2966 against the dollar after earlier getting tantalisingly close to breaching $1.30.

Nigel Farage

Nigel Farage has urged Brexiteers to mobilise (Image: SKY)

9.06am update: Farage vows to fight Brexit “betrayal”

Nigel Farage has warned a second EU referendum is possible and urged Brexiteers to get organised ahead of another vote.

The former UKIP leader told Sky News: “I think, I fear that the House of Commons is going to effectively overturn that Brexit.

“To me, the most likely outcome of all of this is an extension of Article 50. There could be another referendum.”

“The Remain side is well-funded, well-organised. They are getting ready for another referendum. It would negligent of the Eurosceptics not to do so.

 

When asked about the future of UKIP he said it was “unsalvageable” so he would need a different “vehicle”.

8.33am update: Johnson set for major Brexit speech

Boris Johnson preparing to deliver a speech saying it time to “use Brexit to unite the country”.

The former foreign secretary’s pointed intervention comes as Theresa May scrambles to try and get the Brexit agenda back on track after her deal was rejected by MPs.

His speech is likely to be seen as his latest manoeuvre for the Tory leadership.

Mr Johnson is the latest possible future contender for the Tory leadership to set out a wide-ranging speech for the future after the UK leaves the EU following an address by Eurosceptic Dominic Raab on Monday.

Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson is set to deliver a major speech (Image: PA)

7.59am update: Big rise in number of drugs in short supply

There has been a big rise in the number of drugs on a “shortage of supply” list for England, figures show.

There are 80 medicines in such short supply that the Department of Health and Social Care has agreed to pay a premium for them, according to data analysed by the BBC. The figure is up from 45 in October.

Pharmacists said they were struggling to obtain some common medicines and are paying higher prices as a result.

While some experts said uncertainty over Brexit was making the situation worse, others said this was not the case.

Other reasons for the shortage may include increased global demand, cost of raw materials, new regulatory requirements driving up costs and fluctuations in exchange rates.

Another explanation is that the NHS has driven down the prices it will pay for drugs, which makes the UK less attractive to manufacturers.

Gareth Jones, from the National Pharmacy Association, told the BBC: “Uncertainty over Brexit appears to be a significant factor.”

Martin Sawer, executive director of the Healthcare Distribution Association, said people might be stockpiling medicines.

He said: ”Some businesses could be speculating on Brexit. That’s the nature of the market.”

Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer

CDU leader Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer is among the prominent Germans urging Britain to stay (Image: EPA)

7.30am update: Germans urge Britain to stick with EU

Britain has been urged to stay in the European Union by Angela Merkel’s likely successor and a string of high-profile Germans.

Christian Democratic Union (CDU) leader Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, Airbus boss Tom Enders and former Germany footballer Jens Lehmann are among the signatories of a letter to The Times that makes an impassioned plea for Britons to remain part of the bloc.

The letter cites milky tea and post-work pints at the pub among the British habits best-loved by German Anglophiles but it is the UK’s role in post-war Europe that the signatories highlight as a foremost reason for wanting Britain to stay.

They wrote: “From the bottom of our hearts, we want them to stay.

”Without your great nation, this Continent would not be what it is today: a community defined by freedom and prosperity.

“After the horrors of the Second World War, Britain did not give up on us. It has welcomed Germany back as a sovereign nation and a European power.

“This we, as Germans, have not forgotten and we are grateful.”

Source: Express

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