By On April 19, 2018

Brexit divorce bill will surpass £39bn, warns Whitehall watchdog

Brexit Brexit divorce bill will surpass £39bn, warns Whitehall watchdog

Extra £3bn budget payout and $2.9bn overseas aid fund will raise May’s estimate says NAO

The chancellor Philip Hammond, this week at a banquet for Commonwealth heads. He faces questions over the National Audit Office report on the inflated Brexit bill.
The chancellor Philip Hammond, this week at a banquet for Commonwealth heads. He faces questions over the National Audit Office report on the inflated Brexit bill. Photograph: Nils Jorgensen/Rex/Shutterstock

The cost of the Brexit divorce bill for the UK could be billions high er than the £35bn-£39bn figure put forward by Theresa May, a report by Whitehall’s spending watchdog suggested.

The National Audit Office (NAO) has warned that the UK could pay an extra £3bn more in budget contributions as well as an additional £2.9bn to the European Development Fund.

Auditors have concluded that the Treasury’s estimate includes £7.2bn of receipts which will go directly to the private sector and not to the government’s accounts.

Government loses two House of Lords votes on EU withdrawal bill â€" as it happened Read more

The findings will anger Eurosceptic Tory MPs who have previously questioned whether the government should pay the lower estimate of £35bn.

Philip Hammond, the chancellor, will be questioned about the NAO’s conclusions next Wednesday when he appears before the Treasury committee.

Responding to the report, Meg Hillier, the Labour chair of the public accounts committee, said there c ould well be an increase in the overall costs. “Whereas the promises made by some Brexiters of the bounty that our public services would receive post-Brexit are likely to be downgraded, I fear the cost of the UK leaving the EU could increase further.”

May told parliament in December that the bill would be between £35bn and £39bn, a fee jointly agreed in a meeting between the Treasury and the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier.

Auditors found that the total amount that the UK would contribute to the EU annual budgets in 2019 and 2020 would be calculated on the basis of the UK’s economic outlook, which would also partly determine Britain’s share of outstanding commitments and liabilities after 2020.

Meg Hillier, chair of the public accounts committee Facebook Twitter Pinterest
Meg Hillier, the chair of the public accounts committee, says a ‘supposed bounty’ for public services post-Brexit may be downgraded. Photograph: PA

Britain’s exit settlement could not be defined until there was more certainty in areas such as the economy’s performance in 2019 and 2020, auditors said.

Costs still to be worked out include those relating to pension liabilities, the amount British organisations will receive in EU funding after withdrawal and exchange rate fluctuations because the divorce bill will be paid in euros, according to the study.

“Relatively small changes to some assumptions about future events could push the cost outside of HM Treasury’s £35bn to £39bn range,” the report says.

Due to EU financial rules, the UK could have to pay up to £3bn more in budget contributions than Treasury estimates after forma l withdrawal in March 2019. The UK might have to pay towards other costs, which are not in the government estimates, such as potential liabilities that could depend on future events.

The UK will also pay £2.9bn to the European Development Fund for overseas aid, which is not featured in the exit settlement estimate because the fund was not established under EU treaties.

Brexit uncertainty is jeopardising public finances, watchdog warns Read more

Britain’s contribution to the EU pension scheme might last until 2064 unless the government decides to pay off its commitments earlier in a lump sum, which would present “risks and opportunities to the total value the UK may be liable to pay”.

The NAO states: “The terms of the settlement, which mark 31 December 2020 as a key date for determining the UK’s share of liabilities, mean the EU commission could skew future decisions and impact the total value the UK will have to pay back.”

Britain is seeking a transition period between officially exiting the EU in March 2019 and the end of 2020.

The government is dependent on information it receives from the EU to calculate the final settlement, but can appoint auditors to review such figures, according to the NAO. The government should consider “how it will update parliament with revised estimates as new information becomes available”, it said.

Sir Amyas Morse, the head of the NAO, said the £35bn-£39bn estimate was “reasonable” but could have been wider to reflect the many “moving parts”. He added: “As the vote on the draft withdrawal agreement approaches, we expect that government will provide a substantial amount of material for parliament to consider.”

Nicky Morgan, the chair of the Treasury select committee, said the costs would be examined further when Hammond and Morse gave evidence on Wednesday and Tuesday respectively.

She said: “[The NAO] has judge d that the government’s estimate of the UK’s withdrawal payment to the EU is ‘reasonable’, but it appears to be shrouded in uncertainty.

“As the report states, the Treasury didn’t incorporate some of the main uncertainties â€" of which it was aware â€" in its figure. For example, the settlement estimate doesn’t include the UK’s commitments to the European Development Fund, which the Treasury expects will cost £2.9bn after the UK leaves the EU.”

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By On April 19, 2018

It's not just the Windrush generation terrorised by Theresa May's 'Go Home' climate

This week, as inside Parliament the Prime Minister desperately tried to damp down the Windrush scandal, a group of young British migrants stood outside.

They had come in solidarity â€" because they too “know what it’s like to suddenly have your Britishness called into question and be made to feel unwelcome in the country you grew up in.”

Like many of the ‘Windrush ­Children’ who came over on their parents’ passports, Chrisann Jarrett, 23, and Dami Makinde, 24, are British “in all but paperwork”, having come to the UK as young kids.

And like the migrant generation before them, they each face daily struggles with the “hostile environment” Theresa May boasted of creating in 2013 when she was Home Secretary.

Despite growing up in the UK, they are trapped in an intimidating, expensive, bureaucratic nightmare because of May’s ag gressive ‘Go Home’ climate.

This week, I also spoke to Ahmed Refaat, a 59-year-old chauffeur and delivery driver who settled in the UK in 1981 after leaving Egypt in his early twenties to study here.

Ahmed Refaat was given Indefinite Leave to Remain when he arrived in the country but was sacked when his employer did a ‘right to work’ check

He made a life in the UK, and has a British daughter who is at university. Like Chrisann and Dami, he is not of the ‘Windrush generation’ and yet his story runs parallel.

Ahmed was given Indefinite Leave to Remain when he arrived in the country all those years ago, but was sacked when his employer did a ‘right to work’ check after he recently changed jobs.

While he fought his corner with the Home Office, his daughter had to use her student loan to pay their rent and Ahmed stopped sleeping, fearing he would be deported.

“It was so depressing and so f rightening,” he told me. “This is my home, I am only a stranger in Egypt now.”

These stories matter because the Government has been trying desperately to make the Windrush scandal look like a nasty accident.

It isn’t. It’s a direct result of the aggressive turn Theresa May took on immigration between 2010 and 2016.

It’s no ­coincidence that she made her “hostile environment” speech in 2013 just as UKIP surged in the polls, at that time sucking up Tory votes.

As Labour MP David Lammy, a child of the Windrush generation who became their voice in Parliament this week, told me: “These aren’t isolated cases. This is not a glitch in the system â€" this is the system.”

Labour MP David Lammy became the voice of the Windrush generation in Parliament this week

As he warned Theresa May in Parliament: “If you lay down with dogs you will get fleas.”

Ahmed says he was “completely shocked” when he was sacked from his job. “It’s not just the Windrush families,” he says.

“I have always worked since I came to the UK, as a chauffeur, as delivery driver. Then, after nearly 40 years, I was told I wasn’t British and no one could employ me.

“When I had to borrow from my daughter, I felt I had failed as a father. I thought I would have to go back to a country I no longer know. It has had a very deep effect on me.”

He was only able to resolve his immigration status with the help of the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants.

Chrisann, who came from Jamaica at the age of eight, and Dami, who came from Nigeria at the same age, are part of a campaign called Let Us Learn, which they co-founded after learning the UK sees them as foreign students because they were not born here.

The group includes aspiring lawyers, doctors, scientists, even astronauts. They say that, despite having grown up in the UK, they are being pu t at risk of becoming ‘illegal’ because of the ­extortionate cost of the 60-page Home Office applications they have to make every 30 months.

Since 2014, the fees have increased by 238% to £2,033 â€" including a compulsory “NHS surcharge” even though they pay taxes here.

Protest over rising Home Office fees
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Chrisann fought through the system to graduate in law from LSE via a scholarship. “I plan to become a lawyer and bring about social change.

“However, everything is being put at risk because I cannot save enough to meet the regular Home Office fees and others I have to pay.”

At the same time, the Government has also been c reating an increasingly ‘hostile environment’ in other ways, Dami says.

As well as being denied NHS treatment, “penalties if our immigration status lapses include being unable to work, or obtain a driving licence, open a bank account or rent a flat” and ultimately deportation.

It is with terrible irony that today, as May’s thuggish immigration plans unravel, marks the exact 50th anniversary of the day on which Enoch Powell gave his Rivers of Blood speech.

But 2018 also marks the ­anniversary of a lesser-known speech by Powell made that November at the London Rotary Club in Eastbourne, 20 years after the arrival of HMT Windrush.

In it, he called for “the resettlement of a substantial proportion of the Commonwealth immigrants in Britain… preferably under a special Ministry of Repatriation”.

Seventy years on, it seems Theresa May, the PM who once promised to correct “burning injustices”, has gone some way to achieving his dream.Source: Google News


By On April 19, 2018

Scientists warn of nerve agent potency as Salisbury clean-up begins

Sergei Skripal Scientists warn of nerve agent potency as Salisbury clean-up begins

Decontamination plans revealed six weeks after attack using novichok on Sergei and Yulia Skripal

Sign and police officer in Salisbury
A sign near a cordon erected after the attack on the Skripals in Salisbury. Photograph: Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images

The residue of the nerve agent used in the attempted murder of the Skripals in Salisbury could still be as potent as it was when it was deployed more than six weeks ago, government scientists believe.

Experts responsible for the decontamination effort in the ca thedral city said there could still be “hotspots” yet to be discovered where the novichok agent remains in high concentrations.

The revelations were made at a public meeting held in Salisbury as new barriers were put in place around key sites connected to the attack on the former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, signalling the start of the lengthy clean-up process. Almost 200 military personnel in protective suits and boots will spend months decontaminating nine sites.

Officials from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) came under fire during the meeting from some members of the public who suggested that the decontamination process was going to take too long.

Ian Boyd, the chief scientific adviser at Defra, told one critic: “You are underplaying the toxicity of this chemical. You’re also underplaying how the chemical has been spread.”

He compared the spread of the chemical to ink. “You dip your f inger in ink and if that ink doesn’t dry and you go through your normal daily activities, you will find that ink in a lot of different places.

“Ink is okay â€" you can see it. We’re dealing with a chemical that you cannot see. When you put that into a system of trying to make sure you decontaminate 100% from every site, you have to be very, very careful. It does not degrade as fast as you think it does. The chemical does not degrade quickly. You can assume that it is not much different now from the day it was distributed.

“This chemical can degrade in the environment but, under [some] situations, it will degrade much more slowly. We have to make the assumption that, in certain circumstances, there will be relatively high concentrations, probably at very specific locations which could be at levels that are toxic to individuals. We do know there are hotspots like that. We have to make the assumption that there are still hotspots to find.”

He emphasised that the hotspots would be within locations already known about and under guard â€" such as the park where the Skripals fell ill and the pub and restaurant where they ate and drank beforehand.

Explaining the decontamination process, he said sites would be tested and contaminated items removed. Cleaning would then take place and the sites would be retested. A committee of experts would ultimately say whether the sites were clear. Bespoke plans had been put together for each site. “The deeper you look into this, the more complicated it is,” Boyd said.

Tracy Daszkiewicz, Wiltshire council’s director of public health, said no further cases of illness had been reported since the beginning of March, when the attack took place.

Police and council officials will move out of offices at Bourne Hill in the city on Friday for eight weeks so that they can be decontaminated and deep-cleaned. A police property store where evidence was taken to shortly after the attack a lso needs decontamination, along with ambulance stations at Salisbury and Amesbury and the home of DS Nick Bailey, the officer who fell ill after responding to the attack.

Attention will then focus on the Maltings park where the Skripals fell ill, and the Mill pub and Zizzi restaurant, which the Skripals visited before they were found.

Investigative rather than clean-up work is to continue to take place at Skripal’s home on the outskirts of Salisbury for some weeks before the clean-up can begin there.

Earlier this week, Defra said the nerve agent used in the attack was delivered in liquid form. Police had previously said they believed that the pair had been poisoned at the front door of Skripal’s home. Specialists found the highest concentration of the nerve agent on the door.

Last week, previously classified intelligence about the attack claimed that Russia had tested whether door handles could be used to deliver nerve agents.

    Sergei Skripal
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By On April 19, 2018

Theresa May's Brexit divorce bill could cost billions more than her estimate, warn auditors

The “divorce bill” Theresa May has agreed to pay as part of the Brexit deal could cost billions more than her £39bn estimate, auditors warn today.

Even “relatively small changes” to government assumptions â€" on economic performance, ongoing payments into EU schemes or the exchange rate â€" would throw out the calculation, their report says.

The government has also deliberately excluded a £2.9bn commitment to continue paying foreign aid through the EU’s European Development Fund (EDF), the National Audit Office (NAO) points out.

“Relatively small changes to some assumptions about future events could push the cost outside of HM Treasury’s £35bn to £39bn range,” the report states.

The chairwoman of the Commons Public Accounts Committee seized on the conclusions to demand ministers “be clear with the British pub lic what we are paying for and why”.

“I fear the cost of the UK leaving the EU could increase further,” the Labour MP Meg Hillier said. “Our children and grandchildren risk being saddled with paying off this bill for decades to come.

  • Read more

Brexit: Tory and Labour MPs team up to push through customs union vote

“As negotiations continue and the real costs of the divorce bill come to light, the government must be clear with the British public what we are paying for and why. If not taxpayers will feel we are being sold a raw deal.”

The watchdog also called on the government to consider “how it will update Parliament with revised estimates as new information becomes available”.

Head of the NAO, Sir Amyas Morse, said: “The estimate reflects a number of movin g parts, so the range of costs in it could have been wider than £35bn to £39bn. But overall we think it is a reasonable estimate.

“As the vote on the draft withdrawal agreement approaches we expect that government will provide a substantial amount of material for parliament to consider.”

UK news in pictures

  • 50 show all

UK news in pictures

  • 1/50 19 April 2018

    A young boy cools off in the fountains in Piccadilly Gardens in Manchester

  • 2/50 18 April 2018

    Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau takes a selfie with Mayor of London Sadiq Khan and New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern at City Hall in London, during the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting. They discussed gender equality and issues affecting young people with London school children.

  • 3/50 17 April 2018

    Prime Minister Theresa May hosts a meeting with leaders and representatives of Caribbean countries, at 10 Downing Street on the sidelines of the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting.

  • 4/50 16 April 2018

    Aneira Thomas, the first baby to be born on the NHS, addresses the Unison Health Conference at the Brighton Centre

  • 5/50 15 April 2018

    Sir Patrick Stewart addresses the crowd during the People's Vote campaign launch on Brexit at the Electric Ballroom in Camden Town.

  • 6/50 14 April 2018

    Prime Minister Theresa May gives a press conference at Downing Street following British military action, alongside US and France, against Syria. British jets fired missiles at a Syrian military base suspected of holding chemical weapons ingredients.

  • 7/50 13 April 2018

    England's Katarina Johnson-Thompson celebrates after winning the heptathlon with compatriot and bronze medal winner Niamh Emerson during the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast in Australia.

  • 8/50 12 April 2018

    Quaker Alan Pinch makes tea for passers-by as he holds a protest in Manchester against UK military intervention in Syria

  • 9/50 11 April 2018

    A man pulls the flowers down from a fence opposite the house of Richard Osborn-Brooks in South Park Crescent in Hither Green, London. The shrine has become an unlikely flashpoint of tensions between the grieving family and his neighbours since last week's incident where burglar Henry Vincent was killed by Richard Osborn-Brooks at his house.

  • 10/50 10 April 2018

    Jonathan Powell, Lord John Alderdice, Lord David Trimble, Sir Reg Empey, Lord Paul Murphy of Torfaen and (front row left to right) Professor Monica McWilliams, Seamus Mallon, former taoiseach Bertie Ahern, Senator George Mitchell and Gerry Adams, at an event to mark the 20th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement, at Queen's University in Belfast.

  • 11/50 9 April 2018

    The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan and Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn gesture during the launch of Labour's local election campaign in central London.

  • 12/50 8 April 2018

    Hungarians queue to vote in their country's general election, in central London.

  • 13/50 7 April 2018

    Orthodox Jews show support for a protest outside Downing Street in London, after at least nine Palestinians were shot and killed by the Israeli army at the Gaza-Israel border.

  • 14/50 6 April 2018

    Ch arlie Tanfield of England celebrates winning gold in Men's 4000m Individual Pursuit Finals, alongside Scottish silver medalist John Archibald and New Zealand's Dylan Kennett with the bronze at the XXI Commonwealth Games in Australia.

  • 15/50 5 April 2018

    Tributes for Ray Wilkins outside Stamford Bridge. The former Chelsea and England midfielder, who won 84 caps for his country, died in hospital on Wednesday morning following a cardiac arrest last Friday.

  • 16/50 4 April 2018

    Alistair Brownlee, flag bearer of England, arrives with the team during the Opening Ceremony for the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games at Carr ara Stadium.

  • 17/50 3 April 2018

    Police at the scene where a 16-year-old boy was shot on Monday evening and left in a critical condition in Markhouse Road in Walthamstow, east London.

  • 18/50 2 April 2018

    Roads are cleared in Nenthead, Cumbria, as five weather warnings are in place as heavy rain and snow affect swathes of the country on Easter Monday.

  • 19/50 1 April 2018

    Former Spitfire pilot Squadron Leader Allan Scott, 96, prepares to fly as a passenger in a Spitfire watched by Mary Ellis, 101, the oldest surviving member of the Air Transport Auxillary wing who flew over 400 Spitfires during the Second World War, as part of the RAF100 commemorations at Biggin Hill Airport..

  • 20/50 31 March 2018

    The cortege arrives at Great St Marys Church, where the funeral of theoretical physicist Professor Stephen Hawking is being held, in Cambridge.

  • 21/50 30 March 2018

    A wooden cross is carried up Roundhill in Bath, Wiltshire, where several Christian Church congregations take part in the Walk of Witness to imitate the journey that Jesus took carrying his cross through the s treets of Jerusalem on Good Friday.

  • 22/50 29 March 2018

    Prime Minister Theresa May meets a local parents and toddler group at St Andrew's Heddon-on-the-Wall, CofE Primary School during a tour of the UK timed to coincide with one year to go until Britain leaves the European Union. May is on a tour with a promise to keep the country "strong and united" one year before Brexit.

  • 23/50 28 March 2018

    Catalan independence supporters protest outside Edinburgh Sherriff Court where Clara Ponsati is appearing. The pro-independence Catalan politician handed herself to Scottish Police as she is being sought by the Spani sh government, who have accused her of violent rebellion and misappropriation of public funds.

  • 24/50 27 March 2018

    Jacob Rees-Mogg speaks about Brexit at a Leave Means Leave event at Carlton House Terrace, London.

  • 25/50 26 March 2018

    The coffin of Kenneth White, an RAF veteran who died with no known family, is carried into Cambridge City Crematorium ahead of his funeral. A Facebook appeal was launched for people to attend the funeral of Mr White, who died at the age of 84. Over 100 strangers turned up to his funeral.

  • 26/50 25 March 2018

    The Unveiling of Project 84, to represent the 84 men who commit suicide per week in Britain, eighty-four individual sculptures are placed on roofs, 12 of the sculptures are positioned on the roof of the This Morning Studio and the remaining 72 are standing on the roof of the ITV Studios Tower.

  • 27/50 24 March 2018

    Cambridge men and women celebrate together after their double victory over Oxford in the 2018 boat race.

  • 28/50 23 March 2018

    Michel Barnier kisses Theresa May's hand as they arrive at the EU Summit in Brussels.< /p>

  • 29/50 22 March 2018

    Emergency services workers lay flowers and pay their respects at Parliament Square in Westminster on the anniversary of the Westminster Bridge attack in London.

  • 30/50 21 March 2018

    The Fishing for Leave boat passes the Houses of Parliament on the River Thames, during a protest where fish were discarded into the Thames.

  • 31/50 20 March 2018

    Houses sit on the cliff edge on The Marrams in Hemsby, as thirteen homes on the sand y cliffs have been evacuated amid fears they could topple into the sea, with further high tides and strong winds forecast. The residents of the properties in Norfolk were forced to leave over the weekend, Great Yarmouth Borough Council said.

  • 32/50 19 March 2018

    Activists show their support outside of Chelmsford Crown Court for the ‘Stansted 15’, a group prosecuted under terrorism-related charges after blocking a mass deportation charter flight in April 2017

  • 33/50 18 March 2018

    Sadiq Khan, Imelda Staunton, Gloria Hunniford at the annual Saint Patrick's Day parade in London.

  • 34/50 17 March 2018

    Fans make their way through a snow shower to Molineux Stadium ahead of the Sky Bet Championship match between Wolverhampton Wanderers and Burton Albion. Amber warnings for snow and ice have been issued by the Met Office ahead of a cold snap dubbed the "mini beast from the east".

  • 35/50 16 March 2018

    Britain's Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and the Polish Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz visit a Battle of Britain bunker at RAF Northolt in Uxbridge.

  • 36/50 15 March 2018

    Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May talks with Wiltshire Police's Chief Constable Kier Pritchard as she is shown the police tent covering the bench in Salisbury, where former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were discovered on March 4, following an apparent nerve agent attack. Britain expelled 23 Russian diplomats over the nerve agent poisoning and suspended high-level contacts, including for the World Cup on March 14. Theresa May told parliament that Russia had failed to respond to her demand for an explanation on how a Soviet-designed chemical, Novichok, was used in Salisbury.

  • 37/50 14 March 2018

    A man prepares to lay flowers outside Gonville and Caius College, at Cambridge University following the death of British physicist, Stephen Hawki ng, who was a fellow of the University for over 50 years. The flag over the college flew at half-mast as students and academics came to pay tribute after his death.

  • 38/50 13 March 2018

    The crowd looks on during Cheltenham Festival Champion Day.

  • 39/50 12 March 2018

    A police officer on duty near a protective tent which covers the bench where a man and woman were apparently poisoned with what was later identified as a nerve agent, in Salisbury.

  • 40/50 11 March 2018

    Protesters against the Turkish war on Syrian Kurds in Afrin block the tracks at Manchester Piccadilly station bringing rail services in and out of the terminal to a halt.

  • 41/50 10 March 2018

    Royal Air Force Police dog Tornado leaps through a set of hoops on day three of the Crufts dog show at the NEC Arena in Birmingham.

  • 42/50 9 March 2018

    Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, with Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard, during a visit to Abertay University in Dundee, prior to his address to delegates at the Scottish Labour Party Conference in the city's Caird Hall.

  • 43/50 8 March 2018

    Britain's Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson sits with Year 1 pupils during a visit to St Leonard's Church of England Primary Academy in Hastings.

  • 44/50 7 March 2018

    Electronic billboards show adverts for Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman with the hashtag ‘#ANewSaudiArabia’ in London.

  • 45/50 6 March 2018

    A police officer stands guard outside a branch of the Italian chain restaurant Zizzi close to The Maltings shopping centre in Salisbury, which was closed in connection to the ongoing major incident sparked after a man and a woman were found critically ill on a bench at the shopping centre on 4 March.

  • 46/50 5 March 2018

    Gary Oldman, winner of the Best Actor award for 'Darkest Hour,' poses with his award in the press room during the 90th Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood & Highland Center.

  • 47/50 4 March 2018

    Great Britain's Andrew Pozzi celebrates winning the men's 60m hurdles final as Aries Merritt of United States looks dejected during the IAAF World Indoor Championships at Arena Birmingham.

  • 48/50 3 March 2018

    People playing with their sledges in Greenwich Park, east London, as the cold weather continues around the country.

  • 49/50 2 March 2018

    Theresa May delivers a speech about her vision for Brexit at Mansion House.

  • 50/50 1 March 2018

    'The Couple', a sculpture by Sean Henry, braves the snow in Newbiggin-By-The-Sea in Northumberland, as storm Emma, rolling in from the Atlantic, looks poised to meet the Beast from the East's chilly Russian air.

Nicky Morgan, chair of the influential Treasury Committee in the Commons and senior Conservative MP, said that while the NAO had judged the government’s withdrawal estimate as reasonable, “it appears to be shrouded in uncertainty”.

“As the report states, the Treasury didn’t incorporate some of the main uncertainties â€" of which it was aware â€" in its figure. For example, the settlement estimate doesn’t include the UK’s commitments to the European Development Fund, which the Treasury expects will cost £2.9bn after the UK leaves the EU,” she added.

In the report, the auditors add that Britain could be paying for the exit settlement until at least 2064 when EU pension liabilities are taken into consideration.

The Treasury has previously estimated that the UK will settle around 60 per cent of settlement payments by the end of 2021 but may be making some payments for seve ral decades.

Among several uncertainties found in the Treasury’s estimate, the auditors also point out that the terms of the settlement, which mark the end of transition period in December 2020 as a key date for determining the UK’s share of liabilities, mean “the EU Commission could skew decisions and impact the total value” Britain will have to pay back.

A government spokesman said: “We have always been clear that we will honour commitments made while being part of the EU, and we have negotiated a settlement that is fair to UK taxpayers and means we will not pay for any additional EU spending beyond what we signed up to as a member.

“The NAO has confirmed that our estimated figure is a reasonable calculation and we are now discussing our future relationship.”

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By On April 19, 2018

Chairman quits scandal-hit Save the Children

Charities Chairman quits scandal-hit Save the Children

Sir Alan Parker leaves post early, saying there is an urgent need to rebuild trust in the charity

Alan Parker
Save the Children is facing formal investigation over staff misconduct. Photograph: Stephen Lovekin/Rex/Shutterstock

Sir Alan Parker has resigned as Save the Children’s international chairman amid what he described as the “complex mix of challenges” facing the charity sector.

His 10-year term had been due to end in December but the charity, which is facing formal investigation over staff misconduct, said Parker “felt it right at this moment t o bring forward his succession”.

The children’s charity has been engulfed in allegations that it failed to investigate sexual abuse and inappropriate behaviour by staff, which came out in the wake of the scandal involving Oxfam workers in Haiti.

It emerged earlier this year that Justin Forsyth, its former chief executive, and Brendan Cox, the former policy director and widower of the MP Jo Cox, left the charity in 2015 following allegations of misconduct.

Staff had been calling for Parker’s resignation since the failings emerged. A 2015 report leaked to the BBC suggested that Parker’s “very close” relationship with Forsyth may have affected how he responded to complaints.

Parker, who has also quit the boards of the Save the Children Association and Save the Children International, acknowledged there was a an “urgent and pressing” need to rebuild trust.

In his resignation letter, he told colleagues: “Given the complex mix o f challenges the organisation and the sector is facing, it is my view that a change is needed. I have therefore taken the decision to step down as chair and will do everything I can to support a smooth succession.”

Addressing the allegations, he said: “In Save the Children UK we dealt with some unacceptable workplace behaviour, involving harassment, in our head office in Farringdon in 2012 and 2015. The process around Brendan Cox involved a disciplinary panel, including trustees and an independent QC. The processes around Justin Forsyth were handled by HR and senior trustees, and were reviewed by an independent law firm.”

He said he would work to assist “in any way I can” with a further review of the issues which is being undertaken by the Charity Commission. “There is an urgent and pressing need to rebuild trust and confidence. If we do not, some of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable children will suffer,” he said.

Pernille Lopez, speaking on behalf of the charity’s board, thanked him for the “immense” contribution he made.

Save the Children (@save_children)

A statement from @save_children

April 19, 2018

She said: “Under his leadership, we have grown and modernised our organisation, and are now better able to support children living in terrible situations around the world. His vision and commitment will be missed.”

Helle Thorning-Schmidt, the chief executive of Save the Children International, said the organisation was “deeply grateful for the time and dedication” he invested in the cause.

She said: “As a trustee and now as chair, Alan has worked tirelessly to help us grow to an organisation that works in over 120 countries to reach 50 million children every year. Building on this strong foundation, we will contin ue to fight for a world where every last child can survive, learn and be protected.”

  • Charities
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  • Voluntary sector
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By On April 19, 2018

More hot weather forecast for Friday as April sizzles

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More hot weather forecast for Friday as April sizzles

Sunday’s London Marathon is set to be the hottest on record.

Britons basked in sunshine on the hottest April day for 69 years (Andrew Matthews/PA)
Britons basked in sunshine on the hottest April day for 69 years (Andrew Matthews/PA)

Britons are set for another scorcher as April’s summer-like weather promises a balmy beginning to the weekend.

Thursday was the hottest April day for nearly 70 years, with the mercury soaring to 29.1C (84F) in St James’ P ark in London.

Friday’s highs are likely to be around 28C (82F) in the South East, the Met Office said, with most parts enjoying warmer conditions than normal for the time of year.

“It’s going to be pretty hot again tomorrow, with a lot of sunshine around,” said meteorologist Alex Burkill.

“We will see highs of 26C, 27C and maybe 28C in the London area. Low 20s are likely for much of England and Wales, while Northern Ireland and eastern Scotland will see temperatures in the high teens.”

All four home nations enjoyed their hottest day of the year so far, with everywhere seeing a high of at least 20C (68F) on Thursday.

The hot weather, which is a result of warm air moving up from the Azores in the south, is set to last into the weekend.

The London Marathon is forecast to be the hottest yet, with a high of 23C (73F) possible, beating the 1996 record of 22.7C (72.9F).

London saw a high of 29.1C on Thursday (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

Mr Burkill said: “It’s going to be very hot and humid, and very close to, if not breaking the record.”

Race organisers have announced they will add more water, ice and shower stations along the 26.2-mile route.

Conditions may be especially difficult for fancy-dress runners, including the almost 100 attempting Guinness World Records dressed in outfits like a suit of armour, a Paddington Bear costume and ski boots.

Regular runners are being advised to consider dropping their goal times and to run more slowly.

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By On April 19, 2018

Men Arrested At Philadelphia Starbucks Speak Out; Police Commissioner Apologizes

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Rashon Nelson (left) and Donte Robinson say they hope their arrest at a Philadelphia Starbucks one week ago helps elicit change and doesn't happen to anyone else. A video of their arrest, viewed 11 million times, has sparked outrage and protest. Jacqueline Larma/AP hide caption

toggle caption Jacqueline Larma/AP

Rashon Nelson (left) and Donte Robinson say they hope their arrest at a Philadelphia Starbucks one week ago helps elicit change and doesn't happen to anyone else. A video of their arrest, viewed 11 million times, has sparked outrage and protest.

Jacqueline Larma/AP

What began as an opportunity to talk real estate at a Philadelphia coffee shop and ended in the arrest of two black men has launched a week of outraged protest, accusations of racial discrimination and vows from Starbucks to do better. And now those men are speaking out for the first time about what it has all meant to them.

Donte Robinson and Rashon Nelson â€" the 23-year-olds at the center of it all â€" say they just hope the incident will lead to change.

Also Thursday, the Philadelphia police commissioner changed course, joining Starbucks in taking at least partial responsibility for what happened.

Richard Ross struck a conciliatory note at a news conference, saying, "I fully acknowledge that I played a sign ificant role in making [the incident] worse."

Last weekend, Ross had said in a video statement that "these officers did absolutely nothing wrong" and that they were legally obligated to respond to Starbucks' report that the men were trespassing. But on Thursday, he said, "I should have said the officers acted within the scope of the law, and not that they didn't do anything wrong."

When he saw police entering the Starbucks last Thursday, Robinson told ABC's Good Morning America, it did not register that he and his companion might be the ones in trouble.

@Starbucks The police were called because these men hadn’t ordered anything. They were waiting for a friend to show up, who did as they were taken out in handcuffs for doing nothing. All the other white ppl are wondering why it’s never happened to us when we do the same thing.

â€" Mel issa DePino (@missydepino) April 12, 2018

"They can't be here for us," he said he was thinking as he and Nelson awaited a third man for a scheduled meeting.

Nelson said that he had asked to use the restroom and that an employee informed him it was for paying customers only.

"And I just left it at that."

But the manager didn't.

A police report states the men cursed at the manager after she told them bathrooms are for customers only.

She called 911 to report that the men were not making a purchase and were refusing to leave.

It reportedly took just two minutes from their arrival to her call for help.

Last weekend, Ross said officers had asked the men "politely to leave" three times because Starbucks said they were trespassing. After the men refused, Ross said, the police made the arrest.

"It didn't really hit me what was going on â€" that it was real â€" until I'm being double-locked and my hands [are] behind my back," Robinson told ABC News.

In a separate interview with The Associated Press, Nelson said that he was worried about the situation spinning out of control and that he might possibly die.

"Anytime I'm encountered by cops, I can honestly say it's a thought that runs through my mind," Nelson said. "You never know what's going to happen."

The AP reports that the men â€" who have been best friends since the fourth grade â€" had never been arrested before. And Robinson said he had been a customer at the Rittenhouse Square Starbucks since he was 15.

The men spent several hours in custody before being released.

Starbucks declined to press charges.

ABC's Robin Roberts asked the men how they would respond to those who say they violated Starbucks policy by not buying anything.

"I understand that â€" rules are rules," Robinson said. "But what's right is right and what's wrong is wrong."

Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson â€" who met with the men on Monday â€" says the company was in the wrong.

"Our practices and training led to a bad outcome â€" the basis for the call to the Philadelphia police department was wrong," Johnson said in a statement Saturday.

Ross, the police commissioner, outlined the confusion over just what those practices are or whether an official company policy about making a purchase exists or is known.

"While this is apparently a well-known fact with Starbucks customers, not everyone is aware that people spend long hours in Starbucks and aren't necessarily expected to make a purchase," he said, adding that he apologizes to Nelson and Robinson.

Ross said that he had initially misunderstood that business mod el and that it is "reasonable to believe" the arresting officers did not know about it either.

A Starbucks spokesperson told The Washington Post, "In this particular store, the guidelines were that partners must ask unpaying customers to leave the store, and police were to be called if they refused."

But for its part, Starbucks has been focusing its messaging on racial bias rather than on store policy.

Starbucks says it will close its 8,000-plus stores in the U.S. for the afternoon on May 29 to conduct "racial-bias education geared toward preventing discrimination in our stores."

The men's lawyer, Stewart Cohen, says a retired federal judge is overseeing mediation with Starbucks.

Robinson told ABC News that he hopes the situation can serve as a lesson for "young men to not be traumatized by this and instead [be] motivated, inspired."

Nelson said he wants to "help people understand it's not just a black people thing; it's a people thing."

Ross, who is black, said, "The issue of race in this situation is not lost on me," adding that he shouldn't be the one making it worse.

He said Philadelphia police have now come up with an unspecified new policy "that guides our officers on how to deal with similar situations."

Source: Google News