Throughout Brexit, there have been two apparently fixed points on the EU side of the negotiations. The first was their remarkable cohesion, in the face of a deeply divided British political class, and the second was their solidarity with Dublin.
As this Government’s efforts to negotiate Brexit reach their apparent nadir, it is worth paying attention to the other side of the table and noting that something appears to have shifted this week, at least with regards to the former point.
The apparent willingness of certain EU leaders to go for ‘no deal’, rather than endlessly indulging Parliament with a series of extensions in which it can continue to vote down the Withdrawal Agreement, seems to contradict the Union’s policy of catering to the particular needs of the Republic of Ireland.
Whilst the EU is perfectly willing to roll out the high-minded rhetoric about the vital importance of an invisible border whilst attempting to persuade the UK to adopt the backstop, it seems improbable that they would content to allow unregulated goods to flood into the Single Market through Northern Ireland in the event of no-deal.
Source: Would the EU abandon Varadkar? Perhaps. But it’s not at all likely. | Conservative Home
Jean-Claude Juncker has raised the prospect of an emergency summit of EU leaders next week to decide on a Brexit delay, blaming ongoing chaos in Theresa May’s cabinet.
The European commission president said a letter from May requesting an extension to article 50, delaying the UK’s exit beyond 29 March, had not arrived overnight as expected.
Source: Juncker raises prospect of emergency Brexit summit next week | Politics | The Guardian
Brexit has major implications for health and social care in England. Here we look at some of the latest developments that could impact the health and care system in England.
The deadline of 29 March 2019, set when Article 50 was triggered, is rapidly approaching but many important issues are still to be resolved. Brexit has already had an impact, especially on the recruitment and retention of EU nationals in some parts of the workforce which is contributing to shortages of key staff. In addition, the ongoing debate in parliament and uncertainty about whether a deal can be agreed mean considerable work has gone into preparations for a no-deal Brexit. The Department of Health and Social Care has published guidance for organisations to prepare contingency plans and has established a national operational response centre to lead on responding to any disruption to the delivery of health and care services.
Across NHS trusts there is currently a shortage of more than 100,000 staff (representing 1 in 11 posts), severely affecting some key groups of essential staff, including nurses, many types of doctors, allied health professionals, and care staff. Vacancies in adult social care are rising, currently totally 110,000, with around 1 in 10 social worker and 1 in 11 care worker roles unfilled. International recruitment is a key factor in addressing these vacancies. Brexit and immigration policy will have an impact on the ability of the NHS to successfully fill these vacancies.
The policy of freedom of movement and mutual recognition of professional qualifications within the EU means that many health and social care professionals currently working in the UK have come from other EU countries. This includes nearly 62,000 (5.2 per cent)1 of the English NHS’s 1.2 million workforce and an estimated 104,000 (around 8 per cent)2 of the 1.3 million workers in England’s adult social care sector (NHS Digital 2018; Skills for Care 2018). The proportion of EU workers in both the NHS and the social care sector has grown over time, suggesting that both sectors have become increasingly reliant on EU migrants.
The UK has a greater proportion of doctors who qualified abroad working than in any other European country, except Ireland and Norway. Latest General Medical Council (GMC) data shows that the number of doctors from the European Economic Area (EEA) joining the medical register is holding steady (but still down 40 per cent on 2014 after new language requirements were introduced). A combination of relaxed visa restrictions and active recruitment by trusts means that the number of non-EEA doctors joining the register doubled between 2014 and 2017 (GMC 2018). However, some specialties not currently on the Home Office’s shortage occupation list are still facing difficulties, for example child and adolescent psychiatry.
Source: Brexit: the implications for health and social care- update from The King’s Fund | Care Industry News
If the resignation of Anna Soubry, Sarah Wollaston and Heidi Allen means the Tories are becoming a narrower and less tolerant party, it is a disaster. The Conservatives cannot afford to decline into a sect which drives out all those who are unable to subscribe to whatever its stern, unbending ideology happens to be at any particular moment. It must remain a broad church within which a continuous and never finally settled argument about doctrine can take place. Only then is it able convincingly to offer its services to the nation as a party of government.
Theresa May looks so weak because she has been attempting to hold her party together. She is not herself of a sectarian disposition: an accusation which can more justly be levelled at Jeremy Corbyn. She is a pragmatist, who hopes she can persuade the vast majority of her backbenchers to support a pragmatic Brexit deal, even though it does not conform in every particular to the different and mutually incompatible things they would like in an ideal world to see.
Source: The resignation of three Tory MPs is a dire warning to the party | Andrew Gimson | Opinion | The Guardian
A group of disaffected Labour MPs is preparing to quit the party and form a breakaway movement on the political centre ground amid growing discontent with Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership on Brexit and other key issues including immigration, foreign policy and antisemitism.
The Observer has been told by multiple sources that at least six MPs have been drawing up plans to resign the whip and leave the party soon. There have also been discussions involving senior figures about a potentially far larger group splitting off at some point after Brexit, if Corbyn fails to do everything possible to oppose Theresa May’s plans for taking the UK out of the EU.
On Saturday night, three of the MPs widely rumoured to be involved in the plans for an initial breakaway – Angela Smith, Chris Leslie and Luciana Berger – refused to be drawn into talk of a split, and insisted they were focused on opposing Brexit. But they did not deny that moves could be made by the spring or early summer.
Source: Rebel Labour MPs set to quit party and form centre group | Politics | The Guardian
LONDON — MPs voted to send U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May back to Brussels to renegotiate the Brexit deal she agreed with the EU in November.
A proposal put forward by senior Tory backbencher Graham Brady demanding that the controversial Northern Ireland backstop be replaced by “alternative arrangements” won the backing of 317 MPs with 301 against — a majority of 16.
Downing Street had whipped Tory MPs to support the amendment.
The backstop is a central part of the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement which is designed to prevent the need for the hard border on the island of Ireland. Opening the debate, May told the Commons that she would seek to reopen the agreement and negotiate legally-binding changes.
“What I’m talking about is not a further exchange of letters but a significant and legally binding change to the Withdrawal Agreement,” May said.
French President Emmanuel Macron was the first EU leader to respond to developments in Westminster, saying the Brexit deal cannot be renegotiated.
Speaking in Cyprus, Macron said the Withdrawal Agreement “is the best accord possible. It is not re-negotiable,” the Guardian reported.
Macron said Britain leaving the EU without a deal is a situation that “no one wants, but we should all prepare for.”
Source: MPs send Theresa May back to Brussels to renegotiate Brexit deal – POLITICO
Freedom of movement for EU workers has been front and centre in the Brexit debate. Fear of foreign workers undercutting the wages and working conditions of locals helped to fuel the leave campaign. Now EU nationals – Poles and others – who have called Britain home for years, sometimes decades, face an uncertain future in the UK.
But while attitudes to migrant workers in Brexit Britain are often seen as a case apart, free movement of people evokes hostility in other EU countries too. The belief that foreigners take away jobs from local workers is – and has long been – a textbook example of false information. Research has proved again and again that the belief is ill-founded. Yet to some, it feels true no matter how many studies show that it is not.
Source: Why freedom of movement is causing divisions – across Europe | Ines Wagner | Opinion | The Guardian
Another day, another record. The 230 majority against the motion to approve Theresa May’s withdrawal agreement on the UK’s exit from the EU smashes pretty much any parliamentary record one cares to discover.
That May’s immediate response was to make time for the house to debate and vote on Labour’s motion of no-confidence in her the day after her loss was thus hardly a surprise: how else to respond to such a heavy blow against the central platform and policy of the government?
And yet the abiding impression of these events was of avoiding a resolution, for as long as possible. Most obviously, May did not offer her resignation. That was a reflection not of her principles but rather her analysis of the situation. As she noted in her statement, a lack of majority for her deal doesn’t mean there’s a majority for another course of action. Without that alternative majority, she clearly feels there is still everything to play for and she is the right person for the job.
In essence, what May offered parliament was a “put-up or shut-up” proposition. Should the government win the confidence motion – which looks very likely indeed – she will hold a series of cross-party talks, inviting parliament to bring ideas and suggestions about how to build a majority position. The results will then be put to the EU for negotiation and agreement.
Source: Theresa May Brexit deal hammered in parliament, but be wary of prospects of a new ‘consensus’ approach : The Conversation
They are sick of the whole thing. They just want it to be over. No more uncertainty. Brexiteers want resolution. They will be disappointed. Willing something does not make it so. Aethelred wanted Viking raids to stop. The kingdoms of Wales, Scotland and Ireland wished the Norman and Plantagenet monarchs of England would cease their predatory lunges into their territory. Neville Chamberlain hoped that Hitler would be content with Czechoslovakia. Oliver Letwin wished there was an island we could send all migrants to. The hopes of politicians and rulers are whispers in a gale.
There is no end state in our relations with Europe. There is only millennia of collaboration, conquest, disputes, exchange, competition and alliance.
We live on a small archipelago just off the north-west coast of Europe. We are not a tribe cocooned by towering, razor-sharp mountain ridges in the New Guinea highlands. We are connected. At times, continental armies have marched across the fields of Wiltshire, Wexford and West Lothian. At others, the British have watered their horses in the Seine, Rhine and Danube. The seas around us have facilitated exchange, not prevented it. People, ideas and stuff have crossed the water, mocking the decrees of princes and parliaments.
Source: Brexit is not an end to Britain’s liaison with Europe. It’s just a new beginning | Dan Snow | Opinion | The Guardian
LONDON (Reuters) – Brexit minister Stephen Barclay said on Tuesday Britain’s Article 50 notice to leave the European Union could be not be revoked as a temporary measure.
Earlier this month, the EU’s top court ruled that the British government may reverse its decision to leave the bloc without consulting other member states. Any extension of Article 50, however, would require the agreement of the rest of the EU.
Asked by a lawmaker if there were circumstances in which the government might revoke Article 50 as a de facto extension while it prepared for a no deal Brexit or sought a better deal from the EU, Barclay said: “What the court case was clear (about) is one can’t revoke as a temporary measure.”
Source: UK cannot revoke Article 50 as a temporary measure – Brexit minister | Reuters