Theresa May’s jam-scraping habit revealed – and it’s perfect metaphor for Brexit

Theresa May desperately trying to scrape clean her mouldy Brexit and pretend it’s a sweet treat for all.

Sorry, did we say Brexit ?

Err… we meant breakfast.

The Prime Minister’s jam consumption habits have been revealed, and of course, they’re the perfect metaphor for leaving the EU.

She told her Cabinet she puts the conserve in Conservative by scraping mould off the top of her jam and getting to the good stuff underneath.

No confirmation yet whether this strategy, reported in the Daily Mail, is part of plans to preserve our food stocks after Brexit.

But we’re certain no anecdote could better sum up the grim-faced, ‘keep calm and carry on’ Prime Minister’s style.

She’s still trying to scrape clean the ‘backstop’ from her 585-page Brexit deal, rather than, you know, giving up and getting a new one.

Unlike her jars of preserve, however, there are doubts about how easily she can dress up what’s left as tasty.

The revelation has divided Twitter users – coming, of course, days after it emerged Jeremy Corbyn used to eat cold baked beans straight out of the tin.

Do you scrape the mould off your jam?


Columnist Dawn Foster said: "Please Jeremy Corbyn give Theresa May some of your jam, she’s slathering her toast in mould."

Linda Heap said: "Why doesn’t Theresa May eat the jam before it goes mouldy. Does she have too much jam?"

Phil Harrison said: "Thing is, it takes ages for jam to go mouldy. Which means Theresa May isn’t eating very much jam at all. Which makes her a TRAITOR."

One Twitter user said: "Dear Theresa May, Hi. I will do my bit for the country, I always have. But this here, this is my red line. No, I am not going to eat mouldy jam. No. And I don’t believe you do either."

Another Twitter user posted grimly: "I’m sure today’s "Theresa May says we should eat mouldy jam" news has absolutely no connection whatsoever to yesterday’s "the NHS is stockpiling bodybags" news."

But Oliver Laughdugry tweeted: "Never thought I’d say this, but: bravo Theresa May!

"If people were willing to scrape the mould out of jam there wouldn’t be any need for foodbanks.

"Until, of course, Brexit harms the poor, whom I care about very deeply."

Graeme Rayner wrote: "I work for a jam manufacturer.

"Simple fact is that most fruit jams are naturally acidic, and therefore the mould is likely harmless…. for once I agree with Theresa May. kill me now…."

We asked a spokeswoman for Jeremy Corbyn if the Labour leader – a well-known preserve maker – scrapes the mould off his jam and eats the good stuff underneath.

She has not yet replied.

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Brexit has already been cancelled – and here’s why they’re not telling you

If Brexit were a film, it would be at the point where pages were being ripped off a calendar in a frenzy.

Tick, tock, goes the clock, as we get nearer to the day we were told was either the end of the beginning or beginning of the end. Only trouble is, March 29 is nothing but a plot device.

The fact is, Brexit is off. When the nation finally realises this is a false ending you’re going to be told a load of limp excuses about why you’ve got to sit through a load more of this tripe.

So allow me to explain.

We have had one meaningful vote, which achieved nothing meaningful. Next Monday Theresa May will present us with Plan B, which is exactly the same as Plan A but has had the ‘A’ Tipp-exed out. A second meaningful vote is scheduled for next Tuesday, in which Theresa will probably find she has negotiated her walloping, earlier defeat down to being a slightly-less walloping second defeat.

At this point, there will be fewer than 30 sitting days left for Parliament to pass all the legislation needed to Brexit with Theresa’s deal. They might be able to increase it to 40 or so if they cancel half-term and Fridays.

To Brexit calmly and cleanly on March 29, in those 40 days Parliament must pass 9 Parliamentary bills and amend 600 other bits of legislation.

Now, that’s a squeeze at the best of times. When the legislation involves things which make the whole nation argue furiously without coming to any agreement, it’s going to be near-impossible.

Added to that, passing ANY laws under ANY circumstances in just 40 days – for debates in both the Commons and Lords, committee stages for detailed scrutiny, and several votes – is unwise to say the least.

That’s how mistakes get made. They spent 6 months on the EU Referendum Bill, and cocked it up royally.

Of the 14 new bills required for Brexit – on things like animal welfare, money laundering and haulage – just 5 have been passed since the referendum.

Of the 9 remaining, the one closest to being finished is the Trade Bill – and the House of Lords just voted to shelve it because it lacked detail.

According to the government, this defeat means we are now unable to move to World Trade Organisation rules in the event of a no deal Brexit.

The government has been asked for this extra detail for 15 months, and has failed to come up with any. The chances of it doing so by a new deadline of February 25 are roughly the same as Ant McPartlin getting a safe driving award.

All the other bills are stuck in the digestive system of a Parliament still arguing about the principle of leaving. But there’s an even worse issue in the shape of 12,000 EU regulations.

The government is transferring the vast majority of them straight into UK law, but some need to be tweaked using a statutory instrument. At first there was going to be about 1,000 of them, then 800, and finally last October it was decided we could get away with just changing 600 existing rules.

The government has submitted 333 of them so far. In other words, 75% of the time available for the task has elapsed, but only 56% of the work has been done.

There’s a further problem. Last year Parliament demanded more scrutiny of these "Henry VIII powers", in order to ensure it was done properly.

As a result, only 79 have been approved. That leaves 254 in the system, and 267 yet to be filed.

Those are the things that are needed to leave with Theresa’s deal – which is why so many politicians are now fretting publicly about the threat of no deal.

The trouble is, NOT having a deal also requires legislation.

No deal means we have to pass that trade bill that’s been shelved. It needs a financial services bill which has yet to get to the Commons for MP approval, and Parliament has also got to legislate for EU citizen’s rights.

On top of that, no deal requires 60 new processes, 25 new IT systems, a "mega-bill" of 17 new laws to be passed by the Irish government, and – oh dear – all 600 of those statutory instruments to have been filed, read, and approved by MPs.

Not going to happen, is it? Not in 40 days, not in a month of Mondays.

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And those are just the hurdles that must be jumped if things are SIMPLE – if we leave with Theresa’s deal, or if we don’t.

But piled on top of this are amendments to all these bills, stopping no deal, demanding more votes, stopping the government raising taxes if things go pear-shaped. Yet more delay is certain.

Parliament has argued about Europe for 40 years. The Irish border has been a political graveyard for centuries. The entire nation has been in two minds about our continental cousins since before the Roman invasion.

Forty days just ain’t enough to settle it.

The reason no-one is saying this too loudly is that it means admitting defeat. Saying triggering Article 50 without a plan was wrong, that 2 years of Tory twattery didn’t get us anywhere, and that both Theresa’s snap election and Jeremy Corbyn’s policy of repeating it are both very silly ideas.

March 29 was a Brexiteer threat to bring people in line, and it has utterly failed. It’s inevitable that the British government will ask for Article 50 to be extended. And for the EU to say: "Why should we?"

Telling them "well we’ve wasted a lot of time faffing about" isn’t going to cut it. The deadline will be moved only if circumstances have changed – if Parliament does agree the deal but a little late, which will mean an extension of a few weeks, or if there’s a general election.

And Parliament’s not going to agree, is it?

So here we are. A deadline we cannot meet, an argument neither side can win, and an entire nation that can’t admit this was all a lot more complicated than we realised.

The only way out of it is to push the deadline back by doing something decisive – and all we’ve decided of late is that our indecisive Prime Minister can stay in the job for at least another year.

However you voted, you did not vote for a bad Brexit, with bad laws, unscrutinised scratch legislation, or Parliament hitting a deadline at the expense of killing all the bystanders.

And before you blame the politicians, remember this: they’re citizens, too. You chose them from among yourselves to represent you, and the arguing in Westminster is no different to that in Widnes or Woolacombe Bay.

If this were a film, there’d be a scratching noise and end-of-reel flickering, and we’d all be hoping Orson Welles would turn up as the narrator to make an awesome satirical point. But this is not reel life.

As we get to March 29, the Remainers will jabber about no deal being likely when it’s impossible, the Leavers will talk about wreckers when they have done more to destroy Brexit than anyone else, and the lunatic fringe will talk about the end of democracy when this is EXACTLY how a democracy is supposed to work.

But remember this: only idiots win when you don’t check the facts. And we’ve got no more time to waste on Brexit.

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David Cameron used a very inappropriate word in a meeting with Angela Merkel

David Cameron described the criticism he faced from Tory Brexiteers while he was Prime Minister as a “Blitzkrieg” during a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, it has emerged.

And Mr Cameron reportedly told EU President Donald Tusk he didn’t believe there was a real risk of a referendum when he promised one in 2013, because he thought the Lib Dems would block it.

Mr Tusk said: “I asked David Cameron, ‘Why did you decide on this referendum? This – it’s so dangerous, so even stupid, you know.’

He said Mr Cameron told him "that the only reason was his own party, he felt really safe, because he thought at the same time that there’s no risk of a referendum, because, his coalition partner, the Liberals, would block this idea of a referendum.

“But then, surprisingly, he won and there was no coalition partner. So paradoxically David Cameron became the real victim of his own victory.”

The details were revealed in a new BBC documentary, ‘Inside Europe: Ten Years of Turmoil’, to be broadcast next Monday.

Just weeks before the 2016 referendum, in the final, frantic hours of Mr Cameron’s last-ditch attempt to renegotiate Britain’s relationship with Brussels, Angela Merkel’s delegation paid an unannounced visit to Mr Cameron and his team.

“David Cameron had a bad back at the time and one way of dealing with it was just laying on his back on the floor,” Craig Oliver, Mr Cameron’s director of Communications said.

“We both jumped up and started clearing up. Angela Merkel and her people came in.”

Mr Cameron tried to explain to the German leader that he would face a “barrage of criticism” if he were to return .

Mr Oliver added: “At that moment Angela Merkel turned to her aide and said: “What is ‘barrage?’”

“And David Cameron immediately jumped in and said ‘Blitzkrieg!’”

“And at that moment everyone thought: “Don’t mention the war, that’s probably not the best thing to do.”

“But they all started laughing and she looked at him as if he was sort of a naughty schoolboy.”

Elsewhere in the programme, Mr Tusk claims Mr Cameron pushed him to make concessions on immigration to get Theresa May on board.

According to Mr Tusk, Mr Cameron said: “If you want me to win the referendum, you have to help me recruit Theresa.”

And former Chancellor George Osborne said he had warned Mr Cameron against calling the referendum.

Mr Osborne recalled: “I said, to David [Cameron], and to William [Hague]: “Look, we’re going to split the Conservative Party, we’re going to put ourselves offside with business, and what happens if we lose?

“Which may not the most likely outcome, but if we do then it’s a disaster for Britain, for our place in the world, for our economy, and of course it’ll be a huge disaster for us.”

And Mr Osborne couldn’t resist a dig at Theresa May.

Recounting a later meeting, to which Mrs May and then-defence Secretary Philip Hammond were invited, Mr Osborne said: “Philip’s a bit skeptical. Theresa May doesn’t say very much.

“Which was par for the course in those meetings.”

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Riven by crisis, Britain searches for Brexit emergency 'plan B'

LONDON (REUTERS) – Prime Minister Theresa May will try on Thursday (Jan 17) to break the impasse in Britain’s political elite over how to leave the European Union by searching for an emergency exit deal, though there is so far little sign of compromise.

After Mrs May’s two-year attempt to forge an amicable divorce was crushed by Parliament in the biggest defeat for a British leader in modern history, Mrs May called for party leaders to put self-interest aside to find a way forward.

If Mrs May fails to forge a consensus, the world’s fifth-largest economy will drop out of the European Union on March 29 without a deal or will be forced to halt Brexit, possibly holding a national election or even another referendum.

Mrs May has repeatedly refused to countenance another election and has warned that another referendum would be corrosive as it would undermine faith in democracy among the 17.4 million people who voted to leave the EU in the 2016 referendum.

“I believe it is my duty to deliver on the British people’s instruction to leave the European Union. And I intend to do so,” Mrs May said outside Downing Street in an attempt to address voters directly.

“I am inviting MPs from all parties to come together to find a way forward,” Mrs May said. “This is now the time to put self-interest aside.”

As the United Kingdom tumbles towards its biggest political and economic move since World War II, other members of the European Union have offered to talk though they can do little until London decides what it wants out of Brexit.

Yet ever since the UK voted by 52 per cent to 48 per cent to leave the EU in June 2016, British politicians have failed to find agreement on how or even whether to leave the European Union.

In a sign of just how hard Mrs May’s task may be, the main opposition leader, Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn, refused to hold talks unless a no-deal Brexit was ruled out.

“Before there can be any positive discussions about the way forward, the government must remove clearly, once and for all, the prospect of the catastrophe of a no-deal Brexit from the EU and all the chaos that would come as a result of that,” he said.

But the further Mrs May moves towards softening Brexit, the more she alienates dedicated Brexiteers in her own party who think the threat of a no-deal Brexit is a crucial bargaining chip.

Without a deal, trade with the EU would then default to basic World Trade Organisation rules.

Company chiefs are aghast at the political crisis over Brexit and say it has already damaged Britain’s reputation as Europe’s preeminent destination for foreign investment.

From Channel Tunnel operator Eurotunnel to Scottish whisky distillers, firms have called for urgent and decisive government action and warned of the consequences of a no-deal Brexit.

“If anybody believes that you can just go ahead without some sort of an agreement here, I think that that is reckless,” said Mr John Bason, finance chief of Associated British Foods, the food and retail group which has sales of over US$20 billion (S$27 billion).

“The UK’s food supply generally is dependent on the free flowing border,” Mr Bason said.

Labour wants a permanent customs union with the EU, a close relationship with its single market and greater protections for workers and consumers.

But the chairman of May’s Conservative party, Mr Brandon Lewis, said on Thursday that Britain should not stay in the current customs union because striking international trade deals after Brexit is a priority.

He said senior ministers would meet colleagues from across the House of Commons, Britain’s Lower House of Parliament, on Thursday.

The Times newspaper said both remaining in a full customs union with the EU and delaying Brexit through an extension of Article 50 would be discussed at meetings between the government and lawmakers.

Former British prime minister Tony Blair said on Thursday a delay to Brexit was now inevitable, adding that leaving the EU without a deal would inflict profound economic damage on the UK.

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After Defeat on Brexit Plan, Theresa May Faces No-Confidence Vote

LONDON — After suffering the worst parliamentary defeat in modern times over her plans for leaving the European Union, Britain’s prime minister, Theresa May, braced for another day of turmoil on Wednesday, when she will face a vote of no confidence in her battered government.

On Tuesday Mrs. May lost by a crushing margin, 432 to 202, when Parliament voted on her plan for European Union withdrawal, or Brexit, as the clock ticks toward March 29 when Britain is scheduled to leave.

Lawmakers will spend much of Wednesday debating whether Mrs. May’s government should continue in power before voting at around 7 p.m. on a motion that could, in theory, lead to a general election.

That is an unlikely outcome, analysts say, because many of those who voted against Mrs. May’s withdrawal plan, including hard-line pro-Brexit rebels in her Conservative Party, and a group of 10 lawmakers from Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party, have said they will support the government on Wednesday.

They argue that they want to replace Mrs. May’s deal, not her, and they prefer her badly weakened leadership to the prospect of an election that could bring the opposition Labour Party to power.

Nonetheless, another day of drama and political crisis in London underscores the extent to which Mrs. May’s strategy for leaving the European Union is now in disarray, leaving Britain in a perilous position, just 10 weeks before the country is scheduled to depart the bloc.

Ordinarily, a prime minister would be expected to resign after suffering a big defeat on a signature bill, but Brexit has rewritten the rules of British politics. So Mrs. May, who is scheduled to answer questions in Parliament at noon, can expect to survive the no confidence debate that will then begin.

After Tuesday’s defeat, Mrs. May’s opponents are focusing on an array of contradictory objectives, demonstrating that more than two and a half years after Britons voted to leave the European Union, their politicians have failed to reach any consensus on how to do so.

One faction in Parliament advocates a more complete and abrupt break from Europe than the one the prime minister has negotiated with Brussels; another supports Mrs. May’s plan; another wants a softer Brexit than she has proposed; and yet another still hopes for no Brexit at all.

Assuming that Mrs. May survives the day as expected, she has promised consultations and to reach out to political opponents — though not the Labour Party leader, Jeremy Corbyn — before she has to return to tell lawmakers on Monday how she plans to proceed.

For now, Mrs. May seems still to hope that she can do this without a fundamental change that would soften her plan and keep closer ties to the European Union, something that would almost certainly provoke resignations from pro-Brexit members of her own cabinet.

She is unlikely to win support from significant numbers of opposition lawmakers, however, unless she embraces the notion of keeping a permanent customs union with the bloc, a change that would prevent Britain from having an independent trade policy and keep it tied to some European rules.

May’s Brexit Deal Failed. What Happens Now?

Nobody knows, really. But these are the likeliest scenarios.

And if Mrs. May attempts to plow ahead without any significant adjustments to her plan, an increasingly assertive Parliament is likely to try to wrest control of the process from her government.

Though there is no consensus among lawmakers on a way forward, a very large majority of them want to exclude the possibility of leaving the bloc without a deal, because they fear that could create chaos at British ports, cause shortages of some food and medicines, and plunge Britain into a recession.

If Wednesday’s motion of no confidence fails, as is widely expected, Mr. Corbyn will face increased pressure from within his own ranks to support the idea of holding another referendum that could reverse Brexit.

So, despite the disarray, the defeat on Tuesday probably marks the beginning of the endgame in the Brexit process.

European Union officials have reacted with exasperation to the confusion in London, and so far say they are unwilling to reopen the legally binding part of the deal that Mrs. May negotiated. This includes plans for one of the most contested sections of the agreement, the “backstop” proposals to ensure goods flow freely across the Irish border after Brexit, and that would keep the whole of the United Kingdom tied to many European rules until agreement on a detailed trade deal that would remove the need for frontier checks.

Many analysts and European officials believe that Britain will be forced to ask to postpone the March 29 deadline for withdrawal.

President Emmanuel Macron of France predicted on Wednesday that the British will “ask for an extension to negotiate something else.” But first, he said, he believed Mrs. May would try to win new concessions from the European Union, hoping to “come back to vote again,” only to have Brussels refuse to sweeten the deal.

His minister for European affairs, Nathalie Loiseau, told France Inter radio: “It’s not up to us, the French, the Europeans, to tell the Britons what they must do. What we can tell them is ‘Hurry up!’ because March 29 is tomorrow.”

On Wednesday, Brexit supporters argued that the scale of Mrs. May’s defeat showed that she needed to renegotiate the Irish backstop provisions, which they fear could leave the country tied indefinitely to European Union rules.

“There is just no way that this backstop is going to go through Parliament,” the pro-Brexit Conservative lawmaker Steve Baker told the BBC.

But another senior Conservative lawmaker, Oliver Letwin, told the broadcaster that the government needed to be “much more flexible,” and that Mrs. May needed to scrap the red lines she had laid down as the fundamental principles of her negotiation. “This is not a terrain in which you can have things you can never do,” he said.

A broader rethinking now seems likely if Mrs. May is to have any chance of success, analysts say, and that will probably involve testing the degree of support in Parliament for different options.

“Although May is wary, she may eventually be forced to bow to pressure from ministers and backbenchers to allow members of Parliament to stage ‘indicative votes’ on Brexit options,” Mujtaba Rahman, managing director for Europe at the consulting firm Eurasia Group, wrote in an analysis.

These options may include everything from keeping close ties to the European Union, as Norway has, to having a permanent customs union, to holding a second referendum.

Elian Peltier contributed reporting from Paris.

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Decision time as British MPs vote on Brexit deal

LONDON (AFP) – The British parliament holds a historic vote on Tuesday (Jan 15) on the Brexit deal agreed with the EU and all sides are bracing for turmoil when the text is almost certainly rejected.

With just over two months to go until the scheduled Brexit date of March 29, a bitterly divided Britain is in limbo and the world is on tenterhooks about what will happen next.

Few expect the deal to pass, but the scale of Prime Minister Theresa May’s defeat could determine whether she tries again, loses office, delays Brexit – or if Britain even leaves the EU at all.

MPs from all parties oppose the agreement, for different reasons, but on the eve of the vote May urged them to look again.

“No, it is not perfect. And yes, it is a compromise,” she said.

“But when the history books are written, people will look at the decision of this house… and ask: did we deliver on the country’s vote to leave the European Union?

“Or did we let the British people down?”

The deal was agreed with the EU in November after 18 months of talks described as Britain’s toughest since World War II.

But hardline Brexit supporters fear it keeps Britain too closely tied to the EU and represents a “betrayal”, while pro-Europeans argue it leaves the country half-in, half-out.

Rather than heal the divisions exposed by the 2016 Brexit referendum, it has reignited them, with pro-European MPs facing death threats and harassment outside parliament.

Brexit supporters around the country have voiced growing frustration with what they see as parliamentary blockage of their democratic vote, while europhiles see hope in the increased talk of a second referendum to end the impasse.

May postponed a House of Commons vote on the deal in December, facing certain defeat, and has since offered MPs clarifications she hopes will convince them.

Criticism is focused on an arrangement to keep open the border with Ireland by aligning Britain with some EU trade rules, if and until London and Brussels sign a new economic partnership.

May has offered parliament greater oversight of this so-called backstop, and at her request, EU leaders have also given written assurances that the arrangement would not become permanent.

A handful of Conservative MPs have changed their minds to back the deal, but a junior minister resigned on Monday so he could vote against it – and the core of May’s critics say she has not done enough.

“Nothing has fundamentally changed,” said Nigel Dodds of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), the Northern Irish party on whom May relies for her Commons majority.

Opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said May had “completely and utterly failed” to ease MPs’ concerns and said if she loses the vote on Tuesday night, she must call an election.

His party has also threatened a confidence vote in her government.

Voting begins at 7pm (3am Wednesday Singapore time), with MPs likely to decide on a number of amendments first, which could seek to change or kill the Brexit deal.

In the event of a defeat, the government must set out what happens next by Monday at the latest.

Speculation is growing on both sides of the Channel that May could ask to delay Brexit, but she said Monday: “I don’t believe that the date of March 29 should be delayed.”

The withdrawal agreement includes plans for a post-Brexit transition period to provide continuity until a new relationship is drawn up, in return for continued budget contributions from London.

Without it, and if there is no delay, Britain will sever 46 years of ties with its nearest neighbours this spring with no new arrangements to ease the blow.

MPs fearful of a “no deal” scenario have vowed to use parliamentary procedures to force the government to seek an alternative plan that the Commons can support.

Some commentators suggest May could return to Brussels, seeking further assurances on the deal and the future EU-UK relationship and ask parliament to vote again.

“At the second time of asking, MPs might just vote for her deal over the catastrophe that would be no deal,” said John Springford, deputy director of the Centre for European Reform.

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Firm hawks hundreds of Brexit survival kits to anxious public fearing no-deal

A businessman is selling ‘Brexit survival kits’ to members of the public who fear a chaotic no-deal armageddon.

The kits, which are currently on sale for £295, contain enough freeze-dried food for a month.

They also include a water filter and a tube of fire-starting gel, in case supplies of drinkable water, gas and electricity are cut off.

James Blake, the man behind Emergency Food Storage UK, says his firm has already sold 600 of the terrifying rations.

He told the BBC: “We tried to put a box together that gives people the basics they would need, it’s got 60 portions of main meals plus 48 portions of meat, a water filter and a fire starter in case they need to heat the water.”

Asked if he was profiteering from people’s nightmares, Mr Blake told the BBC: “The fear has been around ever since the vote happened because nobody knows what is really going to happen.

"Having something like this in place actually helps calm somebody’s fears a little bit because they know they have done something to prepare for what may come.

"It’s just being that little bit more prepared and having that little bit more wiggle room."

A government spokesperson said: “People don’t need to stockpile food, water filters or fire starters.

"The UK has a strong level of food security built upon a diverse range of sources including strong domestic production and imports from third countries. This will continue to be the case whether we leave the EU with or without a deal."

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Fox hunting fans and anti-hunt activists get ready for Boxing Day meets

Scores of fox hunts are due to meet on Boxing Day – nearly 14 years after the bloodsport was banned.

Riders and packs of hounds from an estimated 53 hunts are expected to tear across the countryside in their traditional Christmas meets.

They will be carrying out legal drag or trail hunts following the block on hunting with dogs which came into force in England and Wales in February 2005.

But campaigners fear foxes could still be killed accidentally if dogs pick up a scent before chasing down and mauling a live animal.

League Against Cruel Sports deputy of director of campaigns Chris Pitt said: “Wild animals – including foxes,hare and deer – are still being chased to exhaustion across the British countryside before being torn to pieces by packs of trained hunting hounds.

“Since the start of the hunting season in November, the League has received over one-hundred reports of British wildlife being targeted by hunts. Hunting dogs have been injured and killed during vehicle collisions, too.

“With over 85% of people opposing all forms of hunting with hounds, there is strong support for British wildlife being given robust protection from those who kill for ‘sport’.

“How can we call ourselves a civilised nation when those who gain entertainment from attacking wildlife continue to go unpunished by the law?”

The Countryside Alliance has waged an online fight in a bid to protect Boxing Day hunts.

It fears activists will persuade officials to ban hunts from their land.

Promoting a lobbying drive on its website, it claims: “Meets held on land owned or managed by local councils, on Boxing Day and throughout the festive period, are being put at risk of cancellation by a targeted campaign organised by anti-hunting associations.

“One meet has already been forced to relocate.

“This threatens to deny many people their only opportunity to see hounds and interact with their local hunt, which is such a key part of the festive season.”

The Alliance’s head of hunting Polly Portwin said: “Boxing Day meets are a special occasion in the hunting calendar, with hundreds of thousands of people turning out to support hunts throughout the festive period.

“It would be a travesty if councils denied those people who support local packs of hounds the opportunity to show their appreciation at meets this Boxing Day.

“We are asking people to act now to protect this annual spectacle by filling out our form to send a letter of support to their local council leader.”

The Tory Party dropped plans to try and bring back hunting through a free vote of MPs after Theresa May’s bungled snap election disaster last year.

The Prime Minister spoke passionately of her personal support for hunting in a gaffe which many believe fuelled her ballot box meltdown.

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Government spend thousands removing ‘toxic substance’ from No10 Downing Street

Theresa May’s Number 10 Downing Street home contains the deadly building material asbestos.

The toxic substance is also in No11 next door where Chancellor Philip Hammond lives but there are no imminent plans to remove it from either building.

But the Government has spent £45,000 in the last two years stripping asbestos out of Dover House, headquarters of the Scotland office.

Every year the toxic fibre is responsible for the deaths of 3,000 people from
asbestos-related illnesses. The fibre was used in building projects across Britain for a century but banned in 1999.

Industry expert Dave Hughes, from Fibre Management, said many buildings were refurbished in the 1960s and 70s with the insulation material.

He said: “Many government and public buildings will have an asbestos legacy given their age.”

He said carpenters, builders and IT engineers are at risk “when they go into an older property to lay cables or undertake refurbishment works”. In 2012 it emerged that £1million was spent removing asbestos from Buckingham Palace.

And 86 per cent of our schools are said to contain the material, linked to the deaths of hundreds of teachers.

A Cabinet Office spokesman said the removal of two forms of asbestos from Dover House should be completed in January.

The spokesman said asbestos was present in No10 and No11 Downing Street but no projects to remove it were currently underway.

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Britain's May clashes with Blair over Brexit

LONDON (AFP) – An extraordinary public row broke out Sunday (Dec 16) between British Prime Minister Theresa May and former Labour party leader Tony Blair over her Brexit deal.

Mrs May accused Mr Blair of insulting voters and trying to undermine her government with calls for a second referendum to break the political deadlock over the divorce deal she struck with the EU.

“For Tony Blair to go to Brussels and seek to undermine our negotiations by advocating for a second referendum is an insult to the office he once held and the people he once served,” Mrs May said in a statement issued late on Saturday.

“We cannot, as he would, abdicate responsibility for this decision. Parliament has a democratic duty to deliver what the British people voted for.”

Mr Blair, who was Labour prime minister between 1997 and 2007, on Sunday accused the Conservative leader of being “irresponsible”.

“The sensible thing is now to allow Parliament to vote on each of the forms of Brexit canvassed, including the Prime Minister’s deal,” he said in a statement.

“If they can’t reach agreement, then the logical thing is to go back to the people.”

He added: “What is irresponsible, however, is to try to steamroller MPs into accepting a deal they genuinely think is a bad one with the threat that if they do not fall into line, the government will have the country crash out (of the EU) without a deal.”

Mr Blair opposes Brexit and, as Mrs May’s deal faces opposition on all sides of the House of Commons, he has stepped up calls for the public to vote again.

His latest speech on the issue came on Friday, as Mrs May was meeting EU leaders in Brussels to discuss how to save the agreement.

Mrs May has repeatedly ruled out holding a new referendum, saying the result in 2016 was clear.

But a growing number of MPs believe a “people’s vote” is the only way to break an impasse that risks Britain leaving the EU on March 29 without any agreement at all.

Mrs May’s chief of staff, Mr Gavin Barwell, was on Sunday forced to deny reports that he was planning for such an outcome.

The same reports also said Mrs May’s effective deputy, Mr David Lidington, was in talks with opposition Labour MPs about a new vote.

Mr Lidington replied that he always listened to MPs’ views, but pointed to recent remarks in Parliament where he said a second referendum may not be decisive and could damage confidence in democracy.

Separately, Foreign Minister Jeremy Hunt suggested Britain could thrive if it left the EU with no deal, and admitted he would like to “have a crack” at Mrs May’s job.

“But I think the first thing is to get us through this challenging next few months, and I passionately believe Theresa May is the person to do that,” he told the Sunday Telegraph.

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