‘Non, merci!’ Brexiteer Francois issues warning over UK joining Macron’s new European club

Brexiteer Mark Francois has warned against Britain joining a new European club championed by French President Emmanuel Macron. Liz Truss is reportedly considering attending the first meeting of the European Political Community next month.

But Mr Francois, who is chair of the influential European Research Group of Conservative MPs, insisted the UK should have “nothing to do” with Mr Macron’s project.

The Tory MP told Express.co.uk: “Non, merci! As a country, we did not spend nearly five years of arguing, from the 2016 referendum to finally departing the EU in early 2020, only to commence rejoining the organisation, all over again, just under a different guise.

“President Macron’s federalist ambitions are already an open secret right across Europe and we should have nothing to do with them.”

The first meeting of the European Political Community is due to take place in Prague in October.

Downing Street reportedly wants to see more detail before the Prime Minister makes a decision on attending.

It is understood there are concerns the meeting could be too dominated by the EU.

Mr Macron floated the idea in May and said the group would be a “new space” for cooperation on issues including security, energy and freedom of movement.

In a speech at the Conference on the Future of Europe, he said: “It is our historic obligation … to create what I would describe before you today as a European Political Community.

“This new European organization would allow democratic European nations that subscribe to our shared core values to find a new space for political and security cooperation, cooperation in the energy sector, in transport, investments, infrastructures, the free movement of persons and in particular of our youth.

“Joining it would not prejudge future accession to the European Union necessarily, and it would not be closed to those who have left the EU.

“It would bring our Europe together, respecting its true geography, on the basis of its democratic values, with the desire to preserve the unity of our continent and by preserving the strength and ambition of our integration.”

It comes after Mr Macron and Ms Truss held their first bilateral meeting at the United Nations summit in New York on Tuesday.

Downing Street said the pair had a “constructive” conversation lasting around half an hour.

Mr Macron raised his idea of a European Political Community to include non-EU states such as the UK but did not invite Britain to the first meeting, according to No 10.

Downing Street said the focus of the meeting was energy security.

The pair did not discuss ongoing issues with the Northern Ireland Protocol and Channel migrant crossings.

It comes after Ms Truss had sparked controversy during the Tory leadership race by declining to say whether the ally was “friend or foe”.

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  • 10 минут назад 25.09.2022Politics
    Britons urge Liz Truss to support Ukraine even if Kyiv attacks Russia in latest poll

    Ukraine and Western countries say referendums on joining Russia in territories Russia has captured are a sham designed to justify their annexation and the ramping up of hostilities with newly drafted troops after recent battlefield losses.

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov addressed the United Nations General Assembly and the world’s media on Saturday, casting opposition to Russia’s assault on its neighbour as limited to the United States and countries under its sway.

    But as Russians prepare to declare occupied territories as their own, in the UK, Britons say the Government should continue to support Kyiv if it was force to attack Russia.

    In an exclusive poll conducted by Techne UK for Express.co.uk, a majority of UK voters surveyed was in favour of UK support to Ukraine.

    Asked “Do you think Britain should continue to fully support Ukraine if it attacked Russian territory in retaliation to the invasion?”, 46 percent of people surveyed said yes, against 38 percent who said no and 16 percent who could not decide.

    The poll was conducted on September 23 with a total of 1639 UK voters.

    Nearly three-quarters of countries in the UN General Assembly voted to reprimand Russia and demand it withdraw its troops shortly after the February 24 invasion that Russia calls a special military operation.

    Russia’s military campaign has killed tens of thousands, left some Ukrainian cities wastelands and triggered Russia’s biggest confrontation with the West since the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.

    Ukraine’s military said early on Sunday that Russian forces had launched dozens of missile attacks and air strikes on military and civilian targets, including 35 “settlements”, in the past 24 hours.

    Russia also used drones to attack the centre of the southern city of Odesa, Ukraine’s military said. No casualties were reported.

    Russia denies targeting civilians. Its RIA state news agency reported that Ukrainian forces bombed a hotel in the city of Kherson, killing two people. Russian forces have occupied the southern city since the early days of the invasion.

    There has been no immediate response from Ukraine.

    The votes on becoming part of Russia were hastily organised after Ukraine recaptured large swathes of the northeast in a counteroffensive this month.

    Ukrainian officials said people were banned from leaving some occupied areas until the four-day vote was over, armed groups were going into homes, and employees were threatened with the sack if they did not participate.

    Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said the votes would be “unequivocally condemned” by the world, along with the mobilisation Russia began this week, including in Crimea and other areas of Ukraine occupied by Russia.

    Russia maintains that the referendums offer an opportunity for people in those regions to express their view.

  • 10 минут назад 25.09.2022Politics
    Kwasi Kwarteng hints at more tax cuts after bold mini budget announcement

    In a hint there could be more tax cuts to come, Mr Kwarteng told BBC’s Sunday With Laura Kuenssberg programme: “Looking at the Friday statement, we’ve actually put more money into people’s pockets. That’s why we’ve reversed the national insurance increase – which I think was not a good policy and we’ve reversed that – and also we’re bringing forward the cut in the basic rate and there’s more to come.

    “We’ve only been here 19 days. I want to see, over the next year, people retain more of their income because I believe that it’s the British people that are going to drive this economy.”

    When it was put to him that his mini-budget “favour overwhelmingly people at the very top”, he added: “They favour people right across the income scale.”

    Pressed on whether he believes he has the public’s permission to slash taxes and run up Government borrowing, the Chancellor said: “I think it’s very clear to me that people don’t want to see the tax burden going up indefinitely.

    “When you have a tax system, the tax burden today, which is higher than at any time in the last 70 years, people begin to worry and business begins to worry and says ‘what are the incentives to activity in this economy? How do we invest and grow? Why should I set up a business or why should I employ people? Why should I even go to work if I’m being taxed to a very, very high degree’.

    “And I wanted to change that narrative, I wanted to change that direction”.

    He added: “We have a responsibility in Government to protect everybody and to make Britain the best it can be and I think economic growth is absolutely essential to that”.

    Mr Kwarteng suggested the public will pass judgment on his programme at a “general election in the next two years.”

    He also said he would not put a limit on borrowing if there is another “exogenous event” in the future.

    He said: “All I would say on borrowing is that we’ve managed to respond to what they call two exogenous shocks, two things that were not in our control and were of unprecedented scale, and that was absolutely the right thing to do.

    “Obviously, I will be setting out plans for the medium-term fiscal plan, as we’re calling it.”

    READ MORE: Russian troops ‘raping and torturing’ new recruits

    He added: “What I’m not going to do Laura is to say that if there is an exogenous extreme event, I can’t possibly say that we won’t borrow to deal with that. And that’s what we’ve done. That’s why we have borrowed in the way we have.”

    Defending his decision to impose tax cuts during his mini-budget, he argued: “In terms of our approach, there was no way that we were going to get more growth by simply increasing taxes and taking more of people’s money.

    “And that was the response that the Prime Minister and I debated. We talked about it and we thought we’ve got to change tack.”

    Questioned about the rising levels of inflation, he added: “I’m confident that the Bank (of England) is dealing with that, but also what perplexes me was the fact that you don’t deal with people’s rising cost of living by taking more of their money in tax.

    “This was a totally perverse argument. No other G7 country is lifting up taxes while dealing with the cost of living. It doesn’t make any sense.”

    Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer hit out at the Government’s “wrongheaded” economic policies as he pledged to reverse the income tax cut for people earning more than £150,000.

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    The opposition leader, who said his party now had a belief it would win the next general election, said the mini-budget announcements by Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng had set clear political dividing lines.

    He said the Tory policy was for the “rich to get richer” while offering little to ordinary workers but said Labour would reinstate the 45p additional rate of income tax for top earners which Mr Kwarteng abolished from April next year.

    But Sir Keir said he backed Mr Kwarteng’s promise to cut the basic rate of income tax from 20p to 19p.

    He said people were facing a “very difficult winter” with supermarket customers “looking at the price of food and having to put it back down again” because of soaring costs.

    “It’s on the back of 12 years of Tory failure. We’ve had an economy that hasn’t really grown very much for 12 years, we’ve had wages which haven’t really moved for 12 years, because they’ve taken the wrong decisions, they haven’t planned for the future.

    “And now we’ve got this decision on Friday to take a very risky approach to the future, driven by this ideology, this argument – wrongheaded argument in my view – that if you simply allow the rich to get richer, somehow that money will trickle down into the pockets of all the rest of us.”

  • 10 минут назад 25.09.2022Politics
    ‘We’ve got to reverse it’: Furious ex- Labour MEP slams Brexit as a ‘f****** disaster’

    A former Labour MEP has slammed Brexit, describing it as a “f***ing disaster”. Speaking at an event taking place on the fringes of the Labour Party Conference in Liverpool, former MEP Richard Corbett suggested that the UK should rejoin the European Union. He said that public opinion is “moving to the view that Brexit was a mistake”, adding: “It’s not surprising.

    “It’s one thing to say it’s a mistake, but it’s another to say we’re open to rejoin.

    “But the majority of people says that now.”

    Mr Corbett continued: “That has happened without any political figures going out and arguing it.

    “None of them have got out and said ‘This is a f***ing disaster, we’ve got to reverse it’.

    “No prominent political figure has been saying that.

    “And despite that, public opinion is moving in that direction.

    “Imagine how much further it might move if there were powerful figures arguing that case, day in, day out.”

    He said that an increase in pro-European sentiment could “open the door” to rejoin the European Union.

    Speaking this morning, Mr Corbett explained: “Historically, British public opinion has gone completely against something that it initially backed with enthusiasm.

    “And remember Brexit was not backed with enthusiasm; it was a very narrow result.

    “Sometimes British public opinion does slip back, and if that happens with Brexit, then at the very least it makes it easier for a labour government, we should at the very least sort out the Northern Ireland protocol, rejoin the research programmes, rejoin Erasmus, align with the single market.

    “And if, indeed, it goes much further, that might open the door to say rejoin.”

    Labour leader Keir Starmer has attempted to distance himself from those who advocate rejoining the EU, earlier this year setting out a “5-point plan to Make Brexit Work”.

    The Labour leader said his plan will “deliver on the opportunities Britain has, sort out the poor deal Boris Johnson signed, and end the Brexit divisions once and for all”.

    Speaking to Sky News in July, he ruled out rejoining the bloc, saying: “We’re not going back to the EU, to the single market, to the customs union or freedom of movement.

    “We are going forwards not backwards, not reopening those divisions.

    “I don’t think reopening all the old wounds and going backwards is going to help us on that mission to drive the economy.”

    At the time, Stella Creasy, chair of Labour Movement For Europe urged Mr Starmer “to make sure nothing is off the table as a solution in the fight to tackle the cost of living crisis and protect jobs, trade and security”.

  • 10 минут назад 25.09.2022Politics
    Rayner declares war on giant corporations in angry anti-capitalist rant ‘No hiding places’

    Angela Rayner has declared war on giant corporations during her Labour Party conference speech. The Labour Party’s Deputy Leader hit out at new Prime Minister Liz Truss, saying she has “chosen to stand for vested interests” of “the oil companies and bankers”. Speaking at the party conference in Liverpool, Ms Rayner said the Labour party will “back the workers who are creating Britain’s wealth, demanding better for our people.”

    She hit out at “giant corporations”, saying the party will allow everyone a “fair chance”.

    The MP for Ashton-under-Lyne said: “The Tories are not on the side of the working people in Britain today.

    “Liz Truss has already made that clearer than it’s ever been.

    “She’s chosen to stand for vested interests. For the oil companies and bankers.

    “For those profiting from this crisis not suffering from it. And it is working families who bear the brunt.”

    Ms Rayner continued: “We will give small enterprise a level playing field at winning contracts.

    “Where the Tories handed billions of pounds to their cronies with links to tax havens, we will ensure local businesses are no longer shunted to the back of the queue behind giant corporations with more form fillers than they have workers.

    “We will cut red tape and streamline the bidding process, giving small businesses a genuine shot.

    “It will no longer just be the giant corporations with the glossiest leaflet that wins. Everyone will get a fair chance.”

    Ms Rayner used her speech to pledge strengthened workers’ rights, “guaranteeing fair conditions, job security, wellbeing, proper training, rights at work, and union access”.

    Referring to accusations of cronyism levelled at Boris Johnson’s Government, Ms Rayner hit out at what she called “a catalogue of sleaze, waste and lies”.

    She added: “There will be no hiding place for cronies – and no corner for corruption.

    “We will keep the receipts and publish them.”

  • 2 часа, 10 минут назад 25.09.2022Politics
    Labour takes on Liz Truss with major policy blitz

    But the Labour leader faces criticism from within his own party over his refusal to back strikers – as a poll reveals he is less popular than new Prime Minister Liz Truss.

    And in another headache for Sir Keir, Labour voters want him to join forces with the SNP in a hung Parliament, raising fears of a “coalition of chaos” that could lead to the break-up of the United Kingdom.

    Arriving in Liverpool with wife Victoria yesterday, he aimed to get back on the front foot as delegates gathered for what is seen as a make-or-break annual conference.

    Since Sir Keir took the top’ job in April 2020, politics has been dominated by the Covid crisis, limiting his opportunities to talk about other issues.

    This conference is seen as Labour’s opportunity to set out a wide-ranging policy agenda and his speech on Tuesday will promise a “fairer, greener” Britain.

    Labour’s top team will kick off the rally today with an avalanche of eye-catching proposals which it hopes will be big vote-winners.

    They include: • A massive 3Rs drive in primary schools to help children catch up on lessons they missed during lockdown; • Plans to help ailing high streets with a £1.65billion cut in business rates; • An extra 13,000 beat bobbies and community support officers; • Letting firms who pay taxes on time and treat staff well leap to the front of the queue for government contracts worth £40billion a year; • Tougher regulation of care homes to beef up standards and stop overcharging; • Specialist courts for rape trials so alleged victims are treated with dignity.

    On Wednesday, Shadow education secretary Bridget Phillipson will unveil what she calls “the most ambitious school improvement programme in a generation” after thousands of children whose progress was disrupted by lockdowns began secondary school lacking maths and English skills.

    She told the Sunday Express last night: “The pandemic risks doing permanent damage to children’s education because of the Conservatives’ failure to support properly.” pupils’ recovery.”

    Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves will launch an audacious bid to position Labour as the party of business in her speech tomorrow, with a pledge to cut taxes on employers by £1.65 billion.

    But Sir Keir faces criticism from left-wingers at the conference, including former leader Jeremy Corbyn, who is urging conference delegates to pass a motion demanding the party backs strikes.

    In an email to members of pressure group Momentum, Mr Corbyn said: “Right now, Momentum are campaigning to turn the tide at the party conference, with trade unions and members uniting to pass a motion demanding Labour’s MPs and leadership stand with striking workers. I’m backing the campaign, will you too?”

    There was also a challenge from Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham, who urged Labour to “step up” support for trade unions after Sir Keir banned frontbenchers from joining picket lines.

    Mr Burnham told the Sunday Express : “You can’t be neutral when the key workers that we clapped are now fighting for their livelihoods.”

    At the next general election Sir Keir is desperate to avoid a repeat of the 2015 vote, when Tories accused then-Labour leader Ed Miliband of planning a “coalition of chaos” with the independence-driven SNP.

    A Redfield and Wilton Strategies poll for the Sunday Express shows 67 percent of Labour voters want to see a coalition involving the SNP and the Liberal Democrats, if Labour becomes the largest party but fails to win an overall majority.

    But Sir Keir has repeatedly insisted he’ll make no agreements with smaller parties.

    Also in the survey, 41 percent said the Labour leader “looks like someone who will one day be Prime Minister” while 31 percent disagree.

    But asked which leader would make the best Prime Minister, 40 percent named Liz Truss with 35 percent choosing Sir Keir.

  • 2 часа, 10 минут назад 25.09.2022Politics
    ‘Be bolder!’ Andy Burnham launches attack on Starmer as he admits leadership hopes

    Andy Burnham warned Labour needed to be “bolder” as he criticised Sir Keir Starmer for being too timid in his policies. The Manchester Mayor said he was supporting the party leader before launching a series of attacks on Sir Keir’s policy agenda.

    “This is the time for Labour to move up and set out an alternative that people can support.

    “I want to be clear, I am supporting Keir, I want to party to unite here in Liverpool, they’ve got us in a position where we have a clear and sustained poll lead which is no small achievement. It’s a big achievement.

    “I think the Government have put out an opportunity now for Labour to put out a programme that connects with ordinary people.

    “So yes, I would say, be bolder, be clear about what we will do.”

    Mr Burnham said it is now “odds on” that the UK will have a Labour government within the next two years as he spoke ahead of the Labour Party conference in Liverpool this week.

    He criticised Sir Keir for failing to back reforming the UK electoral system and not committing to renationalising the energy sector.

    “I do think it’s right to be open-minded about more public control, more public ownership, so we don’t leave ourselves so exposed to energy costs,” he said.

    However, he congratulated Sir Keir and Ed Miliband on their newly announced policy to end dependence on fossil fuels.

    “This is a good bold policy from Keir Starmer and Ed Miliband, this morning,” the mayor of Greater Manchester told Sky News.

    “This is the right way to go – face up to the future rather than going back to the past with fracking, which by the way, would really impact on an area like this where I’m talking to you from now, a former mining area.”

    His latest intervention comes amid continued speculation Mr Burnham hopes to one day challenge Sir Keir for the Labour leadership.

    He admitted this morning he still has ambitions to one day lead the party and said he was “a better politician” having left Westminster.

    Mr Burnham suggested he could return to Parliament as soon as just two years’ time.

    More to follow…

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Politics 'Non, merci!' Brexiteer Francois issues warning over UK joining Macron's new European club