Today’s Political Headlines include Downing Street ruling out being part of a customs union, Westminster’s Freemasons’ lodges, the UK’s potentially painful trade concessions to South Korea and the warning against a bonfire of regulations.
Downing Street rules out customs union
Downing Street has confirmed that the UK is to leave the customs union after Brexit, the BBC reports, quoting a source who said, ‘to put this to rest, we are categorically leaving’. Political correspondent Eleanor Garnier says that a bespoke deal could still involve some sort of customs arrangement. The Times adds that the Brexit ‘war cabinet’ is preparing a compromise with ‘a time-limited extension to elements of the existing customs union’.
Westminster Freemasons’ lodges revealed
The Guardian leads with the revelation that there are two lodges of Freemasons operating secretly at Westminster, one for politicians and one for journalists. The paper reports that the identities of the members are unknown, while the United Grand Lodge of England has insisted that there is no contradiction between being a Freemason and a journalist.
‘Painful concessions’ needed to agree South Korean deal
According to The Daily Telegraph, the UK may have to make ‘painful trade concessions’ to South Korea, in order to ensure continuity during the Brexit transition period. A ‘senior trade lobbyist’ told the paper that ‘worries are mounting’ about whether it will be possible to replicate existing trade deals.
Bank of England deputy governor warns against ‘bonfire of regulations’
In an interview with the Financial Times, Sam Woods, deputy governor of the Bank of England, warned against a ‘bonfire of regulations’ after Brexit. He pledged to ‘maintain standards of resilience in the financial sector at least as high as those we have today’.
Former civil service chief says Brexiteers are ‘selling snake oil’
Appearing on Peston on Sunday, Lord O’Donnell, the former head of the civil service, accused Brexiteers of ‘selling snake oil’, The Daily Telegraph says. He said that allegations by Jacob Rees-Mogg that the civil service were ‘fiddling the figures’ with regard to Brexit were ‘completely crazy’.
Hospitals cancel urgent operations
In an exclusive, The Guardian claims that hospitals have cancelled urgent operations for patients with cancer, heart disease and other life-threatening diseases, despite having been ordered not to do so. According to the paper, doctors’ leaders and the Patients Association have warned that people could die as a result.
Justice Secretary to review divorce laws
The Justice Secretary, David Gauke, has agreed to review divorce laws, The Times says. This follows a campaign by the newspaper for reforms, including no-fault divorce. He told the paper that he ‘will study the evidence for change’ but would not ‘rush to a conclusion’.
Lib Dems’ expert panel recommends dedicated NHS tax
A panel of health experts, convened by the Liberal Democrats, has recommended a new ring-fenced tax to fund the NHS, the BBC reports. The panel also recommends that the NHS should receive an extra £4bn on top of inflation in the next financial year and a cap on the amount paid for social care by individuals.
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