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'We want to see Brexit wins' MP lays down gauntlet to Boris as infighting erupts

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John Redwood calls for ‘common sense’ from Johnson and Sunak

Sir John Redwood has hit out at the government’s failure to show the country “some Brexit wins”, highlighting the UK’s energy crisis, the need for more freeports, and a damaging National Insurance hike.

The MP for Wokingham in Berkshire said: “If the government will not even take VAT off energy-saving products to help the energy bill crisis it implies we have not taken back control of our tax system.

“We want to see some Brexit wins with less VAT, Freeports with lower taxes and the end of the National Insurance rise.”

His comments come as around 22 million households are about to see their annual energy bills go up by as much as £693 as a result of a 54 percent increase — from £1,277 to £1,971 — in Ofgem’s price cap over the last six months.

The prospect of the added costs triggered widespread outcry, leading to Chancellor Rishi Sunak unveiling £150 council tax rebates for homes in bands A to D and plans to offer a £200 discount on bills.

His move, however, has been labelled a “buy now pay later scheme that loads up costs for tomorrow”, as per Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves.

READ MORE: Global crisis warning as inflation leaves continents on the brink

Boris Johnson

The Prime Minister has been urged to show the country ‘some Brexit wins’ (Image: Getty)

Sir John had previously urged the government to reduce VAT on energy in line with the UK’s low-carbon and renewable energy goals: “A no-brainer dividend, which I would have thought the Chancellor would have done by now, would be to take VAT off the solar panels and draft excluders and boiler controls and all those other green products.

“We are urging everybody to be green but it’s still taxing them and we weren’t allowed to take the tax off when we’re in the EU because it was VAT.”

In May 2016, during the last push to get voters to say yes to Brexit, Boris Johnson and Michael Gove told the nation, writing in The Sun, “fuel bills will be lower for everyone” if the UK left the European Union.

They argued the “unfair and damaging” 5 percent minimum VAT on domestic energy bills imposed under EU regulations “hits the poorest hardest”. In 2022, VAT on energy bills remains untouched.

Not only have fuel bills risen for everyone, but other costs are going up for Britons, too.

In April, National Insurance payments are increasing, with employees, employers and the self-employed all to pay 1.25p more in the pound in a measure that it is feared will have a toll on the lower-paid.

National Insurance increase

What the National Insurance hike means according to your salary (Image: Daily Express)

Later, from April 2023, National Insurance will return to its current rate and the extra tax will be collected as a new Health and Social Care Levy which, unlike National Insurance, will also be paid by state pensioners who are still working.

According to the government, this is to fund social care in England and help the NHS recover from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

It will see those earning more than £12,875 a year pay considerably more each year.

Someone on £20,000 a year, for instance, will pay an extra £89, while an employee on £50,000 will pay £464 more.

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Boris Johnson praises SNP’s ‘attitude’ towards freeports

Meanwhile, the UK’s freeport project, which was presented as one of the main economic benefits of Brexit, is taking longer to see fruition than some had hoped for.

Yet, eight freeports were confirmed last year in England, with businesses based inside the sites to benefit from tax breaks including no stamp duty, full rebates for construction and machinery investment, five years of zero business rates, and lower tariffs and customs obligations.

The Prime Minister has dubbed freeports a key element in his “levelling up” plans, which aim to close the gap between rich and poor areas – the main Conservative pledge at the 2019 general election.

While they are intended to revive deprived areas they have also been blamed for encouraging tax avoidance and lower regulation.

In Scotland, the SNP-led government has long resisted the idea of freeports. However, an adjusted deal to build “green freeports” has been reached this month.

Following the model of freeports, they will be based around low-emission industries and fair work practices.

Mr Johnson, speaking of their “truly transformational” power, said: “Freeports will help to accelerate our plan to level up communities across the whole of the United Kingdom.”

But Ian Murray, the Shadow Scottish Secretary, said: “This agreement was delayed for months because the two governments disagreed over the name.

“If we are to achieve our net-zero ambitions, we need to forget the arguments of the past and work together to build a greener and fairer future for everyone.”



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'Have to kick the pedal to the metal' Ex-Ukrainian leader slams Macron tank aide hesitancy

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Ex-Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk sat down on LBC Radio to discuss NATO leaders. NATO has been allying themselves with Ukraine, sending help and weaponry and taking fleeing Ukrainian refugees. NATO members held a conference on the Russian invasion earlier this week to discuss more ways to help Ukraine.

Mr Yatsenyuk pushed for Macron to send over military tanks as promised, slamming him for dragging his feet, and claiming that the war in Ukraine affects the security of every European country.

Mr Yatsenyuk said: “That’s what Putin is closely watching, as for now, Putin didn’t expect this kind of unity and consolidated and concerted actions against the Russian federation.

“But you know, the time is running and we don’t have enough time to wait until some EU member states decide to supply more weapons to Ukraine.

“Or to impose tougher and stronger sanctions on the Russian Federation, so the EU has to be decisive and they have to speed up the process of new sanctions.

“And the shipment and delivery of weapons to Ukraine, because it’s not just about Ukraina and they realise it clearly, this is about the free world.

“And this is about the security of every single nation in the European Union, so the French have to kick the pedal to the metal.”

JUST IN: Putin’s ‘biggest’ Achilles’ heel exposed as ‘derided’ Russian despot facing furious REVOLT

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky explained this week that he expected “serious steps” from Western-allied countries.

Mr Zelensky repeated the calls for a no-fly zone over Ukraine to be imposed by NATO forces and complained that the Western allies had not yet provided Ukraine with sufficient planes, up to date modern anti-missile systems, tanks or anti-ship weapons.

Mr Zelensky added: “At these three summits we will see who is our friend, who is our partner and who sold us out and betrayed us.”

President Zelensky also expressed that he was grateful for the support Ukraine was continuing to receive from individual NATO member countries from around the world.

Mr Zelensky added: “But NATO has yet to show what the alliance can do to save people,” he said. “It feels like we’re in the grey zone between the West and Russia, but we’re protecting all our and your shared values.

READ MORE:Mum left fuming after letter describes her ‘active’ four-year-old daughter as overweight

Mr Johnson added: “We’ve got to tighten the economic vice around Putin, sanctioning more people today, as we are, sanctioning the Wagner Group, looking at what we can do to stop Putin using his gold reserves, and also doing more to help the Ukrainians defend themselves.”

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has been playing an active role in trying to de-escalate the war with Russia by imposing tight sanctions on Russia to try and stop Putin’s warpath of destruction.

Ms Truss has warned that infighting between NATO countries at the moment could be highly detrimental for progress in ending the war.

Mr Truss said: “Russia’s targeting of critical national infrastructure is calculated and dangerous.

“It shows Putin is prepared to risk lives to sow division and confusion among allies.”



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Brexit news: What happens when Article 16 is triggered?

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After Britain’s exit from the European Union (EU) was confirmed, the two parties have been attempting to renegotiate terms for a special Brexit deal relating to Northern Ireland. Coined the Northern Ireland protocol it’s been a point of contention that’s led to threats from each side of triggering a mechanism called Article 16. But what is it?

What is Article 16?

The UK and EU agreed to the creation of the Northern Ireland protocol, in October 2019.

By allowing goods to flow freely between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland the deal removed the threat of a hard border.

But the arrangement has also resulted in what’s been labelled as an ‘Irish Sea border’.

READ MORE: ‘Totally undeniable’ MPs colluded with Remainers to try stop Brexit

Goods that now arrive into Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK are subjected to more stringent checks and controls.

In the scenario that either the UK or EU feel that the protocol is leading to significant issues or hampering their capacity to trade, then they have the option of activating Article 16.

The component sets out the process for taking unilateral “safeguard” measures, which in reality would amount to suspending parts of the deal.

Specifically, Article 16 says safeguard measures can be taken if the protocol is leading to serious “economic, societal or environmental difficulties” that are liable to persist.

He said: “Triggering Article 16 now would severely disrupt the unity of the UK and EU response to the war in Ukraine.

“It is thus perhaps not surprising that key US figures chose this week to restate that any uncertainty around the stability of the Good Friday Agreement would hinder a future UK-US trade deal.”

In recent months talks between Foreign Secretary Liz Truss and her EU counterpart Maros Sefcovic have stalled, leading to calls from Brexiteers for the UK to act.

However, Professor Menon cautioned that triggering Article 16 won’t “rid” Britain of the protocol.

He added: “I think the British Government if it triggers Article 16 will do something relatively small and contained.

“And then there’s not a massive bust-up. You don’t end up getting rid of the protocol. You end up with months if not years of negotiations, mediation and arbitration.

“So, it’s a way of doing something but it’s not a way of solving anything. In a sense you’re still stuck with the protocol and you’re still negotiating about the future of the protocol.”

In essence, were Article 16 to be triggered it wouldn’t have a huge impact on the ground.

Many of the checks on goods flowing from Britain to Northern Ireland have already been unilaterally suspended.

Triggering the mechanism itself would only start a formal dispute process that requires both sides to go into talks to resolve.



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NATO slammed as former US Army chief exposes ‘two big issues’ in united Russia response

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US Army vice chief of staff general Jack Keane, sat down on LBC radio to talk about the NATO conference which took place earlier this week. Mr Keane discussed the possibility that Putin could deploy chemical biological weapons on the battlefield. Russian President Vladimir Putin has already used the highly condemned thermobaric weapons since the war started just over a month ago.

The US Army chief acknowledged there had been no public policy declaration on the consequences Putin would face if he was to take such a barbaric action.

Mr Keane said: “Listen I was very disappointed by the NATO summit.

“I totally applaud the fact that they’re going to increase by 40k troops in Eastern Europe.

“And they’re increasing sanctions and it seems like a sense of unity.

“But on two big issues, it’s got to be disappointing, there’s no NATO public policy declaration.

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Mr Keane added: “At the end of that summit to deal with this particular issue, chemical biological weapons and nuclear weapons which the Russians have been waving in front of our face now for almost 30 days.

“What we need is… Think policy statement, not something that’s left to a reporter to ask a question on.

“And then you get a statement that you just repeated, which leads to more confirmation than anything else.

“A much better statement, using my words… I don’t want to put words into other people’s mouths.

READ MORE: Mum left fuming after letter describes her ‘active’ four-year-old daughter as overweight

“But with me, the use of any form of WMB would be unacceptable.

“We will not let it stand, it will result in decisive consequential actions and all options are on the table.

“Words to that effect, in a public policy statement, and we didn’t get it and it’s really unfortunate.

“And what it does it leaves in the minds of Putin and his  leaders just what would the reaction be, ambiguous like that and I think it’s very unfortunate.”

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Fear of the Russian military deploying chemical biological weapons has been heightened.

Ukrainian outlet InformNapalm has warned that: “Our conclusions may sound premature or too apocalyptic, but after the missile attacks and bombing of civilian infrastructure in Ukraine, which the Russian army resorted to, we believe that it is necessary to make these data public and try to thwart any such intentions of Russia.”

And NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said in Brussels on Thursday: “We’ve tried to be very clear about the gravity of the use of any such chemical weapons.

“These are agents that should never be employed and certainly not on the battlefield, as we are concerned Russia might.”



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