When England crash no one outside rugby cares, but in Wales the sport is a religion

HEAVEN or hell awaits Wales today.

I can’t imagine what the pressure is like on Warren Gatland’s side — even though I’ve won and lost Grand Slams before.

In England, rugby is a second-tier sport. This means that if the wheels come off, yes you get a backlash, but realistically nobody outside of rugby cares.

You are a big fish in a tiny pond.

Across the Severn Bridge, however, rugby is a religion and they are not very forgiving if the national team underperforms.

On the flip side, being at home with the passion of the Cardiff crowd in full voice could make this one of the most memorable Welsh Grand Slams in history if they win. It’s knife-edge stuff.

When England won the Slam in 2016, the last time an English side had lifted that trophy with a 100 per cent record was in 2003 — just months before they went on to clinch the World Cup.

I can’t remember exactly, but the number of times it’s been done back to back is very rare. We had a chance in 2017 to do the double Slam, but Ireland ruined the party in Dublin.

We still lifted the Six Nations trophy at the Aviva Stadium as winners, but it’s bittersweet when you have just lost a game.

Having played in four Grand Slam deciders and winning just one of them with Eddie Jones, they are not always the things dreams are made of.

You spend all week not talking about it being a huge game — everybody knows it is, but we all pretend it’s just another fixture.

It’s an incredible week and these kinds of games come around very rarely.

The final few days can go one of two ways — you try and do things differently, have meals out, lightly train to keep everybody fresh — but you absolutely don’t hype it up too early.

Or, keep everything the same as every other week — prepare as normal, put the extra hours in dissecting the opposition, train hard and play the game — building all the emotion as your normally would, but letting that extra excitement and distraction creep in.

But neither of these tactics make much of a difference. There is sadly no magic formula to guarantee a win.

Before a ball was kicked in this Championship, I thought it was going to be a two-horse race. Ireland were the favourites and looked like the ones to beat.

And of course I knew England could do well, even though they had the toughest start imaginable playing Joe Schmidt’s reigning champs in Dublin on day one.

After that superb victory, it was suddenly England who were the ones to beat — fans thought the Grand Slam was coming home to Twickenham and we were dead-set on a World Cup final place.

Or so we all thought! Instead it’s Wales — whose boss Gatland reckons have forgotten how to lose — who are now on the crest of a huge decider.

They had great form coming into this tournament, but I stupidly didn’t see them as a threat for the biggest honour. That lesson has well and truly been learned my end.

And as if that wasn’t enough, the rugby gods have decided to make it even more interesting. If Wales lose against Ireland, England could lift this year’s trophy.

If Wales get pumped by Ireland and England get beaten by Scotland, then it’s Ireland who could lift the trophy.

Last year we lost the physical battle and Scotland were the better side at Murrayfield.

However, there were things that went on during the game and post-match that have left a sour taste in a lot the players’ mouths.

And let’s put it this way — if I had acted like some of the Scottish players did, you would have been reading about it on the front page of this newspaper and not on page 56.

It’s one thing to celebrate behind closed doors, but to show a lack of respect to your opposing team is quite another.

I can’t wait to see what happens today. It’s going to be physical — but not your run-of-the-mill physical.

There will be fireworks, I want there to be and, honestly, I can’t wait

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Hodgson insists 'no rush' for England to pick Man Utd and Arsenal target Wan-Bissaka

Some were surprised when Gareth Southgate opted not to call up the Crystal Palace right-back, 21, on Wednesday for the upcoming Euro qualifiers Czech Republic and Montenegro.

Southgate did praise Wan-Bissaka – who is eligible for DR Congo having represented the African nation at Under-20 level – but insisted he would not cap players purely to prevent them from playing elsewhere.

Eagles boss Hodgson said: “My eyebrows weren't raised – I don't see why they should be.

“He is picked for the England U-21s which in itself is a very, very big honour.

“It is good to know that reading Gareth's comments that he is obviously aware of Aaron Wan-Bissaka and what he can do.

“No, I don't think Aaron, myself or anyone at the club should start jumping onto media speculation regarding the player. It is up to him to keep playing well.

“We believe in him. We believe he has a very,very good future at the age of 21.

“At that age, you have got an awful lot of football and an awful lot of time to play for England in the future. It had no effect on us whatsoever.”

Wan-Bissaka has the chance to show Southgate what he is missing when Palace head to Watford for the FA Cup quarter-final on Saturday.

Hodgson will be without long-term absentee Mamadou Sakho, who had a knee operation at the end of February after injuring against Leicester.

It had been thought the French star would miss the rest of the season but Hodgson revealed his centre-back is doing everything he can to make a comeback before the campaign is out.

The 71-year-old said: “He is recovering from the operation. It is a weekly thing. We hope he will recover. He is working very hard to recover but he only had the operation just after a week ago.

“It is a while before we see him back even in rehabilitation and then we will see how many weeks we have left in the season.

“He is adamant he doesn't want to write off the season. He will do his level best to get back but whether the injury will prevent that, we will have to wait and see.”

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No ticket to China for Trump as trade talks stall

Washington: Trump administration officials have not made any new plans to send a team to China for face-to-face trade talks although there is much work left to be done to reach a deal, White House trade adviser Clete Willems said on Friday.

"We're talking to them (Chinese officials) every day, but no one's got any trip plans," Willems told reporters.

Trump: No deal on trade with China. Yet.Credit:AP

When asked about the prospect for future face-to-face meetings, he said: "Maybe. But there are no plans right now."

US Ambassador to China Terry Branstad said on Friday that Washington and Beijing have yet to set a date for Trump to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping, a sign that neither side sees a deal as imminent.

"Both sides agree that there has to be significant progress, meaning a feeling that they're very close before that happens," Branstad said in Beijing. "We’re not there yet. But we’re closer than we’ve been for a very long time."

The governments of the world's two largest economies have been locked in a tit-for-tat tariff battle for months as Washington presses Beijing to address long-standing concerns over Chinese practices and policies around industrial subsidies, technology transfers, market access and intellectual property rights.

Advances in talks drove the White House to indefinitely delay hikes in tariffs on $US200 billion ($283 billion) worth of Chinese imports that were set to kick in on March 2.

Willems said the two countries had made progress in talks but that there was still much more to be done. He declined to say whether Trump would set a new tariff deadline should the talks stall.

Members of Congress and the business community have expressed concerns that Trump is so eager for a deal ahead of presidential elections next year that he may accept an agreement that falls short of addressing key structural issues.

Willems pushed back against such concerns, saying the notion that Trump will settle for a "bad deal" is "totally inaccurate."

One complicating factor has been Xi's plans to visit Europe after a meeting of the National People's Congress ends next week.

Larry Kudlow, the top White House economic adviser, gave Fox Business Network an optimistic view of the progress so far.

"It is historic, it is written down, it was agreed to by the Chinese who were here two weeks ago, but it has to pass through the political filter of President Xi and the politburo," Kudlow said. "Perhaps a meeting of the leaders later this month or in April. Perhaps."

Kudlow said the emerging deal would provide "an end to the theft of intellectual property" through forced technology transfers and hacking of computer networks.

"We will get substantially lower tariffs, or maybe an end to tariffs on cars, commodities, agriculture, industrial supplies. We will get an enforcement procedure," he said.

"If the deal doesn't work for the United States, and our long-term interests, whether it's technology, IP, theft, enforcement, commodities, tariffs … then it’s not our deal."

Reuters

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No sweat! Defensive lineman sets 40-yard dash record at NFL Combine

Mississippi State defensive lineman Montez Sweat runs the 40-yard dash during the NFL football scouting combine Sunday in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

No sweat!

Defensive lineman Montez Sweat just broke a record.

The 6-6, 260-pound Mississippi State edge rusher set the NFL Combine on fire Sunday, running the 40-yard dash officially in 4.41 seconds, topping the mark of 4.43 set by Emanuel Lawson in 2006, according to the Washington Post.

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Sweat was so fast, he was wide-receiver fast.

A 4.41 would rate for eighth-best among this year’s combine receivers, the NFL said.

Only one running back — Oklahoma State’s Justice Hill — recorded a mark faster than Sweat’s.

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Next will be what round and for what team Sweat shall hear his name during the NFL draft in Nashville on April 25!

“I mean, obviously I’m blessed with whoever takes me in the draft,” Sweat said on Saturday, USA Today reported. “I’m going to give my all for whoever, but any team that takes me, they’re getting a winner.”

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What is a No Deal Brexit, when could a deal with Brussels be agreed and what happens if Britain leaves the EU without a deal?

What does it mean if Britain leaves the European Union without a deal?

What is a No Deal Brexit?

A No Deal departure from the European Union means leaving without formal arrangements for the future relationship or any transition period.

Currently Britain's trade, customs and immigration rules are tied up with the single market and a host of EU regulatory bodies.

Ministers are seeking a legal deal to replace these with looser arrangements so we are outside the single market and customs union but keeping close ties so cross-border trade is easy.

Negotiations under Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty led to the withdrawal agreement in November – but MPs rejected it in January.

Theresa May headed to Brussels on February 20 with fresh plans to fix the hated Irish border backstop.

Eurocrats have privately hinted they are open to tweaking the wording to reassure MPs and help get a deal passed.

If Parliament cannot support a deal – and there is no extension – the UK will leave the EU without a deal on March 29.

That would mean the UK being treated as a "third country" by the EU with commerce governed by World Trade Organisation rules, experts say.

Some Brexiteers say that could be positive – opening up trade with the rest of the world – but many people fear chaos.

On January 6, Boris Johnson said that a No Deal Brexit is the "closest to what people voted for" in the referendum.

He also urged Cabinet Ministers to mirror the British public's "optimism and self-confidence" for the possible exit scenario.

A poll by YouGov on January 14 revealed that 35 per cent of the British public think a No Deal Brexit is likely, 21 per cent think a failed deal will result in a second referendum, 12 per cent said the deal will pass and 10 per cent said a better deal could be negotiated.

What happens if there is no Brexit deal?

Brexiteers say it would be a boost for the UK to be free from Brussels' rules and we will be able to strike deals with other upcoming nations around the globe.

We would also not be obliged to pay the £39billion divorce bill, according to a House of Commons report — but Chancellor Philip Hammond sparked fury by saying we would pay up even without a deal.

Many people fear the UK economy would be hurt by a "cliff edge" Brexit as trade is held up by new border checks and tariffs and more red tape for businesses.

Doom-monger Bank of England governor Mark Carney has warned house prices could crash by a third in a worst-case scenario.

Customs checks on cross-Channel freight could cause havoc at ports, hitting food supplies and other goods such a motor parts.

The Border Force is also planning for a possible No Deal Brexit as they fear there will be "significant outbound queues" at the Eurostar and a "degradation of border security", Sky News reported.

In a pure No Deal Brexit scenario, businesses would lose their passporting rights, which allow them to sell their services across the EU without having to obtain licences in each individual country.

The 310 mile frontier between Northern Ireland and the Republic could become a hard border, according to Eurocrats in Brussels.

The EU's rules may require Ireland to impose customs and other checks to protect the bloc’s border – which some say would mark a return to the dark days of the Troubles.

It could blow a hole in the Good Friday Agreement, with pressure on all sides to find a compromise.

The Confederation of British Industry also said a No Deal Brexit would wipe £193billion off the UK economy, making every region poorer, the Daily Mail reported.

When could a deal with Brussels be agreed?

Theresa May has a Withdrawal agreement that has been negotiated with Brussels.

But MPs rejected it when it was voted on in parliament in January.

Mrs May suffered the biggest parliamentary defeat of any British Prime Minister when the Withdrawal agreement was rejected by a majority of 230.

She announced another vote will be held by March 12 – just over two weeks before Britain is due to leave the European Union.

Negotiations are still continuing over the hated Irish backstop which aims to prevent a hard boarder in Northern Ireland.

Parliament have voted that she must seek "alternative arrangements" to prevent a hard boarder.

What is the Government doing to prepare for a No Deal?

Ministers announced plans for troops on the street and emergency ferries to cope with a No Deal Brexit.

They will order businesses and families to start preparing for Britain to leave the EU without a deal and release £2billion of extra spending.

Businesses will receive a 100-page document, with a total of 80,000 firms likely to hear from the Government over the next few days.

The news comes as:

  • Ministers unveiled the post-Brexit immigration system, which will end preferential treatment for EU migrants
  • But Sajid Javid refused to commit to slashing the numbers to below 100,000
  • Immigration staff may be deployed to the borders to deal with a No Deal Brexit
  • Philip Hammond was accused of hoarding urgently needed Brexit cash by ministers
  • And Dominic Raab said the £39billion divorce bill should be given to businesses in tax cuts to pay for preparations

Theresa May’s Government plunged into utter disarray over Brexit just 48 hours before a crunch Cabinet meeting over Britain’s future.

In December 2018, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt insisted Britain could “flourish and prosper” if it walks away from the EU with No Deal.

As bitter Brexit battles rage on:

  • It emerged 3,500 troops are now on standby to help out in a No Deal outcome
  • Tory rebels including Jacob Rees-Mogg saved Theresa May from a Commons challenge
  • Ministers got legal advice on how to revoke Article 50
  • Eurocrat Jean-Claude Juncker was seen falling over at a party
  • May narrowly survived a vote of no confidence in her government by 19 votes
  • MPs won six out of the seven Commons votes on amendments by MPs to her parliamentary motion on plan B on January 29
  • Health Secretary Matt Hancock says medicines will be given priority over food imports
  • May delivered a speech in Northern Ireland on February 5 reaffirming there would be no hard border
  • Amber Rudd, David Gauke, Greg Clark and David Mundell said May must take No Deal off the table by extending Article 50 on February 20.

Businesses received a 100-page document about Brexit, with a total of 80,000 firms likely to hear from the Government.

The papers show:

  • Imports from Europe would be subject to customs duties and VAT from day one of a No Deal Brexit
  • European banks will be able to operate in Britain for at least three years without any change
  • But UK institutions would have to strike their own deal to avoid being shut out of the EU market completely
  • Ministers are refusing to impose new checks on European medicines because they fear harming the NHS
  • Organic farmers could be badly hit because their goods would be shut out from the continent
  • Cigarette packets would get new warning images – because the current ones belong to Brussels
  • Civil servants are ramping up their work on No Deal Brexit with thousands more officials involved in the plan

May has proposed to Cabinet that she formally rules out a No Deal Brexit on March 29, opening the door to a delay.

The decision will mean putting off Britain’s EU exit by weeks or months if MPs still haven’t passed a new divorce agreement in two weeks time.

On Monday night, three "Remain" Ministers warned as many as 15 could quit if she fails to commit to delaying Brexit.



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For Nolan Arenado, Winning Baseball’s Cash Race Meant Standing Still

As Bryce Harper and Manny Machado, both 26, reached free agency this off-season, there was a drumbeat of declarations about how rare it was for baseball players so good and so young to hit the open market. Many expected the confluence to shatter previous records for free agent contracts.

Yet without nearly as much fanfare, Nolan Arenado, the star third baseman for the Colorado Rockies, appears close to a deal for the highest annual salary for a position player in baseball, even though he has not become a free agent.

Multiple news outlets on Tuesday reported that Arenado and the Rockies were on the verge of an eight-year contract extension that would pay him more per season than the $30 million annual average that Machado will receive in his 10-year deal with the San Diego Padres. And depending on the numbers in a deal for Harper, who is still on the market, Arenado could top him, as well.

But even if Arenado breaks the record for a position player — with, according to the reports, an average annual value of $32.5 million — Harper’s and Machado’s representatives should view that extension as further evidence of their clients’ extraordinary status.

In a sport flush with cash from savvy off-field business moves, teams typically lock up young players before they hit free agency, as the Rockies just did, so the chance to acquire Machado or Harper for cash alone has truly been extraordinary.

Manny Machado Signed a $300 Million Deal; Bryce Harper’s Could Be for More. Will They Be Worth It?

A comparison of all the Major League Baseball players who signed contracts of at least $100 million.

However, if Harper wants to end up with the top contract of this off-season, he should hope to avoid any other comparisons between his performance and Arenado’s.

Arenado, who will turn 28 in April, is 18 months older than Harper and 15 months older than Machado. And he has established himself as the face of the Rockies’ franchise, while his production has been nothing less than sensational.

Aided somewhat by Denver’s thin air, Arenado hit .297 with a .358 on-base percentage and .573 slugging percentage from 2015 through 2018. He hit 158 home runs — leading the National League in three of those four seasons — and even after adjusting for his home park, he has generated 25.3 wins above replacement, placing him fourth in the majors behind Mike Trout, Mookie Betts and Jose Altuve in that span.

A perennial candidate for the National League’s Most Valuable Player Award, Arenado has been having the type of career many predicted for Harper.

Since high school, Harper had been viewed as baseball’s chosen one. He was selected with the first overall pick in the 2010 draft, and his LeBron James-like hype was seemingly justified in 2015, when he produced 10 wins above replacement for the 22nd time in N.L. history — and the first by someone other than Barry Bonds or Sammy Sosa since 1975.

But in the three years since then, as Harper prepared for a free agency payday that at one point had people speculating about a $500 million deal, he has a combined WAR of just 7.5.

Arenado, who was selected with the 59th pick of the 2009 draft and was known more for his glove than for his bat over his first few seasons, has produced 19.4 WAR in the same three-year period.

They have been fairly similar offensively. Arenado’s production, when adjusted for his home park, has been 31 percent better than the league average, while Harper’s as an outfielder has been 33 percent better. But Arenado has been more durable, and the gulf between their defensive value is extreme: Arenado has produced 5.4 defensive WAR and has won a Gold Glove in each of those three seasons, while Harper, at a far less vital position, has generated an ugly minus-4.2 defensive WAR.

If Arenado had made it to free agency next season, there is no telling what type of offer he might have received. He would have been nearly 29 and would have the taint of Coors Field prompting questions about whether his success could be replicated elsewhere. But he also would be on the (very) short list of baseball’s best all-around players, a claim that neither Harper nor Machado could truly make.

Harper, though, should benefit greatly from Arenado’s being off the market for eight years. Any teams that had designs on signing Colorado’s franchise player next year will be forced to look elsewhere.

And Harper, alone at the top of the market, is not only the best remaining free agent but also, accounting for his age and his ceiling, the best that will be along for the next several seasons. He will undoubtedly be paid on a similar level as Arenado, and the only open question will be if he can get back to playing like him, too.

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May set to RULE OUT No Deal Brexit after 15 ministers threaten to quit

Theresa May is set to RULE OUT No-Deal Brexit after 15 ministers threaten to quit in extraordinary mass revolt at secret meeting – as three ‘implore’ the PM to extend the deadline to ‘prevent disaster’ in letter to the Mail

  • Theresa May is ready to rule out a No Deal Brexit after a mass revolt, Mail reveals 
  • 23 dissidents met secretly last night to discuss how to stop a No Deal scenario
  • Three ministers involved say they are prepared to back a Commons move by rebel MPs to force the PM to seek a Brexit delay if her deal is voted down 

Theresa May is ready to rule out a No Deal Brexit after an extraordinary mass revolt by ministers, the Daily Mail can reveal.

A group of 23 dissidents met secretly at the Commons last night to discuss how to stop Britain leaving the EU without an agreement on March 29, with as many as 15 said to be ready to resign.

In an article for the Mail today, three of the ministers involved say they are prepared to back a Commons move by rebel MPs tomorrow to force the Prime Minister to seek a Brexit delay if her deal is voted down.

Industry minister Richard Harrington, digital minister Margot James and energy minister Claire Perry ‘implore’ Mrs May to say that if there is no deal agreed by Parliament by March 13 then she must seek a way to extend Article 50.

If she fails to do so they warn bluntly they ‘will have no choice other than to join MPs of all parties and fellow ministers in acting in the national interest to prevent a disaster in less than five weeks that we may regret forever’.

A group of 23 dissidents met secretly at the Commons last night to discuss how to stop Britain leaving the EU without an agreement on March 29


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Industry minister Richard Harrington (left), digital minister Margot James (right) and energy minister Claire Perry ‘implore’ Mrs May to say that if there is no deal agreed by Parliament by March 13 then she must seek a way to extend Article 50

And in a dramatic development last night, it appeared the Prime Minister was preparing to bow to their demands and rule out a No Deal Brexit.

It came as Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was accused of ‘cynical betrayal’ after performing a U-turn and backing a second referendum – and backing a second referendum – breaking a manifesto vow by his party. Allies of the Prime Minister revealed that the Cabinet will discuss proposals this morning that could see the UK request a short extension of Article 50 of around two months if the PM’s deal is voted down by MPs again, for a second time, on March 12.

If ministers back the plan Mrs May could float the idea in a statement to Parliament as early as this afternoon.

The idea is a desperate bid to stave off the mass rebellion by ministers and avert a looming Commons defeat tomorrow over the motion put forward by Labour’s Yvette Cooper and Tory Sir Oliver Letwin that would empower Parliament to force a Brexit delay on the Government.


Up to 25 Tory backbenchers are also threatening to back tomorrow’s revolt (left: Mrs May at the Arab-European Summit. Right: European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker)


Other Tories believed to be on the brink of resigning to stop No Deal include Scottish Secretary David Mundell, left. As many as 15 ministers could resign, including anti-Brexit Cabinet minister David Gauke, right

As many as 15 ministers could resign and vote for the motion unless Mrs May provides assurances on No Deal today, including anti-Brexit Cabinet ministers Amber Rudd, David Gauke and Greg Clark.

Other Tories believed to be on the brink of resigning to stop No Deal include Scottish Secretary David Mundell, Defence minister Tobias Ellwood, Solicitor General Robert Buckland and Disabilities minister Sarah Newton. All are thought to have attended yesterday’s Commons meeting.

Up to 25 Tory backbenchers are also threatening to back tomorrow’s revolt. It means around 40 Tory rebels could vote against the Government which, with Opposition support, is more than enough to defeat Mrs May.


Other Tories believed to be on the brink of resigning to stop No Deal include Defence minister Tobias Ellwood, left. Energy minister Claire Perry, right, ‘implores’ Mrs May to say that if there is no deal agreed by Parliament by March 13 then she must seek a way to extend Article 50


As many as 15 ministers could resign and vote for the motion unless Mrs May provides assurances on No Deal today, including anti-Brexit Cabinet ministers Amber Rudd, left, and Greg Clark, right

The developments came on an extraordinary day when Mr Corbyn stunned Westminster by indicating he was ready to back a second referendum. In a string of other Brexit developments:

Rebel amendment ‘an assault on Government’ 

By Jack Doyle, Associate Editor for the Daily Mail 

Attemps by rebel MPs to delay Brexit pose a ‘clear and present danger’ to the Government, leaked Whitehall papers suggest.

A cross-party group led by Labour’s Yvette Cooper and Tory Oliver Letwin will today table proposals designed to force an extension to Britain’s EU membership beyond March 29.

Supporters argue it will stop a disastrous No Deal Brexit. But a Government analysis of the plans written by Cabinet Office officials says they would strip huge power from ministers. ‘The Government would lose its ability to govern,’ it concludes.

Last night a Whitehall source said the Cooper-Letwin amendment was ‘constitutionally dangerous’ and could become a ‘Trojan Horse’ for a much wider assault on Brexit and the Government.

If the amendment passes it would take power from the Government over what is discussed in Parliament and hand it to backbenchers. ‘Without this (power)’, the analysis warns, ‘the Government has no control over the House of Commons and the parliamentary business and legislation necessary to progress government policies.’

‘It is difficult to judge the long-term consequences of this approach for the relationship between Executive and Parliament…but clearly, if it were to become common practice it would fundamentally alter the balance of power between Parliament and the Executive,’ it says. In theory, the amendment could allow MPs to command civil service resources and attempt to pass Bills on other subjects not related to Brexit.

Last night a senior Tory MP said: ‘This is not just about stopping No Deal. People are being hoodwinked. But in reality it could upend the way democracy works in this country. Their ambitions go far beyond stopping Brexit.’

Allies of the Prime Minister are urging her to try to buy off the rebels with the promise of a vote on delaying Brexit if she cannot get her deal through on March 12. 

  • The Labour leader was accused of a ‘cowardly’ betrayal of Labour’s promises to honour the referendum result, with one Labour MP telling him: ‘In the Midlands and north of England this decision today will stop you from being Prime Minister.’
  • The Mail saw leaked Whitehall papers suggesting that attempts by rebel MPs to delay Brexit posed a ‘clear and present danger’ to the government.
  • Business leaders declared a no-deal Brexit could trigger a ‘full-blown economic crisis’ and food shortages.
  • A leading medical journal warned a deal is desperately needed to avoid disastrous consequences for the NHS.
  • Consumer experts said families face chaos and long delays at European airports – particularly in Spain – if the country leaves the EU without an agreement.
  • Former Brexit secretary David Davis boasted that he has the credentials to be leader of the Conservative Party.
  • Ex-deputy prime minister Lord Heseltine called for a second referendum because the ‘almighty’ had intervened and many of those who voted Brexit in 2016 have died.

At the weekend, Miss Rudd, Mr Clark and Mr Gauke made clear in the Mail that they opposed a No Deal departure and Brexit must be delayed unless there was a breakthrough on Mrs May’s deal this week.

Tomorrow’s vote would empower Parliament to force a Brexit delay on the Government if Mrs May has failed to get a deal passed by March 13.

The Prime Minister remains unconvinced that a delay to Brexit will help the process, warning yesterday that an extension of Article 50 ‘doesn’t deliver a decision in Parliament and it doesn’t deliver a deal.’ 

Speaking at an EU summit in Egypt where she held emergency Brexit talks with fellow leaders, Mrs May said progress was being made and a deal to take the UK out on March 29 remained ‘within our grasp’. 

But she refused to explicitly rule out a Brexit delay. One ally of the PM said: ‘It’s either accept the possibility of a delay or face a potentially heavy defeat in parliament and have it forced on you anyway.

‘It isn’t taking No Deal off the table – you still have to get a deal to do that.’

Another senior Tory said: ‘If 20 ministers have to resign to force this through then they will, but it would have a catastrophic impact on the Government.’

One leading Remainer last night said: ‘I don’t want to resign but if I don’t get the assurances I need from the PM then I will. The Government is not ready to leave without a deal next month – it would be irresponsible.

‘There are enough of us who feel that way to get the Cooper amendment through and everyone knows that.’ 

We can’t simply have No Deal, Theresa – a new devastating intervention by ministers Richard Harrington, Claire Perry and Margot James

Minister of State for Energy and Clean Growth, Claire Perry

Now that we know that there will be no parliamentary vote on a deal for Britain to exit the European Union until March 12 three things are clear.

First, if an agreement is not reached and endorsed by then, Britain would crash out on the most basic and disruptive terms on March 29.

Second, even if an agreement were to be reached by March 12, it would be too late to have it ratified by the European Council of Ministers, the UK Parliament and the European Parliament before Brexit day, just over a fortnight later.

Third, British businesses have been plunged into depths of uncertainty and dismay that is ruinous for the interests of the millions of working men and women whose livelihoods depend on the confidence of their employers.

The British Chambers of Commerce, representing small firms in every part of the UK said it is “unbelievable” that there is just “17 days’ notice for businesses, employees, investors and communities on what may be the biggest economic and trading change they face in a generation”.

We can’t go on like this. All three facts point to the same conclusion: we must act immediately to ensure that we are not swept over the precipice on March 29.

The way to do that is to seek a short extension to Article 50 to allow the negotiations to be completed, the legislation to pass and for the panic that businesses face to subside.

It would not take No Deal off the table – only an agreed deal can do that. It would not affect the conduct of the negotiation – both sides are fully aware of the impossibility of ratifying a deal done after this week without an extension to Article 50.

But what it would do is to help save the jobs of thousands of people whose employers risk taking flight rather than putting up any longer with the enforced ignorance they have of how to trade with their most important suppliers and customers.

The best way to do this is for the Government to take a cool-headed, sensible step.

It should say that if there is no deal agreed, it will seek a way to extend Article 50 to avoid leaving with No Deal on March 29. It is a commitment that would be greeted with relief by the vast majority of MPs, businesses and their employees.

We implore the Government to take that step this week.

But if the Prime Minister is not able to make this commitment, we will have no choice other than to join MPs of all parties in the House of Commons, including fellow ministers, in acting in the national interest to prevent a disaster in less than five weeks’ time that we may regret forever. 

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Food prices could rocket under No Deal, Michael Gove acknowledges

Food prices could rocket under No Deal, Michael Gove acknowledges, as the British Retail Consortium warns cheese and beef could become 30 per cent more expensive overnight

  • British Retail Consortium analysis shows cheddar cheese could rocket by 32 per cent in a no deal Brexit, and beef could become 29 per cent more expensive
  • Michael Gove told Andrew Marr ‘yes, there is a risk food prices will go up’
  • He called on the House of Commons to unite behind a deal in votes next week
  • And he defended ministers who has publicly contradicted the PM, saying Amber Rudd and other should not be fired because ‘they’re good colleague’ 

Environment Secretary Michael Gove has accepted the price of staple foodstuffs could rocket in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

Responding to figures from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) which warned the price of cheddar cheese could leap 32 per cent, and beef by 29 per cent, Mr Gove said: ‘It is one scenario but it is not the scenario we plan to go down.’

On the BBC this morning, Andrew Marr presented  Mr Gove with the figures, which were reached after the BRC applied World Trade Organisation (WTO) tariffs to the prices of everyday foodstuffs.

Asked: ‘if there is no deal, will food prices in this country go up?’, the environment secretary replied: ‘I think there is a risk of that, yes.’

Mr Gove acknowledged the ‘friction’ of a no deal Brexit would increase the price of food 

The BRC analysis shows beef could increase five to 29 per cent; tomatoes could go up in price between nine and 18 per cent; and cheddar cheese could rocket between six and 32 per cent.

Mr Gove responded to the figures saying: ‘It is one scenario but it is not the scenario we plan to go down.

‘One of the things we can do when we leave the European Union is we can set tariffs at a level we think if appropriate, both to protect the consumer but also to look after the most vulnerable and important sectors of food production at home.’

He said the number were based on ‘high’ tariffs applied by the EU to imports from outside its boarders, and said he ‘didn’t think’ that scenario would unfold under the current government.

‘It is a scenario using one particular model but this government is not going down that route and therefore the figures mentioned would not apply.


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But he acknowledged the ‘friction’ that would follow no deal would impose additional costs on food production.

The planned Brexit withdrawal on 29 March comes when the UK imports a lot of fresh, out-of-season, produce – 90 per cent of lettuce, 80 per cent of tomatoes and 70 of soft fruits come from, or arrive via, Europe. 

Increased tariffs, the devaluation of sterling and new regulatory checks would drive up the cost of fresh food and drink, which would be passed on to consumers, retail bodies warned.

Under WTO rules which would come into force under no deal, this would mean a 42 per cent tariff on imported cheddar, 46 per cent on mozzarella, 40 per cent on beef, 21 per cent on tomatoes and 15.5% on apples, the BRC said last year.

Mr Gove, who has said tariffs will be set tomorrow, and that the system would maintain ‘as far as possible’ price stability but also protect vulnerable areas of production. 

The tariffs would be ‘temporary’ in the event of new deal and would be replaced by a new trading relationship, the leading Brexiteer said.

Mr Gove (right) told Andrew Marr (left) that British politics was ‘in a different realm’ and said cabinet minister not respecting collective responsibility should keep their jobs 

He also told Mr Marr it was ‘vitally’ important to achieve a Parliamentary deal which avoids both no Brexit and no deal.

And he defended cabinet colleagues including Amber Rudd, Geg Clark, and David Gauke, who argued publicly in The Daily Mail against Mrs May’s stated position of not extending Article 50, saying they should not be sacked ‘because they’re good colleagues’.

He went on: ‘You can look at politics through the prism of the 20th Century or you can recognise that we’re in a different realm now.

‘We’re in a unique set of circumstances now, and one can apply the sort of “virility” tests that were applied in the past, or we can make progress by being open t arguments to different parts of the party.

‘And also remind everyone… that we have to honour that referendum agreement.’

Mr Gove said there was a ‘solid majority’ in the party and in Parliament for a deal, as long as elements of the Northern Irish backstop agreement were amended.

MPs are due to debate Brexit again next Wednesday and are expected to consider an amendment tabled by former Tory minister Sir Oliver Letwin and Labour’s Yvette Cooper.

That would give Parliament the opportunity to delay Brexit and prevent a no-deal situation if there is no agreement with the EU by the middle of March.

Mr Gove refused to be drawn on whether members of the government should be expected to resign if they vote in favour of the Boles/Cooper amendment, saying only he would be doing everything in his power to encourage them to vote with the government.  

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No. 15 LSU upsets No. 5 Tennessee in overtime to dent the Vols’ NCAA tournament profile

No. 15 LSU stunned No. 5 Tennessee, 82-80, in overtime on Saturday to create a three-way tie atop the SEC standings and dent the Volunteers' chances at a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament. 

The Tigers (22-5, 12-2) came back from a nine-point deficit late in the second half to force overtime and pull off the stunner. Ja'Vonte Smart's two free throws with one second left lifted LSU to victory. Smart, who finished with 29 points, was the team's offensive lightning rod in overtime, scoring several key big buckets in the game's final two minutes. 

Tigers big man Kavell Bigby-Williams' lay-up with five seconds left knotted the game at 80 to set up the game's final last-second play that saw Smart draw a foul on Tennessee star Grant Williams. 

LSU guard Skylar Mays, who finished with23 points, drained a game-tying three-pointer with 1:23 remaining in regulation and made two free throws with 44 seconds left in regulation to break the tie before Williams' lay-up tied it to force the extra frame.

NO ZION: Duke star to miss Syracuse game with knee injury

ANNOUNCER SUSPENDED: Iowa radio announcer referred to Maryland player as 'King Kong'

The Tigers pulled off the upset without the services of star Tremont Waters, who leads the team in points and assists but missed Saturday's game with an illness.

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EU’s Barnier ‘more concerned than ever’ about no deal Brexit

‘The UK is about to crash out with no deal by ACCIDENT’: EU’s Barnier says he ‘is more concerned than ever’ after a week of talks with May as she prepares for crunch meeting with Tusk at Arab summit in Egypt

  • Negotiator said to have warned of a high chance of an ‘accidental’ no deal Brexit
  • He said EU does not need more time but it needs Theresa May to make a decision
  • The Prime Minister will hold Brexit talks in Sharm el-Sheikh on Sunday
  • But she has been told not to expect a ‘deal in the desert’ breakthrough  

Britain could out crash out of the EU by accident in March without a deal, the bloc’s chief Brexit negotiator is reported to have told colleagues.

Michel Barnier told a French radio station today that he was ‘more worried than before’ after a week in which Theresa May and senior ministers visited Brussels in a bid to hammer out a workable plan.

And he privately told ambassadors that there was a high chance of an ‘accidental’ Brexit, the Guardian reported.

It came as Mrs May was warned not to expect a ‘deal in the desert’ to emerge from talks with European Council president Donald Tusk in Egypt on Sunday.

Mrs May and senior ministers visited Brussels this week for talks with senior EU officials including European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker aimed at finding a workable Brexit deal that can satisfy British MPs and Brussels

But EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier is said to have revealed that Britain could suffer an ‘accidental’ no-deal Brexit

They will meet in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh ahead of the European Union talks with the Arab League.

Mr Barnier told a French radio station on Friday that it was time for Mrs May to take a decision and present a Brexit plan to Parliament.

“We don’t need extra time, what we need now is a decision and for everyone to take responsibility,” he said.


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He did not exclude granting Britain more negotiating time, but said it was now up to the British “to take their responsibilities and assume the consequences of decisions they took democratically”.

Brussels however is open to adopting a more ambitious political declaration, alongside the legally binding withdrawal treaty that would set a roadmap for negotiating close EU-UK trade ties.

Only 24 of the 28 EU leaders have confirmed they will attend the Red Sea summit, and all would have to be present to agree any new or modified Brexit deal.

Theresa May is due to discuss Brexit with European Council president Donald Tusk when they both attend an EU/Arab League conference in the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh on Sunday. But both sides have poured cold water on hopes of a breakthrough in the desert

Nevertheless, May is expected to meet some of her counterparts one-on-one on the sidelines of the meeting to push her case for changes to the divorce agreement.

This could pave the way towards a later breakthrough, perhaps at the next planned full EU summit on March 21 and 22, just a week before Britain leaves the bloc.

“There will be no deal in the desert in Sharm el-Sheikh, this is a summit between the EU and the Arab states,” an EU source told reporters in Brussels.

Another official said: “It’s an opportunity where everyone can talk, but don’t expect a deal there.”

Downing Street has also dampened hopes of a deal by making a similar warning. 

 

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