Brexit LIVE: UK paid MASSIVE bill for EU negotiations as bloc demanded talks in Brussels

BRITAIN paid a staggering half a million pounds on travelling to Brussels for Theresa May's failed Brexit negotiations, it has emerged.

Mrs May consistency fled the UK to knock on the EU’s door constantly in the past three years, with the colossal bill having just emerged, costing taxpayers £500,000. A freedom of information request sent to the recently disbanded Department for Exiting the European Union (DExEU) revealed the exact figure to be £464,343 paid in fees from the date of the EU referendum result up until December 31 last year. Sam Packer, media campaign manager at the TaxPayers’Alliance, told The Guradian: “Taxpayers don’t expect their hard-earned cash to be frittered on officials cantering back and forth across the channel.

“Of course occasional travel is necessary,” he said. “But the scale of cost is ridiculous given the number of British officials permanently based in Brussels.”

David Cameron’s Government spent £20,000 in 2016 during the period he was attempting to gain reforms from the EU.

Boris Johnson demanded the EU come to London in one of the first acts as Prime Minister.

Mrs May stood down in May, with Mr Johnson taking up her role in July. 

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Brexit Live: Boris Johnson's new Cabinet is filled with leave voters

Brussels demanded the UK travel to Belgium for Brexit talks (Image: GETTY)

7.53pm update: Bitter Brussels makes sly Brexit dig at UK over EU Army

The EU have taken yet another bitter post-Brexit shot at the UK, boasting the bloc's security will now be more efficient and claiming Britain "wanted Europe to do nothing at all".

European Commission Vice President Margaritis Schinas wasted no time in launching a scathing attack on Britain, as relations between the European Union and UK threaten to descend into chaos ahead of the start of crunch post-Brexit trade talks next month.

Mr Schinas said: “There were always those who wanted Europe to do a lot, and those who wanted Europe to do nothing at all or less.

“Those who wanted Europe to do nothing at all, or less, in defence are no longer with us. They left us end of January.

“Because these are the ones who didn’t want Europe to spend on defence.

“These were the ones who were blocking systematically every effort of the European Union to do something meaningful.”

6.50pm update: Galloway explains why France will be next to quit EU as 'demand for Frexit surges'

George Galloway has revealed why a French exit from the European Union is a "rising demand" among millions of French people, as Emmanuel Macron faces the "biggest crisis" of his presidency to date.

France could be the next country to quit the European Union, according to outspoken former MP George Galloway.

Mr Galloway's bold prediction comes as French President Emmanuel Macron’s favourability rating hit a new low ahead of next month’s crucial local elections.

The new poll revealed that less than a third of French people - approximately 31 percent - view him favourably.

Mr Galloway said that the elections in March will “show a new low for Macron”.

He told RT: “Rats always jump from sinking ships and Macron’s ship is sinking.

“The pensions reforms - the savage reductions to their entitlements - was only the proximate cause of the unrest in France. It was the lightning rod for hostility among millions of French people."

5.56pm update: EU to FORCE Britain to play by rules - shock document reveals plans

Brussels will deploy a special task force to ensure Boris Johnson implements checks in the Irish Sea before the end of the year, it has emerged.

Eurocrats are preparing a hi-tech “monitoring” system to police the Prime Minister’s handling of the Northern Ireland border solution.

Internal EU documents reveal European capitals are worried that Mr Johnson will attempt to ignore the terms of his Withdrawal Agreement with the bloc.

Under the terms of his deal, Northern Ireland will have to follow the EU’s customs rules and many of its single market regulations.

BREXIT

Margaritis Schinas wasted no time in launching a scathing attack on Britain (Image: GETTY)

4.40pm update: UK on brink of explosion in trade with key international partner after Brexit transition

Britain is set for significant trade with Israel following the end of the Brexit transition period as a trade deal has been signed between the two sovereign states.

Israel's Ambassador to the UK, Mark Regev, outlined the importance for both countries in continuing the £9billion bilateral trade relationship.

Mr Regev stated Britain is Israel's "third-largest export market on the planet" following the United States and China.

3.45pm update: Boris Johnson’s new Cabinet agrees post-Brexit points-based immigration system

Boris Johnson's new Cabinet has agreed to implement measures designed to reduce the number of low-skilled migrants entering Britain from the beginning of next year.

The Prime Minister discussed the points-based immigration system at the first meeting of his new ministerial team on Friday morning after a dramatic reshuffle which saw Sajid Javid quit as chancellor.

He was ordered to fire his closest aides and replace them with advisers chosen by Number 10, but instead resigned and was replaced by his former deputy at the Treasury, Rishi Sunak.

Hours after the reshuffle, Mr Johnson told Cabinet that the Government had a responsibility to "unite" the country as he discussed the decisions that would be needed to deliver "real and positive change for the people across the UK".

2.55pm update: ’Complete write-off!’ Germany drags Eurozone into weakest growth since European debt crisis

THE Eurozone has recorded its weakest growth in seven years as the crumbling German economy continues to stagnate amid Brexit and the US-China trade row.

German output continued to disappoint in the fourth and final quarter of the financial year, with Gross Domestic Product (GDP) slowing to 0.1 percent compared to the previous three months.

This means overall Berlin’s output has plummeted from 0.3 percent, the Daily Telegraph reports.

The poor results mean the eurozone was expanding at its slowest pace since early 2013 - a devastating period when the EU was gripped by the European debt crisis.

Last year’s growth plunged to 1.2 percent from 1.9 percent.

Pantheon Macro economist Claus Vistesen said the fall of the Eurozone may be down to the coronavirus spreading.

He added that “now means that the first quarter could well be a write-off”.

1.30pm update: Boris Johnson holds call-and-response exercise with new-look Brexit Cabinet

Following yesterday’s shock cabinet reshuffle, which saw Sajid Javid resign as Chancellor, the Prime Minister held his first meeting with his newly appointed colleagues.

Rather bizarrely, Boris Johnson instigated a call and response exercise where the 22 ministers responded to prompts about his campaign promises.

These included his pledge to recruit 20,000 more police officers, 50,000 more nurses and build 40 new hospitals.

Hailing his “people’s Government”, Mr Johnson asked them: "How many hospitals are we going to build?".

They replied: "Forty!"

He asked: "How many more police officers are we recruiting?"

They replied: "20,000!"

He added: "How many more nurses will we recruit?"

They replied: "50,000!"

"Exactly", the PM concluded.

12.22am update: 'We fell into the trap!' Real reason Boris Johnson pushed Sajid Javid out REVEALED

According to Salma Shah, former aide to , the Prime Minister set out a "trap" for the former Chancellor and his team in order to have a more -supporting team by his side going forward.

Speaking to the BBC's Newscast, Ms Shah said: “I fell into this trap of thinking well the withdrawal agreement is done, maybe we don’t need to have that Brexit-Remain balance.

“But actually, I was talking to somebody earlier today and I said have we all miss the trick here looking forward to what’s going to happen?

“Has there been a clear-out because we don’t want any more ructions around whether we are going to extend the transition period and things like that?

“It could be that we get to October and we are right back where we were last year.”

10.50am update: Jackson Carlaw elected new leader of Scottish Conservatives 

Jackson Carlaw has been elected as the new leader of the Scottish Conservatives, succeeding Ruth Davidson.

Mr Carlaw, who served as interim leader during the recent general election campaign, defeated Scottish Tory social security spokeswoman Michelle Ballantyne by 4,917 votes to 1,581.

His success in the leadership contest comes despite the Scottish Conservatives losing more than half their MPs north of the border in December's election.

Ms Davidson quit as party leader last August - citing her conflict over Brexit and changes to her personal life after becoming a mother - but the contest to find her successor was delayed because of the election.

The UK has a busy year of negotiating a deal with the EU

The UK has a busy year of negotiating a deal with the EU (Image: EXPRESS)

10.02am update: ‘Europe is WEAK!’ Brussels heavyweight opens up about major fears for EU

Manfred Weber, who has served as leader of the European People’s Party - the centre-right group - in the European Parliament since 2014, highlighted several of the EU’s flaws on Thursday night.

Speaking on the eve of the Munich Security Conference, the German politician attended a panel of diplomats, including Richard Grenell, US President Donald Trump’s ambassador to Germany and Margaritas Schinas, the European Commission vice president.

In his opening remarks, Mr Weber commented that “Europe is quite weak” in many areas, and proceeded to list off a series of the bloc’s shortcomings.

The MEP said the EU is not coordinated enough to properly fight terrorism or strong enough to deter an increasingly aggressive Russia.

He also hit out at the bloc’s lack of unity and said because of this the EU struggled to carry out an effective foreign policy.

Mr Weber said: “What I want to have is a Europe that is capable of defending itself.”

9.13am update: Bank of England boss sees silver lining after Brexit hit to UK economy 

For years, Bank of England boss Mark Carney warned of the economic risks of Britain leaving the European Union.

Now that it has happened, he says there could be a silver lining in Prime Minister Boris Johnson's plans to boost growth.

Speaking to Reuters a month before he ends his nearly seven-year term as BoE governor, Mr Carney said Britain was moving to address its main economic problem - weak productivity.

After a thumping election win in December that paved the way for Brexit on January 31, Mr Johnson gave the green light this week to a new high-speed railway line that, according to one estimate, is likely to cost more than 100 billion pounds ($130 billion).

The prime minister has promised further help for regions where growth has fallen far behind London and other big cities.

Mr Carney said: "In an environment where everything is getting a fresh look, it's fertile ground for taking a step back and making bigger changes than otherwise might have been made."

Sajid Javid quit Mr Johnson's Cabinet as the reshuffle was getting underway

Sajid Javid quit Mr Johnson's Cabinet as the reshuffle was getting underway (Image: GETTY)

8.37am update: Thank God they’re gone! Bitter Brussels makes sly Brexit dig at UK over EU Army

The European Union has taken yet another bitter post-Brexit shot at the UK, boasting the bloc’s security will now be more efficient and claiming Britain “wanted Europe to do nothing at all”.

European Commission Vice President Margaritis Schinas wasted no time in launching a scathing attack on Britain, as relations between Brussels and London threaten to descend into chaos ahead of the start of crunch trade talks next month.

But Mr Schinas, whose portfolio is “promoting our European way of life”, claimed the EU’s defence and security cooperation would accelerate thanks to Brexit.

He accused Britain of not wanting Europe to “spend on defence” and blocked “systematically every effort of the European Union to do something meaningful”.

Mr Schinas said: “There were always those who wanted Europe to do a lot, and those who wanted Europe to do nothing at all or less.

“Those who wanted Europe to do nothing at all, or less, in defence are no longer with us. They left us at the end of January.

“Because these are the ones who didn’t want Europe to spend on defence.

“These were the ones who were blocking systematically every effort of the European Union to do something meaningful.”

8.27am update: How Irish leader’s ‘Brexit-bashing’ backfired - PM pays ultimate price

Political expert Tom Gallagher said Leo Varadkar had paid the ultimate price at the polls for making Brexit his main focus during his electoral campaign.

During its campaign, Mr Varadkar’s party Fine Gael highlighted their leader’s success in preventing a hard border on the island and keeping Northern Ireland free of checks after Brexit.

But the strategy fell flat amid voter dissatisfaction over an ongoing homeless crisis, a creaking health service and a huge tranche of voters aged under 35 locked out of the housing market.

Mr Gallagher wrote: “Leo Varadkar thought that bashing Britain over Brexit would be the campaign theme that would enable his Fine Gael Party to achieve second decade in power.

“But instead, at 41, he looks washed-up politically and is unlikely to be in charge if the deadlocked result on means another general election has to be held before the year is out.

“An exit found that only 1 per cent of voters identified Brexit as the most important issue for them.

“Health was the chief concern of 32 per cent, closely followed by housing and homelessness.

“The terrible twins of Fine Gael and Fianna Fail have no answers for these grave problems.

“Power to them was not about problem-solving but using control of the state to reward themselves and their backers in different ways.”

7.48am update: Boris Johnson’s post-Brexit trade talks with Donald Trump postponed

Mr Johnson has delayed a trip to the US to meet the US President. so he can stay at home to focus on delivering his domestic agenda, the Sun newspaper reported late on Thursday.

The decision to delay the trip would be a further blow to relations between the close allies who are set to begin discussing a trade deal, now that the UK has left the European Union.

The countries are divided on several issues, including Britain’s decision to allow the Chinese telecoms company Huawei a limited role in its mobile network, a proposed digital services tax, and the Iran nuclear deal.

Mr Johnson was expected to visit Washington early this year.

This has now been postponed until June when a summit of G7 leaders is due, according to the newspaper.

Downing Street has not yet provided a comment.

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