The Catch-up: Thousands of troops in advanced preparation for no-deal Brexit
Britain’s armed forces have set up a command centre in an underground bunker as part of contingency plans for the UK crashing out of the EU without a deal. Called Operation Redfold, the Ministry of Defence said it has committed to holding 3,500 troops at readiness to help the government with any civil disruption that could be caused by a no-deal departure from the EU.
Is ‘no deal’ going to happen?
On Thursday night, Theresa May agreed with the EU that Brexit could be delayed past March 29. She now has until April 12 to get her divorce deal (which has already been rejected by MPs twice) through Parliament. If she doesn’t – and the odds are stacked against her – then Britain could easily leave the EU in three weeks’ time with no agreement in place.
But it is clear that the EU doesn’t want this to happen – and neither do British MPs. That means it is quite conceivable Mrs May fails to get her deal through again and is forced to quit. The Tories could then seek an interim leader to try and bridge the divisions in Parliament, which would likely involve an even longer delay while Parliament tries to reach a consensus.
How serious is no deal?
Many pro-Brexiteers have dismissed concerns about crashing out without a deal as ‘Project Fear’, though some also admit there will be short-term pain. Yesterday, however, union and business leaders issued a remarkable joint plea (Full story here) to Mrs May urging her to “change course” in her approach to Brexit. They said the UK faces a “national emergency” and “avoiding no deal is paramount”.
The MoD’s plan also comes as it emerged teachers in Kent have been warned they may have to suspend classes or act in a “carer role” in the event of a no-deal Brexit. According to separate leaked documents, the government’s priorities in the event of a no-deal will be “welfare, health, transport and security of UK citizens at home and abroad, and the economic stability of the UK”.
Read more about this story
Full story: Govt preparing to enter ‘very high’ readiness mode (Sky News)
Union and business leaders in joint Brexit plea (Press Association)
‘Stop Brexit’ petition his 3 million signatures (The Independent)
Pupils could be left stranded by no deal Brexit (The Guardian)
The number of fines issued to parents taking children out of school for term time holidays has almost doubled in just one year, statistics show.
Department of Education figures reveal nearly 223,000 penalties were dished out to parents in 2017-18, up from around 115,000 the previous year. We asked you how acceptable it is to take children on term-time holidays. Read the full story and have your say below:
East 17’s Brian Harvey arrested and taken to hospital
The former singer Brian Harvey has been arrested on suspicion of sending “malicious communications”. Scotland Yard said they were called to an address in Walthamstow, east London, on Thursday following reports a man was threatening to harm himself. Following a mental health assessment at hospital, Harvey, 44, was taken into police custody. Harvey shot to fame with East 17 in the 1990s and scored several top 10 hits, including 1994 Christmas number one Stay Another Day. Read the full story here (The Telegraph)
IRA witness names men behind Birmingham pub attacks
A convicted bomber has named four men he claims carried out the 1974 Birmingham pub attacks after telling inquests he had been given permission to do so by the head of the IRA. The blasts killed 21 people and injured 220 others. Bereaved families have waited 44 years for fresh inquests, which are now in their fourth week. On Friday, in a dramatic turn, an anonymous ex-IRA volunteer giving evidence at the inquests, named those involved. Read the full story here (Sky News)
A young taekwondo student from Tennessee, had an unexpected sparring partner earlier this week.
Video by the Lebanon Democrat shows nine-year-old Luca Cesternino practicing his moves at Success Martial Arts Center. Thanks to a blindfold, he had no idea he was sparring against his dad, Staff Sgt Rob Cesternino, who had just returned from a 10-month deployment in Kuwait. Watch the tear-jerking moment they were reunited (Storyful):
New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Arden joined thousands of people to remember the 50 people killed by a gunman at two mosques in Christchurch a week ago. The crowd gathered in a park near Al Noor mosque where most of the victims were killed during Friday prayers on March 15. The call to prayer was observed at 1.30pm local time and followed by two minutes of silence. It comes the day after the government announced a ban on “military-style” semi-automatic firearms and high-capacity magazines like the weapons that were used in the attacks. Read the full story here (Reuters)