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UK & World

Pilot pleads not guilty over Shoreham Airshow manslaughter charges

May 15 2018

A pilot whose plane crashed during the 2015 Shoreham Airshow, killing 11 men, has pleaded not guilty to manslaughter.Andrew Hill, 54, faces trial on 11 charges of manslaughter by gross negligence and one of recklessly or negligently endangering an aircraft under air navigation laws.The defendant, who is on bail, pleaded not guilty to all the charges relating to the crash on August 22, 2015.He wore a grey suit and blue tie for his appearance at the Old Bailey before Judge Richard Marks QC.The judge set a trial for January 14 2019 and confirmed the case would be heard by a High Court judge.The trial is expected to go on for up to seven weeks.The victims were Maurice Rex Abrahams, Dylan Archer, Anthony David Brightwell, Matthew James Grimstone, Matthew Wesley Jones, James Graham Mallinson, Mark Alexander Reeves, Jacob Henry Schilt, Richard Jonathan Smith, Mark James Trussler and Daniele Gaetano Polito.Hill, of Sandon, Hertfordshire, is accused of “recklessly or negligently” endangering a Hawker Hunter G-BXFI or any person on that aircraft contrary to Article 137 of the Air Navigation Order 2009.Judge Marks ordered a pre-trial review at the Old Bailey on a date to be arranged at the end of October.Hill remains on unconditional bail.

UK & World

Former youth football coach ‘Kit’ Carson faces trial on sex abuse charges

May 15 2018

Former youth football coach and scout “Kit” Carson is to stand trial accused of the historical sexual abuse of boys aged under 16.Michael “Kit” Carson, 74, pleaded not guilty at Cambridge Crown Court to 12 counts of indecent assault and one of inciting a child to engage in sexual activity.Carson, who has worked at Norwich City, Peterborough United and Cambridge United, was bailed until an administrative hearing.A trial date has yet to be fixed.Judge David Farrell QC told Tuesday’s hearing that Carson’s bail conditions included not coaching football or being involved in the scouting process.Cambridgeshire Police said the allegations involved 11 victims, all boys under the age of 16, between 1978 and 2009.Carson, of St Bartholomew’s Court, Riverside, Cambridge, is due to appear at Cambridge Crown Court on July 20.

Road tests

Grand touring with Maserati

May 16 2018

Few cars turn heads like a Maserati GranTurismo. Even a decade on from its launch, the Pininfarina styled lines have lost none of their power to enthrall. The GranTurismo is a four-seat grand tourer designed to cover large distances in comfort and style. It has been refreshed for 2018, with a restyled exterior and interior and some new technology. The old 4.2 litre engine has been replaced by a more powerful 4.7 litre V8 which, as before, is sourced from Ferrari. The range has been simplified, with just two models – “entry level” Sport and top spec MC. The sport will set you back around £93,000 and the MC model I drove had a price tag £80 shy of £110,000. That’s not cheap, and nor will the car break 20mpg. Such an outlay does buy a lot more exclusivity that other sports cars available for similar money, such as the Audi R8 and Porsche 911, however. The engine produces a healthy 454bhp, which will take the GranTurismo from 0-62mph in 4.8 seconds and on to a top speed of 185mph. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t9CTROQYwZE It does so with a magnificent yowl that can’t fail to put a smile on your face. There is traction control but it’s still easy to get the GranTurismo out of shape if you’re not careful. On a wet A82 beside Loch Lomond I managed to accidentally fishtail the rear end. On drier roads the grip is prodigious and you would need a track to explore the car’s limits. The suspension is softer than hardcore sports cars, however. The Maserati has two jobs to do : to thrill drivers and transport them in comfort. Unlike one of its most direct rivals, the BMW 6 Series, which has rear seats suitable only for small children, the GranTurismo is a proper four seater with room for adults in the back. Boot space is a modest 260 litres though, so if you do travel with four people they’ll need to keep luggage to a minimum. The inside of the GranTurismo is, as you’d expect, quite a special place. Virtually every inch is covered with soft leather or fine wood. An 8.4 inch touchscreen has been added in the 2018 version of the car, as has a high end Harman Kardon stereo. Cruising along the shores of Loch Lomond and then Loch Long it was all too easy to drift into a fantasy where I was a millionaire on my way to my luxury retreat in the highlands. Sadly, an hour or two later I had to hand the keys back and return to reality  

UK & World

Government wants to wait before deciding on future of civil partnerships

May 14 2018

Ministers want to wait until next year before consulting on the future of civil partnerships.Government lawyers told the Supreme Court the wait was “justified” so four whole years of data could be gathered following the introduction of same-sex marriage.The court is hearing the case of Rebecca Steinfeld, 37, and Charles Keidan, 41, who want a civil partnership but are prevented by legislation which says only same-sex couples are eligible.The academics, who live in Hammersmith, west London, suffered defeat at the Court of Appeal in February last year, but were given the go-ahead in August for a Supreme Court hearing.A panel of five Supreme Court justices, including the court’s president Lady Hale, began considering the couple’s appeal on Monday. James Eadie QC, representing the equalities minister, told the court the Government wants to wait until September next year before it considers what to do and would launch a public consultation.He said civil partnerships are “essentially identical” to civil marriage and were created to give legal recognition to same-sex unions at a time “when society was not felt ready” to recognise such relationships as marriages.Mr Eadie told the judges it is accepted Ms Steinfeld and Mr Keidan have a “genuinely held” objection to marriage, but the Government’s decision to “take some time” before deciding on the future of civil partnerships is “justified”.He said: “These are highly sensitive social (and indeed political) issues in which the Government and Parliament are currently, actively and seriously engaged on a defined timescale and process.“The process has taken some time – a fact that is in part due to an understandable and legitimate concern to gauge the reaction over a period of time to the introduction of the Marriage Act 2013.”He later added: “The future of civil partnerships raises difficult questions of social policy for which there is no obvious answer and Parliament has a Bill before it with different options to deal with those difficulties.”Mr Eadie told the court the number of civil partnerships formed in England and Wales fell by 85% in the first two years after the introduction of same-sex marriage. Karon Monaghan QC, representing Ms Steinfeld and Mr Keidan, argued the delay was unacceptable as they were “instantly” discriminated against from the moment the Marriage Act came into force.She told the judges the couple are in a “long-term and committed heterosexual relationship”.She added: “They share a profound and serious objection to the institution of marriage.“Whilst the appellants wish to formalise their relationship, their conscience does not permit them to do so through marriage.“Rather, they wish to enter into a civil partnership with one another.”In a statement outside court before the hearing, Ms Steinfeld and Mr Keidan called on the Government to “stop making excuses” and give everyone the choice to enter a civil partnership.The couple, who have two daughters aged eight months and two years, claim the Government’s position is “incompatible with equality law”.The Court of Appeal agreed the couple had established a potential violation of Article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which relates to discrimination, taken with Article 8, which refers to respect for private and family life.But, by a majority of two to one, the judges said the interference was justified by the Government’s policy of “wait and evaluate”.They heard the couple have deep-rooted and genuine ideological objections to marriage and wish to enter into a legally regulated relationship which does not carry “patriarchal baggage”.The Government said it was decided, after public consultations and debate in Parliament, not to extend civil partnerships to opposite-sex couples, abolish them or phase them out at that stage.The aim was to see how extending marriage to same-sex couples impacted on civil partnerships before making a final decision which, if reversed in a few years, would be disruptive, unnecessary and extremely expensive.The hearing is expected to last two days.

UK & World

Petrol bombing accused in ‘toxic’ relationship with co-defendant, court hears

May 15 2018

A young woman accused of being involved in the petrol-bomb murder of four children has told a court of her “toxic” relationship with her co-accused boyfriend.Courtney Brierley, 20, said Zak Bolland, her first boyfriend and alleged ring-leader of the attack, would hit and drag her by the hair, cut her off from family and friends and banned her from using social media.Bolland, 23, and David Worrall, 25, had taken cocaine and alcohol when they petrol bombed the home of Michelle Pearson, 35, at around 5am on December 11 last year, the latest “tit for tat” attack during a “petty” feud between Bolland and Mrs Pearson’s sons, Manchester Crown Court heard.They removed a fence panel from the back garden, a kitchen window was smashed and two lit petrol bombs thrown into the house on Jackson Street, Walkden, Greater Manchester.Demi Pearson, 15, her brother Brandon, aged eight, and sister Lacie, seven, who were sleeping in a front bedroom, all perished in the blaze.Mrs Pearson was rescued along with her youngest daughter, Lia, aged three, who died in hospital two days later.Bolland admits the attack but has told the jury he thought the house was empty and did not intend to harm anyone.He admits reckless arson but, along with Brierley and Worrall, denies four counts of murder.Brierley said she “loved” Bolland when they first got together a year ago, but the relationship changed.“It was toxic, horrible,” she told the jury.She said Bolland made her delete all her social media profiles and cut her off from her family, because her mother “hated and despised” him.She said Bolland had strangled her and given her a black eye through punching her in the head but she forgave him, “many times”.Brierley maintains her boyfriend had a “controlling influence” over her but was not aware of any plan to fire bomb the Pearson’s home.Earlier father-of-one Worrall told the court he was “wary” of Bolland but went to the Pearson’s home with the petrol bombs with his co-accused.He said: “The only thing he said to me was he was going to set the bins on fire again.”Worrall told the jury he “just stood there” and did not prepare, handle or throw either of the petrol bombs.And while he accepted he thought the house was occupied – and the garden full of children’s toys, he maintained he did not know of any plan to fire bomb the house.“I wasn’t helping him, I was being dragged along,” he told the jury.Worrall said he only realised what was going to happen as Bolland smashed the kitchen window and began to light the first petrol bomb – and immediately he ran away.But Paul Reid QC, prosecuting, said: “Really the truth is you and Zak Bolland around there each with a petrol bomb and each involved in hurling a petrol bomb in that house. You first, him second, knowing people were in there.“And for your part, you knew or believed there were children in there as well?”Worrall replied: “Yes – but I didn’t do anything.”Bolland, Worrall and Brierley also deny three counts of attempted murder.Bolland has admitted reckless arson, a charge denied by the other two.The trial was adjourned until Wednesday morning.

UK & World

Seattle backs ‘head tax’ on large companies like Amazon to help homeless

May 15 2018

Officials in Seattle have unanimously approved a tax on large businesses such as Amazon and Starbucks to fund the fight against homelessness after weeks of heated debate and raucous hearings.The city council backed a compromise plan that will charge large businesses about 275 US dollars per full-time worker each year less than the 500 US dollars per worker initially proposed.The so-called head tax would raise about 48 million dollars a year to pay for affordable housing and homeless services.The debate over who should pay to solve a housing crisis exacerbated by Seattle’s rapid economic growth comes amid rocketing housing prices and rising homelessness.The Seattle region had the third-highest number of homeless people in the US and saw 169 homeless deaths last year.Council members who sponsored the initial proposal said 48 million dollars a year was not enough to address the city’s urgent housing needs but conceded they could not get the six votes needed for a larger tax and to override a potential veto by the mayor, who favoured a lower rate and faced intense pressure from businesses.Amazon raised the stakes this month when it halted construction planning on a 17-storey tower near its hometown headquarters as it awaited a vote. It also was rethinking filling office space in another leased building. The two office spaces would accommodate about 7,000 new Amazon jobs.Amazon vice president Drew Herdener said in an emailed statement that the company was disappointed by the council’s decision to introduce “a tax on jobs”.While Amazon has resumed construction planning on the downtown building, he said the company is “apprehensive about the future created by the council’s hostile approach and rhetoric toward larger businesses, which forces us to question our growth here”. He noted that Seattle revenue has grown dramatically and that the city “does not have a revenue problem – it has a spending efficiency problem”.Businesses and others who say the tax is misguided and potentially harmful question whether the city is effectively using the tens of millions of dollars it already spends on homelessness each year.Supporters insist that Amazon and others that have benefited from Seattle’s prosperity and contributed to growing income inequality should pay.Council member Lisa Herbold, one of the tax’s sponsors, said she grappled with the compromise package, given how many people are struggling, but that it was the “strongest proposal” they could bring forward.“People are dying on the doorsteps of prosperity. This is the richest city in the state and in a state that has the most regressive tax system in the country,” said council member Teresa Mosqueda, who supported a larger tax but called the plan “a down payment” to build housing the city needs.They voted as people packed the meeting, holding signs saying “People before profits” and chanting “Housing is a human right”.Other cities have implemented similar taxes, but critics say Seattle’s tax could threaten the booming local economy and drive away jobs.Nearly 600 large for-profit employers – about 3% – making at least 20 million dollars in gross revenue would pay the tax, which would begin in 2019.Amazon, the city’s largest employer with 45,000 workers, would take the biggest hit.The tax would end after five years with a review in the last year to determine whether or not it should continue.The company’s threat to pause its growth in Seattle comes as 20 cities vie to lure the company’s second headquarters and as it expands its workforce in Boston and Vancouver, British Columbia.Proponents say people are dying on the streets, and, while city-funded programmes found homes for 3,400 people last year, the problem deepens.Shannon Brown, 55, who has been living in a tiny home at a south Seattle homeless encampment, said there is simply not enough housing for the city’s poorest people.“I live in a little shed, but it’s better than living in a tent or in a sleeping bag on the street,” she said as she queued for an hour before Monday’s meeting began.“There’s no way I can afford to live in Seattle. I don’t understand why businesses think it’s wrong to help.”John Boufford with the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades said he did not understand rhetoric against Amazon, which he noted provides good jobs for thousands of people.“They’re driving this economic engine,” he said. “I’m confused about why the city of Seattle is fostering an adversarial relationship with businesses in this city.”The city spent 68 million dollars on homelessness last year, and some said they wanted to see the city prioritise its money better.

UK & World

Meghan’s dress ‘simple, stylish and elegant’, experts say

May 19 2018

Meghan’s all-important wedding gown has been praised for its “classic” and “elegant” style.David Emanuel, who designed Princess Diana’s dress for her wedding to the Prince of Wales in 1981, said her dress was “simple, stylish, elegant and understated”.Mr Emanuel also paid tribute to the “clever” decision to include flora of each of the 53 countries of the Commonwealth on her veil.Meanwhile another commentator described how she paid “homage to her new British roots” through the choice of designer.Choosing British designer Clare Waight Keller – the first female artistic director for French fashion house Givenchy – also gave a message of “empowerment”, according to the editor of the fashion blog Meghan’s Mirror.Amanda Dishaw said that the wedding gown was “classic, timeless and simple”.Mr Emanuel said: “The dress is as I predicted – simple, stylish, elegant and understated.“I think the story is in the silk jewelled veil, it encompasses all the Commonwealth flowers, which I think is very clever.”Asked what he thought Diana, Princess of Wales, would think of the dress, Mr Emanuel said: “I think Diana would have approved.”Mr Emanuel said the gown would shape wedding fashion for at least a decade.“Don’t forget this dress will be beamed around the world. It will have an impression on the bridal business, people will copy this dress,” he said.“And it will influence for at least 10 years from now, people will still want that ‘Meghan gown’.”Richard Dennen, editor of Tatler, said: “I thought it was sleek, classic, elegant and demure.“She has picked a very well respected British luxury designer, at the helm of an aristocratic Paris couture house, which has a fabulous history of working with Hollywood.”Ms Dishaw said: “What a dress. Classic, timeless simplicity.“We love the empowerment message she subtly made by choosing Clare, the first female artistic director at the historic French fashion house Givenchy.“It stays very true to Meghan’s love of French fashion which is well-documented but also paid homage to her new British roots.“And as for the style? It was exactly as we had thought we would see – simple, clean lines in a very traditional cut.“There was never going to be tons of detailing and lace on this dress.“And we love that a flower from every Commonwealth country is embroidered on her veil.“A simple, clean A-line dress was perfectly attuned to the simplicity of her up-do, which held a stunning tiara.”Meanwhile, Aruna Seth, shoe designer and socialite, said the boat neckline on the white dress was “modern” complemented by traditional long sleeves.Ms Seth, who designed Pippa Middleton’s shoes for the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, said: “Meghan is wearing a simple traditional flattering boat-neck wedding dress with long elegant sleeves.“[It is] chic, sophisticated and expresses her contemporary modern style.Peta Hunt, editor at large for You and Your Wedding magazine, said the gown was “romantic”.She continued: “I loved the high boat neck, so modern and with the clean lines.“This is a silk tulle cathedral length dress and works perfectly in this huge chapel.“She is definitely wearing the dress and not drowning under a huge gown, it allows her to move, I think really lovely, and hits all the right notes.“We have always been fans of long sleeves. It’s nice to see a bride in a such a modern classic style.”Designer Raishma said: “Meghan clearly went for the more sedate side of Hollywood glamour in her choice of dress – more Grace Kelly than anything ostentatious.“The veil is the real talking point, the length alone is staggering, with an embroidered scalloped border around the edges.“The colour is a brilliant white which really created an ethereal entrance.“There is an air of modesty to the gown with its very simple shape and the long sleeves – ideal for a high profile, chapel wedding.“I was personally hoping for a showstopper and lot of embroidery and embellishment but this is a beautiful, if very safe gown.”– David Emanuel is appearing on Harry And Meghan Said Yes? on TLC which is being broadcast on Sunday at 2pm.

Business news

Clydesdale owner puts faith in digital banking for the future

May 20 2018

The boss of Clydesdale and Yorkshire Banking Group has said the group’s digital business could one day overtake its high street brands as it leads an online push.Chief executive David Duffy – who is currently mulling over a takeover of rival Virgin Money – told the Press Association the lender’s digital brand B had already secured more than 170,000 customers and £1.6 billion deposits after its digital-only current account launched last year.He said it was “certainly an option” for B to eventually become bigger than traditional Clydesdale and Yorkshire brands as it invests heavily in open banking and its digital offering.“We already have regional brands, but B is geographically neutral and more focused on millennials,” he said.The comments come as CYBG is considering a formal takeover of rival challenger Virgin Money, having recently revealed talks over a potential £1.6 billion deal.Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Money is also looking to become a player in digital banking, having spent £38.3 million last year developing an app-only offer, adding to the rationale behind a tie-up between the two.Virgin Money’s digital offering is expected to launch in the second half of the year.The tie-up between CYBG and Virgin Money comes at a crucial time for challenger banks as they look to gain scale to take on the might of the major lenders.Mr Duffy said: “There’s a bit of a traditional view that big banks are better than small banks, but the world has changed dramatically.“We see scale as an opportunity, but that’s not our primary goal,” he said.The digital capabilities of the challenger players is helping set them apart from their larger counterparts, he added.CYBG has developed what he describes as “agile AI (artificial intelligence) based technology”. While the big banks are struggling to retrospectively add digital banking offerings, many smaller lenders have been able to develop these platforms at a faster pace.CYBG’s B account enables customers to secure in-app loans and offers budgeting tools, while it will also launch a new money management aggregation service, called B Aggregator, later this month.This will allow customers to access all their bank accounts, as well as offer a password keeper and provide utility comparison and switching functions, based on an analysis of spend from customer bank data.As with many of the UK’s retail banks, CYBG has been axing branches as more customers bank online.The group is targeting more than £100 million of cost savings by 2019 – a drive which saw the group announce plans in January to shut around a third of its branch network in 2017 and axe 400 jobs.But it has been opening a handful of B branches as it continues to expand the brand, in central and south London, as well as Birmingham and Manchester.CYBG’s recent interim results showed the group fell into the red with losses of £95 million after taking a further hit on the payment protection insurance (PPI) scandal, although underlying profits lifted 28% to £158 million.

UK & World

Special installation for Meghan and Harry’s wedding cake, baker reveals

May 18 2018

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s “ethereal” tasting wedding cake will be displayed in a special installation, their baker has revealed.Claire Ptak, who is making the culinary centrepiece for the couple’s big day, said the layered lemon and elderflower cake – in three parts of varying sizes – would be presented in a non-traditional way.The final design will be unveiled on the big day although Meghan and Harry are in on the plans.“You’ll have to wait and see on the day. It’s an installation of the way that we’re putting it out. It’s the last thing that we’ll reveal. It’s a non-traditional layout,” Ms Ptak said.“It’s a slight shift from tradition.”The chef, who owns the small, trendy Violet Bakery in east London, has been working with her team of six bakers full time for five days in the large kitchens of Buckingham Palace. She described the flavour of the cake as being a balance of sweet and tart, combined with “ethereal” elderflower.The cake, which is being decorated on the outside with a white, elderflower swiss meringue buttercream, is made of layered lemon sponge, drizzled with an elderflower syrup to a recipe specially created for the couple.The layers are sandwiched with buttercream and lemon curd.Some 200 Amalfi lemons are being used in the recipe, as well as 10 bottles of Sandringham Elderflower Cordial made using elderflower from the Queen’s Sandringham estate, 20kgs of butter, 20 kgs of flour, 20kgs of sugar and 500 organic eggs from Suffolk.Ms Ptak said: “It’s a lemon sponge – a special sponge that I developed just for the couple, and we drizzle the layers with elderflower cordial from the Sandringham estate so it’s really lovely and as local as you can get.“We have a lemon curd made from Amalfi lemons which to me have the most delicious flavour.“And then we’ve got elderflower swiss meringue buttercream.”She added: “The buttercream is sweet and the lemon curd is very tart so you get a very lovely thing happening when you take a bite, which is to get all of these flavours and sensations perfectly balanced.”Ms Ptak, who is American like Ms Markle, said; “The elderflower is so quintessentially British to me as a Californian.“It’s of this moment. It’s May so they’re just opening this week.“It’s a kind of an ethereal, floral flavour which I think is very special, especially for a wedding.”Slices of the cake will be served to the 600 guests at the lunchtime reception in St George’s Hall after the ceremony.Three types of Meghan’s favourite flowers peonies – Madame Claude, Bowl of Cream, and the aptly titled Duchess – in shades of white and cream will decorate the cakes, along with four different white and cream roses – Patience, Purity, Jeanne Moreau and Princess Miyuki.The flowers will be removed before guests tuck in to the cake, but the slices will be served with edible rose petals.The team from Violet Bakery, who were dressed in matching white polo necks, khaki trousers and cream aprons, have been working busily in the well quipped palace kitchen.Ms Ptak, who was on Thursday removing one of the circular cakes from its large tin, before beginning to ice it with buttercream, was helped by Violet Bakery’s head baker Izaak Adams.She added of how the baking was going: “There’s a few logistics of serving so many people at the same time. But it’s been a great process.”She said Harry and Meghan loved the lemon and elderflower cake after trying a number of different samples.“They loved it. They tried quite a collection.“What they said to me is that they really loved the idea of the seasonality and the freshness.”Ms Ptak is not making a back up cake in case of a disaster, saying: “It’s cake. It can’t go that wrong.“We have enough cake and we don’t want to be wasteful. Anything that is left over, we were going to donate to charity.”The chef had to call in some of her former workers to have enough staff to work on the cake and keep her bakery open.Part of the cake is still being baked and iced.It will be transported to Windsor Castle where the flowers will be added, and the installation assembled on the morning of the wedding.

UK & World

Government plans ‘detailed, ambitious’ Brexit white paper amid customs deadlock

May 15 2018

The Government is to produce a white paper that is the “most significant publication on the EU since the referendum”, Brexit Secretary David Davis has said.The paper would include “detailed, ambitious and precise explanations” of the Government’s positions, with less than 11 months remaining before Britain is due to quit the continental bloc.It came as Theresa May’s Brexit “war cabinet” met again on Tuesday without reaching agreement on which of the two options for customs arrangements on the Irish border it will back.The EU is putting pressure on Britain to present its preferred option at the upcoming meeting of the European Council in June, though Downing Street insists it will not put a timetable on the process.Mr Davis said the document would set out “what would change and what would feel different” after Brexit and was an opportunity for the Government to show the thought behind its approach to the change to a domestic and EU audience.He said: “This will be our most significant publication on the EU since the referendum. It will communicate our ambition for the UK’s future relationship with the EU, in the context of our vision for the UK’s future role in the world.”Labour said on Tuesday it was launching a new parliamentary bid to force the Government to release details of its proposals for post-Brexit customs arrangements on the Irish border.Jeremy Corbyn’s party has tabled a motion in the Commons for debate on Wednesday designed to break the “deadlock” over the so-called “customs partnership” and “maximum facilitation” models.Conservative MPs were invited into Downing Street on Monday for a briefing from the PM and chief of staff Gavin Barwell on the “customs partnership”, believed to be Mrs May’s preferred option, under which the UK would collect tariffs on the EU’s behalf, and the “max fac” scheme, which involves the use of technology to minimise friction at the Irish border.But EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier is reported to have told a Brussels meeting that it was not worth fighting about the two UK proposals, as neither of them is “realistic”.Shadow Brexit Secretary Paul Blomfield said it was “deeply disturbing that, after yet another meeting, the Cabinet still cannot agree on the most fundamental Brexit issues”.He added: “Ministers have finally agreed to publish a White Paper on the Government’s negotiating position, but they still don’t know what it will say.“Labour called for a White Paper before Article 50 was triggered. However, Ministers have wasted months arguing amongst themselves rather than negotiating in the national interest.“Today’s failure highlights the deep division at the heart of Government on the most basic of issues.“Whether those divisions can be resolved in the next month remains to be seen. If the Cabinet can’t take the decisions, Parliament will.”Tuesday’s 90-minute meeting of the Cabinet’s Brexit negotiations sub-committee heard presentations from Brexit Secretary David Davis and Cabinet Office minister David Lidington on the work completed so far by two ministerial working groups set up by Mrs May last week to look for improvements to the two schemes.The meeting, attended by 11 ministers including Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, was not asked to make a choice between the models.No date has been announced for a further meeting.In the House of Commons, Mr Johnson shrugged off suggestions that he had breached Cabinet collective responsibility by branding the partnership option “crazy”.Asked whether he felt he had to abide by the convention, which requires ministers not to air their private opinions on issues of Government policy, he replied: “Of course.”Labour’s motion would require the Government to release to Parliament all papers prepared for the sub-committee on the two customs models, including any economic analysis.It is the latest in a string of Labour motions using an arcane parliamentary procedure to make the vote binding on the Government by issuing a “humble address” to the Queen asking her to require ministers to comply.

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