May meets EU leaders for Brexit talks

Theresa May is continuing to hold talks with European leaders and EU officials aimed at rescuing her Brexit deal. No 10 said Mrs May’s meeting with Angela Merkel had been positive and the PM was determined to get MPs to back her deal. Many of her MPs are demanding legally-binding guarantees over the backstop plan for the Irish border. The German leader said the deal could not be re-negotiated but she was still optimistic a solution could be found. But Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn labelled Mrs May the « runaway…

Spain warns Catalonia over region’s Mossos police

The Spanish government has warned the Catalan authorities that national police could be sent to their region if they tolerate separatist blockades. The warning – in three letters from ministers – followed a protest on Saturday by separatists who blocked the AP-7 motorway connecting France to Catalonia’s coast. Madrid accused the Catalan police force – the Mossos – of just standing by. Spain’s ruling Socialists oppose the Catalan independence movement. Catalan nationalists regained power in Barcelona in May, after a seven-month period of direct rule by Madrid. Hunger strike Tensions…

UK PM to meet EU leaders for Brexit talks

Media playback is unsupported on your device Theresa May will meet European leaders and EU officials later for talks aimed at rescuing her Brexit deal. She will hold talks with Dutch PM Mark Rutte and Germany’s Angela Merkel after postponing MPs’ final vote on the deal. The UK PM has said she needs « further assurances » about the Northern Ireland border plan to get Commons backing. European Council President Donald Tusk insisted the EU would « not renegotiate » but said leaders would discuss how to help « facilitate…

Two cabinet sources say Brexit vote will be delayed

Tuesday’s vote on the prime minister’s Brexit deal is set to be delayed, two cabinet sources have told the BBC’s political editor Laura Kuenssberg. There is not yet any official confirmation of the move, with Prime Minister Theresa May currently on a conference call with cabinet ministers. Downing Street had been insisting the vote would go ahead, despite Mrs May being widely expected to lose it. The prime minister is expected to make a statement to MPs later. The pound fell 0.4% against the US dollar to £1.26, following reports…

Anti-Semitism pervades European life, says EU report

Anti-Semitism is getting worse and Jews are increasingly worried about the risk of harassment, according to a major survey of 12 EU countries. Hundreds of Jews questioned by the EU’s Fundamental Rights Agency said they had experienced a physical, anti-Semitic attack in the past year, while 28% said they had been harassed. France is identified has having the biggest problem with anti-Semitism. Germany, the UK, Belgium, Sweden and the Netherlands also saw incidents. What are the main findings? The Vienna-based FRA paints a picture of synagogues and Jewish schools requiring…

Brexit ruling: UK can cancel decision, EU court says

The European Court of Justice has ruled the UK can cancel Brexit without the permission of the other 27 EU members. The ECJ judges ruled this could be done without altering the terms of Britain’s membership. A group of anti-Brexit politicians argued the UK should be able to unilaterally halt Brexit, but they were opposed by the government and EU. The decision comes a day before MPs are due to vote on Theresa May’s deal for leaving the EU. MPs are already widely expected to reject the proposals during a…

Yellow vest protests: Macron to hold crisis meeting

French President Emmanuel Macron is set to meet trade unions and employers’ organisations, in a bid to defuse weeks of unrest in Paris and other cities. Monday’s meeting comes ahead of a TV address in which he is expected to announce measures in response. France has seen four weekends of violent protests against fuel tax rises, living costs and other issues. About 136,000 « yellow-vest » protesters took to the streets on Saturday. More than 1,200 were taken into custody. The capital Paris was particularly badly hit, with windows smashed,…

Yellow vest protests ‘economic catastrophe’ for France

The « yellow vest » protests have been « a catastrophe » for the French economy, the finance minister says. France has seen four consecutive weekends of demonstrations against fuel tax rises, high living costs, and other issues. About 125,000 protesters took to the streets on Saturday, with more than 1,700 people arrested. Several tourist sites, including the Eiffel Tower and Louvre Museum, are closed this weekend. Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire called the situation « a crisis » for both society and democracy. « It’s a catastrophe for commerce,…

Yellow vest protests: France’s Édouard Philippe seeks ‘unity’ after unrest

French Prime Minister Édouard Philippe has vowed to « restore national unity » after violence broke out during a fourth consecutive weekend of protests. Police used tear gas and rubber bullets on Saturday – the latest day of « yellow vest » demonstrations against fuel tax rises and high living costs. Almost 1,000 people were taken into custody but the violence was not on the same level as a week earlier. Discussions with peaceful protesters « must continue », Mr Philippe said. He added: « No tax should jeopardise our…

Armenia leader Nikol Pashinyan holds test snap election

Armenians will vote in an early parliamentary election on Sunday, a key test for the man behind the peaceful « Velvet Revolution » that swept the country in April. Nikol Pashinyan was elected prime minister by lawmakers in May, after weeks of anti-corruption protests. He pledged an end to election-rigging. Eleven parties and political blocs are on the ballot, and Mr Pashinyan’s My Step Alliance is expected to win a parliamentary majority. Mr Pashinyan, 43, a newspaper editor turned opposition politician, stepped down in October so parliament could be dissolved…

Yellow vest movement: France braces for ‘ultraviolent’ protests

France is braced for renewed anti-government protests, with nearly 90,000 security personnel on the streets. Some 8,000 officers and 12 armoured vehicles will be deployed in Paris alone, where shops have been boarded up and sites like the Eiffel Tower closed. The « yellow vest » movement began three weeks ago in opposition to a rise in fuel tax but ministers say it has been hijacked by « ultraviolent » protesters. Last week saw hundreds arrested and scores injured in violence in Paris. They were some of the worst street…

Merkel’s choice elected ruling party leader

Germany’s ruling Christian Democrat Union has chosen Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer as the new party leader, but Angela Merkel will stay on as chancellor for now. The former chief minister of Saarland won 517 of the 999 votes cast by Christian Democrat Union members. This breaking news story is being updated and more details will be published shortly. Please refresh the page for the fullest version. You can receive Breaking News on a smartphone or tablet via the BBC News App. You can also follow @BBCBreaking on Twitter to get the latest…

Germany’s Merkel bids emotional farewell to CDU party

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has given an emotional farewell speech to her ruling Christian Democrats (CDU), as she steps down as party leader. « Our liberal values must be defended, internally and externally, » she said. She hinted that she was backing Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer to succeed her, praising her electoral performance as chief minister of Saarland. Despite quitting as CDU leader Ms Merkel plans to remain German chancellor until her term ends in 2021. Ms Kramp-Karrenbauer’s chief rival in Friday’s CDU vote is millionaire corporate lawyer Friedrich Merz. The third…

Yellow vests: France protests ‘created a monster’, says minister

Anti-government protests in France have « created a monster », France’s Interior Minister Christophe Castaner has said. And he is warning that « radical elements » could infiltrate planned « yellow vest » protests at the weekend. Tourist sites in Paris are to close on Saturday amid fears of further street violence. The protests began three weeks ago, initially against a rise in fuel taxes but have spread to take in other issues, including education reforms. Mr Castaner said « large-scale security measures » would be put in place this…

France protests: Eiffel Tower to close on Saturday amid Paris riot fears

The Eiffel Tower in Paris is to close on Saturday amid fears of further street violence from « yellow vest » anti-government protests. Across France, 89,000 police officers will be on duty and armoured vehicles will be deployed in the capital, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe announced. Police have urged shops and restaurants on Paris’s Champs-Elysees to shut and some museums will also be closed. Paris saw some of the worst rioting in decades last Saturday. The government has said it is scrapping unpopular fuel tax increases in its budget –…

Dutch girl’s ‘hijacked’ party invite prompts riot fears

It began as a Snapchat message from a 15-year-old girl to all her friends to come to her birthday party on Friday in the small Dutch town of Katwijk. But her plans turned into a nightmare when one of them posted the invite on Facebook and prompted interest from thousands of people nationwide. The mayor said the party was hijacked. The girl has reportedly gone into hiding – and her party is cancelled. Police feared a repeat of a Dutch party that went viral and ended in rioting. Crowds of…

France protests: Government fears ‘major violence’ in coming days

The French government says it fears « major violence » in Paris on Saturday as the national « yellow vests » protest movement shows little sign of easing. The government said it was scrapping fuel tax increases in the budget – the original spark for the protests. But the movement has since grown into a wider expression of anger about rising living costs, and Saturday’s planned rally looks set to go ahead. Recent protests have turned violent, causing millions of euros in damage. The government appealed for calm after making…

France protests: Fuel tax rises in 2019 budget dropped

Fuel tax rises which sparked weeks of violent protests in France have now been dropped from next year’s budget, the government has announced. The move was announced by Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, who a day earlier had only promised to postpone them for six months. The « gilets jaunes » (yellow vest) protests have hit major cities over the past three weekends. Further demonstrations are planned for this weekend. They have grown to reflect more widespread anger at the government. Who are the ‘gilets jaunes’? Jobseeker: Macron should help me…

UK MPs to debate economic impact of Brexit

Brexit’s economic effects will be the focus of a Commons debate later, as government whips work behind the scenes to gain support for Theresa May’s deal. Ministers will say it creates a unique partnership with the EU, while Labour argues it will make people poorer. Late on Wednesday, chief whip Julian Smith tried to win over pro-Brexit Tories, while civil servants will brief senior MPs on a no-deal scenario later. However, one Brexiteer complained this was a bid to « spook grandees ». Before the third of five days’ debate,…

Spain ‘wolf pack’ sex attack gang not rapists, say judges

A Spanish court’s controversial decision to clear five men of gang rape has been upheld by five appeal judges, and the group are now set to go to jail for a lesser offence of sexual abuse. There were protests across Spain when the men, who became known as La manada (the wolf pack), were acquitted of rape and then later freed on bail. The appeal judges agreed that the 18-year-old victim was not assaulted as no intimidation or violence was involved. The case now goes to the Supreme Court. «…

Operation Pollino: ‘Ndrangheta mafia struck in Europe-wide sting

Members of the notorious ‘Ndrangheta Italian mafia have been targeted in a police sting launched simultaneously in several countries on Wednesday. Hundreds of police are understood to be involved in the operation in Belgium, Italy, Germany and the Netherlands. Italian police said there have been at least 90 arrests – but the operation is still ongoing elsewhere. The ‘Ndrangheta mafia are accused of cocaine trafficking, money laundering, bribery and violence. Homes, Italian restaurants and other businesses were all targeted in the raids. Eurojust – the European judicial cooperation body involved…

Embattled UK ministers fight for Brexit deal

Media playback is unsupported on your device Ministers will again battle to win over MPs to Theresa May’s Brexit deal later, a day after the government suffered three defeats on key votes. Security will be the focus of the second of five days of debate in the Commons, where Tuesday’s marathon session extended into the early hours. Crucially, MPs backed calls to give them a direct say in what happens if Mrs May’s deal is rejected next week. The government is due to publish its Brexit legal advice at 11:30…

Protest-hit France ‘to halt fuel tax rise’

The French government will suspend a fuel tax rise which has led to weeks of violent protests, local media report. The protests have hit major French cities causing major damage for the past three weekends. Prime Minister Edouard Philippe sought compromise with the protesters, but they called off talks citing death threats from extremists in their ranks. The « gilets jaunes » (yellow vests) protests have now grown to reflect more widespread anger at the government. Source: BBC

France fuel protests: ‘Yellow vests’ pull out of PM meeting

Media playback is unsupported on your device Protesters from France’s « gilet jaunes » (yellow vests) movement have pulled out of a meeting with Prime Minister Edouard Philippe scheduled for Tuesday. Some members of the group said they received death threats from hard-line protesters warning against entering into negotiations with the government. The « yellow vests » have been protesting about a controversial fuel tax since mid-November. But the protests now reflect widespread anger at the government. France’s interior ministry says about 136,000 people took part in the protests nationwide…

France fuel protests: 80-year-old woman killed in her home

Media playback is unsupported on your device An 80-year-old woman has died after being hit by a tear gas canister at her window during Saturday’s fuel protests in the French city of Marseille. The woman, who lived in an apartment near to where the protests were taking place, was hit in the face while closing the shutters. Protests over fuel tax have grown into general anger at higher living costs. After being taken to hospital, the woman died during an operation after suffering shock, local media report. Three other people…

Iceland scandal over MPs’ crude and sexist bar talk

There are calls for several Icelandic MPs to resign after they were recorded using crude language to describe female colleagues and a disabled activist. Icelanders were especially shocked that the MPs’ targets included ex-MP Freyja Haraldsdottir, a disabled woman and well-known disability rights activist. Iceland has long been seen as a beacon for women’s rights and has a female prime minister, Katrin Jakobsdottir. Four Centre Party MPs, including an ex-PM, apologised for the crude language. On Facebook Ms Haraldsdottir – who has osteogenesis imperfecta (brittle bone disease) – said former…

Spain far-right Vox party gains foothold in Andalusia election

A far-right party has won seats in a Spanish regional election for the first time in decades. The Vox party took 12 parliamentary seats in Andalusia on Sunday, beating expectations that it would win five. Tough on immigration, Vox could be a kingmaker in a coalition in Andalusia. Its breakthrough is the latest in a nationalist surge that has swept across Europe. Many had thought Spain was immune because of memories of life under a fascist dictatorship. France’s far-right leader Marine Le Pen tweeted (in French): « Strong and warm…

France fuel protests: Macron holds urgent security meeting

French President Emmanuel Macron has held an urgent security meeting following a day of riots by thousands of anti-government protesters. Ministers said that while no options had been ruled out, imposing a state of emergency had not been discussed during the talks – despite earlier reports. Protests over fuel tax have grown into general anger at higher living costs. Three people have been killed in the protests since demonstrations started more than two weeks ago, police said. Justice Minister Nicole Belloubet has promised to bring the full force of the…

German ex-nurse Niels Hoegel on trial over 100 deaths

A German former nurse accused of murdering 100 patients is due to go on trial in the northern town of Oldenburg. Detectives say Niels Hoegel, 41, administered fatal doses of medication to the people in his care at two hospitals in northern Germany. His motive, they say, was to impress colleagues by trying to resuscitate the very patients he had attacked. Hoegel is already serving a life term for killing people in his care. The latest trial, which is expected to last until May, follows toxicology tests on the exhumed…

Bulgaria ‘smashes fake passport scam’

Prosecutors in Bulgaria say they have smashed a passport scam which saw thousands fraudulently acquire Bulgarian citizenship – and with it, the right to travel and work throughout the European Union. More than 20 people have been arrested, including officials. Applicants are said to have paid up to $5,690 (£4,445) for fake certificates of Bulgarian origin. Police have raided the offices of the State Agency for Bulgarians Abroad. Staff at the agency were allegedly involved in selling fake certificates to buyers in nearby non-EU countries. Bulgaria country profile Many of…