EU leaders harden negotiating position and other stories

(Credit: Tom Grimbert/Unsplash)

EU leaders unite in strong stance against May’s proposed renegotiation

The European Union’s position appears to be hardening against parliament’s Tuesday evening vote to renegotiate the Northern Irish backstop.

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday afternoon, Guy Verhofstadt, the European parliament’s Brexit negotiator, said there was ‘no room to open up the withdrawal agreement’.

He continued: ‘The backstop is insurance and needs to be 100 per cent to ensure no border between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic.’

Belgian MEP Philippe Lamberts, a senior parliamentarian on the Brexit steering group, said that the EU was making ‘the calculus’ that it was better to opt for a no-deal, than to try and reopen a withdrawal agreement that has taken 18 months to negotiate.

He said: ‘If we have a choice to make between two evils, then no-deal is a lesser evil.’

Sarah Ewart begins Northern Ireland abortion trial

A woman who is trying to change Northern Ireland’s abortion law, began her High Court challenge on Wednesday.

In 2013 Sarah Ewart was denied an abortion despite doctors’ assertions that the baby would not survive outside the womb.

(Credit: Hush Naidoo/Unsplash)

Ms Ewart was 20 weeks pregnant when she was told her unborn child had no signs of a skull.

Currently, a termination is only permitted in Northern Ireland if a woman’s life is at risk or if there is a risk of permanent and serious damage to her mental or physical health.

In a statement delivered on the court steps on Wednesday, Ms Ewart said she hoped Northern Ireland women ‘who find themselves in the circumstances that I found myself in will get the help and the treatment that we need in our hospitals with our own medical teams.’

Jury retires to consider verdicts in murder trial

On Wednesday morning, the jury in the trial of Ben Harvey at Winchester crown court retired to consider its verdicts on three charges – the murder of William Rubiak; causing actual bodily harm to Mr Rubiak’s girlfriend, Alexandra Taylor; and of trespass with intent to commit a sexual offence at the house of a teenage girl on the same night.

Winchester Crown Court (Credit: Chris Talbot/Wikimedia Creative Commons CC BY-SA 2.0)

While the trial has been told that DNA tests, phone and car tracking evidence places him at the scene, Mr Harvey’s defence is claiming diminished responsibility.

The trial has heard from expert witnesses discussing the possibility of a psychotic state brought on by the consumption of alcohol, cannabis and cocaine on the night the crimes took place.

Mr Justice Pepperall spent the morning summarising the evidence before reminding reminded the jury ‘it is up to you’.

Snow falls across the UK causing transport delays

Some areas in northern England, Scotland and Wales could reach up to 10cm of snow after continued cold weather.

(Credit: Hide Obara/Unsplash)

Forecasters across the country predict dropping temperatures for Wednesday evening.

Runways in Liverpool and Manchester have closed as a result of the widespread snow.

Officials at both airports have urged people to check the status of their flights before setting off on their travels.

Others meanwhile are making the most of the inclement weather, sharing photos and videos of the snow on social media.

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