News Daily: Brexit 'blackmail' and Trump's wall tested

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Fox warns against Brexit 'blackmail'

The UK is set to leave the European Union by the end of March 2019, but both sides have raised concerns over the slow progress of talks in Brussels. International Trade Secretary Liam Fox, whose job (as the title suggests) is to make trade deals, has weighed in, saying the UK mustn't be "blackmailed" into accepting a hefty divorce bill before getting discussions going with the EU on this subject.

The UK wants to begin trade talks as soon as possible, but the EU insists these can happen only once "sufficient progress" has been made on the arrangements for withdrawal. Mr Fox, currently in Japan with Prime Minister Theresa May, says businesses are becoming impatient for progress.

No official figure has been given for the divorce fee. European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker suggests it will be about 60bn euros (£55bn), while unconfirmed reports have put it as high as 100bn euros (£92bn).

Trump wall prototypes to be built

Building a wall along the US-Mexico border was the most famous of Donald Trump's presidential campaign promises, but the project has so far been dogged by doubts over funding. But might there be some movement? It's been announced that four companies will get $500,000 (£387,000) each to build prototypes 30ft (9m) long and 30ft high. They'll be tested for resistance to tampering, penetration with small hand tools, and (remember, Mr Trump said the wall would be "beautiful") their "aesthetics".

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RAF accepts women as ground fighters

The Royal Air Force is now accepting women in its ground-fighting force, making it the first branch of the armed services to open up all roles to male and female recruits. The move follows former Prime Minister David Cameron's decision to lift the ban on women serving in close combat roles. It will be another year before women can apply to enter army infantry units and the Royal Marines.

Analysis: Could a new political party be on the way?

By Chris Mason, political correspondent

Glance into the graveyard of political failure, and you see the tombstones of Veritas, Libertas, The Jury Team, No2EU and Your Party. The one example still alive: UKIP. But even it only ever managed to win one seat at a general election. It won't stop the chatter, the never-ending asking of the question: "What next?"

Read the full article

What the papers say

The state of Brexit talks dominates several front pages. The Times reports that Brussels is demanding billions of pounds from the UK after it leaves the European Union for aid to Africa, loans to Ukraine and environmental projects across Europe, including bridges for wildlife. The Guardian focuses on remarks by EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier, denouncing the UK's approach as unrealistic. The Daily Express's headline is: "You can't bully us, Mr Barnier." Elsewhere, the i says Theresa May faces a backlash from senior Conservative MPs after an increase in student loan interest rates to 6.1%. And the Daily Mail claims one in three nurseries could shut in a year because of funding issues with the government's new scheme offering 30 hours of free care to most children aged three and four.

Daily digest

Flexitime Many workers penalised over requests, claims TUC

Flight delays Inquiry into plane passengers held in "deplorable" conditions

Vacuum policy EU bans sale of loud and inefficient floor cleaners from today

Seven days quiz What record did Taylor Swift break?

If you watch one thing today

Migrants rescued from the Mediterranean

If you listen to one thing today

How has the Ku Klux Klan lasted so long?

If you read one thing today

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Would you use a pilotless sky taxi?

Today's lookahead

Today Theresa May finishes her three-day visit to Japan, with discussions expected on Brexit, security, defence ties and trade and investment.

19:45 World Cup qualifying matches take place, including England away to Malta, Northern Ireland away to San Marino and Scotland away to Lithuania.

On this day

1939 Germany's forces invade Poland and its planes bomb cities including the capital, Warsaw.

From elsewhere

Menopause and Alzheimer's change the brain in similar ways (New Scientist)

Some tricks to try when you can't sleep (Esquire)

How has London changed since the 'summer of love'? (Guardian)

Will Young Sheldon work as a sitcom? (New York Times)

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