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Summary

  1. David Cameron seeks Polish support for his EU renegotiation proposals during trip to Warsaw
  2. Polish PM says she support aspects of the UK's draft blueprint, such as enhanced national sovereignty and competitiveness
  3. But Beata Szydlo says other areas, including curbs on EU migrants benefits, need to be 'ironed out'
  4. The UK PM moves onto Denmark for talks with counterpart Lars Lokke Rasmussen, who gives full backing to his reforms
  5. Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond says a UN panel's ruling that Julian Assange be allowed to go free is 'ridiculous'
  6. The head of the cross-party Remain in EU campaign, Lord Rose, says he expects a substantial win in the referendum

Live Reporting

By Angela Harrison

All times stated are UK

Friday re-cap

The main stories so far today:

  • David Cameron has travelled to Poland and Denmark to gather support for Britain's renegotiation of its relationship with the European Union
  • He won the backing of Denmark, whose prime minister said he would support Britain all he could and that the agreement would be good for Europe
  • The Polish prime minister backed Mr Cameron's proposals on sovereignty but not on welfare benefits
  • Back in the UK, civil war broke out between the groups campaigning for Britain to leave the EU
  • UKIP leader Nigel Farage said his party will throw its weight behind a relatively new group called Grassroots Out 
  • Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond, has dismissed as "ridiculous" the finding by a UN panel that Julian Assange has been "arbitrarily detained" by both Britain and Sweden
  • Mr Assange appeared on the balcony of the Ecuadorian embassy in London, saying the ruling was "a historic victory''

'Deadline' on Scottish finance talks could stretch

Nick Eardley

BBC Scotland Westminster correspondent

HM Treasury sign
Reuters

Next week's deadline for a deal on the financial changes that will come as a result of the Scotland Bill could be extended. A source close to Deputy First Minister John Swinney says the Scottish government negotiating team will use whatever time is possible to reach agreement on what's known as the fiscal framework.

A deadline of 12 February has regularly been mentioned by Scottish ministers, who say it would allow the Scottish Parliament to scrutinise the measures properly. But a spokesman for Holyrood says it's "possible" a deal could be analysed later in February and "every effort would be made" to hear evidence from Scottish and UK ministers by the devolution committee.

 A UK government source says Treasury officials are prepared to remain at the table until a deal is done and are "optimistic" about achieving a deal.

But a source close to Mr Swinney says there is still a "massive gap" between the sides.

The next round of talks are set to take place in Edinburgh on Monday.

Assange: UK and Sweden did not appeal this verdict

julian assange
BBC

The Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, standing on a balcony outside the Ecuadorian embassy in London, has made a speech following the decision of a UN panel that he was unlawfully detained. 

He says neither the UK nor Sweden chose to appeal against the panel's ruling, which they have had for two weeks, "because they knew they would lose because the law on unlawful detention is well-established".

He told a crowd gathered below the balcony that the UK government had no right to separate him from his children.

British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond has described the UN panel's decision as "frankly ridiculous". 

Mr Assange refused to answer a question from someone in the crowd about allegations of rape and sexual assault made against him and asked for the man to be taken away. 

Farage: Uniting warring anti-EU groups 'impossible'

Expanding on his decision to back the Grassroots Out Leave EU campaign, Nigel Farage suggests he tried his hardest to reconcile the differences between the other two groups - Vote Leave and Leave.EU - but this proved impossible. In a statement, he commends Leave.EU, formed by UKIP donor Arron Banks, but takes another pot shot at Vote Leave, accusing the group of downplaying the importance of immigration and security as issues on the forthcoming referendum and focusing on the economic benefits of Brexit..

All polling shows that they are wrong. Amongst the undecided voters the top issue by far and the one that will influence where their vote goes is our lack of border controls as EU members. They also repeatedly have refused to merge and work with Leave.EU and will not rule out the idea of campaigning for a second referendum... So let us organise and mobilise our people’s army around the GO banner for this referendum

MEPs told to mind their language - and slow down

With all these intense Euro-meetings going on, spare a thought for the army of interpreters whose job it is to make instant translations of politicians' words.

At the European Parliament, MEPs are being told to speak more slowly -  and stick to their native language - to help the interpreters.

Thousands of translators work in EU institutions, to cope with 24 official languages.

Read more.

European Parliament
Reuters

Farage gets behind Grassroots Out campaign

UKIP leader tweets...

Has it been made harder to register to vote?

The Daily Politics

Concerns over obstacles faced by people with disabilities

Labour claims that 800,000 people have dropped off the electoral register since the government introduced changes to the way that people can sign up to vote.

In the past, the head of a household could register all eligible voters living in a property. Now, voters have to register individually.

And there are also concerns over the obstacles faced by those with disabilities, as Giles Dilnot reports.

Human rights concerns over trade union bill

BBC political correspondent tweets...

Watch: Reform deal could be 'win-win' for EU and UK, says Belgian MEP Guy Verhofstadt

The Daily Politics

Former Belgian PM Guy Verhofstadt on the Daily Politics

Gordon Brown - a crazy cat?

Former prime minister's wife tweets...

WATCH: Is the dream of a borderless Europe over?

The Daily Politics

Jo Coburn visits the Denmark/Sweden border

The arrival of more than one million migrants in the EU over the last year has prompted many EU countries in the borderless "Schengen" area to re-erect their borders.

Jo Coburn visited the border between Denmark and Sweden, where crossing the famous Oresund bridge between the two countries has been made more difficult.

Danish PM: Britain's deal would improve the EU

More support for David Cameron as the Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen says Britain's proposals for the EU - and its place in it - would improve the organisation.

Danish PM Lars Rasmussen
BBC

I hope that Britain will decide to stay in the European Union...also because this act will only come in to force if Britain votes yes."

Danish PM's comments 'music to Cameron's ears'

BBC political correspondent tweets..

Cameron: EU deal unlikely to be reversed

David Cameron and Danish PM Rasmussen
BBC

Asked at the press conference in Copenhagen if there was a danger any deal agreed with the other EU leaders at a meeting later this month could be reversed, Mr Cameron suggests this would be highly unlikely.

He says any agreement made would be "legally-binding", adding:

It would only be reversible if all 28 countries, including Britain, agree to reverse it."

WATCH: Tory rebellion over Sunday trading laws?

The Daily Politics

MP Stewart Jackson says some Conservative backbenchers are concerned about the plans

Stewart Jackson, the Tory MP for Peterborough, told the Daily Politics: "I don't think it will be massive... But it will certainly be a problem for the government with a small majority."

Danish leader offers support to Britain in EU deal

The Danish leader tells the press conference:  

We need this agreement. It's a solid answer to what we need. I hope we do not need amendments and I do not expect amendments and I will be as supportive as possible."

Cameron in Denmark - 'Proud nations, but outward-looking'

David Cameron says Britain and Denmark have a good relationship and friendship. We are firm NATO allies...trade in both directions between our countries is valuable, he says.

He says both countries are "proud nations, but outward-looking".

He tells the press conference the deal Britain makes with the EU must be legally-binding, that there are still important details to be nailed down and "that's why the hard work continues".

Green Party peer 'turns back on' Vote Leave

Green Party peer tweets...

View more on twitter

Green Party peer Baroness Jones has said she cannot work with Vote Leave after its appointment of former Conservative chancellor Lord Lawson as its chairman.

This possibly has more to do with their diverging views on the causes of global warming - Lord Lawson is an ardent critic of what he says is the settled scientific view of climate change - than on their stances on Europe, where both believe the UK should leave the EU. 

'Britain is a voice of common sense'

David Cameron is in Denmark, the second stop on a day of EU regnegotiation talks with other European leaders.  He is appearing at a news conference with his Danish counterpart Lars Lokke Rasmussen. 

Speaking first, Mr Rasmussen said Denmark and Britain "shared many common interests" and that "we need a strong British voice in Europe - it is a voice of common sense".

David Cameron arrives in Denmark

David Cameron and his Danish counterpart Lars Løkke Rasmussen
AP

David Cameron has moved on from Poland to Denmark, where he will shortly be holding a news conference with his counterpart Lars Løkke Rasmussen, focused on the UK's EU renegotiation. As often happens, the timings have slipped a bit and we now expect the two men to speak at about 15.00 GMT. 

Watch: European political week in 60 seconds

Reporter Ellie Price reviews the headlines

The Daily Politics

A look at the main political headlines

Conservative MP withdraws EU benefits bill

House of Commons

Parliament

Christopher Chope
BBC

In the Commons, Conservative MP Christopher Chope has a second private member's bill today - the Benefit Entitlement (Restriction) Bill. This would restrict the entitlement of non-UK citizens from European Union countries to benefits. 

Work and Pensions Minister Justin Tomlinson says the government will not support the bill - in part because "the current EU framework would not allow it".

Under EU legislation, nation states are barred from discriminating against citizens of other EU nations, Mr Tomlinson says, adding that the prime minister is renegotiating to cut the benefits migrants get.

Failing to get government support, Mr Chope withdraws his bill.

Valentine Day's Scottish powers deadline 'artificial'

Nicola Sturgeon's date for a deal to be agreed over Scotland's future funding arrangements is an "artificial deadline", Downing Street has insisted.  

Protracted negotiations are taking place between the Scottish Government and Westminster over how the current block grant will be affected when Holyrood gets new tax-raising powers. 

Deputy First Minister John Swinney, who has already held a series of meetings with the Treasury, insisted this week the Scottish government was working to a 14 February deadline. 

He said discussions have to be concluded by then to give MSPs time to scrutinise and vote on the deal before the Scottish Parliament is dissolved in March ahead of Holyrood elections. 

A No 10 spokesman said it wanted to reach a deal as soon as possible but singling out Valentine's Day for the conclusion of talks was arbitrary. 

"If we can do it by mid-February, let's do it by mid-February but, ultimately, it is an artificial deadline."

Meet the neighbours: Daily Politics heads to Belgium

Adam Fleming visited Belgium in the latest Politics Europe series profiling EU states

Peter Bone at the bookies?

Sunday Times political editor tweets...

MEPs to scrutinise welfare brake plans 'for months'

The World at One

BBC Radio 4

Martin Schulz has told the BBC that the UK's plans to limit the payment of in-work benefits to EU migrants would require "months of scrutiny" by the European Parliament but declined to say how long this could hold it up. 

David Cameron hopes to get the so-called emergency brake in place soon after the EU referendum result, should the UK vote to stay in. 

Mr Schulz said MEPs would be looking carefully into how it might work and "diligence was more important than speed" in doing so. 

Asked how long this would take, he replied: "This is neither days nor weeks, this is months. But it is not years".

The proposals could be amended along the way, Mr Schulz indicated, as that "is the risk of democracy". But he said the principle of varying benefits for new arrivals would not be overturned if the 28 EU states agreed to it. 

If the principle is agreed the European Parliament will legislate on the basis of the principle. The European Parliament will, for sure, not refuse with the majority was agreed between the member states and what the Commission puts as a draft proposal on the table

Anti-EU Labour MPs 'won't endorse' Vote Leave

Businessman John Mills, chairman of Labour Leave
PA

Labour MPs who want to leave the EU have said they "do not endorse" one of the main campaign groups hoping to lead the 'Out' campaign. 

Labour Leave said it was "independent" of Vote Leave, which hopes to be designated by the Electoral Commission as the main anti-EU campaign in the forthcoming referendum but has been beset by internal feuding and rows with other anti-EU groups seeking the designation. 

Brendan Chilton, Labour Leave's campaign co-ordinator, said the "Out" campaign was making headway but suggested this had little to do with Vote Leave's efforts. 

Labour Leave is independent of Vote Leave and has told the Electoral Commission that we do not endorse Vote Leave. Vote Leave always appeared unstable which is why so many Conservative MPs walked out”.

Martin Schulz - Britain 'tests Europe's patience'

By BBC Europe Correspondent Damian Grammaticas

The President of the European Parliament says proposals to reform the UK's relationship with the EU that "would set dangerous precedents" for Europe would "meet with resistance." 

Speaking to an audience at the London School of Economics, Martin Schulz singled out the UK's demands over the rights of non-eurozone countries and possible limits to the benefits EU citizens would receive while working in the UK. 

The president said he was a strong supporter of the UK remaining in the EU, despite the fact "the British" he said "often "test the patience and goodwill" of their European partners "with their continuous demands." 

Mr Schulz pointed out that the UK's renegotiation demands will have to be debated and adopted by the European Parliament, so, he said, the Parliament's concerns needed to be addressed to avoid a possible "roadblock" later.

Assange critical of minister's response to UN findings on his 'detention'

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has attacked what he says is a minister's "insulting" response to a report on his detention from a United Nations panel.  In a press conference held via a video link from London's Ecuadorian Embassy, he said the UN report - which said he had been unlawfully detained - had brought a smile to his face.

The Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond says the panel's findings are "frankly ridiculous", but Mr Assange said the comments were "beneath" the minister's stature and insulting to the UN. 

Julian Assange
BBC

Listen: Emergency brake could take 'months', says Schulz

The World at One

BBC Radio 4

The President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz says legislating for Britain's deal with the EU would not happen until after the referendum and could take "months".

You can listen to the full interview with Martin Schulz on the the World At One with Mark Mardell at 1300 GMT via the live coverage tab above.

EU Parliament President says emergency brake could not be pulled immediately.

Downing Street: Warsaw talks 'broadly positive'

Downing Street said the talks in Warsaw this morning between David Cameron and the Polish prime minister were "broadly positive". A spokesman said the two agreed there was "more work to be done" over welfare reforms, but that there was a good basis for an overall agreement to be made.

Asked if he could point to any of the other 27 countries that were fully on board with the reform proposals, the spokesman said he was not going to give "a running commentary on what each particular country asks". 

Britain 'could get its special status in the EU'

The Daily Politics

Guy Verhofstadt
bbc

Guy Verhofstadt, a Belgian MEP, suggested on the Daily Politics that the European Parliament would not put a spanner in the works for David Cameron's proposals for a new relationship between Britain and the EU.  There had been speculation that the proposals would meet barriers or even be changed after Britain's referendum on the EU. 

Mr Verhofstadt said he thought there could be a "win win" outcome for Britain and the EU - with Britain getting a "special status" in Europe, while accepting that for other EU countries, there had to be "deeper integration" to combat the geopolitical crisis in the world.

Scottish elections - a close race for second place

Scottish Parliament
PA

Labour are neck and neck with the Conservatives ahead of the Scottish Parliament elections in May, with both trailing the SNP, according to that YouGov survey for the Times.

In the constituency vote, the survey put support for Labour at 19%, the Tories at 20%, while the SNP had 50%. 

YouGov polled 1,022 people earlier this week. 

Read more about what is coming up for politics in Scotland this year here.

Labour EU exit campaign to break with Vote Leave

Kate Hoey
Getty Images

The BBC understands the Labour Party group campaigning for Britain to leave the EU is to end its affiliation with the Vote Leave campaign.

Kate Hoey, a leading light in the campaign, is backing Grassroots Out (GO), a campaign founded by two Conservative MPs and UKIP leader Nigel Farage, and is due to speak at a rally later.

GO co-founder, Conservative MP Tom Pursglove, has urged the rival groups vying to be designated as the official Leave campaign, to stop "bickering" and focus on winning the referendum.

He has not ruled out a bid by GO to get the designation.

More details here.

Assange a 'fugitive from justice', not a victim

The Daily Politics

Amol Rajan
BBC

On the Daily Politics, the editor of the Independent is scathing about Julian Assange and the ruling by the UN's panel that he has been unlawfully detained at London's Ecuadorean embassy.

Amol Rajan said:

This is a man who has been accused of rape. I think he will get a fair trial in Sweden. He has cast himself as a victim of justice but he is really a fugitive from justice."

EU proposals 'sensible and justified' says Hammond

The Foreign Secretary has said all the proposals made by David Cameron in renegotiating Britain's relationship with the European Union are "justified", "sensible"  and in the long-term interests of the UK and Europe.

Philip Hammond was responding to criticism by an EU source who said there was a lot of frustration and concern among other EU leaders about Britain's proposals.

Mr Hammond, who will discuss the draft proposals with other EU foreign ministers in Amsterdam today, said:  

Philip Hammond
BBC

Many concessions have been given to the UK in relations to the issues raised. We think all the proposals in the document are justified, are sensible and are in the long term interests, not just of the UK but of Europe as a whole."

The view from Bedfordshire on the EU referendum

BBC Radio 4

Nick Robinson
BBC

Today presenter and former BBC political editor Nick Robinson has been to a street in Dunstable, Bedfordshire, to ask people for their views about whether Britain should stay in the European Union. He says: 

To many of the people who work here, the EU looks like a club that doesn't much want them as members. It appears to be run by wealthy, well-educated men in suits for wealthy, well-educated men in suits."

Coming up on Daily Politics

Newspaper round-up

Newspapers
Thinkstock

The Times leads with a poll on voting intentions for the EU referendum which suggests the "out" campaign has a nine-point lead, up from a four-point gap last week. The internet poll, by YouGov, is the first to be conducted since the terms of the draft EU renegotiation were made public on Tuesday, the paper notes. 

In its own online poll, The Daily Express found 92% were in favour of Britain leaving the EU.

For the Guardian, the main story is a warning given yesterday that tens of thousands of people are set to flee the intensified fighting in Syria.

At the 'i', under the headline "An attack on British democracy", it is reported that senior Conservatives are opposed to government legislation which could "slash" funding for the Labour Party.

The Mirror leads with the story about the cost to the NHS of "bed-blocking" by healthy patients.

For The Telegraph, the main story is the claim that "furious local Conservatives are threatening to turn their backs on Tory candidates in May's local elections". 

EU 'out' campaign gets complicated

BBC's Assistant Political Editor tweets...