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Need To Know: EU Brexit chief Michel Barnier questions May’s Chequers plan

■ EU Brexit chief questions May’s Chequers plan

THE EU’s chief Brexit negotiator has questioned whether Theresa May’s proposals for customs arrangements are workable, in his first public response to last week’s white paper.

Speaking after briefing ministers from the 27 remaining EU states in Brussels, Michel Barnier (pictured above) said the white paper has opened the way for ‘constructive discussions’ on the post-Brexit relationship between the EU and the UK.

And he indicated the EU was ready to amend its ‘backstop’ proposals for the Irish border, which have become the biggest stumbling block in talks.

But he said there were elements of the plan agreed by the Cabinet earlier this month at Chequers which the European Commission did not understand, and said further discussions would be needed over the coming weeks to establish how much ‘common ground’ exists between London and Brussels.

Mrs May’s proposal for a ‘facilitated customs arrangement’ opened up the risk of major fraud, additional bureaucracy and damage to EU businesses, he said.

■ Brace for queues as UK summer holiday getaway begins

ROADS, ports and airports will be exceptionally busy this weekend as millions of people embark on a summer getaway.

Motorists are being warned to expect a ‘frantic Friday’ with an estimated 3.8million leisure trips taking place following the end of term at the majority of schools in England and Wales.

More than nine million people are expected to embark on getaway trips by car between Friday and Sunday, the RAC said.

The AA urged drivers to carry out maintenance checks on their vehicles and take basic supplies, with high temperatures putting extra strain on cooling systems and tyres.

■ Battle of Britain Spitfire pilot hailed following death, aged 96

TRIBUTES have been paid to the youngest surviving Battle of Britain Spitfire pilot following his death aged 96.

Geoffrey Wellum (pictured above), who was just 18 when he joined the RAF in August 1939, died at his home in Cornwall on Wednesday evening, the Battle of Britain Memorial Trust said.

The youngest surviving member of the ‘Few’, the decorated veteran airman was approaching his 97th birthday.

Mr Wellum, one of the youngest Spitfire pilots to fly in the Battle of Britain, was a ‘fine, decent and caring man’, trust president Sir Stephen Dalton said.

■ Divers search for four more bodies after boat accident kills 13

DIVERS are searching a Missouri lake for four people still missing after a duck boat packed with tourists capsized and sank in high winds, killing at least 13 people in the tourist town of Branson.

Authorities blamed stormy weather for the accident yesterday evening on Table Rock Lake (pictured above).

Winds at the time were blowing as hard as 65mph, according to the US National Weather Service.

Fourteen people survived, including seven who were injured when the boat went down, state police said. The four missing are presumed dead.

Duck boats, named for their ability to travel on land and in water, have been involved in other deadly incidents in the past. Five college students were killed in 2015 in Seattle when a duck boat collided with a bus, and 13 people died in 1999 when a boat sank near Hot Springs, Arkansas.