EU Leaders Keep Mum On Brexit As Britain Votes

Pro-Brexit activists demonstrate outside of the Houses of Parliament in London on October 28, 2019.  ISABEL INFANTES / AFP

 

European leaders arrived for their Brussels summit Thursday knowing that before their late-night budget debate is over British voters will have given their latest verdict on leaving the bloc.

The 27 remaining EU chiefs have a packed summit agenda and a dispute to resolve over how to fund the fight against climate change, but diplomats will have an ear to the ground for news from across the Channel.

Meeting reporters on their arrival, the leaders were tight-lipped, but privately many officials in Brussels say they hope Prime Minister Boris Johnson wins a working majority.

Only then, they believe, will he be able to ratify a deal to oversee an orderly British departure on January 31 and rapidly launch talks on the future trading relationship.

On Friday, when the British result is clear, they are expected to task the European Commission’s negotiator Michel Barnier with drawing up a united EU position on a trade deal for their approval.

In the meantime, however, with polling still under way, they were cautious.

“I have a lot of respect for the British voters, and I think they will find a wise solution,” said Ursula von der Leyen, attending her first EU summit as president of the European Commission.

Summit host Charles Michel, who as president of the European Council will wield the absent British leader’s vote at the summit, was also discreet.

“I show always respect for the choices made by the voters and we will wait and see what will be the outcome of this election,” he said.

 ‘No one knows’ 

Johnson made a career as a journalist and later as a leader of the pro-Brexit movement by criticising the European Union — making several enemies in Brussels.

But, after three years of chaotic attempts to agree separation terms in the wake of the 2016 British exit referendum, many EU leaders are resigned to Johnson representing the best chance of a orderly divorce.

Luxembourg’s Prime Minister Xavier Bettel said a British prime minister should have a majority “to fulfil the agreements we decided on both sides… a parliament in London that agrees on the future relationship, and all these things very quickly”.

Only Donald Tusk, Michel’s predecessor as head of EU council and now leader of the biggest pan-European party the centre-right EPP, still publicly entertains the idea of an alternative endgame.

“We don’t know what the result is going to be, no one knows, and how it will affect Brexit,” the former Polish premier said, as conservative leaders held an EPP meeting ahead of the main summit.

“But regardless of the result, which means regardless of whether it ends with Brexit, an impasse or a second referendum, the EU should do everything to have the best possible relations with the United Kingdom.

“Whatever happens, we must remain friends and closest partners.”

AFP

Brexit: British Pound Slips As Britons Head To Polls

 

The British pound dipped Thursday as Britons voted in a general election that seeks to determine the future of Brexit.

Having spiked overnight to a 10-month peak at $1.3229 on expectations of an election win for Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party, the pound slipped.

Johnson called Thursday’s snap vote in a bid to gain a decisive mandate to leave the European Union on January 31, more than three-and-a-half years after Britain narrowly voted in a referendum to leave.

“Just before voting opened, the polls suggested that a Conservative majority — seen as the preferred market outcome… was perceived as increasingly likely,” noted AJ Bell investment director Russ Mould.

However investors were sitting tight awaiting the vote outcome as polls have tightened in recent days, suggesting that a hung parliament, or no overall majority for either the Tories or main opposition Labour party, could still occur.

 Stocks soften 

Wall Street equities got off to a weaker start as American producer prices and jobless claims suggested “some weakness creeping into the US economy”, said Edward Moya at OANDA, adding however that the state of trade talks is the main factor fraying stock investors’ nerves.

Anxiety is deepening ahead of a Sunday deadline for fresh US tariffs on Chinese goods and no sign yet that they will be delayed.

Eurozone stock markets turned slightly negative, but London stocks held up well thanks to the weaker pound.

Stephen Innes at AxiTrader added that traders had been “de-risking and hedging” and it would take “definitive trade news headlines from the grand duke of Mara -a-Lago Twitter account” to lighten the markets’ mood.

 ‘Wise owl’ at the ECB 

The ECB gave markets little to trade on the day that Christine Lagarde chaired her first monetary policy council meeting and subsequent news conference.

Interest rates remained unchanged and a massive bond-buying programme intact, and ECB economists came up with figures suggesting both an uptick in inflation and “signs of stabilisation in the growth slowdown”, which provided the euro with some tailwind.

Lagarde also said she would develop her own style and claimed to be neither dovish nor hawkish but aimed to be a “wise owl”.

Still, Lagarde “came off as slightly hawkish”, said OANDA’s Moya. “Lagarde seems poised to help take the eurozone out of negative rates,” he said.

Earlier Thursday in Asia, equity markets mostly closed higher after the Federal Reserve indicated it was unlikely to change US interest rates throughout next year.

The central bank, which has cut borrowing costs three times this year, said after a two-day meeting it would hold them for now and set its sights on low inflation and the global economy.

 Key figures around 1435 GMT 

Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.3171 from $1.3196 at 2200 GMT

Euro/pound: UP at 84.68 pence from 84.35 pence

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.1139 from $1.1130

Dollar/yen: UP at 108.62 yen from 108.56 yen

London – FTSE 100: UP 0.3 percent at 7,238.91 points

Frankfurt – DAX 30: DOWN 0.1 percent at 13,138.45

Paris – CAC 40: DOWN 0.1 percent at 5,855.27

EURO STOXX 50: DOWN 0.1 percent at 3,682.50

New York – Dow: DOWN 0.2 percent at 27,866.43

Tokyo – Nikkei 225: UP 0.1 percent at 23,424.81 (close)

Hong Kong – Hang Seng: UP 1.3 percent at 26,994.14 (close)

Shanghai – Composite: DOWN 0.3 percent at 2,915.70 (close)

Brent North Sea crude: UP 0.4 percent at $63.94 per barrel

West Texas Intermediate: UP 0.2 percent at $58.91

AFP

Britain Votes In ‘Brexit Election’

Residents arrive to vote at a polling station in Dobcross, northwest England as Britain holds a general election on December 12, 2019
Oli SCARFF / AFP

 

Britain went to the polls on Thursday, with the future of Brexit hanging in the balance, in a snap pre-Christmas election aimed at drawing a line under years of political gridlock and bitter division.

More than 4,000 polling venues across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland — including a windmill, some pubs and a chip shop — opened their doors for a poll described as the most important in a generation.

A decisive victory for Prime Minister Boris Johnson would most likely end Britain’s 46-year involvement in the European Union next month, setting Britain on course to chart a new future based on closer ties with the United States and even China.

But a win for the pro-EU opposition could still reverse the Brexit process and give Britain its most leftist government in decades led by veteran socialist Jeremy Corbyn, committed to re-nationalisation and massive public sector spending.

“For them. Vote Labour,” the pro-Corbyn Daily Mirror said on its front page, showing pictures of the homeless sleeping on the street and nurses in understaffed hospitals.

“Save Brexit. Save Britain,” the pro-Johnson Sun newspaper countered on its own front page.

Johnson himself said the election was on a “knife edge,” with the polls indicating him in the lead, but possibly by a margin too small to form his own government.

Weather worries

All eyes initially were on the winter weather, with forecasts of near-freezing temperatures, rain and even snow in some parts that could affect turn-out in the first December election in nearly a century.

Up for grabs are all 650 seats in the British parliament, which has been deadlocked since the 2016 referendum on EU membership that saw a narrow majority vote to leave.

The first indication of the overall result will come in an exit poll at 2200 GMT. The first actual result is due from around 2300 GMT. The remainder will trickle in overnight.

Johnson, who took over from Theresa May in July after she was unable to get parliament to approve her EU divorce deal, is hoping to secure both a mandate and a majority.

“Just imagine how wonderful it will be to settle down to a turkey dinner this Christmas with Brexit decided,” he said in a final message to voters.

Crossroads

A victory for Labour would make Corbyn the party’s first prime minister since Gordon Brown in 2010 — and at 70, the oldest first-time premier since Viscount Palmerston in 1855.

Corbyn is proposing to renegotiate softer exit terms with Brussels within three months and put them to a new referendum, alongside an option to remain in the 27-member bloc, after a three-month campaign.

But he has refused to either publicly back or oppose Brexit, saying he was an “honest arbiter” who would carry out voters’ wishes, no matter the outcome, in a bid to unify the endlessly bickering country.

“Vote for hope. Vote for real change,” he said.

Johnson has hammered home his message to “Get Brexit Done” against a backdrop of voter fatigue at the election — the third in less than five years — and the tortuous Brexit process.

But the EU itself has indicated the chances of securing a comprehensive trade deal before a December 2020 deadline is unrealistic.

That would again raise the prospect of Britain facing a “no deal” scenario, plunging business and the British economy into fresh uncertainty.

Shock result?

Corbyn, meanwhile, has had to brush off claims of indecision about his neutral Brexit stance, and claims of anti-Semitism within Labour.

Pollsters YouGov last month predicted that Johnson’s Conservatives would have a comfortable 68-seat majority but on Tuesday indicated that projection been cut to 28.

Brexit has turned traditional political allegiances on their head and shock results could be on the cards, with tactical voting expected along Leave/Remain, rather than party lines.

Labour’s so-called “Red Wall” in northern England — which mainly voted to leave the EU — is being watched closely for Conservative gains, as is north Wales, another traditional bastion of the left.

“There’s more volatility than there ever has been before,” said Chris Curtis, political research manager at YouGov.

“At this stage, the most likely outcome is a Conservative majority,” he told AFP.

“However, a hung parliament is possible but also a much larger Conservative majority isn’t something that we could rule out.”

AFP

Johnson Unveils Manifesto For Brexit Britain

Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson holds a copy of the manifesto as he speaks during an event to launch the 2019 Conservative Party general election manifesto on November 24, 2019 in Telford, central England. 
Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP

 

Prime Minister Boris Johnson pledged Sunday to take Britain out of the EU by January 31 then set about reinvigorating public services, as he launched his Conservative Party’s general election manifesto.

Having taken over a minority administration in July and been unable to speed his EU divorce deal through parliament, Johnson is seeking a majority at the December 12 snap election — called in a bid to break the Brexit logjam.

Johnson said his “sensible, moderate, tax-cutting” agenda would help reunite Britain after three years of acrimony following the 2016 referendum vote to leave the European Union.

“We’re now, as you know, less than three weeks away from the most critical election in modern memory,” said Johnson as he unveiled the manifesto in Telford, west-central England.

“The choice has never been starker.

“Get Brexit done and we can restore confidence and certainty to businesses and families.

“Get Brexit done and we can focus our hearts and our minds on the priorities of the British people.

“It is time to unleash the potential of the whole country and to forge a new Britain.”

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‘Oven-Ready’ Brexit Deal

Johnson is promising to bring back his Brexit deal to parliament before December 25 if the centre-right Conservatives are returned to power.

“We can then get the whole thing completed in a matter of days if not weeks, and we’re out by January 31,” he said.

The main plank of the Conservative manifesto is the Brexit deal Johnson negotiated with Brussels in October.

He insists the deal will allow Britain to regain control over its laws, money and immigration policy.

Johnson’s chief rival, left-wing Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, wants to renegotiate a new, softer Brexit agreement within three months and then put that to a referendum alongside the option of remaining in the EU by the end of June. Corbyn himself would stay neutral during the process.

“He used to be indecisive — now he’s not so sure,” Johnson said, in a dig at the veteran socialist.

Britain Elects poll aggregator puts the Conservatives on 42 percent, ahead of the Labour main opposition on 29 percent, the anti-Brexit Liberal Democrats on 15 percent, the Brexit Party on six percent and the Greens on three percent.

Despite the poll lead, Johnson has his weak spots, especially given the years of austerity imposed by Conservative governments since 2010.

He promises to end the years of reining in the budget deficit by pumping billions of pounds into public services.

However, the Conservatives are pledging they will not raise the three main taxes — income tax, sales tax and national insurance contributions to state benefits.

Mark Littlewood, director-general of the Institute of Economic Affairs think-tank, said the manifesto raised questions about the Conservatives’ commitment to fiscal responsibility.

“The Conservatives have yet to be clear about how they intend to meet their substantial spending commitments without either raising taxes overall, increasing public debt or both,” he said.

‘Carbon-Neutral, Corbyn-Neutral’

Measures unveiled Sunday included 50,000 more nurses to plug the vacancy gap, more money for childcare support, energy efficiency measures, skills retraining and road upgrades.

Hospital car parking charges in England would be axed for certain patients and the National Health Service staff.

Johnson is also committed to increasing the NHS budget by £33.9 billion ($43.5 billion, 39.5 billion euros) by 2023-24, and has promised a programme of building or upgrading 60 hospitals lover the next decade.

He also pledged to make the streets safer by recruiting 20,000 police officers.

On education, the prime minister announced a three-year plan to increase state-school spending in England by £7.1 billion by 2022-23.

On the environment, Johnson promised to get Britain to net-zero carbon emissions within 30 years.

“Let’s go carbon-neutral by 2050 and Corbyn-neutral by Christmas!” he said.

On immigration, he wants to end freedom of movement for EU citizens and introduce an Australian-style points-based system.

The scale of eastern European immigration since 2004 was one of the key factors behind the Brexit referendum vote in 2016.

Corbyn said Johnson had unveiled “a manifesto for billionaires” and was only offering “more cuts, more failure, and years more of Brexit uncertainty”.

AFP

Britain’s Top General Warns Of ‘Reckless’ Russia Threat

 

Britain’s top military adviser accused Russia on Sunday of “reckless” behaviour that violated international norms and risked sparking a war.

Chief of Defence Staff General Nick Carter said Moscow was operating in a “grey zone” that weaponised information and used unattributable proxies in conflicts.

He pointed to covert operations by the Wagner Group — a private army the Kremlin denies funding — in Syria and Africa as well as disinformation campaigns as two types of new threats.

READ ALSO: Spain Votes In Repeat General Election Amid Catalonia Tensions

“Russia is much more assertive than it was 10 years ago. It’s got some self-confidence now as it reasserts itself as a global power,” Carter told BBC television.

“Cyber is part of that, what happens in space is part of that, disinformation, subversion, manipulation, assassinations, and of course the use of mercenaries, which are very easily undeclared and non-attributable,” he said.

“Reckless behaviour and the lack of respect for international law relating to these new types of ‘weapons’ risks escalation that could easily lead to inadvertent miscalculation,” Carter separately wrote in The Sunday Telegraph.

Russian President Vladimir Putin flatly denies the Kremlin’s involvement in cyber and ground operations that Western intelligence agencies and analysts pin on Moscow.

But Carter said this “deniability” is a tactic now being perfected by Britain’s main foes.

His media appearances are timed to remind Britons of the challenges they still face on Remembrance Sunday — the day the country honours those who fought and died in World War I and subsequent conflicts.

It also comes with US President Donald Trump wavering on Washington’s commitment to the NATO military alliance and French President Emmanuel Macron promoting the idea of a European army.

Britain wants to preserve NATO as it prepares to leave the European Union after nearly 50 years.

“I have seen absolutely no evidence of any military planning to suggest that we are going to have a European army, and no declaration to that end has been made,” Carter told the BBC.

Horror In Britain As 39 Found Dead In Truck

In this collage, Police officers inspect and drive away a lorry in which 39 dead bodies were discovered sparking a murder investigation at Waterglade Industrial Park in Grays, east of London, on October 23, 2019. 

 

Britain launched a major murder investigation after 39 dead bodies were found Wednesday in a refrigerated truck, once again putting the spotlight on the shadowy people trafficking business.

The corpses were found in the truck container at an industrial park in Grays, east of London, triggering outrage among politicians.

The local Essex Police force, which is working with immigration officials, said their initial priority was to try to identify the victims, thought at this stage to be 38 adults and one teenager.

The truck driver, a 25-year-old man from Northern Ireland, has been arrested on suspicion of murder.

“This is an unimaginable tragedy and truly heart-breaking,” Prime Minister Boris Johnson said.

He said the perpetrators of people smuggling, trading in human lives, “should be hunted down and brought to justice”.

Police were called to the scene at the Waterglade Industrial Park at around 1:40am (0040 GMT).

Officers in white forensic suits could be seen working by the truck and a white tent was erected outside.

“We are in the process of identifying the victims. However I anticipate that this could be a lengthy process,” said Essex Police chief superintendent Andrew Mariner.

“We have arrested the lorry driver in connection with the incident, who remains in police custody.”

Tracing the route

Police said the truck had come by ferry from the Belgian port of Zeebrugge into Purfleet, close to Grays on the River Thames estuary — a crossing that takes nine to 12 hours.

They said the ferry docked at 12:30 am (2330 GMT).

Police also said the truck came “from Bulgaria”.

But the country’s Prime Minister Boyko Borisov said it had “no connection” to the country except for having Bulgarian licence plates.

“The truck was registered in 2017 by an Irish citizen, it left Bulgaria then and has not entered our country’s territory ever since,” he told national television.


RELATED:

Police Recover 39 Bodies In Container Near London

Police Say Truck Containing 39 Bodies Entered From Belgium


Dimitar Dimitrov, executive director of the Bulgarian Chamber of Road Hauliers, told AFP many foreign hauliers registered in Bulgaria for financial reasons, and doubted whether a Bulgarian firm would employ Irish drivers.

Britain’s National Crime Agency said the number of migrants being smuggled into the UK in containers and trucks had risen in the last year.

In May the NCA said there had been “increasing use of higher risk methods of clandestine entry” to Britain by organised immigration crime gangs.

‘Evil’ contempt for life

Jackie Doyle-Price, the MP representing the local Thurrock constituency, called people trafficking a “vile and dangerous business”.

“To put 39 people into a locked metal container shows a contempt for human life that is evil,” she said.

The gruesome discovery drew comparisons to previous cases.

In 2000, the bodies of 58 clandestine Chinese immigrants were discovered in a Dutch truck at the southeastern English port of Dover. Two people survived.

In 2014, some 34 Afghan Sikhs were found inside a shipping container at Tilbury port — next to Grays — suffering from severe dehydration, hypothermia and lack of air. One man was found dead, having passed away during the sea crossing from Belgium.

In August 2015, at the peak of Europe’s migration crisis, the bodies of 71 migrants including a baby girl were found piled up in the back of a poultry refrigerator lorry left in Austria.

Investigations later revealed they had been transported along the Balkan migrant route and left to suffocate in the back of the truck after the driver dumped the vehicle near the Hungarian border.

Britain And EU Strike Brexit Deal Ahead Of Summit

An official hangs a Union Jack next to an European Union flag at EU Headquarters in Brussels on October 17, 2019, ahead of a European Union Summit on Brexit. Kenzo TRIBOUILLARD / AFP

 

Britain and the European Union reached a last-ditch Brexit deal on Thursday, just hours before an EU summit that is expected to give it a seal of approval.

But Prime Minister Boris Johnson will still have to take the accord to a sceptical British parliament for its backing on Saturday, and it is far from certain that it will pass.

Johnson, who has pledged to take Britain out of the EU with or without an agreement, tweeted: “We’ve got a great new deal that takes back control — now Parliament should get Brexit done on Saturday.”

EU officials are pleased they avoided an immediate crisis at the European Council summit, and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker recommended that the other 27 EU leaders endorse the deal.

READ ALSO: N. Ireland’s DUP Says Opposition To Brexit Deal Remains

“Where there is a will, there is a deal — we have one! It’s a fair and balanced agreement for the EU and the UK and it is testament to our commitment to find solutions,” Juncker tweeted.

The draft agreement was forged just weeks before Britain was due to leave the bloc on October 31, ending more than four decades of close economic and political ties with its nearest neighbours.

Chief EU negotiator Michel Barnier said: “We have managed to find solutions that fully respect the integrity of the single market.

“We created a new and legally operative solution to avoid a hard border, and protect peace and stability on the island of Ireland,” he said.

“It is a solution that works for the EU, for the UK and for people and businesses in Northern Ireland.”

One immediate hurdle is opposition from Johnson’s allies in Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), which pre-emptively rejected the compromise.

The agreement would see the British-ruled province remain under EU customs and Value Added Tax (VAT) rules, and the loyalist DUP announced that it can not support it.

It is not clear how many of Johnson’s Conservative MPs will back the deal, and if the British opposition could vote it down or attempt to force a nationwide referendum to approve or reject it.

Before setting off for Brussels, German Chancellor Angela Merkel noted approvingly that London had been ready to negotiate and put “concrete proposals on the table”.

Economic disruption

Under the measures to replace the so-called “Irish backstop” in the previous failed agreement, the plan would see Northern Ireland remain British legal territory but trade under EU regulations.

This is intended to prevent the return of a hard border with EU-member Ireland. But, because it would involve some customs and tax checks with the rest of the UK, it raised the hackles of the DUP.

EU negotiator Michel Barnier was to give a news conference to outline more details of the deal.

But one EU source told AFP the agreement “is politically fragile in London” because of Johnson’s reliance on votes from the DUP and Conservative eurosceptics.

The leaders also hope the summit will rise above the Brexit mire and focus on the EU budget debate, bids by North Macedonia and Albania to start talks to join the bloc, and the crisis in relations with Turkey.

The Brexit issue is first on the agenda, with the EU’s 27 other leaders to hear Johnson speak then retire to mull their response. But the issue could be delayed to Friday if the deal text needs more work.

N. Ireland’s DUP Says Opposition To Brexit Deal Remains

In this collage, Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) leader Arlene Foster (R) and deputy Nigel Dodds leave from 10 Downing Street in central London on September 10, 2019, while Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson (R) leaves from the rear of 10 Downing Street in central London on October 16, 2019.

 

Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party is holding out in opposition to the Brexit deal struck Thursday between London and Brussels — a stance which has the potential to sink the agreement.

The DUP, which supports Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservative government, holds major sway in whether a divorce agreement can get through parliament.

In the desperate scramble for votes, DUP backing would have smoothed the path for hardline Conservatives to get behind Thursday’s Brexit package.

Northern Ireland has proved the sticking point in the Brexit negotiations, so satisfying the DUP, the province’s biggest party, has proved a key test on the road to an acceptable deal.

The DUP is a hardline group whose tough negotiating tactics were forged in the sectarian conflict over British rule in Northern Ireland that left thousands dead over three decades.

The party is known for its fiery rhetoric and steely determination in holding out, rather than its willingness to compromise.

“No” has been its classic watchword.

Hours before London and Brussels announced they had found an agreement, the DUP said it could not support what was on the table — notably on customs and consent issues, as well as sales tax arrangements.

The party said it wants a deal that “protects the economic and constitutional integrity” of the United Kingdom.

Following the news from Brussels, a DUP source told AFP that the earlier statement “remains our position”.

Clout

The hard-bargaining party has only 10 MPs in the 650-seat British parliament in London.

However, those votes could prove vital to the prime minister if he is to get any deal through the lower House of Commons.

The DUP propped up the Conservative government after the 2017 general election, giving it a slim majority in the lower house.

The alliance agreement with the government came at a price of £1 billion ($1.3 billion, 1.15 billion euros) in extra funding for Northern Ireland.

Since Johnson expelled rebel Conservatives in early September, the government is now well short of a majority — even with DUP votes.

Fundamentalists

Deeply socially and economically conservative, the DUP is firmly rooted in Northern Ireland’s Protestant, pro-British community.

It has softened its fiery anti-Catholicism since it was founded by the Protestant evangelical minister Ian Paisley in 1971.

The party has been led for nearly four years by Arlene Foster, 49, who survived a school bus bombing as a teenager.

The no-nonsense figure was Northern Ireland’s first minister throughout 2016 before the province’s power-sharing institutions collapsed in early 2017 over a lack of trust.

The DUP campaigned for Brexit but the four other major parties in Northern Ireland were all against it.

The DUP is the only Northern Irish party in the British parliament. Members of the Irish republican party Sinn Fein do not take their seven seats and there is one independent unionist.

On the lowest UK regional turnout of 63 percent in the 2016 EU membership referendum, 56 percent in Northern Ireland backed the UK staying in the European Union.

EU, UK Reach Brexit Deal

 

The president of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, said Thursday that Brussels had come to an agreement with Britain on a Brexit withdrawal agreement to be presented to EU leaders.

“Where there is a will, there is a deal — we have one! It’s a fair and balanced agreement for the EU and the UK and it is testament to our commitment to find solutions,” Juncker tweeted.

“I recommend that EUCO endorses this deal,” he said, referring to the European Council of the leaders of member states that was to meet later Thursday.

READ ALSO: US House Condemns Troops Withdrawal From Syria

Affirming Junker’s statement, Prime Minister Boris Johnson also on Thursday announced what he said was a “great new deal” for Britain to leave the European Union, as leaders gathered in Brussels for talks.

“We’ve got a great new deal that takes back control,” he wrote on Twitter, calling on lawmakers in London to approve the agreement at a rare sitting of parliament on Saturday.

Britain ‘Deeply Concerned’ By Turkish Military Plans For Syria

Britain Flag

 

Britain on Tuesday said it was “deeply concerned” by Turkey’s plans to target Kurdish militants in northern Syria, telling Ankara it would not support the move.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s spokesman said London had been “consistently clear with Turkey that unilateral military action must be avoided as it would destabilise the region” and threaten efforts to defeat the so-called Islamic State jihadist group.

READ ALSO: State Dept Blocks US Diplomat Impeachment Probe Testimony

 

Prince Harry Launches Fresh Legal Claim Against UK Newspapers

 

Prince Harry has filed a new claim for breach of privacy against British tabloid newspapers, media and the publishing group concerned said on Friday.

“We can confirm that a claim has been issued by the Duke of Sussex,” News Group Newspapers, which publishes The Sun daily and the now defunct News of the World said in a statement without elaborating. Sky News said it concerned phone hacking.

Five Key Points Of UK’s New Brexit Proposals

 

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has written to European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker outlining proposals that could lead to a revised divorce deal between London and Brussels.

Here are five key points in Johnson’s plan, which revolves around arrangements on the border between Northern Ireland — part of the United Kingdom — and EU member the Republic of Ireland.

– Removing the backstop –
The existing divorce deal between Britain and the EU has been rejected three times by British MPs. The only split scenario supported by a majority involved removing the backstop fallback provisions concerning the Irish border.

The backstop would ensure the Irish border stays open by keeping the whole UK temporarily aligned to EU customs rules.

Johnson’s letter said the backstop was intended as bridge to a future partnership in which Britain remained closely integrated with EU customs arrangements and laws, but as that is not where his government wants to go, the backstop is a “bridge to nowhere”.

NI to keep EU goods regulations

The plan provides for the creation of an “all-island regulatory zone” on the island of Ireland covering all goods including agrifood. This means Northern Ireland sticking with EU goods regulations to ensure they are the same on both sides of the border.

The move would eliminate “all regulatory checks to trade in goods” across the border.

To support the province through the transition, London would launch a “new deal” for Northern Ireland, with commitments to help boost economic growth, competitiveness, and infrastructure projects.

NI consent

The plan would mean Northern Ireland having significant sectors of its economy governed by laws which it has no say in making.

The plan proposes that the Northern Ireland Assembly and its executive — the province’s devolved regional government — should have the chance to endorse the arrangements before they enter force.

They would do so during the transition period and for every four years afterwards, otherwise the arrangement lapses.

The arrangements therefore could not be maintained indefinitely if they were not wanted — a key problem British MPs had with the backstop.

The assembly collapsed in January 2017 due to a breakdown in trust between the main parties representing the British and Irish communities.

– NI fully in UK customs territory –
The letter says it is “fundamental” that the UK leaves the EU customs union “whole and entire” at the end of the transition period.

It said Britain had to have control of its trade policy in future.

Electronic customs

Both sides should commit never to conduct checks at the border. The UK says it will never impose a hard border on its only land frontier.

All customs processes needed to ensure compliance with the EU and UK customs regimes should take place “on a decentralised basis”, with paperwork conducted electronically as goods move between the UK and Ireland.

It said a very small number of physical checks would need to be conducted at traders’ premises and other points on the supply chain.