UK, EU Resume Crunch Brexit Talks In London

(FILES) In this file photograph taken on January 29, 2020, British members of the European Parliament from the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats pose for a group picture wearing scarves depicting the European Union and the Union Jack flags at The Europa Building in Brussels. (Photo by JOHN THYS / AFP)

 

Britain and the European Union resumed crucial negotiations in London on Monday for a post-Brexit free trade deal, with time running short and both sides saying major obstacles remain.

EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier arrived in the British capital late Sunday before another week of talks with his UK counterpart David Frost, as they scramble to find an agreement.

Britain formally left the bloc in January but remains bound by most of its rules until the end of the year under the terms of its divorce.

Parliaments in London and Brussels need time to ratify any deal struck, leaving scant time for the two sides to find a compromise on key outstanding issues.

These include establishing rules for competition between British and European companies, oversight mechanism and fishing rights.

Barnier said on Twitter the keys to unlocking the door to a deal were “respect of EU autonomy and UK sovereignty” alongside “robust guarantees of free and fair trade” and “stable and reciprocal access to markets and fishing opportunities”.

In a weekend phone call, Prime Minister Boris Johnson and European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen acknowledged big differences must be bridged after two weeks of “intense” meetings ended last Wednesday.

Von der Leyen vowed both negotiating teams would “continue working hard” while Johnson said they would “redouble efforts to reach a deal”.

However, neither side has indicated yet that they are willing to make the compromises needed for a breakthrough.

Observers have said an agreement is needed by mid-November to allow for ratification.

– ‘Sensible approach’ –

Britons voted to end decades of EU economic and political integration in 2016 but implementing Brexit has proved immensely difficult ever since.

After finally agreeing initial divorce terms last year, the two sides began fraught negotiations over a future free trade deal.

They had predicted a draft would need to be finalised by mid-October in order to be ratified by the EU and UK parliaments before the end of the year.

But the coronavirus pandemic strained the already ambitious timetable, while the most divisive issues have stalled the talks for months.

Without a deal, Britain would leave the EU single market and customs union on January 1, triggering immediate and significant barriers to cross-Channel trade and business.

London and Brussels still insist they would prefer to avoid the economic disruption that this would entail.

Environment Secretary George Eustice offered a glimmer of hope that the UK could be ready to show more flexibility over EU access to British waters for fishing crews.

“We’ve always been open to doing a sensible approach looking particularly at agreements that might span a couple, three years for instance,” he told Sky News.

Britain has been reported to be holding out for annual talks over fisheries access.

“Controlled access to our waters has always been a red line for us in these negotiations,” Eustice added.

– ‘Pause for thought’ –

A so-called no-deal Brexit could complicate the situation on the island of Ireland, and its politically-sensitive border between UK-ruled Northern Ireland and EU member Ireland.

London is currently pushing controversial legislation through parliament to regulate its post-Brexit trade with Northern Ireland that would unilaterally rewrite the EU divorce treaty and breach its terms.

Brussels has already initiated legal action over the draft law, which British lawmakers in the upper chamber House of Lords will vote on later Monday.

Meanwhile leading Democrats in the United States, including Irish-American President-elect Joe Biden, have warned a US-UK trade deal could be compromised if the island becomes a “casualty” of a “no-deal” Brexit.

Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said Monday that Biden’s election could lead London to “pause for thought” and “ensure that the Irish issues are prioritised”.

“Joe Biden is a real friend of Ireland,” Coveney added, noting he had stressed “the need to prevent a hard border at any point in the future linked to Brexit policy and Brexit negotiations”.

AFP

Chelsea Cruise As Werner’s Penalty Double Sinks Rennes

 

Frank Lampard praised Jorginho’s professionalism after the Italian gave penalty duties to Timo Werner as Chelsea powered to a 3-0 win against 10-man Rennes in the Champions League on Wednesday.

Werner netted twice from the spot before half-time at Stamford Bridge after Rennes defender Dalbert conceded both penalties.

Dalbert was sent off after the second penalty and Chelsea made the most of their numerical advantage to score again through Tammy Abraham early in the second half.

Werner has taken over from Jorginho as Chelsea’s penalty taker after the midfielder’s recent misses and Lampard was pleased with the way he handled the change.

“It was not an easy decision, because Jorginho has been pretty faultless for us,” Lampard said.

“Timo came in and scored one in our last European game. I had a conversation with Jorginho and his answer was perfect for a professional. He doesn’t care who takes them, he just wants us to score.

“Timo is the taker at the moment, and he took them emphatically, so I’m happy.”

Lampard’s side are top of Group E with seven points after three games and look well set to qualify for the last 16.

Chelsea have started a Champions League campaign with three consecutive clean-sheets in the group stage for the first time since 2009-10.

As well as keeping five successive clean-sheets in all competitions for the first time in 10 years, banishing the defensive problems that ailed them earlier this season, the Blues have scored 10 goals in their last three games.

The combination of a well-drilled defence and a potent attack is a welcome sight for Lampard, who has been working overtime to find the right formula after spending over £200 million ($259 million) on new signings in the close-season.

“Those stats and runs are great, but you cannot come off them at all, so that is why I am pleased we saw it through to the end of the game,” Lampard said.

“We deserved it. We are working as a collective and we have to keep that base.”

Chelsea are unbeaten in seven games in all competitions and Lampard’s only concern was the absence of Kai Havertz, who was left out of the squad after going into self-isolation following a positive coronavirus test.

Penalty controversy

Werner opened the scoring in the 10th minute.

His deft touch induced a rash tackle from Dalbert just inside the area, winning a penalty that the German striker calmly converted.

Dalbert’s disastrous day was complete in the 41st minute when he stuck out a foot to block Abraham’s shot and diverted it onto his arm.

After a video review, the penalty was awarded and Dalbert was dismissed for his second booking.

It was a harsh decision, but Werner lashed the spot-kick high into the roof of the net for his seventh goal of the season.

Werner, a close-season signing from Leipzig, has now been directly involved in 13 goals in his past 14 appearances in the Champions League.

Chelsea went for the kill after half-time and Jorginho’s defence-splitting pass found Abraham, whose shot was blocked by Alfred Gomis.

Abraham got his goal anyway in the 50th minute, meeting Reece James’ cross with a close-range finish for his third goal of the season and his first since September.

Werner nearly notched his hat-trick from James’ cross, but Damien Da Silva cleared away from the striker as he prepared to pull the trigger.

Gomis made a good save to deny Olivier Giroud in the closing stages, but Chelsea had already done enough damage.

Chelsea keeper Edouard Mendy, who joined from Rennes in September, was rarely tested against his old club.

Mendy did make one good save to keep out Jeremy Dokumade’s strike in the final moments, giving the Senegal international six clean-sheets in his last six appearances.

UK Says US Ties Will Go ‘From Strength To Strength’ Whoever Wins

File: Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson. (Photo by Paul ELLIS / POOL / AFP)

 

 

Britain on Wednesday insisted its close partnership with the United States was in safe hands whoever comes out on top of the tumultuous presidential election while noting disaccord over the Paris climate pact.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson, a populist ally of President Donald Trump, stayed up into the night to follow the results coming in, according to a Downing Street spokesman.

But Johnson refused to be drawn in parliament when grilled about the Republican’s premature claim of victory and his intention to ask the Supreme Court to halt the vote counting.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps came closer to breaching UK neutrality over the election, in discussing Britain’s support for action on climate change as it prepares to host a major UN summit next year.

“One can imagine that one of those candidates would be more enthusiastic (on climate policy) as president than the other,” he told ITV News, referring to Democrat Joe Biden.

Former prime minister Theresa May noted that the election dispute coincided with Trump’s decision to pull the United States out of the Paris climate accord taking effect on Wednesday.

“We will soon know who will be the next US president. But, sadly, today also marks the US leaving the Paris accord — the world’s foremost attempt to build consensus on climate change,” she tweeted.

“Whoever is elected has an immense responsibility to help tackle our planet’s greatest challenge.”

Britain is due next year to convene the UN’s COP 26 climate summit, and Johnson’s spokesman said the government was looking forward to a “successful hosting” of the multinational meeting, which has been delayed by the coronavirus pandemic.

“Obviously we’ve made clear to the US administration throughout this process that we remain firm supporters of the Paris Agreement,” the spokesman told reporters.

He added that the transatlantic relationship would “go from strength to strength whichever candidate wins the election”.

“Across trade, security, intelligence, defence, innovation and culture, few countries do more together.”

For his part, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said: “I’m not worried about the relationship.”

“The contours of the opportunities and the risks always shift a little bit, but that needs to be set against the context of this bedrock and this wider set of interests which are so strong,” he told Sky News.

Raab also downplayed concerns expressed by Biden over the UK’s plans for Northern Ireland after its Brexit divorce from the European Union.

Backed By Stormzy, Cambridge Bids To Woo Black Students

 

Going to Cambridge had always been a dream for Matthew Omoefe Offeh, one of a growing number of black students who are slowly reshaping the elite university’s racial mix, helped in part by rapper Stormzy.

The 18-year-old from Luton, north of London, has just started an engineering course at Cambridge’s Magdalene College, which traces its roots to 1428 and whose illustrious alumni include the 17th-century diarist Samuel Pepys.

Offeh has benefited from Target Oxbridge, a free coaching programme that looks to open up Oxford and Cambridge to more working-class and minority students.

Oxford and Cambridge are the two oldest and most prestigious British universities, synonymous with educating the sons and daughters of the establishment from Britain and around the world.

“Some people think that they won’t fit in, that Cambridge isn’t a place for black students,” Offeh told AFP.

“If you show your passion for your subject and your ability to do it, then you should be fine,” he said.

Offeh is among 137 black undergraduates who started at Cambridge this academic year — a 50-percent increase on last year and a huge jump on 2015, when the number was a paltry 38.

The increase has brought the proportion of black undergraduates in this year’s intake to 4.6 percent. That compares to 3.3 percent of black people in the overall population, according to the last census in 2011.

“That’s the highest figure we have ever had,” said Professor Graham Virgo, senior pro-vice chancellor at the university.

“We’ve been working very hard to encourage more black students to apply… we have known that black students are under-represented in the university,” he said.

– Breaking glass ceilings –
UK universities have been criticised for a lack of diversity and opportunities for black and minority ethnic (BAME) students and staff.

In June at the height of the Black Lives Matter protests, Britain’s first BAME female cabinet minister Valerie Amos said there was “deep structural and systemic discrimination” in higher education.

Cambridge postgraduate student Nia-Cerise Conteh has tweeted about her experiences of physical and verbal assaults.

On a BBC documentary aired this month called “Being Black at Cambridge”, she described being racially abused by a university staff member on a train.

Depressed at a lacklustre response from the university, she had thought of dropping out, but said through tears: “I’m fighting for every other black person who I know, who needs to occupy these spaces.

“Black people need to know that they need to get here so that we can pave the way for others. And we need to break that glass ceiling,” Conteh said.

Cambridge said it took all such incidents seriously, and urged any affected students to come forward.

The university’s intake has traditionally favoured pupils from wealthy private schools over inner-city state establishments.

But it has tried to encourage those from less well-off backgrounds to apply with information campaigns, scholarships and outreach on social media.

Grime music star Stormzy launched a scholarship in 2018 to support black students at Cambridge who cannot afford the annual tuition fees of about £9,000 (nearly $12,000 or 10,000 euros) and the living costs.

Initially Stormzy proposed the scheme to Oxford, which he says turned him down. This year, he is offering two Cambridge scholarships worth £18,000 ($23,000 or 19,000 euros).

“Clearly that’s been really important for those students. But also, it’s really raised the profile” of the university among potential applicants, Virgo said.

– ‘Decolonise’ libraries –
Wanipa Ndhlovu is in her third year studying law at Trinity College, Prince Charles’ alma mater and the grandest of all the university’s constituent colleges.

She said the growth in numbers of black students at Cambridge had been visible.

“The change from my first and my second year was really, really substantial,” the 20-year-old told AFP. Looking at younger year groups, she felt “it’s much easier for them to integrate”.

Ndhlovu was born in Zambia and said she had experienced the same kind of “micro aggressions and ignorance” at Cambridge as growing up in York, northern England.

She admitted to being overwhelmed by Cambridge’s imposing buildings, and worried that she would not meet anyone who was like her.

The killing by police of George Floyd in the United States, which sparked the wave of Black Lives Matter protests across the world, “brought to my attention again that there’s so many people who, no matter what I do, no matter what I achieve, just won’t see me as equal”.

Virgo said he has met many students who want university authorities to take action in light of the protests.

That meant ensuring “their voice is heard in the classroom, what we study — and we really are looking at our curriculum to make sure that black voices and black experience is reflected”.

The university’s response also includes a programme to “decolonise” its vast central library, to try to diversify and widen its collections.

#EndSARS: Nigerians Protest In London Against Violence

Protestors shout slogans as they raise their fists during a protest action against police brutality in Nigeria, in New Cavendish Street in central London on October 24, 2020.  (Photo by Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP)

 

Around 500 demonstrators took to the streets of London on Saturday in support of youth #EndSARS protests in Nigeria that have spiralled into widespread unrest. 

President Muhammadu Buhari was the focus of the anger for his handling of anti-police brutality protests against the loathed Special Anti-Robbery Squad or SARS.

Black-clad demonstrators, mostly part of Britain’s large Nigerian diaspora, held signs reading “End SARS, end police brutality” and sang “Buhari is a dead man” as they made their way through the streets of the capital.

Others waved Nigerian flags, with some splashed with red paint to make them look bloodstained, while some wore green and white masks and shouted through loudspeakers as they protested at London landmarks, including Parliament Square and the BBC.

 

Protestors raise their fists during a protest action against police brutality in Nigeria, as they kneel in New Cavendish Street in central London on October 24, 2020. – UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has called for an end to what he called “brutality” by police in Nigeria, which has been rocked by two weeks of protests. Guterres said gunmen that opened fire on peaceful protesters Tuesday evening in Lagos caused “multiple deaths” and many injuries. (Photo by Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP)
Protestors raise their fists during a protest action against police brutality in Nigeria, as they kneel in New Cavendish Street in central London on October 24, 2020. – UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has called for an end to what he called “brutality” by police in Nigeria, which has been rocked by two weeks of protests. Guterres said gunmen that opened fire on peaceful protesters Tuesday evening in Lagos caused “multiple deaths” and many injuries. (Photo by Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP)

 

Buhari scrapped the feared police unit and pledged reforms, but the demands from the young protesters broadened to calls for more sweeping change.

Police shootings of unarmed demonstrators sparked international condemnation and unleashed chaos in Africa’s biggest city of Lagos.

 

Guterres said gunmen that opened fire on peaceful protesters Tuesday evening in Lagos caused “multiple deaths” and many injuries. (Photo by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP)

 

Guterres said gunmen that opened fire on peaceful protesters Tuesday evening in Lagos caused “multiple deaths” and many injuries. (Photo by Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP)

 

Nigeria was rocked by two weeks of protests. Guterres said gunmen that opened fire on peaceful protesters Tuesday evening in Lagos caused “multiple deaths” and many injuries. (Photo by Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP)

 

Protestors carry placards as they gather for a protest against police brutality in Nigeria, in Parliament Square in central London on October 24, 2020. – UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has called for an end to what he called “brutality” by police in Nigeria, which has been rocked by two weeks of protests. Guterres said gunmen that opened fire on peaceful protesters Tuesday evening in Lagos caused “multiple deaths” and many injuries. (Photo by Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP)

 

Shops lifted their shutters and market traders set out their stalls Saturday, as the city cautiously reopened after a curfew was eased following days of unrest.

Police stations were burnt, supermarkets looted and vehicles destroyed as violence flared across the economic hub of 20 million, with officials accusing “hoodlums” of taking advantage of the mayhem.

 

Protestors carry placards and shout slogans against police brutality in Nigeria, as they march in central London on October 24, 2020. – UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has called for an end to what he called “brutality” by police in Nigeria, which has been rocked by two weeks of protests. Guterres said gunmen that opened fire on peaceful protesters Tuesday evening in Lagos caused “multiple deaths” and many injuries. (Photo by Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP)
Protestors shout slogans during a protest action against police brutality in Nigeria, outside the BBC offices in central London on October 24, 2020. – UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has called for an end to what he called “brutality” by police in Nigeria, which has been rocked by two weeks of protests. Guterres said gunmen that opened fire on peaceful protesters Tuesday evening in Lagos caused “multiple deaths” and many injuries. (Photo by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP)
Protestors carry placards as they gather for a protest against police brutality in Nigeria, in Parliament Square in central London on October 24, 2020. – UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has called for an end to what he called “brutality” by police in Nigeria, which has been rocked by two weeks of protests. Guterres said gunmen that opened fire on peaceful protesters Tuesday evening in Lagos caused “multiple deaths” and many injuries. (Photo by Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP)

PHOTOS: Nigerian #EndSARS Protesters In The UK Call For Justice

Nigerian #ENDSARS protesters in the UK

 

#EndSARS protesters marched from the Nigerian High Commission to Downing Street, where the UK Prime Minister resides, chanting “justice” after the men in Nigerian military uniforms opened fire on protesters in Lagos.

Nigerians in the diaspora are enraged because of the shooting of peaceful protesters at the Lekki Tollgate on the 20th of October, which has been dubbed “Black Tuesday” by Nigerian youths.

As of now, President Buhari has still not reacted to the incident and many people are holding him accountable for giving the orders to shoot unarmed protesters as the commander-in-chief of the Federation.

Nigerians from far and near Central London came to register their grievances.

Placards can be seen saying the same thing in different ways, asking for the Government to be held accountable for the shooting as a lot of people are affected by this directly or indirectly.

 

 

Wizkid, Other Nigerians Protest Against Police Brutality In London

 

Nigerian singer Ayodeji Ibrahim Balogun better known as Wizkid, and several Nigerians have staged a protest against police brutality in London. 

The protest took place at the Nigeria High Commission, Thai Square on Sunday with the singer urging Nigerian youths to speak up against ills in the country.

“My people, I want this message to go out to every Nigerian youth. Your voice has been heard,” he added. “Don’t let anyone tell you you don’t have a voice. You all have a voice! And don’t be scared to speak up.”

While reiterating that Nigerians “deserve good government,” Wizkid thanked the protesters for coming out en masse to agitate against police brutality and concluded that “we have achieved our goal.”

READ ALSO: #EndSARS Protesters Arrested By Police Have Been Released, Says Ogun Gov

The protest in London comes after similar agitations had taken place in several cities in Nigeria, calling for the scrapping of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), a unit of the Police loathed by millions in the country.

But after days of widespread protests, the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Mohammed Adamu,  dissolved the tactical squad.

“The Special Anti-Robbery Squad of the Nigerian Police, otherwise known as SARS, is hereby dissolved across all formations, the 36 state police command and the Federal Capital Territory where they currently exist,” the IGP said in a press conference on Sunday, even though he acknowledged reports of extortion and brutality by the force subunit.

“All officers and men currently serving in the unit are to be redeployed with immediate effect.”

According to the IGP,  the protests are “a manifestation of the natural desires of citizens to participate in matters concerning policing and internal security in the nation”.

The police authorities will be announcing new policing arrangements to address the offences of armed robbery and other violent crimes that fall within the mandate of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad later.

Spurs Hit Man Utd For Six, Arsenal Edge Blades

 

Jose Mourinho humiliated his former club Manchester United as Tottenham swept to a stunning 6-1 win at Old Trafford, while Arsenal moved into the Premier League’s top four with a 2-1 victory against Sheffield United on Sunday.

Tottenham boss Mourinho was sacked by United in 2018 after a turbulent reign, but it was his successor Ole Gunnar Solskjaer who was left red-faced after a shambolic display from the hosts.

Despite taking the lead through Bruno Fernandes’ second-minute penalty, United collapsed as they conceded four goals in the first half of a league match for the first time since 1957.

Tanguy Ndombele equalised in the fourth minute after dismal defending from Harry Maguire and South Korea forward Son Heung-min made it two from Harry Kane’s seventh minute quick free-kick.

United were reduced to 10 men when Anthony Martial was harshly sent off in the 28th minute for his reaction to a push from Erik Lamela.

That opened the floodgates as United surrendered, with Kane grabbing Tottenham’s third in the 31st minute after stealing Eric Bailly’s weak pass.

READ ALSO: Tottenham Hit 10-Man Man Utd For Six On Mourinho’s Return

United were in disarray and Serge Aurier crossed for Son’s close-range finish in the 37th minute.

Aurier drilled home in the 51st minute and Kane made it six with a 79th-minute penalty.

It was just the third time United had conceded six goals in the Premier League era started in 1992.

Solskjaer’s team have lost their first two home games for the first time since 1986 and sit just two places above the relegation zone after their heaviest home defeat since Manchester City beat them 6-1 in 2011.

Tottenham are up to fifth place after their second league win this term, ending a run of four games in eight days that included knocking Chelsea, another of Mourinho’s old clubs, out of the League Cup on Tuesday.

– Saka shines –
Arsenal have taken nine points from their opening four games as they look to return to Champions League football for the first time in five years next season.

But the Gunners were fortunate to take all three points at the Emirates as they had an early escape when David Luiz escaped a red card for a pull on Oli Burke.

Mikel Arteta’s men got going after the break and a fine team move opened the scoring on the hour mark when Bukayo Saka headed home Hector Bellerin’s cross at the far post.

Bellerin was the provider again moments later as Nicolas Pepe drove forward to curl the ball in off the far post.

David McGoldrick halved the deficit seven minutes from time with the Blades first league goal of the season, but they remain without a point.

Leicester rocked

Leicester’s perfect start came to a shuddering halt with a 3-0 defeat at home to West Ham, just a week after the Foxes thrashed Manchester City 5-2.

Liverpool can now leapfrog Leicester to move joint top of the table alongside Merseyside rivals Everton if they win at Aston Villa later on Sunday.

West Ham manager David Moyes was again taking charge from home after testing positive for coronavirus.

But just as in a 4-0 win over Wolves last weekend, the Hammers did not miss his presence as goals from Michail Antonio, Pablo Fornals and Jarrod Bowen gave the visitors a full deserved three points.

At St Mary’s, Southampton won their second successive game by seeing off lowly West Brom 2-0.

Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side dominated throughout but had to wait until the 41st minute to open the scoring when Moussa Djenepo’s clever drag-back eluded Jake Livermore before the winger stroked his finish into the bottom corner.

Oriol Romeu met Stuart Armstrong’s cross with a brilliant volley from the edge of the area in the 69th minute.

Wolves beat Fulham 1-0 at Molineux as Pedro Neto’s 56th minute goal clinched their second league win of the season.

London Loses 7,500 Finance Jobs Over Brexit- Survey

In this file photo taken on March 28, 2018 An anti-Brexit demonstrator waves a Union flag alongside a European Union flag outside the Houses of Parliament in London. 
Tolga AKMEN / AFP

 

Financial firms have switched more than 7,500 jobs to European locations outside the UK because of Brexit, a survey revealed Thursday.

With Britain’s EU-exit transition period nearing an end, the pace of relocations has slowed, hampered in part by the coronavirus, added the survey by financial services group EY.

It added that Dublin is the most popular destination for staff relocations, followed by Luxembourg.

EY’s Financial Services Brexit Tracker also estimated that assets worth a combined £1.2 trillion ($1.52 trillion, 1.3 trillion euros) could be transferred.

“Many financial services firms had implemented the bulk of their relocation plans before the start of the year, and we saw very little movement in the first half of 2020,” said Omar Ali, UK financial services managing partner at EY.

“But as we fast approach the end of the transition period, we are seeing some firms act on the final phases of their Brexit planning, including relocations.

“This is despite the pandemic and consequent restrictions to the movement of people, which is clearly making it harder to relocate people and adds complexity for those who were looking to commute to EU locations,” he added.

Ali said “firms are looking at new standards that will support the UK industry beyond the initial post-Brexit phase, ensuring it remains a leading global financial centre

-AFP

Uber Wins Appeal For New Operating Licence In London

 

US ride-hailing giant Uber on Monday won an appeal hearing in Britain after London’s transport authority had refused last year to renew its operating licence on safety grounds.

Deputy chief magistrate Tan Ikram, sitting at Westminster Magistrates’ Court in central London, ruled that Uber was a “fit and proper” company to work in the British capital “despite historical failings” that had been cited by Transport for London.

More to follow . . .

EU Gives Post-Brexit Reprieve To London Clearing Houses

The flags of Britain (R) and the European Union flutter in front of the Chancellery in Berlin, where the British Prime Minister was expected on April 9, 2019. MICHELE TANTUSSI / AFP.

 

The EU on Monday adopted a crucial emergency measure to safeguard the stability of financial markets after the Brexit transition period ends on December 31.

The decision came as negotiations on future relations between EU and UK have descended into acrimony, with the increasing likelihood of a chaotic, “no-deal” scenario.

The plan is to preserve the stability of the market in derivatives, a complex but vital financial instrument that allows traders to insure themselves against sudden interest or currency exchange rate swings.

The EU derivatives market is almost exclusively centred on London and was notionally valued in 2018 at 660 trillion euros ($750 trillion) — nearly 300 times the size of Britain’s entire economy.

In the EU’s plan, institutions where these transactions are finalised would have a licence to keep working with EU traders for another 18 months after December 31.

It will allow European firms until mid-2022 to handle the key service, currently executed by the London Stock Exchange and other clearing houses.

“Clearing houses … play a systemic role in our financial system,” Valdis Dombrovskis, an EU Commission executive vice president, said in a statement.

“We are adopting this decision to protect our financial stability, which is one of our key priorities,” he added.

The next formal round of negotiations on the future relations agreement will take place in Brussels next week.

Already at an impasse, the talks were further undermined by Britain’s wish to go back in part on its divorce agreement, signed in January, to the fury of the Europeans.

AFP

UK Bids To Reassure Over Northern Ireland After Biden Warning

Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves 10 Downing Street in central London on June 24, 2020, to attend Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs)a at the House of Commons – ˜ (Photo by Ben STANSALL / AFP)

 

Britain on Thursday reaffirmed its backing for Northern Ireland’s peace accord, after White House candidate Joe Biden warned of potential fallout for a future UK-US trade deal from London’s Brexit manoeuvering.

“We can’t allow the Good Friday Agreement that brought peace to Northern Ireland to become a casualty of Brexit,” Democrat Biden, who has often spoken passionately of his Irish roots, wrote on Twitter.

“Any trade deal between the US and UK must be contingent upon respect for the Agreement and preventing the return of a hard border. Period.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s spokesman said a contentious bill currently being debated by parliament was intended “precisely to make sure that the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement is upheld in all circumstances”.

“We continue to remain absolutely committed to no hard border and no border infrastructure between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland,” he told reporters.

The planned legislation — which Britain admits will override parts of the Brexit treaty — has provoked anger and concern among EU officials.

The proposed law would make unilateral changes to regulate trade with Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK, if it cannot seal a post-Brexit deal with the EU by the end of this year.

Brussels has threatened legal action if it is not withdrawn by the end of September and reminded Britain of its duty to uphold international treaty obligations.

Northern Ireland is set to remain bound by some EU rules to ensure its border with Ireland remains open — a key part of the 1998 peace deal that ended 30 years of violence.

But Johnson charges that the EU could carry out a food “blockade” between Northern Ireland and mainland Britain, which would threaten peace and territorial integrity.

“We will continue to engage with our US partners on a bipartisan basis to ensure that our positions are understood,” Johnson’s spokesman said.

“The whole point of this, as the PM has set out, is to make sure the Belfast Good Friday Agreement is upheld.”

Biden’s strong words came as Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab visited Washington to try to allay US concerns about the impact of Britain’s departure from the European Union.

It followed a similar warning from Democratic House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

But Secretary of State Mike Pompeo voiced confidence that Britain would find a “good outcome” in its standoff with the EU.

Prior to Biden’s intervention, the prime minister told MPs on Wednesday that his bill would “protect the peace process in Northern Ireland”.

“Possibly the vital importance of protecting the symmetry of the Good Friday Agreement is something that may have been lost so far in the presentation of this matter (in Washington),” he said.

AFP