Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Tuesday he would not request an extension to Brexit, hours after a law came into force demanding that he delay Britain’s departure from the European Union until 2020 unless he can strike a divorce deal. For the second time in a week, lawmakers then rejected Johnson’s request to try to break the deadlock through an early national election. With the future of Brexit mired in uncertainty, parliament was suspended until Oct. 14, sparking tense scenes in the House of Commons where opposition lawmakers held signs reading “silenced” and yelled “shame on you” at Johnson’s ruling Conservatives. Johnson appeared to have lost control of Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union with the approval of the law, which obliges him to seek a delay unless he can strike a new deal at an EU summit next month. EU leaders have repeatedly said they have not received specific proposals ahead of an EU summit on Oct. 17 and 18, at which Johnson says he hopes he can secure a deal. “This government will press on with negotiating a deal, while preparing to leave without one,” Boris Johnson told parliament after the result of the vote on an early election. “I will go to that crucial summit on October the 17th and no matter how many devices this parliament invents to tie my hands, I will strive to get an agreement in the national interest … This government will not delay Brexit any further.” Opposition Labour Party leader
Britain hasn’t even divorced the European Union yet, and already a new suitor has come calling: the United States. During a visit this week to the United Kingdom, Vice President Mike Pence brought word from his boss, President Donald Trump: The United States is eager to reach a new trade pact — one that won’t be possible until Britain completes Brexit and moves out of the 28-country EU trading bloc. “Our message is clear: The minute the UK is out, America is in,” Vice President Mike Pence said in a visit with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson at 10 Downing Street on Thursday. Not so fast. Building a new U.S.-U.K. trading relationship atop the wreckage of Brexit won’t be easy. British officials are already vowing to resist an agreement that is lopsided in favor of the more powerful United States, creating potential for disputes over matters such as chlorinated chicken and the divisive Scottish dish haggis. “I know that you guys are pretty tough negotiators,” Johnson told Pence. “So, we’re going to work very hard to make sure that that free trade deal is one that works for all sides.” As a member of the EU, Britain outsourced its trade policy to the bloc’s bureaucrats in Brussels. Before it can pursue an independent course and reach a brand-new trade pact with Washington, London will have to negotiate a divorce with the EU— or crash out of the bloc without a deal and risk damaging its own economy. “Until that gets
A Conservative lawmaker at the centre of efforts to block a no-deal Brexit said on Saturday he was pessimistic about his chances because he and other party colleagues could not support a caretaker government led by opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn. With Prime Minister Boris Johnson vowing to take Britain out of the European Union with or without a deal by Oct. 31, anti-Brexit politicians from all sides have been trying, and so far failing, to agree on a plan to stop it from happening. Corbyn, leader of the main opposition Labour Party, wants a caretaker government with himself as head, and then an election. But other opponents of a no-deal Brexit worry that Corbyn, a staunch leftist, would not win enough support, prompting leaders of smaller parties to put forward their own suggestions as to who could lead a government long enough to delay Brexit. Oliver Letwin, a lawmaker from Johnson’s ruling Conservatives, was asked to lend his support to Corbyn this week, but he told BBC Radio on Saturday: “I don’t think it’s at all likely that a majority would be formed for that and I wouldn’t be able to support that, no.” Asked to explain why, he said even an interim Corbyn-led government could do more damage than a disorderly exit from the world’s biggest trading bloc. Conservative opponents of a no-deal Brexit are deeply suspicious of Corbyn, whom they see as a dangerous Marxist intent on nationalising swathes of British industry and hiking state spending and taxes.
The European Union on Tuesday congratulated incoming British Prime Minister Boris Johnson but was firm that it would not heed his election promises of renegotiating Brexit. The bloc’s executive European Commission was willing to work with Johnson, a spokeswoman said, but the limits were clear. “We look forward to working constructively with PM Johnson when he takes office, to facilitate the ratification of the withdrawal agreement and achieve an orderly Brexit,” said the bloc’s negotiator of the unprecedented divorce, Michel Barnier. “We are ready also to rework the agreed declaration on a new partnership,” he added, referring to a political declaration that accompanies the legal withdrawal agreement. Minutes before Johnson’s victory was announced in the Conservative Party leadership contest, the Commission’s deputy head Frans Timmermans said the EU would not agree to change the deal it had sealed with outgoing British leader Theresa May. That deal was rejected three times by the British parliament. “The United Kingdom reached an agreement with the European Union and the European Union will stick to that agreement,” Timmermans told a news conference. “This is the best deal possible.” Timmermans said the EU would hold the line on Brexit and that Johnson’s flamboyant “character or persona or attitude” made no difference. The EU is bracing for a no-deal Brexit, or another delay to Britain’s departure, should Johnson follow through on his promises as Britain’s leader. “We will hear what the new prime minister has to say when he comes to Brussels,” Timmermans said, but warned
Zimbabwe and the European Union began political talks on Wednesday aimed at turning the page on hostile relations during Robert Mugabe’s rule, a step that could enable a resumption of direct financial aid for the ailing economy. During Robert Mugabe’s four-decade rule until 2017, he would routinely blame European “colonialists” for Zimbabwe’s problems, and snarled at EU and U.S. sanctions for rights and vote abuses. The EU has only kept sanctions on Mugabe, his wife and the state arms manufacturer, but is yet to resume direct funding to the new government of President Emmerson Mnangagwa, preferring to channel money through local charities and U.N. agencies. With the economy afflicted by dollar shortages, fuel queues, power-cuts, and soaring prices, Mnangagwa has said restoring ties with the West and multilateral lenders like International Monetary Fund is one of his major priorities. At the start of the open-ended talks between diplomats and officials in Harare, EU Zimbabwe delegation head Timo Olkkonen said they would discuss issues including economic development, trade, investment, rights, rule of law and good governance. The government has already signed up to an IMF monitoring programme where it has committed to political and economic reforms in a bid to set a track record of fiscal discipline that could earn it debt forgiveness and future financing. At a separate event in a Harare hotel, Mnangagwa signed a new bill creating a tripartite negotiating forum intended to bring labour, business and government together to shape policy. The 76-year-old leader is under pressure
The European Union’s traditional center splintered in the hardest-fought European Parliament elections in decades, with the far right and pro-environment Greens gaining ground on Sunday after four days of a polarized vote. Turnout was at a two-decade high over the balloting across the 28 European Union countries. The elections were seen as a test of the influence of the nationalist, populist and hard-right movements that have swept the continent in recent years and impelled Britain to quit the EU altogether. Both supporters of closer European unity and those who consider the EU a meddlesome and bureaucratic presence portrayed the vote as crucial for the future of the bloc. In Britain , voters went for the extremes, with the strongest showing for Nigel Farage’s the newly formed Brexit party and a surge for the staunchly pro-European Liberal Democrats, versus a near wipeout for Conservatives. In France, an electorate that voted Emmanuel Macron into presidential office in 2017 did an about-face and the party of his defeated opponent, Marine Le Pen, drew into first place. In Germany , Chancellor Angela Merkel’s ruling coalition saw a drastic loss in support to the Greens and, to a lesser extent, the far right. Italy’s League party, led by Matteo Salvini, claimed 32% of the vote in early projections, compared with around 6% five years ago. “Not only is the League the first party in Italy, but Marine Le Pen is first in France, Nigel Farage is first in Great Britain. Therefore, Italy, France and England:
As voters in all 28 European Union countries elect a new shared parliament , here are some key races to watch in the battle to fill the 751 seats in the European Parliament: ITALY: Italy’s anti-migrant, anti-Islam interior minister, Matteo Salvini, has been campaigning hard to boost his right-wing League party to become the No. 1 party in Italy and possibly Europe. Salvini has been using his hard-line credentials to expand a parliamentary group of European populists that already includes far-right politicians in France, Germany and Austria. Salvini is promising to restore sovereignty over key issues like immigration to national capitals, thwarting the EU’s drive toward closer integration of its members. In Europe, the populists will find it difficult to deliver on their transformation promises. But Salvini is also looking to capitalize on the outcome of the European elections to boost his power at home in the League’s uneasy populist ruling coalition with the left-wing 5-Star Movement. Salvini could use European electoral gains to leverage his position in the government and pass policies important to his base of northern Italian entrepreneurs, like a flat tax or the high-speed train connecting Lyon, France, with Turin. Most analysts believe that Salvini is unlikely to seek an early election in Italy even with a big victory on the European stage. The 5-Star Movement, on the other hand, could decide to pull the plug on the coalition government. FRANCE: France is looking at an epic battle between pro-EU centrist President Emmanuel Macron and anti-immigration,
European countries said on Thursday they wanted to preserve Iran’s nuclear deal and rejected “ultimatums” from Tehran, after Iran scaled back curbs on its nuclear programme and threatened moves that might breach the pact.
Iran announced steps on Wednesday to ease curbs on its nuclear programme, in response to new U.S. sanctions imposed after Washington abandoned the deal a year ago.
Experts say the new moves announced by Tehran so far are not likely to violate the terms of the deal immediately.
But President Hassan Rouhani said that unless world powers find a way to protect Iran’s banking and oil industries from U.S. sanctions within 60 days, Iran would start enriching uranium beyond limits allowed in the deal.
“We reject any ultimatums and we will assess Iran’s compliance on the basis of Iran’s performance regarding its nuclear-related commitments under the JCPOA and the NPT,” read a statement issued jointly by the European Union and the foreign ministers of Britain, France and Germany.
The top European diplomats said, “We reject any ultimatums and we will assess Iran’s compliance on the basis of Iran’s performance regarding its nuclear-related commitments under the JCPOA and the NPT (Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons). In this respect, we recall the key role of IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) monitoring and verification of the implementation by Iran of its nuclear-related commitments.”
The United States and European Union have expressed deep concern over Turkey’s plans for offshore drilling operations in an area claimed by Cyprus as its exclusive economic zone, adding to tensions between Ankara and its Western allies.
The statements at the weekend came after Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said “we are starting drilling” in the region.
Turkey and the internationally recognised Greek Cypriot government have overlapping claims of jurisdiction for offshore oil and gas research in the eastern Mediterranean, a region thought to be rich in natural gas.
“The United States is deeply concerned by Turkey’s announced intentions to begin offshore drilling operations in an area claimed by the Republic of Cyprus as its Exclusive Economic Zone,” State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus said on Sunday.