Britain wants Brexit deal approved before July – May’s deputy
Lidington, cabinet office minister, said the timing was heavily dependent on how talks progressed with the opposition Labour Party on finding a consensus for a deal but said the issue could not drag on.
“I can’t give you an exact time. It depends in a large part on how conversations with the Labour Party are going,” Lidington said in Glasgow, where he was attending a cyber security conference.
“I don’t want to set a rigid dateline because that starts to create its own inflexibilities but I don’t think this can be allowed to drift for much longer.
“Really we need to get this done before the new European parliament comes in, in July this year.”
May’s spokesman said working groups from both sides were pressing on with the talks this week, including a meeting to discuss financial services on Wednesday.
Lidington said talks had been productive and workmanlike.
Britain is mired in political chaos after parliament rejected three times the withdrawal deal negotiated by May and other EU leaders, and it is still unclear when or even if the country will leave the bloc.
The EU has postponed the planned divorce date from March to give May until Oct. 31 to persuade parliament to approve the terms of the country’s exit.
She has said she hopes Britain can leave before the country has to take part in elections for the European Parliament in late May.
But, the timetable for doing so is very tight.
Lidington said: “We want to bring this decision back to parliament as soon as we possibly can but we want to feel that there is a chance of parliament actually rallying behind a particular outcome.
Britain announces £160m in humanitarian aid to Yemen
Britain announced on Tuesday 160 million pounds ($201 million) in humanitarian aid to Yemen, James Cleverly, the Foreign Office minister for the Middle East and North Africa said.
Cleverly told a pledging conference to help the war-torn country of the British government plans to assist Yemen with the fund.
The conference is aimed at raising 2.4 billion dollars to keep aid flowing to Yemen.
“Today’s pledges will help our UN humanitarian agencies and their partners on the ground to continue providing a lifeline to millions of Yemenis,” he added.
He added that aid agencies “are in a race against time” in Yemen.
Edited By: Isaac Aregbesola (NAN)
Britain urges China to step back on Hong Kong security law
British Foreign Secretary Dommic Raab on Tuesday urged China’s ruling Communist Party to step back from the brink and drop a new security law for Hong Kong.
According to him, it would undermine Beijing’s commitment to political autonomy for the territory.
“We have not yet seen the detailed, published text of the legislation, but I can tell the house that if legislation in these terms is imposed by China on Hong Kong it … would be a clear violation of China’s international obligations,’’ Raab said.
Beijing agreed to uphold basic freedoms in the territory under a 1984 Sino-British declaration.
China on Monday threatened `counter-attacks’ after U.S President Donald Trump said he would `begin the process’ of revoking Hong Kong’s special trading status if Beijing persists with the security law.
Britain, EU start fourth round of trade talks for post-Brexit era
Negotiators from London and Brussels will engage in intensive talks over the coming week via video link.
The future of fishing rights off the coast of the British Isles is expected to be one of the key agenda topics during the four days of talks, involving hundreds of negotiators from both sides.
Four separate sessions on fishing rights are scheduled, more than any other single topic.
A closing plenary session Friday will reveal the extent of any progress made during the week.
The Guardian in London Tuesday described fishing as a drop in the ocean of the UK economy, representing just 0.12 percent of economic output, adding the issue has become one of the most intractable in the Brexit talks.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has insisted Britain will not seek to extend the transition period beyond the end of this year.
The talks this week will be the last before Johnson attends a critical high-level meeting with EU leaders later in June to evaluate what progress has been made during the negotiations.
London mayor urges Britain to extend Brexit transition
Khan asked Johnson’s cabinet chief and lead minister for Brexit, Michael Gove, to “put political ideology aside” and extend negotiations with Brussels, which are due to resume on Tuesday.
“The last thing our country needs as we try to find a way forward from this pandemic is more chaos and uncertainty.
“I’ve urged the government to put political ideology aside and pursue the pragmatic route of seeking an extension to Brexit negotiations,’’ opposition Labour politician Khan tweeted.
Britain formally left the bloc on January 31 after a slim majority voted for Brexit in a 2016 referendum.
Little has changed during a planned 11-month transition that Johnson has vowed not to extend, in spite of a lack of progress in talks that have been overshadowed by the coronavirus crisis.
EU chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, told the Sunday Times that Britain had failed to meet its commitments to the negotiations on future trade and other arrangements.
“London had taken a step back, two steps back, three steps back, from the original commitments.
“The UK negotiators need to be fully in line with what Johnson signed up to with us,’’ Barnier added, referring to a joint declaration on the principles of future relations.
Johnson and Gove have suggested they would accept a “no deal” Brexit if London and Brussels cannot agree on new trade rules by Dec. 31.
Britain reopens markets and some schools as lockdown eases
However, many parents planned to keep children at home amid fears ministers were moving too fast.
The easing of strict measures will mean classes will restart for some younger children, up to six people can meet outside in England and outdoor markets can reopen.
Elite competitive sport can resume without spectators and over 2 million of the most vulnerable will now be allowed to spend time outdoors.
In view of the fact that Britain recorded one of the highest death rates from COVID-19, many are worried that it is happening too soon.
The Scientific Advisory Group on Emergencies (SAGE) warned the government that it could lead to a second spike in infections.
“These are very cautious steps that we are taking,” he said, while adding it was a “very sensitive moment”.
Ministers have been wrestling with how to kick-start the economy, which has been devastated by the lockdown to curb the spread of COVID-19, while avoiding a possible second wave of infections which would cause further damage.
According to BBC TV, the government says the relaxation of rules on Monday represents only a limited easing but there has been concern that the country is still not ready for the changes.
It noted that more people were beginning to ignore guidelines on social distancing.
A survey for the National Foundation for Educational Research found school leaders estimated 46 per cent of parents would keep their children at home because of concerns, fears echoed by some health officials.
Britain has recorded over 38,000 deaths from confirmed COVID-19 cases while the Office of National Statistics and other sources of data put the figure of fatalities from suspected and confirmed cases at 48,000.
People arrive at Bournemouth Beach in Britain
Photo taken on May 30, 2020 shows a sign warning that lifeguards are not on duty due to the coronavirus outbreak, at Bournemouth Beach in Bournemouth, Britain. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Thursday unveiled some “limited” and “cautious” easing of the country’s coronavirus lockdown measures. (Photo by Tim Ireland/Xinhua)
Chinese UN envoy urges U.S., Britain to immediately stop interfering in Hong Kong affairs
Zhang Jun, China‘s permanent representative to the United Nations, on Friday urged the United States and the United Kingdom (UK) to immediately stop interfering in Hong Kong affairs, immediately stop practices of hegemonism and power politics, and mind their own business, rather than provoking tensions and making troubles everywhere.
Zhang refuted the fallacy on Hong Kong made by the United States, Britain, and some other countries, saying China opposes and completely rejects the baseless remarks made by the United States and Britain.
“The United States and the United Kingdom, for their own political purposes, have been making unwarranted comments, interfering and obstructing, and attempted to push for an open video conference in the UN Security Council. China expressed strong opposition, and the vast majority of the Council members did not support the U.S. proposal, believing that the Hong Kong-related issues were China‘s internal affairs and had nothing to do with the mandates of the Security Council. The Security Council rejected the unreasonable request of the U.S., and its attempt failed,” said a press release issued by the Chinese Mission to the United Nations.
“Hong Kong is a special administrative region of China. Hong Kong affairs are purely China‘s internal affairs and allow no external interference. National security legislation for Hong Kong does not constitute any threat to international peace and security. The Council must not get involved in any way,” Zhang said.
The third session of the 13th National People‘s Congress, China‘s national legislature, on Thursday adopted the Decision on Establishing and Improving the Legal System and Enforcement Mechanisms for the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) to Safeguard National Security.
In face of strong opposition from China and Security Council members, the United States and Britain could only mention Hong Kong under “any other business” in the informal consultations of the council. This move was strongly countered by China and generally opposed by council members. They urged the United States and Britain to stop interfering in the internal affairs of other countries and making groundless accusations against China. There was no consensus, no formal discussion in the Security Council, and the U.S. and Britain‘s move came to nothing, said the press release.
The Chinese ambassador pointed out that since June last year, serious organized acts of violence and separatist activities took place in Hong Kong, which have got the support from some foreign forces and posed a real threat to China‘s national security. It is necessary and fully justified for the National People‘s Congress of China to establish and improve legal framework and enforcement mechanisms for Hong Kong to safeguard national security.
Such legislation does not affect Hong Kong‘s high degree of autonomy or the rights and freedoms of Hong Kong residents. Instead, it is conducive to the implementation of the policy of “one country, two systems” and the prosperity and stability of Hong Kong, he added.
“After Hong Kong‘s return to China, the UK has no right of sovereignty, jurisdiction or supervision over Hong Kong, still less is the U.S. entitled to comment on Hong Kong with the excuse of the Sino-British Joint Declaration,” he said.
Australian court orders release of letters to Britain’s Queen Elizabeth surrounding PM sacking
An Australian court ruled on Friday that the country’s archives must release letters to Britain’s Queen Elizabeth surrounding sacking of Prime Minister Gough Whitlam in the 1970s.
The court order believed to be a move which may shed light on the firing of Gough Whitlam by Governor-General John Kerr in 1975.
An Australian court ruled on Friday that the country’s archives must release letters between Britain’s Queen Elizabeth and her local representative during the 1970s, a move which may shed light on the sacking of its then prime minister Gough Whitlam.
The firing of Gough Whitlam by Governor-General John Kerr in 1975 remains one of Australia’s most polarising political events because it represented an unprecedented level of intervention by the Commonwealth.
Historians say the country still has not been told the full story behind Whitlam’s removal during a political deadlock over the Budget.
In 2016 a historian sued the National Archives of Australia for access to letters between Kerr and the queen at the time. The lawsuit failed on grounds that the letters were private.
On Friday the High Court overturned the Federal Court ruling and said the historian, Jenny Hocking, should get access to the so-called “palace letters” since they were the property of the governor-general’s office, which was a Commonwealth institution.
“It’s a wonderful decision for transparency, for accountability of government,” Hocking told reporters in Melbourne.
“It’s a story that has been absolutely clouded in secrecy, in distortion and in so much unknown. With this decision one of those last remaining areas of secrecy and great unknown will be released to the Australian public.”
Kerr died in 1991 without disclosing the extent of his coordination with the queen. Australia federated in 1901 but the British monarch remains the country’s official head of state, although the relationship is usually ceremonial.
Many government documents from the Whitlam era have been made public in recent years because of a rule which requires commonwealth documents to be released after 31 years.
The “palace letters” were kept secret since they were deemed private.
Edited By: Isaac Aregbesola (NAN)
Britain proposes Nov 2021 date for delayed UN climate summit
Britain has proposed hosting in November 2021 a United Nations’ climate summit that was postponed from this November due to the coronavirus pandemic, a letter from the Cabinet Office seen by Reuters showed on Wednesday.
The two-week summit had been expected to trigger fresh pledges from hundreds of world leaders to stick to their promise under the Paris agreement on climate change and act to avert catastrophic global warming.
Report says the two-week summit is expected to be the biggest ever to hold in Britain.
However, the media team for COP26 at the UK’s Cabinet Office was not immediately available for comment.
The letter does not confirm if the rescheduled summit would take place in Glasgow, Scotland, as previously planned.
Any decision on a new date ultimately rests with the UN’s climate body, which meets on Thursday to discuss Britain’s proposal.
This has come as no surprise to those who understand how UN climate conferences work.
Since the Paris agreement, the annual gathering has been seeking to further the international commitment to limit global temperature rises.
Without it, there would be very little progress and with minds so heavily focused on tackling COVID-19 this other crisis – the climate one – has taken a bit of a back seat.
In addition, countries will need to understand what their starting position is with economies being crushed by the pandemic.
Many world leaders are talking of a “green recovery’’ and so allowing this breathing space might be beneficial to the long term climate cause.
Still, some investors, diplomats and campaigners said postponing the summit would buy governments time to prepare emissions-cutting plans and integrate climate targets into stimulus packages to revive their virus-hit economies.
Edited By: Abiodun Oluleye/Wale Ojetimi (NAN)
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